The Pursuit of Marriage (Effington Family & Friends Series)

The Pursuit of Marriage (Effington Family & Friends Series)

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by Victoria Alexander

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What lengths would a young lady go to in her pursuit of the perfect match?

And how far would a gentleman go to stop her?

Cassandra Effington is one of the most delicious debutantes to ever waltz across a London ballroom. But while her identical twin sister Delia is now wed, Cassandra is still unclaimed, and everyone agrees her standards are entirely too high.

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What lengths would a young lady go to in her pursuit of the perfect match?

And how far would a gentleman go to stop her?

Cassandra Effington is one of the most delicious debutantes to ever waltz across a London ballroom. But while her identical twin sister Delia is now wed, Cassandra is still unclaimed, and everyone agrees her standards are entirely too high. So how could she possibly lose a most unseemly wager with the handsome, scandalous Viscount Berkley? The proposition: She will find him an ideal bride well before he finds her the perfect match.

But Lord Berkley intends to be very hard to please. He's already chosen the right woman, and no lady Cassandra puts forward to him will be perfect enough save the luscious Cassandra herself. And he'll do whatever it takes to make certain no gentleman he introduces her to is enticing enough, until she realizes that the perfect object in her pursuit of marriage is none other than the viscount himself.

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Editorial Reviews

Oakland Press
“Delightful...a charmingly told tale that illustrates that perfection isn’t all good manners and a beautiful face.”
Publishers Weekly
Still unwed at 24, outspoken Cassie Effington has strict standards for her suitors, and she's well aware that the polished charm of handsome rakes like Lord Berkley often disguises a lack of substance. But when Cassie undertakes the refurbishment of Berkley's townhouse, sparks fly between the two, and Berkley realizes he'll have to prove to her that there's more to him than just his good looks and glib manner. Alexander's newest Regency-era romance (after The Lady in Question) is pleasantly written and brimming with fun screwball elements such as a wager between Berkley and Cassie to find the other's perfect spouse, but it falls short on tension and depth of character. Cassie's fear that a charming rake could lure her into scandal holds her back from trusting Berkley, but why she's bent her life around this fear is never explained persuasively, making her resistance seem more stubborn than sensible. After Cassie dismisses this fear, inevitability descends, leading to a sluggish second half. Rigid in her opinions and unhappy when proven wrong, Cassie can be unsympathetic. Although Berkley declares he wants a bride with spirit, readers will wonder why he's chosen one who is so headstrong and mistrustful. Agent, Meg Ruley. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Effington Family & Friends Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt

The Pursuit of Marriage

By Alexander, Victoria

Avon Books

ISBN: 006051762X

Chapter One

An independent, stubborn woman is surely
God's revenge upon an unsuspecting mankind.

L. Effington

Spring 1821

"Do you see them yet?" Miss Cassandra Effington shielded her eyes against the late morning sun and gazed into the distance.

"No." Anthony, Viscount St. Stephens, shook his head. "Any minute now, I should think. As I understand it, the course is not overly long."

"And did you wager a great deal on the outcome?" his wife, the former Miss Philadelphia Effington -- Delia to her closest friends -- said coolly.

"Not a great deal." He chuckled and slanted her an amused glance. "Did you?"

"Nothing of significance." Delia grinned. "And only with Cassie, so it scarcely counts."

"It most certainly does count," Cassie said firmly. "I fully expect you to pay promptly when you lose."

St. Stephens laughed. "Dare I ask which of you wagered on your brother and which chose Lord Berkley?"

"I, for one, would never wager against a member of the family." Delia's voice was firm. "Beyond that, Christian is an excellent rider with a fine eye for horseflesh."

"Christian is overly arrogant, although I daresay no more so than Leo or Drew." Cassie rolled her gaze toward the heavens. "It's a common trait among Effington males and among our brothers in particular."

St. Stephens raised a brow. "So you wagered on Berkley then?"

"Most certainly." Cassie nodded. "It will do Christian a world of good to lose at something, anything. Besides, from what I have heard of this Lord Berkley, he is rash and reckless and something of a rake. While those are not qualities I particularly look for, it seems to me, if one is wagering on a contest of this nature, those unsavory attributes would be most beneficial."

"Christian is rash and reckless and something of a rake," Delia murmured.

"Yes, but I am well acquainted with Christian and cannot bear the thought of how much more swaggering his step will be should he win. As I have never met Lord Berkley, I don't give a fig as to the effect of victory on his character."

St. Stephens laughed. "Well said."

Cassie grinned.

Delia's brows drew together. "If you feel that way, Tony, why did you wager on Christian?"

"You're making assumptions now, my love." St. Stephens's grin widened.

"I see. You too are lacking in family loyalty. Very well then." Delia's eyes narrowed. "Perhaps you would care to place another wager on the outcome?"

"I should indeed." A wicked light flashed in his eye. "If I can set the stakes."

Delia gazed up at her husband with a wicked smile of her own and Cassie sighed to herself, discreetly edging away from the couple. Not that they would notice. At these moments Delia and St. Stephens stepped firmly into a world of their own.

It was at once charming and most annoying. Cassie was delighted that her sister had found love, but did she have to be so very much in love? Delia and St. Stephens had been married nearly a year, after all. Indeed, they were here, at least in part, to serve as Cassie's chaperone, and those longing, yearning, wicked looks the couple continuously traded were not at all proper, although Cassie admitted her own reaction could well be simple jealousy. After all, of the two sisters, Delia had never especially sought marriage, yet here she was: married, in love, and blissfully happy.

While her twin was four-and-twenty, edging perilously closer to a firm position on the shelf with not a real possibility for a match in sight.

Cassie wandered a few steps farther away, ignoring her sister's peal of laughter and ignoring as well the intriguing thought of precisely what stakes St. Stephens had proposed. As much as Cassie hated to admit it, she was indeed jealous. Oh, she would never wish any of Delia's happiness taken away. Cassie simply wanted it too. Not that there was any chance of that at the moment.

Perhaps it was time to lower her standards.

Cassie idly scanned the crowd gathered on a rise overlooking the road. The assembly chatted with anticipation and excitement and strained for the first glimpse of the riders. It was an interesting gathering of the ton's younger members -- in truth, a set considered rather fast. Still, the majority of those present were married couples ostensibly acting as chaperone for those as yet unwed among them. It was all very proper even if there wasn't an elderly, disapproving matron in sight, and therefore a slight, distinct undercurrent of forbidden adventure lingered about it all.

The race and accompanying wager between Christian and Lord Berkley had become quite the topic of interest in the past two weeks. So much so that Lord Warren had arranged both the contest and a festive outing on his estate on the outskirts of London. His lordship had also made a specific point of inviting Cassie to the event, not that she'd had the least intention of missing it.

Her gaze drifted to Lord Warren, chatting with a small group and obviously charming every lady present. She couldn't help but wonder how many of those ladies had also received personal invitations. The man was unquestionably attractive, with an excellent title and a tidy fortune. He was witty and dashing with a reputation for excess in all matters, including women. Not at all to Cassie's taste. Lord Warren might well be interested in her, but she hadn't the least bit of interest in him. Rather a shame, really. He was an excellent catch.

"Perhaps it's time you lowered your standards," the wry voice of her oldest brother, Leo, sounded behind her.

"I was just thinking the same thing, although I daresay you're not the one who should be giving advice in matters of this nature," Cassie said mildly and turned toward her brother. "I don't see you racing headlong toward the altar."

Leopold Effington grinned down at her with the engaging smile that had turned any number of young ladies' heads ...


Excerpted from The Pursuit of Marriage by Alexander, Victoria Excerpted by permission.
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