Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage (Secret Brides Series #3) [NOOK Book]

Overview



A duchess awaiting trial for her vile husband’s murder is the most delicious gossip the ton has heard in years. But for Kate Townsende, the woman in question, it could be a matter of life and death. And when a shrewd and handsome nobleman offers to publish her side of the story while arranging for a barrister to take her case, she’s tempted by much more than the chance to defend herself…


James Bancroft, Viscount Medford, tells himself he’s only interested in a bestselling ...

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Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage (Secret Brides Series #3)

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Overview



A duchess awaiting trial for her vile husband’s murder is the most delicious gossip the ton has heard in years. But for Kate Townsende, the woman in question, it could be a matter of life and death. And when a shrewd and handsome nobleman offers to publish her side of the story while arranging for a barrister to take her case, she’s tempted by much more than the chance to defend herself…


James Bancroft, Viscount Medford, tells himself he’s only interested in a bestselling pamphlet, but Kate’s stubborn determination is captivating. Could the accused widow be telling the truth? At first, James isn’t sure of anything besides his growing desire for her—but before long he’s willing to risk much more than his reputation to make the infamous beauty his wife…

 Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage  is the third Secret Brides novel from Valerie Bowman.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bowman woos Regency romance fans with this final novel in her Secret Brides trilogy (after Secrets of a Wedding Night and Secrets of a Runaway Bride). Lady Katherine Townsende, Duchess of Markingham, has been imprisoned in the Tower of London for the murder of her husband. James Bancroft, Viscount Medford, visits Kate with a proposition: he wants her to write a pamphlet telling her side of the story, convinced that the publication would be beneficial to both of them. In return, she asks for release into James’s custody, as law allows her to be supervised by a nobleman. James, known as “Lord Perfect” for his meticulous ways, is surprised by her beauty and intelligence, and he’s not prepared for the disruption she brings to his orderly household. The attraction between the two is well crafted and plays out in unusual fashion: James’s structured life has left him little time for rakish behavior, leaving Kate to do the seducing. The murder trial adds weight and tension to this refreshing page-turner. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Bowman woos Regency romance fans with this final novel in her Secret Brides trilogy (after Secrets of a Wedding Night and Secrets of a Runaway Bride). Lady Katherine Townsende, Duchess of Markingham, has been imprisoned in the Tower of London for the murder of her husband. James Bancroft, Viscount Medford, visits Kate with a proposition: he wants her to write a pamphlet telling her side of the story, convinced that the publication would be beneficial to both of them. In return, she asks for release into James's custody, as law allows her to be supervised by a nobleman. James, known as "Lord Perfect" for his meticulous ways, is surprised by her beauty and intelligence, and he's not prepared for the disruption she brings to his orderly household. The attraction between the two is well crafted and plays out in unusual fashion: James's structured life has left him little time for rakish behavior, leaving Kate to do the seducing. The murder trial adds weight and tension to this refreshing page-turner.” –Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"From the gripping opening line to the highly satisfying climax, Bowman keeps readers in her grasp with her unique storytelling and unconventional plotting. Readers will be captivated by how her smart and sensual story unfolds."—Romantic Times (4 1/2 stars!)

“This engaging and sweetly romantic [series] is just too delightful to miss.”—New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466813212
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Series: Secret Brides Series , #3
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 37,828
  • File size: 472 KB

Meet the Author



Valerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s the youngest) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. 

 

Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her two rascally dogs. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.  

 

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

 

 

The Tower of London, December 1816

The large metal door to her cell scraped open and Kate closed her eyes. She stepped forward, summoned from one cold dank cell into another. She had a visitor. Her first since she’d been taken to the gaol.

She opened her eyes. The harsh winter light filtered through the only window in the antechamber. The yeoman warder wore a blank expression on his face. He and the other guards always gave her the benefit of respect due her title. Whether they liked it or not.

The guard stepped aside, revealing the room’s other occupant. Interesting. Her visitor was a man. She narrowed her eyes on him. Who was he and what did he want with her? He stood with his straight back to her. He was tall, that much she could discern. Tall and cloaked in shadows.

The smell of mold and decay, rife in the Tower, made her stomach clench. The unforgiving winter wind whipped through the stonework, raising gooseflesh across her arms. She shivered and clutched her shawl more tightly around her shoulders.

“Ye ’ave ten minutes an’ not a moment more,” the gaoler announced before wrenching open the door and clanging it shut behind him as he left. The loud scrape and subsequent clank sealed Kate and the stranger in the small room together. She took a step back. A small rickety table rested between them. She was glad for that bit of separation at least. Whoever the man was, his clothing marked him a gentleman. He had better behave like one.

The tall man turned to greet her. He doffed his hat, but she still couldn’t make out his face. He wore a dark gray wool overcoat of considerable expense. A stray beam of sunlight floated through the dirty air, let in by the one small window nestled in the stone wall across from them.

He executed a perfect bow. “Your grace?”

Kate cringed. Oh, how she detested that title. “Bowing to a prisoner?” she asked in a voice containing a bit of irony. “Aren’t you a gentleman?”

He smiled and a set of perfectly white teeth flashed in the darkness. “You’re still a duchess, your grace.”

She pushed the hood from her head and took a tentative step forward. The stranger’s eyes flared for a moment and he sucked in his breath.

Kate’s stomach clenched. No doubt she looked a fright. She hadn’t bathed in days and could only imagine her own smell. Her hair, normally piled properly atop her head, was a mass of tangled red curls around her shoulders. She might be grimy and in trouble, but she wasn’t broken. And she refused to let the stranger see that his reaction affected her. She pushed up her chin and eyed him warily.

He stepped forward then, into the light, and Kate narrowed her eyes on his face, rapidly assessing every detail. She didn’t know him. But whoever he was, the man was handsome. Devastatingly so. Perhaps in his early thirties, he had dark brown cropped hair, a perfectly straight nose, a square jaw. But his eyes were what truly captivated. Hazel in color, nearly green, assessing, knowing, intelligent eyes. They stole her breath. Her gaze moved lower to where the faintest hint of a smile rested upon expertly molded male lips.

“Do you know who I am?” His voice splintered the quiet cold like a hammer hitting ice.

She regarded him with a steady stare. “Are you a barrister? Come for my defense?”

The man furrowed his brow. “You haven’t yet been given access to a barrister?”

She straightened her shoulders. “I’ve been … waiting.”

The stranger’s captivating eyes regarded her calmly. “From what I understand, you’ve been in gaol for weeks. I find it difficult to believe a lady of your station has not yet met with a barrister.”

She lifted her chin. “Be that as it may, I have not.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, your grace, but no, I am no barrister.”

“Not a barrister? Then who are you and why have you come to visit me? Please don’t tell me it’s merely to see the spectacle of a duchess accused of murder.”

His gaze remained pinned to her face, his eyes still assessing, wary. “I am here to assist you, your grace.”

“Assist me?” she scoffed, stepping forward to get a closer look at the man. “I rather doubt that. Assist yourself perhaps. Tell me, how much did you bribe the gaoler to let you see the infamous duchess who shot her husband?”

The stranger arched a brow. “Did you? Murder your husband?”

She clenched her jaw. “Did you come here to insult me with your questions? Or do you mean to coax a confession from me?” She squeezed her fists against the fabric of her shawl, twisting it so tightly her fingers ached.

He shook his head. “My apologies, your grace. It was not my intention to offend. I assure you, I’m not a common gossipmonger come to witness your degradation. I intend to assist you. And yes, in return, there is something I want.”

Kate raised both brows. She respected the man’s honesty, but whether she intended to continue this conversation depended entirely upon what exactly the handsome stranger desired. “So, tell me, then. What is it you want?”

He swept another bow. “I’ve come to make you an offer. One that can benefit us both.”

Pulling her shawl over her shoulders more tightly, Kate crossed her arms over her chest. “Forgive me if I am a bit doubtful, sir. I’ve seen enough deception in my twenty-eight years to be highly skeptical of the promises of men.”

His head quirked to the side and he regarded her with an inquisitive look. Her statement had obviously surprised him. “I understand, your grace. And I fully intend to explain. But first, I must ask for your discretion. If we are to help each other, I cannot reveal my identity unless you promise to keep what I am about to tell you entirely secret.”

She pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes on him. “Secret? Are you a spy?”

His brow rose, and tension seemed to radiate through his body. “Would you aid me if I were?”

She pointed toward the door. “Get out,” she said through clenched teeth.

“Pardon?”

Her nails dug so hard into her shawl she was certain she would rip the fabric. “I may be accused of a murder I did not commit, but being called a traitor to my homeland is not an insult I will bear. If you are seeking my aid in that manner, you most certainly have come to the wrong person. I am not, and never will be, that desperate.” She turned toward the door to call for the gaoler.

The stranger quickly held up a hand. “I assure you, your grace. I am no spy.”

Kate snapped her mouth closed and turned back to him, still eyeing him warily. “Then what exactly do you want from me?”

He nodded slowly. “Your promise, first?”

She watched him, assessing him from the top of his handsome head to the tips of his precisely polished—and obviously expensive—top boots. Apparently, this man was willing or desperate enough to trust an accused murderess, too. Interesting. She had absolutely no reason to trust him, however. Every reason not to, actually. But conversing with a good-looking chap about whatever daft idea he had was preferable to counting the cracks in the walls of her cell or writing letters to … no one. “Very well, you have my promise. Now tell me, who are you and why are you here?”

The stranger clicked his heels together and bowed again. “James Bancroft, Viscount Medford, at your service.”

She couldn’t help the tiny gasp that escaped her lips. The man was a peer. Why on earth would a peer pay her a visit? “Why are you here, my lord?”

Brushing back his coat, he pulled papers from an inside pocket and tossed them on the wooden table.

Her eyes still trained on him, Kate stepped forward and picked up the papers. It was a pamphlet. She scanned the first page and shuffled through it quickly, but the pages were blank.

She gestured to the papers with her chin. “What is this?”

His mouth quirked again. Distracting, that. “You might say I have a bit of a hobby on the side. I own a printing press.”

Her gaze snapped to his face and she stepped back, clutching the pamphlet, genuinely surprised. And a little bit intrigued. “A viscount in trade?”

He grinned. “That’s the secret.” His grin faded and he strode forward. Bracing his hands apart, he leaned across the table. “I offer women in scandalous situations a unique opportunity. This, your grace, is a chance to tell your side of the story.”

“What do you mean … exactly?”

His eyes blazed at her. His jaw tightened. “Write a pamphlet for me. It will be a top seller, I assure you.”

She shook her head. “A pamphlet? Telling my story? I don’t understand. What do I stand to gain from it?”

His eyes, dark green now, captured hers. “What do you want?”

Kate spun around, pacing across the small room. A chance to tell her story? A frisson of hope skittered down her spine. Yes. An opportunity to inform the entire city what a hideous husband George had been. To tell the truth. It was tempting. She must handle this carefully, however. There was something else she wanted.

She turned back toward the viscount. “Out of curiosity, if I agree to do it, what exactly will the pamphlet be named, my lord?”

His jaw relaxed and his eyes lost some of their intensity. He stood up again to his full height and regarded her down the length of his nose. “Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage.”

 

Copyright © 2013 by Valerie Bowman

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Locked in a tower, accused of murdering her cheating husband, Ka

    Locked in a tower, accused of murdering her cheating husband, Kate Townsende is not hopeful about her future. That is until James Bancroft, Viscount Medford, shows up and offers her a chance to live again, at least for a little while. The catch? She has to write a pamphlet and tell her side of the story and the truth about her marriage. When Kate agrees, James has her released from the tower and brings her to his house so that she can enjoy a taste of freedom and life while she writes the pamphlet and awaits her trial. But what neither she nor James expect is the strong physical and emotional attraction that develops between them. The more James gets to know Kate, the more he believes in her innocence. So he does what he always does; he helps out people in trouble. He hires the best of the best to uncover the truth about the night Kate’s husband died. But will it be enough to save Kate from being sentenced to death? And will James be willing to give up his “perfect” persona to be with the Scandalous Lady Kate?

    Having read the other two books in this series, I was excited about the release of the newest Valerie Bowman book, and it does not disappoint! I couldn’t put this book down and almost read it in one day! I loved the chemistry and dynamics between Kate and James and all the drama that was surrounding her scandalous arrest and trial. I have always liked James’ character in the previous two novels in this series and was delighted to get to read about “Lord Perfect” finally falling in love, and with quite a scandalous lady at that! I was excited that Lily, Annie, Devon and Jordan were included in this story as well, though their characters’ backgrounds are not needed to understand the plot in this novel. It is a great stand-alone read, however, be warned, if you read this one, you will want to read Secrets of a Runaway Bride and Secrets of a Wedding Night as well! Well Done Ms. Bowman! Can’t wait to read more!

    Rating: 4.5

    Heat Rating: Mild

    Reviewed by AprilP

    Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More

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  • Posted November 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This is the third in the Secret Brides series. Kate is imprisone

    This is the third in the Secret Brides series. Kate is imprisoned, accused of murdering her husband--a Duke. She will most likely be hanged if the truth is not unearthed. James, Viscount Medford, known as Lord Perfect to his friends, has a secret side business in the press--not done by a member of the ton. He feels Kate's story will make a sensational pamphlet for printing, and it could help unearth the truth.

    After gaining Kate temporary freedom while a barrister and runner try to find the real killer and save her from certain death, Kate attempts to write her story, and living what time she has left feeling free. This freedom loosens up James, too. As they come closer to learning all the secrets to each other's past, they turn to each other, but the association endangers their lives.

    Once the truth is out about her innocence, they must learn to overcome the past, to find a way back to each other, revealing their love before it's too late. The twist in this story is the pamphlet published is not the one written by Kate, but the one by written by James.

    Loved this story as Valerie has become a favorite new author!

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  • Posted October 19, 2013

    Fabulous and delightful

    Fabulous and delightful

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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