A Seductive Offer [NOOK Book]

Overview

A proposal of marriage she could not refuse...

Lord Braven has saved Rachel Ashton's life twice, it seems-when he snatched her from the icy Yorkshire river...and when he offered to marry her. Now the desperate miss will be rid forever of the repulsive husband-to-be her horrid stepfather has "sold" her to. But though both agree their marriage is in name only, Rachel finds she cannot dismiss her burning need to ...

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A Seductive Offer

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Overview

A proposal of marriage she could not refuse...

Lord Braven has saved Rachel Ashton's life twice, it seems-when he snatched her from the icy Yorkshire river...and when he offered to marry her. Now the desperate miss will be rid forever of the repulsive husband-to-be her horrid stepfather has "sold" her to. But though both agree their marriage is in name only, Rachel finds she cannot dismiss her burning need to taste the sweet kiss of her dashing benefactor.

A passion they could not resist

Having a real wife is unthinkable, since Braven must never love again. And as long as this sham marriage is not consummated, his heart will remain safe -- and his secret can go untold. But the exquisite beauty tempts the haunted lord unmercifully with her deep lavender eyes and sensuous full lips. How can he resist this most perilous desire, when his heart swears it would be more dangerous still to deny himself the ecstasy of true love?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Grief, forgiveness and marital abuse are only a few of the issues addressed in this affecting Regency-era romance, the second from talented newcomer Smith (Elusive Passion). Wracked by guilt over a death he failed to prevent, Balthazar Wycherley, the earl of Braven, has lived in seclusion for the past two years. But when Brave stumbles upon his neighbor, Rachel Ashton, and saves her from drowning in a nearby river, he realizes that he may have found the one woman who can help him forgive himself. Rumors of a courtship between the two abound after they are seen dancing and conversing at several social occasions, but it isn't until Rachel shows up on his doorstep, beaten and bruised, that he realizes how he can help her as well as himself. To rescue Rachel and her mother from her brutal stepfather, Sir Henry Westhaver, Brave proposes a marriage of convenience. Rachel readily accepts, but her hopes for the future pale when her mother decides to return to Henry and her feelings for Brave evolve into something more than friendly affection. Playful banter and endearing secondary characters brighten up this somber tear-jerker, but it's Smith's protagonists who steal the story and the reader's sympathy. Steamy love scenes combine with tangible romantic tension to make this a memorable read. (Jan. 8) Forecast: A generic "clinch" cover may cause some browsers to pass over this exceptional historical, but others will be drawn in by Lisa Kleypas's glowing cover quote. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061931246
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/5/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 461,274
  • File size: 479 KB

Meet the Author

My husband says I have the best job in the world. The only thing that could top being paid to do what I love is if Avon Books decided that all their authors had to be hand-fed chocolate by Hugh Jackman, Gerard Butler, or John Cusack. But my husband probably wouldn't think so much of my job then, so instead I'll let him feed me chocolate and go on being forever thankful that I have the best job—and husband—in the world.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



Yorkshire, 1816

A scream pierced the darkness.

Balthazar Wycherley, seventh Earl Braven -- known to his intimates as “Brave” -- froze as the earsplitting shriek turned his blood to ice. He'd never heard anything like it before. There was something unholy about such a sound on a cold damp night like this.

The banshee's wail echoed off the wall of trees surrounding him, fading into an eerie whisper as the cold October wind swept it away. He looked up at the clouds, indistinguishable against the black sky, save for where the frosty touch of the moon turned them into puffs of luminescent silver. Perhaps it wasn't a banshee bringing news of his demise. Perhaps it was a ghost from the past. Or more likely, the one of his guilty conscience. The forest was now perfectly silent. No specters slipped from the darkness to claim his soul. His heart still beat in his chest -- with uncomfortable determination, in fact.

He stood there for a moment, listening for the rattle of ghostly chains, before chuckling bitterly. So this was what he'd become -- a coward quivering in the woods, waiting for the dead to claim their -- her -- revenge.

Another scream tore through the night, raising the hair on the back of his neck and sending his heart pounding against his ribs. If it was a ghost, it was a terrified one.

Brave didn't think. He simply reacted. He ran in the direction of the scream, crashing through the trees and dodging roots that would pull him to the ground with the agility of one who knew theland like he knew his own face. Anxiety swelled within him, drove him. He had to find the woman whose fear shivered down his spine. Whether it was out of a sense of heroism, or the hope of coming face-to-face with the ghost that haunted him, he couldn't say.

Or wouldn't.

Seconds later, he stood on the bank of the Wyck. Recent rains had swollen the river so that it tumbled and roared in its bed. Moonlight spilled across its path, turning foaming whitecaps to silver against the inky water. He shivered,knowing how cold it would be at this time of year.

An arm rose from the raging flow, and Brave's eyes widened as he realized it belonged to a young woman clinging tenaciously to a large rock in the roughest part of the river. He watched in dry-mouthed horror as she struggled to hang on to the slick stone as the current pushed against her. If she lost her grip, the river would kill her for certain.

Dear God.

“Miranda?”

“Please, help me!”

No, not Miranda. This voice was far too low and far too alive to be Miranda.

Which meant it was up to him to keep it that way.

“Hang on!” he yelled, cupping his hands around his mouth in an effort to be heard above the raging river. There was a bridge just a few yards upstream. He could cross it and attempt to rescue her from the opposite shore -' although hehad no idea how such a feat was to be accomplished.

An eternity passed as he raced along the bank to the bridge. As he ran toward her, he could see the girl struggling to keep her head above water as the belligerent current tossed wave after wave into her face. Gasping, she pulledherself farther up onto the rock. Her face was strained with the effort.

As he came to a halt beside a towering old tree, Brave realized just how difficult rescuing her would be. He might very well risk his own life in the process. He tossed his gloves to the ground.

She watched him intently in the frosty moonlight, her expression both relieved and fearful. Her eyes, round and black with panic were almost too big for her stark white face. Lord only knew how long she had been hanging off that rock, and if the cold didn't soon conquer her, the strain in her shoulders just might.

As if to prove just how cold the water was, frothy droplets sprayed his face as a large wave smashed against the bank. Icy pinpricks stung his cheeks.

Damn chivalry.

“Braven?”

Surprise coursed through him. She knew him. Startled, and more than a little wary, he took a good look at her.

Long blond hair that shone like tarnished silver in the moonlight obscured some of her face. But there was no mistaking the owner of those huge, waiflike eyes and strong nose. It was Rachel Ashton -- the daughter of one of his father's closest friends. All the more reason why he had to save her. Rachel was in serious danger of drowning, not to mention freezing to death, and only he could save her.

It had been a long time since he'd saved someone. Wishing he had didn't count.

Pushing all thought except the present from his mind, Brave yanked off his coat and rolled up his sleeves. The autumn air bit through the thin lawn of his shirt, and he shivered, knowing the river would be much colder.

“What are you d...doing?” Rachel cried.

“Rescuing you -- if all goes according to plan.” Eyeing the branches hanging just above his shoulder, Brave hesitated. What he was contemplating was madness -- the servants would have a fit when they found out. Odd, but as crazy as his plan was, he hadn't felt so right about anything in a long time.

And perhaps saving her would take away some of the pain for the one he hadn't saved.

Grasping a low branch, Brave pulled his weight upward, swinging himself into the yawning embrace of the tree with surprising ease. Bits of bark clung to his reddened palms, and he brushed them against his trousers before easing himself into a horizontal position on the branch.

He inched forward, the muscles of his fingers and thighs clenched...

A Seductive Offer. Copyright © by Kathryn Smith. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    humorous Regency romance

    In 1816 Yorkshire, the Earl of Braven, better known as Brave, risks his life and rescues Rachel Ashton from drowning in the nearby river. He takes her to his home Wyck¿s End so they both can dry off and warm up from their debacle. Rachel informs her savior that her abusive stepfather Sir Henry Westhaver plans to sell Rachel to the highest bidder by marrying her to fifty something, obese lecher Viscount Charlton. <P> Brave decides a marriage of convenience will save both he and Rachel. He would be removed from the dreaded available bachelor list and thus enable him to hide his broken heart received from a previous relationship. She would be free of her odious stepfather and his even more despicable groom. However, his concept goes awry as Rachel and Brave fall in love, but is he really brave enough to take the plunge into a loving relationship? <P> Though the story line of this Regency romance follows sub-genre lines, the humorous exchanges between the lead protagonists make the tale quite entertaining. The story line is fun as Brave and Rachel banter on anything while struggling with an attraction and a love that he never expected. Kathryn Smith provides the audience with A SEDUCTIVE OFFER of reading pleasure. <P>Harriet Klausner

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