Stealing the Bride

Stealing the Bride

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by Elizabeth Boyle

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A Scandalous Elopement

The Marquis of Templeton has faced every sort of danger in his work for the King, but chasing after a wayward spinster who's had the effrontery to run off with the wrong man hardly seems worth his considerable talents. But when the heiress in question is none other than Lady Diana Fordham, Temple is about to meet his match. Tempestuous and

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A Scandalous Elopement

The Marquis of Templeton has faced every sort of danger in his work for the King, but chasing after a wayward spinster who's had the effrontery to run off with the wrong man hardly seems worth his considerable talents. But when the heiress in question is none other than Lady Diana Fordham, Temple is about to meet his match. Tempestuous and passionate, headstrong and opinionated, the lady is everything a man should avoid...

A Dangerous Plan

Diana has no intention of making Temple's assignment easy. In fact she has every reason to turn his life upside down — just as he did to hers when he broke her heart years ago. Now it's Diana's turn to give Temple a lesson in love, from a teasing glance to a scandalous embrace. However, as she leads him on a merry chase from London to Gretna Green, they soon realize that a kiss once given is hard to forget, and a rekindled passion is impossible to deny.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tired of waiting for the Marquis of Templeton to come to his senses and marry her, Lady Diana Fordham, the brassy heroine of this cookie-cutter Regency-era romance, devises a plot to ensnare him. Her plan: to run away with a man of ill-repute and wait for Temple, who acts like a typical London fop but is really a fearless undercover agent, to rescue her. A spirited spinster, Diana is one of the few people who knows Temple's true profession, and she has been pining after him ever since she learned the truth. Though Temple is reluctant to fall in line with her plan, he has little choice in the matter when his boss, a good friend of Diana's father, orders him to save her. His mission turns deadly, however, when a fanatical Frenchman, who wants Diana for his own mysterious purposes, enters the picture. Boyle crowds her tale with stock characters-a hero who is brave except when it comes to matters of the heart; a heroine who defies convention at every turn; and a villain who exudes evil from every pore. Add to the mix a pair of bumbling ancillary characters known as "pins and needles," who long to marry Diana, and you have a frothy confection buoyed by witty dialogue but weighed down with predictable plot turns and unremarkable characters. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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Chapter One

London, 1809

It was, by all accounts, a rather typical night at White's. The men of London's social elite had gathered together for another evening of drinking and gambling and bragging to their hearts' content.

Who would have guessed that these rarefied members of the ton were about to witness the scandal of the Season?

As usual, the most crowded spot in the great room was around the Marquis of Templeton, or as most people called him, Temple. Not exactly the proper address for a man who by chance, or rather by birth, was the Duke of Setchfield's heir, but Temple he was, and, many suspected, Temple he would always be.

Cut off by his imperious grandfather from any family funds because of his wastrel ways and because he wouldn't bend to the duke's constant demands, he made do as he could, by being the perfect houseguest, the best of company.

In short, he was invited everywhere.

There were advantages to having the marquis as a part of one's social event. He knew all the gossip. He could spot an ill-tied cravat across a shadowy room faster than a Bow Street runner could collar a pickpocket. With the aid of his trusty lorgnette, he could tell whether a man's coat had been stitched by Weston or by a country tradesman copying the master tailor's latest trends for half the price.

If you needed to know what color was best to wear to Lady Brickton's fête, which young miss had the plumpest dowry, or from whom to obtain the finest, fittest, and best polished Hessians, then Temple was your most capable confidant.

So it was that the marquis moved through the ton like a blithe and welcome breeze, invited everywhere -- for it would never do to snub a future duke -- and laughed at for the follies, foibles, and bill collectors following in his wake. He lived his life without an apparent care in the world, as long as one discounted his agonizing search for a tailor who would overlook his continual lack of funds.

In truth, he was a man to be envied.

In truth, he was a man living a singularly calculated lie.

So while he stood in White's, the living example of all that was wastrel and foolish about the ton, his mind was far away on more pressing matters. Problems so urgent that few would have thought they'd find anyplace to lodge amongst all the wool and lint that most believed made up the interior workings behind the marquis' engaging smile.

Especially considering his current subject of discussion -- a lecture to young Lord Harry Penham on how to select the perfect valet.

The jest lay in the fact that Penham, on his first Season in town and a greenling in every definition of the word, obviously knew nothing of the fact that Temple had never hired a valet, let alone that he couldn't afford the services of one.

Temple's only servant was a disreputable one-eyed man who drove the marquis' carriage and ran his errands. Elton was recognized by one and all, and most held him in fearful regard, for it was rumored that Temple had bought the man off a scaffold -- if only to have a loyal servant who wouldn't mind an infrequent salary.

But obviously Penham knew none of this, for he hung on Temple's every word as if he were receiving Holy Scriptures.

"What agency are you using?" the marquis asked, his lorgnette tapping at his chin. "For you'll never find the right fellow without the help of a good agency." He eyed the disgraceful state of the younger man's cravat and made a tut tut noise that signaled his wholehearted disapproval. "Let me guess, you've retained Fogelmann's?"

When Penham nodded, Temple shuddered and clutched at his heart. "Upon my horror, you'll be sporting some Oriental tied piece of silk before the end of the week." He glanced at the gathering crowd. "Which I daresay might be an improvement on this." Temple took his lorgnette and swirled it through the mess of lace and silk that made up Penham's woeful attempt at a waterfall.

Several in the crowd began to chuckle.

"Well, I-I-I-" Penham sputtered, quite flustered at being put in the spotlight by the infamous marquis. "I-I-I didn't know."

"Obviously." Temple sighed again and eyed the man from head to toe. "A Cambridge man, I suppose."

Penham nodded again, this time a little more warily.

"Whatever are they teaching there these days?" Temple stalked around the young man, tapping his lorgnette in his palm like a riding crop. "A gentleman must be prepared for all sorts of calamities. Why, you never know when your valet may take ill," he advised. "Or for that matter, run off complaining about lack of wages or some other nonsense." This comment brought a hearty round of laughter. Temple winked at his audience over Penham's head. "It is imperative that you are able to do a respectable job yourself or you'll never catch the eye of that certain lady."

This brought Penham's attention up in an instant. "But I didn't think anyone knew that I -- "

"Tut tut," Temple said. "Read the betting book, my good man. Or better yet, read the Morning Post. You and Nettle-stone have caused quite a sensation with your competition for that lady's hand."

"My intentions toward her are quite honorable," Penham asserted. "Not that the same can be said for my rival." He nodded toward Aloysius, the seventeenth Baron of Nettle-stone, who sat across the room playing vingt-et-un.

"Yes," Temple drawled, sparing a glance first at one man, then the other. "I daresay your heart and estate in Dorset could use the improvements her fortune will bring more so than that drafty pile of rocks Nettlestone calls home."

Penham tried to stammer out a response, but Temple stopped him with a shake of his head ...

Stealing the Bride. Copyright © by Elizabeth Boyle. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Elizabeth Boyle has always loved romance and now lives it each and every day by writing adventurous and passionate stories that readers from all around the world have described as "page-turners." Since her first book was published, she's seen her romances become New York Times and USA Today bestsellers and won the RWA RITA® and the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Awards. She resides in Seattle with her family, her garden, and always-growing collection of yarn.

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