The Penniless Bride (Harlequin Historical Series)

The Penniless Bride (Harlequin Historical Series)

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by Nicola Cornick

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Lord Robert Selborne intended to kiss the chimney sweep's daughter for luck at his cousin's wedding...not marry her! But of all the ladies assembled, she was the only one who captured his interest. And unless she became his wife in name only, he would forfeit his inheritance....

Having been raised by a brutal father on the London streets, Jemima Jewell had


Lord Robert Selborne intended to kiss the chimney sweep's daughter for luck at his cousin's wedding...not marry her! But of all the ladies assembled, she was the only one who captured his interest. And unless she became his wife in name only, he would forfeit his inheritance....

Having been raised by a brutal father on the London streets, Jemima Jewell had few illusions about life and love. Until Rob's lips met hers in a soul-stirring kiss and he impulsively made her his wife. And his penniless bride now hoped her love would provide Rob with a fortune far greater than the one he sought....

Product Details

Publication date:
Harlequin Historical Series , #725
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
3.66(w) x 6.98(h) x 0.80(d)

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The Penniless Bride

By Nicola Cornick

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-29325-9

Chapter One

The offices of Churchward and Churchward in High Hol-born had seen many secrets. The lawyers' premises exuded a reassuring discretion that was highly valued by their noble clientele. On this August day in 1808, Mr Churchward the younger was dealing with a matter of inheritance that should have been straightforward. War, and the vagaries of his eccentric clients had, however, made it a matter of some delicacy.

The new Earl of Selborne had arrived some twenty minutes earlier and after the conventional greetings had taken place, Mr Churchward had offered his condolences and had taken out the last wills and testaments of both the Earl's late father and his grandmother. At the moment they were still studying the terms of the late Lord Selborne's will and had not even touched on the Dowager's dispositions. Mr Churchward, who knew what was still in store, had the depressing feeling that matters were moving downhill rather more swiftly than a runaway carriage. He settled his glasses more firmly on his nose, a manoeuvre designed specifically to give him time to study the gentleman sitting in the comfortable leather armchair before the desk.

Robert, Earl of Selborne was looking a little grim. He had the thin face and chiselled features of the Selbornes, with dark hair and eyes that hinted at his distant Cornish ancestry. Though tanned from several years of campaigning in the Peninsula on General Sir John Moore's staff, Robert Selborne was pale and somewhat tight-lipped. And no wonder. He was confronted by a dilemma that no one would envy. Mr Churchward was grimly aware that he had not had the opportunity to raise the details of the second will yet. That was, if anything, even worse.

As Mr Churchward studied him, Lord Selborne looked up and said, "I should be grateful if you would run through the terms of my father's will again, Mr Churchward, to be sure that I fully understand."

His tone was clipped.

"Certainly, my lord," Mr Churchward murmured. He suspected that the Earl had understood the will perfectly from the first, for he was no fool. At six-and-twenty years old, Robert Selborne had been away fighting since he had achieved his majority, first in India and then in Spain. He had been mentioned twice in despatches, commended for his courage under fire and his heroic rescue of a fellow officer. Unfortunately it was young Lord Selborne's preference for the army over the merits of settling down young that had led him into the situation in which he now found himself.

Mr Churchward scanned the will again, although he was entirely conversant with its contents. In many ways it was a simple document. And in others ... He cleared his throat.

"You have inherited the Earldom of Selborne and all entailed property absolutely as the only son of your predecessor, the fourteenth Earl Selborne of Delaval." Mr Churchward looked grave. "All unentailed property and monies accruing to the title ..."

"Yes?" Robert Selborne's dark eyes held a mixture of exasperation and resignation. Mr Churchward allowed himself a very small, sympathetic smile. He had seen young gentlemen squirm on such a hook before, although he had never come across such specific terms in a will as these.

"Will come to you the day that you marry." Mr Church-ward's tone was dry as he read the next paragraph of the will word for word.

"My son is to choose a bride from amongst the young ladies present at the marriage of his cousin, Miss Anne Selborne, and is to marry one of them within four weeks of the wedding. He is then to reside at Delaval for the following six months. Otherwise all unentailed properties and monies relating to the estate of Delaval will pass to my nephew, Ferdinand Selborne, Esquire ..."

"Thank you, Churchward." Rob Selborne's tone was as dry as that of the lawyer. "Alas, I did not mishear the first time."

"No, my lord."

Rob Selborne got to his feet and strolled over to the window as though the office felt a little too small for him.

"So my father managed to clip my wings in the end," he said. He spoke conversationally, almost to himself. "He swore that he would find a way to do so."

Mr Churchward cleared his throat again. "It would seem so, my lord."

"He always wished for me to marry and settle down to produce an heir."

"Most understandable, my lord, as you are the only son."

Rob Selborne flicked him a glance. "Of course. Do not think that I did not appreciate my father's feelings, Churchward. In his situation I would very likely have behaved in the same manner."

"Indeed, my lord."

"Who knows - I might even have invoked such a draconian condition myself." "Very possibly, my lord."

Rob swung around. "Even so, I am tempted to tell my father's memory to go hang, disrespectful as that might be."

"Very natural under the circumstances, my lord," Mr Churchward said soothingly. "No gentleman likes to feel himself coerced."

Rob clenched his fists. "Ferdie may have the money. I will not marry simply to inherit a fortune." There was a pause.

"You are aware, my lord," the lawyer said carefully, "that the extent of the fortune, even when assessed conservatively, is around thirty thousand pounds? It is not a huge sum, but it is not to be dismissed lightly."

The grim line of Robert Selborne's jaw tightened a notch. "I am aware."

"And that the estate of Delaval, whilst bringing in a reasonable income under normal circumstances, has fallen into disrepair after the epidemic that carried your parents off?"

Rob sighed. "I have not yet seen Delaval, Churchward. Is it in so bad a condition?"

"Yes, my lord," the lawyer said simply.

Rob turned abruptly towards the window again. "I did not go away because I cared nothing for my family or for Delaval, Churchward. I wish you to know that."

The lawyer was silent. He knew it perfectly well. From his earliest youth, Robert Selborne's love of Delaval had gone very deep. He might have been away for the best part of five years, he might have wanted to prove himself by serving in the army, but his attachment to the place of his birth - and to his family, for that matter - was unquestioned.

"I wish now," the Earl said, "that I had not been away from home for so long."

There was a wealth of feeling in his voice.

"Your father," Mr Churchward said carefully, answering the sentiment rather than the words, "was away for three years on the Grand Tour in his youth."

Their eyes met. Robert Selborne's grave expression lightened slightly. "Thank you, Churchward. I suppose that we must all strike out for our independence in our own way."

"Indeed so, my lord."


Excerpted from The Penniless Bride by Nicola Cornick Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

For the first 18 years of her life Nicola lived in Yorkshire, within a stone's throw of the moors that had inspired the Brontë sisters to write Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. One of her grandfathers was a poet, and her family contained teachers and avid readers who filled the house with books. With such a background it was impossible for Nicola not to become a bookworm.

Nicola went to school in a historic building that had originally been the dower house of a stately home. It was the sort of school that taught girls how to find a rich husband and how to get in and out of a Rolls-Royce gracefully.

Unfortunately Nicola did not pay enough attention to the bit about the rich husband and has therefore never had the chance to practice the bit with the Rolls- Royce. She was too busy reading. It was also at school that Nicola developed her love of history, English literature, and French, due to some truly inspirational teachers.

Meanwhile, Nicola spent her evenings reading piles of romances and historical novels and watching costume dramas with her grandmother. Her grandparents were very influential to her and also taught her canasta, ballroom dancing, and how to grow rhubarb, all of which she is determined to incorporate in a historical romance one day.

At 18 Nicola went south to study history at London University and during her holidays did a variety of jobs, from sticking price tags on shoes in a factory to serving refreshments on a steam railway. When she left college she had to settle for something far less interesting in order to earn a living and worked as an administrator in a number of different universities. She moved to Somerset and livedfor seven years in a cottage haunted by the ghost of a cavalier.

Nicola met her future husband while she was at university, although it took her four years to realize that he was special and more than just a friend. Her husband, being so much more perceptive, had worked this out much sooner but eventually an understanding was reached.

This lack of perception also meant that Nicola did not realize for years that she was meant to be a writer. She wrote bits and pieces of novels in her spare time but never finished any of them. Eventually, she sent in the first three chapters of a Regency romance to Mills and Boon and, although they were rejected, she found she had become so addicted to writing that she could not stop. Happily, her third attempt was accepted and she has never looked back.

Nicola loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted by email at or via her web site,

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4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had enjoyed this book the first time I had read it and started getting into historical romance soon after this. The setting, emotions of the characters, and personification of the passion by Ms. Cornick was absolutely brilliant! Previously, I was not inclined to enjoying historical or even romantic stories until I read this one. I cannot get enough from the story's suspense and adventure, romantically that is. Basically, I would suggest this to anyone whether into romantic novels or not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago