The Wedding Chase

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What happens when a bride ends up with the wrong groom?

In the tradition of New York Times bestseller Betina Krahn comes a sparkling new talent with a witty, passionate tale of a spinster wary of desire—and the charming rogue who's determined to change her tune....

A notorious rake's moment of weakness...

Wolfgang Hardwicke, the Earl of Northcliffe, is up to no good—as usual. So he isn't certain why he rescues...

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What happens when a bride ends up with the wrong groom?

In the tradition of New York Times bestseller Betina Krahn comes a sparkling new talent with a witty, passionate tale of a spinster wary of desire—and the charming rogue who's determined to change her tune....

A notorious rake's moment of weakness...

Wolfgang Hardwicke, the Earl of Northcliffe, is up to no good—as usual. So he isn't certain why he rescues the drunken gambler from a fight. And he never expects to be rewarded with a heavenly, all-too-brief glimpse of the gambler's exquisite sister, clad only in her nightgown. Nor does he guess that he'll see her again, lighting up a dull party as she plays piano with a rapturous expression—an expression Wolfgang would like to see in decidedly different circumstances....

An independent beauty's dangerous liaison...

Unlike her admirer, Miss Grizelda Fleetwood is an unabashed do-gooder, one who has as soft a heart for her ne'er-do-well brother as for the unfortunates she helps. Though Zel has no interest in matrimony, she's determined to marry to save her family from financial ruin. That is, if she can find a suitable match before the unprincipled and relentless Earl of Northcliffe ruins her reputation...or steals her defenseless heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The woman who sells herself to salvage a profligate male relative is a well-worn plot. But romance newcomer Kelley gives her Regency a new twist with her clever depiction of her heroine, an almost six-foot-tall spinster. Grizelda Fleetwood is looking for someone very rich who will keep her brother out of debtor's prison, and someone aged and very pliable who won't try to control her. Wolfgang Hardwicke, the Earl of Northcliffe, is neither old nor mildmannered and plans to make the prim and proper do-gooder change her mind. There's a clever musical leitmotifZel shares in the "curse of Mozart" as her second name is Amadea, and each chapter has a telling musical title (Scherzo, Vivace, Duet etc.)and both characters are wryly cultivated, making them funny counterpoints to their philistine set. Kelley's style is cheery, clever and fastpaced, and the dialogue truly seems like a meeting of sharp minds. More real historical ambience would make it perfect, but romance readers can still anticipate an amusing read. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553578706
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/1/1998
  • Series: Bantam Spectra Book Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 388
  • Product dimensions: 4.27 (w) x 6.93 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Canzonet: a graceful song in parts

Standing before Lady Selby's ornate basin and mirror, Wolfgang splashed cold water on his face and neck. Lucifer and his cat! He'd wet the damn dressing again! Frowning, he ripped the bandage off his shoulder. A narrow scab came up with it. The scurvy footpads who attacked him three days ago outside Brooks's Club had barely scratched the skin. Rank amateurs! He dabbed at a few drops of blood with the gauze dressing. The runner he'd hired at Bow Street should be responding with a report, detailing the identity of the assailants and the reason for the attack. Maybe it was just a simple robbery.

Deciding the wound didn't merit a new dressing, he quickly donned attire of which even his valet would approve: buff pantaloons, white shirt, pale blue waistcoat, and black Hessians. Finishing off a simple cravat knot, he slid into the snug morning jacket. He felt a little lost without Jenkins's attendance, but the staunch retainer deserved a few days off. An adult male should be able to dress himself on occasion.

Wolfgang rooted through the pile of last night's clothing for a hair ribbon, finally finding the black strip tangled about a rumpled waistcoat. He'd had a week his friend, Freddie, would be proud of, first the fight at the gambling hell and the next night the footpad attack. What did Miss Fleetwood know about the fight? He'd evaded her questions, but he knew the issue hadn't died. Frowning at his reflection in the glass, he brushed his hair, tied it in a queue, then set out in search of breakfast.

The sideboard in the bright breakfast room was filled with rashers of bacon, kidney pie, salmon, eggs, jam tarts, dried fruit, toast, coffee, and tea. He loaded a plate, joining the sparse gathering around the table. As conversation ran equally sparse he ate rapidly, excusing himself to wander the house.

Eventually, Wolfgang found himself in the music room. He hadn't practiced in months but, inspired by Miss Fleetwood's performance, he couldn't resist trying his hand. First the pianoforte, then its player.

A smile brushed his lips. Her sweet blush contrasted so intriguingly with her bold behavior. She followed along with his game of cat and mouse, allowing him to sit far too close, moving away only a bit to encourage rather than discourage him. Yet when faced with competition, she deserted the field, leaving him in Isadora's clutches despite his silent plea for aid.

He sighed, seating himself on the bench. If he wished to be an honorable gentleman, any doubts dictated that he leave her alone. But why should he allow a few scruples to interfere with his amusements? And she did amuse him.

He would proceed with flirtation, moving ever so skillfully into seduction. Smiling, Wolfgang rifled through the sheet music arrayed on the pianoforte. Finding a familiar Mozart sonata, he began to softly finger the hardwood keys.

He was thoroughly destroying the piece when he sensed another presence in the room. A spicy scent. Wolfgang turned to see Grizelda Fleetwood, in another dowdy gown, hesitating at the door. He stopped abruptly, surprised at his embarrassment.

"Discovered! The foul deed uncovered!" He smiled, eased the bench back, and stood with a flourish. "I confess my guilt. I've murdered Mozart."

She laughed, a throaty sound of full, easy humor that struck a chord within him. Her laughter bore no resemblance to the rehearsed titter affected by the ladies of the ton. "I wouldn't call it murder, my lord, maybe a little unintentional mayhem. You have a fine hand, but it's clear you rarely practice."

"The truth is indeed revealed. I seldom, almost never, practice. Lacking discipline, I have become a much better listener than player." Wolfgang took a step closer, drawing her eyes to his. "You are quite beyond my touch."

That faint blush appeared again, as she set a well-worn portfolio on the table. "Do you sight read?"

"About as well as I play."

"That will be fine. I have a few Bach pieces my music master arranged for four hands on the pianoforte." Her low voice softened. "The easier part was for my brother. My part acts as the counterpoint. Would you like to try?"

"I would be honored to take instruction." He bowed, sat back on the bench, and patted the seat beside him. "But please be kind to your humble pupil, Madam Music Master."

An answering smile lit her face as she opened her portfolio. She pulled out some tattered papers before sitting a respectable distance from him on the bench. He took the music, scanned it quickly, and laid it out where they both could see.

Miss Fleetwood removed her eyeglasses, pushed back a wisp of dark brown hair, and ran bare fingers lightly over the keys. "Are you ready? My part joins in after the first few measures."

Wolfgang began to tentatively tap out the notes. The piece was easy, and his confidence rapidly increased. Soon she joined in, the notes prancing, circling, interlacing playfully. They both reached to turn the page, his hand met hers, skin to skin. A thrumming—a contralto's lowest note—reverberated through him. Their gazes crossed and locked. Suddenly he wanted to touch much more than her fingers. As if he'd spoken the thought aloud, she looked away, stumbling over the next measure. She seemed to draw herself in, her slender form compact and contained, and continued the piece. He inhaled slowly, breathing in her scent, and found his place in the music, barely missing a note.

As they finished the arrangement, she turned to him with what might have been a smile had her mouth not been so tight. "I believe you could be quite good if you applied yourself."

The corner of his lips twitched as he restrained an answering smile. "I'm always good when I apply myself, Miss Fleetwood." The threatening grin broke through. "But speaking of good, you should see me ride. Do you ride?"

"Ride? What do you . . ." She hesitated slightly. "I ride, but not well."

"Good. I've played your student, now you'll play mine."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Good Read.

    This is my first book by Ms. Kelley. It was pretty good. Wolfgang and Zel were interesting characters. Both are strong. The romance was very good. The story is 312 pages. The villain was a surprise. It is not the best romance writing but is worth reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2012

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