Wed Him Before You Bed Him (School for Heiresses Series #6)

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New York Times
bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries’s School for Heiresses series concludes with the fifth and sixth sexy and seductive stories "destined to captivate readers with its sensuality and wonderfully enchanting plots" (Romantic Times).

When Diego Montalvo, a dashing Spanish magician, moves next door to Charlotte Harris’s School for Young Ladies, the beautiful and determined Lucy Seton sets out to ...

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Wed Him Before You Bed Him (School for Heiresses Series #6)

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Overview


New York Times
bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries’s School for Heiresses series concludes with the fifth and sixth sexy and seductive stories "destined to captivate readers with its sensuality and wonderfully enchanting plots" (Romantic Times).

When Diego Montalvo, a dashing Spanish magician, moves next door to Charlotte Harris’s School for Young Ladies, the beautiful and determined Lucy Seton sets out to save the threatened school. Diego has come to England to find the long-lost granddaughter of a Spanish Marques and return her to Spain, and he is convinced that Lucy is the woman he’s been looking for. Now, he just has to steal a look at her thigh to confirm a birthmark before whisking her away to Spain to collect his reward. But Diego never suspected his mission would include falling in love...

In the wonderful conclusion of the series, Charlotte Harris, the beloved headmistress of the School for Young Ladies, finds romance with her mysterious pen pal known only as "Cousin Michael." In Wed Him Before You Bed Him, readers will finally discover his identity in this fun and sexy finale.

Filled with passion, romance, and loveable heroines, the School for Heiresses series proves Sabrina Jeffries is a "grand mistress of storytelling" (Romantic Times).

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  • Sabrina Jeffries
    Sabrina Jeffries  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A fast-paced, sexy romp...." — Library Journal on Let Sleeping Rogues Lie
Publishers Weekly
In Jeffries' charming School for Heiresses series, Charlotte Harris establishes a school for young ladies, both in an effort to sustain herself in her widowhood and to impart the lessons she learned by falling for a rake that married her for her inheritance. The school is successful with the guidance of an anonymous benefactor known only as "Cousin Michael," who is actually Harris' old beau setting her up for a humiliating fall. In this last book of the series, the school's reputation and future is threatened, but Charlotte is—to her amazement—able to find support from an unlikely source. Narrated by Justine Eyre, this historical romance will enchant listeners. Eyre's voice and tone are perfect, as are her depiction of the characters that populate this audio edition. She ably creates sweet, light voices for young ladies, sophisticated and haughty voices for adult women, and aristocratic, arrogant voices for upper crust men. A Pocket paperback. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416560821
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 6/23/2009
  • Series: School for Heiresses Series , #6
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Sabrina Jeffries is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-eight novels and nine works of short fiction (some written under the pseudonyms Deborah Martin and Deborah Nicholas). Whatever time not spent writing in a coffee-fueled haze of dreams and madness is spent traveling with her husband and adult autistic son or indulging in one of her passions—jigsaw puzzles, chocolate, and music. With more than 7 million books in print in eighteen different languages, the North Carolina author never regrets tossing aside a budding career in academics for the sheer joy of writing fun fiction, and hopes that one day a book of hers will end up saving the world. She always dreams big.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Richmond, England November 1824

Charlotte Harris, headmistress and owner of Mrs. Harris's School for Young Ladies, sat at her desk and reread — twice — the pleading letter she had composed to Cousin Michael, her anonymous benefactor.

Then she tore it up. What was the point of writing him, when every letter she sent to his solicitor was returned unopened?

She wiped her clammy hands on her skirt. He had to know what desperate straits the school was in — he knew everything. And until six months ago, he had always told her everything he knew. But after she had pressed him so hard about his identity, he had ended their correspondence. There had not been a word from him since.

The hollow fear that gripped her so often these days made her stomach clench. All right, so perhaps he had good reason to be angry at her. She had agreed not to press him about his anonymity.

Still, how could he abandon them after all this time? He had been part of the school's inception fourteen years ago. Indeed, without him there would be no school. She would probably still be languishing as a teacher at the school in Chelsea, dreaming of the day when she could open her own institution governed by her own curriculum and her own rules.

Now their idiot neighbor, Mr. Pritchard, was about to sweep it all away. He was rumored to be on the verge of selling Rockhurst, the estate adjoining the school's property, to the owner of a racecourse in Yorkshire. She could just see it — rough men flocking to bet on the races, spilling onto the school's lawn and accosting her girls.

How could Cousin Michael stand by and let it happen? He owned this property. Did he not care if she was forced out?

She sucked in a breath. That was what hurt the most — the possibility that he was letting it happen so he could gain higher rents. From the beginning, her rent had been lower than that charged by other landlords in Richmond, and now, with property values in the area soaring, it was ridiculously low. In all these years, her mysterious cousin had never raised it. Why, she wasn't sure. Perhaps because he realized she could only afford a modest increase?

That was especially true now that enrollment had fallen off, fueled by the scandals dogging her pupils in the last year. If rumors about a possible sale of the property next door proved true, it would make matters even worse.

She would have to fight it. When she had thought that Rockhurst was about to be bought months ago, she and her friends had come up with several good ideas for thwarting Mr. Pritchard's plans. They could set up a petition to the licensing board again, or —

"Beg pardon, madam."

She looked up to see her personal footman in the doorway. "Yes, Terence?"

"Lord Kirkwood is here to see you."

A pounding began in her chest. David? Here? No, that could not be. What possible reason could he have now that his wife, a former pupil of the school, was dead?

She thrust her shaking hands under the desk to hide them from her too-perceptive servant. "Are you sure it's Lord Kirkwood?"

"The one who married Miss Sarah Linley, right?"

She nodded. "Did he say what his visit concerns?"

"I asked, but he told me it was private." Terence, always protective of her, crossed his arms over his meaty chest. "So I told him that men aren't entitled to privacy when they visit a girls' school."

"Terence!"

His lip twitched. "And he said he wasn't in the habit of giving up his privacy for the amusement of impudent footmen."

She gave a rueful laugh. "That does sound like something he would say."

Terence looked perplexed. "You know him, then? I didn't think he had ever been here, not even after he married Miss Linley."

"I know him socially through Lord Norcourt."

That was both an overstatement and a vast understatement of her association with David Masters, the Viscount Kirkwood.

She was fortunate he was even civil to her on the few occasions they met in society. Considering the great wrong she had committed against him and his family years ago, she would not fault him for giving her the cut direct.

Indeed, she had been afraid of his doing exactly that when she had attended poor Sarah's funeral months ago. But despite knowing how uncomfortable her presence would make him, Charlotte had felt compelled to make an appearance.

She and David had exchanged the barest of greetings, though he had been surprisingly cordial for a man who must despise her. Why, just remembering the summer of the Great Debacle made her cringe.

So what on earth had brought him here? She could not imagine a more awkward situation. In all these years, she and David had never been alone together, never spoken of what she had done to him.

"Should I send him packing?" Terence asked.

For a second, she was tempted. But something important indeed must have brought him to visit the woman who had once wronged him so horribly. "No. Just show him in."

After Terence left, she checked her appearance in the mirror to make sure her auburn curls were not too badly askew and her face not too pale. Perhaps it was foolish, but she wanted to look her best before him, of all people. She scarcely had time to smooth her skirts and pinch her cheeks before he was ushered into her office, bringing her face-to-face with the man she had nearly married so long ago.

Pasting a smile on her lips, she walked forward with her hand extended. "Lord Kirkwood. How nice to see you again."

His eyes flashed with some hidden emotion. "Charlotte." He took her hand and pressed it briefly before releasing it.

Charlotte. Not Mrs. Harris, but Charlotte, spoken in the husky tone that had made her heart flip over when she was eighteen and he nearly twenty.

No, she must not think of that. Those days were gone forever, lost in the pages of their pasts. Time and her own mistakes, as well as his, had changed them both irrevocably.

Nothing proved that more than the dusting of gray at his temples, the lines of care worn into his brow. At thirtyseven, David was still uncommonly handsome, with the aggressively masculine features of a man who had always commanded attention, from the sharp blade of his nose to the cleft in his chin. His coloring reminded her of the forest — his eyes a leafy green and his thick, wavy hair the dark brown of walnuts and bark and rich tilled earth.

And his body...

She turned sharply and hurried behind her desk, afraid she might blush. At eighteen, she had noticed his body in the vague way of a virgin unfamiliar with sensual delights. But now, as a widow of some years, she noticed it with an awareness bordering on pain.

Since Sarah had been dead for six months now, he wore half-mourning, with some white blended in with his black. Ebony trousers encased the lean hips and muscular thighs of a man who kept himself fit, while his finely tailored morning coat of jet black saxony showed off his broad shoulders. And she could well imagine those large gloved hands, one of which gripped the handle of a leather satchel, playing over a woman's body with the surety of experience...

Heavens, she had to stop this. Terence was eyeing her from the door with rank curiosity, obviously hanging about to make sure David did not harm her.

She frowned at him. "Thank you, Terence. You may go."

With a grunt the man left.

"Rather a rough sort for a footman," David said dryly.

"He used to be a pugilist."

"Why on earth would you hire a boxer as a lady's footman?"

Bristling at the criticism, she said, "Because his skills are more useful to a woman going about town alone than any niceties of behavior." She forced a smile. "But I'm sure you didn't come here to discuss my servants, Lord Kirkwood."

Gesturing to the chair before the desk, she took her own seat, needing something massive between them to keep her mind from wandering to her unwelcome attraction to a man who surely loathed her.

Yet he did not look as if he loathed her. He watched her steadily as he sat down with the easy motion of a man very comfortable in his surroundings. "Actually, I've come bearing good news."

Good news? From him? "And what might that be?"

"In going through Sarah's things recently, I discovered a handwritten codicil to her will. In it, she left a substantial sum of money to your school."

Had she heard him right? "I don't understand."

"She bequeathed some of her fortune to the school."

"Your wife, Sarah. Bequeathed me money."

"Not you," he corrected with a lift of his eyebrow. "The school."

"Yes, of course, the school. But..." She thought of Sarah's snide remarks, the way the woman had behaved at the last tea she'd attended, the seeming contempt Sarah had always shown her fellow pupils. "But why?"

He shrugged. "She always admired you and thought fondly of her days here."

"Your wife, Sarah, thought fondly of her days here."

"I believe we've already established that the woman under discussion is my late wife, Sarah," he said dryly.

No doubt he found her response insulting. "Forgive me. It's just that...she never seemed to...that is..."

"I know Sarah could be...difficult. But I believe she secretly held you and the school in high esteem."

Charlotte muttered, "That was a secret buried so deep as to be invisible." Then she groaned. "I'm sorry. That was rude. It is just such a shock to think that Sarah had any particular regard for me or the school."

"Well, the truth of the matter lies in the size of her bequest." He leveled her with a gaze of dark intent. "It's thirty thousand pounds."

Charlotte sucked in a breath. "Oh my word. Are you sure?"

A faint smile touched his lips. "I wouldn't be here if I weren't." He removed a sheaf of papers from his satchel and placed them before her. "I took the liberty of having our family solicitor draw up a legal document that fully sets out the particulars she gave in her codicil. Feel free to have your own solicitor examine it."

Still unable to take in the news, Charlotte just gaped at the formal-looking papers with the name of some legal firm stamped at the top.

"Before you read it, however," David said, "I should warn you that there is one...er...string attached to the bequest."

Charlotte's gaze flew to his. Of course there was. This had begun to seem like a fairy tale, but life was never so tidy. Sarah had been a malicious little thing, much as Charlotte hated to admit it of any of her pupils. "What sort of string?"

"Sarah wanted the money to fund a new building to house the school. To be named after her, of course."

"Of course," she said mechanically, though her mind was elsewhere, trying to make sense of this. "Forgive me, sir, for I know this will sound insulting again, but...well, your wife didn't even give money to the charities we support. I can't imagine why she would bequeath a fortune to build a new school."

"She actually donated a great deal to charities anonymously," he said smoothly. "She was far more philanthropic than anyone knew."

The picture he painted of Sarah was so odd as to be suspicious. Charlotte hated to speak ill of the dead, but she had to know what was at the bottom of this. "Again I must beg your pardon, but I thought that Sarah's primary interest was cards, not charity." That was the nicest way she could put it.

Even so, he flushed. "Yes, well, that is true. But that was a function of her desire to rise in society. She gambled to be accepted among a select group of ladies. And their acceptance came at a high cost."

"Yet she still had enough money to leave the school a huge sum?"

He flashed her a thin smile. "Sarah's fortune was substantial. Why do you think she and I were forced to elope six years ago? Her father was none too happy to see so much money go to a 'titled wastrel.' "

The conversation was dancing very near to their own situation years ago, and that was the last thing she wanted.

Yet she could not ignore his opening. "Speaking of Sarah's family, how do they feel about this bequest?"

"They don't know of it, and I prefer to keep it that way as long as possible. It would pain her brother in particular to learn that Sarah gave money to your school rather than to her siblings. She and Richard were quite close, and she left him only a token amount. I hope I can count on your discretion."

"Of course," she said.

He cleared his throat. "About the building...I understand that the school's situation is rather unsettled just now. That Samuel Pritchard means to sell Rockhurst to a fellow who runs a racing establishment."

"You know Mr. Pritchard?"

"We've met in society a time or two."

She leaned forward. "Do you know if the sale is certain? It will be the ruin of the school if they build a racecourse next door."

"I can see how it would create difficulties for you," David said. "But surely you could sell this house and property to build the school elsewhere. That would solve your difficulties, wouldn't it?"

"For heaven's sake, no. Aside from the fact that I prefer this location, I do not own the house or the property."

He did not seem surprised to hear it. "Then who does?"

Charlotte stared down at her hands, wondering what David would think of her strange relation. "To be truthful, I do not know my landlord's real name. When he offered the property for my use, it was with the condition that I allow him to remain anonymous. He...er...communicates with me using an alias. We go through a solicitor, a Mr. Joseph Baines."

"Norcourt's solicitor?" David asked.

"Yes, actually." Anthony Dalton, Lord Norcourt, was one of David's closest friends and had married Madeline, a former teacher from Charlotte's school. "Anthony and I had a good laugh about it when I learned that he and Cousin Michael have the same solicitor. Do you know Mr. Baines?"

"In passing." His eyes narrowed. "Cousin Michael. Sarah mentioned him once. He's your anonymous benefactor?"

"Yes, though he has been virtually nonexistent of late."

"A pity," he said, rather curtly. "Now, about your situation with Mr. Pritchard..."

But she did not hear anything else, caught by an astonishing thought. What if David was Cousin Michael? Might that explain the sudden supposed "bequest" from Sarah to build a new school?

No, it was impossible. Her "cousin" had approached her through Mr. Baines only four years after the summer of the Great Debacle and her hasty elopement with Jimmy Harris. He had said that her late husband had mentioned her interest in opening a girl's school and that he wanted to help her achieve her dream.

At that point, David's public humiliation at her hands would have been fresh in his mind. He would have hated her virulently. He would certainly not have helped her start a school.

Besides, she had seen the solicitor's name at the top of David's document, and it was not Joseph Baines.

"Charlotte?" David prodded. "What do you think?"

She blinked, then sighed. "I am afraid I must once again beg your pardon. I was so caught up in considering this bequest that I missed what you said about Mr. Pritchard, my lord."

"My lord?" His eyes darkened. "Surely we've known each other long enough to be less formal." His voice softened. "You used to call me David."

"That was before I destroyed your life." She cursed her quick tongue.

"It was a long time ago. We're different people now," he murmured, clearly unwilling to speak of it. He forced a smile. "Beside, thanks to my wife's unusual codicil, we'll have to learn to deal with each other. We're practically going to be in each other's pockets for the next few months."

She caught her breath. "I beg your pardon?"

"You really weren't listening to what I said." His tone turned wry. "I'll make it brief, so as to hold your attention. Sarah's bequest is contingent upon one thing — that I oversee the building of the new school. So you see, Charlotte, we'll have plenty of time to become reacquainted."

Copyright © 2009 by Deborah Gonzales

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

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(14)

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(22)

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(8)

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  • Posted June 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    COUSIN MICHAEL IS IN THE HOUSE!

    For fans of the "School of Heiresses Series", the wait is finally over. Our cousin Michael is finally revealed and Ladies, Sabrina does not disappoint. One of the things I enjoyed about the book was that Cousin Michael was his true self in the flesh as he was in his letters. Charlotte, I believe was blinded from discovering the truth due to her own insecurities and perhaps prejudices of her past mistakes. I relished the lead couple's sparring. It was bold, honest and direct. I guess you chalk that up to maturity and life experiences. Charlotte was no weak, submissive "Miss" bowing down to a man's whims and Cousin Michael was not the usual confident cad that thought he could just "TAKE THE WOMAN" to satisfy his own selfish needs. They both suffered immeasurably from poor choices and judgements from the past and the shared correspondence thru the years was an unintentional pathway for healing. Their acceptance and forgiveness of each other's flaws and their own, allowed unrequited love to be finally returned. Kudos to Sabrina for ending a much loved series with a true heart.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Good final book to a great series

    I liked the way Sabrina Jeffries brought her other books into this final book of her School for Heiresses Series. I hope to see these characters in future books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2010

    It gets better further into the story

    I almost put this book down three different times. The first half of the story just drags along and then finally the story gets better. For that reason I gave this only 3 stars. This is the fourth Sabrina Jeffries book I've read and the other three were great. Had this been my first SB book I never would have purchased another of her books.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Title Tells It All

    This book was something I just grabbed at the store because I needed a book. It started out okay but it was pretty lame.

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  • Posted January 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Writing six books in a series is a daunting challenge to maintain freshness of characters and originality of plot. Number 6 doesn't hold up.

    Headmistress MRS. CHARLOTTE HARRIS, now in her late 30's is in danger of losing her School for Heiresses. She also hasn't heard from her Cousin Michael for weeks now. Suddenly back into her life comes widower DAVID MASTERS, LORD KIRKWOOD a man she shamed and brought scandal down on when she was 18. (to excuse Charlotte, her brutal manipulative father was such a poor role model that she suspected all males of the worst motives). The reader knows that David created Michael to string Charlotte along and eventually ruin her. But over years of correspondence, his thirst for revenge fell away. David has had two terrible marriages, the last to Sarah, graduate of the school. Charlotte's marriage to Mr. Harris was undertaken to avoid her shame of what she had done - (her published letter ruined David's life for many years, quite despicable!) Anyway, David hopes to save the school with the fiction that the malicious Sarah left money for the school in her will. To spice things up Sarah's suicide is murder and David is a strong suspect. The old embers of their desire for each other burst into flame, and although Charlotte teaches wedding before bedding, she doesn't practice what she preaches when it comes to David. In the throes of the murder charge and the kidnapping of Charlotte, David finally divests himself of all his baggage and all ends well - with an heir on the way.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2009

    Ahhhhh, love!

    I hadn't read Sabrina Jeffries much until recently, but her books capture and keep my attention ... and my heart. If you love British-set historical romance, you'll love the entire School for Heiresses series. WED HIM BEFORE YOU BED HIM is another jewel, and I'll be reading Sabrina Jeffries for years to come!

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  • Posted September 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Lovely Old Flame Story

    Loved Charlotte's book in this series. I'm glad she finally got her time in the spotlight. I love Old Flame stories, and this one was no exception. Great chemistry between the characters, and a lot of fun plot twists!

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  • Posted August 25, 2009

    Dissapointing!

    The end of a long series turned out to be a letdown. It was nothing special.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Revenge Backfires!

    In this sixth novel of The School for Heiresses series, Charlotte Page is trying to save her school from financial collapse in early 19th Century England. A threatening neighbor plans a sale that would ruin the reputation of her school if it were known to be placed next to a business where gambling, drinking and roaming men were the order of the day. All of a sudden, her business advisor, the mysterious Cousin Michael is not returning her letters directly or through her lawyer. But it turns out now that an old, brief flame has appeared with news of a substantial inheritance gift and even more financial backing should she meet the condition of building a new school elsewhere.

    Why is Lord David Kirkwood announcing this gift from his deceased wife and why is he offering her help after the awful act she committed those many years ago which ultimately shamed him so deeply that he became a social outcast for a very long time? Does he have some diabolical plan for revenge? Why is he still so attractive to her, so much so that she has to assert her focus on her school before she does something she might later regret? Why does David find her independence so alluring and yet so intolerably annoying?

    The story moves back to their original meeting, a time when women were expected to agree to an arranged marriage for political or financial gain. Charlotte wants none of that and is planning how to rebuff David Kirkwood, only to be surprised by the way he initially attempts to repel her as well. But all that changes when they first see each other, years after her shame as a "monkey" tomboy. She puts her thoughts in writing as a venting exercise and the results are absolutely disastrous.

    But David is not one to be easily cast aside years from now. As the plot thickens, he discovers secrets about his late wife and family and Charlotte learns how David really feels about her and what he actually does to prove his devotion. During this process, David learns what an independent, strong-willed woman Charlotte is, ready to fall in love anew but not to sell her body or soul in the process.

    Wed Him Before You Bed Him is a feisty, well-plotted, intriguing story that will thrill old and new readers of this well-loved series. Very nicely done, Ms. Jeffries!

    Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on August 21, 2009

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  • Posted August 9, 2009

    Wed Him before you Bed him - school for Heiresses Series the Final B ook

    This book did a good job of finishing off the series the School for Heiresses. It explains a lot about the character who have delveoped over the 6 books Ms Jeffreis has written about. As usual, Ms Jeffreis did a fine job withe characters and the plot, keeping you guessing until the last chapters. This book could be read as a stand alone book, but when read in the order they were written, makes a very enjoyable read and a good jounrey through the lives of all the characters.

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  • Posted July 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Another great romance!

    Characters were appealing and good use of moving between past and present. Don't like the big dramatic "event" that bring some romances to a climax and this book has one but still very good read.

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  • Posted June 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    super Regency romance

    When Charlotte Harris was eighteen and Charlotte Page she made a horrific mistake when she sent a letter rejecting a suitor that became published in a tabloid scandal rag. The scandal ruined David's reputation unfairly and she made hers worse when she eloped with Captain Harris.

    Years later in 1824, she still regrets what she caused, not for herself as she likes being the Headmistress of the Mrs. Harris School for Heiresses, but to the gentleman she hurt. However, her school is in financial difficulty and "Cousin Michael" whom she has corresponded with and helped her through the worst of times is not writing; she is worried about him as that is out of character. Her only hope is the man she inadvertently destroyed. However she also is ignorant as to what he has done to avenge what she did to him years ago; he just never expected to remain in love with her.

    The final School for Heiresses Regency romance is the one fans of this strong late regency saga have waited for and will agree that Sabrina Jeffries surpasses our expectations; the pressure on the gifted author for Charlotte's tale must have been immense. The story line is fast-paced and filled with strong support characters while the lead "triangle" is top rate as Cousin Michael's 's web of deceit is entangling Charlotte and himself in what looks will be another enormous scandal. Great fun for sub-genre readers as Ms. Jeffries closes out her series with a winner.

    Harriet Klausner

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