The Wedding Affair

The Wedding Affair

3.9 17
by Leigh Michaels
     
 

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You're invited to the wedding of the year!

The Duke of Somervale, whose sister's wedding is the event of the ton, is fighting off debutantes and desperately needs help from beautiful, stubborn Olivia Reyne. But she is engrossed with problems engulfing her dearest friends and family. The last thing Olivia needs is to be embroiled with a duke

Overview

You're invited to the wedding of the year!

The Duke of Somervale, whose sister's wedding is the event of the ton, is fighting off debutantes and desperately needs help from beautiful, stubborn Olivia Reyne. But she is engrossed with problems engulfing her dearest friends and family. The last thing Olivia needs is to be embroiled with a duke whose dark gaze makes her forget herself entirely...

Discover a new side of a beloved author as Leigh Michaels draws you into the glittering, glitzy world of Regency England and an affair you'll never forget.

Praise for The Mistress' House
"A work of art...Deliciously decadent from start to finish."– Seriously Reviewed
"Deft storytelling, abundant humor... and tenderness in all the right places."– Linda Banche Romance Author
"Full of love, scandal, and mystery... readers will be captivated by Leigh Michaels' sophisticated style and immense knowledge of Regency England."– Debbie's Book Bag
"A book you will want to share with everyone you know."– Passionate Historical Romance

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Michaels' forte is spinning not one or two tales, but three charming romances into one novel... 4 Stars" - RT Book Reviews

"This was a thoroughly delightful story packed with action and romance." - Yankee Romance Reveiwers

"Charming... an intriguing and absorbing romantic tale." - Library Journal

"A nice light read. Leigh Michaels is a wonderful author." - Sexy Women Read

"Funny and sad situations, witty and pointed dialog, and a quick pace keep us turning the pages until the end." - Historical Hilarity

"A lovely book..." - Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

"Engaging and full of spunk." - My Book Addiction and More

"Leigh Michaels is a master storyteller." - Debbie's Book Bag

"A delightfully sexy novel with a cast of characters that you just have to love." - Celtic Lady's Reviews

"Flawless... hot enough to singe your fingers." - The Long and Short of It Reviews

RT Book Reviews
Michaels' forte is spinning not one or two tales, but three charming romances into one novel... 4 Stars
Yankee Romance Reveiwers
This was a thoroughly delightful story packed with action and romance.
Sexy Women Read
A nice light read. Leigh Michaels is a wonderful author.
Historical Hilarity
Funny and sad situations, witty and pointed dialog, and a quick pace keep us turning the pages until the end.
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
A lovely book...
My Book Addiction and More
Engaging and full of spunk.
Debbie's Book Bag
Leigh Michaels is a master storyteller.
Celtic Lady's Reviews
A delightfully sexy novel with a cast of characters that you just have to love.
The Long and Short of It Reviews
Flawless... hot enough to singe your fingers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402269295
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
09/01/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
264,394
File size:
936 KB

Read an Excerpt

The Wedding Affair


By Leigh Michaels

Sourcebooks, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Leigh Michaels
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4022-6929-5


CHAPTER 1

When the heavy brass knocker fell against the front door, the crash echoed through the cottage. Olivia ignored it. She wasn't expecting callers; she wasn't prepared for callers; and she didn't want to greet callers.

But barely half a minute later, the knocker dropped once more. She abandoned the bread dough she'd been kneading and wiped her hands on her apron. The baking was late already, and this interruption wasn't going to help.

As she crossed the narrow hall, she noticed a dusting of flour on her blue muslin skirt and brushed feebly at it, but she managed only to make the smear look worse.

The man waiting on the doorstep was short, stout, and past middle-aged. His face was red, as if the warmth of the day was too much for him, or perhaps his neckcloth was just too tight. He looked astounded to see her there. "Lady Reyne, where are your servants today?"

All two of them? Olivia wanted to answer. But she didn't think Sir Jasper Folsom really wished to know that this was the housemaid's weekly afternoon out or that Nurse was upstairs putting Charlotte down for her nap. And since he hadn't asked about Kate Blakely, who was Olivia's guest, she felt no need to explain that Kate had gone to call at the vicarage.

At any rate, Sir Jasper was Olivia's landlord, not her keeper, so she didn't feel obliged to tell him why she was the only one available to answer her door in the middle of a sunny Wednesday afternoon.

She smiled vaguely. "I find it terribly boring to sit and be waited on, Sir Jasper."

"You are a most unusual lady, ma'am. I have come to collect the next quarter's rent."

"Of course." Olivia hesitated and then stepped back. Better, she thought, not to have this conversation on the doorstep. "Would you care to come inside?"

He looked startled at the invitation, though an instant later he had masked the expression. He bowed and followed her into the tiny parlor, where the single window stood open and a fire had been freshly laid, ready to light in case the evening should turn cool.

Sir Jasper took off his hat and looked around the room. "Quite delightful."

Threadbare was the word Olivia would have used for the furnishings Sir Jasper had supplied along with the cottage, but she supposed there was a certain cozy charm about the mismatched chairs and the way personal items — a smock she was hemming for Charlotte, a shawl Kate had started knitting last night — were sprinkled around.

Don't be so snobbish, she told herself. The cottage wasn't grand, but it was home in a way that her previous residence had never been, and she was grateful to Sir Jasper for offering it at a rent she could afford.

At least, she had been able to afford the rent until now. She braced herself to tell him that at this moment she could not pay the entire amount she owed, but she found she couldn't come straight out with it.

"I don't keep ale in the house," Olivia said, "since we do not as a rule have gentleman callers. But I can offer you tea."

Sir Jasper smiled, displaying yellowing teeth. "That would be most welcome, my lady."

Olivia escaped to the kitchen and made the tea, rehearsing her speech under her breath as she waited for the tea to steep.

When she returned to the parlor with the tray, Sir Jasper turned from his inspection of a perfectly hideous sampler that was hanging on the wall. His gaze flicked over her a little more closely than was proper, and he smiled widely.

Olivia felt a flicker of alarm. Surely he hadn't interpreted her comment as evidence that she regarded him as a gentleman caller, rather than simply as the landlord ...?

"I see you appreciate my mother's needlework," he said.

Olivia had found the sampler wadded in a cupboard when she moved in, and she had hung it only because it was large enough to cover a badly stained spot on the wall. But she lied without a qualm. "I was delighted to add it to the everyday view from my favorite chair. If you could clear a corner of the table, Sir Jasper — I do beg your pardon for having to ask."

"Not at all, my lady. With your servants away, I am happy to assist." He moved a book, a half-written letter, and Kate's as-yet-unrecognizable shawl out of Olivia's way so she could set down the tray.

Olivia poured the tea and drew a breath to begin explaining.

Sir Jasper sipped. "I'm sure you're excited by the news. The entire countryside is agog."

"What news?" She was almost relieved to be interrupted, though also surprised. Rarely did anything worthy of comment happen in Steadham; Olivia found the quiet to be one of the village's greatest attractions.

"The wedding, of course. Lady Daphne's wedding." He looked startled when she didn't react. "You did not receive an invitation? I would have thought ... The festivities are to be held here. At Halstead, to be precise."

Halstead — one of the few country houses in England that had only one name, as if the single word made it clear to any audience what was being discussed. The country seat of the Duke of Somervale, the manor house at Halstead lay less than a mile from the village if one walked across the fields and the park. But the estate was so large and self-contained that when the family was not in residence, it was easy for the villagers to forget the manor lay so close by.

In the months since she had arrived in Steadham village, Olivia had seen Halstead only from a distance. Apparently that wasn't going to change in the foreseeable future. But then, she would have expected nothing else.

Sir Jasper went on, "The wedding itself is to be in the village church, I understand."

He understood? Then Sir Jasper must not have received an invitation, either. That surprised Olivia much more than the fact she had not been included on the guest list — for though Sir Jasper was a mere baronet, he must have been a neighbor of the Somervale family for years.

"I felt sure you would be invited," he mused. "As the widow of an earl ... but the duchess is even higher in the instep than I believed."

"It's hardly a snub for me not to be included, Sir Jasper. So far as I am aware, I have never met any of the family, and I doubt the duchess even knows I've taken up residence in the neighborhood." Or would care in the slightest, if she knew.

Sir Jasper's face had tightened as if the mere mention of a snub had made his own exclusion sting more.

So Olivia hurried on. "Perhaps it's a very small wedding — just the family."

"A small wedding? For one of the Somervales? That family doesn't know the meaning of the word."

The firm click of the empty cup as he set it down made Olivia fear for her mother's china; she had managed to save fewer than a dozen good pieces as it was.

"But perhaps you are correct," Sir Jasper went on. "Now I must continue my rounds. The rent, Lady Reyne?"

Olivia's fingers trembled as she took her reticule from under the smock in her sewing basket and opened it. "I can give you half of the rent today, Sir Jasper, but I'm not able to pay for the entire three months right now. I had hoped to make an agreement in regard to the remainder."

He was silent for so long that the rattle of a carriage wheel in the road outside the parlor window seemed to echo through the room. "What sort of agreement did you have in mind?" His tone was low and suggestive.

Dread trickled down her spine, but Olivia kept her voice level. "I shall be able to give you the remainder at the beginning of next month."

He sniffed. "And I'm to simply take your promise for that, I suppose."

"I am not accustomed to having my word questioned, Sir Jasper. In any case, I would still be paying in advance — just not quite as far ahead as before."

"And then I suppose you plan to continue this practice month after month? I'm not accustomed to waiting for what is owed to me, my lady. What's the difficulty, anyway?"

That's my affair and none of yours. But thumbing her nose at a man when she was asking him to do her a favor wasn't wise. "I'm sure you know that after the death of her father, Miss Blakely has become my guest, and —"

"Adding another mouth to feed in your household was no decision of mine," Sir Jasper said sharply. "I see no reason for me to be inconvenienced by your folly."

"I am not asking you to sacrifice the rent payment or even reduce it, only to postpone collecting the full sum."

"And I'm telling you I'm not inclined to do so. I've been offered twice the rent," Sir Jasper said slyly. "I'd agreed to the bargain with you, so as an honorable man I couldn't go back on it. But if you're not paying on time, then I'm free to change the terms or let the place to another tenant."

Olivia tamped down the desire to snap at him that if he actually had a tenant who would pay more, he should seize the opportunity. She couldn't take the risk that he would throw her out.

This was her own fault. If she'd had the full sum and handed it over promptly, he wouldn't have been able to hold her to ransom.

"But perhaps we could come to an ... arrangement," he went on.

Her skin crawled at the oily note in his voice. But perhaps her imagination was running away with her, and he only meant that his price for waiting would be an outrageous amount of interest. He surely couldn't mean that he wished to pay court to her, could he? His wife had died long since, and Sir Jasper had to be close to twice Olivia's age, for his sons were grown.

How she wished she had not invited him inside or offered tea! If he got the idea that she would welcome his suit, she would have to disillusion him, of course — and gently. She hoped he would not nurse resentment.

"The widow of an earl," he said softly, "living in an out-of-the-way village in a cottage where she cannot afford the rent. Your options are limited, Lady Reyne. You can't take in lodgers, for the place isn't large enough to house them even if you didn't already have enough hangers-on to feed."

Hangers-on? Olivia wondered if he thought her daughter a millstone. With an effort, she kept her expression neutral.

"You can't take a job as a governess or a companion, for no fine lady would hire an employee who was encumbered with a child. But I can think of one thing the widow of an earl could do nicely."

He didn't sound much like a man who was trying to fix his interest with a lady, but surely he couldn't be suggesting something short of marriage. Was he?

He chuckled. "Oh, that's a fine lady's expression, all right. There's no doubt your blood is blue, the way you've gone all arrogant and scornful as you pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. It's nothing you're unfamiliar with, either. You have a daughter."

Olivia tried to control her breathing, knowing that he was watching the effect of her short, shallow breaths. He licked his lips, his gaze focused on her breasts.

"I might waive the rent altogether if you were satisfactory in bed," he said. "I'd want a whole lot more than a taste, of course — my lady. But we'll start with a kiss today as interest on the debt."

Olivia felt as paralyzed as a rabbit caught in the open with a hawk diving for the kill. Then she heard the click of footsteps on the stairs as Nurse came down, and she pulled herself together with an effort.

Sir Jasper had heard, too. "I thought you said your servants were out."

And so you assumed I invited you in on purpose. Perhaps thought I intended to seduce you. Olivia stood up and said coolly, "What a pity you must be leaving now, Sir Jasper."

She thought for an instant that he would refuse to leave after all. But as he put on his hat, he said darkly, "You think about it, my fine lady. As of today, the rent increases to twice the figure we agreed on when you moved in."

She couldn't stop herself from squeaking in protest.

He grinned. "You're the one who broke the terms of the agreement. So if you don't pay up, one way or the other, you'll be moving out come the end of the month."

Olivia only wished she could leave the cottage — and Sir Jasper — behind. She showed him to the front door to be certain he left and because if she called for Nurse to see him out, there would be questions about why she was pale and shaken.

Sir Jasper stepped outside and turned to face her as if to add some new condition to his demands. The gate separating the cottage's garden from the road banged shut. Olivia looked up, expecting to see Kate returning from her calls. She was half-embarrassed to be caught in this predicament and half-grateful for reinforcement from her friend.

Instead she saw a carriage standing in the road just beyond the wall. A footman wearing the white wig and deep blue and silver livery of the Somervales started steadily up the path, his tread measured. He looked as if he'd marched a good distance already today. He reached the steps, bowed, and held out a folded parchment.

"For Lady Reyne," he intoned. "From the Duchess of Somervale."

Sir Jasper's jaw dropped.

Olivia knew she should have enjoyed the moment. Instead, she took the parchment reluctantly. The folded sheet was surprisingly heavy, adorned with silver ribbon and a large blue wax seal carrying the imprint of the Somervale crest, which she recognized from the ironwork on the estate gates.

"So the duchess didn't leave you out after all," Sir Jasper said. "You fine folk all stick together, don't you, my lady?"

The footman's eyes widened in shock as his gaze ran over Olivia.

She thought that no matter how many copies of the invitation he had delivered in the neighborhood — and if she was included amongst the wedding guests, then every other person who had even a hint of noble blood must have been invited as well — this was surely the first he had handed to the guest herself while she stood at her front door decorated with flour and bits of bread dough. But he was too well-trained to actually say so.

"You look very tired," she told the footman. "If you would like refreshment —"

He bowed politely. "Thank you, ma'am. But the invitations were sent down from London — a great box full — and we must see them all into the proper hands today." He retreated to the gate and climbed onto the perch at the back of the carriage, which slowly pulled away.

Olivia broke the seal and looked down at the parchment.

Her Grace, the Duchess of Somervale, requests that Lady Reyne honor the company with her presence at the marriage of Her Grace's daughter, Lady Daphne Elliot, to the Marquess of Harcourt, on Friday, 30 August 1816, at Halstead.

One could scarcely turn down a duchess's invitation, no matter how uncomfortable it was to accept. So Olivia would be going to a wedding.

Sir Jasper peered greedily at the invitation, and Olivia could sense his hot breath against her skin.

"I wonder if your fine friends will loan you money," he mused. "If they don't, my offer is still open." He tipped his hat and walked away.

Olivia stood on the step for a long time, trying to draw enough warm air into her lungs to thaw the chill that his proposition had left deep inside her. But the effort didn't seem to be working.


* * *

Kate Blakely had never exactly enjoyed visiting the sick and needy members of the parish, because the people she was calling upon were in distress. As the vicar's daughter, compassionate calls had been expected of her. However, now that the visits were no longer a part of her duties, she found herself missing the people, as well as the distraction from her own troubles that her regular rounds had provided. Sitting at the bedside of an ailing parishioner helped her to remember that even though her own choices seemed limited at the moment, she still had options.

So after her household duties were finished at the cottage, she had left Olivia mixing bread and stopped by the vicarage with her basket to ask if the housekeeper could spare some produce or preserves to take to the sick.

"I wouldn't ask, Mrs. Meecham," Kate told the housekeeper, "except that I'm a guest in Lady Reyne's house and can hardly take things from her larder to give to others."

"Besides which, Lady Reyne has little enough to keep her own household fed and nothing to spare." The housekeeper filled Kate's basket to brimming. "You're to take what's left home to her ladyship."

"You're very generous, but Lady Reyne does not care to accept charity."

"It is not charity when her ladyship is housing and feeding you, despite the fact that you should still be living right here in your own home."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels. Copyright © 2011 Leigh Michaels. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Leigh Michaels is the author of 80 romance novels with more than 35 million copies sold. A six time RITA finalist, she has also received two RT Book Reviews Reviewer's Choice awards, and the Johnson Brigham Award. She teaches romance writing on the internet at Gotham Writers' Workshop. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa.


Leigh Michaels is the author of 80 romance novels with more than 35 million copies sold. A six time RITA finalist, she has also received two RT Book Reviews Reviewer's Choice awards, and the Johnson Brigham Award. She teaches romance writing on the internet at Gotham Writers' Workshop. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Wedding Affair 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Maegabeth More than 1 year ago
This book is multifaceted. I was enchanted by the fact that you get multiple romances in one book, almost making it seem as if you got three romances for the price of one. It also is complex enough with characters fleshed out enough to keep one engrossed for hours!
ElkeO More than 1 year ago
As always, Ms. Michaels, provides us with a fantastic read filled with whitty banter and characters you can't help but wants to smack for their blindness all while you fall in love with them. This and her other Regency Romance books are a must read.
AAR More than 1 year ago
THE WEDDING AFFAIR by Leigh Michaels is an exciting historical romance set in Regency England. It is written with depth, details, characters will capture your heart who are also engaging and full of spunk.The plot is believable,enjoyable with a little humor between characters. While,you are invited to the wedding of the year,you will find that behind the scenes,three heros,three heroines,and three romance stories are taking place. First, three Lady Olivia Reyne,the widow of a earl with a three year old child and Simon,the Duke of Somervale,whose sister's wedding and he is finding off the young debutantes of the ton.Then we have Kate Blakely,the daughter of a deceased vicar and Andrew Carlisle,a tutor and adventurer or so it seems. And then last but not least we have the Earl and Countess of Townsend(Charles and Penelope),Charles is an Earl who married a heiress,but seems to have little love for her,due to her father's demands for a grandchild or no money.This story has romance, a sweet sensuality,a bit of humor,a touch of for longing,some misunderstandings,a few secrets,a lot of wisdom and love. A must read full of passion,adventure and Regency England. "The Wedding Affair" is truly the wedding of the year the a story you won't want to miss. This book was received for review from the publisher.Details can be found at Sourcebooks,Inc.and My Book Addiction Reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a terrible story, but not overly compelling. Unfortunately, it was also very predictable.
regencyromantic1 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It wasn't anything outstanding but a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a cute story line and keeps your attention, however the sexual and bdrm scenes are very detailed. did not add to the story and I am delelteing it from library. It could have been one of the more enjoyable of my reads if not for the explicit sex.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And they are all romantic! Excellent book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
A young woman in need of a future, a widow hiding from her past and a Lady who is a wife in name only: All three will have to prove they have the courage to take their destinies in hand. Their reward will be worth far more than silver and gold but the risk to their hearts may be just as pricey. If a theme could be set for the first trilogy by Leigh Michaels, Just One Season in London, it would be "Sacrifice". In this new trio of stories that overlap within themselves in The Wedding Affair, the theme is clearly "Courage". Lady Olivia Reyne has a past that is threatening to destroy any future she might build for herself and her daughter. When the charming and charismatic Simon, Duke of Somervale persuades her to help him avoid a gaggle of bridesmaids, she convinces herself that it will be a short term affair with no lasting effects on her heart. Love is never that convenient or obedient. Kate Blakely has a very limited window in which to set the course for her future. She has the opportunity to choose the easy, staid and secure way or she can put herself in the path of someone who will whisk her away from the "small town vicar's daughter" life and onto an adventure. Kate is concentrating so hard on making the best decision she almost doesn't notice the one man who is everything she ever wanted and wants to give her everything she needs. The third arc of this book involves the Lady Penelope Townsend. Her story really touched my heart because she appears to have everything on the outside but behind closed doors she missing the one thing her father's money couldn't buy. Love. I liked Penelope's story best because she's married but obviously in name only and she decides that she wants more than a roommate, she want a husband. I initially got the impression that Penelope was timid and a bit brow beat by her father and the ladies maid he chose for her. Thankfully, that meekness doesn't last and Penelope comes out of her shell to prove she's strong enough to stand beside her husband rather than in his shadow. If you read Just One Season in London, you know the stories transition swiftly and smoothly between one another. There is some head hopping but it lends more detail to a scene rather than making it confusing. Ms. Michaels does a fabulous job of creating characters that have you cheering for their HEA as well as enjoying the journey. Her writing style is flawless for the period and the sensual scenes are hot enough to singe your fingers. I understand there is to be one more book in the triad story series. I'm looking forward to seeing how Ms. Michaels takes a theme and weaves it into the lives of so many unique and fantastic characters. They draw you in, they make you fall in love, and you won't want to put it down! Originally posted at the Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago