The Wedding Wager

The Wedding Wager

3.6 9
by Cathy Maxwell
     
 

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From New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell comes a romance about a headstrong young lady determined to marry . . .

Mary Gates longs to restore the family stables to their former glory . . . so she bids on the famous Spender Stud. The only way she can pay for the beast is to marry, but her only prospect is her neighbor and chief rival, Tye

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Overview

From New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell comes a romance about a headstrong young lady determined to marry . . .

Mary Gates longs to restore the family stables to their former glory . . . so she bids on the famous Spender Stud. The only way she can pay for the beast is to marry, but her only prospect is her neighbor and chief rival, Tye Barlow. She has been tempted by his charms in the past—but she's determined not to give in to him now.

So Mary boldly goes to where the husbands are—London. She takes the town by storm, but the marital prospects are uninspiring when compared to Tye. He's followed her, determined to thwart her plans. Still she can't help but forget his protective embrace or tantalizing kisses.

And soon Mary realizes she may have to take the greatest gamble of all . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Redundant repartee and flat characters do little to enliven this formulaic, Regency-era romance. Mary Gates, the eccentric spinster of Lyford Meadows, will do anything to save Edmunson, her faltering horse farm, especially if it means beating neighboring breeder Tye Barlow at his own game. When Lord Spender's horse, known around the parish as The Stud for his impeccable racing history, comes up for auction, Mary bids well beyond her means to keep Tye from owning the horse. In a desperate attempt to seal the deal, she creates a fictitious fianc? and convinces Lord Spender that her betrothed is wealthy and well connected. Despite her long-held resolution to remain independent, Mary hastens to London to secure herself a rich husband. Predictably, Tye, who has a complicated history with the infuriating beauty, follows her. London is very removed from their simple life at Lyford Meadows, however, and the two sworn enemies cannot help but see each other in a new light. With the exception of Mary and Tye, who share a few poignant moments, Maxwell's (The Marriage Contract) characters are as personable as puppets, and her story is only marginally less mechanical. This familiar tale will leave readers hungering for something more original. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Independent, unconventional, and marriage-averse, Mary Gates will do anything to own the one stallion she knows will restore her family's stables to their former glory. She even bids money she doesn't have a rash action that soon has her off to London to find a rich husband who can foot the bill. But Tye Barlow, her rival for the horse and her family's longtime adversary, follows her to England to make sure she doesn't succeed. There, they end up finding love and a logical solution to their problem. Despite the obvious conclusion, Maxwell's engaging characters, exceptionally well done dialog, unexpected plot twists, and lively writing style make this fast-paced journey memorable and well worth the trip. Noted for skillful writing, dry humor, and an uncanny ability to create realistic, imperfect characters, Maxwell (The Marriage Contract) is gaining a following, and her well-crafted Regency historicals are some of the best on the shelves. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380818327
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/28/2014
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
723,127
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Wedding Wager

Chapter One

Spring 1814

Every English village had to have at least one eccentric -- and Mary Gates, the old squire′s daughter, was Lyford Meadows′s. She dressed in mens clothing, was capable of outswearing a stable hand, and claimed to be as good as any man alive, if not better...especially when the subject was horses.

Tye Barlow stifled the urge to swear aloud himself as he spied her winding her way through the crowded yard. He′d not wanted her here. Had hoped she′d stay away. Why didn′t Mary know her place like other women?

Instead, she moved among the completely male crowd of buyers assembled at Lord Spender′s stables for the horse auction with an easy, loose-limbed grace, seemingly oblivious to the surprised but appreciative silence trailing in her wake. Conversations stopped. Eyebrows raised. Speculation appeared in men′s eyes.

Tye understood their response. Mary was a beauty, the loveliest woman in the shire, a fragrant red rose among the smell of muck and horses. Aristocratic breeding might mark her high cheekbones and straight, elegant, patrician nose, but in the depths of her sea-green eyes was a hint of fire, a trait passed to her from some Viking ancestor who had raided these parts...and she had a sensual, full lower lip that begged to be kissed.

Nor did her unconventional dress disguise womanly curves. Her buff breeches were baggy in the seat, her brown wool jacket overlong, and yet from the scuffed toes of her worn boots to the rakish tilt of her beaverskin hat, her mannish dress enhanced feminine attributes in a way that excited masculine imagination. Her sole concession to her sex was the trim of lace edging her snowy white neckcloth, a cool, silent thumbing of her nose at the world.

Mary did what she liked and didn′t give a damn what anyone thought.

She stopped to greet Lord Spender and removed her hat. Sunlight caught and held on the gold-silver splendor of her pale blonde hair. Pulled back in a simple queue, it reached her waist and swung with the movement of her body like a bright and dazzling lure.

Men gaped in stunned admiration. Several of them, the outsiders, moved closer, their predatory instincts aroused. Tye frowned. If she were smart she′d move her tail nearer to where he stood -- alongside her brother-in-law.

Of course, Mary always bragged she knew how to handle unwelcome attention. And as much as she vowed she didn′t need or want a man in her life, he suspected she knew exactly how attractive she was. In fact, right now, she appeared to flaunt it -- and there didn′t seem to be a man in the area who could resist her.

Save himself.

Because he knew her. Too well.

Behind her vibrant beauty was the stubbornness of a high-strung broodmare in foal. And when Mary kicked out in anger, she always hit her target.

Her estate bordered his. Her grandfather had given his grandfather a precious stake of land in gratitude for years of devoted service, and her family had rued the day since. In retaliation, her father had feuded with Tye′s, a feud Mary gleefully carried forward and he resignedly upheld in self-defense.

Over the years, she had misdirected his water to her use (convincing the magistrate she was completely within her rights), attempted to move the property line no less than seven times (Tye had won those skirmishes), and beat him out of two sales of his foals by swaying the buyers to purchase hers instead -- for a better price!

Ah, yes, Mary Gates was a major pain in his arse.

As if she sensed she was being watched, she slowly turned and looked through the milling crowd directly at him. She placed her hat on her head at a jaunty angle and gave him a small salute. Instantly, Tye was on guard. She was up to something. His frown deepened and she laughed.

He turned to David Atkinson, the local horse doctor and her brother-in-law. "What is Mary doing here?"

Atkinson pulled his pipe from his mouth. "You couldn′t have expected her to stay away from the biggest horse event of the season? Not Mary."

Tye had expected it. In fact, he′d gone to great pains to keep the news of Spender′s sale from her. It had not been easy. He′d personally waylaid any handbills that could have gone in her direction and sworn his friends to secrecy.

"You didn′t tell her?" Tye accused.

"No, but I would have." David shrugged. "She′s my sister-in-law."

"I pity you."

David grinned. "There are times," he admitted.

Brewster, the local pub owner, confessed, "I told her."

Tye confronted him. "You knew I didn′t want her here. You promised."

"Come, man, Mary′s one of us. She has to be here. It′s the sale of the Stud," Brewster said in his defense.

"I told her, too," Blacky said. He was a barrelchested man who ran the village smithy. "She has admired the Stud as much as any of us. He′s been a part of our lives and now he will be gone. I remember when he won his first race. I made a handsome profit and have always backed him since. I can′t believe Spender is selling him. ′Tis a pity this day, I tell you. The sky should be black."

"Aye," Brewster said. "What will Lyford Meadows be without the Stud?"

Tye understood their sentiments. He′d watched Tanners Darby Boy grow since the horse was a green colt, had even had a hand in his training. To date, Tanner was the winningest horse in all Britain. Spender was a fool to sell him just because the horse had gone lame. The foals thrown from Tanner would be worth a fortune -- a fortune Tye intended to make.

He′d come to...

The Wedding Wager. Copyright © by Cathy Maxwell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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