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Wild Child

Wild Child

4.2 33
by Mary Jo Putney

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Bribed by Kyle, his twin brother, Dominic Renbourne agrees to take his twin's place for a few weeks at Warfield Manor, where he is to pay court to Lady Meriel Grahame, the orphaned heiress Kyle intends to marry. The last thing Dominic expects is to be entranced by a silent sprite whose ethereal beauty is as intoxicating as the flowers and trees that surround her.


Bribed by Kyle, his twin brother, Dominic Renbourne agrees to take his twin's place for a few weeks at Warfield Manor, where he is to pay court to Lady Meriel Grahame, the orphaned heiress Kyle intends to marry. The last thing Dominic expects is to be entranced by a silent sprite whose ethereal beauty is as intoxicating as the flowers and trees that surround her.

For much of her life Meriel has lived outside normal society, finding joy and peace in her garden, safe from the nightmare that nearly destroyed her as a child. She is content with solitude until the handsome intruder begins to inspire dreams of life beyond her sanctuary. Despite his longing, Dominic's sense of duty keeps him away from his brother's future bride, but Meriel's untamed spirit proves more powerful than Dominic can resist . . .

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

-Romantic Times

Kathe Robin
With many deep emotions and a powerful story, Mary Jo Putney spins a tale worthy of her Fallen Angels series. The brothers’ conflict and its resolution, and the secret of Meriel’s silence and “madness,” are deeply moving and completely capture the reader. Ms. Putney delves far into the reaches of the heart to thrill her fans. Sensual.
Romantic Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lady Meriel Grahame, the eighth heroine in Putney's Fallen Angels series, has lived in a world of self-imposed silence since the night of violence in colonial India that claimed her parents' lives. Deemed mad by her guardian uncles (one good, one evil), looked after by two widows (both good), she lives a life of fey barefoot willfulness, making weedy centerpieces for the mahogany dining table and communing with the animals who roam the gorgeous grounds of her ancestral home, Warfield. Lord Grahame, her evil uncle, would like to see her locked up in a mental asylum (Putney dwells on the horrors of early 19th-century "modern" psychiatry), but her good uncle, Lord Amworth, thinks a wedding and bedding might cure her--and the time is now, while Grahame is out of the country. Since infancy, Meriel has been pledged to Kyle Renbourne, Lord Maxwell, the future earl of Wrexham. Heart-bound to escort his dying mistress home to Spain, Kyle dispatches his twin brother, Dominic, to court Meriel in his place. The novel is most enjoyable precisely where it's most predictable, and it's in the all-consuming attraction, body and spirit, between Dominic and Meriel that it reaches its peak. Allowed unthinkable liberties, Meriel paints henna designs on Dominic's trembling torso, laughs at his morality and offers up an irresistible bargaining chip: if she may have his body, he shall hear her voice. Her words may lack the eloquence of her silence, and the second half of the novel is altogether the weaker, but there's satisfaction for readers who like to see villains die and everyone else live happily ever after. Author tour. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
YA-Identical twins Kyle and Dominic were close as children but have grown apart as young adults. Thus, Dominic is surprised when Kyle asks him to temporarily take his place courting Lady Meriel, who is rumored to be mad. Wealthy, beautiful, gentle Meriel was orphaned and severely traumatized in Indian riots as a small child. Raised by caring elderly relatives on an isolated, large British estate, she doesn't speak until Dominic (masquerading as Kyle) patiently brings her out of her shell. The young man is recovering from the horrors of Waterloo. A shorter subplot shows Kyle taking his true love, his dying mistress, to her home in Spain for burial. Putney depicts high society, the problems of women, and the insane of Regency England. She is at her best with characterization: readers watch many people grow and relationships change in a relatively short time. With lots of romance, some comic touches, a villain, and a touch of mystery, this novel provides good entertainment.-Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Twins seem to be the newest romance fashion. Here, in bestselling Putney's hardcover debut, they're Dominic and Kyle Renbourne, sons of the Earl of Wrexham. In need of a favor from his estranged twin, Kyle (the heir) offers Dominic (the spare) the deed to an estate if he will woo an heiress in his place. Kyle is taking his dying mistress back to her homeland, Spain, and the courtship must be a fait accompli before he returns. Dominic agrees simply because, as the second son, he isn't entitled to inherit a home of his own. The proposed bride, daughter of another earl, is Lady Meriel Grahame, who lives cloistered on a beautiful estate she never leaves. Watched over by her friend, mentor, and protector Kamal (wrongly believed to be a eunuch), Lady Meriel appears to be not quite all there—presumably as a result of having survived the murder of her parents and her own capture by bandits in India. She speaks to anyone. She discerns the people around her by seeing the colors of their auras. She spends her days drawing henna-colored mehndi on her friends, watching over an assortment of sweet animals, and maintaining a large, complicated set of gardens. Dominic, who's good (naturally) with children, animals, and strange, frightened women, slowly develops a relationship with Meriel, serving as a cross between suitor and therapist. But when he realizes he's fallen in love with her, he's in a pickle: he has no fortune, he's supposed to be a surrogate for his brother, and she's threatened with incarceration in an asylum. Putney provides a lot of detail about psychiatric hospitals of the Regency period as she manipulates the plot toward its inevitable happy ending. The working-out offamily and emotional problems doesn't seem enough to give this story needed spice, and the sudden, melodramatic addition of a villain is a bit slapdash.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
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4.21(w) x 6.71(h) x 0.79(d)

Read an Excerpt

Dominic Renbourne's head was pounding like a regimental drum. He came awake slowly, knowing he shouldn't have drunk so much at the boxing match the night before. A good evening, but he'd pay for it all day.

Belatedly he realized there was pounding on the door as well as in his head. Where the hell was Clement? Damn, his valet was still in the country visiting his ailing mother. Bloody nuisance.

Since the knocking showed no sign of abatement, Dominic swung his legs to the floor and took stock. The sun's rays said early afternoon, not morning. He still wore crumpled breeches and shirt, but had managed to get his coat and boots off before collapsing on the bed.

Yawning, he ambled from his bedroom into the sitting room. He hoped Clement's mother recovered soon; Dominic's rooms were a shambles. If matters got much worse, he'd have to find a charwoman to clean the place.

He swung open the door and saw—himself.

Or rather, a cold-eyed, immaculately tailored version of himself. The shock of seeing his twin brother in the passageway was like a splash of ice water.

Before Dominic could think of a suitably acid greeting, his brother pushed past him into the sitting room. "You need a shave and a haircut." Kyle kicked aside a rumpled coat with one shining black boot. "And a bonfire to purge this place."

"I don't recall asking your opinion." Dominic's normally easy temper flared with the special kind of irritation that only his brother and father could inspire. How long had it been since he'd seen Kyle? At least two years, and then only in passing, with cool nods exchanged. They didn't move in the same circles. Both of them preferred it that way. "Why are you here? Has Wrexham died?"

"The earl enjoys his usual health. Robust, in an invalidish sort of way." His brother began to prowl the room, unease showing in every line of his body.

Dominic closed the door, then leaned against it and folded his arms across his chest, beginning to enjoy his twin's obvious discomfort. Kyle had always concealed a tense, restless nature under a rigidly controlled exterior, but today the control was slipping badly. He looked ready to jump out of his skin. "If our dear father is still among the living, why are you stooping to visit my poor chambers?"

Kyle frowned. In another few years his sour disposition would carve hard lines around his mouth, yet for now his features were still eerily like the image Dominic saw in the mirror every morning. Kyle's face was a fraction fuller, his eyes perhaps a shade less blue, but the pair of them were still alike as peas in a pod. Both a little above middle height, leanly built but with broad shoulders, dark hair with a slight wave. As a boy, Dominic had reveled in that resemblance. Now he resented it. It seemed wrong that they should appear so similar when they were utterly different.

"Perhaps I am visiting from brotherly affection."

"Do you think I'm a fool, Lord Maxwell?"

"Yes," his brother said bluntly, his contemptuous gaze scanning the cluttered room. "Surely you can do better than this with your life."

Dominic's mouth hardened. His manner of living was not a subject he would discuss with his brother. "I presume you are here because you want something, though I can't imagine what a useless younger son could possibly offer to the lord and heir of Wrexham." And if Kyle did want something, he was going about it the wrong way.

Apparently realizing that, his brother said in a more moderate tone, "You're right, I need help, and only you can supply it."


His eyes showing how much he hated asking for aid, Kyle said flatly, "I want you to pretend to be me for several weeks."

After a moment of shock, Dominic laughed. "Don't be absurd. I could fool strangers easily enough, but not anyone who knows you well. Besides, what is the point? Deception is a child's game." Dominic had always been better at impersonating his brother than the other way around, but they hadn't changed places since they'd started school. Or rather, schools. Sometimes Dominic wondered how different his life would have been if they'd both gone to Eton.

"There are ... special circumstances. You would be among strangers, not anyone who knows me." Kyle hesitated, then added, "I'll make it worth your while."

Dominic had been heading toward the small butler's pantry, but at that he swung around, eyes glittering. "Out. Now." Though he had been bullied and betrayed by his brother, he would never be bought.

Kyle pulled a folded sheaf of papers from an inside pocket and tossed them at Dominic. "Your reward if you carry this off successfully."

Dominic caught the sheaf and opened it, then stopped in his tracks, stunned by what he held. "This is the deed to Bradshaw Manor!"

"I'm quite aware of what it is." Kyle plucked the deed from his brother's hand and tucked it back inside his coat.

As a younger son, Dominic received a modest allowance, barely enough to live as a gentleman, while Kyle would eventually receive the entire Wrexham fortune. Quite a reward for emerging from their mother's body a mere ten minutes earlier. And not only would Kyle someday be one of Britain's great lords, on their twenty-first birthday he had received Bradshaw Manor outright. It was a fine estate in Cambridgeshire, well cultivated and including a handsome house. Dominic would sell his soul for Bradshaw Manor—and Kyle knew it. "You bastard."

"I could hardly be illegitimate without you being the same, dear brother." Kyle smiled as he saw the power shifting into his hands. "And you malign our mother, of hallowed memory."

Meet the Author

New York Times-, Publisher's Weekly-, and Wall Street Journal- bestselling author Mary Jo Putney is a graduate of Syracuse University with degrees in eighteenth-century literature and industrial design. She has won numerous awards for her writing, including two Romance Writers of America RITA Awards, the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Historical Romance, and four consecutive Golden Leaf awards for Best Historical Romance. Her books have also received frequent awards from online reader sites such as, The Romance Reader, All About Romance, Romance Readers Anonymous, and Under the Covers. The author of twenty-two novels, Ms. Putney lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Wild Child 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
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I actually read "the china bride" first, not realizing the eas a book that came before. I loved this story (even w/ figuring out the deceptions) and can't eait to re-read the china bride
Verylate More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book, as I love all of Mary Jo Putney's books! Couldn't put it down!
MBV More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great love story! Strong characters, lots of romance and real tenderness and interesring story line that kept me wanting to know what was next. Its always fun to have some adventure thrown into a story like this- keeps it interesting. Love this author, and loved China Bride the next story too.
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period-reader More than 1 year ago
Although it was apparent early on in the book that our hero would convince his lady to speak, I found it to be a lovely story. I really enjoyed the melding of different cultures into the plot and found the characters easy to identify with.
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