The Bride Sale

The Bride Sale

by Candice Hern

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The Bride Sale by Candice Hern

A Bartered Lady

Lord James Harkness is shocked to discover a "bride sale" taking place in his small English village -- and surprised by the depth of his feelings for the unfortunate gentlewoman being auctioned off by a disreputable husband. But is it honor and nobility that compel James to outbid the townfolk for the proud, beautiful lady -- or is it something more akin to . . . desire?

A Mysterious Lord

Verity Osborne is not sure whether good fortune or ill brought her to this dark, brooding man and his lonely manor house on the moors. Local talk brands James Harkness as evil -- but Verity senses a gentleness underneath. She dearly longs for her liberty, but his sensuous touch causes her to stay. However, James must first trust Verity with his secrets if they are ever to share love's rapturous freedom. And will the promised passion she sees flaming in his eyes warm Verity's heart . . . or burn her?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061739682
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 165,058
File size: 488 KB

About the Author

Candice Hern is the award-winning author of historical romances set during the English Regency, a period she knows well through years of collecting antiques and fashion prints of the era. She travels to England regularly, always in search of more historical and local color to help bring her books to life.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

October 1818

“C'mon, me laddies. What'm I bid fer this fine bit o' flesh?”

“'Alf a crown!”

Raucous laughter almost drowned out the auctioneer's rude response to the opening bid. James Gordon Harkness, fifth Baron Harkness, leaned against the rough granite wall of the village apothecary shop just off Gunnisloe market square. The lane and its shops were deserted; most of the villagers and market-day travelers had gathered in the square to watch the livestock auction. James nibbled on the last bit of savory meat pie as his servant loaded the carriage boot with the day's purchases: several bolts of local wool, a few hammered copper cook pots, two large bags of seed, a brace of pheasant,a basket of smoked fish, and three cases of wine.

“Two pounds!”

James licked the pastry crumbs from his long fingers as he listened to the auction taking place around the corner. The voices of auctioneer and bidders rang clearly in the crisp air of early autumn.

“Two pounds ten.”

“Aw, c'mon,” a female voice shouted above the din. “The poor cow be worth more'n that, you bleedin' idiot.”

“Not to my man, she ain't,” another female replied, eliciting howls of laughter from the crowd.

“Two pounds fifteen!”

This was followed by more laughter and the ear-splitting din of what had to be the banging of dozens of tin kettles. Village women often took up the old tradition of kettle banging to encourage more intense bidding. It must be some primebit of flesh indeed, James mused as the rhythmic clanging grew louder.

A stiff breeze chased a flutter of red birch leaves down the lane, and James brushed back a lock of thick black hair blown forward by the wind. He watched the leaves skitter away, but kept his ear to the auction in the square.

“Three pounds!”

As he listened, James savored the fragrant scent of freshly baked cinnamon buns and meat pies, of roasting pig and rabbit shank, of fresh cider and ale. The delicious smells and the sounds of gaiety and fierce bartering inevitably drew his thoughts to earlier times, when he might have enjoyed such a day, when he would have been a welcome participant. Now he would not willingly walk into a crowd that size, a crowd of people who knew him, knew who and what he was.

He seldom ventured into Gunnisloe at all, though it was the closest market town. He preferred the larger, more distant markets of Truro or Falmouth, where he was not as well-known. But he had business in Gunnisloe today. Taking advantage of market day, he had sent his footman into the stalls to purchase a few household goods. While the markets bustled and thrived in the village square, James had kept his distance. He was in no mood to endure the strained silence, the wary glances, the hushed whisperings that would inevitably follow his entry into the public square.

The footman closed the boot and locked it, then opened the carriage door and stood aside. James pushed away from the granite wall and walked toward the open door. He replaced his curly brimmed beaver on his head and tugged it low against the wind.

“Four pounds!”

“Don't 'ee dare bid on her, Danny Gower, lest 'ee want yer heart ripped clean outa yer chest.”

Peels of laughter and more banging of tin kettles followed this interesting pronouncement. James halted his ascent into the carriage. What on earth was going on? He had never before heard a crowd behave in such a strangely boisterous manner at an auction. What the devil was so special about this particular cow?

His curiosity got the better of him, and he stepped away from the carriage. Just one look was all he wanted. Just to see for himself what all the fuss was about. Just one quick look and he would be on his way.

“Five pounds!”

James walked the few steps to the end of the lane and peered around the corner, hoping no one would notice him. He quickly removed his beaver, realizing the tall, elegant hat would act as a beacon, drawing the attention of the simply dressed villagers and miners. But he needn't have worried. When he moved to the edge of the crowd of perhaps two hundred people or more, no one paid him the least mind.

For a moment he savored the once-familiar hustle and bustle of Gunnisloe on market day. Makeshift pens lined one side of the square where cattle and sheep were exhibited for auction. Many were already being rounded up and led away by their new owners. In one corner, several dozen individuals and families sat at long trestle tables and benches that were lined up in a herringbone pattern and sheltered from the wind by a temporary awning of striped canvas stretched over wooden poles. The substantial figure of Mag Puddifoot threaded her way among the tables, ladling out portions of her famous furmity pudding, just as she had done since James was a boy. Colorful carts and stalls selling all manner of goods and produce dotted the rest of the square's perimeter. Sweet and pungent aromas from the food vendors -- stronger and more seductive here than in the adjacent lane -- caused James to forget for an instant why he had made so bold as to enter the square in the first place.

“Six pounds!”

James's gaze darted warily through the crowd as he moved closer. No one had yet noticed him. All eyes were on the stone plinth next to the market cross where the auctioneer, old Jud Moody, stood with one arm raised and stirring the air, punctuating the banging of the kettles and urging the crowd on to higher bids. In Jud's other hand was a leather harness attached to the neck of a woman.

A woman.

What in blazes was going on here?


The Bride Sale. Copyright © by Candice Hern. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Bride Sale 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I’ll do my best to steer clear of spoiler territory, here, but I don’t think the mystery relating to the heroine is at all important to the overall story line. So here’s the deal. The heroine was married by an arranged marriage to a gay man (not that anyone besides the gay man and his partner knew about that), and he, on their wedding night, was so grossed out by the heroine’s girl parts that he couldn’t do the deed and actually vomited next to the bed. Isn’t that nice. The heroine, who remained a virgin after all of this, didn’t know her husband was gay, didn’t know anything about sex, really, and was convinced that she just had some seriously nasty girl parts that would drive any man to cast up his accounts and then leave her alone in a moldering house for two years. Totally reasonable, right? Anyway, at some point her lame-ass husband realizes that he can make some money off of her, so he takes her to the wilds of Cornwall and sells her (that’s the Bride Sale) in an open auction where she is bought by the seriously messed-up hero. The heroine assumes that she will be installed as his mistress (because what other value is there in a woman?), but he’s an honorable man, serious issues notwithstanding, and he does his best to treat her with the respect he feels she deserves. Ordinarily, that would be wonderful, but his apparent lack of interest is enough to convince the heroine that she really is a worthless human being, even though she has skills as a healer, saves the life of a young boy, and eases all the medical complaints of an entire village. Blah blah blah, and we get to the part that pissed me off, when it is revealed that, in fact, the hero does find the heroine very attractive. All of a sudden, the heroine finds her identity and raison d’¿tre, both originating in her value as an attractive female that the hero wants to nail. Awesome. And, I’m not kidding, the book devotes a lot of time to explaining the heroine’s happiness at being found attractive. Considering that she’s just been kidnapped by her husband, has stood up for herself for the first time in, like, ever, then was rescued by the hero, and then discovered that her husband is gay and that there’s a chance she could get the marriage annulled, you’d think she’d have all sorts of interesting things to dwell on in her mind, but no. The only thing she can think about is her relief to discover that her girl parts aren’t nasty. "Thank God! Men want to have sex with me! That means I do have a purpose in this world!" UGH!!! That one page of the book made me hopping-up-and-down-Yosemite-Sam angry. If I'd been reading a paper copy of the book, I would have thrown it against the wall and then jumped up and down on top of it. To be fair, the rest of the book is actually quite good. I loved the hero (James) and all the technical elements of the book were well-executed. It's well-paced, has interesting secondary characters, and a well-written mystery element. But all of that enjoyment was completely destroyed by the importance that the author (through Verity) placed on sex being a woman's true vocation. Maybe it's historically accurate, maybe it's what reality is like anyway, but we don't really read romance novels for their historical accuracy or their connection to reality. We read them to escape, and why in the hell would anyone want to escape to a world where women are worth nothing beyond their desirability to men?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had very high expectations for this book because I haven't been able to find ANY romances written about 'wife sales.' And although there aren't records about these sort of sales, I believe just because it was never documented, doesn't mean it didn't happen. While this book sells the idea of a 'wife sale,' thus the title 'The Bride Sale' I feel Miss Hern missed the whole concept of how she was to present us with this idea. I felt too many times I was getting a lecture from a history teacher (through the hero's inner dialogue, of all things) trying to explain 'wife sales' as opposed to being more creative and leading the reader to find out explanations along the way. I admit that this story was beautifully written, thus making it very easy to read, and the love story was strong enough to carry the story through, however, I was really disappointed with the direction Ms. Hern took this fabulous idea of having her heroine 'sold' to the hero.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seemed good when I started. Fairly well placed plot although come on! This isn't medieval times! A well bred woman sold at auction hello someone couldn't call the police? That to me set it up as a lame story but I gave it a chance after reading the free albeit short sample. Well after I forked over my $ then it went downhill. Slow, slow, boring, boring , repeat. Clogged down with boring subplots that added nothing to the story I skipped pages and pages and then chapters and then big surprise didn't miss a things. Classic poor writing. Gag. Waste of money. Insipid heroine and hero, stupid plots I didn't, strike COULDNT even finish... if it were a book I would have thrown it across the room I was so aggravated but well I've got a nook. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY! I miss edited well paced stories instead these "writers" I use the term lightly churn out swill and dump onto our e readers. We should be able to get our money back. TRASH!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was great
harstan More than 1 year ago

In 1818 Gunnisloe, Baron James Harkness, who rarely comes to the Cornish village from his Pendurgan home, hears a nearby auction whose bidding and commentary seem strange to him. He wanders over to take a look when he is stunned to see a woman on the block instead of cattle. Unable to sit idly by while the ¿wife sale¿ continues, James overbids and wins the prize. Gilbert Russell sells his wife Verity to ¿Lord Heartless¿ as the locals call James in order to pay off his debts.

Though she starts with doubts about her savior due to the rumors that he killed his wife and child, Verity quickly notices his compassion towards people even those not deserving of it. She begins to fall in love with her benefactor and he feels the same attraction, but the secrets he keeps from everyone including her leaves no hope for a real relationship.

Candice Hern places a classic style gothic romance inside a Regency tale so that the audience receives the best of both sub-genres. The story line engages the audience due to the lead characters, the dark brooding but caring James and the innocent bewildered Verity. Though James overdoes his secrets better than the CIA, the audience will want this charming duo to find happiness. His demons and to a lesser degree her first marriage makes for a rocky path that provides delighted readers with much pleasure.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well, i should have listened to reviews, but when i read free sample i was interested and thought it had potential. Honestly i skipped through much of the inbetween because it was not engaging at all. I did not care about most of the characters and had figured out what would happen. Pretty obvious. Rent from library if you arent sure. Save your money.
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8ooknerd More than 1 year ago
One the best books I have read in a long time. This is the first book I have read by this author and I strongly recommend it.
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