Kiss Me, Annabel (Essex Sisters Series #2)

Kiss Me, Annabel (Essex Sisters Series #2)

by Eloisa James

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The rules of marriage . . . according to Miss Annabel Essex

A husband must be:


Make that very rich. She's had enough of leaky roofs and thread-worn clothing.


London is the center of the civilized world, and Annabel has a passion for silk and hot water.


Good-looking would be nice, but not necessary. Same for intelligent.

Isn't she lucky? She's found just the man! And her chosen spouse is nothing like the impoverished Scottish Earl of Ardmore, who has nothing but his gorgeous eyes, his brain—and his kisses—to recommend him.

So what cruel twist of fate put her in a carriage on her way to Scotland with just that impoverished earl and all the world thinking they're man and wife? Sleeping in the same bed? Not to mention the game of words started by the earl—in which the prize is a kiss. And the forfeit . . .

Well. They are almost married, after all!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060732103
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/29/2005
Series: Essex Sisters Series , #2
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Eloisa James is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author and professor of English literature, who lives with her family in New York, but can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. She is the mother of two and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight. Visit her at

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Kiss Me, Annabel

By Eloisa James

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Eloisa James
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060732105

Chapter One

April, 1817

The day the Scotsman came to Lady Feddrington's ball, Annabel's sister decided to give him her virtue, and Annabel decided not to give him her hand in marriage.

In neither case had the Scotsman indicated a particular interest in undertaking such intimate activities with an Essex sister, but his participation was taken for granted. And, naturally, both of these decisions took place in the ladies' retiring room, which is where everything of importance takes place at a ball.

It was in those middle hours, when the initial excitement has worn away and women have an uneasy feeling that their noses are shiny and their lips pale. Annabel peeked into the retiring room and found it empty. So she sat down before the large mirrored dressing table, and started trying to pin her unruly curls so they would stay above her shoulders for the rest of the evening. Her sister Imogen, Lady Maitland, plumped down beside her.

"This ball is nothing more than a breeding ground for parasites," Imogen said, scowling at her reflection. "Lord Beekman has twice asked me to dance with him. As if I would even contemplate dancing with that plump toadlet. He should look lower . . . perhaps in the scullery."

She looked magnificent, a few gleaming black curls falling to her shoulders, and the rest piled high on her head. Her eyes sparkled with the displeasure of receiving too much attention. In all, she had the magnificent rage of a young Helen of Troy, stolen by the Greeks and taken from her homeland.

It must be rather annoying, Annabel thought, to have nowhere to direct all that emotion except toward unwary gentlemen who do nothing more despicable than ask for a dance. "There is always the chance that no one has told the poor toadlet that Lady Maitland is such a very grand person." She said it lightly, since mourning had turned Imogen into a person whom none of them knew very well.

Imogen flashed her an impatient look, twitching one of her curls over her shoulder so that it nestled seductively on her bosom. "Don't be a widgeon, Annabel. Beekman is interested in my fortune and nothing more."

Annabel raised an eyebrow in the direction of Imogen's virtually nonexistent bodice. "Nothing more?"

A sketch of a smile touched Imogen's lips, one of the few Annabel had seen in recent months. Imogen had lost her husband the previous fall, and after her first six months of mourning she had joined Annabel in London for the season. Currently she was amusing herself by shocking respectable matrons of the ton by flaunting a wardrobe full of mourning clothing cut in daring styles that left little of her figure to the imagination.

"You have to expect attention," Annabel pointed out. "After all, you dressed for it." She let a little sarcasm creep into her tone.

"Do you think that I should buy another of these gowns?" Imogen asked, staring into the mirror. She gave a seductive roll of her shoulders and the bodice settled even lower on her chest. She was dressed in black faille, a perfectly respectable fabric for a widow. But the modiste had saved on fabric, for the bodice was nothing more than a few scraps of cloth, falling to a narrow silhouette that clung to every curve. The pièce de résistance was a trim of tiny white feathers around the bodice. The feathers nestled against Imogen's breasts and made every man who glimpsed them throw caution to the wind.

"No one has a need for more than one dress of that pattern," Annabel pointed out.

"Madame Badeau has threatened to make another. She complains that she must sell two in order to justify her design. And I should not like to see another woman in this particular gown."

"That's absurd," Annabel said. "Many women have gowns of the same design. No one will notice."

"Everyone notices what I wear," Imogen said, and one had to admit it was a perfect truth.

" 'Tis an indulgence to order another gown merely to allow it to languish in your wardrobe."

Imogen shrugged. Her husband had died relatively penniless, but then his mother had fallen into a decline and died within a month of her son. Lady Clarice had left her private estate to her daughter-in-law, making Imogen one of the wealthiest widows in all England. "I'll have the gown made up for you, then. You must promise to wear it only in the country, where no one of importance can see you."

"That gown will fall to my navel if I bend over, which hardly suits a debutante."

"You're no ordinary debutante," Imogen jibed. "You're older than me, and all of twenty-two, if you remember."

Annabel counted to ten. Imogen was grieving. One simply had to wish that grieving didn't make her so -- so bloody-minded. "Shall we return to Lady Griselda?" she said, rising and looking one last time at the glass.

Suddenly Imogen was at her shoulder, smiling penitently. "I'm sorry to be so tiresome. You're the most beautiful woman at the ball, Annabel. Look at the two of us together! You're glowing and I look like an old crow."

Annabel grinned at that. "A crow you're not." There was a similarity to their features: they both had slanting eyes and high cheekbones. But where Imogen's hair was raven black, Annabel's was the color of honey. And where Imogen's eyes flashed, Annabel knew quite well that her greatest strength was a melting invitation that men seemed unable to resist.

Imogen pulled another curl onto the curve of her breast. It looked rather odd, but Imogen's temper was not something to risk lightly, and so Annabel held her tongue.

"I've made up my mind to take a cicisbeo," Imogen said suddenly. "To hold off Beekman, if nothing else."

"What?" Annabel said. "A what?"

"A gallant," Imogen said impatiently. "A man to take me about."


Excerpted from Kiss Me, Annabel by Eloisa James Copyright © 2005 by Eloisa James. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Kiss Me, Annabel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved them both and it was intrresting the whole way thriugh
Lady-Brazen More than 1 year ago
Liked better than the first story in this series. The series focuses on the sister's relationship. Again, I felt to much of this story centered around Imogen instead of Annabel the heroine. After living an impoverished life Annabel had really one qualification for marriage; the suitor must be wealthy. Because of Imogen poor judgement Annabel is now involved in a scandal and forced to marry the poor Scottish Earl of Ardmore. Ewan plans to marry Annabel in his homeland and promises the Duke of Holbrook (Annabel's guardian) that he will maintain her virginity. Throughout their voyage they play to many games that leads to impropriety. The inspiration for this story was based upon a play by Shakespeare with an added twist. Ms. James writing style uses quite a bite of contemporary and historical dialogue to keep the story moving forward. Perhaps, most frustrating were changes to the story line (scene) without using some form of symbol to inform the reader. Overall, lacked in imagination at times, but interesting enough to find out how the remaining sisters will fare in the series.
curlyloulou More than 1 year ago
I read this book over two years ago and needed to reread it because I was finally getting around to reading about the Essex girls. I like Annabel's story.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1817 Annabel Essex like her sisters has a weird dowry: racehorses. However, she has no money to support herself let alone several steeds. She decides she needs to marry an amiable wealthy aristocrat so she can stop fretting over poverty. Ewan Ardmore finds himself attracted to Annabel and her dowry would fit nicely with his horse breeding operation. Though she reciprocates his high regard and enjoys playing word games with him Annabel rejects him as a proper suitor as he is as poor as she is. Ewan knows he has found his life partner so he refuses to back off and daringly takes kisses. An incident gives him renewed hope as they head to Scotland to pretend to get married, but he plans to make their vows real. This is a wonderful Regency romance starring two congenial protagonists who belong together except that the feisty independent Annabel worries about how they will survive with both of them poor. The courtship between Annabelle and Ewan seems natural as they play fun word games in concert and he steals kisses, which she treasures as his touch is everything. They make for a fine early nineteenth century romance in which the audience will wonder if Ewan and Annabel will cross the finish line as a team. Harriet Klausner
dmwmtgal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Closer to 4 1/2 stars. Loved this book and am anxious to read the next in the series.
jeffersonsambrosia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kiss me; Annabel is the second book in Eloisa James¿s hot Essex sister¿s series. In addition, I can say without a doubt that it does not disappoint. I came upon this series accidentally and read the third book before I knew it was a series. However, finding out that it was I happily picked up the others. In addition, have yet to be disappointed.Annabel is by far the most greedy of the Essex sisters, seeking to trade her good looks much like a courtesan does for a mans favor. Nevertheless, she is not content to be improper about it she will give her beauty only to a rich Englishman who will marry her. But she gets a shock when a handsome Scotsmen not only gets in her path but there is a scandal and she must marry him.This book was so fun and so touching, I really enjoyed it and had a fun time reading it. The author even states that it is loosely based on Shakespeare taming of the shrew and I do not have a bit of trouble believing that. When you read it, you will know what I mean. However, in all honestly it is a very easy to follow read, in the historical romance genre Eloisa James stands out.The writing has a fun flare to it, and you find some mysteries wrapped in. Nothing to deep but still a little something to make it fun. Moreover, the secondary characters of this story are just as fun to follow around as the main characters. If you are a fan of historical romance, and England and Scotland, you really do need to read this book. You follow the women around from country to country, and see just what Annabel ends up marrying for. Love? Money? Or both.
Anniik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Kiss Me, Annabel" is the second book in the Essex Sisters series. It follows the story of Annabel, the second oldest daughter. She is the "pretty" one of the group, but is also quite mercenary - she wants to use her affect on men to secure a rich husband so she doesn't have to worry about money for the rest of her days. At the same time Annabel is searching for a rich husband, her sister Imogen, who is recently widowed, is grieving by losing control and rather scandalously trying to find herself a lover. Trying to get Imogen out of a rather uncomfortable situation that she got herself into, Annabel finds herself compromised and forced to marry the supposedly penniless Scottish Earl of Ardmore - who is anything but what she wanted in a husband.I enjoyed this book. Annabel, while mercenary, had a good reason for feeling the way that she did, and her memories of her treatment by her father while she was trying to make ends meet on a very small budget make you sympathize with her. Ardmore, however, is a bit one-dimensional. He's tall, dark, handsome, rich, titled and religious - and I really can't think of any bad qualities he has. It's a bit hard to believe that he's actually real, and also rather hard to sympathize with him. Imogen, who I also liked in book one, is just as passionate in this book (although you really want to slap her sometimes...). Again, the relationship between the sisters is one of the best parts of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1VAReader More than 1 year ago
Somewhat unusual love story. Annabel fell in love with someone that to all outward appearance did not meet any of her qualifications. But as in all romances it worked out well in the end. Lots of hot kisses steamy love scene
skelley55 More than 1 year ago
A great story, the sisters relationships are perfect. I am getting as annoyed with Imogen as her sisters. The love story was a wonderful reward for Annabel
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