The Perfect Wife

The Perfect Wife

by Victoria Alexander

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The Perfect Wife by Victoria Alexander

The perfect wife should be beautiful, trusting, and absolutely agreeable—or so the Earl of Wyldewood thought. But in New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander's intriguing tale, he finds that marriage is about more than mere appearances . . .

When the Earl of Wyldewood meets Sabrina Winfield, he thinks he's found the ideal match. Graceful and genteel, the elegant blonde will look simply exquisite displayed on his arm. And a lady like Sabrina will undoubtedly occupy her time with proper matters, leaving him free to pursue his own pleasures . . .

But beneath Sabrina's delicate beauty lies the most infuriatingly stubborn, wildly adventurous woman the earl has ever met. She's nothing like the perfect wife he had imagined. And before long, all he can think of is quieting her biting wit (with his kisses), putting an end to her outlandish schemes (with his own carefully planned seduction), and doing everything in his power to become the perfect husband.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061438554
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/26/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 891,869
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

#1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander was an award-winning television reporter until she discovered fiction was more fun than real life. She is the author of thirty-one novels, and her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Victoria lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her long-suffering husband and two dogs, in a house under endless renovation and never-ending chaos.

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The Perfect Wife

Chapter One


"Bloody hell."

Sabrina Winfield muttered under her breath and glared with distaste at the offensive paperwork spread before her.

Absently she drummed her fingers in a rhythmic tattoo on the worn, highly polished mahogany desk and scanned the papers littering the desktop once again, hoping to find something, anything that would make a difference. Already she knew full well that hope was futile. The accounting sheets and investment reports painted a dismal picture.

"Damnation." She groaned and glanced quickly at the closed door to her library. It would not do to have the servants or, worse yet, her daughter hear her talking like a common woman of the streets. But in all her years of living the proper life expected of someone of her social status, she had never found anything quite as satisfying as a good curse. Privately, of course.

Sabrina returned her attention to the documents before her. She had enough funds left to live a respectable, if somewhat frugal, life. Unfortunately, frugal was not a word she took to easily.

It was all that idiot Fitzgerald's fault. She should have known the little pig-faced man who slobbered all over her hand in lieu of a greeting would spell disaster. Why she had let him handle her financial affairs when his father died was beyond comprehension. Obviously a misplaced sense of loyalty.

The elder Fitzgerald had been a man with a solid business head and a shrewd eye. He had discreetly handled her affairs for nearly nine years before his inconvenient demise and had built her initial investment into a substantial,comfortable, and even excessive fortune. And in spite of her gender, he had listened to her suggestions and wishes and accepted her financial acumen. But in the short year since his death, his fool of a son had whittled her funds down to the meager accounting now laid out before her.

A nagging voice at the back of her mind pointed out that perhaps it was not entirely the junior Fitzgerald's fault. Oh, she'd taken a firm hand with her investments as usual at first, but her attention had slackened. Reluctantly she admitted she had not kept the close eye out she should have, distracted by her daughter's coming-out season. A season she had squandered far more on than was prudent.

Still, she thought stubbornly, it was money well spent. Belinda deserved the best. Besides, the gamble had paid off handsomely. Belinda was in love and wished to marry a charming young man from a well-respected family. He was heir to an impressive title, with a family fortune both immense and sound. Sabrina had made discreet inquiries just to make sure. She did not want her child's life ever to be threatened by the need for money and the lack of it. Not the way hers once was.

The marriage that would ensure her daughter's future was exactly what made her present financial difficulties so distressing. A wedding meant a dowry commensurate with Sabrina and her late husband's social position, a dowry worthy of the dowager Marchioness of Stanford. Hah! An impressive title, but that and half a crown would get her a hired carriage ride around the city and little else.

She had no idea how to raise the kind of funds necessary for an impressive dowry. There were very few acceptable ways for a woman to make money. Marriage for herself would, of course, solve all her problems. Most, if not all, of the women she knew married with wealth and rank in mind. Still, marrying strictly for monetary gain seemed somehow distasteful. She certainly hadn't married for money the first time. Life would have been much easier if she had. Her daughter would not marry for money either. Still, the presence of substantial wealth, while not a requirement, was most definitely a delightful bonus.

Sabrina sighed and pushed her chair away from the desk. There would be time enough to return to her vexing financial problems tomorrow. Time enough to deal with the panic threatening to rise within her. Tonight she and Belinda were to attend a soiree at her future son-in-law's. Both parents had already given permission for the match, even though it was yet to be formally announced. Sabrina expected tonight to finally meet the boy's father.

The elusive Earl of Wyldewood was well known in government and diplomatic circles, but he had never crossed Sabrina's path, and she admitted to a certain amount of curiosity about the man. Gossip told her he had a sizable reputation with women and was considered something of a rake. Sabrina refused to hold that against him. After all, her husband had been a well-known rake before their marriage, and everyone knew reformed rakes made the best husbands. She liked the son; surely she would like the father as well.

She cast one last disgusted glance at the pages littered over the desk and rose to her feet. Sabrina shook her head in irritation and prayed all would work out. Her natural optimism returned, and a slight smile played across her lips. All had certainly worked out the last time she had faced a financial crisis this severe. But the solution she'd found those many years ago would not serve now. Realistically she could not take up smuggling again.

Her reluctance had nothing to do with the illegality of the activity. It was not a question of morality or conscience. Sabrina was, above all, a realist. With the war over, and most goods flowing freely, there was no real call for smuggling.

A pity, really. Today there was simply no money in it.

Nicholas Harrington, Earl of Wyldewood, gazed around his ballroom with equal parts dismay and curiosity. He was usually more than comfortable in a social setting. But this was his own home, and the scale of preparation necessary for such an event seemed massive. Fortunately he had the able assistance of his sister, Wynne.

The Perfect Wife. Copyright © by Victoria Alexander. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Perfect Wife 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was not that great. The story was slow. The characters lacked all spark. When I read a historical romance, it is the characters and their wit and charm that make the novel and these characters were trite and unlikable. I found myself struggling to finish the book. Take my advice and read a different Victoria Alexander book. I was disappointed.
sfayet1 More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like it, the story sounded good, but I just could not make it all the way through to the end. The characters just were not very interesting and together they had no chemistry. I think I made it to the fourth chapeter before I gave up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can barely make it though the first 100 pages. Nicholas and Sabrina do have any chenistry. First meet then all of suddent they're married and in love. Come on!!! Fine, some historical romance, they're married before they gradually fell in love. This one, they were married on one page, and five pages later, they're both maddly in love with each other, with no events, nothing substantial to support their feelings. He doesn't do anything for her, she does nothing for him and yet they're in love, Oh! I've always like Victoria Alexander's books, like her 'the last bachelor standing series', that wasn't bad at all. But this one, Ms Alexander, you have lost your touch on this one, sorry!
Guest More than 1 year ago
phyllisd on LibraryThing 3 days ago
An adventerous story with mature primary characters (i.e., baggage) and the humor that I love in Victoria Alexander's work. Even the secondary characters were well-developed.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
THE PERFECT WIFE by Victoria Alexander¿s is a reprint of the author¿s second novel, first published in 1996. Since that time, Ms. Alexander has gone on to become a highly regarded and much-loved New York Times bestselling author with 27 novels and novellas to her credit. She¿s a gifted writer and a consummate storyteller whose books have brought great delight to this reader¿and thousands of others over the years........................... I loved this story the first time I read it back in 2002 and with each re-reading, I fall in love with¿Nicholas and Sabrina¿s passionate love story¿all over again. In my opinion it¿s one of those wonderful stories with timeless appeal........................ Lady Sabrina Winfield, the lovely 36 year old Dowager Marchioness of Stanford, has been living quietly though comfortably off of her investments for the last 10 years, but now most of her fortune has been lost due to mishandling by her man of business. Fortunately, her daughter Belinda has fallen in love and become engaged to Erick Harrington, the son and heir of the wealthy and powerful Earl of Wyldewood, Nicholas Harrington. Unfortunately, Sabrina needs to provide a dowry for Belinda equal to their station in life, but has no idea how she can get such a large amount of money when there are very few acceptable ways for a noblewoman¿or any woman¿to make money............................. The last time she faced a financial crisis of this degree was right after her husband Jack died leaving her and their little daughter virtually penniless and in debt. But desperate times had called for desperate measures, and in order to make the money they needed to live on Sabrina became the disreputable Lady B¿leader of her own band of smugglers. Until, they were almost caught by an agent of the Crown and were forced to disband................................ Now, after spending years trying to live down the slightly scandalous reputations she and her first husband had, and trying to keep her illicit past hidden Sabrina has become so serene, proper and respectable that people think she¿s downright boring. But she must not let anyone discover the daring and bold ¿real woman¿ that¿s carefully concealed behind the façade of helpless femininity¿her daughter¿s future happiness depends on her keeping up the ruse................................ Sabrina might have considered returning to her old trade, but regrettably, there just wasn¿t any money in smuggling anymore. However, things are looking up for Sabrina again because she fortuitously learns that just before his death her husband had won a letter in a card game¿a treasure map of sorts¿that was believed to have detailed directions leading to a fortune in gold (though buried in Egypt). Well, Sabrina had thought her days of adventure were far, far behind her, but now the need for money to secure her daughter¿s future, AND the irresistible lure of excitement and adventure calls to her¿ So, what¿s a truly bold and adventuresome woman to do???... She resolves to find the map, and let nothing¿and no one¿stand in the way of her traveling to Egypt and claiming the treasure............................... Ladies man, Nicholas Harrington was married before, but he¿s never been in love. And though, he has no real desire to marry again, he realizes that if he decides to continue on in political circles a wife might prove useful. All Nicholas thinks he¿ll need is a biddable woman who¿s also a polished hostess and has a reputation that¿s above reproach. And, though he¿s enthralled by her beauty, he believes Sabrina Winfield is just the ¿dull and boring paragon of virtue¿ that would make him the perfect wife. (Boy¿is he in for a rude awakening!)................................ Therefore, when his son, at the request of Belinda, asks him to talk some sense into Lady Sabrina and stop her from going on this reckless journey¿Nicholas tries, but fails¿ So, what¿s an assertive and arrogant us