Rivals of Fortune / The Impetuous Heiress

Rivals of Fortune / The Impetuous Heiress

by Jane Ashford

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Overview

Two classic Regency romances from beloved bestselling author Jane Ashford

When London society debarks to their country estates, the courtships are no less heated...

RIVALS OF FORTUNE - Joanna Rowntree thought she would die of a broken heart when her one true love married another-until not one but two fascinating newcomers appear on neighboring estates. As the roughhewn Jonathan Erland and the polished Sir Rollin Denby engage in a heated competition for her hand, Joanna realizes her heart is alive and well-but to whom will she give it?

THE IMPETUOUS HEIRESS - When spoiled Lady Alicia Alston, privileged daughter of a duke, is accidentally tossed into a ravine after a wild gallop with Ian MacClain, Earl of Cairnyllan, she expects a proposal as soon as is convenient. The stubborn Scot has other ideas. It takes a headlong journey to prevent an elopement to give Alicia and Ian a chance to clear up misunderstandings and figure out what they find so damnably passion-inducing about one another...

"Deft writing...an engaging cast of characters...a charming plot and a just the right amount of sensuality." -RT Book Reviews, 4 stars for The Bride Insists
"Marvelous...the perfect blend of interesting, emotionally complex, and openhearted protagonists." -Publishers Weekly Starred Review, for Married to a Perfect Stranger

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492631514
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 05/03/2016
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 1,031,992
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, and Spain as well as the United States. Born in Ohio, she currently lives in the Boston area.

Read an Excerpt

Rivals of Fortune / The Impetuous Heiress


By Jane Ashford

Sourcebooks, Inc.

Copyright © 1981 Jane Ashford
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4926-3152-1



CHAPTER 1

Miss Joanna Rowntree sat very straight in the drawing room of her father's house near Oxford, her eyes fixed painfully on the mantel clock. There was nothing in the appearance of this rather handsome timepiece to explain the anxiety in her expression, nor did the room yield a clue. It was an elegant, comfortable apartment, not quite in the first stare of fashion, a Londoner might aver, yet showing taste and the means to command some of life's luxuries. The deep cream of the walls, the dark blue velvet hangings, and the French furniture formed a pleasing contrast to the rolling green fields visible through the long windows.

The slender girl sitting stiffly before the fireplace ignored these familiar surroundings. A diminutive brunette, Miss Rowntree kept her large brown eyes on the clock, which now read six minutes to eleven. Her tightly folded hands had crumpled her pink morning dress, and one of her glossy brown curls had fallen down over her shoulder, but she noticed none of this. It was not until the drawing room door opened and her mother came into the room that Joanna roused a little; but even then, she merely turned her head slightly before going back to gazing at the clock. Her expression became a bit more soulful, perhaps, and her hands twisted in her lap, but she said nothing.

Mrs. Rowntree, also a very attractive brunette who had retained her figure through twenty years of marriage and three children, frowned slightly and watched her only daughter with lips pressed together. She seemed undecided about something, but finally she said, "Joanna," in a tone calculated to command the girl's immediate attention.

Joanna turned, her eyes growing even larger. "Oh, Mama," she replied in a soft, languishing voice. "I didn't hear you come in."

"Did you not indeed?" said her mother. "And I suppose you also forgot that you were to help Mrs. Harwood with the linens this morning? She looked for you for quite half an hour."

Joanna stared at her in amazement. "Linens? Oh, Mama, it lacks but three minutes to eleven. They are at the church even now, and you talk to me of linens?" She looked down and brought her clasped hands to her bosom.

A spark of sympathy showed in Mrs. Rowntree's eyes, and she sighed. She started to speak, thought better of it, and went to sit down beside her daughter. She took one of Joanna's hands and patted it, but when she spoke, her tone was firm. "Joanna, you are being silly. These die-away airs do no one any good, I promise you. Please do stop. I am going into Longton; come along, and we will see if we can find a new dress length at Quentin's."

"Longton!" echoed the girl, with a distaste for the neighboring village she had never before exhibited. "Mama, how can you be so unfeeling!" The clock struck eleven, and Joanna started convulsively: "At this moment, Peter is being married, and you wish me to go to Longton and look at dress lengths. Oh, Mama!"

Sympathy showed again in Mrs. Rowntree's face, but she answered only, "Well, well, you were not really engaged to Peter, you know, my dear."

Joanna raised her head. "Not engaged? But it has been understood since we were children that we would marry. Indeed, he told me before he went to London in March that we would be married when he returned."

Her mother's lips came together again. "Well, he was very wrong to do so without a word to your father. And you were wrong to listen to him. You see where such behavior leads. A great deal can happen to a young man during a London season, and you would have done better to have told him that you would see about that when you came to town yourself next year."

"Oh, I shan't go now," said Joanna, turning to gaze out the window and avoid her mother's censorious glance.

Her diversion was successful. "Not go? Of course we shall. You have been eighteen these two months, Joanna. Naturally, I shall present you in London next season. Indeed, I would take you now if it were not already June."

"Mama, I could not. He is there. With his ... his wife."

"Well, I daresay they will both be here very soon, if it comes to that," responded her mother unencouragingly, "so you had best become accustomed to the idea of meeting them."

"Here?" cried the girl, horrified.

"Yes, of course. I suppose Peter will wish to show her his house."

Joanna leaped to her feet. "Oh, what shall I do? You must take me away, Mama."

"Nonsense. You will meet Peter and his wife calmly and with dignity. Do you wish to set the whole neighborhood talking? Have a little conduct, Joanna, and stop acting a Cheltenham tragedy."

"But, Mama, I love him!"

Her mother smiled skeptically. "You do not, you know. You have no more idea of love than Frederick does."

"Frederick! Why he is only a — a grubby little schoolboy."

Mrs. Rowntree nodded equably, accepting this characterization of her youngest child without demur.

"He — he is a perfect toad," her daughter went on, nearly inarticulate with outrage. "How can you compare my feelings to his? I do love Peter, I do!" She stamped her foot.

The older woman's lips twitched. "I know you think you do, Joanna, but in a few weeks, you will see that it was all a take-in. Calf love."

The delightful pink in Joanna's cheeks deepened. She was about to pour out an impassioned defense of her feelings when the drawing-room door opened once more and one of the maids came in. "Excuse me, ma'am," she said to Mrs. Rowntree, "but a gentleman has brought Mr. Frederick home. Covered with dirt, he is, and he's hurt his ankle."

"Oh dear," said her mistress, getting up. "I wonder what he has been at this time." And leaving her daughter fuming, Mrs. Rowntree walked quickly out of the room.

Joanna stood tapping her foot for a full minute, then curiosity got the better of her anger, and she went out to the landing and looked down into the hall. Her thirteen-year-old brother was indeed covered with dirt, and his face showed that he was in some pain. A footman had just lifted him and was starting up the stairs. Her mother was talking to a stranger in buckskin riding breeches and a brown coat. Joanna wrinkled her nose in disdain. His appearance was so far from being fashionable that she could not imagine where he had purchased his clothes. Even in Oxford, there were tailors who could manage a better cut.

"Do come upstairs," her mother was saying.

Joanna quickly retreated to the drawing room again.

The others entered soon after. "This is Jonathan Erland, Joanna," said Mrs. Rowntree. "Only fancy, he is our new neighbor at the Abbey. Mr. Erland, my daughter Joanna."

The gentleman made a rather awkward bow, his eyes showing clear appreciation of Joanna's petite good looks, and she surveyed him with more interest than before. The Abbey was the largest house in the neighborhood, though sadly run down at present, and since its owner's illness and death last winter, there had been much speculation as to whom it would fall.

Mr. Erland was an open-faced young man, just above middle height. His complexion was ruddy, his hair brown, and his eyes a clear gray. He had none of the airs of a fashionable exquisite, but there was something in his manner that Joanna found unfamiliar, almost foreign. He seemed about five and twenty.

"Tell Mr. Rowntree we have a visitor," her mother was saying to the maid. "Ask him to come up." They all sat down, and Mrs. Rowntree continued, "I collect you have only recently arrived in the neighborhood, Mr. Erland. My husband would certainly have called if we had known."

The gentleman smiled, his rather commonplace countenance lighting charmingly. "Just this week. The news of my uncle's death, and of my cousin's, which I had not previously heard, did not reach me till then. I was rather out of the way."

Joanna started to ask where he had been, but her mother spoke first. "I thank you again for rescuing Frederick. What a poor introduction to our family you have had."

"Not at all," answered Erland. "Frederick seems a very promising lad — full of pluck."

Mrs. Rowntree shook her head. "He is that."

"What happened to him?" asked Joanna.

"The tiresome boy took it into his head to trespass at the Abbey. He fell from a crumbling wall in the ruins and sprained his ankle. I've sent Nurse to see to him." Mrs. Rowntree turned back to their guest. "You mustn't think me unfeeling, Mr. Erland. Frederick comes home injured more often than not. I have concluded he is indestructible."

The man laughed. "He is certainly durable at any rate. It was quite a fall he took."

"Well, if he will climb everything he sees, he is certain to fall," said Joanna severely. "Why did he wish to poke about in the ruins of the Abbey?"

"He tells me there is a rumor going about the neighborhood that my Uncle Thomas buried his fortune somewhere there," answered Erland. "Would that it were true."

Mrs. Rowntree smiled. "All boys long for such a chance. It is all nonsense, of course."

He made a wry face. "I fear you are right, and it is most unfortunate for me. The place has gone to rack and ruin since I saw it ten years ago, and a treasure is clearly required to set it to rights. I wish that my uncle had left one."

"Oh, but he was such a clutchfist; did he not leave you a fortune?" asked Joanna before she thought. She colored as Erland turned to her.

"Joanna!" said her mother.

"No, no, it's quite all right. I'd rather everyone knew just how I'm placed; I like to have things out in the open. My uncle left me the estate and a competence, nothing more. I would like above all things to renovate the Abbey, but I doubt that it will be possible. I hope the neighborhood will not be disappointed." He smiled again.

"How funny," said Joanna. "We always assumed he was excessively rich. How mistaken one can be in people." This reflection reminded her of her melancholy, and she sank into a brown study.

Her mother was about to speak when the drawing-room door opened slowly and a tall, thin man with pale brown hair and abstracted gray eyes came into the room. "Hello, dear," said Mrs. Rowntree. "Here is Jonathan Erland, the new resident of the Abbey. Mr. Erland, my husband George Rowntree."

Mr. Erland stood and bowed.

Mr. Rowntree murmured something unintelligible, standing beside the open door as if puzzled; then his brows drew together, and he struck the palm of one hand with his fist. "Of course," he said decisively, "sulfate of ammonia." His eyes lit, and he turned as if to leave the room.

Jonathan Erland cast a perplexed glance at Mrs. Rowntree.

"George," she said firmly, "come and sit down, dear."

Mr. Rowntree started and turned again. "Emma," he said, as if surprised. "I have solved it, the problem I was explaining to you at breakfast. It is sulfate of ammonia. You see ..."

"That's wonderful, dear. I'm so pleased. But here is Jonathan Erland to see you. He has just come to live at the Abbey."

Mr. Rowntree seemed to see their guest for the first time. "The Abbey, is it?" he replied, with no sign of embarrassment over his unconventional welcome. "Splendid. Perhaps we can persuade you of the pressing need to document the contents of the ruins there. It is vital, you know, to investigate such sites scientifically. Careless curiosity seekers destroy countless things every day. Even now, much of it is utterly spoiled. One must have method, order, or all is lost. Surely you agree?"

"Why, ah, yes," said Erland, "but I'm not sure I ..."

"Capital! Old Tom Erland would never listen to me. Hidebound and closed-minded, he was. He had one or two ideas, and he held to them, no matter what harm came of it. Inflexible. It's the worst of faults, perhaps." His gaze shifted. "We can get up a digging party next Thursday. Young Templeton will be overjoyed. And I suppose Carstairs will want to come along, though he's a sloppy thinker." His voice trailed off as he frowned in concentration.

Mr. Erland was looking a bit lost.

"We are so glad to have you at the Abbey," put in Mrs. Rowntree. "It will be a pleasant change to have a young man there. Do you have a family?"

Turning to her gratefully, Erland started to speak, but Mr. Rowntree looked up at that moment and exclaimed, "Jonathan Erland. The old man's nephew?"

Their guest nodded, looking slightly apprehensive.

"We have met, have we not?" continued Rowntree. "It's been some ten or fifteen years, I daresay, but you are the young man who was to go to the colonies, aren't you? Or perhaps there was another nephew?"

"No, sir. That was I. I have lived in Canada for nearly ten years." He turned to smile at Mrs. Rowntree. "I have had no time to think of marrying; too busy trying to make my fortune. Unsuccessfully, I fear, though I had a fine time at it." He looked back to his host. "We must have met when I stayed at the Abbey just before I sailed, Mr. Rowntree. I was but fifteen when my uncle paraded me about the neighborhood."

"Of course, of course," replied Rowntree abstractedly. "Canada, now. That is most interesting, most interesting. In what area did you reside?"

The younger man smiled again. "All parts, at one time or another, sir. Through the good offices of my uncle, I had a position in the eastern settlements for some time. But for the last several years, I have lived in the Northwest Territories."

Mr. Rowntree leaned forward and put his clasped hands on his knees. "Really! The territories, you say — fascinating. You have been a member of the exploration parties, I take it?"

Erland nodded. "I was with Thompson."

His host's pale eyes glowed, and he seemed scarcely able to keep his seat. "Thompson! Why, he is one of the greatest explorers now living, and you have traveled with him? You must tell me all about it, everything."

Mr. Erland laughed. "That would take me some time. But I confess I am surprised. Few Englishmen have heard of Thompson, I believe, and fewer still would be interested if they had."

"My husband is a scholar," said Mrs. Rowntree.

Waving her explanation aside, Rowntree said, "Tell us about Thompson."

"I am happy to tell you whatever you like. I have the greatest admiration and respect for David Thompson. He taught me more than anyone else in my life. He just completed a long river expedition in the Northwest, you know, on which I was privileged to accompany him. I have never seen such country. We were right in the midst of the Rocky Mountains."

Mr. Rowntree eyes sparkled. "Indeed. Did you find the Northwest Passage at last, perhaps?"

"No," laughed Erland. "I doubt that anyone will find that mythical route. We must still sail north or south, into the ice or the storms. But we found a river route into the interior of the continent, albeit a difficult one, and saw a great many marvelous things. Thompson is a friend of the native tribes in that area, and they help him find his way, you see."

"The Indians," breathed Joanna, her interest caught at last.

"Yes," responded Erland, smiling at her warmly, "do you ..."

"Tell me about the country," said her father. "It is coniferous forest?"

Erland nodded, turning away from Joanna a bit reluctantly. "For the most part." He paused, and his eyes grew faraway. "The river we traveled this trip was called the Kootenay by the natives. I don't recall what that means; I am not well acquainted with the native language unfortunately. But the water was unlike anything you can see in England: pale green because it comes down from the ice fields and glaciers. Snow and ice stays the whole year on some of the mountains, yet the valleys are green and lush." He sighed. "It is beautiful."

Joanna echoed his sigh; Mr. Rowntree nodded wisely. "The elevation," he murmured.

"Yes," agreed the younger man. "The mountains rise almost straight out of the plains to the east, an amazing sight, and the river is right among them. I can't describe it properly, it is so breathtaking. I wish you could see Thompson's journals. He tells everything so well."

"Ah, wouldn't that be splendid," cried his host. "I must tell you, Mr. Erland, that ideas are the chief joy of my life. To exchange opinions and observations with a man such as he would indeed be exciting."

As always when her father began to go on in this way, Joanna felt bored. Her thoughts turned back to London. It was nearly twelve and Peter would be married now and they would be at the wedding breakfast. She wondered what his wife was like and whether she was prettier. I hope she is not very tall and blond, she thought. If she is, she will make me look like a wretched little dab of a thing, and I shall feel even worse. She knew very little about the woman Peter Finley had chosen over her. They had received the news via an announcement in the Morning Post, and they knew only that Adrienne Denby, now Mrs. Finley, was the sister of Sir Rollin Denby, a man one of their neighbors characterized as an "ugly customer," whatever that meant. He had added that Miss Denby's portion was substantial and that young Peter was doing very well for himself in that regard, though he might still regret the match.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Rivals of Fortune / The Impetuous Heiress by Jane Ashford. Copyright © 1981 Jane Ashford. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
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.

Table of Contents

Contents

Front Cover,
Title Page,
Copyright,
Rivals of Fortune,
The Impetuous Heiress,
An Excerpt from What the Duke Doesn't Know,
About the Author,
Back Cover,

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Rivals of Fortune / The Impetuous Heiress 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Dawncatlady More than 1 year ago
There are 2 books in this offering. I found myself chuckling ,shaking my head at the actions of the heroines and wondering as to the mystery presented. Writing is delightful and love the secondary characters. Will be reading more from this author. Ebook from netgalley thanks to the publishers
HumorMyWay More than 1 year ago
I thought this to be a charming read of two book that were written back in the 1980’s when writing was more controlled with love more or less done behind closed doors never to be really talked about just implied about leaving the reader to image what was going on. These are classic stories one should look back on with fond memories and hold close to one heart. Yes we have come far and sometimes I wonder in 30 years from now what people will think of the stories written today. I thought this was a lovely set of books taking us back to a time when things were simpler letting the reader see a classic author and her style. Some of my favorite books are written years ago. Rivals of Fortune Joanna is a young woman her heart is broken the man she loves has married another woman when it was thought he would marry her. When Peter and his wife moves back she finds her feelings for him was not love. Once meeting his wife she feels sorry for him for being married to suck a snob of a woman. With Peter’s return his wife’s brother comes with them he catches Joann’s attention but he is just like his sister acting superior to everyone. Then she meets Jonathan he is easy going and a pleasure to be around. Joann finds that what she believes to be true is not as she learns people are just not what they appear to be. Looking deep than the surfaces she finds people are not very honest with leaves her wondering who to believe and give her trust to. With the mystery of a possible hidden treasure her father helps to try to find it. It isn’t long before they find that someone else is looking for it at night. It isn’t long before the dig becomes dangerous when the unknown person becomes desperate to find the treasure and will stop at nothing to get it. The Impetuous Heiress Lady Alicia is the daughter of the Duke of Morland. She is beautiful, smart, who gets bored easily, and spoiled. She is unmarried she hasn’t found a man who can hold her attention for long. As with most women who are use to getting their way they can be trying and unkind. The Earl of Cairnyllin is a Scottish nobleman he doesn’t think much of the ton and feels that they are not honest and lacking in sincerity and just not someone he wants to be around. Alicia is attracted to Ian when he does not return her attraction she does her best to pay him back by going after his sister and tearing how her reputation. No one best her and revenge is so sweet. It is very hard to like this character that is out only for herself. As the story goes on she become more likable as she changes and becomes kinder. This is a story full of misunderstandings which will take some time to work out. Both Alicia and Ian are the easiest people to get to know or even like. But with time all things can be worked out and they might just find their true love. I thought both stories were well written and very entertaining for the time period they were written in. This is a very talented author that gives you a wonderful story. It is nice to read her work from 30 years ago and compare it to how she writes today. She has always given us wonderful characters that were quite entertaining with a wonderful plot and nothing has changed from back than to her writing today. There is just a little more of the passion that authors are allow to write today that they were not allowed to write back then. I really enjoyed both stories that I had read before when I was younger.
BuckeyeAngel More than 1 year ago
Joanna Rowntree feels her life is over when her true love marries someone else. When two newcomers move into nearby estates and both show an interest in her, she finds that she’s still very much alive. I tried getting into this book but couldn’t. I didn’t really care for Joanna’s character right from the beginning. Plus it seemed to jump characters too quickly for me to really be able to keep track. **I received a copy of this story from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“Rivals of Fortune” Miss Joanna Rowntree, age 18, lives with her father at their small home in Oxford. Joanna’s heart is breaking because Peter Finley has just married Adrienne. Joanna is deeply hurt because she understood that she and Peter would marry. When Joanna learns that Peter and his new wife will be coming to town soon, she doesn’t know how she will react. Hearing that Peter’s wife is older than he is and a bit of a shrew to boot, is shocking When she actually meets Adrienne, she finds the woman to be haughty. When Joanna sees how arrogant the woman is, she feels sorry for Peter. while realizing that she never truly cared for him that much. Adrienne’s brother, Sir Rollin Denby, is staying with is sister and Peter. He catches Joanna’s attention with his good looks, but he acts superior to everyone else as well.. When Joanna’s younger brother, Frederick, is brought home by a neighbor after injuring his ankle, Joanna meets Jonathan Erland. He has moved into the nearby Abbey that his uncle left him. It is rumored that the uncle had been quite wealthy and some think he has hidden treasure on the grounds. Jonathan has moved from Canada where he had spent 10 years. Joanna’s father is a scholar and enlists the help of a few other men to assist Jonathan in searching for the treasure that is supposed to be hidden on the man’s property. In addition, they are hoping to find an ancient crypt buried underground. As the digging ensues, it appears that there is an unknown person who is also trying to find the treasure by searching at night. Joanna becomes involved with the group by drawing sketches of different stages of the digging. Soon, the search becomes dangerous because someone is desperate to find the treasure and will stop at nothing to get it. This book had a good plot, but there is way too much dialogue in the story. It really could have used a good editor to crop it down. However, I do like the author and her newer books are a great improvement over this one. Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley “The Impetuous Heiress” Lady Alicia Alston, age 25, is the daughter of the Duke of Morland. She is beautiful, smart, easily bored, and somewhat spoiled. She remains unmarried simply because no one she has met has yet to win her heart. Her mother has passed away and her father is a busy diplomat. The Honorable Roderick (Roddy) Massingham, age 26, is the second son of the Earl of Murne. He and Alicia are guests at a house party hosted by their friend, Viscount Perdon (Perdy) of Perdon Abbey. Alicia has become bored at the house party but is intrigued when she finds that Perdy’s Aunt Sophia has insisted that Perdy invite his cousins, Ian, the Earl of Cairnyllan, and his sister Lady Marianne MacClain, along with their widowed mother. Ian’s father was a very famous rake which makes Ian very protective of his mother and sister almost to the point of smothering them. Ian comes across in an arrogant manner, whereas Marianne is quite sweet and amenable. She is also preparing for her come out. Ian’s supercilious manner irritates Alicia who is determined to not let him best her. He has become quite a challenge. She soon finds that they are both horse experts. After spending some time together riding and just chatting, she realizes that she has met her match. But, as much as Alicia tries to get along with Ian, his constant snubbing her results in her being even more moody and she begins to wonder if she
JackieBCentralTexasJB More than 1 year ago
Read from March 31 to April 01, 2016 Book Info Paperback, 480 pages Expected publication: May 3rd 2016 by Sourcebooks Casablanca ISBN 1492631515 (ISBN13: 9781492631514) Other Editions None found Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links Amazon B&N BOOK SYNOPSIS Two classic Regency romances from beloved bestselling author Jane Ashford When London society debarks to their country estates, the courtships are no less heated... RIVALS OF FORTUNE - Joanna Rowntree thought she would die of a broken heart when her one true love married another-until not one but two fascinating newcomers appear on neighboring estates. As the roughhewn Jonathan Erland and the polished Sir Rollin Denby engage in a heated competition for her hand, Joanna realizes her heart is alive and well-but to whom will she give it? THE IMPETUOUS HEIRESS - When spoiled Lady Alicia Alston, privileged daughter of a duke, is accidentally tossed into a ravine after a wild gallop with Ian MacClain, Earl of Cairnyllan, she expects a proposal as soon as is convenient.