Secrets of a Runaway Bride (Secret Brides Series #2)

Secrets of a Runaway Bride (Secret Brides Series #2)

by Valerie Bowman

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Valerie Bowman

Miss Annie Andrews is finally free to marry the man she loves. With her overprotective sister out of the country on her honeymoon, nothing can prevent her flight to Gretna Green—nothing, that is, but an abduction by the wrong gentleman.

When Jordan Holloway, the Earl of Ashbourne, promised to look after his best friend's sister-in-law, he didn't realize she would prove so difficult. But when he spirits her away to his country house to prevent her elopement, he discovers that the tempting beauty knows how to put up a fight. To make matters worse, he's stuck playing the role of honorable protector...when what he really wants is to run away with her himself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250008961
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/26/2013
Series: Secret Brides Series , #2
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 375
Sales rank: 344,386
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Valerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she's the youngest) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got.

Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her two rascally dogs. When she's not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of books including Secrets of a Wedding Night and Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage.

Valerie loves to hear from readers. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Read an Excerpt

Secrets of a Runaway Bride

By Valerie Bowman

St. Martin's Paperbacks

Copyright © 2013 Valerie Bowman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781250008961


London, Late September 1816
Annie Andrews was halfway up the side of Arthur Eggleston’s town house—scaling an oh-so-convenient and strong ivy vine—when the telltale clip-clop of a horse’s hooves stopped her. She squeezed her eyes shut. Oh, this was not good.
Despite the fact that she was in the alley at the back of the house and it was dark as pitch, she’d just been discovered. She knew it.
Please let it be a servant.
But even as she wished it, she knew it couldn’t be. A servant in the alley on horseback? No.
And the odds of it being Aunt Clarissa were decidedly low as well. Annie had ensured that lady had been well into her cups and asleep before she’d even attempted tonight’s little escapade. Besides, Aunt Clarissa was horribly frightened of horses.
Annie bit her lip. Then she slowly turned her head.
She gulped.
It was worse than a servant. Much worse.
“Lost?” The arrogant male voice pierced the cool night air.
Jordan Holloway, the Earl of Ashbourne, swung his leg over his saddle and dismounted.
Oh, drat. There was absolutely no plausible way to explain this. Annie lifted her chin in an attempt to retain her dignity. As much as one could when one was clinging precariously to a vine.
The moon peeked from behind the clouds, casting a bit of its glow upon the scene as Lord Ashbourne strode up the steps and stood regarding her, his arms crossed over his chest. He leaned back against the stone balustrade, crossed his booted feet negligently at the ankles, and watched her with a mocking look on his oh-so-handsome—too handsome if you asked her—face. The man was easily two inches over six feet tall, possessed broad shoulders, narrow hips, a straight nose, dark slashes for brows, dark, ruffled hair, and the most unusual knowing gray eyes.
“If it isn’t the runaway bride.” He grinned. “What are you up to this time, Miss Andrews?”
Annie gritted her teeth. She hated it when Lord Ashbourne called her by that ridiculous name. The runaway bride. Hrmph. As the closest friend of her new brother-in-law, Lord Ashbourne had just so happened to have been involved in coming after her following an unfortunate incident in which she’d run away to Gretna Green with Arthur last spring. But that had been months ago and things were different now. Ahem, present circumstances notwithstanding. And it was so like Lord Ashbourne to mock her while she wasn’t in a position to kick him or at the very least give him a condemning glare. It was exceedingly difficult to conjure condemnation while perched on a plant.
Her palms sweaty, Annie tightened her hold on the vine and summoned what indignation she could muster. “I don’t see how it’s any of your business.” But even as she said the words she knew how ludicrous they were. “How did you even know I was here?”
“Let’s say I made an educated guess. But, before I assist you in removing yourself from this ridiculous … situation,” he drawled. “I insist you tell me why, exactly, you’re doing this.”
Annie blew an errant leaf away from her mouth. “I don’t require your help, Lord Ashbourne. I’m quite capable—” She glanced down. It was at least a five-foot drop to the porch below. She’d just have to jump. She tugged away from the vine, but discovered, to her dismay, that the hem of her gown was snagged upon the brambles.
Lord Ashbourne shook his head. “Seriously, Miss Andrews, why?”
She expelled her breath, still trying to retain a modicum of dignity. Oh very well. Some explanation was obviously in order. “It’s not as bad as it looks. I merely wanted to get Arthur’s attention. I planned to toss a rock at his window and—”
“A note sent round to his door would not suffice?” Lord Ashbourne’s mocking tone did not waver.
Annie clenched her jaw. Why, oh, why was she always at her very worst when Lord Ashbourne appeared? It was quite a phenomenon, actually.
“And Aunt Clarissa?” Lord Ashbourne continued. “She’s asleep, is she not? After imbibing a good bit of port?”
Annie bit her lip. “Sherry.” As companions went, Aunt Clarissa was a great deal of fun, but an apt chaperone she was not. The woman was overly fond of spirits, in a variety of forms.
“As I suspected. Very well, there’s no help for it.” Lord Ashbourne uncrossed his ankles and took a step toward her, lifting his arms to pluck her from the vine like a foolish little grape.
Just then, the back door opened. A ray of candlelight splashed across the porch. Annie’s eyes flashed wide. Pure terror pounded in her chest.
She held her breath. Who had discovered her? Please don’t let it be—
Lord Ashbourne didn’t wait. He quickly grabbed her by the waist and pulled. She gave a small yelp before tumbling into his arms and sliding down the front of him, her body pressed to his.
And that’s how Annie came to be completely tangled in Lord Ashbourne’s arms when Arthur Eggleston, the man Annie loved, the man Annie intended to marry, strode onto his back stoop.
*   *   *
Jordan’s first instinct was to set Miss Andrews’s delicate form on the porch and break their contact.
She was a nineteen-year-old troublemaker with a penchant for putting her reputation at risk. The little baggage had proven to be nothing but trouble since her sister, Lily, and his closest friend, Devon, had left for the Continent on their honeymoon trip. They’d both begged Jordan to keep an eye on the chit. Miss Andrews, it seemed, required more than one chaperone, especially since their closest female relative and only suitable companion, Devon’s eccentric aunt Clarissa, was overly fond of the bottle.
Jordan had spent the past sennight following Miss Andrews around and ensuring she was not making a fool of herself in her dogged pursuit of that sop Arthur Eggleston. But it seemed the closer Jordan watched her, the more outrageous her antics became, culminating in this particularly egregious bit of madness here this evening.
She was about five feet four, with a mass of wide brown curls, an impertinent nose, warm dark eyes, and a penchant for trouble. “Spitfire” was the word that readily came to mind. And while Jordan was mentally counting the days until Lily and Devon returned to properly see to the girl themselves, he had to admit to a sort of reluctant admiration for Annie. Things were never dull when Miss Andrews was involved. That much he would allow.
At the moment, her lithe body pressed against his was making him feel things he shouldn’t, however. He needed to disentangle her from his arms. Immediately.
Eggleston cleared his throat and sanity returned to Jordan’s mind with a vengeance. He quickly plucked Miss Andrews’s arms from around his neck and let her slide down the length of him until she was standing on the porch next to him, a chagrined look on her pretty face.
Arms crossed over his chest, Eggleston glanced between them, a mildly perturbed expression on his face. “Miss Andrews, Lord Ashbourne. What is the meaning of this?”
Annie backed away from Jordan quickly, her breath coming in short pants. She snatched her arms behind her back and didn’t meet his eyes. “Arthur. We were just…” Annie bit her lip. That was her tell. Jordan had played enough hands of cards to learn a person’s giveaway and the past week spent in Miss Andrews’s company had informed him that when she was up to no good, she nibbled her pink lips with her perfect white teeth. It was a bit endearing, actually. And extremely convenient for him.
She glanced away. Her other tell. “That is to say … I’d come over to…” She stopped, words obviously failing her.
“Anne,” Eggleston said, giving her a stern stare. “For your sake and the sake of your reputation, I shall pretend I didn’t see this.”
Jordan fought the urge to roll his eyes. First of all, this was the same man who’d nearly destroyed Annie’s reputation last spring. His concern now was a bit too little too late for Jordan’s taste. Secondly, if Annie had been Jordan’s potential fiancée and he’d just caught her in the arms of another man, he’d be pounding the bloke into a pulp about now. But this dolt obviously wasn’t jealous enough even to take a swing at him. Probably better for Eggleston’s sake, of course, but leave it to Arthur Eggleston to be little more than inquisitive.
Annie swallowed. “Yes, Arthur. Quite right. It won’t happen again.”
“I’m glad to hear it. Now, may I escort you home?” Eggleston asked Annie, giving Jordan a once-over.
“No need. I was just about to escort her myself, Eggleston,” Jordan replied with a smirk.
Annie nodded. “Yes, I’ll be quite fine.”
“Very well,” Eggleston continued, looking down his nose at the both of them. “Then I shall call upon you tomorrow, Anne, for our usual afternoon ride in the park.”
Annie bit her lip. “Yes. I should like that very much.”
“Good evening.” Arthur turned on his heel, reentered the house, and shut the door with a resounding crack.
The whoosh of air from the door tousled Annie’s curls. She plunked her hands on her hips and glared at the door, completely ignoring Jordan. “He didn’t seem a bit jealous, did he? Next time I shall just have to kiss you.”

Copyright © 2013 by Valerie Bowman


Excerpted from Secrets of a Runaway Bride by Valerie Bowman Copyright © 2013 by Valerie Bowman. 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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Secrets of a Runaway Bride 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book and found it cute. But in the beginning I was just getting aggravated with how dense Annie was about Arthur. Wow. And perhaps the age difference between Annie and Jordan. But I enjoyed Annie and the way she was honest and would own up to her mistakes. She was a truly enjoyable character.
skelley55 More than 1 year ago
I loved Jordan, not so impressed with Anne.  The story was good , I always enjoy a book with a good dose of humor.  However, I didnt like this book as much as the first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read tghough I was a tad disappointed with Annie when she overheard Jordan twice confirm her fears and not fight his mindset. Throughout the book Annie fights (even for the wrong guy) everything she wants but upon hearing the man she loves supposedly say he won't marry her and tell his ex-finace he waited so long to hear her say she loves him she runs away again. Annie is still young and looking for who she is and I think she finds who that is and grows up along the way.
grandmareads102 More than 1 year ago
Annie Andrews wants to be in love. She has decided that Arthur Eggleston is the one and she won't listen to anyone who disagrees. She will elope with him if necessary. Jordan Holloway has been entrusted with her care while her sister and his best friend are on their honeymoon. Annie is a troublesome lady who keeps him busy. The more they are together, the more they feel the heat of their attraction. Will the runaway bride find love with this rake? Valerie Bowman weaves a romantic tale filled with tenderness and sparkling wit. Annie and Jordan are a wildly passionate couple. Sparks fly when they are together. They capture my heart with their romance and drew me in with their desire and uncertainty. This book is part of the Secret Brides series. I love all the characters especially Aunt Clarissa, the worst chaperone possible. I wish Annie and Jordan happiness and love. A wonderful story that left me smiling!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Can' t wait to read her next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kipha More than 1 year ago
This was a fun a enjoyable read. Made me laugh and tear up and just smiles all around. Miss Annie has a strong personality and although I didn’t like her first because of her insistent probing of being in love (with the wrong man!) but in the end I couldn’t hate her because love will always have that effect on young lover. Jordan I Adored~! At first glance I knew I would love him. His appearance in the first book where he had to assist in retrieving Miss Annie in her first attempt to Gretna Green was just as hilarious and I knew their relationship would be wonderful. I love how he tried to treat her like a sister for the sake of his friendship with her now new brother-in-law but it just seems to never work. You really get a feel of who he really is by many of his actions. Towards the end of the book I really really enjoyed it. After being unable to handle Annie in Town, Jordan abducts her to the country so that he can marry her off to the local gentry and introduces his lovely brothers~! They were just as delicious as Jordan. I do hope they get their own HEA. Ah, Medford was just as great a character as he was in Secrets of a Wedding Night. Always so insightful, if only he will be able to do that in his book coming up this fall. Both Annie and Jordan go through a lot of ups and downs and funny and intense bickering but all is good to a great love story!
momof3boysj More than 1 year ago
Annie thinks she'll marry her man while her sister is on her honeymoon. Wrong. Enter Jordan, her brother-in-law's best bro and confirmed bachelor. He's supposed to be keeping an eye on her--she is a tricky one. Exasperated with her sneaky ways to try and marry a guy who doesn't seem serious about her, he whisks her off to the countryside and decides to throw a ball to find her a decent husband. Problem--he finds himself falling for her. She also falls for him. And, there's a secret "fairy godfather" trying to help them see they're perfect for each other. By the time they both figure out they're in love with each other, it's almost too late. Love intervenes! This is the second in a series, but it's fine as a stand-alone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it Humor, romance and some steamy love scenes. Ordering next in series.
Flor-83 More than 1 year ago
Loved the book it was funny, sexy and I didn't want it to finish !!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MaryGramlich More than 1 year ago
Never stop looking for a kiss so sizzling it sets your hair on fire Annie Andrews is determined to marry the wrong man, and Jordan Holloway, the Earl  of Ashbourne is absolutely not going to let that happen.  Annie is in love with the wrong man and Jordan feels he is not the right one but he can keep Annie safe from foolishness, he hopes.   Annie keeps stirring up trouble for Jordan while he works hard to keep the peace between them.   Taking the obligation of caring for her seriously there is nothing he will not do including kidnapping  her to prevent impending disaster. Jordan and Annie push and pull at the fringe of scandalous behavior and when Annie has a taste of the treasure Jordan can offer, she wants more of something he is not prepared to give.  Jordan does not want lifelong commitments but he thought but with Annie a renewed feeling of hope and future presents itself.  Jordan will do what he can to fight the feeling, and try to find anyone that is husband material.  The scary part for Jordan is the question is he the perfect match really him. Valerie Bowman always brings her ‘A’ game to the characters, story, and romance she writes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely amazing! It had me hooked from the beginning to the end. The dialogues were perfect. The characters were blended perfectly. There wasn't a moment where I was bored. I am really surprised by Valerie Bowman's writing skills. I can't wait to read the next book! I highly recommend everyone to read this book. You won't be disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well worth reading Very enjoyable
LenaDiaz More than 1 year ago
LOVED this book! Valerie is a friend of mine but I only review books I love. This one is full of Valerie's trademark witty/snarky/fun dialogue. And her hero is super-sexy! LOVE this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun and enjoyable read! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago