Read an Excerpt
By Diana Quincy, Alethea Spiridon Hopson, Rima Jean
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Dora Mekouar
All rights reserved.
Six years later
"It is time for you to take your wife."
Sebastian cocked a dark eyebrow. "Where would you like me to take her?"
The Duke of Traherne pushed to his feet, the red in his ruddy face deepening. Planting his hands wide on the enormous wooden desk in his study, he leaned over to peer into his son-in- law's face. "Damn your insolence, boy!" The shadows from the afternoon sun danced across his flapping jowls. "You take my meaning and do not pretend you don't."
Sebastian walked over to the sideboard to pour a glass of water. He forced a deep inhale, taking in the rich aroma of books and leather intermingled with stale cigar smoke. Glancing out the window, he watched a coach-and-four amble along the tidy Mayfair street and suppressed a mad impulse to run after it and jump aboard. It didn't matter where its unknown inhabitants were headed, as long as it provided a reprieve from Traherne's dark-paneled study. His gaze followed the conveyance, watching the tenuous chance of escape slip out of sight.
He turned toward his wife's father, ready to face the man's palpable sense of growing outrage. "I am not here to discuss Mirabella." He gestured toward the documents on the duke's desk. "I have personally invested in a number of properties, including two factories near Manchester and one in Stockport. They are sound investments. I propose we attach Traherne funds to the same interests. The papers have been prepared. All they require is your signature."
"To hell with estate matters." The older man's scarlet face emphasized the broken blood vessels in his bulbous nose. "Married six years and you've yet to get your hands on her apple dumplin' shop. What's wrong with you, boy?"
He swallowed down the disgust at Traherne's vulgar reference to his own daughter's anatomy. Leveling a direct gaze at the duke, he said, "Please refrain from referring to my wife in such a coarse manner."
Plopping back in his chair, he rested his elbows on the armrests. "What is it about you? Bella is already nine-and-ten. You were to consummate the marriage two years ago."
Sebastian took the seat across from Traherne's desk. "What my wife and I do, and when we do it, is none of your concern."
"Or if you do it at all. You have not even laid eyes on her since your wedding day."
"Upon her seventeenth birthday, my wife wrote to me from her finishing school and requested to go abroad. I acquiesced."
"I should never have allowed it."
"It was not yours to allow or disallow," he said quietly. "She is my wife. I alone command her now." And he would give her as much freedom as was in his power. It was the least he could do after what they'd all done to her.
Traherne's eyes widened at Sebastian's impudence. "She's been abroad for two years! This is preposterous."
A burning sensation unfurled in his chest. "On that we agree. Preposterous is a word that could be rightly applied to this marriage you and my late father arranged."
Traherne shook his head with obvious incredulity. "Most youngbloods would be grateful to be consort to a duchess and to wield real power." He slammed the rosewood desk with his hand, unsettling the tangle of papers upon it. One broke free and sailed to the ground. "Any man of sound mind would be thrilled to know his son would one day be a duke."
Sebastian resisted the urge to tidy the disordered documents strewn about duke's enormous wooden desk. "I have done my part in this devil's bargain. When the time comes, I will do my duty. I already oversee Traherne's vast holdings. Pray sign the papers so I may go about my business."
His Grace's hands fisted under his chin, his elbows resting on the armrests. "I have no argument with your oversight of the duchy. It pleases me to know I didn't misjudge your character and abilities. You've proven yourself adept." His voice rose in exasperation. "Except for one. Will you bed your wife? That is your duty above all else. Or is it that you do not like women? All these years and I have never heard of you keeping a ladybird or visiting the bawd houses." He waved a dismissive hand. "Indulge whatever tastes you have. It is of no matter to me, but you must consummate the marriage. It is imperative you beget an heir."
"My tastes are none of your concern, but I assure you they are quite mundane."
"Then get your nose out of the estate books and your person out of the boxing and fencing clubs. Get on with the business of claiming what is yours."
"My attention to estate matters is precisely why the Traherne accounts are robust once again." Eager to be out of the duke's presence, he rose, impatient to unleash the growing pent-up energy inside of him. "Speaking of Gentleman Jack's, I do have an appointment. Please excuse me."
"I am warning you. Go to your wife and make her yours. She is headstrong, more so than you, if that is possible. You must bring her to heel."
He bowed, cheered now that freedom was close at hand. "I shall take your comments under advisement. About the investments?"
"God's teeth, but you are stubborn." Traherne glanced at the papers. "If you think it is sound, then it is." He scratched his signature across the agreements and threw sand on them to set the ink. The duke handed the papers over. "Bella needs a strong hand to cope with her rebellious and obstinate nature."
Taking the documents, Sebastian headed for the door, welcoming the cool burst of relief at having brought today's business with the duke to a rapid conclusion. "I bid you good day."
He was surprised to hear Traherne chuckle behind him. "One thing is certain. Once the two of you come together, even the devil himself will be running for cover."
The duke's words echoed in Sebastian's head as he set off in the direction of Gentleman Jack's. There was no putting off the inevitable. For six long years, he'd born the guilt of what they'd done to Mirabella. He was a grown man who'd never truly been free to do as he pleased, the same as when he was a boy. Yet Traherne had the right of it. He must summon Mirabella home.
His friend, Lucius Penrose, fourth son of the Earl of Allston, was standing by the entrance when he arrived at the boxing club.
"How was your audience with His Grace?" he asked as they made their way inside for their boxing lesson. The two friends came three times a week and Sebastian never missed a workout. He reveled in the physical challenge and exertion.
They entered the changing room, where humidity and the pungent scent of male exertion hung in the air. "His usual pleasantness, I am afraid."
"What did he want?"
He pulled off his shirt and folded it with care. "He wants what he always wants."
Shaking his head, Pen chuckled. "When will he realize you do no one's bidding but your own?"
They headed out to the boxing floor. Gentleman John Jackson himself was on the crowded floor instructing a young buck. As always, the champion wore the vibrant colors he favored, which today included an orange-striped tailcoat.
A familiar surge of anticipation shot through Sebastian's veins, his muscles poised and anxious for the fight ahead. "I suppose Traherne still sees me as the young pup who married his daughter. Unfortunately, he is right in this. I cannot put off the inevitable any longer."
"So the mystery bride finally appears?" Taking a seat on the hanging scale, Pen regarded the measurement with evident satisfaction. "I haven't gained an ounce." He studied Sebastian's face. "She's just your wife, Stan. Get a babe on her and then get on with your life. The world is full of highfliers for the taking."
He wrapped a protective muffler around his fist. "It's not my way, Pen, as you well know."
"How could I forget?" Pen held out a fist for Sebastian to wrap. "It's unnatural to go without a woman for as long as you have. I hold out hope the saint will one day allow the true Sebastian to emerge."
He exhaled through his nostrils. "What utter nonsense you speak. Do favor me with a change of topic?"
"Very well. Are we attending the opera this evening? Adelaide says you promised her. After all, you do have the best box in the house, next to Prinny."
"You mean to say Traherne has the best box in the house. But yes, I've made arrangements for its use this evening." He slammed his wrapped fists together, testing his mufflers. "If Adelaide wants it, she shall have it. You know I cannot deny your sister anything."CHAPTER 2
"Discover anything that'll send Sebastian to Newgate?" Popping his head through her sitting room door, Cary Orford eyed the papers and account books littering Mirabella's escritoire.
"Not as of yet." Sitting back in her chair, she released a frustrated breath, stirring a renegade spiral of auburn hair that had escaped the bun atop her head. "Traherne's accounts are quite complicated. Finding irregularities is no easy task."
"I did a bit of investigation on my own, as you requested." He shut the door, wandering into the powder-blue sitting room originally designed for the mistress of the house. But years ago, during finishing school breaks, Bella had taken the comfortable space as her own. There was no one to object; her mother, the duchess, was long dead and, although the property wasn't far from Town, the duke never ventured to Strawberry Hill.
She gave Orford her full attention. "What have you learned?"
"I haven't actually laid eyes on the man yet, but from what I can gather, Sebastian runs everything." Ambling over to the blue, felt-covered card table with a chess set perched atop it, he ran his fingers over the carved wooden pieces. "Your husband oversees all of the estate business."
"Please don't call him that," she said.
"Very well." He shot her a bemused look. "Even though that is exactly what he is."
"In name only."
"Yes, wedded but not bedded." He ran an appreciative gaze over her petite, curvy frame. "Which I cannot begin to understand."
"I comprehend perfectly," she said tartly. "There's no gold hidden on my person."
"The man's a fool not to see you for the treasure you are." He regarded her with startling blue eyes that left women all over the continent breathless and swooning. But not Bella. They'd been friends far too long for that. "Tell me what you've learned."
Walking over to the unlit marble hearth, he folded his lithe frame into a chair covered with a blue-and-bronze paisley fabric. "He controls the duchy, including all of the assets, and is quite wealthy as a result."
"Our marriage has certainly served him well."
"He didn't have a farthing to his name before your marriage. The family was on the verge of destitution."
"Dare I ask how flush in the pockets he is?"
"Stanhope's personal fortune rivals that of the duke himself."
She sucked in a sharp breath. "Good Lord."
"Surely you're not surprised he helps himself to a bit of extra fruit from the tree."
"It sounds as if he's made off with entire orchards. Where is His Grace in all of this?"
"Your father, the duke, retains official control. However, he doesn't appear to trouble himself with business concerns." Orford adjusted the cuffs of his snowy-white shirt. "He leaves that to Sebastian."
"And while my father empties bottle after bottle of his beloved Russian vodka, Sebastian makes off with chunks of the family fortune."
"Perhaps there's another way he came by the blunt."
"Not likely." She stacked the ledgers to keep her hands busy. "From what I can discern, he receives a fixed allowance from the duchy. It's a healthy portion, but nowhere near enough to account for that kind of wealth."
He gestured toward the account books and documents cluttering the desk. "What do you hope to accomplish with this?"
"I am my father's heir. It's time I began acting as such."
"I can't allow Sebastian to bankrupt the duchy. Everyone will expect a duchess in her own right to make a hash of things, but I vow Traherne will never fall to ruin under my watch."
"I know that look. It means nothing will deter you." He smiled as if enjoying a marvelous joke. "For the first time, I don't envy Stanhope his place as your husband."
"I cannot leave my children a debt-laden inheritance."
"Ah yes, les enfants, who will also be the fruit of Sebastian's loins."
"I have no choice in that regard." Although she preferred to avoid thinking about the intimacy required to breed, she was fully prepared to do her duty when the time came. It would be worth the sacrifice. Her chest constricted at the thought of having a baby to love. The lively laughter of children would be most welcome after the solemn quietude of her childhood.
"Saving Traherne from Sebastian is a laudable goal. However, once the duke passes, your husband will control everything, even more so than he does at present."
"Stop calling him that."
"What do you plan to call him?" he said. "He is the man you married. It's only a matter of time now before you submit to him."
"I submit to no one." But Orford was right, of course. She would see Sebastian soon. Not that she'd recognize the man she'd been forced to marry. All she recalled from that long-ago afternoon was a dark, masculine presence with a grim countenance. Yet his eyes had been kind. She remembered that much about him.
Clearly, she'd been wrong. The scapegrace abandoned her the minute he got his hands on her fortune. He'd had even less use for her than her father. The sharp edge of sorrow comingled with fury razored through her. It was a familiar sensation, one thoughts of him always evoked. So she stored it away and harnessed it for the day they would meet again. Only this time she wouldn't be a helpless child. Sebastian Stanhope would learn how unwise he'd been to treat his wife with complete disregard.
The future Duchess of Traherne had plans for her husband.
* * *
"Oh, look! There is Baron Beresford's daughter. They say she is this season's incomparable," exclaimed Adelaide Penrose, looking around from her excellent vantage point in the Duke of Traherne's box.
Sebastian gave her a slight smile. "I myself think you are the season's incomparable, Lady Adelaide. What do you think, Pen?"
Pen took his seat, already looking bored. "Hmm? Yes, of course Adelaide is the loveliest girl in the room."
Adelaide's bright blue eyes sparkled. "Thank you for bringing us, Sebastian."
He took his seat, hardly in the mood for the opera, but he resigned himself to it this evening due to his fondness for Adelaide. He'd known her since girlhood from the many times he'd visited on school breaks with her older brother. Anything to avoid going home to his own family. Now eighteen, Adelaide relished all of the firsts that came with her come-out Season. She had taken well so far, thanks to her sweet, sunny nature and petite, blond good looks.
He looked around absentmindedly while Adelaide continued chattering with her brother. His eyes moved over the tiered boxes. People in evening dress milled about waiting for the performance to begin. A movement in one of the boxes across the way caught his attention.
A woman in white muslin stood with her back to him, her gown cascaded down over soft curves in expensive simplicity, its short sleeves trimmed in lace. She wore long, white evening gloves and a snowy fur tippet sloped neatly over her shoulders. The woman's auburn curls were pulled up, but ringlets cascaded down the back of her smooth, pale bare neck. The hair on the back of his neck tingled. Intrigued in a distant way, he kept his gaze on the woman, waiting for her to turn around for a glimpse of her face.
When the woman turned to take her seat, his heart spasmed as though it parsed something of critical importance. She had a wide, elegant face punctuated by prominent, but gently sloping, cheek bones, and a straight aristocratic nose. He brought his opera glasses to his eyes for a clearer view. At the same time, her large, almond-shaped eyes turned in his direction and locked with his. Darkness swallowed her. Startled by a profound feeling of loss, he pulled the opera glasses away from his face only to realize the lights had dimmed because the performance was beginning.
Excerpted from Tempting Bella by Diana Quincy, Alethea Spiridon Hopson, Rima Jean. Copyright © 2013 Dora Mekouar. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A definite keeper! *Book source ~ Many thanks to Entangled for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review. Mirabella Wentworth is the daughter of a Duke and when she’s 13 he marries her off to the 3rd son of Cyrus Stanhope, 19-yr-old Sebastian in payment for a gambling debt. After the wedding Sebastian goes back to school and it’s six years before he and Bella meet again. Can this gloomy unlikely start of a marriage become something great? Or was it doomed from the beginning? I have to say that this book is delightful from beginning to end. The characters come to life and the writing is fantastic. The plot is a bit more unique than I’ve ever seen in an historical romance, but it works wonderfully. During the entire reading I was empathetic with Sebastian and Bella. Even when they did something that was a bit stupid I understood why they were screwing up. It was because they are so well-written I could tell why they were acting they way they were. It was torture to sit there and go ‘Oh, no. That’s a really bad idea. Don’t do that!’ and know I had to let it play out in order for the relationship between Sebastian and Bella to advance. Torture, I tell you! Wonderful torture. All-in-all this is an awesome historical romance that will make you laugh, sympathize and fan yourself over the shared chemistry. This one is a definite keeper.
This is the sequel to Seducing Charlotte, and it did not disappoint. Sebastian is a well-written beta hero who truly is the perfect saint Ms. Quincy portrays him to be. Every time Bella tried to find something wrong with him, he proved her wrong. Forced into an arranged marriage to satisfy a bet between their fathers, Sebastian accepts his ducal responsibilities despite his youth and marriage to a child. Years later, he's drawn to his no-longer-a-child bride and seeks out to make his marriage real. I felt the attraction and heat between Sebastian and Bella along with their conflicted feelings toward each other. I look forward to reading more from this talented author.
As some of you know I've found a new love for historical romance books. Tempting Bella is one of those wonderful books that has made me so glad I have rediscovered this genre! I loved Tempting Bella, I just plain adored Bella. This woman is strong, independent, has a wonderful flair for dressing to get attention, but yet has a little problem with her confidence because of her father. Diana Quincy has written a delightful story full of fascinating characters and a great storyline. I was completely captivated by the storyline. Bella was married to Sebastian at a very young age. They met for the first time at their wedding that was arranged by their fathers and then go their separate ways. What I loved is that when they meet again they feel an instant attraction without knowing who the other is. They have a wonderful chemistry that leads to some interesting sparks. Sebastian is a true gentleman and takes the time to get to know his wife and make sure she is comfortable. Sebastian is a smart, charming, handsome, honorable fellow that I just could not help but falling in love with. There is of course tremendous tension with all the unknown things between these two. It was a lot of fun watching their relationship build as the story went on. There is also some mystery and a few unsuspected surprises. On the whole this is one wonderfully written book. It contains all my favorites things, some humor, a little mystery, some nice steamy romance scenes, and charming characters. When you mix that all together Diana Quincy has created an ideal book for me. This book is part of the Accidental Peers series. I have not had a chance to read the first book in the series but I did not feel I was at any disadvantage. I think you could read this as a stand alone with no problem. However after reading Tempting Bella I know I sure would not mind reading the first book in the series and I will certainly be looking for more work by Diana Quincy. I don't know if there is a story in the works for Bella's friend Tabby, but I hope there is. I really enjoyed her friendship with Bella and think she has a story to tell. I was given the chance to read this fabulous story in exchange for sharing my thoughts with you. As always it has been my pleasure to share my thoughts. If you get a chance to read Tempting Bella, I would love it if you stopped by my blog to let me know what your thoughts are.
You just fell in love with Sebastian after the first few pages! It took almost the whole book to like Bella. Even after you understood her story you just wanted to tell her to get over herself. This is about two ppl being thrown into an impossible situation and one of them making the best of it and one looking for revenge. It's such a fast past story your done before you know it.
A maelstrom of misunderstanding, distrust, and deceit culminating in a love that forgives all. The heroine, Bella, is contrary, opinionated and headstrong, desiring only to control her own life, and the hero Sebastian, a dashing, honorable man who's life epitomizes control are thrust into a marriage of convenience and with Mrs. Quincy's flair for dialogue and unerring ability to write a story that readers feel while reading is a journey no one should miss! A really great and entertaining read!
***ARC received from Entangled Publishing for an honest review*** Mr. Sebastian Stanhope and Duchess Mirabella Wentworth. They were strangers on their wedding day six years ago, and they are still strangers now. Married young, he was nineteen and she was thirteen, they've lived apart, never coming together as man and wife even after Mirabella came of age. She grew up resenting her husband, fuming over preconceived notions about him, then spent two years adventuring on the Continent after she turned seventeen. He finished his studies then managed his father-in-law's affairs, using his sharp mind to save the estate from financial ruin and turn it into an inheritance worthy of wife's title. Now it's time for Sebastian to claim his wife, to make her his in more than name only. But how can he possibly do that when Bella has no interest in him or the marriage bed? This is a getting to know you historical romance, where the hero and heroine are married but are virtual strangers. The story is rich with everything newlyweds in an arranged marriage might encounter--suspicion, caution, defiance, distrust. But it also shows a couple who tries to work past those issues to build not only a strong friendship but also a strong marriage built on trust and love. Oh, there's plenty of mishaps along the way but there are a great many pleasant discoveries they make about each other that compensate for those mistakes. Maybe it was the storyline, or the memorable characters, or the ups and downs Sebastian and Bella experienced that made this type of historical romance an enjoyable read for me. Perhaps it was all three. While it's difficult to decide the most appealing aspect of this story, I can say with certainty that I look forward to reading more of Ms.Quincy's work, and hope to enjoy each of her stories as much as I did this one.
This one should get at least a ten star rating. Now on to the next about Charlotte's story.
Wow. Loved this one too. Wonderful story with great characters. Love this series of books.
200 pages. This is part of a series, it's quite predictable but fairly entertaining. I did find Bella to be annoying at times and often unbelievable, but it's a romance, seriously.
*A very enjoyable story.. full of surprises..
You can't go wrong with one of her books!
Sebastian Stanhope married the daughter of the Duke of Traherne to settle a gambling debt. He was completely shocked that the duke would offer his thirteen-year-old daughter as compensation for debts owed and after the wedding, he didn't lay eyes on Mirabella for six years. But now the time has come for Sebastian and Bella to start their lives together. They can either resist the match and allow resentment to fester in their relationship, or they can make the best of things and try to allow love to grow between them. Of the three books in the Accidental Peers series that I have read thus far, this is the one that I've liked the least. It's not that this was a bad book - it wasn't - but I do feel that it is the weakest link in the series. It is still enjoyable and worth reading if you're a fan of the series, but it did have its flaws. I loved Sebastian. He's one of the most honorable men I've ever read about: he's incredibly cool-headed and even-tempered, especially given his growing suspicions about Bella's competence to be a good wife to him. When we do see his control slip a bit, it endears him to the reader, because we know how good his heart is and how hard he tries to always do the right thing. This is why I pity him so much for being married to Bella. As much as I loved Sebastian, I found Bella to be very difficult to like. I recognize that she's in a very tough situation. She was married at thirteen to a complete stranger and she feels neglected, both by her father and her absent husband. We know that Sebastian was trying to do her a kindness by giving her space, but Bella feels that her husband doesn't care for her at all - and I think that these feelings are understandable, and they do explain why she acts the way that she does. But frankly, even with this background, she came across as a spoiled brat, ungrateful and unnecessarily bitter towards Sebastian. Again, I recognize that as the reader, I have a different perspective on the situation than Bella does. But I still did not appreciate her attitude. I also was very annoyed by her snooping, which often led her to jump to conclusions without any real evidence. She'd always assume the worst and instead of confronting Sebastian about her suspicions, she'd just assume that she was right and would treat him harshly. Bella also has a vengeful nature, which only adds to her immaturity, and this gets old really fast, especially since her quest for revenge usually ends up backfiring on her and she never really seems to learn from her mistakes. I was happy when she did finally start to trust her husband, but given how vehemently against him she was at the beginning of the book, this change seemed to happen a bit too fast to be believable, in my opinion. I have noticed that the men in the Accidental Peers series are much more open-minded than I think they really would have been for the time period. On one hand, as a feminist reader of the 21st century, this makes me love them all the more. It's refreshing to read about men who see their female love interests as equals and want to give them the freedom that should rightfully be theirs. However, as refreshing as it is, the truth is that in early nineteenth century England, very, very few men would be so open-minded. So while it's a quality that I admire and was happy to see, I think that readers who are very concerned with historical accuracy may not appreciate this bit of creative license. Personally, if I'm looking for a historically accurate read, I'm probably not going to look for it in a romance novel because the genre just doesn't tend to focus on that, so I don't fault Quincy for taking some liberties with this part of her stories, but I understand that other readers may feel differently. The twist with Sebastian's parentage and inheritance is also a bit unrealistic - and I felt unnecessary - but I didn't think it was a big enough deal to really complain about. I did like this book. As stated before, Sebastian is just a wonderful guy and I loved reading about him. I think that creating strong leading men is one of Diana Quincy's greatest strengths - I've loved every single one of the heroes in her Accidental Peers series. There were parts of the book that made me laugh, though not quite as many as there were in Seducing Charlotte, and it was a fun book to read. However, my dislike of Bella definitely made me not like the book as much as I liked the others and, again, I do think that this is the weak link in the series. If you're planning on starting the series, I would definitely start with another book, because I don't know if this one alone would have been quite strong enough to encourage me to continue the series. Nevertheless, it was fun and the Accidental Peers series as a whole is one of my favorite historical romance series that I've read so far! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author, but in no way did this influence my review.
I believe I have a brand new book boyfriend. World meet the love of my life Sebastian, who just might very well be a saint. This man is a definite dream come true and I was a little put off by the fact that Bella did not fall immediately in love with her husband. But then my brain took over and I realized poor Bella had been put in an awful situation and she actually handled it much better than most people would. I loved the wit and dialogue of this story. I enjoyed meeting all of the secondary characters and would love to see a few of them make reappearances in their very own adventures. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author and I’m not sure if I’m wary or not of her replacing Sebastian with a new book boyfriend but I can’t wait to find out. Mirabella can hardly remember the man she married as a girl to settle a gaming debt between their fathers. And it's just as well. She feels nothing but contempt for the man who wed her for her fortune and promptly forgot she existed. The ton may call him "The Saint" but Bella knows better. Forced to marry as a teen to rescue his family from certain ruin, Sebastian has been apart from his child bride since their wedding day. When he encounters an enchanting impish beauty at the opera, he's is thrilled to find she is none other than his long-ago bride and he is more than ready to make her his wife in truth. Too bad the beguiling beauty has no intention of coming meekly to the marriage bed.
Bella and Sebastian were two pretty headstrong characters, but they were pretty cute together most of the time. I felt like the two main characters were very well built. They each bring their own baggage and history into the mix. Bella is very mistrustful. Even after Sebastian proved to be a stand up gentleman time and time again, she still kept finding things that made her question his integrity. I blame one of her friends for a lot of that. Tempting Bella was an entertaining and not always so innocent *wink* read with lots of drama. Tempting Bella by Diana Quincy was provided to me for review. The opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Vivi for Romance with Flavor Review Source: Publisher Tempting Bella is about two people finding themselves while trying to figure out how to accept the roles forced upon them by their families and society. Mirabella and Sebastian are forced into marriage at a young age. Too young. They both go off to live their lives and grow up. Sebastian takes the responsibility of Bella's family money (or lack there of). He is focused on honor and what's proper, trying to earn the love and respect of his father. He stays true to a wife he barely remembers, takes care of the downtrodden, and keeps all those around him on task. Sebastian is almost too good to be true. Mirabella is strong willed and feels abandoned by both her father and the man she married at the ripe old age of thirteen. She goes off to school and then travels the world with her small entourage. She's smart, beautiful, and up for adventure. She is a very likable heroine. Sebastian and Mirabella has a steamy attraction to one another. They find each other after being apart for six years after their marriage. I enjoyed watching the romance bloom as they learned about one another. I like that the story stayed focused on Mirbella and Sebastian instead of concentrating on the world of the Ton like many Regencies. The romance is steamy and the characters are likable. Some of the conflict seemed weak at times, but overall it was an enjoyable, quick read. I would read more from this author.
Tempting Bella is a pretty straight forward historical romance – two people are thrown together, have bad opinions to overcome, and fall in love. It’s sweet and saucy and fun and a good choice for those who enjoy lords and ladies finding their happy ending. - Full review available at RomanticReadsandSuch on wordpress or BookTrib's website.
I loved this book and the characters. Sebastian is a beta male, nicknamed "The Saint" by friends. He is patient and honorable as well as kind. But wait the man can box and win. He can also make his point in a crude manner which he did apologize for (saint). Through out the story little bites of information are revealed by people who know him. Each reveal brought a smile to my face. Bella is headstrong and stubborn. She also knows when to start forgiving. Yes he did keep his identity from her and he did leave her on her own for years. Instead of holding onto the grudge she learns about him. It makes her a heroine one would want to get to know. She has class with her dealing with Orford - another reason she is good enough for the beta male. Yes you fall for Sebastian that much that this story would not work if you didn't like Bella. Which I promise you will. Ms. Quincy's Tempting Bella is one of my top five of 2013. And we know I've read some really great books. It is a book you will want to read more than once. I know I do
**Review Copy Provided by Publisher** I’ll admit, i’m a sucker for the arranged marriage trope…and even better, the forced marriage in order to settle a debt – so I got the double joy in Tempting Bella. Its interesting that I was reading this book and reading a thread on the Amazon forums about age differences in between characters in romance novels. And while there isn’t a significant age difference (7 years), it did make me think. Especially since at the beginning Bella was only 13 (yes, you read me right)…but thankfully the author did a nice job forward in time to when Bella was a bit older and more mature (although at times, I do say that tongue in cheek). I liked the idea of finding love with a couple that had actually been married for several years, although they had never officially been together. And how an individuals perceptions of one influences their behavior and beliefs (yes, that is the psychology geek in me speaking). While this is #2 in a series, it could easily be read as a stand-alone, but I am interested enough in going back and reading the first book, as well as later ones in the series. Overall, I gave Tempting Bella 3.5 stars and would recommend it to people who like historical romances with arranged marriages.
I absolutely loved the first book in this series, Seducing Charlotte, so I was hoping to like this book just as much. And Tempting Bella didn't disappoint! This book was a lovely, wonderful historical romance. I really enjoyed reading this book and I thought it was brilliant. Mirabella was a strong heroine. She may have been forced into this marriage with Sebastian, but she has no intention of becoming a meek wife. After years apart, she returns to her estate, determined to do her duty as the owner and take care of her lands. And that includes finding out where the money from her estate account has been disappearing. I really liked Bella. I thought she was a lovely character. My only complaint is that she was so stubborn in holding on to her suspicion of Sebastian. At first, I understood it. She didn't really know him at all, other than she married him and didn't see him again for years. But, after she got to know him and found that he was an honorable man and even fell in love with him, she was still suspicious. That irritated me because, not only did it throw a wrench in their relationship, but it was also unfair to Sebastian, who had only proved himself trustworthy. Other than that, I thought Bella was a likable character. Sebastian was wonderful. I don't think anyone can claim the title of gentleman quite like he can. He is the epitome of the term. Noble, honorable, trustworthy. It's no wonder he earned the nickname "The Saint." He really was one. Just the fact that he was never unfaithful to Bella, even when they were apart, as soon as they were married, was a million points in his favor. That doesn't happen much in historical romance, where the hero is celibate and I really appreciated that he never cheated on Bella, despite how long they were apart. And he was so sweet and wonderful and generous and basically perfect. I absolutely adored him. The romance was wonderful. It was a perfect mix of sweet and spicy. Bella and Sebastian were adorable together. And the sparks between them were definitely hot. I thought they were a lovely couple. The plot was fast paced. I was hooked the entire way through. I really enjoyed the story and the ending was brilliant. I can't wait to read to read the next book in the series because the Accidental Peers series is fast becoming one of my favorites. Tempting Bella was a fantastic historical romance. I really enjoyed this book. It was lovely, wonderful, and just a great read. Lovers of historical romance, this is a book you'll want to read. *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Rating 4 1/2 Stars So, I spent most of my day reading Tempting Bella by Diana Quincy. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Seriously, I found the hero to be impeccable and honorable. Now the heroine, she's a bit of a challenge and at times I wanted to bang my head on the wall. So, let me explain further. Mirabella Wentworth (Bella) was just a child when she married Sebastian Stanhope. As she grew, she believed her husband to a horrible man, so she painted him a blackguard. Which Sebastian would be the polar opposite of a blackguard, dude he's practically a saint. Plus, he tries to atone for his sins. Honestly, they weren't that bad, actually he tried to give Bella freedom until she was ready to take her roll as being his wife. Seriously, who does that? To top it all off, he honored his marriage vowels even though he probably could have done more. When I first started Tempting Bella, I felt horrible for Sebastian, because he really thought he was doing what "he" thought was best. Not only that, he was served as the sacrificial lamb and married a 13 year old at 19. I know some of you are going eew. However, he went off to finish his school and let Bella grow up. When she became of age he didn't force her to become his wife, but allow her to have some freedom. Some may not like Sebastian, and claim he's too perfect. Yes, he's perfect, but it's a story. Sometimes you want a perfect hero. I wasn't really found of Bella at first. I had huge problem with her trying to find fault in Sebastian. Every little thing she analyzed and tried to find the imperfection. It didn't help that her "friend" was feeding the negative thoughts. However, I found the story quite enjoyable. The best way to describe Sebastian is he's practically a saint. Bella could definitely try the patience of a saint. So, this sounds like a smashing good time. I'm surprise Sebastian didn't give up (or try to kill her), because I would have said "I'm done." Yet, he was perfectly understanding and willing to work with Bella to gain that trust. Overall, a good read. So, if you are looking for a saint and someone who can drive a saint crazy, you will find a win with Tempting Bella. Copy provided by publisher
Things I liked about this book: • The plot is a nice twist on the arranged marriage as children plot. I enjoyed the fact the heroine was person who rebelled against convention. Mirabella is a feisty character who was well traveled and very stubborn. She investigates her husband when she returns after travel abroad and it take a long time trust Sebastian. • I also enjoyed the relationship the hero had with his family and father in law. Sebastian is honorable, good with money, and charitable. He has a realistic relationship with his father in law and there are some good plot twists that involve money hand how he chooses to handle it. • The ending wrapped up an entertaining story, while continuing to break clichés. The chemistry between the two main characters is sizzling. Things I would warn you about before buying it: • The hero is nicknamed “The Saint” and he is almost too good to be true. He is virtuous, talented and driven, but his motivation for his actions seemed a little too unrealistic. • The heroine is very naïve in some ways, and this doesn’t suit the heroine so doggedly investigates her husband. • There is a villain and some “dark” twists in the novel, but this isn’t a large part of the plot. Overall I found this to be a very enjoyable book to read. It had a good mix of plot, character, and steam that kept me interested from the first to last page. I really enjoyed how the author reversed the typical romance stereotypes and conflict between Mirabella and Sebastian. ARC copy provided by Entangled Publishing for an honest review.
Forced to wed at the ages of 13 and 19, Bella and Sebastian are simply the pawns of their cold-hearted fathers. Sebastian, feeling horrible about all the experiences that Bella has been robbed of after being forced to marry so young, vows to give Bella all the freedom she wants. Bella, not realizing that Sebastian feels any remorse for her circumstance, believes that he is a fortune hunter and a completely negligent and unfaithful husband. After 6 years of separation, they meet again, though neither of them know who the other person is. They are instantly drawn to one another. Sebastian figures out first that the beautiful woman he is so attracted to is none other than his wife. Intending to find the perfect time to give her this information, he waits to reveal his identify and when Bella finds out from another, she feels extremely betrayed and is even more skeptical of her husband. As Sebastian works to prove his true feelings and motives to her, events transpire to keep them apart. Will Sebastian ever be able to gain the trust and love of his beautiful wife or will they be forever stuck in a loveless marriage? A delightfully entertaining novel by Ms. Quincy. I absolutely adored the hero, Sebastian, for all his effort to insure Bella’s future, despite her father and his habits. He is everything a reader ever wants in a hero. He is faithful, kind, forgiving, patient, caring, and the list could go on. However, that is not to say he is a doormat either. He stands up for what he believes and is passionate about defending his character. The heroine, Bella, I found a little eccentric but given all the experiences in her life and having grown up with little family or love, I could understand why she behaved the way she did. I certainly found myself wishing for their happily ever after and felt like just when they were about it get to it, another obstacle was thrown in their way. A great read for anyone who enjoys historical romance. I will definitely be reading the next in the series! Rating: 4 Heat Rating: Mild Reviewed by April P Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More