The Unlikely Lady

The Unlikely Lady

by Valerie Bowman

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Overview

FOR THE BACHELOR AND THE BLUESTOCKING…

Certain that no man wants a bluestocking for a wife, Miss Jane Lowndes is careful to wield her books and her spectacles as weapons against matrimony. Convincing her ambitious mama that she's content to stay a spinster is easier said than done, however. It's a good thing Jane is not above a bit of manufactured scandal if it will keep her from the altar, and the argumentative, contrary Lord Garrett Upton…

ROMANCE IS NEVER BY THE BOOK

With the war over, Garrett is determined to enjoy his bachelor's life while he can, even when it means attending a house party in celebration of a friend's wedding—and suffering Jane's notorious disdain. But when a masquerade ball leads to a mistaken kiss, he's surprised to learn that Jane's bookish exterior hides a truly passionate soul. When two such headstrong people are determined to remain unattached, can love lead to a happy ending?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250042095
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 05/05/2015
Series: Playful Brides Series , #3
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Valerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she's number seven) 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 family including her rascally dog, Roo. When she's not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.

Read an Excerpt

The Unlikely Lady


By Valerie Bowman

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 Valerie Bowman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-3944-1


CHAPTER 1

London, April 1816


"Oh, for heaven's sake, Mrs. Cat, show yourself and let's get this over with, shall we?" Jane Lowndes wiped the dark, wet hair from her eyes. It was raining. Hard. The downpour had begun nearly five minutes ago and she'd been standing outside the mews behind her father's town house for nearly ten.

Jane could live with the rain herself. Who cared about hair or clothing being ruined? She could even stand the fact that her spectacles were foggy. But her book was getting wet and that was not acceptable. She'd tucked the leather-bound volume under her arm as best she could while she balanced a wooden bowl in her hands, but she truly needed to get the book inside and dry it by the fire.

Jane squinted into the gray mist. A soft meow signaled the arrival of the cat. The brown, mangy-looking animal must have heard her. The cat came running along the stone wall at the far side of the stables, heading straight toward Jane. Apparently, even rain wasn't enough to keep the feline from her free meal.

"There you are." A soft smile touched Jane's lips, despite her best efforts to stifle it. She didn't want to smile at this cat. She didn't want to be responsible for it at all, really, rain or shine. She'd noticed the thing a fortnight ago when she'd come to the mews after a mount to ride in the park, and then she'd had the misfortune to go and discover that the cat had kittens of all things. She'd seen one of the furry little things peeking from behind a bush in the alley, obviously awaiting her mother's return. A lone cat was one thing, but kittens were another matter entirely. Add to that the mama cat's scrawniness and obvious hunger, and Jane couldn't stop herself from making a trip to the kitchens to request a bowl of scraps.

Two weeks later and she and Mrs. Cat had a standing appointment here every morning. Today was the first time it had begun raining while Jane waited. She'd have to remember to leave her book inside next time.

Jane stooped and set the bowl near the wall, remaining in a crouched position. The cat licked her lips and charged toward it, hungrily plunging her face into the meal and gobbling.

"My, you're a greedy one." Jane shook her head slightly. "Reminds me of the manner in which I used to eat when I was a child." She laughed. "I suppose I must continue to feed you so you can keep those babies healthy, but you certainly don't make it easy for me by arriving late in the rain."

She patted the cat's head, ignoring her thoughts of fleas or worse. She'd promptly wipe her hands as soon as she returned to the comfort of the house.

"How are the kittens?" Jane asked, raindrops sliding down her nose.

The cat's only answer was more hungry smacking.

"I imagine you're quite busy," Jane continued, readjusting her book under her arm. "I don't envy you. Having to keep food on the, er, table for your children with nary a paw lifted from Mr. Cat, I presume."

The cat continued to eat, steadfastly ignoring her provider.

Jane clucked her tongue. "I completely understand. Exactly why I intend to remain unattached and further the cause of women in Society, Mrs. Cat. Just like Mary Wollstonecraft."

The cat paused and eyed her askance, her green eyes narrowed, as if she understood what Jane had said.

Jane hiked her eyebrows. "I know what you're thinking. Mary Wollstonecraft was married. I know. Of course I know. But that doesn't mean I have to be. I rather think I'll accomplish much more for the cause if I'm not distracted by a man and his children."

The cat looked up from her meal and blinked at her. Was that judgment in the cat's eyes? Had this cat become acquainted with Jane's mother? Jane swiped the rain from her spectacles.

"Speaking of marriage," Jane continued, as the cat returned to concentrating on her breakfast. "My friend Cass is getting married and I am leaving today for the country to attend the wedding. I won't be around for a bit."

The cat swished her tail.

"Don't blame me," Jane went on. "I couldn't talk her out of it. It seems Cass is madly in love with Julian and some people apparently are meant to be together forever. Lucy seems to think so, too, and Lucy, of course, is a duchess now as a result of falling in love." The last three words were uttered with a fair bit of mockery.

"But don't worry," Jane said. "I've asked Anna, the cook's assistant, to check on you while I'm gone. She's promised to bring you all the best scraps and —"

"Miss Jane?" Anna's voice came floating through the rain and fog.

Jane quickly stood and turned toward the sound. "Anna, is that you?"

Anna soon materialized around the side of the mews. She held a newspaper over her head to shield herself from the rain as she squinted through the fog. "Miss Jane?" She stopped when she saw Jane. "There you are. I thought I might find you out here. Your mother is looking for you. She and Eloise are turning up the house searching."

Eloise was Jane's lady's maid. The poor woman was often taken to task if Jane's mother couldn't find her only child. "I'd better get back quickly then. Poor Eloise. Good-bye, Mrs. Cat. I'll see you when I return. And I hope to see your kittens fat and healthy. Anna will take good care of you. Won't you, Anna?"

Anna's smile spread across her plump cheeks. "Of course, miss."

The cat lifted its head and blinked.

Anna readjusted the paper atop her head. "Miss, I heard your mother tell Eloise it's quite important that she and your father speak with you before you leave for the house party."

Jane scrunched up her nose. Drat. An audience with her mother was never a good thing and if she was dragging Papa into it, it was serious. "I wonder what she wishes to discuss."

Anna stooped down and patted the cat on the head. "I heard her say something about Mrs. Bunbury."

Jane gulped. "Mrs. Bunbury?"

"Yes. She is your new chaperone, isn't she, miss?"

Jane blinked rapidly. "Yes. Yes, she is." Jane, the book still cradled under her arm, broke into a decidedly unladylike sprint back toward the house, heedless of the water splashing onto her skirts from the many puddles in the courtyard.

Mrs. Bunbury was indeed her new chaperone. The chaperone who would be accompanying her to Cass's wedding house party in Surrey. If her mother wanted to discuss Mrs. Bunbury, there might well be trouble.

For Mrs. Bunbury didn't exist.

CHAPTER 2

Garrett Upton turned over the letter and stared at it. Hard. He let out a long breath. It contained what it always did, a bank draft, an inadequate message, a hefty dose of guilt.

"Sir, the coach awaits you."

Garrett glanced at the butler who stood at attention in the doorway to his study. The two roan spaniels lying on either side of his chair lifted their heads and wagged their tails.

"I'll be there in a moment, Cartwright."

Cartwright nodded once.

Garrett's gaze returned to the desktop and the letter that had occupied his attention this morning. He finished sanding it, sealed it, and stamped it with the heated wax in front of him.

Garrett didn't have much time. The coach was waiting. He hadn't got much slept last night either, but that was nothing new. The dreams were always there, the nightmares, haunting him.

Garrett stared at the address.

Mrs. Harold Langford
12 Charles Street
London


Every two weeks Garrett sent a similar letter. He'd sent it like clockwork, ever since he'd been a young man of one and twenty, nearly ten years now. While it always included the same contents, conspicuously, there was no mention of Harold, his friend who had died in the war.

Garrett shook his head and pushed out his chair. The dogs scrambled up from their resting spots. He stood and made his way toward the door, the letter in his hand. He'd worked the last fortnight to catch up with his business matters to ensure he could enjoy the time in the countryside. Today, he was off to his friends' wedding house party in Surrey. The new Earl of Swifdon, Julian Swift, was finally marrying his bride, Lady Cassandra Monroe. The six months of grieving for the earl's older brother, Donald, had passed.

The wedding would be grand. The house party before the wedding, more intimate. Garrett's cousin Lucy would be there with her new husband, the Duke of Claringdon. Cassandra and Swifdon would be there, of course. Miss Jane Lowndes. Garrett rolled his eyes. Miss Lowndes usually exasperated him, argued with him, maddened him, or a combination of all three, but he could stand her company for a sennight, he supposed. Why Lucy insisted on remaining such close friends with that know-it-all bluestocking, he'd never understand.

Cartwright remained standing at attention near the door.

"Ensure this goes out today," Garrett said pointedly to the servant, handing him the letter.

"As you wish," the butler replied, taking it.

Garrett crossed back over to the large mahogany desk, pulled his coat from the back of his chair, and shrugged into it. The dogs watched him intently. Then he turned and strode out the door. The dogs followed close on his heels. He made his way past the butler, who fell into step behind him. He marched down the corridor and into the foyer. Cartwright scurried to open the front door for him as Garrett turned to pat each of the dogs on the head. Their tails wiggled vigorously.

"Take good care of them, Cartwright."

Placing his hat on his head, Garrett strode out into the street, where he climbed into the waiting carriage. He settled into the velvet seat and gazed out the window, taking one last look at his London residence.

It was a fine house. Garrett might be the heir presumptive to the Earl of Upbridge, but the town house in Mayfair and its servants and contents were currently paid for by money his mother had brought to her marriage to the second son of an earl, and an inheritance from his maternal grandfather. Garrett was a wealthy man in his own right.

The coach started with a jerk. Mr. Garrett Upton was off to spend a week at a country house party in Surrey.

CHAPTER 3

"Young lady, I refuse to allow you to leave this house until you answer these questions to my satisfaction." Mrs. Hortense Lowndes's dark hair shivered with the force of her foot stamping against the carpeted floor in Jane's father's study.

Jane adjusted her spectacles upon her nose and stared at her mother calmly. Mama was in a high dudgeon today. She hadn't even mentioned the fact that Jane had arrived dripping wet upon her father's carpet and then hurried over to place her soggy book by the fire.

"Are you listening to me?" her mother prodded.

Jane glanced at her bespectacled father, who gave her a half-shrug and a sympathetic smile before folding his hands atop his desk and returning his attention to his book. Papa obviously wished this entire debacle was playing out elsewhere instead of interrupting his reading. Jane didn't blame him. She looked longingly toward her own book. I do hope it dries and the pages aren't adversely affected. Oh, wait. She should be paying attention to her mother.

"Of course I'm listening, Mama."

Her mother crossed her arms over her chest and glared at her suspiciously. "Why are you wet?"

Jane pursed her lips. "I thought this was about Mrs. Bunbury." Distraction. It always worked on Mama. Without taking his eyes off his book, Jane's father smirked.

"Yes. Mrs. Bunbury," her mother continued. "That's exactly right. I have several questions about her."

Jane took a deep breath. She carefully removed her spectacles and wiped them on her sleeve. Stalling. A second tactic that usually worked on her mother.

"Mama, we've discussed this. I'm no longer a child. I'm twenty-six years old. I'm a bluestocking, a spinster." She refrained from pointing out that her mother's refusal to accept that fact was exactly why she'd had to invent this preposterous Mrs. Bunbury scheme. That would not be received well. Not at all.

"You most certainly are not!" Her mother stamped her foot again. "Why, I cannot believe my ears." She whirled toward Jane's father. "Charles, are you listening to this?"

Jane's father's head snapped up. He cleared his throat. "Why, yes. Yes, of course. Bluestocking spinster, dear."

"No!" her mother cried. "Jane is not a bluestocking spinster."

"No, of course not," her father agreed before burying his head in his book again.

Hortense turned back to face Jane. She pressed her handkerchief to her lips. "We've spent a fortune on your clothing and schooling. We've ensured you've received invitations to all of the best parties, balls, and routs. I do not understand why you cannot find a husband."

"I don't want a husband, Mama. I've told you time and again."

"If you'd merely try," Hortense pleaded.

As usual, her mother refused to listen. Hence, the need for Mrs. Bunbury.

Jane carefully replaced her spectacles. "I'm going to the house party, aren't I?" Logic. It usually served to placate her mother, if temporarily.

Her mother made a funny little hiccupping sound. "You won't enjoy yourself. I know you won't. I think I should come with you and —"

"No." Jane could only hope she successfully kept the panic from her face. If Mama came to the house party, it would be a disaster. It was bad enough that she would be arriving at the end of the week for the wedding itself. "Of course I won't enjoy myself, Mama. Not the party part, at least. I'm bringing a great many books and I intend to —"

Her mother tossed her hands into the air. "Books, books, books. That's all the two of you ever talk about, ever think about." She turned sideways and glared accusingly back and forth between her husband and her daughter.

Jane stepped forward and put a comforting arm around her mother's shoulder. She felt a bit sorry for her. The poor woman hadn't given birth to a daughter who loved people and parties and clothing and fripperies like she did. Instead she'd given birth to a girl who took after her intellectual father. A man who'd been knighted by the Crown for his genius at economics, having successfully invested a great deal of money for the royal family. Jane even looked like her father. Dark hair, dark eyes, round cheeks, round face. The slightly round backside may have been more due to her love of teacake than her father's doing, but that hardly mattered. In all things important, Jane took after Sir Charles Lowndes.

"I'm sorry, Mama," Jane murmured. She hugged her pretty mother. Hortense was sweet and kind and meant well. It was hardly her fault that she'd had the terrible misfortune to have a bluestocking for a daughter.

Hortense blinked at her. "Sorry for what?"

Jane let her arm fall away. "Sorry I spend my days reading Socrates instead of La Belle Assemblée, reading the political columns instead of shopping for fabric and fripperies with you, attending the theater instead of visiting with friends."

Her mother's shoulders drew up and then just as quickly relaxed. She worried the handkerchief in her hands. "Oh, Jane, if you'd only try."

Jane sighed. She'd tried. Oh, how she'd tried. How many times had she wished she was petite and beautiful with good eyesight, someone who loved nothing better than to attend parties? It just wasn't her, and it never would be. The sooner Mama accepted that fact and let go of her dream of Jane making a splendid match, the better the two would get on.

Her mother had left her no choice. Today's little episode notwithstanding, Hortense had shown few signs of giving in. Hence, Jane was about to employ her secret weapon: one Lady Lucy Hunt, Jane's closest friend. Lucy had promised Jane she would use her considerable talent with words to convince Lady Lowndes that Jane should be left in peace. Jane wanted nothing more than to live out her days reading, studying, lobbying for the rights of women, and hosting the occasional intellectual salon. She wanted to be free, to no longer be forced to attend an endless round of social events that made her feel anything but social.

To that end, Jane had employed the second-best weapon in her arsenal, her new chaperone, Mrs. Bunbury. The idea had been inspired by Jane's other friend Cassandra Monroe's unfortunate incident last autumn when Cass had been obliged to pretend she was a nonexistent young lady named Patience Bunbury. It had been unfortunate only because in so doing, Cass had been forced to deceive the man she had desperately loved for the last seven years and ... well, the entire charade had been a bit questionable after Captain Swift had discovered Cass's duplicity. It had all ended well enough, however, hence Jane's journey to their wedding festivities today and her subsequent need for a fictitious chaperone.

"I'm going to the house party, Mama. As for Mrs. Bunbury ... didn't Lucy write and tell you all about her?" Jane stepped closer to the door.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Unlikely Lady by Valerie Bowman. Copyright © 2015 Valerie Bowman. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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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The Unlikely Lady 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So, here I sit with a cup of coffee at my side, my eyeglasses at the ready, a pencil in my hand, a wee bit of white chocolate bar and an advance reading copy of 'The Unlikely Lady' by Valerie Bowman. Synopsis...FOR THE BACHELOR AND THE BLUESTOCKING… Certain that no man wants a bluestocking for a wife, Miss Jane Lowndes is careful to wield her books and her spectacles as weapons against matrimony. Convincing her ambitious mama that she's content to stay a spinster is easier said than done, however. It's a good thing Jane is not above a bit of manufactured scandal if it will keep her from the altar, and the argumentative, contrary Lord Garrett Upton… ROMANCE IS NEVER BY THE BOOK With the war over, Garrett is determined to enjoy his bachelor's life while he can, even when it means attending a house party in celebration of a friend's wedding--and suffering Jane's notorious disdain. But when a masquerade ball leads to a mistaken kiss, he's surprised to learn that Jane's bookish exterior hides a truly passionate soul. When two such headstrong people are determined to remain unattached, can love lead to a happy ending? My first thoughts, ah...'blue' this is favorable for I adore blue vibrant cover illustrations, grateful that I didn't see the lower back of the heroine without her undergarments of stays and chemise, a darling dedication to the author's mother brought back my childhood memories and the title, well, for me 'The Unlikely Lady' didn't seem to quite fit. I preferred Garrett's statement, 'The Queen Of Bluestockings!' I always write down five words that pertain to my understanding and thoughts about the novel I am reading. Words that best describe to me what the story is about, the emotions evoked by the author's storytelling...I enjoy and take delight in circling sentences that I find intriguing or descriptive...uncommon! I write these thoughts within the pages of the novel... Hilarious...giggling, laughter and smiling had commenced and echoed throughout my home even husband Harry had question what was so funny, I told him he had to read this novel to comprend as I waved it midair. Bantering...such bantering and clean, sweet and uncensurable. I had hoped with anticipation, it had continued to the ending of the story, once their arousal began, it seem the bantering stopped. Camaraderie...of friendship for the ladies as well as the gentlemen was exclusive . The closeness, the bond among all characters expressed emotion and shared love for each other. Grateful...that for the most part this story decribed was away from Mayfair, in the country, had dogs, cats, horse riding, rain and books, books and more books! Add a point for the elements and descriptive imagination! Havoc...more likely chaos and these three ladies surely cause it, indeed! I wanted so much to return to the first two novels in this series and recapture the splendor and reminisce with Mrs. Bunbury. Expectantly wishing, Mrs. Bunbury will come to Daphne's rescue. I believe these ladies would have won the war against Napoleon or at least caused enough confusion and choas for him. I wanted more of their intriquing plans come to play, unfolding more and more of their loving meddlesomeness and havoc. I wanted to be a part of their strategizing and formulating, in all actuality, I wanted, no, craved more of everything! Garrett's anger to come to a boil enough to put Jane over his shoulder carry her up to his room and spank her, thus leading to their passionate love-making scene. I wanted Jane's cleverness, her history of plumpness, her need for wearing spectacles her delicious teacakes as well as her love of books lead to an, 'Adorable Lady Jane' not 'Unlikely'. Jane Silhouette
skelley55 More than 1 year ago
This is the 3rd book in the series the Playful Brides series.  I have enjoyed each book and this one is no exception. The humor and  the verbal interactions are great.  Garrett has been pulled into so many schemes by his cousin , it is amazing he doesnt see this one coming.  I love Jane I am sure I would have been labeled a bluestocking myself in the Regency time period.   Their love story is very satisfying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it in one sitting! Excellent read by an excellent writter!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Likable leading characters. Great sex scenes. But stupid & prrdictable plot and boring & inane dialogue
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoy
julieford More than 1 year ago
The Unlikely Lady is a funny, charming, wittingly contentious story. Lady Jane Lowndes, a bluestocking spinster, is attending the house party and wedding of one of her bestfriends. Lord Garrett is also attending. The two love to argue about everything until a masquerade party in which Garrett kisses Jane. This throws their whole relationship into chaos as their friends play matchmaker. Add to the mix, a widow who has her sights set on marrying Garrett at all costs. This is an entertaining story from the first page to the last.
mlorio More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read by this author and I loved it. The characters, which are usually the strongest feature of a romance, are extremely likable and engaging. I immediately read the first two titles in the series and enjoyed them just as much. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JAB4422 More than 1 year ago
Jane Lowndes is a bluestocking spinster who always has a book in her hands and doesn't want to get married. Her mother drives her crazy with her constant push to worry about her appearance and meet a man.  Jane and her two best friends, Lucy and Cass, come up with a plan that will take her off the marriage market and get her mother off her back.  Jane has always been at odds with Garrett Upton who is the cousin of her best friend Lucy. She detested him and considered him a rake who never opened a book. Eventually she finds out he is not the person she thought he was. I really liked this historical romance and thought it was uniquely set in the time period. I loved the masquerade ball and events that happened there. The characters are well developed in The Unlikely Lady.  Jane is so intelligent that she had a tendency to look down on some people.  Garrett being one of them. Garrett was also very intelligent but didn't let it show much. I found Janes's friends to be pretty funny when they were matchmaking. They thought Jane and Garrett should be together so told each of them that the other loved them hoping they would realized their feelings for each other. Of course there was a villain. That was Isabella Langford who had her sights set on Garrett.  She was a witch for sure but added tension to the story. I really enjoyed this story and appreciated that everything was tided up so well in the end. Please note I won this book in a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway. I highly recommend The Unlikely Lady to anyone who likes light historical romances.
EllenParker More than 1 year ago
Welcome to the House Party. Jane Lowndes, a woman ahead of her Regency times, prefers reading to dancing. She intends to remain a spinster, therefore, it’s not necessary for her to have a chaperon for a house party. All she needs to do is convince her mother. And her friends. Garrett Upton, future Earl of Upbridge, has survived the wars at a terrible expense. Guilt, duty, and honor blend together in his determination to support the widow of a friend who sacrificed his life for him. Verbal sparring. A masked ball. A guest with a private agenda. Lessons not found in books. I found this story a delightful, light read with just the right dash of suspense. 
Cheryl-S More than 1 year ago
What a thoroughly enjoyable book. The vibe throughout the story was always upbeat and funny. The humor was very refreshing. The constant bickering between Jane and Garrett gave the appearance that they didn't like each other. It's like when you were in kindergarten and a boy called you names, it wasn't because he didn't like you but because he did. That's how I saw Jane and Garrett. What would the story be without Lucy and her schemes, which was almost the backbone of the book. And the ending? What a great segue to the next book about Daphne and Captain Cavendish. I can't wait to read more from this very talented author. Received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
def618 More than 1 year ago
Valerie Bowman's books are full of romance and fun. This one is a very enjoyable read. The heroine is a self-proclaimed bluestocking who doesn't believe she'll find love. With help (?) from her friends she does. This is my favorite book of the series so far. Looking forward to the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable. I look forward to the next story.
Maria-Rose More than 1 year ago
This enchanting story treats us to the romance between Jane and Garrett. Jane is a confirmed bluestocking spinster at the ripe old age of 26. She's quite happy in this role, spending her time reading as much as possible and avoiding society whenever she can - with the exception of social events she can't get out of. Her saving grace is the companionship of her two friends Lucy and Cass, who have both recently found beaus and whose company might entice Jane towards marriage (or at least, so her mother desperately hopes). When in their company Lucy's cousin Garrett is often present, a man with whom Jane constantly finds herself at odds. They argue over anything and everything and generally despise each other's presence. But during the night of a masquerade ball, they inadvertently end up in each other's arms, not knowing who the other is until it's too late. Shocked to find they might have more than antagonistic feelings for each other, it's a comedy of errors and delightful moments as Garrett and Jane find their way on the path to true love. I really enjoyed everything about this story. Jane captured my attention immediately with her love of reading and her direct , no-nonsense approach to everything in her path. Any and all obstacles are dealt with in a firm and decisive manner. Her internal monologue had me laughing out loud on several occasions as she tries to figure out how to deal with her new and untoward (as far as she is concerned) attraction to Garrett. And Garrett is equally engaging as a stalwart, loyal man who has the persona of a rake but in actuality is nothing like that. He's kept the best parts of himself hidden from Jane and as she uncovers them she learns that you can't judge a book by its cover. In fact Garrett turns out to be the man of her fantasies, one who appreciates all of her, intellectually and physically. Once the sexual attraction between them is established there are several delightful, sexy scenes that cement their true feelings for each other. The development of their romance, from prickly antagonists to soul mates was wonderful. The secondary characters play an equally vivid role, in particular Cass and Lucy with their matchmaking attempts and general shenanigans. Their friendship with Jane is sweet and funny and makes up a good portion of the story. Garrett is a little more closed off than Jane, his friendship with Julian and Derek (Cass and Lucy's betrotheds) being of a more serious nature which is natural for the men, all having survived the Spanish war and the difficulties therein. They have an understanding of each other and the trauma experienced binds them in a different way than the women, but just as strongly. The setting of the story, in particular the scenes at the English country estate were well described and very enjoyable to read. The mannerisms, clothing, food etc. were all meticulously researched and added an authenticity to the tale. The allusions to Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing (both literal and figurative) added a fun touch. Everything from the first to last page was delightful and this is definitely a new favourite author for me. 5 stars!
gaele More than 1 year ago
The second I have read in this series, The Unlikely Lady works well as a standalone title, even as you will want  to read the earlier books in the series. Characters, their banter and interactions and the solid growth of the  relationship kept me interested and engaged, and the nodding references to Much Ado About Nothing were clever, adding a familiar sense of what is to come in a completely unique way. Jane has decided she will live her own life on her terms, content to hide away in books while appeasing her own curiosities, she’s developed quite a reputation as a bluestocking.  While her two best friends, Lucy and Cass are supportive, they are enjoying their own happy ever after, and she’s not able to avoid her mother’s interferences as easily. With Cass’ wedding approaching, Jane invents a chaperone to accompany her, and  is planning on crafting a tiny scandal to firmly remove marriage from her future.  Garret rounds out (to Jane’s dismay) the trio of girls, as Lucy’s cousin, he’s been a part of every scheme for ages. His intention is always to rein in his rather sharp-tongued and daring cousin, but he gives as good as he gets, and is often integral to their plans.  He and Jane have a ‘tolerant’ relationship, usually, but they will both state that the other is odious.   Just a plain old FUN story to read, Bowman’s characters are complex and developed, the dialogue is rapid-fire and often hilarious, and these two battle like children in a sandbox: Garret trotting out the ‘superior male’ approach and Jane doing everything in her power to show him up as a fraud.  The long-standing acquaintance  of these two, more alike than either will admit, makes for wonderful banter that truly gets under their skin, despite all protestations to the contrary.  While Cass and Lucy have decided that these two are perfect for one another, they are willing to ‘go along’ with  Jane’s plan for a tiny scandal, using Garret as the bait.  Slowly but surely they start to realize that the sparks  between them are not caused by dislike, but are tiny embers that signify attraction.  Neither one is wishing for  marriage or to give up their dreams, but the attraction just may be more than they can resist.  A delightful installment to the series, perfect for fans of lighter historical romance that carries with it a nod to classic stories that will become apparent as you read on.  These are great summer reads, sure to leave you with a smile.  I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not  compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful read. I won this directly from the writer and I couldn't put the book down. It started it in the afternoon and finished later the next day. I love the story line and the writer did a wonderful job give you descriptions of each of the characters that you can picture them. I would recommend this book to everyone to read.
Historical_Romance_Lover More than 1 year ago
This is book 3 in the Playful Brides series. Determined never to marry, Miss Jane Lowndes, does everything in her power to keep her parents at bay including a fictitious chaperone. Attending the wedding party masquerade of dear friends, Jane finds herself kissing an unknown male which turns out to be her verbal sparring partner Lord Garrett Upton. Garrett is just as determined as Jane to never marry, but when he finds he can't forget the kiss he had with her, it turns his world upside down. Can the people least likely to make a pair find the everlasting love that neither of them thought they wanted? I have wanted this pairing since the beginning of the series. I knew that under all that bickering, Bowman would find their love story. She did not disappoint!! I loved that she kept the nature of their relationship the same. The bickering between the couple is my favorite part of them. It is not malicious and is done in a playful manner. You do see the shift in how those conversations go when they realize that they have feeling for the other, but they are just as entertaining. This is one of my all time favorite series and I can't wait to see what Bowman has in store for us next! Thanks go out to St. Martin's Press via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Paaj13 More than 1 year ago
My favorite book from the series and my favorite characters!  I love Jane and Garrett.  They can’t stand to be in each other’s presence but bare it because of the mutual friends they have.  Jane is not someone to mess with because she can slice you down yet Garrett still does it.    Jane, not caring about being a bluestocking, lies to her mother about going to a party and her friend’s home with a chaperone.  Garrett happens to be there since they are all friends.  The moment they see each other, they start bickering and that is what makes these two my favorite characters.  After the masquerade kiss, they both try to block out the feelings they have for each other.  Lucy, Garett’s cousin and Jane’s friend, decides to get into their business and that’s where the fun begins.  There is another female friend of Garrett that followed him to the party and stay there to get his attention.  The other characters definitely bring delight to the book.  Even though they each had their own book, it is always nice to read about them again.   If you have read the first two, then you definitely need to read this one.  You can’t skip it as it will keep you smiling and maybe laugh.  And if you haven’t read it, then you are missing out.
stanhope3234 More than 1 year ago
3.25* I enjoyed this book and the main characters and many secondary characters as well. Miss Jane Lowndes and Lord Garrett Upton are a very charming and fun couple. Their batnter and snide remarks to and about each other were very funny and witty. The secondary characters were so likable that I wanted them as my friends.  This is the third book in the series and I have not read the other books but did not feel as if I was missing anything. All the past books characters were in this book and played a large factor as well as the future books couple and I'm looking forward to read the other books.
TammyS32 More than 1 year ago
Jane uses her bluestocking façade to keep her mother from trying to find her a husband. When that doesn’t work she decides a little scandal will take her off the marriage mart for good. The only problem is that the man to help her with this scandalous plan is Lord Garrett a man she dislikes, or does she. The story is wonderful. Funny, entertaining and oh so romantic. If you are a fan of historical romance this read is definitely for you.
silvatrend8553 More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I had read in the Playful Brides Series. It is book 3 of the series and now that I've read this one I'll be sure to read the other two. I love what Valerie has done with a most unlikely heroine who is bookish and a hero because of his reputation no one would suspect would be attracted to her. Synopsis: FOR THE BACHELOR AND THE BLUESTOCKING… Certain that no man wants a bluestocking for a wife, Miss Jane Lowndes is careful to wield her books and her spectacles as weapons against matrimony. Convincing her ambitious mama that she’s content to stay a spinster is easier said than done, however. It’s a good thing Jane is not above a bit of manufactured scandal if it will keep her from the altar, and the argumentative, contrary Lord Garrett Upton… ROMANCE IS NEVER BY THE BOOK With the war over, Garrett is determined to enjoy his bachelor’s life while he can, even when it means attending a house party in celebration of a friend’s wedding—and suffering Jane’s notorious disdain. But when a masquerade ball leads to a mistaken kiss, he’s surprised to learn that Jane’s bookish exterior hides a truly passionate soul. When two such headstrong people are determined to remain unattached, can love lead to a happy ending? This one is a must read. It stands up on it's own even though it is the third book of the series. I do suggest that you read the entire series, but if like me you haven't read the first two don't let that stop you from reading this one.I know if you like Regency Style Romance you will love this one. I received an uncorrected proof ARC of this book from the publisher, the author and NetGalley so I could leave an honest review
Bookworm2Bookworm More than 1 year ago
London - April 1816 Jane Lowndes, ages 26, is a bluestocking, book reading, follower of Mary Wollstonecraft, and wears glasses.  Her idea of a perfect day is spending the day in the library reading books.  Therefore, when she is forced to attend a soiree, she can often be found in a corner reading having secreted a book in via her reticule.  Jane’s father is Sir Charles Lowndes and her mother has been pushing her to find a husband and settle down. Jane’s friend, Lady Cassandra Monroe (Cass), is soon to marry Julian Swift, Earl of Swifdon, in Surrey.  Many of Cass’s friends have been invited to a house party for a week before the wedding.  For Jane to be able to attend, she has convinced her mother that an (imaginary) Mrs. Bunbury will chaperone her to the party for the week. Garrett Upton, heir presumptive to the Earl of Upbridge, has been invited to the party as well.  As the guests begin to arrive, one of them is a very beautiful woman around 30.  She is Mrs. Isabella Langford, a widow.  Her interest in Garrett is immediate but he wants nothing to do with her.  Why? Jane and Garrett have known one another for years but have always clashed.  He finds her bluestocking ways irritating and does not like the frumpy way she dresses.  However, to please Cass, she agrees to dress up, fix her hair and attend a masquerade party that Cass has planned.  When Garrett sees this mysterious masked woman and Jane encounters this handsome masked man, sparks begin to fly.  When they both realize whom the other one is, they are very intrigued.  However, Isabella Langford will stop at nothing to win Garrett Upton. Several incidents happen where Jane is injured and it’s wondered if it’s an accident or not. This is a delightful story and I loved it.  Jane is a wonderful character.  Well done, Valerie Bowman! This is the third book in the Playful Brides series.  The first two are:  “The Unexpected Duchess” and “The Accidental Countess.”  I have read and enjoyed all three of them and believe that this is my favorite one so far.  
Mirabelle8 More than 1 year ago
Charming, light and funny! 5 stars I received a copy of The Unlikely Lady, by author Valerie Bowman Author, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I just love strong, smart and independent heroine, and Jane, is perfect in this third story in the Playful Brides series. As soon as I started to read it, I got pulled into this fast paced, sexy and fun romance. Miss Jane Lowndes is a confirmed bluestocking. Lord Garrett Upton is a devil-may-care confirmed bachelor. Marriage is certainly not a part of their plan. They are both happy the way they are! But, when Garrett and Jane mistakenly kiss at a wedding party masquerade, something magical happened. Will sparks flare to ignite a beautiful passion for those two independent persons? Only time will tell! I liked the chemistry between Jane and Garrett, some scenes are filed with humour! Another beautiful Regency romance filled with twists and turns! If you love reading a charming romance with two lovable characters, then The Unlikely Lady, is perfect for you!
celticmaggie More than 1 year ago
I like Valerie's stories. This one is just as good good. She worked up a very busy story line. It feels like absolutely everyone has a story line. They sure feel like they are everywhere. Everyone also seems to feel they are in the right and demand to protect it. This pair feel this way then-Bang! They go their own way. Then they are back together. One pair disliked each other-Wham! Now they love each other. Watch out for the lady, and I use that term loosely, who wants to blackmail to force a marriage. Jane doesn't want anything to do with men. Garrett likes to get her goat and tease her. There are so many spoilers  and twists in this story. You should try this book. There are no dull moments. One can see all these problems actually happen. I hope you decide to take a chance on this book. Enjoy! I have this book for an honest review for NetGalley.