In the first book of her dazzling new series, bestselling author Ella Quinn introduces the soon-to-be Earl and Countess of Worthingtonlovers who have more in common than they yet know. The future promises to be far from boring…
Lady Grace Carpenter is ready to seize the dayor rather, the nightwith the most compelling man she's ever known. Marriage would mean losing guardianship of her beloved siblings, and surely no sane gentleman will take on seven children not his own. But if she can have one anonymous tryst with Mattheus, Earl of Worthington, Grace will be content to live out the rest of her life as a spinster.
Matt had almost given up hope of finding a wife who could engage his mind as well as his body. And now this sensual, intelligent woman is offering herself to him. What could be more perfect? Except that after one wanton night, the mysterious Grace refuses to have anything to do with him. Amid the distractions of the Season he must convince her, one delicious encounter at a time, that no obstacleor familyis too much for a man who's discovered his heart's desire…
"Oh, the tangled webs we weave…especially when our hearts are involved. Three Weeks to Wed is a delightfully heartwarming escape into the sparkling world of the Regency. Ella Quinn weaves magic." Cathy Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author
About the Author
Ella Quinn is the USA Today bestselling author of smart, spicy Regency romances, including The Worthingtons and The Marriage Game Series. Prior to writing romance, Ella Quinn was an adjunct professor, a lawyer, and the first woman to be assigned to a Green Beret unit. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and has extensively researched the Regency era, immersing her stories with the flavor and feel of the period so that readers lose themselves in the time. She and her husband currently live in Germany when they aren’t cruising the world on their sailboat. Visit her online at ellaquinnauthor.com.
Read an Excerpt
Three Weeks to Wed
By Ella Quinn
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Ella Quinn
All rights reserved.
End of February 1815. Leicestershire, England.
The sky had darkened and wind rocked the carriage, causing at least one wheel to leave the road. Hail mixed with freezing rain battered the windows. Lady Grace Carpenter pounded on the roof of her coach, trying to make herself heard over the storm. "How close are we to the Crow and Hound?"
"Not far, my lady," her coachman bellowed over the wind. "I'm think'n' we should stop."
"Yes, indeed. Make it so." She huddled deeper into her warm sable cloak. When they'd started out this morning, the weather had been dry and sunny, giving no indication a storm of this magnitude would come on.
She was only an hour or so from her home, Stanwood Hall, but they wouldn't make it. It was better to trust in the Crow and Hound's innkeeper's discretion than risk her servants and cattle to this weather.
A few minutes later, they turned off the road, and her coachman bellowed for an ostler. Moments later, her coach's door was quickly opened and the steps let down. Her groom, Neep, hustled her from the carriage to the open entrance of the inn.
The innkeeper, Mr. Brown, was there to greet her. Saxon blond, with blue eyes and of middling height and age, he shut the heavy wooden door against the weather. "My lady," he said in a surprised tone, "we didn't expect to see you this evenin'."
"For good reason." Grace whipped off her damp cloak and shook it. "I didn't expect to be here. I was visiting an elderly cousin, and the storm blew up on our way back."
"It's as they say, my lady," he said, nodding, "no good deed goes unpunished."
"Well," she blew out an exasperated huff, "it certainly seems like that at times. Thank God, we were close to you. I have my coachman, groom, and two outriders" — Grace grimaced — "but not my maid." She prayed no one would discover she was there without her lady's maid, Bolton, who was sure to give Grace her I told you so look when she finally made it home. "I shall require the use of one of your girls. It should go without saying you have not seen me here."
"Yes, my lady." He nodded, tapping the side of his nose. "You were never here. Don't expect to see anyone else in this weather. You and your servants will sleep warm and dry tonight." He pointed to the door next to the stairs and within easy reach of the common room. "I'll put you in this parlor for dinner."
She gave him a grateful smile. "Thank you. That will be perfect."
Susan, one of Brown's daughters, showed Grace to the large chamber at the back of the inn on the first floor. She handed the girl her cloak to dry, then shook out her skirts. "I'll call for you when I am ready to retire."
"Yes, my lady. Anything you need, just pull the bell." Susan bobbed a curtsey and left.
Grace glanced around. Although she had stopped here any number of times on family outings, she'd never spent the night. The inn had been in the Brown family for several generations. The building was old, but it was clean and well maintained.
She took a book and Norwich shawl from her large muff before descending the stairs to the parlor. Although it was early, not much past two o'clock, Mr. Brown had closed the shutters, and a fire was lit, as well as sufficient candles to brighten the room.
An hour later, warm and dry, she was engrossed in Madelina, the latest romance from the Minerva Press. Over the storm, sounds of another carriage arriving could be heard. Grace lowered the book, wondering who the newcomer could be.
The inn door slammed opened. Moments later, Mr. Brown's agitated tone and that of another man, a gentleman by his speech, reached her.
Her heart skipped a beat. Worthington? Could it really be him? She hadn't heard his voice for four years, but she'd never forget it.
Opening the door slightly, she peeked out. It was him. The man she'd wanted to marry her whole first Season and had never seen again. His dark brown, almost black, hair was wet at the ends where his tall beaver hat had failed to keep it dry. If he turned, she knew she would see his startling lapis eyes and long lashes.
"Could you not just ask the traveler in the parlor if I might share it with him?" Worthington asked the landlord, his tone strained, but still polite. He was probably already cold and wet, and the common room would be chilly at best.
The kernel of an idea began to form. Swallowing her trepidation, Grace stepped boldly into the hall. "Mr. Brown, his lordship is welcome to dine with me."
"If you're sure, my ..."
She flashed him a quelling glance. If he said "my lady," there'd be too many questions from Worthington. Whatever happened, he could not know her identity.
She tried not to show her relief. "Yes. You may serve us after his lordship has had time to change." Grace dipped a slight curtsey to Worthington and returned to the parlor.
Closing the door, she leaned back against it. This was her opportunity, maybe her only one, and she was going to take it.
"What are you doing, my girl? Are you out of your mind?" her conscience berated her.
No one will know. Brown will deny I was here.
"How do you expect to preach propriety to the children when you are —"
"Oh, do be quiet," Grace muttered. "When will I have another chance? Answer me that. All I want is to spend some time with him. What is the harm in that?"
Water dripped off the greatcoat of Mattheus, Earl of Worthington, as it had dripped off his hat earlier. A puddle had to be forming at his feet. He was not particularly impressed with the small inn. Although he'd passed it every time he made the trip to Town, he'd never stopped here before. If it weren't for the weather, he wouldn't have done so now.
"I can add more wood to the fire in the common room, my lord," the landlord said. "But me parlor's already got a guest."
He glanced over at the fairly large space. Even with the shutters closed, the windows rattled. Cold and drafty. "Would you please ask your guest if he will share the parlor for a short time?"
"Couldn't do that, my lord." The older man shook his head. "I could send the meal to your room, but I ain't got an extra table. Once it warms up, you'll be right comfortable in the common room."
He sincerely doubted that would be the case.
"Mr. Brown ..."
Matt turned at the sound of the low, well-bred, no-nonsense female voice. He suspected it would belong to an older lady, perhaps a governess, most definitely not the vision of loveliness standing before him. Before he could even thank her, she gave a curt nod and closed the door.
"I'll show ye to yer room, my lord." The landlord grumbled as he picked up Matt's bag.
"Thank you. It will be nice to be dry again." Halfway up the stairs, he stopped as a memory played hide-and-seek with him. He knew her, but from where? London. During the Season. He shook his head trying to knock the memory loose, but nothing more came to him.
"This way, my lord."
"Coming." It was her hair that stuck in his mind. It shone like a new guinea coin.
The landlord held a door at the end of the corridor open. "Thank you."
"I'll send one of my boys up with warm water."
"I would appreciate that."
Brown set about lighting the fire.
Matt didn't know many ladies who would offer to share their parlor with a complete stranger. The feeling that they had met before grew stronger. Who the hell was she?
"There ye be, my lord."
Once the door closed behind the landlord, Matt began shedding his damp clothing. The sooner he got back downstairs, the sooner he'd know who his mystery woman was.
* * *
Less than a half hour later, Matt made his way downstairs and knocked on the parlor door before entering. He bowed. "Thank you for agreeing to share your parlor and your meal. Permit me to introduce myself. Worthington, at your service."
Nothing like sounding pompous.
He was almost surprised when she smiled and rose instead of turning her pretty nose up at him. "How could I refuse to assist a fellow traveler and in such dreadful weather as we are having?"
That was the first word that sprang to mind as Matt watched her glide to the bell-pull. When he had entered the parlor, the table had already been set up for tea. She took a seat, motioning him to the chair opposite her. "Please. There is no need to stand on formality."
She handed him a plate, and in a few moments a young girl brought in a pot covered in a brightly colored cloth, set it down, then left.
"Do you take sugar?" the lady asked, glancing from beneath her long gold-tipped lashes.
It was clear the lady, for she was certainly gently bred, had no intention of telling Matt her name. "I do, Miss —"
"Milk or cream?" she responded hastily.
"Two lumps of sugar and a splash of milk if you would."
The corners of her lush lips tilted up slightly.
He made a point of looking around the room as if searching for something. "Are you traveling alone?"
A deep rose crept up into her face. Though, under the circumstances, that wasn't surprising.
"Sometimes one cannot order the weather to suit one's convenience." Her voice was tight as if she did not approve of either his question or the weather.
Her long, slender fingers showed no indication of a wedding ring. A fleeting memory of seeing her before niggled at him once more. How could any red-blooded man forget that glorious hair, gold glinting with burnished copper in the candlelight? On the other hand, the hair he remembered. It was her name he'd forgot. Her brows, a little darker than her golden curls, arched perfectly over eyes that tilted slightly upward at the corners. He'd never seen a more beautiful woman.
He wished he could make out the exact color of her expressive eyes, but the light was too dim.
Blue. That was encouraging. Now if he could only remember the rest. Damn the devil. He had seen her before, but where and when, and why couldn't he remember? His gaze was drawn to her mouth, deep rose and a little wider than what was considered fashionable. What would it be like to taste her, to feel her soft lips on his and where had that desire sprung from?
Grace's heart was in her throat by the time Worthington joined her. In the short time he had been gone she'd changed her mind a dozen times at least about inviting him to join her.
Mattheus, Earl of Worthington.
Grace allowed her eyes to trail over his perfect form, adding to her still-clear memories of him. He was tall and broad-shouldered, his jacket was cut to perfection. His cravat perfectly tied. He had always been so well dressed. She never thought she'd see him again, or if she did, he probably would be married with several children. Come to think of it, even though he wasn't wearing a ring, he could still be married ... Oh, he was speaking.
When she did not give him her name, he looked at her curiously. Grace walked over to the bell-pull, giving a sigh of relief when a few moments later Mr. Brown's daughter entered the room.
She'd have to do better than that if she wanted him to ... well ... She fought the blush rising in her cheeks. "Please take a seat. I shall enjoy the company."
There, that was much better. Remember you are five and twenty, not eighteen.
This was not going to be as easy as Grace had thought it would be.
Worthington took a sip and his almost-black brows drew together. "This is extraordinarily good tea for an inn."
"It is my blend. I travel with it." She only had it this time as a treat for her elderly cousin who professed to love Grace's tea, but would never allow her to leave the canister.
Now what was she to say? With the exception of her vicar, it had been so long since she had spoken with any non-family-member male and those had not been pleasant discussions. "Have you family that will worry about you?"
"Only my sisters and stepmother and they do not know when I plan to return home." He took another sip of tea. "I imagine your family will be anxious."
They would be frightened to death. She should have been home long before now, but her cousin was lonely and had needed the company. "A bit."
"Do you have far to travel?"
Grace studied him over the rim of her cup. She had thought there'd been a spark of recognition in his eyes, but it was clear he did not remember her. That was not surprising. It had been several years since they had seen each other. He had probably danced with thousands of ladies since her one dance with him. In any event, she did not want him to know who she was. It would only complicate her already overly complicated life.
"Within a day," she finally answered. True, but misleading. She had to turn the course of this conversation to a safer subject. "What do you think about the progress of the peace treaty?"
A small smile formed on his well-molded lips. "That the process has gone on far too long and that the new French government is not as strong as it needs to be."
Mr. Brown tapped on the door, then entered with another of his many daughters. "Come to clear the tea away, if you're ready."
Grace tore her gaze from Worthington's mouth. Oh, my. If she'd thought he was mesmerizing before, it was nothing to what he was doing to her insides now. She had to pull herself together. "Yes, please. We shall dine at six."
Mr. Brown bowed. "That's perfect, my —"
She gave the man a sharp look.
Enough was enough. Just being around Worthington was turning her mind into a bowl of jelly. The landlord and his daughter left, leaving the door slightly open. She met Worthington's steady gaze. She would probably never see him again and might as well talk about what she wanted to. "I do not mind discussing politics, though you should know that I'm a Whig."CHAPTER 2
That was certainly throwing down the gauntlet. Matt had a feeling this was going to become an interesting conversation. If only he could either remember or discover who she was. It would be even better. "My party as well. On the left side."
The lady's eyes sparkled with pleasure. "Then we should have much to discuss ..."
During the meal and afterward, their conversation ranged over politics, philosophy, and estate management. In fact, any topic that came into their heads, except the weather. Hours later they had not even had to search for subject matter to discuss. He had not had such an interesting conversation in months, maybe years, and never with a woman. She was as well or better informed than any man he had ever met. He'd never been so taken by a lady. Suddenly Matt wanted to know everything about her.
"Are you an adherent of Wollstonecraft?" she asked.
He leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table. "Completely. I find her views on the rights of women interesting in the extreme, and I am pleased to see that the numbers of Wollstonecraft and Bentham followers have grown in political circles."
A far-off expression crossed the lady's face. "I've not been in London much of late, though I do keep up a lively correspondence with my friends."
Perhaps this was his opportunity. "Do your friends hold the same ideas as you do?"
"Most of them." A note of caution entered her tone.
"We might know some of the same people."
"Have you joined the group attempting to help the war veterans?"
Drat it all. That hadn't worked. "I have."
They discussed some of the proposals being batted around. She was certainly knowledgeable. He peered at the large armchair near the fireplace. A book with a marbled cloth cover lay on the seat. "Is that one of the Minerva romances you have there?"
"Yes, it is." She lifted her chin a little. "I find them excessively diverting."
Based on their conversation, no one could accuse her of muddling her mind with romances. She was as well informed as any bluestocking, but she didn't have the acerbic tone of one. "My stepmother reads them. Although, she tries to hide them from my sisters." Matt grinned. "I'm not sure she always succeeds."
A smile played around her lips, and she tilted her head a little to the side. Much like an inquisitive bird. "And you, my lord?"
He wondered, not for the first time this evening, what it would be like to kiss those lips. To tug lightly with his teeth on her full lower lip. She was beautiful, intelligent, and he had to answer her question. Damn, now he wished he had read the books. "Not yet."
"You might enjoy them, some gentlemen do."
"On your recommendation, I shall most definitely read at least one."
She colored prettily, as if pleased that she had made a potential convert.
Before he knew it, the clock struck half-six.
He came to his feet as she rose. "I must tidy up for dinner."
"Of course. I'll meet you here shortly."
Excerpted from Three Weeks to Wed by Ella Quinn. Copyright © 2016 Ella Quinn. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
Good story line but the book drug on.
Three Weeks to Wed was the first of Ella Quinn's books I have read. I have now read the second in this series and am on to 2.5, can't wait for the next one to come out next month. Love all the children and have to say I love all their adventures-even walking the dogs was entertaining. And, I had several chuckles theoughout both books.
Loved this story
Wow. Really good with great characters. First book I have read by this author and have fully enjoyed it. I will definately read more by her. I especially loved all the kids in the story. I'm excited to read more books with these characters.
First off, I’ll say that although I was gifted a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review I just had to get a copy for myself because that cover is absolutely gorgeous! Jon Paul is an amazing artist and this is a book I just had to have if nothing else for the art on the cover. Ok, so about the story. Lady Grace and the Earl of Worthington meet at an inn and even though she knows who he is from the get-go, she doesn’t introduce herself as past acquaintances because she’s already made plans to seduce him and she thought if he knew who she was he would ruin her plans. He on the other had, feels instant attraction and sparks fly when they start up a conversation. The story in itself was sweet and romantic however I can understand why some may feel their relationship felt rushed. Also, defeating the so-called villain didn’t feel climactic and there was not much of an obstacle to overcome to reach their HEA but in hindsight I don’t think that was needed as it was more about a couple getting to know each better and deciding to spend their lives together. If anything, I think the story was a bit too long and it could have been formatted to a much shorter version but aside from that it was a nice and entertaining read.
I won this book in a Facebook contest and agreed to do a fair and honest review. This is the first book that I have read by Ella Quinn and I plan to read more. Three Weeks to Wed is a cute, funny love story with just a touch of angst. Lady Grace is guardian to her 7 brothers and sisters and feels she can never marry. Mattheus, Earl of Worthington is responsible for his step-mother and 4 sisters. One rainy night, Matt and Grace are stranded at an inn and when sparks fly, they have a one-night stand. Matt instantly falls in love but Grace disappears. After much searching, Matt finds her in London and convinces her to marry him. The comedy ensues when the children help them figure out how to have a marriage and joint family.
This is book 1 in the Worthingtons series. Lady Grace Carpenter knows that she will never get married because it could mean that she would lose guardianship of her brothers and sisters. So when she meets up with Matt, the Earl of Worthington and the man that she has held a tendré for, she makes her decision to have one night with him. She believes that this memory will sustain her through the rest of her years. Matt can't believe that the woman he just spent an amazing night with has disappeared. After their intimate conversation and night together, he believes she is the woman for him. Why is it that everytime he thinks he spots her in London, she seems to disappear? Will Math and Grace every reconnect again or are they destined to be parted forever? I liked the storyline, but I thought that the execution of it could have been done a lot better. I thought that the story was a little far fetched in that Matt fell in love and decided to marry Grace after spending one night together (although there are RL stories out there that say it can happen...). The fun in a romance is to watch them fall in love with each other, not for it to happen over night. It seems that it is always hit or miss for me on whether I like Quinn's work or not. This one was just an ok read for me. Thanks go out to Kensington Books via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
This first book in The Worthington’s series from Ella Quinn, a favorite author of mine for her character development and humor as her plots unfold, brings us Three Weeks to Wed. Grace Carpenter is twenty-five with the daunting role as guardian to her seven younger siblings. Starting off with a solid purpose and expectations for her own life, her focus is on the family and her own duties to them, eschewing marriage possibilities to better fend off grasping relations who wish to separate her brothers and sisters and ‘raise them properly’. Having had her own debut, although without offers, she did cast eyes (and girlish heart) upon one eligible yet very uninterested male. Mattheus, Earl of Worthington was that man, and as expected, was not all that interested in a woman to marry at that time. Now, years have passed and he too is convinced that Miss Right is only a dream, and his reality will be far less engaging and exciting. Not unfamiliar with his own familial responsibilities with his four sisters, Matt is well-versed in family responsibility even as he is concerned that his own search won’t be so successful. The characters in this are delightful, but not in a way you would expect: Matt and Grace are solid (more later) but the siblings: brothers and sisters alike are wonderful. They light up the pages with each appearance, from their true love and desire for happiness for Matt and Grace to the moments of hijinks and conversations that just bring the families to life. Now, Matt is fairly typical of the time, with a few differences: he is devoted to the family he has, not just the one he requires to fulfill his obligations to the title. He’s also more than ready to fall in love, in fact, one night brings him to his knees: Grace was unforgettable and he is determined to have her. A bit on the fast side, but the switch did work for him. Unfortunately Grace went from solid and well formed to a pad of silly putty with a cartoon print on it nearly as quickly. Her choices weren’t always the best, perhaps impulsive and not thought out, but the reactions quickly went to slapstick and were wearing. Honestly I could understand her regrets and vacillation after the one night of ‘anonymous passion’ with Matt. The times and the stigma of a woman making her own choices, knowing what society’s reaction would be was understandable. But fainting? Repeatedly? In short, the story works as a set-up for further stories about the siblings, and perhaps Grace will redeem herself and not simply remain the simpering, missiish doormat that she became in Matt’s presence, I can only hope. Quinn’s writing had me craving more about the siblings on both sides, hoping they use Grace and Matt as the ‘what not to do’ examples as they grow. 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.
Three Weeks To Wed by Ella Quinn is a fantastic read! Ms Quinn has delivered a well written book. The characters are many and amazing. They all have their own personalities and are well developed. Matt and Grace's story is full of drama, humor, suspense and sexy bits. Overall, it's a fun read. Three Weeks To Wed is book 1 of The Worthingtons Series, but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I enjoyed Three Weeks To Wed and I look forward to reading more from Ella Quinn in the future. I won a copy of this book from Goodreads.
***ARC Provided by the Publisher and NetGalley*** I wanted to like this one. I thought the premise was amusing, the idea that Grace was her own woman who went after what she wanted. Until I started reading. Then, the issues with the book started. 1. She was not liberated, she decided to have one night with Worthington, Matt, and then she hid from him. Literally. Took until roughly 30% into the book before she stopped with the hiding. And it was inane, unbelievable and annoying. I almost gave up on this, more than once, up to this point. 2. The insta-love connection was not a little believable. There was no passion in their first encounter and honestly I didn't buy that the sex was that great either as it is written without much passion at all. Sex does not need to be graphic to be good, but it needs to have passion. And, when they meet again, he still professes that he wants to marry her. Why? I was never convinced either of them felt more for the other than one does for a beloved pet. 3. She has supposedly been in love with him forever, since their ONE DANCE years ago. Ack. 4. I didn't buy that either of them felt as strongly for one another as they claim, possibly because the author spent a lot of time telling and not a lot of time showing 5. I understand that the point was that with Grace and with Matt, both of them were dedicated enough to their families to be able to understand while the other would not want to leave, but still. I felt like I was reading "The Brady Bunch-1815" and know some of the children better than either main character. At 33%, he is declaring that he likes all of her brothers and sisters and wants to care for all of them. I didn't buy that either. The book was well=written, and the dialog was believable. The author told the story she intended, I just was not at all fond of the story she chose to tell.
Three Week to Wed (The Worthingtons) by Ella Quinn is truly a masterpiece and a series that you will want to watch out for and add to your library! A definite 5 Stars read! We start off in a little inn where Lady Grace Carpenter has had to stop due to the impending rain. She’s resting in the inn’s parlour when a gentleman enters. Mattheus (Matt), Earl of Worthington has also been stopped by the rains and at the inn finds a delightful young lady whom he shares dinner with and later the two end up in a rendezvous. Grace gave into her desires as she feels she will never get married and therefore never experience the touch of a man because she’s the guardian of her seven brothers and sisters and therefore has accepted a life of singlehood. However, upon this night of love and passion, Matt falls madly in love with “His Love” as he calls her and when he returns to London, he can’t get her out of his mind and goes in search of her. Grace comes to London to see her sister Charlotte’s come-out season and she learns the Worthington is also there for the season as his sister is coming out as well. She does all she can to avoid him, however she runs into him at a gathering and here again she falls into his arms and is enraptured by their love-making. Worthington loves Grace dearly and can’t see his life without her, he goes the next morning to seek her hand. Only to his surprise, he’s met with seven children and Grace confesses to him why she can’t marry him. However, he’s relentless and with the help of the children, eleven now in total counting his four sisters. He expresses his love and pleads for Grace to become his wife. Will Grace open her heart and become Matt’s wife? Will these two combine and create one big beautiful family? Quinn weaves a beautiful tale of love and deep passion between two remarkable people and her writing style is impeccable. Her characters just draw the reader in and welcome them into their lives and home. The twists and turns they all go through takes the reader on quite the ride. Quinn is truly a lady of words and weaves such a tale that is so vivid, the reader can’t help but feel as if they are right there, feeling, hearing and tasting it all. Three Weeks to Wed is a masterpiece and tells of the deep love and faith of this beautiful family. One can’t help but fall in love with the Worthingtons. I can’t wait for the next book in this series. **I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review**