The Wedding Bargain (Effington Family & Friends Series)

The Wedding Bargain (Effington Family & Friends Series)

by Victoria Alexander

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London's most scandalous beauty, Pandora Effington, intends to marry a hero—not one of those boring, run-of-the-mill bachelor lords who leave her cold. No, the husband she desires must be someone special, someone whose touch sends delicious shivers down her spine, and who will do absolutely everything in his power to win her love. Someone like . . . Maximillian Wells.

The dashing Earl of Trent cannot believe his ears . . . or his eyes. Here before him stands beautiful Pandora Effington, and the fiery, unattainable heiress is making him a most tantalizing offer. Maximillian can have the lady's hand in marriage . . . if he agrees to play a game of her devising—one involving great risk, ingenuity, passion, and determination.

It is a game he has no intention of losing . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380806294
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/31/2006
Series: Effington Family & Friends Series , #1
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 651,666
Product dimensions: 6.76(w) x 4.12(h) x 1.06(d)

About the Author

#1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander was an award-winning television reporter until she discovered fiction was more fun than real life. She is the author of thirty-one novels, and her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Victoria lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her long-suffering husband and two dogs, in a house under endless renovation and never-ending chaos.

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The Wedding Bargain

Chapter One

The Opening Gambit
Spring, 1818

"You, my lord, are a rake and a rogue. A scoundrel." Pandora Effington leveled a gaze filled with every vile thought she could marshal at Maximillian Wells, the Earl of Trent. "in short, sir, you are a beast."

Trent stepped into the secluded salon, within easy distance of the crowded ballroom of the Marquess and Marchioness of Rockingham, yet far enough away to provide a discreet meeting place for a private assignation.

"Am I?"

"You are indeed. You should probably be shot."

"I scarcely know what to say." He snapped the doors closed behind him.

A twinge of apprehension stabbed at her. Perhaps it was not a good idea to be alone with a rake, a rogue, a scoundrel, and a beast.

"Except, of course," amusement glimmered in his eye, "thank you."

"Thank you?" Why, the man was as arrogant as she had heard.

The comers of his mouth twitched as if he struggled to hold back a grin. "It is not often that one receives such a compliment."

"It was in no way intended as a compliment. " In the space of a few moments, Trent had managed to turn the conversation completely around. Why was she surprised? She should have expected that he wouldn't believe her comments were criticism of the highest order. His reputation preceded him.'

Trent leaned against the carved fireplace mantel in a manner at once casual and challenging. "Perhaps it was not intended as such, but it was indeed high praise. Although I must admit, I did not expect flattery when you lured me in here."

"Oh?" Pandora was never particularly given to caution, but the same instinct that kept her from straying too far past the bounds of proper behavior warned her now to take care. Stiff, curiosity was as integral to her existence as the beat of her heart. "What did you expect?"

Trent raised a brow.

Pandora laughed in spite of her annoyance. He did indeed have an inflated opinion of himself. "Surely, you did not presume -- "

Trent nodded, a slow smile spread ing across his face. "What would you have me believe? I am enticed into a private setting -- "

"I did not entice you."

" -- For reasons completely unknown to me -- "

"I intend to make those perfectly clear."

" -- By a woman who is no longer a green girl, and by all accounts should know what she is about. I believe this is your eighth season, is it not?"

It should not have bothered her, this reminder that in a life filled with the excitement of following her own rules, her inability or unwillingness to marry was a failure in the eyes of most. Yet it did. Always. Her amusement vanished and she gritted her teeth. "Seventh."

"Forgive me. One tends to lose track when a young lady passes a certain age. But then again. the term 'young' is relative, don't you think?"

"I am barely four-and-twenty. Hardly in my dotage."

"As old as that," he murmured. "One would consider most women of that age past their prime and firmly on the shelf."

"If I am on the shelf, it's because I prefer to be there." She settled on the edge of a perfectly appointed settee in the perfectly appointedsaIon and adopted a calm demeanor that belied her irritation at his condescending attitude. "I quite value my independence."

"Oh?" Skepticism rang in his tone. I thought the wish of every unmarried young woman of notable family was to wed, preferably to a noble title and nobler income."

She raised her chin. "It has never been my particular desire to marry."

"Come now, my dear." The expression on his face verged on pity and her hand itched to slap it off. "One would have to have been blind and deaf not to have noticed the enthusiasm with which you've thrown yourself into the festivities of the marriage mart the past eight seasons."

"Six." Was he deliberately baiting her, or was he really as sanctimonious as he sounded?

"The number scarcely matters; suffice it to say, it is considerable. If you are not interested in marriage, as you claim, what are you interested in?" He paused as if struck by the answer to his own question. "Forgive me, I should have realized."

"Realized ... what?" She did not like the knowing look in his eye.

In two strides he was by her side, towering over her in a most disconcerting way. Quickly she rose to her feet. He stood nearly a foot taller than she, and his eyes, gray and deep, gazed down at her in an impertinent and assessing manner. No, she did not like the look in his eyes at all. Unease fluttered in her stomach. He stood far closer than propriety dictated, and while she'd never cared about silly edicts before, at once she comprehended their worth.

"I take pride in being an intelligent man, but tonight I seem to have forgotten myself." He took her hand, turned it palm up, and lightly brushed his lips against the sensitive skin of her wrist, revealed by an unbuttoned gap in her glove. Her breath caught. "I understand completely now."

"You do?" Why didn't she? She too prided herself on her intelligence. Yet at the moment she could do little more than wonder why she had never before realized gray was quite an intriguing shade for a man's eyes.

"Indeed." He nodded soberly. "While in most circumstances the daughter of a viscount would have to depend on marriage to secure her future, all of London knows your father has seen fit to ensure you not only a substantial inheritance, but funding enough to provide you with independence even now."

The Wedding Bargain. Copyright © by Victoria Alexander. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Wedding Bargain 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
{{dont read this if your planning to read the book}} At the first part of this book I was interested by the bargain and that Max had already choosin Pandora to be his wife. But by the time I was at about the end of the book I was ready for it to be all over with. They questioned if the other loved them about 3 times. Once one thought the other must truly loved them something stupid would make them think otherwise. It seemed to go on and on like that until the last 4 pages, in which they professed there love to each other {{finally}}, and everyone rejoiced.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Six words for this book ¿ loved it, loved it, loved it! This is the second book I bought from B & N by this author, Victoria Alexander. I also read ¿Because of You¿ and that was a great read ¿ review done earlier. ¿The Wedding Bargain¿ was a fun read as it was a complex book with lots of happenings. If you want just a sexy and steamy novel ¿ go elsewhere. If you want a romantic and soft love story ¿ go elsewhere. If you want a novel that pits two strong characters head on and involves witty banter back and forth, lots of fun adventures and a story where the guy truly pursues the girl that he feels is the only one right for him ¿ this will be the book for you. The best thing that can be said for this story is that the characters ¿ Max & Pandora - meet from the first lines of the book and the story does not deviate from there as to who this book will be about. Yes, there are other characters that are fun in this book ¿ Max¿s best friend Laurie, Pandora¿s friend Cynthia, their other family and friends but¿the leads never are far from the main story at any one time as it should be. Max and Pandora are the perfect lead characters and they work very well together ¿ they are attractive, intelligent, fun loving, passionate and well liked. Bottom line¿.Pandora sets Max up on an impossible mission ¿ complete a long list of Hercules 12 incredible accomplishments and she would marry him ¿ should he fail ¿ she will pick the worst wife possible and he must marry her. The story goes on a wild ride after that and you will enjoy immensely all the creative ways Max finds to complete the nearly impossible list. You¿ll have to buy the book and read it to see if he does complete the list and win the girl OR if the girl should rule the day. You will laugh at the banter, avidly follow the plot line and root each of them on to win! The sexual intimacy is limited but, you don¿t miss it a lot in this book ¿ everything else is so interesting it¿s ok. I would have liked to see a little different ending, more drawn out but, that¿s ok. Bravo to Max (who Pandra calls a rogue, rake, scoundrel and beast)¿. As he finds his mate and goes after her with gusto ¿ just as a good man should. Bravo to Pandora (who Max calls his gorgeous little Hellion) who is nervous and panicked at being pursued so avidly but, she knows the chase is half the fun and that once love bites you, you can only run so far. When Max presents Pandora with the golden apples necklace ¿ well, you¿ll believe in love again yourself. Buy this book, read it, add it to your library and believe in great love relationships again!
The_Book_Queen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If I was not already hooked on romance books, I think The Wedding Bargain would have accomplished it all by itself! I have read some of Victoria ALexander's novels before, and I found that I liked pretty much all of them (some more than others, of course, though I cannot remember specific ones right now), but TWB showed her writting in a whole new light-- and not in a bad way! It was in my TBR pile for a while, but when I picked it up Thursday morning, I had it finished by Friday morning *today*. There were very few, if any, flaws I found in the writting/story. It was heartwarming, yet lusty at the right times. Add to that a touch of spice, AKA, Pandora and Max's 'Wedding Bargain', and I dare any avid reader of historical romances to tell me they did not love it.Though this is one of her older books, I think it may have been her best one *that I have read* so far! From the beginning I liked Pandora's character, because she was not a silly little twit like some authors' make the heroine out to be during this time period. She was strong, a hellion in Society's eyes (though this nickname was all started by a certain friend of the hero's...), and she is everything that 98%+ of the women in this time period were not. She reminded me a lot of myself, which probably helped me to enjoy this book as much as I did. But nontheless, I think I would have loved it even if we did not have so much in common.Max is, as Pandora so accurately names him from the beginning, "A rake, a scoundrel, a rogue, and a beast!". As this is the standard for many hero's in this type of book, it's nothing new. But I did actually like Max because, unlike some hero's from other books, he did not act like any of those, or at least not during the time period of the story. From the first page, he's already telling the reader how he has wanted her, both in his bed and as his wife, for a while, and now he is willing to do anything to get her there. Of course, love is not mentioned in the first part of the book, on either one of their parts, not because it's not there, but because neither one expected it (or accepted it, though subconciously I'm sure they knew for a long time), nor wanted it at the time. But they both come to realize that they are falling in love during their little challange.One reviewer on B& said that she didn't like it because of the way that both characters doubted their love for one another 3 or 4 times through out the story, and she found this bothersome. Well, yes, they did question their love a few times, but in real life, love does not always happen to everyone the same way. Some believe in love at first sight, others don't. Some come right out with their true feelings as soon as they realize what they are. Others do not. I think that, especially since neither one of them had ever been in love before, questioning whether or not you would die for this person, whether your love ran that deep, whether you wanted to spend the rest of your life together (especially on Pandora's side, because she does not want to wed unless their is a deep affection between both parties), is not stupid or unreasonable. Emotions are sometimes hard to handle, because they are just that-- emotions. Some people handle them as what they are, others stop and try to think rashionally before jumping too soon. I personally think that, in most cases, the latter helps a person a great deal in their life and will probably help to prevent too many mistakes that they will regret later *though a few are not bad since, after all, a person has to learn from their mistakes*.The one and only flaw I saw in the story that kind of bothered me was how Pandora's favorite line to use on any guy she was putting down, mostly Max, but it mentions a few of her older suitors too, always stayed the same-- and she used it again, and again, and, you guessed it, again. Now, the first time, it was nice, and it showed you early own what her character was like-- stubborn and a hellion. Twice
ancestorsearch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Max"imillian Wells, the Earl of Trent, decided he would marry unattainable Pandora Effington, known as "The Hellion of Grosvenor Square" If he wanted to take Pandora's hand in marriage, he had to play a game of her devising-and he had no intention of losing. Pandora longed for a true hero, a man who would do anything in his power to win her love. If Max wins he will obtain Pandora's hand in marriage, but if he loses he must marry who Pandora choices.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed every page
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very witty dialogue among these characters. I loved the creative ways Max solved the labors and how family and friends conspired to help Max win the game.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like funny, witty romances where everything works out in the end, you'll like this story.
Sandigger More than 1 year ago
I had to read all of her books, they were just so good. This one was a little frustrating in that they just can't seem to say they love each's always something.
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