When Blake Chesterfield arrives in Bath, England, to claim the hand of Marjorie Entwhistle, the woman with whom he has been obsessed, Marjorie wants nothing to do with him.
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Arnette Lamb's signature style -- fast-paced, witty, and deeply sensual -- has won her raves from critics, booksellers, and readers. Her wonderfully unique romances have all been bestsellers: from her sizzling, infamous Pocket Books debut with Highland Rogue; to her magnificent Maiden of Inverness; to "Hark! The Herald", a sparkling romance in the heartwarming collection titled A Holiday of Love, which put her on the New York Times bestseller list. In response to the huge fan acclaim for Highland Rogue, Arnette Lamb brings us the enthralling trilogy, featuring Lachlan MacKenzie's daughters, that began with Betrayed, and continues with Beguiled, and now concludes with True Heart.
Now a Houston suburbanite, Arnette lives in Kingwood with her husband, Ron. She loves to hear from readers; you can write to her at P.O. Box 6083, Kingwood, TX 77325.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
By general consent determined that Gentlemen crowding before the Ladies at the Ball, show ill manners.
-- Beau Nash, Rules of Bath
Something wicked was afoot.
Struggling for composure, Lady Marjorie Entwhistie feigned an interest in the conversation between Frederick, the prince of Wales, and Beau Nash, the king of Bath. But her senses strayed from her companions and fixed on the unpleasantly familiar Welshman working his way across the crowded Pump Room.
Oh, sweet Jesus, was Papa up to his schemes again?
"Are you ill, my dear?" asked Beau.
His drooping jowls creased. Concern laced his words. The expression seemed out of place, for Beau Nash was a man suited to gaiety.
"Of course not," she lied, and her gaze slid to the doors. Had her father come at last?
"That looks like Magrath," said Beau, squinting into the crowd.
"Magrath?" asked the prince, his small head bobbing on his skinny neck, wig powder clouding around him. "I say, the chap's a bit late. Who is he?"
Through a haze of uneasy anticipation Marjorie said, "Milo Magrath is my father's herald."
"Was he invited?"
Assuming his role of local monarch, Beau Nash the drew himself up. "Hardly, sir." He tugged at sleeves of his lavishly embroidered coat. "Magrath's never invited to Bath. Always brings bad news."
"We'll have no ill tidings tonight," declared prince. "I command it." He nodded regally and drew murmurs of assent.
Marjorie chewed her lip. Even the interdict of heir to the throne of England could not forestall father's schemes. She gripped the crystal goblet un the hard edges of the cut glass bruised her palm. The familiar bubbling of the fountain echoed off the stone walls. The herald seemed to be traveling in circles around a sea of panniered skirts and padded shoulders. In his wake the noble occupants of the grew quiet.
His cheeks chapped raw by the wind, his chest heaving from exertion, Magrath stopped a few feet from her. With a grand flourish he doffed his feathered cap and bowed to Prince Frederick. "Your Royal Highness."
"No ill news on the celebration of our royal birthday, Magrath," he replied. "We've forbidden it."
Startled, Magrath jerked his head toward Marjorie. She noticed a faint blue tinge about his mouth and concluded that only the most pressing wickedness could have brought him across the Channel in the dead of winter.
He made a lesser obeisance to Beau Nash. "With your permission."
Beau grumbled, "If you must."
Milo knelt at her feet, a beribboned parchment in his chilblained hand. "Lady Marjorie," he said, his teeth rattling with cold. "I bring you warm and sincere greetings from your sire, who most humbly prays for your continued good health and fair fortune."
Her heart slammed against her ribs. All his vile missions had begun with false felicitations. If her suspicions proved true, the present tiding would end with shattering humiliation. But what if Magrath was here for innocent reasons? What if her father was merely announcing his imminent arrival in England?
In the midst of the worst winter even Beau Nash could remember? No. Her comfort-loving father wouldn't bestir himself to cross the Channel in this weather.
Magrath rose. His apologetic smile portended disaster. Marjorie longed to fling the goblet against the wall and storm from the assembly. But she was a veteran of humiliation. No matter what scheme her father had cooked up, she would not sacrifice her pride or her livelihood for his misguided sense of fatherly duty.
The herald turned to the prince. "With your permission, sir, I would read an announcement from Lady Marjorie's father."
Eager for a snippet of gossip, the crowd pressed closer.
"Your Grace," she began, striving to keep her voice even, "I dare not trouble you with trivialities from an expatriate who hasn't set foot in England in twenty years."
She prayed he would agree. To her dismay, he waved a royal hand and said, "I'm in an indulgent mood. But be quick about it. Whatever your name is."
Magrath cleared his throat and unfurled the parchment. "Hear ye, hear ye" -- he darted a worried glance at the door. Whom was he expecting? -- "citizens and visitors of His Royal Majesty's divine province of Bath. I, Sir George Entwhistle, sire of Lady Marjorie Elizabeth Entwhistle, do herewith proudly announce her immediate and irrevocable betrothal to his lordship, Commodore Lord Blake Chesterfield, most honorable marquess of Holcombe and rightful heir to His Grace, the duke of Enderley."
The chalybeate water she'd drunk just moments before turned to bile in Marjorie's stomach. Her father had staged this scenario for maximum effect. He'd backed her into a corner and blocked her escape.
Unable to drag her eyes from the door, she stiffened her spine and kept her expression bland. Blake Chesterfield! Sweet Saint Mary. The man was a master at avoiding the marriage trap. What had happened?
The crowd came to attention. Fans rattled open. Monocles and opera glasses framed curious eyes.
"It's about time he brought the chit to heel," crowed Dame Surleigh, her towering wig infested with paste fruit and faux birds, her words thick with too much brandy.
"Quite right, Dame Surleigh. Too bold by half, she is," said the widow Fontaine. A heart-shaped vanity patch dangled from her puffy cheek. "Our postmistress got herself quite a letter today."
Embarrassment chipped at Marjorie's dignity. How could you, Papa? the child in her cried. How could you do this to me again?
"Bravo, Lady Marjorie!" the prince said exuberantly. "This is jolly news indeed." A shower of wig pomatum drifted to the shoulders of his cut-velvet coat. "Your father's outdone himself. He's snared you a Chesterfield, he has." Addressing the assembly, he added, "Been at the side of the king of England since the Battle of Hastings, the Chesterfields have."
As if sensing her despair, Beau Nash moved closer. Unlike the prince, Beau could read her moods. He tilted his head back and smiled encouragingly. "I can't agree with his methods, but he's landed you the wealthiest and most sought-after bachelor in England."
Rebellion surged through her. "I will not accept his suit."
The Prince Regent's eyebrows touched his wig. Blinking, he said, "In the name of Saint George, why would you turn down Enderley's heir, Lady Marjorie?"
Dame Surleigh eased closer, anticipation glittering in her bleary eyes.
Let the gossip fly, decided Marjorie. She had survived it before. She would not demur now. "I've no wish to marry."
The prince gaped. "Never?"
Feminine whispers floated on the now-oppressive air. Marjorie drew in a labored breath; her ivory stays bit painfully into her breastbone. How could she explain to the Prince of Wales that she hoped to marry one day, but not at her father's command? "I have responsibilities, Sire."
"Responsibilities a man should shoulder," sneered Dame Surleigh. "The London mail's always late, and soggy as spoonbread."
Anger ripped through Marjorie. "You don't seem to mind so long as those wretched tabloids find their way to your door."
The older woman's mouth fell open. "Wretched?" she squealed. "I should have expected as much from you. You haven't changed in the least. You're still a -- "
"None of that!" commanded Beau. "We've heard enough from you tonight."
Frigid air blasted into the room. Printed broadsides fluttered against the stone walls. Bewigged and powdered heads turned toward the doors. Like the slashings of a rapier, a collective gasp sliced through the room.
"By Rotterdam," the prince exclaimed, "'tis Chesterfield himself."
"So it is," said Beau, nervously fishing his spectacles from a pocket of his brocaded coat. "At least he's tall. Not that that counts a
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Book Description Pocket Books, 1992. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0671730029
Book Description Pocket Books, 1992. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0671730029
Book Description Pocket Books, 1992. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110671730029
Book Description Pocket Books. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0671730029 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.0329652