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Marry in Scandal
Anne Gracie

Praise for Marry in Scandal"[A] confection that brims with kindness and heartfelt sincerity...you can’t do much better than ... Lire la suite
Couverture cartonnée, 336 Nombre de pages  Plus d'informations
CHF 9.90
Habituellement expédié sous 2 à 3 semaines.

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Praise for Marry in Scandal

"[A] confection that brims with kindness and heartfelt sincerity...you can’t do much better than Anne Gracie who offers her share of daring escapes, stolen kisses, and heartfelt romance in a tale that carries the effervescent charm of the best Disney fairy-tales."—Entertainment Weekly

Praise for Anne Gracie and her novels

“I never miss an Anne Gracie book.”—Julia Quinn, New York Times bestselling author

“For fabulous Regency flavor, witty and addictive, you can’t go past Anne Gracie.”—Stephanie Laurens, New York Times bestselling author 

“With her signature superbly nuanced characters, subtle sense of wit, and richly emotional writing, Gracie puts her distinctive stamp on a classic Regency plot.”—Chicago Tribune 

“Anne Gracie’s writing dances that thin line between always familiar and always fresh.”—New York Journal of Books

“Will keep readers entranced…. A totally delightful read!”—RT Book Reviews

Auteur
Anne Gracie is the award-winning author of the Marriage of Convenience Romances and the Chance Sisters Romances. She spent her childhood and youth on the move. The gypsy life taught her that humor and love are universal languages and that favorite books can take you home, wherever you are. Anne started her first novel while backpacking solo around the world, writing by hand in notebooks. Since then, her books have been translated into more than sixteen languages, and include Japanese manga editions. As well as writing, Anne promotes adult literacy, flings balls for her dog, enjoys her tangled garden, and keeps bees.

Texte du rabat

A shy heiress and a well-known rake face a scandal-forced marriage that mightbe true love in the latest irresistible romance from the national bestsellingauthor of "Marry in Haste." Original.



Échantillon de lecture
Chapter One

Ah! there is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

-Jane Austen, emma

London, 1818

"I have secured a duke for the opera tonight," Agatha, Lady Salter announced with an air of triumph. Bone thin and immensely elegant, her steely silvery hair intricately coiled, piled high and bound into a kind of turban, she fingered her lorgnette with long fingers and eyed her three nieces with a critical gaze.

Lily Rutherford, Lady Salter's youngest niece, swallowed. She sat with her sister, Rose, on the chaise longue facing the old lady. George, technically a great-niece rather than a niece, lounged casually on the armrest of a nearby chair.

"Do dukes sing?" Rose idly twirled her fan. "I had no idea."

"Don't be facetious, Rose," Aunt Agatha snapped. "You know very well why I have arranged this opportunity-it's for you in particular." She added, "As well, he is bringing two friends, one of whom-"

She broke off, her eyes narrowed. Lily tensed as the old lady raised her lorgnette. It was a warm day and Lily's thighs were sticking together, but she didn't dare move. Aunt Agatha despised fidgeting.

But her gaze came to rest meaningfully on George, who gave the elderly dowager a bland smile in return and stayed where she was, one leg swinging in an unladylike manner.

"Georgiana! Are you wearing breeches under that habit?"

George shrugged, entirely unrepentant. "We're just back from our morning ride."

The old lady closed her eyes in a heaven-help-me expression, muttered something under her breath, took a deep breath and continued, "As I said, the duke is bringing two of his friends, and one of them might be interested in you, Georgiana-though not if you sit like that! Or wear breeches. No gentleman of taste-"

"And one of them might be interested in Lily." Rose smiled warmly at her sister.

Aunt Agatha glanced at Lily. "Perhaps," she said dismissively. She raised her lorgnette and raked it critically over the person of her youngest niece.

Lily, knowing what was coming, sucked in her stomach and held her breath. But it did no good.

"I see you have failed to follow my advice about the diet that was so effective for Lord Byron, Lily. You're as fat as ever."

"Lily isn't fat," Rose flashed angrily. "She's lovely and rounded and cuddly. But not fat!"

"And besides, she did try that dreadful diet," George said. "For two whole weeks and it made her quite sick for no result. Potatoes drenched in vinegar? Ghastly."

"A small sacrifice for the sake of beauty," Aunt Agatha said with all the complacence of a woman who had never had to diet in her life.

"Lily is beautiful as she is." Rose squeezed her sister's hand comfortingly. "We all think so."

Aunt Agatha snorted.

"Better to be sweet-natured and cuddly than a nasty, well-dressed skeleton." George gave a meaningful glance at Aunt Agatha.

Lily tried not to squirm. She hated this, hated people quarreling over her, hated it when Aunt Agatha examined her through her horrid lorgnette-as she did every time she visited. Under that cold, merciless gaze, Lily always felt like a worm-a fat, unattractive, stupid worm. And she couldn't bear another evening of it.

"I'm sorry but I can't come to the opera tonight," she found herself saying. "I have a-a previous engagement."

There was a short, shocked silence. Rose and George blinked and tried to conceal their surprise.

Aunt Agatha's gaze, her eyes horribly enlarged through the lens of her weapon of choice, bored into Lily. "What did you say, gel?"

Lily swallowed but held her ground. "I said, I have a prior engagement." She pressed her lips together. She was hopeless at arguing; she always gave in eventually, so it was better to say nothing.

Aunt Agatha gripped her carved ebony stick in a bony grasp and stamped it on the floor. The floor being covered by a thick Turkish rug, the effect was rather lost. "Did you not understand me, you stupid gel? A duke and two of his friends have agreed to join our party at the opera. A duke! And two other eligible gentlemen. And you say you can't come? What nonsense! Of course you will come!"

Lily eased her fingers out of her sister's grasp. Now her hands were sweaty, as well as her thighs. She wiped them surreptitiously on her skirt and said with as much dignity as she could muster, "I was under the impression you had issued an invitation, Aunt Agatha, not an order."

Beside her, Rose gasped. It was usually Rose or George who answered Aunt Agatha back. Lily was supposed to be the meek, biddable one. But she wasn't going to be bullied, not this time. Aunt Agatha didn't really want her company tonight-she just hated being crossed.

In any case, Lily wasn't very fond of opera-she had no ear for music, she didn't understand it and she had a tendency to fall asleep. And the kind of men that Aunt Agatha always found to accompany them were, frankly, terrifying-cynical, world-weary and too sophisticated for words.

Aunt Agatha's mouth tightened. "Do you have any idea what it took to get this duke to agree to join myself and you three gels at the opera tonight? And to bring two of his Very Eligible Friends for you and Georgiana."

George, who loved music but hated being called Georgiana, said, "Blackmailed his mother, I suppose." If Lily hadn't been so tense, she might have smiled. It was probably true. Half the ton was terrified of Aunt Agatha; the other half was merely nervous. But dear George was frightened of nothing and nobody, certainly not Aunt Agatha.

Aunt Agatha stiffened and directed the Lorgnette of Doom at her great-niece. "I beg your pardon!"

"Apology accepted," George said provocatively and with mock innocence, "Isn't that what you usually do? Blackmail or bully them into doing what you want?" Apparently oblivious of Aunt Agatha's swelling outrage, George strolled over to the mantelpiece, lifted a posy of violets and inhaled the fragrance. "Gorgeous. Don't you adore violets? So small but so sweet. They used to grow wild at Willowbank Farm." Her old home.

Lily envied George's cool assurance. Despite her refusal to buckle under Aunt Agatha's insistence, Lily was shaking in her shoes. And trying desperately not to show it.

"How clever of you to secure a duke, Aunt Agatha," Rose said quickly. "Which duke would that be?" Oil over troubled waters. Not Rose's usual approach.

Aunt Agatha shot a last vitriolic glance at George and another at Lily, before turning to Rose. "At least one of you appreciates the trouble I go to, to ensure you gels make suitable marriages. The nobleman who will join us in my box tonight is . . . the Duke of Everingham." She waited as if expecting applause.

Lily said nothing. She'd never heard of the Duke of Everingham, but she knew what he would be like. Since the start of the season Aunt Agatha had been throwing eligible gentlemen at all three girls, and not one of them had looked twice at Lily. Not that Lily wanted them to.

Aunt Agatha had a taste for sophisticated, jaded, rakish gentlemen who invariably looked bored and uttered the kind of witticisms that always had some hidden meaning, a meaning that everyone except Lily seemed to get. She always felt hopelessly out of her depth with Aunt Agatha's "eligible gentlemen," and she was sure this duke and his friends would be just the same.

He was, of course, intended for Rose, the eldest of the three of them and the most beautiful. Aunt Agatha was determined that Rose, at least, would become a duchess. Whether Rose wanted it or not. Rose herself was indifferent to marriage and planned to put it off as long as she could. Not that Aunt Agatha knew that.

Lily didn't reply, George twirled the violets under her nose, inhaling the perfume with a blissful expression, so it was left to Rose, who had no ambition to become a duchess, to make a vaguely appreciative sound.

Aunt Agatha, irritated by their lack of understanding, explained, "Everybody is desperate for Everingham to attend their balls and routs. A hostess is in alt if he so much as condescends to accept an invitation-and even then there's no guarantee he will turn up. But his mother-to whom I am godmother, Georgiana, a woman who values my advice-has promised faithfully that he will come to the opera tonight, and join us in my box, and bring a couple of friends."

"How very delightful," Rose said brightly. "I do so admire a man who does what his mother tells him." There was a muffled snort from George, and Rose hastily added, "What a shame Lily has a prior engagement. But you set such store on correct behavior, Aunt Agatha, you would surely not wish her to renege on an invitation she has already accepted."

The old lady's lips thinned. Her expression showed that she thought nothing of the sort. In her view the opportunity of a duke trumped everything, and good manners depended wholly on the situation.

She directed a basilisk gaze at Lily. "What is this engagement you set so much store on keeping?"

"I'm going to a party with Emm and Cal."

Aunt Agatha's thinly plucked brows rose. "The Mainwaring rout?" She gave a contemptuous snort. "An insipid gathering of mediocre nobodies."

"Emm and Cal are going too," Lily pointed out. The Earl and Countess of Ashendon, her brother and his wife, were hardly nobodies, and as for being mediocre, well, Cal was magnificent-a war hero. And Emm was a darling-a darling who could parry Aunt Agatha's horrid stabs without turning a hair. Unfortunately Emm and Cal had gone out for a walk before Aunt Agatha had descended on them.

"Your brother and sister-in-law felt obligated to accept the invitation," Aunt Agatha corrected her. "Sir George was your brother's commanding officer at one time. But given Emmaline's interesting condition, they would have been able to make a token appearance and leave early. However if you attend, Emmaline will be obliged to stay longer." Her tone suggested that by staying late, the succession of the Earls of Ashendon would be endangered. And if Emm lost The Heir, Aunt Agatha would know whom to blame.

"I don't mind if we leave early."

Aunt Agatha sniffed. "Your sister and Georgiana, frivolous as they are, understand a golden opportunity when it is offered to them. They had no difficulty in writing to Lady Mainwaring to make their apologies for this evening. Why can you not do the same?" Her lip curled. "Apart from the obvious."

"That's not fair-" Rose began hotly.

Before another argument about her deficiencies could begin, Lily said, "Because I promised someone I'd meet her there. A girl I knew at school." Rose gave her a curious look, which Lily avoided. "She's new to London and I said I'd introduce her to some of our friends. I don't want to let her down."

It wasn't exactly true. She hadn't made a promise, but when Sylvia had asked whether she was going to the Mainwaring rout, she'd said she was. As an excuse to avoid an evening suffering the slings and arrows of Aunt Agatha's company, it would do.

Aunt Agatha's brow arched higher. "You would dismiss a duke and his friends for the sake of some gel you knew at school? Pfft! Who is this gel, and who are her people?"

"Nobody of any significance. You won't have heard of her." Lily shot Rose a warning glance, a silent plea for her to say nothing.

Rose frowned but remained silent.

Aunt Agatha sniffed. "Why does that not surprise me? You have no ambition, do you, gel?"

"Not much," Lily admitted. "I just want to be happy."

"Pshaw! I suppose by that you mean you want to fall in love! Tawdry, sentimental middle-class nonsense! When will you gels learn? Marriage is for position, advantage and land." The old lady got to her feet. "Since you're determined to waste the opportunities I make for you, Lily, I wash my hands of you. Rose, Georgiana, my carriage will collect you at seven."

ÒWell done, Lily. You were very brave, standing up to Aunt Agatha like that,Ó Rose said as the girls trooped upstairs.

"Positively heroic," George agreed. "I thought the old tartar would burst when you said that about it being an invitation, not an order."

Lily gave a shaky laugh. "I was terrified."

"You didn't look it. You did well, young 'un." George opened the door to her bedchamber. "Hello, my darling boy. Were you waiting for me?" She ruffled the ears of Finn, the great shaggy wolfhound who'd bounded out to meet them.

"Young 'un?" Lily said in mock indignation. "You're only eleven days older than me."

George grinned. "And therefore I'm older and wiser. Aren't I, Finn? Yes, so much older and wiser." Finn squirmed with delight, his tail madly scything the air.

"Ah, but I'm your aunt. And you, therefore, owe me respect." Lily gave George a playful smack as she passed. She'd stood up to Aunt Agatha, and not only had she survived-she'd won. She bounced onto the bed.

Rose tugged on the bellpull. She'd arranged for tea and buns to be brought up after Aunt Agatha had left, and that was the signal. She sat on the bed, curled her legs around and said, "So, who is this school friend for whose sake you braved Death-by-Lorgnette?"

Lily grimaced. "It wasn't really about her," she admitted. "She was just an excuse. The truth is, I couldn't bear to spend another evening out with Aunt Agatha. The way she looks at me . . ."

Rose leaned forward and gave her a hug. "I know. It's horrid. Just ignore the old witch-you're not fat, you're curvy. Aunt Agatha is one of the thin Rutherfords! George and I take after her-physically, George, not in any other way, I'm glad to say-whereas you're like darling Aunt Dottie."

"Who never married," Lily reminded her. "Whereas Aunt Agatha married three times."

"I know. It's a mystery."

George snorted. "Yes, but all three of Aunt Agatha's husbands died on her-which I think is perfectly understandable. What else could you do once you found yourself married to a vitriolic dragon?"

They all laughed. "But why would they marry her in the first place?" Lily wondered.

"Probably too terrified to refuse."

There was a knock at the door, and George went to answer it. A maid brought in a tray with a pot of tea, three cups and a plate containing six iced fruit buns and two thin, dry wafers. George poured the tea, handed the cups around and placed the plate of buns on the bed between the two sisters. She took a bun and bit into it with a blissful expression.

Détails sur le produit

Titre: Marry in Scandal
Auteur: Anne Gracie
Code EAN: 9780425283820
ISBN: 978-0-425-28382-0
Format: Couverture cartonnée
Editeur: Random House N.Y.
Genre: Romans et récits
nombre de pages: 336
Année: 2018

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