The acclaimed, award-winning author of The Bridal Season returns to the elegant drawing rooms and sprawling country estates of Victorian England...in the captivating tale of a woman who must prove she can keep an irresistible nobleman's most scandalous secret--without losing her heart ...
Set in Chelsea, England, during the late Victorian era, this brisk and refreshingly droll tale sets cheeky Evelyn Cummings Whyte on a collision course with the scruffy but invariably handsome Justin Powell. When 15-year-old Evelyn interrupts what she takes to be a tryst between Justin and a prominent diplomat's wife, she exacts a note of debt from the ruffled 23-year-old in return for her silence. Ten years later, Evie, who is filling in for her aunt as a society wedding planner, comes calling with her note. She needs Justin's familial estate for the wedding of the season. He agrees reluctantly, complaining it will interfere with his bird-watching he's an ornithologist on the tail of the elusive Bubo Formosa Plorimus (Most Beautiful Owl) but in truth, the nuptials will provide an excellent cover for his espionage activities. Far from the frivolous ladies' man Evie thinks he is, Justin is really a spy, but his latest mission to hide a "diabolical machine" being shipped to him by his handler may put them both in danger. Readers are left to wonder what the machine is for much of the tale, and in the end, it's not what we're led to believe. A handful of other surprises keep the narrative lively, and Brockway's buoyant characters and lilting writing style sweep the reader along to a heady and hilarious denouement. (Sept. 3) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Bridal Favors by Connie Brockway
Ten years later
"If you do not want blood all over your carpet, I suggest you call a physician," Evelyn called out from where she lay flat on her back. She pushed her spectacles back into place and turned her head to look at the unbroken window.
The reflected image of the tall man who'd walked into the library abruptly stopped, caught in a pool of bright mid-morning sunlight. He wore shirtsleeves, the white cuffs rolled halfway up sinewy, tanned forearms, the collar open at the throat.
"Which carpet?" he asked, looking about for her.
Ten years had passed, but it might have been yesterday that she'd last seen him. The easy, imperturbable voice was the same, as was his loose-limbed build and disheveled good looks.
"Here," Evelyn called. "On the floor by the window. The broken one."
Justin Powell closed the book he'd been carrying and came round the side of the desk. Looking up past his expensive shoes, she could see the subtle changes a decade had wrought. Thin lines radiated from the corners of his eyes and little comma-shapes bracketed his wide mouth. A dusting of gray threaded through dark brown hair in dire need of a good clip.
Mutely, he gazed down at her. Just as mute, she returned his regard.
What was wrong with a man when even the sight of a woman bleeding on his floor couldn't excite him to action?
"I understand how the sight of a woman lying in a pool of her own blood might be off-putting, Mr. Powell," she said. "But can I do anything to dispel the paralysis that seems to have gripped you and encourage you to act?"
"Woman, eh?" he murmured, calmly setting his book on the desk. He hunkered down, his elbows on his knees and his hands hanging between his legs. Gingerly, he lifted the torn flap in the knickers she'd borrowed from her nephew Stanley.
She dared a glance at her leg, saw the red blood, and averted her face. She looked up at him in order to read in his expression the severity of her injury, but instead found herself staring in fascination at his eyes. They were just as she remembered, too, a fascinating, glinty-soft bluish-green. Forest pond beneath brilliant autumn sky. Gold leaf swirling through liquid jade.