A proposal of marriage she could not refuse...
Lord Braven has saved Rachel Ashton's life twice, it seems-when he snatched her from the icy Yorkshire river...and when he offered to marry her. Now the desperate miss will be rid forever of the repulsive husband-to-be her horrid stepfather has "sold" her to. But though both agree their marriage is in name only, Rachel finds she cannot dismiss her burning need to taste the sweet kiss of her dashing benefactor.
A passion they could not resist
Having a real wife is unthinkable, since Braven must never love again. And as long as this sham marriage is not consummated, his heart will remain safe -- and his secret can go untold. But the exquisite beauty tempts the haunted lord unmercifully with her deep lavender eyes and sensuous full lips. How can he resist this most perilous desire, when his heart swears it would be more dangerous still to deny himself the ecstasy of true love?
Grief, forgiveness and marital abuse are only a few of the issues addressed in this affecting Regency-era romance, the second from talented newcomer Smith (Elusive Passion). Wracked by guilt over a death he failed to prevent, Balthazar Wycherley, the earl of Braven, has lived in seclusion for the past two years. But when Brave stumbles upon his neighbor, Rachel Ashton, and saves her from drowning in a nearby river, he realizes that he may have found the one woman who can help him forgive himself. Rumors of a courtship between the two abound after they are seen dancing and conversing at several social occasions, but it isn't until Rachel shows up on his doorstep, beaten and bruised, that he realizes how he can help her as well as himself. To rescue Rachel and her mother from her brutal stepfather, Sir Henry Westhaver, Brave proposes a marriage of convenience. Rachel readily accepts, but her hopes for the future pale when her mother decides to return to Henry and her feelings for Brave evolve into something more than friendly affection. Playful banter and endearing secondary characters brighten up this somber tear-jerker, but it's Smith's protagonists who steal the story and the reader's sympathy. Steamy love scenes combine with tangible romantic tension to make this a memorable read. (Jan. 8)Forecast: A generic "clinch" cover may cause some browsers to pass over this exceptional historical, but others will be drawn in by Lisa Kleypas's glowing cover quote.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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January 07, 2002
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