Once upon a time, four superstar storytellers—New York Times bestselling authors Stephanie Laurens and Mary Balogh, along with Jacquie D'Alessandro and Candice Hern—came up with a delicious idea. What if they each wrote a story about a proper young lady stranded at a remote inn away from society's constraints? What would happen? And how long would it take for her to give in to desire?
In these four amazing tales, four heroines will come face-to-face with the men who got away . . . only to discover that, instead of anger, there is still a passionate connection that cannot be denied. And while each of their lives is quite different, and their pasts utterly unique, they will all make a common discovery—that one night can change everything . . . forever.
Sebastian Trantor is in need of a wife. But although he's scouted the ballrooms, drawing rooms, and salons of London, he's yet to find a single worthwhile candidate in the young ladies paraded before him. They simper; they giggle; they are completely unsuitable.
Then, he discovers Tabitha Makepeace—breaking into a desk! He quickly realizes that this clever and resourceful young lady is the bride for him—but how is he to convince her of that?
When Charles St. Austell returns home to claim his title as earl, and to settle quickly on a suitable wife as well, he discovers that experience has made him impatient of the young ladies who vie for his attention—with the exception of Lady Penelope Selborne. Years ago, Charles and Penelope's youthful ardor was consummated in an unforgettable afternoon. Charles is still haunted by their interlude, but Penny refuses to have anything more to do with him.
If controlling her heart was difficult before, resisting a stronger, battle-hardened Charles is well nigh impossible, yet Penelope has vowed she won't make the same mistake twice, nor will she marry without love. But when a traitorous intrigue draws them together, then ultimately threatens them both—will Penny discover she has a true protector in Charles, her first and only love, who now vows to make her his own?
The last of his line, Jack, Baron Warnefleet, has fled London after nearly being compromised into marrying a dreadful female. Turning his back on the entire notion of marriage, he rides home to the estate he has not seen for years, determined to set in motion an alternative course of action.
But then in the lane before his gate, Jack rescues a startlingly beautiful lady from a menacing, unmanageable horse. However, while he begins by taking command, the lady continues by taking it back. Lady Clarice Altwood is no meek and mild miss. She is the very antithesis of thewoolly-headed young ladies Jack has rejected as not for him. Clarice is delectably attractive, beyond eligible, undeniably capable, and completely unforgettable. Why on earth is she rusticating in the country?
That enigma is compounded by mystery, and it's quickly clear thatClarice is in danger. Jack must use every ounce of his cunning and wit to protect this highly independent and richly passionate woman ... who has so quickly stolen his heart.
When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford. But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life. . . .
A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate—and oh-so-dashing—earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past. . . .
Lord Drake Varisey, Marquess of Winchelsea, eldest son and heir of the Duke of Wolverstone, must foil a plot that threatens to shake the foundations of the realm, but the very last lady—nay, noblewoman—he needs assisting him is Lady Louisa Cynster, known throughout the ton as Lady Wild.
For the past nine years, Louisa has suspected that Drake might well be the ideal husband for her, even though he’s assiduous in avoiding her. But she’s now twenty-seven and enough is enough. She believes propinquity will reveal exactly what it is that lies between them, and what better opportunity to work closely with Drake than this latest mission with which he patently needs her help?
Unable to deny Louisa’s abilities or the value of her assistance and powerless to curb her willfulness, Drake is forced to grit his teeth and acquiesce to her sticking by his side if only to ensure her safety. But all too soon, his true feelings for her surface sufficiently for her, perspicacious as she is, to see through his denials, which she then interprets as a challenge.
Even while they gather information, tease out clues, increasingly desperately search for the missing gunpowder, and doggedly pursue the killer responsible for an ever-escalating tally of dead men, thrown together through the hours, he and she learn to trust and appreciate each other. And fed by constant exposure—and blatantly encouraged by her—their desires and hungers swell and grow…
As the barriers between them crumble, the attraction he has for so long restrained burgeons and balloons, until goaded by her near-death, it erupts, and he seizes her—only to be seized in return.
Linked irrevocably and with their wills melded and merged by passion’s fire, with time running out and the evil mastermind’s deadline looming, together, they focus their considerable talents and make one last push to learn the critical truths—to find the gunpowder and unmask the villain behind this far-reaching plot.
Only to discover that they have significantly less time than they’d thought, that the villain’s target is even more crucially fundamental to the realm than they’d imagined, and it’s going to take all that Drake is—as well as all that Louisa as Lady Wild can bring to bear—to defuse the threat, capture the villain, and make all safe and right again.
As they race to the ultimate confrontation, the future of all England rests on their shoulders.
Third volume in a trilogy. A historical romance with gothic overtones layered over an intrigue. A full length novel of 129,000 words.
Praise for the works of Stephanie Laurens
“Stephanie Laurens’ heroines are marvelous tributes to Georgette Heyer: feisty and strong.” Cathy Kelly
“Stephanie Laurens never fails to entertain and charm her readers with vibrant plots, snappy dialogue, and unforgettable characters.” Historical Romance Reviews
“Stephanie Laurens plays into readers’ fantasies like a master and claims their hearts time and again.” Romantic Times Magazine
Miss Antonia Mannering had made plans, and Lord Philip Ruthven played a large part in them. They had been childhood friends, but had not seen each other for years. She knew Philip was popular with the ladies, but he had never married any of them. Wouldn’t he now be ready for a wife? If she could prove to him that she could run his home, not disgrace him in Society and be a comfortable wife for him, surely he would be prompted to propose to her. But she never expected that love and passion would enter into their arrangement!
Originally published in 1996
Miss Lenore Lester was perfectly content with her quiet country life, so she took steps to remain inconspicuous when managing her brothers’ house parties–but to no avail! Though Lenore hid behind glasses and pulled-back hair, she couldn’t disguise her beauty. The notoriously charming Jason Montgomery, Duke of Eversleigh, easily saw behind Miss Lenore’s brilliant disguise, and while she was determined not to be thrown off balance by this charming rake, he was equally determined to loosen the hold she had on her heart.
Originally published in 1994
In this Regency tale of Robert and Jane, New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh brings together former lovers who have seen beyond their past mistakes, and are determined to be together in this life and forever.
Caroline's obsession with Gothic novels serves as good training for a lifetime of destroying the undead with her newfound beau in this Regency by Colleen Gleason.
Blood and Prejudice
In fast-paced present-day New York City, Liz Bennett joins Mr. Darcy on his hunt to cure vampirism in New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard's version of the classic story.
Little to Hex Her
Emma, a witch with a wizard boyfriend, runs a paranormal dating service in modern-day Washington, D.C., in this story from Janet Mullany.
Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had...
Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…
Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.
From the Paperback edition.
Infamous rogue Max Rotherbridge unexpectedly inherits a dukedom—and four lovely young wards along with it. Suddenly he has to protect the four ladies from other rakes like him. But it's the eldest sister, Caroline, who is giving him real trouble. Because she's the one he wants for his own…
Caroline Twinning's beauty is matched only by her intelligence and shrewdness. She's determined to see her sisters—and herself—well married before the season is through. And no one is more inappropriate for her than the new duke. After all, the whole of London knows he's not the marrying kind. So why is he the only one who interests her?
BONUS BOOK INCLUDED IN THIS VOLUME!
The Dissolute Duke by Sophia James
After circumstances force them to marry, Taylen Ellesmere, Duke of Alderworth, leaves his new wife and disappears. Three years later, he returns with an offer for Lucinda. But after all this time and pain, will she accept it?
Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune and a scandalous secret that will forever alter the lives of his family—sending one daughter on a journey of self-discovery...
With her parents’ marriage declared bigamous, Camille Westcott is now illegitimate and without a title. Looking to eschew the trappings of her old life, she leaves London to teach at the Bath orphanage where her newly discovered half-sister lived. But even as she settles in, she must sit for a portrait commissioned by her grandmother and endure an artist who riles her every nerve.
An art teacher at the orphanage that was once his home, Joel Cunningham has been hired to paint the portrait of the haughty new teacher. But as Camille poses for Joel, their mutual contempt soon turns to desire. And it is only the bond between them that will allow them to weather the rough storm that lies ahead...