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From New York Times bestselling author Mary Balough comes a classic historical tale that sizzles with romance and unforgettable drama.
Reginald Masson is wealthy refined and by all accounts, a gentleman. However, he is not a gentleman by birth, a factor that pains him and his father. Bernard Mason, with the Regency society that upholds station love all else. That is, until an opportunity for social advancement arises, namely, Lady Annabelle Ashton. Daughter of the Earl of Havercroft, a neighbor and enemy of the Mason family, Annabelle finds herself disgraced by a scandal, one that has left her branded as damaged goods. Besmirched by shame, the earl is only too happy to marry Annabelle off to anyone willing to have her.Though Bernard wishes to use Annabelle to propel his family up the social ladder, his son does not to marry her, preferring instead to live as the wild, single life he is accustomed to. With this, Bernard serves his son an ultimatum: marry Annabelle, or make do without family funds. Having no choice, Reginald consents and enters into a hostile engagement in which the prospective bride and groom are openly antagonistic, each one resenting the other for their current state of affairs while their respective fathers revel in their suffering. So begins an intoxicating tale rife with dark secrets, deception, and the trials of love-a story in which very little is as it seems.
Ah, the arranged marriage. Can even the bestselling Balogh (Seducing an Angel) find anything fresh in this staple of historical romance? The answer, as demonstrated in this breezy tale, is yes. Reginald Mason is a dashing young rake whose spendthrift habits so outrage his wealthy coal-merchant father that Reggie is given an ultimatum: he must marry whomever his parents choose or lose his inheritance. He's soon matched with Annabelle Ashton, daughter of an earl whose property adjoins the Masons' land. Annabelle has not only ruined a proposed marriage to a loathsome marquis but put herself outside polite society by attempting to run off with a coachman. It's the perfect match: the earl needs his daughter to marry into money, and Reggie's father longs for acceptance in high society. The young couple, naturally, resent both one another and their fathers, but the author has a surprise in store for both the reader and the scheming parents. Balogh's in fine form, stripping the story to its core to give readers a fast-moving and winning romance.