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The Abduction Of Julia

The Abduction Of Julia by Karen Hawkins
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What can a respectable Regency miss do when kidnapped by a nobleman intent on marriage? Why, marry him, of course.

Julia Frant has secretly loved Alec MacLean, the wild Viscount Hunterston from afar. So when he accidentally snatches her instead of her lovely, scheming cousin for an elopement to Gretna Green, Julia leaps at the chance to make her passionate dreams come true.

Alec's in no position to quibble: if he doesn't marry by midnight and live scandal-free for a year, he loses his inheritance. At least marriage with do-gooder Julia will guarantee his fortune. But as his plain brown wren transforms herself into an elegant swan, Alec suddenly can't stay away from his last-minute wife--and when he kisses her, the inheritance is the last thing on his mind. Unfortunately, scandal can occur from the best of intentions...and Julia is never short of good intentions!What can a respectable Regency miss do when kidnapped by a nobleman intent on marriage? Why, marry him, of course.

What can a respectable Regency miss do when kidnapped by a nobleman intent on marriage?Why, marry him, of course.

Julia Frant has secretly loved Alec MacLean, the wild Viscount Hunterston from afar. So when he accidentally snatches her instead of her lovely, scheming cousin for an elopement to Gretna Green, Julia leaps at the chance to make her passionate dreams come true.

Alec's in no position to quibble: if he doesn't marry by midnight and live scandal-free for a year, he loses his inheritance. At least marriage with do-gooder Julia will guarantee his fortune. But as his plain brown wren transforms herself into an elegant swan, Alec suddenly can't stay away from his last-minute wife---and when he kisses her, the inheritance is the last thing on his mind. Unfortunately, scandal can occur from the best of intentions...and Julia is never short of good intentions!

HarperCollins; October 2009
400 pages; ISBN 9780061974687
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Title: The Abduction Of Julia
Author: Karen Hawkins
 
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Excerpt

Hampstead Heath, EnglandMay, 1812

It was a hell of a night for an elopement. After three miserable hours, the rain had finally ceased. A ghostly blanket of fog crept along the edges of the narrow one-lane road, glowing eerily in the scattered moonlight.

Alec MacLean, fifth Viscount Hunterston, pulled the coach to a thundering halt in the yard of the Black Anvil Inn. Mud splattered the inn door and sent wispy spirals of mistscuttering across black puddles.

His groom, Johnston, stepped from the dripping eaves. "There ye be, m'lord. Mite late, ain't ye?"

"Her ladyship apparently cannot tell time." Alec said with a shrug.

"A woman who'd keep ye waitin' at the altar will stop at nothin' to annoy the spit out of ye," the old groom prophesied glumly.

Alec ignored him and climbed down from the perch. Johnston was a family heirloom of sorts, with a Welshman's habitual sullen disposition. Though normally Alec argued against such a dour outlook, on this occasion he feared the groom was right.

The coach door creaked as his passenger tried to open it from within. Johnston granted. "Door's stuck agin."

"A pity, but we've no time to linger." Alec consulted his watch. It was barely ten. Considering the condition of the road from London, he had made remarkable time.

The noise from the coach increased to a firm knocking that lasted an annoying length of time. Johnston eyed the equipage with an interested gaze. "Her ladyship seems a mite determined. Do ye think she's changed her mind 'bout marryin' ye?"

"With the amount of money I stand to inherit? Highly unlikely." Spoiled and vain, Therese had made her objectives plain from the beginning. She wanted money, power, and position.

The thought turned his stomach. He had eschewed polite society his entire life, hating its hypocrisy and vapid politeness, only to end up here, dragging his heels all the way to the altar with the catch of the season.

The coach swayed more furiously as the steady knocking was replaced by loud, determined thumping, along with a muffled demand for release. Alec sighed and replaced his watch in an inner pocket. "I suppose we can spare ten minutes, but no more. Have the horses changed, Johnston. They've bad to fight this damnable mud the entire way."

The old groom shook his head. "Ye shouldn't have waited so long to plan yer nuptials. Pushin' yer luck a mite far, if ye ask me."

"It was Grandfather's wish I marry--not mine," Alec replied curtly, peeling off his gloves.

"As crusty as the old lord, ain't ye? There weren't nary a thing ye could do with him neither, once he set his mind on somethin'." The groom -eyed the wildly rocking coach. "Though ye may have met yer match."

"I can handle Therese Frant," Alec said shortly.

Johnston snorted his disbelief. "I'll order ye a nice stiff drink whilst the horses are bein' changed. Ye'll be needin' it."

Alec nodded and the old groom shuffled into the inn, wisps of night fog swirling about his boots. Steeling himself, Alec tamed toward the coach. Better to get it over with, and quickly. Fortunately, he knew exactly how to deal with his bride-to-be.

Therese Frant was far from the demure innocent she presented to society. Too many times since she'd discovered the extent of his inheritance, the chit had attempted to drag him into a secluded alcove and plaster herself against him.

Therese's mother, a notoriously lax chaperone, did little to stifle her daughter's high spirits. Instead, the duty of keeping a watchful eye on the sensual Therese fell to a cousin of some sort, a plain dab of a female who took her duties so seriously that members of the ton had dubbed her the "Frant Dragon." Peering through her thick spectacles, the Dragon did what she could to quell Therese's propensity toward rum.

A pity, Alec thought tiredly. Had Therese been involved in a scandal, he could have convinced the dry, dusty executors of his grandfather's will to overturn the requirements. But it was too late now. He would have to marry the tiresome girl.

He yanked open the carriage door and grabbed Therese by the wrist, pulling her into his arms. She tumbled from the coach, her bonnet sliding forward across her eyes. It was too dark to fathom her expression beneath the wide brim, but he knew what he would see china-blue eyes glittering with petulant anger, a rosebud mouth twisted in rage.

To halt her angry tirade before it began, he pushed back the bonnet and covered her mouth with his. To his surprise, a trill of raw, sensual excitement jolted through him.

Therese must have felt something different, too, for she stood as rigidly as a soldier braving a firing squad. Usually she moaned with pleasure at his embraces and clung with the stranglehold of a limpet. Maybe she is nervous about the wedding.

"Kiss me," Alec murmured against the silk of her check. She wore a new fragrance. Light and bewitching, it mingled appealingly with the rain-fresh air and swirled along his senses. His body tightened. Perhaps there would be some benefits from this arrangement, after all. "You smell like heaven. Kiss me, sweet Therese."

She lacked him, Hard.

"Owww!" Alec yelled, instantly releasing her. He bent to rub his shin.

And froze.

One of the many things his vain bride-to-be prided herself on was her dainty feet. The shoes that met his eyes were not dainty. Large and tightly laced, the heavy black boots reminded him of his old governess.

The implication hit him like a cannon shot.

This wasn't Therese.

He had eloped with the wrong woman.

He straightened abruptly, the pain in his shin forgotten. "Who in the hell are you?"

"I might ask you the same question," his prim attacker stated flatly.

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ISBNs
0061974684
9780061826535
9780061826542
9780061826559
9780061974687
9780380810710