To Wed A Wild Lord
Pocket, $7.99, Nov. 22, 2011
Drowning in guilt over his best friend’s death seven years ago, Lord Gabriel Sharpe, the Angel of Death, knows his only hope at redemption is a race against a shocking opponent.
Shrouded in darkness for the past seven years, the infamous racer Lord Gabriel Sharpe is known to accept every challenge to race thrown at him. When his next challenge comes in the form of his late best friend’s sister, Virginia Waverly, Gabe is shocked. Yet she presents just the opportunity Gabe needs—marriage to fulfill his grandmother’s ultimatum and ensure his inheritance. What he didn’t count on was needing her love.
When I was a little girl, my aunt gave me a copy of Marlo Thomas’s Free To Be You and Me. One of my favorite stories is the tale of Atalanta, and the way she outran all the boys in the kingdom to choose who she would marry and be in control of her own fate. It was a story that resonated with my young self, and helped to craft the idea that a little competition between the sexes is a fine way to spend the day.
My adult self turns to the wonderfully exciting and adventurous world of Regency historicals, where an abundance of adventurous marriages of convenience, kidnappings and duels can sweep you away for a few hours. That’s exactly the sentiment found in Sabrina Jeffries’s books, and Jeffries’s latest book—the fourth—in her Hellions of Halstead Hall book, To Wed A Wild Lord, in particular.
Only in Regency romances could a grandmother named Hetty Plumtree get away with issuing an ultimatum for her grandchildren to marry or risk disinheritance. Meet Virginia Waverly, hometown Eastcote, circa August 1825. Her brother was killed seven years before during a horse race with his best friend, Lord Gabriel Sharpe. Gabriel, we learn, has spent the time since his friend’s death drowning in guilt and risking his life in races as often as he’s challenged.
“Has she renewed her challenge to you yet?”
“She hasn’t had the chance,” Gabe said, feigning nonchalance. That damned challenge had been bandied about society ever since Turnham Green, and tonight he meant to put an end to it.
“Surely she won’t.” Lyons sipped his wine. “She can’t possibly be as hotheaded as her brother.”
The challenge Virginia presents is to beat a little humility into Gabe…by making him lose at his own game. The horseraces. Virginia is my favorite kind of historical character: richly layered with a whip-smart mind, finely tuned sense of humor, and over-the-top spirit of adventure. She’s like catnip to ol’ Gabe. And though he hates to turn down any challenge, he doesn’t relish racing the sister of his best friend—who was killed seven years prior on the same track.
Lyons smirked at him. “Afraid that the chit will beat you?”
Gabe knew better than to rise to the bait. “More afraid that she’ll run her rig over my best team of horses.”
“They say she beat Letty Lade. That’s no small feat.”
He snorted. “Letty Lade was nearly seventy by then; it’s a miracle the woman didn’t fall off her perch. Leave Miss Waverly to me. After tonight, there will be no more talk of a race.”
“What do you mean to do?”
“I intend to marry her,” Gabe said.
No, Gabe’s counter is far more dangerous to Virginia, because it challenges her heart. And what richly written girl would consciously lose her heart to the man known as “the Angel of Death?” Yikes.
I love a man with a plan, especially one with an unwavering goal. But poor Gabriel is painted the careless Angel of Death in the eyes of society.
Virginia has no idea of his intentions, though states pretty plainly her intention to teach him “some humility, some … some sense of decency!” Through horse racing, no doubt. Gotta love that Regency leveling factor of adventure, revenge, and retribution. If only it wasn’t for meddling grandparents (yet another hallmark of these Regency romances). And Virginia’s are no less intrusive than Gabe’s.
“I’m not going to watch you risk your life—and your future, I might add—trying to race that man, of all men. Get your bonnet. We’re paying a visit to Lord Gabriel Sharpe. You, my dear, are going to tell him that you’ve seen the error of your ways and you refuse to race him.”
“I’m not doing any such thing!” she sputtered. “I refuse to let him think I’m a coward.”
“And I refuse to lose another grandchild to that arse!”
She paled. “You won’t lose me, I swear.”
“You’re damned right, I won’t,” he said, feeling a clutch of fear in his heart. “I couldn’t bear it.”
I suppose beating Gabe at his own horseracing game is the historical equivalent of meeting in the parking lot after school, or perhaps the better-odds-of-surviving alternative to a duel at dawn. But it’s pretty exciting however you consider it. Plus, when was the last time your grandfather told you to get your ‘bonnet?’
Even though most of the romances I read (and write) are contemporary, I really love a great adventurous Regency. To Wed A Wild Lord will make your pulse race, your heart soar, and your competiveness kick in. And remember, even the Angel of Death carries with him a little hope:
“Don’t worry about me, vixen. I cheat Death. It’s what I do, what I’ve done more times than I can count.”
Dolly Sickles is a Southerner with a lifelong penchant for storytelling. Her Secret Squirrel identity is Dolly Sickles, but she also writes romance as Becky Moore, and in the spring of 2012, her first children’s book will be published as Dolly Dozier. She’s an avid reader of all literature, but she takes refuge in the romance genre, where despite the most grandiose, exhilarating, strange, and unlikely plot that’s out there, every story has a happy ending.