The Bride Says No
Avon / January 28, 2014 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital
He is the bastard son of a duke, arrogant, handsome, a little bit dangerous, and, of course, one of the most sought-after bachelors in London. He is also about to be publically jilted by some chit of a girl! Blake Stephens' pride isn't about to let him be humiliated, so he charges after his bride to the wilds of Scotland, determined to bring her to the altar.
He is promised to one woman, but discovers his soul stirred by . . . the chit's sister! Lady Aileen Davidson's reputation was ruined ages ago, which is why she's buried herself in the country, but her fiery spirit and bold beauty threaten to bring Blake to his knees, making him wonder if he has proposed to the wrong lass.
One simple word defines a woman’s life in Regency England: Expectations. The expectation to marry for connection not love, to have children, and to obey your husband. Cathy Maxwell addresses all of these expectations and more in her new series, the Brides of Wishmore, with The Bride Says No.
When the book opens, we meet a carefree Aileen, and a precocious Tara—half-sisters and daughters to a rapscallion of a Scottish earl. Flash forward a few years and a ruined Aileen is living in the family estate, having been scandalously divorced before her husband was killed in action. She has come to enjoy her life away from the wagging tongues of the ton, and done what is to be expected of a ruined daughter—tend to the estate.
But it’s when her younger sister arrives on the estate just three days before she’s expected to get married that things really get interesting. Especially when the groom arrives. It is not with the bride and groom that spark fly, however, but between the groom and Aileen.
She knew what she wanted, and she knew he was open to her as well. The pull of attraction had been swirling around them from the moment theyd met—but this man belonged to her sister.
The thought brought her to sanity.
She practically fell back, as if needing to physically pull herself away from him.
Mr. Stephens gave a start and reacted as if he was startled by his response as well. Or at least, that is what she wanted to believe, and she knew she shouldn’t. Men were wolves. She must never forget that.
“You are to marry my sister, sir,” she whispered. “Do not insult me.”
Blake Stephens is the bastard son of a duke, and he and Aileen have both experienced the darkest side of society. Yet still they both cling to the rules they were taught—Aileen for her family, and Blake in an attempt to grasp on to the one thing he has in society: his honor. Ironically, Blake cares little for family, but reveres his reputation—a thing Aileen happily threw away to be rid of her husband. So, in order for Aileen and Blake to find love, they each need to let go of these ties.
“And what of the bonds of family, Mr. Stephens? Of clansmen?"
“By all means, continue to worry about everyone else,” he said, raising his hands as if to show he played no tricks. “You obviously have complete power over each and every one of them.”
Of course, he knew she didn’t. Tara had become a willful minx, and the earl was as he’d always been—careless.
“But I must try,” she found herself saying. “Without family, what are we?”
“A bastard,” he commented, the word heavy with self-irony.
He would marry her sister because that was was what was expected of him. He’d fought to be considered a gentleman. A man’s reputation was the most fragile thing he owned.
And no woman should matter that much.
Especially one he’d just met.
Blake went to bed then. What else was there to do here in the wilderness of Scotland?
He expected to fall asleep. He was tired from travel and the weary contemplation of his future. He would have a beautiful wife, and his children, his sons, would be accepted everywhere.
Aileen and Blake have many hurdles to pass, both aided and hindered by a wonderful cast of secondary character, who are as damaged and complicated as Aileen and Blake. If you’re looking for angst, love, a great story and best of all, a strong start to a new series, say “yes” to The Bride Says No.
Learn more or order a copy of The Bride Says No by Cathy Maxwell, available January 28, 2014:
Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt. She works for Heroes and Heartbreakers and Criminal Element.