With This Ring
St. Martin's Press / July 1, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital
Elektra Worthington is the lovely middle daughter of the eccentric, impoverished Worthington family. Her beauty means nothing to her except as her currency to return the Worthington name to its former glory of status, riches, and dominance in the ballrooms of Regency England. To this end, she will stop at nothing—even if she must kidnap a rich lord in the process. If this lucky gentleman is just returning from a long absence and knows nothing of the Worthington reputation, well, a girl shouldn’t look a gift lord in the mouth…right?
Lord Aaron Arbogast, returning to England after a decade-old scandal—of which he was not truly guilty, but instead took the blame out of loyalty to a good friend—is the last of his line. He will someday become the Earl of Arbodean and inherit the estate…if, that is, he can prove to his ailing grandfather that he is a reformed man. Falling for a woman like Miss Worthington could cost him everything. But his desire for her? Priceless…
In Celeste Bradley's With This Ring, Elektra Worthington's latest scheme to marry very well and thus save her family from its genteel poverty is to kidnap Lord Aaron Arbogast. Aaron is newly returned to England after ten years and is reportedly looking for a wife. Elektra hopes that his long sojourn abroad will mean that he is unfamiliar with the Worthington family's well-earned reputation for eccentricity. Kidnapping does not seem to me to be a convincing argument in her favor, but she is desperate.
One deep breath. Then she crossed to where the bound man in the chair still gazed at her in horror. She smiled brightly, to ease his anxiety. Oddly, her dazzling smile didn't seem to relax him at all.
“My lord, I have decided that your search has come to an end.”
He drew back. His struggles increased, until the heavy chair creaked against the pull of his muscles. Elektra gazed at him perplexed. What had she said?
Come to an end.
Oh, for heaven's sake. Where had she drawn that silly line from, the dialogue of the villain in some seedy novel? She clasped her hands before her and waited for his alarm to die down a bit. When he again lifted his gaze to hers, she nodded encouragingly, widening her eyes and smiling at him.
“What I meant to say is that you have found me at last.”
Now he just gazed at her as if she were drooling and listing slightly to port. Seriously, the fellow was just a bit thick, wasn't he?
Elektra worked her neck slightly to ease her own tension, then showed more teeth. It might be best to speak slowly. Sometimes the upper classes could be a bit inbred.
“I - am - your - countess,” she enunciated carefully.
He paled, the dusky tan of his skin fading right before her eyes. Really, there was no call for him to take it so hard.
She reminds me a bit of Carole Lombard in those old 1930's Screwball Comedies. Aaron has been away trying to repair his own sordid reputation after a wild youth and so has adopted a serious mien, though his propriety is almost always in danger of slipping away when in Elektra's presence.
Aaron stood frozen in shock and sudden, crippling arousal at the sight of Elektra, hair rippling free and golden down her back, wearing nothing but a brief chemise that appeared to be made entirely of morning mist and good intentions, those good intentions rendered powerless by the light of the candle set upon the dressing table behind her.
Aaron's ale-muddled brain tried to send him a vitally important message - Virgin! Lady! Warning! Warning! - that his pounding heart was trying to drown out with an opposing viewpoint - Luscious! Hungry! Want! Want!
There are some serious issues to be dealt with in With This Ring. But, one of my favorite things about this book is how Bradley leavens them with moments of comedy that seemingly come out of the blue and startle a chuckle from me.
Learn more about or order a copy of With This Ring by Celeste Bradley, available July 1, 2014:
Cheryl Sneed reviews for Rakehell.com.