Authors: Annie Burrows
HarlequinÂ® Historical brings you three new titles for one great price, available now! This HarlequinÂ® Historical bundle includes
Lord Havelock's List
by Annie Burrows,
Saved by the Viking Warrior
by Michelle Styles and
The Pirate Hunter
by Laura Martin.
Look for six compelling new stories every month from HarlequinÂ® Historical!
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FORâ¦
Lord Havelock is in need of a wife. But with no time for a society wedding and no stomach for girlish fripperies, his options are limited. So with help from his friends, he draws up a list of qualities he does desire in a wifeâ¦.
When orphaned Mary Carpenter discovers her handsome new husband's list, she's hurtâand incensed. If he thinks she'll sit meekly by, be “compliant” and “a mouse,” he's got another think coming! Is it perhaps time for Mary to make a list of her own, and change the rules of their relationship foreverâ¦?
“A funny, flirtatious, spirited romp.” â
RT Book Reviews
Never Trust a Rake
“Come, you need not be afraid,”
Havelock said with a sincerity that
made her wish she could trust him.
Made her wish she could let go of her habitual distrust of the entire male sex, just once.
“I won't let you fall.”
It wasn't falling she was worried about. It was the increasing frequency with which she was having foolish, feminine thoughts about him. Foolish, feminine reactions, too.
There were skaters of all ages, shapes and sizes twirling about on the ice. All looking as though they were having a splendid time. Life didn't offer many opportunities like this, to try something new and exciting. And the ice probably wouldn't last all that long. Mary might never get another chance to have a go at skating.
When had she last let herself go, the way they were doing? Living in the moment?
When had she got into the habit of being too afraid to reach out and attempt to take hold of the slightest chance at happiness?
She reached out and took the hand Lord Havelock was patiently holding out to her, vowing that today, at least, she would leave fear on the bank, launch out onto the ice and see what happened.
* * *
Lord Havelock's List
HarlequinÂ® Historical #1200âSeptember 2014
Some of you may have read my Christmas novella “Governess to Christmas Bride” (
anthology), in which the hero, Lord Chepstow, flees London when his good friend Lord Havelock suddenly decides to get married. He wouldn't have found it so scary had Lord Havelock not asked for his help compiling a list of wifely qualities. The next thing, he was sure, would be expecting him to scour society drawing rooms for a woman who matched them. And once marriage-minded ladies scent husband material, there is no saying who they won't get their claws into.
Well, Lord Chepstow stumbled into love anyway. But what, readers have wanted to know, happened to Lord Havelock, the man who so startled him by asking for help compiling the list of what makes a perfect wife?
Here, at last, is his story.â¦
Lord Havelock's List
Available from HarlequinÂ®
One Candlelit Christmas
“The Rake's Secret Son”
The Earl's Untouched Bride
The Viscount and the Virgin
A Countess by Christmas
“Governess to Christmas Bride”
An Escapade and an Engagement
Never Trust a Rake
Reforming the Viscount
Portrait of a Scandal
Lord Havelock's List
*Silk & Scandal Regency
Also available from
Harlequin Historical Undone!
Notorious Lord, Compromised Miss
Did you know that these novels are also available as
My lovely new editor, Pippaâ
such a pleasure to work with.
has been making up stories for her own amusement since she first went to school. As soon as she got the hang of using a pencil she began to write them down. Her love of books meant she had to do a degree in English literature. And her love of writing meant she could never take on a job where she didn't have time to jot down notes when inspiration for a new plot struck her. She still wants the heroines of her stories to wear beautiful floaty dresses and triumph over all that life can throw at them. But when she got married she discovered that finding a hero is an essential ingredient to arriving at “happy ever after.”
o, there, Chepstow! Need some advice.'
Lord Chepstow, who'd been sauntering across the lobby of his club, paused, recognised Lord Havelock and grinned.
âFrom me?' He shook his head ruefully. âLord, you must be in the suds to want
âI am,' said Lord Havelock bluntly. Then glanced meaningfully in the direction of the club's servant, who'd stepped forward to take his coat and hat.
Chepstow's grin faded. âNeed to find somewhere quiet, to talk in private?'
âYes,' said Lord Havelock, feeling a great weight rolling off his shoulders. Not that he had much hope that Chepstow, of all men, would come up with any fresh ideas. But at least he was willing to listen.
As soon as they'd passed through the door to the libraryâthe one room almost sure to be deserted at this, or any other, time of the dayâhe said it.
âGot to get married.'
âGood grief.' Chepstow's jaw dropped. âWould never have thought you the type to get some girl into trouble. Not one you feel you have to marry, at any rate.'
Havelock clenched his fists in automatic repudiation of such a slur on his honour, causing Chepstow to raise his own hands in a placatory gesture.
âNow I come to think of it...' Chepstow said, carefully moving a few feet out of his range, âsort of thing could happen to anyone.'
âNot me,' Havelock insisted. âYou know I've never been much in the petticoat line.' He lowered his fists as it occurred to him that, actually, Chepstow might be the very chap to help him, after all.
âYou have been though, Chepstow. You've had some really high-flyers in keeping, haven't you? And still managed to stay popular with ladies of the
. How d'ye do it, man? How d'ye get them all eating out of your hands, that's what I need to know.'
âBy opening my purse strings to the high-flyers,' said Chepstow candidly, âand minding my manners with the Quality. It's perfectly simple....'
âYes, if all you are looking for is something of a temporary nature. But if you had to get married, what kind of woman would you ask? I mean, what sort of woman do you think would make a good wife? And how would you go about finding her, if you only had a fortnight's grace to get the knot tied?'
Chepstow froze, like a stag at bay. âMe? Married?' He slowly shook his head. âI wouldn't. The trick is avoiding the snares they lay for a fellow, not deliberately walking straight into one.'
âYou don't understand,' Havelock began to say. But Chepstow wasn't listening. He was looking wildly round the room, like a hunted animal seeking cover. And then, with obvious relief, he found it in the form of a pair of young men just barely visible above an enormous mound of books on one of the reading desks, engaged in earnest conversation.
âLet's ask Ashe,' he said, grabbing Havelock by one arm and towing him across the floor with an air of desperation. âKind of chap who reads books when he don't need to is bound to know something worth knowing about matrimony.'
Which was rot, of course. But Chepstow was clearly panicking. Anybody who thought they could get away with manhandling him across a room, whilst babbling about books, had obviously lost his wits.
But then the topic of matrimony was apt to do that to a fellow. He wouldn't willingly put his head in the noose if there was any alternative. But, having racked his brains for hours, Havelock simply couldn't find one.
So he'd decided that the only thing to be done was to see if he couldn't somehow sugar-coat the pill he was about to swallow. Find some way, unlikely though it seemed, to find a woman who wouldn't oblige him to alter his entire way of life.
Who wouldn't try to alter
âAshe, and, um...' Chepstow floundered as he shot a blank look at the second man at the table with Ashe.
âMorgan,' said the Earl of Ashenden, waving a languid hand at his companion. Havelock had seen Morgan about, at the races, Jackson's, this club and various social events, though had never had cause to speak to him before. Son of some sort of nabob, if memory served him. Nothing wrong with him, so far as he knew. Just not out of the top drawer.
Not that he cared a rap for any of that. Not at a time like this.
Introductions dealt with, Chepstow thrust Havelock into a chair, then perched on the edge of his own as though ready to take flight at a moment's notice.
âHavelock has decided he wants to get married,' he announced, rather in the manner of a man who has just tossed a hot potato out of his burnt fingers. Then he practically pounced on the waiter, who'd ventured into the library to see if any of the young gentlemen needed refreshment.
âWe need a bottle of wine,' declared Chepstow with feeling.
to,' Havelock explained once the waiter was out of earshot. âHave to. Need to. And before you start questioning my
, no, it isn't because I've suddenly started seducing innocents,' he growled, shooting Chepstow a resentful look. âThat's not it at all.'
âSteady on,' said Chepstow, pushing enough books aside that the waiter would have room to put a bottle and some glasses down when he returned. âSort of mistake anyone could make. With you looking so...out of sorts. And then broaching the topic the way you did.'
âGentlemen,' said Ashe in that quiet way he had that somehow made everyone listen. âPerhaps the best thing to do would be to let Havelock explain, in his own words, just what his problem is and how he thinks we may be of assistance? Before he feels compelled to call on his seconds.'
At Morgan's look of alarm, Ashe chuckled quietly. âIt is a foolish man who casts a slur on Havelock's honour these days.'
âI don't, and never have, challenged my friends to duels.'
âYou shot off half of Wraxton's ear,' put in Chepstow.
âHe wasn't my friend.' Havelock folded his arms over his chest and glared across the table at Ashe. âAnd it wasn't me he insulted. But...a lady.'
âOho! And I thought you said you weren't in the petticoat line.'
âI'm not. Never have been. It wasn't like thatâ'
âFrom what I heard,' put in Ashe mildly, âif it hadn't been you, it would have been her husband who challenged him.'
âHe should have done,' snapped Havelock. âOnly...' He sighed, and pushed his fringe out of his eyebrows irritably. â
lost my temper with him first.'
âNever mind,' said Ashe soothingly. âAt least
shot him. That is the main thing.'
âI shouldn't have done it,' admitted Havelock, as the waiter returned with a tray of wine and clean glasses. Meeting Wraxton had been nothing like the first duel he'd fought. Wraxton would have killed him stone dead if his pistol hadn't misfired. And therefore he'd wanted to kill him right back. If it hadn't been for a freakish bout of hiccups throwing his aim off, causing him to nick the man's ear rather than put a hole through what passed for his heart, he would have done. And would then have had to flee the country or face charges for murder.
Seeing how close he'd come to bringing dishonour on his family through sheer anger had pulled him up short. Since then, he'd made much more effort to keep a rein on his temper.
Although few people were foolish enough to think they could get away with goading him, after the affair with Wraxton. The tale had got about that he'd deliberately marked the man. That he was a crack shot.
Which just went to show what idiots most people were.
âI only wish,' he said, pouring himself a generous measure of wine, âmy problems now could be solved by issuing a challenge, picking my seconds, then putting a bullet into...someone. But the fact is I need to get married,' he said glumly. âAnd soon. But I don't want to end up shackled to some harpy who will make my life a misery by constantly nagging at me to reform. And the thing with women,' he said, lifting the glass to his mouth, âis that you never can tell what they're really like until
they've got you all legally tied up.' He took a gulp as he recalled just how many times he'd seen it happen. One minute they'd been blushing brides, tripping down the aisle all sweetness and light, and the next they'd become regular harpies, henpecking the poor devil who'd married them into an early grave.
âWell, the answer, then, is to make sure of the woman's character before you wed her,' said Ashe with infuriating logic.
âAnd just how am I supposed to do that in the limited time I have available?'
âMarry someone you know well,' said Morgan as though it was obvious.
âGod, no!' Havelock seized his glass and threw the rest of its contents back in one go. âI can't face the thought of actually
, in the
of the girls I know really well. And anyway, they wouldn't oblige me by marrying quickly. They'd want a big society affair.' He shuddered. âNot to mention a massive trousseau, and so forth.'
âSo, to be blunt, you want a girl who will take you exactly as you are, and won't demand a big society wedding.'
âYou are looking for a mouse,' put in Morgan. âA mouse so desperate for matrimony she'll take what little you're prepared to offer.'
âThat's it,' he cried, startling the sneer from Morgan's face. âThat would work. Morgan, you are a genius.'
âYou'd better be prepared to accept someone plain, then,' returned Morgan, somewhat taken aback by his enthusiasm for a suggestion he'd made with such sarcasm. âAnd probably poor, as well.'
Havelock leaned back for a moment, considering. âDon't think a plain face would put me off, so long as she's not a complete antidote.'
âJust a moment,' put in Ashe. âThough, for whatever reason, you have decided to marry
, and in such haste, you must not forget the matter of succession. All of us, except perhaps you, Morgan,' he said, giving the nabob's son a dry smile, âhave a duty to marry and produce sons to take over our responsibilities in their turn.'
âPoint taken,' said Havelock before Ashe could state the obvious. It went without saying that he'd have to find someone it wouldn't be too much of a hardship to bed.
âI notice you haven't denied needing a girl with a sizeable dowry,' said Morgan, looking at him through narrowed eyes. âIs that why you need to marry in such a hurry? In need of an heiress, are you?'
At that point Chepstow, who'd got through two drinks to Havelock's one, let out a bark of laughter.
âJust because I'm not one of the dandy set,' said Havelock, self-consciously putting his hand to his neckcloth, which he'd knotted in a haphazard fashion much, much earlier that day, and no doubt looked even further from the apparently effortless elegance attained by the other men about the table, âthat don't mean I haven't a tidy income.'
Morgan eyed the pocket of Havelock's jacket, which had somehow got ripped half off during the course of the day, and then lowered his gaze to his muddied boots, which he hadn't stopped to change after the devastating interview with his lawyers. He'd walked and walked whilst trying to come up with a solution, before he'd noticed he was passing his club, and decided to come in and see if anyone else could come up with any better ideas.
âI don't need a woman to bring anything but herself to the union,' he finished belligerently.
Once again it was Ashe who defused the tension, by summoning the waiter who'd been hovering at a discreet distance, and asking him to fetch ink and paper.
âWhat we need to do, I think, is to make a comprehensive list of exactly what you do need, before we set our minds to the problem of how you may acquire it.'
âThere,' cried Chepstow triumphantly. âDidn't I say that Ashe was the very fellow to help? I'll just...' He half rose from his chair.
Havelock only had to glare at him for a second or two to take the wind out of his sails. A gentleman didn't bail out on his friends when they'd gone to him for help. Havelock had stood by Chepstow every time he'd needed help getting out of a scrape. Now the boot was on the other foot, he expected a similar show of loyalty.
Chepstow subsided into his seat with an air of resignation and, in a hollow voice, asked the waiter, who just then arrived with the writing materials, to bring them another bottle of wine.
âSo,' said Ashe, dipping the pen into the ink, âyou do not require beauty, or wealth, in your prospective bride. But you do require a compliant natureâ'
âA mouse,' repeated Morgan derisively.
Ashe shot him a reproving look over the top of his spectacles.
âUndemanding. And not one of the circle in which you habitually move.'
At Havelock's shudder, Ashe wrote,
not of the upper ten thousand
on his list.
âAny other requirements?' He paused, his hand hovering over the paper.
Havelock frowned as he considered.
âQuite a few, actually. That's what makes it all so damned difficult.' He ran his fingers through his hair, for what felt like the thousandth time that day. Not that it made any difference to the style, or rather lack of it. It was fortunate he wasn't obsessed with his appearance, for his thick, curly hair did whatever it wanted. Impervious to comb, or pomade, the only thing was to keep it short and hope for the best.
âI don't want a woman with
family to speak of,' he said with feeling.
âYou mean...no titled family?' The nabob's son shot him a glance loaded with sympathy. âWouldn't want them looking down on you.'
Before Havelock had a chance to get up, seize the fellow by the throat and give him a shaking, Ashe put in mildly, âMorgan is not aware of how very well connected you are, Havelock. I am sure he meant no insult.'