Read Much Ado About Marriage Online

Authors: Karen Hawkins

Tags: #Romance - Historical, #American Light Romantic Fiction, #General, #Romance, #Fiction, #Fiction - Romance, #Romance: Historical, #Historical, #American Historical Fiction, #Graphic novels: Manga

Much Ado About Marriage

To his surprise, she melted into his arms.

“You’re quite strong for a Sassenach,” Fia murmured.

Thomas tried to ignore the sensations her warm body ignited in his own.
Sweet Jesu, she is a snug armful
.

“Och, I think . . .” Her breath was ragged, her gaze fixed on his mouth. “I think you mean to kiss me.” Her lips parted, and the edge of her tongue moved slowly across the fullness of the lower one.

It was almost more than he could stand; the stirring of excitement grew stronger yet.
She should be terrified, damn it
.

Instead, she tilted her face to his as if to accept a kiss he’d not thought to offer. He knew he should try to scare her more, to frighten her into submission, for there was far more at stake here than the desires of a Scottish wench.

He should have.

But he didn’t.

All he could think about was the promise of Fia’s lips, the warmth of her in his arms, and the delicate fragrance of heather that drifted from her hair.

Turn the page for rave reviews of Karen Hawkins . . .

Much Ado About Marriage is also available as an eBook

 

Praise for
KAREN HAWKINS

“Always funny and sexy, a Karen Hawkins book is a sure delight!”

—Victoria Alexander

“Karen Hawkins writes fast, fun, and sexy stories that are a perfect read for a rainy day, a sunny day, or any day at all!”

—Christina Dodd

“Karen Hawkins will make you laugh and touch your heart.”

—Rachel Gibson

. . . and her sparkling historical romances featuring the MacLeans

THE LAIRD WHO LOVED ME

“Readers who met Caitlyn in
Sleepless in Scotland
will applaud her return. . . . The story is filled with biting repartee, humor, and sexual tension that will keep you turning the pages with glee.”


Romantic Times
(4½ stars, Top Pick)

“Delightful in every way.”

—Reader to Reader

SLEEPLESS IN SCOTLAND

“Amusing yet profound . . . Readers will be sleepless in America due to a one-sitting enjoyable time.”

—Harriet Klausner

“Delightfully humorous, poignant, and highly satisfying novels: that’s what Hawkins always delivers.”


Romantic Times
(4½ stars)

TO CATCH A HIGHLANDER

“Love and laughter, poignancy and emotional intensity, endearing characters, and a charming plot, are the ingredients in Hawkins’s utterly delightful tale.”


Romantic Times

“Karen Hawkins’s best book to date! Fast, sensual, and brilliant, it tantalizes and pleases all in the same breath. . . . This is romance at its best!”

—Romance and More

TO SCOTLAND, WITH LOVE

“Hawkins brings another hardheaded MacLean brother and a sassy miss together in a sensual battle of the sexes. Her humor, intelligent characters, and story are simply delightful.”


Romantic Times

HOW TO ABDUCT A HIGHLAND LORD

“Hawkins takes a fiery Scot lass and a wastrel lord and puts them together in a match made in, well, not heaven, but one that’s heated, exciting, and touching. Hawkins excels at taking tried-and-true plotlines and turning them into fresh, vibrant books.”


Romantic Times

“In
How to Abduct a Highland Lord
, the characters are as wonderful as the story. . . . [It] is laced with passion and drama, and with its wonderfully romantic and thrilling ending, it’s a story you don’t want to miss!”

—Joyfully Reviewed

 

Also by Karen Hawkins

The MacLean Series

How to Abduct a Highland Lord
To Scotland, With Love
To Catch a Highlander
Sleepless in Scotland
The Laird Who Loved Me

Contemporary Romance

Talk of the Town
Lois Lane Tells All

Available from Pocket Books

The sale of this book without its cover is unauthorized. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that it was reported to the publisher as “unsold and destroyed.” Neither the author nor the publisher has received payment for the sale of this “stripped book.”

Pocket Star Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2000, 2010 by Karen Hawkins

Originally published in different form in 2000 by Love Spell as
One Lucky Lord
by Kim Bennett

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department,
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Pocket Star Books paperback edition September 2010

POCKET STAR BOOKS and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or [email protected]

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to
your live event. For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at
www.simonspeakers.com
.

Cover illustration by Craig White, hand lettering by Ron Zinn.

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

ISBN: 978-1-4391-8760-9
ISBN: 978-1-4391-8762-3 (ebook)

Acknowledgments

I would like to dedicate this book to Hugh Jackman,
who inspires each and every one of my heroes.
(Hugh, if you’re reading this, call me!)

 

Dear Reader,

Congratulations, you have found my secret book!
Much Ado About Marriage
is the first book I wrote, but like many first books, it was hard to sell. Various publishers said it was set in a difficult time period (Elizabethan Scotland and England), was too long (126,000 words), or didn’t have enough conflict (which is Very Bad).

By the time I figured out how to correct the book, I’d already sold the next book,
The Abduction of Julia
, which was a Regency set historical. The book did very well and my publisher asked for more books set in that time period.

This left
Much Ado About Marriage
languishing in a box under my bed. Later, on a whim, I sold the book to a different publisher on the condition that it would be printed under another name. It came out with very little fanfare, sold fairly well, and then disappeared. I regained the rights some years later. After that, the book was once again relegated to a box under my bed.

Last year, as I wrote the MacLean Curse series and developed the idea for the Hurst Amulet series, it dawned on me that
Much Ado About Marriage
could be rewritten as a prequel for both series. And so I set to work.

The book is now quite different from the original in many ways. However, I worked hard to leave my heroine’s unique spirit intact. Fia MacLean is one of my favorite heroines and I hope you feel the same way about her after you’ve read her story,
Much Ado About Marriage
.

Thank you for reading my lost book!

Love and laughter,
Karen Hawkins

Chapter One

Duart Castle

Isle of Mull, Scotland

May 2, 1567

It was one thing to fall—it was quite another to be shoved from the ledge of a second-story window.

Thomas Wentworth landed flat on his back with an ominous thud, his head saved from the rocky ground by a thick patch of herbs. Light exploded before his eyes as the breath left his body in a whoosh, and blessed blackness beckoned.

For several long moments, he fought for breath. Just as sweet air swept in to reassure him that he wasn’t dead, a lilting voice exclaimed softly, “Och, I’ve killed him!”

Low and husky, the voice flowed over him as rich as sweet cream. The grass rustled as someone knelt beside him. “I’m cursed for certain,” she murmured. “’Tis an ill omen to kill the finest man you’ve ever seen.”

The luscious voice demanded his attention. Wincing, Thomas forced his eyes open and focused on the figure kneeling above him.

“Blessed Mother Mary, you’re alive!” She smoothed the hair from his forehead with a feather-soft touch.

The moon made a nimbus around the thickest cloud of hair he had ever seen. Luminous in the moonlight, her hair streamed in waves and curls, frothing in abandon across her shoulders.

The end of one persistent curl brushed his ear and he weakly swatted it. “Aye, I live,” he muttered, struggling to rise.

Before he could do more than lift his shoulders, the wench pressed him back to the ground. “Don’t get up ’til we’ve certain you’ve no injuries.” Warm hands slid lightly over his arms and legs.

He caught her wrists and pushed her away, the rough wool of her sleeves telling him her position within the castle was menial. He forced his aching body upright. “Leave me be,” he growled unsteadily. “I am well.”

There was a long pause and then she said, “You’re a Sassenach.” A faint note of accusation hung in the air.

Thomas silently cursed. His throbbing head had made him forget to disguise his voice with a Scottish accent.

“You, sirrah, are no simple thief.” She brushed a hand over his shirt. “Your clothing is too fine.”

A flicker of annoyance increased his headache. He had chosen his dark garments with the utmost care to blend with the shadows should anything go awry.

The thought brought a twisted smile. In truth, little had gone right with this venture. From the second he’d crossed into Scottish waters, the famous Wentworth luck had been tested to the breaking point.

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