Read How to Woo a Reluctant Lady Online

Authors: Sabrina Jeffries

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Romance, #Historical

How to Woo a Reluctant Lady

BOOK: How to Woo a Reluctant Lady
ads

“Anyone who loves romance
must read Sabrina Jeffries!”


New York Times
bestselling author Lisa Kleypas

HELLIONS OF HALSTEAD HALL

“Another sparkling series with winning potential”
 (
Library Journal
)
from
New York Times
and
USA Today
bestselling author

SABRINA JEFFRIES

Praise for

THE TRUTH ABOUT
LORD STONEVILLE

“Jeffries pulls out all the stops with a story combining her hallmark humor, poignancy and sensuality to perfection.”


Romantic Times

“The first in a captivating new Regency-set series by the always entertaining Jeffries, this tale has all of the author’s signature elements: delectably witty dialogue, subtly named characters, and scorching sexual chemistry between two perfectly matched protagonists.”


Booklist

“Lively repartee, fast action, luscious sensuality, and an abundance of humor make the first installment of the Hellions of Halstead Hall essential for libraries.”


Library Journal

This title is also available as an eBook


The Truth About Lord Stoneville
has the special brand of wit and passion for which Sabrina Jeffries is recognized, where each enthralling scene will thoroughly capture your imagination.”

—singletitles.com

“Sabrina Jeffries excels in the historical romance genre, and
The Truth About Lord Stoneville
is no exception. . . . Starts another excellent series of books which will alternatively have you laughing, crying, and running the gamut of emotions. . . . Enjoy Oliver’s transformation from unreformed rake to devoted husband, and I guarantee you will have a tear in your eye.”

—Romance Reviews Today

More acclaim for Sabrina Jeffries and the “warm, wickedly witty”
(
Romantic Times
)
novels in her national bestselling series
The School for Heiresses

WED HIM BEFORE
YOU BED HIM

“Includes all the sweet, sexy charm and lively action readers have come to expect, and true love triumphs over all obstacles. . . . Bravo to Jeffries.”


Library Journal

“An enchanting story brimming with touchingly sincere emotions and compelling scenarios. . . . An outstanding love story of emotional discoveries and soaring passions, with a delightful touch of humor plus suspense.”

—singletitles.com

DON’T BARGAIN WITH
THE DEVIL

“The sexual tension crackles across the pages of this witty, deliciously sensual, secret-laden story. . . . Teases readers with hints of the long-awaited final chapter,
Wed Him Before You Bed Him
.”


Library Journal

LET SLEEPING ROGUES LIE

“Consummate storyteller Jeffries pens another title in the School for Heiresses series that is destined to captivate readers with its sensuality and wonderfully enchanting plot.”


Romantic Times
(4 ½ stars)

“Scandal, gossip, greed, and old enmities spice up the pot in this fast-paced sexy romp that bubbles over with Jeffries’s trademark humor and spirit. . . . Sparkling dialogue, stirring sexual chemistry, and an engrossing story.”


Library Journal

BEWARE A SCOT’S REVENGE

“Irresistible. . . . Larger-than-life characters, sprightly dialogue, and a steamy romance will draw you into this delicious captive/captor tale.”


Romantic Times
(Top Pick)

“Exceptionally entertaining and splendidly sexy.”


Booklist

 

Also by Sabrina Jeffries

The Hellions of Halstead Hall Series

The Truth About Lord Stoneville

A Hellion in Her Bed

The School for Heiresses Series

Wed Him Before You Bed Him

Don’t Bargain with the Devil

Snowy Night with a Stranger (with Jane Feather and Julia London)

Let Sleeping Rogues Lie

Beware a Scot’s Revenge

The School for Heiresses (with Julia London, Liz Carlyle and Renee Bernard)

Only a Duke Will Do

Never Seduce a Scoundrel

The Royal Brotherhood Series

One Night with a Prince

To Pleasure a Prince

In the Prince’s Bed

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 © 2011 by Deborah Gonzales

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 February 2011

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

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 design by Lisa Litwack; illustration by Jon Paul; handlettering by Iskra Johnson

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

ISBN 978-1-4391-6755-7
ISBN 978-1-4391-6758-8 (ebook)

To the wonderful people who help take care of
my autistic son when he’s not in school, enabling me to write my books: my wonderful husband, Rene; our longsuffering caregivers Mary, Ben, and Wendell; our wise caseworker, Greta; and our always helpful agency liaison, Melissa. Thanks so much, all of you, for what you do!

 

Dear Readers,

I do not mean to complain, but I have reached the end of my tether with my eldest granddaughter, Minerva. She insists upon writing her gothic novels under her real name! She does it just to shock, without caring one whit that she is also shocking all her potential suitors.

Oh, I know that she
says
she does not wish to marry, but that is pure poppycock. I see how enviously she watches her newly married brothers when they are not looking. Although she is a trifle opinionated, she would still make some gentleman a good wife . . . and life would never be boring with Minerva.

But does she encourage this? No. Instead she writes about blood and villains and death. Perhaps I should find some dastardly spy to carry her off to a moldering castle. That might actually appeal to the chit, though it could give Gabe and Celia the wrong ideas about marriage.

Minerva’s latest scheme is to interview gentlemen as potential husbands, for which purpose she
advertised in a ladies’ magazine
! Clearly she only did that to try my hand, but she is in for a surprise. I am not budging in my resolve, no matter how many suitors find their way to our door.

I
am
a bit alarmed, however, that Mr. Giles Masters answered her advertisement. He seems bent on having her . . . and he is the only man I have ever seen her respond to with anything
more than indifference. A pity that he is such a rascal, as her brothers have told me countless times.

Then again, my grandsons were thorough rascals until they married. Is it possible that Mr. Masters is cut of the same cloth? I do hope so for Minerva’s sake, because she certainly seems fascinated by him. I wonder if he has a moldering castle somewhere. That might just do the trick!

I shall have to monitor this situation very closely, but one way or the other, I mean to see my granddaughter happily married. Even if it ends up being to a rascal!

Yours truly,
Hetty

Prologue

Halstead Hall, Ealing
1806

There were bugs on the boxwood leaves. Mama would be cross with the gardener.

Then tears flooded nine-year-old Minerva’s eyes. No, Mama
couldn’t
be cross. She was in that horrible casket in the chapel. Next to the one with Papa in it.

Huddled inside the maze, Minerva fought hard not to cry. Someone might hear her, and she couldn’t let anyone find her.

A voice drifted through the hedges. “How could the girl disappear so quickly?”

That was Desmond Plumtree, Mama’s first cousin.

“This funeral is a travesty,” his wife, Bertha, complained from very near her hiding place. “Not that I blame Prudence for shooting the whoring fellow. But to kill herself? Your Aunt Hetty should be grateful that the jury found Pru
non compos mentis.
Otherwise the Crown would be carting off the family’s assets this very minute.”

Shrinking beneath the hedge, Minerva prayed they didn’t come around the corner and see her.

“Well, they couldn’t find her anything else,” Desmond said. “She clearly
wasn’t
in her right mind.”

Minerva practically bit her tongue in half to keep from protesting. It had been an accident—an awful accident. Gran had said so.

“I suppose that’s why your aunt wants the children at the service,” Cousin Bertha said, “to show people she doesn’t care what they say about her daughter.”

Cousin Desmond snorted. “Actually, Aunt Hetty has some notion that the brats should say good-bye in person. Cursed woman never has a problem with flouting society when it suits her, no matter what it means for the rest of . . .”

As the voices moved away, Minerva scooted out of her hiding place to flee in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, when she darted around the corner of the maze, she ran right into a gentleman. She tried to scurry away, but the man caught her.

“Hold on now, moppet,” he cried as he struggled to restrain her. “I’m not going to hurt you. Be still, I say!”

She was on the verge of biting him when she caught sight of who it was—her brothers’ eighteen-year-old friend Giles Masters, who’d come for the funeral with his family. Cousin Desmond had wanted to keep the gathering small, on account of the scandal, but Gran had said that the children needed their friends at a time like this.

Perhaps since he wasn’t family, Minerva could convince him to help her. “Please let me go!” she begged. “And don’t tell anyone I’m here!”

“But everyone is waiting on you so they can start the service.”

She dropped her eyes, embarrassed by her cowardice. “I can’t go in there. I read what the paper said about . . . about . . . you know.”
Mama shooting Papa and then herself.
Her voice rose into hysteria. “I can’t bear to see Mama with a hole in her chest
and Papa with . . . with . . .”
No face.
The very thought made her tremble again.

“Ah.” He squatted down. “You think they’ll be lying in the casket exactly as they were found.”

She bobbed her head.

“You needn’t worry about that, dear girl,” he said gently. “Your father’s casket is closed, and they’ve made your mother look pretty again. You won’t see the hole in her chest, I swear. There’s nothing to fear.”

She chewed on her lower lip, not sure if she should believe him. Sometimes her older brothers tried to trick her to get her to behave. And Gran always said Mr. Masters was a devilish scoundrel. “I don’t know, Mr. Masters—”

“Giles. We’re friends, aren’t we?”

“I-I suppose.”

“How about this?” he went on. “If you come with me into the chapel, I’ll hold your hand for the service. Whenever you get frightened, you can squeeze mine as hard as you like.”

Gathering her courage, she gazed into his face. He had kind eyes the color of forget-me-nots. Honest eyes, like Gran’s.

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