Authors: Tracy Anne Warren
Praise for the
Princess Brides Romances
Her Highness and the Highlander
“Warren continues her impeccably written Princess Brides trilogy with a thrillingly romantic, intrigue-infused tale of a blue-blooded royal who discovers both her one true love and the inner resources she never imagined she possessed while taking a walk on the wilder side of life.”
“The second installment in this delightful series has just as much charm and joy as every other one of Warren’s novels. A bit of
It Happened One Night
mixed with Scottish atmosphere and engaging characters (including an adorable dog) make this read irresistible.”
“Tracy Anne Warren dazzled me once again. . . . She knows what romance readers enjoy.”
The Princess and the Peer
“The charm of the plotline, innocence of the heroine, and pride of the hero are all classic elements of the genre, and Warren uses them to her advantage.”
“A fairy-tale-like story with characters full of personality, depth, and humanlike qualities . . . a fun adventure for all types of romantics.”
—Once Upon a Romance
Praise for Other Novels
by Tracy Anne Warren
“An exceptionally entertaining Regency historical [that] offers readers a delectable combination of lushly elegant writing and lusciously sensual romance.”
“Warren’s emotionally wrought protagonists are beautifully portrayed.”
“I loved this story! LOVED IT! Warren delivers exactly what I’m looking for in historical romance! Sexy and wildly emotional . . . should be on the top of all historical romance lovers’ to-be-read lists.”
“Warren’s wickedly wonderful and witty romances enchant readers and have made her a shining star.”
“Another fabulous story!
Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed
is definitely remaining on my keeper shelf and is most assuredly one of my picks for a Selected Read.”
—Romance at Heart Magazine
Seduced by His Touch
is one book that I would never part with; it goes on my bookshelf with my other keeper novels, to be brought out and read while waiting for the next masterpiece from this author. Brilliant!”
—Romance Reader at Heart
“A rich book full of elegance, desire, and romance. Tracy Anne Warren sketches a magnificent tale that grasps hold of the reader. . . . This is one impressive read that I will always remember.”
—Coffee Time Romance & More
The Princess Brides Romances
The Princess and the Peer
Her Highness and the Highlander
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014
USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China
A Penguin Random House Company
First published by Signet Select, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Copyright © Tracy Anne Warren, 2013
Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.
SIGNET SELECT and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For my little Christofur
Love you forever
Sincerest thanks to my wonderful editor, Wendy McCurdy, for all her support and also to the team at Penguin and my publishers, Leslie Gelbman, Kara Welsh, and Clare Zion. Deepest appreciation to Helen Breitwieser for our years together and her unwavering belief in my writing and all that the future may hold. And finally to Les, who keeps me going even on the toughest days.
rincess Ariadne of Nordenbourg—a nation that now existed only in memory and history books—took a sip of lemonade as she surveyed the crowded ballroom. Couples whirled past on the dance floor, the waltz being all the rage, especially since it had earned the approval of the powerful Almack’s patronesses half a decade earlier.
But Ariadne wasn’t interested in dancing—at least not unless it furthered her objectives. She had far more important matters on her mind. She was on the hunt, but not for the usual matrimonial prize that most unmarried young ladies pursued during the Season. No, Princess Ariadne prided herself on being anything but ordinary, and for her, the usual social expectations and restrictions held little sway.
After six fruitless Seasons she had decided to give up the notion of searching for a husband. What she sought now was a lover.
Since he would be her first, she needed to be selective. But not just any man would do. And thus, the reason for her hunt.
She remembered her friend Emma’s reaction when she had confided her plans.
Her Highness, Archduchess Emmaline of Wiessenschloss, née Princess Emmaline of Rosewald, had tossed back her head on a rippling laugh, grinning at Ariadne from her place on the sofa in the Lyndhurst House family drawing room. “Arie, you say the most outrageous things. You must lie awake at night trying to dream up ways to surpass your last bon mot.”
But when Ariadne did not join in the laughter, Emma’s smile began to fade. “You are jesting, surely?”
Ariadne calmly gazed at her friend. “No. I am completely serious.”
Emma’s mouth fell open briefly before she snapped it closed again. She laid a hand against her bosom, still ample since the birth of her second child three months earlier. “But you cannot take a lover! You aren’t even married.”
“Nor do I plan to be.”
“Oh, don’t act so shocked. It’s not as if I’ve made a secret of my opinions on marriage and men over the years. I am four-and-twenty and only a few months from coming into my full inheritance. I’ve decided it’s high time I enjoyed myself and found a suitable
“Arie, as much as I sympathize with you about the freedom and rights of women, you cannot pursue this insanity. You will be ruined, utterly and forever. There will be no going back. The scandal alone will rock the very foundations of Society. You will end up becoming notorious.”
“I should certainly hope so,” she told her friend as she studied her elegantly manicured nails with a nonchalant air. “I not only plan to be notorious but the
notorious woman in all of the modern world. Madame de Pompadour will become but a mere cipher when compared to me.”
“Madame de Pompadour was a common harlot who wormed her way into a king’s bed and thus into a position of power. She wasn’t royal. She was not born a princess like you.”
Ariadne waved a dismissive hand. “Have you not yet learned, Emma, that it is not who we are born, but what we make of ourselves that matters most? Everyone remembers and admires Madame de Pompadour, regardless of her origins. I plan to be remembered as well.”
Remembered as my family is now forgotten. Valued for who I am as an individual and not for what I can provide as yet one more lonely pawn in men’s eternal games for wealth and power.
Emma frowned and leaned forward, reaching out a hand. “I do not mean to seem a prude nor a slave to social convention. I understand that you are an intelligent, strong-willed woman who does not wish to be forced into an unwanted relationship. It is only that I do not wish to see you hurt. I know you will find someone to love if only you will keep trying—a man who will respect and cherish you, someone you will want to marry.”
Ariadne met her friend’s blue-eyed gaze and resisted the urge to roll her eyes. They had been over this subject innumerable times before. But after so many fruitless years of waiting for her soul mate to arrive, Ariadne was done looking. Her perfect mate simply did not exist.
Of course, Ariadne knew that Emma had only the best of intentions, as did her other joyfully wedded friend Mercedes. The pair of them were forever extolling the virtues of wedded bliss. But they were the exceptions rather than the rule, and she had come to accept that a happy marriage was just not in the cards for her.
From what she had seen of the world, a happy marriage wasn’t in the cards for most people. For every successful union there were dozens more that were nothing short of ritualized torment, miserable traps designed to enslave women and turn reasonable men into callous brutes.
She’d spent her entire childhood knowing precisely how bad marriage could be, as she witnessed her parents’ constant fights and manipulations, each of them wounding the other to the quick with their never-ending schemes and myriad infidelities.
When she’d been sent to school in Scotland in her teen years, it had been a relief to be away from her family. Little did she know that she would never see her parents again, that war and death would put an end to their acrimony and bitterness once and for all.
As for her cousin Teodor, well, she had stopped dwelling on his betrayal long ago.
Emma wanted her to be sensible and continue trying to make a good match. But the only match she had any interest in making was the kind that promised heated passions and the illicit pleasures of the flesh.
And why should she not indulge? Just because she had given up on marriage didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy men.
Soon she would be a young woman of independent means, free to go where she pleased and to dally with whomever took her fancy. All she needed to do was choose the man, then take care to be discreet.