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The Perfect Bride
Cover of The Perfect Bride
The Perfect Bride
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A childhood trauma has left Lady Blanche Harrington incapable of all emotion, least of all love. Now circumstance demands she marry, and Blanche dreads choosing from her horde of fawning suitors. For one very eligible gentleman has not stepped forward....

A war hero and a recluse, Rex de Warenne has long admired Lady Blanche. Though fate and his own dark nature have robbed him of any hope for the kind of future such a lady deserves, Rex is determined to aid her--and keep his feelings to himself. But when their growing friendship leads to a night of shocking passion, Blanche's newfound memories threaten their fragile love...and Blanche's very life.

A childhood trauma has left Lady Blanche Harrington incapable of all emotion, least of all love. Now circumstance demands she marry, and Blanche dreads choosing from her horde of fawning suitors. For one very eligible gentleman has not stepped forward....

A war hero and a recluse, Rex de Warenne has long admired Lady Blanche. Though fate and his own dark nature have robbed him of any hope for the kind of future such a lady deserves, Rex is determined to aid her--and keep his feelings to himself. But when their growing friendship leads to a night of shocking passion, Blanche's newfound memories threaten their fragile love...and Blanche's very life.

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    March, 1822


    TWO HUNDRED and twenty-eight suitors, she thought. Dear God, how would she ever manage, much less choose?

    Blanche Harrington stood alone by one of the oversized windows in a small salon, outside the vast room where soon, the invasion of callers would begin. Just that morning, the black draperies that indicated she remained in mourning had come down. She had avoided marriage for eight years, but even she knew that with her father's death, she needed a husband to help her manage his considerable and complicated fortune.

    But she dreaded the deluge--just as she dreaded the future. Her best friend swept dramatically into the salon. "Blanche, darling, there you are! We are about to open the front doors!" she cried enthusiastically.

    Blanche stared out of the window at the circular front drive. Her father had been awarded his title as viscount many years ago, having made an impossible fortune in manufacturing. It was so long ago that no one considered them nouveau riche. Blanche had never known any other life than one of wealth, privilege and splendor. She was one of the empire's greatest heiresses, but her father had allowed her to break off an engagement eight years ago, and although he had never stopped introducing her to suitors, he had wanted her to marry for love. It was an absurd notion, of course.

    Not because no one married for love. It was absurd because Blanche knew she was incapable of falling in love.

    But she would marry, because although Harrington had passed too swiftly to have verbalized a dying wish--he had been suddenly stricken with pneumonia--Blanche knew he wanted nothing more than to see her securely wed to an honorable gentleman.

    Three dozen carriages littered her beautiful drive. There had been five hundred condolence calls six months ago. Of the cards left, 228 had belonged to eligible bachelors. Blanche was dismayed but resolved. How many of them were not fortune-hunting rogues? As she had long ago given up on ever loving any man, her intention now was to find one sensible, decent, noble man in the lot.

    "Oh dear." Bess Waverly came up beside her. "You are brooding--I know you better than you know yourself--we have been friends since we were nine years old! Please do not tell me you wish to send everyone away when I have announced your period of mourning to be over. Is there a point in mourning for another six months? You will only delay the inevitable."

    Blanche looked at her best friend. They were as different as night and day, and that was one of the reasons she loved her so--and vice versa. Bess was dramatic, vivacious and sultry-- she was on her second husband and her twentieth lover, at least--and she made no pretense of the fact that she enjoyed every aspect of life, and that included as much passion as possible. Blanche was almost twenty-eight years old, she had chosen not to marry until now, and she remained a virgin. She found life pleasing enough--she enjoyed walks in the park, shopping and teas, the opera and balls. But she had not a clue as to what passion was, or how it felt, not in any shape or form.

    Her heart was entirely defective. It beat, but refused to entertain any extremes of emotion.

    The sun was yellow, never gold. A comedy was amusing, never hilarious. Chocolate was sweet, but easily passed up. A buck might be handsome, but no one could take her breath away. She had never, not once in her entire life, wanted to be kissed.

    Long ago she had realized she would never have the passion for life that a woman was supposed to have. But other women hadn't lost their mother in a riot at the tender age of six. She had been with her...

About the Author-
  • Brenda Joyce is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels and novellas, including the popular and critically acclaimed de Warenne Dynasty Saga, a series of novels set in Regency and Victorian England. She lives on a ranch in Arizona with her dogs, broodmares and the year's current crop of foals. If she isn't on the back of a reining horse, she can be found madly at work in her office, penning her latest romance novel.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 25, 2007
    Joyce's seventh de Warenne novel is another first-rate Regency, featuring multidimensional protagonists and sweeping drama. Six months after the death of her father, Lady Blanche Harrington must seek a husband to help manage her vast fortunes. It's an unfortunate but necessary duty for the chilly Blanche, who's carefully controlled all emotions since the death of her mother two decades earlier. As Blanche travels to her late father's estate in Cornwall, she makes an ill-timed appearance at the home of a former suitor's brother, Sir Rex de Warenne, catching him in a compromising (but strangely enticing) position with the maid. The attraction between the self-loathing Rex and self-denying Blanche is vivid and believable, developing gradually under the watch of Rex's bitter former lover. When Blanche's repressed memories of her mother's death begin to resurface, a tumultuous chain of events threatens the couple's love and possibly Blanche's life. Entirely fluff-free, Joyce's tight plot and vivid cast combine for a romance that's just about perfect.

  • Booklist

    July 1, 2007
    Joyce continues her alluringdeWarenne Dynasty series (A Lady at Last, 2006)with the story ofRex deWarenne, a virtual recluse at his estate in Cornwall after losing a leg in the Napoleonic Wars. After her fathers death, Blanche knows she must get married, but she believes she is damaged. Shehas no strong feelings, and, while sheappears peaceful and serene, she is dismayedby herindifference to the suitors lined up at her door. Her friend suggests a trip to Cornwall, suspecting that Blanche is denyingher interest in the one man whoneeds to marry an heiress but hasnt shown up to ask for her hand: Rex deWarenne. Although hisdark, brooding nature would alarmmost ladies, he bringsBlanches feelings to life. But with an open heart comes long suppressed memories of atraumatic event. Blanche soon thinks shes going mad. Truly a stirring story with wonderfully etched characters, Joyces latest isRegency romance at its best.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2007, American Library Association.)

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