Adrienne Basso's THE WEDDING DECEPTION
Adrienne Basso's THE WEDDING DECEPTION
Discover Adrienne Basso's seductive tale of scandal, trickery, and true love—as a gentleman convinced reputation means everything risks his good name for a most unexpected, unconventional bride...
THE WEDDING DECEPTION
Publisher: Zebra Books
Puplication Date: June 1, 2005 (ebook)
Publication Date: June 1, 2005 (mass market paperback)
Marry In Haste
Marriages come in all shapes and sizes, particularly marriages of convenience. Take Claire Barrington's situation: She needed protection from the advances of a local squire, while her dashing new husband Jay needed a wife to shield him from busybody matchmakers. It's a perfect plan...until it goes perfectly awry. For when Claire makes an unexpected visit to her husband's London home, the man she meets is not the man she married--although the brooding look-alike is just as attractive, if not more so...
Relent At Leisure
A stunned Jasper Barrington greets his "wife" and has no idea who she is. Her timing couldn't be worse: he is about to announce his engagement to another, yet Claire has documents to prove their union is legal. Then the truth dawns: It was his twin brother, Jason, who married the girl, using his name. And Jasper now has a wife, a fiancé, and the devil of a problem. For the unwittingly seductive Claire is proving more than a disruption to his carefully-laid plans--she's quickly becoming a wholly pleasurable distraction...
London, England - 1817
"Do you wish to ask me anything else?" Claire asked quietly when the stretch of silence had nearly driven her mad.
"What?" Lord Fairhurst, who had begun pacing back and forth across the room, turned his head sharply. "No, I believe I have heard more than enough."
Claire gazed at him, not knowing what else to say. Her limbs, nay her entire body, felt exhausted. She approached the nearest chair, but before she could collapse into it, Lord Fairhurst spoke.
"I must commend you, Madame. That was a most inspired, melodramatic performance. Claiming to be my wife was a bit over the top, but I suspect whomever hired you insisted upon it."
"Alas, you gave yourself away when you stated my full name. Only my close friends and family refer to me as Lord Fairhurst. The rest of society knows me as Viscount Fairhurst."
Claire awkwardly cleared her throat. "I do not understand-"
"Yes, yes I've heard all that before," he replied impatiently. "The sweet, innocent, confused country bride. You do that part rather well. However, the joke is done and now you must depart. I promise I shall give a full accounting of this event to whomever contracted you to enact this little farce and assure them it was a stellar performance. Perhaps they will reward you with a bonus."
Claire felt the blood rush to her head. It warmed her cheeks and made her temples throb. She took a step back and grasped the edge of the chair to steady herself. The doubt niggling in the back of her mind that had been insisting all the while that something was terrible wrong had now rapidly developed into full-blown panic.
She gazed at Lord Fairhurst from his head to his foot, observing him with a critical eye. His hair was shorter and more conservatively styled; his face was slightly fuller. Yet the barely noticeable bump on the bridge of his nose was visible, as was the small indentation in the center of his chin.
His clothes were expertly tailored and fitted, as usual, though a bit more formal and somber in color. It was to be expected that in this elegant environment he wielded a much stronger quality of power and authority, but there were no other obvious physical changes to his customary handsome appearance.
Puzzled, she took a few steps forward, and as she drew closer, a strange and totally unexpected thing occurred. Claire felt a rush of pure physical awareness shoot downward through her breast and abdomen. Her heart began to flutter, and for an instant she was robbed of breath.
She had always appreciated Jay's handsome looks. Blond hair, heavily lashed green eyes, a classic square jaw, and a straight, bold nose. He was big and solid and masculine, and even though he could not seem to help his flirtatious and suggestive manner, she had never before reacted to his potent masculine charm in such a primitive, female way.
The Jay she knew made her feel safe, protected. It was the main reason she had agreed to marry him. Yet, somehow being with him in these rich surroundings made her heartbeat quicken and made her feel the most unusual and unexpected craving.
How was that possible?
"If you are through ogling me so shamelessly, Madame, I suggest you take your leave. My patience, a limited virtue in the best of circumstances, has quite vanished." He stalked purposefully to the door and yanked it open. "I have guests arriving in a few hours for a most important dinner party and announcement. I need to start dressing."
The sound of that deep, rich familiar male baritone voice effectively cut through her wool-gathering. Claire slowly turned her head and felt a surge of dread push through her entire body. She knew she had come to the right address, to the right house. There could be no question as to the identity of this man. She knew he was in truth Lord Fairhurst.
And, yet, for some absurd and inexplicable reason, Claire also knew that although he looked and moved and sounded exactly like the gentleman who had stood beside her in the village church and pledged his vows of matrimony, this noble, arrogant, impeccably groomed man was most definitely and quite amazingly not her husband.