Lord Freddie's First Love

Lord Freddie's First Love

Patricia Bray

Patricia Bray

A viscount is enraptured—but gossips might get in the way of romance—in this Regency tale by an author acclaimed for "absorbing storytelling" (Booklist). Despite having proposed to more than a dozen women, Viscount Frederick remains one of London's most eligible bachelors. The debutantes simply don't find him dashing enough for their tastes. His pride stinging from his latest rejection, Freddie leaves London for his country estate. After six years abroad, Anne Webster has returned to New Biddeford with a child at her side—a child whose unruly red hair and mischievous green eyes leave society gossips quite sure of the identity of his mother. Though five-year-old Ian is really Anne's nephew, nothing could quiet the scandal or erase the stigma once the ton started talking. Anne's childhood companion, Viscount Frederick, was the only person to offer friendship—and then, a rapturous love. But how could Anne allow...
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An Unlikely Alliance

An Unlikely Alliance

Patricia Bray

Patricia Bray

At a glance, Lord Kerrigan could see "Mademoiselle Magda" was a cardsharp. But when the gypsy fortune teller accurately predicted the defeat of his prize racehorse, his noble visage darkened. For Kerrigan knew the race had been fixed--but not by whom. The cheating wench must know the London underworld, and he vowed to make her route to revenge. If he could just withstand the temptation of her luscious attributes!  
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Devlin's Honor

Devlin's Honor

Patricia Bray

Patricia Bray

Devlin of Duncaer is the Chosen One, champion of the Kingdom of Jorsk. A simple metalsmith and farmer turned warrior, he has become the most unlikely of heroes to the conquerors of his own people, the Caerfolk. Yet there is a growing faction of Jorskians who believe that if he were truly anointed as Chosen One by the Gods, then the immortals would have given him the Sword of Light as proof of his calling.Missing for generations, the sword is more myth than reality. But Devlin knows where to find it. Lost in battle after the Jorskians’ brutal massacre of Caerfolk, it has remained in Duncaer, a souvenir of one of the land’s darkest days.Feeling more than ever a pawn of fate—and a plaything of the Gods who drive him—Devlin must return to the land of his birth, back to the people who have denounced him. For he is bound by an oath he has no choice but to obey...a promise he may have to die to keep.About the AuthorPatricia Bray inherited her love of books from her parents, both of whom were fine storytellers in the Irish tradition. She has always enjoyed spinning tales, and turned to writing as a chance to share her stories with a wider audience. Patricia holds a master's degree in Information Technology, and combines her writing witha a full-time career as an I/T Project Manager. Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.Chapter OneDevlin of Duncaer, Chosen One of the Gods, Defender of the Realm, Personal Champion of King Olafur, King's councilor, and General of the Royal Army, muttered to himself as he strode through the corridors of the palace. The few folk who saw him took one look at his face and discovered urgent business elsewhere. It was not just his appearance that gave them pause, though his green eyes and black hair--now streaked with white--marked him as a stranger here: the first of the Caerfolk to enter into the service of their conquerors. Rather it was his reputation they fled, for it was well-known that the Chosen One had little patience for fools, and his power made him an enemy few wished to have.As Devlin reached the chambers that served as his offices, the guard on duty took one look at his face and swiftly opened the door, forgoing the formal salute. Devlin slammed the door shut behind him.Lieutenant Didrik looked up from his papers. "The council meeting went as expected?"Nearly four months ago, when Devlin had been named General of the Army, Lieutenant Didrik had been detached from the City Guard to serve as Devlin's aide. Some thought the lieutenant too young for the task, but his age was offset by his proven loyalty and friendship. And Lieutenant Didrik knew him well enough to know when Devlin was truly angry and when he was merely frustrated, as now."The council sits and talks and does nothing," Devlin said, unbuttoning the stiff collar of his court uniform. "And the folk in the palace flee like frightened sheep whenever they catch a glimpse of me."Lieutenant Didrik nodded. "It would be easier to convince them you were tame if you did not growl.""I do not growl.""Yes, you do."Devlin gave a wordless snarl and began to pace the small confines of the outer office. Lieutenant Didrik remained seated, his eyes following Devlin's restless movements.Devlin paced in silence for a moment as he tried to shake off the frustration of that afternoon's council session. Four hours, and little enough to show for it. He was not made for such. In his past he had labored as a metalsmith and a farmer. Both were hard trades, but each carried the reward of being able to see the fruits of his labors. But now the Fates had conspired to turn Devlin into a politician. No one knew better than he how ill suited he was for the task. Court politics was about compromises and alliances, jockeying for influence and trading favors. It took skill to navigate the treacherous waters of the court, and time to get anything accomplished. Time they did not have.Worse, Devlin's voice was but one of sixteen, and no matter whether he whispered or shouted, he could not bend the council to his will. Instead he had to reason, cajole, flatter, and bargain, and try to be content with the smallest of victories.Such as the victory he had achieved today. "There is some news," he said, dropping into a wooden chair across from Lieutenant Didrik's desk. "The council approved the proposal for recruiting trained armsmen. Word is to be sent to all the provinces at once. With luck we should have a hundred before the snows, and perhaps a thousand by springtime."Lieutenant Didrik leaned back and smiled. "That is excellent news. Why did you not say so at once?""Because it is a victory, but at a cost. I had to agree not to urge the King to train the common folk who live in the danger zones," Devlin said, running the fingers of his good hand through his short-cropped hair. He was still not convinced that he had done the right thing, and yet there had seemed no other choice. Even those councilors who normally supported him had been united in their opposition to his proposal that the common folk receive weapons training, as was the custom in his homeland. To Devlin it was simple logic: make use of the people that had the most to lose in an invasion; teach them to be effective fighters rather than see them slaughtered.But the councilors' concerns were not for the present dangers but for their future power. A peasantry that was trained in the arts of warfare would be far harder to control. The common folk might even take it into their heads to rise up against those they perceived as unjust. Devlin acknowledged the risk, but had argued that those who ruled wisely had nothing to fear. His words had fallen on deaf ears."Perhaps there will be no need. Since Major Mikkelson and his troops repelled the landing force in Korinth, there has been little trouble along the borders. It may be that the worst is over," Lieutenant Didrik said.Devlin shook his head. "I do not believe our enemies will give up so easily."They were still not even sure who their true enemy was. The invaders in Korinth had been a mercenary troop, in the pay of someone they could not even name. It was only chance that had led Devlin to discover the plot in time to repel the invasion. The Royal Army had made short work of the would-be invaders, but Devlin knew better than to suppose that this was the end of the threat.Yet where would the enemy attack next? Devlin and his advisors had wracked their brains trying to divine the strategy behind the enemy's seemingly random attacks. Without knowing whom they were facing, they were reduced to guessing.The trouble was that Jorsk had grown into an empire whose very size made it difficult to defend. The Royal Army could not be everywhere at once. Devlin had to deploy his troops carefully, which was why he had proposed arming the common folk to serve as a first line of defense."The armsmen will help," Lieutenant Didrik said."Aye. Draw up a list of those provinces most in need and a plan to allocate the armsmen. I will want to see it tomorrow." He closed his eyes and leaned his head back. The council sessions wearied him in a way that hard labor never could, for it was an exhaustion born of frustration and a sense of his own inadequacies. "Anyone would make a better councilor than I.""Do not speak such folly," Lieutenant Didrik said. "Without you, the soldiers would have sat idly in their garrison rather than meeting the invaders on the shores of Korinth. And you were the one who sent the Royal Army out to patrol the highways and survey the border fortifications."Comforting words. But such actions were only a fraction of what Devlin had hoped to accomplish when he had accepted his position. Then he had been sure that with the King's backing he could set this Kingdom to rights. But he had not counted on the numbing effects of court politics, or that his influence would wane as memories of his heroism faded.Now he was left to struggle as best he could. A lesser man might have given up hope, but Devlin was the Chosen One, bound by Geas to serve the Kingdom as long as breath remained in his body. He could not conceive of surrender. He would not rest until he had fulfilled his promise and made this Kingdom safe.The last chords faded away into silence, and Stephen lifted his hands from the harp strings. A scattering of applause broke out from the assembled guests, and Stephen felt a warm rush of pleasure as he bowed his head, acknowledging their praise.It was seldom these days that he had a chance to play for an appreciative audience. Not that he was lacking in offers. Quite the contrary. If he accepted only half the invitations that came his way, he could have filled every night and most of his days. It had taken a while for him to realize that the invitations were proffered not in appreciation of his musical skill, but rather because of his well-known friendship with the Chosen One.At least tonight he need have no such fears. Soren Tyrvald was not a member of the court, but a wealthy wine merchant. On several occasions over the past two years Stephen had played for him, entertaining his guests. Tonight was just another such gathering.Stephen caught his host's eye. Merchant Tyrvald nodded, then rose and signaled to the servants standing in the back of the room, who began circulating among the two dozen assembled guests, offering chilled wines and sweet pastries. During the interval the guests would refresh themselves, giving Stephen a chance to rest before the second half of his performance.Stephen bent his head down to the harp, plucking lightly at the strings as he retuned them. The old harp was a lovely instrument, but the worn pegs meant it couldn't stay in tune for more than an hour."A delightful performance," Merchant Tyrvald said.Stephen lifted his head, startled. He had not heard the man approach.Setting the harp back on its base, he rose to his feet and gave a short bow. "Your praise honors me, Merchant Tyrvald."The man smiled, his round face and bald pate giving him the appearance of an indulgent uncle rather than the shrewd trader that his reputation held him to be. "Please, I have told you before. I am Soren to my friends."Stephen inclined his head but said nothing. It was a fine line he trod. Stephen, son of Lord Brynjolf, Baron of Esker, could well address a wealthy merchant as an equal. Stephen of Esker, the as-yet-undistinguished minstrel, could not afford such familiarity."Come, walk with me a moment," Merchant Tyrvald said. He took Stephen's arm and led him in a circular path around the drawing room, nodding and smiling in acknowledgment of his guests. "The tune you played at the end, that was a new one, was it not?""Yes," Stephen said, feeling absurdly pleased that Merchant Tyrvald had been paying such careful attention. "It is a new composition I am crafting."Stephen had composed songs before, writing lyrics, then setting them to music. This time it was the melody that had come to him. He had tried in vain to find words to fit the haunting tune, ...
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The Wrong Mr. Wright

The Wrong Mr. Wright

Patricia Bray

Patricia Bray

A young lady is caught between two brothers—one devilish, one dutiful . . . Diana Somerville never imagined that her first London season would end so disastrously or ruin her reputation so completely. When George Wright, the rakehell who compromised her, refuses to come up to scratch at the altar, Stephen Wright, Viscount of Endicott—said rakehell's older half-brother—proposes to do the honorable thing and marry her himself. Their engagement is announced, and Diana returns to London, where she is soon swept up in the gaiety of the season. To her surprise, she finds herself drawn to the reserved Lord Endicott, who is so unlike his dashing brother. But her newfound happiness is threatened when George returns to London, and begins courting her in earnest, trying to win her back . . . This delightful love story set in Regency England comes from author praised for "absorbing storytelling" (Booklist) and "richly...
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A Most Suitable Duchess

A Most Suitable Duchess

Patricia Bray

Patricia Bray

"[H]ooks us with absorbing storytelling." —BOOKLISTMarcus Heywood, the new Duke of Torringford, must take a wife in three weeks or lose the country estate he's unexpectedly inherited. His brother, Reginald, suggests an advertisement in the papers, something Marcus refuses to consider—until a wine-fueled evening when he pens one in jest. Now, in a horrible mix-up, the ad has been printed and Marcus is mortified.At all of twenty-one years, Penelope's spinsterhood seems confirmed; she'll never find a man she can marry. But her half-brother thinks otherwise, and without her knowledge, he answers the Duke of Torringford's advertisement for a wife and signs her name to it. When an announcement of her upcoming wedding to the Duke appears in the papers, Penelope knows she must take her place as his wife, or her honor will be ruined. But it will be a marriage in name only, that she's sure of; until the handsome good looks and warm smile of her new husband make her...
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The Irish Earl

The Irish Earl

Patricia Bray

Patricia Bray

"[H]ooks us with absorbing storytelling." —BOOKLISTRich and beautiful, Lady Felicity Winterbourne has traveled the world, seeking only a home of her own. While there are many gentlemen eager to oblige her, she knows that their ardor has more to do with her lavish dowry than true affection. When she meets Gerald FitzDesmond, Earl of Kilgarvan, his tales of his ramshackle Irish estate seize her imagination. Felicity abandons decorum and proposes a marriage of convenience—with the proviso, lest Gerald prove a fortune-hunter, that she hold the purse strings! His dark looks and roguish charm, however, soon complicate her most practical action with the dizziest of desires.
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A London Season

A London Season

Patricia Bray

Patricia Bray

A tale of a rake, an impoverished country girl, and a miraculous makeover—by an author praised for her "richly realized characters" (RT Book Reviews). Caring for eight siblings and burdened by a bankrupt estate, Jane Segwick happily accepts her aunt's invitation to the festive London Season. This could be her chance to find a wealthy husband and get the entire family out of debt . . . But the upper crust of London bristles at Jane's blunt country ways—with one exception: Lord Glendale. The handsome lord, not in the market for a wife, finds himself amused by Jane's frank manner and he wagers that—within the month—even provincial Jane can be brought into fashion. His plan succeeds only too well, as Jane blossoms into the most popular young lady of the season. Now will Lord Glendale relinquish Jane to her newfound admirers? Or will he take the biggest gamble of all—and risk his heart in a...
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Devlin's Luck

Devlin's Luck

Patricia Bray

Patricia Bray

The once mighty kingdom of Jorsk is in decline, its borders beset by enemies, both worldly and otherworldly. The king has retreated to the capital, abandoning the far-flung provinces. The only hope of the people lies in their Chosen One, blessed by the gods as defender of the realm. But of late every Chosen One has died, targeted by the harshest of the enemy attacks. Only the most desperate of men now seek that post. Devlin Stonehand is a desperate man. Overwhelmed by grief at the death of his family, he has lost the will to live. But he has vowed to provide for his brother’s widow and children, and the post of the Chosen One carries with it a substantial reward. For Devlin, a farmer and metalsmith, it is the answer to his prayers—prayers that include a yearning for the oblivion of death. After he has won the post, though, Devlin discovers that sometimes the hardest goal to achieve is that which had once seemed the simplest. For unlike the other Chosen Ones, he persists in surviving. Are the gods just tormenting him further, or does he have a greater destiny than he imagined? Can a man who courts death ever truly come to embrace life?From the Paperback edition.From Library JournalIn the Kingdom of Jorsk, the divinely appointed position of Chosen One has seemed more of a curse than a blessing, for everyone who has had that honor has died defending the kingdom. Devlin Stonehand, a man with nothing to lose, welcomes the position as an easy road to the death he seeks if he can only stop surviving the challenges that come his way. Bray's first novel features a likable, flawed hero who fights his own inner demons to serve his conscience and his honor. A good choice for most fantasy collections.Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. From BooklistIn the decaying kingdom of Jorsk, the search is on for the Chosen One, who will beat the realm's enemies back from the walls of the capital and solve every problem except the price of beer. Unfortunately, Chosen Ones have a nasty tendency to be killed. But widower Devlin Stonehand is desperate enough to seek the post, whose emoluments will permit him to support his brother's widow and children. Besides, he probably will achieve oblivion in death for himself. Instead he becomes the first Chosen One in a long time not to be annihilated in short order, and, while performing all the duties of his demanding post, he has to wonder why. If Bray doesn't startle us with her vast originality, she certainly hooks us with absorbing storytelling. A good read for adventure fans with like Raymond Feist or Terry Brooks. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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