Cover image for Tempting the heiress
Tempting the heiress
Pierce, Barbara.
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Publication Information:
[New York] : St. Martin's Paperbacks, [2004]

Physical Description:
342 pages ; 18 cm.
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FICTION Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Library

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"Beloved author Barbara Pierce sweeps readers back to the family and the saga that captivated our hearts---the Bedagraynes of London---in this unforgettable tale of a love that would not die. . ."
Brock Bedagrayne, the eldest son of the Bedagrayne siblings has secretly longed for Amara Claeg, the daughter of a baron, for what seems like an eternity. When he learns that Amara's parents have arranged for her to wed the wealthy, ruthless Lord Cornley, he is outraged but knows he cannot prevent the nuptials. One night changes Brock's life forever when he and Cornley engage in a druken brawl at a gaming hall, and Cornley is fatally wounded, forcing Brock to flee England.
Several years have passed, and Amara is still haunted by memories of a night that shattered her world. Now her father has presented her with the man who is to be her new betrothed, and though she harbors no love for him, she must accept or she will be disowned. Then Brock returns, determined to claim her and she is drawn to a deep desire she cannot ignore---to a man who has vowed to win her heart no matter the cost. Yet surrendering to her forbidden dream is more perilous than she could have imagined for the past has returned with a vengeance, and it will take all the power of a man in love to save her. . .

Author Notes

Having a rich English ancestry that can be traced back to the 1500s, Barbara Pierce credits her grandmother and the romantic family tales she was told as a child for inspiring her early fascination with English history. Striving to balance her love of history with the need to tell a compelling story, she debuted in 2000 with A Desperate Game. She next introduced readers to the Bedegrayne family with A Lady's Mischief and A Gentleman at Heart . Barbara currently lives near Atlanta with her husband and three children.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Amara already has one unwanted suitor, so she certainly doesn't need two. Even as Amara is desperately trying to avoid Conte Prola, the sexy Italian nobleman her meddling parents are insisting she wed, who should turn up but Brock Bedegrayne. After two years in India, Brock has returned to England, and now Amara finds herself being courted by the one man who knows her deepest, darkest secret. Even though she secretly desires Brock, Amara knows her parents would never consider him an acceptable choice. But Brock has always enjoyed a challenge, and this time he isn't about to give up. Fans of the author's Bedegrayne family series will especially enjoy the cameo roles characters from other books in the series play here, and Pierce does an excellent job blending danger and intrigue into the plot of her latest love story. Readers who like their Regency historicals a bit darker and spiked with realistic grit will love this wickedly sexy romance. --John Charles Copyright 2004 Booklist



  CHAPTER ONE London, 1810 It was a cunning ambush. Amara Claeg had certainly underestimated the gentleman's daring. As the tolling bell signaled the imminent commencement of Vauxhall Garden's eleven o'clock fireworks, Matteo Taldo, Conte Prola, took advantage of the situation. Anticipating their party's distracted eagerness to depart the dark avenue in search of a splendid viewing location, the Italian gallant culled her from the crowd and pushed her deeper into the shadowed elm grove. Her objections were promptly silenced by a ravishing kiss. Such intensity provided little opportunity for her to savor his impromptu display of clandestine passion. Amara's muffled protest only seemed to encourage her new suitor. Placing her palms on his chest, she tried shoving him away, but he shackled her wrists and pressed them to his heart. Desperate for breath, Amara ended the kiss by turning her face away. "My lord, cease. The others will wonder about our absence." She did not mention that of late, her parents, the newly promoted Lord and Lady Keyworth, had had aspirations to marry her off to this specific Italian aristocrat. Being discovered in a passionate entanglement would only encourage the outcome. His grip on her wrists allowed Conte Prola to effortlessly pull her back into his embrace. The shadows concealing them could not mask the subtle arcing of his mouth and glimpse of white teeth, nor the rebellious glitter blazing in his dark gaze. "Signorina Claeg, forgive me. Am I to forever admire and never stroke? Your beauty inspires boldness." Sensing his mood was more teasing than predatory, she warily returned his smile. It was difficult to remain angry with the gentleman when he was trying to be so charming. Conte Prola was a dashing fellow. With his tall, lean build, his dark curling locks, expressive black eyes, and accented English he had entranced more than one lady since his arrival in London five months ago at the invitation of her father. She had assumed that once his business was concluded he would return to Genova. Since he never spoke of returning to his homeland, her suspicious nature forced her to conclude she had become part of his intriguing business venture. "My lord, your flummery is wasted on the likes of me," Amara said, exasperated by his tenacity. "Confound it! Release my hands at once!" Relinquishing all thought of a graceful retreat, she struggled against his unrelenting grip. Twisting her wrists to and fro, she jerked one hand free and then the other. "Such passion, my fire," he marveled. Gallantly, he ignored her inelegant snort of disbelief. "Think of the making of love between us." She would entertain no such idiocy. Scowling, she rubbed her abused wrists. "I have no intention of encouraging you." Disgusted at being expertly maneuvered, she marched down the dark avenue not bothering to glance back. "Signorina Claeg, this endeavor is futile," he gently entreated, his long legs easily overtaking her. "These fireworks, they have begun. You will not find your friends and family--" Several brilliant, sonorous explosions overhead caused them both to flinch. As they approached the bottom of the avenue, Amara realized the hopelessness of her search. The fireworks had lured thousands of spectators. With everyone's attention focused on the sky, it was impossible for her to thread her way through the crowd. "This is your fault!" she charged over the thunderous explosions, the cheering and applause. Woefully apologetic, he gestured at the heavens. "The blame is mine. Come now, we will be friends again and admire the sky together." She pressed her lips together to cease their embarrassing tremor. "And how do you propose explaining our absence from the party?" The conte's grin was full of masculine arrogance. "Carina, it is the way of new lovers. Your papa understands. He approves." Amara closed her eyes at his admission. It was as she had feared. Conte Prola's presence in London was serving her family's interests in addition to his own. "You do not appear to be a man who openly seeks another man's approval." He frowned. "I need no man's sanction." He drew himself up, a proud, alluring male specimen. "I speak only to ease your maidenly fears." Amara laughed. Maidenly fears indeed. She blinked, holding a gloved hand as a shield over her eyes. The flashes of light blinded her vision, reminding her of lightning. It also reminded her of another night, another man. Without warning she felt the invisible hairs on the back of her neck prickle. It was an unpleasant sensation, a symptom of a greater humiliation she had thought she had overcome. "I have to leave this p-place." Dread washed over her, leaving her cold despite the temperate evening. Not certain of her destination, she turned, intending to return to the avenue. Feeling more than capable of subduing a fractious female, Conte Prola circled his arms around her, effectively caging her within his embrace. His touch was her undoing. As she fought him in earnest, the top of her head collided with his chin. Surprised by the painful impact, he released her. Wasting no time, Amara turned and pushed her way through the crowd, heedless of how her actions might be construed. She had to get away. It was too dark. There were too many people. Each explosion ricocheted in her head. Gasping for air, she felt her chest tighten so that it was difficult to draw a deep breath. "Signorina!" She could hear the conte shouting in the distance. Ignoring his plea to wait, she pushed her way beyond the crowd and reached for the nearest tree for support. "Amara." A distant voice softly evoked her name. Her eyes stinging from the drifting smoke, she shook her head. She tried closing her mind off to everything and concentrated on slowing her breathing. "There is nothing to fear," she whispered, although her frantic heartbeat contradicted the statement. "Which one of us are you reassuring, Miss Claeg?" His voice filtered through the buzzing noise in her ears and sank into the heart of her. She snapped open her eyes and only the tree she clutched kept her on her feet. The blond gentleman who stood several yards from her seemed as elusive as the smoke that drifted between them. Brock Bedegrayne. The merciless bolt of pain slicing through her chest surprised her. As she drew in a swift breath, all she could think was that he was such a beautiful man. As if sensing her desire, Brock removed his hat, which allowed her to study his face unhindered. Greedily, she accepted his unspoken offer. He still wore his blond hair unfashionably long, she noted, but kept its length secured at his nape. While the sun had lightened his hair, it had darkened his skin. The contrast enhanced the intensity of his pale green eyes. He seemed leaner, harsher, like a wild predator who had spent too much time surviving off the land. The differences did not diminish him. Nay, in truth, he appeared taller, stronger, and overwhelmingly virile. The look in his green gaze was mocking and disturbingly hungry. Digging her gloved fingers into the rough bark of the tree, she questioned whether the man before her was real or a mirage induced by her hysteria. "Oh, I am real, little dove," he said, accurately reading her thoughts. Older and more handsome than the images from her meager memories, he opened his arms as if he meant to embrace her. "The man from your nightmares has returned." As he stepped closer, the light from the overhanging oil lamp bathed his face with wavering shadows. The slightly mocking smile he wore faded when he noticed that her pale skin glistened with sweat and her trembling lips were bloodless. "I see our years apart have not diminished your impression that my name and the devil are synonymous. I pray we are both ready for me to prove otherwise." Instinctively, Amara took a step backward, keeping out of his reach. "Signorina Claeg!" She glanced back, realizing she had not escaped Conte Prola after all, and that he was not alone. Trailing behind him were her irritated mother and her cousin Miss Novell. The ramifications of her mother encountering Brock Bedegrayne cleared any lingering bewilderment from her mind. "Sir, I think it best that you leave--" Amara's voice faded when she turned and noticed she was alone. She looked about but there was no sign that he had ever been there. Copyright (c) 2004 by Barbara Pierce. Excerpted from Tempting the Heiress by Barbara Pierce All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.