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Lady Lydia Barton cannot seem to avoid Owen Wolfe since he’s returned after being wrongly transported for stealing her family’s jewels! But Lydia has more pressing problems, like her impending arranged marriage. Until Owen makes her father a counteroffer for her hand. Is Owen purely after her society connections, or dare Lydia hope that the charming stable boy she once loved is still within her ruthless, wealthy new husband?
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link: The Scoundrel’s Bartered Bride (Harlequin Historical)
Owen Wolfe is now a successful businessman, and part owner of a gaming club, but his current good fortune was hard won. Orphaned as a boy, Owen became a stable boy for the Earl of Fulbrook’s household. He fell in love with the earl’s daughter, Lydia, and she returned his feelings. They met secretly at every opportunity, enjoying their flirtation, until it all fell apart. Owen was accused of theft from the family, and the evidence was found in his own room. With the solid testimony of an earl and a witness against him, Owen was convicted, and sentenced to be deported to Botany Bay. After seven years of hard labor, a heroic act earns Owen a pardon from the governor. He returns to England with his friend and business partner, Randolph, where they open their club. Owen is anxious to see Lydia, but has his hopes dashed to learn that she fully believes he is the thief he was convicted of being.
Lady Lydia Barton’s heart was broken ten years ago, when the young man she loved and believed in stole her sickly mother’s jewelry. Lydia had been prepared to wait until she was of legal age and then marry Owen, as she knew her self important father would never permit such a match. She saw the jewelry found in his room with her own eyes, so she’s sure of his guilt. When Owen was convicted, she spent months recovering from the betrayal and pain, then decided to move on and try to forget him. She never married, and now Owen is back, but she has no place in her life for a lying thief. Then her father tries to marry her off to an elderly lecher. Then Owen steps in with an offer her father can’t refuse…
Owen proposes a marriage of convenience, one that will benefit him and his business because of Lydia’s social standing. Eager to leave her hateful father’s household, Lydia consents, and the wary couple weds, agreeing to call a truce regarding the theft. Unknown to Lydia, Owen has been desperately searching for evidence that will prove his innocence. Also unknown to Lydia is the fact that all of Owen’s talk about a convenient marriage was a cover for the fact that he never stopped loving her. As Lydia begins to see the man Owen is now, their relationship starts to thaw. Eventually, Lydia decides that she wants a real marriage and children, and Owen is only too happy to comply. The physical attraction that Lydia and Owen felt back then is still burning strong, and it seems as if they may have taken the first steps toward a happy future, but fate steps in once again to muddy the waters.
Owen is one amazing hero! Despite everything he endured, and despite Lydia’s lack of faith in him, he proves himself to be a better man. He returns good for evil, he forgives, and he treats his new wife with respect, generosity, and tender care. I love the strong, kind, and truly superior man he is. Lydia has more heartbreak and betrayal to face before she can move forward with Owen, but she shows what she is made of, too. This couple has great chemistry, as well as a genuine love which lasted from the time they were teenagers, and endured despite the separation and testing. THE SCOUNDREL’S BARTERED BRIDE is a lovely romance which also has great secondary characters and plenty of heart. The happy ever after is so satisfying, though it took a decade to get there. Owen and Lydia deserve all the happiness that the future has in store for them. I recommend this book to historical romance lovers, especially those, like me, who enjoy a great second chance at love story. ~Rose