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Authors: Sherry Thomas

Tags: #Romance, #General, #Historical, #Fiction

Ravishing the Heiress

BOOK: Ravishing the Heiress
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Ravishing the Heiress


“I’M IN AWE. Only Sherry Thomas can write a romance that is both heartrending and heartwarming. An absolutely ravishing love story!”

—Courtney Milan, author of


“Tender, discerning, and lushly romantic,
Beguiling the Beauty
] drills down into the characters’ emotional depths to produce a devastating love story that may appeal to fans of Mary Jo Putney and Laura Kinsale.”

Library Journal
(starred review)

“Superb…Will win readers over with its elegant writing, exceptional characterization…and exquisitely romantic love story.”

Chicago Tribune

“Ravishingly sinful, intelligent, and addictive. An amazing debut.”

—Eloisa James,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Enchanting…An extraordinary, unputdownable love story.”

—Jane Feather,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Thomas makes a dazzling debut with a beautifully written, sizzling, captivating love story…Her compelling tale of love betrayed and then reborn will make you sigh with pleasure.”

RT Book Reviews

“Deft plotting and sparkling characters…Steamy and smart.”

Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“Historical romance the way I love it.”

All About Romance

“Big, dramatic, and romantic.”

Dear Author

Berkley Sensation Titles by Sherry Thomas



Ravishing the Heiress




Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author


Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / July 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Sherry Thomas.

Excerpt from
Tempting the Bride
by Sherry Thomas copyright © 2012 by Sherry Thomas.

Cover art by Gregg Gulbronson. Hand lettering by Ron Zinn.

Cover design by George Long.

Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-56904-7


Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”



To my husband,

the one with whom I have built my life



To everyone who helped me in the writing of this book and everyone who helped me in arriving at this moment in my life.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Author’s Note

Tempting the Bride






t was love at first sight.

Not that there was anything wrong with love at first sight, but Millicent Graves had not been raised to fall in love at all, let alone hard and fast.

She was the only surviving child of a very prosperous man who manufactured tinned goods and other preserved edibles. It had been decided, long before she could comprehend such things, that she was going to Marry Well—that via her person, the family’s fortune would be united with an ancient and illustrious title.

Millie’s childhood had therefore consisted of endless lessons: music, drawing, penmanship, elocution, deportment, and, when there was time left, modern languages. At ten, she successfully floated down a long flight of stairs with three books on her head. By twelve, she could exchange hours of pleasantries in French, Italian,
and German. And on the day of her fourteenth birthday, Millie, not at all a natural musician, at last conquered Listz’s
Douze Grandes Études
, by dint of sheer effort and determination.

That same year, with her father coming to the conclusion that she would never be a great beauty, nor indeed a beauty of any kind, the search began for a highborn groom desperate enough to marry a girl whose family wealth derived from—heaven forbid—sardines.

The search came to an end twenty months later. Mr. Graves was not particularly thrilled with the choice, as the earl who agreed to take his daughter in exchange for his money had a title that was neither particularly ancient nor particularly illustrious. But the stigma attached to tinned sardines was such that even this earl demanded Mr. Graves’s last penny.

And then, after months of haggling, after all the agreements had finally been drawn up and signed, the earl had the inconsideration to drop dead at the age of thirty-three. Or rather, Mr. Graves viewed his death a thoughtless affront. Millie, in the privacy of her room, wept.

She’d seen the earl only twice and had not been overjoyed with either his anemic looks or his dour temperament. But he, in his way, had had as little choice as she. The estate had come to him in terrible disrepair. His schemes of improvement had made little to no difference. And when he’d tried to land an heiress of a more exalted background, he’d failed resoundingly, likely because he’d been so unimpressive in both appearance and demeanor.

A more spirited girl might have rebelled against such
an unprepossessing groom, seventeen years her elder. A more enterprising girl might have persuaded her parents to let her take her chances on the matrimonial mart. Millie was not either of those girls.

She was a quiet, serious child who understood instinctively that much was expected of her. And while it was desirable that she could play all twelve of the
Grandes Études
rather than just eleven, in the end her training was not about music—or languages, or deportment—but about discipline, control, and self-denial.

Love was never a consideration. Her opinions were never a consideration. Best that she remained detached from the process, for she was but a cog in the great machinery of Marrying Well.

That night, however, she sobbed for this man, who, like her, had no say in the direction of his own life.

But the great machinery of Marrying Well ground on. Two weeks after the late Earl Fitzhugh’s funeral, the Graves hosted his distant cousin the new Earl Fitzhugh for dinner.

Millie knew very little of the late earl. She knew even less of the new one, except that he was only nineteen, still in his last year at Eton. His youth disturbed her somewhat—she’d been prepared to marry an older man, not someone close to her own age. But other than that, she dwelled on him not at all: Her marriage was a business transaction; the less personal involvement from her, the more smoothly things would run.

Unfortunately, her indifference—and her peace of mind—came to an abrupt end the moment the new earl walked in the door.


illie was not without thoughts of her own. She very carefully watched what she said and did, but seldom censored her mind: It was the only freedom she had.

BOOK: Ravishing the Heiress
12.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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