Abandoned at the alter seven years earlier when her new husband hies off to Canada, Hope Templeton Westcliffe petitions the Church for an annulment of her marriage to the Marquis of Pennleigh. Hope is willing to risk ostracism from society to win her freedom from this travesty of a marriage, because not only has her husband been gone for seven years, he loves her sister.
Set in Regency England, Butterfly Bride centers around a well-meaning father who wins a wager and obtains a titled husband for his adolescent daughter. He convinces his daughter to marry the young man and then ships his new son-in-law off to Canada. Seven years later, the hero returns to England to discover his child bride has blossomed into a lovely woman.
She has also filed a petition for an annulment of their marriage.
5 Star Crowned Review
Hope Templeton is shocked when her father declares she is getting married to a Marquis. Her intended is named Kit, and he is just as shocked when he sees his new bride for the first time. She is quite plain, stammers and has a rash all over her face. Thankfully, the agreement he made with Hope’s father requires him to leave for Canada right after the wedding. Several years later, Kit returns home to find that his plain wife has blossomed into a beautiful and clever woman, who has also petitioned for an annulment. In order to keep her dowry, he must convince her to remarry him. However, Hope will not be easily persuaded. He must woo her. It doesn’t take Kit long to realize how amazing she is and he will stop at nothing to keep his wife.
This book is beyond heartwarming! One of the best parts about this beautiful regency is the character development. Kit is despicable in the beginning. He does not see the treasure that is right in front of his eyes. However, Hope’s changes cause his heart to change. He then takes the time to learn about his wife, respect her and eventually fall for her. Hope has some remarkable changes as well, changes that inspire those around her. Not only does she learn to present herself as a Marchioness, she learns how to run and restore an entire estate while starting her own series of children’s books. This story just shows that love does not come easily, it takes work and respect. There is absolutely no putting this book down! It can only be read in one sitting.
A night of debauchery did not eradicate the truth. He was to marry a stranger. A young, wealthy stranger, but undoubtedly cross-eyed and homely as a horse.
His stomach felt as if a covey of quail had taken up residence in it.
Kit Westcliffe, the current Lord Everton and heir to the Marquess of Pennleigh, watched the door close behind the butler who had ushered him into the small office. To his relief, the well-oiled door closed with a slight click. He pressed the tips of his fingers to his pounding temples while surveying the room. A decanter sat on the side table. Should he pour a healthy swig of brandy down his throat before he met his fate?
The soft swish of the door opening stopped him.
“Good morning, Lord Everton.”
At the sound of the unfamiliar gravely voice, Kit turned.
A solidly built, impeccably dressed gentleman walked into the room.
The man smiled.
Kit recognized triumph when he saw it. His hand slid from his temple to tug at his inexpertly mended cravat. He stopped mid-pull unwilling to test his valet's poor sewing skills.
Good manners dictated a bow. The physiological consequences of the previous evening dictated a swaying room. Kit bowed. Sometimes, he hated good manners. “Sir Charles Templeton, I presume?”
“At your service, my lord.”
Kit righted himself and blinked the room back into place, amazed to discover his eyelashes could hurt. Sir Charles’s boots clumped across the hardwood, echoing the pound in Kit’s head. He thought the man would never reach the Axminster carpet in front of his desk.
“Help yourself.” Sir Charles waved a hand toward the decanter. “But Hortly is bringing along a pot of tea.”
Kit felt his face flush. Liquor at seven in the morning wasn’t his usual style. Liquor until he was drunk wasn’t his usual style either, since he seldom had the funds to waste on drinking himself into oblivion. It behooved a man to keep his wits about him when success at cards was all that kept him, his horse, and his valet fed. “Tea will be fine.”
“Please,” Sir Charles said, “have a seat.”
Kit longed to sprawl in the comfortable leather chair and sleep for a week, but he maintained the good manners drilled into him by first his mother, and then his grandmother, and politely settled his aristocratic derriere into the chair. Two feet away, Sir Charles propped his hip against the edge of the desk.
“Do you have the special license?” Sir Charles asked.
Every cell in Kit’s throbbing head nagged at him to say no, but he had vowed to pull the Westcliffe name out of the mud. If that meant going through with this farce of a marriage, he would do it. He reached into his breast pocket and removed a folded sheet of paper.
“Good. The vicar will be here within the hour.”
Kit wondered how a cravat could grow so tight around one’s neck. Rather than tug on it again, he tapped the arm of his chair with the license. He felt a tic start in his left eye.
“About this marriage, Sir Charles. Does it not seem a tad rushed? No time for courting?” He hoped to end the farce, but if he couldn’t stop the marriage, perhaps he could postpone it.
Sir Charles picked up a flat, polished rock. Kit watched his host toss it up and down in the air.
“Having second thoughts, my lord?”
The question startled Kit. Why wouldn’t he have second thoughts about marrying a chit he’d never seen? “And third and fourth,” he muttered. Comfortable as it was, the chair proved too confining. Kit found himself back on his feet and headed toward the decanter. Two steps from his quarry, he veered toward the window, pushing aside the drapes to gaze into the early morning.
Below him, Ruffian tugged at the reins held by an under groom who had gotten the job of walking the temperamental horse. The morning sun caressed the sleek body, sliding over the shabby saddle with unforgiving rays. Ruffian danced a few steps sideways, ignorant of his master’s impecunious state. Kit flicked the drapes back into place, wishing he could forget.
“If I found myself in your boots,” Sir Charles said, “I grant I’d be having all sorts of second, third, and fourth thoughts.”
Sir Charles’s voice swung Kit from the window in time to see the older man snag the rock from the air. A broad grin deepened the lines bracketing his mouth. “Tried to drown them last night, did you?”
Kit offered a rueful smile. Relieved by his host’s sympathetic manner, he grabbed the chance to argue against the marriage. “As to my dilemma, Sir Charles, I have given it a good deal of thought.” In truth, from the moment his father had informed him of the marriage, it had eaten at him night and day.
“Do you think it wise for two complete strangers to marry?” he continued. “Do you not worry the circumstances of such a marriage will lead to gossip and perhaps tarnish your daughter’s good name?” As Kit well knew, it was hard to buff a tarnished name back to its former shine. Hadn’t he watched his parents’ divorce drag the Westcliffe name through the mud? He had no desire to endure the lash of the scandalmongers’ tongues, again.
“Frankly, Lord Everton, I don’t give a farthing for what the gossips say. I daresay you won’t either once you’ve heard my proposal.” The rock thumped to the desktop. “I have a confession to make, lad.”
Kit found himself interested, the effects of the previous night fading beneath the older man’s intense gaze.
“I lured your father into a game of cards because I knew his exact financial state as well as his abysmal luck. I planted and then nurtured the idea he wager his son in marriage to my daughter.”
The words, coming from a stranger’s mouth sliced through Kit’s pride. His headache returned full force. The tic in his eye gained strength. Did the whole world know his father’s addiction to gambling superseded his feelings for anything else, including his only son and heir? And why did Sir Charles tell him this? Did he wish to free Kit from the marriage in exchange for something else? Hope, an alien emotion for Kit, soared in his throbbing head.
“I apologize for using your father’s weakness to bind you to my family.” Sir Charles’ shrewd brown eyes never left Kit. “But I’ll bet a monkey, you won’t regret my actions after you hear my proposal.”
Kit’s brain pounded its dislike at being forced to work as he sorted through Sir Charles’ confession. “I am somewhat confused, sir. Are you saying you manipulated my father into a wager that would unite the Westcliffe and Templeton families?”
Sir Charles nodded.
“It was a test, my lord.”
“Of my father?” Kit wondered what devilish game this man played.
Anger sleeted Kit’s thoughts. He stepped toward Sir Charles, who remained propped on the desk. “And why, pray tell, did you need to test me, sir?” It hurt his head to clamp his jaw this tight.
“Because I need a man of honor and integrity,” Sir Charles said.