The Wagered Bride
by Teresa McCarthy
Lord Stephen Clearbrook is stunned when he loses his mother's family home to William Shelby, but he is offered the chance to win it back a few nights hence. When he loses a second time and doesn't have the funds with him to pay his debt, he gets an offer he can't believe: if he will agree to marry Elizabeth Shelby, he will regain his home and all the cash he has lost. Watching his mother endure a difficult marriage to his late father, and finding true love since in a subsequent marriage has engendered in Stephen a wish to marry for love as well, and he fancies that he is in love â€“ but not with Elizabeth Shelby.
Elizabeth is appalled when she learns what her father has done. During a house party, she makes plans to elope with her own true love, Mr. Fennington. The entire Clearbrook family is prepared to dislike Elizabeth, but her personality and willingness to help everyone win them all over. Stephen begins to feel pressured from all sides even while his feelings for Elizabeth start to develop.
This is the first book I've read by Ms. McCarthy. The plot was a little complicated but she writes good characters and amusing scenes. Ms. McCarthy is a welcome addition to the ranks of Regency authors.
“Elizabeth Shelby is not happy with the betrothal her father has arranged. Can she do anything about it?”
December 2004, 218 pages
When Lord Stephen Clearbrook, the fourth son of a duke, enters a high-stakes card game, he acquires more than just another debtâ€”he acquires a bride. He owes a large sum to one William Shelby, a wealthy businessman who always gets what he wants. And what Shelby wants is for his lovely daughter Elizabeth to marry a man with a title, so he's offered to waive Clearbrook's debt if the Lord is willing to take her hand. Having learned too well from her obstinate father, Elizabeth positively refuses to marry for anything other than love. But when she meets the handsome Lord Clearbrook, it seems that fate may have dealt a perfect pair after all.