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A Bride of Honor (Steeple Hill Historical Romance) Kindle Edition

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Length: 400 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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About the Author

Ruth Axtell Morren now writes under Ruth Axtell.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

London, April 1812

"'I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart'." Damien paused in the reading of the scripture and looked from the pulpit to the congregation below him.

St. George's Chapel was filled to overflowing. Not due solely to his preaching, unfortunately, although his flock had been growing steadily in the last few years since he'd been curate there.

No, it was not the service or his preaching that brought most people out this Sunday to morning prayer, but scandal.

Damien's glance strayed to the chancel where his sister sat beside her intended. Jonah Quinn, a man who'd escaped the gallows and been a fugitive from the law, had only last week received a royal pardon from the prince regent himself.

Overnight, Jonah, Damien and his sister had become objects of notoriety. The fashionable world from nearby Mayfair flocked to catch a glimpse of the man who'd escaped detection from the magistrates by hiding out in Damien's own parsonage.

A rustle of someone's prayer book pulled Damien's thoughts back to the sermon at hand. His business was not what had brought people into the house of God that morning, but what they would take with them when they left.

"How is your heart with God today?" As he asked the question, his gaze roamed over the congregation once again, stopping here and there to make eye contact with a parishioner. Most quickly averted their eyes.

His attention was caught by a young lady in the front pew. For a few seconds, he lost his train of thought. She was looking at him as if drinking in each word.

Clearing his throat, he looked back down at his notes, wishing all his parishioners listened so attentively.

"Is your heart condemning you when you come before the Lord in prayer?"

Damien's voice grew soft and there was little sound coming from the congregation. He continued to ask the probing questions, questions he himself had dealt with in his earlier life when he'd felt inadequate to fill the shoes of a preacher.

"God's word tells us that there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." He grasped the sides of the pulpit, his voice rising. He no longer needed to look down at his notes as his words tumbled forth.

His attention returned time and again to the young lady. Her look never wavered. What had brought her this morning? She certainly didn't behave like those interested in the latest scandal. Not once had her glance drifted toward Jonah, unlike so many of the congregation.

The young lady was sitting beside an older woman. Damien recognized neither. Both were fashionably dressed. Were they part of the Mayfair crowd squeezed into the pews that morning?

As soon as the service was over, Damien went into the vestry to remove his stole and surplice, then made his way to the church's entry in his black cassock to greet the parishioners. Thinking of the moment he would face the young lady, he felt a brief qualm as he listened to the tap of his wooden leg against the hard floor. Would a flicker of distaste mar her pretty features? The worry was quickly gone. What did it matter what she thought? Chastising himself briefly for his vanity, he joined his sister and Jonah who were already at the door.

"Good morning, Reverend Hathaway. Wonderful sermon." He returned handshakes and greetings, thanking those who commended him on the sermon.

Many of those who were strangers hardly gave him a nod before turning an eager eye to Florence and Jonah. Damien glanced their way but saw at once that his future brother-in-law didn't need help from him. Jonah shook hands and smiled broadly at one and all, answering those who were bold enough to ask him about his pardon.

He chuckled, rubbing his muscular neck. "Aye, the noose was already nipping at me throat 'ere I was rescued. No, I never did ken who they were." His listeners' eyes popped open wide, their mouths hanging slack in wonder.

"Good morning, Reverend Hathaway."

Damien turned to greet an elderly parishioner. "Good morning, Mrs. Oliver. How nice to see you out again. How are you feeling this fine April morning?"

The white-haired lady smiled beneath the deep rim of her straw bonnet. "Praise be to God, I am feeling quite myself again. After you prayed for me, the rheumatism in my joints subsided." She patted his hand. "You were so kind to visit me while I was housebound."

"I am thankful to have you back among us."

With a last pat to his hand, she indicated the ladies behind her in the line—and Damien was caught by the large brown eyes of the beautiful young lady of the front pew.

With an effort, he pulled his focus from her and turned to the older lady, intensely aware of his deformity.

"I'd like to present you to my dear friend, Miss Yates," Mrs. Oliver went on in her friendly tone, oblivious to his inner turmoil. "And this is her young cousin, Miss Phillips, just returned to London from school."

He bowed to the older lady. "How do you do?" Everything about her indicated a lady of rank and distinction. Her dark cloak was edged in fur, her manner dignified.

Miss Yates inclined her head slightly, a genial look in her blue eyes. "Very well, thank you. I found your sermon most edifying. I look forward to visiting again."

Unable to resist the sincerity in her tone, he smiled. "You are always welcome. Please come any Sunday."

Damien tried to appear calm and untroubled as he prepared to bring his attention to Miss Phillips. It had been merely a trick of the light that had made her appear so ethereally lovely from his vantage of the pulpit, he told himself.

Nevertheless, a flush crept from the edges of his white clerical collar to his hairline as he turned to her.

The impact of her honey-brown eyes almost knocked him over. They were framed by lashes a shade darker. Tawny eyebrows created an arresting contrast to her golden hair.

She was even lovelier up close than she'd appeared in the pew. Blond curls framed a heart-shaped face. A finely chiseled nose curved up the tiniest bit at the end.

"How do you do?" he finally managed.

She murmured something indistinct and looked down.

He cleared his throat, searching frantically for something to say—anything to prolong the moment. But his mind had suddenly emptied of all lofty thoughts. He might never have preached an edifying sermon moments ago. "I'm honored you joined our humble congregation today." As soon as the words were out, his face grew warm. He sounded as if he were toadying for a compliment.

She looked up immediately. Her smile lit up the rich brown depths of her eyes and brought radiance to the delicate pink of her cheeks. "Oh, no, sir—it is we who are honored. I mean—that is to say…"

Her evident confusion eased his own agitation. "I hope you enjoyed the service."

"Oh, yes, sir—Reverend—" She stopped.

A kindred feeling stirred inside him as he realized how shy she was. She was very young, perhaps no more than seventeen or eighteen.

He forgot his own fears in his wish to put her at ease. "Hathaway."

"I beg your pardon, Reverend Hathaway."

He was unaccustomed to reacting so to a young lady, but then he'd never been so close to one so lovely, and so obviously of rank.

Before he could think of anything else to say—and conscious of the line of people waiting behind her—she said, "I… I enjoyed your sermon, Reverend Hathaway. Very much. I mean, I'm not certain if 'enjoyed' is the correct word…."

His mouth turned up at the corner in rueful understanding. "I hope you found it thought provoking at the least."

"Oh, indeed, yes! That is a much better way to put it. I… I've never heard preaching such as yours before. It… it wasn't comfortable, and yet—" she drew her dark eyebrows together "—it filled me with something I've never felt before."

The words were what every preacher wanted to hear. He tried to dismiss the thought that the pleasure he felt from the compliment was heightened by the fact that it had come from such a lovely young creature. To hide his confusion, he turned to his sister. "May I present my sister, Florence Hathaway, and her fiancé, Jonah Quinn."

She greeted both.

"Enjoyed the preaching, did you?" Jonah asked with a smile.

Again, she blushed, but did not lower her gaze as she had with Damien. "Yes, very much."

"Our Damien always preaches a good one. Warms the insides when it doesn't feel like a punch in the gut."

Her laughter joined Jonah's. "Oh, yes! That's it exactly."

Jonah winked at both ladies. "Why don't you come 'round for tea this afternoon for more of Reverend Hathaway's wit and wisdom?"

Damien was preparing to greet the next parishioner in line when Jonah's words stopped him. His eyes sought his sister's. Florence was rarely at a loss in any situation—she would know what to say. But Florence was looking at Jonah, stunned.

An awkward silence followed when Florence did not speak up immediately to second the invitation. Damien, who knew his sister so well, realized she must be feeling nervous about entertaining ladies of such distinction. As the silence stretched out, he knew he must say something. Except for the rector and his mother, they rarely entertained members of the ton in their modest parsonage.

Damien bowed his head toward Miss Yates. "We would be honored if you would visit us this afternoon."

"We should be delighted," the older lady replied immediately. "What time would you expect us?"

Florence seemed finally to remember her obligations as hostess. "Would four o'clock suit you?"

"Four o'clock would be perfect." Miss Yates touched her young companion on the elbow. "We must be going." She bowed to the three of them. "Until this afternoon."

Damien watched them continue down the church steps and across the lawn toward a fine-looking carriage, his mind in a daze. A liveried servant sprang down and opened the carriage door for them, confirming his supposition that they were members of the upper class. When the servant slammed the door shut, Damien noted that it was decorated with a blue-and-gold crest.

"Reverend Hathaway." The peremptory tones of another female parishioner yanke...

Product Details

  • File Size: 728 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Steeple Hill Single Title; Original edition (May 1, 2009)
  • Publication Date: May 1, 2009
  • Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0028MVH64
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,782 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Ruth knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she wrote her first story--a spy thriller--at the age of twelve. She studied comparative literature at Smith College, spending her junior year at the Sorbonne in Paris. After college, she taught English in the Canary Islands then worked in international development in Miami, Florida, before moving to the Netherlands, where for the next several years, she juggled both writing and raising her three children.
In 1994, her second manuscript was a finalist in Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart competition. In 2002, her sixth manuscript took second place in the Laurie Contest of RWA's Smoky Mountain chapter. The final judge requested her full manuscript and this became her first published book, Winter Is Past, which was spotlighted in Christian Retailing magazine. Since then, Ruth has gone on to publish thirteen historical romances and one novella. Her books have been translated into Dutch, Italian, Polish and Afrikaans . Her second historical, Wild Rose, was chosen by Booklist as a "Top Ten Christian Fiction" selection in 2005.
Ruth lives on the coast of Maine where she enjoys gardening, walking, reading romances and gazing at the ocean plotting her next romance.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chandra Lynn on June 19, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Each time I read one of Ruth Axtell Morren's novels I am transported to England and a time of riches, classes, the ton, and clash between high society and ordinary people. I also find myself drawn into stories of love and faith. Bride of Honor is a pleasure to read.

The day Miss Lindsay Phillips meets Curate Damian Hathaway, the story of her life changes. A pure and holy love grows between them, but his parishioners and her family work to separate them. Lindsay's arranged betrothal to a gentleman of the ton causes her great distress. Obedience to her father and following the leading of her heavenly Father seem at odds. She seeks solace the only place she knows, the rectory where Damian and his sister, Florence live.

Ruth Morren has written another tender love story between two endearing characters. The romance is sweet, the conflicts real and difficult to overcome, and the growth of faith in the characters will cause you to ponder. I highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Veronica Leigh on May 13, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"A Bride of Honor" is the sequel to "The Making of a Gentleman," and picks up where its predecessor left off, a week after Jonah's pardon from the Prince Regent. However in this book, the story is told from Florence's younger brother, Damian Hathaway's point of view. From the time he was a young man, Damian knew that God was calling him to serve Him and though he is only a curate, he is passionate about his beliefs and slightly scandalous due to the fact that he is evangelical in his sermons. Not only that he assisted his sister in hiding a convict. Damian pretty much has his life planned out for himself until he encounters Lindsay, a wealthy young heiress of the ton. Unlike most of her station she is kind, sweet, intelligent, beautiful and she is also compassionate about his disability. Damian is immediately attracted to her, but unfortunately society forbids either of them from getting involved so their relationship remains platonic...for the time being. Lindsay's father pressures her into an engagement to a repulsive, wicked young man and unable to break the betrothal, she turns to Damian to rescue her. When Lindsay's virtue is in question, Damian does the honorable thing and marries her.
From the second I was introduced to Damian in "The Making of a Gentleman," I loved his character; he was such a sweetheart and my favorite. When I heard that "A Bride of Honor" was his love story I was excited. The book wasn't what I had expected but believe me, I wasn't disappointed. Damian and Lindsay make an adorable couple; they are a fine example for what a Biblical marriage should look like. I also like the scenes with Jonah and Lindsay together; they eventually become in-laws, but they act more like a big brother and a little sister. I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that Ms. Morren will write another.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Therese Stenzel on July 23, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I very much enjoyed Ruth Axtell Morren's A Bride of Honor. This is a very romantic read and by the middle of the book I was bleary eyed determined to finish to find out what happened to the heroine. I highly recommend this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Computerpro on June 13, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I very much enjoyed this book! I've read all of Ruth's books and enjoyed every one! I highly recommended her books!
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By Christina Slike on September 2, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Bride of Honor" is a sweet romantic story between two characters of very different rank and position in life, set in 19th century London. The man is a handsome minister who is educated and respected in his role, who was not born into any money. The woman is of the "ton", the sole heir of her father's fortune, a first-year debutante. She attends church with her aunt to hear Reverend Damian Hathaway after hearing praises of his character and sermons. There is an immediate attraction on both of their parts, unbeknownst to either.

Over time the attraction grows, and they fall deeper into love with each other. But they cannot see that they love each other. Each only knows how their own feelings have developed. Miss Lindsay Phillips is a beauty who her father is excited to match up with a man after his own heart - a very wealthy, good-looking man who wants Miss Phillips for himself. What kind of a gentleman he is on the side does not seem important to anyone and Lindsay feels trapped into an engagement.

Reverend Hathaway prays for a way to save Miss Phillips from marrying this man who would not treat her well. But in his position, he is not even her pastor, and can think of no reason to call on her. When he does find a way to help her, it is not what either of them ever expected.

There are twists and turns that I did not expect. All too often, a story is so predictable that it can be almost boring, even if the writing is very good. In "Bride of Honor" I was pleased and shocked at some of the turn of events.

This is the first book that I have read by Ruth Axtell Morren. And it won't be the last! Once I got past the first couple of chapters which moved rather slowly, I was able to get into the story and found it a pleasure to read.
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A lady of rank and distinction is no match for an impoverished preacher. Yet Damian Hathaway is entrance from the moment he spies Miss Lindsay Phillips entering his church. She doesn't appear any different from the other pampered society ladies, and she's betrothed to a gentleman f the ton. But Damien is determined to find the pure heart he's sure exists underneath the exterior. Torn between two worlds, the pair must trust that that their love can bridge the divide- and conquer all.

Young Lindsay is just having her first coming of age season and due to her family's wealth she is a desirable `catch' for members of the ton. Her father already has someone picked out for her, but while the young man may be wealthy, he is in all other ways not a good catch. Damian Hathaway is the new Pastor of the church Lindsay's family attends. He lives in the rectory with his sister Florence. Due to an accident early in his life, he has a peg-leg. When Lindsay and Damien meet, an immediate attraction is felt, but everyone from her father to other parishioners do whatever they can to keep the two apart.

It's only when an innocent thing happens, that these two are caught in a trap that everyone seems bent on exploiting. One thing leads to another and soon we're wondering if either will ever be in love again.

Lovely regency with delightful settings and real characters that draw us into the story and turning the pages. Ruth does not disappoint in her latest offering. Highly recommended

(288 pp., Steeple Hill Books ISBN-13: 978-0-373-78650-3
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