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Minx (Avon Historical Romance) Mass Market Paperback – July 27, 2004
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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About the Author
Julia Quinn started writing her first book one month after finishing college and has been tapping away at her keyboard ever since. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than two dozen novels for Avon Books, she is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and is one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Please visit her on the web at www.juliaquinn.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
A few months later Dunford was sitting in his salon, taking tea with Belle. She had just stopped by to chat; he was glad for this unexpected visit since they didn't see quite as much of each other now that she was married.
"Are you certain that John isn't going to come barging over here with a gun and call me out?" Dunford teased.
"He's too busy for that sort of nonsense," she said with a smile.
"Too busy to indulge his possessive nature? How odd."
Belle shrugged. "He trusts you, and more importantly, he trusts me."
"A veritable paragon of virtue," Dunford said dryly, telling himself he was not the least bit jealous of his friend's marital bliss. "And how--"
A knock sounded at the door. They looked up to see Whatmough, Dunford's unflappable butler, standing in the doorway. "A solicitor has arrived, sit."
Dunford raised a brow. "A solicitor, you say. I cannot fathom why."
"He is most insistent, sir."
"Show him in then." Dunford turned to Belle and gave her a what-do-you-suppose-this-could-be shrug.
She smiled mischievously. "Intriguing."
Whatmough ushered the solicitor in. A graying man of medium stature, he looked very excited to see Dunford. "Mr. Dunford?"
"I cannot tell you how glad I am to have finally located you," the solicitor said enthusiastically. He looked at Belle with a puzzled expression. "And is this Mrs. Dunford? I was led to believe that you were not married, sir. Oh, this is odd. Most odd."
"I'm not married. This is Lady Blackwood. She is a friend. And you are?"
"Oh, I'm sorry. Most sorry." The solicitor took out a handkerchief and patted his brow. "I am Percival Leverett, of Cragmant, Hopkins, Topkins, and Leverett." He leaned forward, adding extra emphasis when he said his own name. "I have very important news for you. Most important indeed."
Dunford waved his arms expansively. "Let's hear it then."
Leverett glanced over at Belle and then back at Dunford. "Perhaps we should speak privately, sir? Since she is not a relation."
"Of course." Dunford turned to Belle. "You don't mind do you?"
"Oh, not at all," she assured him, her smile saying she would have a thousand questions ready when they were through. "I'll wait."
Dunford motioned toward a door leading to his study. "Right through here, Mr. Leverett."
They left the room, and Belle was delighted to note they did not shut the door properly. She immediately stood up and moved to the chair closest to the slightly open door. She craned her neck, her ears pricking up right away.
A mumble of voices.
And then, from Dunford, "My cousin who?"
Mumble, mumble, something that sounded like Cornwall.
"How many times removed?"
No, that couldn't have been "eight" that she heard.
"And he left me what?"
Belle clapped her hands together. How delightful! Dunford had just come into an unexpected inheritance. She rather hoped it was something good. One of her friends had just unwillingly inherited thirty-seven cats.
The rest of the conversation was impossible to decipher. After a few minutes the two men emerged and shook hands. Leveret shoved a few papers into his case and said, "I'll have the rest of the documents sent over as soon as possible. We'll need your signature, of course."
Leverett nodded and exited the room.
"Well?" Belle demanded.
Dunford blinked a few times, as if he still couldn't quite believe what he'd just heard. "I seem to have inherited a barony."
"A barony! Goodness, I'm not going to have to call you Lord Dunford now, am I?"
He rolled his eyes. "When was the last time I called you Lady Blackwood?"
"Not ten minutes ago," she pointed out pertly, "when you introduced me to Mr. Leverett."
"Touché, Belle." He sank down onto the sofa, not even waiting for her to seat herself first. "I suppose you may call me Lord Stannage."
"Lord Stannage," she murmured. "How perfectly distinguished, William Dunford, Lord Stannage." She smiled devilishly. "It is William, isn't it?"
Dunford snorted. He was so rarely called by his first name that they had a long-running joke that she couldn't remember it. "I asked my mother," he finally replied. "She said she thinks it's William."
"Who died?" Belle asked baldly.
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Top customer reviews
The heroine, Henry, also seems much younger than her twenty years, especially having had the responsibility of running an entire estate. The hero, Dunford, seems much older than his twenty-nine years and not at all the rake we're told he is. I also didn't understand why she's trying to drive him off. Another reviewer said it was because she was afraid he'd take over her beloved home and throw her out in the street. Why would she think that when she knew she was his ward? Wouldn't it have made more sense to get on his good side and make him like her so much that he'd want to give her what she wanted? From their first meeting he gives no sign of being cruel or hard hearted. Her plan makes her seem like she's eight years old.
The misunderstanding later baffled me, too. We're repeatedly told and shown how brutally frank she is at all times. How could a misunderstanding that could be cleared up instantly by a smidgeon of brutal frankness exist around this girl? Then she tries to get him to jilt her, but when he gives her the option of jilting him, she refuses. Huh? I thought the plan was to not marry him no matter what?
Despite all this the story is fairly fun and I think most romance readers, particularly undemanding ones, will enjoy this story. Those who require maturity in their heroines and consistency in plot and tone, might want to give it a miss, or read with lowered expectations. All in all, it's not a bad way to spend an afternoon.