BRIDE BY MISTAKE – Anne Gracie
The Devil Riders Series, Book 5
London and Spain , 1819
Some years ago, five eager young men went off to war together; four much changed gentlemen came home. Three, Rafe, Harry, and Gabe, have since married and settled down. Luke, now Lord Ripton after unexpectedly inheriting his uncle's title and estates, is perhaps the most changed. He's under pressure from duty—and his mother—to quit his reckless ways, to find a wife and to produce an heir to ensure the succession. Trouble is, Luke is already married to a wife he left in Spain .
Eight years ago, in the midst of the raging war, Isabella Mercedes Sanchez y Vaillant, daughter of a Spanish count, was on her way to seek refuge from her aunt in a convent in the mountains when she was attacked by bandits. Luke was a young lieutenant of nineteen when he came upon the assault in time to save the girl. When he learned Bella was fleeing from a cruel cousin who would force her into marriage for the sake of the inheritance from her mother—and she was only twelve—Luke married her in name only and left her with her aunt. The marriage would later be annulled.
Things don't quite work out that way; Luke receives a letter stating the annulment is impossible. Resigning himself to the inevitable, Luke returns to Spain—something he swore never to do—thinking that at least after her time in the convent Bella will make a docile and obedient wife. (This is where any romance reader would go, “Ha!”)
Bella wasn't made for the restrictive life of a convent, even after her aunt became the Reverend Mother. Besides reliving her attack in nightmares, Bella dreams of her ardent hero returning for her and proclaiming his love. Then, after eight years, he comes back and right away shatters those dreams.
Luke doesn't mean to be hard; it's only that his soul is bitter after his bad experiences during the war.
Luke had promised his mother and youngest sister he'd be back in time for his sister's come-out ball, which means an immediate departure from the convent. His and Bella's first major conflict arises when she tells him she's not leaving Spain until she goes back to her home to check on her half-sister whom she'd left behind—even if it means meeting her nasty cousin Ramon.
Luke gives in, and the journey to England begins with a momentous detour.
BRIDE BY MISTAKE is another in Ms. Gracie's character-rich, fiery tales filled with emotion and passion leavened by charm and wit. In it, we glimpse some of the awful war in Spain and learn what Luke went through and why he feels guilt. We meet a varied assortment of minor characters: Cousin Ramon and Bella's sister, as well as the girls in the convent…and others. And of course, we have the developing relationship between our cool but honorable hero and our determined heroine…a fascinating battle of wits and reluctant attraction!
BRIDE BY MISTAKE stands alone, but here are the earlier titles in order in case you missed them: THE STOLEN PRINCESS, HIS CAPTIVE LADY, TO CATCH A BRIDE, and THE ACCIDENTAL WEDDING.