The Heiress

The Heiress

by Claire Delacroix

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Overview

No woman can resist the charms of Rowan de Montvieux. But the dashing rogue is in no hurry to marry—until his family dares him to find a bride…or risk losing his inheritance. So Rowan sets out on a Bride Quest, vowing to wed only The Heiress.

But his journey is interrupted when a slave merchant offers to sell him a ragged peasant girl who carries herself like a queen. Intrigued and never imagining she is the sought-after Bronwyn of Ballyroyal, an heiress in disguise, Rowan buys her, offering her his protection if she will lead him to the bride he seeks.

Never has he met a woman so proud, so beautiful, so defiant. He suspects she is no commoner and vows to uncover her secrets and melt her fiery resolve. But the perilous voyage to Ireland kindles passions that risk both their lives, as the slave girl who would not be mastered slowly takes possession of his wary heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781988479224
Publisher: Deborah A. Cooke
Publication date: 10/19/2017
Series: Bride Quest , #3
Pages: 332
Sales rank: 993,824
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Bestselling and award-winning author Deborah Cooke has published over seventy novels and novellas, including historical romances, fantasy romances, fantasy novels with romantic elements, paranormal romances, contemporary romances, urban fantasy romances, time travel romances and paranormal young adult novels. She writes as herself, Deborah Cooke, as Claire Delacroix, and has written as Claire Cross. She is nationally bestselling, as well as a USA Today and New York Times' Bestselling Author. Her Claire Delacroix medieval romance, The Beauty, was her first book to land on the New York Times List of Bestselling Books.

Deborah was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library in 2009, the first time TPL hosted a residency focused on the romance genre, and she was honored to receive the Romance Writers of America PRO Mentor of the Year Award in 2012. She lives in Canada with her family.

Read an Excerpt

London, July 1172

Rowan de Montvieux was in a foul mood.

Not only had he been ill beyond belief on the journey from LeHavre, but he was not at his intended destination. Indeed, the last Rowan had heard, the Thames was not in Ireland.

Which meant that he must endure another sea voyage, no doubt even less pleasant than this last, and that he must do so immediately in order to win the challenge he had accepted from his brothers.

Nay, he was not in a fine mood. He strode through the tangle of merchants on the docks, retrieving his horse and finding his squire Thomas with no small effort. They badgered him from every side, these hagglers with their shoddy goods, and he braced himself against thieves in the crowd. He deigned to purchase some meat pies from one merchant who looked more reputable than most.

But what he really needed was a measure of ale. Aye, then some song, and a solid measure of the sorry excuse for food in this country warm in his belly. Then blissful sleep. That would restore his interest in bucking his brothers' expectations. Rowan loved a challenge--at least when he was feeling hale--and the more desperate the stakes, the better.

An Irish heiress! For the love of God, what had possessed him to take such a dare? On a morn like this, with the taste of his own bile ripe in his throat, Rowan doubted he could charm even the most ancient and desperate crone alive.

Or that he wanted to.

"Oho! A fine knight just into port!" a slavemonger cried. The man was unshaven and unkempt, his dark hair hanging in his eyes and more than one tooth missing from his mouth. "I have just the wench for you, sir, and she is a bargain onthis day of days." He leaned closer to whisper, his breath even more foul than Rowan's own. "I shall make you a special deal, sir, on account of your knightly status and recent arrival."

Rowan growled a dismissal and made to push past the man, his gaze drifting disinterestedly to the woman in question.

And then he stopped to stare.

'Twas not the bright red gold of her hair that captured his attention, nor even that her tresses were cropped short. 'Twas not the deep hue of her tan, nor even how that tan made her eyes appear ethereally blue. 'Twas not the ripeness of her breasts fairly spilling from her chemise, not even that she wore a boy's chausses, which hid none of her copious charms.

Nay, 'twas that she feigned insouciance nearly as well as he.

"She is not much of a lay, if that is what you seek," the seller confided in an undertone. He leaned closer to whisper. "Indeed, a corpse might serve a man better."

The woman did not even blink. Her stance remained unchanged, her arms folded across her chest, her bare feet braced against the ground. She was nearly as filthy as her owner, a rough length of rope knotted around her neck and tethering her to that man.

Rowan swallowed as he noted the mark of a chafe there. "Indeed," he said mildly. "I would have naught with which to compare." The man looked quizzically at him and Rowan lifted his brows. "Having never been intimate with a corpse." His squire chuckled at the jest, but the woman's steady stare did not waver.

The would-be seller, though, grimaced and turned away, muttering something uncomplimentary under his breath and giving the woman's rope a savage tug. She made no protest, obviously accustomed to his abuse, and strolled behind him with her head as high as a queen's. Rowan could not help but watch them go.

He imagined the man taking his pleasure with this woman, his sweaty bulk heaving atop her as she stared fixedly at the rafters. His stomach rolled mutinously and, though he stood on dry land, Rowan felt ill again.

"How much?" he called impulsively.

"Three silver deniers," the man cried, spinning to jab a finger at Rowan. "Two for you!"

"Outrageous," Thomas murmured.

'Twas a shocking price but Rowan found himself digging for the coins. "Margaux will be proud of me," he muttered. He fired a glance at Thomas. "Be sure to tell her of this. I may well be in need of her favor."

Thomas nodded. A mere heartbeat later, Rowan's purse was lighter and he held the end of the distasteful rope in his hand. The seller marched away, whistling.

But the woman surveyed him with the same cold manner. If Rowan had thought she might thank him for winning her release from that creature, he was clearly mistaken.

And that irked him. He had just bought a slave, for no good reason, a slave he did not want, expending coin he would have preferred to keep or at least spend on some amusement.

She could at least appreciate the gesture!

"For a smile and a word of thanks, I would release you," he offered pointedly, and her gaze flicked over him.

"Gratitude for paying him for his crimes?" she asked. "You will not have that from me, nor a smile."

"A smile would cost you naught."

"'Twould cost me that very freedom you promise," she retorted dryly. Her eyes narrowed. "Or have you not noted the fine company we keep?"

'Twas true enough that the docks were swarming with unsavory characters, more than one of whom was making a thorough study of what filled her chausses.

"'Tis your own fault for wearing such garb," Rowan felt compelled to observe.

The hint of a smile crossed her lips. "The embroidery on each and every one of my kirtles is being mended."

Thomas laughed, then looked to Rowan and stifled himself. Rowan fixed the woman with a dark glance, not liking that she made the jests instead of he.

His look did not seem to trouble her in the least, which was doubly vexing.

"At some point," he said sternly, "you donned that garb of your own choice."

"True enough."

"Why?"

Now she did smile, although the expression was more sad than might have been expected. "'Twas a whimsy of long ago and far away."

"Why?" Rowan repeated, determined to have one answer from her.

Her smile disappeared. "I thought to disguise myself as a boy."

"You? A boy?" Rowan laughed. He could have done naught else. "A man would have to be blind to doubt your gender!"

The woman glared at him and Rowan felt a measure of pride for stirring some response from her. "I thank you for observing my foolishness. I might have doubted it otherwise, given my current exalted status."

Thomas snickered even as Rowan's smile was snatched away.

"'Tis the mark of maidens in a convent to imagine that they can deceive the world, simply by donning boy's chausses and cropping their hair . . ." Rowan's voice faded as he stared at her in sudden comprehension. "You speak too well to have been raised in a gutter. Who are you?"

The woman's eyes flashed so quickly that Rowan almost missed the telltale sign that he had found a truth. "I am no one," she declared.

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Heiress 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Robindpdx More than 1 year ago
This was a well-written, excellent historical romance. This book can be read as a standalone story, though it is part of a series (The Bride Quest) with related characters. Rowan de Montvieux agrees to go on a bride quest or risk losing his inheritance. On his journey he encounters a peasant being sold by a slave merchant, and intrigues by the mystery he senses, he agrees to take her along in exchange for her help locating the bride he seeks. She is actually Bronwyn of Ballyroyal, an heiress in disguise, and during the journey she comes to know Rowan for the man he really is. I loved this book and can't wait to read more books in this series as well as others by this author. I received a copy of this book with no expectation of a review. I have voluntarily posted a review consisting of my honest opinions.
NanatoAS More than 1 year ago
Youngest son Rowan wants nothing to do with responsibilities, preferring to live the life of a carefree rogue, enjoying the favors of women and the occasional wager. When his brothers dare him to find a bride (as they have recently done) he not only takes the wager, but increases the difficulty by declaring he will marry the wealthiest heiress in all of Ireland. When on his way he comes across a beautiful slave in the custody of a truly cruel and despicable trader, he can't help but purchase her. So begins the battle of wills and wagers between "Ibernia" and Rowan, as he tries to both escort her to safety and win his brother's wager. The puzzle of Ibernia is one Rowan is determined to solve while Ibernia is equally intent on keeping her own secrets, having run away from an unsatisfactory betrothal. In the end neither of them gets what they wanted, but everything they desire. As always, Ms. Delacroix writes in a style that is at home in the time period, with beautiful prose, totally believable dialog and an unexpected resolution. I highly recommend this book, along with the first two books of The Bride Quest series, "The Princess" and "The Damsel." Though all are standalone novels, you will definitely want to read them all, they are just that good! A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review, (though I had already purchased my own copy!).
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