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Bella’s Betrothal

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Lady Isabella’s room at the inn is invaded by handsome Scottish Laird, Charles Lindsay, but is he hero or villain?
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Rating: 5/5
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Author: Anne Stenhouse
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Genre  Historical Romance

Tags  Historical romance, Scottish Laird, Regency romance, Earl’s daughter, Duke’s granddaughter, architect, humour

Release  September 20, 2013

Editor  Judy Roth

Cover Designer  Charlotte Volnek

Words  75621

Pages  271

ISBN  978-1-77127-404-3

Price  $5.95


 Back Cover

While she is travelling north to find sanctuary from the malicious gossip of the Ton, Lady Isabella Wormsley’s room in a Dalkeith inn is invaded by handsome Scottish Laird, Charles Lindsay. Charles has uncovered a plot to kidnap her, but Bella wonders if he isn’t a more dangerous threat, at least to her heart, than the villainous Graham Direlton he wrests her from.

Bella settles into the household of her Aunt Hatty Menzies in Edinburgh’s nineteenth century George Square where Charles is a regular visitor. She has been exiled to the north by her unfeeling mama, but feels more betrayed by her papa to whom she has been close. Bella hopes the delivery of her young cousin’s baby will eventually demonstrate her own innocence in the scandal that drove her from home.

Bella’s presence disrupts the lives of everyone connected to her. Direlton makes another attempt to kidnap her and in rescuing her a second time, Charles is compromised. Only a betrothal will save his business and Bella’s reputation.

Mayhem, murder and long suppressed family secrets raise confusion and seemingly endless difficulties. Will the growing but unacknowledged love between Bella and her Scottish architect survive the evil Direlton engineers?


 Excerpt

Lachie said nothing when they came up, but pointed to a solitary figure ahead among some gorse and shrubs. Charles thought she made a beautiful picture in her riding habit with the exquisite hat Jenny Menzies wished to inherit. He thought the girl might get it sooner rather than later if he followed his instincts. At that precise moment, he wanted to shake Bella hard. Then he would lock her in the castle in Strath Menzies and hold her forever.

He laughed mirthlessly and dug both knees into Broom, pressing him on. The others held back, but he knew they were within calling distance if he should need them.

“Good afternoon, Bella,” he called. He watched her shoulders seize and her horse bucked and backed a little. “She is not familiar with your commands.”

“I know that, sir. Perhaps you were not sensible to fright her,” she retorted.

“Or you.”

“I am not frighted,” she said and turned at last towards him. The huge blue eyes were snapping with anger and dancing with life. Her hair was inexpertly caught below a net and huge locks of amber curls escaped onto her collar. She looked delectable. Good enough to tempt a saint and more than attractive enough to bring Direlton howling from his layer.

“You disobeyed me, Bella,” he said.

“I am not aware that I owe you obedience, Mr. Lindsay, and so I am incensed that you have set people to spy on me.” She glanced at the gaggle of men and horses. “Including my cousin.”

She was exasperated and Charles experienced a grain of sympathy for her plight, but he could not succumb to it. Bella had to understand how vulnerable she was, and whatever she felt about the sovereignty of her wishes, follow his instructions for her safety.

“He, thankfully, knows how evil the Direltons of this world are,” Charles said. “We must return, if you please. I think you have enjoyed an hour or more in the saddle.”

He watched her desire for autonomy war with her innate good manners and distaste for creating a scene. Would she remember the stench and blackness of the pend where Direlton held her? Would she...

His thoughts were interrupted by Bella turning her horse and urging it into motion. Within seconds she was off across the flat beneath the Crags and around towards the base of Arthur’s Seat. Her horse responded well to her expert control and he had to fight hard to bring Broom up behind her. They left the others behind as they rounded the hill and the water of Duddingston Loch came into view. Charles came up with his quarry but did not dare to grab the reins for fear of causing a stumble. The park was infested with rabbits and their burrows were a constant hazard.

Just as he wondered how this would end, a flock of sheep appeared. The herd called a warning and Bella veered to one side bringing her mount to a stop. He pulled up. Broom shook his great head, rattling the tack, and Bella turned.

She leant down and patted the neck of her hired horse. “Well done, my girl,” she said. The eyes she lifted to him were full of defiance.

He damped the desire threatening to overwhelm him. Whatever she had done or not done with Aubrey Daunton, he would have her as his wife, and she would learn that he would be obeyed.

MEET THE AUTHOR

Reviews

Tuesday, 17 November 2015
I normally avoid historical romances. I absolutely hate anachronisms. There’s nothing worse than reading an historical book littered with modern idiom. When I expressed this opinion in an online discussion, Ms. Stenhouse challenged me to find an anachronism or modern idiom in her book, Bella’s Betrothal. I found one semi-questionable line that was so iffy, I didn’t even bookmark it.

Another of my pet peeves is the misuse of homonyms. One of the most confusing pairs is affect/effect. Rarely do I see the word effect used correctly as a verb. Yet, at twenty-seven percent of the way into the book, Charles says, “Give me the pen. I caused the damage, and I will effect a repair.” I almost fell out of my chair when I saw Ms. Stenhouse using “effect” correctly. Bravo! I have found a Regency author who not only avoids anachronisms, but knows how to write English grammatically! There must be something special about the Scottish school system, since that, I believe is where J. K. Rowling was also educated.

In addition to the historical consistency and good grammar, the characters are well-drawn and the action starts on page one and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the book. Bella is never quite certain of Charles’s feelings for her, and Direlton and his men hover over them like the flaming sword of Damocles. I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to more accurate, well-written, page-burning historical fiction from Ms. Stenhouse.
Rochelle Weber
Monday, 13 January 2014
Anne Stenhouse's most recent book, Bella's Betrothal, is even better than the previous one, Mariah's Marriage. This time, there is the added interest of an Edinburgh background to the unfolding plot. The historical background sets the scene without overwhelming the reader with too much detail, there is a big cast of appealing characters and a gripping plot to keeping you turning the pages. The main character, Isabella, steps into the picture from a troubled past in London to make her home in an Edinburgh whose streets and squares are familiar to anyone who has visited the city.
The atmosphere of the city and the manners and attitudes of the people who inhabit the book all ring true. We can imagine their conversations continuing long after the book has ended. But the main focus of a book like this has to be the developing relationship between the two main characters, Isabella and Charles, sorely tested by a dramatic series of events that threaten to destroy her new-found happiness in Edinburgh. Right from the first page we are drawn into the twists and turns of their relationship and their growing love for each other. This is a satisfying read for all lovers of historical romance with an authentic background, strong characters and an absorbing plot.

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