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Dear Readers,

As you saw when I posted my very first chapter for A Perfect Bride, writing isn't always a linear endeavor. Originally, I had Justin meet up with Arabella in an off-stage scene, which he then discusses with Sebastian (hero of A Perfect Bride). As you’ll see from this excerpt, I originally planned to give Justin his story a number of years later, after Arabella was all grown up. While I conceived of Arabella while writing the first book in the trilogy, I ultimately decided to have Arabella grow up rather quickly by the time I wrote A Perfect Groom.

Hope you’ll enjoy this very first glimpse into Arabella’s character (which has never before been posted online). Bits and pieces of this version did eventually make it into the final, printed version—what fun I had with Justin and Arabella. And if you want to see how they meet up AGAIN, read the official online excerpt.

Happy Reading,
Samantha

 

 

A Perfect Groom

 

DECEMBER 2004
Avon Books
· ISBN 0-060-5027-97


A Perfect Bride
Special Feature! Check out this alternate chapter from A Perfect Groom.

"Well," Justin remarked to his brother Sebastian, "you can certainly be discerning. Society's ladies do tend to follow you about."

“Just as they tend to moon after you,” Sebastian replied.

"The ability to charm the opposite sex certainly seems to be in the blood, doesn't it?"

Sebastian chose to ignore Justin’s sarcastic reference to their mother's infidelities. "In my case, it's the title they want. The money. Which reminds me--" he raised a brow "--isn't it time you considered taking a bride as well?"

Justin erupted into laughter. "Discharge yourself of such a notion at once!"

Sebastian relished the chance to make his brother squirm. "Perhaps if you'd stayed at the Heddington's, some nice young lady might have caught your fancy."

Justin's crystal-green eyes gleamed. "I far prefer wicked to nice. But tell me--did someone ask after me?"

"Why, not even once. Frankly, I found the day passed rather pleasantly. Arabella and I chatted for a long time. She's quite bright."

"Arabella?"

"She's niece to Grace, whose sister Catherine married a vicar."

Justin's smile was no more. "The vicar's child?" he demanded.

"Yes. The little girl with all the vibrant red hair. I thought it sweet that she insisted on greeting everyone and learning their names."

"Sweet, you say? I daresay, the vicar's child is a devil's child!" He scowled.

Sebastian pretended ignorance. "Oh, come now. A minx, no more. I daresay in a few years, she'll blossom into a proper young woman who'll take the ton by storm."

Justin heartily disagreed. "I would hardly call her a minx! Nor will she ever be proper! She was crawling around on the ground with some of her friends, playing some game. Then the bratling took a hatpin and stuck me through the shoe!"

"Perhaps you should have worn boots." Sebastian smothered a grin. "But tell me, is that why you were limping when you left?"

"Damned straight it is! I did my best to avoid her but she saw my horse and came running."

"She proposed a truce, then."

Justin snorted. "Far from it. And wouldn't you know it, the Dowager Duchess of Richmond had her eye trained on us. Dear sweet Arabella offered me her hand to kiss, so I had no choice but to follow through. The damned bratling fisted her fingers and shoved her knuckle into my nose with all her might! I vow it may well be broken!" Gingerly he felt it.

Sebastian was vastly amused. "A female who disdained your kiss. A rare species, indeed."

Justin proved himself a worthy opponent. "Indeed. Well, I do hope your choice of bride is a bit more advanced in years than charming Arabella."

 

A Perfect Bride

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