His Perfect Bride

By: Jenn Langston


I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to everyone who helped make this dream of being published possible. Thank you all for everything you have done for me.

To my wonderful husband and three beautiful children for supporting me and giving me the time to pursue my love of writing.

To my mom and dad who have always had faith in me, even when I lost mine.

To my phenomenal critique group who have been there for me and helped me more than I can possibly say.

To my beta readers who are always willing to read unedited material and never afraid to speak the truth.

To the NHRWA and WHRWA chapters who have offered knowledge, advice, and encouragement.

And to Debby Gilbert with Soul Mate Publishing for making my dream come true.

Chapter 1

“Bloody Hell, Greyson! That’s the last crown I’ll lose to you!” Jonathan Alastair exclaimed, tossing the cards across the table.

“As I have told you before, if you don’t know how to play, you should not bet so much,” Greyson Thorpe calmly replied, pocketing his winnings.

Richard Carrack, Marquis of Stonemede turned, smiling at the familiar banter between his best friends. He’d only been absent for six months, but it reassured him to see some things didn’t change. The argument had gone on for years since Greyson was almost unbeatable with a deck of cards, and Jonathan lacked the ability to refuse a challenge, regardless of the odds against him.

“Have a care, gentlemen. I have recently returned from Stonemede, and all you wish to do is squabble,” Richard reproached, feigning offense. “I would prefer hearing about everything I missed these past months than about Jonathan’s inability to play cards.”

“I’m wounded.” Jonathan placed his hand over his heart. “I’m known to be quite skilled at cards. Greyson, on the other hand, cheats.”

Rather than taking the bait, Greyson continued to collect his cards, his face as unreadable as usual. Richard noticed a slight change in his demeanor, but decided it best not to draw attention. Jonathan was a good friend, but occasionally he would unwittingly push Greyson too far.

Richard had met Greyson at Eton and after assisting him in an unfair fight, the two boys had developed a quick friendship. Shortly after that, they met Jonathan and the three were hardly seen apart throughout their boyhood.

“Honestly, Richard, I must say, things have been rather dull around here during your absence. However, I did manage to obtain several ex-mistresses,” Jonathan announced proudly.

“I have never understood why you can’t stick with one,” Richard commented.

“I agree, for I have found little differences between women. One is just as good as any other.” Greyson’s tone was bored as he took another sip of brandy.

“Ah, but you are wrong. They’re sweet confections and when you pull off the wrapping, you find how truly different they all are,” Jonathan contended.

Richard laughed and Greyson rolled his eyes. Silently Richard found himself agreeing with Greyson. He enjoyed female companionship, but they were all interchangeable, which suited him fine. He’d kept his latest mistress for almost a year, but had dismissed her shortly before his return to Stonemede.

When his father unexpectedly passed away six months before, Richard returned to the place of his birth to take over as the Marquis of Stonemede. The estate was in good order and through his good planning, he managed to keep informed of the state of affairs for several years before his father’s death. Between the information he gathered from his father and from the butler, he was well groomed for the position. His father kept Stonemede running to the highest efficiency, and Richard was determined to live up to his father’s standards.

“I trust the club has been faring better than Jonathan’s mistresses?” Richard asked.

“I resent that comment. I paid them handsomely for their services, and they were all quite satisfied when I left their beds,” Jonathan said with a rakish grin. “But you are correct. The club has been doing very well.”

“Actually, with the amount of new members, we have become competition for the others,” Greyson added.

“Good, they deserve declining clientele with all the stipulations they place on membership,” Richard observed.

The three men had started a club, Ravenhurst, years ago after Greyson was denied membership to a prestigious club due to his parentage. Out of loyalty and to send a statement, Richard and Jonathan immediately quit the club. Shortly thereafter, they began one of their own. At first, Ravenhurst existed as a private place for the three of them to meet; however, as time went on, other acquaintances were invited until it became necessary to establish a more official arrangement.

With Richard’s good business sense, he’d managed the business side of the club proficiently for all these years. He’d been reluctant to turn his position over to Greyson, but Stonemede was now his priority. Regardless, he still planned on being an active participant in the business dealings, at least from afar. The ideals they established for the club were too important to him to turn his back on it or his friends.

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