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The Marquess Tames His Bride

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«The Marquess Tames His Bride» - Энни Берроуз

‘I have just announced our betrothal’Now there’s no going back…In this Brides for Bachelors story, the Marquess of Rawcliffe has always found his childhood friend Clare Cottam enthralling, but any relationship has been forbidden by her strict father. Now the couple are embroiled in a heated argument that puts Clare’s reputation in danger, and Rawcliffe is forced to declare her his fiancée. It will be his pleasure to tame his independent, innocent bride…
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“I have just announced our betrothal.”

A Brides for Bachelors story

The Marquess of Rawcliffe has always found his feisty childhood friend Clare Cottam enthralling. Forbidden by her strict father to pursue a relationship, he’s kept his distance. But the couple is embroiled in a heated argument that puts Clare’s reputation in danger, and Rawcliffe is forced to declare her his fiancée! It will be his pleasure to tame his independent, innocent bride...

ANNIE BURROWS has been writing Regency romances for Mills & Boon since 2007. Her books have charmed readers worldwide, having been translated into nineteen different languages, and some have gone on to win the coveted Reviewers’ Choice award from Cataromance. For more information, or to contact the author, please visit, or you can find her on Facebook at

Also by Annie Burrows

An Escapade and an Engagement

Never Trust a Rake

Reforming the Viscount

Portrait of a Scandal

Lord Havelock’s List

The Captain’s Christmas Bride

In Bed with the Duke

Once Upon a Regency Christmas

The Debutante’s Daring Proposal

Brides for Bachelors miniseries

The Major Meets His Match

The Marquess Tames His Bride

Discover more at

The Marquess Tames His Bride

Annie Burrows

ISBN: 978-1-474-07338-7


© 2018 Annie Burrows

Published in Great Britain 2018

by Mills & Boon, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF

All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This edition is published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, locations and incidents are purely fictional and bear no relationship to any real life individuals, living or dead, or to any actual places, business establishments, locations, events or incidents. Any resemblance is entirely coincidental.

By payment of the required fees, you are granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right and licence to download and install this e-book on your personal computer, tablet computer, smart phone or other electronic reading device only (each a “Licensed Device”) and to access, display and read the text of this e-book on-screen on your Licensed Device. Except to the extent any of these acts shall be permitted pursuant to any mandatory provision of applicable law but no further, no part of this e-book or its text or images may be reproduced, transmitted, distributed, translated, converted or adapted for use on another file format, communicated to the public, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of publisher.

® and ™ are trademarks owned and used by the trademark owner and/or its licensee. Trademarks marked with ® are registered with the United Kingdom Patent Office and/or the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market and in other countries.

To Louise Marley—because she says it’s about time!

Thanks for persistently tweeting,

sending me congratulation cards every publication day,

and generally cheering from the sidelines.


Back Cover Text

About the Author


Title Page

html#ufa41a360-aec1-5022-8998-63d112d6c529" id="back_ufa41a360-aec1-5022-8998-63d112d6c529">Copyright


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight


Chapter One

‘Well, well...what have we here?’

Clare’s heart sank. It was just typical of Lord Rawcliffe to take it into his head to travel through Bedfordshire on the very same day as her. Trust him to stroll in through the back door of the inn where she was changing stages, looking so expensive and elegant, at the very moment she was on her way out to visit the necessary, wearing a coat she’d dyed very inexpertly in the scullery. How did he do it? How was it that whenever she was at her lowest, or caught in some humiliating predicament, he always managed to be there to witness it?

And laugh at her.

‘No, don’t tell me,’ he drawled, taking off his gloves with provokingly deliberate slowness. ‘A missionary visit to the raff and scaff of Biggleswade.’

And this was the way he always spoke to her. Every time their paths crossed, he would mock her beliefs and she would retaliate by denouncing his morals and informing him that just because he had a worldly title higher than most, and was rolling in filthy lucre, it did not give him the right to assume he was better than everyone else.

But today, she had no time for his games. Nor was she in the mood.

‘Don’t be ridiculous’ was therefore all she said, lifting her chin and attempting to dodge past him.

She might have known he wouldn’t permit her to do so. Instead of stepping aside politely, the way any other man would have done, he raised his arm, creating a barrier across the narrow passage, under which she’d have to duck to get past him.

In years past she might have attempted it. But she wasn’t a child any longer. And she’d learned the folly of trying to dodge him when he didn’t wish to be dodged.

‘Will you excuse me?’ she said in her most frigidly polite, grown-up voice.

‘Not until you tell me what you are doing here,’ he said, curving his thin lips into a mocking smile. ‘Preaching sobriety to the parishioners of Watling Minor lost its appeal, has it? Need to spread your gospel farther afield?’

She winced. Why did he always have to make her sound as though she was some sort of religious maniac?

‘Surely you, of all people, must know why I have so much sympathy for the message preached by the Methodists,’ she retorted, reacting the way she invariably did when he addressed her in that sarcastic tone. ‘Not,’ she added hastily, when his smile hardened, presaging an escalation in hostilities, ‘that I am here to preach at anybody for any reason.’

‘Joan,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘You cannot help yourself. Your whole life is one long sermon. You even manage to preach hell and damnation by the very way you look down that sanctimonious little nose of yours at the entire human race.’

She knew she shouldn’t have mentioned his mother’s fatal weakness for alcohol. Not even indirectly. It was the equivalent of poking him in the eye.

But when it came to the Marquess of Rawcliffe, she just couldn’t help herself. He was so infuriating that no matter how sternly she lectured herself about keeping her tongue between her teeth, he only had to half-lower those lazy lids of his over his ice-cold eyes and utter some puerile taunt, and reason flew out of the window.

‘You should know,’ she heard herself saying. ‘Since you look down your own, arrogant, big nose at the whole world and everything in it.’ Blast it. That wasn’t what she’d meant to say. And now she was even thinking in profanities. ‘And how many times do I have to tell you not to call me Joan?’

‘As many times as you like and I shall still do so, since it is what your father should have called you.’

‘No, he shouldn’t.’

‘Yes, he should. Since he named all your brothers after popes, then he should have done the same for you. But then consistency,’ he said with a curl to his upper lip, ‘has never been his strongest suit, has it?’

‘There was no such person as Pope Joan, as you very well know,’ she snapped, falling into the same argument they’d had countless times over the years. ‘She was a myth. And would you please just leave my father out of it for once?’ Did he have no compassion? At all?

‘Absolutely not,’ he said, his eyes hardening to chips of ice. ‘For one thing, I cannot believe even he would approve of you frequenting places of this sort. If he were any longer in a fit state to know where you were or what you were about.’

The beast! How could he rub her nose in it like this? Oh! She’d always known he was the hardest-hearted person she’d ever met, but this? This was too much.

All the frustrations and hurts of recent weeks played through her mind in rapid succession and crystallised in the mocking smile on the handsome face of the last man she wished to witness her degradation.

There was nothing she could do about her brothers. Nothing she could do about her father, or her future. But right now, there was one thing she could do.

She could knock that sneering, cruel, infuriating smile off the Marquess of Rawcliffe’s face.

Before she had time to weigh up the consequences, her fingers had curled into a fist. And all her grief, and anger, and confusion, and sense of betrayal hurled along her arm and exploded into movement.

She’d meant to punch him on the jaw. But just as she was letting fly, he moved and somehow her fist caught him right on the nose.

It was like hitting a brick wall.

If she hadn’t seen his head snap back, she wouldn’t have known she’d had any effect upon him at all.

Until a thin stream of blood began to trickle from his left nostril.

For a moment they just stood there, staring at each other in stunned silence. As if neither of them could credit what she’d just done.

‘A fight, a fight!’

The excited voice came from somewhere behind her, reminding her that they were in a corridor of a public inn. And that other people travelling on the stage, or in their own vehicles, had a perfect right to be walking along this same corridor.

‘It’s a woman,’ came a second voice.

‘And stap me if it ain’t Lord Rawcliffe,’ said the first.

Lord Rawcliffe delved into a pocket and produced a handkerchief, which he balled up and pressed to his nose. But she could still see his eyes, boring into her with an expression that boded very ill. He was plotting his revenge. For he was not the sort of man to let anybody, but especially not a female, get away with striking him.

Her stomach plunged. The way it had when she’d almost fallen out of Farmer Westthorpe’s oak tree...and would have done if a strap of her pinafore hadn’t snagged on the branch she’d just been sitting on. And left her dangling, three feet from the ground, her dress rucked up round her neck. If Lord Rawcliffe—or rather Robert Walmer, as he’d been in those days—hadn’t found her, she might still be dangling there to this day. Only of course he had found her. And freed her.

Though not before he’d had a jolly good laugh at her expense.

He wasn’t laughing now. But she was as unable to move as she’d been that day. Unable to do anything but stare up at him helplessly, her stomach writhing with regret and humiliation and resentment.

She could hear the sound of tankards slamming down onto tables, chairs scraping across a stone floor and booted feet stampeding in their direction.

But she couldn’t drag her horrified eyes from Lord Rawcliffe’s face. Or at least his cold, vengeful grey eyes, which was all she could see from over the top of his handkerchief.

‘What do ye think he’ll do?’

Something terrible, she was sure.

‘Have her taken in charge? Should someone send for the constable?’

‘My lord,’ said someone right behind her, just as a meaty hand descended on her shoulder. ‘I do most humbly apologise. Such a thing has never happened in my establishment before. But the public stage, you know. Brings all sorts of people through the place.’ She finally managed to tear her gaze from Lord Rawcliffe, only to see the landlord, who’d not long since been standing behind a counter directing operations, scowling down at her as though she was some sort of criminal.

‘Remove your hand,’ said Lord Rawcliffe at his most freezing as he lowered his handkerchief, ‘from my fiancée’s shoulder.’

‘Fiancée?’ The word whooshed through the assembled throng like an autumn gale through a forest. But not one of the bystanders sounded more stunned by Lord Rawcliffe’s use of the word than she felt herself.


‘No,’ she began, ‘I’m not—’

‘I know you are angry with me, sweetheart,’ he said, clenching his teeth in the most terrifying smile she’d ever seen. ‘But this is not the place to break off our betrothal.’

‘Betrothal? What do you—?’

But before she could say another word, he swooped.

Got one arm round her waist and one hand to the back of her bonnet to hold her in place.

And smashed his mouth down hard on her lips.

‘Whuh!’ It was all that she managed to say when, as abruptly as he’d started the kiss, he left off. Her mouth felt branded. Her legs were shaking. Her heart was pounding as though she was being chased by Farmer Westthorpe’s bull. Which would have been her fate if she’d fallen into the field, rather than become stuck on one of the lower branches.

‘The rumours,’ he said in a silky voice, ‘about my affair with...well, you know who...are exactly that. Merely rumours.’

‘Affair?’ What business did he have discussing his affairs with her?

‘It is over. Never started. Hang it, sweetheart,’ he growled. ‘How could I ever marry anyone but you? Landlord,’ he said, giving her waist an uncomfortably hard squeeze, which she took as a warning not to say another word, ‘my fiancée and I would like some privacy in which to continue our...discussion.’

And naturally, since he was the almighty Marquess of Rawcliffe, the landlord bowed deeply, and said that of course he had a private room, which he would be delighted to place entirely at their disposal. And then he waved his arm to indicate they should follow him.

Back into the interior of the building she’d just been about to vacate.


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