Miss Penelope Blayne is furious. A highly competent, well-traveled young woman of twenty-six, she is shocked when the aunt with whom she has lived for most of her life names a male guardian for Penny's considerable inheritance until she is thirty. And, worst of all, the guardian is Jason Lisbourne, Earl of Rocksley, a man she has not seen since a dramatic incident a decade earlier.
Penny arrives at the earl's estate in the midst of an ice storm, only to find a drunken party in progress. Horrified and angry, she is totally unprepared for the earl's proposal the following morning: that it is time they take seriously the vows made under duress in a sultan's harem ten years earlier.
Penny and Jason each recall their days in Constantinople and the disastrous event that began their personal tangle. "What ifs" abound, but common sense now demands they make the best of the noble sacrifice Jason made as a very young man. Also instrumental in the events in Constantinople,is the British Ambassador, Lord Elgin, whose struggles to have his "marbles" accepted by the British Museum become part of the continuing story of the Earl of Rocksley and Miss Penelope Blayne.
Unfortunately, Penny's debut as the Countess of Rocksley is marred by rumors of her time in the harem of the Topkapi palace and by Jason's mistress, who just won't take "no" for an answer. Penny's attempts to fit into society, in both London and Shropshire, come to naught, and she is the one who cuts the Gordian knot binding them together. Will Jason forge a more lasting tie? Does he want to? Or has he suffered enough for a youthful excess of heroism?
Author's Note: The Harem Bride is a tad "warmer" than my other Regency romances, and perhaps not suitable for every reader.
". . . The book also has an ambiance that is simply of a different flavor than that of a typical Regency. If you like daring and originality in your Regency authors, I suggest that you pick up all the Blair Bancroft titles you can get your hands on."
Barbara Hume, Rakehell
"Blair Bancroft does it again! . . . once again, she has offered us a tale rich with Regency settings, but unique in characters and plot. . . . Bravo, Ms. Bancroft, for not being afraid to shake the genre up a bit - I think the Prince Regent himself would have applauded your daring."
Celia Merenyi, A Romance Review
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