Title: Rivals of Fortune & The Impetuous Heiress
Author: Jane Ashford
Pubdate: May 3rd, 2016
Two classic Regency romances from beloved bestselling author Jane Ashford
RIVALS OF FORTUNE — Joanna Rowntree thought she would die of a broken heart when her one true love married another—until not one but two fascinating newcomers appear on neighboring estates. As the roughhewn Jonathan Erland and the polished Sir Rollin Denby engage in a heated competition for her hand, Joanna realizes her heart is alive and well—but to whom will she give it?
THE IMPETUOUS HEIRESS — When spoiled Lady Alicia Alston, privileged daughter of a duke, is accidentally tossed into a ravine after a wild gallop with Ian MacClain, Earl of Cairnyllan, she expects a proposal as soon as is convenient. The stubborn Scot has other ideas. It takes a headlong journey to prevent an elopement to give Alicia and Ian a chance to clear up misunderstandings and figure out what they find so damnably passion-inducing about one another…
Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S. Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.
An Excerpt for Rivals of Fortune
“Of course we can’t stop now,” agreed Frederick, full of contempt for the faint hearts. “We are nearly done.”
“Nonetheless,” said Erland, “I say that we put off finishing until tomorrow.”
As he spoke, everyone was suddenly reminded that this was, after all, his property. Something in his tone and bearing informed them, very politely, that they were being asked to leave.
Sir Rollin Denby smiled. “A guinea on the lord of the manor,” he murmured to himself.
Mr. Rowntree was frowning at their host. “But see here, Erland, what can it matter to you? You needn’t do anything.”
The other man smiled gently. “If you’ll pardon me, sir, I think that unlikely. I shall have to find the necessary materials for rigging a pulley, and Gerald and I have done most of the heavy work so far.” Joanna’s father started to speak, but he held up a hand. “And I am very ready to go on. Tomorrow.”
“A flush hit,” murmured Sir Rollin.
“No!” cried Frederick. “I won’t give up now. We cannot leave it all open this way for any…”
“Frederick,” interrupted Erland, “I should like to speak to you.” He beckoned commandingly. Frederick frowned, looked at him, then went.
Joanna joined her father but couldn’t decide if she would have preferred to go on with the work tonight. She was dirty, tired, and hungry, but now that the stone was really being raised, the excitement about what might lie beneath it offset these things. However, clearly, they could not argue with Erland on his own land, so she said, “Mother will be wondering where we have got to today.”
Mr. Rowntree appeared to struggle with himself for a moment, then, reluctantly, gave in. Joanna looked, without much hope, to Frederick and found him transfigured. Whatever Mr. Erland had said to him had dissolved all his objections in a moment.
They all walked back to the house together, Templeton and Carstairs taking their leave, Sir Rollin following them. While the Rowntrees were waiting for their carriage to be brought around, Joanna went to speak to their host.
“What did you say to Frederick?” she asked. “I was sure he would make a great fuss over leaving.”
Erland smiled down at her. “We have an agreement, he and I.”
“But what is it?”
“Oh no, I may not tell.”
“Just as you may not tell me what he was doing all day in your house?”
“But how would I know that?”
“You know. Frederick told me you did. I must say I think it is horrid of you, both of you, to plot without me. I was in this from the beginning, and now you won’t tell me what is happening. Frederick was clearing out his secret passageway today, wasn’t he? Did he find anything?”
Erland shrugged and smiled.
Joanna’s eyes flashed. “It’s too bad of you to treat me this way!”
Seeing that she was really angry, the man said, “Miss Joanna, this could be a dangerous hunt, you know, now that we seem close to whatever my uncle left. I don’t think you should be involved.”
Joanna tossed her head. “But my young brother should? A mere boy?”
Erland smiled again, then suppressed it. “I will watch over Frederick. Believe me, I shall take care.”
She glared at him. “If it is safe for Frederick, it is for me as well.”
Erland looked uncomfortable. “Well, we also thought it best to keep our progress as close as possible. All through this affair, too many people have known…”
“You think I will tell tales then?” exploded Joanna, now thoroughly enraged. “You think I can’t keep a secret?” She nearly walked away from him then, but somehow she could not. She wanted to show him just how mistaken he was.
The man reddened. “I did not mean…”
“Have I done so before?” she continued quickly. “Am I branded as a tattlebox then?”
Erland’s brows came together. “I never said that. But…”
“Well, I believe you have mentioned several things to Sir Rollin Denby that we would have preferred…” He trailed off in embarrassment.
Joanna opened her mouth to confound him, and realized that he was right. In her foolish infatuation, she had told Sir Rollin nearly everything. She crimsoned. It could not matter what Denby knew, but it mattered very much indeed that Mr. Erland knew she had told him and what he thought about that fact. “I…I didn’t,” she stammered. “I didn’t mean…”
“Of course, you meant no harm,” said Erland quickly.
“No, and I…” Joanna struggled with pride and her intense desire to have this man respect her. “I didn’t understand,” she managed. “I was mistaken in him.”
“Mistaken? In Sir Rollin, you mean?”
She nodded. “I thought he was so splendid, but he is not!”
“Not?” Erland looked down at her, some emotion growing in his eyes, and in that moment, Joanna realized that she wanted more than respect from this unusual man. She wanted love. He was nothing like the figure she had set up as her ideal short months ago, but she saw now that he was everything one could desire in a partner—intelligent, brave, kind, and principled. How stupid she had been not to see this before, how silly and young and stupid. “Oh, I wish I could do something to help you,” she cried.
Erland held her eyes for a moment, then took her hand. “You help me simply by existing,” he answered, and he brought her hand up and kissed it.
An Excerpt for The Impetuous Heiress
Together, the two riders thundered along the path. Trees and undergrowth flashed by. They leapt another tiny ravine—first Alicia, then Cairnyllan arching up and over and landing at full gallop. Alicia’s laughter floated back as she held her lead, and the sound brought a grim smile to the earl’s ruddy face. He bent lower, but he did not close the short distance between them.
Finally, Alicia pulled up beside a massive oak, and he swung in beside her. They were both breathing quickly, and when their eyes met, both smiled. “How dare you ride that way sidesaddle?” wondered Cairnyllan. “I certainly wouldn’t want to try it.”
She laughed. “I have ridden so all my life.” Her smile turned reminiscent. “Though I used to go astride as well, when I was younger.”
He raised one eyebrow, but replied merely, “You have the finest seat I have ever seen in a woman.”
“Or a man?” she retorted. “I managed to beat you.”
“I didn’t want to founder your horse.” He sounded amused. “If I had one of my own…”
“Oh, of course.” She taunted him a little.
“And you had a good ten yards start,” he added, beginning to be nettled.
“Shall we try it again from here?” Alicia gazed into his eyes challengingly. She still felt immensely excited, and she realized now that this was not entirely due to the gallop. She had enjoyed winning the race, as she always did, but the presence of Ian MacClain had somehow intensified the sensation. Looking at him now, his ruddy hair brilliant in a shaft of sun and his blue eyes glinting, Alicia was abruptly flooded with a surge of desire. She thought of kissing him, and a thrill shivered through her.
Alicia had been kissed before, twice, in fits of great daring that she had later brushed aside, along with the gentlemen so favored. It had been an interesting experience, one that she was glad to have had but was disinclined to repeat. But watching Cairnyllan’s face, she was suddenly certain that with him it would not be the same at all.
The earl seemed to sense the change in her thoughts. He looked slightly startled at the heat in her eyes, then his own flickered and, at the same time, hardened a bit, conveying an equally intense response. They remained very still for a long moment, eyes locked, then Alicia took a shaky breath and wheeled her mare into a gallop again.
This time, Cairnyllan was right behind her. Alicia could see Whitefoot’s head in the corner of her eye, and her heart began to pound in rhythm with the hoofbeats. She found it difficult to breathe, and her mare, feeling the uncertainty in her hands, stumbled a little over a rock in the path. Alicia pulled her head up, and they recovered, but the hesitation had allowed the earl to come abreast.
Side by side, they raced, throwing brief glances at one another. Both bent low and urged their horses forward with knees and thoughts, intent on the contest between them.
Alicia was certain she was pulling ahead again when the widest ravine they had yet encountered loomed before them. It was at least six feet to the other side, she estimated, perhaps more. She could take it, of course, but…reluctantly, she started to ease the mare back from her headlong gallop, to prepare for the jump. Then she saw that Cairnyllan was making no such prudent move. He was going to attempt it flat out. She let her hand drop again, then quickly changed her mind. She couldn’t be sure of making the jump unless she slowed. And neither could he, she thought irritably. He seemed to have forgotten his worries over her horse.
Cairnyllan pulled ahead, and Whitefoot launched out over the ravine. Alicia caught one glimpse as he seemed to falter, then she herself was flying up and landing on the opposite side. Her mare stumbled slightly, then they were galloping along the path again.
After a moment, when the earl did not come up with her, Alicia turned. She saw Whitefoot some yards behind, his bridle dragging, slightly favoring his left forefoot. At once, she wheeled and raced back to the ravine.
Cairnyllan was in it. He had just picked himself up, in fact, and was brushing at the sleeve of his riding coat. Luckily, he had landed in a spot free of thorns, but he would have to push through a great clump of blackberry to get out.
“Are you all right?” called Alicia.
“Yes.” His tone was curt, and he sounded angry.
“Good,” Alicia snapped, and turned back to reassure the shaken animal. After a few moments an angry exclamation came from the ravine, and Alicia looked again at the earl.
Despite stern self-admonition, she began to laugh. He looked so funny standing there scowling, his head not even reaching the level of the path.
“Very amusing, I’ve no doubt,” said MacClain, the Scottish burr of his R’s intensified. “Suppose you give me a hand up.”
Alicia stifled her laughter and surveyed the situation. It would not be easy getting him out. The ravine was small but very steep. She would have to dismount. Sliding to the ground, she searched for a branch but found nothing. There were no large trees nearby. Finally, she crouched above him and extended her riding crop for him to grasp. It was not the most stable position, but the earl seemed likely to explode if she did not do something quickly, and she felt sympathy as well as amusement at his plight. How she would hate to be in it!
Cairnyllan grabbed the end of the riding crop and started to climb, but, in his impatience he pulled far too hard, and in the next instant, Alicia had tumbled forward into his arms and both of them were on the floor of the ravine in a heap.
Rivals of Fortune / The Impetuous Heiress by Jane Ashford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Rivals of Fortune/ The Impetuous Heiress by Jane Ashford are a 2016 Soucebooks Casablanca publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Two for the price of one! How can you beat that? This book as two stories in it, the first one being, “Rivals of Fortune.”
This story begins with Joanna Rowntree in tears, watching the clock, knowing that at that very moment the man she thought she would marry someday, is getting married to someone else. To add insult to injury, the newlyweds are returning to the country to live, which means Joanna will have to face them. However, Joanna soon finds her hurt feelings and broken heart has healed with amazing speed, when she makes new friends and is sought after by not one, but two men!
This classic regency romance, originally published in the early 1980’s, is the very definition of fluff, the plot is as transparent as glass, but it is also simply delightful. Joanna’s character is annoying at first, but slowly begins to mature and realize what really matters in life. But, she must endure some humiliation, and will make some monumental mistakes along the way.
While normally, the silly, petulant characters, like Joanna, would find my last nerve and sit on it, I couldn’t help but smile while reading this one. Mainly, it is because I know this is a classic romance, and that is why it’s so charming. This is a nice, clean, sweet romance, with a little adventure and intrigue tossed in to keep things interesting.
Overall, a fun, entertaining and easy read. 4 stars
The second book featured is:
The Impetuous Heiress
This story centers around bored, spoiled, Lady Alicia Alston, the daughter of a Duke. She is intrigued by the arrival to London of the Scottish Earl of Cairnyllan, Ian MacClain. Alicia is accustomed to having men fawn over her, so when Ian is decidedly unimpressed she becomes flustered, and finds herself actually having to work at garnering his respect.
Ian, hates the Haute Ton with a passion, and Alicia represents all that he resents about it. He immediately makes judgments about her, and the two end up at odds for one reason or another almost to the bitter end.
In this story, Alicia’s character proves more substantial than what appears on the surface and Ian, a product of his past, proves to be one stubborn, difficult nut to crack. Can Alicia melt his heart and show him the error of his ways?
This story was originally published in 1984, and is another typical Regency romance of that era. For such a short book, there is a rather large cast of characters, with a few side stories and romances, that disrupted the flow of the story, making it just a little too ‘busy’.
However, this is a lot of fun to read, especially knowing it is a classic Regency, written in a traditional style, that despite its flaws, is charming. Once again, this story is clean and sweet, an easy read, and terrific vintage fun!
So overall, I think it is very important that everyone is aware these stories are classic, or retro romance reads, and if that is made clear, I believe the approach to these vintage regencies will prevent the modern reader from misjudging it.
For those who are familiar with this author, and love the old style Regency stories, this new digital release is a real treasure and is so much fun to re-read. I’m so happy to see these stories restored and available for everyone to enjoy anytime, anyplace.