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      “I shall make you a promise,” Jared said.

      “If you find a lady I can love as much as my father loved my mother, I shall marry her—and if she has a fortune so much the better….”

      “You will look for a wealthy bride?”

      “You will look for one for me,” Jared said, and his expression was once again inscrutable. “Present the right lady and I will marry her.”

      “Oh…” Hester looked at him. He seemed to be serious for once. She did not know why she felt reluctant to agree, but he was clearly waiting for her answer. “I shall try….”

      “Good,” Jared said, settling back and closing his eyes.

      Hester frowned. How annoying he was! They were just beginning to get to know one another and now he was refusing to talk to her. And after he had thrown her into confusion by kissing her in such a way that it made her pulse race. He really was too bad! She bit her bottom lip, feeling at odds with herself. She should be pleased that he had almost given his word to stay and marry an heiress if she could find the right one, but somehow she had an awful sinking sensation inside.


      The Unknown Heir

       Harlequin® Historical

      Author Note

      This is a special year for authors, readers and lovers of romance. Harlequin is sixty years old, and this is certainly a cause for celebration. No other publisher has consistently given us the high-quality romance fiction we have come to expect and love from Harlequin.

      As an author, I am thrilled to write for a large international company that retains its family atmosphere. Regency stories continue to flourish, and in this anniversary year I am proud to be contributing The Unknown Heir. I hope you will continue to enjoy my books throughout this year and the years to come.

      I really appreciate my readers and love to hear what you think of my books. You can find out more about me at my Web site, www.lindasole.co.uk.

      The Unknown Heir

      Anne Herries


      Award-winning author Anne Herries lives in Cambridgeshire, England. She is fond of watching wildlife, and spoils the birds and squirrels that are frequent visitors to her garden. Anne loves to write about the beauty of nature, and sometimes puts a little into her books—although they are mostly about love and romance. She writes for her own enjoyment and to give pleasure to her readers. She invites readers to contact her on her Web site: www.lindasole.co.uk.

      Available from Harlequin®Historical and ANNE HERRIES

      The Abducted Bride #135

      Captive of the Harem #145

      The Sheikh #157

      Rosalyn and the Scoundrel #166

      A Matter of Honor #173

      A Perfect Knight #180

      A Knight of Honor #184

      Her Knight Protector #188

      Lady in Waiting #202

      The Adventurer’s Wife #208

      Forbidden Lady #209

      An Improper Companion #227

      The Lord’s Forced Bride #231

      A Wealthy Widow #235

      A Worthy Gentleman #243

      Her Dark and Dangerous Lord #249

      Marianne and the Marquis #258

      Married by Christmas #261

      Marrying Captain Jack #265

      The Unknown Heir #269


      #963 COWBOY CHRISTMAS—Carol Finch, Elizabeth Lane, Pam Crooks

       Take a snowy walk with a sexy rancher, fall in love with an honorable town marshal under the mistletoe and find a smoldering cattleman under your tree this yuletide season! All she wants for Christmas…

      #964 FROM WAIF TO GENTLEMAN’S WIFE—Julia Justiss

       Sir Edward Greaves treads cautiously outside the matrimonial ring. But chivalry compels Ned to accommodate Joanna Anders Merrill, shivering with cold and soaked after walking to his manor. With large eyes set in an oval face, and with her slender frame, Joanna calls to something deep inside Ned. All he can do is direct his staff to tend to her needs—while he contemplates what he should do with her…. Mistress of the Manor!

      #965 HER CINDERELLA SEASON—Deb Marlowe

       Miss Lily Beecham has been taught that pleasure is sinful—now she is determined to find out for herself! Freed from dowdy gowns and dusty books, Lily charms society—except for the cold, aloof and wildly handsome Mr. Jack Alden. At the end of the Season Lily must return to normality—unless the wicked Mr. Alden can save her from a future of good behavior…. She will go to the ball!

      #966 TAMING HER IRISH WARRIOR—Michelle Willingham

       Youngest of the five MacEgan brothers, Ewan has fought hard to better himself. As a girl, Honora St. Leger secretly trained to prove she could wield a sword as well as any man. When Ewan, disarmingly sensual, steals a kiss from her, she succumbs to his forbidden embrace—but this warrior will have to battle to win the woman who gets under his skin like no one else has before…. The warrior’s woman…

      #270 RAGS-TO-RICHES BRIDE—Mary Nichols

       Impoverished beauty Diana Bywater must keep her circumstances secret—her job with Harecrofts depends on it! Then an unwanted marriage proposal from the younger Harecroft son threatens everything…. Captain Richard Harecroft is suspicious of this gently reared girl who has turned his brother’s head. But the closer he gets, the more the mystery of Diana deepens…. Secrets and scandals!


      Chapter One

      Chapter Two

      Chapter Three

      Chapter Four

      Chapter Five

      Chapter Six

      Chapter Seven

      Chapter Eight

      Chapter Nine

      Chapter Ten

      Chapter Eleven

      Chapter One

      Hester Sheldon placed the vase of perfect chrysanthemums on a table in front of the parlour window, gazing out at the sodden grass and dripping trees that fronted the beautiful old house. Shelbourne had been built in the reign of Queen Anne and had all the grace and beauty of its period, though it was looking faded and had suffered some fire damage recently. Hester loved her home, but of late a dark cloud seemed to hang over them, for the family had been deeply affected by the death of her stepfather some months previously. The tragedy had quite possibly led to the Duke of Shelbourne’s illness, and it was these things that made the house she adored seem so empty at times.

      ‘Miss Hester?’

      She turned as the housekeeper came into the room, prepared to deal with whatever might be asked of her since the burden of the estate had fallen on her shoulders these past weeks. Lady Sheldon had been delicate since the death of her husband, and the duke was unable to do more than advise her from his bedchamber.

      ‘Yes, Mrs Mills? Is there something wrong?’

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