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Best Short Contemporary 2006


Rita Award Winner





Best Harlequin Romance for 2006





Best Mills & Boon 

'Tender' Romance








TOP PICK! Confined to a wheelchair since an accident three years ago, artist Matilda Lang keeps men at bay with her sharp wit. That all changes when she meets banker Sebastian Wolseley at her friend’s wedding. Not intimidated by Matty — or her disability — Sebastian makes her feel like a woman again. But she’s not ready for The Marriage Miracle (4½) quite yet. Matty’s convinced that Sebastian’s interest in her has more to do with business than with romance — and it’s up to Sebastian to change her mind! Liz Fielding’s latest is a charming combination of reality and fantasy, liberally laced with humor. Truly excellent.
Catherine Witner, Romantic Times, 4½ stars

Romantic fiction does not get any better than this! Liz Fielding is a master of the genre whose stories never fail to delight. Poignant, romantic and impossible to resist, The Marriage Miracle is another book by Liz Fielding which has got keeper written all over it!
Julie Bonello, Cataromance






Have you read all of Liz's backlist books?  Not sure?  Check out the titles here.




From the first moment  Matty Lang whizzed onto the pages of A WIFE ON PAPER I knew she was trouble.  At one point she was in danger of eclipsing the heroine, running off with the hero and ruining my plot, so we struck a bargain, Matty and I.  She would behave and I would write her a story of her own. 


It took me a while.   There is no such thing as an “easy” book, but I knew that this one would cause me more problems than most and because Matty deserved something special, something that would stretch me, I kept putting it off.


But Matty was in my head and eventually I reached a point where I could no longer put off the hard work – and the joy – of writing her book.


The Marriage Miracle - US cover



I couldn’t have done it without some help.   My sincerest thanks go to Anne Bennett who was generous with her time.   I’m grateful, too, to the Spinal Research Organisation for their help with background information.


FUNERALS and weddings, Sebastian Wolseley hated them both.  At least the first absolved him from attending the more tedious part of the second.  And gave him a cast-iron excuse to leave the celebrations once he’d done his duty by one of his oldest friends. 

The last thing he felt like doing was celebrating.

‘You look as if you could do with something stronger.’

He turned from the depressed contemplation of the glass in his hand to acknowledge the woman who’d broken into his thoughts.  She was the sole occupant of a table littered with the remains of the lavish buffet.  The only one who had not decamped to the marquee and the dance floor.  From the cool, steady way she was looking at him he had the unsettling notion that she’d been watching him, unnoticed, for some time.  But then she wasn’t the kind of woman you’d notice.

Her colouring was non-descript, mousy.  She was too thin for anything approaching beauty and her pick-up line too corny to hook his interest under normal circumstances.  But her features were strong, her eyes glittered with intelligence and it was more than just good manners that stopped him from putting down the glass and walking away. 

‘Do you tap dance for an encore?’ he asked.

She lifted her eyebrows, but she didn’t smile.  ‘Tap dance?’

‘You’re not the cabaret?  A mind reading act, perhaps?’  He heard the biting sarcasm coming from his mouth and wished he’d walked.  He had no business inflicting his black mood on innocent bystanders.  Or sitters. 

‘It doesn’t take a mind-reader to see that you’re not exactly focussed on this whole ‘till-death-us-do-part’ thing,’ she countered, still not smiling, but not storming off, offended, either.  ‘You’ve been holding your glass for so long that the contents must be warm.  In fact I’d go as far as to suggest that you’d look more at home at a wake than at a reception to celebrate the blessing of a marriage.’

‘Definitely a mind-reader,’ he said, finally abandoning the barely touched glass on her table.  ‘Although I have a feeling that the wake I’ve just left will by now be making this party look sedate.’ 

And then he felt really guilty. 

First he’d been rude to the woman and when that didn’t drive her away, he’d tried to embarrass her.  Apparently without success.  She merely tilted her head slightly to the side, reminding him of an inquisitive bird.

‘Was it someone close?’ she enquired, rejecting the usual hushed, reverential tone more usually adopted when speaking to the recently bereaved.  She might just as easily have been asking him if he’d like a cup of tea.

Such matter-of-factness was an oddly welcome respite from the madness that had overtaken his life in the last week and for the first time in days he felt a little of the tension slip away. 

‘Close enough.  It was my mad, bad Uncle George.’  Then, ‘Well, he was a distant cousin actually, but he was so much older...’

She propped her elbows on the table, framing her chin with her hands.  ‘In what way was he mad and bad?’

‘In much the same way as his namesake, Byron.’

Even in the dusky twilight of a long summer evening, with only candles and the fairy lights strung from the trees for illumination, her face had no softness, nothing of conventional prettiness, but her fine skin was stretched over good bones.  The strength, it occurred to him, came from within.  She wasn’t flirting with him.  She was interested.

‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know.  Such a temptation for foolish women.  So, was the riotous wake, an expression of relief,’ she continued, earnestly, ‘or a celebration of a life lived to the full?’

Too late now to walk away, even if he’d wanted to and pulling out the chair opposite her, he sat down.

‘That rather depends on your point of view.  The family tended to the former, his friends to the latter.’

‘And you?’

He sat back.  ‘I’m still struggling to come to terms with it,’ he said.  ‘But how many people, knowing that they have weeks left, would have taken the trouble to arrange the kind of theatrical exit that would bring joy to his friends and scandalise his family?  The kind of extravagant wake that people will be talking about for years?’

‘Theatrical?’  She looked thoughtful.  ‘Are we talking black horses?  Ostrich plumes?’

‘The works.  Queen Victoria would have been proud,’ he said.  ‘Although whether she would have been amused by a wake at which nothing but smoked salmon, caviar and vintage champagne was served, I’m not so sure.’

‘Sounds good to me.’

‘Yes, well, he wanted everyone to have a damn good time; an instruction which his many friends are, even now, taking to their hearts.’

‘That doesn’t sound mad or bad to me, but rather wonderful.  So why aren’t you?’

‘Having a damn good time?’  Good question.  ‘Perhaps because I’m in mourning for my own life.’  She waited, apparently the perfect listener; recognising that he needed someone to talk to, knowing that sometimes only a stranger will do.  ‘I’m the one he nominated to clear up the empties – metaphorically speaking -- when the partying is done.’

‘Really?’  She didn’t miss the oddity that he’d choose a much younger, apparently distant relative.  ‘You’re a lawyer?’

‘A banker.

‘Oh, well, that’s a good choice.’

‘Not if you’re the banker in question.’

She pulled a face.  Not exactly a smile, but oddly cheering nonetheless.  ‘Obviously the reckoning is about more than a few crates of champagne.’ 

‘I’m afraid so, but you’re right, it’s terribly bad manners to bring my troubles to a wedding.  I really hadn’t intended doing more than put in an appearance to toast the happy couple and I’ve done that.  I should call a taxi.’ 

He didn’t move.    

‘Would a decent single-malt whisky help lay your ghosts?’ 

There was nothing of the mouse about her eyes, he decided.  They were an unusual colour, more amber than brown with a fringe of thick lashes and her mouth was wide and full.  He had a sudden notion to see it smile, really smile.

‘It might,’ he conceded.  ‘I’m prepared to give it a try if you’ll join me.’  Then he looked towards the heaving marquee and wished he’d kept his mouth shut.  The last thing he wanted to do was push his way through the joyful throng to the bar.

‘No need to battle through the dancing hordes,’ she assured him.  ‘Just go through those French windows and you’ll find a decanter on the sofa table.’

He glanced towards the house, then at her, this time rather more closely.   

‘Making rather free with our host’s hospitality, aren’t you?’ he suggested, vaguely surprised to discover that he was the one grinning.

‘He wouldn’t object, but in this instance the hospitality is mine.  I live in the garden flat,’ she said, offering her hand.  ‘Matty Lang.  Best woman and cousin to the bride.’

‘Sebastian Wolseley,’ he replied, taking it.  Her hand was small, but there was nothing soft about it and her grip was firm. 

‘The big-shot New York banker?  I wondered what you’d look like when I was writing the invitations.’

‘You did?’  He recalled the exquisite copper-plate script that had adorned the gilt-edged invitation card to the blessing of the marriage of Francesca and Guy Dymoke and reception they were holding in their garden to celebrate the fact.  ‘Isn’t it the bride’s job to write the invitations?’

‘I’ve no idea, but in the event the bride had other things on her mind at the time.’

‘Oh, well, so long as she has time to concentrate on her marriage I don’t suppose it matters who writes them.  She runs her own company I understand.’

‘She didn’t have much choice,’ Matty replied, rather less cordially and it occurred to him that he must have sounded unnecessarily critical. 

‘No?’ he asked, not especially interested in who’d written the invitations or why, but he’d been rude -- wedding celebrations tended to bring out the worst in him;  good manners demanded that he allow his victim to put him right. 

‘No,’ she repeated.  ‘But on this occasion she wasn’t upstairs busily drumming up some brilliant new PR stunt, she was in the throes of childbirth.’

‘That would certainly count as a legitimate excuse,’ he agreed.

Perhaps deciding that she’d overreacted slightly, Matty Lang lifted her shoulders in a minimal shrug.  ‘To be honest, I did feel a bit guilty afterwards.  She really wanted to write them herself, but I had to do something to keep my mind occupied and I’d have only been in the way upstairs.’ 

‘You did them quite beautifully,’ he assured her.  ‘I hope she was properly grateful.’

‘Gratitude doesn’t come into it.’  Then, ‘Are you and Guy close friends?’ she asked, not that easily appeased. ‘Or is this duty visit simply the gloss on a thoroughly bloody day?’

‘I didn’t say it was a duty visit.  Merely that I hadn’t intended to stay for long.  As for friendship, well Guy and I bonded at university over our mutual interest in beer and women...’  Realising that was perhaps not the most tactful thing to say at the man’s wedding celebrations, he took a verbal side-step and went on, ‘But you’re right, we haven’t seen nearly enough of one another in the last few years.  I live...’ -- lived, he mentally corrected himself, lived -- ‘ New York.  And Guy never stayed put in one place long enough to catch up with him.’

‘He’s a regular stay-at-home these days, I promise you,’ she assured him. 

‘Good for him.’  Then, ‘Why?’ 

‘Why is he a regular stay-at home?’

‘One look at his wife answers that question,’ he replied.  ‘Why did you want to know what I look like?’

‘Oh, I see.  Well, as best woman I get the pick of the unattached males.’  At which point, he was amused to see the faintest touch of a blush colour the cheeks of the very cool Miss Lang.  ‘Guy, I have to tell you, was no help,’ she went on, quickly.  ‘The best he could come up with for you was tallish and darkish.  Friends you might be, but my enquiry regarding the colour of your eyes met with a total blank.’

‘No?  Well, to be honest I couldn’t say what colour his are, either, but it’s been a while since we’ve been in the same country.’

‘His excuse was that he’d left gazing into your eyes to the countless females who trailed after you, but even if he had been more observant, I can well understand his difficulty.’

‘Okay, I’m hooked.  In what way are my eyes difficult?’ 

‘They’re not difficult, just changeable.  At first sight I would have said they were grey, but now I’m not so sure.’  Then, ‘Drink?’ she prompted.  ‘Add a little water to mine.  Not too much.’

‘Are you sure you shouldn’t be doing your “best woman” duty and strutting your stuff with the best man?’

There was just the tiniest hesitation before she said, ‘Would you believe he’s married?  To the most gorgeous redhead you’ve ever seen.  I ask you, what’s the point of a best man who isn’t available for the best woman to have her wicked way with him?  I can’t believe someone as smart as Guy could get it so wrong.’

‘Shocking,’ he said, almost, but not totally certain that she was kidding.  Women usually smiled at him.  This one didn’t.  He’d changed his mind about the flirting; she was flirting quite outrageously, but she didn’t smile, or bat her eyelashes, or do anything that women usually did.  He wasn’t exactly sure what she was doing, but she’d got his full attention.  ‘Definitely time for that drink.’  Then, since flirting under any circumstances should not be a one-way transaction, ‘Unless I can offer myself as a substitute?’

‘For the best man?’ 

‘Since you’ve been so badly let down,’ he confirmed. 

Guy had asked him, but he hadn’t anticipated being in London at the time...

‘Are you suggesting that we disappear into the shrubbery and fool around, Mr Wolseley?’

  Her gaze was steady as a rock, and that wide mouth hadn’t so much as twitched.  For a moment he found himself floundering, as if he’d stepped, unexpectedly, out of his depth.   

  He took a slow breath to steady himself and said, ‘Well, to be honest, that’s a little fast for me, Miss Lang.  I like to get to know a girl before I take her clothes off.  And I prefer to do it in comfort.’

‘That’s no fun.  Not entering into the spirit of the thing at all.’  

‘I don’t have to know her that well,’ he said, seriously.  ‘A dance or two, dinner maybe?  Once that hurdle is passed and we get to first name terms I’m perfectly willing to be led astray.’

  From the book The Marriage Miracle, by Liz Fielding
ISBN 037303914X[US]
Imprint: Tender TM & Harlequin Romance (R)
(R) & TM are trademarks of the publisher




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