Given the choice between saving the life of his wife or his unborn child, Lord Strathmore chooses the child, hoping to finally gain a son -- and is shattered to discover he has sacrificed the wife he adored merely for a fifth daughter. Within hours he has taken his four older children and fled to London, leaving the tiny, unwanted babe in the care of servants. Knowing she is unloved, believing herself the cause of her mother's death, that fifth daughter, Maresa, treasures the friendship that grows between her and her lifelong neighbor Percy Bronwell. When she is still too young to understand the complexities of love, she refuses Percy's suggestion of marriage, fearing to alter the friendship that, she believes, makes them closer than any husband and wife could ever be. Later, Maresa travels to Italy to visit her mother's family -- and fate brings Percy into her life once more. The dashing naval officer is chilled to learn that Maresa has accepted an offer of marriage from a man she has come to fear. After a string of broken engagements that have damaged her reputation, her father is demanding that this time she must wed -- and Percy realizes that the only way to keep Maresa safe is to marry her himself. But, after only one night of bliss, the fortunes of war part the lovers, and Maresa will need all the courage Percy's love inspires to secure their future together. Though the story of The Fifth Daughter is at times bittersweet, it has nice touches of humor, drama, and romance -- and a terrific hero.
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