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Some three months later, the whole affair was tied up. Miss Jerningham was due to arrive on the Plassey, a frigate sailing from Calcutta, within the week. There was one last explosion of rage on the part of the viscount when Peter announced, on the day before Miss Jerningham was due to arrive, that he was taking a long sojourn in the country. But by supper on the fifth of September, the sullen bridegroom had taken himself off to his club rather than to Herefordshire, and Viscount Dewland repeated over stewed pigeon that the marriage would be an excellent solution to all their problems. There was an unspoken acknowledgment between Thurlow and his wife that Peter, if left to his own devices, might indeed never marry.
"He'll settle down once the girl arrives," Thurlow declared.
"They will have beautiful children," added Kitty.
Only Quill seemed to have a growing sense of unease about the forthcoming marriage. After his parents left the salon, he walked restlessly to the windows overlooking the gardens. He leaned forward, resting his forehead against the hard curve of his forearm, shifting his weight slightly from his protesting right leg. He was accustomed to the blustery explosion of his father's rage. He had tolerated it for years by listening in silence and then following his own inclination. Peter had ever bent with the wind, and so it was no surprise that ultimately he gave in to the viscount's plans. Surely Peter could not have really thought to escape marriage, once it became clear that he or his son would inherit the title someday.
But an uneasy chill sat on Quill's heart. He remembered the girl's name, even if no one else did: Gabrielle Jerningham. And what would Gabrielle's life be like with Peter as her husband? It would be an urbane life, a sophisticated life. Likely the young couple would share the kind of marriage Quill saw frequently in the ton: cool and friendly.
He straightened, moving into a great arching stretch. His body was outlined by light thrown against the dark glass, every muscle caressed by his clothing. It was a body honed by denial, exercise, and pain: a body whose master knew its every strength and its every weakness. It was not the body of an average gentleman of the London ton in 1806.
Quill shrugged back his hair. Damned if it wasn't getting unfashionably long again. For a moment he froze, struck by a memory of the wind screaming past his face, wrenching his hair back from his scalp as he rode a galloping stallion.
But horses, like sex, had become a delight whose payment was greater than the offered pleasure. The rhythmic motion of horseback riding invariably instigated three days of agony in a darkened room, his body covered in sweat and gripped by nausea, his head clenched in a steel band of pain. And the only advice doctors had offered was that his head injury of six years ago had led to an inability to endure rhythm. Any kind of rhythm.
Quill's jaw hardened and he mentally shrugged off the image of a galloping horse. To his mind there was nothing worse than lamenting what could not be. Women and horses were simply part of his past, and no part of his future.
Then he grinned. The very sports he was mourning -- a hard riding session and a woman's nightly companionship -- were delights that held absolutely no interest for Peter. Lord, but he and his brother were as alike as chalk and cheese.
At any rate, he was probably worrying about Gabrielle and Peter for naught. Peter might not like the idea of marriage, but he did love female companionship. A decorous French miss, with whom Peter could gossip, discuss fashion, and attend balls, might well become his closest friend. And Gabrielle was an elegant name, one that brought to mind a woman versed in the ways of the world. Peter had a great admiration -- nay, a passion -- for beauty. Surely an exquisite young Frenchwoman would be able to coax him into compliance with an unwanted marriage.
Unfortunately, Quill would have abandoned that hope could he have seen the aforementioned exquisite Frenchwoman.
Peter's fiancee was kneeling on the floor of her cabin, looking into the eager face of a young girl who sat before her on a small tuffet. Gabrielle's hair was tumbling about her ears, and her old-fashioned dress was crumpled. The last thing she resembled was a sophisticated French miss from La Belle Assemblee.
"The tiger crept through the tangled jungle." Gabby's voice was a thrilling whisper. "He put one paw softly before the next, barely disturbing the song of the magpies far above. His long tongue licked his chops at the thought of the delicious meal that trotted before him."
Phoebe Pensington, a five-year-old orphan being sent to live with English relatives, shivered as Gabby, whose soft brown eyes had taken on a tigerish glare, continued.
"But when the tiger reached the edge of the forest, he stopped short. The goat was walking along the shore, his white hooves prancing at the very edge of the tumbling azure waves of the Indian Ocean. And the tiger was afraid of water. His stomach urged him to follow, but his heart pounded with fear. He stopped in the speckled shade of a bongo-bongo tree--"
"But Miss Gabby," Phoebe broke in anxiously, "what did the tiger have for supper that night if he didn't eat the goat? Wouldn't he be hungry?"
Gabby's brown eyes lit with amusement. "Perhaps the tiger was so mortified by his own lack of courage that he went to a far-off mountaintop and lived on nothing but fruits and vegetables."
"I don't think so." Phoebe was a very practical little girl. "I think it's more likely that the tiger would have gone after that goat and eaten him up."
"The tiger had a cat's natural abhorrence for water," Gabby said. "He didn't see the beauty of the waves as they danced into shore. To him the curling waves looked like the claws of tiny crabs, reaching out to nibble his bones!"
Phoebe gave a thrilled little shriek just as the door to the cabin swung open, breaking the spell of Gabby's voice.
The black-gowned figure of Eudora Sibbald stared at the scene before her. Miss Gabrielle Jerningham was unaccountably positioned on the floor. As always, her hair was tumbling out of its knot and her dress was rumpled. It wasn't for Mrs. Sibbald to recognize the beauty of Gabby's shining golden-brown hair as it worked loose from pins and combs and assumed its normal position: halfway up and halfway down. No -- what Phoebe's governess saw was a proper hoyden, a young lady whose hair echoed her general demeanor.
"Phoebe." Her voice rasped like a rusty gate.
Phoebe scrambled to her feet and bobbed a curtsy.
"Miss Jerningham," Mrs. Sibbald continued, rather as if she were addressing a recalcitrant scullery maid.
Gabby was already on her feet and greeting Mrs. Sibbald with a charming smile. "Do forgive us--" she began.
But Mrs. Sibbald interrupted. "Miss Jerningham, I might have misunderstood you." Her bearing indicated that she never misunderstood anything. "I trust that I did not hear you mention nibbled bones?"
Really, Gabby thought to herself, Sibbald couldn't have entered at a worse moment.
"Oh, no," Gabby said, her voice soothing. "I was merely telling Phoebe an improving tale from the Bible."
Mrs. Sibbald's jaw lengthened. She'd heard what she'd heard, and it didn't sound like any Bible tale to her.
"The story of Jonah and the whale," Gabby added hastily. "You know, Mrs. Sibbald, since my father is a missionary, I find it quite natural to relate stories from the Bible wherever I go."
Mrs. Sibbald's mouth relaxed slightly. "Well, in that case, Miss Jerningham," she allowed. "However, I must beg you not to overexcite the child. Excitement is injurious to the digestion. And where is Master Kasi Rao Holkar?"
"I believe Kasi is taking a nap at the present, Mrs. Sibbald. He mentioned a wish to retire."
"If you'll forgive me for saying so, Miss Jerningham, you coddle that boy. Prince or not, a deserving tale from the Bible would do him some good. After all, he's a native. Lord only knows what sort of influences he had as a child."
"Kasi grew up in my house," Gabby said. "I assure you that he is as Christian as little Phoebe."
"An unfeasible comparison," Mrs. Sibbald announced. "No Indian could be as Christian as an English child.
"It is teatime," she announced. "Miss Jerningham, your hair has fallen again. I advise that your coiffure receive immediate attention." And on that lowering note, Mrs. Sibbald left the cabin.
Gabby sighed and sank into a chair, realizing that there did seem to be a large number of wispy curls hanging about her face. Then she felt a tug on her gown.
"Miss Gabby, she forgot me. Do you think I ought to remind her?" Round blue eyes stared worshipfully at Gabby.
Gabby pulled Phoebe's leggy little body up onto her lap. "I swear you have grown half a head in this trip," she said.
"I know," Phoebe replied, looking with disapproval at the hem of her gown. She stuck out a booted leg. "My dress has become so short that my pantaloons are beginning to show!" Her eyes were round with horror at that idea.
"When you reach England, I'm sure that you will have a new dress."
"Do you think she'll like me?" Phoebe whispered into Gabby's shoulder.
"Will who like you?"
"My new mother."
"How could she not like you? You are the sweetest five-year-old girl aboard this whole ship," Gabby said, rubbing her cheek against Phoebe's soft hair. "In fact, you may well be the sweetest five-year-old who ever sailed from India."
Phoebe pressed closer. "Because when I had to say good-bye to my ayah" -- a farewell that seemed to have traumatized her far more than the untimely deaths of two parents she scarcely recognized -- "my ayah said that I must be very, very good or my new mama will not like me, since I don't have any money to bring her."
Gabby silently cursed Phoebe's ayah -- and not for the first time. "Phoebe," she said as firmly as she could, "money has nothing to do with whether a mother loves her babies or not. Your new mother would love you even if you arrived in your nightdress!"
And she devoutly hoped it was true. From what the captain had told her, there had been no answer to the letter sent to Phoebe's only living relative, her maternal aunt.
"Miss Gabby," Phoebe said, her tone hesitant. "Why did you tell Mrs. Sibbald that your story was of Jonah and the whale? My ayah told me never to tell an untruth -- and especially never to a hired person. And Mrs. Sibbald is a hired person, isn't she? She was hired to accompany me to England."
Gabby gave Phoebe another little hug. "Your ayah was right in the main. But sometimes a fib is permissible if you can make someone feel happy. Mrs. Sibbald would very much like to think that you are learning stories from the Bible. And when I told her you were, she felt happy."
"I don't think Mrs. Sibbald ever feels happy," Phoebe observed, after thinking about it for a time.
"You could be right," Gabby replied. "But in that case, Phoebe, it is even more important not to overset her."
"Do you think that if I told my new mama that I had some money it would make her happy? Would it make her like me?"
Gabby swallowed. "Oh, sweet pea, I am only talking about little fibs. You couldn't say such a thing to your new mother! That's a big untruth, as opposed to a small one. And it is very important not to tell even small untruths to important people like your new mother."
There was an unconvinced silence.
Gabby thought desperately. Really, for all her eagerness to have children, she was beginning to see that it was far more difficult than she had imagined.
"Are you bringing any money to your new husband?" Phoebe's voice was muffled because she had her face pressed to Gabby's shoulder.
"Yes," Gabby said reluctantly. "But that money will not make Peter love me."
Phoebe's face popped up like an inquisitive robin from its nest. "Why not?"
"Peter will love me for myself," Gabby said with quiet conviction. "Just as your mother will love you for yourself."
The little girl hopped onto her feet. "Well, then, why did you tell Mrs. Sibbald that Kasi was in his chamber having a nap? That wasn't true, and it didn't make her happy."
"A different kind of rule," Gabby explained. "My sweet Kasi is frightened to death of Mrs. Sibbald."
"What kind of rule?" Phoebe inquired.
"You have to protect the weak from the strong," Gabby said, and then amended herself. "That's not exactly right, Phoebe. You know what Kasi is like. Handing him to Mrs. Sibbald would be like feeding the goat to the tiger."
There was a slight noise behind the screen protecting the tub from plain sight. The little girl peered around the screen. "Kasi Rao, it's time to get out of there." She put her small hands on her hips. "What would Mrs. Sibbald say if she could see you in the tub with all your clothes on?"
"Let him stay there if he prefers," Gabby called across the room.
But Phoebe shook her head firmly and stated, with a force that Mrs. Sibbald would have admired, "It is time to have tea, Kasi. You needn't worry. I won't let Gabby talk about the tiger again."
A very slender boy with innocent eyes that took up half his face peeked around the corner of the screen and then checked, unwilling to emerge from the safety of the corner.
Phoebe took his hand and tugged. "There is no one here but us, Kasi."
Soft brown eyes darted back and forth between Gabby's smiling face and the hand she held out to him. Kasi wanted to come out, obviously, but it was so far across the room, and the room was so very open.
Phoebe pulled at him impatiently. "Mrs. Sibbald thinks you're napping, so you're quite safe."
"We'll have tea together," Gabby said reassuringly, as Kasi gathered his courage and hurtled himself to her chair, sheltering under her arm like a chick that had strayed from its nest. "Are you hungry, little brother?"
"Kasi isn't your little brother," Phoebe said. "He's a prince!"
"Well, that's true. But his mother was related to my father's first wife. And he grew up with me, so I feel as if he is my brother." Kasi had stopped trembling and was playing with the locket Gabby wore around her neck, humming a tuneless, happy song as he tried to open the catch.
Phoebe came around to the other side of the chair and leaned against Gabby's leg. "May I see the picture of your husband again?"
"Of course you may." Just before they set sail for England, a miniature of her future bridegroom had arrived. Gabby gently took the locket from Kasi's fumbling hands and opened it.
"Is he waiting for you in London, Miss Gabby?"
"Yes," Gabby said firmly. "We shall all be met at the dock, Phoebe love. Your new mother will meet you, and Mrs. Malabright will meet Kasi, won't she, sweetheart?" She looked down into Kasi's pointed little face.
To her satisfaction, he nodded. She had been reminding Kasi every day that Mrs. Malabright was coming to see him when the vessel landed.
"And then what will happen, Kasi?" she prompted.
"Live with Mrs. Malabright," he replied with approval. "I like Mrs. Malabright." A shadow crossed his eyes and he added, "I don't like Mrs. Sibbald."
"Mrs. Malabright will take you to her house, and you needn't ever see Mrs. Sibbald again," Phoebe said, rather bossily. "I will come visit you though. I will visit you secretly, and I won't tell anyone where you are."
"Yes," Kasi said with a contented lilt in his voice. And he returned to playing with Gabby's locket.
"Do you like your new husband, Miss Gabby?" Phoebe asked.
Even looking at the miniature portrait of Peter, of his soft brown eyes and wavy hair, made Gabby's heart beat faster.
"Yes, I do," she said softly.
Phoebe, who was a true romantic, even at age five, sighed. "I'm sure he already loves you, Miss Gabby. Did you send him a picture of yourself?"
"There wasn't time," Gabby replied. And if there had been, she would not have sent one. The only portrait her father had ever commissioned made her look horribly round in the face.
She tucked the locket away again.
But even as she, Phoebe, and Kasi munched on dry toast, which was the only treat offered now that they had been at sea for weeks and weeks, Gabby couldn't help daydreaming about her betrothed and his gentle eyes. Somehow, by the grace of God, she had been given a fiance who was everything she had dreamed of: a man who looked perfectly capable of carrying on a quiet conversation. He seemed as unlike her cold, ranting father as possible.
Gabby's heart glowed. Peter would obviously be a devoted and loving father. Already she could picture four or five small babes, all with her husband's eyes.
Every day the ship drew farther and farther from India and thus farther and farther from her father's frenzied reproaches: Gabrielle, why can't you put a bridle on your tongue! Once again, Gabrielle, you have embarrassed me with your graceless behavior! And the worst of all: Oh, God above, why have you cursed me with this disgraceful chit, this prattling excuse for a daughter!
Her happiness grew with each ocean league that passed.
Her sense of confidence grew as well. Peter would love her, as her father never did. She felt as if Peter's sweet eyes were already looking into her soul and seeing the Gabby inside: the Gabby who was worth loving, the Gabby who was not merely impetuous and clumsy. The real Gabby.
Yes, a glimpse of Gabrielle Jerningham, along with insight into her dreams, would have shaken Quill to the backbone.
But since Quill was not overly given to the imagination, nor had he ever demonstrated the gift of precognition, he convinced himself that Miss Gabrielle Jerningham would make his younger brother a very good wife indeed. And when he encountered Peter at his club later that evening, he told him so.
Peter was in a tetchy mood, and well on the way to being drunk as a lord. "I don't follow your reasoning."
"Money," his brother replied shortly.
"Money? What money?"
"Her money." Quill had a flash of guilt, talking about Gabrielle as if she were a commodity, although in a sense she was. "With Jerningham's money, you can afford those clothes you love so much."
"I wear the very best clothes now," Peter said loftily, with the smug understanding that he stood at the very pinnacle of London fashion.
"You wear clothes that I pay for," Quill replied.
Peter chewed on his lip. It went against the grain -- and against his fundamentally kindly nature -- to point out that his elder brother's money would all be his someday, unless a miracle cured Quill's migraines.
Yet it would be pleasant to have his own money, no doubt about that.
Quill saw the telltale interest in Peter's eyes and laughed, his heart lighter. He slapped his brother on the back and left the club.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted March 9, 2001
Gabrielle ('Gabby') Jerningham was sent from her father in India to marry the man due to gain the title of Viscount Dewland. Even though the oldest son was named Erskine ('Quill'), she was to marry the younger son named Peter. Quill had a head injury some years ago and rhythm, for any amount of time (such as making love or horseback riding), caused him to suffer a severe migraine for the next 3-5 days. Therefore, he was considered lame. If a man could not make love to a wife, then he could not have a child, or heir. So Peter would have to marry Gabby. <BR><BR> Peter was considered perfect by the Ton. He found Gabby to be too talkative, have too curvy a figure, and no sense of style. In fact, he disliked everything about her. Quill thought just the opposite of Gabby and was determined to claim her himself! Her love was worth anything, including nauseating migraines! <BR><BR> At the same time, the East India Trading Company and England's Foreign Affairs believed Gabby knew the whereabouts of the missing Indian Prince, Kao Rasi. Kao was only 10 years old and was to be a pawn in the Indian government. Gabby would never reveal she knew where Kao was or her part in his disappearance. <BR><BR> *** No gripping suspense, just a sweet love story. I felt the urge to slap the hero and heroine often though. The co-characters, Lady Sophie and Lady Sylvia, were a delight! I often found myself smiling or chuckling at them. This one is not the author's best work, but still highly enjoyable. ***
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Posted July 25, 2013
Posted July 7, 2013
Loved the entire series. Each book is different, yet related character wise. It's nice for me personally to find out what happens to other characters I really like in the first book. Most enjoyable author. I think I've read almost every book she has written thus far.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 22, 2013
Posted December 28, 2012
Posted June 12, 2012
This was a very fun book with some very likable characters. True, it does take some liberties with history, but I'm generally not reading romance novels for the historical accuracies.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 15, 2012
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I Also Recommend:
Eloisa amazes me over and over again, all her books are amazing, and each one has a life of its own. She is one of the best writers today, her imagination and the ability to put it in writing is very special.
I'm doing some recommendations but have it in mind that all her books are great!
Don't forget to visit her website!
Posted April 25, 2006
This is my frist book by Eloisa James and it was Okay but not great. I recommend it to people who l ike this kind of romance right now I'm reading anthor of her books and will see how it is it's The taming of a duke. hopefully you enjoy enchanting pleasures more than I did.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2004
Set in 1806, England. It was never planned that Quill & Gabby should marry, but eventually they did. This story not as good as the first pleasure book, 'Potent Pleasures' but still good. I liked Gabby, she said what was on her mind and was honest about how she felt about things. She was real. I enjoyed the book very much.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 25, 2001
I loved, loved, LOVED this book! I read the first two pleasures books and liked them alot, but this book is the funniest by far. Gabby is fabulous and the scene where she gives her husband a headache drug -- you have to read it to see what I mean -- is the sexist scene I've read all year. And I read a lot of romance!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
In 1806 London, Viscount Dewland informs his younger child Peter that since his older son Quill is disabled and incapable of having a wife, Peter will marry the daughter of his friend Lord Jerningham. Peter refuses, insisting he will never marry. However, the Viscount turns ill as he explodes with anger because he owes his friend who lent him money without any cause or collateral except friendship. Gabrielle will be coming from India to marry Peter or else. Peter reluctantly agrees due to his father¿s perilous health, but plans to escape his fate. <P> After receiving a picture of her fiancé, Gabby looks forward to marrying the gorgeous Peter. However, she fears that she will never attain the level of deployment Peter expects from a wife and activities in London soon prove her correct. Then there is also Quill, who sends her heart aflutter every time she sees him. He, in turn, decides he will marry Gabby regardless of his severe headaches or his younger sibling. <P>As expected from Eloisa James, ENCHANTING PLEASURES lives up to its title as fans of regency romance will receive much pleasure from this enchanting tale. The story line is fresh, but it is the characters who make the tale so crisp. Gabby is an innocent original while the two brothers are the type of male protagonists female readers want in their literature (and in their boudoir). Ms. James is a fabulous talent and her ¿pleasure¿ novels continually prove that she is heading to genre greatness. <P>Harriet Klausner
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Posted May 1, 2001
Eloisa James brings us another delightful tale of love. Gabby is by far her best heroine. Devoted, romantic and pleasingly real. This not-so-perfect gem stole my heart right off. Her notions of loyalty and romance make her an admirable heroine. Quill, all man, is as perfect as Gabby is not, and the combination is engaging. As usual Ms. James brings in an extraordinary cast of secondary characters who will enchant you with their antics and lead you on a merry chase through the pages of this book. Nothing pleases me more than to meet previous characters in new books, like Lucien (WOW!) and Sophie and Patrick. This book will go with the others on my keeper shelf, surely to be read again when I need a smile!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 16, 2012
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Posted July 15, 2011
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