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Can a young lady allow her beloved sister to sacrifice herself on the marriage altar? Emily Smithfield cannot. So when her mother announces that a marriage has been arranged between Emily's older sister Lydia and Lord Wesleigh, a man the sisters have never met, Emily offers to marry the gentleman in her sister's stead. This will mean Lydia can marry the man she loves.

A light-hearted romance set in Regency England, this debut novel by Suzanne Allain is a humorous, ...

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Overview

Can a young lady allow her beloved sister to sacrifice herself on the marriage altar? Emily Smithfield cannot. So when her mother announces that a marriage has been arranged between Emily's older sister Lydia and Lord Wesleigh, a man the sisters have never met, Emily offers to marry the gentleman in her sister's stead. This will mean Lydia can marry the man she loves.

A light-hearted romance set in Regency England, this debut novel by Suzanne Allain is a humorous, fast-paced tale of matchmaking and mistaken identities.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759550346
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/2001
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 0.41 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Emily Smithfield and Lord Wesleigh are dancing together at a local assembly. Emily does not know Lord Wesleigh's true identity, but believes him to be Alexander Williams, an impoverished curate. Alexander notices that Lady Cynthia, an acquaintance of his, has just entered the assembly rooms and he fears she may reveal the truth if she sees him.

Emily attempted to resume conversation with Mr. Williams, but noticed that he appeared distracted all of a sudden, and was barely managing intelligent replies to her attempts at conversation. She followed his gaze and was disappointed to see he was staring at Lady Abernathy's party, which had just arrived. His attention appeared to be riveted on a particular blond lady, who, even from this distance, looked to be outstandingly beautiful and fashionable. "Lady Cynthia, I presume."

"What?" Her partner replied, finally shaken out of his reverie.

"I presume that is Lady Cynthia you are craning your neck to get a glimpse of."

"I would not know, never having met the lady. However, I can assure you that I was not craning my neck to get a glimpse of her, as you so delicately termed my behavior. I have a far more stunning lady quite nearby, whose, ahem, charms are perfectly visible without requiring any neck-craning on my part."

Emily could tell from the direction of his gaze what particular charms he was referring to, and felt a blush forming in that general vicinity. However, she would not be taken in by his silver tongue. "What gammon. I bet you could tell me how many golden strands she had on her well-formed head."

"Ah, that is where you are wrong. Even if I was admiring the lady, I would not have been admiring her hair, as I have always preferred brunettes over blondes."

Before Emily could think of a response to that outrageous statement, the music ended, and she was being steered to the French doors that led to the terrace.

"Mr. Williams! Where are we going?"

"You look flushed. I thought you could use some fresh air."

Giving her no chance to respond, he propelled her outdoors. "Now, isn't this nice?" he asked Emily. Once again, though, he was not looking at her but was looking over her head into the assembly rooms. Emily tried to turn her head to see who or what had caught his attention and was pulled out of the light into the darker part of the gardens.

"Mr. Williams, what are you—" Before Emily could finish the sentence she had been pulled abruptly into Mr. Williams's arms, and he had covered her mouth with his own.

Emily's first thought was to struggle, which she did, putting her hands against his chest in an attempt to push him off. But his mouth on hers was gentle, unthreatening, and his hands on her waist were warm. She felt if she were being protected rather than assaulted, and she rather liked the feeling, so the hand she had raised to push him off curled around his neck and somehow ended up pulling him tighter.

Alexander had felt her first attempt at resistance and was wondering what he would have done if she had pulled away and slapped him across the face. There would have been no avoiding Lady Cynthia in that case, who had followed them to the French doors and had peered out into the gardens, looking for him. But Emily's initial resistance had turned into enthusiastic cooperation, and, after assuring himself that Lady Cynthia had returned to the assembly rooms without spotting them, he entered wholeheartedly into the embrace. Emily, who had just a moment earlier felt protected in his embrace, now felt that she was in the greatest danger of her life, as his lips, which had been gentle and tender, increased the pressure, and his hands, which had been resting casually at her waist, were somehow stroking her bare back and shoulders. Just as she was thinking she really needed to end the embrace, and yet how much she really did not want to, Alexander lifted his head.

"I really should apologize for my ungentlemanly behavior, but I cannot honestly say I am sorry." As Emily did not reply, but merely continued to stare at him, wide-eyed, Alexander laughed softly and kissed her on the tip of the nose. "I am afraid I must take my leave of you, Emily, but I am sure we will be meeting again shortly."

Emily gathered her scattered wits about her. "But where are you going? What about the rest of the assembly?"

"The rest of the evening would seem unbearably flat in comparison with this experience, I assure you." So saying, he kissed the top of her head and disappeared into the gardens. Emily, after staring into the darkness a few minutes, slowly returned to the assembly rooms. All the excitement had faded from the evening. "He is right," she muttered to herself as she walked inside the doors and surveyed the scene before her. "The rest of the evening does seem unbearably flat."

She returned to her mother's side, to find her in conversation with Lady Abernathy. "I thought the poor dear would have wanted to rest after her experience, but she assured me she was fine, and did not want to cast a pall over the rest of the party," Lady Abernathy was telling her mother. "She even condescended to come to this assembly, although I'm sure after the fetes and balls of London this seems a sad comedown."

"Emily," Lady Smithfield addressed her daughter, "poor Lady Cynthia Sommers, Lady Abernathy's niece, was attacked by a highwayman en route from London this morning."

"How awful," Emily replied. "She was not hurt, I trust."

"No, no, although I fear the dreadful man may have tried to take liberties with her." Lady Abernathy lowered her voice. "I believe he attempted to embrace her."

"No!" Lady Smithfield said, in shocked accents. "How disgusting. Why, I do not know how I would react if a brigand treated one of my girls in such a shocking manner."

Emily wondered what her reaction would be if she knew that Emily had just been in a similar situation with a curate. Probably the same as if she had been embraced by a highwayman. Lady Smithfield viewed highwaymen and impoverished curates as being on about the same rung of the social ladder.

"Yes, poor Cynthia. Thankfully she has a great deal of fortitude. Ah, it appears she is coming this way now. Let me introduce you both to my niece, Lady Cynthia Sommers."

The introductions were duly made, and Lady Abernathy and Lady Smithfield continued in conversation, leaving Emily and Lady Cynthia to converse. Emily did not have much of a desire to converse with Lady Cynthia, as she appeared even more haughty and disdainful up close than she did from afar. However, it appeared that Lady Cynthia did wish to talk with Emily.

"Miss Smithfield, I happened to notice the gentleman you were dancing the last set with, and he reminded me quite forcibly of an acquaintance of mine, but he seems to have disappeared. The last I saw of him he appeared to have entered the gardens."

Emily tried with all her might not to do anything or say anything that might appear guilty or suspicious, because from the accusatory look Lady Cynthia was giving her, even if she did not observe Emily's behavior on the terrace, she appeared to suspect her of misbehavior all the same.

"Oh, do you know Mr. Williams? He specifically mentioned that he had not made your acquaintance. I am surprised you would number a country curate among your acquaintances, Lady Cynthia. But then again, he is rather distinguished-looking, even for a curate, is he not?"

"A curate, you say? No, I suppose I have not made his acquaintance after all. Although he did look suspiciously like . . . Oh, well. I guess it's as you mentioned. He does present a distinguished appearance, even for a curate."

One of Lady Abernathy's party came to request Lady Cynthia's hand for a dance shortly after this exchange, and Emily danced most of the evening as well. However, the conversation she'd had with Lady Cynthia continued to haunt her for a long time afterward. Mr. Williams had been paying close attention to Lady Cynthia, even though he claimed not to know her, and he had been observing someone even after he and Emily had left the assembly rooms. Lady Cynthia, by her own admission, had seen them go out onto the terrace. Had Williams been attempting to avoid Lady Cynthia? Is that why he pulled her into the shadows and embraced her? Was it just a ploy, to avoid discovery by Lady Cynthia?

The more Emily thought about it, the more she was sure that Williams had been avoiding Lady Cynthia. He had become distracted the minute her party arrived, and he had ushered Emily out onto the terrace without a word of explanation, yanked her into the shadows, and kissed her, and then disappeared into the gardens without even a good-bye to his friend Sedgewick. She found herself growing more and more infuriated by the minute. Her first kiss, which had seemed so sweet and passionate, was nothing more than a prop in his scene with Lady Cynthia. She had meant nothing more to him than a hedge that he could hide behind.

"That cad! That disgusting libertine!" Emily said under her breath, startling a gentleman who had approached her to ask her for the next dance. He looked bewildered and turned to Lydia instead, so Emily was free to pursue her own thoughts. She would never speak to Williams again. If he tried to approach her, she would give him the cut direct. She amused herself for a few minutes picturing the bewildered, hurt expression on his face as she proudly refused to recognize him, before realizing that that was a sorry revenge indeed. If she cut him, and never spoke to him again, how would she ever find out what secret he was hiding? Her best revenge would be to reveal his masquerade to the world and watch him reap his just deserts. Yes, that was it. She would solve the mystery of Alexander Williams, for she was sure that whatever it was he was playing at, he was up to no good.


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First Chapter

Lady Elizabeth Smithfield, relict of Sir John Smithfield, surveyed her two daughters as they sat together, their heads bent over their needlework.  Lydia, her light brown hair picking up golden highlights in the morning sun, was dutifully working away at the laborious task, sewing small, intricate stitches that would eventually result in a pillow or seat cushion her mother could proudly display.  Sweet Lydia, her mother thought, a gentle smile lightening her somewhat rigid countenance.  Glancing over at her younger daughter, Emily, the smile disappeared and was replaced by a slight frown.  Her needlework forgotten on her lap, Emily sat gazing out the window, softly humming a ditty her mother was sure she had not learned in a polite drawing room.  It was probably fortunate Emily had ceased her stitching, if the few wide, uneven stitches were an indication of how the finished product would appear.

Lady Smithfield heaved a great sigh, wondering, as she often did, why her second daughter could not have been a younger replica of the oldest, or, better yet, a son.  It was one of her frequent laments since she and her daughters had been forced to leave their home upon the death of Sir John two years previously. Since Sir John lacked a direct male heir,  Rollings Park had gone to a distant cousin and his family, and the Smithfield ladies had been forced to relocate to their present, more modest domicile in Stonehurst.

The house they were able to purchase from a wealthy attorney was small but comfortable, with classical lines, a pleasing redbrick façade, and an interior said to have been designed by Robert Adam.  However, Lady Smithfield felt their decline in the world quite forcibly.  She was no longer Lady Smithfield of Rollings Park with a staff of forty and a full stable.  In their less affluent circumstances, they could barely afford six servants and one carriage.

When Lady Smithfield sighed a second time, Emily and Lydia exchanged a knowing look that their mother did not see.  They were well aware of the cause of their mother's melancholy.  Emily tried to be sympathetic, as she missed Rollings as well, but she could not help wishing her mother's sighs were for Sir John rather than his estate.  To distract her mother's thoughts, Emily motioned to the letters on the rosewood table and asked if anything interesting had come in the post.

Lady Smithfield picked up the morning correspondence and leafed through it in a half-hearted manner.  One letter caught her eye, and, setting aside the rest, she scanned it eagerly.  Upon discerning the nature of its contents, her gloomy manner dissipated completely, and her features took on a look of joy coupled with disbelief.

"My dears, I have just received a letter from His Grace, duke of Alford, with some very encouraging news!"  Lady Smithfield paused briefly to ensure she had her two daughters' full attention.  Confident they were listening, she continued, "You may remember, girls, that the duchess and I were schoolmates at Miss Finch's Academy for Young Ladies and that we remained friends even after we both married."  Knowing her daughters had heard many times of their mother's friendship with the duchess of Alford—as had anyone who had spent more than half an hour in conversation with Lady Smithfield—she hastened to the point.  "You might recall also that we both wished that you, Lydia, would marry Lucy's son, Lord Wesleigh.  But when the duchess died, I felt my cherished hope would come to naught.  But it is not to be!"  She paused in happy anticipation of her daughters' reaction to the news, but as her announcement elicited confusion rather than excitement, she hurried to explain.  "What I mean to say is, it is not going to come to nothing, it will proceed after all.  The duke has suggested it himself!  He writes that if we are in agreement with the proposal, an announcement of the marriage of Miss Lydia Smithfield to Lord Wesleigh will be inserted in the Morning Post in thirty days.  My daughter, the future duchess of Alford.  I can hardly credit it!  I daresay this is the happiest day of my life."  The joyful news moved Lady Smithfield to tears, and as she searched for her handkerchief, she missed the less-than-joyful looks her daughters exchanged.

Lydia, with her light brown hair, big blue eyes, long slender neck, and ladylike demeanor, was generally deemed the prettier of the two girls.  In comparison, Emily looked rather like a gypsy.  Thick dark hair, high cheekbones, large dark eyes, and a full lower lip combined to give her an exotic look in stark contrast to her sister's proper English Miss.  Emily's unconventional looks were the despair of her mother, who considered anything out of the common way to be, well, common.  In her opinion, Emily looked more like a lusty farmer's daughter than the proper daughter of a Baronet.  It caused Lady Smithfield to question whether Sir John's ancestors were all they should be.  (Of the superior quality of her own lineage she was never in doubt.)  However, Lydia looked remarkably like she herself did at that age.  So Lady Smithfield had centered all her hopes on Lydia.  Emily could marry where she willed, as long as she married a respectable gentleman, but it was sweet, dutiful, gentle Lydia who her mother felt sure would bring home the matrimonial prize.

"Whom should I tell first?" Lady Smithfield asked, her triumphant tone jolting her daughters out of their shocked contemplation of her announcement.  "I shall write a letter this very moment to Cousin Harriet.  Then there's Sir John's side of the family—"

"Mama," Lydia interrupted, her voice slightly higher-pitched than usual.  "Mama," she repeated, a little more calmly, "before we tell anyone, could we please keep the news to ourselves for a bit longer?  After all, we've not heard from Lord Wesleigh as of yet.  We have no knowledge of his agreement to his father's plan."

"My dear child, the duke is a man of honor.  He would not raise our hopes only to dash them to the ground.  You may rest assured that his word is as good as carved in stone."

Lydia did not appear comforted by this piece of information.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Emily, who was unused to seeing her sister's calm composure disturbed, interceded in her behalf.  "I think what Lydia means to say is that she needs time to accustom herself to the idea of being affianced. After all, the betrothal is not to be published for thirty days."

Lady Smithfield considered Emily's suggestion for a moment while both girls waited.  "Perhaps you are right, Emily," she finally replied, and Lydia relaxed visibly.  "We shall wait until Lord Wesleigh comes for a visit.  That will be the appropriate time to make the announcement.  I shall write his father immediately to inquire when Lord Wesleigh is to arrive.  I am a little surprised His Grace did not mention it in his letter.  No matter, I am sure he intends to come soon.  In the meantime, we had better start planning your trousseau, Lydia.  We shall most likely have to make a trip up to London.  We cannot trust the dressmakers here in Stonehurst, or even in Hastings, to make a wardrobe worthy of a duchess."

Leaving their mother happily making wedding plans, the girls slipped upstairs.  Once in the safety of her bedchamber, Lydia's beautiful blue eyes filled with tears.  "Oh, Emily, what am I to do?"

"I take it you're not pleased with the notion of becoming Lady Wesleigh."

"Why would I be pleased?  I do not even know the gentleman!"

"No, you do not know him.  But who is to say he is not the epitome of charm and masculine beauty?  We do know that he is young.  The duchess was only a year or two older than Mama, so her son could not be more than thirty.  You should be grateful they are not trying to marry you off to some gouty, doddering old man.  I know it is quite difficult, Lydia, but you should at least try to suspend judgement until you have actually met him."    

"But I do not love him," Lydia said, her voice a mere whisper, her eyes downcast.

"Well," Emily replied in a bracing tone, "perhaps you will learn to love him.  It is not as if you are in love with anyone else."

Lydia's quiet crying ended with a hiccough, and she turned abruptly to walk to the window.  Emily looked suspiciously at her sister, who was avoiding eye contact with her.  "Lydia?  You are not in love with someone, are you?  Lydia?"

"Of course not.  With whom would I be in love?" she replied, fiddling nervously with the cornflower blue ribbon on her bodice.

"I have no idea.  There are no eligible gentlemen in Stonehurst under the age of sixty.  Except, of course, for—" she halted abruptly as Lydia looked up nervously.  "Lydia, don't tell me you are in love with Jonathan Sedgewick!  He is as poor as- as a chimney sweep!  Mama would never allow it.  He is a vicar." 

"Vicars are perfectly respectable."

"Respectable, yes.  Rich, no.  But I suppose that does not matter if you truly care for him.  Do you?"  Lydia nodded.  "Then of course you must not marry Lord Wesleigh," Emily said.

"But, Emily, Mama is counting on me to marry a fortune.  How could I disappoint her so?"  It was obvious the notion of disappointing their mother was abhorrent to Lydia.  Emily reflected wryly to herself that it was a good thing she did not suffer from a similar anxiety.

"You know what Mama is like," Emily told her sister.  "She acts as though we are living in penury now that we are no longer at Rollings.  It is absolute nonsense. We are perfectly comfortable here."  Emily paused, a contemplative look on her face.  "But there is a way we could avoid disappointing Mama without sacrificing you at the marriage altar."  Emily thought for a moment, while Lydia watched her in anticipation.  "Yes, I think it would serve very well," Emily said slowly.

"What is it?" Lydia asked.

        "I could marry Lord Wesleigh in your stead."

This calm announcement was met with a moment of shocked silence, before Lydia instinctively protested.  "Oh, no, Emily, I cannot let you," she stated, shaking her head.

"Lydia, be reasonable.  I am very unlikely to meet any prospective husbands here in Stonehurst now that my sister has chosen the only eligible man in the vicinity.  I have to marry one day, and I am not the beauty you are.  And just think of poor Lord Wesleigh," Emily said, struggling to keep a straight face but unable to contain a mischievous smile.  "We cannot just let an eligible young Marquis wither on the vine."

Lydia did not smile at Emily's droll remark, but only regarded her in silence.  Emily shrugged, growing more serious.  "And as you said, we do not want to disappoint Mama," she added.

"But Emily, it is such a sacrifice," Lydia protested.

The gleam returned to Emily's dark eyes and she grinned impishly.  "A sacrifice?  To marry a wealthy young lord and live the pampered life of a Duchess?  I do not think most young ladies would view it as such.  I will marry him if he is not despicable and he will have me.  But from what we know of him, he does not appear to be particular.  He agreed to marry you and you are not even acquainted."

********

Alexander Eaton, Marquess of Wesleigh, and heir to the dukedom of Alford, was totally unaware that a trio of females he had yet to meet had decided his future.  In fact, he was blissfully unaware of anything at all, being sound asleep after having arrived home in the wee hours of the morning.  So he was none too pleased to hear a knock at his door, followed by the sound of someone entering his chamber.

"My lord, you've received an urgent summons from your father."

"Somebody die?" Wesleigh muttered thickly.

"Excuse me, my lord?"

"Did someone die?" Wesleigh repeated in a louder voice, albeit only a trifle more distinguishable, as his voice was muffled by the pillow he had pulled over his head.

"I should hope not, my lord, but I would not know."

"Well, in that case, Jenkins, I expect I had best find out what this is about."

"I should think so, my lord."

Wesleigh sighed and rolled over in bed. If only Jenkins weren't so dashed good with a cravat, he'd replace him with a valet who possessed a sense of humor.  "And a face that would not curdle cream," he muttered to himself, ignoring Jenkins's look of inquiry.

As he dressed, he wondered what was behind his father's summons.  It was not like the old man to issue commands like that.  Besides the occasional supper together at Alford House, his father usually left him to his own devices.  He hoped this wasn't about the aborted duel he'd taken part in the previous week.  Both men had been foxed when the challenge was made, and when they sobered up the next morning, they realized they had made a mistake and deloped.  Surely his father wouldn't summon him about something so insignificant as that.

Or could it be he'd taken offense at Alexander's latest entry in White's betting book?  It had indeed been in poor taste to place a wager on the number of weeks after Lord Montville's recent demise that his young widow would remarry, but it was only a harmless jest. A bit childish, perhaps, but surely not so heinous a crime as to precipitate an urgent meeting.

So it was in a state of mingled anticipation, curiosity and trepidation that Alexander finally entered Alford House and his father's study.  The duke looked up as his son entered, and it seemed to Alexander that his father had aged a few years in the fortnight or so since he'd last seen him. Stanley Eaton, duke of Alford, presented an imposing appearance to some, being a large man with a prominent nose and large, bushy eyebrows.  But the sharp, alert expression Alexander was accustomed to was missing this morning. Alexander hadn't seen his father look so weary since his mother's death.

"You wished to see me, Father?"

"Yes, Alexander.  Please sit down."  The older man waited for his son to take a seat before continuing.  "I summoned you, Alexander, to discuss your future."

"My future?"  Alexander repeated, somewhat surprised.  This was not at all what he had expected, but he was a bit relieved that his past was not going to be the topic of discussion.

"Yes.  Your future.  Have you given it any thought?"

Alexander barely considered the question.  "No more than the next chap, I suppose."

"I did not think so.  Alexander, you are nearing thirty.  Did you think you could continue on in this manner forever?  Engaging men in duels for sport and making short shrift of a lady's reputation?"

Alexander flushed and sat up straighter in his chair.  Apparently his past was on the agenda.  "I wondered if you had heard about those incidents."

"They merely top your already illustrious career."  The duke sighed, rubbing his forehead wearily. "I believe you to be an intelligent, responsible young man at heart, Alexander, but you are frittering your life away.  And I cannot stand by and do nothing any longer."

"What do you mean to do?"        

"I have already done it.  I have written to a lady who was a close friend of your mother's, a Lady Elizabeth Smithfield.  Your mother and she had fond hopes that you would one day marry Lady Smithfield's daughter Lydia.  Well, the day has come. I proposed that in thirty days, unless she had an objection, the notice of her daughter's betrothal to my son would appear in the Morning Post.  Lady Smithfield probably received the letter this very morning."

Alexander was momentarily speechless.  The gall of his father's action infuriated him.  He was not a child, however childishly he had behaved in the past, and he would not be dictated to.  "I am very appreciative of the honor you do me, sir, but I am afraid I must refuse your very flattering proposal," he said through clenched jaws.

"Do not be sarcastic with me, young man.  You know I cannot go back on my word."

Alexander felt himself losing his fragile hold on his temper.  "I cannot understand why you made such a suggestion in the first place.  You cannot have expected me to submit quietly to an arranged marriage with a woman I have never met.  The idea is preposterous.  It's…it's medieval," he sputtered, running a hand through his dark hair and disarranging his careful toilette.

"I understand your anger, Alexander, and I dislike putting you in such a predicament."  Alexander looked up, hopeful that his father could still be persuaded to change his mind, only to be disappointed as his father continued implacably, "But you have been on the town now for nearly a decade and have shown no inclination to make your own choice.  The few women you do consort with are totally unfit to become the next duchess of Alford."

"I hope you at least trust me to know the difference between a lady of quality and a light-skirt!"  Alexander shot back, standing up abruptly and beginning to pace about the room.  His father's words wounded him deeply, but he was pained even further by the knowledge that it was his own behavior that had caused his father to form such a poor opinion of him.

The duke was moved by his son's obvious distress.  "I am not an ogre, Alexander.  I will not force you to marry a young lady you could not esteem.  If you and the girl cannot come to an agreement, I will forego making an announcement.  But," he added, as a dazed smile of relief lit Alexander's face, "do not think that means you are relieved of all responsibility.  If I do not find that you have made every effort to make yourself agreeable to Miss Smithfield in the next thirty days, then I will be forced to cut off your allowance.  You'll find that your free and easy lifestyle is not so easy to maintain on an empty purse."

Alexander nodded his agreement to his father's terms.  He realized it was time he settled down, so if he liked the girl well enough, he supposed he might as well marry her.  And if he did not, well, his father had loosened the noose around his neck just enough that he might be able to slip through.  

"If you are concerned about Miss Smithfield's appearance, you needn't be.  I would not expect you to marry a woman you found unattractive.  I made her acquaintance four years ago at a wedding.  She was only seventeen at the time, but already blossoming into a beautiful young lady with a pleasing demeanor.  She is tall and slender, with light brown hair and fine blue eyes."

To Alexander, she sounded just like every other milk-and-water miss he had ever met at Almack's.  "Why is it such a vision of pulchritude is still single at the ripe old age of twenty-one?"  He asked, half-jokingly.

"Miss Smithfield was to have a London season her eighteenth year, but it was cut short when her father fell ill.  She and her mother returned home immediately, and a month or two later Sir John passed away.  The estate was entailed on a distant cousin, and Lady Smithfield and her daughters were forced to relocate.  They now reside in the village of Stonehurst, where they have been the past two years or more.  I assume they no longer have the finances to expend on a London season.  Sir John left them comfortably enough, from what I have heard, but the cost of another residence probably took a large portion of their settlement."

Alexander was dismayed by his father's story.  If the Smithfield's were financially depressed, his father's offer would seem like their salvation.  What self-respecting mother would not jump at the chance to marry her daughter to the heir of a wealthy duke?  He could behave like an ill-mannered boor and they would pronounce him charming.  He tugged uncomfortably at his exquisite cravat, which Jenkins must have tied too tightly that morning, for it suddenly felt as if it were choking him.

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  • Posted April 5, 2012

    This was an incredibly adorable read. I highly recommend this b

    This was an incredibly adorable read. I highly recommend this book if you like witty dialogue and enjoy to laugh. If not, you need not read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    Wounderful

    Sweet lighthearted romance that i garentee u will fall in love with! Its cute its funny and its CLEAN and still dosent disapoint

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