Lady in Waiting

Lady in Waiting

3.8 10
by Kathryn Caskie
     
 

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Good heavens-I've gotten myself into a scrape! Mere weeks ago, I was simply Jenny Penny, a lady's maid, a lord's illegitimate daughter, and a lover of fine frocks. But my credit at the shops of Bath has been cut off, and I am forced to sell my homemade facial cream at night,…  See more details below

Overview

Good heavens-I've gotten myself into a scrape! Mere weeks ago, I was simply Jenny Penny, a lady's maid, a lord's illegitimate daughter, and a lover of fine frocks. But my credit at the shops of Bath has been cut off, and I am forced to sell my homemade facial cream at night, without my employers' knowledge. Who knew it would become the sensation of the ton? That society ladies would apply it to a most intimate part of their body? Or that rumor would spread that "tingle cream" was created by a highborn woman named Lady Eros?

If that were not enough, my mistresses-the matchmaking Featherton sisters-have made me their new project. By passing me off as Lady Genevieve, they mean to see me wed to Callum Campbell, Lord Argyll. I cannot fault their taste. His sable-dark eyes and his devastatingly wicked smile thrill me.

Now I am Lady Genevieve by day and Lady Eros by night. And I blush to think of what will happen when Callum and society discover that, in truth, I am neither.

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Editorial Reviews

RT Book Reviews
"A talent you won't want to miss!"
Cathy Maxwell
"Her writing sparkles with wit and humor."
Julia Quinn
"A delightful debut!"
Booklist on Rules of Engagement
"With delightfully original...beautifully matched protagonists...amusing supporting characters...and clever, tartly humorous writing, Caskie's debut romance is witty and wonderful."
Eloisa James
"Clever, frothy, and funny-an enthralling read!"
Romancereadersatheart.com on A Lady's Guide to Rakes
"Will have you laughing out loud and wishing for it never to end...One great adventure that no reader should miss out on."
Booklist on Lady in Waiting
"A delightfully original heroine...matches wits with a sinfully sexy hero...Sweet, frothy, and laughter-laced."
Sabrina Jeffries
"This delightful confection will charm and beguile you-don't miss it!"
Connie Brockway
"Caskie deftly spins tales as delightful as they are delicious!"
RT Book Reviews on A Lady's Guide to Rakes
"Four and a half stars! Top pick! Caskie's latest is a winner: a delectable, sensual romp, refreshingly told and cleverly crafted."
Publishers Weekly
In Caskie's far-fetched second Regency romance (after Rules of Engagement), Jenny Penny, illegitimate daughter of an unnamed baronet, and lady's maid to the two fluttering Featherton sisters, strives for a life above her station. While wintering in Bath with her employers, she spends her slim earnings on "earbobs" and muffs in the town's most exclusive shops. But she also reveals great skill as an amateur chemist, mixing up gallipots of peppermint face cream for her employers. The ton's most exclusive ladies soon discover that this "tingle cream" can be used elsewhere, and thanks to an underground servants' network, Jenny finds her discretionary revenue increasing along with her mysterious reputation as Lady Eros. Then Lord Argyll, a lusty Scottish baron, discovers Jenny one day as she's modeling a dress for the Feathertons. The two ladies immediately seize upon a plan to match Jenny to the Scottish baron, to whom she's introduced as Lady Genevieve. Days ironing, evenings at balls and nights filling gallipots soon bring Jenny to the end of her rope. How will Lady Eros, Lady Genevieve and plain old Jenny Penny finally reunite for one happy ending? Those willing to completely disregard rigid English rules about social class will delight in the fairy tale answer to this question. Agent, Jenny Bent at Trident Media. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446614245
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
07/02/2009
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 0.76(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Lady in Waiting


By Kathryn Caskie

Warner Forever

Copyright © 2005 Kathryn Caskie
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-61424-6


Chapter One

Bath, England January 2, 1818

Genevieve Penny spun around and stared, quite unable to believe what she was hearing. "What, pray, do you mean she used the cream down there? My God, Annie, it's a facial balm. Did you not explain its intended use to her ladyship?"

"Course I did, Jenny. I'm not daft." Her friend, an abigail like herself, punctuated her words with a roll of her eyes and settled her plump behind on the stool before the herb-strewn table. "But how could I have known Lady Avery and the viscount had a more amorous plan for the cream?"

"And now she wants a pot of her own?" Jenny nervously tucked a loose sable curl behind her ear. "I gave the Feathertons' cream pot to you. My gift was meant to be our secret. I never intended for the cream to find its way above stairs."

Above stairs? What an awful thought. Jenny's stomach muscles cinched like an overtight corset and she gasped for a breath.

What if the Featherton ladies learned of her little gift born of supplies they paid for-blended in their own stillroom? Heaven forbid. She might find herself out on the cobbles without a reference! Where would she be then, hawking oranges on the street corner for her daily bread?

She seized Annie's shoulders. "You did not tell your mistress that I gave you thecream."

"Nay, of course not. Said a friend gave it to me." But as she spoke, Annie's keen eyes drifted across the table to the sealed clay gallipots on its edge. With a twist of her ample form, she broke Jenny's grip and made her way across the stillroom.

"Have some made up, do you?" Prying open the lid, Annie lifted the pot to her nose and, as she breathed deep, let out a pleased sigh. "Well, my lady wants two pots of the tingle cream to start-"

Jenny's cheeks heated. "Lud, stop calling it that! It's not tingle cream. It's a peppermint facial cream." "You can call it what you like, but I tried a dab myself. You know ... there." Annie flushed crimson and looked away. "And I own, Jenny, the way it tickled me below ... positively sinful. I do not doubt it revived my lady's desire."

Jenny heard Annie return the clay gallipot to the table, but then she heard something else. Her ears pricked up at a faint but unmistakable jingle of coins. As Annie turned around, she withdrew a weighty silken bag from her basket and pressed it into Jenny's palm. "My lady bade me to give the maker this, if that maker could be persuaded to oblige her with two pots today."

Jenny loosened the heavy bag's satin tie and emptied ten gold guineas onto the table. It was a fortune for a lady's maid like her. A blessed fortune! Her blood plummeted from her head into her feet and she sank onto a stool, unable to stop staring at the gleaming mound of riches.

"You do have two spare pots, don't you, Jenny? Her ladyship would be most displeased if I returned to the house without her cream."

Jenny nodded absently and pushed two of the three gallipots forward. This was certainly not the use she intended when she blended the cream. But what else could she do except oblige? This was more blunt than she'd ever seen in her lifetime.

"Jolly good. Knew you'd come around." With great care, Annie wedged the pots into her basket and covered them discreetly with a square of linen. "Must run now. Haven't much time, you know. I'll be needing to dress Lady Avery for the Fire and Ice Ball this eve."

"Of course." Jenny glanced at the rough-hewn table and the lone gallipot sitting amid the crushed herbs. "Only one left," she muttered to herself.

Annie set her fist on her fleshy hip. "One? You mean that's all you have-at all? Well, dove, if I was you, I'd set about making more of that tingle cream right away." "Why should I need more?" Jenny raised her brow with growing suspicion.

Beneath the snowy mobcap, Annie's earlobes glowed crimson. "Well ... I might have overheard Lady Avery telling Lady Oliver about her thrilling discovery of an amazing cream. Of course, I knew she was talking about the tingle cream. And, Jenny, Lady Oliver was most interested."

A jolt raced down Jenny's spine. "You do not mean others in society know of this? Lud, this is a disaster."

"Oh, Jen, you're getting all foamy for nothing. What's so wrong with an abigail making a few bob on the side? Who knows, a society connection could be the very thing to catapult your sales and help you remove yourself from debt for good."

Jenny forced a snort of laughter, but as the idea settled upon her, she became very still.

Criminy. The idea was intriguing, even if a little mad. But the more she thought about it, the more enticing the suggestion became to her.

No, no, this was ridiculous. She couldn't possibly produce enough pots to clear her accounts-not without getting the sack from her employers.

Could she?

Rising, Jenny walked to her supply cupboard, twisted the wooden door wedge, and peered inside. She was keenly disappointed at what she saw-or rather at what she didn't see. The cupboard was nearly bare. She'd need more emulsifying agent. Plenty more. Gallipots too. Of course she'd have to distill some more Mitcham peppermint.

This was going to be real work.

But she would do it. In fact, if she worked very hard, she might even come to terms with her accounts before the last spring leaf unfurled. If not before. She had a society connection, after all.

"Jenny, are you listening?" She looked up blankly.

"I need to stop by Bartleby's and retrieve some rib bon for my lady. Care to join me?" Annie scooped up a guinea from the table and flipped it spinning through the air. She grinned as Jenny opened her palm and caught the coin before it hit the table.

"Why not." Tossing the glittering coin atop the pile, Jenny cupped her hand and neatly corralled the ten guineas in the silk bag. She looked up and flashed a jubilant smile.

Annie laughed. "Won't the shopkeep be gobsmacked when you actually pay ten guineas on your account?" Jenny winced a little. "Well, maybe not the full ten. I think I might stop by the apothecary and fetch a few more supplies."

Annie's eyes widened with excitement. "Does this mean you're going to do it-start a business?"

"A business? Oh, I don't know." Moving to the wall hooks, Jenny crowned herself with her new velvet bonnet, then swept her perfectly coordinated pelisse over her shoulders. "But it can't hurt to have a few more pots of ... tingle cream on hand, now can it?"

Muffling their giggles so they wouldn't be overheard above stairs, Jenny and Annie headed out the door in the direction of Milsom Street.

"The man is entirely unreasonable!" Jenny jerked the handle hard, slamming Bartleby's shop door behind her. "Eight guineas I paid him, and still he wouldn't let me put the pearl earbobs on my account." With envious eyes, Jenny glanced down at Annie's neatly tied packet of ribbon.

Annie stuffed the parcel into her basket and drew the linen doily overtop as if purposely hiding it from Jenny's view. "You must owe him an awful lot." Jenny shrugged. "I suppose. But I am a loyal customer. He should have more faith."

"Can I ask ... how much do you owe?" "I don't know really. Dropped all his notices in the dustbin. After all, he needn't remind me that I owe him payment. It is not as if I've forgotten." "There's Smith and Company too, don't forget. What was it you put on account there?"

"A black bear muff. You should buy one. Most fashionable this season." Jenny wrinkled her brow as they walked. "I should have brought it today. Would have kept my hands warm as embers."

Annie sighed. "And then there's the jeweler on the Lower Walk-a quartet of garnet buttons, wasn't it?" "Now you must admit those were a bargain. All I need to do is replace the shell buttons with the garnets and my pewter gown will be transformed. Why, I've actually saved the cost of a new gown simply by buying the buttons. Really very economical."

Annie stepped before Jenny and caught her shoulders. "Just look at you, Jenny. We're headed for the markets and you're wearing a pelisse of apple-green kerseymere, vandyked with satin! Why do you do it? What need have you for fine gowns and trinkets? You are wasting what little money you earn on this nonsense.

You are a lady's maid, Jenny. Not a real lady." "I am." Jenny caught Annie's wrists and yanked them from her. "Or I would have been ... had my father married Mama. He was a highborn gentleman, you know."

"Yes, I do know. But, ducks, he didn't marry your mother, and you are not a lady, no matter how you dress and adorn yourself."

Jenny was about to snap a retort when the sun's reflection off a large shiny object momentarily blinded her.

When her eyes refocused she found herself looking at the most exquisite, certainly the most modish, carriage she'd ever seen in Bath-or even London.

"Will you look at that, Annie? Have you ever seen anything so grand?" Jenny started slowly toward the conveyance, feeling quite incapable of stopping herself. "Come on, I have to see inside."

"Jenny, no." Annie ticked her head toward the first pairing of ebony horses. "The footman. He's bound to stop you."

"Oh, botheration. You can keep him busy for me. Come on, Annie, be my friend and chat him up, while I just go and have a tiny peek inside, all right?" "Jenny, you can't."

But Jenny's boots were already upon the cobbles and she was making her way to the far door.

Once Jenny heard the sultry tones of Annie's voice mingling with those of the footman, she crouched low and skulked around the gleaming carriage. Rising up, she peered wide-eyed through the door's lower windowpanes.

To her delight, the carriage was empty. Now, if only the door was ... she pressed the latch down, and the door opened. Jenny smiled and gave a wink to the heavens, for someone up there was certainly looking out for her this day.

The scent of new leather slipped through the crack and she greedily breathed in its essence. Oh, this was better than she'd hoped.

And what with the door being open, this was practically an invitation to slip inside, was it not? Besides, it would hurt no one for her to indulge herself for just a moment.

Jenny glanced warily in both directions, then, confident she'd not be seen, put her foot on the step and eased herself inside.

Oh, it was all simply glorious. She was almost giddy with pleasure as she ran her hand over the interior walls, resplendent with a gold-pressed crimson silk that perfectly set off the dark burgundy leather benches.

Eagerly, she fluttered her fingertips over the leathersquabs, which were quite easily as soft as fresh churned butter. She eased herself back, allowing her bonnet to settle against the headrest. "Oh, yes," she purred. It was like resting on a cloud.

Jenny had just closed her eyes, imagining herself being whisked to the Upper Assembly Rooms for the Fire and Ice Ball, when she heard a man's stern voice.

"Madam, might I be of some assistance?" Startled, Jenny snapped her eyes wide open and jerked her head upright. She blinked into the cool afternoon light streaming through the open door. Outside the opposite side of the carriage stood a huge, kilted gentleman, who was stooping down and peering back at her.

Don't panic. Just stay calm.

But already, as she stared back into the man's dark brown eyes topped with scowling brows, she could feel her heart slamming madly against her ribs.

Lud, what must he think? She knew what she would think if she found a strange woman relaxing in her town carriage. Well, if she had one. She'd think the woman was quite mad. Or ... maybe a thief.

A thief? Blast! What if he called a constable? "I believe ye have mistakenly boarded my carriage," the Scotsman said with a controlled level of gentility that surprised her. "Might I help ye find yer own, my lady?" He leaned back then and glanced down Milsom Street, grimacing slightly when he realized no other fine conveyance was parked upon the cobbles.

"Oh, I-" But no other words were coming. Lord help her. Think, Jenny, think.

Then, inexplicably, the perfect explanation planted itself in her mind. "Kind sir," she managed, lifting her hand weakly to her brow. "Pray, forgive me. My head began to swirl and I needed to sit down. The sensation came upon me so quickly, I was forced to seek my ease inside your carriage."

"Och, I see." The Scotsman seemed to take to her words immediately, and his eyes softened with concern. "Has it passed-the spell, I mean?"

She nodded her head and offered a thin smile. "Indeed it has. Just this moment, in fact." Furtively, Jenny laid her hand on the door latch and pressed down. The door sprang open. "I am sorry to have troubled you. I will go now."

A look of surprise lit the Scotsman's eyes, and quite suddenly he disappeared from the far door. Jenny heaved the carriage door beside her open and leapt down, hoping to escape, but the Scotsman had already circled around and caught her elbow before she could flee.

"Please allow me to assist ye by offering a ride to yer home."

A few yards away, Jenny could see Annie, her eyes wide and mouth gaping, standing with the footman near the lead pair of horses.

Jenny turned back to the Scotsman. "No need, sir." She wrenched her elbow from his grasp. "My abigail can escort me. I own, I have fully regained my strength and my residence is not so far away. Again, I am sorry, sir. Do excuse me."

With that Jenny shot up the flag way, hooking Annie's arm as she passed and dragging her along with her.

"Very well then. Good day," the gentleman called out in a confused tone as the two women scurried around the corner on their way to Queen Street.

"Lord above! You're mad, Jenny. I told you not to do it," Annie lamented. "But no, you climbed inside the bloody town carriage anyway."

Jenny slowed her step and stilled. "I know, Annie, but the carriage was so lovely. You can't imagine how extraordinary it was. I only wanted to board and see what it felt like to travel like a lady of the ton. Just for a moment."

"When are you going to give up your impossible dream of becoming a lady? Do you not see the trouble it causes you? You owe half the shopkeepers on Milsom."

Jenny looked away and shrugged, then urged Annie forward up the walk. "I am well aware of my financial circumstances. But I'll find a way to pay my debts." "Well, you had better, before Bath's markets send the constables after you for stiffing them."

Jenny focused on the swish of her skirts and the rhythm of her boots as she walked, anything to keep from looking her friend in the eye. Annie was right, of course.

But this time, she might actually be able to do something about her debt. The cream could solve all her worries. Reaching inside her reticule, Jenny retrieved the two guineas she had left. "Come on, Annie. I need to stop at the dispensing apothecary on Trim Street. I have some supplies to purchase."

Continues...


Excerpted from Lady in Waiting by Kathryn Caskie Copyright © 2005 by Kathryn Caskie. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Kathryn Caskie has long been a devotee of history and things of old. So it came as no surprise to her family when she took a career detour off the online super highway and began writing historical romances full time.

With a background in marketing, advertising and journalism, she has written professionally for television, radio, magazines and newspapers.

Kathryn lives in a 200-year-old Quaker home nestled in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her family, her greatest source of inspiration.

Learn more at:
KathrynCaskie.com
Twitter, @KathrynCaskie
Facebook.com/KathrynCaskieParker

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