Secrets of a Proper Lady

Secrets of a Proper Lady

by Victoria Alexander

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060882648
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/25/2007
Series: Last Man Standing Series , #3
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 328,390
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

#1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander was an award-winning television reporter until she discovered fiction was more fun than real life. She is the author of thirty-one novels, and her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Victoria lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her long-suffering husband and two dogs, in a house under endless renovation and never-ending chaos.

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Secrets of a Proper Lady

Chapter One

Even the least astute among us, upon observing Lady Cordelia Bannister for the first, or even the second or third, time would immediately recognize that she was a young woman of sterling qualities. Properly raised, well mannered, respectful in all ways, and a credit to her parents. Even her penchant for travel, her writing about said travel, and a distinct hint of independence in her attitude would not significantly detract from that impression. Unless of course that first observation, or second or third, of the last remaining unwed daughter of the Earl of Marsham took place on a particularly overcast summer day as Cordelia stood before her father's desk in his library, her mother seated off to one side.

"No. Absolutely not. Why, the very suggestion is barbaric!" Cordelia stared at her father in stunned disbelief. "And this is why you called me here? Honestly. Father, for something of this magnitude, one should be given some sort of warning so that one might prepare oneself. I thought it was nothing more important than discussion of my latest bill at Madame Colette's."

The earl sat behind his desk, the very symbol of his authority and that of any number of earls preceding him, and closed his eyes momentarily as if to pray for strength, as he often had through the years when dealing with his daughters. "I have not yet seen that particular bill although I suspect it will not surprise me."

"It's really not that bad, dear," Mother said with an unconcerned shrug. "No worse than usual."

"That is good news," Father said sharply and directed his attention back to Cordelia. "But it's not thesubject at hand."

"As for the subject at hand." Cordelia raised her chin and met her father's gaze directly. "I have absolutely no intention of doing anything of the sort and frankly, Father, I don't believe you can make me. I am of age after all." Cordelia sank down into the chair that matched her mother's. "I find the idea repugnant and offensive and really quite medieval."

"I wouldn't call it medieval," her mother murmured. "A bit out of fashion perhaps."

The earl ignored his wife and stared at his youngest daughter. "Oh, but I can make you, Cordelia. And your age is of no particular consequence as you are as firmly dependent on your family for your support and sustenance now as you were when you were a child. As your bill from your dressmaker attests."

Cordelia was hard pressed to dispute the point given that Father was right. Still, a woman approaching her twenty-sixth birthday should not be forced to take a step as drastic as marriage without her approval. "Not entirely, Father. I've managed to save quite a tidy sum from my travel articles."

His eyes narrowed. "Based on travel I paid for."

"If you wish to look at it that way . . ." She shrugged in an offhand manner even if, in truth, there was no other way to look at.

Cordelia had accompanied her parents on a tour of Europe shortly after her eighteenth birthday and had fallen passionately in love with the grand adventure of travel. Two years later she had repeated the trip with her married older sisters Amelia, Edwina, and Beatrice. Then two years ago, she had joined Aunt Lavinia on an extensive and fascinating adventure to Egypt and the Holy Lands. Indeed, Cordelia had found that area of the world to be the most amazing place and could scarcely wait to return.

While Cordelia had always kept journals and diaries about her travels, it was Lavinia who had suggested she turn them into articles for ladies' magazines. After all, Lavinia had said, if Cordelia wasn't going to listen to her advice and marry, she should do something with her life if she didn't want to end her days living with one of her sisters and caring for children that were not her own.

Cordelia had no intention of not marrying, indeed she very much wished to marry; she simply hadn't yet found a man worth the trouble. Because, as much as Lavinia encouraged marriage, she was never reluctant to point out that men were a great deal of trouble and exceptionally difficult creatures if not managed correctly. And, as Lavinia had been married three times herself, who would know better than she?

"This tidy sum of yours," her father continued, "is it enough to support yourself? To put a roof over your head and clothes—expensive, fashionable clothes—on your back? To pay the salary of your companion? A companion, I might add, that would not be necessary if you had found yourself a husband as your sisters have done."

"Admittedly, it might not be enough for all that," Cordelia murmured.

In point of fact, the total she had accumulated from her writings was rather paltry if one looked at it as a living wage. In truth, Cordelia harbored no foolish illusions of independence. Although she was working on a compilation of her writings thus far, a travel book for the benefit of female travelers, she was realistic enough to know such an endeavor would not provide the means necessary to make her own way in the world. She'd once heard talk of a legacy from a distant aunt, but that was apparently conditional on marriage. Her only true hope for real independence lay in the possibility of a wealthy, if unknown, relative breathing his last and leaving Cordelia his entire fortune. As all relations on both sides of her family were accounted for, the possibility of that happening was extremely slim.

"I never asked for a companion, Father," Cordelia said.

"And dear, Sarah Elizabeth is as much as a member of the family as if she were one of our own daughters." Her mother pinned her father with a firm look. "And you well know it."

Father rolled his gaze toward the ceiling. "Of course, she is. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. However, I do pay her a respectable wage. And Sarah Elizabeth's position in this household is not the subject at the moment."

Secrets of a Proper Lady. Copyright © by Victoria Alexander. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Secrets of a Proper Lady 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was simple and a little shallow at times, i found myself scanning and speed reading to get through the chapters,,, disappointed in the book although i liked the characters, the idea was simplistic and kind of silly
audio_book_adict More than 1 year ago
I'm honestly not sure if it was the performer reading this book (Charlotte Parry), or the pretty bad story line of the written word in this particular book, but the story was boring and the narriation was absolutly terrible. I thought the basic premise of the series was just fine for a series idea (a bet between single gentlemen to see who would be the last man to marry), but each book still needs to stand up on it's own, and this one doesn't even come close. One of the standard but overused plot points used here is that the two main characters lie to eachother about who they are. Fine, fine, (yaaaaawn) fine. It was difficult to listen to the two characters slog through this premise, but absolutely incredulous that the "deception" continued (waaaaaaaaay too) long well after *both characters* knew the truth of the matter! It was ridiculous! Worse than that was the nearly monotonal reading of all the characters by the narriator. Interestingly enough, I stumbled upon this series by downloading Seduction of a Perfect Gentleman, the last book of the series. The story line of that one was a bit better and the narriation was much better (read by Maxwell Caulfield). If you must listen to one of the books of this series, skip this one and purchase that one. ~audiobook addict
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i keep trying to find a book by this author that is good. i read all these reviews for her and i frankly dont see how she is good. this book was sooo boring the characters were plain and in my opinion stupid. and i dont like stupidity.there was nothing interesting or exciting. this story could have easily been a one chapter book. i skipped through most of it and could fill in the blanks for myself. not in my opinion something i like and enjoy in a book. i liked to be kept on edge and have my heart strings pulled. nothing of the sort happened to me.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1854 London, visiting American businessman Daniel Sinclair is determined to win the wager of one pound each and a bottle of cognac he made with three English aristocrats as to who would be the last one standing single. Two are down and though he fears their tontine is cursed, Daniel does not plan on being next although he is betrothed to Lady Cordelia Bannister, as the competition is between him and Oliver Leighton.--------------- Cordelia and Daniel have never met so she decides to learn more about the American she is to marry if she finds him unsatisfactory she will call off the nuptials. She goes undercover pretending to be her companion, Sarah. However, Daniel needs time to put off his wedding if he is to win the wager when his fiancée¿s companion visits him he pretends to be a friend of Daniel. As they fall in love, both fears the truth will destroy their chance at lifetime of love.------------------- Readers will appreciate the madcap third Victorian romance that is a wild gender battle based on deception, misdirection, and love. The amusing story line is fun to follow as Daniel insists he¿s not in love and Cordelia fears her masquerade will cost her the love of a lifetime. As with WHAT A LADY WANTS and LITTLE BIT WICKED, sub-genre fans will toast Victoria Alexander for an entertaining historical.------------- Harriet Klausner
doxiemomx2 on LibraryThing 2 days ago
My second Victoria Alexander book. I really enjoyed this one. Her trademark lively dialogue was laugh-out-loud funny in many places. A very cute story of mistaken identifies. The secondary characters really added to the story. Nice book!
m8lt2 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I am quite a fan of Victoria Alexander. Her leading characters are often witty, their conversations usually full of humor and there are often a few sympathetic sidecharacters. In her latest novel SECRETS OF A PROPER LADY, however, she overdoes these elements and it becomes anoying. There is a bit too much confusion all around about who is who, who mistook whom, who is fooling whom etc. There is too much focus on the interaction between hero/heroine and their relationships with family and friends and too little on interaction between the leading characters themselves. In the end, I was not very convinced why Cordelia and Daniel should belong together, and isn't that what it should be all about?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the characters' ideas to be highly frustrating and, for supposedly intelligent people, extremely stupid. The ending was lackluster at best! I have read and enjoyed many of Victoria Alexander's works and was very disappointed in this one.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In SECRETS OF A PROPER LADY, the third book in Victoria Alexander's fabulous and fun 'Last Man Standing' series, the author takes us back to 1854 Victorian England and gives us a thoroughly delightful tale that's set partly in London, but also offers us a refreshingly different setting, that of the picturesque seaside resort town of Brighton¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿. Lady Cordelia Bannister, the youngest daughter of the Earl of Marsham, is pretty, intelligent and has a very independent nature. She is very well traveled for a young woman of her time and is also a talented writer who has written several articles for ladies magazines and eventually plans to write a book on travel for women. At almost 26 Cordelia has yet to marry--though she had had several offers, she never felt her affections were engaged. She wants to marry a man who'll accept her for herself, respect her and her opinions and also--to marry for love¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿ In the past her parents had always supported her endeavors, as well as, her desire to wed for love, but now her father's having some financial problems with his shipping enterprise and he wants Cordelia to accept an arranged marriage to the only son of Mr. Harold Sinclair, a wealthy and well respected American businessman who owns a very successful steamship line because both families would benefit--socially and financially--from the union¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿ The only thing Daniel Sinclair, a handsome, intelligent, hardworking and ambitious American railroad entrepreneur--and all around nice guy--knows about Lady Cordelia is that his father has (again) taken it upon himself to arrange a marriage for him to a British heiress. Daniel is quite angry about his father's highhandedness because at 31 he would prefer to choose his own wife--and he definitely doesn't want one as part of a business arrangement. Yet, Daniel's a man of integrity and he feels honor bound to uphold the family name and keep the commitment his father made with Lord Marsham. He knows his only way out is if Cordelia refuses to marry him¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿. Cordelia is a responsible young woman as well, and understands the importance of her marrying to save her family from possible financial ruin...But can she actually marry someone for mainly monetary reasons and her sense of filial duty--thereby giving up her chance at finding her 'one true love'? Or is Daniel's coming into her life really 'fate' at work???...................................... Cordelia decides to take fate into her own hands and determine for herself what kind of man Mr. Sinclair is and if he's someone she can spend the rest of her life with. She pretends to be her cousin Sarah so she can ask Daniel's secretary, Mr. Warren Lewis, questions about her 'intended'. Unbeknownst to Cordelia, when she approaches the man she thinks is Mr. Lewis as he walks in the park--it's actually Daniel. After learning this charming woman is Lady Cordelia's companion, he decides to continue pretending to be Warren to learn more about Cordelia...and because he can't resist the urge to talk to the pretty woman with the lovely green eyes again.***** ¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿. There were so many things I loved about SOAPL. Daniel and Cordelia were perfect for each other their interactions and conversations were such fun (with many laugh out loud moments) and it was a delight to watch them both try to fight their attraction--try to keep up their deceptions--and still try to do the right and honorable thing as their conscience demanded. I was completely enthralled to the very end of the story because I had no idea how Cordelia and Daniel were going to get out of the 'grand' mess they had both created, but I knew I wanted them to have their HEA ending¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿.. This was such a fun story with great characters and so many amusing plot twists and turns. Ms. Alexander's storytelling 'voice' is always wonderfully smooth a