Thanks to their large extended family and unconventional courtship, the Worthingtons have seen their share of scandal and excitement. But nothing has prepared them for this...
The Dowager Lady Worthington isn’t quite sure what to make of country-girl Dorothea Stern. As the granddaughter of the Duke of Bristol, Dotty is schooled in the ways and means of the nobility. But her sharp wit and outspoken nature has everyone in a tizzy. Especially their cousin, Dominic, the Marquis of Merton.
Prematurely stuffy, Dom was raised by his cheerless uncle to be wary of a host of things, including innovation, waltzing, and most perilous of all: true love. Still, there’s something about Dotty, beyond her beauty, that Dom cannot resist. But the odds are against him if he intends to win her as his bride. Will he choose loyalty to his family—or risk everything for the one woman he believes is his perfect match…
“A classic Regency romp! Perfect for fans of Grace Burrowes.”Caroline Linden, USA Today bestselling author
About the Author
Ella Quinn is the USA Today bestselling author of smart, spicy Regency romances, including The Worthingtons and The Marriage Game Series. Prior to writing romance, Ella Quinn was an adjunct professor, a lawyer, and the first woman to be assigned to a Green Beret unit. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and has extensively researched the Regency era, immersing her stories with the flavor and feel of the period so that readers lose themselves in the time. She and her husband currently live in Germany when they aren’t cruising the world on their sailboat. Visit her online at ellaquinnauthor.com.
Read an Excerpt
When A Marquis Chooses a Bride
By Ella Quinn
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Ella Quinn
All rights reserved.
Early afternoon sun poured through the windows of the large airy schoolroom in Stern Manor. The space was filled with bookcases, four desks, two sofas, and sundry toys.
Miss Dorothea Stern sat on the larger of the much-used sofas, threading a strand of rose silk through her embroidery needle. She had one more Damask rose to complete before the slippers she was making for her mother were finished.
But no matter how hard she tried, she could not escape the fact that the neighborhood was sadly flat now that her best friend, Lady Charlotte Carpenter, was gone. For years, they had planned to come out together, just as they had done everything else since they were in leading strings.
In the meantime, there was a great deal to keep Dotty busy. Since her mother's accident, she had taken up Mama's duties. Dotty enjoyed visiting their tenants, talking to the children and their mothers, and finding ways to help them.
"Dotty," her six-year-old sister, Martha, whined, "Scruffy won't stay still."
Scruffy, a three-legged dog Dotty had saved from a hunter's trap, was resisting Martha's efforts to tie a ribbon on him. "Sweetie, boys don't like frills. Put it on your doll instead."
Fifteen-year-old Henrietta glanced up from the book she was reading. "She took it off the doll."
"Henny," Dotty asked, "aren't you supposed to be practicing your harp?"
Her sister stuck her tongue out. "No, I'm supposed to be reading Ovid in Greek."
Their father, Sir Henry, was a classical scholar and had been a rector before his older brother's death a few years ago. Much to Henny's dismay, he had decided to teach all the children Latin and Greek.
Dotty took in the book her sister held. The marble cover was a trademark of the Minerva Press novels. "That is not Ovid."
Puffing out a breath of air, Henny rolled her eyes. "Aren't ladies supposed to be fashionably stupid?"
"No, they are supposed to appear stupid," Dotty replied tartly. "Which is completely ridiculous. I refuse to marry a gentleman who thinks women should not have brains."
"If that's the case, you may become a spinster," Henny shot back.
"Lord Worthington likes that Grace is clever." Dotty resisted a smug smile. "I'm sure there must be other gentlemen who believe as he does."
Charlotte's older sister, Grace, was now the Countess of Worthington. She had taken all five of the younger children with her to London for Charlotte's come out. Shortly after arriving in Town, Grace had met and fallen in love with Mattheus, Earl of Worthington. They had wed three weeks later.
Not long ago, Grace and her new husband had returned to Stanwood Hall for a few days so that Lord Worthington, who was now guardian to her brothers and sisters, as well as his own sisters, could inspect the property.
Before Henny could retort, the door opened. "Miss" — Dotty's maid, Polly, glanced around the room, her gaze settling on Dotty — "Her Ladyship asked me to come fetch you."
Dotty pulled the thread through, secured the needle, and set the slipper down. "Is she all right?"
"Oh yes, miss." Polly bounced from foot to foot. "She got a letter from London and sent for you straightaway."
Dotty hurried to the door. "I hope everything is all right." There was nothing wonderful in receiving a letter from London. Practically everyone they knew was in Town for the Season. Mama and Dotty should have been there as well, yet the day before their planned departure her mother had slipped and broken her leg.
"No, miss," the maid said as she hurried after her. "Her ladyship was smiling."
"Well, I suppose the sooner I get to her, the sooner I shall find out what she wants." A minute later, she knocked on the door to her mother's parlor and entered. "Mama, what is it?"
Waving a sheet of paper in her hand, her mother smiled broadly. "Unexpected and wonderful news. You shall have your Season after all!"
Dotty's jaw dropped. She snapped it shut and made her way over to a chair next to her mother. "I don't understand. I thought Grandmamma Bristol couldn't sponsor me because of Aunt Mary's confinement."
"This" — Mama waved the letter through the air again — "is from Grace."
Dotty's heart began to beat faster, and she clasped her hands together. "What — what does she say?"
"After dear Charlotte received your missive telling her you could not come to Town for your Season, she prevailed upon Grace to invite you. She says" — Mama adjusted her spectacles — "having you would be no bother at all. She is bringing out Charlotte and Lady Louisa Vivers, Worthington's sister, you know, and one more in a household of ten children will hardly be remarkable. She comments that your good sense will be very welcome." Mama glanced up. "Not that I disagree with her. You do have a great deal of sagacity, but I am sure Grace said that for Papa's benefit. You know how he does not like to be obliged to anyone." Mama went back to the letter. "And it would be a great shame for you not to come out with Charlotte as you girls have planned for years." Mama set the paper down with a flourish and grinned. "What do you think of that?"
For what seemed like a long time, Dotty could think of nothing. Her mind had never gone blank before. It was almost too good to be true. She shook her head, and finally managed to find an answer. "I never thought ... Well, I mean I knew Charlotte was going to ask Grace, but I never even imagined that Lord Worthington would agree. Although her last letter said she missed me dreadfully. Lady Louisa, Worthington's sister, even wrote to me saying she had heard so much about me that she felt as if she already knew me and wished I was going to be in Town."
Suddenly, the fact that Dotty was actually going to Town hit her. "I really am going to have a Season!" She jumped up, rushed to her mother, and hugged her. "I wish you could be there as well."
Mama patted Dotty's back. "Yes, my dear. I wish I could go too, but Grace will take good care of you."
"When shall we tell Papa of Grace's offer?" What if her father refused to allow her to go? That would be horrible. "I'm not sure he will be as happy as we are."
Her mother glanced briefly at the ceiling and let out a sigh of long-suffering. "If he had his way, you would not come out until you were at least twenty. He has gone somewhere. I left a message to have him attend me as soon as he returns." She pushed herself up against the pillows. "We have no time to lose. There is so much to discuss. Polly," Mama said to Dotty's maid hovering in the door, "have the trunks brought down from the attic and start getting Miss Dotty's clothes together."
"Yes, your ladyship."
Once the door closed, Mama leaned forward a little and lowered her voice. "Papa will dislike the idea of you going to London without me at first, but don't worry, dear, I'll talk him round."
Dotty sat back down and folded her hands in her lap. They trembled a little with excitement. She was really going to be able to come out with her best friend in the whole world! "I should write to Charlotte and Grace to thank them."
"Yes, after it is all settled." Mama opened her pocketbook and wet the tip of the pencil with her tongue. "We must think of who will accompany you. Papa will not allow you to travel with only Polly to look after you. I believe Mrs. Parks said her sister was going to Town to visit a friend. I shall ask if she will look after you. After all, it will save her the trouble of booking and paying for another coach."
Dotty nodded. "Yes, Mama. I believe Miss Brownly is leaving in a few days. She planned to take the mail."
"Then she will be glad for a chance to ride in a private coach and break the journey at a good hostelry. Run along now and help Polly. I shall send for you after I have spoken with Papa."
Dotty kissed her mother before running in a very unladylike fashion up the stairs to her room. Four trunks already stood open and her wardrobe cabinet was empty. She started folding the clothes she found on her bed. "Polly, I do hope Mama prevails."
The maid paused to think for a moment. "I don't think Sir Henry has a hope against her ladyship." She gave a decisive nod. "She'll get her way."
Dotty smiled. Her mother usually did. "Still ... I'll feel much better when I know for sure that I'll be going."
* * *
Two hours later, Sir Henry Stern frowned at the letter in his hand as he ambled into his wife's parlor. "This is from Lord Worthington. I suppose you have one from Grace."
Lady Stern smiled. She loved her husband dearly, but there were times his self-sufficiency went too far. She had no intention of allowing him to spoil Dotty's Season. "I do indeed. I do not think I have ever been so pleased for Dorothea. She and Charlotte have dreamed of their come out for years, and all the new gowns we bought for her ... Well, I would hate for them to go to waste."
Her husband appeared unconvinced. "Worthington promises to take care of Dotty as he would his sister Lady Louisa and Charlotte" — his scowl deepened — "but, Cordelia, we would be entrusting her to his care. In London. And we do not know him that well."
"Henry" — Cordelia used her most patient tone — "we know Grace, and Worthington was perfectly amiable when she invited us to Stanwood Hall to dine during the few days they were here. He has a good reputation. Nothing smoky about him at all, as Harry would say." Her husband's lips folded together, and Cordelia rushed on. "Besides, Grace would not have trusted him with her brothers and sisters if he were not a good man."
"But looking after three young ladies?"
She almost laughed at the look of horror on his face.
"You forget Jane Carpenter, Grace's cousin, is still with them, and the Dowager Lady Worthington as well. The girls will be well chaperoned, and Grace commented on Dotty's good sense."
"Yes, well." He glanced at the missive and drew his brows together so that they touched. "As the Season is well under way, Lord Worthington asks for an immediate reply. I suppose I should write to him."
Cordelia smiled again. "Does that mean you'll allow Dorothea to go?" A bit of humor entered her husband's eyes. "I know you, my love. If I say no, I will never hear the end of it. You are every bit as determined as your mother. How do you propose Dotty make the journey?"
"You cannot complain about that, my dear. If we were not strong-willed, you and I would never have been allowed to marry." Cordelia struggled to keep the triumph out of her voice. It was fortunate that the Sterns had been friends with the Carpenters for generations. "I shall make all the arrangements."
"Very well, then. I know you'll send Dotty off as soon as possible. I do want a word with her."
"Of course, my love." Cordelia tugged the bell pull and called for her daughter.
* * *
Dotty's steps faltered as she entered Papa's study. Her stomach lurched as she took in his grim countenance. He was not going to allow her to go to Town. She may as well make the best of it. Getting into a state would not help. She took a breath and readied herself for the bad news. "Yes?"
"Your father wishes to speak to you." She whipped her head around, seeing her mother lying on a sofa. This must be important if Mama had had herself moved.
Papa came around from behind his desk and took Dotty by her shoulders. "You may join Charlotte for your Season. However, you know my feelings about this. You are still young, and there is no reason you must marry anytime soon."
She kept her face as serious as her father's. "I know, Papa."
He cleared his throat. "If a young man is interested in you, have him apply to Lord Worthington first. He will know best if the gentleman is suitable."
Dotty nodded. Relief and excitement rushed through her. Yet her father wasn't done yet. She waited for him to continue.
"With the number of inhabitants already in Worthington's household, and the dogs, you must promise me not to bring stray animals or people to Stanwood House. They won't appreciate it."
"I promise, Papa."
"Now, I must make sure the coach is ready."
As soon as her father closed the door, she gave a little shriek and hugged her mother. "Oh, Mama! Thank you so much. I shall never be able to repay you."
She patted Dotty's cheek. "Yes, you will, by having fun. Though mind what your father said. With all those children and two Great Danes, the Worthingtons do not need three-legged dogs or half-blind cats, not to mention homeless children."
"Yes, Mama. I'll do my best." Dotty grinned.
Everyone loved Scruffy. The cat was the best mouser they'd ever had, and Benjy was turning into a fine groom. People and animals only needed a chance in life. Nevertheless, her parents had a point. Bringing strays home to Stern Manor was one thing, taking them to someone else's house quite another matter altogether. Dotty said a quick prayer that she would not meet anyone in need of help.CHAPTER 2
Dominic, Marquis of Merton, settled into his apartment at the Pulteney Hotel. His pride still stung at having been ejected from his cousin, Matt Worthington's, town house. Blowing a cloud was the latest thing. Not that Dom would attempt to smoke in White's, that was not allowed, but he outranked Worthington and should have been treated as an honored guest, not summarily told to leave. Still, it was probably convenient that Dom did not actually enjoy smoking, as he was sure the Pulteney would not allow it either.
He should have gone on his Grand Tour instead of taking a bolt to Town. But his mother had received a letter informing her of his cousin's plans to wed, and he decided starting his own nursery would be the most responsible course. After all, the succession would not look after itself, and he had a duty to his family and dependents. Perhaps he would travel after he married.
Not that Dom truly wished to leave England. He liked an ordered life and travel was sure to disrupt the structure with which he was comfortable. He did not wish to visit France at all. Any land where the inhabitants would murder their betters held little interest for him. It all came back to the proper order of things. Life was much better when everyone followed the rules and knew their places.
He reconsidered opening up Merton House for the Season, but there was really no point when his mother was not here as well. Without her to act as his hostess, he would not be able to plan any entertainments other than for his friends. The hotel would suit for the short time he planned to spend in Town. It should not take him that long to find a wife. He was a marquis. Even without his considerable fortune, he would have been a desirable parti.
"Kimbal," he called to his valet.
"Yes, my lord."
"I shall be dining at White's."
"Yes, my lord."
Dom scribbled a note to his friend Viscount Fotherby asking if he would like to join Dom for dinner. By the time he was dressed and had donned his hat, Fotherby's answer affirming the invitation had arrived.
A short while later, just as a light sprinkle turned into a persistent rain, Dom handed his hat and cane to the footman at White's and found his friend lounging in the room that held the club's famous betting book. William Alvanley, another of Dom's friends, was seated next to the window with another man staring intently at the rain.
He turned to Fotherby. "What are they doing?"
"Five thousand quid on which raindrop will reach the bottom of the sill first."
Despite being close with many of the Prince Regent's circle, Dom could not abide the excessive wagers his friends made. Alvanley would end up ruining himself and his estates at the rate he was going. "Are you ready to dine, or are you awaiting the outcome?"
"Famished." Fotherby tossed off his glass of wine. "Thought you weren't coming to Town this year."
"My plans changed." Dom and Fotherby entered the dining room. "I have decided to take a wife."
"Wife?" Fotherby choked. "Any idea who?"
"Not yet, but I have a list of qualifications. She must be well-bred, not given to fits of temper or strange starts, quiet, biddable, easy to look at — I must get an heir on her after all — know what is expected of a marchioness. And not prone to scandals. You know how my uncle hated them. I think that about covers it."
"A paragon, in other words."
Dom gave a curt nod. "Indeed. I could wed no one less."
Excerpted from When A Marquis Chooses a Bride by Ella Quinn. Copyright © 2016 Ella Quinn. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved it. Crazy about Ella Quinn books. Wonderful author. These characters have so much depth and feeling that really endear them to me. Love Dorothea and eventually Dom after he finally chills out. Wonderful story line and action too.
Back with Ella Quinn to check out the characters so enjoyable in the first book of the series, although this one can be read on its own. Dorothea (Dottie or Thea) is the best friend of Grace’s sister Charlotte. Missing her best friend who now lives with her sister, Lady Worthington, she’s ready to see her friend and share their coming-out season. When Dottie’s mother is injured, Charlotte convinces her sister to offer as host to Dottie for the season. As with the first book, the family interactions with Grace and her siblings is solid and warm, and readers familiar with the first book in which they were introduced will enjoy the added humor and mayhem they bring to the story. Dottie is smart and clever, and not known for holding her tongue. Although her bloodlines are honorable, this granddaughter of the Duke of Bristol isn’t of the ideal temperament so desired by society. She is, however, loving and loyal and quite amusing, if a bit outrageous for her time. Dominic, the Marquis of Merton is uptight, honorable and wholly aware of his responsibilities, having had them drilled into them from childhood by his uncle. Unfortunately for him, the only woman who intrigues him is Dottie, a woman that is ‘beneath’ what his rank in society could command, and her habit of speaking her mind could be troublesome. She’s attracted but not impressed by Dom and his rather strict adherence to the rigid and rather thoughtless code of behavior instilled by his uncle. Fortunately for him, they don’t hold his political views or habitual thoughtless snobbery against him, and the season means that he and Dottie shall be in the same spaces, frequently. Far more developed and compelling from the romance perspective than the first, the relationship of Dom and Dottie is intriguing, particularly as he starts to soften in his opinions both political and personal. The standout in this story is Dottie with her generous heart and patience to see beneath the trappings of society and composure to see the man Dom could be. With plenty of moments with the other Worthington siblings as well as the increasingly sweet and clever banter between Dom and Dottie, this story has plenty of the moments I want from an Ella Quinn title. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I really enjoyed Dotty and Dom's story. If you read book one in the series, you know how stuffy Dom can be. Dotty is the complete opposite from him. She has a kind and caring heart and will help anyone that needs it. They both find themselves attracted to the other. But there are, of course, issues. Dom must marry someone of standing and tries to ignore his feelings. Dotty has everyone she is staying with telling her about why they dislike Dom. Can these two ignore outside pressures and just follow their hearts? This is probably my favorite of Quinn's stories and I throughly enjoyed it!
When loving, caring and vibrant Dorothea is given a chance to have her season after all, she promises her father that she will not bring any strays home to help!! When Lord Merton spokes Dorothea at a ball he is blown away by her beauty. Everyone tells her he is a stoggy person with no personality. Even his cousin Matt doesn't like him. As he and Thea become friends she only sees good in him. He helps her safe a bag of cats from being drowned and a small child from being arrested. Dom (Lord Merton) was raise by his uncle after his father was killed and had instilled so many wrong things into his young nephew. Foremost is never love the woman you marry, it will only bring your death. So whenever he is near Thea his uncles words always comes back to haunt him. When there accidentally found in a compromising position Dom proposes and Thea accepts. She believes she can help him become the man he was supposed to be. When mystery surrounds young Tom, the child she saved an even brighter crime is discovered. A wonderful read with so many delightful turns!!
I won this book from Goodreads and am I writing this review at my own choice. I had read other books from Ella Quinn and this book lives up to the wonderful writing I have read of hers. This story is about a young woman who comes to London to have a season with a close friends family and since her mother couldn't come because she broke her leg. She believes in the causes of the time which dealt with the poor and hungry and women. This was just after the Neopolitan conflict. The Marques was raised by an uncle who thought that these people made their choices. He was having to find a wife because he was taught it was his duty to do certain things. Little did he know that this young woman would change his whole outlook on life, love and the world around him.
Miss Dorothea (Dotty) Stern, of Stern Manor, is mourning not being with her friend, Lady Charlotte Carpenter, for their first season. Dotty’s mother had an accident breaking her leg, and now Dotty has taken over her mother’s duties. These consist of overseeing her sisters, brothers, and caring for their tenants. A letter arrives from Lord and Lady Worthington, inviting Dotty to join Charlotte in town for her season. Charlotte is Lady Worthington’s sister and Lord Worthington’s sister, Lady Louisa, will join the two young ladies for the season. She is to stay at Stanwood House, Berkley Square, in Mayfair. Dotty’s parents agree that she should go and enjoy her season so she quickly packs and departs with her maid. Mattheus (Matt), the Earl of Worthington and his new wife, Grace, have combined their families. She has numerous siblings and he does as well. So, they all live together. Dominic (Dom), the Marquis of Merton, age 27, was planning on staying at the Pulteney Hotel in London for the season until his mother, Eunice, the Marchioness of Merton, recently widowed by her second husband, decided to open their home, Merton House, and enjoy the season as well. He is happy that she will be there to act as his hostess. He knows that it is time to marry so he must now concentrate on finding a bride. His mother is also hoping that he will begin a search for a bride. After Dom’s father died, his uncle Matt Worthington, brought him up to be true to his title thus leaving him rather emotionless and with a reputation for being stuffy. Matt still tries to boss him around which irritates Dom no end. When Dotty and Dom meet, he is enchanted with her looks, grace, and personality. Their attraction to one another grows and they enjoying spending time with one another at balls or on carriage rides. However, Dotty is just the daughter of a Squire and Dom is a Marquis. Will Dom be brave enough to break away and marry Dotty or will his domineering uncle put a stop to it? This book started out well, but as I got into it, there seemed to be lots of characters injected into the story and I couldn’t figure out where they came from. That and Dorothea being called Dotty by one person and Thea by another made no sense at all. I have truly enjoyed this author’s novels in the past and was eagerly anticipating reading this one. Unfortunately, it was just too confusing to enjoy. Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.