When It's Perfect

When It's Perfect

by Adele Ashworth

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When the mesmerizing Marcus Longfellow, theEarl of Renn, comes striding into Miss Mary Marsh's life,her world is set spinning. The ladies of London's ton clamor for the lacy confections Mary creates, but the earl is seeking something more from her. And he is very persuasive in his pursuit. Gentle, quiet Mary has always avoided romance, but her strong attraction to theadventurous nobleman is immediate and irresistible.Dare she trust the dashing lord with her secrets?

She is hiding something -- Marcus is certain of it -- a clue, perhaps, to explain his sister's untimely death. A sensuous seduction will surely loosen young Mary's tongue,and the determined earl is eager to oblige -- for in all his world travels, Marcus has found no treasure moreexquisite than she. But is his growing passion for herinterfering with his search for the truth?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062005526
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/02/2010
Series: Marsh Sisters series
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 112,020
File size: 359 KB

About the Author

I've always loved to write, but after my first attempt at a novel (nine chapters of Plastic City, the story of underwater-dwelling orphans in the twenty-third century that I wrotein the sixth grade), I took some time to get my bachelor'sdegree and to try my hand at other careers before I returnedto my first passion: creative writing. After lots and lots of perseverance, hard work, and a bit of very good luck, My Darling Caroline went on to win the Romance Writers of America's RITA® Award for Best First Book of 1998.

I live in Texas with my family, exploring history as Idelve into the hearts of my characters.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Cornwall, England
May, 1855

Baybridge House
10 June 1854

My dearest Marcus,

I was so pleased to receive your most recent letter. The treasures you have recently discovered to the west of Cairo sound as exquisite as ever. How exciting your life must be! Someday I should enjoy traveling to Egypt, if only to see you again.

Life in Baybridge House is as it always is, except that I am now betrothed to Viscount Exeter. Shall I say I am happy? I suppose so. Mother is happy. Oh, how I wish you would visit! I have missed you terribly, as has George. Please remember to stay out of the sun. I will be thinking of you daily, and praying for your continued good health.

Your loving sister,

Mary Marsh would get her very first peek at Marcus Longfellow, the mysterious and seldom mentioned Earl of Renn, in only ten short minutes -- less than two weeks after the tragic death of his sister, Christine, whose body she'd found in a heap of pink satin skirts on the lady's withdrawing room carpet.

She'd been living quite comfortably at Baybridge House, on the earl's estate near St. Austell, for the last four months, designing Lady Christine's bridal trousseau for two qualified seamstresses to create, never having dreamed that she'd actually meet the man. He'd been gone for years and wasn't expected to return anytime soon. But she supposed the abrupt and disturbing death of one's healthy eighteen-year-old sister would be enough to bring a man home, even if he didn't want to be there.

Mary had heard the commotion earlier that aftenoon when every servant, it seemed to her, had erupted inpanic at his surprising and rather unceremonious arrival. She, being above a mere servant in station, yet not one of the family, had remained in her room, knowing she'd have the distinct opportunity of being introduced to him at dinner -- when they would all no doubt discuss his sister's untimely demise once again. And when she'd get the chance to put Christine's description of her brother to the test.

The whole affair made her more anxious than she'd felt in months. Not only did she know more than she should about England's most handsome earl, she wasn't in any way ready to return to London. She still had memories of home too crushing to contemplate, past guilt she needed to work through, which happened to be the reason she'd accepted this position in the first place. But however true that was, Mary also realized with some uneasiness that she was growing wary of the general eeriness of Baybridge House following Christine's death, and she was quite certain meeting the aloof and brooding Lord Renn would do nothing to change her feelings. She wasn't prepared to leave so quickly, and yet she knew the earl would have no reason not to release her from her duties within days, at which time she would be on her way back to London. Regardless of Lady Christine's farfetched notion of a love match between the two of them, Mary knew reality from romance. She would soon have to face her past.

Washing such uncomfortable thoughts from her mind, Mary donned her best evening gown -- a full-skirted burgundy silk with cropped sleeves and scooped neckline, the most appropriate dress she had in her possession for mourning -- then sat at her polished pine vanity, gazing into the mirror a final time before she made her way downstairs. Her skin was good for a lady of twenty-nine, still fresh and relatively free of wrinkles. She'd twisted her long blond hair tastefully into a chignon at her nape, allowing tendrils to curl down her cheeks and forehead, giving her an attractive yet conservative appearance. Although born of good family, she remained a spinster by choice and had no desire to be the center of anyone's attention, especially tonight.

Smoothing her palms down her skirt, Mary rose and walked with confidence through the door of her bed chamber and out into the faintly lit hallway of the house's third floor. Not a sound could be heard upstairs, though she knew the servants below were abuzz with excitement and gossip at the earl's return. The family, of course, would be gathering in the formal dining room for this remarkable occasion, and Mary wanted to be early, so as to remain as unobtrusive as possible. At least that was her hope.

It wasn't to be. As she neared the entrance, she heard the low voices of George and Gwyneth, the earl's vivacious younger brother and his mother, the countess, as well as the clinking of dishes and silver as obedient hired help set places with family china. By all accounts the Earl of Renn had yet to appear, which to her seemed promising in some small measure. Centered in that thought, Mary pulled her shoulders back and glided gracefully into the dining room to make her presence known.

As always, elegance surrounded her, and once again she noted how everything at Baybridge House was in perfect order and of the utmost in quality and style. The Countess of Renn would never dream of eating on last year's china and table linens. But then as the widow of one of England's wealthiest owners of a productive china clay mine, she would be accountable for a luxurious table. And everybody in Cornwall knew the Countess and late Earl of Renn were of the most refined and respected members of the local peerage. For the first time since her arrival, Mary had to wonder if that distinction had anything to do with Marcus Longfellow's departure to Africa years ago, if he was the wandering bachelor sort. But then, such speculation was none of her concern, and she would likely never know.

When It's Perfect. Copyright © by Adele Ashworth. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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When It's Perfect 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I should not have read this book immediately after reading Carla Kelly's wonderfully crafted stories. The story drags along and only starts to get interesting halfway through.
melorem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've had this on my "to read" list for the longest time. When I finally got a copy of it I was very excited to read it. The book started out strong. The main character, Miss Mary Marsh, is a woman of good breeding but is not of the titled class. She works as a seamstress creating garments for brides to be. The young lady she is working with suddenly dies at a very young age. The deceased's brother travels home from Egypt to solve the mystery of what has happened to his little sister. He is intrigued by this woman who was a friend to his sister, an employee in his house and feels a strong attraction to her. He is an Earl and she is convinced nothing will ever come of it.As the mystery unravels, the two become more and more involved. I felt that by the end of this book the author let things drag out for too long. You could see the secrets long before the author reveals them and it just took too long to get there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed mystery, romantic tension, internal musings of all main characters Didn't like discovering heroine is a character from another story Ruined it for me But loved ' 'darling Caroline' & 'stolen charms'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The characters are complex and interesting. The love scenes are so romantic, you'll fall in love. This is the 2nd book of this author I have read, and I love them both.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1855 after years searching for antiquities in Egypt, English Earl Marcus Longfellow returns home following the tragic sudden death of his eighteen year old sister Christine. Stunned and feeling guilty for not being there for Christine, Marcus vows to learn the truth while he ponders the note he received from her last year announcing her betrothal to a viscount. Marcus starts his inquiries with the person who found the corpse, lacy confectioner Mary Marsh. Marcus quickly realizes that Christine confided much more than she should have in the working class lass. However, Marcus obtains Mary¿s cooperation to assist him in learning what really happened to his sister as he realizes the lingerie maker cared for Christine. As the Earl and the undergarment clothier work together, they fall in love, but she harbors a secret that added to their obvious class differences, and his obsession with his sibling¿s death that makes it impossible for anything permanent. The sequel to SOMEONE IRRESISTIBLE stars the sister of the first novel¿s heroine. The story line of WHEN IT¿S PERFECT parallels that of the prequel, but includes an amateur sleuth investigation containing a twist that adds fun to the tale. The story line is enjoyable due to the antics of the lead couple though the all¿s well ending that both claims seems stretched when a beloved lies still underground. Still fans will relish Adele Ashworth¿s wonderful Victorian romance that provides a second look at the mid nineteenth century dinosaur craze. Harriet Klausner
2_PMVH More than 1 year ago
I love when you meet up with an old friend and that joy you get. Well, Adele's WHEN IT'S PERFECT is that old friend to me. I have read it before and loved it then and I love it now. Mary is a maker of beautiful, sexy and daring intimate lingerie. In 1855 England, corsets and lingerie where suppose to be sturdy and boring. But Mary isn't any of those things and her lingerie is silky, sexy, beautiful, daring and made with satin, silk, precious news and made with love. Lord Rein, Marcus has come back from Egypt to discovered why his baby sister, Christine, is dead. Mary and Christine were close as they made lingerie for her trousseau for her upcoming wedding to Viscount Exeter. Mary and Marcus work together to find out to Christine. They find mystery, danger, evil, desire and love. This story has many twists and turns and will keep up in from the beginning to the end. I gave this book 5 fingers up and 8 toes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sit down and curl up your toes because this story is wonderful!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I've read that the love was so deep and compelling it was utterly breathtaking. I adored Marcus and Mary....ah the stuff that dreams are made of...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed Ms. Ashworth's books, but When It's Perfect is truly Perfect! If you are a lover of the Historical Romance genre then you will love When It's Perfect.