She spied him in the shadows . . .
And in an instant, Thalia Langley knew the man before her was no saint. He might claim to be the Duke of Hollindrake's unassuming country cousin, but no man that handsome, that arresting, could be anything but . . . well, he simply must be an unrepentant rogue. His cat-like grace and power leave Tally shivering in her slippers at the notion of all the wicked, forbidden things he might be capable of doing . . . to her.
Indeed, Lord Larken is no bumbling vicar, but a master spy there in his majesty's service to find — and murder — a notorious pirate freed in a daring prison escape. Devoted to the Crown, Larken's not about to let an interfering (and not entirely innocent) Mayfair miss disrupt his ruthless plans. Yet how can he be anything but tempted by this lady in a little black gown . . . a dress tantalizing enough to lead even Larken astray.
Sometimes when a Season fails to secure the happiness of a young lady or two, say one's sister or cousin, then the next course of action is to organize the perfect house party.
A notation found on the back page of The Bachelor Chronicles
Tally, whatever are you doing there clutching your writing desk like someone is about to steal it?" Lady Philippa Knolles asked.
"Someone is, Pippin," her cousin, Miss Thalia Langley replied, nodding in the direction where Tally's sister, the former Miss Felicity Langley, now the Duchess of Hollindrake, stood in the posting inn yard, ordering the harried footman about with military precision.
"She's rearranging the luggage?" Pippin looked askance at the melee of boxes and trunks.
"Yet again," Tally sighed, sharing a commiserating glance with her dog, Brutus, who was ever at the hem of her gown. "She used to do this to Papa when we were traveling on the Continent. Order the trunks and bags rearranged over and over again. Don't you recall how she harried those poor fellows when we moved to London last winter?"
"Oh, yes," Pippin mused. "I had quite forgotten. Perhaps Hollindrake could suggest—"
"I've already advised him not to waste his breath. Papa and I learned never to argue with her over it, for she only fusses all the more until it is all put to her liking."
"Is there such an arrangement?" Pippin asked, her face a mask of innocence, but her eyes sparkling.
Tally laughed. "No, but she is determined to discover one."
There was barely room for the Duke's procession of carriages and wagons in the small yard, let alone the luggage now stacked in every remaining bit of space. And worse yet, the untimely arrival of a crowded mail coach, as well as a post-chaise, had only added to the chaos as the passengers and postilions jostled for room. Add to that, the luggage from the mail coach was being divided, as some of the passengers departed and others waded through the confusion to gain their appointed seats.
"I'll not lose my sketchbook and jewelry case," Tally complained, clutching her writing box closer. "And one of us had best stand guard over our carriage, lest we find her over here ready to send our trunks to the wagons beneath a crate of dishes and insisting Aunt Minty be moved as well."
"She wouldn't!" Pippin declared, nonetheless taking a nervous glance at Felicity. "I do think she's far too busy to notice our poor possessions."
Tally's reply was an arched glance.
"Oh, dear, you're right." Pippin's brow furrowed. "Look she's sending some fellow over here now."
Muttering her favorite Russian curse under her breath, Tally planted herself firmly before the carriage she and Pippin were sharing with their aged chaperone, Aunt Minty.
The footman's pace slowed as he neared them and found himself facing the two young misses.
"And just what do you think you are doing?" Tally asked, handing her desk over to Pippin and scooping up Brutus.
The young man hung his head. "Well, miss, 'tis Her Grace's orders. I've come for the trunks and your aunt." He stretched out his hand toward the carriage door, and Tally sidestepped into his path.
"Bother Her Grace! You're not to open that door!"
Brutus aided her cause by letting out a menacing growl. Well, as menacing as one could be when you were a dog that could fit easily into a hatbox, and a very small hatbox at that.
Still, it was enough to get the footman to draw back his fingers, for Tally's little dog had gained a reputation amongst the duke's servants as being "a nasty bit of trouble."
Tally shot a heated glance toward her...