No ordinary highwayman...
A mere whisper of the name "Gentleman James" sends chills throughout the ton (and thrills the ladies who have heard rumors of his amorous exploits). But the dashing brigand never dreamed that the passing of the father he never knew would leave him with a title, a fortune...and a mission.
No predictable lady...
Considered unmarriageable at twenty-five, Lady Elizabeth has the perfect life, happily snuggled among her beloved books while caring for her curmudgeonly grandfather. Or so she thinks until she meets Christian Llevanth, the dark and mysterious Viscount Westerville, and discovers the delicious ache of desire. Elizabeth finds herself longing for more -- more romance, more excitement, and definitely more passion. But when does "more" become "too much"?
Good manners do not necessarily prove good breeding. Oddly enough, this is true of both gentlemen and horses.
A Compleat Guide for Being a Most Proper Butler
by Richard Robert Reeves
It all started with Lady Findercombe's rather impressive bosom.
Born of rather common parents and less than passable beauty, Miss Lucilla Trent was delighted when, at the tender age of sixteen, she developed what can only be described as "a woman's figure."
Lucilla, never a romantic sort, was overjoyed when her womanly figure caught old Lord Findercombe's rather jaundiced eye. The jaded bachelor was entranced enough to toss caution to the winds and beg for Lucilla's hand in marriage without regard for either her lack of dowry or the fact that her left eye had a rather disturbing tendency to wander.
Naturally, Mr. and Mrs. Trent were enthused. Though Lucilla found Lord Findercombe both old and dull, he was well connected, was invited everywhere, and was willing to set her up with an indulgent amount of pin money. They were, many said, a perfect match.
Once married, Lord Findercombe bestowed a wealth of heavy decorative brooches and necklaces on his wife that drew attention to her finest features. The combination of bountiful bosom and jaunty jewels soon became an accepted sight in society.
All was well and good until the night of the Hearsts' Grand Ball. The ball was held every year two weeks prior to the beginning of the season. Located only a half day's ride from town, the event was a stopping place for all the best of the best on their annual move to their London town houses.
It had become something of a tradition; the large sitting rooms and the impressive ballroom crowded to the fullest. Every year, Lady Hearst flitted from guest to guest, gathering and passing on gossip like a bee pollinating a colorful garden.
Normally, the Hearsts' Grand Ball was held up as an example of a well-thought-out and unique entertainment, a fact that delighted Lady Hearst no small amount. However, this year things were not going as planned. Within an hour of beginning, the ball was, in fact, in dire danger of falling apart.
The wonderful orchestra Lady Hearst had hired had come down with the ague. At the last minute, she'd been forced to replace them with a smallish local quartet, which was hardly the thing for a large, crowded ballroom. Then she discovered that the long sheers she'd ordered draped around the ballroom to add an air of gaiety had an odd smell -- rather musty and barn-like -- a fact she did not discover until too late to order their removal. But the worst disaster was the ices.
A spate of unusually mild weather had caused the front hallway to be far warmer than usual, and all the lovely ices she'd ordered specially from London had begun to melt before the first guest had arrived. She'd been so excited about those ices, too. They had been shaped to look like Admiral Nelson on board the Victory to commemorate the glorious Battle of Trafalgar, a topic much on the minds and tongues of the ton.
As the ices melted, hundreds of small Admiral Nelsons began to shrink. Worse, his left arm, extended and holding a sword to the throat of a panicked Frenchman, fell off completely and landed on the upturned face of his vanquished foe, giving the entire scene a rather cannibalistic air.
The real Admiral Nelson had indeed lost an arm in battle, and Lady Hearst feared her guests would think her insensitive or, worse, unpatriotic. Her fears were quite justified when she caught not one but three spiteful women whispering just such a thing to one another during the evening.
All in all, the ball was filled, which made it acceptable, but the rooms...