Oh, how I wish . . .
When a promised inheritance turns out to be a fraud, shy spinster Charlotte Wilmont makes an impetuous wish that despite her lack of charm and fortune, she could capture the heart of the one man whom she's forever adored—Sebastian, Viscount Trent.
Be careful what you wish for . . .
With that utterance, Charlotte awakens shocked to find herself entwined with her beloved Sebastian. But the respectable man she knew is now a most rakish devil and she is . . . well, by some inexplicable magic, London's most infamous mistress.
Even passion comes at a price . . .
Being the scandalous Lottie Townsend affords Charlotte unimaginable freedom—passionate nights with Sebastian, endless days of shopping, and adoring fans. But all too soon, Charlotte finds that being one man's mistress isn't the same as being his wife. Yet if she returns to her old, respectable life, can Charlotte trust there will be enough magic left to recapture Sebastian's heart . . . and reawaken his rakish desires?
If one were going to define what gave a family that air of prestige amongst their peers, set them apart in the bustling ton, first and foremost you would list those admirable qualities of respectability, social standing, and, most importantly, wealth.
Of course none of those things described the Earl of Walbrook or any of his five children—with the possible exception of the earl's eldest son and heir, Sebastian Marlowe, Viscount Trent.
But we'll get to him in a moment.
Luckily for the Marlowes, they rarely noticed their pariah status in Society. Snippy mentions in gossip columns were of no interest to them. And if they had a host of detractors, they had one very enthusiastic admirer.
Miss Charlotte Wilmont. She thought them the most glorious family in London.
Why, their cluttered house on Berkeley Square, which housed the odd objects that the earl sent home from his travels, the leftover stage sets and costumes from the countess's numerous private theatrical productions, Griffin's scientific experiments, Cordelia's Roman treasures, and Hermione and Viola's collections of neatly clipped fashion plates from The Ladies Fashionable Cabinet, was more odd museum than house, but it felt like home to Charlotte.
Even now, standing in the middle of the foyer, awaiting her best friend, Lady Hermione, and dreading the terrible news she had to tell her, Charlotte couldn't help but feel a sense that she, plain and ordinary Miss Wilmont, belonged here.
She could just imagine what her mother, Lady Wilmont, or Cousin Finella, with whom they lived, would say about that. Especially when faced with the ornately carved chest that stood front and center in the entryway, decorated as it was with a rather large male fertility statue standing tall and erect atop it.
The ebony phallus would have been banished to the dustbin at Cousin Finella's. Feeling a little bit guilty for even casting a curious glance in its direction, Charlotte forced her gaze over to the silver salver beside it, piled up as it was with mail and notes and calling cards for the family.
Envy tugged at her heart over the sight of such a friendly pile—for no one invited her to soirées and parties, called upon her cantankerous mother (for good reason), or sent lovingly penned letters expressing whatever it was one put into such tidings.
Surely Charlotte didn't know. No one had ever sent her a letter.
And atop it all sat the most coveted missive of all—an invitation to Lady Routledge's soirée.
Though Hermione had spent the last month expressing dread over having to attend the upcoming event, Charlotte knew her dear friend would have been positively distraught not to be invited. For Lady Routledge's annual evening had launched any number of young ladies from veritable obscurity onto that very coveted pedestal, the most sought after title a girl could attain: that of Original.
But to do that took a lady of some talent—able to sing, perhaps a dab hand on a pianoforte, or possess the composure to give a stirring and dramatic reading. Not that such a lack of proficiency didn't stop any number of hopefuls from getting up (or more to the point, being prodded up by their anxious mothers) and giving a rather, ahem, memorable performance.
Having had only lessons from Cousin Finella on the pianoforte, and neither an elocution or singing lesson, Charlotte would rather die than get up before the assembled ladies and lords, gossips and dandies, and make a cake of herself. So perhaps it was a...