Horatia Winwood is simply helping her familyWhen the Earl of Rule proposes marriage to her sister Lizzie, Horatia offers herself instead. Her sister is already in love with someone else, and Horatia is willing to sacrifice herself for her family's happiness. Everyone knows she's no beauty, but she'll do her best to keep out of the Earl's way and make him a good wife. And then the Earl's archenemy, Sir Robert, sets out to ruin her reputation...The Earl of Rule has found just the wife he wantsUnbeknownst to Horatia, the Earl is enchanted by her. There's simply no way he's going to let her get into trouble. Overcoming some misguided help from Horatia's harebrained brother and a hired highwayman, the Earl routs his old enemy, and wins over his young wife, gifting her with a love that she never thought she could expect.
Directing the coachman of her extremely smart town carriage to wait for her, Mrs Maulfrey stepped into the dim hall, and said briskly: 'Where is Miss Winwood? You need not be at the trouble of announcing me.'
All the young ladies, it seemed, were in the small saloon. Mrs Maulfrey nodded, and walked across the hall with a click of her high heels. As she ascended the stairs her armazine skirts, spread over very large paniers a coudes, brushed the banisters on either side of her. She reflected, not for the first time, that the stairway was too narrow, and the carpet positively shabby. She would be ashamed for her part of such old-fashioned furnishings; but although she claimed cousinship, she was not, she admitted to herself, a Winwood of Winwood.
The small saloon, by which name the porter designated a back sitting-room given over to the use of the young ladies, lay up one pair of stairs, and was well known to Mrs Maulfrey. She tapped with her gloved hand on one of the panels of the door, and entered on the echo of her knock.
The three Misses Winwood were grouped by the window, presenting an artless and agreeable picture. Upon a faded yellow satin sopha sat Miss Winwood and Miss Charlotte, their arms entwined about each other's waists. They were much alike, but Miss Winwood was held to be the greater beauty. Her classic profile was turned to the door, but upon Mrs Maulfrey's rustling entrance she looked round and displayed to the visitor a pair of melting blue eyes and a sweet, arched mouth that formed at the moment an O of mild surprise. A quantity of fair curls dressed without powder and threaded by a blue riband framed her face and tumbled on to her shoulders in several ordered locks.
Miss Charlotte was not seen to advantage beside the Beauty of the Family, but she was a true Winwood, with the famous straight nose and the same blue eyes. Her curls, not quite so fair as her sister's, owed their existence to hot irons, her eyes were of a shallower blue, and her colouring inclined towards the sallow; but she was allowed to be a very well-looking young lady.