Philip Whitmore, Viscount Greybourne, has been deserted at the altar, and Meredith ChiltonâGrizedale, the Matchmaker of Mayfair, is ruined. This was the most anticipated wedding of the Season and would have secured her position. But now the word is out that the groomâtoâbe is cursed, making him the Most Unmarriageable Man in England. If Meredith is to have any hope of a future, she'll need to help him break this curse and marry him off. Unfortunately, the only woman he now wants is Meredith â the Most Unmarriageable Woman in England!
Meredith Chilton-Grizedale pursed her lips and stroked her chin as she slowly circled Lady Sarah Markham, who stood upon the dressmaker's platform. Meredith's gaze critiqued the slender form garbed in the elegant, pale blue wedding gown, noting every detail, from the demure square neckline to the elaborate ruffled flounce. A satisfied smile threatened to curl her lips upward, but she staunchly subdued it. One could not afford to be too effusive when dealing with Madame Renee, Oxford Street's most exclusive milliner. For every compliment Madame received, she clearly felt compelled to increase her already exorbitant prices.
"You look lovely, Lady Sarah," Meredith said. "Lord Greybourne will be besotted the moment he sees you." A tiny flutter of something that felt suspiciously like envy rippled through Meredith, surprising and irritating her. She slapped the feeling aside like a bothersome insect and gazed at the beautiful young woman standing before her. Pride instantly supplanted her errant twinge of envy.
Oh, she had indeed arranged a brilliant match on Lord Greybourne's behalf. Lady Sarah was a diamond of the first water. Sweet, innocent, amenable, possessed of a gentle temperament, lively conversation, a singing voice that could rival the angels, and a formidable talent for the pianoforte. The negotiations, which Meredith had handled between Lady Sarah's father, the Duke of Hedington, and Lord Greybourne's father, the Earl of Ravensly, had proven quite delicate and tricky, even for a matchmaker of her considerable experience. What with the scandal that had ensued three years ago when Lord Greybourne had not returned to England from roaming the wilds of foreign locales to honor the marriage agreement his father had entered into on his behalf, coupled with the fact that he'd incomprehensibly walked away from the comforts of Society to live in uncivilized conditions where heathen traits abounded in order to study artifacts, only Lord Greybourne's title and family connections kept him from being hopelessly unmarriageable. Indeed, it had taken an enormous amount of time, flattery, and diplomacy on Meredith's part to convince the duke that Lord Greybourne was the perfect match for Lady Sarah -- a task made all the more difficult considering the hordes of eligible titled, and unmarked-by-scandal, young men buzzing around her.
But convince Lord Hedington she did. A sigh of immense satisfaction eased past Meredith's lips, and she was hard-pressed not to twist about and physically pat herself on the back. Thanks to her -- if she might say so herself -- inspired efforts, the most anticipated wedding of the Season would take place in two days at St. Paul's Cathedral. A wedding so grand, a marriage so brilliant, so talked-about, that Meredith's reputation as the foremost match-maker in England was assured.
Ever since the betrothal announcement two months past, anxious mamas were courting her attention, inviting her to tea and their musicales and soirees, asking her to whom their darling daughters would most be suited. And which eligible bachelors were serious about choosing a bride this Season.
As she had so many times over the past few months, Meredith again found herself wondering why a man born into the upper echelons of Society, the heir to an earldom, a man who would never have to spend his life doing anything save seek pleasure, would spend a decade living in rustic conditions, digging up artifacts belonging to dead people. Everything practical in Meredith revolted at the very thought. Clearly Lord Greybourne harbored some very unusual beliefs and tendencies, and, she feared, his manners would most certainly need some dusting off. Even his father had hinted that his...