The spirited Wylder sisters continue to scandalize the ton in Isabella Bradford's witty and winsome trilogy. This time, the most impulsive of the siblings meets her match: a charming rake determined to save her from an arranged marriage.
The youngest of the Wylder girls--and the last left unwed--Lady Diana is also the most willful, a trait that's leading her ever closer to dishonorable disaster. While her family's solution is a fast and excruciatingly respectable marriage, Diana can't imagine being wed to the very staid and dull Lord Crump. But while wedding plans are being made, a chance meeting at a gala turns Diana's world upside down.
A kiss from a dazzling stranger gives Diana a most intimate introduction to one of the ton's most resolute and scandalous bachelors, the Duke of Sheffield. Torn between family duty and her heart's desire, Diana recklessly surrenders to the headiest of passions, recognizing that she has found a kindred soul in the handsome young duke. Soon it's clear that seduction is no longer the game: Something deep and lasting has come to bind their hearts, and the stakes are nothing less than true love.
"Sexy, funny, touching, and truly romantic."--New York Times bestselling author Loretta Chase
From the Paperback edition.
Diana Wylder, the third and final daughter of the late Earl of Hervey, had never particularly believed in fate.
That is, she hadn't until the afternoon Mama explained to her about Lord Crump.
The afternoon began well enough, with a drive planned, to be followed by a stroll through St. James's Park with her mother and her older sister Charlotte. They were already waiting in the front hall as Diana hurried down the stairs, for as usual Diana was not precisely on time. To be sure, it was her hat's fault, not hers: a splendid new hat with a wide, curling brim and a crown covered with white ostrich plumes, coral satin bows, and small sprays of pink silk flowers. This hat required a great deal of strategic pinning so that the brim would tip at the exact fashionable angle over her face, yet still permit Diana (barely) to see. Her maid had taken a quarter hour to get it right, and though Diana considered this time well spent, she couldn't help but feel guilty as she saw Mama and Charlotte waiting for her.
"Forgive me," she said breathlessly, pulling on her gloves as she joined them. "I didn't intend to take so long."
"So long as you're ready now," Mama said. "But don't you think you should push your hat back a bit?"
Ever helpful, Mama reached out to adjust the hat herself, but Diana scuttled backward.
"No, Mama, please," she said, holding the curving brim defensively. "Mrs. Hartley assured me that this is the way all hats are being worn this spring in Paris."
"You should care more for how hats are being worn in London, Diana, considering that is where you live," Mama said, but sighed wistfully to show she'd already resigned herself to defeat. "I only wish you wouldn't hide your pretty face away behind feathers and ribbons."
"She looks lovely the way she is, Mama," Charlotte said firmly, looping her arm fondly through Diana's. "Now come. It's far too fine a day to waste standing inside discussing hats."
That should have been a warning of sorts, for Mama generally wished Diana to show less of her person, not more, just as Charlotte, her older, married sister and the famously beautiful Duchess of Marchbourne, could seldom resist suggesting improvements to be made in Diana's dress. But Diana was in too good a humor to be wary, and instead she simply grinned and followed her sister and mother from the house and down the steps.
The sun was shining as it rarely did for April in London, and the air was so warm with the first true breath of spring that the side windows were down in the carriage. Charlotte's footmen, gorgeous in their pale blue Marchbourne livery, hopped to attention as soon as the ladies appeared. One of the footmen held the carriage door open and the folding steps steady as they climbed inside. As the youngest, Diana faced backward and slid across the feather-stuffed seat to the farthest side, claiming the window, where she could see and--more important--be seen. She'd no wish to have that splendid new hat be wasted where no one could admire it.
"I do like riding in your carriage, Charlotte," she said happily as they began. "Much better than Aunt Sophronia's."
"It's very kind of your sister to invite us to share it," Mama said, settling her skirts around her legs. Mama was young to be the mother of two duchesses--she wasn't even forty--and, with her golden blond hair and wide blue eyes, still sufficiently beautiful that people often mistook her for one more of the Wylder sisters instead of their mother. "It's also generous of March to have given Charlotte such a comfortable carriage for driving about."
"I like how everyone sees March's crest on the door...