What does orphaned Cecilia Beaumaris, a too tall, too outspoken gentlewoman with no pretensions to beauty and no fortune, do when she is forced to leave the school she has been living in for nearly fifteen years? She decides to open her own school, of course. But she can’t touch her small inheritance until she is twenty-five, so she has to live temporarily with her aunt and uncle. But they don’t want her. To get her married off, they invent a fortune she doesn’t have and she is besieged by fortune hunters. Enter Lord Thomas Allenby, a handsome, fashionable fribble, who has his own reasons for wanting to escape the marriage mart. He persuades her to announce a faux betrothal, but it doesn’t work out quite how Cecilia expects.
Against the background of early nineteenth century London, with its fashionable Mayfair mansions, East End slums and the development of public education, this is the story of how one woman seeks to improve the lives of impoverished girls by opening a school for them. The effect on her own life is beyond her wildest imaginings. .
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When lovely widow Imogen Mainwaring is offered the “protection” of the devastatingly attractive rake Lord Ivo Rutherford, she violently rejects him and leaves town. Some months later, they meet in London, where Imogen has taken over her husband’s business and is making money on the Stock Exchange. She tries to avoid him, but there’s just something about him…
Told against the background of early nineteenth century England and the development of new technologies such as the railways, this is the story of a strong woman who is financially acute and perfectly happy on her own. Or so she thinks. But Ivo has other ideas and the outcome is a surprise, especially to Imogen.
Set in 1830’s London, this historical Romance sizzles with the attraction between two unlikely people.
Bath, the 22nd of March, 1832
Dear Lady Imogen,
I am thirty years old, unmarried and with no man in my life. My only love is my cat. He is a big, strong Tom who gives full rein to his passions with all the females in the area. Should I be worried about annoying the neighbors, or should I be glad that one of us, at least, is getting some?
What would you do?
My dear What Would,
I admit to being very confused by your last comment. What is your cat getting? Do you begrudge him a few fish heads from the neighbors? Surely you do not wish to be offered them yourself? You talk about annoying them, and if you are in the habit of asking those around you for fish scraps, I can only imagine their sentiments. This unwholesome liking for cat food could explain your unmarried state. The man who enjoys the smell of fish on his beloved’s breath is rare indeed. My advice, my dear, is to leave your cat to his amorous adventures and pursue your own.
Clean your teeth, brush your hair, put on a fresh gown and petticoat (for you know how the smell of fish lingers), and sally forth. At your age, you do not need a chaperone and need not fear to attend afternoon concerts, lectures or exhibitions. Carry a slim volume of poetry with you at all times. To attract the attention of a gentleman, you have only to drop it near him, and when he picks it up for you (which if he does not, abandon him immediately; he is no gentleman), gently enquire if he knows the author. Whether he says yea or nay, hang upon his every word and treat his pronouncements as if they come from On High. No man can resist this. I guarantee success within six months. But give up your predilection for fish heads! No good can come of it!
Imogen, Lady Sarisbury.
York, the 10th of March 1832
Dear Lady Imogen,
I hope you don’t mind giving advice to a man, but I have a serious question. I’m recently married and I’ve realized my wife has no idea about keeping to a budget. She knows how much we have to spend each month. I showed her the spreadsheet with mortgage, utilities, food, entertainment and clothing on it, but she always overspends on clothing. She’s constantly buying stuff on line. How can I get her to stop?
A worried husband.
There are elements of your letter that worry me very much. What on earth are you doing showing your wife the elements of your household budget on a sheet, even if it is spread out, presumably on the bed? That must be the root of the problem. For surely, your wife will have the maids launder the sheet with ink all over it, and then the budget is lost. Can you not do it on paper?
But another part of your letter perplexes me even more. You say your wife is buying garments on line. You can only mean the washing line. My dear, you must know that if she is taking things off the washing line, she is most certainly not buying them. I only hope the line is your own, and not the neighbors! If she is stealing garments from your neighbors’ washing, your problem is much greater than the household budget. Is the poor woman suffering from a nervous collapse? Are the pressures of wedded life too great for her? If I may ask an indelicate question, are you too demanding of your husband’s rights? You are newly married. I remember the early days of my marriage when dear Ivo took up what seemed to be permanent residence in my bedchamber. I scarcely had a moment’s peace. It did not cause me nervous collapse, quite the reverse; I welcomed him with open arms. But perhaps I am made of sterner stuff.
My advice, then, is this: cease writing your budget on the sheets. Use paper. You will find it readily available in any stationer’s. Secondly, accompany your dear wife to a modiste’s salon. Gently explain that one obtains gowns from such establishments, not from washing lines. At the same time explain that your budget only allows for the expenditure of so much. If you continue to accompany her whenever she needs new attire, you will find the on line acquisitions will disappear and she will stay within the budget.
Good luck and persevere!
Imogen, Lady Sarisbury