Lord Fenton is a gambler, a dandy, and a flirt—and he must marry or else he will be disinherited, stripped of his wealth and his position. He chooses Alice Stanbridge for two simple reasons: he once knew her as a young girl, and she is the least objectionable option available to him.
However, Alice has harbored feelings for Fenton since their first meeting ten years ago, and she believes his proposal is real. When she discovers it is not, she is embarrassed and hurt. However, a match with the most-eligible bachelor in London would secure not only her future but that of her family as well.
Determined to protect herself from making a fool of herself a second time, Alice matches Lord Fenton wit for wit and insult for insult as they move toward a marriage of convenience that is anything but a happy union. Only when faced with family secrets that have shaped Fenton’s life does he let down his guard enough to find room in his heart for Alice. But can Alice risk her heart a second time?
Fenton groaned and put his saucer back on the tray, making an instantaneous decision that eased his mind quite a lot. To look at every woman he met as a potential wife was irritating, and after only two weeks he was quite tired of it. Perhaps the solution was to orchestrate a match that would not lay all aspects of matrimony at his feet all at once. Perhaps treating it as a business arrangement would help it to be exactly that, thereby freeing him from all the discomfiting realities he was not yet prepared to face. “I leave for Fentonview on Tuesday and shan’t be back for a week. Courting is such a boring prospect, and you yourself said that to become infatuated with anyone might become a complication.” He paused, considered one last time what he was going to say next, and decided he felt as good about it as could be expected. “You like Alice Stanbridge and feel she would make a good wife for me?”
Lady Chariton looked confused and perhaps a bit concerned. “I do, but-”
“Then that is good enough for me,” Fenton said, rising to his feet and smiling broadly at his mother, who stared back at him in surprise. “I do find her appealing and what’s more she is not a silly little thing without a practical thought in her head.”
His mother’s eyes widened and her eyebrows rose upon her forehead. Fenton struck a pose of consternation, with his thumb and forefinger on his chin as he looked toward the window a moment, then nodded crisply and turned back to his mother who still looked shocked by his pronouncement.
“Yes, I think that Alice Stanbridge is exactly what I should like in a wife, and so I shall see to it before I leave for Hampshire-I see no reason to wait until Michaelmas and might as well get it over with.” He leaned in and kissed his mother’s hand. “Thank you for your help, Mama. I shall let you know how she responds to my proposal.”
Publisher: Shadow Mountain