It is less than two weeks before Emily Collicott will find herself on a coach and headed for her first season in London. The prospect of balls, routs, afternoon teas, and well-timed promenades through St. James’s Park are enough to make her catch her breath, but even before she has begun to pack her trunks, the first gossip has already reached her fingertips, by way of a letter from her good friend, Josephine…
My dear Em,
I hope this letter finds you well – and hopefully arrives in your hands before you’ve departed from Cornwall, or else all of these splotches and crossed lines will be for naught! But what news these cramped fingers bring to you! I would wait until you arrive next month, but gossip is such an ephemeral thing I fear that by the time this letter is posted my words will already carry a tinge of staleness at their edges.
Now, to cut through the rest of the tedious salutations and wishes for your health and wellness, I will leap ahead and tell you that a certain Lord Marbley will be making his return to London society within the same week your coach should come trundling up to our doorstep.
Of course, you do not know who Lord Marbley is! Neither did I, until I was informed by no less than three giggling young ladies who swooned and simpered and fluttered their eyelashes over freshly-pinched cheeks as if Marbley himself were about to sweep through the door and propose marriage to one or all of them. Goodness, I thought I would have to administer smelling salts before they had finished their tale.
But should we encounter this Lord Marbley at any point during your sojourn in town, I am told we are supposed to find ourselves astonished by his handsome visage, that we shall nearly drown in the shadow cast upon us by his height and the breadth of his shoulders, and that should he dare to even smile or glance in our direction, we may not be capable of composing ourselves.
Well! I thought I must tell you all of this in order to prepare you for what you shall encounter while you are here! You must not believe half of what is told to you, and of the other half, you would do well to prune away most of it as pure exaggeration. Then, perhaps, you might find yourself with some small kernel of the truth.
Lord Marbley, I’m sure, will have something to recommend him. A fortune, perhaps, though no doubt nothing like the allusions to Croesus that have been bandied about every time his name comes up in conversation. And will he be handsome? That fact must depend on the fortune, for the greater his wealth, the more pleasing to the eye he will likely be. Heaven help him if he is a pauper, for not a single mother or daughter will deign to give him a second glance!
And I am sure we will discover every detail about his time in France, whether we wish to or not. Rumors have already begun to circulate that it was something scandalous that took him away from England in the first place, but again, I’ve no doubt that the truth is not nearly as fascinating or scurrilous as most everyone would wish it to be, and we shall be left yawning behind our fans, wondering why there was such a commotion surrounding his much-heralded return to our shores.
But here I am, already to the end of the page, so I will leave you with the briefest of farewells and wishes for your good health and safe travels that politeness will allow. Until next month!
The Bride Price
Ruined in her first season in London, she is given no choice but to wed her father’s pick for a husband, or be cast out from her home. Emily agrees to marry William Hazlitt, a man she hardly knows. But William remembers her. Growing up as a tenant on her father’s estate, he admired her from afar, their lives kept separate first by class, and then by loss.
Emily seeks to begin a new life with this quiet man to whom she finds herself wedded. But the scandal she escaped in London soon finds her again, the very man who destroyed her reputation threatening to tear down the happiness she’s found with her new husband. To keep from losing everything, she must either make a deal with a devil… or learn how to defeat one.
Meet Quenby Olson
Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she writes, homeschools, glares at baskets of unfolded laundry, and chases the cat off the kitchen counters. After training to be a ballet dancer, she turned towards her love of fiction, penning everything from romance to fantasy, historical to mystery. She spends her days with her husband and children, who do nothing to dampen her love of the outdoors, immersing herself in historical minutiae, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who.