Gibraltar, November 1818
My dear Mr. Clemens,
We were forced to pause our journey to Madras in this place for repairs, which I must say are taking much longer than they ought. The weather is pleasant, the locals backward, and the monkeys an utter nuisance.
The Respectable English Company is scant. Imagine my delight when the HMS Boreas came into port bearing the Earl of Chadbourn and the Marquess of Glenaire. I was even pleased to have the company of the marquess’s brother-in-law, Mr. Mallet. At least, I would be pleased if we didn’t have to endure the presence of That Woman.
We have taken rooms at the best hotel, and so were in the entrance preparing for a leisurely ramble about the island when the party arrived, all looking rather the worst for having suffered some sort of ordeal. Coraires wee blamed. (Our captain assured me that reports of the Barbary menace are exaggerated, so really…)
The earl and Mr. Mallet appeared well enough, but Marquess of Glenaire wore a Lieutenant’s tunic, a bit too small, and trousers which could only be described as ragged. When I could not refrain from my natural horror, the marquess subjected me to one of his famous icy stare. Dressed like that!
But I digress. That Woman, who accompanied them, was a shocking sight. She wore some sort of native dress—African or what not—close to rags. In a respectable hotel. I can tell you they were whisked up the stairs and out of sight quickly, but not before the bundle carried by the marquess himself gave out a loud squawk. You will be surprised, good sir, to hear that the Marquess of Glenaire, that bright light of society, known to one an all as the Marble Marquess for perfecttion of his grooming and manners, carried an infant up those stairs.
Never have I seen such scurrying. Bath water went up. Tea went up. Platters of food ascended the stairs. Clothes were procured. I know this because I Iingered on a comfortable divan near the entrance. Eventually the entire party descended, clothed, thank the Almighty, in respectable, if rather unfashionable, Western dress.
I, of course paid my respects to the earl and marquess and begged an introduction. Chadbourn appeared friendly enough. When That Woman was introduced as the Marchioness of Glenaire, my jaw dropped. I was unaware there even was such a person. The marquess demonstrated his famous stare. The word “ice” doesn’t begin to describe it.
Next season’s crop of debutantes will go into decline to know Glenaire is no longer available. And yet one wonders. There was no notice in the papers of any such marriage when we embarked. Yet here they came bearing a baby, and looking like savages. Whispers among the staff were that they had been held prisoners by the Barbary ruffians. A normal woman would have perished at the disgrace, but That Woman appeared to be in robust health for one who so recently gave birth. She looked down at me with every sign of superiority.
There was one other oddity. My maid happened to attending to an errand and saw them leave the hotel. They went directly to the English church and were seen entering the rectory. One wonders, dear sir. If that infant is a boy, he will be heir to a dukedom in due time. One wouldn’t want questions about his origins to circulate.
Make of that what you will, Mr. Clemens, but leave my name far from the matter. One wouldn’t want to earn the enmity of the marquess.
About the Book
If women were as easily managed as the affairs of state—or the recalcitrant Ottoman Empire—Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, would be a happier man. As it was, the creatures made hash of his well-laid plans and bedeviled him on all sides…
So it begins.
Lily Thornton came home from Saint Petersburg in pursuit of marriage. She wants a husband and a partner, not an overbearing, managing man. She may be “the least likely candidate to be Marchioness of Glenaire,” but her problems are her own to fix, even if those problems include both a Russian villain and an interfering Ottoman official.
Given enough facts, Richard can fix anything. But protecting that impossible woman is proving to be almost as hard as protecting his heart, especially when Lily’s problems bring her dangerously close to an Ottoman revolution. As Lily’s personal problems entangle with Richard’s professional ones, and she pits her will against his, he chases her across the pirate-infested Mediterranean. Will she discover surrender isn’t defeat? It might even have its own sweet reward.
As one reviewer said, “There is nothing so entertaining as watching a man who is always in control, lose that control.” (Night Owl Reviews)
About the Author
Caroline Warfield, traveler, adventurer, lover of owls and other folks’ gardens, writes family centered romance from her lair in the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania. She is a Bluestocking Belle. She is currently finishing the tale of Glenaire’s nephew and namesake, Richard “Aeneas” Mallet, eager to make his fame in Egypt, and no more willing to fall in with his uncle’s schemes than his mother or his aunt. Watch for The Price of Glory later this year.