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Tag: The Marriage Obligation

Pandora’s Box

32 Leicester Square

London

10 April 1806

“There is a young lady to see you, miss. I believe she gave her name as Miss Fallon.”

“Frederica? She must have finished early at the modiste’s, then. I’ll go down, Brown.” Cornelia placed a ribbon in the book she was reading and placed it on the table next to her. “The blue parlor?”

“Yes, miss.” He held the door open for her as she sprang up and dashed through the door before she recalled her mother’s warnings and slowed her pace No need to rush. Ladies carry themselves with dignity and grace at all times. 

Ladylike behavior did not come naturally to her. From the day she was born she was her papa’s favorite, and the two of them had romped and sported together everywhere, even after her brother was born. At least whenever he was home, which wasn’t often, seeing that he was a naval officer. After she turned sixteen, however, her mother had taken her in hand and set about transforming her hoyden daughter into a young lady, and Cornelia complied, reluctantly at first, but with time and maturity, she settled peacefully into young womanhood.

Her descent down the stairs was far from ladylike, however. When she reached the landing, a door opened and her friend rushed to embrace her.

“Cornelia! Wait until you see it! It’s the most beautiful gown that ever was!”

“Did you bring it?” Cornelia glanced around in search of a dress box.

Frederica shook her head. “No, there are minor alterations to be done, but Miss Gill promised it would be delivered tomorrow. It’s white crape over white satin, with rows of pearls on the bodice. You must come over and see me in it. Mama says it becomes me well.” She clutched at Cornelia’s arm. “But what about yours? It came yesterday, did it not?”

Cornelia grinned. “Indeed it did. Come up and I’ll show you. Mine is the very lightest peach color. I wished for coquelicot, but Mama said it was too dark for a girl my age.”

Frederica’s eyes sparkled. “We two shall be the belles of the ball.”

Cornelia smiled. “At our own balls, I should hope. I should not like to be a wallflower at my own presentation ball.”

The two girls made their way upstairs to Cornelia’s bedchamber, and Cornelia opened the door of her wardrobe and sifted through the garments. “That’s odd. It was here this morning. Norton!”

A short time later, her maid appeared. “Yes, Miss Hardcastle?”

“My gown. The peach one? It’s not here.”

“Oh yes. I believe your mother has it. She had some lace and ribbon she wanted to match with it.” Her eyes narrowed. “I laid it out on her bed. But then she had to go out…”

“Very well. Come, Freddy. We shall go there to find it.”

Frederica hesitated. “She won’t mind?”

Already out the door, Cornelia threw back. “Of course not. I do it all the time.”

Well, that wasn’t strictly true. She might be sent to her mother’s room to fetch something, but she didn’t usually go in there by herself when her mother was not present. But her mama wasn’t the sort to take exception to such things, and seeing as it was Cornelia’s own gown they wished to see, it seemed only natural that they go there to find it.

The gown was a peach crape robe over white satin, with long sleeves ornamented with simple bows of ribbon and pearls crossing the bodice. 

Freddie’s mouth formed an O. 

“You must see it on. It truly does become me. Undo my dress, if you please.”

Cornelia turned her back, and soon the two of them had her day dress off and began to slide the elegant gown over her head. But before the operation was completed, there were footsteps down the hall and Freddie jerked at just the wrong time, sending Cornelia crashing into her mother’s nightstand. 

The footsteps continued on past.

“The dress!”

Freddie rushed to pull it off so they could assess the damage. Other than a few wrinkles, it appeared to be unharmed. Cornelia let out a huge breath, and turned to right the nightstand that had been knocked over in the shuffle and replace the items that had spilled out from the drawer. Her eyes lit on the pages of a small brown book that had opened. The writing was her mother’s, and it was dated about the time her parents had met, when her father’s ship had taken on French royalists being pursued by the vicious Republican army, and they had fallen in love at first sight. 

“What is that?”

Cornelia picked it up and turned the pages. “My mother’s journal. I never knew she had one.”

A pale Freddie made a move to take it from her, but Cornelia waved her away. “I know. I should not read it. But I’ve always been curious… Was it fate that they met, or mere coincidence? I should like to know more. Mama doesn’t talk about that time much, at least not before they were married.”

Freddie shook her head. “There must be a reason for that, Cornelia. Put the journal back in the drawer and let’s get out of this place. I have a bad feeling about it. And your mother could return at any moment.”

Cornelia grimaced and reluctantly returned the book to the drawer. 

But she couldn’t stop thinking about it. It haunted her thoughts for several days until she couldn’t bear it any longer. She had to read that book. And as soon as the opportunity presented itself, she did.

And that’s when her world exploded. If only she had not read the journal. But now that she had… nothing would ever be the same.

About The Marriage Obligation

Confirmed spinster meets thrill-seeking former British spy. A match made in heaven?

At eighteen years old, Cornelia Hardcastle discovered an ugly family secret that caused her to decide against ever marrying. Now that she’s reached the age of twenty-four, her parents have decided it’s time for her to marry. The sooner the better.
The second son of a viscount, Preston Warrington has always been content to leave the estate business to his older brother so that he could follow his penchant for adventure. Now that he has returned home from his service to the Crown as a spy, however, his family has decreed that he must marry and settle down.
The notorious Marriage Maker suggests that these two marriage-averse individuals should marry each other, and after the initial shock, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Little does anyone know that their whirlwind courtship and marriage is not what it seems.
The book releases July 31st. Pre-order available now.

The Inverness Marriage Maker Strikes Again

“Lorena, my dear, you’ll never believe what I just read in this morning’s issue of The Teatime Tattler!

“That old rag? Sister dear, I’ve told you time and time again that Mr. Clemens’s newspaper is nothing but a scandal sheet. I don’t know why it is you waste your pocket money on such rubbish.”

Lavinia Forrester rolled her eyes. “Rubbish it may be, dear sister, but I’m quite certain there is something here you would find of considerable interest.”

Lorena Clapham put down her sewing and gave her sister a glassy stare. “I am equally certain there is nothing there that I care to hear, Lavinia. Do put it down before the servants see you reading it.”

The Tattler has it on good authority that Miss Cornelia Hardcastle, daughter of Admiral and Mrs. Cornelius Hardcastle was married on Friday last to Mr. Preston Warrington, brother of William, Viscount Warrington, of Cheshire.” She paused in order to witness her sister’s reaction.

She wasn’t disappointed. Lorena’s head jerked back and her sewing clattered to the floor. “Miss Hardcastle, you say? But that can’t be true!”

“After a seaside honeymoon at Brighton, the newlyweds will return to London to take up residence at the Hardcastle home on Leicester Square, which will soon be vacated when the Admiral and his wife sail for Canada where he will take up the post of Governor General of British North America.”

Lorena snatched the newspaper out of her sister’s hands and continued reading, her fury giving her words an angry intensity.

“Our confidential correspondent claims that this is the latest of a long line of successful matches coordinated by Sir Stirling James, popularly styled “The Inverness Marriage Maker” whose own marriage to a duke’s daughter was the result of one of his most challenging schemes. One has to wonder from whence this particular power emanates and how far it can be taken. It is the opinion of this writer that there will soon be an exodus of carriages of desperate parents taking to the Great North Road to avail themselves of Sir Stirling’s skills for their recalcitrant sons and daughters.”

“Miss Hardcastle swore to my son she would never, ever marry. She broke his heart and he’s never been the same since!”

It’s not her fault she didn’t return his affection. And who can blame her? He’s always been such a nitwit. 

“Perhaps now he’ll look for another young lady.”  Not a chance. A wife would interfere with his drinking, gaming, and whoring.

Lorena dropped the newspaper on the table, a faraway look in her eyes. “A marriage maker, eh? You don’t suppose…”

Lavinia’s eyes widened. “Surely you don’t intend to engage the Inverness Marriage Maker? Why, you don’t even know him—and he’s in Scotland.”

Her sister shrugged. “He must travel to London on occasion. How else did he manage to induce Miss Hardcastle into marriage when she has sworn against it? I daresay he won’t have half so much trouble with my darling Robin. Oh Sister, he will be ever so much more steady with a sensible wife.”

Lavinia groaned. Poor Sir Stirling. After this seemingly innocent piece in The Tattler, she suspected he was going to be inundated with mail from desperate parents all over the British Isles.

The Marriage Maker Goes Undercover

Fall 2017

Lady Elana Gallaway, known as master spy The Raven, has made a career of navigating enemy territory and risking her life in situations and places no gentlewoman should know exist. She possesses all the social graces, and is adept at sweeping into glittering royal courts on the Continent, then vanishing without a trace after she’s ferreted out the treacherous secrets that drew her there in the name of duty. She’s equally accomplished in London and Edinburgh, or wherever the British King requires her service. But never has a mission struck so close to her heart—or proved so daunting—as finding love for four retired spies.

These operatives have helped her many times, once or twice, even saving her from certain death at risk to their own lives. 

Now, they live solitary lives, lonely lives while surrounded by throngs. Luckily, Elana hasn’t forgotten them. Her career has introduced her to more than enemies. Among her close friends is Sir Stirling James, the famous Inverness marriage maker. He’s just the man she needs.

The Marriage Obligation by Susana Ellis

Cornelia Hardcastle has been determined never to marry since she was eighteen and discovered an ugly family secret. Now that she’s twenty-four, however, her parents want to see her settled so they can move to Canada for her father’s prestigious new government post. Not a chance!

The second son of a viscount, Preston Warrington is more than happy to leave the viscount business to his brother so he can travel the world in search of adventure. His recent stint as a spy for the British in the War with the French has come to an end, and he’s getting pressured to marry and settle down. Hell no!

How could the notorious Marriage Maker from Inverness all the way in Scotland possibly know that these two marriage-averse individuals are perfect for each other?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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