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Tag: Valuing Vanessa

Interview with Charlotte Clark from Cherishing Charlotte

Cherishing Charlotte is Book 3

of The Hertfordshire Hoydens

by Susana Ellis

Charlotte Clark is the oldest child of John (Jack) and Marianne Clark, who operate a charity school for boys in Oxford. Her maternal grandfather, a wealthy landowner who disinherited his daughter for running off with the tutor, appears to have relented somewhat, having invited his granddaughter to visit his estate, Heatherwyck. But does he have an ulterior motive?

Charlotte agreed to have tea with me at Miss Clemens’s Oxford Street Book Palace and Tea Rooms on Mount Street in London.

female model posing in a historical regency period empire waist dress

Charlotte Clark from Cherishing Charlotte

Susana: Thank you so much for meeting me today, Miss Clark. I know it is a bit of a journey for you from Oxford.

Charlotte: Indeed. It is only the second time I have been to London in all of my nineteen years. If not for Mama needing my help with Papa, I would have remained home with the boys. My twin brothers Robert and Thomas. They are ten. They are looking after the pig and chickens in our absence. [grinning] And the neighbors are looking after them.

Susana: Is your father in poor health, then? Is that why you have come to London?

Charlotte [taking a deep breath]: Yes. Unfortunately, he is afflicted with consumption. The local doctor doesn’t give much hope, but Mama wanted to consult a London physician. We didn’t have the money, but one of Papa’s former pupils graciously offered to provide the fee and lodgings at his home. Papa wanted to refuse, but Mama would not hear of it.

Susana: Your father must have made quite an impression on his students, then.

Charlotte [nodding enthusiastically]: Oh yes! He is a first-rate teacher. Many of his students who have been to Oxford or Cambridge have said that Papa is superior to most of the dons. I’m sure he would have been one himself had he not married Mama instead.

Susana: So dons cannot be married, then?

Charlotte: That is correct. But after he met Mama, nothing else mattered. He’s such a romantic, you see.

Susana: And your mother?

Charlotte [smiling]: Oh, she loves him madly too, of course. But she’s the practical one. Which is really quite fortunate for us, because it was she who managed to keep us fed all these years. Papa is more of a dreamer, and as she is fond of saying, dreams don’t keep food on the table.

Susana: And yet, she agreed to elope with her tutor. More romantic than practical, wouldn’t you agree?

Charlotte [shaking her head]: She was young and silly and at loggerheads with her father. Her mother had just died, and I don’t think she really believed he would cut her off, since there was just the two of them. But hurt pride can be pernicious. Mama has it in full measure. I’m sure she is determined to show him she could make a success of things. [sighing] Although she couldn’t have known how difficult it would turn out to be.

Susana: Do you think she regrets the decision she made, then?

Charlotte:  No. Yes. Well, in a way I believe she resents having to struggle so hard to survive when her father has Heatherwyck all to himself.

Susana: Heatherwyck?

Charlotte: Yes. Heatherwyck is my grandfather’s family estate. The Chapmans have owned it for five generations. Mama says it is one of the largest estates in Hertfordshire.  [biting her lip] Only recently I discovered she has hopes of reclaiming it. My grandfather invited me to spend the summer with him, you see.

Susana: Just you? Not the rest of the family?

Charlotte [stiffening]: : Yes. Just me. And his nephew, Wyatt.

Susana: Ah. So you suspect matchmaking.

Charlotte [teacup rattling vehemently as she sets it down on the saucer]: I know it!

Susana [delicately]: I don’t suppose there’s any harm in going, at least. It’s not like you can be forced into marriage, after all.

Charlotte [nostrils flaring]: That’s just what Mama says! Perhaps I shall like him. Or Grandfather will take a fancy to me and effect a reconciliation regardless. And it would be so good for the boys, you see, if he would sponsor them to Eton.

Susana: Why Eton? It sounds as though they are getting an equally good education at your father’s school.

Charlotte: True, but Mama has high hopes for them. So many political and social connections are made there. And they really are bright boys. [closing her eyes briefly] I shall feel obligated to fall in line with Grandfather’s plans for them. And for Papa. And Mama. What shall we do when Papa can no longer teach? [swallowing and holding back tears]. Mama might be a good manager, but when-if Papa is gone, there won’t be anything to manage.

Susana: It is quite a dilemma. I understand that you feel it is on you to become the sacrificial lamb for your family. That is a very great burden to put on such a young girl.

Charlotte [chin quivering]: Perhaps I should be more grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference in the future of my parents and brothers, but in all honesty, I have no wish to be a martyr. I am no Maid of Orléans, Miss Ellis. Burning at the stake does not appeal to me, any more than a marriage of convenience does. Do you not think me a wretched person?

Susana [reaching forward to stroke her forearm]: Wretched? No. Human? Yes. And a bit dramatic, perhaps. [takes out a handkerchief] Now, stop crying and and take another biscuit. I always think things look better after I’ve consumed a good dose of sugar. I wonder if we can order some fruit scones here, with strawberry jam and clotted cream?


Cherishing Charlotte, Book 3 in The Hertfordshire Hoydens, is due for release in March 2017. Book 1, Treasuring Theresa, is available on Amazon. Book 2, Valuing Vanessa, is part of the Belles’ 2016 collection, Holly and Hopeful Hearts.

Theresa Cover Front 200x310 WEB



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An Unreasonable Father…

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Augusta,

My father is unreasonable! I’ve been living with my aunt’s family since my mother died almost two years ago. I’ve only seen him a handful of times since then, and I figured he didn’t want to be bothered with me. In any case, he’s a solicitor who is never home. I really didn’t mind, because my aunt and uncle are kind and I love their children as though they are my own younger siblings. So now they are going to live a fabulous life in St. Petersburg and asked me to accompany them, but my father says no. Why should I have to stay at home when I could be dancing with princes in Russia? I AM the granddaughter of a French comte, you know. It’s not fair that I have to die of boredom in St. Albans just because my father is so provincial. Please, Aunt Augusta, can you not help me persuade him to allow me to go? If my mother were alive, SHE would certainly do so. But since she is dead, I must depend on you to do it.


Granddaughter of a French comte, a heroine in Valuing Vanessa of Holly and Hopeful Hearts by Susana Ellis

Dearest Granddaughter of a French comte,

My dear, I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. It is always so very tragic when a child loses a parents, and for that, I wish I could give you a hug and a large cup of tea and some biscuits.

I am also sorry that you have not had the chance to spend much time with your father. Do you think it possible that your father might wish to right the wrong he has done you? That he does not seek to destroy your happiness, but to create happiness with you? Men can be a little slow at times to realize when they have wronged up. Not all endeavor to correct their past mistakes, and if he is being forthright and seeking your attentions and trying to make you happy, than perhaps you can forgive him.

If that does not prove to be the case, however, then you have my permission to show him this–that I, Aunt Augusta, ask him to be truthful with himself as to why he will not allow you to go.

But, granddaughter, I also ask you to be truthful to yourself when trying to uncover your father’s motives.

I wish you the very best, and that you may find a charming dancing partner soon, whether or not he be a Russian prince,

Aunt Augusta

Valuing Vanessa of Holly and Hopeful Hearts by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life. The last thing widower George Durand thinks he wants is another wife, but his difficult daughter is proving difficult to handle. In any case, the admirable Miss Sedgely is far too young for him. A love match is not even a remote consideration for these two. Or is it?


Dear authors, if ever you should find that one of your characters has found him or herself in a rather trying position, whether in matters of the heart or matters of fashion or any matter at all, do be a kind soul and write to me. I will endeavor to answer your questions, if you but pen them for me.

Our Society Correspondent

The house party at Hollystone Hall has a spy: a lady correspondent for the Teatime Tattler. To find out more about the stories she discusses below, see Holly and Hopeful Hearts—release date and buy links on our project page.


Dear Mr. Clemens,

I have arrived at Hollystone Hall, and, as I suggested to you, the cream of Society is gathering for the Duchess of H.’s house party. The invitations for this event were much sought after and cherished. (Of course they are. It is always so with Her Grace’s entertainments.) Yet I wonder, too, if recipients have not felt a soupcon of trepidation?

For those of your readers not familiar with this great lady, let me explain.

She is, of course, the wife of the Duke of H., and his opposite in every way. Where he is profligate in his private life, reactionary in his politics, and rigidly committed to the existing social order, she is a lady of great probity, and staunchly reformist. Witness this particular event: the lady intends to raise money for a new charity set up to fund education for women! Her Grace will undoubtedly be looking for contributions throughout the fortnight of the house party, as well as at the charity ball at the end.

Not only that, but the duchess is well known for her belief that even marriages at the highest level of Society can be love matches, despite what are undoubtedly her personal experiences.

Can we doubt that those attending will be keeping a careful eye on both their pocketbooks and their hearts?

I shall report further. I am confident that the coming weeks will present many morsels of interest to your readers.

With grateful thanks for the opportunity to be your correspondent,

I remain,

A Lady.


Dear Mr. Clemens

We were greatly excited today when the reclusive, elusive Earl of S. arrived to join the house party, bringing with him the notorious actress, C.H., whom he introduced as his intended!

You can imagine the buzz of gossip that ensued amongst the mothers of hopeful would-be countesses, and who can blame the young ladies for their disappointment? Lord. S. proved to be an ethereally handsome young man with impeccable manners and an air of sad distance that tempts a susceptible maiden to offer a comforting shoulder, or lap.

Miss H. is widely known not to be a maiden, but is she susceptible? I have seen her eyes following the earl, and suspect that she is by no means the gold-digger she is being painted.

His lordship’s cousin, who is also at the party, says Lord S. won’t go through with the scandalous match, but the couple smell of April and May. I rather believe that the cousin’s hopes for the succession are to be frustrated.

Yours sincerely,

A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens

We have been joined by the Dowager Countess of E. and her daughter, Lady A.W., who appears to have not one but two suitors! The Polite World has long watched with interest as Lady A. attempted to hide her regard for the Duke of B.. The scoundrel paid her no more attention than all the other delicate buds — and more mature blooms — around whose petals he buzzed.

One would assume all this would change with the duke’s recent (and somewhat scandalous) betrothal. The lady, indeed, appears to have had a change of heart, looking with favour upon the morose Earl of P., and one cannot miss that the earl’s rare smiles are saved only for this one lady.

Unaccountably, the duke seems to have forgotten his betrothed, and his eyes follow Lady A. around the room. We can only wait and see whether the fair damsel is to be a countess, a duchess, or free to explore the options in another Season.

With cheerful anticipation, I remain,

A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens,

Her Grace can take no credit for the romance between Miss V.S. and Mr. G.D., which has been a settled thing between the couple for some time. A betrothal has not yet been announced, and some ill-natured people have suggested that Miss S. is reluctant to commit to a marriage that would make her the mother of a daughter only a few years younger than herself.

Having seen the lady with her prospective groom and his daughter, I wish to assure your public that such calumnies are unfounded. Miss S. is a charming lady, much admired in right-thinking circles for her practical work in educating orphans. Mr. D. likewise has an interest in that worthy cause, so they have much in common.

Besides, the way they look at one another makes me almost regret my own resolve to stay fancy free.

Sighing, but unreformed, I remain

A Lady.


Dear Mr. Clemens,

The duchess’s goal for her companion is no secret to those at the houseparty. Has Her Grace not, for many years, taken in one distant relation after another and seen them placed in an advantageous marriage or some other occupation that better suits them?

Indeed, Miss C.G. has not minced words. The duchess has advised her to search the house party for ‘a suitable husband’.

Although several men have taken an interest in the shy, attractive, competent young lady, she will not believe this to be the case. However, I believe that her attention has been fixed, and in a most unlikely direction.

The duchess is known for her surprisingly egalitarian views, but what will she make of her companion’s choice? Will Miss G.’s venture below the salt lead to marriage, to scandal, or to a retreat into the safety of life as a poor relation?

I will hope to report a happy outcome in time, but scarcely know what it might be.

A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens

Were it not clearly distressing those most closely concerned, the tension between Lady de C. and Lord N.L. would be most amusing. And now I learn that Lord N. has made a fundamental and ridiculous mistake about the lady’s marital state.

He has been looking daggers at her for the past few days, and leaving the room whenever she enters it? Surely such strong feelings betoken more than a passing fancy?

On her part, the lady is offended that the gentleman will not listen to her, and who can blame her. What can possibly break the stalemate between these two proud and stubborn people?

One hopes that Her Grace has an idea.

I remain,

Your bewildered correspondent,

A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens

We have had some unexpected late arrivals. First was Viscount E., the grandson of the Duke of W.

If any of your readers have been foolish enough to risk their blunt in the betting book at White’s on who V.E. will choose as his bride, I suggest they prepare to lose their money. His presence here is evidence enough that he will not obey his grandfather and wed his cousin, Lady C.W., who is not at the house party. Why would he risk entering the house of his father’s greatest enemy, if not for the sake of the woman he loves.

And I can assure you he is not pursuing Lady F.B., the other lady named in the impertinent bet. Far from it. His own cousin, Mr. W.W., is a guest at the house party, and is spouting nonsense, but your correspondent is not in the least taken in by the common opinion. Lord E.’s attention to a certain lady cannot be doubted. Her brother frowns, concerned about the suitor’s uncertain status while the House of Lord’s deliberates on the validity of his parent’s marriage. But the lady herself is not, I venture to hint, unmoved.

As to the identity of the fair charmer, my lips are sealed.

Later in the day, Her Grace’s sons arrived to make her Christmas complete. And certainly the presence of two rakes must make the party more entertaining for those who watch.


A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens,

We have enjoyed the company of Miss E.B., a perfectly lovely young lady, educated in the best schools, and an invited guest of the duchess. Yes, her father is in trade, and she is of the Hebrew race and faith. But what of that? She is a fine person, and I am proud to call her friend.

On Christmas Day, the household welcomed the arrival of Mr. A.H. It was very romantic. He has been on a mission for the government, carrying some unnamed supplies to our hero in Spain, the Duke of Wellington himself, and rode through the night directly from London to be here.

When one sees him watching Miss B., one cannot doubt his reasons, though the lady herself seems resistant. Will he have the reward he deserves?

In hope, I remain,

A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens,

The Dowager Viscountess S. is very loud in her comments on others. But will the houseparty ever find out why she arrived alone at the party, without her daughter and her step-son? Perhaps her constant barrage of criticism is a smokescreen for scandal in her own family.

Certainly, one can ignore her unpleasant hints about Mr. and Miss W. Mr. W. is a war hero, and his sister a woman of excellent character, and a confirmed spinster.

Perhaps the Viscountess’s viputeration arises from the marked interest that Mr. W. showed in Miss S. earlier in the year, but they have not been seen together for several months, and we are given to understand that he has been in the north learning his duties as his uncle’s heir.

But the house party finishes after tomorrow’s ball, so perhaps we shall never find out the truth of it.

Yours sincerely,

A Lady


Fathers and Daughters

12 January 1812

Park Street, Mayfair, London

“Number 14,” announced the hackney driver, pulling up outside a row of neat, brick townhouses, all trimmed in white, fronted in black wrought iron and darkly lit by a handful of lamp posts. George was accustomed to returning home in darkness, but he’d left the office more than an hour earlier than usual and it was already dark. London winters were always dark. There were days when the only light he saw was when he went to the windowed waiting area to greet a client.

Detailed view of a typical british red brick mansion

George tossed a coin to the driver and strode toward the door of his sister’s home, wondering what Eliza needed to discuss with him so urgently. It had to be something to do with Louise, he conjectured. Although he had the impression that his daughter was quite happily settled with her aunt’s family by now. He knew she had bonded with her much-younger cousins and Eliza declared her a delightful addition to the household. So what could have gone wrong?

“Good evening, Mr. Durand. Mrs. Childers is expecting you.”

The butler led him upstairs to Eliza’s sitting room, where he found her at her writing desk. She put down her pen when she saw him and rose to greet him with a fond embrace.

“George! How good of you to come so soon! I hope my scribbled note did not alarm you unnecessarily. Nothing dreadful has occurred, after all. It’s just that I have so many things to do now. My mind is scattered in so many directions since William told me the news.”

“News?” George’s eyebrows furrowed as he tried to imagine what sort of news would have sent his generally level-headed sister into such a tizzy.

Eliza twisted her wedding ring on her finger. “William has accepted a new post, George. Quite an honor, really. We are all very proud of him, of course. But to move the entire household to St. Petersburg—if only we had more time. I hardly know where to start!”

George blinked. “You are moving to St. Petersburg?”

“Yes. In a month’s time. Lord Cathcart chose William personally to serve with his staff. He is wanted straight away, but thankfully, William said he would not go on ahead and leave me to make the journey unaccompanied.” She brought a shaky hand to her forehead. “There is so much to do, George. Decisions to make about packing and servants and—”

“—Louise,” finished George. “You needn’t worry about my daughter, Eliza. I shall take her back to St. Albans with me tonight, and her belongings can be sent later.”

“Oh!” Eliza’s eyes widened. “I didn’t mean to imply that Louise is a burden, George. Not at all. The children love her—we all do—and we would be pleased to take her with us, as part of our family.”

George blinked. They wanted to take his daughter to Russia? Where he wouldn’t see her for years?

“You can’t be serious.”

Eliza took his arm. “But I am, George. We are. And Louise is eager to go. Aux anges, in fact. It will be so good for her, you know, to meet new people, experience other cultures. We will be on the invitation list for the most exclusive balls and receptions—just think how thrilling it will be for her to socialize with dukes and princes!”

George pulled away from his sister. “Have you lost your mind? She’s only fifteen, Eliza! She won’t come out for at least two more years, and besides, I don’t want her to be encouraged to see herself as part of the European aristocracy. Her grandfather’s title was lost at the guillotine, and if it were not for all the false hope instilled in her head by her mother and grandmother, she’d be content with her situation as the daughter of a solicitor.” He began pacing in front of the fireplace.

Eliza sighed. “I know that was a bone of contention between you and Genny for years before she died, but George, Louise is happy with us. We will love and protect her as though she were our own daughter. What will you—a man alone—do for her if she remains? Especially when you spend nearly all waking hours at your place of business?”

What indeed? He hadn’t been much of a father to her, even before the carriage accident that took her mother nearly two years ago. He’d left all that to Genny, and then, to Eliza. But he’d never meant it to be a permanent placement. It was simply a temporary solution that had continued primarily because of his own indecision.

Which ended now. He stopped pacing and straightened his spine. “No.”

He’d hire a governess. Perhaps find a gentlewoman who could be more of a companion of sorts, who would take over the tasks of the mother she no longer had. Louise did have a father, though, and he determined then and there that he would start behaving like a father from that point on.

Because Louise was all he had. Without her, he was alone, and he didn’t really want to be alone.

“She won’t be happy,” warned Eliza.

“Well, well,” said George, unmoved. “I daresay she’ll get over it.”

Does Louise indeed “get over it” as her father predicts? To find out, you’ll have to read Valuing Vanessa, Book 2 of The Hertfordshire Hoydens, which will appear in the Bluestocking Belles’ 2016 holiday anthology, Holly and Hopeful Hearts.

In the meantime, why not read Treasuring Theresa, Book 1 of the series?

About Treasuring Theresa

Theresa Cover Front 200x310 WEBLady Theresa despises London society. What’s worse is that she has to attend the betrothal ball of the young man she expected to marry. To deflect all the pitiful glances from the other guests, she makes a play for the most striking gentleman there—who happens to be her Cousin Damian, who is everything she despises.

Damian, Lord Clinton sees a desperate young lady with no social graces, and it solidifies his opinion that country folk are beneath him. But it so happens that he is the heir to that young lady’s father’s title and estate, and the time comes when he finds himself obliged to spend some time there.

Thrown together, both Damian and Theresa discover each other’s hidden depths. But are their differences too much to overcome to make a successful match?


About the Author

Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar. Voracious reading led to a passion for writing, and her fascination with romance and people of the past landed her firmly in the field of historical romance.

A teacher in her former life, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and central Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.

Vanessa’s Dilemma

April 1810, Piccadilly Street, London

“Vanessa! So this is where you’ve got to! Mama is beyond vexed with you for slipping away during my fitting!”


Hatchard’s Bookshop, Piccadilly Street

Vanessa’s head jerked back as she slammed the book shut with a definitive smack and gaped at her younger sister, whose pixie-like appearance was contradicted by the sharp tone of her voice.

“I’m so sorry. I only meant to find a new book. What time is it? Surely I haven’t been here more than ten minutes or so.”

Eugenia rolled her emerald green eyes, her arms crossed over her chest. “We’ve been searching for you more than half an hour. Mama had to reschedule your fitting since Madame LaFleur had another appointment.”

She dropped her arms and reached into her reticule for a handkerchief. “Really, Vanessa, I know it must be difficult for you to look forward to my wedding in view of the fact that you are my older sister, but can you not at least make the effort to avoid antagonizing our mother? You know how she gets when things don’t go her way. The entire house will be in an uproar and there will be no peace for anyone.”

She dabbed at her eyes with her handkerchief, and Vanessa, overcome with contrition for her behavior and compassion for her sister, rose to embrace her, the book carefully laid on the bench.

“I am so sorry, Genie. I don’t mean to be so ungenerous. Of course I am delighted at the news of your betrothal. You and Reese are perfect for each other, and you deserve a magnificent wedding. Please forgive me for being so thoughtless! It’s just that—you and Mama were busy with the modiste and I thought I could just slip out for a moment to see if Hatchard’s had any new novels.” She swallowed. “The time got away from me.”

Eugenia stroked her hair gently. “I know this can’t be easy for you, my dear. Not after what happened in the past. I almost feel guilty for finding my own happiness so quickly and unexpectedly when you have had to endure so much.” She stepped back and grasped Vanessa’s shoulders, looking at her directly. “Wedding aside, it’s time for you to move ahead with your life. Find some worthwhile occupation… a charity, perhaps. Something to get you out of the house before Mother’s constant carping makes you fit for Bedlam.”

Vanessa wanted to argue that she was doing well enough without her sister’s advice, but the lie just wouldn’t fall off her tongue. Slinking off to her bedchamber at every opportune moment to bury herself in books and write bad poetry was not really much of a life. Especially not with having to endure her mother’s constant nagging about her appearance, her unmarried state, and her bluestocking tendencies. Eugenia and their mother’s obsessive devotion to her had made life at Sedgely House bearable; once Eugenia was whisked off to Hertfordshire with her gentleman-farmer husband, Mrs. Sedgely’s attention would be focused entirely on remaking her disappointing older daughter.

She leaned in and kissed her sister on the cheek. “You constantly amaze me, little sister. Just seventeen and not only are you about to become a bride, but you have the maturity and wisdom to offer your spinster sister some excellent advice. If I involve myself in some worthwhile charity, perhaps Mama will give up pestering me to find a husband.”

Eugenia threw back her head and laughed. “I assure you she will never give up that particular pleasure. But at least you will have the opportunity to escape the house and her badgering, and at the same time do some good for the unfortunate.” She chuckled, her eyes twinkling with mischief. “No doubt you will meet a great deal of interesting ladies—and gentlemen—and who knows what will happen from there?”

Vanessa grinned, aiming a playful swat at Eugenia’s upper arm. “You mustn’t hold your breath. No doubt any gentlemen involved in such schemes are stout, white-haired solicitors old enough to be my father.”

“But they may have eligible sons,” her sister suggested with a smile. “In any case, you will make the acquaintance of many worthy individuals that you might never have encountered in the ballrooms of the ton. People who value more in life than simply wealth and titles.”

“Mother will hate that. You know she has always aspired to have lofty connections.”

“My Reese is a squire’s son, a gentleman farmer. No title. No more than moderately well-to-do. Besides, she can’t but recall the mess that occurred with your betrothal to a baron’s son.” Seeing Vanessa’s face whiten, she grasped a hand and squeezed it. “Now don’t keep berating yourself over it, Vanessa. It was years ago, and it wasn’t your fault he ran off to Scotland with a milkmaid. You didn’t love each other. You agreed to the betrothal only to please Mama.”

Vanessa drew a deep, calming breath and smiled shakily. “True. I’m so glad that you were able to find and fight for your true love, Genie. Your Reese is a fortunate man to have won so wise a wife.”

Eugenia flushed. “Just between you and me, I haven’t the faintest idea how to be a wife. I shouldn’t want Reese to become disappointed with me.”

Vanessa shook her head. “That man loves you, Genie. I’m sure he worships every part of you, right down to your toenails.”

“My toenails?” Eugenia’s giggles reverberated through the shop, and the slender gentleman behind the counter sent them a stern look.

“Along with the other parts of you he hasn’t seen yet,” Vanessa continued. “He hasn’t, has he?”

Eugenia tilted her head as she reflected on it. “No, I don’t think so. Not my toenails, at any rate.” She bit her lip. “But seriously, Vanessa, I do have some concerns. Not about Reese, but about a childhood friend of his, the earl’s daughter from a neighboring estate. When we went to call upon her the other day, I could see that the news of our engagement was a devastating blow to her.”

“Ah yes, Lady Theresa Granville. She had her presentation the year before mine. I heard about her, but she’s been absent from the social scene since.”

“That’s because she’s completely fixated on farming, maybe even more so than Reese is. They’re constantly together talking about agricultural nonsense, and the truth is, I’ve done nothing more than arrange cut flowers from the garden. I could study farming every day and never have as much knowledge as she has in her little finger.”

“Ah, but Reese chose you. He’s had years to propose to her and chose not to do so. I’m quite sure he doesn’t expect you to turn into Lady Theresa.”

Eugenia smiled shakily. “I hope you’re right. I know he loves me. I just hope I can persuade Lady Theresa to accept me as Reese’s wife. Her friendship is important to him—to both of them, really—and I should really dislike to be the reason it came to an end.”

Vanessa squeezed her sister’s hand. “She’ll learn to love you, my dear. Everyone does, when they get to know you.”

The shop door opened noisily, and a scowling gentleman peered in.

“Excuse me, ladies, but is that your carriage holding up traffic in the street? The lady inside has been waving her umbrella out the window for quite some time.”


Both girls stared at each other in horror before they raced to the door of the bookshop and shakily boarded the carriage, mumbling apologies that went unheard as Mrs. Sedgely railed at them relentlessly.

Vanessa leaned her head against the squabs and closed her eyes.

Genie is right. I need to take charge of my life. Now… how shall I go on from here?

About Treasuring Theresa

Theresa Cover Front 200x310 WEBLady Theresa despises London society. What’s worse is that she has to attend the betrothal ball of the young man she expected to marry. To deflect all the pitiful glances from the other guests, she makes a play for the most striking gentleman there—who happens to be her Cousin Damian, who is everything she despises.

Damian, Lord Clinton sees a desperate young lady with no social graces, and it solidifies his opinion that country folk are beneath him. But it so happens that he is the heir to that young lady’s father’s title and estate, and the time comes when he finds himself obliged to spend some time there.

Thrown together, both Damian and Theresa discover each other’s hidden depths. But are their differences too much to overcome to make a successful match?

Treasuring Theresa is Book 1 of The Hertfordshire Hoydens series. Originally published in the Blush Cotillion line at Ellora’s Cave, Treasuring Theresa has been re-released with a brand new cover by the fabulous Mari Christie. Book 2, Cherishing Charlotte, will be coming in the autumn, and Book 3, Valuing Vanessa, will appear in the Bluestocking Belles’ next holiday anthology.

Treasuring Theresa was a finalist in the 2013 EPIC Awards.

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About the Author

P9 copySusana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar. Voracious reading led to a passion for writing, and her fascination with romance and people of the past landed her firmly in the field of historical romance.

A teacher in her former life, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and central Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.


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