Miss Esme Harvey
April 26, 1816
I am in receipt of your letter to me of yesterday. Oh, my dear friend, I urge you to attend my wedding to the Marquess of Northington next week and our family May Day Frolic!
I do understand your wish not to see Charlie once more. What happened between you last year was unexpected. Yet at the time, you called it delightful. Your moments together did restore your faith that you could attract a man who set your heart aflutter. And if Charlie’s kisses also stirred you to renew your search for a mate among those whom you had not heretofore considered, all the better.
Still you write that, in this past year, you have not found another to compare to him. Does that not speak to the issue louder than any words I can write here?
I know your father demands you wed before your next birthday in January and that you marry one who will bring him political alliance with those in those of Grand Whiggery. Our Reverend Charles Compton is cousin to those famous families. As third son of such an allied earl, he has family connections that should make your papa proud. Charlie’s lack of income and property to call his own is most likely (forgive me for saying this so bluntly) a detraction from his worthiness in your father’s eyes. I am not informed of Charlie’s father’s annual settlement upon him. I doubt it would be subsistence level and Charlie has his Army pension to buoy him. Those are in addition to his wages here in the curate. Family connection is a value to your father. But what price do you pay for your papa’s political prowess if you spend your hours with one who makes you miserable?
A brief flirtation—as I now serve as example—can indeed engender greater affections. My fiancé and I met by accident in a dark sitting room where I had escaped alone, champagne in hand, the tedium of men who simpered over me. All for my money, of course. (So tiresome!)
I do beg you to come to the May Day Frolic. You love it so. Each year you’ve found something new to adore. The mummers. The music. Last year, Charlie in his new role as our village vicar.
He is a charming man. You cannot deny it. Mama adores him. Papa declares he brings a bit of youth and boldness to our church services. Our tenants think him comforting. And yes, he rues his time in the Army in Spain. His return to the clergy is, he says, his true calling…and his penance. I know not, nor does he speak of the horrors he saw at war. I do find him often sitting alone outside his little house in the Grecian folly and the expression on his face is one of utter madness. I fear for him then. I have tried to lure him from this night of his soul. But I tell you truly, only when I speak of you and his affections for you do I see his expression change. He needs you, Willa.
He needs you. If not for more kisses, if not for more amorous caresses, he needs you to sit with him and talk and laugh. He needs you to soothe his soul and show him the finest elements of humanity. Friendship, solace, communion of like minds are what he needs.
I submit only you can bring that to him.
What will you gain from your attendance at my wedding to Northington? You will renew your faith in yourself as a woman who does inspire friendship and love.
Please come to my wedding, Willa. Charlie needs you. I need you, too, more than I have ever told you.
With great love for your undeying friendship,
Miss Esme Harvey is about to marry the man she loves and she wishes a few of her best friends in attendance. One of her closest friends is Lady Willa Sheffield, daughter of the Earl of Seaford. Esme needs all the friends she can get as she has her own challenges concerning her beloved, the heir to a duchy. Willa fancies the new vicar who struggles with his own tormented memories fighting against the French.
So begins the fourth novel, LADY WILLA’S DIVINELY WICKED VICAR in Cerise DeLand’s romantic comedy series, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FROLIC, out October 23. Esme’s story in the series, MISS HARVEY’S ACCIDENTAL GROOM debuts August 21!
For more laughter and romance in her historical novels, do follow Cerise DeLand everywhere you wish!