Lady Violet and Sebastian MacHeath are trying to forge a cordial marriage out of unlikely beginnings. When they are invited to a summer house party, they accept, hoping to make the excursion into a belated wedding journey of sorts–or at least a respite from meddling relatives. No sooner do they arrive, than their host’s ward is accused of petty wrongdoing. As the charges escalate into familial acrimony and worse, Violet determines that a scheme is afoot to discredit the young man.
Unraveling the mystery before a criminal investigation goes too far will require that Sebastian and Violet trust one another as they haven’t in years. They can get to the bottom of the unfortunate developments at the house party, but can they solve the mystery of how to be husband and wife in more than name?
Matilda Merridew, former hoyden of the first water, finds herself widowed, weary, and in want of coin. Along comes Marcus, Lord Tremont, with an interesting–and decent–proposition. Tremont will provide Matilda a handsome salary and keep a commodious roof over her head if she will relieve him of the burden of managing a houseful of unruly former soldiers.
Matilda accepts the post, and soon learns that the proper, soft-spoken earl has a far more dashing side. Marcus, whose lodestars in life have been order and duty, is drawn to Matilda’s determination and pragmatic good cheer. When Matilda’s past rises from the grave to destroy any hope of a happily ever after, Matilda and Marcus will have to decide if love truly can conquer all!
While Lady Violet Belmaine is busy sorting out the odd turns her life has recently taken, Hugh St. Sevier repairs to his Kent estate in hopes of embarking on the placid life of a rural physician. Alas, for St. Sevier, the village of St. Ivo has more secrets than it has pots of heartease, and the good doctor will once again find himself the target of rumors and threats.
Somebody is rigging St. Ivo’s hound races, setting neighbor against neighbor, and turning what should be a friendly entertainment into an occasion for brawling. As an expert on medicinal herbs and soporifics, St. Sevier comes under suspicion. St. Ivo badly needs a physician, and the village also needs somebody to unravel the intrigues that are tearing it apart. St. Sevier can’t get to the bottom of the mystery on his own, but help–in the persons of Lady Violet and Sebastian MacHeath, is on the way!
Miss Catherine Fairchild spent much of her life haring about the globe with her diplomat parents, though she grasped at a young age that as a legitimate by-blow, her social standing among Polite Society would be marginal at best. Now she’s lost both parents and is settled back in London, where she learns that not only is she an heiress, but that the family title can be preserved through the female line.
Miss Dubious has become Miss Desirable, though Catherine has no plans to marry–or so she claims. Even if she were to admit to some loneliness, the last place she’d turn for companionship would be one of Mayfair’s fawning fortune hunters. The one person she can trust to treat her honestly is Monsieur Xavier Fournier, a plainspoken émigré who also has no intention of putting his foot in parson’s mousetrap… Or so he claims.
Lady Violet has decided that life in noisy, crowded, busy London is simply not her cup of tea. Her search for a rural property to purchase must be set aside when she learns that Hugh St. Sevier has been accused of murder. Worse, the handsome physician is doing nothing to aid those trying to exonerate him.
Though it requires out-smarting the magistrate, enlisting the aid of Sebastian, Marquess of Dunkeld, and literally poking around in the undergrowth, Violet is determined to prove her friend’s innocence–with or without St. Sevier’s cooperation. Solving the crime also means Violet must face a few of her own demons, and find peace with a past that has proven even more vexatious than this most challenging mystery!
Despite having humble origins and a criminal past, Ned Wentworth has learned to dress, waltz, and express himself as elegantly as any lordling. When Lady Rosalind Kinwood’s maid goes missing, her ladyship turns to Ned, precisely because he still has friends in low places and skills no titled dandy would ever acquire, much less admit he possesses.
Rosalind is too opinionated and too intelligent, and has frequently suffered judgment at polite society’s hands. In the quietly observant Ned Wentworth, she finds a man who actually listens to her and who respects her for her outspokenness. As the search for the missing maids grow more perilous, Rosalind and Ned will have to risk everything—including their hearts—if they are to share the happily ever after that Mayfair’s matchmakers have begrudged them both.
Lydia Lovelace has taken the housekeeper’s post in the home of Captain Dylan Powell. The captain is short on charm, but he’s known for his rapport with, and support of, former soldiers trying to make a peacetime life in London. Unbeknownst to the captain, Lydia is searching for a brother who never came home after Waterloo, a brother whose birthright, along with Lydia’s settlements, is being frittered away by scheming family members.
Dylan has never viewed his home as much more than a place to take meals and sleep out of the wet while he tries to find paying work and good positions for his former subordinates. The new housekeeper is changing all of that, bringing comfort and tranquility to Dylan’s domicile and to his days. When Dylan and Lydia begin to explore pleasures shared in the night, Lydia realizes she will have to choose between loyalty to a long-lost brother, and a future with the very man who might have sent that brother into hiding.
Miss Dorcas Delancey, vicar’s daughter and advocate for the less fortunate, has been guarding her heart from fortune hunters and fashionable fribbles for years. She’s completely unprepared for Alasdhair MacKay, former officer and all around grouch, to steal that heart. But when Alasdhair takes on responsibility for a motherless infant whom Dorcas’s family won’t acknowledge, she sees the honor lurking beneath his gruff mannerisms.
Alasdhair MacKay did not storm hell with Wellington’s army just so he could drink, swive, and flirt his way through life after Waterloo. He’s serious, intelligent, and passionate about his causes–also passionate in his regard for Dorcas. He’s the man of her dreams and a paragon in plaid, but looming scandal means Dorcas will have to choose between love and the honor Alasdhair so relentlessly values.
Miss Ann Pearson has spent years learning the difficult art of the professional cook, and jealously guards her position in the kitchen of the fancy Coventry Club. When Colonel Sir Orion Goddard asks her to take on a young apprentice, Ann would rather refuse. But Orion is respectful, gruffly charming, and looking out for a girl whom others have neglected, and that is a combination Ann cannot resist.
Lingering scandal has taught Orion to make his way along the fringes of polite society without allies or entanglements. Then he meets Ann, who is fierce, passionate, and warm-hearted, and also worth fighting for. If Orion and Ann are to forge a new love, they must first learn to trust each other, and find the courage to overcome old enemies who will do anything to keep the cook and colonel apart.
Sycamore Dorning has watched one sibling after another succumb to the blandishments of wedded bliss, while he has grown wealthy and–deuce take it–lonely. He loves the ladies generally, though he waits in vain for the woman who can love him in all his contrary, stubborn, outspoken glory.
Jeanette, Marchioness of Tavistock, endured six years of wedded purgatory before earning the independence of widowhood. She’s admittedly attracted to Sycamore. He’s refreshingly blunt, no slave to convention, and loyal to those he cares about. When trouble stalks her, she turns to Sycamore for help, because she would trust him with her life. But will she trust him with her heart?