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!
Henning, Duke of Clonmere must marry one of the Earl of Falmouth’s three giggling younger daughters, but Lady Iris — Falmouth’s oldest, who is not at all inclined to giggling — catches Clonmere’s eye, and his heart!
NOTE: This story originally appeared in the (now de-published) anthology, Dukes by the Dozen. At present, it’s available exclusively through the web store as a free download.
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 Belmaine is just finding her balance as a widow who has recently put off mourning when she’s summoned to the family seat to celebrate a sibling’s wedding. Hugh St. Sevier’s escort makes the journey somewhat bearable, while Sebastian MacHeath‘s presence among the guests is a more dubious blessing.
Violet is managing as best she can with her stubborn Papa, difficult brothers, and well meaning aunties, when the bride goes missing. Tempers flare, old secrets come out at the worst times, and Violet can rely on only St. Sevier and Sebastian to help her find the bride… until she discovers that St. Sevier was the last person seen with the missing lady!
Why must a widow newly emerged from mourning be invited to every wedding in the realm? Lady Violet Belmaine ponders that conundrum while traveling from London to rural Scotland at the invitation of an old friend. Escorted by her dashing physician friend, Hugh St. Sevier, Violet prepares to again subject herself to a nuptial celebration, except… the groom fails to appear.
Matters become more interesting when Violet discovers that Sebastian MacHeath is laird of the nearest castle, and well acquainted with the bride and her family. Mysterious cousins, surly neighbors, and appearances much at variance with the facts all confound Violet’s efforts to find the missing groom, and any designs she might have on her handsome escort!
Having enjoyed her tour of the Scottish countryside, Lady Violet Belmaine is reluctant to return to London. Her escort, Hugh St. Sevier, suggests a detour to the Lakes, where his former army connections have invited him to renew old acquaintances. Violet is happy to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, but all is not right with St. Sevier’s friends.
Their host’s estate is struggling, several marriages from the old regiment appear to be faltering, and somebody is intent on making a bad situation worse. From slashed portraits to sheep trampling the garden, St. Sevier’s former comrades are engaged in some sort of rural war against an unknown foe. Sebastian MacHeath arrives to help solve the mystery, but his presence only makes matters more tense. Violet refuses to leave without putting the puzzle pieces together, no matter how dangerous the process or how shocking the eventual solution.
If it’s not weddings, then hapless widows are expected to attending christenings… Lady Violet returns with St. Sevier to her family seat, and finds Derwent Hall at sixes and sevens upon the occasion of her nephew’s christening. Other guests have brought their children along to celebrate the occasion, and Sebastian MacHeath is on hand to serve as godfather.
Nobody seems to be getting along, despite the happy nature of the gathering. Summer heat builds to an unbearable crescendo as clandestine affairs, marital troubles, and family tensions escalate. Then somebody starts stealing little girls, and Lady Violet must figure out who, why, and how the kidnapper can be foiled.
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!
Lady Violet Belmaine emerges from two years of mourning less than enthusiastic about resuming her place in Polite Society. She’s talked into attending a country house party by her French physician friend, Hugh St. Sevier, only to find that the house party guests are preyed upon by a mysterious thief.
Among the guests is Sebastian MacHeath, Marquess of Dunkeld. Violet once considered Sebastian her closest confidant, but war and the passing years have changed him. Nonetheless, when Sebastian’s valet, another veteran, comes under suspicion, Violet, St. Sevier, and Sebastian must work together to discover the true culprit, lest an innocent man be sent to the gallows for crimes he did not commit.