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Authors: Mary Balogh


Table of Contents
“Wise, witty, and compassionate, Mary Balogh is
an incomparable talent. I never miss a book.”
—Jill Barnett,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Days of Summer
Praise for
“A romance writer of mesmerizing intensity.”
—Mary Jo Putney
“Balogh’s protagonists are complex and charismatic—the kind of people you hope to be sitting next to at a party.”
“Mary Balogh is the writer I read for pleasure.”
—Susan Elizabeth Phillips,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Natural Born Charmer
“A new Mary Balogh book is a gift every woman should give her
—Teresa Medeiros,
New York Times
bestselling author of
A Whisper of Roses
“Mary Balogh sweeps readers away ... Like a fine painter she uses lights and darks, shadows and brilliant color to illuminate her story ... A true talent.”

Romantic Times
“What makes Mary Balogh’s novels so hard to put down? Is it the way she gets into the hearts and souls of her characters? The very uniqueness of those characters? The way she shows us what made them the people they are, and then how love changes them for the better? It’s all of those things and more.”
—Romance Reviews Today
“Mary Balogh reaches deep and touches the heart.”
—Joan Johnston,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Colter’s Wife
“Charming and witty.”

“Mary Balogh ... has once again created a lovely heroine and a worthy hero then let them create the world around them. Ms. Balogh writes beautifully and enchantingly.”

Affaire de Coeur
Titles by Mary Balogh
(an anthology with Constance O‘Banyon,
Virginia Brown and Elda Minger)
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author
Jove mass-market edition / October 1998
Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / October 2007
Copyright © 1998 by Mary Balogh.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form
without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in
violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group.
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-1-101-17422-7
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc..
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY SENSATION is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

THERE WAS ALWAYS A SENSE of pleasurable anticipation attached to entering London even though one had to travel through the poorer, more crowded outer areas before reaching Mayfair and its splendid mansions and thoroughfares. There was an indefinable air of energy about the city and the promise it gave of busy, varied activities to fill every hour of every day of one’s stay.
It was even more exhilarating to be arriving at the very beginning of the spring Season, when all the beau monde would be converging on the city, supposedly so that their menfolk might take their seats in one of the two Houses and conduct the nation’s business. But that was only a small part of the reason—an excuse, if one would—for the general exodus from country estates and smaller popular centers and spas.
Members of the
came to London during the spring to enjoy themselves. And enjoy themselves they did with a dizzying array of balls and soirees and concerts and Venetian breakfasts and garden parties, not to mention attendance at theaters and pleasure gardens and walks and rides in fashionable Hyde Park or excursions to see the sights, like the Tower of London, or simply to shop on Bond Street or Oxford Street.
It was a special bonus, perhaps, to be arriving on a sunny spring day. The journey from Yorkshire had been a long and tedious one—and much of it had been accomplished in dull, cloudy weather, with even the occasional rain shower to slow their progress. Mud on the roads was always to be respected, even when one was eager to end a long journey. But although the morning had been cloudy, the sky cleared off during the afternoon and the sun beamed down.
“Is this really it, Nathaniel?” Miss Georgina Gascoigne asked, her voice awed as she leaned closer to the window. “London?”
It was a foolish question, perhaps, since they had long known that they were close and there was no mistaking London for any village along the route. But Sir Nathaniel Gascoigne recognized it as a largely rhetorical question and smiled at his sister’s awed expression. She might be all of twenty years old, but her experience of the world had been limited until now to their Yorkshire home and the few miles surrounding it.
“This is really it,” he said. “We are almost there, Georgie.”
“It looks dirty and disagreeable,” the young lady who sat beside Georgina said, sitting very upright on the seat and looking disdainfully from the window without leaning closer to it.
Lavinia. Their maternal cousin, Miss Lavinia Bergland, and Nathaniel’s ward despite her advanced age—she was four and twenty—and his own relatively young age. He was one and thirty. Lavinia was his cross to bear, he often thought. She might have used that second epithet—disagreeable—to describe herself.
“You will change your mind when we reach Mayfair,” he assured her.
“Oh, Lavinia,” Georgina said without turning her head from the window, “look at all the people and all the buildings.”
“The streets are not paved with gold,” Lavinia said. “But then we have not arrived at Mayfair yet. You must not be disappointed too soon, Georgina.”
Nathaniel pursed his lips. His cousin was not without her own brand of caustic wit.
“I can scarce believe we are actually here,” Georgina said. “I really thought you were funning us when you first suggested it after Christmas, Nathaniel. Will we receive
invitations, do you suppose? At home you have enormous consequence, but here you are but a baronet, after all.”
“I am a gentleman of wealth and property, Georgie,” he told her. “It will suffice. We will be invited everywhere. By the end of the Season, I will have found suitable husbands for both of you, never fear. Or Margaret will have done so.”
Margaret, their eldest sister, two years his senior, was the wife of Baron Ketterly. She too was coming to London with her husband with the express purpose of sponsoring and chaperoning her second youngest sister and her cousin, the only two remaining unmarried females in the family. There had been six of them, counting Lavinia. Two of them had been married before Nathaniel returned home two years before, summoned by his ailing father. He had been away from home for years before that, first as a cavalry officer with Wellington’s armies during the Peninsular Wars and Waterloo, and then for another year after he sold out, indulging in every imaginable extravagance and debauchery with his friends.
But he had gone home, albeit reluctantly, had buried his father a mere three months later, and had proceeded to take up the life of a country gentleman and to run his estate, which had been somewhat neglected during the last years of his father’s life. He had married two of his sisters to respectable suitors, and had been left with just these two. At Margaret’s suggestion, made over the Christmas holiday, he had considered bringing them to London, to the great marriage mart.
It was going to feel very good indeed to have the last of them married and respectably settled, to have his home and his life to himself at last. One of his main reasons for purchasing his commission had been his desire to escape from a home that was beset by females. Not that he was not fond of his sisters. But there were limits to a man’s endurance. He had certainly never imagined that he would spend several years of the prime of his life organizing matches for his sisters—and Lavinia.

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