Fans of Eloisa James & Julia Quinn discussion

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Monday Puzzler > April 8,2019

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan (shaydock) | 645 comments Hero wasn’t the sort for high society parties. Given his rather wicked sense of humor, he found low society far more entertaining. Nonetheless, he was Viscount… the only son of the Earl of … with that position came certain social obligations, most of which involved his great-aunt. Auntie held not only Hero’s sole source of income at present, but also his deepest affections, and when she decided to open the season by holding a ball, he knew his presence was de rigeur.
Which was why Hero allowed his valet to put him into a white tie and tails, capped his head with one of those ridiculous top hats, and trundled off from his own modest town house on Half Moon Street to his dear aunt’s… lavish and fashionable home in Park lane, and braced himself for at least two hours of have his toes smashed and his ear talked off by nervous debutantes.
His aunt’s ballroom was only somewhat crowded, for his familial obligation demanded a punctual, rather than fashionable late arrival. But he wasn’t, he soon discovered punctual enough to suit Auntie.
“Well past eleven before you finally decide to make your appearance, I see,” she said as he paused where she stood just outside the ballroom doors. “I feared I’d die of old age waiting for you to arrive.”
Anyone else might have thought such a greeting denoted a coldness of feeling, but Hero wasn’t fooled, and he leaned close to buss her wrinkled cheek with an affectionate kiss. “Past eleven, is it? A most uncivilized hour for you to still be awake, Auntie …” Pulling back, he pasted on a look of concern. “Perhaps you ought to have a dose of cod liver oil and go to bed? At your age, you can’t be too careful, you know.”
Impudent cub.” With a toss of her head, she gestured to the opened doors of the ballroom behind them, where people were milling about in anticipation of the candling soon to begin. “Your reward for your saucy tongue shall be to open the ball.”
He groaned. “Must I? Can’t Uncle … do it? Where is the old boy, by the way?” he added, glancing around for his uncle.
“My nephew caught a bit of a chill this afternoon and he’s gone to bed. My dear Lady…, “she added looking past Rex to the next arrival and giving him a pointed nudge with her foot.
Appreciating what would be required of him in Uncle… absence, Rex moved to stand beside his great-aunt and offer to share of the required greeting to Lady…and her daughters, both of whom---thankfully---had husbands, and were, therefore, unavailable as fodder for Auntie’s favorite hobby.
Auntie, being unmarried with no children of her own, had a very romantic nature and had made it her main ambition in life to arrange matches for all six of her as-yet-unwed grand-nephews and =nieces before she departed this earth. Because he was heir to the earldom, Hero was of particular interest to her in that regard, and she proceeded to underscore that fact the moment the … contingent had passed into the ballroom.
“You needn’t worry about finding a partner for the opening dance,” she said. “I have chosen one for you.”
That bit of news was no great surprise, but he decided to pretend obtuseness. “Is it Auntie?” he asked, turning to glance over the crowd as if searching for his for is favorite cousin.
“How marvelous. I shan’t mind opening ball if it’s with cousin …
“It is not Cousin…,” Auntie informed him in a dampening tone. “You are free to seek a partner for life amidst a much wider circle than your own cousins.”
He already made it clear many times that he wouldn’t be seeking a partner for life anywhere, ever, but such assurances never seemed to put the slightest den int Auntie’s resolve.
“Really, Auntie, I don’t’ see why you should be so against Cousin… marrying me,” he said instead, keeping his expression earnest and sincere even though his tongue was firmly in his cheek. “You’d get two of our lot married off at once. And marrying one’s cousin was good enough for the Queen, wasn’t it?”
Her answering look was wry, showing she knew quite well he was teasing. “Victoria, being royalty, was forced to matrimonial considerations that do not bind the rest of us.
That’s one way of calling a goose a swan,” he said with a grin. “But you needn’t worry about Cousin ever making a match with me. She’d scream with laughter at the very idea.”
“And yet, I fear you are the one who refuses to take matrimony seriously.”
“On the contrary,” he replied at once, “I take it very seriously---the avoidance of it in particular.”
Really, Hero, you make me so annoyed. You’ll be thirty-two this autumn. How much longer do you intend to circumvent the most important responsibility of your position.”
“Until I’m in the ground. Even longer, if possible.”
“With no consideration of what happens to the title and the estates. Your father expects you to wed, and rightly so. You’ve no brothers, and our uncle…, being my late sister’s son, can’t inherit. If you don’t marry and have sins if your own, everything goes to your father’s third cousin once removed.”
As if he didn’t already know all this. Hero repressed a sigh as Auntie wen to, “…. Is a man neither of us has ever met in the whole of our lives? He’s older than you and yet he has to heir. In fact, he’s not even married, so---"
“Then perhaps you should have invited him to your ball, eh?”
She ignored that bit of raillery. “he owns a boot-making establishment, I ask you--- is that any sort of preparation to be the next earl?”
“A Boot-maker as the earl of …?” He pretended horror. “Heavens, what an idea.
“I am not referring to his profession. It’s his lack of knowledge and preparation that area of concern. >>>knows nothing of running a great estate like …
“What’s to know? Dane’s a capable steward. And since Papa’s moved to London and leased the house---”
“Only until you marry.”
This time, his sight would not be suppressed, but when he spoke, he worked to keep his voice as gentle as possible. “That isn’t going to happen, Auntie, as I’ve already said many times. And if we intend to quarrel about it again, he added before she could reply, “I shall need a drink.”
With a glance down the main corridor to verify that the next guests were still removing their wraps in the foyer, he excused himself and walked into the ballroom. He made for the nearest footman with a tray of silver mugs, keeping his eye on the door as he pretended vast indecision over whether to choose a claret cup or rum punch.
He loved Auntie dearly, and he knew she was equally fond of him, but there was as steely glint in her eyes tonight that told him the evening ahead---and the entire season, for that matter---might be especially trying for both of them.
Any other time, he could have avoided any possibility of a row by going off to mingle, but with his uncle unable to act as host, duty required him to stand by and help his great-aunt greet arriving guests until the dancing began. So, when the newest arrivals started down the corridor toward the ballroom, he plucked a mug of rum punch from the tray and returned to Auntie’s side. Once those guests had moved on, however, his aunt returned to their previous discussion, seeming not to care if a row resulted.
“Both your parents a re quite disappointed, I daresay, by the utter disregard for duty that you display.”
He gave a bark of laughter at the declaration and took a hefty swallow of his drink. “mentioning my parents is hardly likely to spur me to the altar, Auntie.”
“Your parents’ marriage has always been…difficult, I grant you, but at least they fulfilled their primary duty. And,” she added before he could reply, “their situation does not provide you with any excuse to ignore yours. Nor, I might add, is their unhappiness as reasonable basis on which to down the entire married state.”
“I’m not sure our general acquaintance would agree with you there. “He turned, gesturing with his glass to the crowd in the ballroom behind them. “Thanks to Mama and Papa’s deep mutual loathing and complete lack of discretion, the gutter press was able to keep all of society au Courant regarding the miserable state of their marriage, from Mama’s first affair, through every scandal and every retaliation, all the way to the final legal separation. Given the misery they managed to inflict upon each other during their fourteen years of cohabitation, I think our friends fully appreciate my contempt for matrimony.”
“That all ended a decade ago when they separated. Everyone’s quite forgotten about it.”
He turned his head, meeting his great-aunt’s exasperated gaze with hard on of his own. “I haven’t.”
Her expression softened at one. “Oh, my dear,” she said with a compassion in her voice that impelled him to look away and divert the conversation from himself.
“It is not as if Mama and Papa have forgotten either,” he said. “They have not, I assure you.”
The moment those words were out of his mouth he regretted the, for Auntie pounced at once. “And How would you know that?” she asked.
Now embroiled in a volatile discussion he always took great to avoid, Hero knew he hade to tread with care. “I called upon Papa when he arrived in town, whereupon he immediately began to expound on his favorite topic: my mother’s faithless character. My call, therefore, was brief.”
“I’m surprised you bothered to call upon him at all. He’s none too fond of you these days, you know, and in no mind to reinstate your income from the estate until you marry.”
“And I remain a dutiful son,” Hero countered lightly.
The irony of that wasn’t lost on Auntie. “Only in some ways,” she said, her voice dry. “Your father desires you to marry as much as I do.”
Ah, but there’s a difference. Your greatest care is my happiness. Papa’s is the succession.”

NOW WE KNOW HOW EVERYONE FEELS ABOUT MARRIAGE AND WE SKIP TO THE MEETING OF HERO AND HEROINE.

"“There, now,” Auntie said beside him.

“Are you satisfied that I have not saddled you with a wart-faced Amazon?” He didn’t reply, for

he knew if he expressed an opinion of the girl that was even the slightest bit favorable, Auntie

would be finagling invitations for her to every possible occasion, and his entire season would

become a game of duck-and-hide.

“Oh, very well,” he said instead, and heaved an exaggerated sigh. “Let’s have this over with.”

Those words were scarce out of his mouth before Auntie was tucking her hand into the crook of his elbow and pulling him toward the girl. Heroine looked up as they approached, and the moment she laid eyes on him, any trace of a smile vanished from her face and all her previous tension returned. Somehow, her appalled reaction to the sight of him made her seem even more familiar than before, and it was a good thing he’d already realized she was shy, for if he hadn’t perceived that, he’d be racking his brains now, trying to figure out where and how and under what unfavorable circumstances they had met before and what he’d done wrong. “Heroine,” Auntie said as they halted in front of her, “I should like to present my great-nephew, Heroine, to you. Hero, this is Heroine.”

“Heroine.” He bowed. “A pleasure to meet you.” She clearly didn’t share this sentiment, for her face was as pale as milk. She didn’t smile a greeting or move to curtsy, but remained utterly still, so still, in fact, that he wondered in some alarm if she might have stopped breathing. Shelooked as if she might faint, and though there were men who would find that a most gratifying feminine response to an introduction, Hero did not. If she fainted, it would be terribly embarrassing and make him the butt of the most tiresome jokes amongst his friends. Worse, it would subject him and this poor girl to the wildest speculations, and that sort of talk was something they could both well do without. He was obliged to prompt her. “Heroine?” At the sound of his voice, she inhaled sharply, and color flamed in those pale cheeks like spots of rouge. “L. . . likewise, I’m sh. . . sh. . . sure.”


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 985 comments No idea. Poor Heroine, Auntie is a terror who will marry her off to one of the nephews now.


message 3: by Irisheyes (new)

Irisheyes | 892 comments No clue


message 4: by Chocolatesoup (new)

Chocolatesoup | 355 comments I have no idea ;-)


message 5: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1130 comments Oooh I have no clue!!!


message 6: by Daniellegn (new)

Daniellegn | 196 comments not sure, though somewhat familiar


message 7: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2060 comments Mod
No idea


message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan (shaydock) | 645 comments big reveal tomorrow and for me then on Saturday off to Italy


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan (shaydock) | 645 comments Hello,

This was a delightful book.

The Trouble with True Love (Dear Lady Truelove) by Laura Lee Guhrke


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 985 comments Great choice, Susan. Now I have to read it.


message 11: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2060 comments Mod
Agh! It’s in my TBR stack


message 12: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1130 comments Oh man! I have read it! How did i forget!!! Loved it!


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