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A Season in Disgrace
Two Errant Wards
A wholly Inappropriate Attraction

When her unruly ward, Araminta Partington lands herself in a compromising situation with the eligible Mr. Durham, widow Charlotte Wendover comes to the rescue.

Durham and Wendover have reason to be allies.

They both understand the significance of decorum.

They both have wayward charges, hellbent on mesalliance.

They both recognize the enthralling fascination burgeoning between them.

But if Charlotte succumbs to her affection for the handsome rake who’s fast become her savior, Araminta’s behavior may not be the only talk of the town.

Can she weather the scandalous storm and discover her happily ever after?

If you adore Regency romance filled with scandal, drama and passion, devour this delightful prequel to the six-book Daughters of Sin series now.



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“I’ve never heard such a preposterous suggestion! And you can try and persuade me of the merits until you’re blue in the face, Mary, but I will not do it!” Charlotte put down her sampler and glared at her sister.
“But Charlotte, you’ve never been to London,” Mary persisted. “You’d be attending society’s grandest events. Not as some down-at-heel chaperone, but as an equal.”
Charlotte bit her lip and stared mulishly into the drawing room grate where a small fire was crackling, despite the summer heat. The growing irritation that now threatened to consume her had been a familiar emotion during her younger years, but she’d been her own mistress for so long, she’d all but forgotten what it felt like to be dictated to. She picked up her embroidery and stabbed at a delicate rose with her needle as she muttered, “I’m sorry, but you can tell Mama and Lady Partington that I have better things to do than play nursemaid to some puling highborn babies.”
“Like sitting here, working at your sampler, day in and day out?” Her sister fidgeted with her muslin skirts. “Lord Partington’s daughters are not puling babies, Charlotte. I knew you would object but I hoped you would reconsider when you thought more on her offer. Why, you’d meet people—”
“Gentlemen, you mean?”
Her sister opened her mouth to speak, then looked indecisive. Mary was incapable of hiding her feelings, just as she was insistent that she knew best when it came to matters of a domestic nature. Marriage and family, to her mind, were a woman’s most important calling, borne up by her next words. “Charlotte, you can’t molder away here, alone, forever.”
“Why can’t I?”
“Because this could be your last chance to find happiness.”
“What? With a man? A husband? No, I do not need a husband. I’ve had a husband and—”
“And he was a sweet, lovely man,” her sister interrupted, her blue, slightly bulbous eyes glowing with nostalgia. Mary had known Charlotte’s husband for as long as Charlotte had. They’d all played together as children, in fact.
“He was,” agreed Charlotte. “But now I realize what marriage is all about and, not to put too fine a point on it, I prefer the single state.”
“But Charlotte, you’re only twenty-five. You were so very young when you were widowed. Why, it’s been seven years.”
“Those are facts, Mary, not reasons.”
“Please, don’t do this. I don’t want to go on, but I must.”
“You must? That’s not like you,” Charlotte said with heavy irony, completely lost on her sister.
Mary looked miserable. “It was Mama who insisted I have this conversation. I’ve tried to persuade you to change your mind in the past, but I know you don’t aspire to be like me: happily married and the mother of three children.”
Charlotte sent her a rueful smile. “I wouldn’t mind the three children. I’m just not prepared to do what is necessary to get the three children.”
“Charlotte! You mustn’t say such things!”
Charlotte shrugged. “What, not even with you? My sister, a long-married woman who knows exactly what I’m talking about? You surely agree that there’s a good deal of distasteful business involved that Mama conveniently withheld on the eve of my marriage and, I’m sure, yours.”
Mary blushed. “That side improves with time, Charlotte.”
“You’ve hardly convinced me, Mary. And, husband-hunting aside, I am not going to London or anywhere else to look after two cosseted young ladies. I’ve already heard enough about Miss Araminta Partington to know that trouble is likely to follow her to London, and I don’t want to be embroiled in it.”
Mary looked about to speak but instead cast an alarmed look at their mother who’d just hurried into the room, waving a letter as she cried out in agitation. “Charlotte, darling, I don’t know how much Mary has told you, but it just got worse! My bosom friend Mrs. Morecroft writes that the greatest calamity has befallen the family. Her nephew, Archie, who looks likely to inherit a baronetcy, has formed an undesirable attachment with a young lady whom he met in Bath several weeks ago. It is feared that Miss Julia Preston—a designing minx by all accounts—will follow him to London and inveigle him into matrimony when Archie must marry money!”
Charlotte rolled her eyes and sank back into her chair. “Then why doesn’t Mrs. Morecroft or Archie’s mama accompany this easily-led moon calf to London to make sure that doesn’t happen?” she asked.
“Because Mrs. Morecroft is lying-in after the birth of her child—”
“Her sixth, is it not, Mama?” Charlotte wrinkled her nose. “I thought the fifth was supposed to have killed her. Why does she keep having them?”
“Charlotte, that’s no way to talk!”
At the scandalized looks of both her mother and sister, Charlotte blushed hotly, adopting a more conciliatory expression as her mother added in patiently cajoling tones, “All Lady Partington wants is for you to keep an extra pair of eyes upon Miss Preston when you’re not attending to Miss Partington.”
Charlotte gave a gurgle of irritation. “But why am I being prevailed upon to do this, Mama? I’ve already said I don’t wish to chaperone Miss Partington. And wasn’t there mention of two Partington girls?”
Charlotte’s mother settled herself onto the sofa beside Mary. “The younger girl, Harriet, is not yet ‘out’.” She fiddled with the fingers of her gloves before sending Charlotte a beseeching look. “It would be good for you, my darling. I really had no idea you’d be so against the idea when Madeleine suggested to her friend, Lady Partington, that you would be the ideal candidate to accompany the family to London in order to help launch Araminta—”
“Is Lady Partington incapable of launching her own daughter?” Charlotte interrupted.
Her mother looked evasive. “Lady Partington is such a sweet and kind woman and she will be there. But—”
“But what?” Charlotte didn’t hide her suspicion.
Her mother sighed, before dissembling. “Araminta has a reputation for being a somewhat determined young lady and Catherine suspects—all right, Catherine admits—that Lady Partington has had previous experience of being unable to rein in the girl’s headstrong ways. You, Charlotte, are strong-minded, rational and not likely to take the girl’s nonsense, but rather to guide her into deporting herself as her mother would wish. Catherine said she thought of you immediately when Lady Partington asked her for recommendations.”
Mary tittered. “It’s true, Charlotte. Your firmness is a great characteristic. I do also fear it’s why you’ve never had another offer since Robert, though of course people can think what they like—”
“Yes, they can, can’t they?” Charlotte said, with a ferocious look at her two relatives. Indeed, she was about to believe she’d got the better of them when her mother gave a little hiccup that sounded suspiciously like a sob, causing Charlotte’s insides to cleave with horror at having caused hurt when she’d only wanted to assert her independence, and her right to make her own choices.
“Please don’t be upset, Mama. I was merely telling you that I didn’t want to go to London to meet eligible gentlemen or to enjoy the social whirl, and that enjoying Lady Partington’s hospitality and generosity means nothing to me.”
Her mother dabbed at her eyes and waved her hand in the familiar way she had when life was becoming a little overwhelming, and Charlotte went on. “But if it means so much to you, Mama, then of course I’ll do it. I just don’t want anyone to have the impression that I’m desperate to change my marital status.”
“Indeed not, Charlotte, and I’m the first to champion your right not to wish to use this as an opportunity to find a replacement for poor Robert who was such a lovely young man taken from you so young.”
“Well, yes, Mama, he was a lovely young man but you do know that I—”
“Yes, yes!” her mother said quickly. “No need to say more, Charlotte. I am quite aware that marriage is not for everyone.” Miraculously, she’d regained her earlier enthusiasm, and was now waving the letter, once more, that had propelled her into the room. “Lady Partington has invited you to spend a week at her home, The Grange, where you will meet Araminta and her younger sister, Harriet, before you chaperone Araminta in London. What’s more, she desires to show her gratitude through a more than adequate wardrobe—"
“I don’t want her charity, Mama!” Charlotte cried, more scandalized than hitherto. “Just because I choose to live in the country doesn’t mean I’m as poor as a church mouse. In fact, quite the opposite, for Robert left me very generously provisioned.”
“Which is not something everyone needs to know, my dear,” her sister said gently, “if you do not wish to become the prey of fortune hunters.”
Charlotte gave this some thought before conceding, “You’re right, Mary. Very well, then. I will accept Lady Partington’s kind offer and let that speak for itself.”

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