Regardless of the his reputation as a rake, Garrett Trowbridge was orphan Demitria Standish’s ideal—a devastatingly handsome, charming rogue. He was a lord of the realm, however, and far too wealthy a man to settle for a woman without a farthing to her name. Demi would have been content to merely worship from afar, but Garrett had other ideas. He preferred to adore from much, much closer.
Length: Mid Novel
Word Count: 70,954
Genre: Historical Romance
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, 2012
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
Moreland Abbey's ancient walls had not seen such a gathering in over a hundred years. Demitria Standish knew that because she knew the Abbey's history far better than any living Moreland. Glancing around at the knots of people gathered in her Aunt Alma's hall as she moved among the guests as unremarked as a wraith, Demi decided to qualify that thought. Correctly speaking, the place had never known anything quite like the gathering this evening.
The ladies were dressed in the elegant, stylish draperies of the Empire style. Quite modestly, too, since there were none of London's more daring ladies attendant with their scandalously thin, and sometimes even dampened skirts, and even more scandalous necklines.
The gentlemen were another matter.
They had a notable Corinthian among them, none other than Garrett Trowbridge, Viscount Wyndham. Typically, he was dressed with subdued elegance in almost unrelieved black. Though she'd stolen several surreptitious peeks at him as she wandered restlessly about the huge room that had in ancient times been known as the great hall, Demi hadn't actually had to see him to know that. He had attached himself to her cousin Phoebe's growing circle of admirers some weeks before illness had forced them to abandon the season and hastily depart London, and had long since become a familiar sight to her.
Those men present who cherished the thought of considering themselves in the good company of so notable a sportsman were dressed in a like manner, though not nearly as elegant since few could rival the handsome viscount in face or form.
However, there were a number of dandies in attendance and their attire was not nearly so subdued. They favored more colorful attire and sported stripped or floral waistcoats topped by coats of charcoal or navy. And even the dandies were vastly overshadowed by the macaronis.
Those strutted among the ladies' whites and pastels, the Corinthian's somber blacks, and the conservative blues, grays and purples of the dandy, sporting all the brightest hues of the rainbow. They favored the very extreme of fashion with their wasp waists, exaggeratedly padded shoulders, enormous buckles and buttons and wore heels so high they minced when they walked. Their waistcoats were gorgeous indeed; broadly stripped in bars of scarlet and green, or black and white; some boldly embroidered with cabbage roses, butterflies or bees, above breeches that sometimes matched, and sometimes did not, the tightly fitted jackets they wore over their gorgeous waistcoats.
Settling herself finally on the horsehair sofa at a little distance from the one occupied by her cousin, Phoebe, and Phoebe's admiring court, Demi studied these last with a mixture of amused contempt and purest curiosity. Just as it was inconceivable to her that Phoebe encouraged this set to dangle after her, it was impossible for her to fathom why the macaronis would wish to dress themselves as figures of fun only to attract attention. She didn't care to be the object of curious interest herself, and certainly would not wish it under those circumstances.
She was happy enough to observe and be ignored, which was just as well since she generally was. In truth, she didn't even particularly wish to observe, having seen sufficient social functions in London to appease her curiosity about them, and would have simply remained in her room if not for the fact that she knew her Aunt Alma would notice her absence and remark upon it with disapproval once the guests had taken their leave.
And no one displeased Aunt Alma with impunity.
After a moment, she dismissed the macaronis, for in truth she had little interest in studying their ridiculous dress or observing their affected mannerisms.
She had a great deal of interest in observing Garrett Trowbridge, which was why she'd chosen the position she had, at no great distance from him, where her view was almost completely unobstructed. Nerving herself, feeling as breathless and light headed as if she were contemplating a leap from the barn loft into a haystack, Demi allowed her gaze to skim lightly over him as if she were merely glancing around the room.
She was not surprised to discover Phoebe held his entire attention, nor was she perturbed. Instead, some of her uneasiness dissipated and a tentative surge of enjoyment filled her.
She supposed there were more handsome men in England, but she had yet to see one who appealed to her more. He was tall, of medium build and as classically handsome as any of the men depicted in the Elgin marbles. Despite his dark hair and dark blue eyes, she would have been tempted to think of him as angelically fair if not for the mischievous amusement that so often glinted in his eyes. That was a dead give away that he was anything but angelic even before she'd learned that he was considered a very wild young man in his first years on the town and had scarcely settled a whit in the years since.
Regardless, Aunt Alma had been avidly anticipating receiving him as a son-in-law ever since he'd first cast his interest in Phoebe's direction. Phoebe, herself, waited in breathless anticipation for him to pop the question as well, though Demi was inclined to think that Phoebe was not so enamored with his person as she was with his wealth and title.
As if sensing her gaze, Garrett looked up at that moment and Demi looked down at her hands in her lap, frowning faintly at her thoughts. In the next moment, one of the macaronis spoke to Phoebe and Demi tensed, glad that fate had given her the chance to guard her expression.