Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Wallflowers, Continued

The Devil in Winter
Evangeline Jenner has a problem: she is about to inherit an extraordinary amount of money. How is that a problem? Her dying father runs a notorious gambling hall, and her bourgeois and avaricious relatives (on her dead mother’s side) are more than a little anxious to get their hands on it. Since the shy, stuttering Evie has not managed to marry a titled man to improve the family’s social connections, they have decided that even a tainted fortune is better than none, and have determined that she shall marry her cousin. Evie may be shy, but she’s not stupid, and she figures her likelihood of surviving long after the wedding is pretty slim. So she does what any intelligent young woman in her predicament would do: she seeks out the incredibly handsome and equally notorious Sebastian, Viscount St. Vincent, a rake of ancient lineage and empty bank account, and proposes marriage. Presenting herself at his door late one wintry night, she suggests that as they are both equally desperate, they immediately elope to Gretna Green, wed, consummate the marriage, and then go about living their separate lives, each of their problems solved. Sebastian is intrigued. While he has met Evie before, he saw only a shy, stuttering girl. Now confronted with the risk-taking redhead, he notes that while she may stammer, she’s no dummy and no shrinking violet. She’s got a good plan, is rather attractive, and of course, there’s all that lovely money to consider. So Sebastian agrees, and off they go. The elopement turns out to be the easy part; returning to London and dealing with the death of Evie’s father, her inheritance of his wealth and gambling establishment, and the greedy, angry relatives she left behind is more of a challenge. And then there are the newlyweds growing feelings for each other. Evie does not wish to be the devoted wife of a philandering husband, and Sebastian has no wish to be in love –ever, with anyone. The two try to come to some sort of workable compromise while someone makes every attempt to kill one or both. Can true love conquer kidnappings and gunfire?

Scandal in Spring
Daisy Bowman has had three seasons to find a titled husband. According to her father, she’s had more than enough time, and he’s spent more than enough money. If she cannot bring someone “up to scratch” by summer, Daisy will marry the man her father chooses for her. Much to Daisy’s dismay, he has chosen Matthew Swift, the second-in-command in the Bowman business dealings. Mr. Bowman loves Matthew Swift like a son, and wants nothing more than to bring him into the family fold and put him in charge of the business one day. Daisy remembers Matthew as ungainly, aloof, and boring. Boring. If only it were still so. When Daisy encounters Matthew again, he has grown into a handsome and confident man. But still, Daisy is convinced that he has hatched this plan with her father to get his hounds on the Bowman millions and she refuses to play along. Matthew, who has been in love with Daisy since the moment he met her years ago, was not part of her father’s plan, refuses to marry her with or without her consent. Both are miffed, and begin a battle of wills that turns to flirtation and eventually real affection. That’s when Daisy finds out just how not boring Matthew is, and has to decide if the secrets from his past will rule out a future.

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