My dear sister Clara,
London society is so much more complicated than I could ever have known! Every night is a different ball or assembly, and a different swirl of glittering jewels and rustling gowns. Though I fear I am making social blunders left and right I am having some measure of success in my (or rather, Mother's) objective. Mother is beside herself with glee at the attentions I have been receiving from a few gentlemen she finds supremely suitable as husband material.
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May 31, 2003
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Excerpt from To Marry the Duke by Julianne MacLean
The London Season, 1881
With a sigh of resignation, Sophia Wilson realized she had unwittingly hurled herself not only across an ocean to London, but from a sizzling-hot frying pan into a fierce and fiery blaze. She was about to enter the Marriage Mart.
She moved with her mother into the crowded London drawing room, elegantly adorned with silk tapestries and bouquets of roses tied with ribbons, and a host of other useless knickknacks skillfully arranged to make perfect idleness the only option. Squeezing her fan tightly in her gloved fist, she prepared herself--after a month of intense English etiquette training--for the introduction to the earl and countess of something-or-other, then dutifully smiled her best smile.
"That wasn't so terrible, was it?" her mother whispered afterward, assessing the room as she spoke. Sophia could almost hear her mother's thoughts aloud as she formulated the evening's strategy: An earl here ... a marquess there ...
The weight of Sophia's responsibility hung over her then, like an iron chandelier dangling from a single screw, ready to drop at any moment. She was an American heiress, and she was here in London to ensure her family's acceptance into high society back home and ultimately change their lives forever. She was here to marry an English lord.