When her Aunt Louisa–never very capable–loses both her husband and his heir (her eldest stepson), the competent Miss Jane Ash rushes to town to offer aid and comfort. What she finds there is chaos: a household in uproar; the youngest stepson turning into a slick and foolish town sprig; the blind teenager Felix throwing fits and suffering from being coddled; a pair of daughters nearing their come-outs without being anywhere near ready for them; two devilish twins; a baby; and an hysterical widow who is certain that her husband’s next heir–the only stepson she’d sent away to be raised by his grandfather–is going to avenge himself by making her family’s life a misery.
“Freddy Tyne’s gone and done it, by damn . . . Took him donkey’s years, but his sticky fingers’ll be lightening my purse from now till lilies bloom in hell” (1).
Playboy Valentine North is horrified when his cousin–who has spent his married life in the wilds of Canada–dies, leaving Val two little savages as wards. There’s no way that he’s going let the little monsters upset his comfortable life, and there is no way he’s going to let some sneaky governess trap him into the Parson’s Mousetrap! So, he concocts an outrageous plan: he’ll disguise himself as his own man of business, hire a house and a governess, and wash his hands of the brats. When his band of comrades wager that Val will be incapable of managing the affair and will end up married within a year, he is even more determined to carry out his plan.
It was not a fashionable night to be seen in the streets of London.
—The Duke’s Wager
Although not as striking as the opening lines of Jane Austin’s Northanger Abbey or Pride and Prejudice, with this sentence author Edith Layton introduces a side of the Ton to which we are rarely exposed. No, this is not White’s or Almack’s. This is London’s demi-monde, where aristocrats hunt for new courtesans and trade those they’ve tired of to less prestigious and attractive friends. It is also a side where innocents can get themselves into a great deal of trouble. Regina Berryman, who has just arrived from the country to live with her new guardian, is determined to spend a night at the Opera, even if her uncle is away on a business trip. Little does she know that she’s picked the wrong night–and caught the eyes of London’s two most profligate rakes.
Nick Valentine is a busy guy; running a big business, dealing with the death of his wife–and his problematic father-in-law–and raising the baby she left behind! When he comes back from an overseas trip, he discovers that the nanny had left, and his sister had hired a nurse to replace her, one Candace Morrisson, and she’s…gorgeous. But there’s something going on here…