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1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, This Author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London's most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry. And in all truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better...
--Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1814
But this time the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry--he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield--the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate's the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams...
Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes to not make the best husbands--and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate's determined to protect her sister--but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony's lips touch hers, she's suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself...
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The topic of rakes has, of course, been previously discussed in this column, and This Author has come to the conclusion that there are rakes, and there are Rakes.
Anthony Bridgerton is a Rake.
A rake (lower-case) is youthful and immature. He flaunts his exploits, behaves with utmost idiocy, and thinks himself dangerous to women.
A Rake (upper-case) knows he is dangerous to women.
He doesn't flaunt his exploits because he doesn't need to. He knows he will be whispered about by men and women alike, and in fact, he'd rather they didn't whisper about him at all. He knows who he is and what he has done, further recountings are, to him, redundant.
He doesn't behave like an idiot for the simple reason that he isn't an idiot (any moreso than must be expected among all members of the male gender). He has little patience for the foibles of society, and quite frankly, most of the time This Author cannot say she blames him.
And if that doesn't describe Viscount Bridgerton--surely this season's most eligible bachelor-to perfection, This Author shall retire Her quill immediately. The only question is: Will 1814 be the season he finally succumbs to the exquisite bliss of matrimony?
This Author Thinks ... Not.
Lady Whistledown's Society papers, 20 April 1814
"Please don't tell me," Kate Sheffield said to the room at large, "that she is writing about Viscount Bridgerton again."
Her half-sister Edwina, younger by almost four years, looked up from behind the single-sheet newspaper. "How could you tell?"
"You're giggling like a madwoman."
Edwina giggled, shaking the blue damask sofa on which they both sat.
"See?" Kate said, giving her a little poke in the arm. "You always giggle when she writes about some reprehensible rogue." But Kate grinned. There was little she liked better than teasing her sister. In a good-natured manner, of course.
Mary Sheffield, Edwina's mother, and Kate's stepmother for nearly eighteen years, glanced up from her embroidery and pushed her spectacles farther up the bridge of her nose. "What are you two laughing about?"
"Kate's in a snit because Lady Whistledown is writing about that rakish viscount again," Edwina explained.
"I'm not in a snit," Kate said, even though no one was listening.
"Bridgerton?" Mary asked absently.
Edwina nodded. "Yes. "
"She always writes about him."
"I think she just likes writing about rakes," Edwina commented.
"Of course she likes writing about rakes," Kate retorted. "If she wrote about boring people, no one would buy her newspaper."
"That's not true," Edwina replied. "Just last week she wrote about us, and heaven knows we're not the most interesting people in London."
Kate smiled at her sister's naivete. Kate and Mary might not be the most interesting people in London, but Edwina, with her buttery-colored hair and startlingly pale blue eyes, had already been named the Incomparable of 1814. Kate, on the other hand, with her plain brown hair and eyes, was usually referred to as "the Incomparable's older sister."
She supposed there were worse monikers. At least no one had yet begun to call her "the Incomparable's spinster sister." Which was a great deal closer to the truth than any of the Sheffields cared to admit. At twenty (nearly twentyone, if one was going to be scrupulously honest about it), Kate was a bit long in the tooth to be enjoying her first season in London.
But there hadn't really been any other choice. The Sheffields hadn't been wealthy even when Kate's father had been alive, and since he'd passed on five years earlier, they'd been forced to economize even further. They certainly weren't ready for the poorhouse, but they had to mind every penny and watch every pound.
The Viscount Who Loved MeBy: Julia Quinn