A risqué regency romp enjoyed by both servants and masters as love and passion is discovered―above and below stairs―in his lordship's household.
At Redfield House, everyone is busy with preparations for a ball, and rumor is rife in the servants' quarters that the master is about to propose.
Lord Thomas Redfield realizes the time has come for him to take a wife and that this duty can no longer be delayed. The only trouble is…he isn't sure the desire he once felt for Catherine, the woman he was previously betrothed to, is over and a new life with Rosalinda can begin.
Can Lord Redfield take Miss Rosalinda Mills for his wife, and will she agree to an engagement knowing he could still be in love with Catherine?
As the weekend unfolds and the fun begins, a bevy of illicit encounters are enjoyed between maids, footmen, grooms, and guests, while his lordship inwardly struggles with the problem of finding a wife.
Content Warning: contains passionate, sensual love scenes
Lord Thomas Redfield intended to marry Miss Rosalinda Mills, but as yet, she was not aware of his wishes.
She wasn't a beauty by any means, but she had an attraction of sorts. Refined, polished, and cultured, she also had a conversation that did not bore him. Most women he knew were chatterboxes and windbags or bluestockings and dull. But Miss Mills was neither.
She fell into none of these categories, and after several days and evenings spent in her company, Thomas was prepared to discover more.
* * * *
"Which debutante would you have me consider? Which of your many friends will wish to parade their daughters before me?" Thomas asked his mother cynically.
"Well, actually, I was thinking about―"
"Enough, Mama. I'm afraid I must decline your suggestion. Your attempt at arranging a marriage between Catherine and myself was not exactly a success." He recalled with bitterness the outcome of that proposed union. The fact that Catherine and Harry had married had hurt his pride and ego enormously. "An arranged marriage that is of your making and to your liking is not for me. I refuse, especially after my enlightening experience with Catherine. My lesson, when it comes to taking a wife, has been well and truly learned, and I would be a fool if I were to repeat such an endeavor again."
Those were empty words, and he knew it. At some point in time he would have to marry. The difficulty was finding the right woman who was malleable and compliant to tie the knot with. Someone who would obey him without question. Someone who would tolerate his illicit liaisons without too much objection. And that type of woman was hard to find.
"But you have to try to find a wife."
"If I do, this time, love will definitely not be in the equation."
Thomas decided that a marriage of convenience, where he would wed and bed someone without properly wooing her for love, was his best option. And that was what he was going to propose when he offered for Rosalinda. He liked her. They got along. But the all-consuming passion and physical attraction he had once felt when betrothed to Catherine was missing when he thought of Rosalinda.
A wife was needed, and she would have to be of good birth and excellent breeding. Someone with whom he could produce an heir. The only question was…with whom and exactly when? So far, by process of elimination, Rosalinda was the best contender.
Having compiled a list of potential candidates from the many socialites within his circle of friends and acquaintances, Rosalinda seemed the best option. He had known her for years, and although he had never thought of her as a potential wife until recently, he was now prepared to do so. There was respect between them, and he hoped some sort of convivial relationship could blossom. It was a shame that the all-consuming love he had felt for Catherine was not there.
"Your betrothal to Catherine was more than three years ago, and even though I suspect your heart was never truly given to her, your feelings must have recovered. Surely?"
That just proved how little his mother knew him. Like many of his acquaintances, she thought his emotions had not been affected by Catherine's decamp. She was so wrong. His wound was still raw.
"Mama, the subject is closed for discussion. At least for now. I have to go riding with Rosalinda and―"
"So the servants' rumors are true. You are thinking of proposing to Rosalinda!"
Thomas approached his mother and bent to place a kiss upon her cheek. "Don't fret. You will be the first to know if and when she accepts my offer."
His mother's chin dropped, her mouth open with astonishment. And with that announcement, Thomas left the room and went to change into his buckskins and riding boots.