Captivated by a Lady's Charm (Lords of Honor Book 2)

By: Christi Caldwell


Fourteen years ago, I had the honor of being part of the University of Connecticut Dodd Center’s National Archival Project to record the stories of veterans who served during World War II. I spent a year interviewing soldiers and transcribing their tapes. Something I took away from each of those interviews was the men I spoke to, despite their heroics in battle did not see themselves as heroes. Many of them spoke of the regret, guilt, and pain they carried.

Christian, the Marquess of St. Cyr came to be from all the heroes I had the honor and privilege of knowing.

Chapter 1

Lesson 1

It is sometimes necessary to slip away from one’s chaperone.

December 1820

Lady Prudence Tidemore had always dreamed of her first London Season.

Now she dreamed of ways to avoid that same blasted event. After all, she well knew the gossip and whispers that would come with her being one of the scandalous Tidemore siblings. Such was the fate of an unwed young lady when your brother married the governess and your sister’s failed elopement with one gentleman ended with a hasty union       to another. No, there would be nothing exciting in attending a single event, as one of those de facto scandalous Tidemores.

As such, it was rather hard to look forward to one’s first Season. From where she stood at the back row of Madame Bisset’s, Prudence took in the sight of her mama and the modiste conversing. The thin, elegantly clad modiste held up scrap after scrap of white, ruffled fabric.

There was also nothing exciting about the blasted color white.

“Egads, there is nothing exciting about a white gown,” a familiar voice sounded from beside her.

Prudence shifted her attention away from her mother and looked to her younger sister, Penelope. “Indeed,” she muttered.

Except, by the eagerness of their mama’s too quickly nodding head, the French modiste, who was as much French as Prudence herself, may as well have presented her the Queen’s satin.

“Egads, did you see all that white fabric?”

Prudence and Penelope looked to their youngest sister, Poppy, who stood with her eyes widened in something akin to horror. “Indeed,” they muttered in unison.

They fell silent and stared on forlornly as another bolt of white fabric was brought out by one of the seamstresses and laid upon the counter.

More frantic nodding.

And another blasted white dress.

Frustration ran through Prudence, and her toes twitched with the urge to take flight from this dull world her mother and brother sought to thrust her into. All the excitement she’d dreamed of; the bright satin gowns and more, the hopes of love, and a charming gentleman who’d love her, had been dimmed with their talk of propriety and politeness and all things dull.

Poppy shuddered. “If this is what there is to look forward to, then I am not at all anticipating my London Season.”

Prudence and Penelope exchanged a look but otherwise remained wisely silent. With their sister, now fifteen, she’d still managed a blissful innocence of the severity to that great scandal that shook their family two and a half years earlier. “Well, I am not looking forward to it for altogether different reasons,” she said to herself. It had taken very little time for her to understand the ramifications of her sister’s failed elopement with one gentleman and then her hasty marriage to another a few months later.

In short, there were no kind words issued for the sisters of those scandalous ladies. Apparently, Society believed scandals passed through the bloodline. Or anyway, that is what their mama had said. Prudence wrinkled her nose. Surely there were some strong-minded peers who had opinions of their own?

Poppy scoffed. “But you always wanted a London Season.” And yet, she still did. Just not this unkind, whispered about affair her mother warned awaited her. Poppy turned to Penelope, the only practical one of the Tidemore girls. “Didn’t she? Tell her it will be grand.”

A bored yawn escaped Penelope. “It will be grand,” she replied automatically, wholly lacking any real conviction.

Poppy shoved an elbow into her sister’s side eliciting a grunt from Penelope. “Whatever was that for?”

“For being unconvincing. She needs you to be convincing.”