The Cabot Sisters
Excerpt from book:
Blackwood Hall, 1816
It was an unspoken truth that when a woman reached her twenty-second year without a single gentleman even pondering the possibility of marriage to her, she was destined for spinsterhood. Spinsterhood, in turn, essentially sentenced her to the tedium of acting as companion to doddering dowagers as they dawdled about the countryside.
A woman without prospects in her twenty-second year was viewed suspiciously by the haut ton. There must be something quite off about her. It was impossible to think otherwise, for why would a woman, properly presented at court and to society, with means of dowry, with acceptably acknowledged connections, have failed to attract a suitor? There were only three possible explanations.
She was unforgivably plain.
She was horribly diseased.
Or, her older sisters' scandalous antics four years past had ruined her. Utterly, completely, ruined her.
The third hypothesis was presented by Miss Prudence Cabot days after her twenty-second birthday. Her hypothesis was roundly rejected by her scandalous older sisters, Mrs. Honor Easton and Grace, Lady Merryton.
In fact, when her older sisters were not rolling their eyes or refusing to engage at all, they argued quite vociferously against her theory, their duet of voices rising up so sharply that Mercy, the youngest of the four Cabot sisters, whistled at them as if they were the rowdy puppies that fought over Lord Merryton's boot.
Her sisters' protests to the contrary notwithstanding, Prudence was convinced she was right. Since her stepfather had died four years ago, her sisters had engaged in wretched behavior. Honor had publicly proposed marriage to a known rake and bastard son of a duke in a gaming hell. While Prudence adored George, it did not alter the scandal that had followed or the taint it had put on the Cabots.
Not to be outdone, Grace had endeavored to entrap a rich man into marriage in order to save them all from ruin, and somehow managed to trap the wrong man. It was the talk in London for months, and while Grace's husband, Lord Merryton, was not as aloof as Prudence had always heard, his entry into the family had not improved Prudence's prospects in the least.
Nor did it help in any way that her younger sister, Mercy, had a countenance so feisty and irreverent that serious thought had been given to packing her off to a young ladies' school to tame the beast in her.
That left Prudence in the middle, sandwiched tightly between scandals and improper behavior. She was squarely in the tedious, underappreciated, put-upon, practically invisible middle where she'd lived all her life.
This, Prudence told herself, was what good manners had gotten her. She had endeavored to be the practical one in an impractical gaggle of sisters. The responsible one who had taken her music lessons just as faithfully as she'd taken care of her mother and stepfather while her sisters cavorted through society. She'd done all the things debutantes were to do, she'd caused not a whit of trouble, and her thanks for that was now to be considered the unweddable one!
Well, Mercy likely was unweddable, too, but Mercy didn't seem to care very much.
"Unweddable is not even a proper word," Mercy pointed out, adjusting her spectacles so that she might peer critically at Prudence.
"It's also utter nonsense," Grace said tetchily. "Why on earth would you say such a thing, Pru? Are you truly so unhappy here at Blackwood Hall? Did you not enjoy the festival we hosted for the tenants?"
A festival! As if her wretched state of being could be appeased with a festival! Prudence responded with a dramatic bang of the keys of th"The Last Debutante is another successful merger of witty writing and passionate romance that gracefully delivers everything romance readers could want." – Booklist