Eighteen-year-old Emily Richardson is excited to attend this season’s society balls and begin her search for a husband. She is thrilled when the dashing and handsome Connor Preston begins to show her more attention. After each ball, Emily finds a love note in her drawstring reticule, and she expects a marriage proposal from Connor any day.
When her father objects and forces Emily to accept the proposal from Lady Tisbury's shy nephew, Ethan Richardson instead, her heart is broken. How can she love her new husband when her heart belongs to the man who wrote her such beautiful love letters?
Love by Secrets is a novella of ~19,500 words (80 pages), only .99
“Papa, where are you?” Emily Stanton asked, a little too loudly for a proper, young lady.
“Hush, Emily. He will be here when he’s ready, and not a moment sooner.” Catherine Stanton scolded her impatient daughter.
“But Mama, we’ll be late for the ball.” Emily smoothed down her ice-blue, satin dress for the hundredth time, and adjusted the choker of pearls around her neck. The swell of her breasts peeked out of the dress’s bodice, which was adorned with lace and ribbons. Matching gloves and a small, draw-string reticule rounded out her outfit for the evening.
The April ball was being thrown by Lord and Lady Tisbury, and was the kick-off event of the social season in London. Everyone who was anyone would be there. Emily had counted down the days waiting for the big night to arrive. She longed to be part of the sea of shimmering silk swirling around the dance floor.
She had even more reason to be excited; this had been the best week of her life. Two days ago, she had turned eighteen; the age when the hunt for a husband begins in earnest for every young lady. Lady Tisbury had promised to introduce to her a number of young men from well-regarded families. Emily shivered in anticipation. She hoped her dance card would quickly fill with the names of every eligible bachelor in the county. She had attended balls in the past; however, tonight she would not be regarded as a child, but as an eligible, young lady.
Emily reached up and pushed the flower back into her light-brown hair. Nesmith, her long-time ladiesmaid, had outdone herself creating a crown of curls, adorned with little, white flowers and pearls, for this evening’s festivities. Emily had watched in amazement while Nesmith worked her magic with the pins. Sitting still for more than an hour had certainly been worth the results.
“Mama, do I look pretty?”
“Emily, you look radiant tonight. I’ve always loved that color on you. It compliments your eyes wonderfully well.”
“Thank you, Mama.”
“Now stop fidgeting, dear. You must learn patience. It is a woman’s place to wait quietly. You will have to do these things someday with your own husband, so let us practice it now.”
Before a pout could form on Emily’s lips, her father, Mr. Riley Stanton, came into the parlor. “Oh, Papa, thank heavens you’re here,” she squealed with delight.
“Emily, dear, must you shout?”
She stood on her tiptoes, and kissed her father’s cheek. “Sorry, Papa, but you know I’ve been waiting to attend Lord Tisbury’s ball all week. You must have heard us come down the stairs nearly 30 minutes ago.”
Mr. Stanton let a sly smile touch his lips. “I must have lost track of time. No matter; I’m here now. Are my ladies ready?”
Nesmith entered the parlor, and helped Emily and Mrs. Stanton into their evening coats.
“Thank you, Nesmith,” Emily said. With a flounce of her skirt, she led the way to the family coach.
Mr. Stanton held out his arm for his wife. “Are you ready for this, Mrs. Stanton?”
Catherine nodded. “Do we really have a choice, Mr. Stanton? We cannot treat Emily like a little girl anymore. The real question is, are you ready for the hordes of young men coming to court her?”
Mr. Stanton chuckled. “I guess I will have to be. Time stands still for no man.”
The housekeeper held the door open, and the Stantons departed into the cool, night air. Mr. Stanton sat in the rear-facing seat of the carriage. Mrs. Stanton sat next to her daughter.
Emily smiled as she settled her skirts. She glanced out the window. The sky was filled with twinkling stars. It was a perfect evening. She could hardly wait for the festivities to begin.