“How do you know if you want to marry someone?” Lucy watched Catharine’s eyes for signs of shock. Still, better not to be too specific. “Hypothetically speaking, I mean.”
Catharine tilted her head and examined Lucy quizzically, making no mention of the abrupt nature of the query—the tea had only just been poured and the footman had hardly got the door closed behind him before Lucy unleashed the ambush. “How do you know if you want to marry someone? A good question. If you have options—and unlike most women, you do—it’s quite easy.”
That’s what she’d been afraid of.
“You should marry someone who makes you feel a very great deal of discomfort,” Catharine declared. “At least initially.”
Lucy swallowed the very unladylike string of curses accreting in her throat. “This discomfort you speak of. What does it signify? It would seem to stand in contradiction to what you said in our earlier conversations. You said that a woman should look for a man who concerns himself with his wife’s pleasure. Are not pleasure and discomfort opposing states of being?”
“No, they are not.” Catharine must have heard Lucy’s silent plea for an explanation, because she grinned. “I know it may seem that way. But in my experience, the degree of discomfort—misery, even—a man makes a woman feel is directly proportional to the amount of pleasure he can bring her.”
“But why must everything be so extreme?” Lucy cried. Then, embarrassed that her question had very nearly become a wail, she took a deep breath and tried again. “Is there no place in this world for more moderate sentiments? Contentment, say? Equanimity and intellectual compatibility? I’m talking about a feeling of being adequately matched. What is so wrong with that?”
“Nothing, of course. Many successful, pleasant marriages are built on just such a foundation. And I would never counsel a woman against accepting a man who brought those qualities to her life.” Lucy was about to protest that Catharine contradicted herself, when the older woman let
her teacup fall to its saucer with a clatter and looked intently at Lucy. “If she had no other options.”
Lucy slumped against the back of the settee, and when, after a few seconds, she didn’t speak, Catharine moved from her chair to sit beside her. “And let me make myself perfectly clear. We’ve been talking about pleasure, and given my reputation—and what you’ve seen of me in our colorful conversations with Emily—you probably assume that we’re speaking of the sort of pleasure found in the marital bed.” Lucy started to protest. She’d heard enough already—her
worst suspicions had been confirmed. But Catharine waved away her objection. “We are, of course. And heaven knows Emily likes to tease me about my, ah, fondness for that kind
of pleasure. But that’s not really what I’m talking about.”
“What are you talking about, then?” Lucy whispered, fearing the pronouncement was about to get worse.
“Love. I’m talking about love. I shy away from the word, generally.” She shrugged. “I’m like a man that way. But what I’m trying to say is that if you have any choice in the matter, you should marry someone you’re in love with.”
Trevor Bailey is on the cusp of opening the greatest hotel in London. His days as a gutter snipe are behind him, as he enjoys a life of wealth, society, and clandestine assignments as a spy in the service of His Majesty. Until one tumultuous night churns up the past he'd long left behind...
Turned out by her employer for her radical beliefs, Lucy Greenleaf reaches out to the man who was once her most beloved friend. She never expected that the once-mischievous Trevor would be so handsome and gentleman-like and neither can deny the instant attraction.
But Lucy's reformer ways pose a threat to the hotel's future and his duties as a spy. Now Trevor must choose between his new life and the woman he's always loved…
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jenny Holiday started writing in fourth grade, when her awesome hippie teacher, between sessions of Pete Seeger singing and anti-nuclear power plant letter writing, gave the kids notebooks and told them to write stories. Most of Jenny's featured poltergeist, alien invasions, or serial killers who managed to murder everyone except her and her mom. She showed early promise as a romance writer, though, because nearly every story had a happy ending: fictional Jenny woke up to find that the story had been a dream, and that her best friend, father, and sister had not, in fact, been axe-murdered. From then on, she was always writing, often in her diary, where she liked to decorate her declarations of existential angst with nail polish teardrops. Eventually she channeled her penchant for scribbling into a more useful format.
After picking up a PhD in urban geography, she became a professional writer, and has spent many years promoting research at a major university, which allows her to become an armchair astronomer/historian/particle physicist, depending on the day. Eventually, she decided to try her hand again at happy endings--minus the bloodbaths. You can follow her twitter accounts @jennyholi and @TropeHeroine or visit her on the web at jennyholiday.com.
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