What’s an impoverished aristocrat to do when a beautiful heiress asks him to marry her?
Katherine is an heiress who uses her shrewish tongue to keep fortune hunters away. But what is it about Lord Ashfair that leaves her speechless?
Although in need of money, Peter Monroe, Marquis of Ashfair, has resolved to restore his ravaged estates on his own. How can he convince Katherine that he wants her, not her money?
The evening of the Harrington’s ball, Ashfair and Sir Anthony escorted the Driscol sisters and their mother to the event. Bianca was besieged at once, and her dance card filled quickly.
Katherine stood to the side, watching her sister’s card fill.
Ashfair bowed over her hand. “Will you do me the honor of adding my name to your card, Miss Driscol?”
She clutched her card tighter, her head up. “Really, my lord, you do not have to dance with me simply because you are my escort.”
His brow went up. The men in this town were all fools if they would dance with such a lovely woman only to edge closer to her money or her sister and not herself. How many times had she been hurt because of it? “You are right, of course. I have to dance with you because I want to see what it is like to hold you in my arms. There are two waltzes this evening. Please put my name beside one of them. And if you will honor me with a second dance, the quadrille would be nice.”
As she added his name to her card, he bent to whisper, “I wish I could dance more than twice with you.”
“You are entirely too forward, my lord.” He heard her set down. However, he also saw the blush that tinged her cheeks. He tried not to smile, but he was beginning to enjoy teasing a blush into her cheeks.
Katherine had a smattering of attention, mostly, Ashfair thought, from those hoping to win Bianca’s approval. He was amazed Katherine could be so easily disregarded. True, she could wield a waspish tongue, but every set down she rendered was, in his opinion, well deserved.
At last they began the quadrille, and Ashfair led Katherine onto the dance floor. As they went through the forms of the dance, he noticed that she became transformed. Her features softened, she gracefully floated, and pleasure sparkled in her eyes.
“You love to dance!” he exclaimed.
Laughing, she agreed. “I always have.”
The movements took them apart for a moment. When they came together again he said, “A smile or two from you and your dance card would be full.”
Her mouth pursed. “And be forced to endure every crack-wit fortune hunter in the place with sweaty hands and a penchant for writing bad verses to my eyes?” She shook her head. “I’d rather be a wallflower.”
Surely by now she knew he was one of those fortune hunters. He pulled her close. “You are dancing with me.”
She tossed her head. “You do not have sweaty hands, my lord.”
“And so far, I have failed to write a single ode to your eyes. What a dastardly escort I am.”
“Yes, terrible.” She laughed.
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