A fire crackled in the fireplace as I sat at the large mahogany desk in my father’s study. It was a large spacious room with walls lined from floor to ceiling with books and various other odds and ends. There was a portrait of my mother above the fireplace. Everyone remarked how much like her I looked, and how much I was looking more and more like her with each passing year. I looked at the picture and couldn’t see the resemblance. My mother, Melissa, had blond hair, and I had ugly, dirty light brown hair. My father had dark lush hair, so I had something in between. I did have her same eyes and had my father’s long nose and high cheek bones of aged royalty. My father didn’t smile much, and I had never seen my mother’s smile, so I wondered whose smile I had inherited. Not that I had much reason to smile either.
The walls that didn’t have a floor to ceiling bookcase on it had a painting of a hunting party. Men on horseback with hounds chasing a fox. The walls of the study were white with gold trim. Behind the desk was a gold hutch and wooden paneling. A portrait of my father held a place of honor on the wall. A hutch that perfectly matched the wood paneling on the wall was perpendicular to it. Inside, my father kept treasures from his travels.
He travelled a lot when he was younger; he’d often be gone for months at a time, but as he got older, he stopped travelling so much. I hated it when he’d leave, I often feared he would never return, but he always did, and eventually, I learned he always would. Now he only ever travels to London and only when Duty calls. He hadn’t been called back for years, not since the king fell ill. Blue velvet drapes hung at the windows, they matched the blue velvet on the chair I now sat in and the two chairs that sat before the desk.
My long white frock flowed to the floor covering my boots. My brown hair was braided and tied with a ribbon. It flowed down my back to just above my seat.
My father stood behind me, watching me work. It was unnerving but I dared not show it. I moved another bead on the abacus and wrote the number as carefully and as readable as I could down on the ledger. Then, I moved another bead and wrote the next number.
When he turned away from me, I took a moment to look outside. The beauty of the estate was calling to me. The sky was a clear blue, not a cloud in the sky, the lush lawn was green from the recent spring rain we had had just days ago.
I longed to be anywhere but in that stuffy room. I wanted to be frolicking through the garden or racing across the countryside on the back of my beloved horse, but I wasn’t a child anymore, and my father had decided it was time for me to stop acting like one. I was nearly twenty-three years old, which was the proper time for marriage. My father was getting older, and I was his only child.
I stopped to glance up as a flock of pheasants took flight outside. I heard gunshots and watched in horror as several pheasants fell from the sky. I was guessing pheasant was on the menu for dinner. The cook would probably smother it in her plum sauce and serve it with steamed truffles and if I was lucky there would be baked apples with cream for dessert.
I shoved the beads all the way to the side to begin counting again for the next. Finished that number and moved on to the next and so on and so forth. It was tedious, boring hard work, and I hated having my father’s eyes bore into me while I tried to do it. Often, I made mistakes and he would chastise me.
“That’s not right!” he scolded, jabbing a finger at the page where I was writing the numbers. “You can’t make mistakes like that. A simple mistake in counting could be disastrous! Don’t make a mistake again, be more careful. Count it again, if you added that up then you added them all wrong. Begin again.” I sighed and started the page’s count over again, adding up each number.
“I’m sorry, Father, it won’t happen again.” I bowed my head apologetically and then went to correct the mistake I made.
My father sighed and patted my head. “You’ll learn.”
I fixed my mistake and continued, trying not to be bothered by the brush off and the condescending pat on my head. You pat dogs on the head, not women, but I didn’t dare speak my mind. My father appreciated my sharp mind but would not appreciate an outburst, which was what he would consider me speaking my mind to be. In his eyes, women were meant to be seen and not heard. It seemed the more I grew up, the less he knew what to do with me. He crossed the room to the fireplace, whilst I finished the numbers. The wonderful smells from the kitchen filled the house and my stomach growled, distracting me. I pushed my hunger away.
I continued writing down the numbers. My father stoked the fire. I dared not complain about being too hot, as I dipped my quill in the ink and wrote the next number as carefully as I could. It took me longer, I checked and rechecked all my numbers, but it was so hard to do. A bird chirped in the ash tree outside the window, and I stopped to admire it. Once again longing to be anywhere but that room. My father finished messing with the fire and settled into his chair near the hearth. Now and then, he would glance my way and scold me if he caught me staring out the window, daydreaming. He never understood things like daydreams; he believed an idle mind was a dangerous thing, especially for young girls. It was improper. Which was why he scheduled all my activities to keep my mind from going idle. I imagined lots of men felt as he did, and so I had to find a way to get away with having my idle thoughts without their knowledge. I didn’t see the harm in idle thoughts. I liked sitting there lost in my head thinking. If my father only knew what I was thinking he wouldn’t think it idle. He probably thought I dreamt of dresses and kissing boys. But that was far from the truth. My truth was I loved knowledge, I loved to ponder how things worked, why they worked and the beauty in the world. Sometimes, I thought of my mother. She had been taken from us at a very young age, and I never truly got to know her. I was raised by nannies in the nursery ‘til I was old enough to spend time with my father. My nanny was a simple old woman who barely kept up with me as a child, but she was a kind woman, and I missed her dearly. Now, it was just Father and a house full of staff. They were all kind to me, but it just wasn’t the same.
My father cleared his throat when I finally closed the leger.
“Something on your mind, Father?” I asked, looking up to find him staring intently at me. He had kind eyes, but his mouth was flat.
“Trina,” he said at last, “you’re getting older, you’re just a few years away from becoming an old maid, and it’s time to find you a husband.”
I knew this talk was coming, but I didn’t expect it to come so soon. I wasn’t sure I was ready for the task of finding a husband. I didn’t want to leave my father or this house. The house had been in my family for generations, since it had first been built, and I couldn’t imagine not living there. But I was a girl, someday my father would marry me off, and then the estate would go to my cousin. I adored my cousin, he was kind whenever he visited, and he always treated me like an equal. But that didn’t make knowing the house would go to him hurt any less.
I knew this was coming, but it still took me by surprise. I knew I was getting older, you became an old maid at twenty-five and that was when only the desperate would marry you. I had spent my twenty-second year taking care of my father, and before that, my father hadn’t felt I was ready for society but now, now I was ready and there would be no more delays. Father would want to act quickly and marry me off before the next thaw.
“Yes, Father, but to whom?”
“I have arranged it for you and Lord Benedict Montgomery. He is a respectful man. He is a cousin to our neighbour, a well-respected lady, so I expect her cousin to be a well-respected gentleman. He has exemplary taste and a spotless reputation. I think he is a good choice.”
“Benedict Montgomery? Do I have any say?”
My father eyed me for a moment. “Very well. Your twenty-third birthday is fast approaching. I plan to throw a ball in London, you may use the ball to find another suitor, if you can’t find one, then I plan to speak to Benedict after the ball. I think very highly of Benedict, I think he will be a good match, in fact I know he will be, I think highly of his aunt and cousin. And think they could very well teach you what your mother wasn’t able to. You’re the daughter of a duke, Christina, and yet you dress and act like a common country girl. It’s time for that to change. I can’t just let you marry anyone, you’re important and your suitor must be equally important.”
“I agree to this,” I said staring out the window. I watched a horse and rider ride into the yard and smiled. My cousin had arrived. Surely, I could get him to talk father out of this arrangement. Randall was the son of my mother’s brother, and he stood to inherit a great deal after his father passed as my father was an only child and my cousin was the only male next of kin. So, it was figured out that my husband would be the next duke and I would become the duchess, but only if I married well.
“Good. Shall we get back to it, then?”
The door chimed and, a moment later, the maid came to the door. “Lord Randall Rutledge, my lord.”
“What does he want?”
“To see Trina.”
“Very well, you may walk the grounds with your cousin, the books can wait.”
“Thank you, Father.” I kissed his cheek and ran off to see my cousin.
“Hello, cousin!” he called out to me as I bounded down the stairs.
“Hello, cousin.” I smiled back.
“It’s a beautiful day, walk with me?”
“With pleasure. I have so much to discuss with you,” I said as we passed through the hall. It always smelled like fresh cut flowers. As I passed a vase of flowers, I plucked one and sniffed it. I loved the smell of daffodils.
“And I you.” He smiled. He held out his arm and gave me a moment to collect my shawl and then we stepped out into the sunlight. We walked in silence for a bit, enjoying each other’s company and the beauty of my father’s estate. We walked across a manicured lawn lined with trees. To the south of us was a wooded area where Father did his hunting. To the west was the orchard, the farm, and tenant’s homes, and to the east were the landscaped gardens. Beyond that the stable where our prized horses were kept.
When I was sure we were far enough away for any eavesdroppers, I spoke as we crossed the grounds to my grandmother’s garden. It was late spring, so everything was in full bloom. Even the manicured hedges had bursts of colour amongst the lush green. It rained a lot here, and the land flourished because of it. “Father wishes me to be married.”
“Well, it’s about time. The question is to whom?” We continued to walk, now along a little path through the garden. The gardener did a splendid job tending to the garden—not a weed in sight—and everything was perfectly manicured, blooming and beautiful.
“Well, his choice is Benedict Montgomery.”
“Oh, dear lord, not him.”
“Father is throwing me a ball for my birthday and is allowing me a chance to find another suitor. You must help me, cousin, you’re my only hope.”
“I will do what I can. I despise that man. Benedict Montgomery is—how should I put this? He has a terrible reputation for being arrogant, snobbish and a downright bore. Your father must be desperate, it’s the only reason he chooses to be blind to this, though he knows it just the same. He chooses to see that Benedict had good breeding and status, unfortunately it’s all your father cares about, so I shall help you find a better suitor.” He tapped his chin, thinking. “Problem is that most of the chaps I know who your father would approve of are no better than Benedict, but there must be someone. Let’s see… there’s James Fairchild, he’s the Earl of Leeds. Your father would approve of him. He’s a bit younger than me, so marriage might not be on his radar at the moment, but he’d be a far better match than Benedict.”
“I’ll make sure father sends him an invitation.”
“You won’t have a hard time finding a suitor, cousin, you’re beautiful with your light brown hair, blue eyes and your mannequin figure. I’m rather quite surprised no one has swept you up.”
“How am I supposed to find someone? Out here, in the country, I rarely have a chance to meet anyone in court. I must meet someone at the ball. Someone worthy of Father, but someone that I could find myself falling for. Someone kindhearted, knowledgeable, smart, financially and otherwise. Someone who doesn’t mind a girl with a mind of her own who often spends hours daydreaming.”
Randall laughed. “Is that all? Well to attract the attention of the Ton, you will need a breathtaking gown that makes you stand out. But not in a flashy way, mind you. Something that will elevate your beauty. And jewels, but that’s already taken care of, you have family jewels to wear. I imagine your grandmother, the Dowager Duchess, has a tiara you could wear.”
“Yes, I imagine she does. I’ll have to think about the gown.”
“Yes, it’s a very important decision for a girl. You cannot make a mistake and get the wrong one. I would go with silver or blue to bring out your eyes. You have such lovely eyes. Melissa has great taste, and she can be your chaperone at the ball. She’ll be arriving this evening. Your father has been planning this ball longer than you’ve known.”
“Yes, he only told me this afternoon. He made it sound like it was a spontaneous decision.”
“On the contrary, I believe he has been planning it for months, if not years. I imagine the idea of you marrying Benedict has also been in the works for years. I imagine the dowager has just as much say in that as your father. She wants her nephew to have a sensible match, and you are a sensible match. You come from money and excellent breeding. You can trace your bloodline to actual kings. Now, who wouldn’t want that?”
“Yes, well we have a wager, my father and me. I must find a suitable husband before the end of the ball, or he will speak to Benedict about marriage.”
“Then I shall fill your dance card with suitable suitors, so you’ll be too busy to even dance with Benedict. Give me time to think. Walk with me, cousin it’s a beautiful day and I know uncle has had you cooped up inside crunching numbers like a secretary.”
“He means well,” I said as we continued walking, “He may be a bit overprotective, but he means well.”
“An overprotective father wouldn’t be trying to feed you to a wolf.”
“What is this grudge you have against Benedict, surely he’s not all that bad.”
Randall scoffed, “Well, you’ll have to see for yourself, but let’s put it this way, if you were my daughter or even my sister I wouldn’t let you marry that man.”
“I thank you for your concern, you have always been good to me, cousin.”
“If family doesn’t look out for family, who will?”
“Who will, indeed.” We walked the length of the garden and continued toward the stable. I wanted to see my horse. I hadn’t ridden her in several days, having been stuck inside during a rainstorm and then doing accounting all day with my father. Something I loathed and I admitted that to Randall who laughed and said everyone loathed numbers.
“Well, that doesn’t leave us much time at all. I shall ride over at once and speak to James. We haven’t a moment to lose. Good day, cousin.”
“Good day, cousin.” I watched him rush back to the stable for his horse. Eventually, horse and rider disappeared over the hills. I lingered in the garden for a bit, dreading having to return to my task with the numbers. I rarely spent time in the garden anymore. When I was younger, I would spend hours here frolicking, picking bouquets for my father, or swinging on the old swing that was attached to a large oak in the center of the garden. I headed there now. I’d go for a swing before heading back in.
As I sat on my swing, I let my thoughts wander. I imagined myself in big puffy gown of powder blue silk, with lace trimming tight in the bodice, with puffy sleeves and lots of extra fabric to allow movement. A dress that I could twirl in, and it would be a spectacle to see as the fabric moved like air around me. But where was I going to find someone to make that gown? Seamstresses had no imagination. They simply stuck to one pattern, but changed up the fabric, which made every lady at the ball look alike. This was my ball, and I had to be noticed, so my gown had to be something exquisite. Something like my father’s coats. His coats were beautiful, probably the most beautiful coats I had ever seen. They moved with him they were not stiff like most coats, and the fabrics and the embroidery and even the stitching it was all exquisite. But a Taylor would never dare make a ladies dress, so she would have to find the most innovative seamstress, someone young, someone who had skill but also imagination. I wanted the gown from my dreams. No other gown would do.
“Miss Catrina!” I heard one of the servant girls calling my name. “Miss Catrina! Miss Catrina! Oh, there you are. Your father is looking for you.”
“I’ll be right in. Do not tell him I was found alone out here,” I pleaded. “I just wanted a moment to myself, that’s all. A girl can’t think in that stuffy, old house.”
“Yes, miss. My lips are sealed.”
“Thank you!” I got up off the swing, sighed and followed her back to the house.
“Trina, there you are.”
“Sorry, Father, Randall and I lost track of time.”
“What on earth did you two have to talk about all that time?”
“Possible suitors and such. Randall doesn’t care for Benedict either, he said he’s a bore.”
“Randall doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
“He said he’s arrogant and snobby.”
“He’s a man used to the finer things in life, and I see no difference in him than myself. Would Randall deem me a bore—arrogant and snobby?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Then he doesn’t know Benedict. He’s a good match, Trina, he is strong, and he can provide for you and protect you when I’m gone.”
“Oh, Father. I wish you wouldn’t say such things.”
“It is time, Trina, time to begin preparing for after I’m gone.”
“Don’t speak like that, I won’t hear it.”
“I thought we would call on Benedict after supper. I think Randall should join us, and then he can see that he’s wrong about Benedict.”
I frowned. I had no doubt my cousin was far from wrong about Benedict. He seemed to have a knack of judging someone by their character. I was annoyed by my father, rushing things, I thought he had agreed to give me time to find someone else.
I returned to my task in the study and continued, though my mind was racing with a million other thoughts. Still, I managed to get through the rest of the leger without making another single error. Then I was dismissed to get ready for dinner. I chose a white silk dress with a blue satin ribbon that matched my eyes. I finished dressing and the maid unbraided my hair and combed it out, and then gathered it up curled it and pinned it one lock at a time to the top of my head ‘til my head was covered in a mass of pinned curls. She wrapped a blue satin ribbon around my head and stuck pearl pins through it holding it in place, and the pearls made it extra pretty. I put on my evening gloves and, at last, I was ready to go down to dinner. I slipped into my slippers and stopped to look at myself in the mirror as a ribbon necklace was placed around my throat. Then it was time for supper.
My father commented on how pretty I looked and remarked that Benedict would surely be impressed.
I gave a tight smile and made a mental note to have the maid undo my hair and braid it again before I left the house. I didn’t have any desire to impress Benedict. In fact, I hoped that the less I impressed him the less interested he would be. Of course, I couldn’t embarrass my father like that, so I would be the perfect lady and he would be wowed by me but then I would choose another suitor and that would leave him fuming. That thought delighted me and I let out a little giggle. Randall laughed but my father was not amused. He shot me a stern look and I wipe the smile off my face and shut off my childish brain.
I wished supper would go on forever I had no desire to go meet Lord Benedict Montgomery. I had no desire to become Lady Catrina Montgomery. I ate as slowly as I could. It was a good thing I enjoyed the meal, savoring every bite, but it didn’t take my father long to scold me for it. “Trina, if you were in the Prince Regent’s presence, you would starve. Learn to eat faster. For the rule of court is once the Prince Regent is done eating, everyone is done eating, so you must always eat faster than the prince or king or queen. One day, we shall have a king and a queen again.”
“What’s the likelihood of me ever attending court?” I asked as I sipped at my hot soup.
“Well, in the old days, as my daughter, you would have attended court quite often,” my father said tearing off a piece of his bread to dip it in the soup..
“But this isn’t the old days, father, it’s a new era,” I said copying him with the bread.
“Yes. that’s true.” He nodded. He got a far-off look in his eyes.
“Do you miss the old days?” I asked, looking at him with curiosity.
“I miss your mother very much,” he said after a moment. “She made the old days memorable.”
I smiled a halfhearted smile. “I wish I knew her, I wish I had that chance.”
“So do I, Catrina, so do I,” he said sadly. “You’re very much like her, you know. You take after her, except you have my brain, which secretly I admire. Publicly, I never would, of course.”
“I understand. Perhaps someday more men will admire women for their brains, they’ll realise we actually have one too.”
“Perhaps,” my father said, dismissing me again. “Finish your supper, Trina, Lord Benedict is expecting us.”
At last, I couldn’t put it off a moment later, and Randall arrived to escort us to Benedict’s manor.
“Don’t you think Trina looks lovely this evening?” my father asked my cousin.
“She looks stunning, but don’t expect Benedict to be impressed,” he said as we rolled out of the gate. “If she’s not draped in lace and jewels, he won’t consider her as more than a country girl. Mark my words.”
“Oh, hush now, she is the daughter of a duke, he will be humbled to be in her presence,” my father insisted.
The shop was hot in the afternoon sun, but I ignored it. I was accustomed to it. I kept my favorite lavish green coat on, so that when customers came into the shop, they could admire it and order a coat of their very own. No two coats were ever alike, and they loved that fact because though they admired mine, they always felt they were getting the better version. I wiped my brow, the only sign of being hot I would allow, as I directed my seamstress on the finishing touches of a lord’s wedding suit.
“An inch, Madeline! An inch!” I watched as she tore out of the stitches she had made and redid them.
I watched as she put in every stitch perfectly. Satisfied, I returned to my worktable and unrolled a bolt of beautiful green velvet. Another green velvet coat had been ordered, and I was beginning to run out of ideas on how to make each unique. I would do a folded cuff with a thick band of gold embroidery for this one, though. Worn with a shirt with a nice lace cuff would look exquisite. I started cutting out the pattern according to the man’s measurements. I had already cut gold satin for the inside of the coat, and had it all pinned on the mannequin. Then, I pinned the pieces of velvet to the mannequin and got to work. I used a metallic thread. Gold, in this case, for this green coat. I cut and threaded the needle. I started by sewing the satin that would line the inside of the coat to the velvet that would be the outer layer of the coat. With the expert flick of my wrist, I sewed each stitch perfectly. I did a double stitch each time to ensure durability. My coats could be worn for years; they were always in fashion and there was never wear and tear. My wool coats were sought after by everyone in the winter, but now it was almost the London Season and every young man in London was ordering coats for the balls. I had been busy for weeks.
My shop was small, but it was the perfect space for a tailor. Behind the counter was a wall of bolts of fabric. In front of the counter were baskets with buttons, bolts of thread, and various other things tailors needed. I sold them to those housewives whose husbands couldn’t afford my coats, and they attempted to make them themselves.
The bell above my shop door chimed and I looked up to see an old familiar face enter. She was draped in stiff silk with an even stiffer silk jacket. The only part of her ensemble that was remarkable, was the hat that sat on her head. It was a pillbox hat trimmed in lace and feathers. I recognised the craftsmanship and smiled.
“Still making hats, I see. It looks lovely. It’s a shame the ladies of London can’t get a hat like yours. You’ve deprived them of your beautiful talent. You could have made a name for yourself, been looked for over by all the ladies of society, but no, you had to become a lady of society. You had to marry that fat old excuse of a man.”
“I still make them, Leo, and I still sell them in my shop. I make them in secret and then have them delivered. I only make them when I’m absolutely bored with married life, that is…”
“Often?” I teased with raised eyebrows.
“Well, yes.” She rolled her eyes and fanned herself. She stood there looking around and I wondered if she was remembering her days in the shop when she worked with my father, and when we were the closest of friends. I thought back to those days often, but I never thought she did. I figured she had pushed the memories away out of her mind.
“Regretting your decision, then?” I eyed her, searching her painted face for any sign of regret. She covered her face with her fan and stared back at me. I grunted and returned to my work. I really didn’t have time to deal with her, I was swamped with work, and she was just in my way.
“Not in the slightest.” She raised her head and looked down her nose at me. I frowned and returned to my work.
“What can I do for you, Lady Pratt?”
“You know I hate it when you call me that. We were friends,” she pouted.
“A long time ago. Now, well you’re a lady, it’s disrespectful otherwise. What can I do for you?”
“I’ve come to place an order.”
“For your husband?” I asked, trying to hide the bitterness in my voice. I had to remind myself that she was a lady of society now and therefore deserved my utmost respect. She had become someone, and I was still the paid craftsman—not that I regretted being the paid craftsman, I loved my work, but a long time ago, I had loved her and that was something I would never be able to get over completely. The breakup had been years now, and she had been married to Lord Pratt for a few years.
“No, for me.” She smiled, and it made my heart skip a beat. I had to look away. I had been supervising the work of a young seamstress. Her assistant was playing the role of the mannequin.
“Ouch!” my seamstress cried out when Madeline accidentally stabbed her with the needle she was using to add some flourish to the jacket. The other seamstress was wearing the jacket because our mannequins didn’t have arms, so they took turns being the mannequins while the other one sewed and embroidered on the jacket sleeve. It gave me time to do my sketches and lay out everything else. I made the design, they just did the labour of the stitching, I supervised them and everything they did was by my design.
“You’re lucky I’m not the Lord, your ears would get boxed for that,” the seamstress, Becky, snapped.
“You’re not standing in for the Lord, Becky, you’re standing in for the mannequin. Now stand still!” the other one, Madeline scolded.
“My arm is getting tired. Are you done yet?” Becky complained. She was the younger of the two, and Madeline liked bossing her around. They were sisters. Their mother was also a seamstress in my shop, but she was expecting another child, so she was home and sent her eldest two to help in her stead during the rush. Madeline was becoming quite the seamstress, and I often wondered how long before she went off to open her own shop in town and turn her attention to embroidering ladies’ dresses.
“Stop your wining or I’ll box your ear,” Madeline scolded her sister.
“No one is boxing anyone’s ears, not in my shop. Madeline, be more careful, don’t get blood on the suit,” I chided them.
“If Becky didn’t move so much, I wouldn’t have pricked her,” Madeline shot back.
“You’re taking too long!” Becky said. “You should have been the mannequin. I would have had that done an hour ago.”
“Enough, you two,” I scolded. “Becky, Mannequins don’t talk. Madeline be more careful.”
“Really Leo, you should box both their ears and be done with it,” Unity said, amused by the show the young seamstresses were putting on. Becky was standing on a stool draped in the gentleman’s coat with her arm outstretched so Madeline could finish the embroidery on the sleeve. My old friend, Unity, found it amusing from where she stood near the door, fanning herself with a lace fan. As she admired the fabric laying out on the table. She fingered a powder blue velvet. “Oh, to be draped at the ball in something like this.” Without asking, she picked up the bolt and draped it over herself.
“I don’t box my seamstresses’ ears. What on earth are you doing?”
“Not in my store you’re not, that’s not for sale.” I took the bolt from her.
She pouted. “It’s the most beautiful fabric I’ve ever seen! No seamstress ever has fabric like this. Imagine me draped in a gown of that beautiful fabric, embroidered with metallic silver thread, I’d be the envy of all.”
“I’m very busy today, Unity. I have eight coats that still need to be measured, cut and pinned, so I’ll ask you to kindly leave if you’re not here to purchase anything.”
“I am here to purchase something, and to scold you.”
“Scold me? About what?”
“I heard you were asked to make a coat for the Prince Regent, and you haven’t given him an answer yet.”
“I’m busy, and I’m far from the best in town.”
“Yes, but he asked you, think of what this order could mean for you. If you make a coat for him, and he loves it, you could become the greatest designer in all of London. You could rise up in society and if you rose up in society—”
“I have no desire to marry for money or a title like you would, Unity.”
“Money and a title are all a woman has. I saw an opportunity and I took it. Rose above my station. What’s wrong with that?”
“I didn’t say there was anything wrong with that, I said I will not do that, I’m a romantic, if and when I marry, I want it to be for love.”
“Yes, but think about this, if you designed the coat for the Prince Regent you would raise up in society and then you could marry any girl your heart desired. Though I think you’re hopeless, Leo. Love is nothing more than a myth, and some people don’t have the luxury to marry for love.”
“We loved each other once,” I reminded her. At least I loved you. I can’t say that you ever truly loved me.”
She didn’t respond at first, as she fiddled with odds and ends around the shop.
“And I grew up and learned that love wasn’t enough,” she said at last, still fiddling with things. “It can never be enough. Love doesn’t put food on the table, it doesn’t warm your hearth during winter. You can’t survive on love alone. Fairy tales are wrong, it’s a cruel, cruel world out there, especially for a woman who isn’t married.”
“You would have been married to me.”
“Yes, but you were a penniless apprentice at the time. Your father was the tailor, and he was never the tailor you have become. The Prince Regent would have never come to your father for a coat. You’re something special. Leo, I saw it a long time ago, and burdening you with a wife and baby.”
“Oh no, no you don’t get to put the blame on me. You chose the rich man, the wealthy lifestyle he can support you with, but don’t you dare try to sound that way. I know how it is, don’t try to claim otherwise. I wasn’t good enough, what I could offer you wasn’t good enough, but now, now that the Prince Regent wants me to make a coat for him and if I do make him a coat, I’ll rise above my station, and you’re hoping that when the old man finally kicks the bucket, I’ll be patiently waiting for you.”
“I made a mistake. I’m not happy.”
“Well, I’m not happy about it either, you broke my heart, Unity. Does that matter at all to you?”
“So, I wasn’t good enough?”
“Like I said, love is a myth.” She shrugged. “Name one person you know who married for love and isn’t a pauper. You can’t.”
“Well, I’d rather be a pauper and be with the woman I loved than be miserable and lonely in a mansion.”
“Careful what you say, my dear friend, you are a paid craftsman, and I am a lady of high society, I could ruin you.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Don’t challenge me, if I were you, I’d go right to the Prince Regent and make that coat.”
“Well, you’re not me. And I’m not giving up on finding love. I refuse to.” […]
“In Love with a Dressmaker” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Being the daughter of a respectable Duke, Lady Catrina Bolton is a glorious and elegant lady, whose life so far has been a bed of roses. With the expectation of finding a husband approaching, her father hires a tailor to create a dress for Catrina that will awe men and women alike. Little did she know that this same tailor will charm his way into her life and soon turn her world upside down…
Will Lady Catrina find love by the tailor’s side? Or will social norms keep her from being with her true soulmate?
Leo Blanchett is a distinguished tailor, whose unique skills have made him very famous amongst the refined ladies of his town. When he finds himself more and more drawn to the beautiful and prim Lady Catrina, he is forced to bury his feelings, as he knows that not even a miracle could bring them together. Will Leo dare to put his reputation at risk by fighting for a hopeless love?
It takes a great deal of strength to make decisions that will change your life forever…
The more time Catrina and Leo spend with each other, the less they can deny the deep connection between them. However, whispers start floating around the manor and there is more than one person who wants to tear them apart once and for all. Will Catrina and Leo’s true love survive? Or will this forbidden match cause more pain than it can endure?
“In Love with a Dressmaker” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.