Sie ist entsetzt - zumindest sollte sie das doch sein, oder? Und immerhin ist ihr Verlobte, der Marquis, der Lebensretter ihres Bruders. Nur bleibt es bei den Lehrstunden, oder verschwimmen gar die Grenzen? Ein vor Erotik triefender Roman, dessen eigentlich Handlung im Hintergrund steht. Ich wurde eines Besseren belehrt: In Wirklichkeit ist es eine witzige und hoch romantische Geschichte, die weit mehr als Erotik bietet.
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London May There was no light in the room other than that given off by the flames in the ornate marble fireplace.
The fire was low, but managed to throw the couple on the divan into deep silhouette. Still, Caroline was able to make out their features. She knew who they were. She knew who they were very well indeed.
And though she knew she should leave -- or, at the very least, make her presence known -- she found she could not move. It occurred to Caroline, as she stood there with one gloved hand gripping the doorknob, and the other clutching the frame, that her own breasts had never bounced with such wild abandon. Which might explain why it was the Lady Jacquelyn, and not Caroline, who was astride the Marquis of Winchilsea.
Which was certainly his right, of course. I suppose I shall faint, Caroline thought, and gripped the doorknob tighter, in case the floor should suddenly rush up to meet her face, as often happened to the heroines of the novels her maids sometimes left laying about, and which Caroline sometimes picked up and read. Caroline had never fainted in her life, not even the time she fell off her horse and broke her arm in two places. Now why, Caroline wondered, did she do that?
Evidently they did, because the marquis began at once to suck noisily upon it. If the marquis had wanted Caroline to put her finger into his mouth, she most certainly would have done so, if it would have made him happy.
Really, it was completely unnecessary for him to turn to Lady Jacquelyn -- with whom he was barely acquainted, let alone engaged -- for something as simple as that. Hurst had not, Caroline saw, removed either his coat or his shirt. Then Hurst pulled her face down until her lips touched his. Lady Jacquelyn had to remove her finger from his mouth in order to better accommodate her tongue, which she placed there instead.
Well, Caroline thought. The wedding is most definitely off. She wondered if she ought to declare it, then and there. Suck in her breath and interrupt the lovers in their embrace if that was the correct term for it , make a scene. If Lady Jacquelyn could cry, which Caroline rather doubted. Praying that Hurst and Jacquelyn were too preoccupied to hear the latch click, she eased the door gently closed behind her, and only then released a long-held breath.
And wondered what she ought to do now. It was dark in the corridor just outside the sitting room door. No one was very likely to come this way, since all the champagne and food and music was a floor below.
She was not, she knew, going to faint. But she did feel a little nauseous. She would need some time to compose herself before going back downstairs.
Leaning one elbow upon her knee, Caroline rested her chin in her hand and regarded that door through the slender bars of the banister, wondering what she ought to do now.
It seemed to her that the thing any normal girl would do was cry. She ought, she knew from her extensive novel reading, to be weeping and storming. And she wanted to weep and storm. She really did. She tried to summon up some tears, but none came. Yes, that must be it. Why, I should go find a pistol and come back and shoot Lady Jacquelyn in the heart with it. What would be the point? Caroline, finding a loose crystal bead on her skirt, pulled on it distractedly. Caroline did not want to go to jail, which Emmy had described for her in all its lurid detail, any more than she wanted to put a bullet through anyone.
And supposing, she thought, they find me guilty. And for what? For shooting Lady Jacquelyn? It would hardly be worth it. Lady Jacquelyn had always been perfectly civil to Caroline. Cheating bastard!
Caroline tried to think up some other wicked words she had overheard her younger brother Thomas and his friends call one another. Oh, yes.
It would serve that whoremongering cheating bastard right if I shot him. And then she felt a rush of guilt for even thinking such a thing. Because of course she was perfectly conscious of how very much she owed Hurst. She brought up her other elbow, and now rested her chin in both hands. What was she to do? The correct thing, of course, would be for Hurst to call it off.
The marquis was invariably correct in all of his activities -- well, with the exception of this one, of course -- and so Caroline thought it was not unreasonable to hope that he might be the one to break off their engagement, thus sparing her the embarrassment of having to do so.
Darling, she pictured him saying. But no. The Marquis of Winchilsea was nothing if not polite. And Caroline would say she understood. Because Caroline was an old sport. Lady Jacquelyn Seldon was a strikingly attractive woman, who sang and played the harp quite beautifully, as talented as she was lovely. Everyone knew that.
What did he and Lady Jacquelyn imagine they were going to live on, anyway? But what did income matter, to two people in love? Her problem was this: What was she going to tell her mother?
The Dowager Lady Bartlett was not going to take this well. Not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the news was likely to send her into one of her infamous fits. She quite thoroughly adored Hurst.
He had, after all, saved the life of her only son. By agreeing to marry him, Caroline had hoped, in some small way, to repay his kindness. How humiliating! And the invitations had already been sent out. Five hundred of them, to be exact. Five hundred people -- the best of London society. Caroline supposed she was going to have to write to all of them. She began to feel a bit like crying when she thought of that. Five hundred letters. That was a bit much. Her hand usually cramped up after only two or three.
Hurst ought to be the one to write the letters, she thought, bitterly. But Hurst, who was much more of an outdoorsman than an intellectual, had never written anything longer than a check, so Caroline knew counting on any help from him in that quarter was foolish to the extreme.
Perhaps she could merely put an announcement in the paper. Yes, that was it. Something tasteful, explaining that the wedding of Lady Caroline Victoria Linford, only daughter of the first Earl of Bartlett, and only sister of the second, and Hurst Devenmore Slater, tenth Marquis of Winchilsea, was regretfully called off.
Called off? Was that the right term for it? Lord, how embarrassing! Thrown over for Lady Jacquelyn Seldon! What would the girls back in school say? Well, Caroline consoled herself. It could have been worse.
And then, quite suddenly, it was. Someone was coming. And not out of the sitting room, either, but down the corridor. It was someone who was looking for Lady Jacquelyn, Caroline realized, as soon as the light from the candelabra he was holding illuminated his features enough for her to recognize them. And when she did, her heart stopped beating.
She was quite sure of that.
Educating Caroline (2001)
Long before author Meg Cabot became a famous YA author of books like The Princess Diaries , she wrote sexy adult historical romances under the pseudonym Patricia Cabot. Educating Caroline is a hidden gem which deserves to be a lot better known than it is. But at a ball she discovers her fiance ravishing another woman and everything she believed about love and marriage is upturned. Her mother offers no sympathy and instead castigates Caroline for not making herself attractive enough to her fiance. Braden Granville is a boy from the streets made good.