The Tempestuous Debutante
Jasmine Fitzpatrick is determined to outshine the other debutantes this season at the Cotillion Ball—but how can she attract a husband without a new wardrobe? Her father has decreed she will be relegated to the gowns from her season the previous year—cut short by a broken ankle. Even before the glittering society season begins, impetuous Jasmine sets her sights on a man she’s never met—simply because he has an English title. Never mind he’s nearly twice her age—Alistair Wickersham, the Viscount of Pemberley, would certainly never let her be seen wearing last year’s gowns!
Jasmine and her mother, Charlotte, hatch a scheme to get the viscount to take note of Jasmine, but there are more than a few obstacles to overcome—the main one being a wealthy young widow who has already captured Alistair’s attention.
Parr O’Shaughnessy, the viscount’s handsome business partner, loses his heart the very moment he meets vivacious, spirited Jasmine. But she makes it clear to him she’s after a titled marriage—to the viscount. Parr knows he somehow must steer clear of Jasmine—or his love for her could topple his loyalty to the viscount, ruining their friendship and business dynasty.
When tragedy looms, will Jasmine see where her heart really lies? Winning Jasmine’s love could mean losing everything else Parr holds dear, but how can he live without THE TEMPESTUOUS DEBUTANTE?
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"Becky Lower . . . hits a home run. I LOVED this book! She can take a character that I absolutely have no time for and dread reading about and make me adore her. If you are a historical romance fan, love multi-layered characters and enjoy a great story, please read this series." --The Reading Cafe
Once again, Becky Lower delivers a delightful historical romance set against the backdrop of the mid 19th century. --Christy McKee, Author
New York City, January 1857
This was it.
The dress that—with a few of her embellishments—would make her, Jasmine Fitzpatrick, the belle of the cotillion ball.
Of course, after last season’s debacle, she’d need all the help she could get.
Jasmine picked up her copy of Godey’s Lady’s Book and bounced down the staircase of the family brownstone, stopping at the first-floor landing to take a deep breath. Today was the day she would confront her parents. Each time she had tried to broach the subject of the ball during the past couple weeks, they had studiously avoided it or given her excuses about needing to cut out extraneous expenses. Her mother had even cancelled a planned shopping trip for the two of them last week. But time was growing short. After all, the ball was only three months away.
She moved from the hallway to the front parlor, where her parents usually relaxed on a Saturday afternoon. Her mother, Charlotte, was sitting on the loveseat and stitching a piece of embroidery while Jasmine’s father, George, sat nearby in a tan leather chair, reading his daily newspaper. There was a low buzz of conversation between them that Jasmine couldn’t quite make out, but she did catch an expression of worry on her mother’s face. Undeterred, she plunged into the room, waving the fashion book.
“Look what I just found! The perfect debutante gown for the cotillion ball in April. Look, Mother. Don’t you think it’s delightful? Or at least it will be when I add some glass beads to catch the light, and maybe some lace trim . . .” She laid the open book in her mother’s lap and then took a seat opposite them.
Jasmine caught the quick wrinkling of her father’s brow and began to get an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. Something was not right.
Her mother ran a hand down the front of her throat. “We were just talking about the upcoming season, dear.”
Jasmine let out the breath she’d been holding. “Well, good. We’re thinking along the same lines, then. It’s imperative we begin assembling my wardrobe, and I need to get some new slippers to replace the treacherous ones Monsieur Louboutin made for me last year.”
Her mother reached over and patted Jasmine’s hand. “We may both have had the same topic on our minds, but we are definitely not thinking along the same lines. To begin with, you don’t need a white debutante gown, since you were introduced to society last year.”
Jasmine’s uneasy stomach turned over. “But . . .but . . .no!” She leapt to her feet and began to pace the room. “I was a debutante for all of fifteen minutes last season, before I fell and broke my ankle. I demand to start over. There are other nineteen-year-olds who are among those to be introduced this year.”
Jasmine sensed moisture beginning to form at the back of her eyes. Two fat tears slid down her smooth cheeks.
Her mother was oblivious to her tears, though. “You know I’m sorry your season came to such an abrupt end last April, but the rules of the debutante ball are exacting, and must be followed to the letter. Annie Schemerhorn thought of everything when she introduced the ball to New York society a few years ago. You made your debut last year, so now you will be a returning debutante. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it must be.”
Jasmine’s tears fell in earnest now as she wrung her hands. “But you know ‘returning’ debutantes are those who are too plain to have captured a husband during their season. I cannot be one of those ‘poor unfortunates.’”
“My darling daughter, everyone knows about your accident just as the ball was beginning last year, so they won’t think anything of it if you are a returning debutante. It will be fine. And wherever did you come up with the phrase ‘poor unfortunates’?” Her mother smiled and patted Jasmine’s hand again before tucking a new stitch into her embroidery.
“Amanda Phillips came up with the name to distinguish those girls from us new debs last year.” Jasmine sat for a moment, making certain her father was watching as she wiped away her hot tears. She took a deep breath. “Well, regardless, we must discuss my wardrobe for the season. If I’m to be relegated to the poor unfortunates, it’s even more essential that my wardrobe be better than everyone else’s.” She peeked at her father hopefully.