Blinded by Grace
In 1858 New York City, Halwyn Fitzpatrick thinks he's off the hook for attendance at the annual Cotillion Ball. He has no sister to shepherd down the grand staircase this year and no real desire to go through the rituals of courtship and betrothal himself. Besides, he'll know the right girl when he sees her, especially now that he has new spectacles. But his mother has other plans for him. At 27 years of age, her son is in dire need of a wife.
Grace Wagner needs a husband by July, in order to inherit the trust her father has left for her. Her stepfather, though, has plans for the money that don’t include Grace, and the last thing he wants is for her to find a husband before she turns 21, thereby fulfilling the terms of the trust. She's been in love with Halwyn since she was thirteen, but he hasn't noticed her at any of the balls they've attended over the years. With the aid of his new spectacles, he spies Grace from across the room and they share a dance. Grace decides to present him with a business proposition that will satisfy them both. But, can a clueless knight in shining armor and a desperate damsel in distress find a way to turn a marriage of convenience into something more?
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This book is filled with twists and turns, adventure, danger and, of course, love.
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New York City, April 1858
A pair of eyeglasses. Who would have guessed?
Halwyn’s vision had never been this focused before. He tweaked his new spectacles to
a more comfortable spot on the bridge of his nose as the current crop of debutantes
prepared to make their grand entrance into the ballroom.
His mother and father flanked him as all eyes turned to the staircase where each young
lady would descend after the announcement of her name. Halwyn’s mother, Charlotte
Fitzpatrick, pressed her hand into his back. Even though her touch was gentle, Halwyn
did not mistake her meaning, especially when she reinforced it with her statement.
“This is your year, Halwyn, to find a bride. Take your time perusing this year’s group
of lovelies and let me know to which ones you want an introduction. I can arrange it.”
“Mother, please. I have no intention of selecting a bride in this manner. I’m too busy
for such foolishness. There is too much to do as is, what with the job at the bank and
helping you and Father ride herd on the little ones.”
His mother smiled, her eyes aglow as the ladies assembled at the top of the stairs,
surrounded by their fathers, brothers, and assorted other young men. “You are twentyseven,
Halwyn, high time to be married and producing grandchildren for me to spoil.”
“You have four already to spoil, with two more on the way this year. My contribution
His father tried to hide his grin, but was unsuccessful. “I’m giving you fair warning,
Halwyn. Your mother has decided this will be your year to wed. So, it’s up to you to find
a suitable mate, one who won’t bore your mother to death with every last detail of the
wedding ceremony. If you don’t put forth an effort, believe me, your mother will for
Halwyn groaned and raked his hand through his hair. His thumb and forefinger
brushed back the stray locks that always seemed to fall over his forehead.
“Why do I feel that I’m about to be fed to the lions?”
George slapped his son on his shoulder and laughed. “Because you are. It’s called
courting. And here are this year’s entries into the marriage pool.” As a unit, the
Fitzpatrick family turned to observe each lovely young lady, dressed in virginal white, as
they were announced to the fawning masses below, took a curtsy, and then descended the
staircase on the arms of their male escorts. Halwyn realized he was able, for the first time
in all his years of attending the Cotillion, to actually see the women as they descended the
stairs. He admitted each created a vision as they bowed to the audience and gracefully
floated down the stairs, and was amazed at how much he had missed in years past simply
because of faulty eyesight. The ladies were prettier, the ballroom was ablaze with
candles, the gowns were lovely, and the gems around the ladies’ necks glimmered in the
reflected glow of the candles. He had no problem adding rows of sums close up, but the
other side of a crowded ballroom, or the ladies at the top of the staircase, had been a blur to him before.