Scandal at Greystone Manor

published by Mills & Boon April 1 2014.

Paperback: 978-0-263-90952-4. Ebook: 978-1-472-04374-0

And simultaneously by Harlequin Historical

Paperback: 978-0-373-30688-6. Ebook: 978-1-460-32911-5.

At twenty-seven, everyone, including Jane herself, knows she is well past marriageable age.  Her role in life is to be a helpmate to her mother, to busy herself with the arrangements for her sister Isabel's wedding, to calm her other sister's excitable nature and try to curb her brother Teddy's profligacy.  Added to her project to open an orphanage for the children of soldier's killed in the recent war with Napoleon, it is enough to keep her occupied.  She has little time to bemoan her single state.

There was someone once, ten years before, but it had come to nothing.  Her father disapproved on the grounds that the young man had no title and no fortune, no family of any standing and no prospects. Like the good daughter she was she turned him away.  Ten years on she is still single, the only other man she has come to have feelings for is about to marry her sister, feelings which must be kept locked in her heart.

Her brother's gambling debts are causing concern, especially as his main creditor has his eye on Greystone Manor. Isabel is not acting like a happy bride-to-be and the return of Andrew Ashton, now incredibly wealthy after ten years in India, is about to cause a huge scandal...

It may seem strange to modern readers, who would not hesitate to break off an engagement if they realised the love they had hoped for was missing. In the period in which my story is set the social mores were different.  Love was not the only, or even the main, reason for marrying.  Title, wealth, status, the wishes of one's family and the need to keep an unbroken hierarchy, all played a part.  Divorce was only for the very wealthy and required an Act of Parliament, and an engagement was a solemn undertaking. A lady might brave the censure of Society and break her promise to marry, but a gentleman never could. It was a dishonourable thing to do and laid him open to being shunned by Society as a man who could not be trusted to keep his word.