In the fifth novel of the captivating Rhymes with Love series from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle, a young woman’s hopes of a match encounter a wickedly handsome complication…Lavinia Tempest has been eagerly anticipating a spectacular Season. But one disastrous pile-up on the Almack’s dance floor derails all her plans. Add to that, the very stunning revelations about her mother’s scandalous past have become the ton’s latest on dits. Lavinia’s future has gone from shining bright to blackest night in one misstep.Alaster “Tuck” Rowland admits he’s partly to blame for Lavinia’s disastrous debut. But it’s not guilt that compels him to restore her reputation. Rather, he’s placed a wager that he can make Lavinia into of the most sought-after ladies in London. Who better than an unrepentant rake to set Society astir?Tuck’s motives are hardly noble. But in teaching the lovely Lavinia how to win any man she wants, he suddenly finds himself tangled in the last place he ever imagined: in love.
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Lavinia walked down the aisle of the London church, her gaze searching every pew.
“Looking for this?” Up near the altar stood the charwoman, who’d come in right behind the wedding party. In her hands she held an elaborate bouquet of roses and peonies.
A bridal bouquet, to be exact.
“Oh, dear, yes. I don’t see how that could get left behind,” Lavinia exclaimed as she hurried forward to claim the lost treasure.
“Well, there were quite a few tears being shed, my own included,” the lady said, “so it isn’t hard to see why these beauties might be forgotten.” The old woman smiled. “’Sides, ’tis my experience that it’s a love match when so many have to reach for their hankies.”
“A love match? Oh, yes, decidedly,” Lavinia agreed as the lady handed over the mislaid bouquet.
“Still, such a fancy collection of posies. Would be a terrible shame for them to be left behind,” the old woman said, not even seeming to mind the petals falling where she’d been sweeping. She looked down at them and smiled. “I do like the roses, even when they leave a mess. Pretty bits of confetti, I like to say. I takes them home and dries ’em.”
Lavinia couldn’t help herself, she inhaled, and the sweet scent of roses surrounded her.
And just as quickly she found herself tearing up again. She dashed at her eyes with her sleeve, having already ruined two handkerchiefs.
“Oh, there now,” the old charwoman told her kindly. “Weddings do that to a soul. Leave one all tied up in knots. Why, when me sister got herself married, I cried for a week.”
“You did?” Lavinia began. “I suppose I am still in shock. When we came to London, my sister made it quite clear she had no intention of ever being wed … and now …”
Lavinia looked over at the altar.
“Glad tears, though,” the charwoman said. “Always glad tears at a wedding. Your sister seemed ever so happy when she married His Lordship. And everyone saying him a big brute, but he looked over the moon with her at his side, now didn’t he?”
Lavinia shifted the bouquet from one hand to another and looked away. “Yes, they are quite meant for each other.” And once again, a sheen of tears rose in her eyes.
Oh, the devil take her! Would she ever stop crying? Louisa had married her beloved Piers … and now …
“Those are tears of happiness I see, aren’t they?” the charwoman prodded.
Really, the woman was a terrible busybody, but having come from the village of Kempton, a place rife with such spinsters, Lavinia found the old lady’s inquiry oddly comforting.
So she leaned closer to the woman and said, “I have to admit, as I watched my sister marry her viscount, the tears you witnessed were hardly charitable ones.”
The charwoman prodded her toward a place in the pews. “Tell old Tildie all about it.” She plopped down in the front row and patted the space next to her.
Lavinia looked down the aisle toward the open door. Outside, the May sunshine shone brightly. Beckoning. “I really should be going—”
“Oh, come now, no one is going to leave without you. Besides, do an old woman a favor and tell her the story.” The woman winked with a cheeky glee. “I saw that kiss at the altar. I’d wager my broom there’s a bit of scandal and romance to all of this.” Then she looked at the door as well. “And more to come if I’m not mistaken.”
Lavinia smiled, for Tildie had the right of it. Everything about this wedding and the days leading up to it were filled with scandal … and romance.