Join the Lady Travelers Society in their latest romantic misadventure, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander
She must secure her future
A lady should never be obliged to think of matters financial! But when Lady Wilhelmina Bascombe’s carefree, extravagant lifestyle vanishes with the demise of her husband, her only hope lies in retrieving a family treasure—a Renaissance masterpiece currently in the hands of a cunning art collector in Venice. Thankfully, the Lady Travelers Society has orchestrated a clever plan to get Willie to Europe, leading a tour of mothers and daughters…and one curiously attentive man.
He must reclaim his heritage
Dante Augustus Montague’s one passion has long been his family’s art collection. He’s finally tracked a long-lost painting to the enchanting Lady Bascombe. Convinced that the canvas had been stolen, he will use any means to reclaim his birthright—including deception. But how long before pretend infatuation gives way to genuine desire?
Now they’re rivals for a prize that will change everything
Willie and Dante know they’re playing with fire in the magical moonlit city. Their common quest could compromise them both…or lead them to happily-ever-after.
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“Perhaps, Wilhelmina—” Poppy chose her words with care “—now is not the appropriate time for a trip abroad.”
“On the contrary, Poppy, this is not merely the appropriate time but it’s imperative that I leave as soon as possible.”
“Are you in some sort of danger?” Poppy’s brows drew together. “Have those beastly creditors threatened you in some way?” Her expression darkened. “I daresay between Lady Blodgett, Mrs. Higginbotham and myself we can probably come up with a name or two of some disreputable types who might be able to—”
“No, no,” Willie said quickly. “It’s nothing like that. As I said, I have already paid off George’s debts and I have enough left to repay a loan and reclaim something of great importance to me. Well, to my future really.” Willie paused for a moment to consider her words. She did so hate to make George appear more of a disappointment than he was but it really couldn’t be helped. Besides, he was dead and probably would be more amused than annoyed by her revelations. And she did need to look out for herself now. After all, aside from two loyal servants and an elderly relative, she was on her own. “When I began to sell, er, take inventory of the furnishings in the London house—something I admit I should have done years ago—I became aware that a few somewhat valuable objects were missing. A small Ming vase from China, an exquisite snuffbox that reportedly belonged to a queen of France and a painting left to me by Grandmother.”
Poppy gasped. “Not the Portinari!”
Willie wrinkled her nose. “I’m afraid so.”
“Your grandmother loved that painting.”
Poppy and Willie’s grandmother Beatrice had gone to school together and had remained fast friends throughout the rest of Grandmother’s life, even if their lives had taken entirely different courses. Grandmother had married the Earl of Grantson, who died far too young and never lived to see his only child—Willie’s mother—past her third birthday. Poppy, of course, had married Malcolm Fitzhew-Wellmore and had become—according to Grandmother—shockingly independent as her husband was out of the country as often as he was home. As Grandmother had made that pronouncement with what sounded suspiciously like envy, Willie understood that being an independent woman—while not especially accepted by society—was not a particularly bad thing either. Beatrice and Poppy did manage to see one another several times a year. Some of the brightest memories of Willie’s childhood were of those meetings between the two old friends.
When Willie’s mother died when Willie was barely ten, she was sent off to Miss Bicklesham’s Academy for Accomplished Young Ladies. It was to her grandmother’s house she returned for holidays and the summer months. Even if her father seemed to have little use for her in those years, Willie had no doubt as to the affections of her grandmother, her godmother and dear Lady Plumdale.
“Do you have any idea what might have happened to it? Was it stolen, do you think?”
“Not exactly.” Once again Willie was reluctant to place the blame on George where it belonged. This was her late husband’s doing and she wouldn’t pause for a moment to point an accusing finger at him if he were still alive. But one did hate to speak ill of the dead even when they deserved it. “According to some correspondence and a note of collateral I discovered in George’s study, he used the Portinari to acquire a loan from an Italian gentleman. A conte, I believe, a resident of Venice and apparently a passionate collector of Renaissance art. I have enough left from the sale of the country house to repay the loan as well as the accumulated interest.” She drew a deep breath. “What I don’t have is the means to get to Venice.”
Follow the Tour
Friday, December 1st: View from the Birdhouse
Friday, December 1st: The Sketchy Reader – spotlight/excerpt
Monday, December 4th: Moonlight Rendezvous
Tuesday, December 5th: Reading Reality
Wednesday, December 6th: Books a la Mode – spotlight/excerpt
Thursday, December 7th: The Romance Dish
Friday, December 8th: What I’m Reading
Monday, December 11th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, December 12th: The Sassy Bookster – spotlight/excerpt
Wednesday, December 13th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, December 13th: BTH Reviews
Thursday, December 14th: Blogging with A
Friday, December 15th: OMG Reads
Monday, December 18th: A Holland Reads
Tuesday, December 19th: A Night’s Dream of Books
Wednesday, December 20th: Jathan & Heather
Thursday, December 21st: Books & Bindings
Friday, December 22nd: Book Reviews and More by Kathy