Feb 10 2011 9:00am
Bestselling author Lisa Kleypas, has captivated readers with her spirited stories featuring the Hathaway family. Fall in love with the Hathaways all over again or discover their tales for the first time!
Anyone who had ever read a novel knew that governesses were supposed to be meek and downtrodden. They were also supposed to be quiet, subservient and obedient, not to mention deferential to the master of the house. Leo, Lord Ramsay, wondered in exasperation why they couldn't have gotten one of those. Instead the Hathaway family had hired Catherine Marks, who, in Leo's opinion, cast an unflattering shadow upon the entire profession.
It wasn't that Leo found fault with Marks's actual abilities. She had done an excellent job of instructing his two youngest sisters, Poppy and Beatrix, in the finer points of social etiquette. And they had needed an inordinate amount of help, since none of the Hathaways had ever expected to mingle in the upper circles of British society. They had been reared in a strictly middle-class environment, in a village west of London. Their father, Edward Hathaway, had been a medieval history scholar, considered a man of good blood but hardly an aristocrat.
However, after a series of unlikely events, Leo had inherited the title of Lord Ramsay. Although he had trained to be an architect, he was now a viscount with land and tenants. The Hathaways had moved to the Ramsay estate in Hampshire, where they had struggled to adjust to the demands of their new life.
One of the greatest challenges for the Hathaway sisters had been to learn the absurd multitude of rules and graces expected of privileged young ladies. Had it not been for Catherine Marks's patient instruction, the Hathaways would have rampaged through London with all the finesse of stampeding elephants. Marks had done wonders for all of them, especially Beatrix, who was undoubtedly the most eccentric sister of an already eccentric family. Although Beatrix was happiest romping through the meadows and woods like a wild creature, Marks had managed to impress on her that a different code of behavior was required in the ballroom. She had even written a series of etiquette poems for the girls, with such literary gems as:
Young ladies must display restraint
When speaking with a stranger
Flirtations, quarrels or complaints
Put our reputations in danger
Naturally Leo hadn't been able to resist mocking Marks's poetic abilities, but he had to admit privately that her methods had worked. Poppy and Beatrix had successfully navigated a London season, at last. And Poppy had recently married a hotelier named Harry Rutledge.
Now only Beatrix was left. Marks had assumed the role of chaperone and companion to the energetic nineteen year-old. As far as the rest of the Hathaways were concerned, Catherine Marks was practically a member of the family.
Leo, for his part, couldn't abide the woman. She aired her opinions at will and dared to give orders to him. On the rare occasions when Leo tried to be friendly, she snapped at him or turned away in scorn. When he stated a perfectly rational opinion, he could hardly finish a sentence before Marks had listed all the reasons why he was wrong.
Faced with the immutable fact of her dislike, Leo couldn't help but respond in kind. All during the past year he had tried to convince himself that it didn't matter if she despised him. There were many women in London who were infinitely more beautiful, engaging and appealing than Catherine Marks.
If only she didn’t fascinate him so...
This excerpt is reprinted courtesy of the She Loves Hot Reads website.