Marquesses at the Masquerade

Marquesses at the Masquerade

Emily Greenwood, Susanna Ives, Grace Burrowes

Note from the Authors

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What’s next? Vanishing Viscounts? Barons Behaving Badly? We’re not sure!

For these novella anthologies, we kick around a premise until something pops up that feels interesting, but flexible enough to take off in a lot of directions. For Marquesses at the Masquerade, that’s pretty much all we had: Three marquesses, one masquerade where each man crosses paths with his true love. Go!

Off we went to our separate writing caves, to emerge weeks later, happily-ever-afters in hand. Some interesting similarities emerged: All three heroines have suffered loss of a loved one, though one lady still has plenty of family. Two heroes are widowers, only one recalls his wife with uncomplicated loving fondness. Two heroes have to deal with an old flame complicating matters, two have to deal with helpful/meddling family. All three novellas drew upon myth or fairytale, but our choices were Norse gods, Cinderella, and Greek legends.

Despite some similarities, we were struck by how unique each story is to the author who wrote it. Susan’s hero has the intensity she conjures for all of her protagonists. Emily’s is a perfect gentleman, and yes, that would be Grace’s hero confiding in his horse. (One of these days, Grace is going to write a hero with a ferret. Don’t laugh. It worked for Judith Ivory.) Our heroines went in similarly distinctive directions, as did the supporting casts, the settings, the authorial voices.

We hope you enjoy our Marquesses at the Masquerade. We had great fun writing them, and comparing our results from a simple shared premise. We do believe the Vanishing Viscounts have some potential, but aren’t so sure about Barons Behaving Badly. Let us know what you think!

Happy reading!

Grace, Emily, Susan (and Lord Tyne’s horse)

Once Upon a Ball

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Emily Greenwood

Chapter One

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“Mundie, you’re taking too long,” came an irritated female voice from the doorway of Rosamund’s room. “How am I supposed to make the final adjustments to my attire for the Boxhaven masquerade ball when you are taking so long to complete my gown?”

Rosamund, who hardly remembered the last time she’d used her surname and at age twenty-two was years beyond the sensation of cringing at the detested nickname, merely said, “I’m just finishing the final stitches, Aunt.”

She would not, of course, mention that it had taken her longer to finish the adjustments to the gown because the alterations required her to do far more than “just sew on a few ribbons to refresh the look,” as Melinda had ordered when she’d handed the gown to her. Melinda had put on a significant amount of weight, which no one was meant to mention, but it was a fact of which Rosamund, effectively Melinda’s personal seamstress, was well aware.

Melinda’s eyes traveled over Rosamund’s small room, which was on the top floor of the Monroes’ London town house, as far away from the main family quarters as possible, and came to rest on Rosamund’s untouched lunch tray, which contained a piece of toasted cheese and an apple.

“You’d have more time to do what little is asked of you if you weren’t always eating.”

Rosamund managed, from long practice, not to laugh. Since Rosamund was kept constantly busy sewing for the household—and with Melinda and her daughters, Vanessa and Calliope, there was always mending, and her two cousins being out, new dresses to sew—Rosamund undoubtedly made up for her keep in what they would have spent hiring a seamstress. And as she was rarely invited to join the family for meals, she was not costing them a great deal in food. She knew from the housekeeper, Mrs. Barton, that the kitchen staff had been instructed “not to be lavish” with Rosamund’s trays.

“Of course, Aunt.” Rosamund might have pointed out that if she was not allowed to consume food, she would eventually run out of energy and be of no use, but she’d learned, from the moment she’d come to the house at age fifteen, that it was best to agree with Melinda and say as little as possible.

“I don’t know why I should have to remind you of your responsibilities, Mundie. One would think you’d be grateful for being taken in and cared for as you have been.”

This was a familiar refrain.

“I am very grateful, Aunt.” And she truly was. She had a roof over her head, and meals, such as they were. More important, she had the company of Melinda’s uncle Piggott, who lived in a room down the hall from Rosamund’s little cell, and of the housekeeper, Mrs. Barton. Sometimes of an evening, the three would take a mug of tea together in Uncle Piggott’s room. Rosamund called him Uncle Piggott even though he wasn’t actually her uncle, but Melinda’s uncle by marriage. From the first, he’d insisted that Rosamund was the sort of person anyone would be proud to have as a niece and that he’d be delighted if she wished to call him uncle, as his real, “less pleasing” nieces did. Uncle Piggott, despite having been a vicar or, he would say, because of it, preferred blunt speaking.

Melinda peered closely at Rosamund’s work and offered a brief snort in judgment, then leaned into the hallway and called for Mary, one of the maids. Mary arrived in the doorway with an armful of fabric, and Rosamund’s heart sank. The Boxhaven ball was only two days away, and she’d foolishly hoped both her cousins would wear the gowns they’d worn to their last ball. But Mary was holding Calliope’s favorite gown from the previous season, which would never fit her without letting out the bust.

Emily Greenwood, Sus's Books