Release date: 3 March 2014
In 1858 New York City, Halwyn Fitzpatrick thinks he’s off the hook for attendance at the annual Cotillion Ball. He has no sister to shepherd down the grand staircase this year and no real desire to go through the rituals of courtship and betrothal himself. Besides, he’ll know the right girl when he sees her, especially now that he has new spectacles. But his mother has other plans for him. At twenty-seven years of age, her son is in dire need of a wife.
Grace Wagner needs a husband by July in order to inherit the trust her father has left for her. Her stepfather, though, has plans for the money that don’t include Grace, and the last thing he wants is for her to find a husband before she turns twenty-one, thereby fulfilling the terms of the trust. She’s been in love with Halwyn since she was thirteen, but he hasn’t noticed her at any of the balls they’ve been at over the years. With the aid of his new glasses, he spies Grace from across the room and they share a dance. Grace decides to present him with a business proposition that will satisfy them both. But can a clueless knight in shining armor and a desperate damsel in distress find a way to turn this marriage of convenience into something more?
by Becky Lower
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it present day middle America or on a covered wagon headed west in the 1850s. Contemporary and historical romances are her specialty.
Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a regular contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After column. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com or on Facebook.
An excerpt from Blinded by Grace:
Grace Wagner’s stomach was in a knot even before the beginning notes of the first waltz of the evening. She could almost taste the panic her body was experiencing. She had been introduced into society three years earlier, right before her father’s death. She was in mourning when her best friends found love, got married, and exited from the debutante ball scene. Her second season hadn’t been much better, since the year of mourning needed to be observed, and she entered the season late, after everyone was already paired up. All around her, romance blossomed each spring, as one by one, her friends were plucked from their unwed states, and she sat on the sidelines.
And here she was again, the proverbial wallflower, with probably the most at stake, and no potential partner in sight. Not even someone exhibiting a remote interest. She must make something happen this season, or she would spend the rest of her life a destitute woman. If her stepfather, Simon, had his way, her entire trust would fall into his hands following her birthday in July, and he would drink and gamble away all the money that her father meant for herself and her mother. Grace took a deep breath. She would not go down the road to poverty without a fight. So she had to find a partner this spring, or face the prospect of becoming a governess for someone else’s spoiled children. Or becoming a paid companion to one of these young debutantes being introduced this evening. Ye gads, anything but that.
She spied Halwyn Fitzpatrick across the stately ballroom of the Metropolitan Hotel, with its myriad of candles casting sparkles of light on the assorted colorful gowns of the ladies. His mere presence in the same room caused her breathing to hitch. She’d been in love with him since she was thirteen and was introduced to him for the first time when he came home from college for the summer. He’d given her and his sisters each a handkerchief with the Yale insignia on it and, in exchange, she’d given him her heart. She had been in awe of him then, and she stuttered whenever he was in the same room. He must have thought her slow.
But that was then, and this was now. She was no longer a silly young schoolgirl. She was a grown woman, and her reaction to him was ridiculous, having a physical response after all this time. He didn’t remember her at all. She’d been introduced into society the same year as Heather and Jasmine, descended the very same steps they had, yet Halwyn had acted as if he’d not seen her. He hadn’t spoken to her in years. Well, he was going to now.