Notte Family Tree As a chef and restauranteur, Alex Willan had enjoyed so much success she allowed herself to be talked into opening a second restaurant. Calamity after calamity have slowed the opening and driven her to the edge of bankruptcy. But things go from bad to worse when a competitor lures away the chef at her original restaurant leaving her torn between the choice to keep the original restaurant running, or getting the second restaurant going. He appears to be the answer to her prayers.
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ISBN Desperately seeking a husband… Suzette is not like other heiresses; she wants a poor husband. But Daniel has not been truthful. Tired of being accosted by an endless stream of vapid coquettes and their fortune-hunting mothers, Daniel has decided to plead poverty to stop them in their tracks. Yet here is a most refreshing and delectable lady who claims to be thrilled by his penury. London was fascinating and exciting in comparison to the sleepy village outside the estate where they had been born and had grown up.
Suzette sighed and sank back in her seat, her gaze skipping over the other two women in the carriage. Her freckled face reflected animated awe as she too looked out the window. And between their worries and the discomfort of travel, neither of them had had enough sleep of late.
Suzette felt her mouth tighten at the thought. He could have returned sooner, but intended to check on their sister Christiana as well while there. The oldest of the three, Christiana had married Richard Fairgrave, the Earl of Radnor nearly a year ago and the pair had moved to his townhouse in London. Suzette missed her older sister. They understood that Chrissy would have many changes to adjust to and no doubt had a busy, exciting life in London now with little time for correspondence.
Neither had there been a message from him. After two such weeks, Suzette had sent a letter enquiring after his wellbeing and asking what word he had of Christiana. It was starting to seem like London was swallowing up her family members one at a time. The two had set out, taking along their maids and four footmen to ward off any highwaymen who might see them as easy pickings. Hopefully, they would also soon learn what was going on. It seemed a world of endless buildings all crowding together under a thickening cloud of sea-coal smoke which she assumed was from so many hearths being lit this cold morning.
Suzette preferred the quiet, tranquil life in the country where she was able to at least see the sky. The only way Suzette knew they had finally arrived at the Madison townhouse was that the carriage stopped. The man had left that wealth to his granddaughters on his death, dividing it three ways to give each of them a dower that would surely have the fortune hunters after them when they debuted.
Or, it would have had he not insisted it be kept a secret. After a quick word with the maids to ensure they oversaw the unloading of their chests, Suzette led Lisa up the front walk. A sleepy-eyed butler peered out, his gaze sliding with some irritation over Suzette and Lisa, There was no doubting his annoyance at such an early call, at first, but then his gaze slid to the carriage.
Apparently, recognizing the family crest of the Madison Barony, he immediately straightened, his expression becoming much more welcoming. Suzette nodded, forcing a small smile of her own as she led Lisa past the man and into the house. Our maids shall be following directly.
Please have someone show them to rooms we can use while here and have servants help to prepare them. Too anxious to bother knocking, she opened it at once and started in, only to pause abruptly at the state of the room.
The first thing of note was the smell, the acrid scent of stale pipe smoke and old booze permeated the air and struck her like a fist. Suzette wrinkled her nose with a disgust that only increased as her gaze slid over the empty glasses and plates strewn about the room.
While the glasses were all empty of liquid, each plate held a half-eaten or untouched meal left to spoil. It was apparent their father had spent most of this last month in this room.
This just was not like the Cedrick Madison who had raised them. Obviously, there was something terribly wrong. Their father was without a jacket, his shirtsleeves rolled up, and his hair a ruffled mess. He also lay with his head on his arms on the desktop, obviously asleep, or passed out.
This man had bloodshot eyes, a sallow complexion, and a couple weeks worth of facial hair that held bits of food caught in it. He smelled atrocious. Suzette retrieve a hanky from up her sleeve and held it to her nose so as to avoid the smell.
Cedrick Madison blinked at them owlishly, confusion on his face. Did I come home, then? Every word the man spoke was accompanied by the scent of spirits, and he was very unsteady in his seat. It happened again? What the devil is going on, Father? It was all just a ruse to get you to town. The truth is, you came here to gamble. That was why the sudden trip to London. He was concerned about your sister.
He said he suspected Dicky was mistreating her. He said he had been turned away from the house three times and was worried about her. I swear. I swear I never intended to gamble. You promised us you would never ever gamble again and yet here we stand on the verge of ruin for the second time in little more than a year!
I recall going there and his suggesting a quick stop at the gaming hell. How could you do this again?! Lisa followed quickly, pulling the door closed behind her. Her throat was tight and she felt lightheaded, as if something had been cinched around her chest and was preventing her breathing. They were in the same position they had been in the last time their father gambled, just a year ago.
They had only saved themselves then by Chrissy marrying, claiming her dower, and paying off the debt. It seemed obvious that was what had to happen again. Only this time it was Suzette who would have to marry, claim her dower and pay off the debt.
The thought had barely struck her when the front door opened and the Madison footmen appeared, carrying their chests. We are not staying here. They can introduce us to society, which is imperative if I am to find a husband. Dicky had already paid a huge sum the first time around. Dicky would be very angry to be expected to pay again and rightly so. Tis my turn. She then urged Lisa back into the carriage they had so recently escaped. No doubt the maids had gone above stairs to help ready their rooms while they waited for the chests to be brought up.
She considered going in to fetch them, but then shook her head. Father did say Robert claims Dicky treats Chrissy awful. It has only been a year and he was so charming and loving when he courted her. You know that.
Servants talk and secrets get out. She grimaced. I suppose Dicky could have pretended his adoration for a couple of weeks. Suzette felt her lips tighten. There was little chance to meet a man she could love and be sure loved her in two weeks, and she was damned if she was going to spend her life being treated shabbily by her own husband.
The only thing she was certain of was that she was going to do her damnedest to achieve that end.
Hungry for You
ISBN Desperately seeking a husband… Suzette is not like other heiresses; she wants a poor husband. But Daniel has not been truthful. Tired of being accosted by an endless stream of vapid coquettes and their fortune-hunting mothers, Daniel has decided to plead poverty to stop them in their tracks. Yet here is a most refreshing and delectable lady who claims to be thrilled by his penury.
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