Description : Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart
Trees are nothing but a canopy for scandal.
Elegant ladies remain indoors after dark.
—A Treatise on the Most Exquisite of Ladies
We hear that leaves are not the only things falling in gardens . . .
—The Scandal Sheet, October 1823
In retrospect, there were four actions Miss Juliana Fiori should have reconsidered that evening.
First, she likely should have ignored the impulse to leave her sister-in-law’s autumn ball in favor of the less-cloying, better-smelling, and far more poorly lit gardens of Ralston House.
Second, she very likely should have hesitated when that same impulse propelled her deeper along the darkened paths that marked the exterior of her brother’s home.
Third, she almost certainly should have returned to the house the moment she stumbled upon Lord Grabeham, deep in his cups, half–falling down, and spouting entirely ungentlemanly things.
But, she definitely should not have hit him.
It didn’t matter that he had pulled her close and breathed his hot, whiskey-laden breath upon her, or that his cold, moist lips had clumsily found their way to the high arch of one cheek, or that he suggested that she might like it just as her mother had.
Ladies did not hit people.
At least, English ladies didn’t.
She watched as the not-so-much a gentleman howled in pain and yanked a handkerchief from his pocket, covering his nose and flooding the pristine white linen with scarlet. She froze, absentmindedly...