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Tour: The Husband Criteria (The Lorings #3) by Catherine Kullmann

Book details:

Book Title: The Husband Criteria

Series: The Lorings, Book #3

Author: Catherine Kullmann

Publication Date: 24 August 2023

Publisher: Willow Books

Page Length: 297

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London 1817

The primary aim of every young lady embarking on the Spring frenzy that is the Season must be to make a good match. Or must it? And what is a good match? For cousins Cynthia, Chloe and Ann, well aware that the society preux chevalier may prove to be a domestic tyrant, these are vital questions. How can they discover their suitors’ true character when all their encounters must be confined to the highly ritualised round of balls, parties and drives in the park?

As they define and refine their Husband Criteria, Cynthia finds herself unwillingly attracted to aloof Rafe Marfield, heir to an earldom, while Chloe is pleased to find that Thomas Musgrave, the vicar’s son from home, is also in London. And Ann must decide what is more important to her, music or marriage.

And what of the gentlemen who consider the marriage mart to be their hunting grounds? How will they react if they realise how rigorously they are being assessed?

A light-hearted, entertaining look behind the scenes of a Season that takes a different course with unexpected consequences for all concerned.

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Several open carriages had already drawn up in Berkeley Square where waiters were kept busy running across the road from Gunter’s Tea Shop with trays of glasses containing sweetmeats and ices. While ladies remained seated, their male escorts lounged nonchalantly against the railings, nodding to acquaintances who strolled past, assessing the occupants of the carriages with a knowing eye.

I suppose we return the compliment, but I hope more discreetly, Cynthia thought, looking past Chloe and Ann to the couple sitting in the curricle behind them. They were the Nugents, Lord Nugent’s heir and his sister. She remembered them from last year. Mr Nugent was well turned-out, as befitted a gentleman of the ton, if a little too dandified for her taste. He was talking to a tall man who had to be one of the most handsome men Cynthia had ever seen. He had removed his hat to bow to Miss Nugent, revealing neat brown curls that framed a noble forehead and classical features. His broad shoulders tapered to a narrow waist, his long legs were displayed to perfection in pale pantaloons and glossy boots, his plain dark blue coat and silver-embroidered waistcoat sat just so, with no hint of the dandy or the beau. Lord Marfield, she recalled suddenly from last Season, recognizing his expression of barely restrained boredom. Earl Benton’s son and heir had not paid any attention to insignificant debutantes. Would it kill him to smile, she thought indignantly. Really, he epitomised everything she hated and despised about the ton.

Almost as if he felt her gaze, he turned and looked straight at her. Training required her to lower her eyes modestly but some instinct made her meet his eyes impassively. He bowed slightly—the movement of his head was too deliberate to be a nod—and turned away. Just then the waiter arrived with their orders and she gave herself up to the delight of pineapple ice just as the Nugents drove off.

“Mmm, this is delicious,” she said after the first cool spoonful had slid down her throat.

“Nectar,” Chloe agreed.

“Ambrosia,” Ann said. “Do you not agree, Mr Glazebrook?”

“Most refreshing,” Martin answered.

“I thought it was you, Glazebrook.” The deep voice sent shivers down Cynthia’s spine.

Martin turned. “Marfield. I had not realised you were in town. I thought you still in Melton Mowbray.”

“No. The going turned very soft.”

“It was wet and windy for the last week or so, here too. Today is the first real spring day. Everyone seems to have had a fancy for ices,” Martin replied.

“Indeed.” Instead of strolling on, the niceties observed, Lord Marfield turned his gaze on the three young ladies and then looked expectantly, at Martin, as if to say, Why do you not introduce me?

“Ah,” Martin said. “Ladies, may I present Lord Marfield? Marfield, happy to introduce my sister, our cousin Miss Loring, and Miss Overton.”

“Ladies.” Lord Marfield raised his hat with a flourish and bowed to each in turn. “With three such charming newcomers, the Season looks brighter already.”

Cynthia groaned inwardly. She detested such spurious compliments and despised their makers. Chloe and Ann seemed to share her views, for neither reacted with flirtatious flutterings.

After a pause, during which his lordship’s expectant smile faded, Chloe said, “I am looking forward to getting to know London. Which sights would you consider are not to be missed, my lord?”

“I am afraid I would not know what to recommend for a young lady, Miss Loring.”

Seeing Chloe flush at this snub, Cynthia remarked, “Either you move in very circumscribed circles, my lord, or go about with your eyes closed.”

Lord Marfield’s dark eyebrows twitched together but before he could respond, Martin said, “A hit, Marfield. You don’t have a sister to keep you up to the mark, do you?”

“I do, but fortunately she is too occupied with her nursery to nag me. Will you be at Angelo’s in the morning, Glazebrook? I’ll see you there, then.” With another bow, and a general “Ladies”, he left them.

“What an obnoxious man. He as good as called you a nag, Cynthia!” Chloe said.

“I think you took him by surprise, Chloe,” Ann said. “He was expecting quite a different response to his remark.”

“I never know what to say to that sort of thing,” Chloe admitted.

“Especially when you know it might have been said to any lady,” Ann agreed. “It’s as if they cast a line, hoping that a fish will bite. Older men are the worst; why should they think we should be interested in someone twice our age?”

“It is best not to encourage them,” Cynthia said.

Martin looked from one to another. “I can see this is going to be an interesting Season.”

Walking Dress 1818-19.

Antique engraving from Author’s private collection.

Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector. Widowed, she has three adult sons and two grandchildren.

Catherine has always been interested in the extended Regency period, a time when the foundations of our modern world were laid. She loves writing and is particularly interested in what happens after the first happy end—how life goes on for the protagonists and sometimes catches up with them. Her books are set against a background of the offstage, Napoleonic wars and consider in particular the situation of women trapped in a patriarchal society.

She is the author of The Murmur of Masks, Perception & Illusion, A Suggestion of Scandal, The Duke’s Regret, The Potential for Love, A Comfortable Alliance and LadyLoring’s Dilemma.

Catherine also blogs about historical facts and trivia related to this era. You can find out more about her books and read her blog (My Scrap Album) at her website. You can contact her via her Facebook page or on Twitter.

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Tour hosted by: The Coffee Pot Book Club

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