Finally, Jasmine Fitzpatrick gets her turn at the Debutante Ball in New York. She sets her cap for a titled Englishman, but her heart belongs in his barn, with the stableboy.
Price: $3.82 (eBook)
Becky Lower Author
It’s Jasmine Fitzpatrick’s year to shine at this season’s Cotillion and men will be throwing themselves at her. But she sets her sights on a man she’s never met, the Viscount of Foxborough. He’s wealthy and has an English title. Only a few things stand in her way: a wealthy, young, beautiful widow who captures the viscount’s attention immediately, her fear of riding horses when he owns a breeding stable and racetrack, and the viscount’s stableboy, Parr.
Parr O'Shaughnessy loses his heart to Jasmine the moment he meets her. However, he has no title to interest her. He left behind an impoverished existence in Ireland when the viscount offered to bring him and his famous horse to America to build a dynasty together. He believes Jasmine barely noticed him when she was introduced--she only had eyes for the viscount. He struggles with his loyalty to the viscount and his love for Jasmine. But winning her love might mean losing all he has worked for.
This was it.
The dress that—with a few of her embellishments—would make her, Jasmine
Fitzpatrick, the belle of the cotillion ball.
Of course, after last season’s debacle, she’d need all the help she could get.
Jasmine picked up her copy of Godey’s Lady’s Book and bounced down the staircase
of the family brownstone, stopping at the first-floor landing to take a deep breath. Today
was the day she would confront her parents. Each time she had tried to broach the subject
of the ball during the past couple weeks, they had studiously avoided it or given her
excuses about needing to cut out extraneous expenses. Her mother had even cancelled a
planned shopping trip for the two of them last week. But time was growing short. After
all, the ball was only three months away.
She moved from the hallway to the front parlor, where her parents usually relaxed on a
Saturday afternoon. Her mother, Charlotte, was sitting on the loveseat and stitching a
piece of embroidery while Jasmine’s father, George, sat nearby in a tan leather chair,
reading his daily newspaper. There was a low buzz of conversation between them that
Jasmine couldn’t quite make out, but she did catch an expression of worry on her
mother’s face. Undeterred, she plunged into the room, waving the fashion book.
“Look what I just found! The perfect debutante gown for the cotillion ball in April.
Look, Mother. Don’t you think it’s delightful? Or at least it will be when I add some
glass beads to catch the light, and maybe some lace trim . . .” She laid the open book in
her mother’s lap and then took a seat opposite them.
Jasmine caught the quick wrinkling of her father’s brow and began to get an uneasy
feeling in the pit of her stomach. Something was not right.
Her mother ran a hand down the front of her throat. “We were just talking about the
upcoming season, dear.”
Jasmine let out the breath she’d been holding. “Well, good. We’re thinking along the
same lines, then. It’s imperative we begin assembling my wardrobe, and I need to get
some new slippers to replace the treacherous ones Monsieur Louboutin made for me last
Her mother reached over and patted Jasmine’s hand. “We may both have had the same
topic on our minds, but we are definitely not thinking along the same lines. To begin
with, you don’t need a white debutante gown, since you were introduced to society last
Jasmine’s uneasy stomach turned over. “But . . .but . . .no!” She leapt to her feet and
began to pace the room. “I was a debutante for all of fifteen minutes last season, before I
fell and broke my ankle. I demand to start over. There are other nineteen-year-olds who
are among those to be introduced this year.”
Jasmine sensed moisture beginning to form at the back of her eyes. Two fat tears slid
down her smooth cheeks.
Her mother was oblivious to her tears, though. “You know I’m sorry your season
came to such an abrupt end last April, but the rules of the debutante ball are exacting, and
must be followed to the letter. Annie Schemerhorn thought of everything when she
introduced the ball to New York society a few years ago. You made your debut last year,
so now you will be a returning debutante. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it must be.”
Jasmine’s tears fell in earnest now as she wrung her hands. “But you know ‘returning’
debutantes are those who are too plain to have captured a husband during their season. I
cannot be one of those ‘poor unfortunates.’”
“My darling daughter, everyone knows about your accident just as the ball was
beginning last year, so they won’t think anything of it if you are a returning debutante. It
will be fine. And wherever did you come up with the phrase ‘poor unfortunates’?” Her
mother smiled and patted Jasmine’s hand again before tucking a new stitch into her
“Amanda Phillips came up with the name to distinguish those girls from us new debs
last year.” Jasmine sat for a moment, making certain her father was watching as she
wiped away her hot tears. She took a deep breath. “Well, regardless, we must discuss my
wardrobe for the season. If I’m to be relegated to the poor unfortunates, it’s even more
essential that my wardrobe be better than everyone else’s.” She peeked at her father
He folded his paper with a snap and fastened his eyes on his daughter. “You may have
one new gown for the cotillion ball and a new pair of slippers. But other than that, you
already have an armoire filled with dresses and riding habits that you didn’t get to wear
last season, so you have no need of new clothing.”
“I have no need of new clothing?” Jasmine added stomping to her pacing, for effect. “I
think I have even more need, since I’ve just been told I’m not to have my moment at the
top of the stairs. With all those new debutantes stealing the attention, I’ll need to look
especially beautiful in order to fill up my dance card, and that means new dresses for
every ball. Amanda, Heather, and I all laughed at Cecily Montgomery and her old, tired
dress last season. I simply cannot be seen in last year’s styles.”
Her father’s mouth twitched into a smile as he reached up and caressed Jasmine’s
cheek. “Your beauty has nothing to do with your clothes. Don’t you know that by now? I
realize it’s not what you were expecting, but we must all embrace austere measures. I am
sorry, daughter, but the banks are suffering. Our investments out west have started to fail,
and the state of the European economy has me a bit concerned. I’ve shielded the family
from my troubles as long as I could, but I’m afraid we all must do our part.”
He ran a finger around his starched collar and then went through the ritual of lighting
his pipe. He inhaled the fragrant tobacco before turning to his wife. “Charlotte, I think we
should make a trip to St. Louis in the next few months. I want to go over our client list at
the bank branch there with our son, Basil.”
Jasmine stopped her pacing and whirled around. “You have the means to go to St.
Louis, but not enough to buy me new outfits? I don’t understand. You were more than
willing to shower clothing on Ginger for her season. Why are you being so unfair?” Her
father had always been a soft touch when it came to his daughters’ emotions, but it
wasn’t working this time. Maybe she needed to put a halt to the tears and pout prettily
instead. He had never been this unrelenting before.