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Chronicles of the Hudson River Valley Book 3
BY JEAN JACOBSEN
One innocent kiss – Good intentions gone wrong
New York, 1832
Laura and long-time friend Charles are discovered in a compromising situation during a 1830s high society ball. Her father insists they marry immediately to satisfy social dictates and preserve the family’s good name.
In one of the most life-changing years of their lives, will Laura and Charles continue their platonic relationship, or will they find a way to overcome the circumstances of their hurried union and make their life together all they ever wanted?
Laura is a sweet American historical romance set in New York’s Hudson River Valley in the 1830s. If you like strong female characters, roguish heroes, and 19th Century adventure tales, you’ll love Jean Jacobsen’s latest novel.
*****5-star Amazon review
“I fell in love with the characters and the story. It was fun traveling through that time period!”
High Society Season
New York City – 1832
Laura sighed as her mother fussed with her gown.
“Hold still, dear. The more you fidget, the longer it will take me. Now turn around slowly. I want to see how this new design of yours suits you.”
She did as her mother requested, ending her turn with a flourish.
“Beautiful,” her mother applauded.
Laura swelled with pride at her mother’s praise.
Preparations were in full swing for the season, with all the pageantry and traditions of the Knickerbocker’s, New York’s high society families. Events included debutante balls, evening musicals, and afternoon soirees. This was Laura’s second season and her parents were anxious for her to make a match. They believed she would marry a fine, upstanding gentleman from a well-established family and produce children, run a household, and help further her husband’s position in society.
Laura was prepared to accept these responsibilities, for the right man. One who would allow her to continue pursuing the passions in her life—fashion design, travelling abroad, and horseback riding.
Laura sat with her mother Ellen in the private salon at their New York City mansion answering social event invitations, which arrived daily and in abundance. The annual pilgrimage they took from their country estate, Fox Run, to their 5th Avenue mansion was one Laura anticipated with joy. She loved the many shops and social activities one could find in the city. This season, she looked forward to introducing Clarissa, her best friend making her debut, to the many wonders of the city. She would be sure to have Clarissa and her grandmother Abigail accept the same invitations so they could experience the events together.
Having already gone through a season, Laura recalled several events she particularly enjoyed, the Whitehall evening of musical entertainment being one of them. She added that invitation to her must attend pile. Mother and daughter worked side-by-side enjoying their time together. It was a rare occurrence for Ellen to not be suffering from a migraine.
Ellen was good friends with Mrs. Van Pelt, ensuring they receive an invitation to her afternoon soiree, which was a much sought after invite. Not one of Laura’s favorite activities, but a prime opportunity to take along her best friend Clarissa, and make introductions. Clarissa’s parents had been killed in a carriage accident last fall. The duty of presenting Clarissa fell to her grandmother Abigail who was well known in society circles, but due to her advanced years, would not be able to attend all the upcoming social events.
Laura loved this time of year—the parties, dancing, theater, and afternoon soirées. Her favorite place to have afternoon tea in the City was with her grandmother and she made a point to visit her as often as possible. Laura felt like a princess, the way Grandmother Charolette fussed over her. She recalled Grand Mama Char had given her a diamond necklace with a matching bracelet for her July birthday last year, just before she was presented to society. The gems had made a stunning addition to the white gown of potus trois silk made especially for her special event.
Mother’s voice brought Laura back around. “Laura, did you hear me?”
“Sorry Mother, I was recalling my debut season and thinking of places where I might introduce Clarissa.”
“That’s all well and good. I’m sure her grandmother will appreciate your helpfulness. Shall we continue?”
They reviewed the debut balls next. Of course, Clarissa’s was top on the list, to be held at Granger Hall where Clarissa and her grandmother were residing this season.
Another invitation added to the acceptance stack. And so the afternoon progressed until the morning’s mail had been thoroughly reviewed and acceptance notes written.
Laura’s escorts for the season were her brothers—all three of them. They were very protective of her. Not only was she the youngest of the family, she was the only girl. Poor pity any man who showed interest in any way. Laura would have preferred an elderly aunt or even Grand Mama Char for a chaperone, but it was not to be. She sighed in resignation.
She was envious of Clarissa being escorted by her dance tutor Nicholas Granger. He was so mature and worldly. They made a handsome couple and Laura wondered if a romance would develop between them.
Laura had danced with New York’s finest gentlemen during her debut season, but not one of them caught her eye or made her heart skip a beat. However, one gentleman dogged her throughout the festivities—Jeffery Madison. He appeared to be smitten with her and showed up at every event she attended. Her family approved of the fine Madison pedigree from which he descended, agreeing his monogram would make a fine addition to the Wentworth family.
Last year, Laura was somewhat flattered by his attentions, especially since she considered herself lanky and uncoordinated. Laura recalled Mother saying, “You’re just experiencing a growing spurt, dear. You’ll come into your own soon enough.”
“Oh, Mother, you keep saying that, but when I’m in a crowded ballroom next to Olivia and some of her friends, I feel like an ugly duckling.”
Mother was right. This season, Laura had filled out in all the right places and no longer appeared to have legs and arms flopping about in a disconnected manner. She felt more coordinated as she practiced her dance steps with her brothers and more confident in her social skills.
Would Jeffrey continue his attentions this season? Would he finally show if he was interested in her or her family’s money and social influence?
She had to admit toward the end of last season, she’d begun to find Jeffery dull and boring. The man was self-absorbed, mundane, and egoistical. He was always talking about himself and his great future in politics. He never asked about her likes and dislikes. He also once mentioned he didn’t care for her speaking her mind. That rankled her ire.
Although her intelligence was oft times intimidating to men, she freely discussed fashions of the day, which were her passion, geography, and women’s rights. None of these subjects were considered topics proper for a young lady to voice in the presence of gentleman. That didn’t stop Laura. Having three brothers and her father talk about financial happenings daily, it was difficult for her to not have knowledge enough to form her own point of view, and she joined in freely with her opinions no matter the company at home.
Mother insisted politics be discussed in areas of the home far away from the dining table. Oft times, the library where the family gathered before dinner was the scene of some rousing debates. Franklin, her father, tended to be the most conservative of all. Ainsley, the oldest brother, was open-minded and would listen to Laura’s ideas regarding women obtaining the right to vote. A scandalous subject to be sure. If Mother or Father were within earshot, they would likely admonish her on the spot. Brennan and Joseph, her other two brothers, left their views on the matter confined to their men’s clubs.
Laura tried to limit her dialogue on fashion trends to afternoon tea or soirees. Her opinions were influenced by The Goody Ladies Book Magazine, which focused on women’s domestic education from health to home to fashion—the magazine was especially noted for its colored fashion plates.
She longed to travel to Paris and study fashion design at the House of Worth, the most famous house of all, in her opinion. Her own drawings and clothing sketches were admired by family and friends alike. To her surprise, Mother encouraged her sketching designs and plied her with this magazine featuring depictions from Paris. Laura had an eye for seeing the latest trends, then making them her own.
This season, Ellen agreed to have several of Laura’s sketches made into ball gowns and afternoon dresses for her. She was delighted beyond her wildest dreams. Her wardrobe for this, her second season, would be more sophisticated than last year. She was anxious to see her imaginings transformed from paper drawings to beautiful flowing materials.
~ ~ ~
This afternoon, Clarissa and Laura attended a soiree, Clarissa’s first in New York City. Laura did her best to put Clarissa at ease by speaking in soft soothing tones, reminding her to smile, and holding her elbow as they traversed the crowds. Laura scanned the room as they entered and were greeted by their hostess, Mrs. Van Pelt. Laura and Clarissa glided from group to group, catching snippets of conversation. “Have you heard that Jeffery Madison will be among the young gentlemen seeking a wife this season?”
Laura acknowledged each group with a “Good afternoon ladies. May I present Miss Clarissa Tanner?” Most of the young women were polite and said “Hello.” One or two even asked after Clarissa regarding her connections to society. There were even a few young women present who had attended Miss Clegg’s School for Young Ladies with Laura and Clarissa. They were in their own cluster and most were friendly and asked after Clarissa and her grandmother. The two moved on pausing near Olivia St. John’s clutch.
Laura observed her childhood rival holding court with several of her friends. Olivia appeared so mature and sophisticated. She sat with a straight back and regal demeanor, as if holding court. Laura felt somewhat jealous. However, this was Olivia’s third season and rumor had it she was desperate for a marriage proposal. Perhaps Jeffery Madison might be turned in her direction. Olivia would likely chew him up and spit him out. The thought of the oaf being bested was funny, causing Laura to laugh out loud.
“Although anyone who is anyone is here today, I see no competition,” Olivia stated as Laura and Clarissa edged closer. The haughty look on her face and her upturned nose was classic Olivia.
Laura said to Clarissa, “Brace yourself, as you just heard, Olivia can be mean and cruel if she deems you a social threat.”
“I’m acquainted with her through my grandmother. It seems our mothers served together fundraising for the Home for Orphaned Children here in the city. I met her at Lochwood when we held the gathering of art supporters for Nicholas this past spring. She seemed desperate for Nicholas’ attentions at that time.”
“Fair warning,” said Laura.
The two approached Olivia and the clutch of admirers. “May I present Clarissa Tanner of Lochwood Estate? Clarissa, this is Olivia St. John.”
Clarissa nodded her head in recognition. “A pleasure to see you again.”
The smirk on Olivia’s face was clear for all to see as she looked Clarissa up and down. “Oh my, you have certainly changed since we last met.” Dismissing them, Olivia turned her back and continued to chat with her friends.
“See, Clarissa, I told you she can be dismissive.”
“I’m not worried about her. I expect her desperation will show soon enough.”
They stayed for the socially acceptable amount of time before saying farewell to their hostess. The friends, excited for the evening’s event, returned to their respective residences to prepare for the first ball of the year. This one event would set the standard for the rest of the social season and was sure to be well attended.
Laura was filled with little butterfly flips in her stomach as she attempted to hold still while her hair was being styled. Would she meet the man of her dreams tonight?
Jean Jacobsen is an award-winning storyteller of Sweet, American Historical Romance. Featuring strong female characters who believe they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to, she pens stories that transcend the heart. Because of Jean’s deep passion for history, she includes real events from the time period, making her stories come to life as they transport you to a by-gone era. Jean is a lover of dark chocolate, bold coffee, fragrant flowers, and yummy food.
Links to Jean’s Website, blog, books, etc.
http://eepurl.com/bWqQ9n (readers group link)
https://bit.ly/2qtUGsr (newsletter link)
Thanks, Jean, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!