Gentle Conquest by Mary Balogh

By Mary Balogh

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She couldnot stand spiritless people, especially men. Well, she thought grimly, turning from the window asthe door opened and her mother entered again, accepthim she would. She would just have to make the best ofher life afterward. She would persuade this earl to live inLondon for most of each year, and she would carry onwith her own life just as she did now. If he did not likeit, it was just too bad. She would punish him for forcing her into such a dreadful situation by leading him a merrydance.

I am sorry if your family is rushingyou, Miss Burton. I shall not, you know. You will notfind me a demanding husband. You are not to be afraidof me. " She should be feeling like bursting into giggles, notinto tears, Georgiana thought in some surprise. He wastalking as if he had all the age and wisdom of Solomon. But she could not laugh, even inwardly. He was soobviously in earnest. And dammit , she thought in mostunfeminine fashion, the beautiful boy was also a kind boy. "Thank you," she said.

The bridehad become a familiar figure during her one Season intown. The groom was unknown to most, but all hadbeen aware that a young and unmarried earl was aboutto be launched on the market. A pity, several hopefulfemales thought, that he had made his choice so precipi- tately, without waiting to view the next year's crop of debutantes. Ralph felt that he knew his bride no better at the endof the month than he had at the start. There was somuch to be done in preparation for a wedding, he dis-covered, that there was little time for the unimportantmatter of allowing the betrothed couple some time tothemselves.

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