Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

  The shock of discovering someone so close when Daisy had thought she was alone caused her heart to skip a beat…

  “Forgive me,” he said in a low voice, “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

  “Oh, you didn’t frighten me,” she lied cheerfully, her pulse still off-kilter. “I was just a bit…surprised.”

  “I arrived at the estate a couple of hours ago. They said you were out here walking.”

  He seemed rather familiar. He was looking at Daisy as if he expected her to know him…Daisy regarded him with confusion. She couldn’t imagine how she could have forgotten a man this attractive. His features were strong and decisively formed. And his eyes were a rich sky-blue…

  Suddenly, Daisy realized who he was. Her knees nearly gave way beneath her. “You,” she whispered, her eyes wide with astonishment as she beheld the face of Matthew Swift.

  The man her father demanded she marry.

  Lisa Kleypas

  Scandal in Spring


  The shock of discovering someone so close when Daisy had thought she was alone caused her heart to skip a beat...


  “I have made a decision about Daisy’s future,” Thomas Bowman…

  Chapter 1

  “I shouldn’t tell you about it,” Daisy railed, pacing back…

  Chapter 2

  She must have swayed a little, for he reached out…

  Chapter 3

  “The bargain you made with my father…”

  Chapter 4

  “Obviously Daisy is the runt of the litter,” Thomas Bowman…

  Chapter 5

  Perplexed and annoyed, Daisy strode away from the artificial lake.

  Chapter 6

  Staring in the looking glass poised atop the cherrywood dresser,…

  Chapter 7

  Matthew knew it was wrong the instant their lips met.

  Chapter 8

  “…and then she left,” Lillian said vehemently, “without telling me…

  Chapter 9

  As the afternoon spun out into early evening, the storm…

  Chapter 10

  Daisy wasn’t certain why the notion that Matthew Swift could…

  Chapter 11

  It was dark and cool inside the house, which was…

  Chapter 12

  Since most of the estate guests were leaving on the…

  Chapter 13

  Matthew quickly discovered that traveling in Bristol with Lord Westcliff…

  Chapter 14

  With Westcliff and Matthew Swift away in Bristol, the estate…

  Chapter 15

  After an unusually long sleep Matthew ventured downstairs. Servants were…

  Chapter 16

  The Stony Cross May Day festival had been celebrated for…

  Chapter 17

  By the time the carriage had reached the end of…

  Chapter 18

  “I was Harry Waring’s servant,” Matthew began gruffly. “And a…

  Chapter 19

  Because of the hasty nature of their departure, Marcus and…


  As it turned out, Matthew and Daisy were not wed…

  About the Author

  Other Books by Lisa Kleypas


  About the Publisher


  “I have made a decision about Daisy’s future,” Thomas Bowman announced to his wife and daughter. “Although Bowmans never like to admit defeat, we cannot ignore reality.”

  “What reality is that, Father?” Daisy asked.

  “You are not meant for the British peerage.” Frowning, Bowman added, “Or perhaps the peerage isn’t meant for you. I have received a poor rate of return on my investment in your husband-seeking. Do you know what that means, Daisy?”

  “I’m an underperforming stock?” she guessed.

  One would never guess Daisy was a grown woman of twenty-two at this moment. Small, slim, and dark-haired, she still had the agility and exuberance of a child when other women her age had already become sober young matrons. As she sat with her knees drawn up, she looked like an abandoned china doll in the corner of the settee. It annoyed Bowman to see his daughter holding a book in her lap with a finger stuck between its pages to mark her place. Obviously she could hardly wait for him to finish so she could resume reading.

  “Put that down,” he said.

  “Yes, Father.” Covertly Daisy opened the book to check the page number and set it aside. The small gesture rankled Bowman. Books, books…the mere sight of one had come to represent his daughter’s embarrassing failure on the marriage market.

  Puffing on a massive cigar, Bowman sat in an overstuffed chair in the parlor of the hotel suite they had occupied for more than two years. His wife Mercedes perched on a spindly cane-backed chair nearby. Bowman was a stout, barrel-shaped man, as bullish in his physical dimensions as he was in disposition. Although he was bald on top, he possessed a thick broom of a mustache, as if all the energy required for growing the hair on his head had been diverted to his upper lip.

  Mercedes had begun marriage as an uncommonly slender girl and had become even thinner through the years, like a cake of soap that had gradually worn to a sliver. Her slick black hair was always severely restrained, her sleeves tightly fitted to wrists so diminutive that Bowman could have snapped them like birch twigs. Even when she sat perfectly still, as she was doing now, Mercedes gave the impression of nervous energy.

  Bowman had never regretted choosing Mercedes as a wife—her steely ambition corresponded perfectly with his own. She was a relentless woman, all sharp angles, always pushing to make a place for the Bowmans in society. It was Mercedes who had insisted that since they could not break into the Knickerbocker set in New York, they would bring the girls to England. “We shall simply go over their heads,” she had said with determination. And by God, they had succeeded with his older daughter Lillian.

  Lillian had somehow managed to catch the greatest prize of all, Lord Westcliff, whose pedigree was pure gold. The earl had been a handsome acquisition for the family. But now Bowman was impatient to return to America. If Daisy were going to land a titled husband she would have done so by now. Time to cut their losses.

  Reflecting on his five children, Bowman wondered how it was that they should have so little of him in them. He and Mercedes were both driven, and yet they had produced three sons who were so placid, so accepting of things as they were, so certain that everything they wanted would simply drop into their hands like ripe fruit from a tree. Lillian was the only one who seemed to have inherited a little of Bowman’s aggressive spirit…but she was a woman and therefore it was a complete waste.

  And then there was Daisy. Of all their children, Daisy had always been the one Bowman had understood the least. Even as a child Daisy had never drawn the right conclusions from the stories he told, only asked questions that never seemed relevant to the point he had been trying to make. When he had explained why investors who wanted low risk and moderate returns should put their capital into national debt shares, Daisy had interrupted him by asking, “Father, wouldn’t it be wonderful if hummingbirds had tea parties and we were small enough to be invited?”

  Throughout the years Bowman’s efforts to change Daisy had been met with valiant resistance. She liked herself the way she was and therefore trying to do anything with her was like attempting to herd a swarm of butterflies. Or nailing jelly to a tree.

  Since Bowman had been driven half-mad by his daughter’s unpredictable nature, he was not at all surprised by the lack of men willing to take her on for a lifetime. What kind of mother would she be, prattling about fairies sliding down rainbows instead of drilling sensible rules into her children’s heads.
r />
  Mercedes jumped into the conversation, her voice taut with consternation. “Dear Mr. Bowman, the season is far from over. I am of the opinion that Daisy has made excellent progress so far. Lord Westcliff has introduced her to several promising gentlemen, all of whom are exceedingly interested in the prospect of gaining the earl as a brother-in-law.”

  “I find it telling,” Bowman said darkly, “that the lure for these ‘promising gentlemen’ is to gain Westcliff as a brother-in-law rather than to gain Daisy as a wife.” He pinned Daisy with a hard stare. “Are any of these men likely to offer for you?”

  “She has no way of knowing—” Mercedes argued.

  “Women always know such things. Answer, Daisy—is there a possibility of bringing any of these gentlemen up to scratch?”

  His daughter hesitated, a troubled expression appearing in her tip-tilted dark eyes. “No, Father,” she finally admitted frankly.

  “As I thought.” Lacing his thick fingers together over his midriff, Bowman regarded the two quiet women authoritatively. “Your lack of success has become inconvenient, daughter. I mind the unnecessary expense of gowns and fripperies…I mind the tedium of carting you from unproductive ball to another. More than that, I mind that this venture has kept me in England when I am needed in New York. Therefore I have decided to choose a husband for you.”

  Daisy looked at him blankly. “Whom do you have in mind, Father?”

  “Matthew Swift.”

  She stared at him as if he had gone mad.

  Mercedes drew a quick breath. “That makes no sense, Mr. Bowman! No earthly sense! There would be no advantage for us or for Daisy in such a match. Mr. Swift is not an aristocrat, nor is he possessed of significant wealth—”

  “He is one of the Boston Swifts,” Bowman countered. “Hardly a family one can turn its nose up at. A good name and good blood to go with it. More importantly, Swift is devoted to me. And he has one of the ablest business minds I’ve ever encountered. I want him as a son-in-law. I want him to inherit my company when the time comes.”

  “You have three sons who will inherit the company as their birthright!” Mercedes said in outrage.

  “None of them gives a damn about the business. They haven’t the appetite for it.” Thinking of Matthew Swift, who had flourished under his tutelage for almost ten years, Bowman felt a pang of pride. The boy was more a reflection of Bowman than his own offspring. “None of them has the full-blooded ambition and ruthlessness of Swift,” Bowman continued. “I will make him the father of my heirs.”

  “You’ve taken leave of your senses!” Mercedes cried hotly.

  Daisy spoke in a calm tone that neatly undercut her father’s bluster. “I should point out that my cooperation is necessary in this matter. Especially now that we’ve progressed to the subject of begetting heirs. And I assure you, no power on earth would compel me to bear the children of a man I don’t even like.”

  “I should think you’d want to be of some use to someone,” Bowman growled. It had always been his nature to quash rebellion with overwhelming force. “I should think you would want a husband and home of your own rather than continue your parasitic existence.”

  Daisy flinched as if he had slapped her. “I’m not a parasite.”

  “Oh? Then explain to me how the world has benefitted from your presence in it. What have you ever done for anyone?”

  Faced with the task of justifying her existence, Daisy stared at him stonily and remained silent.

  “This is my ultimatum,” Bowman said. “Find a suitable husband by the end of May, or I will give you to Swift.”

  Chapter 1

  “I shouldn’t tell you about it,” Daisy railed, pacing back and forth in the Marsden parlor later that evening. “In your condition you shouldn’t be distressed. But I can’t keep it to myself or I will explode, which you would probably find infinitely more distressing.”

  Her older sister lifted her head from Lord Westcliff’s supportive shoulder. “Tell me,” Lillian said, swallowing against another wave of nausea. “I’m distressed only when people keep things from me.” She was half-reclining on the long settee, settled in the crook of Westcliff’s arm as he spooned some lemon ice into her mouth. She closed her eyes as she swallowed, her dark lashes resting in spiky crescents against her pale cheeks.

  “Better?” Westcliff asked gently, swabbing a stray drop near the corner of her lips.

  Lillian nodded, her face ghastly white. “Yes, I think it’s helping. Ugh. You had better pray for a boy, Westcliff, because this is your only chance at an heir. I’m never going through this again—”

  “Open your mouth,” he said, and fed her more flavored ice.

  Ordinarily Daisy would have been touched by the glimpse into the Westcliffs’ private life…it was rare that anyone saw Lillian so vulnerable, or Marcus so gentle and concerned. But Daisy was so distracted by her own problems that she barely noticed their interaction as she blurted out, “Father has given me an ultimatum. Tonight he—”

  “Wait,” Westcliff said quietly, adjusting his hold on Lillian. As he eased his wife to her side, she leaned more heavily on him, one slender white hand coming to rest on the curve of her belly. He murmured something indecipherable into her rumpled ebony hair, and she nodded with a sigh.

  Anyone who witnessed Westcliff’s tender care of his young wife could not help but take note of the outward changes in the earl, who had always been known as a cold-natured man. He had become far more approachable—he smiled more, laughed more—and his standards for proper behavior had become far less exacting. Which was a good thing if one wished to have Lillian for a wife and Daisy for a sister-in-law.

  Westcliff’s eyes, so deep a shade of brown they appeared black, narrowed slightly as he focused on Daisy. Although he didn’t say a word, Daisy read in his gaze the desire to shield Lillian from anyone and anything that might disturb her peace.

  Suddenly Daisy felt ashamed for having rushed over here to recount the injustices dealt by her father. She should have kept her problems to herself and instead she had run to her older sister like a tattling child. But then Lillian’s brown eyes opened, and they were warm and smiling, and a thousand childhood memories danced in the air between them like jubilant fireflies. The intimacy of sisters was something not even the most protective husband could disrupt.

  “Tell me,” Lillian said, nestling against Westcliff’s shoulder, “what did the ogre say?”

  “That if I don’t find someone to marry by the end of May he would choose a husband for me. And guess who that is? Just guess!”

  “I can’t imagine,” Lillian said. “Father doesn’t approve of anyone.”

  “Oh, yes he does,” Daisy replied ominously. “There is one person in the world Father approves of one hundred percent.”

  Now even Westcliff was beginning to look interested. “It is someone with whom I am acquainted?”

  “You will be soon,” Daisy said. “Father sent for him. He’ll be arriving at the Hampshire estate next week for the stag-and-hind hunt.”

  Westcliff riffled through his memory for the names Thomas Bowman had asked him to include on the guest list for the spring hunt. “The American?” he asked. “Mr. Swift?”


  Lillian stared at Daisy blankly. Then she turned her face into Westcliff’s shoulder with a squeaky gasp. At first Daisy feared she might be crying, but it quickly became apparent that Lillian was giggling helplessly. “No…not really…how absurd…you could never…”

  “You wouldn’t find it so amusing if you were supposed to marry him,” Daisy said with a scowl.

  Westcliff glanced from one sister to the other. “What is wrong with Mr. Swift? From what your father has indicated he seems a respectable enough fellow.”

  “Everything is wrong with him,” Lillian said, giving a last snort of laughter.

  “But your father esteems him,” Westcliff said.

  “Oh,” Lillian scoffed, “Father’s vanity is flattered by the way Mr. Swift
strives to emulate him and hangs onto his every word.”

  The earl considered her words while he spooned up more lemon ice and pressed it to Lillian’s lips. She made a sound of pleasure as the frosty liquid trickled down her throat.

  “Is your father incorrect in his claim that Mr. Swift is intelligent?” Westcliff asked Daisy.

  “He is intelligent,” she admitted. “But one can’t have a conversation with him—he asks thousands of questions, and he absorbs everything one says but gives nothing back.”

  “Perhaps Swift is shy,” Westcliff said.

  Now Daisy couldn’t help laughing. “I assure you, my lord, Mr. Swift is not shy. He’s—” She paused, finding it difficult to put her thoughts into words.

  Matthew Swift’s bred-in-the-bone coldness was accompanied by an insufferable air of superiority. One could never tell him anything—he knew it all. Since Daisy had grown up in a family populated with uncompromising natures, she’d had little use for yet one more rigid and argumentative person in her life.

  In her opinion it didn’t speak well for Swift that he blended in so well with the Bowmans.

  Perhaps Swift would have been more tolerable had there been anything charming or attractive about him. But he had been blessed with no softening grace of character or form. No sense of humor, no visible displays of kindness. He was awkwardly formed to boot: tall and disproportionate, and so wiry that his arms and legs seemed to have all the substance of stringbeans. She remembered the way his coat had seemed to hang from his wide shoulders as there was nothing inside it.

  “Rather than list all the things I don’t like about him,” Daisy said finally, “it’s far easier to say there is no reason why I should like him.”

No Previous Page Next Page
Should you have any enquiry, please contact us via [email protected]