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Splendid
Cover of Splendid
Splendid

Based on the phenomenal growth of Quinn's popularity, and her four-week stint on the New York Times bestseller list with Romancing Mr Bridgerton, it's the perfect time to revisit Ms Quinn's 'splendid' storytelling.

American heiress Emma Dunster has always been fun-loving and independent with no wish to settle into marriage. She plans to enjoy her Season in London in more unconventional ways than husband-hunting. But this time Emma's high-jinks lead her into dangerous temptation...

Alexander Ridgely, the Duke of Ashbourne, is a notorious rake who carefully avoids the risk of love...until he plants one reckless kiss on the sensuous lips of this high-spirited innocent...and condemns himself to delicious torment. Little does he know that his passion has touched the very soul of the lovely enchantress...and committed them both to a lifetime of splendid ecstasy.

Based on the phenomenal growth of Quinn's popularity, and her four-week stint on the New York Times bestseller list with Romancing Mr Bridgerton, it's the perfect time to revisit Ms Quinn's 'splendid' storytelling.

American heiress Emma Dunster has always been fun-loving and independent with no wish to settle into marriage. She plans to enjoy her Season in London in more unconventional ways than husband-hunting. But this time Emma's high-jinks lead her into dangerous temptation...

Alexander Ridgely, the Duke of Ashbourne, is a notorious rake who carefully avoids the risk of love...until he plants one reckless kiss on the sensuous lips of this high-spirited innocent...and condemns himself to delicious torment. Little does he know that his passion has touched the very soul of the lovely enchantress...and committed them both to a lifetime of splendid ecstasy.

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  • Chapter One

    London, England
    April 1816

    "You realize, of course, that there win be hell to pay if my mother catches us." Arabella Blydon looked over her costume with a skeptical eye. She and Emma had borrowed frocks from their maids -- much to their maids' dismay -- and were presently creeping down the back stairs of Belle's London house.

    "There will be a lot more hell to pay if she catches you swearing," Emma commented wryly.

    "I really don't care. If I have to supervise one more flower arrangement for your party, I'm going to scream."

    "I hardly, think a scream would be appropriate when we're meant to be sneaking down the stairs."

    "Oh, hush," Belle muttered ungraciously, tiptoeing her way down another step.

    Emma surveyed her surroundings as she followed her cousin. The back staircase was certainly a change from the one she and Belle usually used in the main hall, which curved gracefully and was cushioned with luxurious carpets from Persia. In contrast, the polished wooden steps of the back stairs were narrow, and the walls were whitewashed and unadorned. The quiet simplicity of the stairwell reminded Emma of her home in Boston, which was not decorated in the opulent London style. The Blydon mansion, located in fashionable Grosvenor Square, had been in their family for over a century and was filled with both priceless heirlooms and exceedingly bad portraits of the Blydons of yesteryear. Emma glanced back up at the plain walls and sighed softy as she fought back a pang of homesickness for her father.

    "I cannot believe I'm creeping around my home like a burglar to avoid my mother," Belle grumbled as she reached the bottom of the first flight of stairs and rounded the corner to begin the second. "Frankly, I'd rather curl up in my room with a good book, but she's sure to find me there and make me go over the menu again."

    "A fate worse than death," Emma murmured.

    Belle looked at her sharply. "I'll have you know that I've gone over that blasted menu with her countless times. If she corners me one more time with questions about salmon mousse or roast duck à l'orange, I really don't think I can be held responsible for my actions."

    "Contemplating matricide?"

    Belle shot her a wry look but didn't reply as she daintily moved down the stairs. "Watch out for this step, Emma," she whispered, hugging the wall. "It creaks in the middle."

    Emma swiftly followed her cousin's advice. "I take it you sneak down these stairs often?"

    "I used to. It's quite handy to know how to get around this place without anyone knowing what you're up to. I just usually don't go around dressed like my maid."

    "Well, it wouldn't do to wear silks if we're going to help Cook get all the food prepared for tonight."

    Belle looked dubious. "Frankly, I don't think she's going to appreciate our help. She's quite traditional and doesn't really think it's proper for the family to be belowstairs." With that, she flung open the door to the kitchen. "Hello, everyone. We're here to help!"

    Everyone looked absolutely horrified.

    Emma quickly tried to remedy the situation. "You could use two extra pairs of hands, couldn't you?" She turned to Cook and flashed her a wide smile.

    Cook threw up her arms and shrieked, sending clouds of flour billowing through the air. "What in God's name are you two doing down here?"

    One of the kitchen maids stopped kneading dough for a moment and ventured a question. "Pardon me, miladies, but why are you dressed like that?"

    "I don't think the two of you ought to be in my kitchen," Cook continued, placing her hands on her formidable hips. "You'll get in the way."

About the Author-
  • #1 New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn began writing one month after graduating from college and, aside from a brief stint in medical school, she has been tapping away at her keyboard ever since. Her novels have been translated into 43 languages and are beloved the world over. A graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, she lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest.

    Look for BRIDGERTON, based on her popular series of novels about the Bridgerton family, on Netflix.

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