The Marriage Maker

Rules of Refinement

Noblemen aren’t always honorable… but a rake is always charming

On a narrow lane off Edinburgh’s illustrious Charlotte Square, stands a town house that is not quite as impressive as nearby residences, but remains a place of distinction. An air of quiet dignity is maintained by the courtyard that fronts the street, while privacy is assured by a wrought-iron gateway. This house is Lady Peddington’s School for Young Ladies and is owned and run by Lady Honoria Peddington.

Girls fortunate enough to attend the academy are instructed in all aspects of proper comportment, with emphasis on the importance of a pleasing demeanor and appearance, grace and good manners, the skills a lady needs to run a large, well-to-do household, and – of course – the necessity and advantages of an impeccable reputation. Scandal, the girls are warned, must be avoided at all costs.

Lady Peddington’s own reputation is the finest, and all Edinburgh considers her above reproach. She is especially well-loved by the affluent merchants and lesser gentry who live on the fringes of the city’s New Town where she operates her school. These clients appreciate her knack for finding affluent husbands for their daughters. No one suspects that her knowledge of men comes from long-ago days when she wasn’t Lady Honoria Peddington, but simply Honey Pedding, who ran a prosperous Glasgow brothel.

Those skills, though secret, still serve her well, for when her school’s famed graduation balls fail to secure suitable husbands for some of her more high-spirited girls, other gentlemen come to the fore, eager to accept these gems as pampered mistresses. So, however a girl’s heart might lean, Lady Peddington’s School for Young Ladies promises happiness for all.

The Marriage Maker

The Marriage Maker Goes Undercover

The most dangerous weapons are those of the heart…

Lady Elana Gallaway, known as master spy The Raven, has made a career of navigating enemy territory and risking her life in situations and places no gentlewoman should know exist. She possesses all the social graces, and is adept at sweeping into glittering royal courts on the Continent, then vanishing without a trace after she’s ferreted out the treacherous secrets that drew her there in the name of duty. She’s equally accomplished in London and Edinburgh, or wherever the British King requires her service. But never has a mission struck so close to her heart—or proved so daunting—as finding love for four retired spies.

These operatives have helped her many times, once or twice, even saving her from certain death at risk to their own lives.

Now, they live solitary lives, lonely lives while surrounded by throngs.  Luckily, Elana hasn’t forgotten them. Her career has introduced her to more than enemies. Among her close friends is Sir Stirling James, the famous Inverness marriage maker. He’s just the man she needs.

The Marriage Maker

Daughters of Scandal

Only The Marriage Maker dares flaunt scandal to uncover innocence…

In the gentle age that heralds the nineteenth century, ladies are revered as tender creatures who require a man’s firm, guiding hand. As the weaker sex, a lady understands that she is not equipped to deal with the harsher elements of life and she gladly remains within the shelter of her protector.

As a result, she is free to pursue genteel pastimes. A lady, intelligent in her own right, will honor her protector by her skill at running his household. She is always aware of her responsibility as a paragon of virtue, dresses demurely and conducts herself in accordance with propriety.

Heaven help the female who doesn’t understand her role in society.

The sins of the father are visited upon the children…

One cannot help their circumstances of birth, but even the Most High understands how cruel people can be. As the former ward of a baron and the new Duke of Roxburgh, Sir Stirling James has seen this principal in action within the elite ranks of the ton.

Sir Stirling James, Duke of Rothburgh, has one particular weakness—he delights in seeing Society in scandal. Nae, he delights in creating scandal. And what greater scandal than for The Marriage Maker to introduce into the ton four genteel ladies whose fathers’ crimes have ostracized them?

The Marriage Maker

Flowers of Scotland

Only The Marriage Maker can pull flowers from the ashes…

Few men are legends in their own time, great fame more often coming years, even centuries later, and by the pens of scribes who rely on long-told tales rather than fact. Even so, now and again, larger-than-life heroes appear, the sheer force of their personalities raising them above all others. These are the fabled ones, flesh and blood men whose lights blaze so bright they eclipse all who’ve gone before them, as well as those who follow.

In the early years of the thirteen century, when medieval Scotland was entrenched in the treachery and chaos of the Wars of Independence, one such man emerged from the tall shadow of the great William Wallace. This man went on to lead Scotland in a fierce fight for freedom that culminated with his 1306 crowning as King of Scots and then, in 1314, with his stunning victory against Edward II of England at the Battle of Bannockburn.

This man was Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s greatest hero king. Even after his triumph at Bannockburn, he railed against England for another fourteen years, finally securing full Scottish independence in 1328, one year before his death.

Extraordinarily beloved by his men, Robert Bruce was also known for his good looks and charm. Yes, he loved the ladies, and they flocked to him. Such adoration from beautiful women is hard for any man to ignore, especially a warrior king always on the move, long away from hearth and home. The Bruce was married twice and is known to have especially loved his second wife. Yet, medieval wars were brutal and it proved too great a temptation to decline the feminine comfort offered him at every turn.

In short, he succumbed. The hero king who came to be known as the Flower of Scotland for his chivalry, sired many bastards and, great-hearted as he was, he ensured that each one lacked for nothing.

But time rolls on, and after but a few centuries, glory-seekers claimed descent from Scotland’s most revered king. Fortunes turned, and some of his true descendants fell from favor. Eventually, no one remembered that their blood carried the richness of such a great and heroic man.

Of course, no one forgot Robert Bruce. His fame burns as brightly as ever. Some historians are obsessed with him, delving deep into history to uncover every nuance of his life and deeds, including the amorous tales.

When one such historian discovers four young women whose lineages trace directly to the Bruce, this man is deeply troubled. The Flowers of Scotland, as he views these Bruce descendants, should not suffer lives of hardship and obscurity as these women do.

Something must be done and he knows just the man to help them; Sir Stirling James, The Marriage Maker. Sir James is a regular at the Inverness pub run by the hobby historian, an establishment named The Melrose for the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s heart; Melrose Abbey.

Sir James, a true patriot, and history buff himself, agrees that the four young women deserve triumphs of their own. He knows just the four men worthy of them—men who, like the Bruce, possess charm, rank and standing. These heroes can sweep the lassies off their feet and into a world of happiness and love they never dreamed possible.

The Marriage Maker

The Marriage Maker and the Widows

A man who loves this woman must be ready to give his soul to save hers…

Virgins are overrated. Women of experience. Women who know what they want. Women who don’t need a man—at least for nothing more than the pleasures only a man can provide. These are the women men desire.

It takes a man of worth, of steel determination, to capture one of these beauties…especially when she doesn’t want to be caught, and I know from experience, they take great pains to avoid the marriage trap. Why give up her freedom, nights spent with lovers who worship her body as only a lover can? Nae. The man who sets his sights on one of these women must forgo conventional wisdom. Poetic words of love fall on deaf ears, for many men have confessed their devotion in brilliantly lit ballrooms and under moonlit skies. This female creature has no desire to be tamed beyond the pleasures of one night.

A man who loves this woman must be ready to give his soul to save hers.

Fate often watches in perverse glee when these women pass within a hair’s breadth of these men, blithely unaware of their hero’s existence.

But fate didn’t plan on me, The Marriage Maker.

The Marriage Maker

The Beasts of Blackstone Abby

The deadliest wounds are those you can’t see….

In the closing months of 1811, speculation is rampant that the war with France must surely end.  Yet soldiers continue to fill the beds at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The wounds of the spirit that Nurse Charlotte MacLeod observes among her patients at the infirmary are often worse than those she tends on their bodies. Limbs mend, bruises fade, and even near-fatal injuries can miraculously heal. But guilt and a broken heart too often destroy a patient’s will to live.

Four of the most grimly-beset warriors seek the strength and means to avoid a life filled with stares and pity. Men of some standing and influence before the war, they now band together and use their resources to purchase Blackstone Abbey, a half-ruined monastic estate where they intend to spend their remaining years in peace and solitude.

Little do they know that Charlotte sees through their stony faces and dark moods. Their favorite nurse knows these men were not meant to be hermits—or eunuchs. She is certain that heated passion still flows through their veins, scarred bodies and battered souls.

They need strong and daring lassies able to break through the walls the Beasts have built around themselves. She has seen such magic at work. Not long ago, the famous Marriage Maker from Inverness, Sir Stirling James, visited a friend at the infirmary, and she heard the tales of his successful matchmaking endeavors.

So, when the four battle-hardened warriors leave for their new and distant home, where they intend to sequester themselves away in a remote location in the Scottish Highlands, Charlotte decides to do a bit of meddling. Her charges deserve happiness.

They also need hope. And she knows only one thing that can revive it…


The Marriage Maker

A Rogue to the End

Young men are the rulers of all they survey… or so they believe

When a young man is a rake of the first order, there comes a time when a good mama must take matters into her own hands. An intelligent mother knows—nae—expects a son to have his indiscretions, to break a few hearts, and perhaps even plot one ill-conceived proposal of marriage before he finally settles down with a lady of quality. But she will not tolerate that good son making a career of indiscretions.

A wise mother also knows that to forbid her son these indiscretions is to excite his need to prove his mastery by doing the very thing she forbids. Therefore, her course of action must be well thought out, a plan that is foolproof. Many might scoff at the notion of a foolproof plan. But those souls know not a mother’s determination.

Even better, when four determined mamas band together and enlist the aid of The Marriage Maker.

The Marriage Maker

The London Lonely Hearts Social Club

Gentleman seeking lady for game of hearts…

Love is a fickle mistress. She opens her arms to all, but too often eludes her most ardent worshippers. Even in a city as large as London, many seek love but cannot find it. A lady can only meet a gentleman within her circle of friends. A gentleman must be assured of a lady’s virtue.

On a quiet lane in London’s residential district Charles Street sits the large townhouse of Mr. George Baker. The third son of a baron, Mr. Baker is a successful merchant who cannot find a suitable lady of marriageable age. The ladies of his acquaintance are interested only in his money, are too old, too young, or have a tarnished reputation.

Mr. Baker, ever the optimist, refuses to abandon his quest. Though such an establishment is frowned upon, he has started a small club for other optimists. Entry into the London Lonely Hearts Social Club is granted only after an investigation of the applicant’s background confirms he has no criminal record. A gentleman must also produce proof that he can support a wife. The ladies—well—ladies need only come from a good family and desire a husband.

With so many romantics together in one place, what can possibly go wrong?

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The Marriage Maker and the Widowers

The business of finding a wife is a risky venture…

Four young men once married for love. But life dealt the cruelest blow a husband can suffer and took the women they adored.

Older now, their hearts buried with their wives, only duty remains—and duty demands they remarry. Only a lady of quality who understands the duties of a wife and mother will do. No scandal can be attached to her. No charlatans, gamesters or spendthrifts. And, God forbid, no woman susceptible to the romantic idea of love.

Who better to contract four suitable wives than the man known as the Marriage Maker? After all, a commoner who married the future Duchess of Roxburgh must understand that marriage is a business.

Sir Stirling James understands all too well…

Contracts are prepared, and once money and vows are exchanged, the gentlemen can put this business of marriage behind them.

This isn’t the first time Sir Stirling James has accepted such a challenge…and he knows contracts always contain small print that neither party bothers to read.

The Marriage Maker

Scottish Wallflowers

Some of the most precious flowers adorn the walls

In the glittering lights of the ballroom, ladies’ dresses flare in a whirl of gay colors as gentlemen turn their partners across the dancefloor. Laugher hangs in the air. Lashes lower and covert glances, acknowledged. Hearts beat in sync to the language of love.

Some ladies, however, are taught to keep their eyes lowered, and so miss the looks that ask permission to approach. They don’t hear what isn’t said, so never learn the meaning of a mere look. They remain strangers, watching the revelry from secluded corners.

Many of these women are quite beautiful—but so are those on the dancefloor. Poise, confidence, style…many assume that any woman lacking these attributes are invited to ballroom dances out of kinship or obligation. But society isn’t obliged to acknowledge their presence.

The Marriage Maker

Sirens of Skye

These she pirates plundered ships. Now they’re after men’s hearts…