Sophia Hastings wrenched her neck from one side to the other, hearing it crack in each direction. Her mother glanced up from her needlework to give her daughter a warning look, which Sophia promptly glanced away from and put her brown eyes back to the embroidery she was working on.
The clock ticked in the parlour and, along with Sophia’s neighbour and dearest friend, Adrianna Alcott, she tried to focus on the image of threads without crossing her eyes too hard.
“You mustn’t allow the Earl to see you making that expression,” Sophia’s mother, Lady Silsby laughed.
Adrianna instantly began to chuckle with her, at Sophia’s expense. But Sophia took it as usual with her light-hearted demeanour and laughed along with them, knowing that she must look entirely ridiculous as she was about her needlework.
“I shan’t, I promise. He shall see me only at my absolute best,” she teased them in reply, rudely blowing a burst of her auburn hair from where it had fallen in front of her face.
Sophia would not allow her large, saucer shaped, brown eyes to be seen in such a ridiculous light by her intended. She wished for the Earl of Bastion to only note her beauty and her wit, certainly not her failure as an embroiderer or the foolishness with which she still made an effort to learn the craft.
“Well, I should certainly hope so. He is a man of fine standing and he is not one that you should lose,” Lady Silsby replied with an eyebrow raised.
“Do not worry, Mother. It was the Earl that pursued me. I think there is nothing I can do that would steer him away now,” Sophia said, ignoring the stirring of guilt in her gut.
Soon an official engagement would be announced. She was certain of it. And despite the fact that there would be those…or certainly one, who would be saddened by it, there was little that Sophia could do to change any of it now.
The Earl had been interested in her and had taken great pains to express it. There was nothing more that she could have done but to accept and move forward.
He was an excellent match, to be sure. Wealthy, titled, the very sort that would elevate the status of her own family. And of course, he was a man of great repute. Anyone who managed to be associated with the Earl was seen as exemplary.
And he had set his eyes on Sophia Hastings. That was a pride that she made every effort to dwell in and to accept. She had been the choice of a great man, and somehow that was the most important thing any young woman could hope for.
“You are so fortunate to have managed to find a man like him. I should think that Mama and Papa would be overjoyed if I managed such a feat. You shall have to tell me how it was done,” Adrianna said with a bright, red-lipped smile on her pale face.
Her features reminded Sophia of a strawberry, with such natural colour in her cheeks and mouth set against an otherwise pale face. The freckles that dusted her nose were impossible to hide and the soft red of her hair showed her to be British through and through.
Adrianna’s mother and father had only recently come to the area. The Lord and Lady Danby had decided they needed a new estate out in the country, and it had put the two young women near one another.
Sophia had been glad for it. She had always found the country to be boring, and her mother and father had only recently been taking her into London again for the latest season. But now they had returned to their estate, where they typically remained. Her father was not a fan of the city and went only on business most of the time.
But it had been during the past season in which Sophia had met the Earl of Bastion and he had expressed a great interest in her. And although it had caused a number of changes to come about in her life, she had accepted them and chosen to make the best of them.
“I imagine that he shall come to the estate any day now and propose. Oh, or do you think he shall wait until the Mayweather Ball that is happening in two weeks? Are you going? We got our invitation yesterday,” Adrianna remarked.
“Oh yes, we shall certainly go. So long as I can convince Papa to take us into town for it,” Sophia laughed. “But I cannot say if or when the Earl shall propose. He has been courting me for quite some time now and I imagine that he shall have to propose very soon.”
“I am sure it shall be some grand gesture. Perhaps that is why it has taken so long. He is probably planning something great for you,” Adrianna dreamed. “Something out of a fairytale with pure white horses and a visit to one of the castles, even…”
Sophia laughed. “I cannot imagine he should do something so grand as all of that, but I would hardly be opposed if he did!”
“Well, whenever it comes, it shall not be today or tomorrow,” Lady Silsby inserted. “He is currently away on a trip to London. I believe he is set to return in two days.”
Sophia nodded, remembering that the Earl had a trip planned for the week. She wondered when she would see him again. He was such a handsome man that she hardly minded any opportunity to look upon him.
And his charm was tremendous. She was always amazed by his humour and wit. Of course, Sophia knew that she was overly romantic, as people frequently reminded her. But it did not change the fact that she enjoyed hearing every word from his lips.
“Well, I expect that whenever he returns, the time has finally come for him to make a proposal. The Earl knows that you are expecting it and that we have already arranged every matter with him regarding the marriage. So be patient, my dear,” Lady Silsby added.
“You’re right, Mama. I know that all shall come together soon enough. I simply cannot wait to make you and Father proud by marrying a man like the Earl,” Sophia declared.
For a moment all went quiet in the room, but Lady Silsby set down her own needlework and looked up at Sophia with a question in her eyes.
“Have you heard anything of late from Mr. and Mrs. Gregory?” she asked.
The twisting returned to Sophia’s gut. She had not anticipated this question from her mother and wished that she could pretend she had not heard it.
“Whatever do you mean, Mama?” she asked.
“I was just curious if you had heard any news from them about Thomas,” she clarified.
“Certainly not. I cannot think why I ought to have kept up with him. The Gregorys have their own life and Mr. Gregory is off and away with the military,” she added.
“Yes, but that is very much why I should like to know how he is doing,” Lady Silsby said, looking at Sophia as if she were a fool or, at the very least, a callous young woman for not considering him.
“I am certain that if anything had happened to him, we would have heard by now,” Sophia remarked. “Mr. and Mrs. Gregory would notify us of that at least. But if there is no news at all, I shouldn’t wonder at their silence. What more would they have to say?” Sophia asked.
Hoping that the conversation would go no further, Sophia buried her face in the embroidery again. It was clear that Adrianna’s eyes were upon her, curious about the matter, but Sophia would not look up.
She felt the heat in her cheeks and wished to push away all thoughts of the man she had once known who was now an Officer, far away from them, fighting a battle.
It had been nearly two years since their friendship had changed. Sophia had never quite forgiven herself for that.
And she had never forgotten the man who had been her childhood sweetheart. She had never forgotten the days of riding horses and reading and enjoying their time together from a young age.
She had never forgotten the days when he had chased her about, being cruel towards her when they were very young because he was a few years older and thought that women were to be teased. And she had never forgotten the moments when they would share an apple and allow their eyes to lock with one another as they sought to spend time together.
Sophia cleared her throat and, with it, the memories. She did not need the memories. She did not need the guilt or the shame. She needed to focus on the marriage that was soon to take place.
“So you do not care at all about his well-being?” Lady Silsby asked.
Sophia opened her mouth to answer, but before she could, a great disturbance occurred.
“Lady Silsby! Lady Sophia!” called Miss Honeycutt, bursting through the door.
“Good heavens, Miss Honeycutt, what is all of this about?” Lady Silsby asked, clearly upset that the housekeeper would cause such a great mess by coming in with such dramatics.
“I have terrible news, Lady Silsby. Terrible news indeed. And I cannot bear to say it,” the woman cried in distress.
“Well you had best be out with it because I shall not contend with this behaviour in our household staff,” Lady Silsby warned.
Sophia knew Miss Honeycutt to often be a dramatic woman. Aged well beyond her prime, the woman was constantly in search of theatrics. Whatever this issue was about, Sophia imagined it was simply another of the housekeeper’s overreactions.
“A scandal, Lady Silsby. Such a terrible scandal. About the…about the Earl of Bastion,” she finally said, whispering the final words as if to avoid Adrianna hearing them.
Sophia’s heart began to pound. She could not imagine what sort of scandal might have come about regarding such an upstanding man as the Earl. But whatever it was, she knew that she did not wish to hear it.
“Miss Honeycutt, we have no desire for gossip,” Sophia said quickly, terrified by what it might be. She was growing overwhelmed, frightened that this might be something that could truly change her circumstances forever.
“Hush, Sophia,” her mother hissed. “If there is a scandal afoot, we must learn what it is. Now, out with it,” she demanded.
Miss Honeycutt drew in a deep breath, enjoying that she had the attention of the room for something so important.
“I was at the market, gathering the preparations for dinner. And while I was there, I heard some of the ladies talking amongst themselves. Of course, they had no idea that I am your housekeeper or I imagine they would not have spoken so freely,” she began.
“But it was spoken of rather widely. It was discovered this morning that the Earl has lied to everyone. He is not in London on business as he claimed. Rather he has run off. Off and away with some young woman from the countryside. A young woman who is far below his own station,” Miss Honeycutt managed to say, her eyes wide amidst an already wide face.
Sophia put a hand to her mouth in shock. She felt numb. She could scarcely believe the words that were coming out of the housekeeper’s mouth. Certainly it could not be true.
She wished that she could feel enraged, that she could be angry and in despair. But none of that had come yet. For now, she sunk to the couch in disbelief. It could not be true. He could not have done that to her, not after all this time and all of the planning and arrangements that they had been working on in advance of their wedding.
Sophia would not believe it.
“Miss Honeycutt, you cannot be telling the truth. Or you have heard a falsehood and you have brought it into this home,” Lady Silsby steamed.
“I wish it were a lie. But I fear that it is the talk of the town. The whole market was abuzz with the news. There is no question, Lady Silsby. The Earl of Bastion has run off with another woman. He has shamed himself and his family. And there is no sign of his ever returning to right his wrongs,” she replied.
Lady Silsby turned to her daughter, but Adrianna was already seated beside Sophia and placing a hand upon her shoulder.
“We shall demand that he make this right,” Lady Silsby declared.
“He shall realise his mistake and come back to you. I’m sure of it. He pursued you and he must love you,” Adrianna reasoned.
But their words fell upon deaf ears. Sophia did not want their pity. She wanted the Earl to have loved her enough not to make this mistake.
But it was too late. He had made his choice. And now, she would have to pay for it.
Two months had passed and Sophia remained forlorn. It had turned out that the maid had heard the truth. In the months that had passed, a series of misfortunes had overwhelmed her.
The Earl of Bastion had been a weak man. He had been a fool. And through it all, he had made Sophia look as though she had been the one to make a mistake. After all, there must be something wrong with her if she was not enough for a man like him.
The young woman he was supposed to have eloped with was a simple girl from the countryside. No matter how society viewed the matter, Sophia was the one who was publicly humiliated. She was the one who was stuck with the consequences.
But the true pain was not the embarrassment. Rather the true pain that she felt was the heartbreak of rejection. It was hardly the first time she had felt the rejection of a man she had cared for, but it was the most recent and it caused her a great deal of pain to know that she could not keep any man happy no matter how she might try.
A small part of her had felt that she had loved the Earl. Whether or not that was true love, she could not say. After all, it was the only form of love she had ever known with a man. Well, that was not true. But it was what she had long tried to tell herself.
But if this had been love, then love was something that she never desired to know again. She had been close enough to the sense of love to know that it was painful and existed only to wound one due to another.
On more than one occasion Sophia had sat with Adrianna and her mother, listening to what was spoken about in society. Sophia had made every effort to avoid the gossip and rumors as they were told by others, but she still wished to know what was being said.
It was easier when the truths were coming from them rather than from other ladies with whom she was less familiar.
Her mother had sat with her the evening after everything had come out and explained what she had heard about the Earl, and the details she had learned. But they had been few as there was still little certainty of what had led him to such callous actions.
In the weeks that followed her mother had managed to glean other pieces of information, although the majority of it was in reference only to the present.
Primarily it all had to do with the Earl’s recent actions. He had shamed his family. He had abandoned his title for the sake of the young woman that no one knew anything about.
It seemed as though no one was ever going to put the pieces together.
Sophia had hoped in the very least that the Earl might write her a letter, explaining himself. But he had remained silent. He had not given even a moment’s thought to explain matters to her, and it was agonising for Sophia to know that he did not even care enough to speak with her about what had occurred.
She would have to move on, alone, and try to understand what had been so terrible about her that he could not even find it within himself to communicate his abandonment. She would have to live with the heartbreak of his lack of affection for her.
But the weeks continued to move forward and, finally, more of the story unfolded. Adrianna had come to spend time with Sophia, but she had warned her that more information had come to light and it might be difficult to hear.
Sophia agreed to hear it anyway, thinking that any explanation was better than nothing at all. She needed to understand why this had all happened.
Adrianna had made every effort to calm Sophia before she launched into the explanation that she had heard regarding what had happened with the Earl and why he had acted so terribly through all of this. But Sophia knew how evident her sadness was, and she allowed her friend to simply comfort her for a while before anything else.
“I am so sorry that you have had to face this terrible pain,” Adrianna had said to her. It was nice having the companionship of her friend, but it did not make things right.
“I know,” Sophia mumbled, unwilling to make more of an effort to speak. She closed her eyes as if this enabled her to will the world away and give her a semblance of solitude.
She had spent a great deal of her time in the quiet of her room, and she was scarcely one for conversation in those days that had followed.
Adrianna had not forced her to pretend to be upbeat or to try to be alright. She had simply sat with her and listened and taken care of her friend who was suffering these terrible pains and living with such a burden.
“Can I call for anything to be brought to you? Would you like a bit of custard? I imagine Miss Honeycutt could have it brought for you. I know you are a fan of it,” Adrianna suggested.
“I cannot eat right now,” Sophia replied, allowing herself to collapse on the bed. She had tried to maintain a proper posture, tried to greet her friend in the parlour as was expected, but nothing seemed to do her any good.
She had preferred to simply remain upon the bed, resting and thinking and trying to forget the state of her affairs.
“You mustn’t refrain from eating, Sophia. Please, it is not healthy for you,” Adrianna reminded her.
“But it does not matter. I shall never find love again and I can hardly be expected to hope for it,” Sophia replied, forlornly.
“So your life is meaningless? All because of the actions of a foolish Earl who has disgraced himself in society? Why must you suffer further punishment for the behaviours of another?” Adrianna asked.
“Because if I had been enough for him, if I could have made him love me, none of this would have happened. Do not pretend otherwise. I know that everyone says it. Everyone thinks it. He ran away because I was not enough,” she reasoned.
Adrianna let out a frustrated sigh.
“You were not made a fool of, but you are playing the fool right now. I have listened to the gossip. I have heard what a liar he was. When people speak of you, they speak only of how you were betrayed. No one declares you to be at fault in any manner,” Adrianna assured her.
“I can hardly imagine that to be true,” she said, unwilling to give even the slightest degree of acceptance to her friend who was making such an effort to better the situation for Sophia.
“Good heavens, the Earl of Bastion had been in love with this other woman for years, Sophia!” she yelled.
Sophia felt her heart break all over again. How she had believed this man’s lies, how she had not known that he would do this to her? It was shameful.
Not once had it occurred to her that someone could be so cruel and so vile. Not once had she imagined that a man of such a calibre would treat her with such indignity.
“He loved her for years?” Sophia asked.
“According to those I have spoken with, he did. She was the daughter of some merchant that his father used to buy from often. And the two were childhood sweethearts who often ran off together in hopes of one day being married,” Adrianna said.
“Then why did he not marry her long ago? Why did he have to allow me to spend all this time hoping that we might be married as he had promised we would?” Sophia asked, ignoring the fact that she knew well it had been her own emotions that had caused such a delay in the marriage.
The fact of the matter was that she was long uncertain as to whether or not she wanted to marry him. She was only just prepared for it to happen. But it was still far easier to blame the Earl for the length of the wait than to accept it upon her own shoulders.
So instead she would question why he did not simply make his decision sooner.
“Because she was the daughter of a merchant, as I said. She was not of his station and he knew that his mother and father would never allow it. Even after his father passed away and he took on the title and was running the home, everyone knew that his mother has been the one to run his life,” Adrianna said.
“Yes, she is quite an awful woman. I did not look forward to being under her thumb at all times,” Sophia sighed.
“Well, now you shan’t be. She is, reportedly, quite furious,” she said.
“And do I not have a right to be furious?” Sophia asked.
“Certainly you do. And everyone expects you to be. But I have not seen fury from you. I have seen only sadness. I wish that you would be furious and rage and feel the way that you ought to feel. It might help you out of this depression that I have seen come over you,” Adrianna said.
“But I cannot shake from my mind the thought that part of this is all my own fault. If I had been better, he would not have run off with another,” Sophia said again.
“You must forget that train of thought. As I said, he did not simply run off. He loved her for a long time. He pursued you because he did care for you, I’m sure of it. He knew that he had an obligation to society that he must marry. He saw you as the best choice of all the women in noble society,” Adrianna said.
Sophia knew that this was supposed to make her feel better. She knew that being the first pick of the Earl for an appropriate wife was a compliment. But she could not see it that way.
“In the end, the Earl had to follow his heart and seek out his true love,” Adrianna added.
“And I was not her,” Sophia concluded.
Knowing that the Earl of Bastion had been in love with the young woman for several years made nothing better. In all the time that he had been amongst society, he had been longing to be with her again.
His courtship with Sophia had been a mere obligation of society. He had not once truly desired her or loved her. He had been with her only for the purposes of what had been expected of him. But now that the courtship had ended, he was hiding nothing.
Sophia was not the strong-willed woman that she desired to be. She knew that her emotions often got the better of her, but this did not change the fact that she simply could do nothing but sit around and be depressed.
For a great deal of time, she had made every attempt to distract herself. Still, she was making such an effort. But it seemed hopeless. It seemed as though there was nothing at all in the world that might improve her mood or make her feel better.
“Why don’t we go outside and get some air?” Adrianna suggested.
“Are you trying to cheer me up?” Sophia asked.
“Do you truly need to ask that question?” her friend laughed.
Sophia looked at Adrianna and finally agreed to join her. They walked around outside for a while, taking in the beauty of the countryside and walking amongst the flowers. It was another attempt at distraction that Sophia understood, but did not care for.
Everyone was constantly trying to take her mind off the matters that had occurred. But whether she thought about it indoors, inside her room, or here outside in the air, the pain remained present and rather unbearable.
With each and every embroidery that she put together, she felt like a fool. There was no sense in wasting time with silly designs or pointless threads.
As she practiced her piano skill, hopelessness would be heard through each and every note. The minor keys grew loathsome to her family. But there was not a happy tune she could play.
On the days in which her mother would send her outside to draw, Sophia would find herself able to only remain out of doors for a short period of time. After taking in the air and sketching briefly, she would return inside and make her way to her room where she would remain in a forlorn mood.
But the truly difficult days were the ones in which they would receive an invitation to this ball or that.
Sophia was agonised at having to refuse so many opportunities to socialise. She enjoyed the company of others generally. But these days, the humiliation was too great.
She simply was not secure enough, in herself or in the events that had occurred, to be present amongst so many people. She did not wish to be seen when she knew that gossip still surrounded her and that so many people were aware of her plight, her loss.
When Adrianna would mention this ball or that, Sophia would tell her that she was not in the mood to attend.
And with every invitation that she refused, the isolation grew worse.
Relaxed in her room, trying to remain distracted, Sophia was surprised when a knock came at her door. She had not been expecting anyone, but perhaps she had dozed off again without realising it and was late for dinner.
“Come in,” she called, sitting up from the bed.
In walked Adrianna, with all of her pluck and spirit. With a grin on her face and strength in her step, she plopped herself on the bed and looked at Sophia.
“My dear Sophia, you are still wallowing. Have we not spoken about this? It has been two months. I know that love cannot be so easily gotten over, but you simply must try and make an effort to move forward. You cannot live in this sadness forever,” Adrianna scolded.
“Why ever not? How can it do any harm now?” Sophia asked.
Adrianna looked at her with a sense of anger, a sort of disdain.
“I simply no longer have the patience for this. I understand that you are upset. I would be as well. You have every right to be angry and sad and every other emotion that you are feeling, but I cannot possibly understand why you would refuse to move forward. Have you no desire to move on with your life?” she asked.
“Of course I do. But I cannot do it yet. You must give me time,” Sophia defended. It was irritating how often her friend and her mother, and even Miss Honeycutt, had all constantly come to her, pushing for Sophia to overcome everything that had happened. It was as though they believed she ought to simply forget and move on.
“I have given you more than enough time. And you had best listen to me. You do not need more time. What you need is to get yourself out of this bedroom. Not simply to craft doilies just to prove that you are able. Not to go for a walk that has no other purpose than to move your misery outside rather than remaining indoors,” Adrianna said.
“Then for what purpose?” Sophia asked, as if it were hopeless.
“For the purpose of being yourself again. Do you expect me to believe that this is the woman you ever wished to be? You must take control of your emotions,” she said.
“But I’m told that I am an emotional person. And if I am, then how can I change it?” Sophia asked, throwing it in Adrianna’s face.
“You become a strong person,” she retorted.
Sophia had always wished she could be strong, but that was never something she felt capable of. That was Adrianna’s skill, not her own. Strength was for brave women and for men.
Adrianna. Thomas. Her father. They were all strong. But she was not like them. She was defeated.
She was defeated by the Earl of Bastion. She had been defeated by Thomas. She was simply a woman who was growing accustomed to the rejection of men and having to accept that she did not deserve the affections of any whom she cared for.
“Do you wish to always live with such weakness?” Adrianna asked in a forceful way, making Sophia recognise the sadness of her own state.
“Of course not-”
“Then cease with your excuses. Move forward,” Adrianna declared.
Sophia knew that her friend was right, but that did not mean that she was ready to leave the home.
The seclusion had been the only comfort that she had felt in such a long time. Sophia did not believe that going out would do her any good, other than to bring her humiliation. If she went out and was seen by the other young women of society, she would feel the sadness of all that she had.
She would know that they gossiped about her, sharing rumours as to why the Earl had left her. Young women in society were a cruel breed. There was no doubt of that. And Sophia had little desire to expose herself to their cruelty when she was still trying to recover from the ways she had been treated by the Earl.
Oh, and if the young women were so cruel in their words, what were the men saying about her? All of those eligible bachelors, waiting, ready to find their own match. By now, surely they all knew that she was a mere castoff. Sophia was not worth their time.
She had been rejected by a man far superior to any other and the next man would simply be a poor substitute. They would fear the wounding of their pride by being with a woman who reeked of failure in her past matches. They would not wish to associate with her in any manner.
But still, Adrianna expected her to push forward and move on. Adrianna, her mother, her father, and even the housekeeper – each of them had such an expectation. But Sophia could not see a path forward.
“How do you expect me to do that?” Sophia asked. “I cannot simply go to another ball and find a new husband.”
“No, you cannot. But that is not what I am asking of you,” Adrianna smirked.
Sophia suddenly felt very anxious. She saw something in her friend’s eyes that brought her fear. What was Adrianna hoping for? What was she thinking about that was so evidently amusing to her?
She didn’t wish to know. Sophia thought it would probably be best if she ignored this conversation, if she retreated from it. Anything to get her out of whatever madness Adrianna wished to push her into now. No, she would have to find a way, ignore the suggestions, pretend to be ill.
A tiny spark lit within her. Sophia had longed to be a strong, brave woman. She had wanted to overcome the parts of herself that others viewed as weak. She had wished to accept her emotions and hold them captive rather than allowing them to define her. All of these things had been a part of her.
All of these things had been desires that she had suppressed because she did not believe herself capable of them.
And if Adrianna was about to suggest something that might push her to this, perhaps it was worth listening to. Perhaps she could make herself ready to move forward and be a new woman. A brave woman. A strong woman. A woman who cared not if she was rejected by a thousand Earls and Officers.
Yes, she could face whatever challenge Adrianna wished to present her with. Because she would no longer be the weak woman who simply pandered for the loves she had lost. She would seek out a life that had meaning beyond her rejection.
“Alright, what is it then? What do you think I ought to do to get through this?” she asked.
Adrianna grinned wider than ever.
“There is a woman that I know of in London. A woman who can help you move on from this,” she replied.
“A woman in London? How exactly is she meant to help me move on? What sort of woman is she?” Sophia asked.
“She is a matchmaker, Sophia. And she has a perfect track record. Not one of her matches has ever failed. They have all succeeded in producing happy marriages. Not only that, but she works to ensure that the matches are appropriate to society. So there shall never be a question as to whether or not a couple belongs with one another,” Adrianna explained.
“A matchmaker?” Sophia asked, incredulous and not at all liking the thought.
So much for being brave. This is a terrible idea. Why would I entrust my heart to some woman in London who does not even know me? She wondered.
“Oh, do not look so horrified as all that. As I said, she has a proven excellency. I know many people who have used her services and come out the better for it. In fact, my eldest brother was a patron of hers. And you know that he is married to a lovely, genial woman,” Adrianna pointed out.
“Truly? Your brother and his wife met through this woman?” she asked.
“Yes. This woman, as you call her, is none other than Miss Georgiana Wainwright. She comes from a long line of women in this business, so she learned from an early age how to match men and women and decipher which personalities are best suited to one another,” Adrianna continued to explain.
But no matter how convincing she was, Sophia could not deny that she felt anxious while thinking about this option for her own circumstance. Would it work for her? Would she be happy in a marriage that had been arranged by someone else?
“I’m not sure…” she said, trying to convince herself one way or another.
The thought of a matchmaker was astounding. Sophia could hardly imagine doing such a thing, especially when she was still grieving the loss that she had so recently experienced. Having another woman find her a potential husband sounded like a foolish thought.
She didn’t know if her heart was ready. Still living under the pain of what had occurred with the Earl, Sophia felt that it was too soon.
Nevertheless, in the time that she had spent getting to know Adrianna, Sophia had quickly learned that one did not simply refuse her strong-willed behaviour.
Then again, in many ways it made sense. Sophia realised that she would never find true love anyway. At this point, all hope was lost. And with that recognition in mind, she figured that there was very little risk in taking such a step.
If she could not find a match for herself, perhaps this matchmaker would do the trick for her. No matter how reluctant her feelings might be on the matter, it seemed her only hope.
It was not even so much that Sophia was desperate to find a husband. But she knew what society expected of her. She knew what her mother and father wished for her. And if the Matchmaker could find her someone even remotely suitable, she might as well marry for convenience.
With that determination in mind, she looked at Adrianna and nodded her head.
“Alright then. I suppose I have little choice otherwise. I shall be brave, like you. I shall put my fate in the hands of Miss Georgiana Wainwright if you insist that it is the best decision for me,” she decided.
“I do, I truly do!” Adrianna exclaimed, clapping her hands together.
“It seems like either madness or nonsense to me,” Sophia added.
“That is why you need someone like me. You wish to be brave and bold, but you cannot become either of those things if you spend all your time cooped up in your bedroom, mourning the love that you lost. This is a far better way to go about your future,” Adrianna assured her.
“I am certain that it is…” Sophia replied dryly, unconvinced.
“Do not be so dour. I told you this is a great decision and I stand by that. You shall see it soon enough,” she promised.
Sophia nodded. “I suppose that if she can match me so that my parents are at least happy, it shall be worth it. A marriage of convenience is certainly better in their minds than no marriage at all,” Sophia remarked.
“Oh dear, perhaps I have not explained this very well after all,” Adrianna said, looking at Sophia in concern.
“What do you mean? What have I misunderstood?” she asked.
“This is not for the matter of convenience. Miss Wainwright does not simply match you with another eligible member of noble society for the sake of wealth and status. No, my friend, she matches for love. And you can rest assured that she shall find you the one you are meant to spend your life with,” Adrianna promised.
Smiling as if she believed it, Sophia tried to appease her friend. In truth, she knew that such a thing was impossible. She would never allow herself to love again. Not even for convenience. But she would accept a match that suited her mother and father, a match that she could bear to live with. That was enough.
“Of course, you just might find yourself too frightened to enjoy it,” Adrianna said, baiting Sophia.
“Too frightened?” she echoed.
“Yes. Because we both know that you are not overly fond of doing these things outside of your comfort. We both know that you expect life to come easily to you rather than having to fight for what you truly desire,” Adrianna continued.
It was working. A fire was lit inside Sophia all over again. She would do this and she would make every effort to truly push into the possibilities that the future held for her.
And if it all fell apart, she would accept that as well. After all, she had to try and live her life.
Still, Sophia wondered what she had just agreed to. Could it possibly be the right decision? Or had she just signed away her life to a match she could never love?
“A Dreamy Match Made in Heaven” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Lady Sophia Hastings gets her heart broken when she learns that her betrothed has run off with another. Turning to the most successful Matchmaker of London, she is shocked to be paired with the very man she used to love once upon a time. Overwhelmed by the path that her heart has been on, she realises she has to make a critical decision. Will she let her anger prevail or will she listen to what the man who once abandoned her has to say? Could she really forget about her lost love by finding a new one, or is it impossible for her heart to overlook how she once felt?
Thomas Gregory is an Officer in the army, but after a tour of service, he has decided to retire. After getting back to his estate, he is inevitably overcome by the memories of a long lost love. Tired of being haunted by his painful past, he decides to obey society’s rules and turn to a London matchmaker in order to make a satisfactory match. But how will his heart react when the lady who once betrayed him will be chosen as the perfect match? Will he dare to give love a second chance?
When past bitterness and hurt arises, Sophia and Thomas cannot pretend that love was ever easy. Will they be able to overcome the wounds of the past? Or will the chance of finding another match be too tempting to resist?
“A Dreamy Match Made in Heaven” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.