Author: Judith Ivory
As befitting her name, lovely Submit Channing–Downes was the proper, obedient wife of an aging
Marquess––until her husband's death left her penniless and alone...with one final obligation to fulfill.
Entrusted with delivering a small black box to its rightful owner, she calls upon Graham Wessit, the
notorious Earl of Netham, whose life has been marred by rumour and scandal. But Graham wants nothing
to do w/ her gift but fate has entwined these two lives in astonishing ways.
The truth is frequently ambiguous,
but it is still more dependable than a lie.
-- Henry Channing-Downes
Eleventh marquess of Motmarche
Aphorisms, number 23April 1858In the billiard room, the mantel clock ticked softly, its sound muted by
the room's furnishings. Thick oriental carpeting. Dark paneled walls. The walls were hung with pastoral
paintings, which were not terribly good but were terribly English -- dogs, horses, the hunt. On one wall,
heavy damask drapes all but obliterated tall, narrow windows, the only view to the outside. These
draperies were a deep emerald green, fringed and tied and tasseled in gold. The fringe and tassels,
repeated at the pockets of a billiard table, were the only froufrou in the room. This room was one of
several that made up Freyer's, a gentlemen's club on St. James's Street, and it was intrinsically what the
newer clubs could only pretend to be -- old, masculine, unrepentantly upper-class.The gold in the fringe
and tassels was the worn, dignified gold that spoke of generations. Just as the movements and
mannerisms of the men in the room, their very diction, said each was the scion of a long line of
progenitors, all of whom had walked these soft carpets, or carpets just like them, since the beginning of
time -- or at least since the beginning of taste and decorum. It was the reassuring, upper-class English
myth: tradition. The illusion of Wealth perpetual, past and present, as a way of warding off worries for the
future. Nonetheless, Freyer's was the oldest and probably poshest of such gentlemen's clubs in London,
and Graham Wessit belonged in this club, at this billiard table, bending over it.He stood well balanced on
one foot, the other in the air. He was stretched out across the green felt, his belly flat, almost horizontal
against the table's mahogany rail. His arm was extended more than halfway up the playing surface, in a
long white shirtsleeve. (He'd taken his coat off two shots ago when the balls had broken badly and the
betting had doubled to above eighty pounds.) His concentration ran down the length of his arm, down the
line of his cue stick, past the loose crevice he'd made of his fingertips, to the pristine white of one small
ivory ball. This awkward little object, the cue ball, sat smugly at a near-unreachable angle over a clutter of
irrelevant, multicolored balls. But it also sat in direct line with a red ball Graham intended to bank and
sink.He was sliding the cue stick back and forth a fraction to feel the balance, taking a last measure
against a mother-of-pearl inlay -- a sight -- on the table edge, when the clock began to strike.Noon.
Graham cocked his elbow. A far-off flurry of commotion distracted him for a moment. Out front in the
reading room, someone had come in. Someone who was perhaps not a member. The butler handled such
things. His voice could be heard. "Now see here --"The mantel clock struck the third beat and then the
fourth in a regular, dependable rhythm. Graham refocused and hit. The tip of his cue made a neat tap
against the cue ball. The cue ball, in turn, hit the red, sending it against the cushion. This bright ball cut
through a narrow strait, just missing three other balls, and began down the length of the table toward the
pocket at Graham's hip. The clock was striking seven, eight, nine --And the disturbance in the outer room
grew loud enough to make Graham look up, frowning. Several voices were added to the butler's, among
them a woman's. "I know 'e's bloody well 'ere!"This incongruous sound circled in the outer room and...
Judith Ivory's work has won numerous awards, including Romance Writers of America's RITA, Top Ten
Books of the Year, and Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice. With two degrees in mathematics, Ms. Ivory
never expected to make her living writing novels. "How did this enormous stroke of luck happen? To live
off imagination and invention? You'd think something so much fun would be illegal or at least fattening. I
can't figure out what went so right."