Anna Bradley More or Less a Marchioness

When I begin a new novel, I often start with a fragment of an idea that serves as a jumping off point to the rest of the story. Sometimes it’s an inspiring setting or an interesting plot twist, but with MORE OR LESS A MARCHIONESS, the first book in the Somerset Sisters series, it was a character—my heroine, Iris Somerset.

Iris is the envy of every other young lady in London. Her beauty and charm ensure her a place as society’s darling from the moment she sets foot in her first London ballroom. Her reign as the season’s belle ends with a final triumph—a betrothal to Phineas Knight, the handsome and wealthy Marquess of Huntington, the most sought-after gentleman in London. Iris is the girl who’s living the fairy-tale—the girl who has everything any young lady could possibly want.

At least, it appears that way at first. But real life is not a fairy tale, no matter how much it might resemble one on the surface. Iris’s illusions are shattered when she stumbles upon her betrothed and his ex-mistress secreted away in a private corner of a garden during a scavenger hunt.

A mistress isn’t the only dark secret Finn’s been hiding. Iris discovers he only offered for Iris when he lost the chance to court the lady he really wanted in an infamous wager. He doesn’t love Iris, but he settled for her because he believes her to be the kind of quiet, docile lady who will make him a proper marchioness.

Despite her fury and wounded pride, Iris admits to herself Finn has every reason to believe she’ll become the meek, biddable wife he wants. In an effort to please everyone, Iris has played the part of the obedient debutante to perfection. She’s worn all the right gowns and danced the quadrille until her feet ached, but underneath her charming manners and gracious smile, she’s hiding a sharp intelligence, a strong will and a rebellious streak.

She isn’t the lady Finn believes she is, and he isn’t the honorable gentleman she thought he was. If they marry, they’ll only make each other miserable, but what’s a proper young lady to do? Iris has two choices: either go through with a sham marriage, or defy society’s expectations, and humiliate London’s most sought-after marquess by jilting him mere weeks before their wedding.

Not many young ladies would dare to jilt a marquess, but Iris is the one in a hundred who does. To her shock, however, Finn isn’t willing to let her go. He chases her from London to Hampshire, leading to a courtship that explodes with unexpected passion and desire.

MORE OR LESS A MARCHIONESS is really a story about courage. Iris must sacrifice everything to be the person she truly is, even if means risking her reputation and her heart, and Finn’s must find the courage to let go of the ghosts of his past and offer his whole heart to the woman he loves.

The Somerset sisters, three beautiful, headstrong debutantes in Regency London, are discovering that a bit of scandal is a delightful thing . . .

For the sake of propriety, and her younger sisters’ reputations, Iris Somerset has kept her rebellious streak locked away. But though she receives a proposal from Phineas Knight, Lord of Huntington, Iris can’t marry a man she knows isn’t truly enamored with her. In fact, Iris no longer wants to be chosen—she wants to choose. Under the clandestine tutelage of “wicked widow” Lady Annabel Tallant, she’ll learn how to steer her own marriage prospects—and discover her secret appetites . . .

What kind of debutante refuses a marquess? Finn is surprised, a little chastened—and thoroughly intrigued. This new, independent version of Iris is far more alluring than the polished socialite she used to be. Finn believed he needed a safe, quiet wife to curb his wilder impulses. But the more Iris surprises him, the more impossible it becomes to resist their deepest desires . . .