If you've read any of the other books in The Marriage Market series, especially Effie, you might have a tiny inkling how difficult Suzanna Jefferies can be.
In book four, Suzanna, you'll discover that you haven't even scratched the surface of what lengths this young woman will go to get what she wants, mainly a wealthy husband.
She wants one, she deserves one, and by God, she'll have one or there will be hell to pay! Heads will roll if the spoiled Georgia peach is thwarted.
Of course she has a plan. Not a very well thought out plan, but a plan just the same and no where in that plan is anything about love.
In Suzanna's opinion, and Suzanna has an opinion about literally everything, love is nonsense, something thought up by poets and used to make women behave in ways that do not suit their best interest. In other words, if a woman has the choice between love and money, a smart woman will choose money every time.
Several women turned to look at the tall, dark haired man beside her as they were shown to their table.
“I had no idea you were so handsome under that cowboy scruff,” she whispered as he pulled out her chair.
“Thank you, I think.” With a grin he took his own seat.
“No, I mean it. You’re a very attractive man,” she stated thoughtfully, seeming to note every detail of his attire. “It’s a shame you don’t have any social standing,” she said with a sigh.
“Yes, isn’t it,” he agreed a bit sharply.
“You don’t do you? Have any pedigree, I mean?”
“Not that you’d be aware of,” he replied as the waiter approached. “We’ll have a bottle of your finest champagne,” he informed him.
“Do you know what you’d like?” he inquired as they consulted the menus.
“I’m going to have roast beef with all the trimmings,” Suzanna exclaimed, snapping the menu closed and setting it aside.
As soon as they were served their champagne, Dalton ordered for them. He chose a thick steak and they watched a few couples whirling around on the dance floor as they waited.
“This is delicious,” Suzanna said taking a sip of her champagne. “Of course I wasn’t allowed to drink much, so I can only compare it to what I had at the Jordons’, but it’s just as good if not better than what they served. When I marry, I’m going to have a huge wine cellar with dozens and dozens of bottles. I shall drink every day if I choose,” she insisted, raising her glass in a toast.
“That might be difficult on a marshal’s salary,” Dalton replied softly.
“Oh, yes, I forgot. Well, maybe I won’t marry the marshal. Maybe I’ll marry a rich man who can give me everything I want,” she said mockingly before sipping from her glass.
“Is that what’s important to you, wealth, power?” he asked, leaning back in his chair.
“Of course it’s important,” she snapped with a frown. “Money is the only true security a girl has. If she has money, she can go anywhere, do anything without worrying where her next meal is coming from.”
“But if you marry money, it will be your husband’s decision what you do and where you go,” he pointed out. “It will be at his discretion what you may spend.”
“That’s true,” she conceded, pointing at him with her finger. “But a smart girl knows how to get what she wants from her husband.”
“You’re sure about that?” he asked with a grin.
“Very,” she replied as their plates were set before them. Snapping open her napkin, she laid it carefully across her lap.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Dalton,” she replied, cutting a tiny bite of roast beef and popping it in her mouth with a small groan of satisfaction. “I’m going to be honest with you because, well, there’s no reason not to be. Most likely we will not see each other after tonight. You’re not interested in acquiring a wife and you simply wouldn’t do as a husband…”
“Are you insulting me?” he asked with a laugh.
“Not at all, at least I don’t mean to. I simply mean that you don’t have nearly enough money to tempt me despite… well as I said, you are an attractive man.”
“I see. Please go on.”
“Aren’t you going to eat?” she asked, pointing at his plate with her fork. “Of course, it’s just that I’m so um… entertained I nearly forgot.”
“Don’t make fun of me, Dalton. I’m deadly serious,” she warned, her eyes narrowing.
“I wouldn’t dream of it. Please continue. I’d love to hear how you are going to convince your ‘rich husband’ to hand over his money,” he said with a smirk.
“All right, laugh if you want, but everything I tell you is the truth,” she replied, taking a bite of mashed potatoes smothered in rich gravy. Picking up her glass she drained it and instantly the waiter was at her side refilling it.
“Where I come from, women are raised differently. They are brought up to respect their elders, be graceful and charming at all times and defer to the men in their lives. They learn to run a huge home, manage the household accounts and the servants efficiently all without bothering their lord and master, be it father or husband. Women must be skilled in all social graces, talented in an assortment of extremely boring activities such as needlework and playing the piano and the really clever ones make it all seem effortless.”
“Seems reasonable,” he drawled, laughing when she glared at him.
“A loving and generous husband had to be acquired at some point, ensuring a woman a safe and secure future for her and her children. It didn’t matter if the man was particularly young or handsome, as long as he had the wherewithal to support her in the style she’d been raised in. She was encouraged to aspire to make the best match that she could. This, of course, was determined by her own beauty,” she pointed out. “Naturally, the more beautiful and talented a woman was, the more likely she was to marry well. Statesmen were to be particularly sought out. After all, they had power and position well beyond the average land owner.”
“Did no one value you beyond what you could bring to the family with your looks?” he asked leaning forward.
Suzanna looked at him, confused.
“What I mean to ask is, was no one interested in you as a person? Who you are on the inside? Your personality, your sense of humor, your mind?” he asked, his brows furrowed.
“No, I don’t think so,” she answered, obviously thinking about his question as she chewed. “I don’t think it mattered what I thought about anything. It was obvious from the time I was a very young child that I was going to be a ‘great beauty.’ That’s really all anyone seemed to care about. My mother was always after me about not getting hurt. She didn’t want to risk any unsightly scars. I was never allowed to go outside without protection from the sun lest I get a dreaded freckle, but I never did even though I snuck out plenty of times.”
“Anyway, to get back to what I was saying originally, I was trained to be an exceptional wife. The reason I know I can control my future husband and his wealth didn’t come from my mother, however. It came from somewhere else,” she said coyly.
“Tell me,” he encouraged, genuinely curious. “What secret spell can you conjure to make a man bend to your will?”
Suzanna leaned forward and whispered as the waiter refilled her glass once again.
“I don’t know if I should tell you. It’s very intimate and nothing a lady would ever say,” she hissed.
“Where did you learn this secret?” he asked, leaning forward too.
“In the servant’s quarters,” she replied quietly. “I was always welcome there and people often forgot I was around. My mother would have had a fit had she known, but I found out all sorts of interesting things.”
“So tell me,” he insisted, taking a bite of his steak. “I swear I will take it as it’s intended, just a bit of information shared between friends.”
Suzanna quickly drank half her glass of champagne before she spoke.
“I heard that if a woman...
If you've missed any of the other books in the series, they're on sale until 9/3. Happy reading,