Welcome back to the Ballroom, lovely guests! But, oh dear. I guess I should have anticipated this. At last week’s debut, after I mentioned that my heroine in Captured by a Rogue Lord, Miss Serena Carlyle, might be helpful in answering questions about adventurous heroes, her ears perked right up. In fact, she asked if she could visit the ball today to offer us all a few suggestions on how a lady of exemplary virtue—
SERENA: Not precisely exemplary.
SERENA: Tarnished, in point of fact.
—somewhat compromised virtue—
SERENA: Completely nonexistent, actually.
—not entirely spotless virtue might capture a rakish lord.
<squawk!> Rakish lords capture virtue! <squawk!>
Oh, hello, Albert. I hadn’t realized you’d arrived, though I suppose the empty tray of lobster patties should have tipped me off. But if you’re here, Lady B must be too, which is perfect, since I’m eager to hear what she thinks of Serena offering her scandalous suggestions at the ball today.
LADY B: Scandalous suggestions are the very reason I host balls, Miss Ashe. Do take your head out of all of those stuffy history books and use it for something sensible.
<squawk!> Rakish lords are stuffy! <squawk!>
SERENA: (laughs) Hardly, Albert. But I should like to offer some suggestions to other ladies who may have an eye on a handsome, roguish gentleman.
LADY B: Please, dear girl. We are all ears… and eyes. (adjusting monocle) —And the Duke of Read is all legs this evening, thank heavens! For a mature gentleman, he wears satin knee breeches remarkably well.— But where were we?
Serena’s recommendations for capturing a rakish lord.
<squawk!> Rakish lords wear tight breeches! <squawk!>
LADY B: We can only hope as often as possible.
SERENA: My first recommendation to a lady who may not be perfectly comfortable begging a kind hostess for an introduction to the rakish gentleman of her dreams: find him in a dark, abandoned parlor during a ball.
LADY B: The ideal location for a first encounter, I always say! What next?
SERENA: Next, she should find him in a dark alley late at night. Alone.
LADY B: Naturally alone. And then?
SERENA: Then she should find him in a dark alcove during a house party. Again, alone.
(Katharine lifts brow) Me thinks I’m starting to see a pattern here.
SERENA: Then, if he happens to own a ship, she should definitely visit him on his ship. In the dark, of course.
Alone, I’m guessing.
SERENA: Oh, most certainly alone.
<squawk!> Rakish lords are fond of the dark! <squawk!>
This is becoming pretty clear to us all. Serena?
Have you any other recommendations for a lady wishing to secure a match with a rakish lord—other than dark parlors, dark alleys, dark alcoves and dark ships, that is?
SERENA: Well, I’d thought to mention dark stables and dark gardens. But I could stop here.
MISS OCTAVIA PIERCE: Don’t forget dark billiards rooms.
LADY B: Ah, Miss Pierce, just back from your long sojourn abroad and lately seen whispering in corners with the gorgeously mysterious Marquess of Doreé. That delicious man owns a fleet of ships and is rich as Croesus. Are you hoping to be the lady who will share his fortune?
OCTAVIA: Lady B, if only all ladies in Society were as direct as you I might be a great deal more comfortable in it.
What was that you said just then, Octavia… about billiards rooms?
SERENA: Yes, I am intrigued.
<squawk!> Aren’t we all? Rakish lords intrigue! <squawk!>
OCTAVIA: Billiards tables, rather. (nods sensibly) It turns out that they are remarkably useful for coming to know a gentleman a little better. Or, rather, a lot.
LADY B: (readjusting monocle) I daresay. I do daresay. (looking Octavia up and down) Miss Pierce, I am inviting you back next month.
OCTAVIA: I will be most happy to return, Lady B. Thank you.
<squawk!> Rakish lords are happy! <squawk!>
LADY B: In my ballroom? Of course they are!
There we have it, Serena’s (and Octavia’s) recommendations for securing the attention of a rakish lord. So, dear guests, if you had your sights set on a gentleman rogue, how would you go about capturing him?