It’s my great pleasure to introduce a guest to The Ballroom. Miss Kieran Kramer is the author of four simply delicious historicals, most recently If You Give a Girl a Viscount.
Kieran (waving her fan): Lady B, I’ve heard so much about you.
Lady B: Welcome, Miss Kramer. I’m always pleased when my dear authoresses introduce their authoress friends. First things first. Are we related?
Kieran (lowering her fan): I’m afraid it’s quite unlikely. I have no noble connections and my blood is pure red, but I can gossip as well as any society doyenne. (leaning forward, with an exaggerated whisper) I’d love to talk to you about a compelling gentleman with blood as blue as yours—Charles Thorpe, Viscount Lumley.
Lady B: I already know everything about the dear man. His mother’s uncle’s second cousin once removed was my sister’s bridesmaid. Also, he’s one of those Impossible Bachelors. Matchmaking mamas and their daughters are wild for them. She looks around the ballroom. I’m sorry not to see him in attendance tonight. Those bachelors would all be better off if they spent less time drinking and wagering and more time dancing.
Kieran: I’ve news, my lady. Charlie won’t be a bachelor much longer. At least not after he traipses through the pages of my latest book, IF YOU GIVE A GIRL A VISCOUNT.
Lady B: No!
Lady B: Charlie? The last of the Bachelors? Finally snared?
Kieran: Indeed, he is. By a clever, strong-willed lass named Daisy Montgomery who doesn’t put on airs. For instance, she’s never stepped foot in a London ballroom. She also eats shortbread with her servants every night at a well-worn kitchen table.
Lady B: I must correct you on one point: no one traipses through a book. They traipse over moors. And I don’t find it a recommendation that Miss Daisy Montgomery has never set foot in a ballroom. I trust this is a misfortune rather than a choice.
Kieran: Truth be told, she couldn’t afford to put on airs even if she wanted to. She’s nearly penniless.
Miranda: She’d hardly be the first wealth-challenged heroine to enter the Ballroom. We all love a Cinderella story. I’m sure Charlie makes a wonderful Prince Charming.
Kieran: He almost makes a hash of it, I can tell you. Not that Daisy doesn’t make her own mistakes, too. But when you get them both to the Stone Steps—
Lady B: The Stone Steps?
Kieran (whispering again): In Scotland. Their favorite trysting spot. I do believe they’re made for each other. (she chuckles) Most people wouldn’t want to—um—that is, the stone is awfully cold and unyielding, but when you’re in the throes of passion…(she shrugs)
Lady B: You must bring them both to The Ballroom. I want to inspect Miss Montgomery and make sure she is suitable.
Kieran: They’re busy at the moment. But they send their regrets. Charlie’s attempting to learn to play Daisy’s favorite song on the bagpipes, all before her birthday next week. Count yourself lucky that he’s not here. The squeaks, I tell you, coming from those pipes…he means well, however, and Daisy is pretending to enjoy his practicing.
<squawk> “My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here—” <squawk>
Lady B: Albert, whatever Robert Burns says, your heart is here with me. I may have to drink a finger of whisky ….
Miranda: Stick to ratafia, Lady B, and think about Scottish fashion. Scottish men’s fashion.
Lady B: Oh my word! Kilts. I feel better.
Kieran: Also Scottish dancing. Sword dances! Highland reels!
Miranda: Indeed! Scottish balls are quite admirable.
Kieran (patting Lady B’s hand): Please don’t despair. Charlie and Daisy will be down for the Little Season. In fact, Lord Lumley sends you this. (the author reaches in her pocket and hands something to her hostess).
Lady B: peering closely at it. An invitation to their house on Curzon Street for next Tuesday evening? I’m not sure I need an invitation to the birthday party of the gel who finally brought Charlie to the altar without ever attending one of my balls.
Kieran: There’s one more thing … (she retrieves something miniscule from her pocket).
Lady B (taking the tiny rectangle of paper and holds a quizzing glass up to it): Ah, they’ve issued an invitation to Albert.
<squawk. Will there be lobster patties?>
Kieran: This parrot-sized invitation came particularly from Daisy. She can’t wait to meet him, she says. She sees sheep all the time, of course, and Scotland has its share of fascinating birds. But alas, no parrots. Especially no parrots of grandes dames. She feels the absence of such keenly.
Lady B: Well, since she clearly has a refined notion of an invitation list and a welcome interest in My Albert, perhaps I’ll go and meet this Scottish miss, after all. The main problem with Scotland is that it takes days for the gossip to reach me. I do wish couples would be sensitive to the need for chatter in London ballrooms before they head off to Scotland to be matched.
Kieran: Your compassion knows no bounds, Lady B. Which reminds me, perhaps you’ll be so good as to take a turn about the room with me? I’ve got loads more gossip to share about Duncan and Marcia, the hero and heroine in the first book in my newest series, The House of Brady….
Miranda: Between us, I think Kieran and I have almost reconciled Lady B to the concept of Scotland, although she’ll be complaining about the slow speed of gossip until the invention of the telegraph. So help us, fellow guests. Tell Lady B about the splendors of the bonnie land to the north. What, in your opinion, is the best thing about Scotland? One commenter will win a special tea favor from Kieran (we love tea in the Ballroom, though not perhaps as much as Lady B loves ratafia) plus a copy of If You Give a Girl a Viscount.