Authors: Jennifer Bradbury
ATHENEUM BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
* An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division * 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020 *
* This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. * Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Bradbury * All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. * A
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. * The text for this book is set in Minister. * Manufactured in the United States of America * First Edition * 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 * CIP data for this book is available from the Library of Congress. * ISBN 978-1-4169-9007-9 (hardcover) * ISBN 978-1-4391-5902-6 (eBook)
Thanks to Mom for all the
, even when I pretended to think it was lame. Thanks to Jana and Katy for all the stories we loved and the ones we made up. Thanks to June for the steady diet of Elizabeth Gaskell and Jane Austen DVDs, and for being such a cheerleader. Thanks to Marissa Doyle and Regina Scott for their expertise and the warm welcome to Regency world. Thanks to Pat Taylor for introducing me to Jane Austen—
remains my favorite. Thanks to Robin Rue, for telling me the truth and for making this whole writing thing so much more fun. Thanks to Beth Miller for talking me off the ledge, and to Kiley Frank for the encouraging notes that show up with every reprint, rewrite, or editorial letter. Thanks to Angie Wright for the faithful readings (I owe you lunch forever). Thanks to the staffs of the Burlington Public Library and the Mount Vernon City Library for never minding when I request more YA titles. Thanks to Caitlyn Dlouhy, for always seeing the possibilities, and for her unerring eye in guiding me to the best version of any story. And thanks to Jimmy, for loving the book before I even wrote it, pulling me through every revision, and putting up with me. I promise there will be dancing in the next one.
To Evie June and Arun Saroj,
and all the adventures that await you both
“Put the book down, darling,” my mother said from her chair beside the mirror.
“The chapter’s end is only a short way off,” I replied, reaching out with my other hand to flip the page. Despite the ache in my shoulder from holding the book at arm’s length so the dressmakers could work on my gown, I didn’t want to give it up.
“For heaven’s sake, you’ve read it a dozen times,” Mother said, rising to snatch the book from my hand. I half lunged for it, an action answered by the jabs of a dozen pins in places sensitive enough to ensure the book was lost to me for now.
“It improves each time,” I told her, letting my arms fall, the sensation of the blood rushing back into my fingertips too brief before the dressmaker nudged one elbow upward again.
“Please, miss,” the woman said, gesturing at the bodice, managing to sound even more exasperated with me than Mother had.
I lifted my arms again, posing as if I were about to take flight. According to some, I was. My debut had come, bringing with it Mother’s long-awaited opportunity to parade me about in front of all of London. The dress wrapped itself around me in tucks and folds of silk the color of cream as it stands on the top of a cup of tea, waiting to be stirred in. The trim at the neckline was exquisitely wrought in lace Mother had warned me more than once not to tell Father the price of. I’d pleaded unsuccessfully to have this particular dress made from a shimmering red sari fabric my brother had sent home to me from India. Mother was firm that red was perfectly unsuitable.