The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown

An anthology featuring JQ's novella:

“36 Valentines”

Part of the Bridgerton Series

Susannah Ballister was the most popular debutante in London… until Clive Mann-Formsby jilted her in a most callous fashion. Now that she’s older and wiser, she wants no contact with any of the Mann-Formsbys… but what can she do when Clive’s brother David, the Earl of Renminster, decides that Susannah will make a perfect wife, after all… for him.

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Explore Inside this Story

  • Quinn-tessential Quote

    “So it wasn’t the man himself you loved, so much as the way he made you feel.” “Is there a difference?” Susannah asked. David appeared to consider her question quite deeply before finally saying, “Yes. Yes, I think there is.”
  • Inside the Story

    • Suzanne Enoch, Julia Quinn, Mia Ryan, and Karen Hawkins moments before posing for our official publicity photo. I have no idea what we're looking at.
      Suzanne Enoch, Julia Quinn, Mia Ryan,
      and Karen Hawkins moments before
      posing for our official publicity photo.
      I have no idea what we're looking at.
      All four stories in this anthology take place concurrently, and many of the characters "overlap." For example, Susannah (my heroine) is knocked down by Anne Bishop, the heroine of "One True Love" by Suzanne Enoch, while ice skating. And when Susannah attends the theater, she does so with characters from "Two Hearts" by Karen Hawkins. We sent a LOT of emails back and forth to make sure that we got all the details right.
    • Even though Lady Whistledown is my character (introduced in The Duke and I with further appearances in The Viscount Who Loved Me, An Offer from a Gentleman, and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton), the idea for this anthology was not mine. It was actually the brainchild of Karen Hawkins, who put the whole thing together. I had a fabulous time writing it, though!
    • The opening scene takes place at a ball hosted by Lady Worth, the mother of Arabella Blydon, heroine of Dancing At Midnight.
    • The winter of 1813-14 was the coldest on record in London, and the Thames really did freeze over.
    • The Lady Whistledown columns narrating all four stories were written by me. It was rather fun to "comment" upon characters written by other authors.
    • To learn more about the other stories in the anthology, please visit the websites of the other authors: Suzanne Enoch, Karen Hawkins, and Mia Ryan.

Bonus Features

Enjoy an Excerpt

from  

The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown

Prologue

In May, Susannah Ballister met the man of her dreams…

There is so much to report from Lady Trowbridge’s ball in Hampstead that This Author scarcely knows how to contain it all in one column. Perhaps the most astonishing –and some would say romantic— moment of the evening, however, was when the Hon. Clive Mann-Formsby, brother to the ever-enigmatic Earl of Renminster, asked Miss Susannah Ballister to dance.

Miss Ballister, with her dark hair and eyes, is recognized as one of the more exotic beauties of the ton, but still, she was never considered to be among the ranks of the Incomparables until Mr. Mann-Formsby partnered her in a waltz — and then didn’t leave her side for the rest of the evening.

While Miss Ballister has had her share of suitors, none were quite as handsome or eligible as Mr. Mann-Formsby, who routinely leaves a trail of sighs, swoons, and broken hearts in his wake.

Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers,
17 May, 1813


In June, her life was as perfect as can be…

Mr. Mann-Formsby and Miss Ballister continued their reign as society’s golden couple at the Shelbourne ball late last week—or at least as golden as one can imagine, given that Miss Ballister’s locks are a rather dark brown. Still, Mr. Mann-Formsby’s golden hair more than compensates, and in all honesty, although This Author is not given to sentimental ramblings, it is true that the world seems a touch more exciting in their presence. The lights seem brighter, the music more lovely, and the air positively shimmers.

And with that, This Author must end this column. Such romanticism rouses the need to go outside and let the rain restore one’s normally grumpy disposition.

Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers,
16 June, 1813


In July, Susannah was beginning to picture a ring on her finger…

Mr. Mann-Formsby was seen entering Mayfair’s most exclusive jewelry establishment Thursday last. Can wedding bells be far behind, and can anyone truly say they don’t know who the prospective bride will be?

Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers,
26 July, 1813


And then came August.

The foibles and affairs of society are usually mind-numbingly easy to predict, but every now and then something occurs that confounds and startles even one such as This Author.

Mr. Clive Mann-Formsby has proposed marriage.

But not to Miss Susannah Ballister.

After an entire season of rather public courting of Miss Ballister, Mr. Mann-Formsby has instead asked Miss Harriet Snowe to be his bride, and, judging by the recent announcement in the London Times, she has accepted.

Miss Ballister’s reaction to this development is unknown.

Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers,
18 August, 1813


Which led, rather painfully, into September.

Word has reached This Author that Miss Susannah Ballister has quit town and retired for the remainder of the year to her family’s country home in Sussex.

This Author can hardly blame her.

Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers,
3 September, 1813


Chapter One

It has come to This Author’s attention that The Hon. Clive Mann-Formsby and Miss Harriet Snowe were married last month at the ancestral seat of Mr. Mann-Formsby’s elder brother, the Earl of Renminster.

The newly wedded couple has returned to London to enjoy the winter festivities, as has Miss Susannah Ballister, who, as anyone who even stepped foot in London last season will know, was courted rather assiduously by Mr. Mann-Formsby, right up until the moment he proposed to Miss Snowe.

This Author imagines that hostesses across town are now checking their guest lists. Surely it cannot do to invite the Mann-Formsbys and the Ballisters to the same events. It is frosty enough outside; an intersection of Clive and Harriet and Susannah will assuredly turn the air quite glacial.

Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers,
26 January 1814

According to Lord Middlethorpe, who had just consulted his pocket watch, it was precisely six minutes after eleven in the evening, and Susannah Ballister knew quite well that the day was Thursday and the date was January the twenty-seventh, the year eighteen hundred and fourteen.

And at precisely that moment— at precisely 11:06 on Thursday, 27 January, 1814, Susannah Ballister made three wishes, none of which came true.

The first wish was an impossibility. She wished that somehow, perhaps through some sort of mysterious and benevolent magic, she might disappear from the ballroom in which she was presently standing and find herself snuggled warmly in her bed in her family’s terrace house on Portman Square, just north of Mayfair. No, even better, she’d be snuggled warmly in bed at her family’s country home in Sussex, which was far, far from London and more importantly, far from all the inhabitants of London.

Susannah even went so far as to close her eyes while she pondered the lovely possibility that she might open them and find herself somewhere else, but not surprisingly, she remained right where she was, tucked away in a slightly darkened corner in Lady Worth’s ballroom, holding a glass of tepid tea that she had absolutely no intention of drinking.

Once it became apparent that she wasn’t going anywhere, either through supernatural or even quite ordinary means (Susannah couldn’t leave the ball until her parents were prepared to do so, and from the looks of them, at least three hours would pass before they would be willing to retire for the evening), she then wished that Clive Mann-Formsby and his new wife Harriet, who were holding court by a table of chocolate cakes, would disappear instead.

This seemed quite possible. The two of them were able-bodied; they could simply lift their feet and walk away. Which would greatly enrich the quality of Susannah’s life, because then she would be able to attempt to enjoy her evening without having to stare at the face of the man who had so publicly humiliated her.

Plus, she could get herself a piece of chocolate cake.

But Clive and Harriet appeared to be having a wonderful time. As wonderful, in fact, as Susannah’s parents, which meant that they would all be here for hours to come.

Agony. Pure agony.

But there were three wishes, weren’t there? Didn’t the heroines of fancy tales always receive three wishes? If Susannah was going to be stuck in a darkened corner, making foolish wishes because she had little else to do, she was going to use her full allotment.

“I wish,” she said through gritted teeth, “that it wasn’t so blasted cold.”

“Amen,” said the elderly Lord Middlethorpe, who Susannah had quite forgotten was standing next to her. She offered him a smile, but he was busy drinking some sort of alcoholic drink that was forbidden to unmarried ladies, so they went back to the task of politely ignoring one another.

She looked down at her tea. Any moment now it would surely sprout an ice cube. Her hostess had substituted hot tea for the traditional lemonade and champagne, citing the frigid weather, but the tea hadn’t remained hot for very long, and when one was skulking in the corner of a ballroom, as Susannah was, footmen never came to retrieve unwanted glasses or cups.

Susannah shivered. She couldn’t remember a colder winter; no one could. It was, in a perverse sort of way, the reason for her early return to town. All the ton had flocked to London in the decidedly unfashionable month of January, eager to enjoy the skating and sledding and upcoming Frost Fair.

Susannah rather thought that bitter cold and icy winds and messy snow and ice was a deuced foolish reason for social congregation, but it wasn’t up to her, and now she was stuck here, facing all the people who had so enjoyed witnessing her social defeat the summer before. She hadn’t wanted to come to London, but her family had insisted, saying that she and her sister Letitia couldn’t afford to miss the unexpected winter social season.

She’d thought she’d have at least until spring before having to return and face them all. She hadn’t had nearly enough time to practice holding her chin up while she said, “Well, of course Mr. Mann-Formsby and I realized that we wouldn’t suit.”

Because she needed to be a very fine actress indeed to carry that off, when everyone knew that Clive had dropped her like a hot potato when Harriet Snowe’s moneyed relatives had come sniffing about.

Not that Clive should have even needed the money. His older brother was the Earl of Renminster, for heaven’s sake, and everyone knew he was as rich as Croesus.

But Clive had chosen Harriet, and Susannah had been publicly humiliated, and even now, nearly six months after the fact, people were still talking about it. Even Lady Whistledown had seen fit to mention it in her column.

Susannah sighed and sagged against the wall, hoping that no one noticed her poor posture. She supposed she couldn’t really blame Lady Whistledown. The mysterious gossip columnist was merely repeating what everyone else was saying. Just this week, Susannah had received fourteen afternoon callers, and not a one of them had been polite enough to refrain from mentioning Clive and Harriet.

Did they really think she wanted to hear about Clive and Harriet’s appearance at the recent Smythe-Smith musicale? As if she wanted to know what Harriet had worn, or that Clive had been whispering in her ear throughout the recital.

That meant nothing. Clive had always had abominable manners during musicales. Susannah couldn’t remember even one in which he’d had the fortitude to keep his mouth shut throughout the performance.

But the gossips weren’t even the worst of her afternoon callers. That title was reserved for the well-meaning souls who couldn’t seem to look upon her with any expression other than one of pity. These were usually the same women who had a widowed nephew from Shropshire or Somerset or some other faraway county who was looking for a wife, and would Susannah like to meet him, but not this week because he was busy escorting six of his eight sons to Eton.

Susannah fought an unexpected rush of tears. She was only twenty-one years old. And barely that, even. She wasn’t desperate.

And she didn’t want to be pitied.

Suddenly it became imperative that she leave the ballroom. She didn’t want to be here, didn’t want to watch Clive and Harriet like some pathetic voyeur. Her family wasn’t ready to go home, but surely she could find some quiet room where she might retire for a few minutes. If she was going to hide, she might as well do it right. Standing in the corner was appalling. Already she’d seen three people point in her direction, then say something behind their hands.

She’d never thought herself a coward, but she’d also never thought herself a fool, and truly, only a fool would willingly subject herself to this sort of misery.

She set her teacup down on a windowsill and made her regrets to Lord Middlethorpe, not that they’d exchanged more than six words, despite having stood next to one another for nearly three-quarters of an hour. She skirted along the edge of the ballroom, looking for the French doors that led to the hall. She’d been here once before, back when she’d been the most popular young lady in town, thanks to her association with Clive, and she remembered that there was a retiring room for the ladies at the far end of the hall.

But just when she reached her destination, she stumbled, and she found herself face to face with… oh blast, what was her name? Brown hair, slightly pudgy… oh, yes. Penelope. Penelope Somebody. A girl with whom she’d never shared more than a dozen words. They’d come out the same year, but they might have resided in different worlds, so infrequently had their paths crossed. Susannah had been the toast of the town, once Clive had singled her out, and Penelope had been… well, Susannah wasn’t really certain what Penelope had been. A wallflower, she supposed.

“Don’t go there,” Penelope said softly, not quite looking her in the eye in the way that only the shyest of people do.

Susannah’s lips parted in surprise, and she knew her eyes were filled with question.

“There are a dozen young ladies in the retiring room,” Penelope said.

It was explanation enough. The only place Susannah wanted to be less than the ballroom was in a room full of twittering, gossiping ladies, all of whom would surely assume she had felled there to escape Clive and Harriet.

Which was true, but that didn’t mean Susannah wanted anyone to know it.

“Thank you,” Susannah whispered, stunned by Penelope’s small kindness. She’d never spared so much as a thought for Penelope last summer, and the younger girl had repaid her by saving her from certain embarrassment and pain. Impulsively, she took Penelope’s hand and squeezed it once. “Thank you.”

And she suddenly wished she’d paid more attention to the girls like Penelope when she’d been considered a leader of the ton. She knew what it was like to stand on the edges of the ballroom now, and it wasn’t fun.

But before she could say something more, Penelope murmured her shy farewells and slipped away, leaving Susannah to her own devices.

She was standing in the busiest section of the ballroom, which was not where she wanted to be, so she started walking. She wasn’t really certain where she intended to go, but she kept moving, because she felt it made her look purposeful. She subscribed to the notion that a person ought to look as if she knew what she was doing, even if she didn’t. Clive had taught her that, actually. It was one of the few good things she’d gained from the courtship.

But in all her determined glory, she wasn’t truly watching her surroundings, and that must have been why she was so taken by surprise when she heard his voice.

“Miss Ballister.”

No, not Clive. Even worse. Clive’s older brother, the Earl of Renminster. In all his dark-haired, green-eyed glory.

He had never liked her. Oh, he had always been polite, but then again, he was polite to everyone. But she had always felt his disdain, his obvious conviction that she was not good enough for his brother.

She supposed he was happy now. Clive was safely married off to Harriet, and Susannah Ballister would never taint the hallowed Mann-Formsby family tree.

“My lord,” she said, trying to keep her voice as even and polite as his. She couldn’t imagine what he could possibly want with her. There was no reason for him to have called her out name; he could easily have let her walk right by him without acknowledging her presence. It wouldn’t have even seemed rude on his part. Susannah had been walking as briskly as was possible in the crowded ballroom, clearly on her way to somewhere else.

He smiled at her, if one could call it that—the sentiment never reached his eyes. “Miss Ballister,” he said, “how have you been?”

For a moment she could do nothing but stare at him. He wasn’t the sort to ask a question unless he truly wanted the answer, and there was no reason to believe he had any interest in her welfare.

“Miss Ballister?” he murmured, looking vaguely amused.

Finally, she managed to say, “Quite well, thank you,” even though they both knew that was far from the truth.

For the longest while he merely gazed at her, almost as if he were studying her, looking for something she couldn’t even begin to imagine.

“My lord?” she queried, because the moment seemed to need something to break the silence.

His head snapped to attention, as if her voice had brought him out of a slight daze. “I beg your pardon,” he apologized smoothly. “Would you care to dance?”

Susannah found herself struck mute. “Dance?” she finally echoed, rather annoyed with her inability to come up with anything more articulate.

“Indeed,” he murmured.

She accepted his proffered hand—there was little else she could do with so many people watching—and allowed him to lead her onto the dance floor. He was tall, even taller than Clive, who had stood a good head above her, and he possessed an oddly reserved air—almost too controlled, if such a thing were possible. Watching him as he moved through the crowds, she was struck by the odd thought that surely one day his famous control would snap.

And it would only be then that the true Earl of Renminster would be revealed.


David Mann-Formsby hadn’t thought about Susannah Ballister for months, not since his brother had elected to marry Harriet Snowe instead of the dark beauty currently waltzing in his arms. A tiny shred of guilt over this started to niggle at him, however, because as soon as he’d seen her, moving through the ballroom as if she had somewhere to go, when anyone who took the time to look at her for more than a second would have seen the strained expression on her face, the pain lurking behind her eyes, he’d been reminded of Susannah’s shabby treatment at the hands of the ton after Clive had decided to marry Harriet.

And truly, none of it had been her fault.

Susannah’s family, while perfectly respectable, was not titled, nor were they particularly wealthy. And when Clive had dropped her in favor of Harriet, whose name was as old as her dowry was large, society had sniggered behind her back —and, he supposed, probably to her face as well. She had been called grasping, above herself, overly ambitious. More than one society matron —the sort who had daughters not nearly as arresting and attractive as Susannah Ballister— had commented that the little upstart had been put in her place, and how dare she even think that she might win a proposal of marriage from the brother of an earl?

David had found the entire episode rather distasteful, but what could he have done? Clive had made his choice, and in David’s opinion, he had made the right one. Harriet would, in the end, make a much better wife for his brother.

Still, Susannah had been an innocent bystander in the scandal; she hadn’t known that Clive was being courted by Harriet’s father, or that Clive thought that petite, blue-eyed Harriet would make a very fine wife indeed. Clive should have said something to Susannah before putting the announcement in the paper, and even if he was too much of a coward to warn her in person, he certainly should have been smart enough not to make a grand announcement at the Mottram ball even before the notice appeared in the Times. When Clive had stood in front of the small orchestra, champagne glass in hand as he made his joyful speech, no one had looked to Harriet, who was standing by his side.

Susannah had been the main attraction, Susannah with her surprised mouth and stricken eyes. Susannah, who had tried so hard to hold herself strong and proud before she finally fled the scene.

Her anguished face had been an image that David had carried around in his mind for many weeks, months even, until slowly she slipped away, forgotten amidst his daily activities and chores.

Until now.

Until he’d spied her standing in the corner, pretending she didn’t care that Clive and Harriet were surrounded by a bevy of well-wishers. She was a proud woman, he could tell, but pride could only carry a person so far until one simply wanted to escape and be alone.

He wasn’t surprised when she finally began to make her way to the door.

At first he’d thought to simply let her pass, perhaps even to step back so that she would not be forced to see him witnessing her departure. But then some strange, irresistible impulse had pushed his feet forward. It didn’t bother him so much that she’d been turned into a wallflower; there would always be wallflowers among the ton, and there was little one man could do to rectify the situation.

But David was a Mann-Formsby to the very tips of his toes, and if there was one thing he could not abide, it was knowing that his family had wronged someone. And his brother had most certainly wronged this young woman. David would not go so far as to say her life had been ruined, but she had clearly been subject to a great deal of undeserved misery.

As the Earl of Renminster —no, as a Mann-Formsby— it was his duty to make amends.

And so he asked her to dance. A dance would be noticed. A dance would be remarked upon. And although it was not in David’s nature to flatter himself, he knew that a simple invitation to dance on his part would do wonders to restore Susannah’s popularity.

She’d appeared rather startled by his request, but she’d accepted; after all, what else could she do with so many people watching?

He led her to the center of the floor, his eyes never leaving her face. David had never had trouble understanding why Clive had been attracted to her. Susannah possessed a quiet, dark beauty that he found far more arresting than the current blond, blue-eyed ideal that was so popular amongst society. Her skin was pale porcelain, with perfectly winged brows and lips of a raspberry pink. He’d heard there were Welsh ancestors in her family, and he could easily see their influence.

“A waltz,” she said dryly, once the string quintet began to play. “How fortuitous.”

He chuckled at her sarcasm. She’d never been outgoing, but she had always been direct, and he admired the trait, especially when it was combined with intelligence. They began to dance, and then, just when he’d decided to make some inane comment about the weather —just so they would be observed conversing like reasonable adults— she beat him to the punch, and asked—

“Why did you invite me to dance?”

For a moment he was speechless. Direct, indeed. “Does a gentleman need a reason?” he countered.

Her lips tightened slightly at the corners. “You never struck me as the sort of gentleman who does anything without a reason.”

He shrugged. “You seemed rather alone in the corner.”

“I was with Lord Middlethorpe,” she said haughtily.

He did nothing but raise his eyebrows, since they both knew that the aged Lord Middlethorpe was not generally considered a lady’s first choice of escort.

“I don’t need your pity,” she muttered.

“Of course not,” he agreed.

Her eyes flew to his. “Now you’re condescending to me.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he said, quite honestly.

“Then what is this about?”

“This?” he echoed, giving his head a questioning tilt.

“Dancing with me.”

He wanted to smile, but he didn’t want her to think he was laughing at her, so he managed to keep his lips down to a twitch as he said, “You’re rather suspicious for a lady in the midst of a waltz.”

She replied, “Waltzes are precisely the time a lady ought to be most suspicious.”

“Actually,” he said, surprising himself with his words, “I wanted to apologize.” He cleared his throat. “For what happened last summer.”

“To what,” she asked, her words carefully measured, “do you refer?”

He looked at her in what he hoped was a kindly manner. It wasn’t an expression he was particularly accustomed to, so he wasn’t quite certain he was doing it right. Still, he tried to look sympathetic as he said, “I think you know.”

Her body grew rigid, even as they danced, and he would have sworn that he could see her spine turning to steel. “Perhaps,” she said tightly, “but I fail to see how it is any of your concern.”

“It may be that it is not,” he allowed, “but nonetheless, I did not approve of the way you were treated by society after Clive’s engagement.”

“Do you mean the gossip,” she asked, her face perfectly bland, “or the cuts direct? Or maybe the out-and-out lies?”

He swallowed, unaware that her situation had been quite so unpleasant. “All of it,” he said quietly. “It was never my intention—”

“Never your intention?” she cut in, her eyes flashing with something approaching fury. “Never your intention? I was under the assumption that Clive had made his own decisions. Do you admit, then, that Harriet was your choice, not Clive’s?”

“She was his choice,” he said firmly.

“And yours?” she persisted.

There seemed little point —and little honor— in lying. “And mine.”

She gritted her teeth, looking somewhat vindicated, but also a bit deflated, as if she’d been waiting for this moment for months, but now that it was here, it was not nearly as sweet as she’d anticipated.

“But if he had married you,” David said quietly, “I would not have objected.”

Her eyes flew to his face. “Please don’t lie to me,” she whispered.

“I’m not.” He sighed. “You will make someone a very fine wife, Miss Ballister. Of that I have no doubt.”

She said nothing, but her eyes seemed shiny, and for a moment he could have sworn that her lips were trembling.

Something began to tug at him. He wasn’t sure what it was, and he did not want to think that he felt it anywhere near his heart, but he found he simply could not bear to see her so close to tears. But there was nothing he could do besides say, “Clive should have informed you of his plans before he announced them to society.”

“Yes,” she said, the word made brittle by a harsh little laugh. “He should have done.”

David felt his hand tighten slightly at her waist. She wasn’t making this easy on him, but then again, he had no reason to expect her to do so. In truth, he admired her pride, respected the way she carried herself straight and tall, as if she wouldn’t allow society to tell her how she must judge herself.

She was, he realized with a shiver of surprise, a remarkable woman.

“He should have done,” he said, unconsciously echoing her words, “but he did not, and for that I must apologize.”

She cocked her head slightly, her eyes almost amused as she said, “One would think the apology would be better served coming from Clive, don’t you think?”

David smiled humorlessly. “Indeed, but I can only deduce that he has not done so. Therefore, as a Mann-Formsby—”

She snorted under her breath, which did not amuse him.

“As a Mann-Formsby,” he said again, raising his voice, then lowering it when several nearby dancers looked curiously in his direction. “As the head of the Mann-Formsby family,” he corrected, “it is my duty to apologize when a member of my family acts in a dishonorable manner.”

He’d expected a quick retort, and indeed, she opened her mouth immediately, her eyes flashing dark fire, but then, with an abruptness that took his breath away, she seemed to change her mind. And when she finally spoke, she said, “Thank you for that. I accept your apology on Clive’s behalf.”

There was a quiet dignity in her voice, something that made him want to pull her closer, to entwine their fingers rather than merely holding hands.

But if he’d wanted to explore that feeling more closely —and he wasn’t certain he did— his chance was lost when the orchestra brought the waltz to a close, leaving him standing in the middle of the ballroom floor, bending his body into an elegant bow as Susannah bobbed a curtsy.

She murmured a polite, “Thank you for the dance, my lord,” and it was clear that their conversation was at an end.

But as he watched her leave the ballroom —presumably off to wherever it was she’d been going when he’d intercepted her— he couldn’t quite shake the feeling—

He wanted more.

More of her words, more of her conversation.

More of her.


Later that night, two events occurred that were very odd, indeed.

The first took place in Susannah Ballister’s bedroom.

She could not sleep.

This would not have seemed odd to many, but Susannah had always been the sort who fell asleep the instant her head hit the pillow. It had driven her sister batty back in the days when they had shared a room. Letitia had always wanted to stay up and whisper, and Susannah’s conversational contributions never amounted to anything more than a light snore.

Even in the days following Clive’s defection, she had slept like the dead. It had been her only escape from the constant pain and turmoil that was the life of a jilted debutante.

But this evening was different. Susannah lay on her back (which was odd in itself, as she much preferred to sleep on her side) and stared up at the ceiling, wondering when the crack in the plaster had come so much to resemble a rabbit.

Or rather, that was what she thought about each time she determinedly thrust the Earl of Renminster from her mind. Because the truth was that she could not sleep because she could not stop reliving their conversation, stopping to analyze each of his words, and then trying not to notice the shivery feeling she got when she recalled his faint, somewhat ironic smile.

She still could not believe how she’d stood up to him. Clive had always referred to him as “the old man,” and called him, at various times, stuffy, haughty, supercilious, arrogant, and damned annoying. Susannah had been rather terrified by the earl; Clive certainly hadn’t made him sound very approachable.

But she had stood her ground and kept her pride.

Now she couldn’t sleep for thinking of him, but she didn’t much mind—not with this giddy feeling.

It had been so long since she’d felt proud of herself. She’d forgotten what a nice sensation that was.


The second odd occurrence took place across town, in the district of Holborn, in front of the home of Anne Miniver, who lived quietly alongside all of the lawyers and barristers who worked at the nearby Inns of the Court, even though her occupation, if one could call it that, was Mistress. Mistress to the Earl of Renminster, to be precise.

But Miss Miniver was unaware that anything strange was afoot. Indeed, the only person to make note of the occasion was the earl himself, who had instructed his driver to take him directly from the Worth ball to Anne’s elegant terrace house. But when he ascended the steps to her front door and lifted his hand to the brass knocker, he found he no longer had any interest in seeing her. The urge was, quite simply, gone.

Which for the earl was quite strange indeed.

End of Excerpt

The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown

is available in the following formats:

Avon Books
Originally Released
January 28, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0060511500

Awards & Achievements

  • Julia Quinn (and The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown) was featured in a full page article in the February 3, 2003 issue of TIME Magazine (cover at right), page 64. The article talks about JQ and her upcoming release as well as the romance industry as a whole.
  • The Further Observations Of Lady Whistledown was one of the first romance anthologies ever to reach bestseller status. It debuted on the NYT bestseller list at #15 on the USA Today list at #17.
  • A Featured Alternate Selection of the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs.
  • "36 Valentines” was a finalist in the 2004 RITA Awards for Best Romantic Novella. (As was “Two Hearts,” Karen Hawkins’s contribution to the anthology.) The RITAs are awarded by Romance Writers of America and are the highest honor in romance writing. The eventual winner was “Prisoner in the Tower” in The Wedding Chase by Gayle Wilson.