Talk of the Ton - Eloisa James

"A reigning queen of romance" - CBS Monday Morning

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Talk of the Ton

Betrothed since they were children, Gilbert Baring-Gould, Earl of Kerr, and the Honorable Emma Loudan are not quite what one would call a perfect match. The whole Ton knows him to be a complete rakehell, hardly the ideal spouse for a lady.

When he horrifies the Ton by announcing that he won’t go through with the marriage until Emma is carrying his child — or did he say that she was already carrying a child? — the gossips (and Emma) go wild.

Obviously she should hand this Beelzebub his ring back directly. But curiosity, and a strong wish to teach her brazen-faced fiancé some manners, demand that she beat him at his own game.

So she does.

It’s the story of a reluctant bridegroom (engaged since childhood, and hasn’t seen his fiancée in years), a bride who’s losing her patience, and a wild night in which the said bridegroom meets a wicked, delicious Frenchwoman…or is she?

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Talk of the Ton

Book Extras

The Inside Take

Inside To Wed a Rake

My favorite scene in this story is when Gil takes Emma back stage at the theater. I had a lot of fun imagining how remarkable it must have been when theaters went from being lit by candlelight to being lit by gas. The twirling colored silks used on side flats was innovated by Philip De Loutherbourg, scene designer for Drury Lane, beginning in 1771.

Read More →

Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa, To Wed a Rake

Hertfordshire, Herfordshire, Herefordshire: Emma’s home country can be explained by a stray letter. Also, did they even have Christmas presents before Prince Albert’s time?

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Book Reviews

Talk of the Ton


"sophisticated, witty"

Romantic Times BOOKClub (4 Stars)

"A highly original scene of seduction…"

Romance Reviews Today

"...a fantastic pick for your spring reading."

A Romantic Review (Five Roses)

"A Proper Englishwoman is a delightful romp taking our hearts along for the ride."

Fresh Fiction

"an enchanting story"

"...quick, light and full of period charm…"

Affaire de Coeur

"A Proper Englishwoman by Eloisa James est tres magnifique!"

Reader to Reader

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Talk of the Ton

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March 16, 1817.
The Countess of Bredelbane to her godson, Gilbert Baring-Gould,
Earl of Kerr.


I have received a distressing communication from my sister regarding your behavior — or should I say, the lack of it — while attending Lady Sandleford’s ball. What needs have you, pray, to leave your usual haunts and attend the assemblies of my friends? Of course poor Cecilia didn’t recognize the provenance of your disgusting reply to Dressel; Shakespeare was never in her line. The least you could have done was to reverse the quotation and put the bit around the ring before the question of the baby. Your fiancée will no doubt be horrified to find that her ability to get with child (and that without your knowledge) is on the lips of every Londoner. I demand you make haste to the country and marry Emma immediately, preferably with a special license. I shall expect to hear that you have left for St. Albans by tomorrow at the latest.

Yours with all proper esteem,
Countess of Bredelbane


March 16, 1817
Mrs. Broughton to The Hon. Emma Loudan, St. Albans, Herfordshire.

Dear Miss Loudan,

I am not convinced that you will remember me, since we had only the slightest of acquaintances at Miss Proudfoot’s School for Ladies. My maiden name was Laneham. I write you from the deep reverence I felt toward you and indeed, all my fellow students at Miss Proudfoot’s School. The Earl of Kerr spoke of you in such a fashion last evening that I had difficulty restraining myself. To be precise, he said that he would not marry you, implying that you were with child. I know that this information will come as a great shock, given the unpleasant implication as regards your reputation. I hasten to tell you that no one believed it in the least. If our positions were reversed, and I as isolated from the town as you have been, I should wish to be told of his disgraceful comment.

In hopes that you are not angered by my communication,

Mrs. Broughton

March 16, 1817.
The Countess of Bredelbane to the Earl of Kerr.


As regards my note earlier this morning, I have now had missives from Mrs. Witter and Lady Flaskett. Lady Flaskett informs me that you exemplify the depraved appetite of this vicious age. Picture my dismay on hearing my godson described thusly. How long has it been since you even visited St. Albans? I know that you have had a difficult time since Walter’s death, but your brother would not wish to you to lose all sense of decency. Next week at the latest I shall expect to hear of your nuptials.

The Countess & etc.

March 17, 1817.
The Earl of Kerr to the Countess of Bredelbane

My dear, dearest godmama,

I can’t take myself to the country today and marry my provincial paragon; I have an appointment to look at a horse. And a fencing match to attend as well. She will have to wait. Granted, I haven’t seen Miss Loudan for some time, but she seemed clear-headed enough when I last found myself in St. Albans. She won’t think twice of these rumors of my degeneracy, should they make their way to her.

Affectionately yours,


March 17, 1817.
Lady Dyott to her cousin, The Hon. Emma Loudan, St. Albans, Herfordshire

Dearest Emma,

This will be a quick note, as Dyott awaits me. We’re off to Tattersall’s to find a pony for Garret who is quite a bruising rider at age five, and does us proud. You know how much I hate bibble-babble, but I’m told Kerr informed a roomful that you are too old to bear a child; I merely wished to reassure you that I was all of forty-one when Garret was born, and since you are half that age, breeding is not a concern. I only have to think of your sporting nature, and I have no concern for your future. Thank God you didn’t marry Kerr already, because he’s nothing more than a job horse and you deserve a high-stepper. Do come to London, and we’ll find you a proper spouse.

Much love,

Your cousin Mary, Lady Dyott

March 18, 1817.
The Countess of Bredelbane to the Earl of Kerr.

The news of your appalling jest has spread throughout the town. I have no doubt but that Emma has heard every loathsome detail. Can you not consider your duty, which is clearly to provide an heir to the estate without delay?

The Countess & etc.

March 18, 1817.
Gilbert Baring-Gould, Earl of Kerr, to the Countess of Bredelbane

Dearest Godmama,

I’ll marry Miss Loudan someday, but not this week. And certainly not due to a jest on my part, if admittedly in poor taste. Don’t you think that the ton has become alarmingly illiterate, given that no one seems to recognize a Shakespeare play? I shouldn’t worry about the question of an heir; I’ve heard that country air is remarkably healthy. I can turn out five or six little Kerrs in the next decade.

Yours with affection,


March 19, 1817.
Lady Flaskell to her sister, The Hon. Emma Loudan.


I was suffering from a stomach upset and so missed the initial flurry of news about Kerr. Darling, I’m so sorry! But we must move quickly, Emma, given that your betrothal obviously must be terminated. You are all of twenty-four now, and fiancés, especially those with a hefty fortune and title, do not grow on trees. You have been immured in the country so long that you have no idea what it is like here. Women are considered decayed at two-and-twenty. You must come to London at once and find a husband. I shall arrive tomorrow and expect to find you packed.

With love,

Your sister Bethany Lynn

March 18, 1817.
The Earl of Kerr to Mademoiselle Benoit

Madeline, ma cherie,

While I naturally adore you and kiss your feet in pure admiration, it would not be prudent for me to accompany you to the opera tonight. The Puritans are out in force. In fact, I am very much afraid that I shall have to forego the pleasure of your company in the future. Please accept this ruby as the smallest hint of my regard for you. Tu seras toujours dan mon cúur m’me si tu ne seras pas toujours avec moi.


March 19, 1817.
The Countess of Bredelbane to the Earl of Kerr.


I can’t force you to abide honorably by the vows that your father made on your behalf. I take your behavior much amiss though, and I say that to you seriously. I shall write Emma myself and try to soothe her feelings. I’ve no doubt but that she’s hearing the same as I: that you intend to marry some rubbishing Frenchwoman with putative claims to being a lady. Do so, Kerr, and you will never darken my door again.

The Countess of Bredalbane

March 20, 1817.
Gilbert Baring-Gould, Earl of Kerr to the Countess of Bredalbane.

Tsk, tsk, dearest godmama.

You who know your Shakespeare so well should avoid clichÈs about darkened doors and such like. When my sainted uncle was alive, did he object to your sharp tongue? I go about my business with a rejoicing heart, knowing that you will soothe Miss Loudan’s troubled brow. You needn’t worry about Mademoiselle Benoit. While I shall always find a French accent irrésistible, I concede that the country charmer is my fate. I also know that you, my sainted godmother, would never wish for me, her beloved godson, to be unhappy, so you will forgive me if I cease to think about marriage this very moment.

end of excerpt

Talk of the Ton

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Jun 2, 2009

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