Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “underclass” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie.
Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret—Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever...
Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as lady’s maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls. And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey.
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Prudence Tate paused before the arched doorway to allow Victoria time to regain her composure. In front of her, the sanctuary was so filled with black feathered hats, it looked as though a flock of ravens might have overrun the church. The scent of stale incense, decaying flowers, and ancient prayers permeated the foyer, but Prudence barely noticed these things.
Next to her, Victoria’s slight body trembled with grief and exhaustion. “Do I really have to do this?” Victoria asked, her voice more of a wish than a whisper.
Born too soon to a...see more
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Reading Group Guide
Though her mother worked as a governess in the London home of Sir Philip, second son of the Earl of Summerset, Prudence Tate was raised as a sister to Sir Philip’s own daughters, Rowena and Victoria. The three girls believe their bond to be stronger than any blood ties, but when Sir Philip dies, their relationship changes forever. Forced to move from London to the sweeping grounds of Summerset Abbey where their aunt and uncle reside, it is suddenly clear to Rowena and Victoria that not everyone welcomes Prudence into the high-society world they now inhabit. Instead of being seen as their equal, Prudence is relegated to the position of their lady’s maid, and as each day passes the divide between them grows larger. Rowena, the elder, cannot deal with the responsibilities now placed on her shoulders, while Victoria struggles to be seen as something more than a sickly child. And Prudence, shocked by her treatment and stung by the attitudes of those around her, realizes that solving the mystery of her past might be the only way to find herself a future beyond see more