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The Reluctant Debutante -- Becky Lower

The Reluctant Debutante
Book One

In 1855 New York, nineteen-year-old Ginger Fitzpatrick has absolutely no interest in taking part in the newest rage in America—the Cotillion Ball. Instead, Ginger would rather be rallying for women’s rights; at least until she meets her brother’s best friend from St. Louis, a dark mysterious man named Joseph Lafontaine, who ignites her passion and makes her question if love and marriage is such a ridiculous notion after all. What she and the rest of New York’s high society don’t realize is that Joseph is half Ojibwa Indian, and therefore, totally unsuitable for marriage to a fine, cultured young lady

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"Ms. Lower makes you feel like you are walking the streets of New York and St. Louis and riding the Pacific Railroad toward the West. Her characters pop off the page and are each special and memorable." --Tami V

"The Reluctant Debutante is a portal to another time that held my attention from beginning to end."--Amanda L.V. Shalaby, author, Rhianna

"From page one to the very end, Ms. Lower has created a romance that made this reader fall in love with the hero. The author has given us excitement and a page-turner at its best."--Sharon Fernberg  

"I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading "The Reluctant Debutante" in one sitting. I can't wait to read the sequels!"--Karen Newstead

"This book is riveting and I found it hard to put down. Becky Lower has done an impressive job of portraying a loving family who only wants what is best for their daughter. I can't wait to read the sequels."--Patricia Lynch      

excerpt

Excerpt from The Reluctant Debutante

New York City, February 1855

Ginger Fitzpatrick was in a pickle, that much was certain.

Her mother took her by surprise at breakfast by announcing to the family that Ginger would participate in the Cotillion ball two months hence. While her younger sisters squealed in excitement, Ginger couldn’t find her voice to object to her mother’s idea. She knew she must, since her father was known to grant every wish his wife had, but Ginger could only stare in confusion. And that wasn’t the worst of it.

“George,” her mother stated calmly to her father while they were seated at the table, ”You need to relieve Ginger of her duties at the bank so I have time to teach her the rules of etiquette she’ll need for a full season of events. Dear Lord, I have only a few months to cram everything in.”

Astonished and stunned, Ginger turned to her father, hanging onto a thread of hope that her valued involvement at the bank would save her.

“Let me think about the best way to handle the shift in responsibility, darling, but I’ll make sure Ginger is free by the end of the week.” He glanced over at Ginger’s stupefied expression and reached across the table for her hand. “Perhaps we could also offer a reward of some kind. Possibly a trip to St. Louis if she gets through the season without incident?”

He had actually smiled over the breakfast table at her. As if the allure of a trip would make everything all right.

New York City, April 1855

Sitting astride his most stubborn horse and leading another, Joseph Lafontaine attempted to navigate both horses through the wide and bustling cobblestone streets. Broadway was the main boulevard in this part of town, and Joseph kept an eye out not only for buggies and carts but also for pedestrians perilously crossing from one side of the street to the other.

Loud noises up ahead caught his attention. Several policemen were in the street, attempting to break up a group of people. Joseph scanned the area, searching for a clear route around the chaos. Being of Indian heritage was barely tolerated in St. Louis, much less in New York City. Despite what his good friend Basil Fitzpatrick said about how affluent New Yorkers would accept him as a French-Canadian, the other half of his background, he wanted to avoid confrontation while he was here in this strange town.

Joseph halted his horses in the middle of the clogged street and watched. There were a number of ladies directly in front of him, but he noticed only one.

Her brown hair was shot through with a dark red, reminiscent of a chestnut roan. Rather than being tied up in a chignon, her hair floated around her face in glorious disarray. The waist-length locks billowed out behind her as she ran. Joseph watched as she skittered just out of reach of the approaching policemen, glancing about for a means of escape. If this was what New York women were like, Joseph was glad he had agreed to come east, apprehensions notwithstanding.

She skirted around his horses to the opposite side of where the fray was taking place. Very clever, Joseph noted, using his horses as a shield from the authorities. He began walking his charges, which now included the woman, slowly forward through the chaos.

Joseph nodded to her, acknowledging her presence.