This is a guest post from our author of the month, Victoria Alexander, with the vintage wedding gowns that inspired her writing in The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride.

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There’s nothing like a wedding. And nothing at all like a wedding at Millworth Manor. The 1887 wedding of Camille and Grayson is the backdrop for The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride. Scandalous Adventures is the story of Delilah, Lady Hargate, and American Samuel Russell. Delilah thinks the unforgettable night they spent together in New York is best, well,  forgotten. Not an easy task when Sam shows up at Millworth for her sister’s wedding and discovers there was more to the lovely widow than he had thought…

            “As much as that look might strike fear into the heart of any man, I’m not the least bit worried, Delilah.” He snapped the book closed. “Or should I say Mrs. Hargate?”

            She had the good grace to blush. “That was a mistaken assumption on your part.”

            “On my part?” He snorted. “That’s not how I remember it. I remember you distinctly said you were Mrs. Hargate.”

            “I might, possibly, have given you the impression…”

            “There’s no possibly about it.” He replaced the book on the shelf. “If I recall correctly, and I have an excellent memory, you led me to believe you were someone, or something, other than who and what you are.”

            “No more so than you led me to believe you were someone or something other than who you are.”

            Apparently, Delilah subscribed to the classic philosophy that the best defense was a good offence. Again, he stifled a smile. The woman might well be just as interesting when she was annoyed as when she was flirtatious. Although she had been delightful.

            “That was indeed a mistake and might I add it was a mistake on your part.” He shook his head. “I never said I was anyone other than who I am. I’m certainly not to blame for your incorrect assumption.”

            “It seems I made any number of mistakes when I was in New York.” She paused. “I would prefer to forget them.”

            “All of them?”

            “Yes, of course, all of them.”

            “Then we may have a problem.”

            “What kind of problem?”

            “Whereas you may have made a mistake when last we met, I don’t consider anything that passed between us a mistake.”

            “Come now, Mr. Russell—”

            He held up his hand to stop her. “Although admittedly, the moment I realized you thought I was an employee of Mr. Moore’s and not the other way around, I should have corrected you.”

            “Yes,” she said in a haughty manner. “You most certainly should have.”

            “Would it have made a difference?”

            “I don’t know. It might have, given your friendship with Grayson.” She thought for a moment then sighed. “But probably not.”

            “Another mistake then?”

            “A momentary error in judgment,” she said firmly.

            “A mistake,” he said just as firmly.

            “Yes, yes.” She waved off his comment. “In hindsight, yes. But my intentions were noble.”

            “Pretending to be someone you’re not is noble?” He scoffed. “Explain that logic to me.”

            “It really needs no explanation.” She stared at him at if he were entirely too stupid to understand. “As I had incorrectly assumed that you were an employee of an associate of Grayson’s, I thought you might be, well, intimidated—”

            He laughed.

            She glared. “What do you find so amusing?”

            “That you thought I would be intimidated.” He chuckled. “By what? By Lady Hargate rather than Mrs. Hargate?”

            Her eyes narrowed.

            “You’re a snob, aren’t you, Lady Hargate?”

            “I most certainly . . .” Her lips curved upwards in a superior smile. “I simply know my place in the world. Do you?”

            “I always have,” he said in a mild manner he suspected might drive her mad. Her smile wavered a bit. He was right. “I don’t need a title to prove it. We don’t have titles in America.”

            She sniffed. “Pity.”

Okay, now I have a confession to make. I’m a wedding gown junkie. I watch all those find-the-perfect-wedding-gown reality shows. I collect antique and vintage wedding gown fashion plates and old pictures of brides. So setting a book against the backdrop of a wedding let me indulge my addiction and research wedding gowns from the past. These are a few of my favorites:

Post photo-Queen Belgians

This is the Queen of the Belgians in her wedding gown from 1832.

Post photo-FrankLeslie

This is from Frank Leslie’s Lady’s Magazine about 1870

Post photo-Harrison

Harrison Fisher (I love Harrison Fisher!!!)  created this bridal illustration in 1909

Post photo-Le croquet

The wedding dress worn by Camille in Scandalous Adventures was based on this fabulous blue gown from an 1886 edition of the French ladies’ magazine Le Croquet.  Of course Camille’s dress is a Worth creation and the only info I have about this gown is in French. I’d tell you more about it but all I retained from high school and college French is “Où est la bibliothèque.”

Weddings bring out the best and sometimes the worst in family relationships. Camille and her twin sister Beryl have never been close with their younger sister, Delilha. But they are working on it. And when Camille tries on her gown, well, it’s a special moment for the sisters…

            A scant half an hour later, Camille stood in the sitting room all three sisters had shared in their youth. A tall mirror had been brought in from a dressing room and reflected Camille in the gown she would wear when she promised to share Grayson’s life forever. The seamstress and her assistant stood off to one side beaming. Teddy and Delilah perched on a settee and stared.

            The gown fit like a kid glove and the overall effect was one of perfection itself.  

            Mr. Worth had outdone himself. The gown was magnificent, trimmed with ecru colored lace and edged with tiny pearls. Peach colored satin rosettes, as perfectly crafted as if they were real roses, were gathered on either side of the waist and trailed down the back of the gown. As a widow, Camille would never wear white but the blue silk was perfect for her. The color was a pale version of the blue of Camille’s eyes. A small diamond broach that Mother had worn when she had married Father was pinned to the center of the bodice. With the fair color of Camille’s hair and the deep blue of her eyes, her sister was every bit as magnificent as the gown.

            “Well?” Camille studied herself in the mirror. “What do you think?”

            “It’s quite simply stunning.” Teddy stared. “It’s perfect, Camille. Absolutely perfect.”

            “Delilah?” Camille pulled her gaze from the mirror and glanced at her sister. “Will it do, do you think?”

            For a moment, Delilah was again a young girl staring at an  beautiful older sister in a glorious ball gown who, on those rare occasions, didn’t mind the presence of a younger sister. Then she never would have cared what Delilah thought. Now, well, now was different.

            A lump lodged in Delilah’s throat and she swallowed hard. “You look like a princess in a fairy tale.”

            “I do, don’t I?” Camille laughed with delight and her gaze met her sister’s. “Thank you.”

            Delilah cleared her throat. “Thank you for . . . for letting me be part of this.”

            “You’re my only younger sister and you should be part of my life. That you haven’t been in the past is nearly unforgiveable. This is long overdue and I am so sorry.”

            Delilah nodded and choked back what felt suspiciously like a tear.

            “Goodness, I’ve never seen the two of you being at all sentimental,” Teddy said in a teasing manner then sobered. “I need to apologize as well.”

            Camille’s brow rose. “Oh? Do you too have a younger sister you treated abominably in the past?”

            “No, I don’t have sisters, but . . .” Teddy blew a long breath. “Dee has been my dearest friend for much of my life. I must confess I have always resented the way you treated her.”

            “You have been a good, true friend to her.” Camille studied the younger woman. “She was lucky to have you.”

            “And I was lucky to have her,” Teddy said firmly. “And, while I admit I was skeptical when she told me you and Beryl and she had agreed to be better sisters to one another, this time spent with both of you has shown me that I was wrong to doubt you.”

            “Thank you, Teddy.” Camille paused. “So are we friends as well now?”

            “I’d like that.” Teddy smiled.

            “Apparently, there’s nothing like an exquisite, expensive Paris gown to bring sisters and friends together,” Delilah said wryly.

And there’s nothing like a wedding to bring together family and friends. Even if everything goes wrong, if it’s fraught with disaster and mishap, a wedding is only the beginning of happily ever after.

And so much fun to write about!

Victoria Alexander is the author of the month for the Spa Week Daily book club this May! Check out our review of her latest book, The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride, or buy it here!

 

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