The Ministry of Marriage is the nickname of a cabal in which the leaders of the most prominent families in Britain negotiate, facilitate and approve dynastic marriages.
Each family represented in the organization has a rich history full of rivalries, allegiances, legends and secrets. Their fortunes have risen and fallen for hundreds of years depending on their success in war, their religious leanings, or which heir to the throne they support.
But now their battles have moved to the ballroom. In the relative stability of Regency England, strategic marriages are the surest way to increase stature, wealth and power. A handful of noble families rule the nation while their king descends to madness and an indolent, pleasure-loving prince takes his place. Absent a strong monarch, the Ministry of Marriage was formed secretly for the regulation of marital alliances, to ensure that power is not abused or centered in one family.
The founder of the Ministry is the Duke of Montford. He is head of the extensive Westruther dynasty and the guardian of six assorted Westruther orphans—three boys and three girls—who have grown up together under his roof. He has arranged brilliant marriages for each of them via the Ministry of Marriage.
The Ministry’s work is now under threat from a new wave of romanticism among contemporary youth. Can the organization’s members hold back the tide and persuade their young relatives to do their duty, or will these cold-hearted aristocrats be obliged to play Cupid?
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Au Coeur Valiant, Rien Impossible :: To a valiant heart, nothing is impossible
The Westruthers are an old family, first enobled by William the Conqueror. By virtue of their highly developed sense of honor and duty and keen ability to predict political outcomes, the Westruthers have managed to hold on to their power and prestige through successive generations. The Duke of Montford may be the head of the family, but several other powerful nobles dangle from the branches of this family tree.
The duke is unmarried and stands guardian to three girls, the ladies Jane, Rosamund and Cecily. All three girls are heiresses destined for marriages of convenience. Their three male cousins, The Earl of Beckenham, Viscount Lydgate and the Marquis of Steyne have managed to retain their freedom a little longer, but their time will come.
Prudens ut serpens simplex ut columba — Prudent as a serpent simple as a dove
Descended from swashbuckling pirates, cut-throats and thieves, the Blacks’ fortunes have risen and fallen like the tide. The founder of the Black dynasty was granted an earldom during the time of Good Queen Bess and later divested of the same at Her Majesty’s displeasure. That particular scion of the family was a handsome, saucy rogue with a silver tongue and while stripped of his title, he somehow managed to keep his head.
Lady Arden has made it her life’s work to further the interests of the family into which she was born. By guile and persuasion and a hint of steel, this lady is more than a match for her male counterparts at the Ministry of Marriage.
Strike hard, strike home
The deVeres have always been warriors—big, strong, taciturn men with hard heads and shrewd eyes. Wonderful to have at your side in a tavern brawl; not so very at home in the rarefied ballrooms and salons of London.
Head of the deVere family, Oliver, Lord deVere is waging a losing battle against his scruffy, ne’er-do-well kinsmen but he’s determined to marry them well and win his way back to wealth and power.