Bold and clever, THE CAVANAUGHS are unlike any
family in early Victorian England. #1
New York Times
bestselling author Stephanie Laurens continues to explore
the enthralling world of these dynamic siblings in the
eagerly anticipated second volume in her captivating
A Gentleman of Means
One of the most eligible bachelors in London, Lord
Christopher “Kit” Cavanaugh has discovered his true path
it doesn’t include the expected society marriage. Kit is
business and has chosen the bustling port of Bristol to
launch his passion—Cavanaugh Yachts.
A Woman of Character
Miss Sylvia Buckleberry’s passion is her school for
impoverished children. When a new business venture forces
the school out of its building, she must act quickly. But
confronting Kit Cavanaugh is a daunting task made even more
difficult by their first and only previous meeting, when,
believing she’d never see him again, she’d treated him
dismissively. Still, Sylvia is determined to be persuasive.
An Unstoppable Duo
But it quickly becomes clear there are others who want the
school—and Cavanaugh Yachts—closed. Working side by side,
Kit and Sylvia fight to secure her school and to expose the
blackguard trying to sabotage his business. Yet an even
dastardly villain lurks, one who threatens the future both
discover they now hold dear.
“Steady, lads.” Lord Christopher Cavanaugh, known to most
as Kit, drew his matched bays to a stamping halt on the
rough grass of the roadside lookout. The high-bred horses
shifted and snorted; having recently rested in an inn’s
stable while Kit and his companions partook of luncheon,
the pair were eager to run again.
But Kit wanted a moment to look ahead—at the roofs, towers,
and spires, and the glinting silver-gray ribbon of rivers
that made up the city of Bristol, displayed like a colorful
patchwork in the shallow valley at the end of their road.
The day was cool but fine, with a fitful breeze meandering
up the valley. Eyes narrowing, Kit surveyed the city he
planned to make his home. Today would see his first true
step into the future he was determined to craft and claim.
He’d been adrift all his life, with no rudder to guide him
and no port to call his home. For the past decade—ever
since he’d come on the town—he’d had no direction, no goal…
No. Not true. His one aim—his single focused goal—had been
to avoid the fate his mother, Lavinia, the late Dowager
Marchioness of Raventhorne, had planned for him.
She’d been a schemer of near-unimaginable degree, intent on
controlling and exploiting the lives of her four children
for her own gain. In Kit’s case—as for his older and
younger brothers—she’d expected to barter the position of
their wives for wealth or, at the very least, valuable
influence. Kit had reacted by painting himself as an
indolent rake of the sort no sane parent would want
anywhere near their daughter. His reputation in the ton had
become a solid shield, one that had enabled him to walk
society’s halls without fear of being trapped in order to
help his younger sister, Stacie, avoid a similar fate.
Lavinia had been a demon in human guise. They—her four
children—had been beyond shocked when they’d finally
learned the full gamut of her evil schemes. She’d tried to
kill her stepson, Ryder, Kit’s older half brother, whom Kit
and his siblings adored, in order to replace Ryder, then
the marquess, with her eldest son, Kit’s older brother
Rand; only Ryder’s remarkable strength, physical and
mental, and the support of his wife, Mary, then the
marchioness, had allowed them both to survive. Subsequently
captured, Lavinia had lost her life in a vain attempt to
Even now, the thought of her and her doings chilled Kit’s
His mother had died in the summer of 1837, bringing to an
abrupt end a chapter in his and his siblings’ lives that
they all had thought would never end. Nevertheless, it had
taken years for the effects of her version of mothering to
start to fade—for Rand, Kit, Stacie, and their youngest
brother, Godfrey, to shed the invisible chains and adjust
their now-instinctive, habitual reactions toward others as
well as themselves.
Or, Kit temporized, at least shake loose enough of those
chains to take up the challenge of shaping their own lives
and make a start.
For Rand—arguably the most impacted by their mother’s
schemes, but also the oldest of the four siblings and
possessing a quiet inner strength similar to Ryder’s
implacable will—that had meant becoming a leading light in
investor circles, specializing in supporting promising
inventions. Less than a month ago, Rand had taken what Kit
saw as the final step in emerging from their shared past by
marrying Felicia Throgmorton, the daughter of one of the
inventors Rand had backed.
Kit had seen Rand and Felicia two days ago, when they’d
driven over from their new house to visit with Ryder and
Mary at Raventhorne Abbey, the family’s ancestral pile,
where, since the wedding, Kit had been staying. Contentment
had settled about Rand like a cloak, and a species of
happiness had infused his eyes and his expression whenever
he’d looked at Felicia, leaving Kit to surmise that Rand
and Felicia were well on the way to finding the same sense
of settled peace and relaxed joy in life that Ryder had
found with Mary.
The atmosphere of happy family life that now pervaded the
Abbey was something Kit had never experienced over the
decades he’d called the Abbey home. He envied his nephews
and niece—Ryder and Mary’s children—the warmth and
unqualified acceptance in which they were growing up. The
unstated yet all-embracing love and support of their
Having watched Rand steadily making his own way—his own
name—in society and beyond, Kit had decided it was time he
did the same—that it was time he made a start on assembling
the various elements of the life he wanted for his own.
He wanted to build ocean-going yachts. More—he aspired to
be the pre-eminent force in the evolving field. In the same
way that dealing with investments played to Rand’s
strengths and interests, Kit felt that yacht-building would
make the most of his longtime obsession with all things
sailing and his ability to lead men and act as manager,
facilitator, and negotiator.
He was good with his hands, and he was good with his head.
He always had been.
When Rand had announced his engagement, Kit had been on his
way to Bermuda, chasing down Wayland Cobworth. Wayland was
an old friend of Kit’s from Eton days who shared his
passion for superbly designed sailing vessels; coming from
a significantly less wealthy family than the Cavanaughs,
instead of going to university, Wayland had apprenticed to
an expert draftsman and ship-designer and was now one of
the up-and-coming designers of yachts.
Wayland knew the quality of Kit’s determination—that when
he set his sights on achieving some goal, that goal would
be achieved; convincing Wayland of Kit’s vision for
Cavanaugh Yachts and of the desirability of Wayland’s
potential position in the company hadn’t been all that
Kit had had to take ship back to England almost immediately
in order not to miss Rand’s wedding; he’d made it, but with
only minutes to spare. Wayland had had to finish a design
for the company he’d been working for before heading back
to England, sailing directly to Bristol.
“It’s bigger than I’d thought,” Smiggs, Kit’s groom-cum-
stableman, observed, breaking through Kit’s introspection.
Smiggs was perched behind Kit. Kit had co-opted Smiggs,
several years older than he, from the Abbey stables when
he’d first gone on the town. Smiggs had eagerly thrown in
his lot with Kit, and subsequently, they’d shared many an
adventure. Kit considered Smiggs a confidant of sorts and
knew he could rely on the wiry man’s support in any
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