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Authors: M.C. Beaton

Finessing Clarissa

BOOK: Finessing Clarissa
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M. C. Beaton
is the author of the hugely successful Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series, as well as a quartet of Edwardian murder mysteries featuring heroine Lady Rose Summer, the Travelling Matchmaker and Six Sisters Regency romance series, and a stand-alone murder mystery,
The Skeleton in the Closet
– all published by Constable & Robinson. She left a full-time career in journalism to turn to writing, and now divides her time between the Cotswolds and Paris. Visit
for more.

Praise for the School for Manners series:

‘The Tribbles, with their salty exchanges and impossible schemes, provide delightful entertainment.’

Publishers Weekly

‘A welcome new series . . . the best of the Regency writers again offers an amusing merry-go-round of a tale.’


‘The Tribbles are charmers . . . Very highly recommended.’

Library Journal

‘A delightful Regency sure to please . . . [Beaton] is a romance writer who deftly blends humour and adventure . . . [sustaining] her devoted audience to the last gasp.’




Titles by M. C. Beaton

The School for Manners

Refining Felicity

Perfecting Fiona

Enlightening Delilah

Animating Maria

Finessing Clarissa

Marrying Harriet

The Six Sisters


The Taming of Annabelle

Deirdre and Desire


Diana the Huntress

Frederica in Fashion

The Edwardian Murder Mystery series

Snobbery with Violence

Hasty Death

Sick of Shadows

Our Lady of Pain

The Travelling Matchmaker series

Emily Goes to Exeter

Belinda Goes to Bath

Penelope Goes to Portsmouth

Beatrice Goes to Brighton

Deborah Goes to Dover

Yvonne Goes to York

The Agatha Raisin series

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener

Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage

Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist

Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death

Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham

Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden

Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam

Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell

Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came

Agatha Raisin and the Curious Curate

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House

Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance

Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon

Agatha Raisin and Love, Lies and Liquor

Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye

Agatha Raisin and a Spoonful of Poison

Agatha Raisin: There Goes the Bride

Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body

Agatha Raisin: As the Pig Turns

The Hamish Macbeth series

Death of a Gossip

Death of a Cad

Death of an Outsider

Death of a Perfect Wife

Death of a Hussy

Death of a Snob

Death of a Prankster

Death of a Glutton

Death of a Travelling Man

Death of a Charming Man

Death of a Nag

Death of a Macho Man

Death of a Dentist

Death of a Scriptwriter

Death of an Addict

A Highland Christmas

Death of a Dustman

Death of a Celebrity

Death of a Village

Death of a Poison Pen

Death of a Bore

Death of a Dreamer

Death of a Maid

Death of a Gentle Lady

Death of a Witch

Death of a Valentine

Death of a Sweep

Death of a Kingfisher

The Skeleton in the Closet




Constable & Robinson Ltd

55–56 Russell Square

London WC1B 4HP

First published in the US by St Martin’s Press, 1989

This paperback edition published by Canvas,

an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd, 2012

Copyright © M. C. Beaton, 1989

The right of M. C. Beaton to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.

A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in
Publication Data is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-78033-313-7 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1-78033-468-4 (ebook)

Typeset by TW Typesetting, Plymouth, Devon

Printed and bound in the UK

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2


Disasters come not singly,
But as if they watched and waited,
Scanning one another’s motions,
When the first descends, the others
Follow, follow, gathering flock-wise
Round their victim sick and wounded –
First a shadow, then a sorrow,
Till the air is dark with anguish.


The tall house in Holles Street was filled with the sounds of bustle and activity as the Tribble sisters prepared for the arrival of the Honourable Clarissa Vevian, daughter of Viscount and Viscountess Clarendon.

Clarissa was the Tribbles’ latest client, for the sisters were in business, and that business was to school seemingly impossible young ladies and make them fit to take their place at the London Season and find a husband.

Amy and Effy Tribble, spinster twins in straitened circumstances, had hit upon the idea of advertising for ‘difficult’ girls. They had been very successful with their three latest charges but had feared they would never get another. No parent wanted to let the polite world know that their daughter was so impossibly unmarriageable that they had to hire outside help.

Effy, silver-haired and dainty, was still in a state of happy euphoria at the prospect of having a new charge to bring out. Amy Tribble, horsey and mannish, was beginning to be plagued with worries. It was now well known that the girls they chaperoned were difficult. So what was up with this Clarissa that had made her parents send her all the way from Bath to be schooled?

But she kept her doubts to herself. If she voiced them to Effy, then Effy would at first protest, then weep, and then take to her bed, leaving Amy with all the work of preparation.

Amy’s gaunt and stern exterior belied a soft and feminine interior. She felt she would like a strong man to lean on. There was, of course, Mr Haddon, their old friend who had returned from India a rich nabob, but of late, Effy had more and more appropriated Mr Haddon as
property. Mr Haddon seemed quite charmed by Effy’s flutterings and flirtatious ways and Amy felt rejected and unwanted.

‘You will probably find there is nothing up with this Clarissa at all,’ said Effy, arranging a bowl of spring flowers in a vase. ‘I have not seen dear Georgina, her mother, you know, in this age, but she was a delicate, fairy-like creature. We have had our difficulties with the others, but it all turned out well, did it not?’

‘After a great many hair-raising adventures and upsets,’ pointed out Amy sourly. ‘Our last charge was nearly raped but was saved by Yvette, who stabbed that rogue to death.’ Yvette was the Tribbles’ resident French dressmaker who had added to their worries by becoming pregnant by a Frenchman who had subsequently run off to France and left her.

‘Oh, it will all be splendidly easy,’ trilled Effy. ‘Do you not remember Georgina?’

‘Vaguely,’ said Amy, stretching her legs and looking gloomily at her large feet. ‘We’ve done so many Seasons ourselves, years and years of ’em.’

Effy frowned. She did not like to be reminded of all their failures. She maintained the fiction that their spinster state was by choice. She had been a plain girl and was now a very pretty middle-aged woman, her sandy hair being now silvery-white and her figure trim.

‘Mr Haddon,’ announced the butler.

Effy snatched a flower out of the vase and held it to her cheek and assumed a dreamy pose.

‘Won’t do,’ said Amy waspishly. ‘You look silly.’

Mr Haddon was ushered in. He was a thin, spare man dressed in neat but plain clothes.

‘All ready for your next client, ladies?’ he asked.

‘As ready as we’ll ever be,’ said Amy sourly, for Effy had put the flower back in the vase and was fluttering up to Mr Haddon.

Mr Haddon sat down and surveyed Amy’s face with shrewd eyes. ‘I shall just go and see if they know to serve those caraway cakes you like so much, Mr Haddon,’ cooed Effy. Her dress had a short silk train at the back and Effy hoped Mr Haddon noticed the exquisite line of it as she left the room.

BOOK: Finessing Clarissa
13.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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