Teaser Tuesday: Mary & Vaughn

Many of you have asked me just what was up with Mary and Vaughn in The Mischief of the Mistletoe. After all, there are all the other characters, brimming with holiday spirit (even if the Dowager of Dovedale does express that in her own unique way), but Mary and Vaughn appear to be at their very snarkiest.

Here’s the scoop.

But first, here’s the scene:

“Mr. Fitzhugh’s sister is a pupil at Miss Climpson’s,” said Mlle de Fayette. “A most apt pupil, too.”

She made one of those quick, shifting movements people make as they prepare to excuse themselves, but she was forestalled by Lady Vaughn.

“A Fitzhugh?” Lady Vaughn’s laugh, sickly sweet as syrup and just as devoid of any genuine nourishment, grated on Arabella’s nerves. “Apt?”

“I shouldn’t be too hasty to condemn the entire garden on the basis of one vegetable, my sweet,” returned her husband blandly, as though the vegetable in question weren’t standing right there. “One never knows where one might find the odd flower.”

Lady Vaughn tossed her glossy head, making the crimson plumes on her hat dance. “Why bother with root vegetables when there are roses to be had?”

Lord Vaughn regarded his wife from beneath half-closed lids. “Too humble for you?”

Lady Vaughn’s gaze shifted to Mr. Fitzhugh’s dangling watch -fobs, all decorated with exaggerated enamel carnations. “Too tasteless.”

Arabella remembered the hot bricks and the cold chocolate and the solicitude with which Mr. Fitzhugh had tucked blanket after blanket around them in the carriage, until she had thought they might smother from them. When had Lady Vaughn, for all her vaunted good taste, ever performed a kind deed for anyone? Turnips might be plain, but they were certainly nourishing.

“Even humble fare has its advantages,” said Arabella defiantly.

“Yes, thirty thousand of them a year,” said Lady Vaughn with a knowing arch of her brows. “And all in gold.”

Arabella looked at Lady Vaughn, at her crimson-dyed feathers and watchful eyes. “Not everyone counts a man’s worth in coins.”

Lord Vaughn lifted his quizzing glass. “Who said anything about a man? I spoke merely of cultivating one’s garden.”

Vaughn and Turnip are oil and water– or oil and raspberry jam. Vaughn regards Turnip much as he would an overgrown puppy who has been let into his house without permission: exuberant, loud, and prone to messing up one’s clothes. Turnip, for his part, like a puppy, can’t resist bounding up to Vaughn. Ever seen a puppy and a Siamese cat “playing” together? That’s pretty much it.

Mary’s side is more complex. At the opening of Mistletoe, Mary and Vaughn have only been married for about a month. Mary’s brush with potential failure on the marriage market is still recent enough that she’s determined to grind her new position as countess into everyone’s face. She’s not quite comfortable yet in her own skin or her position and very anxious to put distance between herself and those young ladies less fortunate– she was one not so very long ago and doesn’t want to remember it. It’s even more galling to recall that at one point she considered lowering herself enough to make a play for Turnip Fitzhugh, who, while he might not have the title, did, at least, have the guineas. Naturally, now that the crisis is averted, Mary has convinced herself that she would never have even thought of such a thing– but the knowledge that she did makes her sneer at Turnip even more.

In short, Turnip and Arabella bring out the very worst in both Vaughns.

Do you have questions you’d like to see answered on a Teaser Tuesday? Just email them to me or post them below.


  1. Chanpreet on March 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Thank you demystifying their behavior! Although what excuse do they have for the rest of the time?

  2. Jessica S. on March 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    This is why I love Crimson Rose; in any other context, they’re a pair of snobs (to say the least). But in CR we see beneath the veneers to actual human beings, much as they’d like to hide the fact that they, you know, bleed if you prick them.

    I do appreciate the insight…I just assumed that they still think they’re better than everyone else (see above).

  3. Am7 on March 23, 2011 at 12:42 am

    I always loved Mary. I was very disappointed with the she acted in Mistletoe. I do see why she acted that way.
    I never found her bad before. This was the first time I thought we saw a nasty side of her. Before she was just cool and reserved.
    Yes she was a little snobby but for me thats realistic of the times, of the people. I think also she felt adored before and its hard for her to watch people confirm.

  4. Carole on March 23, 2011 at 6:46 am

    I love Lord Vaughn and Mary. They’re just….LordandLadyVaughn-ish. =D

  5. AngelB on March 24, 2011 at 9:32 am


    Okay, my questions are about characters that come and go.

    Who was the ‘monk of Donwell Abbey’ that Henrietta chased in Tulip? is there a repeat performance of the same ‘monk’ in other books?

    Signor Marconi…what’s he really up to? I’m thinking he’s been in every book since Tulip, if not by name. Am I right? And Madame Fiola?

    Was Jack Reid involved before Blood Lily that we don’t know yet?

    Lastly, any chance of a prequel with the Duke & Duchess of Uppington? Like in the same format as Mistletoe or a freebee like Ivy & Intrique? Please. Pretty Please.

  6. AnneK on March 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    OHH! I second every one of AngelB’s questions and comments… and am secretly jealous that I didn’t think of the Jack Reid question. I have been worndering about the monk and Signor Marconi as I am re-reading Balck Tulip this month.

    One additional question: Do Lottie and Geof have a girl? Pelase tell us that they name her something sensible, like Jane. 🙂

  7. Temsgirl on March 29, 2011 at 1:47 am

    To insert my 2cents into these comments–Sebastian is still my favorite character in ths series and I hope to aee more adventures for him and Mary.
    y second favorite character was Letty ==please don’t turn her into a stodgy matron. At the risk of appearing dense ..I confess I couldn’t figure out who or what the epithet “Blood Lily” refers to. And what is a quizzing glass.. is it the same as a monocle? I’ve read all your books,,some of them twice. Our local town librarian does too. At my request she ordered Orchid and I read it..all within a week. My favorite English historical period is the Plantagenets especially the 15th century but you have made the early 19th c. come alive for me. Ialso appreciated your comments about “15th year graduate students” as it took me 17 years to write my dissertation–but I never gave up and I hope you won’t either. The academic street cred may come in handy later on. I noted that your dissertation is the Royalists in the Civil War,, although it’s main character is on the Parliament side I wonder if you have read “Prisons” by Mary Lee Settle.. in my opinion the finest book this splendid novelist wrote.

  8. Jessica S on April 26, 2011 at 2:11 am

    @AnneK – Turnip and Arabella name their daughter Jane.

    Mischief of the Mistletoe and The Orchid Affair are my favorites so far. Are we getting a hint that someday the books will head to New Orleans?

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