The Education of Portia
Portia Crossmichael is content with her life. She owns her own school close to London, and finds pleasure and satisfaction in educating the young ladies whom she is employed to teach. The companionship of her artist step-brother and her friends--some of whom she employs as teachers--enlivens her quiet days. Nothing, it seems, will disrupt the quiet tenor of her life. She has reckoned without the advent of Ingram Perrington, Lord Stadbroke, and his three daughters. He, freed in the past five years by the deaths of a domineering mother and an unreasonable wife, has been enjoying the delights of the metropolis. The viscount has a low opinion of women, and does not know how to deal with his girls as they mature. Portia finds herself becoming deeply attached to his daughters--and to him--knowing familiarity can only lead to heart-break. Her equanimity is further strained by the advent of her step-father Harold Dent. He demands money and threatens to destroy the school--their livelihood--with scurrilous lies if they do not pay him for his silence. Torn between truth and blackmail, growing affection for Stadbroke's daughters and an escalating interest in the viscount himself, Portia faces the loss of all her dreams. What lessons must she learn? And will they be happy ones?