In the latter part of the nineteenth century, a trend began in England that would eventually grow to change the way people think about nature and our relationship to it. And it all started with the collectors.
A passion for acquiring and displaying natural specimens developed as Great Britain spread an empire across the globe. Travel to far-flung parts of the kingdom resulted in the discovery of rare and exotic species and a lively trade back to England in butteries, bird eggs, feathers, insects, and even live animals. There was genteel competition among people of means to acquire unique or especially beautiful specimens, and collections were displayed prominently in Victorian homes. Collection cases of fine butteflies were sold at auction by Sotheby’s for more than two hundred pounds sterling—a princely sum!
Desire to learn about the natural world grew apace with the desire to collect, and soon, neither was limited to the well-traveled or moneyed classes. Some of the most fervent collectors of butterflies, insects, and bird eggs were young boys with simple nets and time to tromp through woods and meadows.
The duke of the title A Good Day to Marry a Duke—also the hero of the upcoming book Anyone But a Duke—was just such a young boy.
As his brother recalls, the young duke was always tramping around with a butterfly net in hand, covered in mud, and oblivious to the outside world and even his own importance. By the time the reclusive young man meets the two heroines that will change his life, he has amassed quite a collection. But he, like many collectors of his day, begins to realize how precious and in need of protection our natural world is.
Conserving forests, meadows, and even farmland became a concern for Victorians as woodlands shrank, topsoil eroded, and open land gave way to development. Conservation groups sprang up, such as the National Audubon Society in the US and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain. The drive to collect specimens faded as butterfly, bird, and animal populations declined in the early part of the twentieth century. In the last fty years, collecting has largely changed to an enthusiasm for photographing wildlife in their natural habitats.
We have the Victorians to thank for steering us to a path that would make the protection of endangered species, conservation societies, and wildlife replenishment programs a reality in our century. And it is up to us to carry this precious legacy into the future.
An English war hero must unlock the secrets of an Irish beauty’s heart . . .
When Frances Bumgarten encounters a handsome stranger in her kitchen in the middle of the night, her first impulse is to wallop the scoundrel on the head with a bread paddle. And when Frankie discovers he is “The Fox,” a disarmingly arrogant purveyor of gossip among England’s aristocracy, she’s tempted to take a second swing.
Never mind that Reynard Boulton, nephew of the Viscount Tannehill, is returning her inebriated uncle safely home. This chiseled intruder has sparked an infuriating physical sensation unlike anything the feisty Nevada silver heiress has experienced. In fact, the noblemen of London are so dull, Frankie’s sworn off marriage entirely. She will, however, help her younger sister win her own love match—even if it means secretly enlisting Reynard’s enquiring mind.
But secrets, as Reynard knows too well, can be costly. For Frankie is yet unaware that a villainous duke is scheming to claim her—and ruin him. Soon they’re racing to uncover the truth—and fueling a passion that won’t stay hidden.
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