Home of the Bluestocking Belles

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Author: Caroline Warfield (Page 1 of 3)

The Lascivious Duchess

The Hare and Ewe Public House, Wheatton

July 1834

Rob Wilkens came in acting like a bug on the edge of a hot kettle the morning the duke left the Hall. We all knew it would be thus and had warned him, but he would insist on taking a job in the big old barn that is Eversham Hall. Fancied the footman’s livery, he did.

“His Grace always leaves as soon as he gets wind the duchess is coming back,” we warned him. I warned him. Warren the blacksmith warned him. Peck from up at the Hall warned him. Hell, even his mother warned him. The Duchess of Murnane is a harpy and that’s a fact.

“She left with some Italian count this time,” he had answered, fool that he was. “Maybe she won’t come back. Italy is so far from Wiltshire, she may as be going to the moon,” he said.

That were two years ago, when the duke came back and his cousin Rand married the Indian woman before they returned to Canada. Lots o’ folks took work at the Hall. His Grace always fills the jobs after she leaves, not that he has to. There are always them that are stupid enough to take her coin until she works ’em half to death, gives ’em the sharp edge of her tongue one time too many, or poisons ’em with her lies.

In the case of comely lads like Rob, she does worse, at least worse for the innocent ones. Some of ’em take what she offers and laugh behind her back, strutting around yard like roosters who got one over on their fellows. Danny Sullivan, though, he fancied himself in love with the woman. When she used him and moved on, she fired him for complaining. His father claimed the gun that killed him was an accident from cleaning the thing, but there were those who thought otherwise.

“What are you going to do?” Warren asked Rob that morning.

“What can I do? My mother needs the coin I send,” Rob said glumly. Danny’d been his friend. I hoped that made him think hard about working there.

“I can be wary, but—” he raised his hands looking helpless.

“What can she do if she comes after you and you say no?” One of the farmers asked him.

“She’ll fire him,” Peck said. “He may as well quit first.” Peck would know. Tough old bastard was too much gristle for the lady’s taste, so he stayed on during the comings and goings, trying to keep things up for the duke’s sake.

We all like the duke well enough, but the county could use his attention. Between the duchess’s outrages and his boy’s illness, he don’t pay much attention to the estate, much less the neighborhood. Even when he’s here he hares off to London often enough, with some government work. “Affairs of State,” Peck called it. It wasn’t like the old days when at least Miss Catherine, she who’s now a countess, lived over at Songbird Cottage and Squire Archer across the river.

“You in charge now?” I asked Peck.

“I can’t manage the books and such, but I keep the boys working,” Peck answered, “Them as stay on. His Grace hired another steward. Starts next week before she comes.”

We all stared into our ale for a while after that. She goes after the stewards first. We figured this one wouldn’t last a year.

“So,” Peck said to Rob, “Are you quitting or staying? Old Banks will help you duck out of her attention.” We all knew the butler, Banks, was useless against the duchess. Rob did too. Peck raised his tankard and gave Rob a sly look over the top before he took a sip. “You can just take what she offers. Some do.”

Rob shuddered. “Makes me feel dirty just thinking about being used like that.”

Ellen the barmaid snorted when she slammed down three tankards of ale on our table. “Now you know how the lasses feel when you sniff under their skirts.” She sashayed away with her nose in the air, and Rob’s eyes followed her across the room.

I glanced at Ellen and back at him. “I can use a lad willing to work hard,” I said, though I didn’t know it until that very moment. “I can’t pay the Hall’s wages, but I’ll hire you.”

He stared into his drink a while, then gazed over at Ellen standing in the kitchen door. “Thank you kindly Mr. Doughty. I think I’ll take you up on that.”

___________________________________________________

The Duke of Murnane’s cousin Rand is the hero of Caroline Warfield’s The Renegade Wife. The duchess caused a rift between the two of them in their youth before moving on to other game. The duke appears in that book and also its sequel, The Reluctant Wife, coming in April 2017. The duchess does not, but her pernicious influence permeates both books.

About The Renegade Wife

Desperate and afraid, Meggy Blair will do whatever it takes to protect her children. She’d hoped to find sanctuary from her abusive husband with her Ojibwa grandmother, but can’t locate her. When her children fall ill, she seeks shelter in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. But when the owner unexpectedly returns, he’s furious to find squatters disrupting his self-imposed solitude.

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly had good reason to put an ocean between himself and the cousin that betrayed him. He just wants the intrusive woman gone, but it isn’t long before Meggy and her little ones begin breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. But their fragile interlude is shattered when Meggy’s husband appears to claim his children, threatening to have Rand jailed.

The only way for Meggy to protect Rand is to leave him. But when her husband takes her and the children to England, Meggy discovers he’s far more than an abuser; what he’s involved in endangers all their lives. To rescue the woman who has stolen his heart, Rand must follow her and do what he swore he’d never do: reconcile with his aristocratic family and finally uncover the truth behind all the lies. But time is running out for them all.

Read it for FREE with Kindle Unlimited or buy a copy by clicking here.

 

Conversation Heard on the Street

Lobster Cove, Maine, September 20, 1851

Well, you asked if there’s anything interesting going on in our little town of Lobster Cove, so I’ll just share a tidbit I heard the other day. I don’t normally gossip. You know me—Bertha Mayer’s a respectable woman. But I don’t feel I have the right to keep something so scandalous to myself.

It’s about that Lisbeth O’Shea—widowed barely a year, her husband lost at sea and his body never found. There was plenty of talk about him before he died. Said he took up with other women including that barmaid over at the Hogshead, the one who already has an illegitimate son. But I always thought Lisbeth a respectable woman. A respectable widow, if you know what I mean. Now she’s gone and given widowhood a bad name.

What’s she done? Only moved in with that handsome blacksmith, Rab Sinclair—the one with the thick Scottish accent and those fine blue eyes—moved right into his bachelor quarters behind the forge, she has. Shameless! Such things just aren’t done in our quiet town. Of course, Rab claims he hasn’t been staying there nights. He says he’s been sleeping down the street at the livery stable. As if anyone believes that.

You know, half the women in Lobster Cove have been chasing him for years but he’s barely looked at any of them. Makes me wonder now. Did Rab have an eye for Lisbeth even back when her husband was still alive? Just what did happen to Declan O’Shea anyhow, when his boat wrecked? People do funny things, especially when the heart’s involved.

But I have to say, just between you and me…if a woman, even a respectable widow, were to throw caution to the winds it just might be for the sake of a man like Rab Sinclair. Now, promise you won’t repeat that to anyone!

About the Book

When the trawler White Gull was lost in a storm off the coast of Lobster Cove, Lisbeth O’Shea’s husband, Declan, was lost along with it. At least that’s what Lisbeth believes until, a year later, she hears Declan’s voice in the night and sees him haunting the shore near their tiny cottage. Then she wonders… Has grief affected her mind? Or is someone playing a cruel trick?

Town blacksmith Rab Sinclair has loved Lisbeth ever since he arrived in Lobster Cove. Lisbeth has never had eyes for anyone other than the charming, feckless Declan O’Shea, but Rab knows Declan was not faithful to Lisbeth. How can he convince the grieving widow she’s pinned her heart on the wrong man? And when dangerous secrets come to light, how can Rab protect the woman who means more to him than his own life?

Buy link for The White Gull: http://amzn.to/2jdpyLm

~Excerpt~

Lightning flashed once more, flooding her eyes with brightness. In the doorway of the bedroom stood a figure wearing dripping oilskins with only the sou’wester missing from his bare head.

Declan.

In the sudden darkness that followed the lightning she moaned his name and then shouted it.

“Declan? Declan, Declan!” She heard movement, the scrape of a boot on the floorboards, the flap of his coat as he turned and left the doorway. With a sob, she followed. Hands stretched before her like a blind woman, she felt for him, stubbed her bare toe on the leg of the bedstead and faltered. She blundered from the room in his wake.

The cottage boasted but three rooms: this bedroom they had shared, another smaller bedroom she’d dreamed of someday using as a nursery for her children and the main room which combined parlor and kitchen. The darkness of the main room enfolded Lisbeth like black velvet. She had but a glimpse of paler darkness as the front door opened and closed again.

“Declan!”

She followed after him, her heart torn between gladness and pain. He was here! But if he truly were here, returned by some miracle from the same sea that had stolen him, why would he go from her? She reached the door, tore it open and stared out into the storm. Waves and salt spray poured over the stones in front of the cottage. Static filled the air and lightning arced overhead, the thunder competing for dominance with the crash of the rain. Wearing only her nightgown, Lisbeth was immediately soaked to the skin. The wind tore at her hair as she strained to catch sight of the figure she had glimpsed in the doorway.

From the cottage, as well she knew, a path led either north to a narrow strip of shingle or south towards Lobster Cove. Which way might he have gone? She could see nothing but storm, the raging elements that matched the furor now in her heart. Would he head down to the sea? Most this coast consisted of sheer rock but the O’Sheas possessed that stony beach where they had hauled up their boats and readied their lobster traps.

The boats were all gone; the White Gull lay in pieces. Why would Declan go there? Having come home to her, why would he leave at all?

She walked barefoot to a break in the rocks where the sea poured in like a gray beast, alive and wild. No one but a madman would be down on that strip of shingle now.

She turned her head toward the track but saw nothing. The thought came to her: maybe I imagined it. But she had heard the scrape of his boots on the floor. She had seen his hair ruffled by the force of the storm.

A dream, then. She’d had them before, yes, but never, never so real. She returned to the cottage where she shut the door and hurried to the fireplace. With clumsy hands, she searched for matches and the stub of a candle. Her fingers shook so violently it took her three attempts to put flame to the wick.

The light took hold slowly and seemed pitifully inadequate. Thrusting it aloft, Lisbeth retraced her steps to the door of her room, careful to keep her now-sodden garments swept back, her eyes on the floor.

A trail of wet led its way to the bedroom door and culminated on the threshold.

The very place where he had stood.

The candle tumbled from her suddenly numb fingers and the flame went out.

About the Author

Award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Born and raised in Western New York, she’s pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though she’s made pilgrimages to both Newfoundland and Scotland in the company of her daughter, she’s usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario with her husband and her “fur” child, a rescue dog.

Author Web Site: http://www.laurastricklandbooks.com

 

A Rather Disappointing Wedding

We petitioned our contact in the neighborhood of Wheatton in Wiltshire for information about the wedding of Mr. Randolph Wheatly, cousin of the Duke of Murnane to his commoner bride from Canada. The personage, who chooses to remain anonymous, managed to obtain an invitation to both wedding and the wedding breakfast. Those hoping for some elements reminiscent of the American savage wilderness (reputed to be the home of the bride) will be disappointed, but our contact reports some on-dits of interest to those who follow the eccentric activities of the Landrum/Wheatly family.
________________________________________________

After a standard Church of England ceremony, conducted I must say with Little Elegance, but blessedly no Whiff of Papist Nonsense, we retired to Eversham Hall for a breakfast provided by the Duke. The fare rated Tolerable at best, with the meal more than adequate but the cakes being of little distinction. The entertainment was flawed by Running Herds of small children. One might have expected better in a home of this station, but one would have been disappointed. This Sad Fact owes itself, perhaps, to the absence of the duchess. His Grace, being a Man, did his best no doubt, but he is rarely home long enough to ensure a well-run household.

The newlyweds slunk off indecently early to spend an extended honeymoon in the groom’s childhood home, Songbird Cottage, amid a flood of Sickening Sentimentality. Neighbors expressed surprise that a man of Wheatly’s means did not take his bride to Paris or one of the Better European spas, but the woman professed herself more comfortable in the Wretched Cottage, a preference that reveals much about her Common Origins, and more than she might like about her Taste.

The Earl and Countess of Chadbourn have elected to linger with his nephew, the duke, and Eversham Hall will be overrun with children for some days as a result. The earl has ever doted on his brothers-in-law and his nephew, whom he refers to as “the boys,” as if he were their father. A father’s love, as they say, is blind, which appears to be true in this case.

We neither saw nor heard anything about the Countess’s other brother, Mr. Frederick Wheatly, One is given to understand that he remains with the East India Company forces in Bengal, but one hears no sign of any Distinction or Honors associated with such service. A persistent rumor would have it that he fled from a posting in Cambridgeshire, taking the appointment to Bengal to get out of some sort of trouble.

I feel compelled to add a note about the Duke and Duchess of Murnane who rarely reside in the same place at the same time. The duke appears to prefer London and visits his estate only when the duchess is on one of her Extended Holidays, generally accompanied by an Italian count or Polish princeling. When she is at home it becomes obvious why mothers in the neighborhood discourage their sons from taking positions as groom or footman at Eversham Hall. The woman is shameless. One pities the duke, particularly because he has sole care of the boy who appears more sickly whenever one lays eyes on him. The entire situation is unnatural.

Be that as it may, His Grace hosted the wedding celebration. It carried on much of the afternoon with neither brother nor duchess in appearance, becoming commoner and commoner as the hours stretched and wine bottles emptied.
____________________________________________________
Rand, Fred, and Charles Wheatly, the boys of A Dangerous Nativity, are the heroes of Caroline Warfield‘s Children of Empire Series. This wedding takes place in the first book of the series, The Renegade Wife

About the Book

Desperate and afraid, Meggy Blair will do whatever it takes to protect her children. She’d hoped to find sanctuary from her abusive husband with her Ojibwa grandmother, but can’t locate her. When her children fall ill, she seeks shelter in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. But when the owner unexpectedly returns, he’s furious to find squatters disrupting his self-imposed solitude.

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly had good reason to put an ocean between himself and the family that deceived him. He just wants the intrusive woman gone, but it isn’t long before Meggy and the start breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. But their fragile interlude is shattered when Meggy’s husband appears to claim his children, threatening to have Rand jailed.

The only way for Meggy to protect Rand is to leave him. But when her husband takes her and the children to England, Meggy discovers he’s far more than an abuser; what he’s involved in endangers all their lives. To rescue the woman who has stolen his heart, Rand must follow her and do what he swore he’d never do: reconcile with his aristocratic family and finally uncover the truth behind all the lies. But time is running out for them all.

Read for free with Kindle Unlimited or buy a copy on Amazon.

Mr. Clemens Requests

Gentle Readers and Erstwhile Contributors,
We are filled with Gratitude at the response you have given to our Humble Efforts to bring facts and stories of Interest and Entertainment to the people of London.

The response from people of All Stations has been gratifying to say the least. We hope to continue for many years to come. To that end I wish to announce that our Little Paper has openings for Discerning Contributors of all types. We would welcome new contributors as well as added contributions from those who have joined us in the past. We are always looking for:

  • Purloined letters that may interest the Reading Public
  • Opinion pieces on the Fancies and Foibles of high society
  • News that otherwise might go unreported about the Private Lives of the poor and the prominent.
  • Instructive stories whose morals might serve as admonition to the unwary

As well as (dare I say it) items of a more salacious and titilating nature. Be it noted that those who contribute may also provide our readers with exciting news about their books as well.

Should any of you have an interest in making such a contribution, kindly contact me**. Should you wish instead to seek the advice of our most excellent Aunt Augusta (and receive mention of your book title) there is a form for that as well.

I Remain etc etc

 

 

Samuel Clemens, Printer, of London

**Mr. Clemens had deputized this work to staff. If you wish to participate kindly send three Wednesday dates, your name and writer name, and book title to warfieldcaro@gmail.com

Hoodwinked! Blackmail!

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I am no one important, truly, but I do have a place in Society as the companion of the Marchioness of H—. Her sight is not up to snuff, as most know, and so I act as her eyes and report on the wardrobes, manners and activities of the guests at the events we attend.

henriettebrowneIt is in this capacity that I have noticed something odd, sir, and I think that you and the readers of the Teatime Tattler deserve to know—that I believe the members of the ton are being hoodwinked!

I say this because I witnessed a strange occurrence at the theatre some weeks ago. The well-known debutante Miss P— was in attendance and arrived in the carriage just before ours. I saw a street urchin approach the young lady. An unusually long exchange occurred, one that did not sound at all convivial—and at the end Miss P— gave the audacious waif one of her earrings. Since Miss P—a is not known to be of a charitable bent, my employer and I speculate that the young lady had been blackmailed!

All well enough, although the young miss’s mother later denied it. But then I happened to catch a glimpse of . . . let me just say, someone who looks very like that street urchin—at Lady Dayle’s soiree! Well! And the plot thickened further when the urchin was introduced as a certain infamous earl’s betrothed—and it began to be noticed that Miss P— has been spending an inordinate amount of time around said earl—at a time when her own betrothed has been called to the country.

Such goings on! All very suspicious to both myself and my employer. You may rest assured that I will watch very closely this evening at Lady Feltham’s ball—and will report again if I notice anything untoward.

Ever Watchful

A concerned wallflower

Readers can sample that blackmail scene at my website: http://www.debmarlowe.com/the-earls-hired-bride.html

tehbAbout The Earl’s Hired Bride

Because an unmarried Earl must be in want of a bride . . .

Every debutante in the ton wants to be the Countess of Hartford—and mistress of Hartsworth Castle. Never mind that Hart has no interest in marrying just yet, the young ladies hunt him as ruthlessly as a pack of hounds after the elusive fox. What he needs is a hired bride—one who is guaranteed to call it off at the end of the Season.

Because a girl with no prospects will do what she must to help her family . . .

Miss Emily Spencer must do something. Her mother’s health is failing and the notorious Duke of Danby is growing dangerously close. Why not hide in plain sight and pretend to be the Earl of Hartford’s betrothed? And getting paid for her troubles? It’s just what she needs to make her family comfortable again.

Because love comes when you least expect it . . .

Sparks fly when the two put their plan in motion—and deeper emotions grow. But how can they be together when the path they’ve forged only leads to their inevitable separation?

iBooks – http://apple.co/2dfSzDc
Amazon – http://amzn.to/2dqDDCQ
Nook – http://bit.ly/2dkeRmr
Kobo – http://bit.ly/2dKTQDn
Google Play – http://bit.ly/2dIBmnP

About the Authorjerricaheadshotsmall

USA Today Bestselling Author Deb Marlowe loves History, England and Men in Boots.  Clearly she was meant to write Regency Historical Romance!

Deb grew up in Pennsylvania with her nose in a book. Luckily, she’d read enough romances to recognize the true modern hero she met at a college Halloween party—even though he wore a tuxedo t-shirt instead of breeches and tall boots. They married, settled in North Carolina and produced two handsome, intelligent and genuinely amusing boys. Though she spends much of her time with her nose in her laptop, for the sake of her family she does occasionally abandon her inner world for the domestic adventure of laundry, dinner and carpool. Despite her sacrifice, not one of the men in her family is yet willing to don breeches or tall boots. She’s working on it. Deb loves to hear from readers! You can contact her:

on FB at https://www.facebook.com/pages/DebMarlowe/70397149702
and
https://www.facebook.com/d.m.marlowe
on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DMMarlowewrites
and as @DebMarlowe
on her website at www.DebMarlowe.com
and
http://www.dmmarlowe.com
on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/DebMarloweWrite/

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