Home of the Bluestocking Belles

Because history is fun and love is worth working for

Author: Guest author (Page 1 of 19)

A doctor’s letters from the front

From her pocket, she withdrew the note he’d left for her with Doctor Bliss. Mrs. McBride had been scrawled across the front. Was this a farewell? He’d kissed her twice and held her while she cried. Did he care for her the way Major Carlton did? Were his parting words a declaration of his affections?

Turning the letter over, she ran her finger across the bumps and ridges of the blue wax seal. The letters C-P framed a larger letter E. She slid her finger under the edge of the paper careful not to break the wax. Drawing a breath, she unfolded the note. A few, nearly illegible lines had been scribbled across the center of the page.

My grandfather is sending a box from his hotel. When it arrives could you care for the contents? I will write again when I better know my situation.

In disbelief she stared at the note. She read it again, just to see if she’d misunderstood the inked lines, curls, and bumps. Did he mean more than he was saying?

No. There was no other way to interpret the handwriting. After working closely for a month, after life and death, tears and kisses, he wanted her to keep a box?

Her fingers tightened, crinkling the sides of the paper. No goodbye, just a box. She lifted her gaze to the river. A breeze carried in the salty scent of the distant ocean over the river where it blended with the smell of  muck and dead fish.

She sighed. A box. At least he hadn’t declared any amorous affections. She certainly did not want that, but a goodbye would have been nice.

For a moment she wondered what kind of note Charles Ellard would pen if he ever fell in love. Would it be as blunt and socially inept? Did he even know the niceties of courtship?

He removed a blank sheet of paper from his stationery box, picked up his pen and held it poised over the paper.

Taking a deep breath, he wrote—

Dear Gracie McBride,

Frowning, he slashed a line straight through the center of the salutation.

My dearest Grace,

No. Another line.

Dear Mrs. Grace McBride,

Line.

My dear Mrs. William McBride,

No.

My dear friend Gracie…

Dear Mrs. McBride,

I trust you received the box from my grandfather. Thank you for keeping it.

Sincerely,

Charles P. Ellard, Capt.

Assistant Surgeon

69th Pennsylvania, Second Division

Gracie turned the paper over. Blank. Then again, why was she surprised? This brief note, obviously written when he was busy, was just like him—quick, to the point, and dismissive. At least now she knew where to write, to reassure him his box of childhood toys was indeed in her possession. And if she included a few anecdotes about life here at Armory Square, that only meant she was being friendly.

Charles pulled a twig from the bundle of fagots, lit the end, then used it to light the candle which stood in its own wax in the center of the hardtack box they used as a table.

He pulled off his muddy boots and stripped down to his shirt and drawers. After a quick wash, he climbed into bed. Using his haversack as his lap desk, he withdrew paper, pen, and ink. He opened the ink, filled his pen, and set the bottle on the hardtack box between the beds. He wanted to write to Gracie but had no idea what to include in the letter. She’d yet to respond to his last missive. Perhaps she was so busy she thought of him only in passing. Perhaps he thought about her more than she thought about him.

He reached behind him to adjust his pillow. The thin straw mattress crunched beneath his shifting weight. Mail was notoriously slow, he reminded himself. Until he knew for certain that she wasn’t receptive to further communication, she might find news of the President’s review of the army exciting. Except Charles hadn’t gone. After all, what was there to see among a hundred and thirty thousand men?

Women enjoyed talk of fashion, but he had no idea what sort of dress Mrs. Lincoln wore or even what kind of pony their little boy rode.

Weather was generally considered an appropriate topic for conversation with a lady, and it had rained today. Rather a lot lately. However, the weather patterns here no doubt encompassed Washington, which was only fifty miles away. Most likely, Gracie was also being rained upon.

She might find it interesting that he and the rest of the medical department had been busy moving the division hospitals to Potomac Creek near the railroad line. However, by the time she received his letter, she would have more than likely receive at Armory Square, many of the sick and disabled of the division.

He pressed the tip of his pen against the blank sheet of paper. So what should he write? That the regimental surgeon and the whole medical department hated him? That he was lonely? That he was terrified he’d suffer another of his spells? Perhaps he should try harder to focus on other things.

Monday past, thirteen thousand cavalry had moved out, off on some sort of mission. Would she worry if he wrote that now they were all under orders to pack their haversacks with eight days’ rations and leave out their clothes?

No, it would be best not to include maudlin sentiments. After all she was mere woman. Talk of impeding battle might tax her emotions. He would keep the tone of his missive bright and happy.

Dear Mrs. McBride,

“A physican, having written out a prescription, enjoined his patient to swallow the whole of it in the morning. The patient understood him literally, swallowed the written prescription, and got well.”

I understand some people might find the patient’s literal interpretation of the physician’s less than specific instruction to be humorous. That the patient also became well, subsequently made the need for the actual medication moot.

I hope you found the brief anecdote to be amusing.

Surg. Chas. P. Ellard, Captain

69th Pennsylvania

A smile tugged at the corners of Gracie’s mouth. While the joke was mildly amusing, it was the endearing awkwardness of his explanation and his strange need to share it with her that warmed her heart.

She gave her head a shake then refolded the letter and tucked it carefully into one of the inside pockets of her carpet bag.

A Place In Your Heart:

Gracie McBride isn’t looking for love; she’s looking for respect. But in this man’s world of Civil War medicine, Gracie is expected to maintain her place changing beds and writing letters. Her biggest nemesis is the ward surgeon, Doctor Charles Ellard, who seems determined to woo her with arrogant kisses and terrible jokes.

Charles is an excellent surgeon. He assumed he would be well received by an army at war. He was not. Friendless and alone, he struggles to hide the panic attacks that plague him while the only person who understands him is a feisty Irish nurse clearly resolved to keep him at a distance.

But, Charles is sent to the battlefield, and Gracie is left with a wounded soldier, a box of toys, and a mystery which can only be solved by the one man she wishes could love her, both as a woman and a nurse.

Excerpt, rated G

“No. I want you to go home before the death of that ten-year-old boy becomes so ordinary that one day you wake up and realize you no longer have the ability to feel.”

She squared her shoulders and stepped toward him. “Me own husband was a doctor, sir. I’ve birthed babies and stitched wounds. I stood by William’s side during surgeries and passed him instruments. I helped him clean the intestines of a man gored by a bull, before putting it all back inside that man’s belly. Me delicate sensibilities did not send me into a swoon then nor will they here. I thank ye for yer concern, Doctor Ellard, but ’tis who I am. And by the saints, as long as I have breath in me body, I will feel, and I will care.”

Their gazes locked in that moment and something flickered in his icy depths, overshadowing his usual cynicism with what she suspected might be admiration. The harsh lines of his face softened.

“Saint Jude must indeed be watching over you, Mrs. McBride.”

“That he is, Doctor Ellard, that he is.”

He gave her a brisk nod and opened the door. “You’re not going home then, are you?”

She turned. “Ye know us Irish, Doctor Ellard. We don’t know what we want, but we’ll fight to the death to get it.”

A Place In Your Heart is available at Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Place-Your-Heart-Kathy-Otten-ebook/dp/B07CKYZ61M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1528925171&sr=1-1&keywords=Kathy+Otten

Meet Kathy Otten:

Kathy Otten is the published author of multiple historical romance novels, novellas, and short stories. She is also published in contemporary romance and historical fiction. She is a Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star winner and Utah/Salt Lake RWA Hearts of the West finalist. A Place In Your Heart is her fourth full-length novel. Currently, she is putting the finishing touches on a contemporary young adult novel.

She teaches fiction writing online and at a local adult education center, and is a regular presenter at area events. Kathy also does manuscript assessments and editing. She lives in the rolling farmland of western New York where she can often be found walking her dog through the woods and fields. She has been married for thirty-four years and is the mother of three grown children and one grandson.

Kathy can be contacted at kathy@kathyotten.com

Web site https://www.kathyottenauthor.com

Face Book www.facebook.com/kathyottenauthor.com

Castle Stirred by Masquerade Mystery

Tongues have been flapping at the castle all morning. All because of what happened at the masked ball last night. Of course everyone has their version of how events unfolded, but they are all in agreement about one thing.

It all started with the appearance of the mystery woman in a stunning blue velvet gown bordering on scandalous. She got everyone’s attention. Even handsome Sir Griffin, the man who only attended Lord John’s galas because he was seneschal.

You can imagine the surprise when he asked her to dance. Evidently, Lady Mierla’s reaction was priceless. Everyone said she was furious. Fit to be tied. Some even compared her to a fire-eating dragon.

No surprise. She’s been trying to get her hooks into Sir Griffin for ages. Will not take no for an answer. But there’s telling what might have happened if it hadn’t been for the screams.

When we get to this part of the story, everyone starts glancing over their shoulders and crossing themselves. A common occurrence for folks around here whenever speaking of the supernatural. They lower their voices to a whisper and continue.

It seems that Mawde Paisley, the cook at the castle for many years, was startled by someone on her way from the kitchen. The spitting image of Lord John’s son, Trevin. A man who’d been dead for years. Nothing like an uninvited guest to bring the party to an untimely end. Especially when it’s a ghost.

The castle was searched from top to bottom, and guests were not permitted to leave until everyone was questioned. In all the excitement, the mystery lady disappeared. Into thin air.

But I know a little secret. She’s still at the castle. She never left.

Not Long Ago

Erin has met the man of her dreams, but as usual there are complications. It’s one of those long distance relationships, and Griffin is a little behind the times–somewhere around 600 years.

Erin and her employer, March, are transported to a time where chivalry and religion exist alongside brutality and superstition. Something is not quite right at the castle, and Erin and March feel sure mysterious Lady Isobeil is involved. However, Erin must cope with crop circles, ghosts, a kidnapping and death before the truth of her journey is revealed.

Forced to pose as March’s nephew, Erin finds employment as a squire for Sir Griffin.  She’s immediately attracted to him and grows to admire his courage, quiet nobility and devotion to duty. Only she must deny her feelings. Her world is centuries away, and she wants to go home. But Erin can’t stop thinking about her knight in shining armor.

Excerpt

I’ve chosen this passage to post because I wanted everyone to see Not Long Ago is not just about time travel, nor is it just a love story between two very different people.  I tried to make it an adventure that will take the reader to another time and allow them to experience life there as seen through the main character’s eyes.  This part was an especially emotional scene for me to write.  I attempted to portray some of the emotions each of us experience when we’re faced with losing someone we care about, whether it be father, mentor or friend.  

Late the next day, everyone gathered on the banks of the river under a clear sky. On a hill above us, archers waited. Beside them men-at-arms from the castle stood at attention. Clustered below were the castle servants and townspeople. Lady Isobeil, Lady Gwyneth and Kat positioned themselves on opposite sides of Lord John, as far away from each other as possible. He stood at one end of a long, shallow wooden boat filled with brush. Sir Maldwyn’s body had been wrapped in linen and placed inside, his belongings next to him. Water lapped against the boat, a strangely calming sound.

The pain on Sir Griffin’s face was almost more than I could bear. He clenched his jaw and gripped the hilt of his sword until I thought it would break. Faces stoic, the other knights huddled together with their squires. No doubt each of them remembered Sir Maldwyn in his own way.

After all, he’d been in service at the castle long enough to train most of the knights when they were still squires. I thought of my parent’s death and the emptiness I felt knowing I’d never see them again. People everywhere stared at the ground, trying to hold back tears.

All except for Deroc. I can think of nothing more poignant than the sight of him standing over his father’s body while tears ran down his face. Over and over, the boy repeated the same words. “I am sorry Father, I am so sorry.” The overbearing bully who confronted me in the paddock had vanished. All that remained was a pitiful little boy, one who mourned a relationship with his father he’d never had, and now, one he would never experience.

Sir Maldwyn’s body lay on the funeral pyre, in the custom of the Vikings, while Father Alford conducted the service in Latin in a calm and soothing monotone, appearing completely undisturbed by all the pagan customs surrounding him. When he said his last amen, Lord John nodded at Sir Griffin. He began to ease the boat into the water. When it resisted, first Sir Edevane and then the other knights joined him. Together, they gave one last push, and the boat floated free.

Sir Sion remained on the bank, alone in his guilt. He didn’t join the rest, likely because he knew they held him responsible for Sir Maldwyn’s death. Sir Sion’s decision made in haste and in anger had ended someone’s life. No wonder he couldn’t bear to meet anyone’s eyes.

When the boat reached the middle of the river, each archer touched his arrow to flame, notched and loosed it. Their arrows arched upwards in perfect unison, only losing sight of them when they passed between us and the setting sun, briefly dazzling our eyes. In the fading light of day, they struck the raft holding Sir Maldwyn’s body like driving rain. Flames shot high into the air and swallowed up everything. Sir Maldwyn was making his journey home to Valhalla in the manner he had wanted. Not a sound could be heard among those of us watching from the banks, except for Deroc’s quiet sobbing. A north wind began to blow, and I thought I heard a faint noise. Somehow, the wind seemed to bring with it the echo of horns in the far distance. I know it couldn’t have been so, but it sounded as though those ancestors who’d gone before him were welcoming a fellow warrior home.

 

Meet Susan Royal

Susan A. Royal takes her readers on adventures to other worlds where anything can happen and frequently does. She shares a 100 year old house in east Texas with a ghost who likes to harmonize with her son when he plays guitar. She writes SciFi/Fantasy with action, adventure and liberal doses of romance. She is currently working on the third in her time travel series, It’s About Time. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N. Want to know more? Visit susanaroyal.wordpress.com or susanaroyal.com for a peek inside this writer’s mind. You never know what you might discover.

Too Spirited to Wed?

Dear Readers,

Word has reached us this morning of a possible rift in the happy march toward marital bliss that we recently reported on between Lord M. of B-upon-Sea and the young and beautiful Miss T.

The difficulty, we are told, arose during an evening soiree at the home of Miss T. Tuesday last, when Lord M. recounted watching the execution of the Cato Street Conspirators outside the Old Bailey. The event was not attended by any of the ladies at the soiree, but a degree of interest was expressed in hearing Lord M.’s account of the hangings and subsequent beheadings of the notorious traitors. Lord M. provided a most colourful recital, we are told, and initially failed to observe some agitation on the behalf of his betrothed. When her discomfort did reach his notice, the couple removed themselves to the rear of the salon and held a heated exchange over a table of fancy cakes and sandwiches.

To the surprise of Lord M., Miss T. revealed an interest in politics and current events, that had hitherto been hidden from him. In a heated whisper, she expressed an aversion toward public executions in general and reservations about the efficacy of our court system, with particular regard to the evidence required in treason proceedings. Lord M., we can confidently report, was quite astonished. Our informant tells us that he left Miss T.’s side shortly thereafter and, with only a brisk farewell to the young lady’s mother, hurried away.

At this time we can only speculate on the cause for Miss T.’s unusual outburst. Although not a family of standing on a par with Lord M.’s lineage, the T. family has a long and respected history within the City of London, going back through several generations. One of Miss T.’s most noted forebears, it is true, was very much involved in the pursuit of justice in the case of the Popish Plot in the late 1600’s and it is said that this gentleman and his wife did great service to the country, at no little cost to themselves.

We are left to wonder, then, what strength of spirit and independence has passed down through the family to Miss T. and, most importantly, whether Lord M. is looking for such spirit in his future wife.

Expect further updates in due course.

The Road to Newgate

London 1678. Titus Oates, an unknown preacher, creates panic with wild stories of a Catholic uprising against Charles II. The murder of a prominent Protestant magistrate appears to confirm that the Popish Plot is real.

Only Nathaniel Thompson, writer and Licenser of the Presses, instinctively doubts Oates’s revelations. Even his young wife, Anne, is not so sure. And neither know that their friend William Smith has personal history with Titus Oates.

When Nathaniel takes a public stand, questioning the plot and Oates’s integrity, the consequences threaten them all.

Excerpt

London, 1678

1 Nathaniel Thompson

“All the world has been to the Bartholomew Fair! What do you mean you’ve never been here?”

“What do you suppose I mean?” Anne says, arching two fine, black brush strokes – eyebrows in a more commonplace face.

It is a genuine surprise. My wife has lived all her life in London. I’m astonished that she has never experienced one of the most famous attractions in the city.

“Well, look about you, Nathaniel,” she says, tucking her arm back into mine. “It is not exactly genteel. Why did you think I was so keen to come?”

She smiles, a dimple playing in her cheek, but I suppress a groan. Of course, her family would not have stooped to visit such a place. Various choice answers spring to mind, but I wind my fingers in hers and hold my tongue. This is our holiday; not to be spoiled by awkward thoughts of Anne’s relations. Instead, I kiss her smooth dark hair.

She is right about the fair. It is a storm of activity, and much of it far from decorous. Thankfully, we’re here in the late afternoon, not the evening, but even so, there are few families present. Instead, the fair attracts courting couples, scrubby urchins chasing rats, and saucy girls up for a lark during a few hours excused from sewing work or service. Working men, their bellies warm with ale, crowd around stalls to trade insults and roar out wagers. We pass a trio of buxom dames, glorious to behold in citrus satin stripes and sweating under their wigs. One drops her purse and bends to retrieve it. When she stands, we are treated to the sight of her ample flesh escaping the confines of her corset. Her friends squeal and point as Anne clutches my arm. She has to dip her head to hide her laughter.

After that, we take our time strolling past stalls selling lucky charms, playing cards, fans, dice, snuff boxes, trinkets, all manner of things. My wife is entranced. She stops to pick up goods, quizzes traders on their prices, gasps at a troupe of acrobats, and teases me to win her a prize. I keep a firm hand on my purse and an eye out for any pocket-pickers, otherwise content to watch her enjoy it all.

We have been married for just over four months. Without taking anything away from my love for Anne, I will admit that married life is rather trying. When contemplating the changes that matrimony would involve, I failed to anticipate that the wonderful physical freedom to be with her all night long would also impact on my comings and goings during daylight hours. Perhaps I came to this marriage business a little late. I was more set in my ways and routines than I knew.

At any rate, I am thirty and she is ten years younger. Anne has a young witch’s smile, silken skin, and bright, challenging eyes. I saw her and wanted her. I let go years of cautious bachelorhood and sneaked Anne to the altar when her family was not looking. It goes without saying that I have never been happier. But I’m a busy man, and while she does not complain, I’ve this curious guilt – an unaccustomed itch of responsibility, you might say – when I think about her sitting quietly at home when I am at work. After a neglectful week when I’d been out in Sam’s Coffee House until the small hours and quartered in my office above Henry’s print shop as soon as light broke each morning, I promised her this outing.

Kate Braithwaite

Kate Braithwaite was born and grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her first novel, Charlatan, was longlisted for the Mslexia New Novel Award and the Historical Novel Society Award. Kate lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children.

My virtue was saved by the language of the fan

The Castle Tavern, where regular events were held, especially card parties
and dancing assemblies. [ digital image owned by the Society of Brighton Print Collectors.]

Parkland House,
Marine Parade,
Brighton, 31st August 1814

Dearest Emily,

Today I shall not be present at Donaldson’s for the teatime meeting. It is a great pity when the weather is so mild and the sea is calm. However, Lady Fording is fatigued and so we must remain quietly at home. She won quite a large sum at cards last night, and continued playing longer than usual, encouraged by her success. I do love her for being such a sprightly old lady. And she is very kind to me, but even so, I cannot tell her anything about the Events of last night, even though it is thanks to her that I had the means to escape a Horrid Fate.

Emily, you swore to me you would keep anything I told you a Secret and so I will set down what happened. It will unburden my mind to share it with you. Let me begin from the moment when that odious Mrs Chetwynd interrupted our little gathering at the Castle Tavern last night. By the by, did you see how low cut her gown was? If she had so much as sneezed…! She took me into the other salon, into an alcove and [I shudder as I write his name] that horrible roué, Sir Bilton Kelly, was there, with his dissipated face and oily manner. Between the pair of them, they thought they had me trapped, so that I would submit to being taken to the Prince Regent’s private party.

My dear Lord Longwood had warned me repeatedly against accepting any such invitation, and indeed, I was very Angry, but could not push my way out of that narrow alcove with Mrs Chetwynd blocking the way. It was most humiliating to see that many people in the room were watching, some more discreetly than others. And, oh, thankfully, at the far end of the room was Lord Longwood. He noted the general silence and turned in my direction. Lady Fording has been instructing me in the language of the fan, and so, even though my hands were shaking [with anger, not fright, you understand], I hastily took mine in my hand, waved it, then snapped it shut, laying a finger on the top of the sticks. That signals ‘I wish to speak with you’, and Lord Longwood understood.

At once, he made his way over toward me. Mrs Chetwynd was angry and tried to distract him, but he ignored her. When Sir Bilton Kelly blustered, he stared at him through his eyeglass in a truly Terrifying manner. Then he offered me his arm and so I made my escape. Once we reached the hallway, my knees began to shake. You know how Lord Longwood’s face goes dark when he scowls, and his black hair falls over his forehead. He assured me he was not angry with me and suggested we should take a turn along the path up towards the Pavilion and back, so I might compose myself.

In his company I soon felt calmer. But then he announced that he would be leaving Brighton today to return to London. That made my heart sink into my boots, for he is always so kind and helpful towards me and, as you have suspected, I do love him with all my heart. On an impulse I begged him to kiss me goodbye. But I asked for a proper kiss. He was shocked and then, his face changed, those wonderful green eyes glowed and he did, indeed kiss me. In those moments, I went to heaven. But now I am Wretched, for I want more of those sensations. Oh, Emily, I depend on you to support me through the next days as I struggle to appear calm. At least, until we can meet for a conversation, I have my copy of Lord Byron’s Corsair, to divert my mind from its sorrows. Truly, Emily, I cannot decide if being in love is a blessing or a curse.

Your friend,

Anna

ABOUT THE BOOK

Giles Maltravers, Earl of Longwood, has his rakish lifestyle turned upside down the day he saves Anna Lawrence from a pair of drunken young bloods.

The irony is that Giles is now honour bound to protect this headstrong girl.

Inspired by a fervent devotion to the works of Lord Byron, Anna is determined to live a life of adventure, but she plunges from one disaster into another. Giles has no time left to enjoy his former pleasures, especially when his jealous mistress sets out to ruin Anna, and the Prince Regent decides that she is just in his style…

Set in Brighton in the summer of 1814, this is a story of a summer holiday that so nearly went disastrously wrong.

The Steyne, with walkers and the Prince Regent on horseback.
Donaldsons Library is on the right

Excerpt

A GIFT FOR ANNA

Anna allowed Giles to hurry her back out to his carriage for the short ride home. Giles took the reins and set off at a trot.

‘I see you’re wondering why Morgan is not accompanying us.’ he began, glancing at her with a half smile.

Anna clasped her hands together tightly. ‘I’m glad of it because I wished for a moment alone with you,’ she shook her head vigorously as he leaned forward to give her a roguish look. She gulped, ‘because I …to apologise for sometimes being troublesome.’

Giles raised his brows. ‘Miss Lawrence, now I am alarmed. You’re not yourself. I thought you spent every waking moment in devising adventures to lead yourself into danger and to give me the maximum amount of anxiety.’

But Anna was too wrought up to respond to his teasing. She was attempting to say a private goodbye to him before Mrs Wychwood claimed him as her husband. She gave an involuntary shudder at the idea. Then she saw that Giles was holding out a neatly wrapped package.

‘Pray accept this,’ he said, ‘with my apologies for taking so long to find it.’ He slowed the horses and pulled up, his eyes gleaming. ‘Do open it,’ he urged, ‘I must see your face when you do.’

‘For me?’ Anna hesitated. He nodded and pressed the package into her hands. She unwrapped the brown paper covering and stared wide-eyed at the slim, leather bound copy of The Corsair. ‘Oh…!’ She clutched it to her bosom as she raised her face to his. ‘Oh, sir…’

He smiled again. ‘My infant, it’s not often you’re so lost for words.’ His face softened, ‘but your expression speaks for you.’

Anna looked from the treasure in her hands to her dearest friend, so soon to be only her former friend. ‘Th-thank you,’ she said and burst into tears.

At once he pulled out a snowy handkerchief. ‘I was prepared for that,’ he remarked to no one in particular and mopped her eyes. Anna could smell his spicy cologne and she sniffed deeply at the well loved scent, even as she wept bitterly.

‘Come now, that’s enough,’ he told her, ‘I don’t wish you to appear with red eyes at the tea party.’

She sniffed. ‘It was so unexpected – and you don’t like Lord Byron.’

‘But you do.’ He looked closely at her. ‘Are you alright now?’

‘I’m sorry. Perhaps I’m not quite myself yet.’ She glanced at the precious book. Was it proper for her to accept it? But how could she refuse. He was her dearest friend and this was a fitting token to remember him by.

‘Well,’ he said, as he set the blacks trotting again, ‘I hope I did the right thing in giving it to you today. Now I worry that you’ll begin reading it at once and then we shall wait in vain for you this afternoon.’

‘Of course not,’ she protested, ‘but tonight I’ll read for as long as my candle lasts.’

If you enjoyed this snippet, you can buy the full story here  https://tinyurl.com/y9ngy558

The Royal Pavilion

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The product of an Anglo-Welsh marriage, Beth enjoyed shuttling between the two countries and languages as a child. As she couldn’t sing like her Welsh relatives, she took to writing. The hills of wild Wales, the Lancashire plain, the grey north Atlantic coast, these were the first scenes in the stories she made up but soon her journeys became more adventurous. Perhaps that’s why her characters travel a lot. From the day she first met the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice, Beth has been a devotee of Jane Austen. It’s always a pleasure for her to create stories set in that period. For more information about Beth and her books, see

https://elliottbeth.wixsite.com/regency-tales

She is on Facebook as Beth Elliott and on Twitter as @BethElliott

 

Duke Buys Widow

This morning the Teatime Tattler received reports that the Duke of Ravensmere—in an unusual gesture—outbid a salacious rogue for the lunch basket of Lady Samantha Winston, a merry widow, who has captured his interest and his pocketbook for the outrageous sum of one thousand pounds. One gathers it was all for a good cause, but one has to wonder what other plans the noble duke has for this lady? Follow this column for more information tomorrow. Tonight they attend the fancy dress ball where under our reporter will reveal all that transpires under his curious eyes. Is it possible the duke is smitten with the beautiful green-eyed copper-haired lady?

A Later Update:

DukeYour reporter fears that Lady Samantha Winston gazed over the Duke of Ravensmere’s shoulder and caught sight of said reporter leaning against a tree scribbling on my small pad of parchment. She was heard to whisper to a friend,  “Who was he and was he a friend or enemy? If a foe, what evil intent did he have? And who was the victim?”  Forced to move away, I gave up. What indeed happened at the so-called charitable auction? And what will be the outcome?

An excerpt from ONE NIGHT WITH A DUKE

Her attention returned to the Reverend Carlson who stepped to the podium and announced the auction of ladies lunch baskets would begin for the Winston School Foundation’s charitable event. The Reverend read the individual menus and managed to make each sound like a gastronomical feast. One hundred pounds would not be an uncommon sum to be offered and accepted. When it came to Lady Samantha’s turn, she twirled a curl around her finger perhaps to calm her uneasiness.

The Reverend pounded his gavel again and asked for the first bid. Sir Roger Dudley, a well-known libertine, offered one hundred pounds. A silence thundered through the crowd. To the Raven, the Duke of Ravensmere, it appeared a moment of uncertainty crossed Samantha’s sweet face. Their conversation about rakes and disreputable men came to his mind. Her worst fears were now at her doorstep. He gazed upon hands that clutched the handle of her basket with whitened knuckles. Raven took note of this and perceived Samantha as vulnerable. An impossible urge to protect her came over him. She’d placed herself in this position. Damnation.

Anyone who looked as she did in that dress should expect men to offer for her and the picnic lunch. Beautiful and seductive, mere words would be insufficient to compliment her….

Samantha’s wide eyes seemingly implored Raven to help. How could he not come to her rescue?

He raised his walking stick and caught the attention of the minister. He spoke out with deep clarity, “And five pounds, Reverend.”

Lord Dudley peered at the bidder, nodded, and raised his sum to two hundred pounds.

Raven lifted his walking stick. “And five pounds, Reverend.”

Lord Dudley appeared amused and raised the bid to three hundred pounds.

Raven raised his walking stick. “And five pounds, Reverend.” The guests stopped their conversations to watch how the challenge would end.

Lord Dudley raised the bid to five hundred pounds.

The audience gasped at the extravagant sum.

Raven nodded. He stole a glance at Samantha, enjoying the experience. He raised his hand, and silence befell the group.

The Reverend asked, “And five pounds, Your Grace?” with a chuckle.

“No, good Reverend,” answered Raven. He engaged Samantha’s eyes. Her expression was one of blatant terror as her hand lay at her throat. He bestowed a knowing smile to calm her.

The auction appeared over and dreaded silence followed. The Reverend set about to announce the winner until Raven spoke in a resonant tone with the utmost alacrity, “I bid one thousand pounds.”

The hushed assembly looked almost in unison to Lord Dudley, who laughed. “Enough of this

amusement. No damn lunch is worth that kind of money,” he grumbled and walked toward the duke. “I capitulate, Your Grace. Good sport, don’t you think?”

Raven rose from the chair, handed the appropriate bank voucher to the Reverend, and stepped lively to Samantha and her picnic basket. “Shall we?” He extended his arm. Samantha clung to his left arm, and he became cognizant of her quaking. He took her expensive picnic basket in his right hand. “Stay calm. I’m here and you are under my protection. No harm will befall you.” Raven escorted her to a secluded table, which he had prearranged, and his name appeared on a place marker. It adhered to propriety while offering privacy.

“You did want me to offer, didn’t you?” Raven shook his head and grinned since he now admitted he had every intention of offering for her costly basket. He much wanted to be with the enchantress. Samantha enriched his life in ways he dared not imagine. He couldn’t remember a day he enjoyed more and looked forward to the evening.

Samantha flushed and said in a cool utterance,

“Thank you, Your Grace. You’ve saved me from a horrible fate and I am grateful.”

She lifted the lid of the basket, but he grasped her gloved hand with superb gentleness.

“Allow me. I can’t remember when I have enjoyed the outlay of so much money before. Of a

certain, there are no dull moments when you’re around. I do believe you are a sorceress. I couldn’t allow Lord Dudley to attempt to compromise you in any way.” To protect her at all costs became a necessity to him.

“As you have stated, it’s for a cherished cause, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Your Grace. Congratulations. However, I would remind you, I cannot be purchased with such ease.”

“Perish the thought. I’m well aware of the fact. I bid for a few hours of your time. Don’t read anything into my actions and let it discomfit you. If lunch with me is so distasteful, I am prepared to leave you alone.” He realized he was a bit curt, but it appeared with her, the conversation always held a challenge. Raven rose from the chair…

The gentle hand that restrained him relieved Raven. Samantha removed her gloves and placed them in her reticule. “I fear you might have misunderstood me,” she said with a sly smile. “I’m happy to be with such a handsome man at this event. Because of you, its success has exceeded any expectations. There will be sufficient funds for the school. I owe you a debt of gratitude.”

He made sure to use a soft tone of voice. “For a few hours, can we cease the verbal barbs and enjoy this repast?”

“Is it your intent to call a truce, Raven? We will be the talk of the ton. Harbinger tongues will wag and link our names together. I hope that doesn’t distress you.” She paused and gifted him a smile. “I want to enjoy this special moment with you and gaze into your amazing dark gray eyes. Yes, I would like a truce.” Her reached out to his.

About the Book: ONE NIGHT WITH A DUKE

dukeWhen a spirited woman disrupts the world of a duke who follows the rules, sparks fly, passions ignite and planets collide.

   Reclusive, cold as ice, the politically powerful Raven, Duke of Ravensmere, denies love after the tragic deaths of his duchess and baby. He is bound by his vow never to allow love to enter his heart again. Samantha Winston permits him to seek refuge in her carriage in a time of need, and what started as a kiss in the name of safety, becomes something more pleasurable and not so safe after all. In spite of every caution, his interest escalates into unexpected desire.

   Samantha, a young widow with a secret, irreverent and high-spirited, has constructed impenetrable walls against all men. When she and Raven meet again, strong wills clash. Political intrigues and a dreaded nemesis place his life at risk, and Samantha finds herself in a dire predicament. All the while, passion soars.

   Can Samantha’s barriers fall with more kisses?

   Can Raven be released from his deathbed vow?

Amazon US
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Wild Rose Press  and order direct any of the five books.

About the Author, SANDRA MASTERS

From a humble beginning in Newark, NJ, a short stay at a convent in Morristown, NJ, to the boardrooms of NYC, and a fantastic career for a broadcasting company in Carlsbad, California, to the rural foothills of the Sierras of Yosemite National Park, I have always traveled with pen and notebook. It’s been the journey of ten thousand miles with a few steps left to go. I’ve traded boardrooms for ballrooms, left my corporate world behind and never looked back. It was nothing I expected, but everything I dreamed. My current occupation is Living The Dream.

I am a storyteller. Gather round me, sip some chocolate cocoa, and allow me to transport you to where you never been. I have more yesterdays than tomorrows. I am a woman who has known many things content to look through a lens of make-believe to bring you romance.

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