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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
Amazon UK
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.

WEBSITE

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

OVERHEARD AT THE COURTESANS’ BALL

Michael, Viscount Laidley, Brent’s best friend and distant cousin, fretted that Brent would never agree to reenter society. Hence his determination to push his cousin into attending this ball, where Brent was now hiding behind a life-size statue of a well-endowed male. Michael pointed at the marble man’s appendage and laughed. ‘Hoping the ladies will compare your equipment favorably to his if you stand beside him?’ Brent snorted.

Michael could always tease Brent into seeing the humorous side of situations, but tonight he was also going to push Brent back into society, even if it involved a couple of white lies and some scandalous women.  He pointed down the dance floor. ‘That’s Lady Templeton in the orange mask and feathers and…I say, a very transparent gown. You know what that means? Melissa will have already wheedled out the names of any men or ladies with titles who are on the guest list from her weak-willed lover.’

‘Weren’t you her lover once?’

‘Briefly. Never again. She eats green men for lunch.’ He pointed at Melissa again. ‘Watch. She’ll try to match people to names. And I know from personal experience that she’s not above blackmail when she’s short of funds.’

‘She tried to extort money from you? Why didn’t you tell me?’

Michael shrugged. ‘I was young and green and humiliated by my own ignorance. And she’ll target any man who has refused her, which means you Brent. and your friends.”

Brent groaned. ‘Hell. I need to find Lillian.’

When his cousin rushed onto the crowded dance floor, Michael smirked and silently toasted himself on a job well done.

PLEASURE HOUSE BALL  

By Suzi Love

Love revealed at a courtesan’s ball.

Brenton, Lord Mallory, attends his first courtesan’s ball in ten years to appease his concerned friends, though he’d rather stay home and read to his motherless daughters.

Though mortified that Brenton unmasks her at a scandalous ball, Lady Lillian Armstrong doesn’t regret their night together.

But will the object of her girlish adoration still treat her as his best friend’s little sister, or will he now see her as a mature and willing woman?

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EXCERPT:-

Lillian was his best friend, plus a beautiful woman with a seductive feminine form and, right at this moment and in his direct line of sight, a pair of familiar bountiful breasts spilled over the top of a too-small red bodice. He blinked, and looked again. Heaven help him, it was Lillian. His friend who’d been targeted by unscrupulous women who, wanting to pull her down a peg or two, had blamed her for her husband’s impetuous nature. A titled lady who, according to convention, should be secluded from society while she mourned her husband. Lillian, his Lillian, stood before him drawing the eye of every discerning gentleman at a courtesan’s ball. Shock robbed him of breath and froze him in place. His head spun as he tried to imagine why she’d come here, and with whom.

As a duke’s daughter, she’d been taught the rules for mourning and for the behavior of widows all her life. A minimum of six months wearing black and withdrawing from society, followed by another six months wearing mauve and lavender and socializing only with family and close friends. Brent could think of no reason why she’d be here, flaunting herself in that red slip of a gown. What had possessed her to attend a ball, any ball, so soon after her husband’s demise?

More importantly, Brent’s mind was so numb that he couldn’t formulate a plan to smuggle her away from the dance floor before masks were removed and she was recognized. Or before one of the lecherous men present realized that those were Lillian’s breasts squeezing past them.

First step was to uncover the identity of her companion, a woman insensitive enough to introduce an innocent to this sort of event. Couples were finding quiet corners and getting to know each other better, much better. Some of the ladies, and he used that term loosely, had already shed layers of clothing and their remaining garments were so thin that they revealed rather than concealed their shapes. Personally, he preferred to unwrap his presents, piece by piece, and he liked to do it in private rather than in an overcrowded room full of peers he didn’t particularly like and took great pains to avoid.

Looking towards Lillian’s position, Brent cursed his inattentiveness. The lady in red and her companion had disappeared. He pushed between companionable couples, past clutches of leering youths, and dodged ladies of the night who were advertising their wares so blatantly that the slightest movement would topple their breasts out of their bodices and into full view. Hell, if that green buck on his right peered any further down the neckline of that redhead’s gown, they’d need to haul him out by his boots.

There, a laugh that sounded almost right for Lillian apart from a strange high-pitched trill at the end of every sentence, as if the speaker was deliberately leaving a question mark at the end of each speech. Nervousness? If it was Lillian, she had good reason to be nervous. And when Brent caught up with the two women, they’d have good reason to be nervous because he was furious with Lillian’s unknown companion, and her.

Yes, he’d wanted his best friend to find happiness, but he’d envisaged her slowly renewing friendships next year in London, chaperoning her sister, and perhaps sometime in the future accepting a marriage proposal. The idea of any man making advances to her when her emotions were still raw after her husband’s demise and the pain of the appalling rumors that said she’d urged her husband to his death, made his blood boil. Though he couldn’t put his finger on why he was so incensed.

Lillian was his friend, nothing more, and she knew his feelings about marrying again any time soon. She was also one of the few people who knew of his first wife’s numerous affairs and what he’d done afterwards. As he wove a path through the crowd, he listened for Lillian’s voice and tried to smell her particular scent, though the air in the ballroom was thick with heavy scents from both females and males. The smell of desire, and arousal, swamped him as he squeezed around several couples in the final stages of negotiating the terms of their associations, with the women listing what they’d like their protectors to provide. The air reeked of sexual awareness, not something he’d been surrounded by for quite a long time and a smell he’d have gladly avoided for many more years.

The push and shove, and the manipulation and capitulation made him inwardly shudder. Though he’d visited his share of brothels and indulged himself at wild house parties in his younger years, he’d never employed a mistress.  More recently, he’d simply felt jaded after one unhappy marriage and he couldn’t dredge up excitement over two hundred primped and primed gentlemen and the equivalent number of ladies of the night playing games of intrigue and seduction.

There were many parts of married life he missed, desperately. Lust, desire, and passion he understood and, to be perfectly honest, yearned to experience again. The shared intimacy of conversations in bed after a bout of rigorous sex. Waking to a woman’s soft body wrapped around him and taking his time rousing her from sleep and then making sweet slow love to her. That he missed. Fake relationships, the sort formed here, left him cold, yet he yearned for the connection and sense of belonging that came with having a lover, or being in love.

There! That voice. That was the voice he knew as well as his own, and the scent that had often tempted him to rethink his views on marriage. Maneuvering around the dozen men and six women surrounding her, Brent eased into the lady’s intimate circle and stood at her shoulder. He sniffed. Oh, yes!

His senses hadn’t led him astray, nor had his sanity deteriorated and tumbled into madness, where his imaginings spiraled out of control and his fantasies sprang to life. Lady Armstrong, Lillian, was truly here in the midst of this decadence and debauchery. He shifted so they stood shoulder to shoulder, their arms touching.

Leaning in, Brent whispered in Lillian’s ear. ‘Well, well, well. I certainly didn’t expect to find you in attendance.’

Meet Suzi Love:-

I am Suzi Love, an Australian author of historical romances set mainly in the late Regency and early Victorian eras, and ranging from sexy to erotic. With a bit of Australia thrown in.

I now live in a sunny part of Australia after spending many years in developing countries in the South Pacific. My greatest loves are traveling, anywhere and everywhere, meeting crazy characters, and visiting the Australian outback. I adore history, especially the many-layered society of the late Regency to early Victorian eras.

My titled heroes and heroines live a privileged life in and around London, but my stories also dig deeper into the grittier and seamier levels of British life. I love heroes and heroines who challenge traditional manners, morals, and occupations, either through necessity or desire.

I hope my romances bring history alive for you and that you have fun alongside my roguish heroes and feisty heroines.

WEB PLACES

Web  –  http://www.suzilove.com

Pinterest –  http://pinterest.com/suziloveoz/

Suzi Love Face Book – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1795828726

Suzi Love’s Face Book Author Page https://www.facebook.com/SuziLoveAuthor.

Twitter  –   http://twitter.com/suzilove

Google +  https://plus.google.com/u/1/113015291124259141508/posts/p/pub

Suzi’s Daily Gossip Paper – https://paper.li/~/publisher/2dc7a490-82e8-012f-25ad-12313d16b843


 

 

GOSSIP-DU-JOUR

Correspondence by messenger between Lieutenant George Wickham, ­—shire Militia and Mr. Samuel Clemens, Editor and Proprietor, The Teatime Tattler

Dear Mr. Clemens:

Whilst I am certain of the inestimable quality of your sources of news regarding the most esteemed members of society, I am privileged to be in possession of some information of which you might not yet be aware.

You were knowledgeable, I presume, of the grand engagement ball thrown only last evening by Lady Malton for her nephew, Professor F. Darcy of Derbyshire. I have heard, however, from the barmaid at The Mottled Turnip, who had it from her beau at the Duke of S’s stables, who had it from his sister, the upstairs maid who assists with Lady Malton’s wardrobe, that the affair did not conclude as well as it began. For a modest recompense, I would be pleased to convey the essence of the outcome of the evening’s entertainment.

Yours, &, &,

GW

Wickham,

I shall not ask why you are at The Mottled Turnip in London rather than with your regiment in Hertfordshire, where I know you ought to be. I shall, however, in exchange for the information you claim to possess, condescend not to inform your commanding officer, Colonel Forster, whom I happen to know rather well. I expect this will be suitable recompense for your efforts. The post goes at three. I expect your response before that hour.

Sincerely,

SC

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I concede your point and appreciate your discretion. My information about the grand ball is thus: After an exhaustive evening of dance, music and dining, during which time Prof. Darcy’s betrothed charmed the most esteemed members and most severe critics of Society with her elegant manner, beautiful appearance and great wit, a fracas occurred, overheard by the previously-mentioned maid. A great row broke out between the engaged pair, after which the lovely bride-to-be was seen leaving the room in the arms of a man not her future-husband. My source could not be convinced to divulge the name of this second gentleman, but I surmise he is a resident of the house belonging to the Earl and Lady Malton. At last report, the bride had left the house and was ensconced with unknown relations, whist FD himself was rumoured to have absconded from London entirely!

As a final note, I heard that you printed recently that that FD was engaged to a certain Miss EB of Hertfordshire, but I wish to correct you in this assumption. His future bride’s initial is not E, but is, instead, C. Fear not, sir. These mistakes happen.

Yrs,

Lt. GW

 

Excerpt:

George Wickham sat back in his chair at his favourite tavern and laughed.  What news had he just heard from Sanderson’s lips, but that Darcy had left town! There had been, he learned, a grand ball to celebrate the engagement and introduce the man’s intended bride to society, and afterwards she and Darcy had fought, and both had abandoned London! Some of the details had seemed a tad off, perhaps—surely the bride’s name was Miss Caroline and not Miss Elizabeth—but everyone knew how the specifics never survived subsequent retellings intact. It could only be a slip of memory, both being common and rather interchangeable names, and these little inconsistencies bothered him not at all. What was important was that Darcy must have learned of his beloved’s betrayal! He had learned of Caroline’s faithlessness and he had scuttled out of town like a kitchen pest upon the lighting of a lamp!

Yes, the great Fitzwilliam Darcy had been cast down! Wickham played and replayed various scenarios over in his mind of what must have transpired after the ball, and each one concluded with Caroline informing him that she had been taken and loved by another.

“How could you? How could you choose Wickham over me?” Darcy would say, and Caroline would just laugh and laugh before informing him coolly, “I needed a real man.”

And what of Darcy’s retreat? Wickham relished the thought of the great master of Pemberley, returning home a broken shadow of a man, tail between his legs. Was his heart broken? Was he destroyed? Was he humiliated, cast down in shame? It mattered not which; it only mattered that the plan was working and Wickham was finally gaining the upper hand. This was the first taste of victory! This was what Wickham had been working towards for so long, and now his schemes were playing out at last. Ah, how he would savour this moment.

He summoned the serving girl over and asked for another pint of the good strong ale, then sat back with a self-satisfied grin on his face to plan the next stage of his assault.

Teaching Eliza, by Riana Everly

A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels.

From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling Regency tale, wherein the elegance of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange.

https://books2read.com/teachingeliza

Meet Riana Everly

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

 

 

Website: https://rianaeverly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/

 

GIRL KISSED BY PIRATE?

 

Miss Agatha Nighting sat nodding in her most comfortable chair over a scandalous penny papers from the city. Brighton was tame compared to this, she thought. Alerted to a board creaking on the stairs, she relaxed. Lady Jane was home again finally.

“She thinks I am ignorant of her night time forays,” she whispered to the kitchen cat who sat curled at her feet. “As if I am unaware of every move my girls make,” she snickered. She stood and peeked out the window.

“That was only the first one, I think. Probably Marianne. Lady Jane is still out there somewhere. I pray she is safe. That is all I can do. She will roam in the night, but who could blame her, kitty? She has been here at my finishing school for five years without a single day’s vacation. That father of hers.” She succumbed to sleep after saying a brief prayer for her favorite student’s safety.

Excerpt from Lady Jane’s Tryst:

“Do you promise not to scream?” he asked still whispering. “I think I mistook you for a house maid in that outfit. I am fairly certain the fragrance I detect is from a particular brand of French soap. Did your mistress share with you? No, I think not. You are in disguise, are you not?” Jane nodded her head up and down vigorously and heard him chuckle into her hair. His hand slid slowly away from her mouth, but caressed her cheek as it pulled away. He rested it on the back of her neck with his arm still firmly around her waist.

“A delectable armful, young Miss Mysterious. What are you doing out here in the dark all alone? Looking for trouble, no doubt.” Jane released a pent up breath and gasped a deep inhale. She pulled with both her hands against his grip on her middle section. He released her suddenly, turned her around, and placed a strong hold on both her shoulders.

“Let me have a look at you, Masquerade Molly. Oh, ho, a beauty. Let’s have a taste of that delicious mouth of yours.” He reached behind her head and pulled her close. His lips covered hers firmly at first and then softly moved around as if he, indeed, would taste her.  His arm slid down until he cupped her bottom pulling her solidly against him.

Jane felt as if a fire had been lit in her stomach, as the stranger continued to hold her and torture her lips with his kisses. She could not decide if she hated or loved what he was doing, but thought in a small recess of her mind that she should not enjoy this at all. Surely this is a sin. As she pushed against his chest, he obediently pulled away, gazed into her eyes, and murmured, “What’s your name, young nubile sprite? Tell me.”

“Jane,” she whispered back. “You should free me, sir.” She feebly pulled to free her shoulders wondering when her strength had disappeared. He released her abruptly and she almost fell backwards. As he caught and steadied her, she heard that low pitched chuckle once more. She raised her eyes and stared directly at her kidnapper.

Dressed roughly, his accent had revealed to her a man in a class above his appearance. He was inches taller with a scarf tied around his head, black hair flowing to his shoulders. His grin was wide with white teeth flashing in the semi-darkness. Tales of pirates terrorizing the king’s ships at sea flashed through her mind. Was this one of them come to murder them all in their beds? Her heart beat was loud in her ears. What would happen next?

“Forgive my crude manners, Jane. I deeply apologize for upsetting you. However I cannot in good conscience take back the kisses. Remember this the next time you think to disguise yourself as a kitchen maid.” He flashed his wide grin once more and turned away. “I promise I will visit you in a year or two. Farewell, sweet Janie,” he murmured as he disappeared into the gloom after the direction of the three dark shadows.

All thoughts of continuing her adventure had fled with the encounter. Jane stood rigidly with her back leaning against the stone pillar for a moment or two attempting to steady her breathing. She turned away from her original destination and, cautiously through the semi-darkness, found her way to the street that followed the cliffs. With her shawl draped over her head, she passed the lending library, the hotel known as The Old Ship and eventually followed the Marine Parade until she passed out of the town proper.

The walls of her school soon loomed in the darkness, and she quickly scaled them on the secret loose board. A few minutes later she was tucked in bed with Marianne snoring nearby. Her rapid pulse denied instant sleep. She rested her head on her pillow reliving a handsome pirate with his lips roving commandingly over hers. Had she responded? Of course not! Surely not. How embarrassing to think she might have. What did that make her? One of the muslin company? A trollop?

As far as she knew, there had been no report of insanity in her family. That branch from near the Scottish border had always been a bit odd, but she hadn’t heard the word exactly as insane. Her father was certainly eccentric, but she didn’t think insane. Perhaps simply acutely unpleasant would best describe him.

With the back of her hand, she rubbed her lips slowly back and forth. Who would have thought a kiss would feel like that? How odd he opened his mouth over mine and I could feel his tongue. Really! He did, indeed, taste me. She gave a quiet laugh which turned into a hiccup. I should be grateful he didn’t take a bite out of me.

The oddest thing of all was that the whole episode, even though frightening, was pleasurable as well. It was obvious now why chaperones were so strict. If all kisses were like that one, no female was safe. Sleep slowly came to her and dreams of wild pirates with long silky hair haunted her until the morning light.

Lady Jane’s Tryst

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Ripe for adventure, Lady Jane welcomes the charming pirate who offers her the excitement she craves.

Five years at Miss Agatha’s Finishing School for Young Ladies in Brighton, without a single day away, leaves Lady Jane longing for any respite to liven her deadened senses. An accidental meeting with a handsome stranger initiates a journey of danger, excitement, affection, and eventually love, even as Lady Jane wonders if a person could be considered an orphan while still possessing a parent.

Meet Emma Lane

Enjoying cold winters and velvet summers, Ms. Lane resides in Western NY. As Emma Lane, she writes Regency historicals. Under the pen name Janis Lane, she enjoys plotting Cozy Mysteries. Every once in awhile, she leaves the greenhouse where she plays with flowers to send out another novel or two.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000338539637

http://emmajlane.com

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