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Author: Caroline Warfield (Page 1 of 5)

There is Always More to the Story

Dear Readers

They say women are the biggest gossips but the latest scandal doing the rounds, started in the London Clubs, Whites in particular.

Lord Glennvale was overheard telling all who would listen that my good friend, Lord C, one of London’s latest rash of handsome rakes, was known to prefer to watch—watch other couples in the throes of passion that is.

gossipIt was said Lord C had interrupted the Duke of Sandringham with his latest mistress and had stayed to watch. Lord C’s perversions seem to be tolerated by many of his peers, but most of society is aghast at his behavior.

I can assure you, upon my honor, that there is a good reason why Lord C acts in such a scandalous manner, however the secret is not mine to tell.

However, Lord C has recently been seen in the company of the Duke of Sandringham’s widowed sister, and the likes of Lord Glennvale and his cronies are at a loss as to why Sandringham has not forbidden such a match. Does Lady P know more than she is telling? Or is there some reason why she has sought the handsome rake out?

The mystery deepens, and I can reveal that the lady bid against Lord C at the latest Sotheby auction. It was quite the battle…why did they both want this particular painting? Even I’m at a loss…

Yours truly, Lord Helmstone.

GossipDrawn To The Marquess (Imperfect Lords #2)– August 2018 Pre-order

Destined to go blind, a rake sets his sights on the toast of society, lighting a fire of passion that scorches the night, in this captivating novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans.

Stephen Hornsby, the Marquess of Clevedon, has one goal: to see every exquisite thing he can before he goes blind. His greatest joy, watching a woman shuddering in the throes of passion, will be gone. But before the darkness descends, he is determined to seduce a magnificent widow, Lady Penelope Fisherton. Unfortunately, his rakish reputation has preceded him; Lady Penelope spurns his advances. Being a man who relishes a challenge, however, her reluctance adds only luster to his desire for the last beautiful sight he’ll ever see.

Considered the belle of London society, Lady Penelope was married to a scoundrel who cared for no one but himself. Now that she’s free, she wants nothing to do with love, passion, or desire—emotions that abandoned her with a cruel husband. So why does her body react when Stephen smiles? As much as she’d like to avoid the rogue, her brother-in-law wants her fortune, and he’ll kill to get it. Stephen is willing to help, but he’ll take only one thing in return: Her. In his bed.

 Excerpt:

 A bilious sensation churned in Penelope’s stomach. She’d learned his lordship wanted a painting coming up for sale in this auction. She had to buy the painting he wanted or else she would have nothing to barter with.

Unfortunately, Lord Clevedon was extremely wealthy. He was a man who would not need money, so why else would he help her? The painting was the key. 

She would win it.

She’d brought six-hundred pounds with her. More than enough for a painting valued at only one-hundred pounds. She hugged her reticule tightly. Being the Duke of Sandringham’s sister would help if she needed credit, but paying too much for a landscape from a relatively unknown painter, would arouse curiosity. As would buying a painting Lord Clevedon wanted. The last thing she needed right now was the gossips announcing to everyone that she was in town and engaging in a bidding war with the Marquess of Clevedon.

Just then Lady Charlotte retook her seat. Her friend was there for morale support. It was Charlotte who, because she always came to town for the season when Penelope didn’t, had ascertained the identity of Clevedon’s current mistress and allowed them to learn as much as possible about the rake. Luckily for them Lord Clevedon had recently ended his liaison with Lady Diana and she was so heartbroken that she simply wanted to talk about the man all day. That is how Penelope learned about his obsession with the Wilson landscape.

“I see Clevedon’s here. I perfectly understand how Lady Diana ended up in the man’s bed. I must admit I’m very tempted myself.” At Penelope’s alarmed look at her widowed friend, Charlotte added, “Of course not until he has helped you.”

“You may play with him all you like as soon as I’m finished with him.”

Penelope saw Charlotte take a second look. “I shall certainly look forward to that.” She giggled. “And not simply because with his help you’ll be safe. By the way, no woman is safe with that man. He’d tempt a nun.”

“Stop looking at him. I don’t want to be noticed.”

“When will you learn darling, that a little flirtation gets widowed women like us almost anything we want. You could have him twisted round your little finger with a smile.”
Penelope pinched the bridge of her nose and wished she were at home as a headache began to pound behind her eyes. 

“If this plan doesn’t work,” her friend continued, “then you could always offer yourself.”

Her head jerked up and her jaw tightened. “No. I will have to find another way. I will never allow a man power over me again.”

“Oh, darling,” Charlotte turned to stare at Lord Clevedon once more. “I suspect you’ll actually enjoy his bed. But if you’re that certain then there is always your brother.

He would help surely?”

She shook her head until her bonnet almost dislodged. She had her reasons for wanting Lord Clevedon. To pacify her friend she uttered, “If my brother gets involved…Sandringham would think he could control me too. I want to live my life, my way. No men commanding me.”

Charlotte sighed. “Then you best hope this man can save you, painting or no painting. With his reluctance for anything more permanent than a couple of nights of pleasure from his lovers, even if he does request you in his bed, it won’t likely be for long.”

That did not make the idea of intimacies with the Marquess of Clevedon any more appealing.

 Pre-order links: Drawn to the Marquess

Amazon        https://amzn.to/2HJbDGg
iBooks           https://apple.co/2raPFF7
Nook              http://bit.ly/2HFlBN2
Kobo              http://bit.ly/2I3QDNG
Google Play   http://bit.ly/2JGtb6r

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author, Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes.Evans is a three-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand with her dogs Brandy and Duke.

You can keep up with Bronwen’s news by visiting her website

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Heard From Behind a Potted Fern

Eavesdropping“But Maud, all men have their bit of muslin on the side. My sister told me she knows from experience.”

The woman attempted to sound worldly, but in Harold Wagner’s opinion, her breathless tone sounded more naively thrilled. He leaned one shoulder against the wall behind the potted fern, tilted his head toward the conversation, and pulled out a notebook. Sam Clemens paid well for tittle-tattle and this might yield some sellable gems. The fourth son of a miserly earl needed funds in any way he could get them. If it shocked one over-ripe daughter of the haut-ton, it would probably sell.

“Oh, who cares what a captain gets up to in his bedroom in some heathenish country, Eunice,” the other woman retorted.

EavesdroppingHarold Wagner might, if what the man got up to was exotic enough. Unfortunately, this Maud creature hadn’t much imagination.

“What I heard is worse,” the one named Maud continued.

Worse? Now he found it interesting. He poised a pencil over his notebook.

“There were children!”

Harold’s pencil dropped. Good grief! Of course, there were children.

“Isn’t that always the way? My sister explained—”

“I can guess what sort of nonsense your sister Hortensia told you, Eunice, but listen to me. The mistress was—” She dropped her voice for dramatic effect. “—black.”

Eunice must have looked puzzled because Maud sounded disgusted when she didn’t get the reaction she expected. “You know. Native. Bengali.”

“I don’t see—”

“Think about it, Eunice. The children…”

It took several moments, but Eunice caught Maud’s meaning. “Oh! You mean they are native, or half.”

Another one back from India, leaving his cast-offs behind, Harold thought. He shrugged and recorded it. Sam still might buy it if he had a name to go with it.

“The worst of it is, I heard he flaunts them,” Maud went on, warming to the story. “He sailed to Suez on The Pharaoh before taking the Overland Route My friend Miriam said Captain Wheatly gave them the run of the ship. She called them cunning and encroaching little girls. The older one had her nose in everything.”

Wheatly rung a bell. Harold searched his memory for the family.

“What about the mistress, Maud?” Eunice asked. She managed to make “mistress” sound like something disgusting found on the bottom of her dancing slipper.

“You mean the native one? Miriam says he left her or she died. Must have died because he only brought the girls. No, Fred Wheatly traveled with some other woman, as white as you and I. Miriam says the way she fawned over the girls, he must pay her well.”

Harold scribbled it down, “traveled with a woman…”

Maud barely stopped for breath. “He established them in his cousin’s house, as bold as you please. I don’t care if his cousin is a duke, if he tries to bring them near decent people in London, I for one will give him the cut direct.”

Duke? That was it, of course. Wheatly is the family name of the Duke of Murnane. Harold placed him now. Fred Wheatly was always in trouble. He vaguely remembered him running off to India after some scrape. Related to the Earl of Chadbourn too, if Harold remembered right. Sam Clemens would pay for this little on-dit.

“Me too, Maud. Cut direct. I’ll lift my skirt if I see them on the street,” Eunice responded. “You don’t think he’d be seen in the city with his mistress do you?” she asked. “Wouldn’t that be delicious?”

One thought troubled Harold. Sam never published gossip about children. It was one of the bast—, er, the rogue’s few scruples. He brushed the concern aside. Oh yes. Sam would like this one, at least the mistress part. It won’t even take much embellishing.

~An excerpt from The Reluctant Wife~

Eavesdropping

Fred hated the fear in her eyes. My little warrior should never feel fear. He smoothed a hand over her head. “You managed quite well—too well to suit me—in Calcutta. The village is tiny, and Emma and Mary will be with you.”

“Everyone is different here. I don’t look like them. What if they stare at me?”

Ah. One thing he couldn’t prevent. She managed the horrid headmistress in Calcutta, didn’t she? Fred swallowed hard. He wanted to scream, “Chase them away. Shout at them,” but he kept that to himself. He could think of nothing constructive to tell her.

Mary answered when he failed to. “Easy. We know how to outstare anyone, don’t we, Emma?”

Meghal, intrigued, turned toward her cousin, and Mary babbled on. “First we pretend we don’t see them. Then we raise our chin, thus.” She demonstrated a perfect aristocratic pose, causing Meghal to giggle.

“Then—and this is the good part—we stare at them as if we can see right through them and they aren’t even there. Emma taught me. They don’t exist until we want them to, right, Emma?”

Emma’s lips twitched. “That is precisely how it is done. However, you must remember that this weapon is powerful. It must only be used when someone is very, very rude, but never—well perhaps rarely, I can think of exceptions—on a married lady or an older person.”

Fred watched the girls with growing amusement. His nieces would turn his daughters into formidable young women. They don’t need me.

About the Book

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband, and with a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

It is available in Kindle format free with Kindle Unlimited or for purchase as ebook or in print:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
BooksAMillion

The Reluctant Wife is Book 2 in Caroline Warfield’s Children of Empire Series.

8

Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, have been driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman was involved!) Though they all escape to the outposts of The British Empire, they all make their way home to England, facing their demons and finding love and the support of women of character and backbone. They are

  • Randolph Baldwin Wheatly who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Captain Frederick Arthur Wheatly, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies, and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Charles, Duke of Murnane, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau, only to face his past there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Who are their ladies?

  • Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish captain sort out his responsibilities. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Zambak Hayden, the eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help but try to protect the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium, while she’s there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Book 3, The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.

Here’s a short video about it:
https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7/videos/924791187669849/

For more about the series and all of Caroline’s books, look here:
https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

Caroline Warfield

About the Author

Caroline Warfield grew up in a peripatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology) before retiring to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, where divides her time between writing Regency and Victorian Romance, and seeking adventures with her grandson and the prince among men she married.

 

 

 

The Family Feud

The family feud between the Earl of Chadbourn’s nephew, the Duke of Murnane, and his cousin, Randolph Wheatly, has caused considerable talk recently. We believe our readers will find two missives that have come into the Tattler’s possession to be of interest. Some would say the conflict is old news. Others might suggest its influence on current events makes for as juicy a story today as it did seven years ago.

 S. Clemens

familyPrivate Pratt,
Y’ asked why mister Rand hates that duke his cousin. No one at the servants table answered cause they all love the duke. I learned as how to rite at the dame school at home so I thot I would rite the answer down. The earls vall-et told me how to spell Private but I dint tell him why I wanted to know.

The duke married the girl Mr. Rand corted and that’s a fact. Both wanted ‘er an one got ‘er. When Mr. Rand found out she was far gone with child already at the wedding, he said as how the duke had his way with her even while she still walked out with Mr. Rand. Bad business that.

No man wants a girl to lift her skirt to some ‘un other. Mr. Rand he got so mad he high tailed it to Canada where you met him. Stayed away seven years. Now th’earl told them to work together and everyone’s walking around like a storm’s brewing.

But no person here wants to beleev the duke would do his cozin such a turn neither. I heared Missus Alberts the cook say quiet like once that she dint think the boy were the duke’s son neither but you codnt tell that from how he dotes on the lad. Hes a good father, is the duke.

I know you admire Mr. Rand and I thot you’d want to know.

Elsie Jones, tweeny


Family

Sketch by Ernest Blaikley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Miss Jones,
Thank you for your kind note. Any soldier knows it is safest to know the lay of the land, and it has been hard enough for me living in a posh household like this one without the folks hiding things from me. Mr. Rand is one of the best men I know, and he has been careful to protect Meggy Blair and her children, folks as are important to me. I cannot think ill of him. He came all the way to London to make sure they are safe, and he won’t back down.

I can’t say I know the duke, but he seems like a solid fellow as well, and he plans to help us so I can’t think ill of him either. He even plans to go after the general’s crooked activity. No, I have to respect him, especially since he helped me sort out the matter of desertion from the army and all.

Whatever the truth of it, they are honorable men. I hope they come to peace because there will be enough fighting if they try to take on the ugly gang of button fakers and thieves as they talked about. Bad doings there, and they will need to watch their backs.

Your words helped me Miss. Maybe when this settles down I’ll be free to ask you to walk out of a Sunday.

Yrs
John Pratt

__________________________________

FamilyAbout the Book, The Renegade Wife: Book 1, Children of Empire

Betrayed by his cousin and the woman he loved, Rand Wheatly fled England, his dreams of a loving family shattered. He clings to his solitude in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. Returning from a business trip to find a widow and two children squatting in his house, he flies into a rage. He wants her gone, but her children are sick and injured, and his heart is not as hard as he likes to pretend.

Meggy Blair harbors a secret, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her children safe. She’d hopes to hide with her Ojibwa grandmother, if she can find the woman and her people. She doesn’t expect to find shelter with a quiet, solitary man, a man who lowers his defensive walls enough to let Meggy and her children in.

Their idyllic interlude is shattered when Meggy’s brutal husband appears to claim his children. She isn’t a widow, but a wife, a woman who betrayed the man she was supposed to love, just as Rand’s sweetheart betrayed him. He soon discovers why Meggy is on the run, however, and time is running out. To save them all, Rand must return to England and face his family demons.

~Excerpt~

“I manage. I have no idea about Julia,” Charles said through tight lips.

Rand raised his eyebrows. “What do you mean?”

“I haven’t seen Julia in two years. She hasn’t seen Jonny in longer. I have no idea how she ‘manages.’” He leaned toward Rand. “Don’t look at me like that, Randolph Wheatly. We separated less than a year after we married. It happens. If you had stayed, you might have delighted in my misfortune.”

Charles glared at Rand, who could think of nothing to say. When the silence became painful, Charles sank back in his chair. “Don’t worry. Though it seems unlikely Jonny will ever be duke, know that he is loved. I love him as if he were my own.” His voice rose when he continued, and an emotion Rand couldn’t identify gave force to his words. “He is my own. Don’t try to say otherwise.”

“What are you implying, Charles? Of course he’s your son. You were eager enough to bed his mother.”

“I didn’t touch Julia until our wedding night. Jonny came into this world six months later. What do you think I’m implying?”

Something uncurled in Rand’s chest. His cousin was many things, some unpleasant, but he wasn’t a liar.

***FREE***with Kindle Unlimited or buy a copy here

About the Series, Children of Empire

Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, have been driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman was involved!) They all make their way home, finding love and the support of women of character and backbone along their journeys. They are:

  • Rand who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace.
  • Fred, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army.
  • Charles, Duke of Murnane, who, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau.

Who are their ladies?

  • Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children.
  • Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish major sort out his responsibilities.
  • Zambak Hayden, eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, who knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help protecting the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium while she’s there.

You can find more here or here

About the Author

Carol Roddy – Author

Caroline Warfield is a Bluestocking Belle and lover of family, history, travel and faith, all of which inform her work. She firmly believes that love is worth the risk to the human heart.

She grew up in a peripatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology) before retiring. Now retired to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, she divides her time between writing and seeking adventures with her grandbuddy and the prince among men she married.

She has works published by Soul Mate Publishing and also independently published works. In addition she has participated in five group anthologies, one not yet published. You can find her here:

Website
Amazon Page
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History Imagined

The Marquess’s Misalliance

Marquess WeddingExtract from the diary of Lady Caroline Chantry, sister to Giles, Marquess of Huntercombe. November 1803

Dear Diary,

What a dreadful day! I write in absolute outrage. I have had no time to write the past two days, but after dear Letty and I had gone to so much trouble to furnish Giles with a list of perfectly eligible brides, our fool of a brother has married, actually married that dreadful creature who called herself Lady Emma Lacy. Well, it appears poor Lord Peter Lacy did make an honest woman of her, but no one can possibly have forgotten that she jilted Sir Augustus Bolt at the very steps of the altar eleven years ago, having refused to say her vows and walked out of the church. And she was seen not moments later embracing Lord Peter on the very steps of St George’s and leaving with him! One would hope the son of a duke would have known better than to become entangled with such a mi. Of course her family cast her off and poor Lord Peter had to drop out of society completely. No doubt he regretted making such a fool of himself before he died!

But unfortunately he did die, and this is the woman my poor brother has been hoodwinked into marrying. Worse, he has made an enemy of the wretched woman’s erstwhile father-in-law, the Duke of Keswick, by refusing to cede guardianship of the duke’s grandson and heir. We are given to understand that Emma had previously refused to hand the child over at Keswick’s very reasonable request and she had the gall to apply to my poor brother for help. She seems to believe that she has some right as a mother to be responsible for her own child. Fancy! A mere woman setting herself up above a duke! I think it very likely that she has been reading treasonous rubbish such as that dreadful Wollstonecraft woman’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and so I shall warn Giles at the first opportunity!

Marquess WeddingMy poor, dear sister, Letty, and I attended the wedding at Huntercombe House only this morning. How I shall ever hold up my head again, I cannot say. But Giles has informed us that if we do not wish for a public breach we must recognise his bride and really, what choice do we have? But such a wedding! The bride’s father and mother were there, but did the poor Earl of Dersingham give his daughter away? He did not! Instead the bride’s children did so, if you please! I wonder the marriage can be considered legal with such a flagrant disregard for all decency. And all Giles would say when I mentioned it, and very tactfully! was that since Dersingham had apparently not shown up for Emma’s first wedding they had thought it wiser not to rely on him this time!

As if that were not scandal enough, the Duke of Keswick appeared at the last moment with his son, Lord Martin Lacy and a magistrate. I thought for a moment that they meant to forbid the marriage, but sadly it was not to be. Giles remembered his manners for long enough to bid them welcome and they sat down at the back. I believe Giles had some discussion with his grace afterwards, but apparently he has insisted on retaining guardianship of the two children. Really, it would be much more the thing if the boy and his sister were raised by their father’s family. Especially since the boy is now Keswick’s heir. It is none of Giles’s business after all. And as for the girl I consider her to be a pert little minx, and all the better for a sharp set-down and some discipline! But what can you expect when her mother defies all authority and sets up to know better than her own father and father-in-law.

I can only pray that my poor brother does not come quickly to realise his mistake, but I fear he is in for a sad disappointment and that we can expect nothing but sorrow and scandal from this appalling mesalliance.

Marquess WeddingAbout the Book: His Convenient Marchioness

After the loss of his wife and children, the Marquess of Huntercombe closed his heart to love. But now that he must marry to secure an heir, he’s determined that the beautiful, impoverished widow Lady Emma Lacy should be his…

Emma has vowed never to marry for money so must refuse him. But when her children’s grandfather sets to steal them away from her, she has no other option: she must become the marquess’s convenient bride!

https://www.amazon.com/His-Convenient-Marchioness-Lords-Altar/dp/1335051635

https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488086434_his-convenient-marchioness.html

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/his-convenient-marchioness-elizabeth-rolls/1126552293

https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/p54418/his-convenient-marchioness.htm

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Convenient-Marchioness-Mills-Historical-Lords-ebook/dp/B073TRS6T7/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

About the Author

Elizabeth Rolls lives in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia in a valley of apple, pear and cherry orchards. She considers tea bags the work of the devil, and has what many consider far too many books along with three dogs and two cats. She enjoys cooking, reading, walking the dogs and sampling the offerings of local wine makers.

http://www.elizabethrolls.com/books.html

 

An Ill-Fated Wedding

March 1826

Lady Bleakmore, well-known leader of society, attended the Duke of Murnane’s Wedding to Miss Julia Barrett of Cambridge, on Friday and has graciously sent our beloved newssheet a report of the festivities. 

First let me say that while one hesitates to speak ill of another, particularly in regard to so auspicious an event as a wedding, and one so well attended by the cream of the haut ton, one cannot but choose plain speaking.

In spite of the unseemly rush to the altar, the couple chose a formal church wedding at Saint George’s Hanover Square, rather than the private ceremony one might have expected under the Unfortunate Circumstances (more about that later). Given the bride’s déclassé origins one might have expected something less grand, but of course the wedding of a duke requires the attention of his peers, and Murnane, a young man of kindness and great promise, is much beloved by all.

Saint George’s Hanover Square, John Salmon [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The church, festooned with roses and ribbons, provided as rich a setting as one might want for such an event, although orchids have been known to add a certain panache to other ceremonies. The Rector, Mr. Willers, managed a dignified service and restrained his unfortunate tendency to ramble on for the most part.

 

by Sir John Soanes

The Earl of Chadbourn, the groom’s guardian and uncle, attended him at the altar. One might have expected Randolph Wheatly, his cousin, the younger brother of the countess, to take that role. The other cousin, the wild one, might have stepped in as well, but his regiment posted to India two months ago. Never one to report hearsay, I took a moment to speak with the sacristan about a rather nasty rumor. He confirmed that a loud quarrel tool place during the rehearsal, with the two young men closeted in an office, after which Mr. Wheatly stormed out not to return. Unfortunately my source did not overhear the reason for the conflict. I can only report that the cousin did not attend church, nor was he seen at the breakfast. One speculates about the impact the Unfortunate Circumstances may have had on this conflict.

The earl and his countess hosted a perfectly adequate wedding breakfast at their London town house, a much-admired edifice for all it is overrun by unruly children. Among those in attendance, the Duke and Duchess of Sudbury took precedence. The Duke’s sister (who chooses for reasons that no person of correct thinking understand to be plain Mrs. Mallet) sat along side with her husband, the schoolmaster’s son. The bride’s family, of gentry stock, were surrounded by no fewer than two dukes, four earls, three viscounts, and several barons. One felt sympathy for the people who were quite out of their element, though the manners of the parents were well enough.

Murnane, known to many as Charles—the Wheatlys being an unrepentantly informal family— greeted all guests graciously taking little notice of rank, as is his habit, one learned, no doubt, from his uncle the earl. A graceful and handsome young man, his subdued yet fashionable clothing enhanced his dignity. The repast made up in abundance what it may have lacked in extravagance; the countess can hold her head up. The groom, of course, didn’t notice the lack of finer tidbits, busy as he was sharing champagne and every appearance of joy with all and sundry.

What can one say of the bride? For all the correctness of her parents’ manners (they obviously understood their place) she is a pushing little thing. She flirted shamelessly with Viscount Corkinwall and several of the rakish young men during the wedding breakfast while her new husband appeared not to notice. One was forced to recall rather vile rumors Lady Elsbeth Willknott had from Cambridge regarding the young woman, rumors not to her credit. It appears she had been close to both of the young dukes cousins, one after another, rather too close. I suppose one cannot blame her for nabbing a duchess’s coronet, the cousins being plain misters, but the stories of her behavior lead to Rampant Speculation that breach among the young men resulted directly from her machinations.

Julia

One would like to assume that her behavior might settle and the conflict resolve itself, but for the Unfortunate Circumstances. I warn those of sensitive natures my plain speaking may offend. To say it with no embroidery, the bride appears to anticipate a Happy Event. While it is said this is often the case with rushed weddings, this one appears to be coming sooner rather than later. Coupled with her outrageous flirting and bold behavior, one is forced to fear for the success of this marriage. Pity. The duke is such a charming young man. He, of course, has the support of well-titled relatives and will always be received everywhere.

Lady Eunice Bleakmore

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Readers who’ve read The Renegade Wife and The Reluctant Wife will know the fate of Charles’s marriage and the fate of his relationship with his cousins. Those waiting anxiously for Charles to find his own happily-ever-after will be delighted to know the book is finished and on target for its May release. In the meantime, read books 1 and 2 if you haven’t already. A Dangerous Nativity, which is always free, is prequel in which the three heroes appear as boys.  You can find them all here

weddingAbout The Unexpected Wife

Charles Wheatly, Duke of Murnane, accepts an unofficial fact-finding mission to the East India Company’s enclave in Canton, China on behalf of the queen. He anticipates intrigue, international tensions, and an outlet for his grief over the death of his young son. He isn’t entirely surprised when he also encounters the troublesome offspring of his mentor, the Duke of Sudbury, but the profound love he discovers for the determined young woman is unforeseen and untimely. Charles certainly doesn’t expect to also face his troubled marriage in such an exotic locale. The appearance of his estranged wife in the company of their enemy throws the entire enterprise into conflict, and tensions boil over when the woman he loves is put at risk by his wife’s scheming—and the beginnings of the First Opium War.

Zambak Hayden seethes with frustration. A woman her age has occupied the throne for over a year, yet the Duke of Sudbury’s line of succession still passes over her—his eldest—to land on a son with neither spine nor character. She follows her brother, the East India Company’s newest and least competent clerk, to protect him and to safeguard the family honor—if she also escapes the gossip and intrigues of London and the marriage mart, so much the better. She has no intention of being forced into some sort of dynastic marriage, and she may just refuse to marry at all. The greed and corruption she finds horrifies her, especially when her brother succumbs to the lure of opium. She determines to document the truth and save her brother from falling prey to drugs and sinister forces. When an old family friend arrives she assumes her father sent him. She isn’t about to bend to his dictates nor give up her quest. Her traitorous heart, however, can’t stop yearning for a man she can’t have.

As an epic historical drama unfolds around them, both Charles and Zambak must come to terms with a love that neither expected.

About Caroline Warfield

Family, faith, love of travel, and love of history drive Caroline’s life and writings. You can read about her here.

 

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