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Musings of a Motley Meddler: G— St. V—, Part 1

March 1814
England

Dear Interested Parties,

Today’s topic: G— St . V—, the future M— of S—

I’m willing to gamble two outdoor chaises and my infamous pink crocheted wrap that it will take:

1: my dedicated staff

2. my youthful (and by youthful, I mean eighty-two and three quarters years young) neighbor, Mike

3. my dog, Haypenny

4. a few purposely misplaced items, and

5. of course, myself…

…the better part of a two-week house party to turn G— St. V—’s life upside down.

And by upside down, I mean: he will be betrothed.

I know; I know…normally it doesn’t take me quite so long to work my meddling, er…magic, but I am working under extenuating circumstances. As we all know, the victim A: hasn’t been in the country for the better part of a year, B: is too stubborn by half, and C: is flat out determined not to marry. He isn’t even courting anyone for that matter, though honestly, I find his courting status, or the lack thereof, to be utterly immaterial…and temporary…thus, irrelevant.

Because I, Lady Harriett Ross, have found the future M— of S— the perfect bride. Everything else is inconsequential.

Besides, he needs this woman. She is utterly delightful, smart, and well, interested (though she may not realize it yet…ahem).

How could he possibly resist?

Don’t answer that.

And both victims—I mean, soon-to-be-happily-in-love-er-lovers—have accepted their respective invitations to my nephew’s next country house party. Serendipity? I think not.

If I have anything to say about the matter (and I always have something to say about matters), they’re both doomed…

Oh, did I say doomed? I mean, destined…to a long life filled with love and happiness. Eventually.

So if you’ve received one of my nephew’s coveted invitations, accept it at once. You won’t want to miss out. I hear the appetizers are to die for, the company top notch, the country air conducive to romance, and the entertainment—watching a young couple fall in love—swoon worthy.

I hope to see you there!

Lady Harriett Ross
Bloomfield Place
Bath, England

I’m just an old woman with opinions. On everything.

Harriett Ross is a delightful secondary character who appears in every book of Amy Quinton’s Agents of Change series. She is the Marquess of Dansbury’s beloved aunt and is looking to create her own spin-off series of match-making tales. For now, you can find her in any one of the Agents of Change books, including the wildly popular: What the Marquess Sees.

Read more about this and other stories in the Agents of Change series here.

Scandal at the Chipping Niddwick Assembly

Dear Editor

Let me start by saying that I abhor gossip, and despise scandal-mongers above all things. However, I cannot fail to comment on the recent events at would should have been a decorous event in support of an excellent charity. As a good Christian gentleman, I am well aware that we gentry have a duty to set an example to the lesser sort, and part of that duty is to castigate outrageous behaviour on the part of those who should know better.

I speak, Sir, about the recent Whitsunweek Assembly at Chipping Niddwick. The committee who organised the event did us proud. Imagine the delight of our young ladies when not one by two earls attended the affair, both single gentlemen. A baron and viscount were also in attendance, with their respective wives. Such illustrious company for a small country town.

Or so we thought.

Before the night was out, all of them would show their true colours.

The younger of the two earls was observed in seclusion with the baroness (in circumstances that would have demanded the parson’s noose had the lady not already been married). It should have come as not surprise; both Lord S. and Lady Cgm. are often lampooned in printers windows in London for their outrageous behaviour. We regret that they brought their London ways to our virtuous town.

Meanwhile, Lord Cgm. was on a venture of his own, attempting to set up an assignation with a married lady who, we are told, rebuffed him. Lord Cgm. does not, as a rule, show an interest in married ladies, preferring much younger girls, to the extent that no parent will allow their daughter to take service in his house, and Lady Cgm. has to fetch her maids from the orphan asylums of Bristol and Bath.

The other earl. Lord Chby. returned from Canada claiming to be a widower, though rumour has it that his first wife, if the union was in fact blessed by the church, was a native woman. Fortunately for his esteemed name and title, the woman died several years agoand her brats with her.

We saw no signs of grieving last night, since Lord Chby. brought with him a woman (we do not consider her a lady) who could only be his mistress, given the heat with which he regarded her all evening. Mrs. H. is known in this community, and has until now been trusted despite her mysterious appearance here six years ago. Now questions are being asked about the resemblance between her daughter and Lord Chby.

Finally, a cousin of Lord Chby. caused a stir in an invalid’s chair, and inadvertently uncovered the clay feet of the last of our cast of peers. Major A. R., injured in the line of duty, was not content to merely watch the dancing from the sidelines, but insisted on joining in. When his chair collapsed under the unaccustomed exertion of the dance, its maker proclaimed herself. Imagine our shock when we discovered she was none other that Lady A., viscountess of Lord A.

I have, honoured Sir, ignored rumours that Lord A. has made his money from trade. His father was a much respected rider to hounds, though he did marry down. Apparently, the son takes after his father in his low taste in spouses and his mother in his prediliction for activities unbecoming to a gentleman.

Sir, I am advised that the committee thought long and hard before allowing Assembly tickets to be sold to anyone who could raise the price, fearing to lower the tone of the event by letting in the lower sort. May I suggest that next year they raise the tone of the event by excluding the higher sort.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,

Sir A. P-H. Bart.

A Raging Madness, the second book in the Golden Redepennings series, will be released in May

The Assembly at Chipping Niddwick is the highlight of the social calendar in my book Farewell to Kindness. If you want to know what Lord Selby did with the Bad Baroness, Lady Carrington, what Mia Redepenning told Lord Carrington, and whether or not Lord Chirbury succeeded in seducing Anne Haverstock, all the answers are in that book.

Revealed in Mist discloses why Lord Selby is hiding out in the country. (The investigation in Revealed in Mist and the one in Farewell to Kindness dovetail.) The young viscount and his lady who first appeared in my imagination at this assembly, demanded to have their story told in the book that became Candle’s Christmas Chair. And Major Alex Redepenning will reappear as hero of A Raging Madness, where we will finally find out how he got injured.

A new cover, so hot off the press it isn’t in the eretailers yet.

Hidden from the earl who hunts them, Anne and her sisters have been accepted into the heart of a tiny rural village. Until another earl comes visiting.

Rede lives to avenge the deaths of his wife and children. After three long years of searching, he is closing in on the ruthless villains who gave the orders, and he does not hope to survive the final encounter.

Until he meets Anne. As their inconvenient attraction grows, a series of near fatal attacks draws them together and drives them apart. When their desperate enemies combine forces, Anne and Rede must trust one another to survive.

Buy links:

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Rumors from Southwark: Is Meg Henshawe Missing?

March 11th, 1679

Alice sipped her coffee with a frown. She’d been staring at the sea for so long, it had gone cold and sickly sweet. Even the sugar from St. Croix couldn’t save it now. She poked at the crystalline sediment at the bottom of her mug.

She had only managed half of her porridge, as well. It had been more than a year since she had survived ingesting a truly spectacular amount of arsenic, but her stomach had yet to recover.

Her son ate his porridge happily enough. When she sweetened it with honey, he almost always finished the bowl. He was young for it still, but he was growing faster than she could feed him on her own. Achilles was a beautiful baby, a stout, sturdy little fellow glowing with health. He had her eyes and his father’s hair. She was so in love with him she wished she could show him off to her sisters and her friends back in Southwark, but for now, she and her new family were alone in The Hague.

Alice had nothing to complain about; she had married the boy she’d loved all her life to find he was an even better man than she thought he’d be. Their rented rooms faced the sea on one side and the square on the other, a picturesque space full of shops and, as of this week, tulips of every variety. It was nothing like the street she’d grown up on. For one thing, she could take her son with her to the shops without fear they’d be robbed.

England was so close she could feel it, almost see it across the water. They wouldn’t be able to travel until Achilles was older, but it was just close enough to make her mad. She was far more worried than she let on to Jack; for all Meg complained about the inn, she’d never willingly leave it. What had become of her?

A month before, she and Jack had overheard a traveler in town lamenting the disappearance of Meg Henshawe. Alice’s eldest sister was a tart so infamous that men embarked on pilgrimages to see her for themselves, but this traveler had returned disappointed. He’d made it to her family’s inn, The Rose and Crown in Southwark, to find it half burned down and Meg Henshawe gone.

Alice wrung her skirt in her hands like fear twisted her guts. Meg burning down the inn would surprise no one–least of all Alice–but where had she gone? Where were Bess, Bel, and Judith in all of this?

She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and searched her memory for clues. She knew maddeningly little. According to the traveler, a local tea merchant she had seen about, her sisters were gone and the inn had been taken over by a Jewish prizefighter and his wife.

Alice had never enjoyed watching the fights–certainly not as much as Meg did–but she knew the boxer in question by reputation alone. Every time he knocked out an opponent, it was all anyone could talk about.

It was all Meg could talk about, at least.

Meg had had so many lovers over the years, she must have thought Alice wouldn’t notice her fascination with Jake Cohen. It wasn’t hard to miss. Of all the men Meg had known, he was the only one she talked about. Her comments always seemed to come out in semi-incoherent thoughts muttered to herself or divulged to Bess or Bel after one too many glasses of wine. Their last conversation echoed in her mind.

Meg and Bel had returned late from Bear Gardens the night Jake Cohen had knocked out Tom Callaghan, the father of Meg’s youngest boy.

“Did you see that, Bel? God’s teeth, there’s no finer man alive.”

Bel snorted. “Not so fine now. Jake the Jew gave him a bloody good thrashing.”

Meg smacked her arm affectionately. “I wasn’t referring to Tom.”

“You think Tom will take kindly to you fancying his rival?”

Meg topped up their wine. “Bugger Tom. If I thought I had a chance with Jake…”

The idea that Meg couldn’t have anyone she wanted had struck Alice as absurd, and the notion hadn’t become more believable with time. Meg Henshawe a legendary beauty capable of turning grown men into babbling fools with a glance. Surely a boxer–

Alice gasped as another possibility sprung to mind.

Once Achilles had finished his porridge, she bundled him into his little coat and his boots with the reinforced heels. She had a question only a tea merchant could answer.

Alice’s story, The Long Way Home, is out now. Watch for Meg’s story, Broken Things, coming out May 1st, 2017. Here’s a preview…

Broken Things
The Southwark Saga, Book 4

Rival. Sister. Barmaid. Whore.

Meg Henshawe has been a lot of things in her life, and few of them good. As proprietress of The Rose and Crown in Restoration Southwark, she has squandered her life catering to the comfort of workmen and thieves. Famous for her beauty as much as her reputation for rage, Meg has been coveted, abused, and discarded more than once. She is resigned to fighting alone until a passing boxer offers a helping hand.

Jake Cohen needs a job. When an injury forces him out of the ring for good, all he’s left with is a pair of smashed hands and a bad leg. Keeping the peace at The Rose is easy, especially with a boss as beautiful—and wickedly funny—as Meg Henshawe. In her way, she’s as much of an outcast as Jake, and she offers him three things he thought he’d never see again: a home, family, and love.

After Meg’s estranged cousin turns up and seizes the inn, Meg and Jake must work together to protect their jobs and keep The Rose running. The future is uncertain at best, and their pasts won’t stay buried. Faced with one setback after another, they must decide if what they have is worth the fight to keep it. Can broken things ever really be fixed?

Buy links coming soon! For updates, sign up for Jessica Cale’s newsletter here

Felicia: her thoughts as she contemplates retrieving her lost daughter

In Chapter 15, Anthony, Lord Kendall, calls upon Felicia to inform her that he believes her long-lost daughter may be at the Foundling Hospital. She and her maid Maris, a loyal friend from their days at the Pleasure House, reflect on the possibility that the much-anticipated reunion may take place that very day!

The Foundling Restored to Its Mother

Felicia [eyes glowing]: Oh Maris, can this really be happening? I’ve dreamed of this moment for ever, but always in the end believing it to be impossible. [Swallowing] If she had found a suitable home, where she would be nurtured and loved, I should, of course, have been glad for her and refrained from interfering. But I had to know!

Maris [tugging a brush through Felicia’s thick, curly locks]: ‘Twas ol’ Beazley that stole ‘er from ya, may she rot in ‘ell. And tol’ ya she was dead, besides. Witch!

Felicia [nostrils flaring]: I can’t tell you how that troubled my thoughts, dear Maris, worrying over in what manner such a woman might dispose of my child, and all of them so very disheartening.

Maris: As bad as that was, ’twas better than thinkin’ ‘er dead. Gave ya somethin’ ta live fer.

Felicia [clasping Maris’s hands in hers]: It did indeed. I shall always be grateful to you for reminding me of that fact at a time when the world was black and I had no hope.

Maris [tearfully]: No need, miss. ‘Twas out of selfishness, not wantin’ ta lose the only friend I had.

Felicia [turning and giving Maris a quick kiss on the cheek]: We have been through a lot together, have we not? I could not have made it through all those months at the whorehouse without you reminding me of my responsibility to my child. I should never have met and loved Charles, God rest his generous soul, and never have obtained the means to support myself respectably.

Maris [with a secret smile]: Or met Mr. Jamison, er, Lord Kendall ‘e is now, who seemed that eager ta find yer daughter fer ya, miss.

Felicia [flushing]: Don’t tease, Maris. There can be nothing between us. He is very kind, that is all.

Maris [snorting]: Kind? Kind, you say? Ye’ve called ‘im a jackass more ‘n once, and so ‘e was too!

Felicia [tugging at her neckline]: Yes, well, perhaps he was rather disagreeable in the beginning, but it had to be a bit of a shock to discover that his uncle left half of his fortune to his mistress. I’m inclined to forgive him for all that, especially now that he has sought to reunite me with my daughter. [Rises from the chair.] Cynthia. Oh Maris, she is three years old already and her name is Cynthia! How will I ever explain how I lost her?

Maris: Jis’ like that. She was lost and ya found ‘er.

Felicia: Or Anthony did. How can I ever thank him? [Maris chuckles.] No, no, not that way. Never again that way! I shall ever after be a respectable lady, for myself first, and also for my daughter. Cynthia. She shall have everything I can give her, that I never had myself.

Maris: A father?

Felicia [turning pale]: No, but a doting mother will surely be enough. We shall be very happy, just the two of us. And you, of course, Maris. We shall find a house in the country, near a village, with children and cows and fresh air.

Maris: And Anthony?

Felicia [folding her arms across her chest]: What about him? Anthony will go on with his life, take his seat in Parliament, marry some noble young lady with whom he will have a passel of children, and become a bastion of London society. He and I will never cross paths again. And that is the way it should be.

Maris: If you say so, miss.

Felicia: I do say so. [Looks toward the window.] Is that a carriage, Maris? Where is my bonnet? Oh Maris, I’m going to be a mother! Do you think she’ll like me? What if…? If she’s been abominably treated, I shall never forgive myself. Has Mrs. Grey finished preparing the nursery, do you think?

Find out what happens when Felicia and Anthony visit the Foundling Hospital in an attempt to retrieve her daughter in the next installment of Susana’s Resilience, on wattpad.

 

A Pirate, A Lady, and A Lord – Part Two

Captain Pershore directed his first mate to keep them out at sea. They provisions aplenty that they would not need to go to land for some time.

That matter settled, he made his way to his cabin. There, the Lady Annamarie jerked to her feet. Her dark strands half covered her face, but he could see that her cheeks were stained pink.

Her wrists were rubbed raw from the ropes, and he stalked toward her. “Allow me,” he murmured, reaching out for her and untying her bindings.

***

The wretched pirate was freeing her! But then he was rubbing her wrists, massaging them, and she wiggled free enough to slap him hard in the face. Her palm ached from the slap, but the infuriating man merely chuckled.

“I see you aren’t ready to accept me yet. You will. Soon,” he said, his voice low and threating.

“I would rather—”

“If you wish to insult me,” he said, his eyes narrowing, “I suggest you think again, because I am not known for my patience.”

“I do not even know your name.” Her voice did not tremble, for which she was pleased, but he was already grabbing her wrists and retying her binding. Despite her struggles and her attempt to kick him—curse her long skirt!—he overpowered her with ease.

“You have forgotten.” His eyes narrowed even more, hardly open at all. His lips pursed, and he raised his hand. She flinched, awaiting his blow, but he merely marched out of the room, slamming it shut and locking with with a click.

Who was this pirate? Why had he taken her?

“Oh, Mother, Father.” Annamarie refused to cry, but her chest ached all the same.

***

Clutching the old coin as if it possess all the answers to his problems, Barnet rushed to the tavern where he had seen the pirate Pershore on a few occasions. The two had never exchanged words, but if it came down to blows or even a full brawl to ensure the safety of Lady Annamarie, he would not hesitate to do what he must.

From there, it took some other coins as well as ale for Barnet to learn that Pershore had left port early that morning, many hours before dawn.

“Do you know where he went?” he asked, desperation leaking into his words.

“No,” the first man said, and the second shook his head, gulping down the sale Barnet purchased for him.

Barnet grimaced. It was early in the day, so few others were in the tavern yet.

A man from the corner stood and beckoned Barnet over. “I couldn’t help overhearin’ ya,” he said, grinning, revealing a few missing teeth.

Barnet grimaced, despair hovering about him like a cloak. “Do you know where I can locate Pershore.”

“You be needin’ a ship. I have one. And what’s better, I have a grudge against Pershore meself. We can leave at once.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me until you have your lady back and me have Pershore’s head.”
To be continued…

Read Part One here.

Taken from the notes of one Lady Anna Wycliff

Lady Anna is the heroine in Christmas Kisses, part of the Bluestocking Belles’ boxed set Holly and Hopeful Hearts available now from various retailers. 25% of proceeds will go to the Malala Fund.

hollyhopefulheartsAbout the Book

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

About the Stories

A Suitable Husbandby Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below. 

Valuing Vanessaby Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life. 

A Kiss for Charityby Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?

Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?

The Bluestocking and the Barbarianby Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy. 

Christmas Kissesby Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts. 

An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

Dashing Through the Snowby Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…

BUY LINKS for HOLLY AND HOPEFUL HEARTS

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Australia
Amazon Canada
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iBooks

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