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Harry Townsend Found and Lost Again

Whenever Lily was alone in the workshop, she sat in her father’s chair.

He was out back with the new apprentice, showing him how to split a log into usable planks. From her seat at his desk, the familiar sound of sawing all but drowned out her sisters’ incessant chatter and the noise from the street outside. She leaned back and swung her boots onto the desk, taking up her file and setting to work on the toy in her hand. It was nice out here. The furniture for sale couldn’t tease her or pull her hair. It didn’t cry or scream or ask her for anything.

She could get used to this.

The door swung open and Tommy Henshawe rushed in. His cheeks were pink and he was out of breath, but he was smiling. He set a little cloth sack on the desk in front of her. “I can’t stay long, but I saved you some of these.”

Lily dropped her feet to the floor and leaned forward. “Cinnamon biscuits?”

He shook his head. “Raspberry this time. Grandma Ruta has a bush behind the bakery. I wanted to bring you some before they ate them all back home.” He opened up the sack to reveal half a dozen biscuits sticking to each other in the summer heat. They were golden and flaky and smelled like honey.

Lily snatched one and popped it into her mouth with a moan. “You have the best grandma,” she said between bites. “I thought she lived in the city.”

“She does.” He took a biscuit for himself. “She’s been coming around more to help mum until the baby comes.”

“How much longer?” Lily pinched another biscuit.

“Another month or two, I think.” He noticed the file and her half-finished project. “What are you working on?”

“I’m making a present for the baby. It’s a dagger.”

Tommy cocked his head. “I don’t know if babies are supposed to have daggers. They can hurt themselves.”

Lily rolled her eyes. “That’s why it’s wood,” she explained like he was stupid. “Mum and the girls are making blankets and clothes for it. Don’t tell your mum, I think it’s meant to be a surprise.”

Tommy grinned. “She’ll like that. Your mum’s so good at that. I haven’t been cold once since she patched my trousers. Are you going to learn to sew, too?”

“God, no.” Lily shuddered. “I’m going to grow up to be like my daddy.”

He nodded solemnly. “Me, too.”

The door opened again and a man stepped inside, looking lost. He was her mum’s age and dressed like a curate. He approached the desk slowly, no doubt surprised to find the shop being kept by a little girl. “Erm…good afternoon. Does Mark Virtue live here?”

Lily crossed her arms and looked him up and down. He was either a vicar or a lawyer, and she couldn’t think what either would want with her dad. “Who’s asking?”

“Eli Hartford,” he introduced himself. “I have a letter for him.”

He held the letter in one hand and his hat in the other. She had never seen such clean hands in her life. She didn’t trust him. “Why are your hands so clean?” She blurted.

He blinked at her, surprised by the line of questioning. “I work with lepers. Everything is clean.”

She nodded sagely, though she wasn’t quite sure what that meant. She got up and stuck her head out the back door. “Daddy! There’s a leper here to see you!”

Mark stopped dead in his tracks, the saw halfway through a log. “What?”

“I’m not a leper–” the man protested.

Lily shot him an impatient look over her shoulder.

Mark wiped the sweat from his face and pulled his shirt back on. He told the apprentice to take a break and strolled into the workshop. He looked relieved when he saw the man. “Lily, he’s not a leper, he’s a curate.” He shook his head. “How can I help?”

The man let out a sigh of relief and held out the letter to her father. The paper was thin and battered, as though it had traveled a very long way. “My name is Eli Hartford,” the non-leper repeated. “My sister Maude is indentured in the Carolinas and this was included in her last letter. She asked me to be sure you received it.”

The color drained from her father’s face. He seemed to know what it was. “Thank you, Mr Hartford. Do you know what it is? Is your sister well?”

“She’s well. She mentioned some trouble earlier in the year and that she believed you were looking for someone. That is all I know.”

Mark shook his hand. “I can’t thank you enough. Can I offer you a cup of coffee?”

The man shook his head. “My thanks, sir, but I must be on my way. I hope you find who you’re looking for.”

After the man had left, Mark all but ran to the house, tearing the letter open as he went. “Jane! Jane!”

Lily ran after him, and Tommy followed close behind. Her mother appeared at the door with the baby on her hip. “What is it?”

“Word from the Carolinas.”

Jane’s eyes widened and she met him in the garden. “Harry?”

“It has to be.” His family gathering around him, he read aloud. “Dear Mr. Virtue, We have received your letters. My master burns them. I am forbidden from replying, but I write to you to repay the kindness Mr. Townsend showed me during his time here.”

Jane swallowed, the hope on her face fading.

“Mr. Townsend worked here for four years. He was treated very poorly and my master kept your letters from him. I saved one from the fire and read it to him.”

“Are we sure it’s the same Harry?” Jane asked. “It’s not an uncommon name.”

“He robbed my master, seduced his wife, and incited a riot the likes of which has not been seen since Virginia in ’76. Servants and slaves have escaped and a number of farms have been burned to the ground.” Mark grinned. “It’s him.”

Jane gaped, but she didn’t look unhappy. “Good lord, Harry.”

“My master has sworn vengeance and hunts him to this day. If he finds him, he’ll be shot. I am loathe to bear this tragic news, and I pray Mr. Townsend finds his way back to God.” Mark punched the air in triumph. “He’s fine.”

Jane laughed. “What do you mean, he’s fine? It sounds like he’s in trouble.”

“Nah.” Mark shrugged. “He’s found his way out of worse.”

***

You can read more about Harry, the Virtues, the Henshawes, and the other residents of Southwark in Jessica Cale’s The Southwark Saga, out now.  Mark and Jane’s book is Virtue’s Lady:

Virtue’s Lady

Lady Jane Ramsey is young, beautiful, and ruined.

After being rescued from her kidnapping by a handsome highwayman, she returns home only to find her marriage prospects drastically reduced. Her father expects her to marry the repulsive Lord Lewes, but Jane has other plans. All she can think about is her highwayman, and she is determined to find him again.

Mark Virtue is trying to go straight. After years of robbing coaches and surviving on his wits, he knows it’s time to hang up his pistol and become the carpenter he was trained to be. He busies himself with finding work for his neighbors and improving his corner of Southwark as he tries to forget the girl who haunts his dreams. As a carpenter struggling to stay in work in the aftermath of The Fire, he knows Jane is unfathomably far beyond his reach, and there’s no use wishing for the impossible.

When Jane turns up in Southwark, Mark is furious. She has no way of understanding just how much danger she has put them in by running away. In spite of his growing feelings for her, he knows that Southwark is no place for a lady. Jane must set aside her lessons to learn a new set of rules if she is to make a life for herself in the crime-ridden slum. She will fight for her freedom and her life if that’s what it takes to prove to Mark–and to herself–that there’s more to her than meets the eye.

Read Now on Kindle Unlimited

Scandal in Venice

VeniceThis house is not a brothel.  I Signora Rossi conduct a respectable boarding house—respectable! All Venice knows. And I tell you true. Those English aristos, they bring disgrace on my business. One would expect an earl and his sister to bring renown to an establishment like mine. Instead the Earl of Ambler and that disgraceful sister of his bring me ruin.

When they arrive, I already suspect. His so-called sister comes with no maid, no older lady to, what you call, chaperone. What kind of “lady,” travels with men and no older woman? The clink of their coin sounded more real than their story; I swallowed my misgivings. Perhaps a respectable older woman, delayed along the road, did follow. So far I see no sign of her. The earl, he looks younger so perhaps he really is her brother. She calls herself Lady Charlotte Tyree.

The earl comes in drunk, loud— very late the first night, shouting that he met that English poet Byron, another aristo. A very bad set, that. Me, I try to warn the woman, but the earl? Like most men, he don’t listen. If he visits Venice to study our architecture or take in Tinteretto, I see no sign of it. The few days he doesn’t sleep all day he runs off with that poet to Lazaretto and the Armenians. Only the girl spends time in our many lovely churches. She does the sketching and the studying. Perhaps he plans to pass her work off as his—idiota.

The girl behaves well enough. I began to think her respectable and pity her the company of her spoiled brother. Last week everything changes. Due pescatori still in their fishing clothes and drunk as lords, drop the earl at my door smelling of fish and rotten water. The boy tried to swim Il Canal Grande like his idol, an even bigger fool. He spews canal water—and worse—on my floors. 

VeniceNow scandal in my house. I not bargain for scandal. The medico—the one with the horrid children and nasty mother—he arrives. I stand at my door and before I can blink he comes down my stairs carrying that girl over his shoulder. He dumps her in his ancient gondola and leaves his helper upstairs with the earl. No coin. Not one word to me.

Santa madre di Dio! What is a widow to do?

About the Book: Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil

It’s 1818 and Byron is in Venice. When Lady Charlotte Tyree’s feckless brother attempts to mimic his idol and swim the Grand Canal, putrid fever lays him flat and strands her there. Venice, Christmas, a handsome Italian doctor… her life is about to take an interesting turn.

Pre-order from Amazon or Epub from Smashwords

About the Author

Caroline Warfield, a Bluestocking Belle and regular contributor to The Teatime Tattler, writes historical romance. In addition to her holiday novellas, she writes novels set in the Regency and immediate post-Regency eras.  In her newest series, Children of Empire, three cousins driven apart by lies and deceit, find their way home from the farthest corners of the British Empire—and find love along the way.

Find out more here.

Silver eyes. It’s uncanny

1st June 1794

Today, Town will be nearly empty as the ton streams to the border between Wales and England, to a remote valley where the reclusive Duke of Bleidrich rules a fiefdom older than the four kingdoms.

Seldom does His Grace honour Town with his presence, and then to the benefit of Westminster rather than the rounds of Society. Never in living memory has he held a ball. What can be the reason? Is the duke in search of a duchess? Or can the rumours be true? Seven years ago, the duke installed a ward in the castle schoolroom, a maiden understood to be a younger daughter of Baron Whitleaf of Northern Lancashire. Will Isadora Whitleaf defy her humble origins to become the next Duchess of Bleidrich?

And if she does? No one can give details, but all agree there is something uncanny about the Bleidrichs.

1st July 1794

As Society stream back from the celebrations in Bleidrichvale, the Teatime Tattler has been able to confirm that the rumours about Miss Whitleaf were unfounded. The stated reason for the ball was to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of Lord Nathaniel Marrock, younger brother of the duke, before he left for his Grand Tour of those parts of the continent still available to travellers.

The true reason? Our editor has been told in confidence by several Grande Dames of the ton that His Grace was most attentive to their own particular charge. We have also heard from some of the young maidens, who described the duke as remote and scary. Given the gentleman’s high estate, we do not see this as an insuperable bar to matrimony, and even those who shivered at his silver eyes, did not deny him beauty of form to an unearthly degree.

He may be uncanny, but he is rich, titled, and handsome.

 10th October 1794

In an update to our story several months ago about the Duke of Bleidrich and his ward, we have recently heard that Miss Whitleaf has married. And married not the master, but the schoolteacher. Marriage to the highest noble in the land would have been a considerable step up for Miss Whitleaf. Marriage to a village schoolmaster, even one who has been tutor to the younger son of a duke, must be seen as a descent.

But then, Miss Whitleaf, more than any, must know the truth about the Bleidrichs. Has she chosen the better part?

12th August 1804

Ten years ago, the Duke of Bleidrich raised hopes in the hearts of matchmaking mamas and their daughters, when he held a ball at his remote estate. And then, nothing. Until today.

Today, dear readers, the finest in the land have been stunned to receive an invitation to another ball in Bleidrichvale. What surprise has the duke in store for us? The Teatime Tattler will not venture to make a guess, but warns readers that the Bleidrichs are known to be uncanny.

24th August 1804

Isadora Harris, formerly Isadora Whitleaf, is the new Duchess of Bleidrich. Yes, dear reader, you read that aright. The Duke of Bleidrich has reached down into the commonality to lift up his bride.

His Grace travelled to the far reaches of Yorkshire to retrieve his widowed bride, marrying her by special license in York a scandalous five weeks after her husband’s death.

Furthermore, the lady comes with a considerable encumbrance in the way of a family. We have been unable to confirm how many are her own, and how many she and the eccentric Mr Harris added to their family by adoption, but we are told that the ducal nurseries, schoolroom, and dining table have been considerably expanded to add twenty-four place settings for the Harris children.

The correspondent we sent into Bleidrichvale has suffered an unaccountable memory lapse, and has been unable to tell us what else he has discovered. We will report soon.

24th September 1804

Sam Clemens sat at his desk, turning a sheet of paper over and over in his hand, staring at nothing.

Joe the printer, coming through from the workshop, stopped in the doorway.

“Fancy visitors, those, Sam.” Joe had stepped aside to let the lord and lady pass, being careful not to let his inky apron touch the lady’s fine silk.

Sam’s voice seemed to come from a distance. “Hmmm.”

“An advertisement? Not scandal. Not those two.” The man made Joe shiver: silver eyes under a dark wing of brow, and the lady was unusual, too. Eyes of forest green, and the loveliest face he’d ever seen. But they were no gossipmongers, that was for certain.

“I came for the front page, Sam. You said you were writing up the news from Yorkshire. About Bleidrich and the Harrises.”

Sam looked blankly at Joe, and then back at the sheet of paper. Joe moved closer, hoping it was the copy he needed, but it was blank.

“Story?” Sam seemed to shake himself awake. “No. There’s no story from Yorkshire.”

“No story? What am I to put on the front page?”

With a problem to solve, Sam was galvanised into action, and in the rush of moving things around, finding extra copy to fill spaces, and getting the paper to print, the weird incident was forgotten.

But later that night, as they sat over a celebratory mug of ale, Joe remembered where he had heard of silver eyes. “Sam,” he asked his editor, “was that the Duke of Bleidrich and his wife who came to see you today?”

“Yesterday,” Sam said, for it was three in the morning. And then his eyes went suddenly blank and he gave his head a quick shake as if to dislodge a blockage in his thoughts. “Bleidrich? Fine chance that would be. The duke in my newspaper office? No, Joe. You must have been dreaming.”

Someone was, Joe thought. But he wouldn’t mention it again. That way, there’d be no risk of drawing that silver gaze on him.

There was no doubt about it. There was something uncanny about the Bleidrichs.

To find out what happened ten years ago, and what brought about the marriage after a decade, read The Heart of a Wolf, a short story in Lost in the Tale. Lost in the Tale is released on 6 September. Buy links on Jude Knight’s website at http://judeknightauthor.com/books/lost-in-the-tale/

Come sample Jude’s wares in her second short story/novella collection

The Lost Wife: Teri’s refuge had been invaded: by the French, who were trying to conquer their land, and by wounded soldiers from the English forces sent to fight Napoleon’s armies. The latest injured man carried to her for nursing would be a bigger challenge than all the rest: he had once broken her heart. (short story)

The Heart of a Wolf: Ten years ago, Isadora lied to save her best friend, and lost her home and the man she loved when he would not listen to her. Ten years ago, Bastian caught his betrothed in the arms of another man, and her guilt was confirmed when she fled. Ten years on, both still burn with anger, but the lives of innocent children and the future of their werewolf kind demand that they work together. (short story)

My Lost Highland Love: Interfering relatives, misunderstandings, and mistranslations across a language barrier keep two lovers from finding one another again. The Earl of Chestlewick’s daughter comes to London from her beloved Highlands to please her father, planning to avoid the Englishman who married her and abandoned her. The Earl of Medford comes face-to-face with a ghost; a Society lady who bears the face of the Highland lass who saved his life and holds his heart. (short story)

Magnus and the Christmas Angel: Scarred by years in captivity, Magnus has fought English Society to be accepted as the true Earl of Fenchurch. Now he faces the hardest battle of all: to win the love of his wife. A night trapped in the snow with an orphaned kitten, gives Callie a Christmas gift: the chance to rediscover first love with the tattooed stranger she married. (short story)

The Lost Treasure of Lorne: For nearly 300 years, the Normingtons and the Lorimers have feuded, since a love affair ended in a curse that doomed dead Lorimers to haunt their home, the Castle of Lorne.

Now the last Marquis of Lorne, the last of the Lorimers, is one of those ghosts, and the Duke of Kendal, head of the House of Normington, holds the castle.

Kendal doesn’t care about the feud or the ghosts. He wants only to find the evidence that will legitimate the son his Lorimer bride bore him before her death, and to convince his stubborn housekeeper to marry him.

But the time allotted to the curse is running out, and his happiness depends on finding the Lost Treasure of Lorne before the 300 years draws to a close. (novella)

 

To Love A Knight

Dear Diary:

I have a medieval man in my shower.

Knight

Yes… I just wrote that and no… I’m not drunk, but maybe I should be. How else do I explain the strange trip through Time that took me 800 years into the past and then again to return home to present day San Francisco? I wish I could say I dreamed the whole thing but then I can hear Fletcher humming some medieval melody and the steam from his shower is escaping through the crack at the bottom of the bathroom door. Just listen to him! That deep baritone voice makes my heart flutter like the wings of a hummingbird in flight.

Fletcher… I swear my face flushes inferno hot each and every time he even glances in my direction. He is the stuff dreams are made of. Really! I’m not over exaggerating or lying just to make this entry interesting. I mean who would make up this stuff? If I were an author, I’d probably have a bestseller on my hands. Now isn’t that thought a hoot?

But I digress from telling you about this incredible man who continues to watch over me. He gave up everything he had just to follow me through Time. This chivalrous knight who gave no thought as to his responsibilities to his family and liege lord. A noble knight who now finds himself out of place and time in a future world that no longer values the very essence of all he held dear in another life. I’m unsure how he’ll ever adjust to modern living, despite the brave face he puts on for my benefit.

I’m in love with him. Even writing those words scares the hell out of me, and I’m terrified of what the implications of those feelings could mean to my heart. I could blink, and he could be gone in a heartbeat if God decides such is our fate. I came back to my own place in time because of the anguish I heard in my mother’s cry that spanned centuries. Would the same happen to Fletcher and those he, too, left in day’s long since past? His father, a younger sister, not to mention those he cared about at Berwyck Castle. It’s a lot to consider and it makes my head hurt with just the thought of losing him now that we’ve found one another.

He left his sword leaning up against the wall near the bathroom door, a twelfth century item appearing totally out of place among the things in this room of modern living. The ruby jewel in the hilt winks at me as though the stone has a secret to tell. My only thought is how Fletcher will react when he sees me in my best negligée that I put on just for him. He’ll think me overly bold, but I never wanted a man more than I do tonight. Now if only I can convince him to share my bed, which will be no small task. He’ll probably tell me we can’t until we’re married. He has much to learn about the twenty-first century!

I’ll write more when I can. I just heard the water go off and I’ve only moments before I’m confronted with the man who makes my heart sing. I can only hope that whatever happens between us, that we won’t lose what we have found with each other. Time brought us together. I’ll be damned if I’ll allow Time to tear us apart.

Jenna


Knight

To Follow My Heart: The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time Novel (Book Three)

Bestselling author, Sherry Ewing, brings you the next installment of her Knights of Berwyck series, To Follow My Heart.

Love is a leap. Sometimes you need to jump…

After a gut wrenching break up with her fiancé, Jenna Sinclair heads to the coast to do a little soul searching. To say everything is subject to change is putting it mildly. Her world is not only turned upside down, but pretty much torn asunder when she is pulled through a time gate on the beach beneath the Cliff House and transported more than eight hundred years into the past.

Fletcher Monroe, captain of the garrison knights at Berwyck Castle, has wasted too much time pining for a woman who will never be his. When he finally decides to move on with his life and focus on his duties, he is suddenly confronted with a woman who magically appears at his feet. This could either be the best thing that has ever happened to him or another cursed event in a string of many. He soon finds he is wildly attracted to her, but she’s scared to death of him ─ not a very encouraging beginning.

From the shores of California to twelfth century England and back again, Jenna and Fletcher must find a way to reconcile their two different worlds before Time forever tears them apart.

Buy Links:

Amazon  | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo|
Amazon AU | Amazon  BR | AmazonCA Amazon DE | AmazonFRAmazon UK

You can learn more about Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing on her page on the tab above with the Belles or on her website here.

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

Captain Pershore served the lovely Lady Annamarie himself. A bit of each of the three fish and a loaf of bread. A pile of vegetables. He laid the plate in front of her and hesitated.

“Would you prefer ale or water?” he asked.

“Oh, no.” She swept to her feet. “Allow me to pour.”

Pleased beyond measure, he watched as she poured his glass first. Ale for him and water for her, he noted.

He quickly threw a few items on his plate and sat.

“Please, enjoy,” he said.

But the lovely vision did not eat her food.

“What is the mater?” he asked.

Despite himself, he was growing angry. He did not wish to be angry. He wanted to feel only love for the lady sitting before him. For years, he had loved her from afar. He wished to have her love in return.

Why would she not eat? Was she rejecting the food or himself?

 

***

 

Annamarie could tell that Pershore was growing upset, and so she quickly took a bite of food. She chewed and swallowed hastily.

A bit too hastily. The fish caught in her throat, and she coughed and coughed.

At once, Perhsore leaped to his feet and rounded the table. He patted her back firmly but not too harshly, and the piece dislodged. Her breathing returned to normal.

“Thank you,” she said, feeling flustered and embarrassed.

To her surprise, Pershore reassumed his seat without touching her more than necessary.

Perhaps he read her shock because he said, “When you wish to be held, I will hold you. When you wish to dance, we will dance. If you wish to sing, I will raise my voice too. Although I must confess I am a terrible singer.”

“I am not much of a dancer,” she whispered. “Or a singer.”

A dark cloud crossed over his features, and her fright returned.

“This fish is delicious,” she rushed to say.

When she was not choking on it.

“Did you catch it yourself?” she continued.

Most of that darkness banished away, but not all of it. Annamarie swallowed hard. She must not forget that Pershore was not a good man. He had kidnapped her. He might be trying to act the part of a gentleman, but he clearly was not one.

Would she be doomed to remain on his ship for forever? Or worse, would he force her to marry him whenever they would reach shore?

 

***

 

Barnet was beside himself. Far too much time was passing them by. Annamarie needed him, and here he was, lost at sea with a Landlubber claiming to know the way when he clearly didn’t.

“Haven’t your friends been answering your lantern signals?” Barnet would ask each morning.

“Soon,” Landlubber would answer each morning. “You’ll be gettin’ to your lass soon.”

“Yes, yes, and you’ll kill Pershore. I know.”

“Do not fret. Frettin’ affects the seas.”

“So does sneezing,” Barnet grumbled.

Landlubber laughed. “I know how you be feelin’. Trust me. I know what I be doin’.”

What choice did Barnet have but to trust him?

Hold on, Annamarie. We’ll save you. I promise we won’t be too late.

Barnet just hoped that promise would not prove to be a lie.

 

To be continued…

Read Part One here, Part Two here, Part Three here, and Part Four here.

Taken from the notes of one Lady Anna Wycliff

Lady Anna is the heroine in Christmas Kisses, which had been a part of the Bluestocking Belles’ boxed set Holly and Hopeful Hearts and now contains a bonus end scene.

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter, wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. She suffered through trials to find love herself.

Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke. Her mother insists on Anna befriending a marquess’s son, a man Anna finds far too rude. Can either man be the right one for Anna?

Buy CHRISTMAS KISSES here!

 

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