Home of the Bluestocking Belles

Because history is fun and love is worth working for

Category: Historical Period (Page 1 of 5)

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.

The Burgundy Highwayman Reappears

Devon HighwaymanWord reaches us from Devonshire that the Burgundy Highwayman has reappeared in that county. We need hardly remind our readers of the toll this rogue took on the purses of the wealthiest London-bound travelers, and on the hearts of their fainting daughters, before disappearing last Yuletide.

highwaymanIn truth, there was a time when many of our more sentimentally-inclined belles rather looked forward to being accosted by the highwayman, taking needless carriage rides to the outskirts of town in hopes of being treated to his gallant manner, his flashing eyes, and his gentle touch as he relieved them of their baubles.

Many were taken in by the romantic aura he had created for himself, carrying on the pretense of a modern-day Robin Hood, stealing only from rich nobles and giving half his take to London’s poor. The fact that he and his gang eschewed violence when at all possible, and had never killed a soul, only added to this mystique. By the time of his departure, the rogue was so popular that many a Burgundy Highwayman could be seen at London’s masked ball.

HighwaymanUnfortunately, life is no masquerade, and the highwayman’s identity must remain a mystery until his capture. But we can glean a few clues in his behavior as reported by his victims. That he is of genteel birth and breeding there can be no doubt, judging by his manner and address. Where one would expect an outlaw of this sort to possess an imposing physical stature, the Burgundy Highwayman is average of height and slight of frame; his voice, far from low and gruff, is of a middling timbre, though still managing a tone of command.

One correspondent even reports that the highwayman reminded her of no one more than Dora Jordan, in the breeches role of Ganymede. Could the highwayman be a woman in disguise? Only the rogue’s capture will tell.

Whoever he is, the highwayman’s removal to Devonshire has caused a change in his (or her!) behavior toward the fair sex. It seems the villain was so taken by the charms of a country miss – a vicar’s daughter, no less – that he (she?!) abandoned propriety and stole a kiss along with a necklace. And this in the presence not only of her lady’s companion but also of Anthony, Lord Burnside, with whom this daughter of a vicar is rumored to have formed an unlikely connection.

This tantalizing tableau has given us a delicious frisson, and we look forward to more news from the west country.

Until then, I remain your faithful correspondent,

Jules Plume de Paon

* * *

HighwaymanAbout the Book

Twenty-year-old Elizabeth Collington, the proper and obedient daughter of a Devonshire clergyman, believes herself beyond girlish romances. But when a highwayman steals a kiss, along with her departed mother’s necklace, Elizabeth experiences feelings of which her father would never approve. Soon after this unsettling event, a young widow arrives in the village, catching Elizabeth by surprise as their friendship advances quickly to the deepest intimacy she has ever known. Yet the highwayman will not leave her alone, filling her mind with ideas of revolution and her body with sensations of the greatest impropriety. Amidst this swirl of conflicting feelings, Elizabeth hardly has time to consider Anthony, son of the neighboring Earl, whose halting courtship holds out her one slim chance at an establishment in life. Will Elizabeth choose the conventional path, honoring her duty to her father and safeguarding her reputation? Or will she follow the demands of her heart, pursuing a love even less proper than that for a highwayman?

A comedy of manners wrapped around a Gothic tale, a mashup of Jane Austen, Alfred Noyes’ poem “The Highwayman,” Ellen Kushner’s Riverside series, and Robin Hood, Daring and Decorum makes a passionate case for the freedom to love whom one chooses. You might call it, “Racier than Jane Austen, better-written than Fifty Shades of Grey.” Or maybe, “Regency Romance, minus the hunky, shirtless lords.” (What’s left, you ask? Let Elizabeth show you! )

Buy Links for Daring and Decorum:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Website | Smashwords

About Lawrence Hogue

Lawrence Hogue’s writing is all over the place and all over time. He started out in nonfiction/nature writing with a personal narrative/environmental history of the Anza-Borrego Desert called All the Wild and Lonely Places: Journeys in a Desert Landscape. After moving to Michigan, he switched to writing fiction, including contemporary stories set in the desert and fanfiction based on the videogame Skyrim. He’s a fan of folk music, and got the idea for Daring and Decorum while listening to Loreena McKennitt’s outstanding adaptation of Alfred Noyes’ poem, The Highwayman. When not speaking a word for nature or for forgotten LGBT people of history, he spends his white-knighting, gender-betraying energies on Twitter and Facebook, and sometimes on the streets of Lansing, MI, and Washington DC. He’s been called a Social Justice Warrior, but prefers Social Justice Wizard or perhaps Social Justice Lawful Neutral Rogue.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Amazon

 

Be Careful What You Ask a Hero

“There you are,” Amelia, Elizabeth’s dearest friend, exclaimed as edged past a group of giggling young ladies to where Elizabeth was standing under the balcony. “Where did you disappear?”

Feigning interest in the quheroadrille while keeping a keen eye open for her informant, Elizabeth answered with nonchalance. “I’ve been enjoying the opulence and gaiety of the evening.”

“Why are your answers always so vague?”

“They are not…” Elizabeth’s words trailed off as Amelia tilted her head and raised a dubious brow. “The less you know, the better.”

Amelia crossed her arms and frowned, attempting to appear hurt— a tactic she’d been using since they were little girls. “You’re my dearest friend. I would never betray your trust.”

“I know.” On a loud sigh, she conceded, “I will answer three questions.”

With Elizabeth’s acquiescence, Amelia’s features brightened. “Thank you! Oh, I have to make sure I ask wisely.” She paced a couple of feet before edging closer to Elizabeth and whispered, “Have you ever killed anyone?

Elizabeth was already tired of this game, but since she agreed… “Yes”

“Yes?” The single word escaped Amelia’s mouth with a high-pitched squeak that startled a couple of gentlemen standing several feet away. She lowered her voice, peppering Elizabeth with questions. “Who? When? Are you carrying a weapon now?”

“You do realize that you just asked three questions?”

“It all falls under the first,” Amelia stated matter-of-factly.

“I’ll somewhat indulge you just this once. You needn’t worry about all the details. However, I will answer the latter. I always carry my pocket pistol. A lady must be prepared for danger. Next question.”

“Vague as always,” Amelia mumbled before continuing. “Have you ever donned a disguise?”

“Yes.” Knowing her friend all too well, Elizabeth included the answer to the question that was sure to follow. “I sometimes dress as a lad— it’s much easier to sneak around in breeches.”

A slight gasp escaped Amelia’s lips, but thankfully she did not probe further into that topic. “Since this is my last question, I have to make sure it’s one that I’ve always wondered about.” She squinted her eyes as if scanning her mind. “I have it! What is your most treasured possession?”

“The medallion my grandfather gave me.”

Amelia’s brows creased together. “That’s not what I was expecting. What medallion?”

Elizabeth clamped her mouth shut and turned away, knowing she’d just revealed too much. It was good thing that was Amelia’s last question. She really needed to guard her words more closely in the future.

“I know. It’s confidential.

“As I said earlier, the less you know, the better.”

Elizabeth noticed that they had attracted the attention of several curious lords and ladies. It was past time she ended this little interview and searched for Captain Alexander in the immense crush.

About the Series

What if your favorite superheroes had Regency-era doppelgängers? And what if a group of them were recruited by the Duke of Wellington to gather intelligence for him during the Napoleonic Wars while they protected their own parts of the realm?

You’d get The Heart of a Hero series.

Nine authors are bringing nine full-length novels to you this summer, each telling the story of a man or woman who is a hero in all senses of the word.

The Series on Amazon

HeroAbout the  Book

Alanna Lucas  contributes Only a Hero Will Do to the series.

Defender of the realm…and his wary heart…

Captain Grant Alexander is an enigma in London society. Dashing and handsome, he coldly eschews marriage. But the ton knows nothing of his role in the Legion: to bring Typhon, the traitor who seeks to destroy the British monarchy, to justice.

When Grant is thrown together with fellow Legion member Elizabeth Atwell, he’s instantly beguiled yet exasperated by this beautiful viscount’s daughter. She has little interest in combing the marriage mart for a well-bred, well-heeled husband, but is adept at code-breaking and handling a bow and arrow. She also refuses to do as she is told, insisting she accompany Grant on his mission.

As Typhon continues to evade capture and dark forces are at work, Grant realizes he must act, not only to protect the realm but Elizabeth too…not to mention his heart, which is in danger of thawing every time she comes close…

Can you guess which superhero inspired Alanna Lucas’s Regency-era doppelgänger?

Find it on Amazon

~Excerpt~

“Why in bloody hell are you wearing breeches?”

Elizabeth pulled her arm from his grip. “It is rather difficult and impractical to sneak about in a dress.”

“Where have you been?” The words came out harsher than intended. Did she have no concept of danger?

“I believe you know the answer to that question, Captain Alexander, and you’re welcome.”

“That was you at Hell’s? You fired the pistol?” His temper flared. “What were you thinking? You could’ve been hurt.”

Elizabeth replied sharply, “I fared better than you.” Ignoring his question, she stated, “You’re bleeding.”

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing? Come here.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the window.

The warmth of her hand sent a bolt of desire through him. Pale moonlight caressed her upturned face and full pink lips. He wondered if her lips tasted as sweet as they looked. What in God’s name was he thinking? Control yourself. You’re here to protect her, nothing more.

Pulling his hand away, he sucked in his breath as desire and anger collided. “I cannot believe you were traipsing all over London at this time of night as if you were taking a stroll in the park.”

“It wasn’t all over London, and I know how to fend for myself.”

“That’s beside the point.” He softened his tone. Every word he spoke was laced with concern. “Elizabeth, what were you doing at Hell’s Gaming House?”

“One of the letters I decoded mentioned the gaming house. I decided Fulcher might have some answers. Clearly I was not off the mark since you believed so as well.”

Rubbing the back of his neck, Grant tried to reason with her. “You can not go gallivanting all over the place. You’re the daughter of a viscount.”

“I know very well whose daughter I am. I don’t need you to remind me of it.” She took a step closer. The pleading tone in her voice went straight to his core. “Don’t you see? I don’t want to be just the daughter of a viscount. I want a life of my own choosing. I’m not some simpering miss.”

“No, you’re definitely not.” His gaze traveled over her face, settling on her brown eyes filled with intelligence and independence of spirit. A rapid thumping pounded against his chest. Time seemed to stand still, wrapping them in a blanket of moonlight.

“Grant,” she whispered his name as she brushed her fingers across his sore cheek.

About the Author

Alanna Lucas writes sweet, spicy, seductive historical romances. When not daydreaming of her next hero and bygone eras, Alanna can be found reading, spending time with family, or plotting her next travel destination. For more information about Alanna and her novels please visit her website- www.alannalucas.com

Twitter  Facebook   Pinterest   Amazon Author Page  Newsletter

 

Tragically Orphaned Lady Makes Surprise Appearance at Ball

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, Lady in Blue (1874)

You’re reading it here first, ladies and gentlemen of the ton. Lady Margaret Folton appeared in person at the Harrison gala evening last wearing a confection of pale blue and cream lace. This reporter is just as stunned as you are and would not have put pen to paper without seeing the truth of it with my very own eyes.

We all know the confirmed spinster’s tragic tale of how she became an orphan – her parents, the Earl and Countess of Breckenshire and victims of Madame Guillotine – and have treated her noted absence from society with careful and due consideration. Having been forced to witness her parents’ execution, it is understood that Lady Folton would keep to herself. After all, we outstanding and illustrious members of society can understand the enormity of such an event on a child so small.

But last evening, we saw nothing of the tragically orphaned child or of the reclusive spinster. No, indeed. Lady Margaret Folton gained the floor with practiced ease and earned respect. Every head turned to take her in just as every breath held in anticipation. She was the very princess of children’s fairy tales, standing on the edge of a ballroom waiting for her story to begin.

But alas, marriage-minded mamas, I leave you with this grave note. Lady Folton was seen partnering with none other than Viscount Pemberly, the gloriously decorated naval captain, newest addition to our ranks, and this season’s most desired match. So be ware, mamas. It appears the previously thought confirmed spinster is stepping down from the shelf.

To Save a Viscount

by Jessie Clever

When an assassin threatens England’s spy network, Lady Margaret Folton must find the killer before it’s too late. Hardened from being forced to witness the murder of her British spy parents by French revolutionists, Margaret approaches this mission like any other, with steely determination and a resolute focus on the necessary outcome at the cost of all else.

Commodore John Lynwood, newly returned from the Mediterranean, finds himself granted the title of viscount in honor of his service during the war. Plagued with a string of good luck throughout his life, the title serves as another reminder that Jack has done nothing to earn the glory and prestige that comes with his position, and he’ll be damned if he’ll enjoy such an honor.

But when Jack is accidentally granted a title meant to be used as bait to lure the assassin into the War Office’s trap, Margaret must face the tragedy of her past and decide which is more important: the assignment or love?

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Nook | iBooks | Google Play | Smashwords

Now available on audio!

The books in the Spy Series:

1/2. Inevitably a Duchess (A prequel novella)
1. Son of a Duke
2. For Love of the Earl
3. A Countess Most Daring
4. To Save a Viscount

Excerpt

London
August 1815

He had grown so accustomed to the sound of gunfire that he did not hear the shot that was meant to kill him.

This would have worried Richard Black, the Duke of Lofton, if he had had time to think on it. But as the situation inherently required immediate action, prolonged and abstract thinking on the subject was neither prudent nor wise. So he refrained. Instead, he wondered whom it was that smashed into him at incredible speed, sending him tumbling backwards off the walk along the Thames and into the bitter, black water below.

He had been meeting his contact there along the water at an unholy hour, and darkness had lain all about him. The exchange had gone as planned, and he now held the knowledge that he knew would prove key to his current assignment with the War Office. But as the inky water of the Thames closed over his head, he wondered if he would ever get that information to the necessary people.

And then as the last of the light disappeared, he thought of Jane, his wife. His Jane. He did not think of her in specific instances or certain memories that lay in his mind. He thought of her in pieces. Her smell. Her laugh. The sound her hair made as she brushed it at night. The way she always laid her hand on top of his whenever they should find themselves sitting next to one another. Her amazing talents with chestnut roasters.

He would have laughed if such an action would not speed up the inevitable drowning that suddenly became all too real, flushing thoughts of Jane from his mind. His arms began to push against the water as his feet began to pulse, driving him toward the surface. Only he did not move. Whoever it was that had slammed into him still held him about the waist, dragging him deeper into the water. He began to struggle, the need for air and life and Jane surging through his veins in a way he had never felt before.

And then a hand brushed against his cheek, and slender fingers came to rest across his mouth. He wanted to open his eyes, but he knew it would do no good in the black water. But he let the feeling of his attacker’s hand brush against his skin, the shape of it press into his face, the narrowness of limb and the delicate arch of bone.

It was a woman who held him beneath the water.

And he stopped struggling.

About the Author

Jessie decided to be a writer because the job of Indiana Jones was already filled.

Taking her history degree dangerously, Jessie tells the stories of courageous heroines, the men who dared to love them, and the world that tried to defeat them.

Jessie makes her home in the great state of New Hampshire where she lives with her husband and two very opinionated Basset Hounds. For more, visit her website at jessieclever.com.

Connect with Jessie…

Facebook | Twitter | Intstagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

Get a free book when you sign up for Jessie’s Newssheet 

Vauxhall Vixens: A Sneak Peak at Peter and Alice’s story

Peter de Luca, violinist, had been employed at the Royal Vauxhall Gardens for nearly a week before he caught sight of the lady gardener. She was tall, her dark hair caught up in a white cap, and wore a brown apron over her dark gray skirt. He had seen few females at Vauxhall in the afternoons before the gates opened, and this one stood out from the rest because she seemed to have authority over the other gardeners. He saw her unrolling a sketch and giving instructions to two young men who listened respectfully and showed no signs of resentment at being ruled by a woman. She wasn’t simply a supervisor, however, as he later saw her viciously attack a shrub with a shovel and her own considerable strength.

“A strong one, for a filly,” said a voice behind him.

Peter wheeled around to find himself facing a short, rather stout gray-bearded man with friendly brown eyes and an approving smile.

“Nathaniel Stephens,” he said, extending his hand. “I have the honor of being head gardener here. Miss Crocker there is my assistant.”

Peter shook his hand and nodded. “She is at that,” he agreed. “Miss Crocker. She’s not married, then,” he observed.

Mr. Stephens cocked his head and gave Peter a speculative look. “Calls herself a spinster. Lives with her grandfather. Wouldn’t take no guff from any man, not my Alice.”

Peter raised an eyebrow. “I’m quite sure no man would dare to.” Her name is Alice.

The older man chuckled. “Don’t get me wrong. Alice is a lovely, sweet-tempered young woman. Would make some lucky man an excellent wife,” he added, with a side-long glance at Peter. “But I told her when I hired her that she’d have to be iron-fisted from the start. Demand respect and all that. Men don’t usually like taking orders from a woman, but they come to respect her. Gal’s real talent is design. She could go far if she were a man.” He rubbed his chin. “Might do it even so,” he added.

Peter nodded and was about to respond when he heard the first notes of instruments being tuned. “Peter de Luca,” he said, by way of introduction. “Violinist. Rehearsal time, so I must go. Honored to meet you, Mr. Stephens.”

“Nathaniel.”

The old man had a twinkle in his eye, and Peter suspected he had matchmaking on his mind. Too bad, because Peter could not consider marriage… at least not until he’d cleared his name.

***

Alice found her feet tapping in time to the music of the orchestra rehearsal while she inspected the site for the new illumination, which would honor the new Duke of Wellington after his victory over Bonaparte at the Battle of Paris. If only the designer had included the measurements! It was difficult to decide how to arrange the plantings without some inkling of the space requirements. With luck, the fellow himself would arrive soon, since the spectacle was planned to open the next day.

Miss Catherine Stephens, Vauxhall soprano

Miss Stephens must be singing tonight, she thought as she found herself humming the tune of the popular Northumberland ballad about a brave lass who rowed out in a storm to save her shipwrecked sailor beau.

O! merry row, O! merry row the bonnie, bonnie bark, 

Bring back my love to calm my woe, 

Before the night grows dark. 

She liked the idea of a woman rescuing her man instead of the other way around. It might seem romantic to be rescued by a handsome prince, but one could not always be a damsel in distress, could one?  Alice knew from her mother’s marriage that there was no happiness or romance in a marriage where one partner held all the power. She herself had no intention of placing herself in the power of any man. She would be responsible to no one but herself… and perhaps her employer, as long as she was permitted to work for a living. A pinched expression came over her face. She could work as well as any man, better than some, in fact. Why did so many men feel threatened by that?

Tucking the rolled-up plans under her arm, she made her way down the covered walk toward the Orchestra building to check on the new flowerbeds, unconsciously swinging her head to the music.

A storm arose the waves ran high, the waves ran high, the waves ran high,

And dark and murky was the sky, the wind did loudly roar,

But merry row’d, O! merry row’d the bonnie, bonnie bark,

O! merry row’d the bonnie, bonnie bark

And brought her love on shore.

When the music stopped, she smiled her appreciation to the musicians, most of whom she knew by sight. There was a new violinist, though—one whose dark good looks even she could not ignore—and he was staring right at her!

I must look a mess, she thought, her hand moving involuntarily to her hair. The band struck up another tune and she came to her senses.

Don’t be a nitwit, Alice! You’re a gardener and gardeners get dirt on them. 

Why did she care what a musician thought of her? In any case, it was rude to stare, and staring back could be mistaken for an invitation for dalliance. She’d learned to take care not to show too much friendliness to any of the men, and even then it was tricky.

She took a turn to the left and nearly barreled into her supervisor, who was arranging potted plants in eating-area.

“Whoa! Best watch where you’re a-goin’, Miss Alice. Were you dreamin’ of an admirer? Or perhaps it was that new violinist, Mr. de Luca. Showed some interest in ‘the lady gardener,’ he did.”

He did? 

Alice felt heat creeping across her cheeks. Not for the first time, she lamented her inability to control her blushes. The last thing she wanted was to encourage Mr. Stephens in his matchmaking. A happily-married man himself, he had a tendency to wish the married state on those around him as well.

“A new violinist? I had not noticed,” she lied.

Mr. Stephens chuckled.

Page 1 of 5

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén