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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!






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.



Mysterious strangers at the Biblio

On Saturday last, your intrepid Teatime Tattler reporter dared the hallowed halls of the Biblio Club, a quiet and discreet gentleman’s club just off St James Street. It had come to our attention that two new authors had been added to the ranks of our benefactors, the Bluestocking Belles, and that their characters might, or might not, be out on the town to celebrate.

Having managed to gain entrance, I took a seat in a shadowy corner and awaited developments.

No sooner was I settled, than the door opened again. A captain in full dress uniform entered. “Thank you Crosby. Beastly night out there. I’ll be glad of some whisky by the fire, please.”

Before crossing the room, the captain looked around, watchful eyes cataloguing the room. And while he did, another newcomer, a blond man with a gold earring and a slight limp, took the place the captain had marked as his own.

One of the chairs by the fire was already occupied, by a fair man in full evening dress: His coat and breeches—of a midnight-blue silk velvet, with a deep band of embroidery on each side on the cuffs—fitted him as if painted on his broad shoulders and muscular thighs. Snow-white lace foamed at his neck and cuffs, matching his pure white stockings with silver clocking. His waistcoat was embroidered, near-painted, in a riotous multi-colour pattern on a salmon pink ground to match the roses in the coat’s embroidery.

The black armband was an incongruous touch. The ton was used to it now, and regarded it as an affectation. But the Marquess of Aldridge sincerely mourned the loss of his mistress.

A glint of gold in the firelight was not normally the cause of second glance in this place, but when it dangled from from an ear – of a man, no less – it caused eyebrows to raise.

The blond-headed man ignored it all, his slight limp almost imperceptible as he moved through the room with the aid of an ebony cane. He rested his hand lightly on the silver pommel. Those who knew Captain Hardacre knew it was swordstick, but he was not challenged, not on a night like this.

Without a by-your-leave, the newcomer took a chair by the fire opposite the young dandy with the rose embroidered coat. At a glance the two men might have been mistaken for twins. Hardacre lifted his chin and caught the other man’s attention.

“Dear chap, you must give me the name of your tailor.”

“I would,“ Aldridge replied, “But then I would have to kill you. Brandy, dear chap?”

Hardacre inclined his head to accept.

His palm rubbed the pommel of his cane, a proxy for the ache in his leg. The jewellery on his fingers caught Aldridge’s attention – particularly the one on his index finger. It was a ring of silver mounted with a square carnelian, blood red in hue. Into it had been set a gold scimitar.

“An unusual jewel,” the man commented.

“I took it from the man I killed.”

“An easier trophy to wear than a shrunken head,” Aldridge replied.

Hardacre grinned. “Perhaps we’ve sparred enough to be introduced. I’m Captain Christopher Hardacre.”

“Aldridge,” the other said, returning the grin and extending a hand.

The door opened again, letting in two gentlemen. “Rather impressive company isn’t it?” The Earl of Chadbourne looked up at his friend, but the Marquess’s ice blue eyes focused on the officer standing the far side of the room. “What is it Richard?” Chadbourne asked.

“A newcomer,” he murmured studying the man with as if he might probe the secrets of his soul.

“But not unknown to you, I’ll warrant.” The Earl shook his head. Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, knew everything, or so it seemed.

“Did you doubt it, Will? I wonder what Campion is doing in London?” the Marquess said. He handed his hat to the doorman and set out to find out.

“Thank you Crosby,” the earl said, following suit before following his friend.

Richard Campion halted in the act of taking a seat in a quiet corner. “Glenaire?” His gaze searched the room, noting the other men present then fixed on the Marquess. Campion started forward, meeting the other man more than half way. “By all that’s holy.” He clasped Glenaire about the shoulders in a rare public display. “What devilment has brought you away from the lofty heights of White’s?”

“I find the Biblio more conducive to quiet conversation and the clientele most interesting, present company included. Are you a guest tonight or have you obtained a membership?”

Garrick of Clan MacLaren fell through the doorway, collided with a well-dressed figure who had opened the door, and fell upon the floor. Laughter rumbled from the man who followed him, the man’s hand extended to assist Garrick to his feet.

“Easy now, Garrick. The first few minutes once you have traveled through time can be startling,” Dristan of Berwyck laughed as he slapped Garrick upon his back.

Garrick gasped. “Ye canna be tellin’ me we are like those future gals that continue to show up at yer gates, me laird.”

“Aye…” Dristan mused aloud looking the doorman up and down. “I can see I have once more traveled to some point in the future.”

“Ye have been here afore?” Garrick asked.

“Although I did not care for it overly much, Riorden de Deveraux and I slipped through time long ago but ’twas to some bookshop and an inn.”

Garrick crossed himself. “How shall we return to Berwyck, my laird?”

“These things seem to work themselves out. For now, let us join the other men by the fire. If I recall they serve a find brandy.”

Garrick was unsure if he wished to enter the room or go out the way he came in fear of where else he might end up. He made to follow Dristan ’til the man closing the door spoke up.

“My lord, perhaps you would like to leave your cape with me,” he suggested.

“Your name,” Dristan inquired with his hand upon the hilt of his sword.

“Crosby… at your service.”

Dristan took the cloak from his shoulders and nodded to Garrick to do the same. “I expect its return upon our departure.”

Crosby nodded. “Of course, my lord.”

“Come along, Garrick. Let us join the other men for a drink.”

“Aye, me laird,” Garrick replied. He hesitated but a moment afore he took a deep breath, handed his garment to Crosby and stepped forward wondering what this future world had in store for him.

Aldridge, who had met Dristan before, raised his brandy glass to him, and nodded, then introduced him and Hardacre. Soon the two medieval gentlemen, the sea raider, and the marquess were sharing tales and brandy.

A dark man, tall and moustached, walked in, gazing around the dimly-lit room as he softly closed the door.

Still frozen from his ride, although he’d already groomed and bedded Charro down in a stallion box, Xavier moved closer to the fire and turned his back to the roaring blaze, his fingers spread wide behind him to better warm them.

“I’d appreciate a little of that warmth, sir,” Aldridge said to the man in the fringed leather coat – no, a shirt surely – who had just blocked all the heat from the fire by standing in front of it.

He raised an amused eyebrow when the man turned. “Aldridge,” he introduced himself. “And my new friend Captain Hardacre. You would be?”

“Arguello, Xavier Arguello, of Rancho de las Pulgas”

Xavier reached out a hand and Aldridge returned his firm grip, then shook the captain’s as well.

“From Spain? How fares your land under the invader?”

“No,“ Xavier grinned, and perused their surroundings, “from what I daresay would have been nearer to your American colonies. From California. As to invasions, we haven’t had much of an invasion since the Americans took it from Mexico, but there are an awful lot of previous gold seekers now claiming land… some of it ours… and Southerners looking to make it Confederate… but you don’t want to hear about that now.” Xavier ducked his head in apology.

Aldridge glanced at Glenaire, who was watching them from across the room. Interesting, but more in Glenaire’s field of expertise than his own.

Richard cast Glenaire a glance before shifting his stance to more closely observe the newcomer. He’d read about the Spanish colonies on the west coast of the New World, but he’d never met anyone from that location.

Glenaire considèrs his options. He planned to feel Campion out about the Duke of Margis, but reconsidered in the face of this gentleman from California. The Biblio frequently had visitors from unusual places—and times—but could this one be trusted? Xavier caught his look and nodded, then turned toward him.

Richard raised his brow at Glenaire who shrugged then sat. Waiting as Aruguello approached, Richard smiled and gestured to an empty chair between him and Glenaire. “Please join us.”

“Thank you, Gentlemen,” Xavier said, sitting and awaiting developments.

An amiable gentleman joined them and handed a goblet of brandy to Glenaire before taking a seat. I’m Chadbourn. I understand you gentlemen are new to our lovely club. Let me be one of the first to welcome you. My friends (he nods toward Glenaire) call me Will.

Xavier stood and extended his hand. “Thank you for the welcome, Will. I’m Xavier. It’s been a long… ride, I think” he said, with a furrow of his brow. “I seem to have fallen into a different time, as I once did, when I met… ahh… her Grace the Duchess of Haverford, I believe it was. Have any of you made her acquaintance, or have missed her time altogether?”

Richard introduced himself and nodded to Chadbourn. “I’m sorry to say I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting the Duchess of Haverford, though I know of her, of course.”

Will grined. “Once you meet the Duchess of Haverford, you don’t forget her. Eleanor is a formidable woman.” He raised his glass to Aldridge, who was listening without shame, and grinned back.

Richard scowled. “Certainly her reputation is better than the only duchess I know personally.”

Glenaire raises a haughty eyebrow. “Do tell…”

Richard leaned toward Glenaire and spoke in an undertone. “I know I can count on your discretion. Perhaps we could talk later about her Grace of Stonegreave.”

Glenaire nodded imperceptibly. The analytical engine that is his brain, filed the contact away. This man may be useful.

“Senor Arguello, tell us of this California. What is life like on your ranchero?” Campion asked. He’d just as soon not have duchesses as the topic of conversation lest the name of one particular duchess arise, as it always seemed to do. Even after several years in retirement at Stonegreave, talk of Marielle was still of interest to society.

“The Rancho de las Pulgas, it is called. South of San Francisco. My wife and I have just returned there… it’s been quite a few years. It’s the biggest old Spanish Land Grant in the western side of the San Francisco Bay Area. A few thousand horses, even more cattle, hay, and grain. A nice spread.“ He added in an undertone, “I never thought to see it again.”

Undoubtedly the gentlemen continued their fascinating conversations, and perhaps in time the two groups merged. But alas, I could not stay to observe, having been noticed in my quiet corner by the estimable Crosby and escorted, none too gently, to the door.


Welcome to New Belles:

Rue Allyn and Lizzi Tremayne

The Teatime Tattler is delighted to welcome Rue Allyn’s hero from The French Duchess, Richard Campion, and Lizzi Tremayne’s hero from her Long Trails series, Xavier Arguello. May we and our readers enjoy many happy hours watching them through these pages and the pages of the books they inhabit.

We invite you to take the time to learn more about Rue and her books, and Lizzi and hers, by clicking on the links in the previous paragraph.


Just in from our anonymous correspondent in the village of Little Tilling, Berkshire, we have news of a shocking event, which has recently taken place at Tillingford Castle.

It would seem that Lady Alyse Barrington, younger sister of Hunter Barrington, Duke of Melton, (both of whom are currently guests at Tillingford Castle) has been involved in an incident where her safety, nay even her life, it would appear, has been threatened. The staff at the Castle were quick to let their family and friends in the village know of the events of yesterday, although the reports are not entirely clear.

What is known is that Lady Alyse disappeared for some time, and returned looking shaken, escorted by Lord Tillingford himself. A conversation (overheard by the footman who happened to be posted near the parlour door) between the Baron, the Duke, his Duchess and Lady Alyse, immediately afterwards, gave clear indication that a madman of some sort was involved, a man who believed that he was acting for justifiable revenge. Some, including the Innkeeper at the Rose and Wren, say that the man in question arrived with the gypsies who camped on Little Tilling Green some months ago, others report that he was actually employed in the Castle. Whatever the truth of that, our correspondent has not yet been able to determine. We are left with the question – what could any of the noble residents have done, to draw the retribution of a madman?

It seems, also, that Lady Alyse was rescued, in a heroic fashion. The identity of the rescuer was not clear, as the footman was disturbed when that was mentioned, but he believes it to have been Baron Tillingford himself! Later that day, the magistrate was seen to visit Tillingford Castle, and a heavily guarded man was escorted away. The magistrate has, so far, refused to confirm or deny anything.

Our correspondent is seeking further information, and attempting to verify the details of these startling events, even as we go to print. What is our nation coming to, when ladies are not safe, even in the ancestral homes of the nobility?

Loving the Bitter Baron

A Baron left embittered by war, a Lady who sees the man he once was, a madman bent on revenge, a daring rescue, a love stronger than fear.

Gerald Otford, Baron Tillingford, returned from war a bitter man, forever changed by the things he had done, out of necessity. Things that he can never discuss, and which no woman could ever know of without turning away in horror. Certain that he would always be alone, he turned his attention to his estates.

Lady Alyse Barrington, sister to Lord Tillingford’s closest friend, has always been drawn to him, no matter the darkness that seems to tarnish his brightness, no matter the way that he remains aloof. The more men she meets, the more certain she becomes that there is only one man for her. All she has to do is break through his self-imposed isolation…

When the needs of his estate bring Lady Alyse and her brothers to his home, a madman sees the chance to enact his long-planned revenge. Can Lord Tillingford overcome his bitterness and withdrawal in time to save the woman he has come to love, despite himself? Can Lady Alyse accept him for the man that he is, or will his worst fears be realised?

Loving the Bitter Baron: His Majesty’s Hounds Book 11

Clean Regency Romance

Amazon link – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079MC7N1R

All books in this series can be read as standalone, but you will have the best reading experience if you read them in order (get caught up in the lives of your favourite characters!) Each features a separate couple, but you will also see characters from previous books make an appearance.

Meet Arietta

Arietta Richmond has been a compulsive reader and writer all her life.  Whilst her reading has covered an enormous range of topics, history has always fascinated her, and historical novels have been amongst her favourite reading.

She has written a wide range of work, from business articles and other non-fiction works (published under a pen name) but fiction has always been a major part of her life.  Now, her Regency Historical Romance books are finally being released. The Derbyshire Set is comprised of 10 novels (7 released so far). The ‘His Majesty’s Hounds’ series is comprised of 14 novels, with the eleventh having just been released.

She also has a standalone longer novel shortly to be released, and two other series of novels in development.

She lives in Australia, and when not reading or writing, likes to travel, and to see in person the places where history happened.

Be the first to know about it when Arietta’s next book is released!

Sign up to Arietta’s newsletter at


When you do, you will receive two free subscriber exclusive books – ‘A Gift of Love’, which is a prequel to the Derbyshire Set series, and ends on the day that ‘The Earl’s Unexpected Bride’ begins, and ‘Madame’s Christmas Marquis’ which is an additional story in the His Majesty’s Hounds series

These stories are not for sale anywhere – they are absolutely exclusive to newsletter subscribers!

Desires of the heart…

Garrick of Clan MacLaren burst through the turret door whilst rushing after the distraught woman as she ran towards the battlement wall. Lady Coira Easton almost collided with a kitchen serf who quickly moved out of her way. His eyes briefly met Fira’s as they passed one another on the narrow stairs but he had no time to worry over the troublesome look she gave him. He had bigger problems on his mind than to wonder what she was doing so far from Berwyck’s kitchens.

He hurried to Coira’s side. “Dinnae worry yerself, lass. We shall think of something,” he whispered suddenly finding his arms full when his lady reached out to him for support. He could do nothing less but clutch her trembling body to his own. “Please, Coira… I canna stand yer tears.”

“’Tis hopeless, Garrick,” she sobbed. “If my cousin will not give his consent for us to wed, he will marry me to another. How will I bear it?”

How indeed, he thought remembering his meeting with Dristan of Berwyck. His laird had warned Garrick that his life would be all but over if he so much as touched the hem of Coira’s gown. And now here he was with his arms wrapped around his lady offering her what comfort he could.

“Hush now, my sweet. Dry yer eyes. I willna have this upsetting ye.” Coira lifted her head and he witnessed for himself her tear filled eyes. He swore his heart broke all over again and he could not imagine a life without this woman at his side. He pushed back a lock of her hair when it fell across her face and laid a kiss upon her forehead.

“I cannot marry another, Garrick,” she said, echoing his own thoughts, “not when my hearts desire is to belong only to you.”

“’Twill not come to that, I promise ye.”

“You cannot make such a vow, my love, and I will not hold you to it. You know my cousin better than most. When his mind is made up, he will not change his decision for me to marry no less than a knight.”

“I will make him see reason, Coira, and prove my worth upon the lists,” Garrick proclaimed. “Trust me…”

She gave a heavy sigh. “You know I do with my very life, Garrick. Now kiss me as a token of your affection for I must needs return to Amiria’s solar afore I am missed,” she insisted as she closed her eyes and leaned back her head.

He wasted no time claiming the lady who more than proved her own desires when he deepened their kiss. He was unsure how long they stood there wrapped up in their own little world but the sound of Coira’s name being called from the turret stairs broke the spell woven around them. Not wishing to be caught opening disobeying his liege lord, he reluctantly pulled Coira from his arms.

“I must go,” she declared even though her eyes told him she would rather stay. “I will see you at the evening meal.”

He could only nod in response, not trusting himself to have further speech with the lady. Instead he watched her leave to disappear down the stairway. Garrick leaned his arms against the battlement wall, lost in thought, ’til he felt a hand upon his arm. He did not expect to see Fira at his side. Her eyes were swimming like pools of jealousy for she clearly could not mask the emotions etched upon her mutinous face.

“What is it, Fira?” he asked, almost hating to hear her answer. She had been bothersome of late with hopes that there was something between them. He was unsure where she had gotten such a notion for he had been nothing but polite to her in the past.

“What does that outsider have that I do not,” Fira hissed.

“I willna discuss the Lady Coira with ye,” he answered, hoping she would let the matter rest. Such was not going to be the case.

“Ye shall regret not taking me up on me offer, Garrick. ’Tis best tae stay with yer own kind instead of thinking ye can wed someone above yer station.”

Garrick scowled, her words thrusting into his heart like a dagger. He did not need Fira to remind him that he was only the clan’s piper and not a knight. “Dinnae be daft, Fira. I have already told ye I am not interested in what ye offer tae any of the men who pass through Berwyck’s gates. Be off with ye and mind yer own business,” he snapped harshly as he lost what little patience he had left.


Fira gave a laugh. “Ye best remember me words, Garrick,” she answered leaning her shoulder upon the wall and crossing her arms.

“If ye willna leave me in peace, then stay and enjoy yer view,” Garrick huffed. He gave her no further thoughts and made his way back to the Great Hall. He would have been troubled to learn just what the woman had in store for him and his future.

This is an original piece by Sherry Ewing. Garrick and Coira can be found in The Piper’s Lady in the Bluestocking Belles’ box set Never Too Late.

The Piper’s Lady

True love binds them. Deceit divides them. Will they choose love?

Lady Coira Easton spent her youth traveling with her grandfather. Now well past the age men prefer when they choose a wife, she has resigned herself to remain a maiden. But everything changes once she arrives at Berwyck Castle. She cannot resist a dashing knight who runs to her rescue, but would he give her a second look?

Garrick of Clan MacLaren can hold his own with the trained Knights of Berwyck, but as the clan’s piper they would rather he play his instruments to entertain them—or lead them into battle—than to fight with a sword upon the lists. Only when he sees a lady across the training field and his heart sings for the first time does he begin to wish to be something he is not.

Will a simple misunderstanding between them threaten what they have found in one another or will they at last let love into their hearts?

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Mrs. Bingham Tries Again

BinghamHalf-Moon Street, London, 27th August, 1813

My dear Celeste,

I trust your esteemed mama improves in health so that you may soon be free to return to Town, for you are missing the Event of the year. You must know that even we married ladies are all aflutter since the arrival of a certain French gentleman in our midst. Monsieur de Montailhac is the brother-in-law of Sir Richard Hartford, and the son of a French marquis and his wife – a Turkish princess, no less. These details I have from Cecilia Hartford, who is only too ready to boast of her handsome guest.

Indeed, Celeste, I have now been present at two events where the gentleman also figured. I feel such pangs of jealousy against Cecilia, who can feast her eyes on this marvel of masculine beauty every day. He casts even Lord Byron into the shade. His hair is raven black, like his eyes. Oh, such fascinating almond eyes, with a constant roguish twinkle. And his smile makes one forget who and where one is! To the advantages of a trim figure, he adds impeccable style and a delicious French accent that charms us all.

Of course, that odious cousin of Cecilia’s, Mrs Bingham, swoops on the poor man, pushing her poor plain little Lydia at him. [The only man who ever notices Lydia is Jack Barrowman and Mrs B considers him a rustic. She would do well to accept the match for her daughter. It is already Lydia’s third season, is it not?]

And by chance, a little later that day I was in Charters Square in Soho to make a purchase at the showroom of the fine silversmith there, when I espied Monsieur de Montailhac [his name is Arnaut, is it not delightful?] coming out of that very shop, in company with a pretty young lady. They stood and spoke for a time, while I pretended to inspect the goods in the display window. Then he kissed her hand and the smile they exchanged was so intimate, I felt ashamed to be spying on them.

It seems Mrs B is doomed to yet another disappointment over her daughter. But if you wish to see our handsome Frenchman, you should in truth come back soon.

Yr affectionate friend,

BinghamAbout the Book

Arnaut de Montailhac’s reputation as a charming rake is well established. Secretly, he longs for a role where he could shine on merit. Perhaps the political events of the summer of 1813 will give him that opportunity.  But when his first official task is to seduce a beautiful young spy, Arnaut suspects he is considered to be nothing more than a charming fribble. However, events quickly turn nasty and he sets off on a quest, determined to prove his true worth. Louise Fauriel, hardworking member of a family of Huguenot silversmiths, is the complete opposite of Arnaut. Linked by the need to smuggle letters from the Bourbon king in exile at Hartwell House to Arnaut’s father, the unlikely pair travel between France and England, with Napoleon’s vengeful agents never more than one step behind. In the desperate race to succeed in this mission, even a rake has no time for love.

Excerpt:       A rake in peril from the ladies

Behind his fixed smile, Arnaut was fuming. He and Richard had taken refuge in the drawing room to settle their plans for the afternoon when Cecilia swept in with a group of ladies. It was evident she was determined to show off her French visitor. Everywhere he looked, he saw ladies nodding and smiling at him. He felt like one of the horses he had seen exhibited at Tattersalls the other day. Servants appeared with tea and cakes. Arnaut was horrified. How could he escape? Yet in less than thirty minutes it would be three o’clock, time for his meeting with Pierre D’Escury in Soho.

He found himself sandwiched between a formidable matron and her shockingly plain daughter. Not for the first time, he regretted his ability to attract ladies. The girl was gazing at him with a sort of dazed intensity, as if he was a rare item in a museum. Arnaut cast an urgent look at Richard, seated in the window alcove beside an elderly lady wearing a monstrous bonnet. Richard met his eye and gave a faint, apologetic smile. No help from him, then.

Now Cecilia came to stand in front of them. ‘How delightful to see you such good friends already with our guest, Cousin Chastity,’ she trilled. ‘I am sure Monsieur de Montailhac is telling you all about the latest Paris fashions.’

In spite of his growing frustration, Arnaut had to swallow a laugh. Nobody could help the name their parents gave them but ‘Chastity’ did not sit well on this large and opulently endowed lady. She turned towards him and beamed. ‘He is making acquaintance with my dear Lydia here. So charming.’

Lydia nodded and wriggled without taking her eyes from his face. Did the girl have any conversation, he wondered, or was she simply her mother’s puppet? He was hemmed in by these three females. He would have felt less threatened among a hostile crowd at a prize fight. Thankfully, someone else addressed Cecilia and she was obliged to move away.

The clock on the mantelpiece struck the hour. Arnaut gave a silent groan. Think, dammit! he told himself. You have to escape without giving offence. He gave an exaggerated start and stood up, pretending to check the time.

‘More tea, Monsieur de Montailhac?’ Cecilia hastened back, blocking his way. This began to seem like a conspiracy. But he was going to escape. He smiled his most charming smile and handed her his cup, still untouched.

‘Thank you, no. I regret, but I am obliged to take my leave,’ he insisted over her shocked protests. ‘In such charming company I had almost forgotten that I’m engaged to spend this afternoon with an elderly friend of my father’s. He is housebound and so you appreciate I cannot disappoint him.’ It was not so far from the truth. He turned and bowed in the grand style his father had taught him. ‘Ladies, I am desolated but I cannot stay.’

He was aware of the sudden silence and the heads turning to follow him. Straight backed, he marched out of the room, letting out a deep breath once the door had closed behind him.

You can buy the book here       https://tinyurl.com/yaf6frr3

The Rake and His Honour, Arnaut’s story, is the second book in the Montailhac Family series. The first brother’s story is told in Scandalous Lady.   https://tinyurl.com/y978tol5

About the Author

Beth ElliottMy Welsh side has given me a vivid imagination which tends to overwhelm my practical Lancashire side. From a very young age I made up adventure stories and persuaded my childhood friends to act them out with me. When I had to join the real world I was a Languages teacher in several countries before giving in to the urge to write stories. A lifelong love of Mr Darcy Jane Austen inspired me to set my Regency Tales in the age of Napoleon. As I enjoy travelling around the Mediterranean, my characters tend to do the same. But they also go to London, Bath and Brighton, where adventures befall them, even when they try to live a normal Regency era life.

There are notes and pictures – and more information about the slightly exotic Montailhac family – at www.bethelliott.webs.com

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