Home of the Bluestocking Belles

Because history is fun and love is worth working for

Category: Guest author (Page 1 of 17)

A peer’s ceremonial robes

Peers wearing their robes and waving their coronets celebrate the coronation of the king

Good day, everyone.  Lady Eleanor Pringle from the London Penny Post coming to you today with a very interesting and captivating interview.  I had been in town recently gathering information for an upcoming article regarding the pomp and ceremony of parliament when I ran into a special someone at Ede and Ravenscroft.  It was none other than Dane Redford Lambourne,  Earl of Huntsbridge.  He had been visiting the shop to have his family’s ceremonial robes cleaned, having been just recently given the title of Earl due to the untimely passing of his brother, when we got to chatting about everything noble and peer-like.

E: What a pleasure it is to run into you, Lord Huntsbridge,  I thank you for allowing me to speak to you so candidly about all of this.

H: The pleasure is mine, Lady Eleanor.  It is lovely to meet you.

E:  First, I wish to offer my sincerest condolences on the loss of your brother, the third Earl of Hunstbridge.  I’m sure his passing was quite a shock.

H:  It was.  My family and I had just discussed the fact that he was always the one who was healthy while the rest of us battled colds and fevers throughout childhood.  That a fever should bring him low, well, yes… quite the shock.

E: And your having to carry the new title was probably a shock as well.

H:  Yes, and equally daunting,  It was never a task I’d aspired to, and never thought on much, being the second son.  I had thought Thomas would have carried the title until my father passed and then his titles would go to his son.  It was unfortunate that he never had that chance to see either come to fruition.

E: It is quite the pity.  But now that the title falls to you, how are you getting on?

H:  It has its advantages and disadvantages.  Aside from the change in status, I have my brother’s tasks to take over, mainly handling my family’s many estates.    I am lucky in that I have a dedicated staff, and my younger brothers are also helping with some of the work until I get the routine down, but it is a lot of responsibility.  And of course, I am not used to the new moniker and the gesturing that comes with it, so it has been awkward to say the very least.

E:  Oh, I don’t know, I would think having people show respect in bows and nods would be rather flattering.

H:  I am so used to gesturing to others that I never once thought about people doing it to me.  It was very bizarre initially.

E:  And I see you are visiting Ede and Ravenscroft.  What is the occasion?

H:  Once I moved into Lambourne House, I had the staff clean some things out and I came across the family robes and coronets.  Several of each, as it were.  Many of them are my fathers and grandfathers before him, so they had seen better days.  Eventually they will be mine as my father, Lord Coventry, has taken a step back from his duties in Lords due to his health and I felt I should have them cleaned and repaired where needed as they had been stuffed in storage for so many years.

E: The robe, though strongly scented of mothballs, is rather lovely.  Can you tell me about it?

H: Indeed.  It is a parliamentary robe that was made for my grandfather, who was the first Marquess Coventry.  I am told Master Arlo put it together for him in the late 1700s.  The body is made of scarlet wool and it’s trimmed in the white ermine fur with the requisite three and a half bars of gold brocade suited to his title.  On the ceremonial robe, which is rarely worn, it has three and a half rows of the ermine tail, you can see the black bits here,  and there are also gold clasps, inlaid with mother of pearl, that were a gift from a French diplomat.

E: I believe your family has origins in France, am I correct?

H: Oh yes, though it was years back before my grandfather.  Our family name is French.

E: And the coronet you have with you?

H:  It is so heavy.  I cannot imagine how men wear these awful contraptions.

*Lord Huntsbridge handed it to me and it was, indeed, very heavy.  Perhaps a half stone or more.

E: Oh my!  Ones neck much pain them for days after having to don it.  As someone who does not own and will never have occasion to wear a coronet, when do you wear such a thing?  And the robes?

H: It is another thing I shall never understand. Look at the fine detail of the coronet.  The artistry of the design.  All the small details.  And it must have cost a small fortune to produce.  These are real pearls.  All this cost and work put into something worn maybe once in one’s lifetime, and then its stuffed in a box and forgotten.

E: That’s tragic.  You would think something so lovely would be displayed.

H:  You know, you are right. I should devise a way to display these items.  Perhaps set up a small type of cabinet in the foyer at Lambourne House.  Otherwise, it is quite the shame, and a huge waste of money to let them mold in a box somewhere.

E;  That’s a wonderful idea,Lord Huntsbridge.  And perhaps like the country homes, you could open your foyer to visitors to view them.

H:  Another fabulous idea.  Though I am sure my family would disparage having strangers wandering in and out of the house in town while they are trying to get on with their day.  I could do with having them set up at Leighsham Park though.   That is my mother’s estate in Grantham.  There’s a lovely corner to the entrance that would lend itself to being a sort of display area.

E:  I am glad to have given you ideas to work with.  They are truly too lovely to hide away.  But getting back to my question, when do you wear such things?

H: I do beg pardon, I did not mean to let my thoughts wander.  The robes are worn more often than the coronets, to be sure.  The robe here is for Parliament.  They are worn during the opening ceremonies each term.  I also have this ceremonial robe, which is more richly crafted with the velvet and ermine trimmings.  The coronets are only worn at royal coronations, when a sovereign is crowned.  It’s all very lovely but personally, I think it’s a waste of money.  I mean, it’s a beautiful piece to have on hand, and the closest I shall ever come to feeling like I have a crown on my head, but to wear it?  I don’t see the point.  It’s heavy and uncomfortable, and when we do put it on, it’s rather pompous, don’t you think?

E:  I think it’s all rather regal actually.  So very noble.

H:  I suppose if you do not have one or have no chance to get one, it’s a different story.  Very much the grass being greener, as it were.

E: I would say so, yes.  So you say this was all in storage.  Do they have special boxes?

H: The robes, yes.  They are boxed in tissue and kept on a shelf in our safe out of the damp to avoid mildew.  The coronets, well…  this one, the oldest article in our family, once came in a box, but that box is now long gone.  I am sure it dissolved over time.  The rest were all just shelved in the safe with the robes.  No special boxes.  Someone had stuffed them each with tissue to keep their shape, but they are all so old.  That is why I’ve brought them in, to be cleaned.

E: And perhaps you shall be wearing them yourself soon enough.

H:  As I mentioned, my father has not been in the public eye of late because of his health, so I suppose it’s fair to say I am just preparing for the inevitable.

E:  I know you say they are only worn for coronation ceremonies, but have you ever tried them on in private?

H:  A gentleman never tells…

And with a wink, Lord Hunstbridge excused himself to deal with the clerk who was taking in his items to be cleaned and refurbished. 

What a charming young man, and so handsome!  I could easily see him wearing those robes.  And a coronet on that brow of his would only make him seem more noble than he already is.  He was very kind in speaking to me and offered that I stop by for tea so that I may meet the rest of the household.  Such a generous offer from the new Earl.  Hold onto your bonnets, ladies.  This one is a real charmer.

Earl of my Heart

Dane Redford Lambourne, now Earl of Huntsbridge, never thought to live a responsible, noble existence. Spending his nights as a privileged gentleman, carousing and enjoying the company of friends was the only life he ever aspired to until the sudden death of his brother thrust him into a world he never wanted and was not prepared to face.

Lady Nichola Crawford could care less if the fabric of her new evening dress matched her shoes or if any of the men at the upcoming ball even looked in her direction. She would sooner stay in the country and scour her father’s library than place herself on the marriage block to be picked at and prodded by the scant handful of ill-deserving men in London.

But a chance meeting at a local confectioner shop is all it takes to set off sparks between the man who vowed no woman would ever get under his skin and the woman who would do anything to deny the love she felt for the Earl of her heart.

Buy Link: http://smarturl.it/EOMH

Meet Victoria Oliveri

History has always fascinated me.  From an early age, I recall asking my grandparents and great-grandparents about their pasts, what it was like in other countries, and found myself enthralled with the old customs they adhered to.

As I grew older, I became a genealogist for my family and traveled abroad to see where my roots started.  Pouring over old pictures and documents was like a treasure hunt, keeping my attention down to the finest detail.  How events came to pass based on the actions of a few excited me to uncover, and what I found always opened paths to new information.

I also became involved in reenactment groups and found that immersing myself in living history was both intriguing and intrinsic to my love of telling stories of the past.  Details are fleshed out for my readers because I know how things feel, how they smell, and how they taste.  As if I had been there, through some amazing portal, and have come back to share what I have learned.

My love of world travel also helps round out my stories in ways I cannot imagine.  I have had in-depth conversations with conservators about ramparts at an abandoned Irish castle I found, and have felt the stone beneath my fingertips.  I have walked down the streets of Mayfair, imagining my characters strolling there beside me, and I have sat in King Henry’s kitchen at Hampton Court joyfully smelling the meat cooking on the hearth.  With each separate occasion, I learn more about history.  Being hands-on has made me see beyond what any book could tell me, and all of those moments to come will only help me to write stories that will intrigue and entice you.

Lady M Comes to Tea

You pour, dear; my hands are far too aquiver with the latest news. I would spill tea all over that lovely dress. What color would you say it is? Parma? Yes, very fetching.

Oh, but I haven’t the time to talk clothing. Except, did you see what Miss J— wore to… No, no, I’ve more important news to impart. We can talk about her later.

Now, you knew that Viscount Burbridge was engaged to Miss Archambault. Yes, the older daughter with the funny name, not the pretty little blonde one. It was quite sudden, you know, and we all thought there might be some reason for the rush, though as it turns out there’s no rush at all because the engagement has been broken! Yes! And while there’s been quite the hush about it, I have the inside story. Oh, is that seedcake? Just one, if you don’t mind. I must consider my figure. Gowns these days are not forgiving.

Where was I? Oh! Viscount Burbridge. The girl is unexceptional, but unexceptionable, so no worries there. But you know Burbridge’s younger brother, the Honorable G—? Well, it seems he’s the reason for scotching the engagement. Oh yes! What? No, no, nothing like… Wouldn’t that be something? But no, why go for the younger brother when you’ve got the son of an earl in the palm of your hand? The girl isn’t stupid. Odd, certainly, but there’s one of those every Season.

No, you see, the Honorable G— has been caught with his hands where they shouldn’t be! Indeed! They were setting him up as a match for Lady H.T. You know who I mean. And what does he do? Goes after her little sister instead! Lady E. And she encouraged it! Can you imagine? Not even out yet, that one, though I suppose close enough to. Even still, can’t condone it. Proves you can be a Lady and still not be a lady, if you understand my meaning.

Well, of course, the scandal. There’s no wonder Lord Averland put a stop to his daughter’s wedding plans. To connect to such a family, earldom or no. What a shame. Darley has always been a good name. I’m sure it will be again, but they’ll need to bury themselves in the country for a while.

Hm? Miss Archambault? Oh, I don’t know. I heard a neighbor offered for her. She could do worse, I suppose. She’s handsome enough, certainly, but all she ever wants to do is ride horses all day. I don’t know what kind of husband she’d be fit for, or what Viscount Burbridge possibly thought he was doing. Might be he’s had a lucky escape.

Yes, dear, just a little more, and some sugar, too, if you would.

Oh, but here’s another thing that’s happened. You’ve heard of Mr. Duncan Oliver? No? Well, he’s a nobody, really. I mean, a very nice young man, lost his parents fairly young. His servants practically raised him. Such an odd situation all around. But he’s disappeared. Yes! His friend George Fitzbert—of course you know George, everyone does—has been haring around asking questions, and even Oliver’s valet has been out looking. What’s stranger, the last people to visit Oliver were the Milne brothers. You know the Milnes. Well, no, not know them, but know of them. Quite the stir when they came to town. Last Milne to come to London was their father when he needed a wife, and no one’s been to Faebourne in I don’t know how long. The brothers weren’t here a week, and now they’ve gone and so has Mr. Duncan Oliver. No word of any kind. What do you make of that?

Thank you for the tea. I must go. That dress really is quite lovely. The color suits you, unlike that jonquil confection Miss J— was wearing. Looked like a walking dollop of lemon cream. Oh, but I haven’t the time to parse it. We’ll talk again soon. There’s always something exciting going on. I do so love London!

About Brynnde:

Brynnde Archambault’s father has given her an ultimatum: find a suitor during the London season or accept dull Mr. Dallweather’s offer. Brynnde believes she has found the answer to her problem in the form of the handsome and witty Viscount Burbridge, but then scandal strikes and scotches her plans.

Meanwhile, Brynnde has no trouble finding matches for her friends and even her own brother. But can she find love herself, or is she destined for spinsterhood?

About Lady M:

Lady M is a bluestocking of the worst kind but still a valued member of tea parties because she spins the best of tales. Read the full story of Brynnde now and look for Faebourne in the near future. http://pepperwords.com

On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/M-Pepper-Langlinais/e/B008FBOSPE/

A plea from a desperate sister

Dear Aunt Augusta,

My name is Poppy Wilson and I’m writing to you as a last ditch effort. I’m about at my wits end. I’m afraid my sister, Violet, is about to ignore a golden opportunity. You see, Thomas Jefferson’s landscaper arrived at our landscaping company the other day all the way from America and the man is supposed to spend all his time with Violet, learning about how she hybridizes roses.

Parker Sinclair is one of the most handsome men I’ve ever encountered, but both he and Violet pay me no mind, since I’m so young, at only fourteen. But who did my father turn to when Mr. Sinclair needed a wardrobe? (His trunk was ransacked in Portsmouth, by the way). Of course, it became my responsibility to properly outfit the man.

And Violet. What can I say? She’s got this unruly mass of curls that are out of control even before she begins her day in the humid greenhouse. She wears tired-out clothing that do nothing to enhance her appearance and she’s afraid to leave her greenhouse and even talk with men.

Well, now the gentleman is in her greenhouse, learning her techniques, which she’s shared with the Royal Horticultural Society hoping they’ll recognize that a woman is every bit as intelligent as a man. While I’m impressed with her findings and her experiments, I think she should pay attention to the gentleman she’s spending her days with. I’ve already cautioned her to tame her hair and wear proper dresses, but she ignores me.

It’s my hope that when Mr. Sinclair leaves for America again, he has a boatload of roses, a head full of knowledge and my sister, Violet. What can I do to make certain this happens?

Thanking you in anticipation

Poppy


Dear Poppy

How lovely of you to be concerned for your sister and her happiness. I think you need not despair, for the situation seems to me to be ripe with possibilities. Your sister is spending her days with a handsome man who is knowledgeable about and admires what she is doing; a heady combination, I assure you.

I understand your desire to help, my dear, but it has been my experience that a nudge in the wrong way at the wrong time can have precisely the opposite effect that the nudger might wish. Let the two of them spend their days working together, and see what happens. Love will find a way, Poppy. And it is love that you really wish for your sister, I am certain: that precious emotion that gilds the most unruly curls, covers a multitude of sartorial sins, and emboldens even the shyest of men and women.

I will watch with great interest for reports on who is in Mr Sinclair’s party when he returns to his own land. Believe me. All will be well.

With every good wish

Aunt Augusta.
(If your characters are in turmoil and confusion, Ask Aunt Augusta)

The Lady Banks rose, which Violet was cross-pollinating with the Scotch rose

Winning Violet

Everything’s coming up roses for an English miss and an American gentleman in this delightful new series from the author of the Cotillion Ball saga!

After British soldiers killed his wife and child during the War of 1812, Parker Sinclair vowed to never set foot on English soil. But as Thomas Jefferson’s landscaper, one must sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice. The last thing Parker expects to find is an educated English beauty who can teach him so much more than how to plant a magnificent garden.

An expert at cross-pollinating roses, Violet Wilson’s dreams of becoming the first woman recognized by the Royal Horticultural Society are fading because she’s afraid to leave the quiet solitude of her family’s nursery. Distrustful of men after a traumatic encounter, she’s not keen on disrupting her routine to help the American landscaper, but she soon blossoms under his kindness and respect.

As they fall in love, can this shrinking Violet take the risk of leaving behind all she knows for a new life with Parker? Or is he considering a different ending altogether?

The Scotch rose

Excerpt:

“Now comes the fun part.” Violet picked a small brush from her apron, carefully wiping it free of any lingering pollen. A blush crept into her cheeks as she explained the next step. “I load my brush with pollen from the Scotch rose and brush it over the sticky surface of the pistil. The sticky part is called the stigma.” With a few deft strokes, she brushed a small amount of pollen onto the plant.

Parker observed her carefully. “I should be writing this all down. Although it’s very similar to humans and how they reproduce, so I get the gist of it.” Her cheeks bloomed even pinker, as he suspected they would. Time to change the subject. “Is that all? One time and done?

The tinge in her cheeks grew deeper, almost a reddish hue. “Oh no. Once is never enough. I have to stroke on the pollen at least three or four times to assure it’s taken hold.”

“I see.” Parker stroked the leaves of the Lady Banks as his mind conjured up images best left alone.

Buy Link: Amazon

Meet Becky Lower

Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the United States in search of great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it in America on a covered wagon headed west or in Regency England. Her Cotillion Ball Series features the nine children from an upscale New York family prior to and during the Civil War. Her first Regency, A Regency Yuletide, received the Crowned Heart and has been nominated for the prestigious RONE award from InD’Tale Magazine. A regular contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After section, her books have been featured in the column on eight separate occasions. Becky loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com

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Samuel Clemens visits Roman Britain

“I did have such an odd Summer visitor,” remarked Branwen, as she rolled out pastry. She picked up a small container of dried lovage and sprinkled a small pinch on the plums in the pie dish, then drizzled honey over them.

“What happened, mother?” Quintus sneaked a plum meant for the pie, and sat back with a mug of watered wine. Gossip from the bath house at Pons Aelius was always worth a listen. He wasn’t due for guard duty on Hadrian’s Wall for a little while yet, so he relaxed, savouring the plum and his wine.

“Well, I was at the market, and took a shortcut up the alley, chatting to all the working girls. Then a dark tunnel opened in the sky, and right at my feet this man fell out. Dressed very strangely, and with an abundance of white hair. He seemed a bit lost, so I took him back to the bath house, and dressed him in some spare trousers and shirt, he didn’t want a toga.”

“Who was he?” Quintus raised an eyebrow. “A druid maybe? That sounds like druid magic to me.”

“Nay son. a scholar, he said, so a bit like Janet with her teaching ways. But curious! I’ve never seen a man poke his nose into so many things — and the questions!” Branwen put the pie in the oven part of the stone cooking area and poked the coals. “And eat, by Jupiter that man could eat — bigger appetite for the unusual than Trajan, and he can eat snails faster than any man I’ve met.”

Quintus nodded, looking a bit green. “Snails, the Romans are fond of some vile things. That fishy garum sauce they put on everything.”

“The Romans brought many good things too — dates, wine, oil, herbs and spices. Not to mention an army with money.” She glanced at her son, admiring how he looked in his Roman uniform. It had been a good choice, he and his brother joining the Roman legions.

“Yes, I had better be getting back to the fort. Where is your man now?” he frowned. “You’re not getting ideas?”

Branwen blushed. “Now son, I am an old woman of forty, and he tells me Mrs Clemens is a fine woman. I’ve seen him pat a few of the bath girls on the behind, but nothing more.” She shook the flour off her hands and wiped the wooden table. “No, after a month he returned, to wherever that was. He did leave some drawings behind, I’ll get them.”

She returned with a scroll, and they cleared the table and unrolled it. The scroll was covered with drawings of ships with wheels on the side, quite a few sketches of cats, and a detailed drawing of a raft, with two boys and a dark skinned man on it, poling down a wide river.

Quintus shook his head. “I guess we will never know the meaning of these, or who he really was.”

“A dreamer, son.” Branwen smiled and rolled up the scroll, placing it carefully away in a cupboard. “And a fine man.”

About Druid’s Portal 

A portal closed for 2,000 years.

An ancient religion twisted by modern greed.

A love that crosses the centuries.

An ancient druid pendant shows archaeologist Janet visions of Roman soldier Trajan. The visions are of danger, death, and love — but are they a promise or a curse?

Her fiancé Daman hurts and abandons her before the wedding, her beloved museum is ransacked, and a robed man vanishes before her eyes. Haunted by visions of a time she knows long gone, Janet teeters on the edge of a breakdown.

In the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall and 2,000 years back in time, Janet’s past and present collide. Daman has vowed to drive the invaders from the shores of Britain, and march his barbarian hordes to Rome. Trajan swears vengeance against the man who threatens both his loves — Janet and the Empire.

Time is running out — for everyone.

Excerpt from “Druid’s Portal: The First Journey

In her dreams, she could sometimes drift across his face like mist, and she knew it well. A man she had conjured, one as familiar as if she had known him always. Strong featured and dark-haired, his bound body radiated muscular strength. She had seen his fight—he had not been easy to capture, and it made her heart ache to see him helpless, his grey eyes watching his captors prepare him for sacrifice. Even with no hope of rescue, he had emanated defiance, an indomitable will to survive.

He was a dream, a vision. But even if he was real, what could she do to save him?

Read a preview of Druid’s Portal here: https://goo.gl/ydf8qK

Meet Cindy Tomamichel

Cindy Tomamichel is a writer of action adventure novels, some with a touch of romance. The heroines don’t wait to be rescued, and the heroes earn that title the hard way.

Her first book Druid’s Portal: The First Journey — time travel romance in Roman Britain near Hadrian’s Wall — has been published with Soul Mate publishing.

Cindy’s other published work includes winning a fractured fairy tale competition with a twist on the Rapunzel story. The fundraising event Madwomen Monologues has presented two of her monologues on stage. This year she has had poetry and short stories in three anthologies by Rhetoric Askew, a scifi story in Quantum Soul, and an alternate history story in a forthcoming anthology. An Australian rural romance story was recently featured (June) in Uncaged Books magazine.

Her next book, Druid’s Portal: The Second Journey is in progress. An action adventure time travel with a touch of romance set in Roman Britain. Follow the series- as time travel, adventure and romance become impossibly tangled.

 

Readers can find a variety of short stories on her website, and a blog on practical world building, and lots of romance, scifi and fantasy author interviews.

Contact Cindy on

Website: www.cindytomamichel.com

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Google+: https://plus.google.com/+CindyTomamichel

Pinterest:  https://au.pinterest.com/cindytomamichel/

Druid’s Portal preview: https://goo.gl/ydf8qK

Amazon Author page: https://amazon.com/author/cindytomamichel

Librarything: https://www.librarything.com/profile/Cindy.Tomamichel

 

In Regards to Rats and Bon-Bons

10 September 1824

To my most esteemed employer Lady Nicholas Asquith:

Although you assured me that you would return from your most surprising Parisian shopping excursion before any letter would reach you, as its headmistress, I consider it my most solemn duty to keep you apprised of the goings-on at The Progressive School for Young Ladies and the Education of Their Minds.

As you employ me for my directness, I’ll come straight to the multiple points of this letter.

First, we have rats. I’ve contacted the rat catcher, and he, along with his one terrier and three ferrets, will have the run of the school premises for the next week. Parents have been told that the building is to receive a fresh coat of paint and are advised to take a holiday for the duration.

To make this a partial telling of the truth, I’ve taken the liberty of hiring painters for when the rat catcher and his animals vacate the building. After careful deliberation of a variety of samples, I’ve chosen Invisible Green to be the color of our school forthwith. I have it on good authority that it is a most felicitous shade for the erudition of the mind as it invites Nature inside our walls. Only time will tell.

Second, I must relate to you the gossip flying about the school. Namely, rumor has it that you have journeyed to Paris to secure a French cook and a French French teacher. As I know you rely on my good judgement for a variety of matters, I shan’t do you the disservice of withholding it here.

In regards to the first rumor, you must consider the probable moral consequences of the introduction of French fare inside our virtuous English walls, our Invisible Green English walls, a color devised by none other than an Englishman. To my point, English foods sustain not only our corporeal forms, but our very Englishness. It is plain and solid and right. Who knows how all those French creams and butters might lead an influenceable girl down the path of licentiousness and ultimately ruin? What price the bon-bon? We mustn’t venture down that path, not even a step.

Now, about the French French teacher . . . Given my preceding point, need I say more? Need I elucidate the particulars of the path such a personage might set a naïve girl upon? We shall never speak of it.

I wish you a safe and swift journey back to London, at which time we shall discuss your niece Lucy and her penchant for most scandalous reading materials. (I shudder to think what she learned from Francis Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue before its confiscation.)

Your trusted headmistress in the righteous bringing up of young ladies,

Mrs. Calpurnia Bloomquist

Excerpt from Three Lessons in Seduction

“Are you going to skulk behind me all night?”

They were the first words she ever spoke to him. His heart kicked up a notch, and his tongue became a sodden blanket in his mouth as a series of facts occurred to him:

He’d followed her. He was alone with her. And he wanted nothing more than to touch her and know the scent of her. His stride increased in length to catch her.

“Do we need a formal introduction before you will speak to me?” she teased, presenting him her flawless profile. The moon above limned her features in a contradictory soft, yet crisp, glow. “Or are you simply shy?”

“You must know who I am,” he called out to her back.

“He speaks.” An enchanting giggle floated over her shoulder. “I know you are one of many young men who venture out to my uncle’s estate to discuss England’s politics. But who you are specifically, I can’t say.”

They reached the ha-ha, and he watched her clear its low wall with ease before turning toward the edge of the woods, him following at her heels like a lap dog hungry for the tiniest crumb of her attention.

He found himself close behind her, close enough to catch her scent of jasmine and neroli. It struck him that this wasn’t the one-note scent of a debutante. On the surface, the floral jasmine indicated the shallow innocence of her peers, but the deep bitter-orange neroli complicated that assessment and made for a more interesting conclusion. She was different.

“Why did you leave the house?” he asked.

“I was hot.”

Three simpler words didn’t exist in the English language. Yet that one simple word—hot—sent a spike of longing straight through him. “I suppose the air was a bit stale,” he rasped.

“I wasn’t hot from stale air.” She faced him, her amber eyes, clear and unflinching, gauging his reaction. “It was you. I was hot because of you.”

No longer could he keep his emotions under a tight rein. She’d negated that control with a few careless words that struck his core with the precision of a well-aimed arrow.

“Did no one ever teach you not to say such things to strange men?”

“They tried,” she said with the assuredness of a woman with far too much experience, or maybe it was far too little. “There is nothing strange about you.”

“You should try those words on a different man,” he said, straining for a tone of paternal guidance. If she believed it, he might, too. “One who would marry you.”

“Oh, I care naught for that,” she said on a laugh.

Instinctively, protectively, he reached out and pulled her close, her upturned lips a hairsbreadth away from his, her playful eyes inviting him to bridge the distance. “Society doesn’t tolerate ladies who entertain loose morals.”

With feelings of longing, desire, and bewilderment warring inside him, he lowered his head and touched his mouth to hers, unprepared for the responding punch of electricity.

Kisses had the power to reveal truths about two people that extended far beyond trivialities like compatibility and incompatibility. This kiss revealed a single unshakeable truth: she was the only woman for him.

It was a truth that shook him clear through to his bones.

His eyes flew open, and he broke the kiss, eliciting a tiny gasp of protest from her. He watched with a mixture of self-loathing and thwarted passion as she opened desire-glazed eyes and closed kiss-crushed lips.

“A girl like you is a girl one could marry,” he murmured. They were heedless and dangerous words that fell from his lips, and he couldn’t understand why he spoke them.

“A girl like me?”

“You.”

One could marry?”

“I.”

“Careful,” she whispered into the space between their lips. It was the only space that mattered in the universe. “I might hold you to such words.”

“I might hope you do.”

Again, words fell from his mouth of their own accord, and he’d proposed to her. There had been no biting it back.

And he hadn’t wanted to.

At least, not for another five seconds.

He’d proposed to Lady Mariana Montfort, a girl he didn’t know.

That wasn’t precisely true.

In the ways that mattered, he knew her.

About Three Lessons in Seduction

Paris, September 1824

Lord Nicholas Asquith needs his wife. Too bad he broke her heart ten years ago.

Can he resist a second chance at the love he lost?

When Mariana catches the eye of the man at the center of an assassination plot, Nick puts aside their painful past and enlists her to obtain information by any means necessary, even if it means seducing the enemy agent.

Even if the thought makes his blood boil.

Only by keeping his distance from Mariana these last ten years was he able to pretend indifference to her. With every moment spent with her, he feels his tightly held control slipping . . .

Can she trust the spy who broke her heart?

Mariana spent the last decade forgetting Nick. Now she has the chance to best him at his own game, an opportunity she can’t resist, even as her view of him begins to shift. Increasingly, she wants nothing more than to seduce her own husband . . .

Soon, mad passion ignites, a passion never convincingly extinguished. A passion that insists on surrendering to the yearning of the flesh and, quite possibly, of the heart.

Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Three-Lessons-Seduction-Sofie-Darling-ebook/dp/B074WGWGMK/

Meet Sofie Darling

Sofie spent much of her twenties raising two boys and reading every book she could get her hands on. Once she realized that she was no longer satisfied with simply reading the books she loved, that she must write them, too, she decided to finish her degree and embark on a writing career. Mr. Darling and the boys gave her their wholehearted blessing.

When she’s not writing heroes who make her swoon, she runs a marathon in a different state every year, visits crumbling medieval castles whenever she gets a chance, and enjoys a slightly codependent relationship with her beagle, Bosco.

Website: www.sofiedarling.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sofiedarlingauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sofie_darling

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