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Miss Atherton’s Misfortune and Sad Entanglements

A letter from Miss Lucretia Atherton to Mr. Henry Atherton, steward of Viscount Saybrook’s Lincolnshire estate. Brighton, May 1821.

My dear nephew:

If the physician be correct in his prognostications, by the time you read this letter I will be dead. Rejoicing, I trust, along with my Maker, if our Lord can find it in his heart to forgive the mistakes of a woman whose sins lie far in the past. I flatter myself that my keeping of your daughter for all these years—more than ten, now, since the passing of my own dear niece, your wife!—will stand me in good stead as I face my day of judgment.

But now I must return poor Harriot to your care, as it has been her misfortune not to secure herself a husband during these years she has lived with me as my companion. Although the primary purpose in removing her from Lincolnshire was to prevent any unfortunate entanglements with the sons of Lord Saybrook, I did advise you that she would have a far better chance of securing herself a suitable husband if she came to me, rather than stayed with your widowed self. But she has not. Why this should be so, I cannot begin to fathom. She has been taught how to run a small household, and how to best keep its accounts; she has a kind, selfless sort of temperament; and, though not a diamond of the first water, she can be pleasing when she makes a proper effort with her toilette. Surely the demands I placed upon her as my companion could not have so occupied her mind as to it leave it no room for wooing.

Misfortune

Brighton, 1883, complements of Antiquemapsandprints.com

I cannot account it my fault. My political work here in Brighton has often brought us into company with gentlemen of the proper social standing, but Harriot would have none of them. Nor did the sons of any of the local gentry seem to catch her eye, nor she theirs. At least we may be thankful her head was not turned by any in the Prince Regent’s dissolute set, who parade about the town in their ridiculous fashions and dandified airs, preening as if they were peacocks wooing a hen. I do not look kindly on our current King for bringing such a dissolute set to my poor Brighton, even if their patronage has contributed to the economy of the town.

I did think at one time Harriot might harbor a tendre for a young officer whose regiment had been stationed in the town. But despite my continual urging, she failed to bring him to the point, and his regiment left town without his having made the expected declaration. Miss Terpent, Brighton’s most determined gossip, dared to put it about that Harriot had allowed Lieutenant Chamberlayne liberties that no lady ought, but for my part, I cannot believe it of my niece. You can be certain I squashed such ill-bred, groundless rumors as soon as they came to my ears, and no word of such things should follow her home.

I understand from Harriot that you have seen little of the new Lord Saybrook at the estate since the passing of his father. I do hope he continues to spend the bulk of his time in London; it would be a pity to send Harriot away for a decade to avoid an inappropriate entanglement with a boy above her station, only to have the grown man persuade her into a dalliance upon her return. I understand from my friends in the city that your new lord is of a low, dissolute character, particularly in his relations with the gentler sex, and have warned your daughter accordingly.

Although I did think from some remarks Harriot let drop that it was not the heir, but his brother, whom she recalled with some fondness—

Be that as it may. I am at peace, knowing I have done all I could for your child.

I will recommend your soul to your wife when we meet in Heaven, and pray it will be many years before you join us there.

I remain, your dutiful Aunt,

Lucretia Atherton

MisfortuneAbout the Book:  A Lady without a Lord

Book #3 in The Penningtons series

A viscount convinced he’s a failure

For years, Theodosius Pennington has tried to forget his myriad shortcomings by indulging in wine, women, and witty bonhomie. But now that he’s inherited the title of Viscount Saybrook, it’s time to stop ignoring his responsibilities. Finding the perfect husband for his headstrong younger sister seems a good first step. Until, that is, his sister’s dowry goes missing . . .

A lady determined to succeed

Harriot Atherton has a secret: it is she, not her steward father, who maintains the Saybrook account books. But Harry’s precarious balancing act begins to totter when the irresponsible new viscount unexpectedly returns to Lincolnshire, the painfully awkward boy of her childhood now a charming yet vulnerable man. Unfortunately, Theo is also claiming financial malfeasance. Can her father’s wandering wits be responsible for the lost funds? Or is she?

As unlikely attraction flairs between dutiful Harry and playful Theo, each learns there is far more to the other than devoted daughter and happy-go-lucky lord. But if Harry succeeds at protecting her father, discovering the missing money, and keeping all her secrets, will she be in danger of failing at something equally important—finding love?

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An excerpt in which Theo offers Harry a long-overdue apology

“I know it’s not much,” he said, gesturing to the flowers. “But rue is supposed to symbolize regret, is it not?”

“Yes. But how could I ever regret receiving my first bouquet from a gentleman?”

“What? No flowers, ever? Why, those fops down in Brighton must be slow tops, indeed.”

“Slower than you, certainly,” she answered, a smile in her voice.

An even worse thought entered his head. Theo clasped his hands in front of his heart in exaggerated entreaty. “Please tell me the boys of Lincolnshire weren’t as dilatory. An entire field full of meadow rue wouldn’t come close to conveying my regrets if your very first kiss came from my bumbling adolescent self.”

“Best start gathering ye rue while ye may, then, sir,” she teased. “And your sin was even more reprehensible than that. For I’d been nursing the most painful case of calf-love for your brother Benedict at the time.”

Theo groaned. “And instead you got me, the careless, foolish brother. How utterly demoralizing, both for you and myself. But only say the word and I’ll dash off a missive this moment, inviting Benedict back to the family manse so you can exert your feminine wiles on the boy.”

Yes, a sensible plan, that, masterminding a match between his brother and the daughter of his steward. Why, then, did the idea of Harry kissing Benedict make him so ill at ease? And not only, he feared, because he worried Ben’s attentions were fixed on someone else entirely.

“Please, do not trouble yourself,” Harry said with a laugh. “As an old Friesian general of my great aunt’s acquaintance used to say, ‘calf-love, half-love, old love, cold love.’”

Theo leaned an arm against a hay bale. “Ah, found a better swain in Brighton than old Ben, did you? One who gave you no flowers, the dunderhead. But perhaps a few kisses, to erase the memory of mine?”

A small, secret smile lit her face. “No need to worry, sir. Yours is not the only kiss I’ve ever received.”

“Ah, you did have a love in Brighton,” Theo said, struggling to make his tone as light as his words. “So why did you leave?”

Harry bent over his drab little bouquet as if she expected to find some hidden scent amongst its wilting blooms. When she raised her head, that private smile was gone, replaced by one wider, but far more brittle. “Not every kiss leads to lasting love, sir. As I’m certain you are well aware, if even a tiny portion of the tales of your London escapades are true.”

The false cheer in her voice, the way she turned the subject away from herself and back on to him—was not it just like her, to insist her own feelings were of no matter? But she had been hurt by her faithless swain, of that he was certain. Damn the perfidious cur to hell and back.

“Of course not,” he said. “Some kisses are simply for pleasure. And some are to dissipate tension, or anger. Some can even offer comfort. Like this.”

Cupping her nape in his hand, he set his lips against hers, pressing all the solace he could into the simple touch.

He had meant it to ease her cares, but the warmth and stillness of her beneath him seemed to calm him, too. Almost as if the tranquility of the lavender about which she’d sung resided somehow within her.

After a long, quiet moment, he raised his head. Stroking a thumb over her cheek, he gazed into her wide, wide eyes.

“Whoever he is, Harry, he is not worth your regrets. Not if he let you go without a fight.”

Then, before impetuosity and rising lust drove him to demand more, he scrambled down the ladder and out into the starless night.

About the Author

Misfortune

Bliss Bennet writes smart, edgy novels for readers who love history as much as they love romance. Her Regency-set series The Penningtons has been praised by the Historical Novel Society’s Indie Reviews as “a series well worth following”; its books have been described by USA Today as “savvy, sensual, and engrossing”; by Heroes and Heartbreakers as “captivating,” and by The Reading Wench as having “everything you want in a great historical romance.” The latest book in the series is A Lady without a Lord.

Tea at the Reverend’s House

Stantreath is a den of gossips! Poor Sophia and her sister Lucy came here to escape whispers of scandal as Sophia sought to raise her younger sister’s son without a cloud of ignominy following the boy through his life, but it did not take long for the round of gossip to begin again. And now that the boy’s uncle, Lord Haughton has arrived to make himself known to Sophia…

The assembled ladies waited patiently as Mrs. Fenton picked up the teapot, a smile small gracing her mouth as she poured the dark, steaming liquid into the four cups set out before her.

“The cakes are fresh,” she announced, jutting out her chin towards a tray decorated with an array of cream cakes and tarts. “I believe our cook has outdone herself this morning.”

Mrs. Kirkland glanced at Mrs. Runyon, but said nothing. The gall of the woman, to boast about the efforts of a cook, when they both knew very well that she’d never been able to keep on more than a housekeeper and that rheumy fellow who looked after their straggly lawn and horses.

“Lovely!” Mrs. Miller took two cakes for herself and prompted Mrs. Fenton to add a touch more milk to her tea. “And how is Mr. Fenton this morning? Already hard at work on next week’s sermon, no doubt?”

The reverend’s wife pushed her shoulders back, the lace lining the collar of her gown shifting slightly with the movement. “He does take such great care over his work. But, no. Today he has elected to call on Lord Haughton, who has recently arrived here in Stantreath.”

The pronouncement trembled in the air. All of the women present had already been apprised of the news at least a day before, yet to hear of an interaction with a member of the peerage, and with someone so closely connected to themselves… Well, the cream cakes sat forgotten as the ladies waited for Mrs. Fenton to continue.

“Does anyone know what has brought this Lord Haughton here?” Mrs. Miller finally ventured to ask when the silence had continued for a few seconds longer than her patience could stand.

Mrs. Kirkland cleared her throat as she picked imaginary crumbs from the napkin spread across her lap. “His carriage was seen outside of Lady Rutledge’s cottage,” she said, delivering the news with the elocution of a governess.

“Mrs. Brixton?” Mrs. Miller paused with her cup an inch from her lips, the milky tea nearly spilling over the delicate rim. “Does he know her?”

“‘Mrs.’ indeed!” Mrs. Kirkland sniffed. “There’s always been something… untoward about Mrs. Sophia Brixton, if indeed she ever possessed a husband. And I wasn’t at all surprised to hear of her younger sister’s disappearance. Such a forward, flighty girl. I must say, I’m pleased to see her gone from Stantreath and away from the eyes of our impressionable young men.”

The other women nodded their agreement, lace and ribbons bouncing around caps and fussy fichus.

“Though…” Mrs. Runyon spoke up for the first time, her already florid cheeks gaining more color as she peered over the edge of her wire-rimmed spectacles at their host. “I had witnessed some special attention paid to Mrs. Brixton by your own son. Unless, that is, I was mistaken in his behavior towards her.”

The tips of Mrs. Fenton’s fingers turned from pink to white as she returned her cup to the tray. “I’m not sure I know to what you’re insinuating,” she said, her lips barely moving as she spoke. “Josiah can sometimes overstep the boundaries of decorum in his efforts to appear… helpful and welcoming to others. But it does not signify as he’ll be leaving for London at the end of the summer, in order to prepare himself for taking on a post such as his father’s before him.”

Another glance passed between a few of the ladies as Mrs. Fenton bustled with the tea things, her agitation at the turn the conversation had taken showing in the tightness of her jaw, along with the clatter of the fine porcelain against the silver tea service.

“But what of this Lord Haughton?” Mrs. Miller pressed. “Does he intend to stay? Perhaps he’s looking to acquire one of the larger houses, or—”

“The only estate around here is Lady Rutledge’s crumbling pile of stones,” Mrs. Kirkland put in sharply. “And he’d do better to raze it to the ground before attempting to live in that dreary heap.”

One of the women tittered behind her hand, while Mrs. Fenton regained some measure of her former composure as she refilled cups and offered a second helping of cakes to her guests. “My husband will make his introductions to Lord Haughton, and also advise him to keep clear of some of the less savory inhabitants of our village. I’m sure Lord Haughton will see what true quality is once he makes Mr. Fenton’s acquaintance, and I promise each and every one of you an invitation to my table once Lord Haughton accepts my request to join us here for dinner.”

The other three ladies oohed and aahed over their cups and dabbed crumbs from their lips. Mrs. Fenton raised her chin an inch and surveyed the scene before her as she thought of an evening with Lord Haughton as one of her guests, and how differently everyone would treat her once word had spread that a member of the peerage had supped at her table.

“Now,” Mrs. Kirkland began, her spoon tinkling quietly against the inside of her cup as she stirred an extra bit of sugar into her tea. “Did you see Miss Wing’s bonnet yesterday? Such a garish creation! I’m surprised her mother let her wear it outside the house!”

***

Meet Quenby Olsen

Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she writes, homeschools, glares at baskets of unfolded laundry, and chases the cat off the kitchen counters. After training to be a ballet dancer, she turned towards her love of fiction, penning everything from romance to fantasy, historical to mystery. She spends her days with her husband and children, who do nothing to dampen her love of the outdoors, immersing herself in historical minutiae, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who.

***

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Life in a Nunnery Just Isn’t What I Imagined

Parchment received from Olwen de Belleme, secondary character in My Lord Raven: Knights of the Royal Household

If you’ve read the story of my cousin Catrin and her truelove Sir Bran ap Madog, then you will know I was betrothed to Sir Bran. King Edward gave my hand in marriage to him, a knight of his household, for a job well done. But you will also know events transpired that caused my cousin to change places with me (we favor one another) and then fall in love with “The King’s Raven.

nunneryI, on the other hand, went to live in a convent near to my castle. It was my sanctuary, because, you see, when Catrin and I changed identities, I needed to find a place to hide.

Catrin has said I “possess a timid disposition.” ’Tis true. I couldn’t abide the thought of marrying such a vicious man as the king’s knight. Often as a child, when Catrin fostered at my castle, she had been the prod, encouraging me to stretch myself beyond my limits. But alas! Was not to be. My temperament is naturally sweet, serene, and pious.

That’s why I thought a life as a bride of Christ would suit me. Yet, I knew that dream to be a fool’s folly. King Edward would never let me take holy vows. Therefore, I hoped for a life inside the convent as a lay sister. Many gentlewomen in my time choose a secluded life as I desired.

nunneryI soon discovered the life of a nun is boring. We are gently born, not accustomed to menial tasks. We need our servants as much as we do in the world. A nunnery is a house of prayer, but it is also a community of domestics and others who depend upon the landholdings of the sacred house.

Many convents during my time may be poor, depending upon their locations, landholdings and finances. A nunnery may face all the temporal hardships of the day: plagues and pestilence, fires and floods, and attacks by Scots or Welsh marauders, lawless neighbors or enemies of the realm. Oft nuns are forced into begging for alms. ’Tis not a pretty sight to see a pious woman so reduced to poverty.

Furthermore, secular life may intrude upon the sacred. We are women, after all, and many enjoy colorful clothes and silken veils. We keep our pet dogs, entertain guests and, with our servants, travel outside the bounds of our cloistered world. I will not mention the depravities of some who stray from their vows. The bishop is always warning against such sins.

Did I say that holy life can be boring? Ah, yes. You see, the routine, the silence, the hardships can be born if you have a vocation for it. Being the pampered only child of a great lord, I soon discovered the communal life was not for me, however devout I had been. So now I await the king’s grace once more. He sends me another husband, a knight to take my father’s place and run the estates I have inherited. Is he sending me a helpmate, like Sir Bran is to my cousin Catrin? Or is he sending me an overlord—someone to rule me with a firm fist?
__________________________________________________

If you are interested in reading more about the medieval life of a nun, take a look at Medieval English Nunneries c. 1275 to 1535, by Eileen Power, Cambridge at the University Press, 1922, found at Amazon.com.

About the Book

nunneryMy Lord Raven:  Knights of the Royal Household

To protect what little family she has left, Lady Catrin Fitzalan switches places with her cousin when King Edward orders the pious girl to wed his royal champion, a vicious knight called the King’s Raven. Rumors abound that this savage is responsible for the deaths of Lady Catrin’s father and brother. How can she allow her sweet cousin to wed a murderer?

Bran ap Madog, bastard son of a Welsh prince, has devoted his life to serving the English king. His badge is the raven, a creature that feeds off rotting spoils, just as Bran feeds off the spoils of war. Now he wants a reward for his service: a wealthy wife and the land and power she can bring him.

But there’s another side to the rapacious black birds Bran has chosen for his badge. Social and family-oriented, ravens mate for life. Which gives them something Bran never had—a family, a sense of belonging, and a rightful place in the world. Bran has fought for everything he’s ever had. But his last battle, with his new wife, may cost him the one thing he isn’t prepared to lose: his heart.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lojQ7S
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About the Author

Jan Scarbrough is the author of two popular Bluegrass series, writing heartwarming contemporary romances about home and family, single moms and children, and if the plot allows, about another passion—horses. Living in the horse country of Kentucky makes it easy for Jan to add small town, Southern charm to her books and the excitement of a Bluegrass horse race or a competitive horse show.
Leaving her contemporary voice behind, Jan has written paranormal gothic romances: Tangled Memories, a Romance Writers of America (RWA) Golden Heart finalist, and Timeless. Her newest book, My Lord Raven is a medieval story of honor and betrayal.

A member of Novelist, Inc., Jan has published with Kensington, Five Star, ImaJinn Books, Resplendence Publishing and Turquoise Morning Press. Today she self-publishes her books with the help of her husband.

 

 

Enough to Make A Virtuous Lady Swoon

Virtuous LadyOh, my sweet dears, I do hope you are able to publish this in your naughty scandal sheet, because I have witnessed it first-hand. Yes, first hand! I must pause for a moment and fan my face. I shall also take time to fix a nice cup of tea. Love that on a rainy day, don’t you?

Now, where was I? Yes. Oh, yes. I must tell this story to you.

Despite my aching pains, I attended the Ashbourne ball last evening. I find great pleasure in keeping an eye on the young ladies, to make sure there are no missteps, which I’m sure you agree is very important.

The charming Lady Grace and her mother, Lady Spencer, attended also. The gel looked as lovely as ever. I have always liked Lady Grace, she is the epitome of virtuous English womanhood. Never a step out of place, always does the right thing. She would make some man a wonderful wife, would run her staff with an iron hand, and make sure her children have the best of nannies and governesses to guide them through life.

After conversations with her and her mother, I can assure you she would take no pleasure in the marriage bed, and would be most accommodating with a husband slaking his baser needs in other places. A true gem.

However, I digress.

It has been known for some time that Lord St. George was courting Lady Grace, and it was assumed an offer would be forthcoming. I had thought that would be a good match, but was I fooled! St. George is not gentleman, I can assure you.

At the ball, I was on my way to the ladies’ retiring room when there was a commotion in the Asbourne’s library. Anxious to see what the kerfuffle was, in the event I could help, I joined the gathering in the library. I was truly shocked, and would have swooned as poor Lady Grace had, except for my vinaigrette, which I always carry with me.

Right there in front of our eyes was Lord St. George with that Lady Arabella! They had been caught embracing in Asbourne’s library—in the dark! Oh, my dears, I suffer from nerves now just thinking about it.

Lady Arabella has a reputation for being quite odd, and I have heard tales that she actually delves into some sort of animal venture! As a true lady, I’m not completely sure what that means, and have no intention of asking. My nerves can only take so much.

So, there you have it. Lady Arabella is in disgrace. I heard St. George has offered for her, which is, of course, the only gentlemanly thing to do. But one does wonder what sort of wife Lady Arabella will be.

Most Sincerely,
Lady Beauchamp, Marchioness of Huntington

virtuous ladyAbout The Book

She didn’t want to marry anyone, let alone the wrong one…
Lady Arabella Danvers is happy with her life just the way it is. She is free to be herself and take care of broken and abandoned animals. Her mother is desperate for her to marry, and has decided to take things into her own hands. There is just one little problem with her plan.

Nash, the Earl of Clarendon has determined it is time to take a wife. He has selected a woman to whom he intends to propose. However, the annoying Lady Arabella has stumbled into his life at the wrong time, and in the wrong place.

But he of all people should know when Lady Arabella is involved plans will go awry…

Purchase links: http://calliehutton.com/book/marrying-the-wrong-earl/

~An Excerpt~

“Your cat?”

“Yes. She got out of my basket.” She pointed behind her to where a woman, obviously a maid, hurried up, carrying a basket with a blanket draped over it. Lady Arabella looked behind him, up at the branches of the tree. “Oh, dear. She’s climbed up and now she can’t come down.”

Just as she uttered the words, a loud howl came from above. The devil take it, was the animal now going to drop on his head?

Lady Arabella glanced frantically from the top of the tree to him. “My lord, can I ask a favor of you?”

Still trying to process everything that had just happened, he just looked at her for a minute before answering. “A favor?”

“Yes, please. Can you climb the tree and rescue my cat?” She chewed her lower lip, which would have appealed to him if he wasn’t standing in wet, muddy breeches, with an animal yowling over his head.

“Climb the tree?” Surely the woman was daft. This was Hyde Park, for heaven’s sake, not his country estate where he’d done such things as a lad.

“Please?” Her irresistible brown eyes filled with tears. Bloody, bloody, hell. The one thing he could not countenance was a woman’s tears. He ran his hand down his face before he remembered his glove was muddy.

She winced.

“I just smeared mud all over my face, did I not?”

She nodded, and continued to chew her lip. At least she had the good sense not to laugh, as he was sure she was wont to do. The cat continued to screech, and they were gathering a crowd. “Very well.” He stripped off the muddy gloves, then his coat. The sooner he got the blasted animal out of the tree and back into its basket, the sooner he could go home, have a bath and a very large glass of brandy.

“Oh, thank you so much.” She stood, wringing her hands.

“Yes, well. Let’s have at it.” He grabbed a low lying branch above his head and swung himself up. He balanced on the branch and reached, but was not high enough to grab the irritating cat.

“Miss Aphrodite, come down, please. Let this nice gentlemen help you.”

Nash looked down, his eyes wide. “Miss Aphrodite?”

“Yes. That’s her name.”

Miss Aphrodite.

“If you call her by her name she might warm up to you and come down,” she shouted up at him.

He was already making a spectacle of himself in the tree, his arse covered in mud, and dried, caked dirt on his face. He would damn well not call the animal by that ridiculous moniker. “Come here, kitty.”

That sounded no better. The cat wailed and looked down at him. He grabbed another branch and moved higher. Reaching out, he almost had her when she hissed, and leaped right in his face. her nails clinging to his waistcoat. “Ouch!”

He grabbed the animal by its back fur just as a loud sneeze erupted from his nose. Nash wrapped his arm around the branch next to him as he sneezed several more times.

“Oh, my lord. Are you allergic to cats?”

He looked down at Lady Arabella. “Since I’ve never been this close to one before, apparently so, my lady.” He began his descent, trying to hang onto the hissing, scratching cat. More sneezes. “I will drop the animal, if you can catch it.”

“Oh, no, my lord. She will just run off again.”

Bloody hell. The best thing that could happen to any of them was to have the blasted cat run off. As far away from him as possible. He continued to hang onto the feline until he jumped to the ground. He heard the sound of fabric tearing as his feet hit the ground. Nash closed his eyes and groaned when he realized the back of his breeches had just split.

Virtuous ladyAbout the Author

Callie Hutton, the USA Today bestselling author of The Elusive Wife writes both Western Historical and Regency romance, with “historic elements and sensory details” (The Romance Reviews). She also pens an occasional contemporary or two. Callie lives in Oklahoma with several rescue dogs and her top cheerleader husband of many years. Her family also includes her daughter, son, and daughter-in-law. And twin grandsons “The Twinadoes.”

Twitter: @calliehutton
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/callie.hutton
Website: www.calliehtton.com
Publisher: https://entangledpublishing.com/author/callie-hutton
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/callie-hutton

A Lady Scorned Cries in Pain

England, 1453

If Only He Would Choose Me! Oh, the pain of love unrequited! I hope you have never known the like.

A few years back, I thought I could beguile the man I love, Sir Christian Gray, into marrying me. Surely he’d admire my many charms. Yes, I confess that I’ve already had not one, not two, but three husbands (and no, the marriages’ demises weren’t my fault. Despite rumors to the contrary, my third husband did NOT set me aside. Though that tale is what I agreed to put forth. A story for another day.). Unfortunately, I’ve not been blessed with children. Some men might look askance at such a past, but for all that I’m still young.

I’d set my cap for Sir Christian at first sight. Such a fetching, honorable, manly man. Oh, to see him astride a horse! I hoped he’d see what a handsome and excellent couple we could be, but he was quite clear about his intentions. Or lack thereof. For he eschewed marriage altogether!

PainHe did agree to a dalliance, which, being lonely and in love, I allowed. Just having him on my arm brightened my day! He was so chivalrous and kind, a gallant knight as espoused in romances such as the one written by our Queen Margaret’s father. And, as to the unmentionables, well, let’s just say those were divine.

Then Lady Amice Winfield entered the picture. The king ordered Christian to protect her from unwanted suitors until he could find her an appropriate groom. Meaning one who would contribute to his coffers and/or yield a political alliance.

I pined when Christian left court, and was crushed when he returned with her in tow! Worse, it was instantly clear who he preferred. The gazes he gave her could melt butter. What he desired from a short, curly-haired brunette who chose to run her own castle and wanted to be a writer when he could have had my tall, lithe and ladylike blondness, I couldn’t understand. At first.

Yet I found myself in her orbit, for I worked for the king’s rival to the throne, Richard, Duke of York. And, while trying to prove my worth to one of the most powerful and wealthy men in all of England, I rashly promised him recruits. For when the duke succeeded to the throne, I wanted a higher place at his court.

Keep your enemies close, Ladies? I enlisted Amice, who crafted some of the truly scandalous poems so popular in our times. She insisted upon remaining anonymous. So I took the credit. Which proved not to be the wisest choice…and, in the end, cost any trust Christian had in me. I had to accept I’d lost him forever.

Now I am more alone than ever. And, a bit, shall we say, disgraced. With each passing day, I pray the pain caused by my own actions will fade. I shall not rest until I redeem myself. I hope the journey that lies ahead isn’t too long or arduous…. Will I ever find true love?

Thank you for listening,

Lady Belinda Carlisle

Lady Belinda Carlisle is a secondary character in Ruth Kaufman’s award-winning medieval At His Command.

Buy link:

https://www.amazon.com/Command-Historical-Romance-Version-Roses-Brides-ebook/dp/B00QPG52A6

Excerpt:

Seated with the king and a small group of advisors, Nicholas frowned as he watched Belinda and Amice talking on the other side of the Painted Chamber, a hall replete with biblical paintings covering the walls and ceiling. A group of men blocked his view, making him shift in his chair.

Being alone with Amice last night still haunted him. He’d remained in the hall, eyes closed, breathing slowly to still the pounding of his heart. To calm surging desire. If she hadn’t had the strength to leave, what would they have done? There, in the hall, where anyone could enter? Again having her in his arms made him forget his duties, his honor. He remained weak where she was concerned, despite many prayers for strength and more on her behalf every morning and every evening.

The king had pledged her to another. Thank goodness temptation would soon be removed.

He tried to convince himself he meant it.

She and Belinda slowly walked out of the room, heads bent close. He barely resisted the urge to jump to his feet.

What was Belinda up to? What if Amice confided in her? He signaled for Robert, seated on a fat velvet pillow, plucking ineffectively at a lute. Nicholas thought of sending for vellum to write a note, then thought better of it.

“Never mind, Robert, I’ll go. Come for me if the king needs me.”

He knew Robert returned to what he called his instrument of torture with great reluctance. Nicholas had assured him a true knight was well-versed in many areas, including music. So play he would.

Nicholas found the two women—one who wanted him, one he wanted—seated on a stone bench beneath a vine-encrusted trellis. Belinda wore blue brocade, while Amice wore a deep green gown that accentuated her eyes. He vowed to commit each moment with her to memory, in case it would be his last. The row of pearls trimming her neckline reflected late afternoon sun. A cream undergown peeked above the neckline. A mesh headdress with a short transparent veil that floated in the gentle breeze hid her hair.

He shook his head to make himself ignore the effect her beauty had on him, to clear fond memories of their days at Castle Rising and concentrate on what they were saying. And gleaned that he’d arrived in time.

“Lady Winfield, if I may interrupt, I’ve just come from the king and must speak with you.”

About the Author

Ruth Kaufman is the Amazon bestselling author of the Wars of the Roses Brides trilogy (At His Command, Follow Your Heart, and The Bride Tournament) and My Once and Future Love. Accolades include 2016 Booksellers Best Award Best Historical and Best First Book winner and Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® award winner.

An actor, speaker and storyteller with an M.S. and J.D, Ruth has had roles in independent feature films, web series, pilots, national TV commercials and hundreds of voiceover projects. She enjoys living in Chicago and singing in a symphony chorus. Learn more at www.ruthkaufman.com and www.ruthtalks.com.

medieval

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