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Whispers in a Closet

Information comes to the Tattler from many sources, whispers among servants being one of the most fruitful…

Mary Fisher went about her business as her mistress directed, even with the house in an uproar and the mistress preoccupied with worry.  The whole staff had more work than usual, what with a wedding the day before. She carried her bucket and rags carefully up the servant stairs to the third level with great care so as not to spill a drop, an effort that proved futile when a hand snaked out, grabbed her free arm, and pulled her into the linen closet. The door slammed shut.

“Ow! You made me slosh water on the floor. Are you trying to cost me my position?”

In the gloom, she could just make out the gleam in Lizzy Smith’s smug expression.  “Pish posh. That countess is too soft-hearted to fire either of us over some spilled water.”

Mary leaned down to wipe up the spill. “Y’ought to be working, not lurking in closets,” she muttered. “You planning to pounce on that green-eyed footman again? That will get you dismissed if you keep it up.”

Lizzy pulled her up. “Don’t be daft. I just want to talk. Did you hear what went on in the Countess’s sitting room? The Family is in a state and that’s the truth.”

“Everyone knows Mister Rand disappeared last night. Rob Portman heard it all serving the breakfast. His bed wasn’t slept in and—”

“But I know what happened in the countess’s sitting room.” There was no mistaking Lizzy’s self-satisfied smirk now. She knew something. No doubt about it.

Duty warred with curiosity in Mary’s heart. Servants oughtn’t to gossip, her mam taught her that early. The family had been good to Mary, though and she hated all the running about and the countess’s worried expression. Curiosity won out. “What’d you hear?”

“Well, you know as how Mr. Rand’s stayed at Cambridge after the duke, his cousin came to down two months ago?”

“’e just come in three days ago, though he was supposed to stand up with the duke. Rob said they never spoke, even yesterday at the wedding. Like somethin’ happened tween the two o’ them as used to be stuck like burrs one to the other.” It distressed Mary to see two young men that always seemed like good folk be against each other that way. “Never saw one without the other ever—”

Lizzy waved a dismissive hand. “So we know there’s bad blood now, but over what I ask you ?”

Mary shrugged. “Young men fight. They’ll come around.”

“Lurking at keyholes, more like,” Mary muttered.

Lizzy ignored the jab. “I heard the countess crying her eyes out, and the earl, he’s trying to comfort her. He says, ‘Cath…’ (did you know he calls her that?) ‘Cath,’ he says, ‘the whole world knows that woman is carrying a baby, except for maybe Charles, the young fool.’”

“He called the duke a fool? He’s ever so smart.”

“A man can be smart about business and a still let a woman pull wool over his eyes.”

Lizzy would know, Mary thought glumly. The import of Lizzy’s other words hit her. “Wait, are you saying the new duchess is pregnant?” Her jaw hung slack.

Lizzy pursed her lips. “Don’t be a slow top. Of course she is. That isn’t the good part.”

Good may not be the word, Mary thought, but she suspected she was about to hear whatever it was.

“The earl said as how it was too bad Mr. Fred didn’t come to the wedding because he could talk some sense into them both, but the countess says something like, ‘Rand had no idea.’ It were kind of muffled like. The earl, he says Mr. Rand couldn’t know nothing since he stayed away and the countess says—listen up Mary!”

“What did she say?” Mary dreaded hearing it, but couldn’t help listening.

Lizzy dropped her voice, “Clear as a bell, she tells the earl Mr. Rand said the duchess is so far along it had to have happened while he was still walking out with her.”

Mary blinked rapidly, trying to understand.

“Don’t be a booby, Mary. The duke got Mr. Rand’s lady with child while she was still supposed to be with Mr. Rand. No wonder those two are at each other’s throats. No man wants his cousin—much less best friend or any other man—poaching on his preserve. Ran off he did. Said he isn’t never coming back.”

Mary shook her head and picked up her bucket without talking.

“Earl said, ‘That woman will make Charles miserable, mark my words,’ and the countess she said, ‘She already heaped misery on all of us,’ and went on back to crying.”

Mary stopped listening. She went back to work, her heart heavy. Family oughtn’t to treat one another badly. They ought to come together in time of troubles, that’s for certain, she thought.

_________________

About the Book, The Renegade Wife

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly finds his solitude disrupted by a desperate woman running with her children from an ugly past. But even his remote cabin in Upper Canada isn’t safe enough. Meggy Blair may have lied to him, but she and her children have breached the walls of his betrayed heart. Now she’s on the run again. To save them he must return to face his demons and seek help from the family he vowed to never see again.

It is available in Kindle format free with Kindle Unlimited or for purchase as ebook or in print:

Amazon US
Barnes and Noble
BooksAMillion
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE
Amazon IT
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IN
Amazon AU


The Renegade Wifeis Book 1 in Caroline Warfield’s Children of Empire Series.

Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, have been driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman was involved!) Though they all escape to the outposts of The British Empire, they all make their way home to England, facing their past and finding love and the support of women of character and backbone. They are:

  • Randolph Baldwin Wheatly who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Captain Frederick Arthur Wheatly, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies, and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Charles, Duke of Murnane, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau, only to face his past there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Who are their ladies?

  • Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish captain sort out his responsibilities. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Zambak Hayden, eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help protecting the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium, while she’s there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Book 3, The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.

Here’s a short video about it:

https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7/videos/924791187669849/

For more about the series and all of Caroline’s books, look here:

https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

About the Author

Caroline Warfield grew up in a peripatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology) before retiring to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, where divides her time between writing Regency and Victorian Romance, and seeking adventures with her grandson and the prince among men she married.

 

 

 

 

A Kidnap Threat To The Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples!

Despatches from Palermo (1810)
by Lord William Bentinck, English Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples

Lord William Bentinck, pictured here as Captain in a portrait painted by George Romney. William Bentinck was ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples 1812-1816

My dear Lord Chamberlain,
I enclose this letter to you privately, so it will not appear in official correspondence.

I find myself the subject of a most extraordinary plot – one of kidnap on the high seas.

As you know, I have entered delicate negotiations with the Bey of Tunis for the release of more than three hundred Sicilians who were forcibly abducted from their home by the corsairs of the Barbary Coast.

Not only is it a matter of justice, but freeing of these unfortunate souls would also build immeasurable goodwill among the people whose interest I am trying to further with my reforms.

So far, standard diplomatic tactics have proved fruitless with the Bey. I don’t know if you are familiar with this culture but it appears to be the custom for the all the promises in the world to be made but when it comes time to deliver, it is a never ending litany of excuses.

With Napoleon’s Empire at my back in Naples and the Barbary Coast Pirates at my front, it is no easy task set before me. You know of my penchant to follow my intuition and I have done so once again with two young men.

Let’s hope Captain Hardacre can deal with the captured French Frigate in a less spectacular manner.

Captain Christopher Hardacre is an Englishman who runs a merchant vessel out of Palermo. He’s come to me with the most extraordinary tale. It seems one of the pirates has acquired a French frigate and he harbours ambitions to abduct me and my wife and hold us for ransom.

It sounded like a ravings of a mad man – and I have to confess that if was just his testimony alone I’d ignore it, but in Hardacre’s favour is one of his men, an African by the name of Jonathan Afua who I’ve come to learn is a son of one of Ethiopia’s most aristocratic families. He strikes me as being a much more steady character than his captain. It is his grave assessment I’ve learned to trust.

As for the abduction threat, Hardacre has hatched an audacious plan to keep me safe in exchange for the claiming the French frigate for himself as spoils.

Whether Hardacre succeeds or not is immaterial as I have appraised Admiral Freemantle who has agreed that the next meeting with the Bey of Tunis should be done as a show of force so we will be arriving in Tunisia with a fleet that also contains the flagship The Milford.

I’ll write when I have more news,

William

 

Excerpt

Shadow of the Corsairs

Bagrada

Shadow of the Corsairs – out June 26 2018 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DM9VJ5Z

Jonathan’s stomach soured.

Even though it had been more than a year since his captivity there, the very sound of its name reminded him there was work still to finish, a past that could not draw to a close until he had answers.

“Bagrada. Are you sure?” Elias asked. “We’ve sailed by several times over the past six months and there’s no noteworthy activity there.”

Hardacre looked up from the map of the Tunisian coastline. “Sharrouf is certain.”

Elias snorted and folded his arms. “I think you put too much stock in what that man says. He’s a snake, Kit, and he’s not to be trusted.”

“I never said he was to be trusted. He might very well hate Kaddouri as much as we do. But so long as he is a member of the inner circle, then he is useful to us.”

“Unless Kaddouri is using him to lure us into a trap,” countered the first officer. “We’ve stopped three of his raids over the past twelve months and helped free more than a hundred enslaved souls. He’d be just as keen to see the end of us.”

Jonathan shook his head. Kit and Elias bickered like he and his older brother used to. It was time for him to step in.

“What’s Sharrouf getting in exchange for telling you the location of Kaddouri’s fleet?” he asked.

“Information here and there to help with something.”

“Which is?”

“Kidnapping Lord William Bentinck.”

“You jest!”

Hardacre said nothing for a moment. The upturn of his lip was trouble, Jonathan knew that, and so did Elias who turned away with an exaggerated groan.

“Go on,” said Jonathan. “Tell us the whole thing before you make Elias’ head explode.”

“I might not have been completely honest with Sharrouf,” Hardacre confessed. This time, both ends of his mouth lifted and there was a twinkle of manic glee in his eyes. “I told him Bentinck plans another trip to Tunis to petition for the release of the Sicilian slaves, but I neglected to tell him Bentinck’s going with a show of strength instead of taking one ship with a single escort. Accompanying The Milford will be a dozen heavily-armed ships from the Royal Navy.”

“And both Bentinck and Admiral Fremantle know to expect an attack,” Jonathan concluded. “That’s a good plan. What makes you sure Kaddouri will take the bait?”

“Oh, he will. Sharrouf has told me he’s just managed to acquire a double gunned frigate.”

Elias rocked back on his feet. “How has he managed to get one of those? That would carry almost as much firepower as The Milford.”

There is Always More to the Story

Dear Readers

They say women are the biggest gossips but the latest scandal doing the rounds, started in the London Clubs, Whites in particular.

Lord Glennvale was overheard telling all who would listen that my good friend, Lord C, one of London’s latest rash of handsome rakes, was known to prefer to watch—watch other couples in the throes of passion that is.

gossipIt was said Lord C had interrupted the Duke of Sandringham with his latest mistress and had stayed to watch. Lord C’s perversions seem to be tolerated by many of his peers, but most of society is aghast at his behavior.

I can assure you, upon my honor, that there is a good reason why Lord C acts in such a scandalous manner, however the secret is not mine to tell.

However, Lord C has recently been seen in the company of the Duke of Sandringham’s widowed sister, and the likes of Lord Glennvale and his cronies are at a loss as to why Sandringham has not forbidden such a match. Does Lady P know more than she is telling? Or is there some reason why she has sought the handsome rake out?

The mystery deepens, and I can reveal that the lady bid against Lord C at the latest Sotheby auction. It was quite the battle…why did they both want this particular painting? Even I’m at a loss…

Yours truly, Lord Helmstone.

GossipDrawn To The Marquess (Imperfect Lords #2)– August 2018 Pre-order

Destined to go blind, a rake sets his sights on the toast of society, lighting a fire of passion that scorches the night, in this captivating novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans.

Stephen Hornsby, the Marquess of Clevedon, has one goal: to see every exquisite thing he can before he goes blind. His greatest joy, watching a woman shuddering in the throes of passion, will be gone. But before the darkness descends, he is determined to seduce a magnificent widow, Lady Penelope Fisherton. Unfortunately, his rakish reputation has preceded him; Lady Penelope spurns his advances. Being a man who relishes a challenge, however, her reluctance adds only luster to his desire for the last beautiful sight he’ll ever see.

Considered the belle of London society, Lady Penelope was married to a scoundrel who cared for no one but himself. Now that she’s free, she wants nothing to do with love, passion, or desire—emotions that abandoned her with a cruel husband. So why does her body react when Stephen smiles? As much as she’d like to avoid the rogue, her brother-in-law wants her fortune, and he’ll kill to get it. Stephen is willing to help, but he’ll take only one thing in return: Her. In his bed.

 Excerpt:

 A bilious sensation churned in Penelope’s stomach. She’d learned his lordship wanted a painting coming up for sale in this auction. She had to buy the painting he wanted or else she would have nothing to barter with.

Unfortunately, Lord Clevedon was extremely wealthy. He was a man who would not need money, so why else would he help her? The painting was the key. 

She would win it.

She’d brought six-hundred pounds with her. More than enough for a painting valued at only one-hundred pounds. She hugged her reticule tightly. Being the Duke of Sandringham’s sister would help if she needed credit, but paying too much for a landscape from a relatively unknown painter, would arouse curiosity. As would buying a painting Lord Clevedon wanted. The last thing she needed right now was the gossips announcing to everyone that she was in town and engaging in a bidding war with the Marquess of Clevedon.

Just then Lady Charlotte retook her seat. Her friend was there for morale support. It was Charlotte who, because she always came to town for the season when Penelope didn’t, had ascertained the identity of Clevedon’s current mistress and allowed them to learn as much as possible about the rake. Luckily for them Lord Clevedon had recently ended his liaison with Lady Diana and she was so heartbroken that she simply wanted to talk about the man all day. That is how Penelope learned about his obsession with the Wilson landscape.

“I see Clevedon’s here. I perfectly understand how Lady Diana ended up in the man’s bed. I must admit I’m very tempted myself.” At Penelope’s alarmed look at her widowed friend, Charlotte added, “Of course not until he has helped you.”

“You may play with him all you like as soon as I’m finished with him.”

Penelope saw Charlotte take a second look. “I shall certainly look forward to that.” She giggled. “And not simply because with his help you’ll be safe. By the way, no woman is safe with that man. He’d tempt a nun.”

“Stop looking at him. I don’t want to be noticed.”

“When will you learn darling, that a little flirtation gets widowed women like us almost anything we want. You could have him twisted round your little finger with a smile.”
Penelope pinched the bridge of her nose and wished she were at home as a headache began to pound behind her eyes. 

“If this plan doesn’t work,” her friend continued, “then you could always offer yourself.”

Her head jerked up and her jaw tightened. “No. I will have to find another way. I will never allow a man power over me again.”

“Oh, darling,” Charlotte turned to stare at Lord Clevedon once more. “I suspect you’ll actually enjoy his bed. But if you’re that certain then there is always your brother.

He would help surely?”

She shook her head until her bonnet almost dislodged. She had her reasons for wanting Lord Clevedon. To pacify her friend she uttered, “If my brother gets involved…Sandringham would think he could control me too. I want to live my life, my way. No men commanding me.”

Charlotte sighed. “Then you best hope this man can save you, painting or no painting. With his reluctance for anything more permanent than a couple of nights of pleasure from his lovers, even if he does request you in his bed, it won’t likely be for long.”

That did not make the idea of intimacies with the Marquess of Clevedon any more appealing.

 Pre-order links: Drawn to the Marquess

Amazon        https://amzn.to/2HJbDGg
iBooks           https://apple.co/2raPFF7
Nook              http://bit.ly/2HFlBN2
Kobo              http://bit.ly/2I3QDNG
Google Play   http://bit.ly/2JGtb6r

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author, Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes.Evans is a three-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand with her dogs Brandy and Duke.

You can keep up with Bronwen’s news by visiting her website

www.bronwenevans.com

and get a FREE book by signing up to her newsletter

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Or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bronwenevansauthor
Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/bronwenevans_NZ

 

Heard From Behind a Potted Fern

Eavesdropping“But Maud, all men have their bit of muslin on the side. My sister told me she knows from experience.”

The woman attempted to sound worldly, but in Harold Wagner’s opinion, her breathless tone sounded more naively thrilled. He leaned one shoulder against the wall behind the potted fern, tilted his head toward the conversation, and pulled out a notebook. Sam Clemens paid well for tittle-tattle and this might yield some sellable gems. The fourth son of a miserly earl needed funds in any way he could get them. If it shocked one over-ripe daughter of the haut-ton, it would probably sell.

“Oh, who cares what a captain gets up to in his bedroom in some heathenish country, Eunice,” the other woman retorted.

EavesdroppingHarold Wagner might, if what the man got up to was exotic enough. Unfortunately, this Maud creature hadn’t much imagination.

“What I heard is worse,” the one named Maud continued.

Worse? Now he found it interesting. He poised a pencil over his notebook.

“There were children!”

Harold’s pencil dropped. Good grief! Of course, there were children.

“Isn’t that always the way? My sister explained—”

“I can guess what sort of nonsense your sister Hortensia told you, Eunice, but listen to me. The mistress was—” She dropped her voice for dramatic effect. “—black.”

Eunice must have looked puzzled because Maud sounded disgusted when she didn’t get the reaction she expected. “You know. Native. Bengali.”

“I don’t see—”

“Think about it, Eunice. The children…”

It took several moments, but Eunice caught Maud’s meaning. “Oh! You mean they are native, or half.”

Another one back from India, leaving his cast-offs behind, Harold thought. He shrugged and recorded it. Sam still might buy it if he had a name to go with it.

“The worst of it is, I heard he flaunts them,” Maud went on, warming to the story. “He sailed to Suez on The Pharaoh before taking the Overland Route My friend Miriam said Captain Wheatly gave them the run of the ship. She called them cunning and encroaching little girls. The older one had her nose in everything.”

Wheatly rung a bell. Harold searched his memory for the family.

“What about the mistress, Maud?” Eunice asked. She managed to make “mistress” sound like something disgusting found on the bottom of her dancing slipper.

“You mean the native one? Miriam says he left her or she died. Must have died because he only brought the girls. No, Fred Wheatly traveled with some other woman, as white as you and I. Miriam says the way she fawned over the girls, he must pay her well.”

Harold scribbled it down, “traveled with a woman…”

Maud barely stopped for breath. “He established them in his cousin’s house, as bold as you please. I don’t care if his cousin is a duke, if he tries to bring them near decent people in London, I for one will give him the cut direct.”

Duke? That was it, of course. Wheatly is the family name of the Duke of Murnane. Harold placed him now. Fred Wheatly was always in trouble. He vaguely remembered him running off to India after some scrape. Related to the Earl of Chadbourn too, if Harold remembered right. Sam Clemens would pay for this little on-dit.

“Me too, Maud. Cut direct. I’ll lift my skirt if I see them on the street,” Eunice responded. “You don’t think he’d be seen in the city with his mistress do you?” she asked. “Wouldn’t that be delicious?”

One thought troubled Harold. Sam never published gossip about children. It was one of the bast—, er, the rogue’s few scruples. He brushed the concern aside. Oh yes. Sam would like this one, at least the mistress part. It won’t even take much embellishing.

~An excerpt from The Reluctant Wife~

Eavesdropping

Fred hated the fear in her eyes. My little warrior should never feel fear. He smoothed a hand over her head. “You managed quite well—too well to suit me—in Calcutta. The village is tiny, and Emma and Mary will be with you.”

“Everyone is different here. I don’t look like them. What if they stare at me?”

Ah. One thing he couldn’t prevent. She managed the horrid headmistress in Calcutta, didn’t she? Fred swallowed hard. He wanted to scream, “Chase them away. Shout at them,” but he kept that to himself. He could think of nothing constructive to tell her.

Mary answered when he failed to. “Easy. We know how to outstare anyone, don’t we, Emma?”

Meghal, intrigued, turned toward her cousin, and Mary babbled on. “First we pretend we don’t see them. Then we raise our chin, thus.” She demonstrated a perfect aristocratic pose, causing Meghal to giggle.

“Then—and this is the good part—we stare at them as if we can see right through them and they aren’t even there. Emma taught me. They don’t exist until we want them to, right, Emma?”

Emma’s lips twitched. “That is precisely how it is done. However, you must remember that this weapon is powerful. It must only be used when someone is very, very rude, but never—well perhaps rarely, I can think of exceptions—on a married lady or an older person.”

Fred watched the girls with growing amusement. His nieces would turn his daughters into formidable young women. They don’t need me.

About the Book

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband, and with a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

It is available in Kindle format free with Kindle Unlimited or for purchase as ebook or in print:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
BooksAMillion

The Reluctant Wife is Book 2 in Caroline Warfield’s Children of Empire Series.

8

Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, have been driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman was involved!) Though they all escape to the outposts of The British Empire, they all make their way home to England, facing their demons and finding love and the support of women of character and backbone. They are

  • Randolph Baldwin Wheatly who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Captain Frederick Arthur Wheatly, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies, and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Charles, Duke of Murnane, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau, only to face his past there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Who are their ladies?

  • Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish captain sort out his responsibilities. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Zambak Hayden, the eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help but try to protect the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium, while she’s there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Book 3, The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.

Here’s a short video about it:
https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7/videos/924791187669849/

For more about the series and all of Caroline’s books, look here:
https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

Caroline Warfield

About the Author

Caroline Warfield grew up in a peripatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology) before retiring to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, where divides her time between writing Regency and Victorian Romance, and seeking adventures with her grandson and the prince among men she married.

 

 

 

Duke Buys Widow

This morning the Teatime Tattler received reports that the Duke of Ravensmere—in an unusual gesture—outbid a salacious rogue for the lunch basket of Lady Samantha Winston, a merry widow, who has captured his interest and his pocketbook for the outrageous sum of one thousand pounds. One gathers it was all for a good cause, but one has to wonder what other plans the noble duke has for this lady? Follow this column for more information tomorrow. Tonight they attend the fancy dress ball where under our reporter will reveal all that transpires under his curious eyes. Is it possible the duke is smitten with the beautiful green-eyed copper-haired lady?

A Later Update:

DukeYour reporter fears that Lady Samantha Winston gazed over the Duke of Ravensmere’s shoulder and caught sight of said reporter leaning against a tree scribbling on my small pad of parchment. She was heard to whisper to a friend,  “Who was he and was he a friend or enemy? If a foe, what evil intent did he have? And who was the victim?”  Forced to move away, I gave up. What indeed happened at the so-called charitable auction? And what will be the outcome?

An excerpt from ONE NIGHT WITH A DUKE

Her attention returned to the Reverend Carlson who stepped to the podium and announced the auction of ladies lunch baskets would begin for the Winston School Foundation’s charitable event. The Reverend read the individual menus and managed to make each sound like a gastronomical feast. One hundred pounds would not be an uncommon sum to be offered and accepted. When it came to Lady Samantha’s turn, she twirled a curl around her finger perhaps to calm her uneasiness.

The Reverend pounded his gavel again and asked for the first bid. Sir Roger Dudley, a well-known libertine, offered one hundred pounds. A silence thundered through the crowd. To the Raven, the Duke of Ravensmere, it appeared a moment of uncertainty crossed Samantha’s sweet face. Their conversation about rakes and disreputable men came to his mind. Her worst fears were now at her doorstep. He gazed upon hands that clutched the handle of her basket with whitened knuckles. Raven took note of this and perceived Samantha as vulnerable. An impossible urge to protect her came over him. She’d placed herself in this position. Damnation.

Anyone who looked as she did in that dress should expect men to offer for her and the picnic lunch. Beautiful and seductive, mere words would be insufficient to compliment her….

Samantha’s wide eyes seemingly implored Raven to help. How could he not come to her rescue?

He raised his walking stick and caught the attention of the minister. He spoke out with deep clarity, “And five pounds, Reverend.”

Lord Dudley peered at the bidder, nodded, and raised his sum to two hundred pounds.

Raven lifted his walking stick. “And five pounds, Reverend.”

Lord Dudley appeared amused and raised the bid to three hundred pounds.

Raven raised his walking stick. “And five pounds, Reverend.” The guests stopped their conversations to watch how the challenge would end.

Lord Dudley raised the bid to five hundred pounds.

The audience gasped at the extravagant sum.

Raven nodded. He stole a glance at Samantha, enjoying the experience. He raised his hand, and silence befell the group.

The Reverend asked, “And five pounds, Your Grace?” with a chuckle.

“No, good Reverend,” answered Raven. He engaged Samantha’s eyes. Her expression was one of blatant terror as her hand lay at her throat. He bestowed a knowing smile to calm her.

The auction appeared over and dreaded silence followed. The Reverend set about to announce the winner until Raven spoke in a resonant tone with the utmost alacrity, “I bid one thousand pounds.”

The hushed assembly looked almost in unison to Lord Dudley, who laughed. “Enough of this

amusement. No damn lunch is worth that kind of money,” he grumbled and walked toward the duke. “I capitulate, Your Grace. Good sport, don’t you think?”

Raven rose from the chair, handed the appropriate bank voucher to the Reverend, and stepped lively to Samantha and her picnic basket. “Shall we?” He extended his arm. Samantha clung to his left arm, and he became cognizant of her quaking. He took her expensive picnic basket in his right hand. “Stay calm. I’m here and you are under my protection. No harm will befall you.” Raven escorted her to a secluded table, which he had prearranged, and his name appeared on a place marker. It adhered to propriety while offering privacy.

“You did want me to offer, didn’t you?” Raven shook his head and grinned since he now admitted he had every intention of offering for her costly basket. He much wanted to be with the enchantress. Samantha enriched his life in ways he dared not imagine. He couldn’t remember a day he enjoyed more and looked forward to the evening.

Samantha flushed and said in a cool utterance,

“Thank you, Your Grace. You’ve saved me from a horrible fate and I am grateful.”

She lifted the lid of the basket, but he grasped her gloved hand with superb gentleness.

“Allow me. I can’t remember when I have enjoyed the outlay of so much money before. Of a

certain, there are no dull moments when you’re around. I do believe you are a sorceress. I couldn’t allow Lord Dudley to attempt to compromise you in any way.” To protect her at all costs became a necessity to him.

“As you have stated, it’s for a cherished cause, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Your Grace. Congratulations. However, I would remind you, I cannot be purchased with such ease.”

“Perish the thought. I’m well aware of the fact. I bid for a few hours of your time. Don’t read anything into my actions and let it discomfit you. If lunch with me is so distasteful, I am prepared to leave you alone.” He realized he was a bit curt, but it appeared with her, the conversation always held a challenge. Raven rose from the chair…

The gentle hand that restrained him relieved Raven. Samantha removed her gloves and placed them in her reticule. “I fear you might have misunderstood me,” she said with a sly smile. “I’m happy to be with such a handsome man at this event. Because of you, its success has exceeded any expectations. There will be sufficient funds for the school. I owe you a debt of gratitude.”

He made sure to use a soft tone of voice. “For a few hours, can we cease the verbal barbs and enjoy this repast?”

“Is it your intent to call a truce, Raven? We will be the talk of the ton. Harbinger tongues will wag and link our names together. I hope that doesn’t distress you.” She paused and gifted him a smile. “I want to enjoy this special moment with you and gaze into your amazing dark gray eyes. Yes, I would like a truce.” Her reached out to his.

About the Book: ONE NIGHT WITH A DUKE

dukeWhen a spirited woman disrupts the world of a duke who follows the rules, sparks fly, passions ignite and planets collide.

   Reclusive, cold as ice, the politically powerful Raven, Duke of Ravensmere, denies love after the tragic deaths of his duchess and baby. He is bound by his vow never to allow love to enter his heart again. Samantha Winston permits him to seek refuge in her carriage in a time of need, and what started as a kiss in the name of safety, becomes something more pleasurable and not so safe after all. In spite of every caution, his interest escalates into unexpected desire.

   Samantha, a young widow with a secret, irreverent and high-spirited, has constructed impenetrable walls against all men. When she and Raven meet again, strong wills clash. Political intrigues and a dreaded nemesis place his life at risk, and Samantha finds herself in a dire predicament. All the while, passion soars.

   Can Samantha’s barriers fall with more kisses?

   Can Raven be released from his deathbed vow?

Amazon US
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Wild Rose Press  and order direct any of the five books.

About the Author, SANDRA MASTERS

From a humble beginning in Newark, NJ, a short stay at a convent in Morristown, NJ, to the boardrooms of NYC, and a fantastic career for a broadcasting company in Carlsbad, California, to the rural foothills of the Sierras of Yosemite National Park, I have always traveled with pen and notebook. It’s been the journey of ten thousand miles with a few steps left to go. I’ve traded boardrooms for ballrooms, left my corporate world behind and never looked back. It was nothing I expected, but everything I dreamed. My current occupation is Living The Dream.

I am a storyteller. Gather round me, sip some chocolate cocoa, and allow me to transport you to where you never been. I have more yesterdays than tomorrows. I am a woman who has known many things content to look through a lens of make-believe to bring you romance.

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