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Tag: A Raging Madness

Rumours of a mad rival

Overheard in a London drawing room.
“To be fair, Lady Amelia, many females have run mad over a red coat.” Lady Fenella’s jibe—and Lady Amelia’s blush—reminded the others present of Lady Amelia’s own excesses last Season in pursuit of a certain officer of the Horse Guard.

“One officer might be a mistake,” Mrs Fullerton suggested, “but two seems a little excessive. It certainly sounds as if this poor mad sister of Braxton’s makes a habit of compromising situations with the cavalry.”

“Only one compromising situation, surely,” Lady Eustace Framley protested. “I thought she was the baronet’s widow. One can’t compromise oneself with one’s husband.”

“One can before he is her husband, darling.” Lady Fenella widened her eyes. “Or do you not remember how you came to marry Lord Eustace?”

“Is it true that this mysterious officer stole her from her bedroom in her chemise?” Lady Amelia wondered.

“It would be rather cold,” said Lady Eustace. “It was, after all, more than a month ago, and in the Spring. One would imagine the Cheshire weather would dampen the ardour.”

“Your innocence is so charming,” Lady Fenella said. “Do you practice it in front of the mirror?”

“I do not much like these Braxtons. If I lived with Mrs Braxton, I dare say I should be mad myself,” Lady Amelia declared.

“I would certainly prefer Major Alex Redepenning to Mr Braxton,” said Lady Fenella, watching Mrs Fullerton very closely.

“Anyone would,” Lady Amelia agreed. “At least one would have before he was crippled. Goodness, Fenella, you don’t mean that Alex Redepenning stole Melville’s widow away! But that’s…” Her voice trailed off and she, too, stared speculatively at Mrs Fullerton.

Lady Eustace proved her relative naivety by rushing to make the comment the other two women merely thought. “Melville’s widow? Sir Gervase Melville? Wasn’t he your particular friend once, Mrs Fullerton? Yes, and Major Redepenning, too!”

“Poor dear.” Lady Fenella took Mrs Fullerton’s hand and gave it a warm squeeze. “It can hardly be pleasant to know you are unlikely in love not once, but twice, and both times have lost to the same woman.”

Their marriage is a fiction. Their enemies are all too real.

Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.

Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him.

In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.

Gossip makes the march go faster

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, soldiers’ wives were the army support crew, scavenging for food, mending and washing clothes, nursing the wounded, and even working alongside the men.

“Thought you’d be with the wounded, Maggie,” Becky Watson said, trying but failing to keep the glee from her tone. Maggie Palmer had been lauding her extra income and increased status over the other women since she’d won the coveted nursing position, and Becky was not the only one to rejoice in her downfall.

Maggie glared at the girl who rode her donkey twenty yards in front of them. Fifteen years old, newly married, and taking up the duties of the real doctor, her father, who had collapsed with an apoplexy on the day she married Melville.

Lady Melville didn’t notice Maggie. All her attention was on the cart carrying those fit enough to be dragged along with the regiment to their winter quarters, her father among them. For the moment, she was the closest the regiment had to a regimental surgeon. 

“Wash, wash, wash. And every bucket needing to be carried from the river and heated over the fire. I washed this morning, I told her, and I’ll be damned if I wash again. And changing the sheets every day, and all that rubbish. Thinks she’s so much better than us just because she managed to snare a baronet.”

“Captain Brownlie always makes the nurses wash,” Becky pointed out. She’d been appointed nurse herself until little Freddie was born, but Captain Brownlie wouldn’t have women with children in the hospital quarters.

She hoisted the toddler higher onto her hip and kept trudging. The women had left camp as soon as possible after first light, and had been walking for an hour. They’d be another seven on the road. Becky could do with Lady Melville’s donkey, and that was a fact.

Maggie hadn’t finished complaining. “She isn’t her father. She’s not an officer, or even a proper doctor. She has no right to order me around.”

This charming painting purports to record a moment in history, when a child with a French regiment was put on the tomb of a knight to sleep, out of the way of a fight, covered by his father’s jacket.

Maggie was a fool. As long as the Colonel backed Lady Melville’s commands—as he had when Maggie went bleating to him with her complaints—the lady had every right to order the nurses about.

But all the wives knew Maggie was bitter because her former services to Lieutenant Sir Gervase Melville had stopped when he suddenly up and married. And Becky would bet her best iron pot that Maggie did a lot more for him than cooking and cleaning. Mind you, Lieutenant Melville didn’t confine himself to regimental widows like Maggie. He had dipped his toes in a lot of other soldiers’ bedrolls, as well as the local bits of fluff who came out to serve the regiment wherever it camped.

Swiving locals would be frowned on, but tupping the wives of his soldiers was worse. Mind you, it would be the woman who paid if anyone spoke out of turn. She’d be drummed out of the regiment and lucky if she was given the passage home. And the Lieutenant would get a rap on the knuckles.

“I’m going to tell the Lieutenant,” Maggie declared. “He’ll make her take me back.”

Becky stopped to move Freddie to the other hip, then hurried to catch up. “Don’t make trouble for her, Maggie. She has it hard enough. You know what he’s like.”

None of the wives believed the poor girl had suddenly started tripping over tent pegs and bumping into corners. Melville had been horrified when forced to marry the doctor’s daughter, and Melville in a temper was a nasty man.

But Maggie was obdurant. “Serves her right. She made her bed when she seduced him. She’ll just have to lie in it.”

Becky shook her head. No point in arguing. Maggie had her mind made up, but Becky didn’t believe Lady Melville seduced the baronet. Not her. As nice and as ladylike as the Colonel’s wife, who Becky had served as maid back when she first married Watson, while the regiment was still in England.

In any case, anyone with eyes would know it hadn’t been Melville that the doctor’s daughter wanted.

Becky sighed. She was a happily married woman, and a mother. But even she could see the appeal of Captain Alexander Redepenning. It was over now, of course. Lady Melville had made her choice and was stuck with it.

And how it happened, Becky couldn’t fathom.

“Yes. That’ll do. Gervase will help me.” Maggie slid her eyes sideways to see the effect of her use of the baronet’s personal name.

Suddenly sick of the other woman’s nastiness, Becky decided to take a stand. “Watson says the Colonel’s wife has come over to join him in winter quarters. Used to be her maid, I did, and she still has a fondness for me.”

“Not as fond as the Lieutenant is of me,” Maggie smirked.

“Yes, well, that’s the point, isn’t it. The Colonel will want her to check that the camp followers are,” Becky quoted the oft-repeated demand of the regimental regulations: “sober, industrious, and of good character. Don’t worry about it, Maggie Palmer. If they find out what you’ve done with the Lieutenant, you’d likely get your passage home. If the Colonel is in a good mood.”

Maggie frowned. “Are you threatening me?”

Becky shrugged. “Take it how you will. But leave Lady Melville alone.”

 

Their marriage is a fiction. Their enemies are all too real.

Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.

Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him.

In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.

Jude Knight’s book pageSmashwords # iBooks # Barnes and NobleAmazon US

Scandal at the Chipping Niddwick Assembly

Dear Editor

Let me start by saying that I abhor gossip, and despise scandal-mongers above all things. However, I cannot fail to comment on the recent events at would should have been a decorous event in support of an excellent charity. As a good Christian gentleman, I am well aware that we gentry have a duty to set an example to the lesser sort, and part of that duty is to castigate outrageous behaviour on the part of those who should know better.

I speak, Sir, about the recent Whitsunweek Assembly at Chipping Niddwick. The committee who organised the event did us proud. Imagine the delight of our young ladies when not one by two earls attended the affair, both single gentlemen. A baron and viscount were also in attendance, with their respective wives. Such illustrious company for a small country town.

Or so we thought.

Before the night was out, all of them would show their true colours.

The younger of the two earls was observed in seclusion with the baroness (in circumstances that would have demanded the parson’s noose had the lady not already been married). It should have come as not surprise; both Lord S. and Lady Cgm. are often lampooned in printers windows in London for their outrageous behaviour. We regret that they brought their London ways to our virtuous town.

Meanwhile, Lord Cgm. was on a venture of his own, attempting to set up an assignation with a married lady who, we are told, rebuffed him. Lord Cgm. does not, as a rule, show an interest in married ladies, preferring much younger girls, to the extent that no parent will allow their daughter to take service in his house, and Lady Cgm. has to fetch her maids from the orphan asylums of Bristol and Bath.

The other earl. Lord Chby. returned from Canada claiming to be a widower, though rumour has it that his first wife, if the union was in fact blessed by the church, was a native woman. Fortunately for his esteemed name and title, the woman died several years agoand her brats with her.

We saw no signs of grieving last night, since Lord Chby. brought with him a woman (we do not consider her a lady) who could only be his mistress, given the heat with which he regarded her all evening. Mrs. H. is known in this community, and has until now been trusted despite her mysterious appearance here six years ago. Now questions are being asked about the resemblance between her daughter and Lord Chby.

Finally, a cousin of Lord Chby. caused a stir in an invalid’s chair, and inadvertently uncovered the clay feet of the last of our cast of peers. Major A. R., injured in the line of duty, was not content to merely watch the dancing from the sidelines, but insisted on joining in. When his chair collapsed under the unaccustomed exertion of the dance, its maker proclaimed herself. Imagine our shock when we discovered she was none other that Lady A., viscountess of Lord A.

I have, honoured Sir, ignored rumours that Lord A. has made his money from trade. His father was a much respected rider to hounds, though he did marry down. Apparently, the son takes after his father in his low taste in spouses and his mother in his prediliction for activities unbecoming to a gentleman.

Sir, I am advised that the committee thought long and hard before allowing Assembly tickets to be sold to anyone who could raise the price, fearing to lower the tone of the event by letting in the lower sort. May I suggest that next year they raise the tone of the event by excluding the higher sort.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,

Sir A. P-H. Bart.

A Raging Madness, the second book in the Golden Redepennings series, will be released in May

The Assembly at Chipping Niddwick is the highlight of the social calendar in my book Farewell to Kindness. If you want to know what Lord Selby did with the Bad Baroness, Lady Carrington, what Mia Redepenning told Lord Carrington, and whether or not Lord Chirbury succeeded in seducing Anne Haverstock, all the answers are in that book.

Revealed in Mist discloses why Lord Selby is hiding out in the country. (The investigation in Revealed in Mist and the one in Farewell to Kindness dovetail.) The young viscount and his lady who first appeared in my imagination at this assembly, demanded to have their story told in the book that became Candle’s Christmas Chair. And Major Alex Redepenning will reappear as hero of A Raging Madness, where we will finally find out how he got injured.

A new cover, so hot off the press it isn’t in the eretailers yet.

Hidden from the earl who hunts them, Anne and her sisters have been accepted into the heart of a tiny rural village. Until another earl comes visiting.

Rede lives to avenge the deaths of his wife and children. After three long years of searching, he is closing in on the ruthless villains who gave the orders, and he does not hope to survive the final encounter.

Until he meets Anne. As their inconvenient attraction grows, a series of near fatal attacks draws them together and drives them apart. When their desperate enemies combine forces, Anne and Rede must trust one another to survive.

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