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Tag: arranged marriage

Magic and a Kidnapped Bride-to-be Marked for Murder

Dear Mr. Clemens,

Ah. Dear me. Where to begin?

The impetuous (dare I say reckless?) young Viviane, Lady of the Lake, committed the heist of the century when she, on a dare no less, stole Merlin’s spell book. The headstrong High Priestess of Avalon then fled to her island sanctuary with the purloined grimoire. When warned by the magical waters she commands that the wizard would, indeed, not be amused, and would, in fact, imprison her in an ice castle, the Lady of the Lake fought magic with magic.

One does not reveal in polite society the specifics of such invocations. Suffice to say, two spells were cast forward in time to sixteenth century Scotland. The enchantments had a calamitous affect on Lady Fenella, Thaness of Thorburn. Was her subsequent kidnapping by the ruthless Lord A— a coincidence, or a spell repercussion? I leave it to you, Dear Reader, to decide.

What is known is that Lord A— desired Lady Fenella’s Highland holdings and kidnapped her with the intent to marry her to his son, Edward. Allowing the guiltless Edward and Lady Fenella to fall in love was never part of Lord A—’s murderous plot. Quite the contrary! But then, Lord A— could not have imagined his coveted prize would be magically lured back in time to Avalon and Fairy afore her wedding.

Mayhap Lady Fenella’s deepening attraction for Edward will prove to Lord A—’s advantage. After all, what more powerful reason can Lady Fenella have to bend time and return to her unfortunate situation than love?

Blurb from The Beltane Escape

Lady Fenella, Thaness of Thorburn, has no idea her fate is shackled to a powerful sorceress. She believes Merlin and the Lady of the Lake are myths, Gran’s warnings about Fairy are superstition, and Fairy was invented to make children behave. But a spell cast forward to sixteenth century Scotland finds Fenella and leads to her being branded, stolen, and betrothed. Traumatized and separated from her clan, the Highland heiress finds an unexpected ally in her kidnapper’s son. But their fragile romance is tested when the young Lady of the Lake lures Fenella’s cousin into Fairy. Fenella has seconds to decide. Should she remain with Edward, or should she dive into Fairy to rescue her beloved cousin, endangering her clan, and abandoning Edward to his ruthless father?

Excerpt

Trapped within the doeskin pouch, Merlin’s spell book pulsed like an angry heart. Viviane, the young Lady of the Lake, pushed her qualms aside and knotted the stolen treasure to her waist. An eerie quiet settled over the woods. Either the tree spirits sleep, or they watch me in silence, Viviane surmised as she carefully surveyed the canopy. Knees quaking, she deftly concealed the pouch beneath her cloak, then ran. Shallow breaths caught in her throat, and a sharp pain needled her side as she quickened her pace. She pressed her hand against the twinge and kept running. With each pounding stride, the prize slapped vehemently against her hip.

Viviane chanced a glance over her shoulder. Hah! No sign of Merlin. In her arrogance, she stumbled, her heel catching on her long indigo cape. Her heart cartwheeled. With an oath, she righted herself. Ahead, the Enchanted Forest’s dark mantle ended, and gloaming’s early light shone. She bolted towards the dawn.

Dry pine needles crunched beneath her deerskin sandals. The spell book’s muffled rage beat louder, waking a nearby tree spirit whose angry screech roused others. As one, they grabbed at Viviane with their prickly branches. A wizen-faced pine scratched Viviane’s cheek, stirring the creature marked into the skin above her cheekbone. Agitated, the blue sea serpent threaded itself around the crescent moon inked near her eye. Its nostrils flared, assessing the danger. Viviane shoved the impudent branch away. Catching scent of the lake, she broke through the trees. Her lungs heaved as an ache bloomed between her shoulders where the tree spirits’ angry glares thrust against her.

Viviane ran to the coracle moored at the water’s edge. The woven willow boat creaked when she scrambled into its hull and drew in the rope. Her long gown and flowing cape pooled around her as she crouched. Clutching the boat’s wooden sides, she commanded, “Hasten to the isle!”

The water surrounding the boat surged, forming a current that propelled the craft forward. A flock of startled grebes took flight, their wings thrumming.

“Mist, cloak me from Merlin’s sight.” Viviane arced her arm above her head. Her prisoner pummeled against her hip. But the spell book’s blows were futile and inconsequential.

The air thickened and grew damp. A dove-gray cloud engulfed the lake, swallowing the creaking vessel and its sole occupant.

Viviane knelt, closed her eyes, and raised her chin. Cool mist beaded her face. Merlin will rue the day he dared me to prove my cleverness, to prove I can outwit him. No doubt, he had expected me to stay within my watery realm, not venture into his forest. Does Merlin think because I am ten and eight, and he two years older, I lack cunning and daring? Hah! How dare he insult me?

The book writhed.

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About Ariella Moon

Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. Her Two Realms series includes THE BELTANE ESCAPE, a medieval Scotland and Fairy fantasy adventure, and THE AMBER ELIXIR, a Lady of the Lake novella. Ariella’s Teen Wytche Saga is a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances. Her “Covert Hearts” appears in Second Chances: A Romance Writers of America Collection.

You can learn more about Ariella Moon and her novels on her website ariellamoon.com. For upcoming books and giveaway news, sign up for her newsletter and follow her on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Letter from a Friend

It is less than two weeks before Emily Collicott will find herself on a coach and headed for her first season in London. The prospect of balls, routs, afternoon teas, and well-timed promenades through St. James’s Park are enough to make her catch her breath, but even before she has begun to pack her trunks, the first gossip has already reached her fingertips, by way of a letter from her good friend, Josephine…

My dear Em,

I hope this letter finds you well – and hopefully arrives in your hands before you’ve departed from Cornwall, or else all of these splotches and crossed lines will be for naught! But what news these cramped fingers bring to you! I would wait until you arrive next month, but gossip is such an ephemeral thing I fear that by the time this letter is posted my words will already carry a tinge of staleness at their edges.

Now, to cut through the rest of the tedious salutations and wishes for your health and wellness, I will leap ahead and tell you that a certain Lord Marbley will be making his return to London society within the same week your coach should come trundling up to our doorstep.

Of course, you do not know who Lord Marbley is! Neither did I, until I was informed by no less than three giggling young ladies who swooned and simpered and fluttered their eyelashes over freshly-pinched cheeks as if Marbley himself were about to sweep through the door and propose marriage to one or all of them. Goodness, I thought I would have to administer smelling salts before they had finished their tale.

But should we encounter this Lord Marbley at any point during your sojourn in town, I am told we are supposed to find ourselves astonished by his handsome visage, that we shall nearly drown in the shadow cast upon us by his height and the breadth of his shoulders, and that should he dare to even smile or glance in our direction, we may not be capable of composing ourselves.

Well! I thought I must tell you all of this in order to prepare you for what you shall encounter while you are here! You must not believe half of what is told to you, and of the other half, you would do well to prune away most of it as pure exaggeration. Then, perhaps, you might find yourself with some small kernel of the truth.

Lord Marbley, I’m sure, will have something to recommend him. A fortune, perhaps, though no doubt nothing like the allusions to Croesus that have been bandied about every time his name comes up in conversation. And will he be handsome? That fact must depend on the fortune, for the greater his wealth, the more pleasing to the eye he will likely be. Heaven help him if he is a pauper, for not a single mother or daughter will deign to give him a second glance!

And I am sure we will discover every detail about his time in France, whether we wish to or not. Rumors have already begun to circulate that it was something scandalous that took him away from England in the first place, but again, I’ve no doubt that the truth is not nearly as fascinating or scurrilous as most everyone would wish it to be, and we shall be left yawning behind our fans, wondering why there was such a commotion surrounding his much-heralded return to our shores.

But here I am, already to the end of the page, so I will leave you with the briefest of farewells and wishes for your good health and safe travels that politeness will allow. Until next month!

Yours, etc.

Josephine

The Bride Price

To save her family from scandal, Emily Collicott must marry.

Ruined in her first season in London, she is given no choice but to wed her father’s pick for a husband, or be cast out from her home. Emily agrees to marry William Hazlitt, a man she hardly knows. But William remembers her. Growing up as a tenant on her father’s estate, he admired her from afar, their lives kept separate first by class, and then by loss.

Emily seeks to begin a new life with this quiet man to whom she finds herself wedded. But the scandal she escaped in London soon finds her again, the very man who destroyed her reputation threatening to tear down the happiness she’s found with her new husband. To keep from losing everything, she must either make a deal with a devil… or learn how to defeat one.

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Meet Quenby Olson

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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Barbaric Clip From Across the Pond

Exclusive Report by L. L. Tuthill

The Tattler recommends this not be shared with the young – male or female – lest they become intrigued by what goes on across the Atlantic.

The Tattler has received the clip below from an unnamed source – a London woman far too refined and too aghast at her American cousin’s boldness, to divulge her own identity. Even we at The Tattler share this brazen Western impression of marriage hesitantly, thankful that women such as Mrs. R. Howard are far removed from our own shores where the fairer sex knows how to conduct herself properly.

Wanted: Husband to co-own a ranch immediately. Purely business arrangement, and will be well compensated. Able to take orders. Contact Mrs. R. Howard, Liberal, Kansas.

Our source was nearly too faint to fill in any details, but with gentle coaxing and a substantial amount of liquid sustenance, we were able to learn Mrs. Howard is a recent widow. So recent her ad is that much more indecent. It is understood that at Mrs. Howard’s husband’s funeral she was already planning her next marriage, speaking with the clergyman who officiated her husband’s service before the grave was even closed.

Appalled enough that our reporter had to seek liquid sustenance himself, he was able to further learn that even though Mrs. Howard claimed ridiculous laws that didn’t allow women to own property as her sole reason for seeking a new man, she had been seen in immodest clothing also, suggesting possible darker motives. The new widow was equally quick to switch from dresses to men’s apparel – claiming it more suitable to working the ranch she intended to keep – but not just any man’s, she chose her deceased husband’s to wear.

When asked if our source’s cousin was able to land a man, her reply was, “She’s a blazing redhead. What do you think?”

We think she did. And we set out to prove it. Contacting a Mr. Greene, the local postal person in Liberal, Kansas, we learned Mrs. Howard did indeed reel in a man. A tall, handsome, dark-haired cowboy she let stay at her place without any announcement of marriage. Ben Miller supposedly slept under the stars and at times in her barn’s loft, but Mr. Greene speculated things might have changed when Mr. Miller bought her some real dungarees one day. Boy’s size that fit her right nice.

At the time of this printing we can say Mrs. Howard…Mrs. Miller, maybe…might be reaping what she’s sown. We’ve heard there are plenty of fireworks on her ranch – an unhappy ranch manager who claims he would have been happy to help her hold onto her land, a banker who is reluctant to let go of a deed to a stranger like Ben, and a son who received no warning his mother’s plan to save the ranch involved a new stepfather.

All we can say, is God save our Queen, and God help poor Mrs. Howard

About the Book

Neither Rex nor Regina wants a spouse, but they do have needs.

Ranger Rex Duncan needs a false identity—just long enough to uncover a ring of Kansas ranch thieves. Answering Regina’s ad for a temporary husband, he leaves his beloved red dirt of Oklahoma to assume that disguise. But the most obstinate woman he’s ever known confounds his assignment, and with hair the red color that has always made his heart beat a little faster.

Regina Howard needs a new Mrs. in front of her name—just long enough to reclaim her deceased husband’s ranch, since Kansas law won’t allow women to own property. When Rex answers her ad for a husband who can take orders as part of a brief business arrangement, she finds this stubborn man ignores her every command. Yet a good man is far more than just a name…

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/2qj7DE2

Excerpt:

Ben was tall, and he felt even taller as he took a step closer and leaned my way. “It takes two to bind a contract, and since I’ve just withdrawn, your arrangement is null and void. And just so you know, you can thank your lucky stars I’m not staying to marry you, because I take surprises a lot better than I take orders.” His eyes stayed on mine until his gaze traveled from my face down to my boots. “And wearing trousers doesn’t make you any more suited to giving orders than wearing a skirt would make me fit for giving birth.”

My nails dug into my palms as I rolled my hands into fists. A word I’d heard Ted say when a pail slid off his bad arm came to mind. The word was immoral, but probably not too immoral for Ben Miller. “Just so you know, Mr. Miller, I’ve been running this ranch for three weeks now, in pants. I find skirts get in the way of things you’d probably be surprised I can do.”

The half-smile returned. “I won’t argue that. Skirts surely do get in the way.” Ben straightened and slapped his hat tighter on his head. “Been my experience, too.

Fortunately, neither one of us has to put up with one, since you can keep right on doing things the way you have been. I’m giving you an early parting. I’m leaving.”

About the Author

Born and raised in the Midwest, Colleen earned a four-year degree in Medical Technology and used it to travel and explore other parts of the country while working in the field of science.

Outside the laboratory she delves deeply into literature, both reading and writing, her interest piqued by tales involving moral dilemmas and the choices people come up against.

A lover of the outdoors as well as a comfy living room, Colleen is always searching inside and out for the next good story.

Social Media Links:

Website link –   www.colleenldonnelly.com
Goodreads author page –   http://www.Goodreads.com/colleenldonnelly
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ColleenLDonnell
Facebook url – https://www.facebook.com/ColleenLDonnelly
Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Colleen-L-Donnelly/e/B00ELP1GIA

Buy Links:

The Lady’s Arrangement: http://amzn.to/2qj7DE2
Mine to Tell: http://amzn.to/1PNJo4S
Love on a Train: http://amzn.to/1m9eYCx
Asked For: http://amzn.to/1TyflEu

Interview with Charlotte Clark from Cherishing Charlotte

Cherishing Charlotte is Book 3

of The Hertfordshire Hoydens

by Susana Ellis

Charlotte Clark is the oldest child of John (Jack) and Marianne Clark, who operate a charity school for boys in Oxford. Her maternal grandfather, a wealthy landowner who disinherited his daughter for running off with the tutor, appears to have relented somewhat, having invited his granddaughter to visit his estate, Heatherwyck. But does he have an ulterior motive?

Charlotte agreed to have tea with me at Miss Clemens’s Oxford Street Book Palace and Tea Rooms on Mount Street in London.

female model posing in a historical regency period empire waist dress

Charlotte Clark from Cherishing Charlotte

Susana: Thank you so much for meeting me today, Miss Clark. I know it is a bit of a journey for you from Oxford.

Charlotte: Indeed. It is only the second time I have been to London in all of my nineteen years. If not for Mama needing my help with Papa, I would have remained home with the boys. My twin brothers Robert and Thomas. They are ten. They are looking after the pig and chickens in our absence. [grinning] And the neighbors are looking after them.

Susana: Is your father in poor health, then? Is that why you have come to London?

Charlotte [taking a deep breath]: Yes. Unfortunately, he is afflicted with consumption. The local doctor doesn’t give much hope, but Mama wanted to consult a London physician. We didn’t have the money, but one of Papa’s former pupils graciously offered to provide the fee and lodgings at his home. Papa wanted to refuse, but Mama would not hear of it.

Susana: Your father must have made quite an impression on his students, then.

Charlotte [nodding enthusiastically]: Oh yes! He is a first-rate teacher. Many of his students who have been to Oxford or Cambridge have said that Papa is superior to most of the dons. I’m sure he would have been one himself had he not married Mama instead.

Susana: So dons cannot be married, then?

Charlotte: That is correct. But after he met Mama, nothing else mattered. He’s such a romantic, you see.

Susana: And your mother?

Charlotte [smiling]: Oh, she loves him madly too, of course. But she’s the practical one. Which is really quite fortunate for us, because it was she who managed to keep us fed all these years. Papa is more of a dreamer, and as she is fond of saying, dreams don’t keep food on the table.

Susana: And yet, she agreed to elope with her tutor. More romantic than practical, wouldn’t you agree?

Charlotte [shaking her head]: She was young and silly and at loggerheads with her father. Her mother had just died, and I don’t think she really believed he would cut her off, since there was just the two of them. But hurt pride can be pernicious. Mama has it in full measure. I’m sure she is determined to show him she could make a success of things. [sighing] Although she couldn’t have known how difficult it would turn out to be.

Susana: Do you think she regrets the decision she made, then?

Charlotte:  No. Yes. Well, in a way I believe she resents having to struggle so hard to survive when her father has Heatherwyck all to himself.

Susana: Heatherwyck?

Charlotte: Yes. Heatherwyck is my grandfather’s family estate. The Chapmans have owned it for five generations. Mama says it is one of the largest estates in Hertfordshire.  [biting her lip] Only recently I discovered she has hopes of reclaiming it. My grandfather invited me to spend the summer with him, you see.

Susana: Just you? Not the rest of the family?

Charlotte [stiffening]: : Yes. Just me. And his nephew, Wyatt.

Susana: Ah. So you suspect matchmaking.

Charlotte [teacup rattling vehemently as she sets it down on the saucer]: I know it!

Susana [delicately]: I don’t suppose there’s any harm in going, at least. It’s not like you can be forced into marriage, after all.

Charlotte [nostrils flaring]: That’s just what Mama says! Perhaps I shall like him. Or Grandfather will take a fancy to me and effect a reconciliation regardless. And it would be so good for the boys, you see, if he would sponsor them to Eton.

Susana: Why Eton? It sounds as though they are getting an equally good education at your father’s school.

Charlotte: True, but Mama has high hopes for them. So many political and social connections are made there. And they really are bright boys. [closing her eyes briefly] I shall feel obligated to fall in line with Grandfather’s plans for them. And for Papa. And Mama. What shall we do when Papa can no longer teach? [swallowing and holding back tears]. Mama might be a good manager, but when-if Papa is gone, there won’t be anything to manage.

Susana: It is quite a dilemma. I understand that you feel it is on you to become the sacrificial lamb for your family. That is a very great burden to put on such a young girl.

Charlotte [chin quivering]: Perhaps I should be more grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference in the future of my parents and brothers, but in all honesty, I have no wish to be a martyr. I am no Maid of Orléans, Miss Ellis. Burning at the stake does not appeal to me, any more than a marriage of convenience does. Do you not think me a wretched person?

Susana [reaching forward to stroke her forearm]: Wretched? No. Human? Yes. And a bit dramatic, perhaps. [takes out a handkerchief] Now, stop crying and and take another biscuit. I always think things look better after I’ve consumed a good dose of sugar. I wonder if we can order some fruit scones here, with strawberry jam and clotted cream?

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Cherishing Charlotte, Book 3 in The Hertfordshire Hoydens, is due for release in March 2017. Book 1, Treasuring Theresa, is available on Amazon. Book 2, Valuing Vanessa, is part of the Belles’ 2016 collection, Holly and Hopeful Hearts.

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