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Kitchen Gossip

The following is a rendering of a conversation between Sinjun, butler to the Earl of Claverlock, and the valet of a visitor to The Beeches one month before the events described in the novel If Wishes Were Earls. Sinjun, as per usual, is doing all the talking.

Kitchen gossipCome along to the kitchen where we’ll enjoy some privacy.

There now, sit by the oven, I have it heating for scones. His lordship prefers my scones to the cook’s but don’t tell Mrs. Smith. Did you know that’s not her real name? She never was married, for a start. I can’t tell you her real name because you would recognize it in an instant and then you’d wonder what the daughter of such a grand family is doing working in the kitchen of a manor house in a small village in Cornwall. And well may you ask! My dear, it is a tale fraught with disaster and heartache. But I promised a confidence I shall not break.

Let me pour you a cup of tea. Milk or lemon? Neither? How strange.

You’ll have noticed a few changes since you were last here. We’d all understand if the earl secluded himself in his library for the remainder of his days. The house has fallen below the standards we’re used to.

Who am I kidding? We’re living in a hovel. That third wife hadn’t a housekeeping bone in her body. We all know what she used her body for, don’t we. You will have heard, I don’t doubt, that the child wasn’t his lordship’s issue. Yes, she declared to all and sundry as the life drained from her broken body that she’d taken a lover. Good riddance to bad rubbish. I tried to warn his lordship, before he departed for London. I said he should take the full year of mourning after the death of Lady Suzanne.

Now there was a pleasant woman – thick as a plank but nice about it.

Unfortunately his lordship was tempted by a seductress. He scandalized us all by returning with a new wife. I ask you. Nothing good could come of such a match. But it’s not for me to say. More tea?

Kitchen GossipA Giveaway

Dear reader, is there more you’d like Sinjun to say on the subject? Leave your question and I’ll attempt to wring the answer from him.

One commenter will receive a hand-knitted (by me) washcloth and a bar of handcrafted soap. (USA and Canada only.)

About the Book

When a mysterious note directs Miss Miranda Large to a tiny village in Cornwall to find her heart’s desire, she has no choice but to go. An enchanted keepsake heightens her curiosity. A snowstorm forces her to accept the hospitality of a sullen, albeit sexy and handsome, earl and Miranda’s wish doesn’t seem so out of reach

Edward Penhallion, the 12th Earl of Claverlock, is not in the mood to start his search for a new wife. He wants to be left alone with his books and his dreams of revenge. But the arrival of a headstrong, sharp-tongued spinster forces him to play the charming host. Not a difficult task, given her intelligence and beauty. Suddenly, he’s not terribly eager for her to leave.

But as the snow falls and the winds blow, Edward discovers there’s more to Miranda than a lively wit and a lovely face. And Miranda wonders if the trappings of wealth are enough for true happiness.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N0QJSHA/
Nook: http://bit.ly/2ifWvXO
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/if-wishes-were-earls-2
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/if-wishes-were-earls/id1184695145?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
All other retailers: https://www.draft2digital.com/book/209375

Kitchen GossipAbout the Author

Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered her grandmother’s stash of romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after.  Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Luanna now lives in Maine with her dear husband, two college boys, and two cats. When she’s not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious.

Writing under the pen name Grace Hood, she has two novellas published with The Wild Rose Press.

Website: http://www.luannastewart.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Luanna_Stewart
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Luanna.Stewart.nau
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/luannastewart/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14104212.Luanna_Stewart
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/luanna_stewart

Uncovering a Card Cheat

Them o’ us in service at th’ Hare and Hound know well that loose talk happens when drinks flow and folks forget there be listening ears. T’other week we overheard a lady bent on getting answers out o’ a gent something fierce. When we ferreted out that he were the king’s man, Connor Grant, we knew Tattler readers would ha’ interest. The lady claims to be Ariana Fitzroy. Imagine when we heard she’s a card cheat!

The Lady: How long have you been training the fallen women of King James’ court to be spies? Is it as long as you’ve been working as his personal assassin?

Connor: *glances around with obvious discomfort* I dinna think I shouldna discuss that here.

The Lady *laughs at her own folly*: Right. Well, then – what did you think when you saw me for the first time?

A Card Game by Gabriel Metsu

The Gent: I couldna believe ye were cheating at cards right in front of everyone and no one was any the wiser. It was bold.

The Lady *gives the gent a coy look*: Did you think I was beautiful?

The Gent: Of course. All the girls I train are bonny. But I’ve always made it a point never to have an interest in the girls I trained.

The Lady: But you did with me. What was so different about me?

The Gent *regards the lady with an endearing consideration*: Ye were unassuming. Ye were such a scrawny wee thing when ye came to Scotland, I feared ye might be blown away by a strong wind. But then ye were so determined. And despite that drive to constantly do better, ye were kind — always putting others before yerself. Ye earned my admiration and ye stole my heart as sure as ye slipped cards.

The Lady *blushes and tries to keep a serious face despite her growing smile*: Did you think I would accept your offer to become a spy for King James?

The Gent: I knew ye would, or I wouldna have asked.

The Lady: Did I surprise you with how quickly I learned?

The Gent: Nay, I knew you would. Ye were too confident at that card table, too smooth in yer actions. I knew ye were smart and I knew ye had skill long before even yer first lesson. It was yer determination which surprised and impressed me.

The Lady: I learned a lot from you during my training. Did you learn anything from me?

The Gent: Aye, I learned a lot from ye, lass. But those listening in on this interview will need to read our book to find out just how much. *gives a shameless wink to the crowd in the Hare and Hound*

The Lady *smiles*: I’m glad you feel you learned so much from me. Can you share your favorite thing you learned from me?

The Gent *grinning*: How to play at cards when it’s no’ coins ye’re gambling with.

The Lady *flushes bright red and speaks quickly*: Well, that’s all the time we have. *flashes a final grin and slips away with The Gent*

About the Book: Highland Spy (Mercenary Maidens Book 1)

Ariana Fitzroy has lost her family and her fortune. The fight for survival leads her to the shadowed card games of court where she discovers she has quite a talent for slipping cards into her favor. While the winnings are enough to sustain her at present, they will not last forever…

Connor Grant, trainer of the fallen women from the English court and personal assassin to the king, is just as broken as the women he trains. After losing his own land and all his people in a brutal attack from a trusted friend, he has no choice but to rebuild any way he sees possible – even if it means going against everything he’s ever believed in.

After catching Ariana cheating at cards, Connor has a new trainee to instruct at one of the king’s many confiscated castles. In the dilapidated ruins, he discovers Ariana is more than she appears and falls in love with her incredibly tenacity and dedication – a love that is challenged by Connor’s chance at reclaiming the inheritance he once lost and has sought so desperately to regain.

This story is one of second chances, of realizing a strength where only hopelessness once resided – a story of rising above the bad hand one has been dealt into a life of accomplishment and love.

~Excerpt~

Ariana Fitzroy had been too greedy.

She gave a charming smile to the men at the table and pulled a pile of coins toward herself. They clinked against one another, the merry tinkling rising above the din of laughter and conversation.

How she’d come to love the sound of her winnings.

Tonight though, she’d taken it a mite too far.

She’d gone beyond what she needed for the merchant’s bills, the servants’ pay, and the rent on her meager lodgings.

The coins were cool against the warmth of her palm.

Winning always gave her such a heady rush, a wash of heat spreading from her cheeks to her chest and all the way down to her satin-slippered toes.

A discomfiting sensation settled on Ariana, one of which she’d always been especially wary.

The weight of being watched.

Praise For Highland Spy

“The first of Martin’s Mercenary Maidens will intrigue readers seeking a story filled with a large cast of characters, plenty of adventure and heated love scenes. Martin showcases her talent for storytelling as this fast-paced tale moves from one adventure to another at lightning speed. . . . readers longing for a good old-fashioned adventure with empowered women will find much to enjoy.”

—RT Book Reviews

“Appealing. . . a solid thread of teamwork and family, provided by the strong supporting cast of Ariana’s fellow spies underlies the romance between Ariana and Connor, creating a community that will surely thrive as the series continues.”

—Publishers Weekly

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2eghTt2
Barnes&Noble: http://bit.ly/2dvO88K
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2dIPyem
iTunes: http://apple.co/2ew37Nr
Target: http://www.target.com/p/highland-spy-paperback-madeline-martin/-/A-51545451

About the Author

Madeline Martin is a USA TODAY Bestselling author of Scottish set historical romance novels. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her two daughters (AKA OldestMinion and YoungestMinion) along with Mr. Awesome. All shenanigans are detailed regularly on Twitter and on Facebook.

Her hobbies include rock climbing, running, doing crazy races (like Mud Runs and Color Runs) and just about anything exciting she can do without getting nauseous. She’s also a history fan after having lived in Europe for over a decade, and enjoys traveling overseas whenever she can. Her favorite place to visit thus far: Scotland.

Madeline’s contact info:

Author website: www.MadelineMartin.com
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MadelineMartinAuthor
Author Twitter: @MadelineMMartin

Author Amazon Profile page: http://www.amazon.com/Madeline-Martin/e/B00R8OGFN2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

A Rather Disappointing Wedding

We petitioned our contact in the neighborhood of Wheatton in Wiltshire for information about the wedding of Mr. Randolph Wheatly, cousin of the Duke of Murnane to his commoner bride from Canada. The personage, who chooses to remain anonymous, managed to obtain an invitation to both wedding and the wedding breakfast. Those hoping for some elements reminiscent of the American savage wilderness (reputed to be the home of the bride) will be disappointed, but our contact reports some on-dits of interest to those who follow the eccentric activities of the Landrum/Wheatly family.
________________________________________________

After a standard Church of England ceremony, conducted I must say with Little Elegance, but blessedly no Whiff of Papist Nonsense, we retired to Eversham Hall for a breakfast provided by the Duke. The fare rated Tolerable at best, with the meal more than adequate but the cakes being of little distinction. The entertainment was flawed by Running Herds of small children. One might have expected better in a home of this station, but one would have been disappointed. This Sad Fact owes itself, perhaps, to the absence of the duchess. His Grace, being a Man, did his best no doubt, but he is rarely home long enough to ensure a well-run household.

The newlyweds slunk off indecently early to spend an extended honeymoon in the groom’s childhood home, Songbird Cottage, amid a flood of Sickening Sentimentality. Neighbors expressed surprise that a man of Wheatly’s means did not take his bride to Paris or one of the Better European spas, but the woman professed herself more comfortable in the Wretched Cottage, a preference that reveals much about her Common Origins, and more than she might like about her Taste.

The Earl and Countess of Chadbourn have elected to linger with his nephew, the duke, and Eversham Hall will be overrun with children for some days as a result. The earl has ever doted on his brothers-in-law and his nephew, whom he refers to as “the boys,” as if he were their father. A father’s love, as they say, is blind, which appears to be true in this case.

We neither saw nor heard anything about the Countess’s other brother, Mr. Frederick Wheatly, One is given to understand that he remains with the East India Company forces in Bengal, but one hears no sign of any Distinction or Honors associated with such service. A persistent rumor would have it that he fled from a posting in Cambridgeshire, taking the appointment to Bengal to get out of some sort of trouble.

I feel compelled to add a note about the Duke and Duchess of Murnane who rarely reside in the same place at the same time. The duke appears to prefer London and visits his estate only when the duchess is on one of her Extended Holidays, generally accompanied by an Italian count or Polish princeling. When she is at home it becomes obvious why mothers in the neighborhood discourage their sons from taking positions as groom or footman at Eversham Hall. The woman is shameless. One pities the duke, particularly because he has sole care of the boy who appears more sickly whenever one lays eyes on him. The entire situation is unnatural.

Be that as it may, His Grace hosted the wedding celebration. It carried on much of the afternoon with neither brother nor duchess in appearance, becoming commoner and commoner as the hours stretched and wine bottles emptied.
____________________________________________________
Rand, Fred, and Charles Wheatly, the boys of A Dangerous Nativity, are the heroes of Caroline Warfield‘s Children of Empire Series. This wedding takes place in the first book of the series, The Renegade Wife

About the Book

Desperate and afraid, Meggy Blair will do whatever it takes to protect her children. She’d hoped to find sanctuary from her abusive husband with her Ojibwa grandmother, but can’t locate her. When her children fall ill, she seeks shelter in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. But when the owner unexpectedly returns, he’s furious to find squatters disrupting his self-imposed solitude.

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly had good reason to put an ocean between himself and the family that deceived him. He just wants the intrusive woman gone, but it isn’t long before Meggy and the start breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. But their fragile interlude is shattered when Meggy’s husband appears to claim his children, threatening to have Rand jailed.

The only way for Meggy to protect Rand is to leave him. But when her husband takes her and the children to England, Meggy discovers he’s far more than an abuser; what he’s involved in endangers all their lives. To rescue the woman who has stolen his heart, Rand must follow her and do what he swore he’d never do: reconcile with his aristocratic family and finally uncover the truth behind all the lies. But time is running out for them all.

Read for free with Kindle Unlimited or buy a copy on Amazon.

Mr. Clemens Requests

Gentle Readers and Erstwhile Contributors,
We are filled with Gratitude at the response you have given to our Humble Efforts to bring facts and stories of Interest and Entertainment to the people of London.

The response from people of All Stations has been gratifying to say the least. We hope to continue for many years to come. To that end I wish to announce that our Little Paper has openings for Discerning Contributors of all types. We would welcome new contributors as well as added contributions from those who have joined us in the past. We are always looking for:

  • Purloined letters that may interest the Reading Public
  • Opinion pieces on the Fancies and Foibles of high society
  • News that otherwise might go unreported about the Private Lives of the poor and the prominent.
  • Instructive stories whose morals might serve as admonition to the unwary

As well as (dare I say it) items of a more salacious and titilating nature. Be it noted that those who contribute may also provide our readers with exciting news about their books as well.

Should any of you have an interest in making such a contribution, kindly contact me**. Should you wish instead to seek the advice of our most excellent Aunt Augusta (and receive mention of your book title) there is a form for that as well.

I Remain etc etc

 

 

Samuel Clemens, Printer, of London

**Mr. Clemens had deputized this work to staff. If you wish to participate kindly send three Wednesday dates, your name and writer name, and book title to warfieldcaro@gmail.com

Secrets and Lies

December 23rd

An occasional correspondent has sent along information of a most interesting turn. lady-wallingfordA widowed marchioness (we shall call her Lady W) has been seen in town this winter after an absence of several years. Instead of taking up residence in her son’s elegant townhouse, she is staying with a certain Lady J and her daughter, Miss J. Our correspondent reports rumors of an impending betrothal between the younger lady and Lady W’s son, the current marquess.

And it has also been supposed that the nuptials will be soon, as we have learned that Lord W has returned from a lengthy sojourn on the Continent. Though, in an interesting turn of events, he also is eschewing his noble abode and staying with friends, the very same Lord and Lady H to whom so much scandal attached a year ago! Yes, and this is the very same Lady H who has been in such a delicate way that the midwife was spotted arriving late yesterday.

Never fear, Dear Reader. We are sending out inquiries and will report on this curious story tomorrow!

December 28th

Dear Reader, scant days ago we told you about a certain Lady W and her son’s expected nuptials with a certain Miss J. The festivities of the past few days have prevented us from reporting further on this matter, for which we apologize and presume to accept your forgiveness, for as it is, we have news of a most interesting turn that will not disappoint!

j-_t-_mitchell_-_elizabeth_mary_and_augustus_william_hillary_-_google_art_project-11Lady W has decamped most abruptly from the home of Miss J, moving lodgings to the very residence where her son, Lord W, is staying. And, furthermore, she has been spotted in the park with two children, reported to be the twin daughters of Lady H’s midwife. And, most shockingly, Lord W was seen arriving at Lord H’s one morning, escorting the very same midwife, and has not been seen since. We have learned that Miss J and her parents have left London, some say to travel to their home estate, others say to visit Bath, others, the Continent.

Mark my word, Dear Reader, there is an interesting story here, and we at the Teatime Tattler will uncover it.

January 15

Dear Reader, several days ago we reported on the curious behavior of Lord W and his mother. We promised to get to the heart of this mystery, and we keep our promises! One of our intrepid correspondents has received news that Banns have been posted at Lord W’s home parish announcing the nuptials of Lord W and a bride who is most assuredly not Miss J!

We will have more news for you tomorrow on this story. You won’t want to miss it!

marquess-midwife-final-digitalAbout the Book:  The Marquess and the Midwife

Once upon a time, the younger brother of a marquess fell in love with his sister’s companion. He was sent off to war, and she was just sent off, and they both landed in very different worlds.

Now Virgil Radcliffe has returned from his self-imposed exile on the Continent to take up his late brother’s title and discover the whereabouts of the only woman he’s ever loved.

Abandoned by her lover and dismissed by her employer, Ameline Dawes has found a respectable identity as a Waterloo widow, a new life as a midwife, and a safe, secure home for her twin girls. Called to London at Christmas to attend her benefactress’s lying-in, she finds herself confronted by an unexpected house guest–a man determined to woo her anew and win her again.

But, is loving the new Marquess of Wallingford a mistake Ameline cannot afford to repeat?

The Marquess and the Midwife is specially priced at 99 cents through December 31, 2016

Buy Links

Amazon
Kobo
iBooks
Nook

~Excerpt~

Ye gods, but her ladyship needed more maids, and a couple more footmen with both arms and both legs, at least for this type of fetching and carrying.

Ameline chided herself for being insensitive and balanced the steaming bucket. She set down the lamp momentarily to gather her skirts, along with the lamp handle.

A pair of men’s boots moved into view and the lamp bobbled. Fine boots they were.

She sighed, gritting her teeth. Lord Hackwell’s visits had unnerved his lady, and Ameline had counseled him to leave.

Very well, she’d thrown him out, once almost literally. He would wonder what she was doing below stairs. He might send for the accoucheur he was mumbling about, and his lady would not like it.

“I’ve just popped down to the kitchen for a word with Alton, my lord,” she said. “All is going well, except he’s a bit short on staff.”

“We have noticed that.”

The skin on her back rippled and she shivered. This wasn’t Hackwell—it was him.

Panic flared in her and her hands and ankles began to tingle. He carried no light. She let her own lantern dip lower and stepped to one side. What was he doing on the servants’ staircase in the middle of the night?

If he saw her, he would remember her, but he would not want to, unless he would think to befriend her again. Heat flamed in her.

She took in a breath. “Let me pass, Lord Hackwell,” she said.

“Let me carry that bucket for you.”

“No.” She forced in another breath, willing herself to speak calmly. “That is, no thank you. I shall send a servant for you when it is time.”

Footsteps scurried on the stairs. “Mrs. Dawes?” Jenny called, breathless.

Her heart raced again. She’d tarried too long in the kitchen. “I’ll be right—”

Heat touched her hand as the bucket came out. The lantern, too, lifted higher, and she looked up into the face of Lord Virgil Radcliffe, now the latest Lord Wallenford.

Mrs. Dawes?” His eyes widened and then narrowed, and his lips curved down.

Anger spiked in her. “Lord Wallenford.”

He moved down to the step below her, putting them at eye level, and crowded her against the hand rail.

“Give me the bucket, sir. I can manage quite well without your help.” Quite, quite well.

“Can you, indeed?” he drawled, sounding just like his brother the day he’d sacked her.

Blast him. Blast the Wallenfords. Blast the Hackwells. “Alton has a bottle set out. Best go and fetch it.”

His lips quirked.

She gritted her teeth. “Give me the blasted bucket, Virgil.”

alina-k-fieldAbout the Author

Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but her true passion is the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.

She is the author of the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring, a 2015 RONE Award finalist, Bella’s Band, and a 2016 National Reader’s Choice Award finalist, Liliana’s Letter, as well as her latest release, The Marquess and the Midwife. She is hard at work on her next series of Regency romances, but loves to hear from readers!

Visit her at:

http://alinakfield.com/
https://www.facebook.com/alinakfield
https://twitter.com/AlinaKField
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7173518.Alina_K_Field
https://www.pinterest.com/alinakf/
https://www.instagram.com/alinak

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