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Miss Atherton’s Misfortune and Sad Entanglements

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

My dear nephew:

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

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

Misfortune

Brighton, 1883, complements of Antiquemapsandprints.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remain, your dutiful Aunt,

Lucretia Atherton

MisfortuneAbout the Book:  A Lady without a Lord

Book #3 in The Penningtons series

A viscount convinced he’s a failure

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

A lady determined to succeed

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

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

Amazon: http://myBook.to/LwoaL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

Misfortune

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

Life in a Nunnery Just Isn’t What I Imagined

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Book

nunneryMy Lord Raven:  Knights of the Royal Household

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Whispers in a Corner of Cairo

The dining room of the Hotel des Anglais in Cairo hummed with conversation and bustled with activity. Waiters in white saw to every comfort. Gentlemen in formal dress surveyed the diners from their perch near the door, ready to step in if needed. Della Faulkner thought that they well should. A baronet’s granddaughter, she had fine sense of what was due her sort.

Cairo

The Dining Room, Hotel des Anglais, Cairo (later Shepheard’s Hotel)

She huddled at a table in the far corner with two other ladies in perfectly proper English dress, and perfectly proper English bonnets, their faces bright with a sheen brought on by Egypt’s oppressive heat. They lingered over after-dinner cordials, their husbands having departed in search of something more fortifying. After a voyage on the new mail steamer and a harrowing trip across the desert from Suez, they were in great need of civilized comforts.

“Tell me exactly what you heard Mr. Badawi say,” Della demanded for the second time. As the eldest and, in her opinion, highest ranking of their number, she assumed the right to demand. Frustration that she had missed a confrontation between the Egyptian manager for the Nile and Oriental Company, their local contact, with a scandalous fellow passenger gave her voice more force than normal.

Alice Fuller, the nervous woman next to her, jumped at the sound. A tiny woman, she blinked several times while she babbled, “He said, ‘if you are not married.’ I heard that distinctly, didn’t you Bertha? ‘If’ he said.”

Cairo

The Lobby, Hotel des Anglais, Cairo (later Shepheard’s Hotel)

The third woman, a sour-faced matron of indeterminable years glowered at Alice and sighed deeply. “We weren’t eavesdropping, mind, but when we saw Captain Wheatly conversing with Mr. Badawi in the lobby, we feared yet more difficulties and moved closer. This entire journey has been a nightmare. I so regret letting Albert talk me into the overland route.”

Della brushed that aside. “Yes, yes, but what did you hear?”

“He all but accused Wheatly of lying to him, but I did not hear the proof.”

“Tell me ladies, did the couple act as if they were married when aboard ship?” The speaker, the lone man in their company, leaned forward. Della detected an unattractive eagerness behind his air of unconcern. Egbert Weaver appeared encroaching to her, though the others professed to find his quiet manner charming. Quiet he may be, but the man didn’t miss much that went on, always hovering nearby listening.

“Well, the way they carried on on deck, they should be married,” Alice giggled. “Remember Bertha? Right there in front of us?”

Della sniffed. “No better than she ought to be if you ask me, latching on to an officer and pretending to care for those children of his.” She shuddered.

“Is there something odd about his children?” Weaver asked, his face a mask of sympathy.

Alice leaned toward him to whisper, “They are dark. Indian, no doubt. His but not hers—you know…” She raised her eyebrows.

“Oh say the word, Alice! Bastards, Mr. Weaver. I would bet my bonnet on it,” Della proclaimed. “And if he isn’t married to the woman traveling with them—well!”

“We don’t know that, Della. He told me he was widowed. As to his current companion, they had two cabins, as I recall,” Bertha pointed out.

cairo steamship

Della rolled her eyes. “You are too softhearted, Bertha. None of that means squat and you know it. Who slept in which bed and why, I should like to know,” she hissed under her breath.
“Are you saying they are married, but slept apart,” Weaver began, “Or—”

“Look!” Alice said bouncing in her seat and wagging her head toward the door. All eyes followed her direction. The subject of their little talk, Captain Frederick Wheatly, led his “wife,” Clare into the dinning room. Two dark-skinned girls followed, gazing around at the room and the diners.

“Who is that young man who stood up to greet them?” Alice whispered, when the boy seated the two little girls as if they were grand ladies.

“I don’t know, but the fool acts like they belong here.”

All four pairs of eyes watched the tableau on the far side of the room, as if trying to ferret out the truth. Moments later, an older man with the air of great consequence entered accompanied by an outburst of excessive bowing and fussing on the part of staff. He stood well over six feet tall, his white-blond hair reflecting candlelight. He walked directly to the Wheatlys’ table, and the diners rose to greet him.

Della gasped.

“What is it?” Bertha asked anxiously.

“Not what. Who. Wheatly just introduced that woman to the Duke of Sudbury. I believe that young man dining with them is his nephew, Richard Mallet.”

Alice covered her mouth with her serviette, eyes wide, unable to speak. Bertha, too, stared back at the group. Before their fascinated eyes, the duke smiled at the children, spoke briefly with Wheatly and his companion, and left, taking the captain with him.

“Well!” Della declared. “I should like to hear that conversation.” She turned her attention back to her companions only to sigh with an irritation she didn’t attempt to disguise. “Mr. Weaver, what are you scribbling?” The little man bent over a small notebook writing rapidly.

“Merely taking a few notes, ladies,” he said ,snapping the notebook shut and rising to his feet. “If you will excuse me, I think I’ll have a chat with Badawi before I turn in to catch up on my correspondence.”

“Correspondence with whom, Mr. Weaver?” Della demanded.

A slow smile lit his face. “Why, with my friend Mr. Clemens, editor of The Teatime Tattler. He will love what I have to share.” With a tip of his hat, he left them.

cairo empire reluctant About the Book

The Reluctant Wife:  Children of Empire, Book 2

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. She certainly doesn’t need 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?

Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Wife-Children-Empire-Book-ebook/dp/B06XYRRR1R/

Children of Empire: Three cousins, torn apart by lies and deceit and driven to the far reaches of the empire, struggle to find their way home. The first book is The Renegade Wife

About Caroline Warfield

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—Caroline Warfield has been many things, but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Caroline is of course, a Bluestocking Belles. In addition to  The Teatime Tattler, she regularly writes for  History Imagined.

Website http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Amazon Author http://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Good Reads http://bit.ly/1C5blTm

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7

Twitter @CaroWarfield

Email warfieldcaro@gmail.com

 

 

A Pirate, A Lady, and A Lord – Part Three

Captain Pershore was in a foul mood. The nighttime sky glittered with thousands of sparkling crystals in lieu of stars, but he could not appreciate the majestic sight. Even the calmness of the peaceful waters did not soothe him.

Annamarie did not know him! Yes, he had changed his name, but they had met on occasions before. Their mothers were close friends.

Regardless, he would make her remember. She would come around. One day, and one day soon, she would be his.

***

The door was locked. Annamarie heard it click when the pirate stormed off. She had forgotten him? When would she have ever come across him before? Had he mistaken her for someone else?

It did not matter. She had more pressing concerns to worry about, such as how to unlock the door. Of course, she could not flee until they reached a port, but having a means to free herself when the time came around would be prudent.

Quickly, she searched the room again and again. She placed all items that might help in a pile. It felt almost rewarding to work so hard, and yet her fear and her worries never left her.

***

Larry “Landlubber” Lancaster was the name of the man helping Barnet. He gave no details about his past with Pershore. To pass the hours as they sailed, Barnet found himself confessing his feelings for Lady Annamarie to the pirate. He had not even made his intentions known to her. In fact, that had been why he went to her manor in the first place!

“Ya need to be relaxin,” Landlubber grumbled. “Ya fit to be tied. Bad energy ya be givin’ off. It’ll affect the waters. Ya’ll see. Relax. All will be well.”

“How can you be so calm?” Barnet blurted, eyeing the pirate’s cutlass. The pirate almost always had a hand resting on the gilded hilt. “You’re preparing to kill another man!”

“Pershore isn’t a man. He be a monster. If you be lucky, your lady will not be ruined by him yet.”

There was no hope of Barnet relaxing now, not after hearing that statement. Despair, fear, worry, and anger all warred within him. He had known for some time now that he cared for Annamarie. It wasn’t until she was taken away that he realized that he actually truly loved her.

Don’t worry, Annamarie. I’m coming for you.
To be continued…

Read Part One here and Part Two here.

 

Taken from the notes of one Lady Anna Wycliff

Lady Anna is the heroine in Christmas Kisses, part of the Bluestocking Belles’ boxed set Holly and Hopeful Hearts available now from various retailers. 25% of proceeds will go to the Malala Fund.

hollyhopefulheartsAbout the Book

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

About the Stories

A Suitable Husbandby Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below. 

Valuing Vanessaby Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life. 

A Kiss for Charityby Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?

Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?

The Bluestocking and the Barbarianby Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy. 

Christmas Kissesby Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts. 

An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

Dashing Through the Snowby Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…

BUY LINKS for HOLLY AND HOPEFUL HEARTS

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Enough to Make A Virtuous Lady Swoon

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

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

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

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

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

However, I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

Most Sincerely,
Lady Beauchamp, Marchioness of Huntington

virtuous ladyAbout The Book

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

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

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

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

~An Excerpt~

“Your cat?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She winced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes. That’s her name.”

Miss Aphrodite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virtuous ladyAbout the Author

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

Twitter: @calliehutton
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=callie+hutton
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/callie.hutton
Website: www.calliehtton.com
Publisher: https://entangledpublishing.com/author/callie-hutton
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/callie-hutton

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