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Scandal in Venice

VeniceThis house is not a brothel.  I Signora Rossi conduct a respectable boarding house—respectable! All Venice knows. And I tell you true. Those English aristos, they bring disgrace on my business. One would expect an earl and his sister to bring renown to an establishment like mine. Instead the Earl of Ambler and that disgraceful sister of his bring me ruin.

When they arrive, I already suspect. His so-called sister comes with no maid, no older lady to, what you call, chaperone. What kind of “lady,” travels with men and no older woman? The clink of their coin sounded more real than their story; I swallowed my misgivings. Perhaps a respectable older woman, delayed along the road, did follow. So far I see no sign of her. The earl, he looks younger so perhaps he really is her brother. She calls herself Lady Charlotte Tyree.

The earl comes in drunk, loud— very late the first night, shouting that he met that English poet Byron, another aristo. A very bad set, that. Me, I try to warn the woman, but the earl? Like most men, he don’t listen. If he visits Venice to study our architecture or take in Tinteretto, I see no sign of it. The few days he doesn’t sleep all day he runs off with that poet to Lazaretto and the Armenians. Only the girl spends time in our many lovely churches. She does the sketching and the studying. Perhaps he plans to pass her work off as his—idiota.

The girl behaves well enough. I began to think her respectable and pity her the company of her spoiled brother. Last week everything changes. Due pescatori still in their fishing clothes and drunk as lords, drop the earl at my door smelling of fish and rotten water. The boy tried to swim Il Canal Grande like his idol, an even bigger fool. He spews canal water—and worse—on my floors. 

VeniceNow scandal in my house. I not bargain for scandal. The medico—the one with the horrid children and nasty mother—he arrives. I stand at my door and before I can blink he comes down my stairs carrying that girl over his shoulder. He dumps her in his ancient gondola and leaves his helper upstairs with the earl. No coin. Not one word to me.

Santa madre di Dio! What is a widow to do?

About the Book: Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil

It’s 1818 and Byron is in Venice. When Lady Charlotte Tyree’s feckless brother attempts to mimic his idol and swim the Grand Canal, putrid fever lays him flat and strands her there. Venice, Christmas, a handsome Italian doctor… her life is about to take an interesting turn.

Pre-order from Amazon or Epub from Smashwords

About the Author

Caroline Warfield, a Bluestocking Belle and regular contributor to The Teatime Tattler, writes historical romance. In addition to her holiday novellas, she writes novels set in the Regency and immediate post-Regency eras.  In her newest series, Children of Empire, three cousins driven apart by lies and deceit, find their way home from the farthest corners of the British Empire—and find love along the way.

Find out more here.

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

Captain Pershore served the lovely Lady Annamarie himself. A bit of each of the three fish and a loaf of bread. A pile of vegetables. He laid the plate in front of her and hesitated.

“Would you prefer ale or water?” he asked.

“Oh, no.” She swept to her feet. “Allow me to pour.”

Pleased beyond measure, he watched as she poured his glass first. Ale for him and water for her, he noted.

He quickly threw a few items on his plate and sat.

“Please, enjoy,” he said.

But the lovely vision did not eat her food.

“What is the mater?” he asked.

Despite himself, he was growing angry. He did not wish to be angry. He wanted to feel only love for the lady sitting before him. For years, he had loved her from afar. He wished to have her love in return.

Why would she not eat? Was she rejecting the food or himself?

 

***

 

Annamarie could tell that Pershore was growing upset, and so she quickly took a bite of food. She chewed and swallowed hastily.

A bit too hastily. The fish caught in her throat, and she coughed and coughed.

At once, Perhsore leaped to his feet and rounded the table. He patted her back firmly but not too harshly, and the piece dislodged. Her breathing returned to normal.

“Thank you,” she said, feeling flustered and embarrassed.

To her surprise, Pershore reassumed his seat without touching her more than necessary.

Perhaps he read her shock because he said, “When you wish to be held, I will hold you. When you wish to dance, we will dance. If you wish to sing, I will raise my voice too. Although I must confess I am a terrible singer.”

“I am not much of a dancer,” she whispered. “Or a singer.”

A dark cloud crossed over his features, and her fright returned.

“This fish is delicious,” she rushed to say.

When she was not choking on it.

“Did you catch it yourself?” she continued.

Most of that darkness banished away, but not all of it. Annamarie swallowed hard. She must not forget that Pershore was not a good man. He had kidnapped her. He might be trying to act the part of a gentleman, but he clearly was not one.

Would she be doomed to remain on his ship for forever? Or worse, would he force her to marry him whenever they would reach shore?

 

***

 

Barnet was beside himself. Far too much time was passing them by. Annamarie needed him, and here he was, lost at sea with a Landlubber claiming to know the way when he clearly didn’t.

“Haven’t your friends been answering your lantern signals?” Barnet would ask each morning.

“Soon,” Landlubber would answer each morning. “You’ll be gettin’ to your lass soon.”

“Yes, yes, and you’ll kill Pershore. I know.”

“Do not fret. Frettin’ affects the seas.”

“So does sneezing,” Barnet grumbled.

Landlubber laughed. “I know how you be feelin’. Trust me. I know what I be doin’.”

What choice did Barnet have but to trust him?

Hold on, Annamarie. We’ll save you. I promise we won’t be too late.

Barnet just hoped that promise would not prove to be a lie.

 

To be continued…

Read Part One here, Part Two here, Part Three here, and Part Four here.

Taken from the notes of one Lady Anna Wycliff

Lady Anna is the heroine in Christmas Kisses, which had been a part of the Bluestocking Belles’ boxed set Holly and Hopeful Hearts and now contains a bonus end scene.

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter, wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. She suffered through trials to find love herself.

Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke. Her mother insists on Anna befriending a marquess’s son, a man Anna finds far too rude. Can either man be the right one for Anna?

Buy CHRISTMAS KISSES here!

 

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

Captain Pershore had his chef prepare a feast fit for a princess of the sea. Once everything was made to his high standards, he bid the man carry it to his cabin and follow him inside.

The lovely Lady Annamarie stood the moment he unlocked the door and swung it open. Behind the swirl of her skirts, he spied a few items. A smirk teased the corners of his lips. Did she plan on escaping? On attacking him?

No matter. Such a venture would be ill conceived. More importantly, any attempt would fail.

Such a concern did not bother him. Lady Annamarie would enjoy this night and be grateful for his company.

Without a word, the chef laid out the spread upon the table. Three kinds of fish, the freshest breads they had, some vegetables, even a few desserts. And ale.

“Fetch a jug of water too,” he demanded.

The chef nodded, left, and returned with the jug a few minutes later before departing once more.

The captain shut the door. “Won’t you please sit?” he asked kindly.

***

What devilry was this? The lunatic of a captain was actually behaving nicely.

Perhaps she should obey. The last thing she wished to do was riley up his anger and wrath.

She crossed over to the table but hesitated, holding onto the high-backed chair instead of sitting.

“I wish to know the name of the man who… who wished to share a meal with me,” she said as calmly as she could.

Her knees quivered with fear, anger, and frustration. A compass, a candlestick holder, and a few other items were all she had collected. Not one of them would be able to help her escape. She had been a fool to think she could save herself while at sea. At port remained her only chance.

And if he saw her gathered items, and his anger sparked, what then? What might he do to her?

“My lady Annamarie, forgive me for not saying so previously. I am Captain… I am Lord Pershore.”

Her eyes widened. He had mentioned that their mothers had been friends, and he had the right of it.

“I last saw you when I was…”

“Five. You were beautiful even then.” He reached toward her as if to touch her cheek but instead moved about the table to her side. The captain pulled out her seat. “Please, won’t you join me for supper?”

“I am hungry,” she admitted, hating herself for her weakness.

“You must keep up your strength. It will be a long while until we reach port.”

“When? Where?” she asked, hoping her eagerness would not be noticed.

But his eyes gleamed with understanding. “Come now. It has been over a dozen years since last I saw you. Let us catch up first. Do tell me all about yourself.”

She sighed as he went about filling her plate. Perhaps if she played nicely, he would give her some information.

But the moment he sat across from her, that wicked gleam in his eyes told her all she needed to know.

He would never allow her to leave his side.

***

“How can it be that we have no bearing on their position?” Barnet grumbled.

Larry “Landlubber” Lancaster grimaced and let out a deep laugh. “You be actin’ like you won’t ever be seein’ your lass again. Relax. We be findin’ her. You be savin’ her. I be killin’ Pershore. All will be well.”

“When?” Barnet demanded.

“Soon enough. I’ll be sending out signals with my lantern tonight. If any of the nearby ships know of Pershore’s destination, where he be headin’, we will soon know.”

Barnet nodded. He cursed the sun for her brightness for he felt no happiness. He cursed her light for it meant no signals. He cursed himself for his inability to locate Annamarie himself.

Most of all, he cursed himself for having never worked up the courage to tell her that he loved her.

Annamarie, don’t be afraid. I’ll save you somehow. I will ask your father permission to court you. No. Rather, I will ask you first. You deserve to have some control over your life given that that despicable, vile, repugnant pirate has kidnapped you against your will.

Please, Annamarie. Wait for me. Trust in me.

But in his heart, he knew she could not. She did not know how he felt nor did she know that he was coming for her.

“Soon,” he murmured with all the hope in his being. “I will be with you soon.”

To be continued…

Read Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here.

Taken from the notes of one Lady Anna Wycliff

Lady Anna is the heroine in Christmas Kisses, which had been a part of the Bluestocking Belles’ boxed set Holly and Hopeful Hearts and now contains a bonus end scene.

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter, wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. She suffered through trials to find love herself.

Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke. Her mother insists on Anna befriending a marquess’s son, a man Anna finds far too rude. Can either man be the right one for Anna?

Buy CHRISTMAS KISSES here!

 

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

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Australia
Amazon Canada
Smashwords
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
iBooks

 

Scandal at the Masquerade Ball

Gentle readers, I do hope you will not be in too great of an uproar when I tell you this, but I am most certain that there was a great deal of scandalous behavior that occurred at the most recent masquerade ball.

Now, when one wears a mask, the propensity to engage in shocking and outrageous behavior might be tempting, but that does not mean one should give in, and give in I feel certain did happen. Why, I saw several ladies, including one in particular, who spent the entire night talking to a man. Talking and laughing and looking positively too comfortable. This lady had no chaperone with her that I could tell. If her mother only realized the kind of behavior her daughter was engaging in…

But there was another lady too, who, honestly, did not quite seem to fit in. She kept to herself, likewise without a chaperone, but then I spied her dancing with a strapping tall man. They seemed to have eyes for no other, and at one point, I even saw her lift her mask to reveal her face to him!

Now I know just about everyone who is anyone, and I can assuredly tell you, my dear readers, that I did not recognize this lady. My mind continually only goes in one direction—that the lady was no lady at all. But who could she have been?

The man she spent time with seemed beside himself after the lady-who-might-not-be-a-lady left and shortly thereafter departed from the masquerade ball himself. Whether the two will ever cross paths again, I do not know, but I must confess to being disappointed he did not lift his mask as well. I would very much be interested to know who he was, as well as the first lady and her gentleman… friend.

I will be certain to keep an eye open to see if I cannot spy the lady somewhere. I do think it is possible to find love at such a ball—I, myself, in my youth had done the same—but love is not always enough nowadays, it is sad to say.

When, not if, I learn more, I will be sure to share it with you, good readers, do not fret.

 

Your humble servant,

A concerned masquerade attendee

 

The masked man and the lady who reveals her face are the main characters in Masked Love.

MaskedLove1600x2400 MASKED LOVE

Isabelle will do anything for her lady, even accompany her to a masquerade ball. Lady Theodosia needs extra support for tomorrow she will meet the man her par-ents have pledged her to.

Meeting an enchanting young man during the course of the evening makes Isabelle wish for a life she can never have. Imagine her shock when he shows up the next morning, announcing his claim on Lady Thedosia.

Torn between duty and desire, Isabelle hopes for something more this Christmas.

 

Heat: PG

Regency Christmas novella

Series: Beyond Boundaries #1

Price: 0.99

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Nicole is one of the Belles. You can learn more about her here.

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