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Tag: Revealed in Mist

Scandal at the Chipping Niddwick Assembly

Dear Editor

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

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

Or so we thought.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,

Sir A. P-H. Bart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Secretary’s Secret

Sebastian Beringer covered his notes with one arm, trying to do so in a way that would not draw fire from his angry employer. If need be, he would claim he was writing a love letter. The Merry Marquis, whose love affairs were legendary, would surely not snoop further.

On no account could he allow the man to know that he was actually writing his second article for the Teatime Tattler; not when it was the first article that had Lord Aldridge pacing the length of the study with quick, angry strides, ranting about ingratitude and charging Bas with finding out who on the crew of his sailing yacht was a cursed spy.

“You will not believe what this low-life scum wrote,” Aldridge fumed.

Bas could quote it word for word, having worked over it again and again in spare minutes, and read it six times in its splendid printed form in The Teatime Tattler. The extra money that Mr Clemens was paying would come in handy, though Lord Aldridge paid well. But the glory of being in print!

Not, of course, that he could ever claim it. That would be career suicide for a private secretary, whose job was to keep secrets. Possibly, as angry as his employer was, bodily suicide as well.

He was not quite sure what had the man in such a taking. Surely nothing in the article would come as a surprise to the London reader, already inured to scandal from the Merry Marquis and his brother, Lord Jonathan Grenford?

After all, it was a mere two paragraphs, about a yacht trip and a mysterious woman.

During his recent excursion to the ducal estate at Margate, the M.M., accompanied by his younger brother Lord J. G., sailed Lord A.’s private yacht to the southern coast of Essex, where they left it for several days.

Of what purpose was this voyage, our reader may ask? This correspondent was not in the brothers’ confidence, but can disclose that a certain woman’s name was mentioned several times. Who, you may wonder, is Antonia? And what is she to the M.M.? What, indeed, is she to Lord J.?

To find out the brothers’ destination and the identity of Antonia, read Jude Knight’s Revealed in Mist. And see below the blurb for an excerpt.

Revealed in Mist

Prue’s job is to uncover secrets, but she hides a few of her own. When she is framed for murder and cast into Newgate, her one-time lover comes to her rescue. Will revealing what she knows help in their hunt for blackmailers, traitors, and murderers? Or threaten all she holds dear?

Enquiry agent David solves problems for the ton, but will never be one of them. When his latest case includes his legitimate half-brothers as well as the lover who left him months ago, he finds the past and the circumstances of his birth difficult to ignore. Danger to Prue makes it impossible.

#~*~^~*~#

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Excerpt

David joined Gren and Aldridge for dinner in a private parlour Aldridge hired.

“We need to return to Margate,” Aldridge said. “His Grace said Jon was to go there and stay. I tried to leave him behind, but you know what Jon’s like. He sticks worse than a burr.”

Gren made a rude gesture. “Aldridge only let me come because he needed someone to crew the yacht,” he told David.

Aldridge just grinned. “I have a crew. And you were not much use draped over the rail puking, Jon.”

“You sailed from Margate?” David asked. “Clever.”

“Yes, to Ipswich. His Grace’s spies at the castle will think we are on a pleasure cruise for a few days. It’s good the days are getting longer. We sailed at first light yesterday, then rode all day to get here. We can make it back again by tomorrow, late afternoon, if we change horses regularly.”

A succession of maids carried in dinner: a roasted bird, a leg of lamb, and a stew, with a variety of side dishes.

“The claret is acceptable,” Aldridge decided, and they talked about food and wine till the last maid left the room, blushing and dimpling at Gren.

“I think she likes me,” he told Aldridge and David.

“Do they not all like you, Gren?” David asked with a sardonic smile.

“I expect she likes your coin,” Aldridge suggested.

Donating to a worthy cause

Dorothea looked around the private sitting room of Lady Georgiana Winderfield. Even being here was something of a miracle. To think that four months ago…

‘It is in the past, Miss Berryman,” Mr Milford would remind her, were he here. But of course the past was the point of her visit; the reason for her being invited to take tea with Lady Grace and her sister-in-law Lady Sutton.

“Georgie. There you are. I want to have a word with you. Oh. Grace. You’re here, too.” Lord Sutton barged into the room without knocking, ignoring Dorothea and addressing his two nearest female relatives. “Grace make Georgie see she cannot go on like this. Father won’t have it.”

Lady Georgiana turned to her visitor. “Miss Berryman, I do not believe you are acquainted with my brother. Sutton, Miss Dorothea Berryman.”

Dorothea, not without some trepidation, met Sutton’s gaze, her face carefully bland. Not that she expected him to recognise her. Not without the paint and the powder. Not with her hair returned to its natural brown and her clothing designed for dignity and discretion rather than seduction. Considerably more clothing than she had worn at the beginning of her last encounter with Lord Sutton.

The manners drilled into his lordship in the nursery surfaced long enough for him to bow briefly and mutter, “Miss Berryman. Charmed.” Then he returned to his grievance.

“Just look at it.” The wave of his encompassed the dozens of portraits on the mantelpiece and the walls either side of the fireplace. Every one showed the courtesan known as Lily Diamond. All were draped in black.

“It is pathetic, Georgie. You are making a laughing stock of yourself, and us.” Sutton was pacing too and fro, thumping a fist into his hand. “People are making the most outrageous of suggestions. Bad enough you even knew the woman. But to mourn her as if she were a friend? You have to stop it.”

“Lillian was my friend, Sutton. I am not interested in the opinions of those who considered her beneath them, though they were perfectly willing to partake of her charms.”

“Georgie!” Sutton cast a shocked glance Dorothea’s way. “You must forgive my sister, Miss Berryman. Her humours are unbalanced,  I fear. Georgie, you cannot discuss women like that. It is not seemly.”

Dorothea had seen Lord Sutton being very unseemly indeed, back when she had been called Fanny and had been commanded to entertain him. She managed to keep her face bland.

“Sutton, may I suggest we continue this conversation at a later time,” Lady Sutton said. “Miss Berryman is here to interest us in her charitable work.”

“Yes, Lord Sutton,” some imp prompted her to say. “I am hopeful of providing work for gentlewomen in need of some means of support. Perhaps you would care to make a donation?”

“I am sorry to interrupt, Miss Berryman.” Sutton allowed his indignation to spoil his apology. “Shouldn’t air our linen in public, but the damned woman was a bird of paradise!”

“Sutton!” His wife and sister chorused their disapproval of his language, and he flushed.

“Beg pardon,” he mumbled. “Better put me down for fifty guineas.” The thought of his own generosity buoyed him, and he bowed himself out of the room.

Lady Georgiana grinned broadly. “Well done, Miss Berryman. Your first donation. But please, continue your story. You were telling us about how Mr Wakefield and Miss Virtue paid your debt so that you could be released from the brothel.”

“Yes,” Lady Sutton agreed. “Please finish your story, and then tell us how we can help you to rescue some more damned birds of paradise.”

Dorothea is a minor character in Revealed in Mist. See the story for more about who murdered Lily Diamond, what Lady Georgie had to do with it, and the part Dorothea plays in supporting David and Prue to solve several interlocked mysteries.

Prue’s job is to uncover secrets, but she hides a few of her own. When she is framed for murder and cast into Newgate, her one-time lover comes to her rescue. Will revealing what she knows help in their hunt for blackmailers, traitors, and murderers? Or threaten all she holds dear?

Enquiry agent David solves problems for the ton, but will never be one of them. When his latest case includes his legitimate half-brothers as well as the lover who left him months ago, he finds the past and the circumstances of his birth difficult to ignore. Danger to Prue makes it impossible.

 

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Amazon (ebook): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N7HI8IA/

Extract

“Fanny, show my young friend a good time, eh?” Talbot commanded, and David followed her to one of the rooms.

He had a better use for the bed than the exercise Talbot imagined. He was beginning to feel the loss of a night’s sleep.

“Don’t bother,” he told the prostitute, as she began to unbutton her blouse. “When were the sheets last changed?”

“Maybe three days.” She looked uncertainly at the bed and back at him. “How do you want me then?”

David explained. “What I’d like you to do is sit in the chair over there and wake me in half an hour. Before we leave this room, I’ll give you double what I gave your bawd. And when we get back out there, you’ll pretend to everyone, especially my friend, that we’ve coupled.”

The prostitute frowned. “You’ll pay me. Just to sleep in the bed.”

“On the bed, but yes. Miss Fanny… or is it Miss Frances…? You’re very desirable, but I’m very, very tired, and I’d rather nobody knew…”

She nodded. “It’s Dorothea, really. But Old Hatchet-Face, who owns the place, she said that was not a good name for a whore.”

“Do you have a way to tell the hour, Miss Dorothea?” He’d removed his coat, but he laid it on the bed and stretched out beside it. No point in putting temptation in the woman’s way. He’d wake in an instant if she approached the bed to check his pockets.

She nodded. “I can hear the clock tower down the street. It chimes the quarters. It’ll be just on the half I wake you.”

“Good. Thank you.” His nose wrinkled, but he’d slept in places more rank. Willing his body to relax, he closed his eyes, and Mist was suddenly there stretched beside him. No. He was here to sleep, not to fantasise about the only woman he desired.

“Mister? Mr. Walker?” He woke to the woman’s whisper. “It’s been half an hour.”

Yes. The half was still chiming. Half an hour was not enough, but it took the edge off his weariness. He’d cope.

In the main sitting area, Dorothea poured him a glass of wine and perched on the arm of his chair, leaning against him while he waited for Talbot. Her silence money safely in the pocket she had tied to her waist under her skirt, she had obviously decided to throw herself fully into her part.

Talbot arrived some minutes later, buttoning his breeches. His companion was smiling admiringly up at him, but David caught the contemptuous grimace she passed to her companions behind Talbot’s back.

“That’s the ticket,” Talbot said to David, grinning at the way Dorothea was draped over him. “Can’t get enough of you here, can they? They should pay us for servicing them. Hah! That’s a good one. They should pay us, eh?” And he slapped the bottom of his companion with expansive glee.

“You want another round, Walker? Or what about an exotic dance? I know a place where the girls…” he gestured expansively, shaping improbably curvaceous shapes in the air.

“That sounds very exciting, Sir,” David said, back to being suitably grateful. “Is it a place we could get something to eat, Sir? All that exercise…”

“Good lad. Worked up an appetite, eh? Oh, to be young again. Come on, then, lad. The night is young. We’ll stop at a coffee house and then go on to Sultan’s Palace.”

David saluted Dorothea with a kiss on the cheek and received a warm smile in return. “Best half hour I ever spent in this place,” she told him loudly, “and that’s the truth.”

The Teatime Tattler recommends the virtues of Prudence

rolinda-sharples-clifton-assembly-room1The Season is off to an excellent, if early, start. Lady S., daughter-in-law of the Duke of W. must be delighted with the attendance at her soirée, though perhaps less than pleased with the behaviour of some.

While this year’s crop of debutantes has not yet been served up to the marriage mart, those remaining from previous seasons were in eager attendance, every mother hoping to steal a march on all the others in attracting the attention of wealthy or titled bachelors or widowers with a mind to wed, while avoiding fortune hunters and those with more sinister intentions.

In corners of the main reception rooms, the powerful decided the disposition of whatever pawns they controlled: brokering treaties between nations, political parties, trading enterprises, families, or potential marriage partners, depending on the interests of the negotiating parties.

brummellBut the affairs of the great are far from the only business conducted at such an event, and last night was no exception.

In rooms set up for the purpose, gentlemen and ladies with a yen for such things offered up the evening to fate represented by the turn of a card.

In the ballroom, fashionable gentlemen eyed one another in the endless struggle for elevation in the eyes of those they are pleased to call friends, while those more given to energetic pursuits danced or stood in small groups discussing horses or hunting or pugilistic exploits.

Ladies spoke sweet flatteries to one another’s faces and shredded appearances and reputations behind one another’s backs. Maidens sought husbands, wives sought lovers, poor widows sought protectors, and wealthy widows amusement. Everywhere, couples—as they have since the beginning of time—bargained for affection: temporary or bound by vows before a cleric; some under the eyes of stern chaperones and others in less well-lit corners on the dance floor or the chilly terrace.

In small darkened rooms throughout the mansion, those desiring a tryst found a few moments of privacy. Among them, we are assured, was Lord S. himself and also his son, Lord E., who was seen to absent himself from public places on two separate occasions, each time with a different companion.

Our informants also observed Lady G., the duke’s spinster daughter, meeting with a much younger man who is believed to have been Mr. W., widely rumoured to be the unclaimed and unwanted base-born son of the Duke of H.

One can hardly imagine that a lady of such pristine reputation would be indulging in an amorous encounter, but that leaves only the possibility that she is employing Mr. W. in his capacity of thief-taker. Has her ladyship lost a valuable item, perhaps? Is she acting on behalf of Lady S. to investigate the activities of her brother or nephew? Or both? We will watch developments and keep you informed.

As if that were not enough, Mr. W. and an unidentified woman, possibly one of the army of companions in attendance on various matrons, were involved in the most shocking event of the evening. They combined to effect a rescue of a foolish damsel who allowed herself to be enviegled into one of the aforementioned private rooms.

maidenOne would expect a maiden in her second season to show more sense than to respond to a note from a man, and certainly the girl’s protectors to display more awareness of their charge’s whereabouts. Was the title ‘Earl’ a lure that caused her and her chaperone to cast discretion and rational thought to the wind?

We could have advised the young lady that this particular earl has been known to ruin and abandon foolish young women who go apart in his company. His recent ascent to the title on his father’s death has clearly not changed his character.

Fortunately for the damsel, the man (we hesitate to call him a gentleman) was interrupted in his evil pursuit, and she was delivered intact, having had a salutary scare, to Lady G., a well-known defender of the innocent. And her own family name and fortune mean that any sanctions against her from the arbiters of social standing will be mild.

As for the Earl in question, we are assured that he has been banned from ever entering the household again. And where Lady S. leads can other hostesses be slow to follow?

Yes, the Season is off to an exciting start indeed!

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The Sutton soirée is the scene of the first chapter in Jude’s new historical mystery, Revealed in Mist, currently available on pre-order and to be released early in December. Mr. W. and the unnamed companion appeared in The Prisoners of Wyvern Castle, a novella in Hand-Turned Tales, as the rescuers of the blind earl and his countess who were the hero and heroine of that novella. You may also have met them (as David Wakefield and his mysterious woman partner) investigating a crime for the hero of Farewell to Kindness.

Their pasts could bring them together or separate them forever

revealed-in-mist-smallPrue’s job is to uncover secrets, but she hides a few of her own. When she is framed for murder and cast into Newgate, her one-time lover comes to her rescue. Will revealing what she knows help in their hunt for blackmailers, traitors, and murderers? Or threaten all she holds dear?

Enquiry agent David solves problems for the ton, but will never be one of them. When his latest case includes his legitimate half-brothers as well as the woman who left him months ago, he finds the past and the circumstances of his birth difficult to ignore. Danger to Prue makes it impossible.

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Revealed in Mist is on pre-order at most eretailers. Sadly, not on Amazon, since Jude is in Amazon jail for getting the final version of Gingerbread Bride to them two days late, only eight days before release. Circumstances beyond Jude’s control doesn’t cut it with the Amazon guards, so no pre-order. But if you want the book in Kindle format, pre-order from Smashwords, iBooks, or Barnes and Noble, or follow Jude on Amazon for an email the day the book goes live.

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About Jude Knight

Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.

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The duke’s by-blow

Gerald Ficklestone-Smythe
Manager of Cowbridge Mine, Llanfair

kitchenThe boy was gone when I got back from the funeral. Little bastard. I told him I’d kick him to next Tuesday if dinner wasn’t on the table, but nothing was prepared, and he was nowhere to be found. And he’d let the fire go out. He’ll come back when he’s hungry, and I’ll have the skin off his back, see if I don’t.

Where else is he going to go? London? To the duchess? He is stupid if he thinks she’s going to want her husband’s by-blow, and so I told him when I took the money for his trip. I had a right to it, didn’t I? I took his mother back after the duke had finished with her. I gave her a home. I even let her keep the boy.

The duke owed me that money. Yes, and more. Made a harlot out of my daughter, and turned her off with a measly few hundred pounds. Then wouldn’t pay more when that ran out. Then, when my daughter lay dying and couldn’t keep house for me any more, that pernicious swine sent his wife to steal the boy I raised, promising him I don’t know what.

The boy said he’d stay till his mother died, and the duchess returned to London without him. And now my slut of a daughter is dead, and the boy can’t be found, but where could he have gone? He has no money for the coach fare, and it’s a long walk to London, especially with winter coming on, and the Black Mountains between here and England.

He’s no fool, the boy. He’ll be back.

 

Jeremiah Penchsnith
Captain of the Merry Molly, Bristol

320px-steep_holme_looking_over_the_bristol_channelWe didn’t find the lad till we was near Avonmouth. ‘E was hid in the coal, but we saw ‘im when ‘e tried to escape over the side. ‘E fair wriggled when we caught ‘im, begged us to let ‘im go. But ‘e owed us ‘is passage, and so I told him.

If we let away every lad who wanted a free trip over the Bristol Channel, we might as well set up as a ferry, and that’s what I said.

Give the lad credit, ‘e worked ‘ard. Four trips ‘e did wiv us, not counting the first. And then he left us in Bristol. I’d’ve kept ‘im on, I would. Good worker, that lad. I ‘ope ‘e gets where ‘e’s going.”

 

Maggie Wakefield
Farmer’s wife, Ditchford Frary, East Cotswolds

cotswold_sheepHe was a mystery, young David. Turned up in a snow storm, he did. Bessie the dog found him when Matthew went out after the sheep, huddled up in the midst of the flock where they’d taken shelter in the lee of the old stone wall.

Matthew brought them all home: boy and sheep, the boy limping along on a stick because his ankle was swollen to twice its size. “I’ve a lamb for you to warm by the fire, mother,” Matthew said, and then stood aside. Just a sprain, it turned out to be, but a bad one. I would not turn man or beast out in weather like that, let alone a boy, and no more would Matthew, so of course we let David stay.

Where did he come from in that awful weather? Wales, he said, but that couldn’t be, could it? Wales is a long way away, across the wolds and then the water. And mountains, too, they say.

David was a good boy, so perhaps he was telling the truth. He made himself useful until he could walk again. He was a good hand in the kitchen, and he read to me and Matthew at night, which was a great blessing, for our eyes are not what they were. Not that I’ve ever read more than enough to piece together a few verses from the Bible. Not like David. It was a treat to listen to him, and I was sorry when he left.

But he had people waiting for him, he said, so off he went, off to London. We got him a lift as far as Oxford with Jem Carter. I hope he made it to his people. A fine boy like that? They would have been missing him, I’m sure.

 

Sir Philip Westmacott
Gentleman, London

curriaMy tiger? He’s taken off. Ungrateful brat. Good boy with the horses, too. But there you go. That’s what I get for taking a boy off the streets. I found him in Oxford, you know. Oh yes, I told you before, didn’t I. He made sure I got back to my inn after a rather exciting evening. Didn’t rob me, either, though he could have. I was somewhat—er—elevated.

I told him to come back in the morning for his reward, and he was waiting outside in the stable yard when I woke. And all he wanted was to come to London with me. I bought him a suit of clothing, of course. Couldn’t be seen with him in the rags he had. Not livery. Not in Oxford. But I thought silver blue, to set off his dark hair. It would have looked stunning against my matched blacks.

We arrived last night, and this morning he was gone. Ungrateful brat.

 

Henry Bartlett
Gatekeeper, Haverford House, London

Of course I didn’t let him in. A boy like that? Tidily dressed enough, and nicely spoken, but what child of substance is allowed to walk around the streets? But he wasn’t a street urchin, either. He asked if he could send a note, and he wrote it right there on a piece of paper I found him. Never was a street urchin that could read and write.

Anyway, I sent it in to the duchess. Told him he’d have to wait, but it wasn’t but an hour before Her Grace’s own maid came down to fetch him, and the next thing I knew, he was part of the household.

He seems a pleasant enough lad; always polite. But it just doesn’t seem right, raising the duke’s bastard under the same roof as his legal sons. The duke agrees, or so goes the talk in the servant’s hall. But the duchess got her way, this time. And we’re all to treat the boy as if he were gentleman. Her Grace has hired him a tutor, and word is he’s off to Eton in the autumn. And the little Marquis follows him around like a puppy dog.

What will be the end of it, do you suppose?

Revealed in Mist

revealed-in-mistLast time spy Prudence Virtue and thief-taker David Wakefield worked together on a case, they parted in bitterness. When different employers send them to investigate a spying ring that blackmails aristocrats for access to secrets, they need to decide whether to combine forces.

Are they allies? Or opponents?

With friends and families too close to the investigation for comfort, they need to co-operate to find the blackmailer and the spy behind him.

They are professionals. They can work together without becoming entangled. But David and Prue find that murder, secrets from the past, and love can foil the most determined of plans.

Revealed in Mist is in final editing, and I’ll soon be announcing the release date. Keep an eye on my book pages to find out more.

An excerpt from Revealed in Mist

David frowned at the fire in the small hearth. The private parlour he had hired was small and shabby, but at least its size made it easy to heat. And it was neutral ground, which mattered. David hadn’t had a prolonged conversation with his expected guest in a decade and a half.

He must have been seventeen or eighteen on the last occasion, staying at Haverford Castle in Kent between the end of the school term and his first term at university. The Duke of Haverford’s son and heir, the Marquis of Aldridge, would have been 12. The day had begun happily enough with the boy tagging along while David went out after small game with a gun. It had ended with David beaten and driven from the property.

Aldridge had tripped and knocked himself out, and Haverford, finding David leaning over his unconscious heir, had not waited for explanations.

Once the young marquis left school and entered Society, they met from time to time, usually when the Duchess of Haverford insisted on David coming to one of her entertainments. Her husband, the duke, was almost always engaged elsewhere, but her sons often attended. They paid their mother the courtesy of not being rude to her protégé, and he responded with the same polite reserve.

He was expecting Aldridge now. Older brother to one of the courtesan’s lovers. David’s despised father’s oldest legitimate son. His half-brother.

A knock on the door heralded Aldridge’s arrival. A maid showed him into the private parlour. He’d clearly been treating her to a display of his facile charm; she was dimpling, blushing, and preening.

David examined him as he gave the girl a coin “and a kiss for your trouble, my darling.” The beautiful child had grown into a handsome man. David had heard him described as ‘well-put together, and all over, if you know what I mean.’ The white-blonde hair of childhood had darkened to a guinea gold, and he had his mother’s hazel eyes under a thick arch of brow he and David had both inherited from their father.

Aldridge navigated the shoals of the marriage market with practiced ease, holding the mothers and their daughters off, but still not offending them, and carrying out a gentleman’s role in the ballroom with every evidence of enjoyment.

But his real success, by all accounts, was with bored widows and wives, where he performed in the bedroom with equal charm, and perhaps more pleasure. Society was littered with former lovers of the Merry Marquis, though he had the enviable ability to end an affair and retain the friendship.

Aldridge ushered the laughing maid out of the room and closed the door behind her, acknowledging David’s appraisal with a wry nod.

“Wakefield. You summoned me. I am here.”

David ignored the thread of irritation in the young aristocrat’s voice, and took a shot in the dark. Lord Jonathan was unlikely to be the blackmailer, Lady Georgiana thought, but was probably also being blackmailed. Would he have confided in Aldridge?

“I have some questions I wish to ask about the blackmail.”

Aldridge arched a brow, a trick they had both picked up from the duke. “Tolliver has engaged you?”

David hid his surprise at the spymaster’s name. “What is your brother paying blackmail for?”

Uninvited, Aldridge grabbed a chair and straddled it, resting his chin on his forearms. “Our brother,” he said, flatly.

“That won’t prevent me from turning him in if he is a traitor,” David said.

“He isn’t. He’s young. He’s an idiot. But he isn’t a traitor.” Aldridge met David’s eyes with an uncompromising glare of his own.

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