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Heir to Textile Empire Journeys West — But Why?

In a shocking turn of events, we have discovered that the young heir to the Gardiner textile empire has departed London on a ship bound to parts far distant, and in the company of a man thought to be an agent of the King!

Yes, if reports are to be believed, it is true. Whilst most of the Ton would not socialize with the merchant-class Gardiners, their influence in London’s society cannot be neglected, for they dress the elite, and whatever fine fabrics Gardiner brings into his warehouses are sure to be the latest fashion amongst those who set the mode for the coming season.  Not a duke or earl in Town has not been seen gracing the showrooms at Gardiner’s warehouse, choosing the finest cloth England has to offer for his wife, daughter, or unnamed female companion.

But now, our sources reveal, young Edward Gardiner has absconded with little warning on a ship bound for the colonies, a ship owned by none other than George Darcy, whose influence is felt at the highest levels of Society.  Furthermore, Gardiner was reportedly joined by a gentleman whose name we dare not print, but who has been known to be part of His Majesty’s intimate circle, and who has been rumoured to be in possession of the King’s confidence—and perhaps employ—for matters clandestine and of importance to the Realm.

The questions this unlikely happening raises are many. Does this sudden departure have anything to do with a near-fatal accident in the vicinity of Gardiner Warehouses just last week? Is it related at all to the recent disappearance of Gardiner’s young assistant, whose mathematical prowess has tongues wagging across London? Or to the fate of a young lady from the north whose name has been whispered in the same breath as Gardiners? Or is there any connection with the rumours that this same lady’s brother, long thought missing, has been found in Nova Scotia—the exact destination of Darcy’s ship?

One matter is certain, however: the Gardiners might be deemed below the Ton in terms of social standing and place in life, but they keep company many of their betters would fall over themselves to enjoy. Perhaps there is more to the Gardiners’ empire than mere fabric!

 

Excerpt from The Assistant

Sherrington now stood and moved to look out the window. “My local informants tell me that a ship left London’s harbour this morning, bound for the colonies. If Grant hoped to send any directives, they would be in a letter on that ship.” Edward jerked upright and staggered to the fireplace. Sherrington still spoke. “My informants tell me further that a young lad begged passage on that ship moments before it sailed. This young lad matched the description of your assistant.”

Now Edward had stopped all motion and was staring at Sherrington, scarcely able to breathe. “You don’t mean—?” he began.

The older man nodded. “Yes, I do. It seems, in all likelihood, that your brave young assistant has taken it upon himself to gallivant off to the wilds of Nova Scotia to rescue his friend.”

James Gardiner now addressed his friend. “Jeremiah, what can this mean? Would the boy really do such a thing? He did not seem the adventurous sort.”

“Perhaps not, James, or not under normal circumstances. But recollect: people will go to great lengths to protect those they love. I recall, just this morning, a certain young man willing to sell his soul to protect the woman he loves.”

Edward blushed, desperately hoping his father’s eyes were directed elsewhere. When he felt himself able to speak steadily, he ventured to ask, “And what of Miss Grant? Did she travel with him?”

“That I cannot ascertain. My informants did not hear talk of a lady, but she may have gone on ahead, or come later. There were, perhaps a few too many trunks for a lone youth, but more than that I cannot say.”

“So what are we able to do? What are our choices? Certainly we must act!”

“Yes, we must. And act we shall. My friend Darcy—you must have heard me speak of him, have you not, James? Big landowner up in Derbyshire—has interest in a ship leaving next week, taking farmers and tea and hoping to bring back timber and furs. There can be a cabin available if you wish it.”

“What?” Edward had not expected this. “Return to Nova Scotia? I never believed I would make that journey again.”

“Do you not wish it? The ship is destined for Saint John, in New Brunswick, but will stop in at Halifax Harbour to let you off. Darcy is a powerful man and can make this so.”

Both Gardiners stared at him. It was James who eventually spoke. “By gum, that’s quite the claim. Do you know what that extra port of call would cost?”

“Yes, James. But it’s Darcy’s ship, and as Edward knows, he is as eager to see an end to Grant’s machinations as any of us. Are you in, son?”

Edward looked to his father for some sort of response, not certain whether he was hoping for permission or denial. Sherrington nodded once, and James turned to Edward. “Go. Go and save your young woman.”

“Thank you. Both of you,” Edward stated as he turned to leave the room. Before he moved through the doorway, however, Sherrington proclaimed, “I shall make the arrangements and call for you at first light on Monday of next week. If the ship’s planned departure changes, I will let you know. I have long since wished to see Halifax.”

“You… you are coming as well?” Edward turned in the door and gaped at his friend.

Sherrington smiled. “This is an adventure I would not miss for the world!” Then, “James, I would love a game of chess and cup of tea. Might that be arranged?”

The Assistant

A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean

When textile merchant Edward Gardiner rescues an injured youth, he has no notion that this simple act of kindness will change his life. The boy is bright and has a gift for numbers that soon makes him a valued assistant and part of the Gardiners’ business, but he also has secrets and a set of unusual acquaintances. When he introduces Edward to his sparkling and unconventional friend, Miss Grant, Edward finds himself falling in love.

But who is this enigmatic woman who so quickly finds her way to Edward’s heart? Do the deep secrets she refuses to reveal have anything to do with the appearance of a sinister stranger, or with the rumours of a missing heir to a northern estate? As danger mounts, Edward must find the answers in order to save the woman who has bewitched him . . . but the answers themselves may destroy all his hopes.

Set against the background of Jane Austen’s London, this Pride and Prejudice prequel casts us into the world of Elizabeth Bennet’s beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Their unlikely tale takes the reader from the woods of Derbyshire, to the ballrooms of London, to the shores of Nova Scotia. With so much at stake, can they find their Happily Ever After?

About the Author

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Links

Universal book link: https://www.books2read.com/theassistant

If you want store-specific links for Amazon, they are as follows.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4/

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly
Website – https://rianaeverly.com/
Twitter – @RianaEverly

GOSSIP-DU-JOUR

Correspondence by messenger between Lieutenant George Wickham, ­—shire Militia and Mr. Samuel Clemens, Editor and Proprietor, The Teatime Tattler

Dear Mr. Clemens:

Whilst I am certain of the inestimable quality of your sources of news regarding the most esteemed members of society, I am privileged to be in possession of some information of which you might not yet be aware.

You were knowledgeable, I presume, of the grand engagement ball thrown only last evening by Lady Malton for her nephew, Professor F. Darcy of Derbyshire. I have heard, however, from the barmaid at The Mottled Turnip, who had it from her beau at the Duke of S’s stables, who had it from his sister, the upstairs maid who assists with Lady Malton’s wardrobe, that the affair did not conclude as well as it began. For a modest recompense, I would be pleased to convey the essence of the outcome of the evening’s entertainment.

Yours, &, &,

GW

Wickham,

I shall not ask why you are at The Mottled Turnip in London rather than with your regiment in Hertfordshire, where I know you ought to be. I shall, however, in exchange for the information you claim to possess, condescend not to inform your commanding officer, Colonel Forster, whom I happen to know rather well. I expect this will be suitable recompense for your efforts. The post goes at three. I expect your response before that hour.

Sincerely,

SC

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I concede your point and appreciate your discretion. My information about the grand ball is thus: After an exhaustive evening of dance, music and dining, during which time Prof. Darcy’s betrothed charmed the most esteemed members and most severe critics of Society with her elegant manner, beautiful appearance and great wit, a fracas occurred, overheard by the previously-mentioned maid. A great row broke out between the engaged pair, after which the lovely bride-to-be was seen leaving the room in the arms of a man not her future-husband. My source could not be convinced to divulge the name of this second gentleman, but I surmise he is a resident of the house belonging to the Earl and Lady Malton. At last report, the bride had left the house and was ensconced with unknown relations, whist FD himself was rumoured to have absconded from London entirely!

As a final note, I heard that you printed recently that that FD was engaged to a certain Miss EB of Hertfordshire, but I wish to correct you in this assumption. His future bride’s initial is not E, but is, instead, C. Fear not, sir. These mistakes happen.

Yrs,

Lt. GW

 

Excerpt:

George Wickham sat back in his chair at his favourite tavern and laughed.  What news had he just heard from Sanderson’s lips, but that Darcy had left town! There had been, he learned, a grand ball to celebrate the engagement and introduce the man’s intended bride to society, and afterwards she and Darcy had fought, and both had abandoned London! Some of the details had seemed a tad off, perhaps—surely the bride’s name was Miss Caroline and not Miss Elizabeth—but everyone knew how the specifics never survived subsequent retellings intact. It could only be a slip of memory, both being common and rather interchangeable names, and these little inconsistencies bothered him not at all. What was important was that Darcy must have learned of his beloved’s betrayal! He had learned of Caroline’s faithlessness and he had scuttled out of town like a kitchen pest upon the lighting of a lamp!

Yes, the great Fitzwilliam Darcy had been cast down! Wickham played and replayed various scenarios over in his mind of what must have transpired after the ball, and each one concluded with Caroline informing him that she had been taken and loved by another.

“How could you? How could you choose Wickham over me?” Darcy would say, and Caroline would just laugh and laugh before informing him coolly, “I needed a real man.”

And what of Darcy’s retreat? Wickham relished the thought of the great master of Pemberley, returning home a broken shadow of a man, tail between his legs. Was his heart broken? Was he destroyed? Was he humiliated, cast down in shame? It mattered not which; it only mattered that the plan was working and Wickham was finally gaining the upper hand. This was the first taste of victory! This was what Wickham had been working towards for so long, and now his schemes were playing out at last. Ah, how he would savour this moment.

He summoned the serving girl over and asked for another pint of the good strong ale, then sat back with a self-satisfied grin on his face to plan the next stage of his assault.

Teaching Eliza, by Riana Everly

A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels.

From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling Regency tale, wherein the elegance of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange.

https://books2read.com/teachingeliza

Meet Riana Everly

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

 

 

Website: https://rianaeverly.com/

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

 

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