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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?

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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.

Someone Always Sees

Lady Constance Whittles made her way across the crowded ballroom after finishing a lively dance with none other than the dashing Lord Digby Osgood. She had taken delight with the free time allotted her since she no longer worked at the bookshop. She was more than please with any opportunity to get to know the gentleman further. She might as well take advantage of every moment she could spend in his company before she began her new position at Miss Clemens’s Oxford Street Book Palace & Tea Rooms.

Digby led her over to a chair near a window where a slight breeze blew in through the open balcony doors. “Wine or punch?” he asked once she was seated.

“Punch would be divine,” she said with a parched throat.

“I will be right back. Do you mind if I have a brief conversation with Frederick before I return? I see he just arrived with Margaret?”

“By all means, go right ahead. I shall be fine here watching the dancing until your return.”

He gave a brief bow and disappeared through the crowded room while Constance snapped open her fan to bring relief to her flushed face. She was not sitting alone long before she heard the quiet whisperings of two women behind her in the darkened entryway. She did not mean to overhear their conversations but they made no attempt to quiet their voices. Most likely they thought the music would dim their gossiping from traveling any further than between them.

“How could you not have heard such distressing news, Abigail?”

A loud sigh was heard. “Good heavens, Prudence. You have the latest news on any given hour of the day. How am I supposed to keep up with you on whatever bit of gossip that is none of my business in the first place?”

With a discreet glance behind her, Constance held back the urge to roll her eyes. The Danver sisters… She had met them on several occasions in the bookshop. They were relatively harmless creatures, yet the elder of the two had a penchant for wanting to share whatever tidbit was been bandied about without much thought. Thankfully her younger sibling kept her in check.

“This is not gossip but fact and is regarding the son of our hosts,” Prudence continued.

“Lord Drayton?”

“His brother is too far young to be of much interest… yet. Of course this is about none other than Neville Quinn.” The sound of a small slap was heard. “What was that for? You hurt my arm.”

“You are over exaggerating, I barely touched you. Besides, beware you are not overheard addressing him so informally lest you wish to be the next one people are talking about,” Abigale scolded.

“Pish, posh! I think not. Besides, I would not dare let my reputation be ruined because I was having an affair.”

“Whatever are you talking about, Prudence?

“Honestly, Abigail, do you know nothing of what is going on around you?”

“Apparently not, but I have the distinct feeling you shall fill me in.”

“Lord Drayton is having an affair with a married woman.”

Laughter came from the younger sister. “Is that all? Look inside, sister. Half the men in that room are probably having an affair or have taken a mistress.”

“But Abigail, do you not wish to hear with whom he─”

“No, not really,” Abigail stated. “Let us return to the ball. I am sure we can find something more interesting to converse about.”

“No husband of mine would ever dare have an affair on me,” Prudence muttered.

“If my husband attempted such, I would see him gelded. He would not be much use to anyone after such a fate,” Abigail added with a laugh.

The two women moved on leaving Constance to ponder their words, not that she would be one to spread their tale further. She noticed when Lord Drayton entered the room with two other gentlemen Constance was unfamiliar with. He looked on edge as though he took no pleasure at being in attendance at his parent’s event. He gave a meager smile towards his mother before moving from Constance’s view.

Lord Digby returned with her punch and after a few sips, they moved onto the dance floor. The Danver sister’s conversation still lingered in her mind causing Constance to wonder the fate of the poor woman who must have stolen Lord Drayton’s heart.

This is an original piece by Sherry Ewing for her upcoming release. Nothing But Time: A Family of Worth, Book One is available for pre-order for $2.99. Release date: May 16, 2017. You can learn more about Sherry on her page here with the Bluestocking Belles or on her website at: www.SherryEwing.com.

Blurb:

They will risk everything for their forbidden love…

When Lady Gwendolyn Marie Worthington is forced to marry a man old enough to be her father, she concludes love will never enter her life. Her husband is a cruel man who blames her for his own failings. Then she meets her brother’s attractive business associate, and all those longings she had thought gone forever suddenly reappear.

A long-term romance holds no appeal for Neville Quinn, Earl of Drayton until an unexpected encounter with the sister of the Duke of Hartford. Still, he resists giving his heart to another woman, especially one who belongs to another man.

Chance encounters lead to intimate dinners, until Neville and Gwendolyn flee to Berwyck Castle at Scotland’s border hoping beyond reason their fragile love will survive the vindictive reach of Gwendolyn’s possessive husband. Before their journey is over, Gwendolyn will risk losing the only love she has ever known.

Buy Links:

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Bio:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical & time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. Always wanting to write a novel but busy raising her children, she finally took the plunge in 2008 and wrote her first Regency. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Beau Monde & the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry is currently working on her next novel and when not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist. You can learn more about Sherry online here:

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The Gentleman Refused to Move!

What beautiful aristocratic ward of the Duke of Althorn was seen in the company of Lord Claven, son of the viscount? The chandeliers in the ballroom flickered in waves on the decorated ceiling casting undulating shadows against the walls as he danced her through the French doors and on to the terrace. Out of sight, but not out of hearing, this reporter heard him say, “It’s such a crush in there. I thought you’d appreciate a breath of fresh air.”

Through my quizzing glass, I saw the gentleman, and I use the word lightly, place her back against the rock wall, and station himself in front of her, enclosing the woman in a vise-lock embrace. “You are breathtaking in candlelight.”

I overheard the lady in question protest in a loud voice. “What do you think you’re doing? Do you speak such words to every woman you lure away in the dark?” She pushed him back. Her sardonic laugh was one intended to insult, not inflame his untoward ardor.

“Most likely, it usually entices ladies to explore.”

“That’s probably the most honest admission you’ve made tonight. Don’t come closer. I warn you.”

Gentleman Bastard“Honesty only goes so far, when I want to do so much more. I know you have a fondness for that…bastard.” He hesitated.

“Don’t go there,” she cautioned the lord.

“We all know what Thorn is. He’s had the good fortune to have a high placed aristocrat accept him.”

Her words were loud and clear. “I warn you, Claven. I pack a wicked punch.”

“I know he’s trained you in horsemanship. Perhaps he has trained you in other areas too? Like kissing?”

I brought my monocle closer to see her face. Her lips moved quickly and apparently in anger. “I now prefer to return to the ball.” She attempted to move away.

“No,” he said. His voice was gruff to be sure.

“Kindly remove your body from my path.”

Horrors, the gentleman refused to move!

“You lured me here, my darling.” Now he pinned her against the wall.

I could see that she held her reticule between them.

“You have a vivid imagination.” She attempted to move again. “All right then,” and quicker than quick, she sent her fist to his cheek.

Caught unaware, he stumbled to the side, his hand upon his jaw.

gentlemanI then saw her walk by him with a grin. “Thank you.” The sound of her voice echoed a small triumph. “You can thank Thorn Wick, the duke’s son, for teaching me fisticuffs. Come near me again, and I’ll plaster your face against a wall.”

She exited in a rush and straightened her gown only to run into Mr. Wick. With a casual attitude, she said, “You did teach me the art of boxing. I merely employed that education to accomplish my purpose.”

And what did he answer?  “Indeed it appears you did. I’ll have to discipline him, I see.”

What has our Regency world come to when a lady is not safe with a lord?

Arthur Spectator, Senior reporter, Teatime Traveler

About the BookGentleman Bastard

After three years in England, Thorn Wick, the duke’s bastard son, perfectly flawed, still fights for acceptance in his father’s world as a renowned Argamak Turk  horse trainer. Just when he starts to believe in fairy tales, another obstacle looms to thwart his plans: on a dangerous mission to Barbados, Thorn is stunned when secrets are revealed about his mother. Will he exact revenge for the foul deed?

Alicia Montgomery, ward of the duke, is in love with Thorn. Strong willed and adventurous, she determines she can convince him to admit his feelings. But the reality of loving Thorn too much almost destroys her.

Can Alicia quell Thorn’s demons and prove love can pave the way to their happiness to fulfill their destiny?

A Regency Romance with an Element of Suspense

GentlemanAbout the Author

From a humble beginning in Newark, New Jersey, a short stay at a convent in Morristown, N.J. at the age of fourteen, Sandra Masters retired from a fantastic career for a play broadcasting company in Carlsbad, California, and settled in the rural foothills of the Sierras of Yosemite National Park with her husband, Ron, and two dogs, Silky and Sophie. She traded in the Board Rooms for the Ballrooms of the Regency Era and never looked back.

She wrote her first book at the age of thirteen and since then she’s always traveled with pen and notebook for her writing experiences. It’s been the journey of ten thousand miles with a few steps left to go. She deemed it a pleasure to leave the corporate world behind decades later.

Nothing she expected, but everything she desired. Her business card lists her occupation as Living The Dream.

 

Kitchen Gossip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kitchen GossipA Giveaway

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

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

About the Book

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

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

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

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N0QJSHA/
Nook: http://bit.ly/2ifWvXO
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All other retailers: https://www.draft2digital.com/book/209375

Kitchen GossipAbout the Author

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

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

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

The Dias Imposter

Fazenda Oliveira, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, 1872

Join me behind the slightly ajar larder door as I spy on two Fazenda Oliveira kitchen maids discussing their new colleague.

The Fazenda

Celina wiped her hands on her apron and glanced over her shoulder toward the kitchen entrance. Thinking they were alone, she turned back and smirked at Estela across the large kitchen worktable. “This new maid is going to be trouble for sure. Have you noticed how all the men simper when she’s around? Where on earth did they find her?”

Estela waggled her eyebrows. “Well, she’s supposed to be old Adriana Dias’s niece raised in the Falkland Islands.”

Celina frowned. “Where?”

“You know. The Islas Malvinas. The Falklands, as the English call the islands now.”

“Uh-huh.” Celina snorted and winked at Estela. “If she’s Adriana’s niece, then I’m Imperador Dom Pedro Segundo’s lady, Princess of the Two Sicilies, Teresa Cristina herself! A red-haired, green-eyed Dias? Such a thing does not exist.”

The Coffee Plantation

“True.” Estela spread her arms in an imitation of grace and poise. “If she’s a Dias, I am Senhora Consuelo, Monarch of Fazenda Oliveira. All must bow to before me.”

Celina lifted her wooden spoon like a scepter. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Senhora.”

“And yours, Imperadora.” Estela’s curtsey dragged the hem of her skirt against the floor.

A serious expression replaced the mirth in Celina’s eyes. “Silliness aside, have you listened to her accent? She doesn’t speak like anyone I’ve ever heard, not even the English gentleman who visited last month. Grew up around the English? I do not think so.”

“Well,” Estela replied, “I heard that she just appeared at Adriana and Ricardo’s house. Popped up out of nowhere. One day it was just the two of them, the next they had a niece. No one seems to know how she got here.”

“Really? She’s a strange one for certain.” Leaning over the table, Celina continued in a whisper, “Have you noticed the way the young master looks at her? She better watch out there.”

“Why?” Estela’s voice held a note of indignation. “Senhor Gustavo is so handsome and rich and nice.”

Celina raised her brow and tilted her head. “He may be beautiful to behold, but be wary. Have you not heard the story of why he was sent away for all those years?” Estela shook her head and stretched closer to Celina, who continued, “Rumor says he got one the maids with child and then killed her out of fear that Old Dragon Lady Consuelo would disinherit him for consorting with a peasant.”

A pink glow crept across Estela’s cheeks. “I can’t believe Senhor Gustavo could do such a terrible thing. He’s always been kind and polite to me.”

“That’s because you look like a cow.” Celina pursed her lips. “Believe me. If you looked like this Maria, you would have much to fear.”

Estela scowled. “As if you look so much better. You’re just a jealous cow yourself. Senhor Gus would not hurt a dog, much less kill someone.”

“So you believe, but what I know is that the girl disappeared. When her family came looking for her, they were sent away under threat from Consuelo.”

“That doesn’t mean the girl’s dead.”

“Perhaps.” Celina straightened up and placed a fist on each hip. “What I know for certain is this. We already have enough Oliveira bastards littering the ground and Senhora Consuelo is determined there will be no more. This Maria will be trouble. You can count on it!”

About the Book

Set during the aftermath of the American Civil War, Confederado do Norte tells the story of Mary Catherine, a child torn from her war devastated home in Georgia and thrust into the primitive Brazilian interior where the young woman she becomes must learn to recreate herself in order to survive.

October, 1866.
Mary Catherine is devastated when her family emigrates from Georgia to Brazil because her father and maternal uncle refuse to accept the terms of Reconstruction following the Confederacy’s defeat. Shortly after arrival in their new country, she is orphaned, leaving her in Uncle Nathan’s care. He hates Mary Catherine, blaming her for his sister’s death. She despises him because she believes Nathan murdered her father. When Mary Catherine discovers Nathan’s plan to be rid of her as well, she flees into the mountain wilderness filled with jaguars and equally dangerous men. Finding refuge among kind peasants, she grows into a beauty, ultimately attracting the attention of the scion of a wealthy Portuguese family. Happiness and security seem within reach until civil unrest brings armed marauders who have an inexplicable connection to Mary Catherine. Recreating herself has protected Mary Catherine in the past, but this new crisis will demand all of the courage, intelligence, and creativity she possesses simply to survive.

Buy it on Amazon

~Excerpt~

I dreamt the dream again last night. In the small hours, I awoke in a tumble of bedclothes and bathed in perspiration despite the howling snowstorm blanketing the city. I rearranged quilts and plumped pillows, but sleep remained elusive. My mind refused to be quiet.

As often happens after such a night, I felt unable to rise at my usual hour and remained abed long after the maids cleared breakfast from the morning room. My daughter-in-law, bless her heart, meant well. I told her it was ridiculous to bring the doctor out on such a frigid day, but apparently the very old, like the very young, are not to be trusted in matters of judgment. After the doctor listened to my chest, a studied sympathy filled his eyes and he gently suggested that perhaps I should get my affairs in order. No doubt he wondered at my smile for he couldn’t have known I have no affairs other than my memories and the emotions they engender.

Unlike most elderly persons, I don’t revel in slogging through the past. It isn’t wrapped in pretty ribbons or surrounded by a golden aura. Instead, its voices haunt my dreams, demanding and accusatory. Until recently, I’ve resisted their intrusion into my waking life, but I now believe the past can no longer remain buried in nocturnal visions. It must be brought out into the light of day. From its earliest moments onward, the past’s substance must be gouged out, pulled apart, and examined bit by bit until its truth is exposed. While total objectivity may not be possible, I have concluded that committing the past to paper is my best hope for sorting facts from imaginings. Perhaps then I will achieve the peace that has so long hidden its face from me.

You see, when I was quite young—only a girl really—I killed four people. Two were dearly beloved, one was a hated enemy, and the last was a dangerous criminal.

About the Author

Linda has been in love with the past for as long as she can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws her in. She supposes it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on her grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into her work.

As for her venture in writing, she has this to say. “Writing has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself, ‘Let’s pretend.’ ”

Linda resides in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

“History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire  

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