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The Family Feud

The family feud between the Earl of Chadbourn’s nephew, the Duke of Murnane, and his cousin, Randolph Wheatly, has caused considerable talk recently. We believe our readers will find two missives that have come into the Tattler’s possession to be of interest. Some would say the conflict is old news. Others might suggest its influence on current events makes for as juicy a story today as it did seven years ago.

 S. Clemens

familyPrivate Pratt,
Y’ asked why mister Rand hates that duke his cousin. No one at the servants table answered cause they all love the duke. I learned as how to rite at the dame school at home so I thot I would rite the answer down. The earls vall-et told me how to spell Private but I dint tell him why I wanted to know.

The duke married the girl Mr. Rand corted and that’s a fact. Both wanted ‘er an one got ‘er. When Mr. Rand found out she was far gone with child already at the wedding, he said as how the duke had his way with her even while she still walked out with Mr. Rand. Bad business that.

No man wants a girl to lift her skirt to some ‘un other. Mr. Rand he got so mad he high tailed it to Canada where you met him. Stayed away seven years. Now th’earl told them to work together and everyone’s walking around like a storm’s brewing.

But no person here wants to beleev the duke would do his cozin such a turn neither. I heared Missus Alberts the cook say quiet like once that she dint think the boy were the duke’s son neither but you codnt tell that from how he dotes on the lad. Hes a good father, is the duke.

I know you admire Mr. Rand and I thot you’d want to know.

Elsie Jones, tweeny


Family

Sketch by Ernest Blaikley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Miss Jones,
Thank you for your kind note. Any soldier knows it is safest to know the lay of the land, and it has been hard enough for me living in a posh household like this one without the folks hiding things from me. Mr. Rand is one of the best men I know, and he has been careful to protect Meggy Blair and her children, folks as are important to me. I cannot think ill of him. He came all the way to London to make sure they are safe, and he won’t back down.

I can’t say I know the duke, but he seems like a solid fellow as well, and he plans to help us so I can’t think ill of him either. He even plans to go after the general’s crooked activity. No, I have to respect him, especially since he helped me sort out the matter of desertion from the army and all.

Whatever the truth of it, they are honorable men. I hope they come to peace because there will be enough fighting if they try to take on the ugly gang of button fakers and thieves as they talked about. Bad doings there, and they will need to watch their backs.

Your words helped me Miss. Maybe when this settles down I’ll be free to ask you to walk out of a Sunday.

Yrs
John Pratt

__________________________________

FamilyAbout the Book, The Renegade Wife: Book 1, Children of Empire

Betrayed by his cousin and the woman he loved, Rand Wheatly fled England, his dreams of a loving family shattered. He clings to his solitude in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. Returning from a business trip to find a widow and two children squatting in his house, he flies into a rage. He wants her gone, but her children are sick and injured, and his heart is not as hard as he likes to pretend.

Meggy Blair harbors a secret, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her children safe. She’d hopes to hide with her Ojibwa grandmother, if she can find the woman and her people. She doesn’t expect to find shelter with a quiet, solitary man, a man who lowers his defensive walls enough to let Meggy and her children in.

Their idyllic interlude is shattered when Meggy’s brutal husband appears to claim his children. She isn’t a widow, but a wife, a woman who betrayed the man she was supposed to love, just as Rand’s sweetheart betrayed him. He soon discovers why Meggy is on the run, however, and time is running out. To save them all, Rand must return to England and face his family demons.

~Excerpt~

“I manage. I have no idea about Julia,” Charles said through tight lips.

Rand raised his eyebrows. “What do you mean?”

“I haven’t seen Julia in two years. She hasn’t seen Jonny in longer. I have no idea how she ‘manages.’” He leaned toward Rand. “Don’t look at me like that, Randolph Wheatly. We separated less than a year after we married. It happens. If you had stayed, you might have delighted in my misfortune.”

Charles glared at Rand, who could think of nothing to say. When the silence became painful, Charles sank back in his chair. “Don’t worry. Though it seems unlikely Jonny will ever be duke, know that he is loved. I love him as if he were my own.” His voice rose when he continued, and an emotion Rand couldn’t identify gave force to his words. “He is my own. Don’t try to say otherwise.”

“What are you implying, Charles? Of course he’s your son. You were eager enough to bed his mother.”

“I didn’t touch Julia until our wedding night. Jonny came into this world six months later. What do you think I’m implying?”

Something uncurled in Rand’s chest. His cousin was many things, some unpleasant, but he wasn’t a liar.

***FREE***with Kindle Unlimited or buy a copy here

About the Series, Children of Empire

Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, have been driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman was involved!) They all make their way home, finding love and the support of women of character and backbone along their journeys. They are:

  • Rand who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace.
  • Fred, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army.
  • Charles, Duke of Murnane, who, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau.

Who are their ladies?

  • Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children.
  • Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish major sort out his responsibilities.
  • Zambak Hayden, eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, who knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help protecting the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium while she’s there.

You can find more here or here

About the Author

Carol Roddy – Author

Caroline Warfield is a Bluestocking Belle and lover of family, history, travel and faith, all of which inform her work. She firmly believes that love is worth the risk to the human heart.

She grew up in a peripatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology) before retiring. Now retired to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, she divides her time between writing and seeking adventures with her grandbuddy and the prince among men she married.

She has works published by Soul Mate Publishing and also independently published works. In addition she has participated in five group anthologies, one not yet published. You can find her here:

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History Imagined

Dispatch From the Gold Fields

Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory

Dear Mr. Clemens,

Wyoming Gold Fields Western RomanceHere is the report you requested. Of late, I’ve been exploring the rumors of gold to be found in the Wyoming territory of the former colonies. While the rumors are true, the location of the gold fields is on lands belonging to the Sioux nation. Relations are hostile between these aborigines and the somewhat more civilized government of the United States of America. In addition, the area of the gold fields, known as the Black Hills, is exceedingly difficult to access. Thus, few white men and fewer white women have traveled through the place. I have determined to do so, myself. Not for greed of gold, but for greed of experience. I have never denied my eagerness to see what is around the next corner, tree, rock, or river bend. Be that as it may, I am currently in the boomtown of Cheyenne seeking a guide of good reputation to shepherd my little party [Yes, despite her megrims, my maid Analisa is still with me, but more of her peccadillos at another time.]

To continue, I have interviewed a number of guides only one of whom has proven suitable. The first was a shifty-eyed drunk whom I would not allow within my chambers. The second, a Mr. J. Bridger, is a quite famous mountain man. He was sober and very entertaining, but his English is so poor I could scarcely understand him. Heavens, the man could not even read. Nor was his hygiene acceptable.

The third man, Mr. W. Hickock is also quite famous. He is very colorful wearing pistols holstered on each hip and having long, locks of hair, which were kept scrupulously clean, unlike Mr. Bridger. I had almost agreed to accept Mr. Hickock’s services despite his exorbitant fees when the most unruly and oddly dressed female I had ever seen burst into the room and drew her pistol, holding me and Mr. Hickock at gunpoint.

“Y’ ain’t a goin’nowheres without me Bill,” the woman stated. “And I ain’t a lettin’ y’ dilly dally with some hoity toity female foreigner. ‘Til I sez otherwise, I’m the onliest woman whose skirts y’ kin lift.

Did I mention that this creature wore men’s pants and a fur covering that looked as if it had once been part of a bear? I bristled at being called hoity toity by anyone of such obviously low stamp, to say nothing of the idea that I might ‘lift my skirts’ for any strange man. Before I could issue the set down this woman deserved. Mr. Hickock was on his feet, nobly placing his body between me and the pistol’s line of fire.

“Now Jane,” he said in a tone used to sooth wild animals. “You know I wouldn’t try to two-time you or any woman to whom I commit myself.”

“I know nothin’ of the sort, and won’t ‘til y’ agree t’ marry me.”

“I’m already married, Jane, as you are well aware.”

“Don’t keep you from cattin’ around with saloon dancers and squaws.”

Mr. Hickock cast a glance at me and could see I was less that pleased over what I’d heard and seen. I shook my head at him. He sighed and picked up his hat, then took Jane by the arm and escorted her from the room.

I have discovered that very few words are needed in this part of the world to convey significant information. Mr. Hickock perceived correctly that I would not be needing his services in any capacity. Yet he was kind enough to send another guide for me to interview.

This character, one Skinner Jones, I might have rejected instantly. Jones personal hygiene looked and smelled no better than Mr. Bridger’s. However, the educated speech that came from Jones’s mouth roused my interest, so I invited my guest to share tea with me as we discussed the possibility of escort from Cheyenne to the Black Hills.

Jones, despite all appearances and scents, was surprisingly erudite. Our conversation ranged from the Souix and their situation, to life on the Wyoming trails, and from there to the exigencies of my own travels. We discussed Dickens, Milton, and Shakespeare. I was introduced to new authors such as Poe, Melville, and Clemens. (Hence my communication started with that last author as a result of reading some very entertaining tales written under the pen name of Mark Twain.)

Not only was Jones an educated, well-spoken, and entertaining conversationalist, the guide exhibited a startling degree of comfort with proper conduct during a tea service. When I probed for more of Jones’s background, the guide became evasive and skillfully re-directed my questions. In another person, say of Mr. Bridger’s ilk, I might have become wary enough to decline that person’s escort. However, the combination of Jones’s manners, obvious erudition, and skillful handling of the most probing questions sparked my curiosity.

By the time we had finished our tea and conversation began to lag, I had made up my mind. I offered Jones the job. The guide would accept only if I chose to avoid the Black Hills and would be willing to travel to other safer locations in the territory. Jones guaranteed me I would not be disappointed. A description of Lake Yellowstone, the Wind River, and an area called Smoke Valley intrigued me so much that I was eager to dispense with any plans to visit the black Hills. There was one other item which decided my cooperation with Jones’s plans. Throughout our conversation, I observed that Jones behaved more like a female—the handling of cups and saucers, a certain delicacy of conduct when eating the cakes and drinking the tea, and a number of very subtle mannerisms that, in this wild western environment, perhaps only another delicately raised woman might recognize. What in the world was such a woman doing masquerading as a teamster? How had she come by the skills to, as is said in the west, ‘skin mules’ and earn the regard of men such as Mr. Hickock?

I had to know the answers to these questions and more. When I do, I shall write them down and if I obtain Jones’s permission will seek to publish the Legend of Skinner Jones. In the interim, I will be able to continue sending to the Tattler small tidbits detailing my adventures in Wyoming in the company of Skinner Jones.

Western Romance WyomingAbout the Book

One Night’s Desire, Historical Western Romance (1870 Wyoming)

A WOMAN ON THE RUN ~ Rustlers, claim jumpers and fire, nothing will stop Kiera Alden from reuniting her family. But an accusation of murder threatens her dreams and sets Marshall Evrett Quinn on her trail. She may be able to escape prison bars and eventually prove her innocence, but she can’t escape Quinn’s love.

A LAWMAN IN HOT PURSUIT ~ Marshall Evrett Quinn is relentless in pursuit of law-breakers, and pretty Kiera Alden is no exception. Clever and courageous, she evades him until chance encounter turns the tables. Finally, he has this elusive desperado under arrest, but success is bittersweet when she captures his heart.

Buy Links for One Night’s Desire:

Amazon–http://www.amazon.com/Nights-Desire-Crimson-Romance-ebook/dp/B00DL3ALFC/
B & N–http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-night-s-desire-rue-allyn/1115916242?ean=9781440567186
Crimson Romance–http://www.crimsonromance.com/historical-romance-novels/one-nights-desire/
Kobo–http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/one-night-s-desire

Excerpt

You can read an excerpt of One Night’s Desire here http://rueallyn.com/2c2ONDexcerpt.html.

Rue Allyn About the Author

Rue Allyn is the award-winning author of Historical, Contemporary and erotic Romance. When not writing, Rue travels the world and surfs the internet in search of background material and inspiration for her next heart melting romance. She loves to hear from readers, and you may contact her at  contact@RueAllyn.com. She can’t wait to hear from you.

Social Links:

FB–http://www.facebook.com/RueAllynAuthor/
Twitter–http://twitter.com/RueAllyn
Amazon–http://www.amazon.com/Rue-Allyn/e/B00AUBF3NI

I had a terrific time today providing some of my research on my current work in progress, tentatively titled The Legend of Skinner Jones. This book tells the story of Boyd Alavarez and Elise Van Demer, two secondary characters from One Night’s Desire ~ Wildfire Love Book 2. The action of the Skinner Jones story takes place a few years after that of One Night’s Desire. Here’s a little more information about that book.

Whispers in a Corner of Cairo

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

Cairo

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

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

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

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

Cairo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cairo steamship

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

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

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

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

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

Della gasped.

“What is it?” Bertha asked anxiously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

cairo empire reluctant About the Book

The Reluctant Wife:  Children of Empire, Book 2

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband. She certainly doesn’t need a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

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

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

About Caroline Warfield

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

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

Website http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

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

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

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

Twitter @CaroWarfield

Email warfieldcaro@gmail.com

 

 

Whispers From Calcutta

A Missive from Calcutta, seat of the Bengal Presidency

The Colonel's Wife CalcuttaMost of England’s fine young men, who labor far from home and are faced daily with coarseness and Foreign Influence on all sides, hunger for the refinement and civility of Proper Company. Know that the Respectable Ladies of Calcutta take it as our Sacred Duty to be exemplars of Culture in this outpost. We take our role with the utmost seriousness.

Unfortunately those who lack beneficial influences sometimes succumb to the specious charms of Hindustan and stray from right behavior. We bring one such incident to your attention lest you think we fail in our Christian Duty.

calcutta

Girl by S Elayaraja

While, as we said, most True Gentlemen welcome the tender hand of English Womanhood, the occasional clerk—even the rare officer—strays from right behavior in this heathenish climate. We have been disheartened lately over the behavior of a certain Captain who parades his mixed-blood by-blows across Calcutta and attempts to impose them on some of the Better Schools. Those fine institutions are not deceived and have shut their doors to the two imps of Satan whose behavior is reported to be forward and pushing, with little apprehension of Conduct Expected of their Proper Place.

Clare Armbruster CalcuttaUnfortunately a Certain Woman hinders our efforts to ensure that we protect the Children of Respectable English Families from such influences. Miss Clare Armbruster thrust herself into our company upon the recommendation of her brother, a fine major of my husband’s regiment. The brother, being sadly misled regarding his sister’s character, although wise in the ways of the world, commended her to my Influence. The Impulsive and Obdurate young woman resisted wisdom at every turn.

Fred Wheatly CalcuttaOne puzzled where she might fit in our company—certainly not a Senior in Precedence and yet, owing to the rank of her brother, not to be consigned to the Lower Rungs with the wives of subalterns. Still we accepted her into our society, and yet she refused to be led. She stubbornly evaded all efforts to introduce her to the right sort of unmarried officer and was seen consorting with the very captain who brazenly flaunted his base-born children among us.

We provided a companion, a meek and Respectable Widow, to accompany Miss Armbruster home to England in the hopes that removal from this heathenish clime would curb her tendencies, but word has reached us that she evaded the woman who sailed without her. Miss Armbruster has in fact set herself up to care for the Captain’s bastards (forgive my coarse language, but there truly is no other word for this Regrettable Condition) even as Captain Wheatly himself stands before a disciplinary hearing for Gross Negligence and Violation of Duty.

We wash our hands of the woman, Gentle Readers. I write to assure you that the Respectable Ladies of Calcutta did our best in this matter should word of it reach London. As wife of the regimental colonel I speak for the senior wives of the Bengal Army officer corps. Standards will be upheld even in this outpost.

Mrs. Walton Davis
______________________________________________

About the Book

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband. She certainly doesn’t need a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

Find it on Amazon

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of The Reluctant Wife, Caroline will give a kindle copy to one randomly selectedperson who leaves a comment.

The prequel to this book, A Dangerous Nativity, is always **FREE**. You can get a copy here: http://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/a-dangerous-nativity-1815/

Excerpt

“Steamer? Here?”

The shipping agent nodded. “Why not? It’s the coming thing. It cuts the trip from six months to two if conditions are right.”

“Two months! But Suez? What happens then?” Clare’s mind spun with images. Shortening time shipboard with two girls had obvious appeal.

“In Suez, the company arranges with a local pasha for overland travel to Cairo. From there, travel down the Nile and to Alexandria via the Mahmoudiyah Canal,” he said, watching her reactions.

“And from Alexandria to England,” Clare said. The agent nodded. “Another steamer?” At his nod, she remembered something else. “You did say ‘mail service,’ did you not?”

“Indeed. Steamship companies start with government backing for the mail but rarely make a profit at it. The Pharaoh is designed with 120 passenger cabins, all first class.” He leaned forward. “The thing is, Miss Armbruster, while a few people are eager to try the next new thing, others are more reluctant. It leaves in ten days and isn’t full. I can get you a cabin—or two if you prefer—for half price.”

He had her attention. Ten days! What if Fred isn’t back on time? And they will want a deposit. She weighed the time saved against keeping Meghal from falling prey to Nile crocodiles.

“As tempting as your offer is, I fear we need to secure a berth on The Madras Queen. I can only put one pound on deposit now, but when the, ah, girls’ father returns, I’ll manage the full amount.”

A subtle shift in posture and expression were the only clues that he found her answer troubling. She suspected his sudden reluctance had nothing to do with money.

“Mr. Wheatly, the girls’ father, wishes me to convey them to family in London. His connections are highly respectable, I assure you.”

He took her money. A wrinkled brow marred his effort to smile, but when he spoke she heard compassion and understanding in his tone. “The Madras Queen is your best choice. A woman traveling alone with children might not find the overland route suitable.”

That settled, she led the girls back to their temporary home, stopping only to lunch on naan with a delightful paste of chickpea and curry. She would miss the spices of India. She would miss many things.

Meghal continued to speculate about steamships and elephants all the way back and up the stairs.

“If not an elephant, then why not a camel? I would so like to ride a camel,” she declared, rounding the top of the stairs and approaching their door. It opened before Clare could touch it.

She stopped breathing for a moment at the sight of him—one hand on the door handle, the other holding a satchel—smiling through a coating of road dust.

“What’s this about a camel?” he demanded. “Who plans to travel by camel?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/if-wishes-were-earls-2
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/if-wishes-were-earls/id1184695145?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
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

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