(I cannot tell the location of this first hand account, but it is one of the finest stud farms in the kingdom. Oh, the name begins with W!).

Lady Bella teetered into the well-appointed retiring room, lurched for one of the upholstered chairs, and tumbled onto the floor in a flurry of skirts. Her ostrich-feather headdress listed sideways, and with a sloppy hand, she made an adjustment. She giggled.

Lady Ablethorp assisted her into a chair with the maid’s help. “I see you have indulged in Davy’s nitrous gas, Bella.”

“It is quite puzzling.” Bella sniffled.

“Lord Percy insists it is nothing but folderol.”

Lady Bella stared beneath heavy lids. “Oh, it is quite more than that, my dear. I feel so happy and free.”

“Do you,” Lady Ablethorp said with disdain. “Did you see Coleridge while you were sucking that gas from a silk bubble?”

“He was most attentive in assisting me to use Davy’s device,” Lady Bella said.

“I do not doubt it.” Lady Ablethorp harrumphed. “He is reported to be quite the rake, which brings me to my on-dit.”

Lady Bella blinked repeatedly. “A rumor about Coleridge?”

Lady Ablethorp swanned to the mirror. “I doubt you are composed enough to hear it without babbling it everywhere!”

“While that nitrous gas Davy invented is quite pleasurable,” Lady Bella said. “It dissipates swiftly and with no ill effects! You do know, the Prince has used it many times.”

“Perhaps he will go as mad as his father.” Her ladyship fussed with her hair.

“He has not shown a single sign of ill mental health,” Lady Bella said.

“Then why not set your cap for him?” Lady Ablethorp retook her seat.

Lady Bella fidgeted with her headdress. “He is here with Mrs. Fitzherbert, a lost cause. What were you on about Coleridge? His poetry is heavenly, and he often assists Davy, as does his friend Wordsworth.”

“Ah, you see, it has to do with Wordsworth’s wife, Mary, for Coleridge….”

Lady Susannah Lansdowne breezed into the retiring room, and both women rose and curtsied. Lady Susannah answered in kind.

“My dear Lady Susannah,” Lady Ablethorp said. “How lovely you look.”

“Thank you.” Lady Susannah moved to the dresser basin, the maid pouring fresh water into the bowl.

“I hear there is to be an announcement this evening,” Lady Ablethorp said. “One regarding your brother, the Marquess of Ravenscroft, who will be rejoining the military.”

“His lordship will not rejoin,” Lady Susannah said.

“But his grace, the Duke of Wellington, wants—”

“I suspect the duke wishes many things.” Susannah smiled as she washed her hands. “I doubt he always gets what he wishes for.”

Both Lady Ablethorp and Lady Bella gaped.

Lady Susannah departed with a wink as she closed the door.

“Well!” Lady Ablethorp said. “Who can withstand the pressure of the Prince and the Duke, I ask you? As I was saying… Wordsworth is married to Mary, whose sister is Sarah Hutchinson. It is said Coleridge is madly in love with Sara.”

“Unexceptional,” Lady Bella said. “I understand that she is unwed.”

“This is true,” Lady Ablethorp brushed a stray curl from her face. “But it appears Coleridge walked in on Wordsworth and Sara en flagrante.”

Lady Bella startled. “No!”

“Yes!” Lady Ablethorp continued. “They were naked!”

“Shocking!” Lady Bella said. “Yet Wordsworth and Coleridge remain friends?”

“Who knows?” Lady Ablethorp stood and brushed out her skirts. “Both are quite eccentric. Even though my darling Percy says I should not.” Lady Ablethorp tittered. “I will try the gas. Then I will ask Mr. Coleridge the truth of the matter!”

About The Bond:  An impossible choice…

Lady Rosamund Fielding hides a secret so terrible it could ruin her, her family, and Major General Lord Rhys Lansdowne, the man she loves. Rose and Rhys were inseparable in childhood—their friendship the one shining light in Rose’s dark upbringing.

Yet when Rhys proposes, Rose refuses, for he can never know her shameful truth.

Returned from the Napoleonic wars and now the Marquess of Ravenscroft, Rhys is determined to uncover the reason behind Rose’s rejection and win her hand and heart once and for all.

Meanwhile, Rose’s father, Earl Fielding, demands Rose accept Brigadier Viscount Pennworth’s marriage proposal, threatening dire consequences if she does not obey.

Time is of the essence as Rose faces this difficult crossroads, where she is forced to confront past demons and choose a path.

Should she marry Rhys, deceiving him, and forever be branded a liar in his eyes? She cannot.

Wed Pennworth? Never.

Or flee? Away from Rhys, away from her father, and away from all she holds dear.

Rose has faced many dangerous choices in her life. Will this final one destroy her?

Available Now:  Amazon: https://amzn.to/3I5G7n6 Everywhere Else: https://books2read.com/u/4DJvx7

About Samma Brand:  Award-winning author Vicki Stiefel now also writes as Sanna Brand, whose Regency Romance, THE BOND (The Secret Tales Book 1) launches May 15. Vicki has also written the fantasy romance series, The Made Ones Saga, as well as The Afterworld Chronicles, an urban fantasy series. Her award-winning mystery/thrillers feature homicide counselor Tally Whyte.

Vicki tapped into her love of knitting to produce Chest of Bone The Knit Collection and co-write 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters

After running The Writers Studio with her late husband, William G. Tapply, Vicki taught fiction writing at Clark University.

She is currently working on THE DECEPTION, The Secret Tales Book Two.

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