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Reunited at last, but can it last?

Can it be TRUE? Has the Viscount Deverall reunited with his long estranged wife? Lady Genevieve is well-known throughout the city for her selfless good work and perfect demeanor (if not for her fashion choices). The tall and graceful viscountess is an inspiration to young women, who are so flighty today, with their insistence on love-matches and their continued passion for French fabrics and styles (despite the fact that we are at WAR with France!). The charity which she operates, the Society for the Improvement of Friendless Children, has announced a large project which will house orphans who currently dwell in the city’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, beset with crime and sin! 

            Lord Cameron, Viscount Deverall, is well-known for very different reasons, not least of which is his devastatingly handsome appearance and keen sense of style (even Brumell has offered praise!). However, his most famous exploits are too shocking for this news column to put into words. In order to spare the delicate constitutions of ladies who may be reading, I will not even hint of them. 

            For those unaware of the rumors (though they are more than rumors! No fewer than thirty members of the ton have confirmed what they saw that night!), Deverall embarrassed the new viscountess soon after their wedding in a most scandalous way (a mere three weeks into their marriage! And who WAS the unknown woman also seen that night?). Following the public transgression of a lord who should know better, the couple has not been seen together for nearly three years, and Deverall lives exclusively in his rented rooms near St. James Street. But perhaps things have changed!

            Last week, the viscount moved back into the townhouse where his viscountess has been keeping residence and maintaining the honor of her family’s name during the many years her husband has avoided all the duties of his role and title to instead dally with gamblers and the wort sort of characters. What lord puts pleasure above duty to such degree? To date, there is no heir (nor spare) to Deverall’s title! 

            What mysterious event could have occurred to cause Lady Genevieve to allow Lord Deverall back into their home? What silver lies did the admittedly charming lord spin to convince his wife to tolerate his presence? 

            If this couple can reconcile, all things may be possible. Perhaps the authorities can even capture the Black Mask, the criminal mastermind who has stolen thousands of pounds of jewelry from all over the city (not to mention a few ladies’ hearts!) And to think, I once feared the end of the Season would mean London would grow sleepy and dull!

            Even in the countryside, the potential for news beckons. It has been reported that the family of Lucien Bonaparte has purchased a grand estate in Worcestershire, where they will take up residence (still well guarded by the British army, for the estate and the nearby town represent the limit of the Bonaparte’s parole.).

            Any one of these situations may blossom into a real story. Indeed, this summer may be a season of revelations! Dear readers, I will deliver any scrap of knowledge that comes my way. 

Yours faithfully, 

Verity Truetale

Book Excerpt:

(From A Most Relentless Gentleman)

            The Season was nearly over. Summer was about to begin her reign over the city, though the warm air had not yet brought out the terrible stench of the Thames that would emerge in a few weeks. Now it was actually pleasant, the air soft and the evening light of the sky filtering through newly leafy trees. 
            As he got closer to his destination, Cameron opened the letter again. Three years of nothing, and now this. In the solitude of the carriage, he allowed himself to speculate. Was it possible Genevieve was as sick of this separation as he was? Or was her family applying some pressure to live up to expectations?
            The carriage clattered to a halt in front of a familiar house. A golden glow seeped from all the lower windows. As he strode up the walk, he heard the faint sounds of laughter and talk. Gen was entertaining. He was vaguely annoyed at the idea of her happily toasting guests after she penned a letter implying that the sky was falling.
            He knocked once, also annoyed by that. A man shouldn’t have to knock on his own front door.
            The door opened. The mouth of the maid also opened as she stared at him in shock.
            Cameron stepped inside. “Where is my wife?”
            “In the dining room…my lord,” the maid squeaked out. “Shall I…shall I announce you?”
            “Who else is in the dining room?”
            “The whole board of the Society for the Improvement of Friendless Children, my lord. And their spouses.”
            Cameron curled his lip in disdain. “Just tell her I’m waiting in her study.”
            The maid nodded, finally regaining her composure. “Yes, my lord.”
            Cameron showed himself into the study. He looked at the expansive walnut desk, the surface covered with documents and ledgers. On the wall hung several framed charcoal drawings of no artistic merit. Children could have done better, he thought, before realizing that children probably were the artists and these were gifts to their greatest patron. 
            He leaned toward one, a crude rendering of Genevieve herself. Despite the rough medium and the scant talent of the creator, something of Genevieve was in that drawing. The remarkable height, the dark hair, the direct gaze of the avenging angel.
            “What are you doing here?”
            At the sound of the voice, Cameron turned to the door, where the real Genevieve stood. The drawing faded into nothing. There she was. Tall, slender, with the dark hair curled and pinned atop her head with only a silk ribbon as an adornment—she needed no other. He took in the rest of her in a glance, and then had to do more than glance, because her gown demanded it. The neckline dipped enticingly low, treating him to an expanse of soft skin that no one but him should ever see. 
            And yet. Here she was, evidently thinking she looked perfectly acceptable to appear before the gaze of the entire board of the Society for the Improvement of Friendless Breasts.
            “I asked you a question, my lord.” Genevieve crossed her arms. He saw her left hand as she wrapped it around her elbow. No ring. He added another item to the list of things that were annoying him, along with the fact that his breeches were suddenly a little too tight.
            Cameron had to say something. 
            “Genevieve.”
            He probably should have said something wittier than that. 
            She narrowed her eyes. “Why. Are. You. Here?”

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Will the orphan thaw her frozen heart?

Ophelia Breckensole linked her elbow with her twin’s as they sauntered into the parlor. “Gabriella, did you see the way the Duke of Sheffield looked at Everleigh last evening?”

“Indeed. Like a man completely awestruck.I didn’t think he was capable of any expression except a scowl.” Chuckling, Gabriella sat on the brocade settee. One finger on her chin, she cocked her  head. “And for once, our dear cousin didn’t turn her frigid glance on another befuddled swain.” Brow arched, she gave a sage nod. “That’s very telling, dearest.”

“It was the child, you know.” Ophelia settled on the cushion beside her sister, pushing a ridiculously frilly pillow aside as she made herself comfortable. “The moment Everleigh picked the little imp up and the child stopped wailing, I could tell she was smitten.”

“Sheffield could too. I had no idea he’d adopted an orphan—one from India, no less,” Gabriella said as she poured their tea.

Setting the silver teapot down, she considered Everleigh beyond the diamond-paned windows. She strolled the lawns with the duke’s ward toddling along beside her, their hands clasped. A moment later, his grace ambled into view.

“I wonder…” Gabriella pulled her brows together in thoughtful contemplation.

Ophelia followed the direction of her sister’s focus. “We could help them along. They’ll both be here for the house party’s duration.”

Gabriella sighed and shook her head. “Everleigh would never permit it. I believe she’s truly sworn off men.” She pressed her mouth into a tense line. “’Tis no wonder, considering the vile creature she was forced to marry. I doubt anyone shed a tear when he met his violent end. I know Everleigh didn’t.”

“True, but she’s still young, and just look how magnificent she is with the little darling.” Ophelia dropped two lumps of sugar into her cup. Slowly stirring her tea, she murmured, “She so wanted children of her own.” She stopped stirring and pulled her spine straight.

Everleigh was laughing at something the duke said. Actually laughing.

And the duke?

Well, he looked about to gobble up their beautiful cousin.

“Gabriella?”

“Yes?” Her twin pulled her attention back inside the cozy parlor.

Angling her head toward the frost outlined windows, Ophelia permitted a self-satisfied smile. “What if we drop a hint or two or three in the duke’s ear on the best way to woo our cousin?”

A December with a Duke

Seductive Scoundrels Book 3

He’s entirely the wrong sort of man. That’s what makes him so utterly right.


After a horrific marriage, widow Everleigh Chatterton is cynical and leery of men. She rarely ventures into society, and when she must, she barely speaks to them. Her one regret for refusing to marry again is that she’ll never bear children. As a favor to a friend, she reluctantly agrees to attend a Christmas house-party. Unfortunately, Griffin, Duke of Sheffield is also in attendance. Even though Everleigh has previously snubbed him, she can’t deny her attraction to the confident, darkly handsome duke.


For almost a year, Griffin has searched for the perfect duchess to help care for the orphan he’s taken on. He sets his sights on the exquisite, but unapproachable widow after her sweet interactions with the child impress him. Everleigh vows she’s not interested in him or any other man. But Griffin is convinced he can thaw her icy exterior and free the warm, passionate woman lurking behind the arctic facade. Only, as he pursues her, it’s his heart that’s transformed.


Can Everleigh learn to trust and love again? Will Griffin get his Christmas wish and make her his bride? Or, has he underestimated her wounds and fears and be forced to let her go? 

Excerpt

For the second time that night, Everleigh stopped on the last riser.

 He truly didn’t know?

“Yes, my daughter, Meredith.”

She touched the locket again. A lock of wispy, thistle-down soft white hair lay tucked inside. Struggling to wrestle her grief into submission, she focused on the long case clock’s pendulum swinging back and forth.

She paced her breathing with the slow tick-tock for a handful of rhythmic beats.

Did a parent ever recover from the loss of a child?

No. Life just took on a new reality. 

“Tomorrow is the three-year anniversary of her death.”

Why had she shared that?

The Duke of Sheffield did the most startling, the most perfect thing in all the world.

He drew her into his arms and held her. He didn’t offer condolences or advice. He didn’t try to change the subject or pretend he hadn’t heard her at all.

He simply offered her comfort, and it felt so utterly splendid, just allowing someone to hold her. Someone who permitted her to show her grief for a child conceived in the worst sort of violation and violence, but who had been adored nevertheless.

For this brief interlude, Everleigh didn’t have to be strong. Didn’t have to maintain her frigid façade, and it was wonderful to be herself. That almost brought her to tears as well.

What was more astonishing was she wasn’t afraid of his touch.

How long had it been since she didn’t flinch when a man touched her?

They stood chest to chest and thigh to thigh in intimate silence for several moments until the clocked chimed the quarter hour, interrupting the tranquility. They really must join the others for dinner, or God only knew what sort of unsavory tattle might arise.

“Thank you for your kindness, Your Grace.”

She disengaged herself, more aware of him as a man than she’d any business being.

He simply nodded, though the amber starburst in his eyes glowed with a warmth she couldn’t identify.

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Asking For A Friend…

Dear Mr Clemens,

I have a friend who is at her wits end and doesn’t know what to do, but she enjoys your newspaper even if she can only read it very slowly and has seen you have offered your sage advice to many others before her. I shan’t tell you her name because the situation is very delicate, and she is likely very soon to become engaged to a Duke, so I must preserve her good reputation.

asking for a friendI say likely, because the whole ton expects the announcement eagerly, and they have done for over a year. I cannot imagine why he is dragging his feet because my friend is considered very beautiful and charming. Yet not only has he failed to ask her, he’s also never bothered trying to steal a kiss either which is very odd. Especially as she’s lauded as an incomparable and had men queuing for her hand before the duke came along.

In truth, he rather scared everyone else off and I had my head turned… I mean my friend did. Who wouldn’t want to marry a duke? Even if this one is a little dull and pads his jackets… only talks about himself…

But I digress, because whilst my friend has been doing absolutely everything in her power- short of smacking him across his arrogant head with her fan to chivvy him into a proposal- there has been another complication.

An unforeseen, unexpected and utterly thrilling complication.

She’s met another man and is inexplicably drawn to him. He’s not noble- not by any chalk- but he is kind and handsome, painfully shy and most definitely does not need to pad out his jacket! I know this because I accidentally encountered him stripped to the waist at my sister’s house a few months ago and I have been entirely unable to dismiss the scandalously magnificent picture of his manly body from my mind.

And he’s a spy! On an important government mission. A secret he entrusted only to me… I mean my friend… when she recognized him pretending to be someone else. Now she is helping him navigate the murky waters of society, a place he feels very uncomfortable within, and in return he is going to make my, er, the duke jealous to hasten the anticipated engagement. Which is marvellous, I suppose, although I’m not entirely sure I want things sped along now that I’ve met Seb… I mean since she met him.

What should my friend do?

Yours sincerely

Befuddled of Berkeley Square

About the Book, The Mysterious Lord Millcroft

Life as a duchess… Or something much more dangerous…?

Constantly told her beauty and charm is all she has to offer, Lady Clarissa is intent on marrying a duke. And intriguing spy Sebastian Leatham will help her! Only first she’ll assist him with his new assignment—playing the part of confident aristocrat Lord Millcroft. Sebastian awakens a burning desire within Clarissa which leaves her questioning whether becoming a duchess is what she truly longs for…
Purchase on Amazon

About the Author

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. But it still takes her ages to fall asleep.

Website: https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/
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A Lady Vanishes

Vanishes

Along the Yorkshire road…

A report of a most disconcerting occurrence has been received by this humble reporter: the disappearance in Yorkshire of a Lady of Quality!

 

It is a known fact that this Lady—we shall call her Lady J—has in the recent weeks become enmeshed in the Affairs of a certain Lord S. These would be Affairs of State as it were, given the Lord in question’s heroic service to the Crown during the past decades which have contributed greatly to the safety of these Isles.

It was most particularly noted that Lady J was absent from the wedding of Lady P, the noble daughter of Lord S. Lady P’s perilous adventures were reported in these pages some weeks ago. (https://bluestockingbelles.net/was-the-lady-rescued-or-retrieved/) Given the previous intimacy of Lady J and the family of Lord S, her absence from the nuptial festivities has been remarked upon by all and sundry.

I rush to assure you that in spite of rumors and whispers to the contrary, we have it on good account that no disparagement falls on the Lady’s character. Nay, those who know report only the greatest concerns over her whereabouts and doubts of her safe return to the society of her peers.

Rest assured your humble correspondent is pursuing all avenues of inquiry to learn more on this alarming story.

About the Book, Avenging the Earl’s Lady

He’s the most irritating, inscrutable, insufferable lord in the kingdom.
Also nosy, managing, and manipulative, and a man who’s made an art of revenge. She ought to know better than to encourage his attentions. But…he’s rich, and when an impossible debt from her past comes due, theft seems the only answer.

What had he missed about her?
She’s nobly born, and proper. If he wanted a wife, she’d be perfect. Not to mention, he’d very much like her in his bed. But she’s gone missing, along with a priceless painting he needs for revenge on one last enemy. Avenging his own honor is everything—until that of his lady is threatened.

Find out what happens when the invincible Spy Lord meets his match!

Available November 12. Preorder now at these retailers:
Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Avenging-Earls-Lady-Romantic-Suspense-ebook/dp/B07JLPKNST
Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/avenging-the-earl-s-lady
iBooks:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/avenging-the-earls-lady/id1439975064
Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/avenging-the-earls-lady-alina-k-field/1129776917

~excerpt~

She drew a fingertip along the crease of the canvas where it had been tightened against the wooden stretchers, marveling that such a fragile thing should hold up so well. Along one edge, dark marks, ink perhaps, had bled through from the underside. Lifting the edge and peering closer, she could make out a series of numbers.

Strange.

The work was much smaller than the Caravaggio she’d seen. It was about the size of the small landscape that hung in the bedroom she shared with Lady Perry. She spread her hands wide, taking its measure.

Rolled up, it would fit nicely in the gold-painted rolling pin.

“Where is my daughter?”

Alarm pounded through her. She dropped her hands to her side and froze, eyes shut tight against the flare of panic.

Bloody Shaldon tracked her everywhere.

Warmth touched her waist like a bolt from on high, sending hot desire wriggling inside her. Since his turn with the laudanum, Shaldon wouldn’t stop touching her.

When this was over, she would think seriously about taking a lover, if she could find some gentleman as appealing as Shaldon who would have her, as old and poor as she was.

She glanced over her shoulder, seeing only his beard-shadowed jaw. “I couldn’t resist the temptation.” Her voice shook and she eased in a breath. “I’ve never seen a real masterpiece.”

“It is remarkable, I suppose.”

Unlike many of his peers, Shaldon didn’t collect art. Shaldon House boasted only family portraits and a few paintings of favorite horses and landscapes. His interest lay in collecting and squashing his enemies.

Her heart pounded wildly. If all went right, she would soon be in that number.

“Have you seen Lady Perry, my dear?”

His breath tickled her ear, and the hand at the back of her waist slid a bit further around, bending her to him.

She lifted his hand away and turned to face him.

Dark eyes sparkled in the candlelight, completely unreadable. She rooted her feet resisting the urge to step away, risking the nearness. She could see the pulse in his temple and—

“You are bleeding, Shaldon.”

A bead of blood sparkled and threatened to roll down his cheek. His neckcloth was loose and stained red where he must have mopped at his wound. Under the neckcloth, his shirt flapped, more blood coloring the white linen there.

She dug in her pocket for her handkerchief and pressed it to his head. His hand wrapped hers and his gaze softened, setting her insides melting again.

When this was over, she was definitely seeking a lover. Not Shaldon, of course. Not him. She must not fall any further into his enticements.

She drew her hand away and studied the wound. “Sit down, my lord.” She nudged him into a chair, pressing the cloth to his head again. “We’ll hold this here for a few moments. Do close your eyes.”

His lip quirked. “Why?”

“I can see the pulse in your temple pounding. You must take deep breaths and calm yourself.”

“Must I?” he asked, lifting a corner of his mouth in a half-smile. “I find that difficult to do when I’m around you, Jane.”

About the Author

Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but her true passion is the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.

She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. She is hard at work on her next series of Regency romances, but loves to hear from readers!

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Gossip in the 19th Century

Mr. and Mrs. Fottingham’s maid was found in the stable with a young craftsman? And they were sitting beside one another on bales of hay?

Emma Collins said she missed the church service due to illness, but was seen looking quite healthy beyond a window by a neighbour?

Someone stole chickens from the coop behind the house where Florence Bickle lives? To which someone replied, “Who else could it be but one of the rude, poor, lazy unkempt boys who hang around town begging for handouts?

Mrs. Blanchard actually has grey hair but uses hair dye regularly so no one can tell?

***

The word gossip has negative connotations pretty much around the world. The Oxford English Dictionary states that the earliest recorded use of the word was in the 11th century, but it’s meaning was different than it is today. The word gossip referred to a child’s godparent and started off as godsibb or god sibling. Because godmothers often assisted with childbirth and were present in most women-only events, the word became synonymous with women who talked … a lot.

By the mid-eighteen hundreds, gossip was in regular use. It was considered delectable and titillating. By the mid-nineteenth century, gossip sheets and columns were highly popular with readers, if not with the people mentioned.

Victorian Town

Abby Parker planned out her whole life: complete her final year of high school, go to college, get a job, move away from her insane family, stay best friends with Jessica.

But that was before she broke into the nearby tourist attraction and unwittingly answered a call from a centuries-old spirit who dragged her into the 19th century.

Now she must solve a Victorian mystery without getting herself killed, or worse, spend a lifetime trapped in the past, leaving behind everyone she loves and altering their lives forever.

When she meets gorgeous Benjamin, the future looks a lot like wreckage.

Meet Nancy Thorne

An acclaimed author of short stories, Nancy Thorne’s debut novel Victorian Town is a time-hopping, paranormal romance featuring a high-school girl out to solve a century-old murder. She lives just outside of Toronto with her two sons and an energetic fox-red Labrador.

 

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