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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/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

 

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!

Visit her at:
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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.

 

A Lady Doctor? Whatever was Her Father Thinking?

All of London want to know more about the elusive Carlingford family. Wait no more. Our intrepid editor, Sam Clemens, is determined to uncover all the gossip for you, dear readers.

Carlingford Enterprises, the megalith manufacturing company, who dominates the burgeoning iron industry in England, making many of our famous steamer boats, as well as bridges, and other pieces of industrial equipment, is known to all. Many of our readers enjoy a drop from their famous brewery. Less well known is the family behind the company. That is, apart from the heir, Wilberforce Carlingford, who often frequents our ‘Street Philosopher’ section.

Your Teatime Tattler has been chasing an interview with young Miss Carlingford ever since she arrived back from her European tour. Readers, let me share the excitement with you. We have an exclusive interview with young Miss Carlingford’s footman.

“Higgins, Miss Carlingford must be one of the most sought after young ladies in Victorian London.”

“Doctor,” the footman replied succinctly. I pricked up my ears. In one word, the interest in this interview grew in epic proportions.

“A wealthy heiress, and a doctor? An unusual combination.”

“Dr Carlingford recently graduated from the Municipal University of Amsterdam and runs a medical charity in the slums of the East End. I accompany her for her safety.”

“Yes, well, we can’t have heiresses traipsing around the East End without protection. Do tell us just how large her dowry is.”

“I’m afraid that is confidential. However, anyone who wishes can apply to be seen at her medical practice on Harvey Street. Dr Carlingford specialises in the health of female patients and encourages all women of status to visit her at this clinic on Mondays and Tuesdays,” Higgins said.

“I’m sure that’s fabulous.” Clemens felt you, dear reader, did not require an advertisement from a footman with regards to young Miss Carlingford’s unusual medical practice. The idea that a woman could become qualified, in a foreign university, none-the-less, and declare herself fit to treat the lovely women of the upper classes was outside the scope of this publication, and of no interest to you, dear reader.

“Now tell us more about Mr Carlingford, the younger. It is said he is being groomed to take over from Mr Carlingford the elder and is in much need of a wife.”

“Mr Carlingford, junior, is in his mid-twenties. Too young to be contemplating a wife.”

“But if such a woman was interesting in helping him fall into the trap of matrimony, what preferences does he have?” Clements asked.

The footman, Higgins, clenched his jaw. “This interview is not about Mr Carlingford Junior. It is about the great leaps forward my mistress, Dr Carlingford, has made in the medical profession. Sir, it is 1888, beyond time we had female doctors to treat female patients.”

“My readers are not interested in such political statements. Is it true the Carlingford family came from the Americas?”

“I believe it is public knowledge that Mr Carlingford made his first fortune in oil but felt the steam-boat market was a better place to invest. He shifted the family to England, for the sake of his children’s education, and now you see the results. Carlingford Enterprises is one of England’s grandest businesses. My mistress, Dr Carlingford, represents the future of this nation.”

I closed the interview certain my readership would not be interested in the way the Carlingford’s loyal servant, Higgins, continued to advertise their businesses without gifting the readers any gossip of note.

When an uncommon lawyer meets an unusual doctor, their story must be extraordinary…

20 October 2018
Pre-order now.

https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781489264626/

http://books2read.com/u/3yD16v

http://www.reneedahlia.com/books/bluestockings/

Heart of a Bluestocking

September 1888: Dr Claire Carlingford owns the bluestocking label. Her tycoon father encouraged her to study, and with the support of her two best friends, she took it further than anyone could imagine, graduating as a doctor and running her own medical practice. But it’s not enough for her father. He wants her to take over the business, so he can retire. Then his sudden arrest throws the family into chaos and his business into peril.

Mr James Ravi Howick, second son of Lord Dalhinge, wants to use his position as a lawyer to improve conditions for his mother’s family in India. When an opportunity arises to work for Carlingford Enterprises, one of the richest companies in the world, Ravi leaps at the chance to open his own legal practice. But his employment becomes personal as he spends more time with Claire and she learns the secret that could destroy his family.

Both Ravi and Claire are used to being outsiders and alone. But as they work together to save their respective families from disaster, it becomes clear that these two misfits might just fit together perfectly.

Excerpt

‘Dr Carlingford,’ she said. She slid the book back on the shelf, concentrating on that task so she couldn’t see the clerk’s reaction. With a nod to Higgins to remain in the foyer, she followed the clerk, who led her through an oak door and along a corridor. With each step, she hoped that she was getting closer to the biggest office. Woodleyville certainly had the seniority to deal with her father’s problem. She grinned to herself. It wasn’t every day that a tycoon was arrested. Hopefully, she could present the case as a puzzle to appeal to the elderly lawyer, enough to overcome his snobbery. The clerk opened a door and gestured for her to enter. She nodded her thanks and walked inside.

Behind a large desk with neat piles of paperwork stood a tall man of Indian descent. His dark brown eyes were framed by thick-rimmed glasses. The summer sunshine streamed in a large window and bounced off the glass on his face. Claire blinked. The room smelled of furniture polish, with a heady hint of hops about to be harvested.

‘Welcome,’ he said. His voice rumbled through the space between them, sending a shock wave inside her. She swallowed.

‘I was expecting Woodleyville Senior,’ she said. This man had to be around her age, and wasn’t at all like the senior partner she had expected to see. A tiny flutter began in her stomach and she pressed her hands softly against it.

‘Perhaps you could outline the issue to me,’ he said, calmly.

There was such music in his voice, a masculine music causing the small flutter to grow. Josephine’s note crinkled in her palm as she clasped her hands together, dragging her attention back to her task.

‘And you are?’

Meet Renée Dahlia
Renée Dahlia is an unabashed romance reader who loves feisty women and strong, clever men. Her books reflect this, with a side-note of dark humour. Renée has a science degree in physics. When not distracted by the characters fighting for attention in her brain, she works in the horse racing industry doing data analysis. She writes for two racing publications, churning out feature articles, interviews and advertorials. When she isn’t reading or writing, Renée wrangles a husband, four children, and volunteers on the local cricket club committee.

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The Wanderer Returns

We are delighted to report that Lord Wayshaw’s younger brother, Rafe, has returned to the magnificent Taverslow estate after his travels in Europe and a stay at the family’s villa in Umbria.

The great and the good of Somerset will no doubt look forward to hearing tales of his continental adventures, while the young ladies will surely hang on every word of the county’s most eligible bachelor. It is said that the dashing Mr. Wayshaw is even more handsome than when he left these shores almost a year ago, and that his already fine skills in riding and dancing have been greatly enhanced by his time in foreign lands.

The debutantes of Somerset and London will have to compete for his affections, however, which are apparently taken by his two charming Yorkshire Terriers, Pepe and Paolo. They may also have to win the approval of Mr. Wayshaw’s faithful valet, Simpkins, from whom he seems quite inseparable. Indeed, some have hinted that they may be more intimate than one would expect of a servant and master. Of course the Tattler would never spread such gossip, but if we hear more of Mr. Wayshaw’s romantic attachments, rest assured dear readers, you will be the very first to know.

About The Book

A Valet’s Duty

At the turn of the twentieth century, Henry Simpkins is a valet at Taverslow, the Earl of Wayshaw’s Somerset home. When the Earl’s younger brother, Rafe, arrives from his villa in Italy, Henry is given the task of caring for his mischievous dogs, Pepe and Paolo. As part of his duties, he also goes to Rafe’s room each night to tidy away his clothes.

One night Rafe asks Henry to go beyond his valet’s duty, to relieve his sexual tensions. Henry enjoys their increasingly intimate encounters, but he’s soon disturbed to find he feels more for Rafe than mere physical attraction. Now Henry faces a difficult decision. Can he remain in the same house as Rafe if his affections are not returned?

A Valet’s Duty is available at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2n1Ei0A

Excerpt

When he followed Lord Wayshaw up the grand marble staircase, Henry wondered what sort of man the brother might be. He seemed to have a sense of humour, since he hadn’t chastised Henry for scolding his precious dogs. Henry only hoped he required as little attention as the earl. Each night, he sorted his lordship’s clothes when he undressed, and took his orders for the following day. His night-time duties were over in a matter of minutes, and he could go outside for a smoke before he turned in.

Henry knocked on Rafe’s door and was somewhat taken aback, when the ornately carved oak opened to reveal Rafe already in his dressing gown.

“Come in, Simpkins. I won’t keep you long.” Henry followed Rafe into the bedroom. “Just tidy my clothes away, would you?”

Rafe settled himself on a sofa and chattered away, as some gentlemen do, while Henry picked up his garments from the floor, sorting those that could be worn again from those that needed to be washed. He listened to Rafe describe his villa in Italy, where he obviously spent much of the year. It sounded enchanting, with its endless sunshine and olive groves, but Henry couldn’t properly picture the place—he’d never been farther south than Dover.

The next few nights passed in a similar way, with Henry nodding and smiling, and sometimes laughing, when Rafe talked of his life in Umbria. Falling to sleep each night in his narrow bed, Henry found himself dreaming of orange trees and vineyards. Sometimes he even dreamt of Rafe wandering among them in the Mediterranean sun, but on the fourth night when Henry went to Rafe’s room, something had changed. Rafe seemed on edge as he opened the door, and he sat on the sofa in silence as Henry carried out his tasks. Henry started to leave, when Rafe spoke at last, an unfamiliar tension in his voice.

“Simpkins, could I ask you something?”

“Of course, sir.”

Rafe gazed intently at his fingernails, giving Henry no clue as to what he might ask. His eyes remained lowered as he made his enquiry.

“Simpkins, are you—are you the same kind of man as Oscar Wilde?”

About the Author

H. Lewis-Foster lives in the north of England and has always worked with books, in one form or another. A keen reader and writer of gay fiction, she is now the proud author of several short stories and a debut novel ‘Burning Ashes’.

Lewis-Foster likes to create characters that are talented, funny and quite often gorgeous, but who all have their faults and vulnerable sides, and she hopes that you’ll enjoy reading their stories as much as she loves writing them.

You can find out more about H. and her books on her website.

 

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