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Dark Doings

One of your Tattler contributors has cornered a witness to goings-on in Edinburgh:

Dark Doings

“I am talking with Lady Eufemia here, down at the hotel in Edinburgh where THE DARK DUKE is rumored to have taken his bride for their post nuptials. However, they are not the story of the hour any longer, for the new Duchess of Canterbury has been seen having breakfast with the Honorable Hermione and the truly stupendous Countess of York. 

“She wore a stunning confections, as always, her hat in perfect counterpoint, and showing off her pert countenance. In fact, according to our Lady Eufemia, it also showed up her tears as she went running from the dining room in a decidedly unladylike fashion. Tsk tsk. 

“I ask the Lady Eufemia, what do you make of such shenanigans?

“Well, Lady Charissa, I am decidedly not one to gossip, but, I feel there is already a problem in the newlyweds marriage. And I think Lady Sarah may be at the crux of it. The duchess and countess have long been fast friends, but on the morning after the wedding, Lady Sarah slinks to another part of the dining room, only to run off crying a few minutes later? No, I tell you, Duchess Canterbury said something and Lady Sarah tried to compose herself. Then, when the upset just became to great, she left to find privacy to cry in. 

“I am sure that we will see more of this rift back in town for the season.”

“Why, Lady Eufemia, you have the brightest smile when it is so engaged. Good luck with the season. I am telling you, something dark and nefarious is happening here. I just hope we learn the on dits first.”

About the Book

Dark Doings

Dark times fall upon Lady Sarah and her friends as they try to unravel mysteries of who wants them dead.


Barely snagging Lady Lillian out of danger, Lady Sarah finds herself embroiled in some clandestine mischief. It causes her to doubt Lord Archer and her own feelings for him. But this fashion loving countess is not able to give up on her dreams and love for him. She enlists the aid of her two best friends to piece together what might really be happening. For she couldn’t bear it if he was a traitor to the crown.

Lord Archer’s hero in the spy organization he and his family had long been a part of are in Edinburgh to reveal a traitor to the crown. Only, his boss wants him to spy on the woman he loves and the best friend of her and his own sister. Could he have really fallen in love with a traitor? He keeps his own counsel from his boss. death.Upon deciding that there is no way his beloved could be a traitor, he recruits them all to uncover the dark underworld doings which could lead to Queen Victoria’s

While their lives and love are under attack, the two of them work to bring down one of England’s most powerful lords before he can kill the Queen.

Read **FREE** with Kindle Unlimited or buy it at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MDV3T6J/

An excerpt from Darkest Death

Hermione and Lady Lillian laughed. “I said, you’re thinking about women’s rights again, aren’t you? About the battles and the queens?”

A flush stole over her in embarrassment. “Yes,” she mumbled. “Though I do not see how you are always able to tell when such things cross my mind,” she added primly. “One might think you possessed some magical powers if one lived in the dark ages.”

They laughed harder. “It does not take a genius to see the look on your face. After these many years, I have come to learn this look quite well,” Hermione said. “It used to scare me witless, afraid Father would not approve of you and your ways.”

“Your father would not dare to have offended mine,” Sarah said, a little laugh escaping. “They had too many business interests together. How do you think we ended up playing together so much as children?”

Their food came, and the three of them ate and laughed, enjoying being women. Soon enough, Lord Clarence would come and steal Lady Lillian away again, so Lady Sarah would enjoy that morning together before her best friend left to Lord Clarence’s Scottish estates.

She’d have time later to think of her own marriage and other long-lost stories and dreams.

As they finished their meal, Sarah noticed a man having undue interest in their table.

“Hermione, Lillian, I wish to have tea before we all leave. Care to join me in the suite of rooms? I’ll have some sweets brought up. We must plan our next get together, and I find I need to go…” She flicked her napkin, trying to think of a probable story that would not be a lie. She let out a sigh. “I need to check a few things. I will fill you in when I have been able to finalize my thoughts on the matter.” A half-formed plan to stay in Scotland rather than go back for the slowly starting season began to play on her mind. 

“Of course,” Hermione said. “I will be up when I finish this scone. I find I am hungry more and more these days.”

“I will wait for Clarence, and he can escort us both to the gardens then to your rooms,” Lillian said, a blush stealing over her cheeks once more. No doubt from calling His Grace by his first name. 

“Then it is settled. I will meet you for tea. Thank you.”

She stood and shook her skirts out in a deliberate manner, trying to see the man from the corner of her eye. Most definitely watched her much too closely. A pillar stood near him. She would make her way around to there and try to listen in on the conversation. Call her paranoid, but after what they’d just gone through with Lady Amber and Lord Jarvis, on top of her ugly valentine, she would take no chances. Rather to feel foolish than feel dead. She nodded her head as she walked, then proceeded to listen.

About the Author

Leona Bushman is a USA Today best selling author. She is a crazy writer taught by dragons and known as Dragon Queen of the North. She loves to write and paint, even when her muse tries to muck things up. She chases after the three out of the five children still at home, and sometimes after the other two and the grandbaby. She has many hobbies like SCA, quilting, sewing, and gardening. Or, as one blogger succinctly put it, Leona Bushman is a whirlwind made of sheer will with a dash of clumsy to keep her grounded.

She can be found solving mysteries, exploring space, making art, and loving dragons and other creatures of the supernatural at these places:
Twitter: @L_Bushman
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLeonaBushman
Facebook artist page: https://www.facebook.com/LeonaBushmanArtisteExtraordinaire/
Website: www.leonajbushman.com
Blog: www.lbushman.blogspot.com and www.lbushman.wordpress.com
Newsletter: http://madmimi.com/signups/374285/join

Horror at Hastings Manor

Auckland, New Zealand, 1884
Lady Ermintrude

You don’t mind if I whisper, do you? Hastings Manor is full of ears, and people’s best pastime is gossip. Thank goodness I’m not that type of lady. But I have to speak my mind.

My niece Isabel, the current Duchess of Sussex, has gone mad. She’s accommodating, here in Hastings Manor, street urchins. Street urchins! From Auckland’s rookery!

Good gracious, I need a sherry. These street urchins don’t even have decent names and the youngest one, called Trigger—ptf!—spat on his teaspoon to clean it. The older, the one called Murk, I think he’s a thief or a murderer. Apparently, he can turn himself invisible. Invisible! So inappropriate.

Those dark eyes mean trouble, mark my word, but Isabel thinks he’s charming. Poppycock, I say. I’m sure she’d like to dirty-puzzle with him. Oh, the horror. But does she listen to me? No one is listening to me anymore. A bunch of rebels they are.  Now, where’s my sherry?

The Heart Collector

Auckland, 1884. The Supernaturals are frightened. Despite being able to do extraordinary things like teleporting or lighting a fire with a stare, a serial killer, the Heart Collector, is slaughtering them. He rips their chests open and removes their hearts.

While other aristocratic, nineteen-year-old girls spend time dancing, Isabel trains hard to become an MI7 agent—Military Intelligence Seventh Division, a crime squad run by Supernaturals. The Heart Collector murdered her best friend, and enrolling at MI7 is the best way to help catch the killer.

Isabel senses other people’s feelings as if they were her owns. But MI7’s leader is too worried about Isabel’s safety to let her join the team.

Eager to prove that her power is valuable, Isabel volunteers to meet Murk, a dangerous Supernatural man who can turn himself invisible. MI7 desperately tried to recruit him and failed.

She believes that her power is enough to convince Murk to become an MI7’s agent and help apprehend the Heart Collector. If he wants to attack her, his feelings will broadcast his intention, and she’ll be ready.

What Isabel isn’t ready for is to fall in love with the man who will collect her heart.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Auckland, 1884

One of the perks of being a duchess and the lady of Hastings Manor was that I could make my own decisions.

Most of the time.

I bunched a corner of my long brocade skirt and climbed the sweeping stairs toward Victor’s office. The bustle, heavy with satin ribbons, bounced lightly, tapping on the small of my back.

On the landing, one of the little cleaning machines that roamed the house trotted around, buzzing as its brushes dusted the white marble floor. A puff of steam trailed behind it while its wheels and pistons whirred. I strode on, the star-bright tiles sparkling under my velvet slippers.

The butler bowed stiffly, carrying a tray with tea and cakes that smelled of cinnamon. “Your Grace.” He stepped aside to let me pass.

“Hollom.” My heels’ click-clacking noise died down on the blue rug covering the entrance in front of Victor’s office.

I raised my fist to knock but stopped inches away from the gleaming, polished oak wood, needing a moment to collect myself. Victor had to see reason. Convincing him that my role in the investigation was vital wouldn’t be easy, but I was nineteen and properly trained in combat. More or less. The point was, I could face danger.

My resolve wavered, and I bit the inside of my cheek. On light feet, I turned and slid inside my late father’s personal library. Victor’s supernatural hearing wouldn’t catch me in the room protected by thick walls, and the old leather-bound volumes calmed my nerves.

I cleared my throat before rehashing my speech. “Victor, you’re the leader of Military Intelligence Seven, but as Duchess of Sussex, I have the right to  . . .” I shook my head. This sounded patronizing. I took a deep breath to slow my pounding heart, glad that I wasn’t wearing a corset. Another perk of being a duchess.

I squared my shoulders. A wrong word and Victor would dismiss me. “Victor, I kindly request… would you… I would appreciate if you assign me to the ongoing investigation on the Heart Collector, since I believe my skills can be an asset.” There. Simple, polite, and to the point.

I jutted out my chin and smoothed my bodice. I should’ve worn my dark green dress. It made me look taller and older. This blue gown gave me a childish air with its velvet ribbons and budding roses.

Too late.

After another deep inhalation, I marched toward Victor’s office again and knocked on the door.

“Come in.” The thick door muffled his deep voice.

I wiped my sweaty hand on my skirt before turning the handle and stepping into the office that had once belonged to my father. Victor and his younger brother Jamie stood up from their stuffed chairs and bowed.

“Good morning, Victor, Jamie.”

After the dimly lit corridor, the sunlight streaming from the floor-to-ceiling window blinded me, and I squinted, closing the door behind me.

I walked to the desk that occupied almost half of the room, keeping my eyes on Victor’s frowning face. “I need to talk to you.”

Victor stretched out an arm, indicating the empty chairs. His serious expression added wisdom to his five and twenty years. “Of course, Isabel. Please, sit.”

I perched on the very edge of the chair and set my back straight to not crush my bustle. Victor sat at his desk while Jamie settled himself next to the fireplace.

“Is something the matter?” Jamie leaned forward, his blond hair swishing about his cheeks. “You are pale.”

I faced him. “Well, I—” A dark blue bruise marked his chin, his bottom lip was split, and a fresh cut marred his forehead. “What happened to you?”

Jamie clenched and unclenched his fists. “My encounter with one of the Supernaturals we’re trying to recruit didn’t end well.”

I focused on Jamie, unleashed my power, and reached out for his feelings. A rush of energy flooded me, and heat warmed my chest. His anger, annoyance, and humiliation washed over me. Physical pain stabbed him as well. I gently prodded his body with my mental strength. His ribs hurt, and a cut on his back throbbed. His feelings left the sour taste of unripe grapes in my mouth.

I swallowed. “This Supernatural must be particularly strong to hurt you.”

Jamie stroked his bruised skin. A new wave of mortification surged from him. “He is moderately strong.”

Moderately strong? Jamie could bend iron bars with two fingers and lift twenty times his weight. How strong was this Supernatural?

Victor shifted his gaze to me. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

“Exactly about this.” I nodded toward Jamie. “This Supernatural you want to recruit for the investigation on the Heart Collector.”

Victor knitted his blond eyebrows in the same way Jamie would. “You don’t have to concern yourself with that. Jamie will soon make another attempt to meet this Supernatural.”

“But.” I paused to read Victor’s feelings. His determination and mild exasperation reached me. It wasn’t a good start, but maybe my speech would convince him. “I would like you to allow me . . . I mean, to assign me to this mission since I request, kindly, I request kindly, that it would be me, myself, to do it.” Damn. So much for rehashing. I clasped my hands in my lap not to show how much they trembled. “I’d like it to be me.” I swallowed. If I weren’t so eager to get the job, I’d laugh at Victor’s scrunched face.

I searched his feelings again. Even without my supernatural empathetic power, the hard set of his jaw and his narrowed icy blue eyes told me he wasn’t pleased. I cleared my throat. “I want to meet this Supernatural.”

“You want what?” Jamie asked, propping an elbow on the mantelpiece.

I ignored him. “What did you say his name was?”

“I didn’t.” Victor straightened the pile of documents on his desk, arranged quills and inkbottles, and loosened his bow tie.

Meet Barbara Russell

I’m an entomologist and a soil biologist, which is a fancy way to say that I dig in the dirt, looking for bugs. Nature and books have always been my passion. I was a kid when I read The Lord Of The Ring and fell in love with fantasy novels.

When I discovered cosy mystery and crime novel, I fell in love with Hercules Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. Then I grew up and . . . Nah, I’m joking. I didn’t grow up. Don’t grow up, folks! It’s a trap.

PS I hate gardening. There, I said it. Sorry fellow Kiwis.

Deception and family honor

Welcome to this special lecture presentation of The Teatime Tattler. I am your host and moderator, Samuel Clemens. In our continuing effort to bring you information about the people involved in The Stelton Legacy, we’ve been able to pull off a real coup. Family honor is at stake.

Tonight we meet Lady Darla Maxwell, a young woman for whom her father Graeme Maxwell and close friend, Lord Ewan MacDougall sought a suitable husband. Lady Darla has a … magical background which, as a young woman would, she sought to deny. I hope we can find out more about how her magic influenced the outcome of her story.

Lord Wesley Reynolds, the son of the well-known silk merchant William Reynolds has a most interesting background that I hope he’ll elaborate on today. It’s what made him the man trusted by the King of England as well as the Guardians of Scotland.

One moment, please. I’m getting instructions from our stage manager. (leans over the stage). Ladies and gentlemen. Our stage manager has just informed me our guests have arrived at the studio.

Ah. The lights have dimmed. A hush has come over the theatre. I can see into the wings. Yes. The door has opened. The anticipation in the room is palpable. Wait. I see them. They’re walking toward us. They have a stately and commanding appearance, and they’re holding hands. It is very tender and touching.

(Clemens rises from his chair as his guests’ approach.)

Clemens: Lord Wesley, Lady Darla. It’s good to meet you.

(Chairs scrape the floor, feet shuffle as everyone takes their seats.)

Clemens: Lady Darla please sit here next to Lord Wesley.

(Darla and Wesley hold hands. Wesley eases back in his chair and crosses his legs in a relaxed position.)

Clemens: Thank you for granting us an interview. Everyone here at Inside Scoop is excited you’re with us.

Lord Wesley: Lady Darla and I are happy to be with you today.

Justin: Our time is short so unless you have any questions I’d like to get right to the questions.

Wesley: I have no questions at the moment. Please begin.

Clemens:: (Papers rustle as Clemens gets settled.) Lord Wesley, you have a very interesting personal history with several twists and turns. Please explain how your background made you the man you are today.

Wesley: As a young man I followed in my father’s footsteps. He was both an excellent silk merchant and business man. He taught me the silk business from cultivating the silk worms, to making the final bolts of cloth, to selling and shipping the bolts. I learned by traveling with him and observing him at his work. He was a well-respected merchant and excellent negotiator. When he passed away, I was ready to take over although I will never be able to take his place.

(Darla squeezes Wesley’s hand, her face full of encouragement.)

Justin: I understand you sailed out of the Cinque Ports in southern Europe, in the service of the King of England. Some say you were a privateer.

(Wesley lets go of Darla’s hand and moves to the edge of his seat.)

Wesley: Why do you ask?

Darla: Wesley. (She touches her husband’s arm.)

Wesley: My Love, it still pains me to think of those days much less speak about them.

(Darla gives her husband an encouraging smile. Wesley turns back to Justin and lets out a slow breath.)

Wesley: I provided the king with the silks he wanted, as I did with many monarchs across Europe. Because of my connections I was a good sounding board for him. I had my own ships and one thing led to another. I had no love for the Spanish. They thought I was a charity, taking my goods without paying for them. So, I simply took from their ships to repay their debt. All in all, a good transaction.

Darla: When Wesley’s father took ill he went to help him.

Wesley: There were certain family incidents that happened. Over the years, my brother told me what happened and why. I believed Darla’s father and Lord Ewan, my father’s closest friends plotted against him and my family. I thought they ruined his business and took his property, circumstances that led to his death.

Justin: You said you thought they conspired against your father. I surmise you don’t believe that now. What made you believe it in the first place and why did you have a change of heart?

Wesley: Simply said, I put my trust in someone close and was deceived.

Clemens: Did this have anything to do with the pirate king, MacAlpin?

(Wesley chuckles.)

Wesley: I understand why you ask. The MacAlpin has the reputation of being a ruthless savage pirate. But, in all my dealings with him he proved to be fair and trustworthy. He was instrumental is seeing justice was served. It was difficult after years of believing something so strongly that it became your essence, to have the truth uncovered and recognize you’d been lied to for a very long time.

Justin: I’m sure it is. I understand Lady Darla was at your side.Darla: From the first moment we met on the docks by my father’s ship and I mistook him for Lord Ewan’s son-in-law, Magnus I was drawn to Wesley. I was relieved to learn he wasn’t Magnus. Very pleased indeed.

Wesley: Darla’s father, Lord Graeme Maxwell–

Clemens: The renowned gem and jewelry merchant?

(Darla beamed with pride.)

Wesley: Yes. Maxwell and Lord Ewan were nothing like I expected. After my father’s death I was told again of their thievery, had it stamped into my brain. I didn’t question it. You see, from an early age I was fostered to the Highland Maxwells. When I came back and worked with my father he had already moved the family from our home on Lord Ewan’s island, forced out I was told. I accepted it as truth and when my father died I vowed to take revenge for all the injustices Graeme Maxwell and Ewan MacDougall did to my father and family.

Darla: Wesley thought to use me as a pawn in his effort to hurt my father.

Wesley: (He turns to Darla) That wasn’t one of my shining moments. The more time we spent together and the more I got to know you, your father, and Lord Ewan, the more I knew I had it all wrong, but evil kept buzzing in my ear, pushing me to carry out the plans.

Darla: You found the truth. It’s all over now.

(Wesley holds Darla’s hand and looks into her eyes.)

Wesley: I’m a very lucky man.

(Clemens coughs to remind them they aren’t alone. They both turn toward Clemens.)

Clemens: Lady Darla, I understand you have unique insight—

Wesley: Come Darla. (Wesley gets to his feet.) It’s time to leave.

(Clemens, astonished by Lord Wesley’s action looks at Wesley. Darla remains calm and seated.)

Clemens: M’lord. I apologize if I have offended you or your lady.

Darla: No, Mr. Clemens. My husband is very protective. (Darla stands next to her husband.) I do have a unique ability. I have second sight. I see things before they happen. Some people—

Wesley: Unintelligent, witless ones–

Darla: Mr. Clemens gets your meaning. Some people believe it witchcraft. They say and do foolish things. It is why I kept to myself while growing up. Why I never allowed myself to become attached to a gentleman. How could I get someone I loved tangled in that rat’s nest. Some may see my gift as a blessing, but I assure you it is not. Imagine knowing something terrible is going to happen and you’re not able to influence it at all. I thought I would never marry. I was satisfied with being alone the rest of my life. I was wrong. I had no idea that I waited for the right person, my soul mate. I never saw that coming until I met Wesley. So much for my second sight. When I found him I knew I would never let him go. He is my love, my life.

(Wesley takes his wife in his arms. Clemens stands.)

Wesley: As you are mine. (He turns to Clemens.) Deception and family honor were at stake.

Darla: So was my heart.

Wesley: Do you have any other questions?

Clemens: No, Lord Wesley. Thank you both for speaking to us. (He turns to the audience.) Thank you for coming today. Lady Darla hasn’t told us much about her second sight, but I understand it is quite interesting. You can find out more about Lady Darla’s magic and Lord Wesley in The Pirate’s Jewel. Until next time.

The Pirate’s Jewel

Deception and family honor are at stake – so is her heart.

Wesley Reynolds will do anything to avenge his family’s banishment from Dundhragon Castle even throw in with the notorious pirate, MacAlpin. His plan, ruin Lord Ewan’s trading network. He has a more devious plan for his father’s ‘best friend,’ the man who abandoned them at the eleventh hour. He’ll ruin the man’s most precious jewel, his daughter Darla. Wesley’s so close to ruining the trade network and succeeding he can almost taste it, but revenge is not nearly as sweet as Darla’s kisses.

Darla Maxwell, beloved by her parents has no prospects of marriage. Her father and Lord Ewan search to find her the right husband. Darla’s special gifts are frightening to many. She has visions that often come true. The murky image of a man haunts her, she’s sure it’s Lord Ewan’s soon-to-be son-in-law, but the vision morphs when she meets Wesley. The meaning couldn’t be any clearer to her, her destiny lies with Wesley.

When revelations surface indicating Wesley has been deceived and his revenge misplaced. Will he find the truth of what really happened to his family in time to stop the pirates? Will Darla ever forgive him? Will he ever forgive himself?

Buy Link: Kindle Unlimited https://amzn.to/2Cyrbev

About the Author

Storyteller | Blogger | Creative Thinker | Dreamer | Good Sport | Teammate

Hi – I’m Ruth A. Casie and I write historical and contemporary romance. You might be wondering what I’m about. Sit back and let me tell you.

I’m happiest when I’m telling stories either chatting in a group or writing them down. I love to put my hero and heroine in tough situations and dare them to work it out—together, always together. They haven’t disappointed.  Oh, they complain but in the end their love and relationships are stronger than ever.

Here are five things you probably don’t know about me.

1.  I filled my passport up in one year.

2.  I have three series.  The Druid Knight stories are a historical time travel series. The Stelton Legacy is historical fantasy about the seven sons of a seventh son. Havenport Romances are stories set in a small coast Rhode Island town.  I also write stories in the connected world the Pirates of Britannia.

3.  I did a rap to “How Many Trucks Can a Tow Truck Tow If a Tow Truck Could Tow Trucks.”

4.  When I cook I dance.

5.  My Sudoku book is in the bathroom. I’m not saying anything else about that.

My stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. Their stories will keep you turning the pages until the end. I hope my stories become your favorite adventures.

I’m a USA Today bestselling author.

My hobbies:

* counted cross stitch

* ballroom dancing – not just between the fridge and stove

* reading almost anything

* Sudoko – I’m still staying quiet about that

 Social Media Links:

Website: https://ruthacasie.com/

Email:  mailto:ruth@ruthacasie.com

Personal Blog:  http://www.ruthacasie.blogspot.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/RuthACasie

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/RuthACasie/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ruth-A.-Casie/e/B005V0YEVU/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ruth-a-casie

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ruth-seitelman/6/6b7/964

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ruthacasie/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4792909.Ruth_A_Casie

YouTube:  http://bit.ly/RuthACasieYouTube

Ruth’s Newsletter Signup:  http://ruthacasie.com/contact.html#newsletter

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AllAuthor: http://ruthacasie.allauthor.com

A Widow at the Lighthouse!

Lighthouse

It has come to our attention here at the Teatime Tattler that in a certain town in Maine, there is a widow in charge of the lighthouse. Perhaps the population there is so sparse that they must press ladies into occupations better suited to gentlemen?


We have investigated this untoward circumstance thoroughly, to see if there is some suitable explanation. Perhaps she holds domestic sway while a son does the more — muscular, dare we say, — duties? While there is a son, he is to attend medical school, leaving the widow to attend the lighthouse, her home, and take care of the raising of two younger girls.

Those in town report the widow has taken the duties of lighthouse keeper upon herself. We can only imagine her grief at the loss of her husband has rendered her incapable of understanding her feminine limitations. Why, much mechanical work must be done to keep the lens in order. And much courage is needed to keep the light burning during stormsy weather. Reading the list of instructions for a lighthouse keeper, it becomes clear that only a man is up to the task.


You may suggest that we, who do not live in this town, have no business reporting on their lighthouse keeper. But you forget that the lighthouse is all that prevents ships from foundering in the dark, in the fog, and in stormy seas, where Mother Nature wreaks her bad temper on unlucky sailors. Do we want our sailors coming near a lighthouse where a widow is in charge? We think not.
It has been reported, but we can scarcely credit it ourselves, that the widow had attended the lighthouse well, in all her duties and the town wishes her to remain in place.
If so, we have a suggestion for them: please find that widow a husband, forthwith.

An excerpt…

The sight of her new home stole Betsy’s breath away. The lighthouse perched like an ancient warrior goddess atop the throne of rocks that acted as a bulwark against the relentless surf. The sound and scent and feel of the water permeated through everything, enfolding her in its powerful embrace. She breathed in, closed her eyes—then opened them and carefully picked her path up toward the entrance. 

The front door was constructed of heavy, unpolished wood, as though it had been salvaged directly from the waves. Its austere beauty reminded her of the duke’s ancient manor home, stalwart and secure. The cracks and peels in the dirty white paint around the base of the massive structure became clear as she approached, but they only added to the picture of a home that would stand through a storm and show little damage for it. 

She frowned slightly, looking around. Not that a woman’s hand wasn’t needed here, she was relieved to see. What scrubby grass had managed to pry its way through the stones was left untended. A child’s faded toy ball sat lonely in the center of the footpath, half-deflated. She would make her mark on her new home. Her husband would see that she was a worthwhile addition to his life. 

Betsy paused. She gazed at the sun-bleached, wind-worn outer walls, at the two crumbling steps leading up to a bare stoop. The light above the doorway was clouded with grime. She glanced over her shoulder, but the driver was long gone. All she had left by way of companionship was the lighthouse and the sea. Where was her new family? Why had they not come outside to greet her yet.

She sighed, hoping that this lonely doorstep wasn’t the beginning of a huge mistake. Then she steeled herself once more, climbed the stairs, and knocked. It was cool in the shadow of the building; she felt a chill run through her. The crazy notion of running away, simply turning and bolting down the long ocean road, flashed through her mind—but right behind it was something Kate had said to her as they parted — the only impossibility is the possibility you fail to see.

The door began to open. In moments, it would be too late to flee.

Betsy squared her shoulders and plastered a smile on her face. Emile Laverdiere was a possibility she must see before she let fear chase her away.

 A wraith of a man stood just inside the threshold, his pale eyes huge in the gaunt frame of his face. Betsy bit her tongue just in time to keep a gasp of surprise from escaping her lips. Though she had not chosen to follow the healer path her mother had taken, with her herbs and potions, she knew this man was gravely ill.

“Betsy Lawton?” he asked in a voice that matched the rest of him—thin, frail, reedy.

“Emile Laverdiere?” She looked into his eyes and saw that he had registered her dismay. No doubt he had been expecting it.

 He smiled, and his cheekbones stood out like mountain ridges underneath his sunken eyes. There was humor there, despite the ravage of illness. “The one and only. We have been counting the minutes until your arrival. Though it may be impolite, we must ask what you think of your new home?” 

Betsy somehow kept her smile in place as she took his offered hand and stepped into the lighthouse. Her soon-to-be-husband’s fingers were cold and bony against hers; she feared that if she squeezed at all, his hand would break. “You have a magnificent landscape at your command,” she answered honestly. He had said nothing of illness in his letters. Nor had those who had attested to his honest character and true desire to wed. Could it be recent? Or had she been duped?

His air of acute attention told her he waited for more. There was an air of patient acceptance in his waiting eyes, as if she could tell him the truth. That she did not want to wed a dying man. Did not know if she truly wanted to immure herself on an isolated jut of rock like Rapunzel in one of the duchess’s favorite fairytales.

But she had come all this way, she would not be her practical mother’s daughter to throw everything away without discovering all she could about this place. Her eyes roamed the interior of the lighthouse’s living space, and she found it plain but comfortable. The rounded room was cozy, softly lit, warmed by a small stone hearth. A spiral staircase formed its centerpiece, climbing up and up through the ceiling. Her eyes could not help following it upward into the unknown. She could hear a slight scraping sound, some rustling, a whispered exchange so low she could almost dismiss it as the sound of the wind.

She looked at her soon-to-be-husband. “What is up there?’ Her eyes swept back upward, toward the sound.

He seemed to approve of her question. “Take a look for yourself, if you like.” He gestured upward. “But forgive me for not accompanying you. I will only slow a young woman like you down. It takes me a while to climb up and down, thought I do it three times a day.”

Of course, Betsy thought. That was why he had not been down to greet her quickly. He had come from the top of the lighthouse. She felt a sympathetic ache in her own healthy joints at what he must endure to do his duty three times a day.

She looked upward, walked to the iron railing, and grasped the cold metal. She began to ascend. On the first landing, she paused at what sounded like sudden whispers, but she saw nothing, so she continued upward.

At the very top, she found her answer. The view that had seemed magnificent when she first arrived, had become almost godlike here, above the sea. She could see for miles. She could pick out the people in the village going about their business, but also the sea life in the ocean. Her breath caught. She leaned closer to look. A whale. She could see a whale in the distance, breaching repeatedly like a child at play.

She was careful not to touch any of the instruments that controlled the light. Emile would teach her to use them, she was certain. She had always been an apt pupil. Living in a duke’s household had exposed her to many lessons not always provided to a governess’s daughter. Living with the Fenster siblings had provided her with lessons that went beyond what was possible even in a duke’s household. She had seen one Fenster sister start a business making beautiful high fashion buttons with a cottager, another become an artist of repute, and one a card sharp that others admired. Kate, her best friend and youngest Fenster sister, had won prizes for the roses she created in her greenhouse.

The gleaming brass of the instruments called to her, but she did not touch, except for one, loving stroke. If she accepted the dying man downstairs as husband, this could be hers.

About the Book: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Bride

At long last, Book 8 in the Once Upon a Wedding series has arrived

Lighthouse Keeper

Raised almost as a sister in a duke’s household, Betsy Lawton has let the duchess’ love of fairytale endings lead her to believe she has a chance at true love with a man far above her station.

Betsy Lawton, the governess’ daughter, dares to give her heart to an earl. When he crushes it under his heel to marry according to his family’s expectations, she turns her back on England and departs for America, where rank and station are no impediment to her dreams. Not that Betsy desires true love any longer. Instead she will be the mail order bride of a lighthouse keeper. It is the lighthouse she will love, she vows.


Matthew Thigpen, Earl of Battingston, had always regretted not fighting hard enough to marry the woman he loved, despite her lack of rank and family. But now he needs to find her. The woman he jilted is the only woman who will understand his predicament and keep his daughter safe.

Now a widow, Betsy must marry again to keep her job at her beloved lighthouse. Matthew offers her a devil’s bargain that will allow her to keep her job at the lighthouse she loves and keep his daughter safe as well. But is his bargain worth the lighthouse, if he breaks her heart all over again?

Find buy links here: https://kellymcclymerbooks.com/book/lighthouse-keepers-bride/

About the Author

Kelly McClymer fell in love with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as a child. Her most prized possession is her copy of The Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm. These are the stories which gripped our ancestors as they huddled around the fire at night, which taught countless children to persevere through hardship and succeed against the odds. Her favorite fairytale remains “The Six Swans” — where a young sister must not speak a word for six years in order to save her brothers from their stepmother’s evil spell.

What is His Wife Up To?

Stonehurst’s eyes shone with mischief. “Your wife came to my establishment earlier. She offered me five guineas to f**k her.”

Deanswood spluttered and almost spat out his brandy. “She did what?”

Stonehurst leaned back and savored a second sip of his wine. “Do you want me to repeat it? After you’ve drawn everyone’s gaze? I didn’t take her money or screw her, of course. Let’s find somewhere to talk.”

Anger turned Deanswood’s features haughty and harsh. Fists curled, he glowered at his friend. Make that former friend. He’d rather beat Stonehurst senseless than talk. “You keep your bloody hands off her.”

All Deanswood had wanted was an heir and a spare. Instead, his wife barred him from her bed—unless a quick screw with no foreplay or kisses once a month counted. He’d rather have stayed single.

He’d dreamed of a wife with a warm smile and sweet nature. Curves that made his mouth water and his palms twitch would be a bonus. Leg-shackling himself to Alethea Allerton was the biggest mistake he’d ever made.

He should have made it clear that he expected to bear his children and submit to the occasional spanking. In return, he’d teach her about passion, bondage, and obedience. Until his mother-in-law collared him in the library, he’d been looking forward to his wedding night. His mother-in-law’s words had kyboshed that.

Stonehurst struggled to contain his laughter. “So, what really happened on your wedding night?”

“It’s none of your business,” Deanswood snapped.

Unabashed, Stonehurst grinned. “Your wife made it my business. Her dress sense is shocking. Is that why you couldn’t perform last night?”

Stonehurst was right. Alethea had involved him in the tangled mess of her marriage. “Did Alethea say I couldn’t… Of course, I could… Damn it, I don’t have to explain myself to you.”

“It might help to talk about it,” Stonehurst suggested.

Deanswood sighed. “Nothing else seems to. After I’d thrown Lady Babs out, my new mother-in-law collared me in the library. She read me an endless lecture on the sins of marital sex. I’d rather take a dressing down from Wellington than endure that again.”

Inwardly, Deanswood fumed. Why the hell had his wife waited until after the ceremony to send her mother to tell him she didn’t want sex? He supposed she was eager to get her grasping hands on his fortune.

When he learned his wife planned to cuckold him, his eyes narrowed and lips thinned in anger. A trip to Gentleman Jackson’s boxing salon beckoned. Going a few rounds with the champion might calm his soul.

Stonehurst’s teasing manner vanished, and he held up both hands, palm out. “I never touched her. We’re attracting too much attention. Walk with me.”

Deanswood had fought alongside Stonehurst in the Peninsular War and again at Waterloo. They’d shared too much to fall out over a woman. That said, Stonehurst enjoyed the earl’s discomfort far too much.

His Innocent Bride

Going about her mundane life in a small fishing village, Alethea never dreamed she would end up with a man like the Earl of Deanswood, yet when she caught the handsome gentleman’s eye he wasted no time in making her his wife. Unbeknownst to Alethea, however, her conniving mother has convinced Deanswood that she has no interest in the marital bed. Devastated by his seeming disinterest, Alethea searches for someone to instruct her in the ways of enticing a man.

When a friend informs Deanswood of Alethea’s plans, he decides to train his new bride himself. Soon enough, Alethea finds herself naked, blindfolded, and helplessly bound as she is thoroughly spanked and then brought to one blushing, quivering climax after another. But when Alethea’s life is threatened by her mother’s vicious scheming, can Deanswood protect his innocent bride?

Publisher’s Note: His Innocent Bride is a stand-alone novel which shares the Regency-era setting of Wickedly Used. It includes spankings and sexual scenes. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.

More about Kryssie Fortune.

Kryssie reads everything and anything, from literary fiction to sizzling romance. Her earliest memory is going to the library with her mother. She can’t have been more than two at the time. Reading, especially when a book’s hot and explicit, is more than a guilty pleasure. It’s an obsession.

Kryssie loves to visit historic sites, from Hadrian’s wall to Regency Bath. The first book she fell in love with was Georgette Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax. After that, she devoured every regency book she could. After a while, they went out of fashion, but part of Kryssie’s psyche lives in in in Regency London. She longs to dance quadrilles and flirt behind fans. Of course, Kryssie’s heroines do far more than flirt.

Kryssie lives in Bridlington on the Yorkshire coast –about thirty miles from Whitby, where Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. She enjoys gardening, travel, and socializing with her author friends. You’d be surprised how many erotic romance authors live in the North of England.

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