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Author: Bluestocking Belles Page 1 of 26

A Notorious Gossip Speaks

Lady St. James, one of London Town’s most notorious gossips, takes a moment to pen a quick letter to her eldest daughter, Elizabeth. 

October, 2021, 1816

My darling Lizzie,

I am simply bursting to tell you the latest news! The Duke of Aldridge has acquired a ward. Her name is Kendra Donovan. I know what you must be thinking, dearest—that she is Irish given her surname. However, it is much worse—she is an American! I dare say that is why she is the most peculiar creature. I can confide in you that Caro—Aldridge’s sister, who, as you may recall, is one of my dearest friends—is quite beside herself over her brother’s association with this female.

Miss Donovan is quite comely, even if her coloring—raven hair and eyes as black as any gypsy—is not at all fashionable. She is far too thin, with none of the plumpness that we ladies aspire to. Still, there is no denying that Aldridge’s nephew, Lord Sutcliffe, seems to be quite transfixed by her, even though she is practically on the shelf at six and twenty. It is difficult to imagine that someone like the marquis, so devilishly handsome and with his impeccable linage, could have his head turned by this American upstart. I can tell you that most of the matrons in the Ton are dismayed, fearing that their daughters may be losing such a prime catch to the parson’s mousetrap! And it is especially galling to lose to a commoner who lacks all the social graces and appears to care naught for London society. Caro has even lamented to me that Miss Donovan resists—yes, resists! —shopping or going to her modiste. Who doesn’t desire another new gown?

Still, it is not Miss Donovan’s looks, age, lack of pedigree or manners that really have tongues wagging in the Polite World. The woman has an unnatural interest in the criminal world! I know, my dearest, that you cannot fathom such a thing. I confess that it is shocking, but at the same time…well, I cannot help but be intrigued. You must remember me writing to you about the horrendous events that took place a month ago during Caro’s famous house party at Aldridge Castle, when a young girl was found dead in a lake near the picnic that Caro had arranged. Murdered!

The ladies were quite rightly rounded up and led away from the ghastly sight. But Miss Donovan? The chit actually ran towards the scene! Can you imagine? A proper miss ought to have been swooning, but Miss Donovan began issuing orders like she was the Duke of Wellington himself! Even more outrageous, Miss Donovan was a mere servant at the time. Indeed, we were only introduced to her when Lady Rebecca took on Miss Donovan as her companion. And now the Duke is claiming her as his ward! He has put out the Banbury Tale that she is the daughter of friends who emigrated to America years ago. Complete poppycock, of course. But no one would dare call out the Duke on this farce. He is too powerful. One can only assume this is part of his eccentricities. I have heard that he installed a telescope on the battlements of Aldridge Castle. I believe it has been well-documented that the moon can bring out a certain lunacy, and there was a full moon on the first night of the house party. This is something, perhaps, to ponder.

Given Miss Donovan’s odd penchant for solving murders (yes, the on dit is that she uncovered the monster who killed that poor girl in the lake) I suspect that I shall be writing to you again about the American. Until then…

Your loving Mama

The In Time series where Jane Austen meets CSI with a dash of Doctor Who.

About the Book

A MURDER IN TIME introduces Kendra Donovan, a beautiful, brilliant FBI agent, who goes rogue when half her team is killed in a botched mission. Determined to get justice, Kendra travels to Aldridge Castle to find the man responsible. However, her plan goes awry when an assassin forces her to flee through a hidden passageway. Stumbling out again, she realizes she’s in the same place, but in a different time—1816, to be precise. Mistaken as a servant, Kendra tries to navigate the intricacies of the Regency, and find a way back to her own time. Yet when the body of a young girl is found in the lake, Kendra believes her involuntary time travel has a purpose, especially since only she—an FBI profiler—recognizes that they are dealing with a serial killer. Pitting her skills—without the aid of modern technology—against a cunning madman is difficult. But it’s nothing compared to living in the Regency era, a time when women are relegated to second-class citizen, without even the right to vote. Thankfully, the powerful Duke of Aldridge—a man of Science—takes her under his wing. Stuck in the past, Kendra’s criminal expertise comes in handy again in A TWIST IN TIME, CAUGHT IN TIME, BETRAYAL IN TIME, and SHADOWS IN TIME…and Kendra realizes that when it comes to human nature, murder is timeless.

The Kendra Donovan In Time series is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores nationwide.

About the Author

Julie McElwain is a national award-winning journalist. Her first novel in her genre-bending time-travel/mystery series, A MURDER IN TIME, was one of the top 10 picks by the National Librarian Association for its April 2016 book list, and was selected as the mystery to read in 2016 by OverDrive Inc., serving more than 34,000 libraries around the world. The novel was also a finalist for the 2016 Goodreads’ readers’ choice awards in the Sci-fi category, and made Bustle’s list of 9 Most Addictive Mystery series for 2017. A MURDER IN TIME, A TWIST IN TIME, CAUGHT IN TIME, BETRAYAL IN TIME, and SHADOWS IN TIME have been optioned for television/movie development. McElwain currently lives in North Dakota, working on the latest installment of the Kendra Donovan series. Connect to Julie McElwain through her author’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Juliemcelwain; twitter: @JulieMcElwain; or website: Juliemcelwainauthor.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foul Play on a Baron or the Foul Baron Played?

Thomas, the second Baron Lyttelton, has died under mysterious circumstances.

Rumors concerning his death abound. He was an infamous rake, known for using his charm and talent to seduce women and gain influence. He fought duels, gambled away a fortune, and married the misguided Aphia Witts to pay his debts before fleeing to Paris with a barmaid. Upon his return in, he entered the House of Commons in 1768 and exited the next year after being accused of bribery.

Thursday last, 25 November, 1770 Lord Lyttelton told friends of an extraordinary dream he’d had the previous night. A bird had flown into his room, transformed into a woman wearing white, and informed him that he’d die within three days. He discounted the dream, attributing it to a recent party he’d attended where a robin had flown into the room. He was accustomed to a woman’s scorn, so that part of the dream seemed easy enough to explain.

By Saturday evening, he boasted he would “bilk the ghost” and ordered breakfast for the following day. He retired shortly after. Just before midnight, lying in his bed, Lyttelton’s valet said his master died “without a groan.” There was no inquest.

According to close friends, the only legacy he leaves behind is a reputation of questionable character as a compulsive gambler, drug addict, and debaucher of women. So, The Teatime Tattler asks,  was his death an act of vengeance? Or did karma finally come calling for the wicked baron?

About the Book

Upon a Midnight Dreary is up for preorder and will release this month, October 21.

This amazing anthology contains dark, romantic tales of ghosts that haunt and taunt, written by some of your favorite historical romance authors. Each novella will include a romance and a “real” ghost story. Aubrey Wynne’s contribution includes the wicked Lord Lyttelton.

Buy Link: (https://books2read.com/midnightdreary)

Excerpt from “Percy’s Perdition” in  Upon a Midnight Dreary Halloween anthology

Ellie nibbled at a candied apricot as she snuggled against Percy’s chest. They had foregone supper, moved to their bedchambers, and now ate a cold repast spread about the counterpane. “I heard the most delicious tale the other day. Did I tell you of the wicked Lord Lyttelton?”

Percy smiled and kissed the top of her head, the blond waves spread over her bare shoulders. His limbs were heavy, and he couldn’t care less about some rakish peer. “No, love.”

“He was a baron with no regard for mankind, wasting his money and seducing innocents. One mother was so horrified when her daughter succumbed to his advances, she died of a broken heart.” Ellie paused while she took sip of wine. “But the mother had the final word.”

“They always do,” he agreed.

She slapped his arm but grinned. “Anyway, she returned as a ghost and told him of his looming demise. Three days and he would be dead.”

“Ah, but one can do so much living in three days.” He picked up a hunk of cheese and offered Ellie a bite. She shook her head.

“Well, a quarter hour before midnight of the third day, he dropped dead! Can you imagine?” She sank her teeth into the blue and white Wiltshire and smacked her lips.

“People die every day, my dear. It doesn’t mean an apparition caused it.”

“This happened forty years ago, but there is much documentation. And it gets stranger.” She kissed his cheek. “The wicked lord stopped by his friend’s bedchamber on his way to Hell. The man saw the baron at the foot of his bed, miles away in another county, the same night he died. He woke his household to look for the scoundrel since Lord Lyttelton was known for his pranks. But alas, he was never found.”

“Because he was dead.”

“Exactly!” She beamed at him as if he’d done something very clever.

Percy snorted. “You have a way of maneuvering our conversations until it appears I agree with you.” He kissed her soundly on the mouth.

“Don’t you?” she asked, batting her eyelashes.

About The Author

Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule, and barn cats. Obsessions include wine, history, travel, trail riding, and all things Christmas. Her Chicago Christmas series has received the Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, Heart of Excellence, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and twice nominated as a Rone finalist by InD’tale Magazine.

Aubrey’s first love is medieval romance but after dipping her toe in the Regency period in 2018 with the Wicked Earls’ Club, she was smitten. This inspired her spin-off series Once Upon a Widow. In 2020, she launched the Scottish Regency series A MacNaughton Castle Romance with Dragonblade Novels.

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Duke’s Mysterious Kin Sighted

Exclusive to the Teatime Tattler

The Duke of G__ arrived in town this week with a highly irregular guest. A Mr. K_, a Welshman with three children stays at the duke’s elegant townhouse where he is being treated almost, dare we say it, as family. Our usual sources—servants do talk, especially when in their cups at certain taverns—imply the men act like brothers.

That can’t be, of course, as this K__ is several years older than the duke. The previous duke acknowledged no illegitimate children so one is left to wonder. Who can this man from Wales be, and why is the young duke eager to spend time with him?

We’ve been told the man has a pronounced limp, and our sources tell us the previous duke once took in a young man with a similar disability, but was forced to show the ungrateful miscreant the door. Is K_ the same person? Of course they’ve attended no social events so it has been difficult for society to get a good look.

We’re led to understand that there was a recent reconciliation with his father’s wife, the Dowager Duchess. Can she be involved in this family tangle?

The Tattler can only wonder what the Duke of H_ thinks about this turn of events. The Duke of G_ is well known to have been courting H__’s granddaughter during the recent Season and an offer is expected. Indeed it may have already been made. Will an irregular family situation derail young G__’s hopes?

The Dowager Duchess of Glenmoor was indeed involved in her stepson’s complicated relationship with that mine owner from Wales. The story is in The Defiant Daughter.

About the Book

Madelyn assumed marriage as an old man’s ornament would be better than life with her abusive parents. She was wrong.

Now the widowed Duchess of Glenmoor, she wrestles with ugly memories and cultivates a simple life. She is content. At least, she was until her half-brother returned to Ashmead bringing a friend with knowing eyes and coal black hair to capture her thoughts.

Colonel Brynn Morgan’s days as an engineer in his father’s coal mines in Wales are long behind him. With peace come at last and Napoleon gone, he makes a life for himself analyzing the reports about military and naval facilities worldwide for a shadowy government department. What income he has is committed elsewhere. He has nothing to offer a wife, much less a dowager duchess.

More lies between the duchess and the man she wants than money and class. They have personal demons to slay.

Preorder for only 99 cents! October 21 release. https://bit.ly/TheDefiantDaughter

About the Series

When the old Earl of Clarion leaves a will with bequests for all his children, legitimate and not, listing each and their mothers by name, he complicated the lives of many in the village of Ashmead. One was his defiant daughter. He left her nothing.

One sleepy village

One scandalous will

Four tormented heirs

 

About the Author

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Visit Caroline’s Website and Blog                http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

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Follow Caroline on Twitter                            @CaroWarfield

Email Caroline directly                                  warfieldcaro@gmail.com

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Bluestocking Belles                                          http://bluestockingbelles.net/about/caroline-warfield/

Book Bub                                                           https://www.bookbub.com/profile/caroline-warfield

 

Disgraceful Behavior in a Small Town

This letter reached our newsroom from a village in New York.
Dear S. Clemens,

        As a faithful, God fearing Christian woman,  I find your column is perfect to find those lost souls who are in need of prayer. You recently mentioned  our town bachelor, Mr. David Moses Van Hoyton, was recently seen escorting an unknown female into his hotel.
 I’m sure the people of the church will appreciate any further information you may acquire as we wish to pray for her by name. I’m sure she will not be found in the hotel register as she clearly was NOT a guest. I also am an eye witness to this event and  I can honestly state, her clothes were definitely not of high quality.  Though you speak of her being “a pretty thing with big expressive eyes”, I am only concerned with her soul and any possible harm she may cause the above mentioned man. We do not want any backsliding to occur on his part. I was told by a very reliable source, this very woman  was seen near the train station earlier in the day. The train master, an honorable Christian, seemed infatuated by her and was seen enticing her with some sort of gift . It wasn’t  long after that Mr. Van Hoyton passed by and she quickly chose our local hotel owner as a better–how do I say it–friend?
Again, any further news on this clearly lost soul will be used discreetly and shared only with the good people of the church’s sprayer group. Thank you,
A concerned Christian woman

About the Series

This bit of fiction is in reference to characters in a work in progress that is part of Camille Regholec’s series Looking on the Heart.
Book 2, Secret Way to the Heart
Though far from the battlefields, the Civil War brings many changes to Jayne’s family and neighbors in the Hudson Valley of New York. As she struggles to keep her family united in the midst of a country torn apart, Jayne seeks God for answers and protection to keep her heart from falling for a mysterious Southern preacher who appears on the scene.

The Dead Baron?

Dear Reader,

This correspondent gleefully shares the news with you the news that Sir James Branstoke and his new bride, Lady Cecilia Branstoke are not on their honeymoon in the Highlands as they would have all believe. No, no, quite the contrary. They were recently spotted at the theater in the company of Lady Elinor Aldrich.

There was no sign of Baron Simon Aldrich, and Lady Aldrich wore black. Though this correspondent has not heard of any official announcement, it is rumored Baron Simon Aldrich has lamentably met his death in a carriage accident along the White Cliffs of Dover.

Sir James and Lady B. don’t believe it.

We shall do our best to ascertain the truth.

About the Book: Rarer Than Gold, Book 2 of “A Chance Inquiry”

When newlyweds Sir James and Lady Cecilia Branstoke come to console a widow on the death of her husband, they discover some things don’t add up about the death of the young Lord. Worse, a man who won’t state his purpose, but is obviously military, wants a carte blanche to search the dead man’s library! The sheer effrontery!

What begins as sympathy and concern for a troubled neighbor escalates into a mystery with reverberations at the highest level of government.

Napoleon has escaped from Elba and someone has stolen a subsidy shipment meant for England’s allies in their renewed war against Napoleon. The shipment, a valuable mix of gold and guns, soon pits thief against thief and ally against ally with the Branstokes in the middle!

Instead of being on a blissful honeymoon, Sir James and Lady Cecilia Branstoke find themselves dodging knives, fires, and pistols as they search for the missing baronet and the stolen subsidies.

Maybe they should have traveled to the highlands for their honeymoon, as they’d told their friends had been their intention.

~ An Excerpt ~

“The ground is uneven here. It might be best if you stayed here while I search the area,” James suggested.

“No, I will accompany you. Two pairs of eyes. I shall be steady enough. If not, I shall just grab tightly on to you,” Cecilia said.

“And I should enjoy that,” her husband teased. “But be careful. There are fallen stones lying at odd angles that you could sprain an ankle on if you were to step oddly.”

“Yes, I can see that.”

They picked their way through the path of fallen stones toward the nave, wide open to the sky above with patches of blue and lavender and yellow wildflowers growing among the tall grasses shadowing the rocks.

“It is so beautiful and peaceful here,” Cecilia murmured. “Spiritual, though the church is long gone.”

“But not so spiritual that evil stays away,” James said grimly. He left Cecilia’s side to walk to a pile of stones beside a half-standing wall. He bent down to pick something up, then pushed the grass away from the rocks.

“What is it, James?” Cecilia asked as she hurried toward him.

He held out a lady’s glove.

“That’s Elinor’s!” Cecilia said.

He gestured back to the rocks. “There is evidence of blood on the rocks here. Not a lot, but it doesn’t show evidence of rain or time dilution, either. It is recent.”

Cecilia examined the rocks with their blood spatters. Then she looked around at the grass in the surrounding area. She found a few white threads as might come from ripped fabric. She pointed these out to James.

James looked beyond the rocks. “There is a trail,” he said, pointing to the trampled grasses leading to the back of the nave.

“It looks like whoever someone injured leaned against the wall here. There is a large smear of blood. By the location of the blood, I would guess it is from an arm or shoulder wound,” James said.

“Look, there is a bloody handprint.” Cecilia pointed to a partial handprint.

“A man’s hand.”

“Yes,” she agreed. “It appears Elinor bandaged whoever was injured, and then they left. I wonder if we can find traces of the direction they took?”

James glanced at the sky. “The clouds are building. We must hurry if we are to discover any signs of their direction before the weather changes and rain wipes all traces away.”

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Rarer-Than-Gold-Chance-Inquiry-ebook/dp/B096WLGYK8

About the Author

Holly Newman lives in Florida seven miles from the Gulf Coast with Ken and their six cats.

Holly decided to be a writer when she was in the fifth grade and filled notebooks with stories—until a mean-spirited high school teacher told her she had no talent for writing. Crushed, for several years she stopped writing, but the writing bug didn’t go away. Her first book won first place in the University of Texas at Dallas fiction writing competition and was first runner-up for the Rita award from Romance Writers of America.

Holly’s interest in the Regency period started in high school when she volunteered to re-shelve books at the community library. Every week there were Georgette Heyer novels to be shelved. Curious, she checked one out and became immersed in the world of the regency.

Website: Holly Newman | History, Mystery, Humor, and Romance . . . 19th Century Style

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Instagram: @hollynewman1811

Twitter: https://twitter.com/author_holly

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