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Scandal In Ducal Household: Are Twin Beauties Hiding Ruinous Secrets?

Have the Winderfield twins fallen at last from Society’s highest pedestal? Or, were they undeserving of such regard from the first?

Dear reader, your faithful correspondent has known the two beauties since their debut. They have always been the focus of attention, being nieces of the current Duke of Winshire and daughters of the heir to that esteemed title, the current duke’s elder brother, until his untimely death.

Perhaps, like many, you have admired their poise through the many illnesses and tragedies that haunted their young lives and prevented them from enjoying to the full the success destined for two of such high birth and beauty.

Or perhaps, like others, you have wondered why two ladies with so many advantages have turned their faces steadfastly against marriage, that high and holy goal of all proper women.

Let us reprise what is known. They were to make their debut a year late, after a mysterious illness that apparently struck them both and kept them immured in the country when they should have been making their curtsey to the Queen and to Society. However, their brother’s untimely death sent them both into mourning and back into the country.

The following year, even though they were nearly nineteen, they were immediately hailed as the Beauties of the Season. Indeed, Lady Sarah Winderfield was dubbed the Winderfield Diamond. The Earl of Sutton was swamped with applications from prospective suitors, some of them from gentlemen of high rank and great fortune. Alas. The ladies refused all offers, and would not be shifted from their resolve.

The Diamond continued to sparkle at Society’s entertainments, but Lady Charlotte Winderfield’s interests were more philanthropic, and her undertakings won her the sobriquet ‘the Saint’. Perhaps, said the men of Society–for many were desirous of possessing such lovely beings to ornament their lives–they need a year to enjoy themselves before giving themselves into the care of a husband, and settling into motherhood and the loving service of a wife. Certainly, the duke their grandfather made it very clear that he would not tolerate another year of refusals. If they would not choose, he declared to close associates, he would do it for them.

A number of gentlemen resolved to court the lovely ladies (or at least their grandfather) the following year. Their hopes were dashed when their father’s death put them back into mourning.

Which brings us to 1812, when their notorious uncle returned from the mysterious lands north of Persia, where he had apparently married and fathered ten children. With the duke bedridden and dying, it was to the uncle that all suitors applied, only to be told that the ladies were not interested in marriage.

For the past two years, even after becoming duke in his turn, he has continued to support his nieces rebellion against the proper order. Perhaps, some of us speculated, he knew of secrets in their past that had left them unfit for marriage?

And now, it appears, the Diamond has lost her luster, the Saint shows feet of clay.

Let us consider Lady Sarah, first. For the past few days, she has been seen much in the company of Viscount Bentham, heir to the Earl of Sutton. You will remember that Bentham has been lost for seven years and only recently recovered. You may not, however, have had the opportunity to notice the resemblance between Bentham’s little half-sister and the boy that Lady Sarah has taken as her ward. A boy who is believed to be a Winderfield by-blow, and who was born six years ago, around nine months after Bentham’s disappearance and at the time Lady Sarah was in the country with that mysterious illness mentioned above.

Coincidence? We shall see.

As for Lady Charlotte, reputable witnesses saw her visit Aldridge at his home late at night. Yes, dear readers, the Merry Marquis himself. Within half an hour of her arrival, they left in a carriage, and were gone all night. Some say they were carousing in the slums. Certainly, they did not return to the Winshire mansion until after the cock crowed and the sun rose.

How can one put an innocent interpretation on that?

To Claim the Long-Lost Lover

The beauty known as the Winderfield Diamond hides a ruinous secret. Society’s newest viscount holds the key.

Sarah’s beloved abandoned her eight years ago, leaving her to face the anger of her family and worse. And now he is back, more compelling than ever. Sarah is even lovelier than when she was a girl, but what did she know about her father’s revenge on Nate: forcible enlistment into the navy and years of servitude?

Book 3 of The Return of the Mountain King

New release

Buy Links

Amazon US  * Other links on Books2Read  *  Jude Knight’s book page

 

To Tame the Wild Rake

The whole world knows Aldridge is a wicked sinner. They used to be right.

The ton has labelled Charlotte a saint for her virtue and good works. They don’t know the ruinous secret she hides.

Then an implacable enemy reveals all. The past that haunts them wounds their nearest relatives and turns any hope of a future to ashes.

Must they choose between family and one another?

Book 4 of The Return of the Mountain King

Released 17 September

Buy Links

Amazon US * Other links at Books2Read *  Jude Knight’s book page

Runaways or a Clandestine Tryst?

Molly,

When I visited Ashmead last summer, I am certain you told me the Duchess of Glenmoor was a recluse. You were quite firm that she rarely  left the Clarion Hall dower house. What is she doing barreling on past Birmingham on the coaching road?

We arrived stopped to refresh at  the  Crippled Cock on our way  south and noticed a carriage with the Clarion crest in the yard. I hoped to catch sight of  the Earl of Clarion, but who did we see leaving  the private parlor but the duchess herself. She and her companion made no greeting and departed smartly. A male companion! I saw no sign of a respectable woman with  them.  assisted her into the carriage and road up behind on a fine mount.

An illustration of “The Follies & Fashions of our Grandfathers: 1807” by Andrew W Tuer. Getty Images

The innkeeper proved closed mouthed, but the serving wench talked freely. The duchess claimed the “companion” was her brother. Isn’t the earl her only brother, and him fair of hair and complexion? In all my years visiting Ashmead I’ve never seen a Caulfield with hair as black as this gentleman, if I can call him that.

Do you have any notion who it might have been or why  they were in such urgency to travel east? Write to me as soon as you can to the Thomas’s townhouse in London.

Your devoted etc.

Maudy Flint

About the Series

The Duchess of Glemoor’s flight east takes place in The Defiant Daughter, Book 2 in Caroline Warfield’s The Ashmead Heirs. It will come out in October 2021. She is the sister of  both  the earl  and of  Sir  Robert Benson.

The Wayward Son, Book One is available now.

About the Book, The Wayward Son

Sir Robert Benson’s life is in London. He fled Ashmead the day he discovered the man he thought was his father had lied to him, and the girl he loved was beyond his reach. Only a nameless plea from his sister—his half-sister—brings him back to discover he’s been left an estate with a choice piece of land. He will not allow a ludicrous bequest from the earl who sired him turn him into a mockery of landed gentry. When a feisty little termagant with flashing eyes—and a musket—tries to turn Rob off the land—his land—he’s too amused and intrigued to turn away. But the longer he stays, the tighter the bonds that tie him to Ashmead become, strengthened by the powerful draw of the woman rooted on land he’s determined to sell.

Lucy Whitaker’s life is Willowbrook, its land, its tenants, its prosperity, but she always knew it wasn’t hers, knew the missing heir would come eventually. When a powerful man with military bearing rides up looking as if he wants to come in and count the silver, she turns him away, but her heart sinks. She can’t deny Rob Benson his property; she can only try to make him love the place as she does, for her peoples’ sake. A traitorous corner of her heart wishes Rob would love it for her sake.

His life is London and diplomatic intrigue; hers is Ashmead and the land. How can they forge something lasting when they are torn in two directions?

Available on Kindle Unlimited or for purchase at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09484DC1D/

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.

Links

Website:   http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WarfieldFellowTravelers

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Good Reads:  http://bit.ly/1C5blTm

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

 

 

 

Pity the Duke!

Cairo, 1839

My dear Mr. Clemens,

Our Rambles have taken us to Cairo where we have found  refuge in  Shepheard’s Hotel des Anglais, a tolerable semblance of a civilized hostelry in this exotic outpost. The drinks in the private dining room and outdoor veranda are at least satisfying to the palate and a blessing after heat and sand threaten to choke one.

I digress. As I have throughout our travels, I notice here a tendency of otherwise well-bred English travelers here to throw off the ornaments of their breeding and behave in ways that would shock their peers in London. I am pleased to report that observation does not apply to that illustrious personage, the Duke of Sudbury,  ambassador to the Sultan’s viceroy here. When I observe him arriving and departing Shepheard’s he is always perfectly groomed as befitting and English gentleman.

The duke does strike one as high in the instep, and has haughtily rebuffed attempts to approach him on numerous occasions—but again I digress.

I  have been quite amazed at the number of travelers taking advantage of Waghorn’s Overland Mail to travel from India via Suez. They cross to Cairo via caravan and sail the Nile to embark from Alexandria via steamer. All and sundry pause here at Shepheard’s for a restorative rest. All are generally respectably turned out if dusty from sand and  in need of ablutions.

Imagine my horror this morning when three of Wagner’s latest arrivals  sauntered into the hotel not only in native dress, but filthy. The greater shock, Mr. Clemens, came with recognition. The duke’s own nephew, Richard Mallet was among them. Though  dressed in Arabic garb, and bearing a complexion brown as a native from sun damage, it was he. Piercing blue eyes glared at me from a face so browned by  the  sun as  to  look native. I suspected his identity then. When  he  pulled off his  horrid headdress, the blond  hair, combined with his great  height gave him away.  He  and his companions, one of them a native  woman, were swiftly escorted to  the duke’s suite in  the exclusive upper floor.

Imagine my relief later. My loyal maid has a gift for  befriending local servants, one that has proved valuable at  every stop for gathering information. She tells me that the sister of one of the hotel’s under cooks works in the  home of Doctor Charles Cloutier, the famous French medical director to the viceroy. She recognized Mallet’s companion as Ana Cloutier, the  man’s daughter, and not  some native hussy at all.

My relief was short-lived after some thought. Why would a respectable woman, even a French  one, wear native dress and come to a hotel of this class looking like she had been dragged through the desert for weeks without bathing? Her feet, bare, but for some sort of native shoe, were visible to any man who cared to ogle her ankles.

How, I wondered, could the Duke of Sudbury abide having such a  creature inflicted on his suite?  He must be devistated by his nephew’s disgraceful behavior.

Your devoted correspondent,

Eunice Higgenbloom of Sussex

PS—We have since discovered more peculiar information. My maid’s acquaintance has since discovered that the lady in question cannot possibly be Miss Cloutier for that poor lady is most certainly dead. The reports of her demise come from impeccable sources.

About the Book

Richard Mallet comes to Egypt with dreams of academic glory. He will be the one to unravel the secrets of the ancient Kushite language. Armed with license to dig, he sets out for Meroë, where the Blue Nile meets the White. He has no room in his life for dalliance or entanglements, and he certainly doesn’t expect to face insurrection and unrest.

Analiese Cloutier seeks no glory—only the eradication of disease among the Egyptian women and children of Khartoum. She has no interest whatsoever in romantic nonsense and will not allow notions about a lady’s proper role to interfere with her work. She doesn’t expect to have that work manipulated for political purposes.

Neither expects to be enchanted by the amorous power of moonlight in the ruins of Karnak, or to be forced to marry before they can escape revolution. Will their flight north take them safely to Cairo? If it does, can they build something real out of their shattered dreams?

 

Scandalous Ducal Family Continues to Shock

As the Little Season draws to an end, one question is on every person’s lips. “Who is Elias W.?”

We understand from reliable sources that this young boy was found, dear reader, in a workhouse! A child of the gutter, we might be forgiven for assuming, and of no possible interest to proper families. However, his reception into one of the highest households in the land suggests that at least one of his parents was of very high birth, indeed.

All over London, people are wondering who it was. The W. family, despite their high estate, have had their share of scandal–generation after generation of rakes, at least two of whom (now sadly no longer with us) might have sired the boy. Since one was the father and one the brother of the lovely lady who has taken the boy home with her, perhaps all is explained.

And now, or so it is said, the lady is looking for a husband, after years of refusing all offers. Is it for the boy’s sake? Beyond a doubt, she will find one. She is no longer in the first flush of her youth, but she is still one of the great Diamonds of the ton. And the loveliness of her person pales in comparison to the loveliness of her dowry.

Still, should it prove (as some have whispered) that the link between Elias and the W. family is on the maternal rather than the paternal side, any gentleman might think twice about the cost of bringing such a scandal under his roof. Even the new Viscount B., who has been seen much in the lady’s company.

Like Elias, Lord B. has been sprung on Society without warning, when all believed that Lord L., his father, had male offspring. He has, by all accounts, been practicing medicine in the Royal Navy. An odd pass time for a future earl, it is true, but not as odd as continuing to work as a doctor in one of London’s worst slums.

Still, a man who does not turn up his nose at providing treatment to thieves and prostitutes might tolerate a workhouse brat as a ward for the sake of beauty, whether of the lady or her delightful money. Perhaps, after all, the Diamond and the Doctor are made for one another.

To Claim the Long-Lost Lover

Novel 3 of The Return of the Mountain King

Sarah Winderfield has refused every offer of marriage she has received since Nathaniel Beauclair convinced her to run away with him seven years ago, and then disappeared without a word or a trace. But now she needs a husband. She has a child to love and to protect, and the child needs a father.

She does not expect to meet Nate also on the marriage mart. Should she let him explain? Can she believe him?

Dragged back to England to feed his father’s pride in family, Nate refuses to give into the man’s demands that he take a wife. The only woman he will ever love is lost to him, married to a husband chosen by her father—or so his abducters said seven years ago, while they were beating him.

But when Nate finds that Sarah is still single, he rushes to London. Surely, they can find again the promise they believed in when they were young?

Through a labyrinth of old rumours and new enemies, two long-lost lovers must decide whether or not to claim one another, and win the bright future they both desire.

Preorder links (releases 30 July)

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096RLJJBZ

Links to other retailers: Books2Read: https://books2read.com/CMK-Claim

Excerpt

“You look lovely this evening,” Nate told Libby, as she joined him in the foyer.

His father’s wife glowed with pleasure. “And you look very fine yourself, Bentham,” she replied.

He bowed and offered his elbow. “Madam, your carriage awaits.”

“I am so looking forward to this evening, Nate. Perhaps tonight you might meet the young lady who will be your wife!”

Nate smiled and nodded, keeping his reservations to himself. Not unless my Sarah is present. But she is not yet in town, so it won’t be tonight. And even if she was in town, she would surely not be visiting the Hamners. Lady Hamner had been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford, and—according to Libby—the Dukes of Haverford and Winshire had been feuding since Winshire arrived back in the country with a whole quiverful of foreign-born children.

He allowed day dreams about their next meeting to while away the carriage ride and the wait in the street for other carriages to move out of the way. Libby continued to chatter, but she seldom required a response beyond ‘Is that right’ and ‘If you say so’.

It must have been a good thirty minutes before they were announced by Lord and Lady Hamner’s butler. Libby led him over to the Hamners to be introduced, and Nate looked around as he crossed the room.

A profile caught his eye. He shrugged it off. He had seen Sarah wherever he went for the past seven years, and a closer look always disclosed a stranger. This stranger turned towards him, and he stopped in his tracks, cataloguing changes. The fair hair was slightly darker. The heart-shaped face he remembered had matured into a perfect oval. The slender body of the long-remembered girl had ripened to fulfil its promise. But, beyond any doubt, Lady Sarah Winderfield stood on the other side of the drawing room, a smile on her lips as she talked with her friends.

Her gaze turned toward him just as Libby tugged on his arm. “Bentham! Are you well?” He let her pull him along, and Sarah’s gaze drifted away. He wanted to cross the room to her; accost her; demand that she recognise him and all they’d once meant to one another.

Some modicum of sense kept him stumbling after his step-mother. Men change between seventeen and twenty-four, he reminded himself. And people who have been through experiences like mine more than most.

Still, of all the meetings he’d imagined, he’d never envisaged one in which she didn’t know him.

Another Scandal: This Time From the Grave

To this seasoned reporter, the entire episode was shameful, dear reader. After returning from the war, Christian, the Duke of Randford, arrived at his solicitor’s office bearing the will of his late half brother, Lord Meriwether Vareck. Once he arrived, the duke faced the most disastrous of calamities. Rumors abound that his late half brother created a scandal to end all scandals. Yet, it appears the duke is also making one of his own.

It seems the celebrated war hero duke failed to offer his sincerest condolences to the first bereaved widow, Lady Meriwether Vareck, the former Katherine Greer. For the record, the Duke of Randford never bothered to meet his late half brother’s wife before he delivered the will. Nor had he met his late brother’s other wives.

Indeed, you read the words correctly. The duke’s half brother fancied wives. He had three tucked away in different corners of England. He couldn’t add to his collection after he’d drowned in a mud puddle during a stormy midnight steeplechase.

Fortunately for the three widows, the exalted duke had a change of heart and called upon them the next day. A spectator walking nearby Lady Meriwether’s home said that the duke had three bouquets of his prized roses in hand. I suspect they were for the three widows. Ah, to be a bird at the window for that titillating conversation, dear reader. One source informed me that the duke offered to repay their lost dowries his half brother spent. However, I find such talk unreliable. Who would want to have anything to do with such women? They face ruination in every sense of the word.

To compound matters, who exactly is Lady Meriwether? No one has heard anything about the woman except she owns a linen business. It’s unseemly she invited the other wives to live with her. Sources share the females of polite society highly regard Lady Meriwether. Even the Prince Regent has even expressed an interest in having her decorate his Royal Pavilion.

But the scandal grows. One of the solicitor’s law clerks whispered that the duke and Lady Meriwether appeared to be a little too cozy with one another as they try to find a solution to this disgrace. It is this intrepid reporter’s opinion that both should review the Church of England’s rules of affinity and consanguinity. That should put a stop to such nonsense.

Did I mention the second wife is in a delicate condition? Did you know the highest echelons of society once considered the third wife a diamond of the first water during her first Season? Oh, how that diamond has dulled.

The Duke of Randford, who has won the highest regard of all our countrymen, will have difficulty resolving this indignity. But as we discover more about the happenings of the three wives, our loyal readers shall be the first to know.

A DUKE IN TIME

“If…looking for something new with Austen’s spirit, humor, and dashing heroes, they can’t do better than MacGregor.” – Entertainment Weekly

A Duke in Time is the first book in a three-story arc that will have you rooting for leading heroines, searching for lost dowries, and falling for swoon-worthy heroes.

Katherine Vareck is in for the shock of her life when she learns upon her husband Meri’s accidental death that he had married two other women. Her entire business, along with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a royal supplier, is everything she’s been working for and now could be destroyed if word leaks about the three wives.

Meri’s far more upstanding brother, Christian, Duke of Randford, has no earthly clue how to be of assistance. He spent the better part of his adult years avoiding Meri and the rest of his good-for-nothing family, so to be dragged back into the fold is…problematic. Even more so is the intrepid and beautiful Katherine, whom he cannot be falling for because she’s Meri’s widow. Or can he?

With a textile business to run and a strong friendship forming with Meri’s two other wives, Katherine doesn’t have time for much else. But there’s something about the warm but compellingly taciturn Christian that draws her to him. When an opportunity to partner in a business venture brings them even closer, they’ll have to face their pasts if they want to share each other’s hearts and futures.

Available at these fine retailers:

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08FZ8B348/

Barnes and Noble https://bit.ly/2JUhXRj

iBook’s  https://apple.co/36lxQb0

Google Books  https://bit.ly/3kdhWEB

Kobo   https://bit.ly/3wSY552

Love’s Sweet Arrow: https://shop.lovessweetarrow.com/jannamacgregor

 

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