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A Season Full of Promise!

The Tattler hears from an anonymous lady…


In truth, I find most teas to be dreadfully dull. There are only so many biscuits one can consume while listening to the other ladies gasp and giggle over the same weary gossip as was discussed at tea the day before. But propriety–and appearances–dictate I attend, just the same.

No one knows the inner goings on of a household better than the maids or housekeeper or the occasional footman, and it is not unusual to overhear them talking about their mistresses and masters or the rest of the peerage when they think we are sufficiently occupied. 

Gossip about the Season

Yes, dear reader. I admit I attend teas more so I can stand in darkened corridors, behind heavy doors, or in out of the way corners, and simply listen to the staff! I realize it is scandalous. And you now realize I may know your secrets, as well. But it has been this guilty pleasure that allows me to bring you two tidbits of gossip you have not heard elsewhere.

First, I only just learned the Marquess of Castlereagh has returned to London after a year’s absence. Much to the chagrin of the young ladies of the ton, as he is not only one of the most handsome of the eligible peers, but one of the wealthiest, he left London unexplainably at the beginning of last Season, immediately following the fire at the Darkshire ball.

If you will remember, that fire claimed the lives of several in society, including the aged Viscount Manderly and the young Lady Katherine, daughter of the Marchioness of Windham, whom we have not seen since the fire. The event put a damper on the Season, to be certain, but it doesn’t explain the marquess’s unseasonal absence.

Near the end of the Season last year, I heard the marquess had taken up with an Irish woman while in Ireland–a commoner, no less. That could certainly explain his extended absence. 

Then, this week during my wanderings at one of the teas, I overheard the housekeeper tell the butler that the housekeeper of another house had told her there was an Irish peeress she’d never seen before being fitted in Madam Boutrey’s for the Gloushire ball.

Gossip about the Season

Are these two Irish women one and the same? Will Lord Castlereagh be looking in the lines for a wife this Season? Or does he have a surprise in store for all of us?

In other news, sadly, I must report the passing of Gerald, Earl Dodson, the fourth cousin of the dowager Duchess of Wiltshire. It seems the earl left a young daughter behind, and Lady Maris has become the ward of the duchess. The girl was quite lovely on the one occasion I’ve had to make her acquaintance, and the duchess beyond delighted to introduce her to society. 

I have yet to speak to anyone who personally knew the earl, but the duchess has referred to him at tea as her “country cousin”. Perhaps it is because Lady Maris has been kept in the country that the duchess’s nephew, former naval captain and the Marquess of Wellesley, is said to be so very protective of his young cousin. 

Of course the staff of many houses are already wagering amongst themselves on his intentions, now that the Duke of Wiltshire (the duchess’s nephew by marriage) is escorting Lady Maris to the ball at Pepperstill’s. And at another tea, just this week, I heard one maid whisper that is the reason Lady Twila has at put her foot down and demanded the Marquess at last make good on the marriage arrangement that’s been in place for years.

As for me, dear reader, I suspect both the Marquess of Castlereagh and Lady Maris will make this Season one of the more interesting in ages!

Yrs Truly,
Lady Doe

About the Book

THE BRIAR…
   One moment Raven is alone in the world and working as a maid in the gardens of a grand estate in Ireland; the next she finds herself handed the life of a lady by the dark and handsome Marquess of Castlereagh. Devan insists his intentions are honorable, and that he only wishes to help reunite her with her family. But Raven finds herself in a constant struggle to deny the smoldering attraction between them, and in her secret heart, wishes he wanted more.

THE ROSE…
   Devan, Marquess of Castlereagh, is tormented by his past and determined to live out his days in quiet solitude at his Ireland estate. That is until Raven enters his life. With the face of an angel, the body of Aphrodite, and the tongue of a drunken Irishman, he’s never met any woman so infuriating… so seductive… so… his match.

THE LEGEND…
   From historical Ireland and its mystical legends to the elegant ballrooms of Regency London, together Devan and Raven discover the truth of the past and a love so strong it cannot be denied. ORIGINAL VERSION: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07X3747H6 PG VERSION (closed bedroom door): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081QPPVBG

About the Author

Laura Mills-Alcott’s first love was music, and she began her writing career at the age of eleven, when she wrote her first song. After graduating high school, she moved to Nashville, and some of her music was published. 

Though she wrote her share of love songs, Laura’s favorite was the story songs–the modern day equivalent of the old ballads. However, she often found herself frustrated when attempting to fit a single title novel into three verses, a bridge, and a chorus. So one day she decided she’d try her hand at writing a book. “After writing the first paragraph,” she says, “I was hooked.”

In The Briar and the Rose, she combines her love of music with her love for romantic novels and history.

Laura and her work have been featured in Romantic Times Magazine, on the “Talk America Radio Network”, and she acted as a consultant for the daytime talk show “The Other Half” on a segment dealing with why women read romance novels. Her non-fiction interviews have been published in newspapers and online, and her short stories have been published in a variety of print and electronic formats.

Laura currently resides in NE Ohio with her husband, where she spends her time restoring historical homes, and owns a remodeling company – Regency Remodeling – with her husband. She loves spending time with her children and two beautiful grandchildren, as well as her three dogs, and too many cats.

FB page: www.facebook.com/lmalcott2

Inappropriate Woman!

My name? Let’s just call me Miss Kitten.  I have some of the most wonderful gossip about Lord Belmont!

gossip

You see, he’s in town with his mother for the Season and it seems he’s taken a liking to the most inappropriate of women. You probably know who she is, of course. That’s right, Miss Emma Sellars, the bluestocking who fancies becoming a doctor! Now I’m not exactly sure if he knows that about her, but I’m not going to say a word! Her parents are simply desperate to marry her off and once they find out about Lord Belmont they’re going to want to keep it as quiet as possible. I only hope Miss Sellars can keep herself in line long enough for him to ask for her hand!

The Hellion and the Highwayman, now available for preorder at all retailers as part of the A Hellion’s Midnight Kiss boxset!

http://books2read.com/AHellionsMidnightKiss

About the Book

Emma Sellars wants to be a doctor, but her parents would rather see her as a bride. Her sister Katherine is excited about the upcoming Season, but with her parents’s ultimatum that she either find a suitor or leave their house, Emma is less than enthusiastic about it. 

Lord Thomas Belmont recently came into his title as Earl of Arabel when his father died, and in London at his mother’s request. While the balls are a delight, his real interest lies in the pockets of the affluent people coming in on the London highways. 

When they meet by chance on an outing with Emma’s sisters, Thomas is immediately taken with Emma but knows his nighttime outings won’t make for a happy courtship. He’ll have to choose between duty and love, or leave Emma to continue her studies penniless. 

gossip

About the Author


Rebecca Lovell fell in love with history when she first visited the stockyards in her native Fort Worth and she has been writing and studying different eras ever since. When she’s not writing she enjoys crocheting, running, and playing with her many cats. 
Find her online at:

http://rebeccalovell.com
facebook.com/RebeccaLovellBooks
twitter.com/becca_el

Oh Where is the Duke?

Where, oh where, is the Duke of Reddington? Since the 23-year-old Viscount Tisdale acceded to the dukedom upon the death of his father last month, he seems to have disappeared. A certain housemaid in the Half Moon Street residence of the volatile beauty known as La Fantasia (with whom, readers may recall, the viscount has for some time enjoyed an intimate acquaintance) informs the Tattler that the young duke returned to Town after the funeral only to quarrel violently with his inamorata, at last being driven from the beauty’s abode by means of vases, figurines, and sundry other bric-a-brac hurled at his head.

When questioned as to the duke’s whereabouts, Sir Ethan Brundy will only say that the duke is seeing to one of the several estates that came to the young man along with his ducal title. Pressed for particulars, he declined to specify which estate, claiming that the duke controls so many he cannot keep them all straight. Given that the late duke had sufficient confidence in Sir Ethan’s intelligence to name him executor of his will, we at the Tattler suspect his professed ignorance is, in fact, false modesty. Readers will remember that Sir Ethan is the brother-in-law of the young duke (having married the duke’s sister four years ago in what at that time was called the mésalliance of the century) as well as the political rival of Sir Valerian Wadsworth, both men currently standing for the same seat in the House of Commons.

Adding to the mystery, a young man fitting the duke’s description has been sighted in a Lancashire village near Manchester—specifically, at what was formerly the home of the late Mr. Henry Drinkard, now converted to a boardinghouse run by his widow and daughter, Daphne, the latter being a promising young poetess whose work the Tattler has had the honour to publish.

But what’s this? An examination of public records by one of our intrepid reporters indicates that none of the duke’s holdings are located in Lancashire; however, that northwestern county is the location of a thriving cotton mill owned by none other than Sir Ethan Brundy himself. Can it be that Sir Ethan knows more than he is telling? And where do Mrs. Drinkard and Miss Drinkard fit into the puzzle?

We are pleased to assure readers that our intrepid reporter is on the case, and we hope to have an answer very soon to the Mystery of the Disappearing Duke.

Duke

~excerpt~

“Truth to tell, Ethan, I’m deuced glad you’re here” Theo confessed. “I’d be obliged to you if you can advance me something on my inheritance—just enough to tide me over until the will is probated, you know.”

Sir Ethan shook his head. “Much as I’d like to oblige you, I can’t.”

“You can’t? But—well, but dash it, Ethan! You’re the executor, aren’t you?”

“Aye, I am.”

“Well, then—”

“Theodore, all that means is that I’m charged with making sure the terms of your father’s will are carried out the way ’e intended—and that includes seeing to it that everything is done open and aboveboard.”

“But it’s my own money, dash it!” Theodore protested.

Sir Ethan nodded. “And you’ll get it, all in good time.”

“Good time for you, maybe!”

“Aye, and for you. After all, you’d not like it if I started doling out legacies to your father’s valet, or housekeeper, or butler, would you?”

“No, but—”

“But the money’s rightfully theirs,” he added with a look of bland innocence in his brown eyes. “It says so in the will.”

“It’s not at all the same thing!”

“It is so far as the law is concerned. If I were to distribute so much as a farthing from your father’s estate before probate is granted, I’d open meself up to legal action.”

 “But I would be the logical one to bring any such action against you, and it’s not like I’m going to prefer charges against you for giving my money to me!

You might not do so, but your father’s lawyer might,” his brother pointed out. “ ’e’d be within ’is rights, too. In fact, ’e might even consider it an obligation to ’is grace.”

“Crumpton is my lawyer now—and he’d do well to remember it!”

“Aye, that ’e is. And if you know ’e can’t be trusted to look out for your father’s interests, ’ow can you trust ’im to look after yours?” Seeing this observation had deprived his young relation of speech, Sir Ethan added gently, “What’s the matter, you young fool? Surely you ’aven’t got yourself rolled up within a se’ennight of in’eriting the title?”

“I’m not ‘rolled up,’ ” Theodore protested. “I’ve got plenty of money—or I will have, as soon as it comes into my possession.”

“Is it that little ladybird you’ve ’ad in keeping?”

“No—that is, not entirely, but—dash it, Ethan, she expected me to marry her! I may have been green, but I’m not such a flat as all that! And when she saw I couldn’t be persuaded, or seduced, or coerced into it—” He broke off, shuddering at the memory.

“Didn’t take it well, did she?” Sir Ethan observed knowingly.

Theodore gave him a rather sheepish grin. “Lord, you never saw such a shrew! It made me think that perhaps I’m well out of a bad business. But I couldn’t let it get about that she’d ditched me, so I went to Rundell and Bridge and bought her the most expensive thing they had.”

Sir Ethan, who had bestowed upon his wife more than one bauble from this establishment and thus had a very good idea of the prices to be found therein, gave a long, low whistle.

“And then,” Theodore continued, “I went to White’s and—well, I just wanted to forget about it, just for a little while—not just Fanny, but all of it: the dukedom, and the steward and his blasted ‘improvements,’ and the House of Lords, where I’ll no doubt be expected to take my seat, and—oh, you don’t understand!”

“Actually, I do,” said his brother with a faraway look in his eyes.

Theodore, intent on his own troubles, paid no heed to the interruption. “And I can’t let it get out that the Duke of Reddington don’t pay his debts, for we’ve had quite enough of that in the family already! But I don’t have to tell you that—God knows you shelled out enough blunt, towing Papa out of the River Tick.” At this recollection, a new possibility occurred to him. “I say, Ethan, I don’t suppose you would be willing to lend me the ready? Just until the will is probated, you know, and at any interest rate you care to name,” he added hastily, lest his brother-in-law balk at agreeing to this proposal.

Sir Ethan gave him an appraising look, and asked, “ ’ow much do you need?”

Theodore told him.

“You’ve managed to run through that much in less than a fortnight?” demanded his brother-in-law.

“No!” Theodore said, bristling. “That is, I’ll admit I’ve spent more than I should, but old Crumpton says the will could take months! A fellow has to have something to live on in the meantime.”

“Never mind that! ’ow much will it take to settle your gaming debts and pay for the trinket you gave that game pullet?”

This figure, while high, seemed quite reasonable compared to the sum Theodore had felt necessary to sustain him for the few months it might take for the will to go through probate.

“All right, then,” pronounced Sir Ethan. “It’s yours.”

Theodore was moved to seize his brother’s hand and wring it gratefully. “I say, Ethan, you’re a great gun! You’ll have every penny of it back, I promise—and, as I said, at any rate of interest you care to name.”

Sir Ethan shook his head. “There’ll be no interest. As for paying me back, you don’t ’ave to do that—at least, not in pounds, shillings, and pence.”

This assurance left Theodore more than a little puzzled. “What do you want, then?”

“You’ll pay me back by working it off.” In case further explanation was needed, he added, “In the mill.”

About the Book

When 23-year-old Theodore becomes Duke of Reddington after his father dies, his new responsibilities are enough to send him off in a blind panic. Within days, he’s amassed a pile of debts, which his brother-in-law, mill owner Ethan Brundy, agrees to pay—provided Theo works in the mill until his father’s will is probated. In the meantime, Theo has a lot to learn about how the other half lives—and there’s no one better qualified to teach him than Daphne Drinkard, forced to take in boarders since the death of her father has left her and her mother penniless.

About the Author

Sheri Cobb South is the bestselling author of the John Pickett mysteries (now an award-winning audiobook series!) as well as Regency romances, including the critically acclaimed The Weaver Takes a Wife and its sequel The Desperate Duke, winner of the 2019 Colorado Authors League Award for Best Romance Novel.

Sheri Cobb South

www.shericobbsouth.com

https://www.amazon.com/Sheri-Cobb-South/e/B001HOIXD4

https://www.facebook.com/sheri.south

Scandal in the Church

While perusing the dusty records of St. Ignatius All Angels Church, our humble reporter, discovered a pair of cryptic letters between the parish vicar and a benighted parishioner. If only we knew the story behind these letters. What a tale that would be!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

15 November 1816

The Reverend Albion Stern, St. Ignatius All Angels Church, 18 Clappersgate, Oxford

Dearest Mr. Stern,

As a constituent of your parish in good standing with God Almighty and the Church of England, I feel it my duty, nay, my righteous obligation to inform you of a most unseemly affair involving two misguided members of your flock. I wish not to gossip, but my conscience compels me to share the sordid details if only to protect the tender sensibilities of our impressionable youth.

As you know, the families of Mr. Adam Ashford and Miss Jane Hancock have been engaged in a distasteful feud for nigh on seven decades. Some two months ago, both families fell under a financial cloud that drew them to the brink of shameful bankruptcy. Rather than facing the appropriate consequences, Mr. Ashford and Miss Hancock absconded on a fool’s errand to the nether realms of England – together, and with only the merest of chaperones. While this news is indeed shocking, the events of their subsequent journey serve to mortify.

I have it on good faith from a reputable source that while gallivanting about the country these foolish youngsters fell into the company of sailors, drunks, rabble, poets, lawyers, and all other manner of low folk. They rode swine wagons in one another’s company, broke into a garrisoned fortress through subterfuge, and communed with druids. They slept on floors, in fields, and in public places as if common vagrants. They traipsed through church graveyards with fanciful tales of giants and no respect for the dead. They dug through any number of ruins, hollows, and holes in the ground in search of unholy treasure. It was said even that they walked with Beelzebub. All the while, they engaged in very public acts of congress, including the holding of hands and, yes, the impassioned locking of lips.

As a humble parishioner, I believe it only appropriate to bring this ignoble matter to your venerable attention. These events leave me deeply disturbed. Your swift condemnation of Mr. Ashford and Miss Hancock would put my heart at ease and my soul at rest.

Sincerely,

Phineas T. Lilywhite

Scandal in the Church

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

19 November 1816

Mr. Phineas T. Lilywhite, Number 5 Grapevine Way, Oxford

Dear Mr. Lilywhite,

You have my deepest gratitude for bringing this matter to my attention. I wholeheartedly agree. You are indeed deeply disturbed. For this malady, I will offer heartfelt prayers of intercession on your behalf.

Regarding the rumors, I can confirm their veracity. Your source relayed the events of the affair between Mr. Ashford and Miss Hancock with a commendable degree of accuracy and detail. However, as your vicar, I consider it my obligation to instruct you spiritually in this matter. I will do so by referencing two holy scriptures. First, consider Matthew 5:44, where the Good Lord admonishes us to love our enemies. Mr. Ashford and Miss Hancock have practiced this particular teaching far beyond anything I have witnessed before. My heart swells with pride.

Second, consider Proverbs 26:3 – “You must whip a horse, you must bridle a mule, and you must beat a fool.” For the sake of your physical health, I pray that you will take less interest in the affairs of others and more interest in maintaining open eyelids during my sermons. Perhaps then you would have heard my reading of the banns these past two Sundays and recognized the names of a particular young couple. Furthermore, you would have known that Beelzebub will be in attendance at the wedding and that you should therefore take appropriate precautions.

Grace and Peace to You, sir, and give my regards to your poor, miserable wife.

Sincerely,

Mr. Albion Stern, St. Ignatius All Angels Church

Scandal in the Church

About the Book

The Hancocks and Ashfords have had a long-standing feud between their families long before Miss Jane Hancock couldn’t stand the sight of gentleman farmer Adam Ashford. But after both families fall on hard times and an unscrupulous creditor forces Jane and Adam to sign a devil’s bargain, they’ll finally understand the true meaning of keeping your enemies close at hand.

The terms of this bargain? Locate a lost treasure shrouded in deception and mystery.

The catch? Only one can claim it to win…the loser is left to ruin.

As Jane and Adam embark on a trek throughout England they plan to hate their adversary, no matter how attractive, generous, and kind they are.

Sometimes, plans change…

About the Author

After self-publishing science fiction novels over a period of years, I made the truly odd move into historical romance. Although romance is a strong thread in nearly all my works, I came to straight-up, nothing-but-romance only after turning fifty. Since then, I am plagued by the question, “What took me so long?” My awakening began rather innocuously when I casually watched the 2015 version of Poldark. Before I knew, I was falling headlong into the abyss of historical romance and read fifteen such novels over a three-month span. However, no number could sufficiently scratch my itch for more, so I did what any writer would do and began constructing stories of my own. In April of 2019, I received my first contract with Entangled Publishing.

Scandalous Doings in High Places

To the editor, Teatime Tattler

Dear Honoured Sir

It is with the greatest of reluctance that I put pen to paper. I am not, I assure your readers, sir, one to speak ill of my fellows, but I also believe most strongly that we of the highest ranks must set a good example to others.

Sadly, what I have observed with my own eyes leads me to believe that a previous correspondent to your paper has the right of it. One of the highest ladies in the land outside of the Royal Family has, indeed, been led into the most grevious of errors by the kindness of her heart.

Just the other night, I was at the theatre. It was not a memorable occasion to begin with — a very mediocre crowd, and much focused on some actor from the provinces who was making his debut on the London stage. At the interval, however, a vast crowd, all very merry, joined us, which was a great improvement, for what is the point of getting dressed to attend the theatre, if few people see you?

But I digress.

Miss C., a young person (I do not say ‘lady’, though she aspires to such) who currently lives in the household of the great lady I mentioned, was reprimanded — very properly, I might add — by the cousin who is the head of her family, and responded most pertly.

Are these the manners she learns at a ducal table, I ask you?

Perhaps so. You will be shocked — I was shocked, sir — to know that one much closer to the great lady’s heart (though not precisely what a proper gentlewoman would consider family) was also seen behaving scandalously a few days earlier.

I happened to be walking in Hyde Park on one of the first days without snow and fog, and I came across Miss J. G. in the arms of Lord D., who has been heard to wager he will be there to catch the maiden, if maiden she be, when she falls.

Miss J. G., you will know, is said to be the ward of said great lady (though the polite world knows she has no right to be in a ducal household, unless in the most menial — or the most scandalous of positions). It appears she has inherited the appetites of the mother who gave away her virtue to the great lady’s husband.

I interrupted them and they were soon after joined by Miss J. G.’s sister and Lord H. — another scandalous pairing.

Furthermore, the newly minted earl, Lord C., might look to the company that his sister, Lady F., is keeping under the sponsorship of the great lady. As if walking the back alleys of London with only a one-handed footman for protection is not foolish enough, she has now taken up with the Recluse of Cambridge!

Alas. One hears rumours that the great lady’s husband is ailing, and that his ailment is of the type to affect the brain. Perhaps the condition is infectious, for what else can explain such terrible flaws in judgement on the part of a lady we should all look up to.

I am sure you and your readers will join me in my concern over the ruin that encouraging such behaviours will make of public morals. In my own family, moral turpitude had such terrible consequences that my only recourse was to flee my home. Let a public outcry arise before London likewise sinks entirely into the mire.

I remain, most sincerely,

Lady A.

Lady Ashbury, is, of course, having a go at the Duchess of Haverford, patroness of a Ladies’ Society formed to help veterans. She also takes a swipe at the heroines of three of the stories, plus Jessica Grenford, the sister of my heroine, Matilda Grenford.

For more about these stories of love in a time of ice, see our Fire & Frost page, which has blurbs for each story and buy links for most retailers of ebooks. You can also buy Fire & Frost in print from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Lady Asbury appears in my Children of the Mountain King series. She is the wicked sister-in-law of my Earl of Ashbury, the hero of the second book, who is one of the people she is accusing of moral turpitude; safely enough, because he hasn’t ventured from his estate since he recovered from the injury that crippled him to find his wife and brother dead, children sent off to school, and sister-in-law gone.

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