Because history is fun and love is worth working for

Author: Bluestocking Belles Page 1 of 20

Is the Duke’s Daughter a Dark Horse?

This particular duke’s daughter does not often come before the readers of Society pages. Indeed, this reporter has never had cause to mention her since her underwhelming come-out some years ago. It is generally believed she has always been eclipsed by the dazzling beauty and brilliant marriages of her older sisters, and by the important work of her older brothers.

However, after years of silence, this youngest and as yet unmarried daughter of a most influential ducal family has come to our notice not once but twice!

Firstly, though his grace’s influence has kept the story out of most other newspapers, it is rumoured that the maid whose murdered body was discovered near Covent Garden, belonged to this same ducal household, and that the body was found by none other than our Society-shy lady.

Secondly, I can reveal that with my own eyes I clearly saw this same lady in a closed carriage, in company with an extremely handsome gentleman. His identity remains a mystery to this reporter, who is left wondering if there is any connection between the two unusual events. It is certainly difficult to imagine what such a connection might be. Nevertheless, it seems that the shy Lady G. might indeed be a dark horse.

Watch this space for new developments.

Mysterious Lover (Crime and Passion, Book 1)

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About the Book

Mary Lancaster’s thrilling new series “Crime & Passion” from USA Today Bestselling Author Mary Lancaster.

London, 1851

In the shadow of the Great Exhibition, poverty and crime stalk the meaner backstreets of the city. But sin is not confined to the underworld. One couple passes seamlessly between the neighboring worlds of privilege and privation, solving crimes and enabling love to bloom.

Mysterious Lover, Book 1

An unforgettable night at the opera…

When she accompanies her family to Covent Garden, Lady Grizelda Niven does not expect to be discovered in a nearby back street, clutching a dagger over the dead body of her maid. However, she is even more surprised when the police arrest not her but the devastatingly handsome young man who found her. Clearly, it behoves her to have him released and to enlist his alliance in discovering who truly killed Nancy.

Dragan Tizsa, a Hungarian refugee doctor, revolutionary, and soldier, lives constantly with the anguish of loss. The death of one more acquaintance makes little difference to him, except that it brings the vital and eccentric Griz into his life. He is a man who likes puzzles, and the mystery that is Griz soon assumes as much importance as that of the murder.

As they work together to unravel the layers of Nancy’s life and discover why she died, friendship and attraction blossom, much to her family’s unease. From the danger of London’s underworld, to the glittering salons of her married sister, Griz and Dragan look out for each other. But is she right to believe in her new friend when the evidence begins to tell against him?

And as she comes face to face with the killer at last, is love and happiness forever beyond her reach?

Crime & Passion
Mysterious Lover
Letters to a Lover
Dangerous Lover

About the Author

Mary Lancaster lives in Scotland with her husband, three mostly grown-up kids and a small, crazy dog. 

Her first literary love was historical fiction, a genre which she relishes mixing up with romance and adventure in her own writing. Several of her novels feature actual historical characters as diverse as Hungarian revolutionaries, medieval English outlaws, and a family of eternally rebellious royal Scots. To say nothing of Vlad the Impaler.

Her most recent books are light, fun Regency romances written for Dragonblade Publishing: The Imperial Season series set at the Congress of Vienna; and the popular Blackhaven Brides series, which is set in a fashionable English spa town frequented by the great and the bad of Regency society.

Connect with Mary on-line:
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Email Mary: Mary@MaryLancaste

Explosive Tidbits from Lincolnshire

London, 1812

Dear Reader,

It has come to the attention of this author that the Viscount and Viscountess Grange are delivered of their first child, a baby girl by the name of Violet. Felicitations to the delightful parents. The Viscount Grange is well known for his mathematical acumen and his siblings are dabblers in the natural sciences as well. We wonder if his new daughter will follow in the family’s footsteps.

London, 1822

Dear Reader,

A certain Lady M. has suffered an attack of nerves following a visit to the Grange estate for an afternoon of croquet and refreshments. This Author has been informed that the Grange daughters have indeed inherited their family’s interest in the natural sciences. The young Granges are so enamored that they have taken to performing their scientific experiments to aid in their sporting endeavors as poor Lady M. found out. It seems the eldest daughter, Miss Grange, filled a croquet ball with a volatile powder designed to explode when one of her younger sisters hit it with a mallet. Lady M. reports that the resulting noise and chaos was far too much excitement for a gently bred woman to bear. Seeing as Miss Grange is ten years old, the author can only reflect with increased concern about the well-being of distinguished guests to Lincolnshire.

London, 1824

Dear Reader,

News out of Lincolnshire has reached our ears. It appears that after a series of explosions, floods, and strange smelling fogs that have rattled the environs of the Grange estate for the past two years, the oldest of the Grange sisters, Miss Grange, will be attending The Yorkshire Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a scientifically-minded school for young women on the Yorkshire coast. We wish Miss Grange the best of luck in her new adventures and sympathize with the neighbors that the Misses Peony, Lilly, and Pansy Grange have also inherited the family interest in science. No doubt they will provide this author with plenty of news in the years to come!

About the Book

A Lady’s Formula for Love

What is a Victorian lady’s formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry–it’s elemental.

Lady Violet Greycliff is keeping secrets. First, she founded a clandestine sanctuary for England’s most brilliant female scientists. Second, she is using her genius on a confidential mission for the Crown. But the biggest secret of all? Her feelings for protection officer Arthur Kneland.

Solitary and reserved, Arthur learned the hard way to put duty first. But the more time he spends in the company of Violet and the eccentric club members, the more his best intentions go up in flames. Literally.

When a shadowy threat infiltrates Violet’s laboratories, endangering her life and her work, scientist and bodyguard will find all their theories put to the test–and learn that the most important discoveries are those of the heart.

Explosive chemistry, a heroine who loves her science, and lines that made me laugh out loud–this witty debut delivered, and I’d like the next installment now, please.--Evie Dunmore, USA Today bestselling author of Bringing Down the Duke

 A witty, dazzling debut with a science-minded heroine and her broody bodyguard. Fiercely feminist and intensely romantic, A Lady’s Formula for Love is a fresh take on historical romance that’s guaranteed to delight readers.–Joanna Shupe, author of The Devil of Downtown

To purchase: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/653311/a-ladys-formula-for-love-by-elizabeth-everett/

About the Author

Elizabeth Everett lives in Upstate New York with her family. She likes going for long walks or (very) short runs to nearby sites that figure prominently in the history of civil rights and women’s suffrage. A Lady’s Formula for Love is her first novel, inspired by her admiration for rule breakers and belief in the power of love to change the world.

Excerpt From A Lady’s Formula for Love

After Violet’s nightly ritual of brandy and a bath followed by a journey to her empty bed, she concluded her routine with one final step. She would imagine someone climbing into the bed from the opposite side, blowing out the candle, and taking her into their arms before falling asleep.

These nighttime visitors remained firmly in her head. Violet’s late husband had insisted that a woman with a physical appetite was both unladylike and distasteful. Although she suspected this might not always be the case, she’d never searched out a real-life lover to prove him wrong. Her reputation was too important to the future of Athena’s Retreat.

Worse, what if he was right?

In all those lonely nights, Violet had never conjured a pair of arms that surrounded her like this man’s holding her now. The sensation of a warm, solid body against her stunned her, more than the chaos and the scattered shards of glass and wood. The soles of shoes whipped past her; all around her, voices were raised in angry, frightened cries.

None of this touched her.

She was safe.

Not because the man holding her had rasped those words in her ear, although that was delightful, how his lips had brushed against the sensitive lobe. No. Something else told her everything would be well.

She had seen him before the explosion, standing next to Grey. In the commotion around her, the dark figure at Grey’s side had remained preternaturally still until he exploded into motion.

A typical reaction might have been to step back or shy away from a strange man hurling himself at you. Instead, as he came closer, Violet had the strangest urge to step toward him.

Nothing about his appearance signaled safety. He wore a dull brown frock coat, a few years out-of-date. He was tall, but not too tall. Broad, but no more than an average laborer. His top hat of felted wool was nondescript, as was his dark, curly hair and the whiskers halfway down the sides of his cheeks. Deep lines evidenced exposure to the elements over many years, and he’d broken his nose at some point.

In any other setting, he would have slipped her notice, as though he were a shadow or a slight blur at the edge of her vision.

Except she happened to look into his eyes.

Not even when she’d had no idea why he would have laid hands on her, in the seconds it took between the time he grabbed her until the explosion—not even then—was she frightened.

Cradling her head in one large hand to protect her skull from the fall, he held their bodies flush. When he’d pulled his mouth away from her ear and locked his gaze on hers, Violet had understood. Although they were an unremarkable shade of brown, his eyes were what told Violet she would be safe, no matter what.

His glance swept her face, then traveled the length of her body, before he turned his head to survey the crowd. The lack of expression and preternatural calm belied the intense vigilance in the depths of his gaze.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

Was she all right?

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Never Trust a Duke

Dear Reader,

It has come to this author’s attention that the frosty, ever-so-proper Duke of Faircliffe is in possession of stolen artwork!

This salacious detail has also come to the attention of London’s most scandalous family: the Wild Wynchesters. Rumor has it, the painting rightfully belongs to them!

One cannot begin to guess what acts of revenge the motley family of vigilantes might wreak upon His Grace, the Duke of Icy, Yet Maddeningly Sexy Hauteur.

Graham Wynchester has been spied climbing the Palace of Westminster. Elizabeth, purchasing a deadly new swordstick. Tommy, looking disreputable and rakish. Marjorie, with paint under her fingernails. Jacob, amassing an army of highly trained… ferrets?

And as for Miss Chloe Wynchester… er… where did that girl disappear to? She is perhaps the most underestimated of all the Wynchesters. The unassuming wallflower of the bunch and yet, I suspect, the one who poses the greatest danger to the Duke of the Finely Clenched Jaw and Smoldering Gaze…

About the Book: The Duke Heist

A secret identities, forbidden love, opposites attract romance from a New York Times bestselling author: Why seduce a duke the normal way, when you can accidentally kidnap one in an elaborately planned heist?

Chloe Wynchester is completely forgettable—a curse that gives her the ability to blend into any crowd. When the only father she’s ever known makes a dying wish for his adopted family of orphans to recover a missing painting, she’s the first one her siblings turn to for stealing it back. No one expects that in doing so, she’ll also abduct a handsome duke.

Lawrence Gosling, the Duke of Faircliffe, is tortured by his father’s mistakes. To repair his estate’s ruined reputation, he must wed a highborn heiress. Yet when he finds himself in a carriage being driven hell-for-leather down the cobblestone streets of London by a beautiful woman who refuses to heed his commands, he fears his heart is hers. But how can he sacrifice his family’s legacy to follow true love?

“Erica Ridley is a delight!”

—Julia Quinn

“Irresistible romance and a family of delightful scoundrels… I want to be a Wynchester!”

—Eloisa James

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An Excerpt from The Duke Heist

Chloe folded her hands in her lap and did her best not to glare a hole right through the handsome, haughty Duke of Faircliffe. His frigid blue gaze had looked right at her—and slid away just as quickly, having glimpsed nothing to attract his interest.

How many times had she and Faircliffe been in the same room? Eight? Ten? Every disdainful glance in her direction as indifferent as the last. She lifted her chin. Her father had taught her that to the right person, she would be visible and memorable. Faircliffe was clearly the wrong person.

Not that she wanted him to notice her, Chloe reminded herself. The continued success of “Jane Brown” hinged on her uncanny ability to be wholly unremarkable under any circumstances. She gripped the soft muslin of her skirt and took in all the other ladies in the parlor.

Mrs. York clapped her hands together. “And now… a celebratory tea!”

The duke’s face displayed a comical look of alarm. “I don’t think—”

“You must join us!” Mrs. York’s hands flapped like frightened birds. “The girls were about to have oatcakes and cucumber sandwiches before you arrived.”

“We were about to discuss epistolary structure in eighteenth-century French novels,” Philippa murmured.

“I never meant to interrupt,” Faircliffe said with haste. “I mustn’t stay, and in fact—”

“Nonsense! Come, come, all of you.” Mrs. York waved her arms about the room, driving her guests into the dining room like a shepherd herding sheep.

Chloe and Faircliffe were both caught in the flow.

Once they reached the door, however, Chloe stepped to one side. She could not take a seat at the table, or she would be stuck there for the next hour.

While everyone else was occupied, this was her chance to liberate the painting. But first, she needed an excuse to disappear. An adorable, furry reason.

She released Tiglet from the large wicker basket. The calico kitten darted between boots and beneath petticoats with a formidable rawr.

Mrs. York gave a dramatic shriek in response.

Tiglet scaled several curtains in search of an open window before darting out of the dining room and flying off down the corridor as though his tail were afire.

Chloe gasped, as if shocked that her homing kitten was attempting to dash home. “How embarrassing! I’ll run and find the naughty little scamp at once. Go on ahead. Please don’t wait for me.”

With her basket hanging from her arm, she ducked into the parlor and closed the door behind her. She hurried to lift the painting from the wall and carried it behind a chinoiserie folding screen in the corner. Up came the frame’s grips, off came the backing, out came Bean’s painting. She rolled it carefully and tucked it into the basket before stretching the forgery she’d brought over the wooden frame.

She ran to open the parlor door before anyone noticed it had been shut and hurried past the dining room to the front door without taking her leave from the guests. Would anyone notice she failed to return? Doubtful. If anything, the ladies would assume Jane Brown had slunk off in mortification.

Still, there was no time to waste. Any caper’s success depended upon a timely exit.

Keeping her head down, she headed down the front walk toward the first carriage in the queue. Only when she glimpsed the red curtains and a pair of leather gloves on the box did she lift her head toward the driver’s perch.

It was empty.

Her lungs caught. Where was Graham?

Distant shouts reached her ears, and her tight muscles relaxed. Something unexpected must have occurred, and her siblings’ distraction was underway.

This was her cue to flee.

Chloe pushed the basket inside, unhooked the carriage from its post, and leapt onto the coachman’s seat. Female drivers weren’t unheard of, but all the same, she was glad she never went outside without garbing herself in the plainest, dullest, dowdiest clothes in her wardrobe. No one who glanced her way would bother looking for long.

She set the horses on a swift path out of Mayfair.

Only when Grosvenor Square was no longer visible behind her did she allow herself a small smile of victory.

“Did we escape?” came a low, velvet voice from within the carriage.

Chloe’s skin went cold. Who was that? Graham wouldn’t be hiding in the back of the carriage. A stranger was in the coach! She twisted about and wrenched the privacy curtain to one side.

A handsome visage with soft brown hair and sculpted cheekbones stared back at her, glacial blue eyes wide with surprise.

Faircliffe?” she blurted in disbelief.

“Miss… er… you?” he spluttered when he found his voice. “What the devil are you doing driving my carriage?”

About the Series

The Wild Wynchesters are a uniquely talented family of caper-committing siblings who don’t let High Society’s rules stop them from righting wrongs.

You can grab a FREE prequel: The Governess Gambit!

Meet the Wild Wynchesters: This fun-loving, caper-committing family of tight-knit siblings can’t help but find love and adventure!

Years ago, Chloe Wynchester and five other uniquely talented orphans were adopted by a wealthy baron with a secret mission: The motley Wynchester family fights for justice from the margins of high society. And the handsome, clever duke Chloe has long admired proves to be her worst enemy…

An unscrupulous boarding school is exploiting orphans in a secret workhouse. Baron Vanderbean plots a daring rescue. When illness befalls him, Chloe must take the reins. But how can a lifelong wallflower lead the charge to save the children?

GRAB YOUR FREE EBOOK:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ERICA RIDLEY

Erica Ridley is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of witty, feel-good historical romance novels, including the upcoming THE DUKE HEIST, featuring the Wild Wynchesters. Why seduce a duke the normal way, when you can accidentally kidnap one in an elaborately planned heist?

In the 12 Dukes of Christmas series, enjoy witty, heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. After all, nothing heats up a winter night quite like finding oneself in the arms of a duke!

Two popular series, the Dukes of War and Rogues to Riches, feature roguish peers and dashing war heroes who find love amongst the splendor and madness of Regency England.

When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Central America, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.

FRIEND ERICA

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Ladies Indulge in Pugilism!

1818, London

Despite the dubious legality of the noble and quintessentially English pursuit of pugilism, matches, or set-tos still happen with utmost regularity under our very noses. Why, there is word amongst the Fancy that the notable and invincible London championess, Miss Bess Abbott has a set-to for the ages scheduled at two months hence. One may recall her sponsor, the late Lord D—, who paraded her about last year. This female pugilist is also connected since childhood to the social climber with a Midas touch, Mr. A—, who has lately found matrimonial attachment with a respectable family, no doubt to the chagrin of Lord L—, whose daughter made such a sacrifice as to tie herself to the former prizefighter.

Should we exalt the athletic prowess of Miss Abbott, and call her one of our own, for her record is as yet unblemished? She may not possess the refinements of a lady, for she is not one. But her opponent in this set-to is heralded as the championess of Ireland. No one has found record of the Irish bruiser’s matches, but is that a surprise? No, I urge the dear readers to throw their support behind our own! We must give Miss Abbott her due in the ring, for such a woman has very little outside of it. I fear for her prospects should she retire from her sport.

An excerpt from the advertisements shows  the strength of character:

I, Bess Abbott, am not known for my fine features. And knowing such a mug as mine with intimacy, I pledge to remake Miss Kelly in my own image. If you have seen my nose, then you know it’s uneven features, which would be beguiling replacement seated amidst Miss Kelly’s delicate visage. Place your blunt on my fists, dear Fancy, and I promise to return your investment in a hail of blows unseen in any match yet in London.

 Excerpt

The empty apple boxes clattered as the men shifted their weight and stood, their boots heavy as they hit the ground.

The lamplighters were still some way off. Bess sighed and turned, hoping the men would see her better as the meager gaslight spilled down the thoroughfare. This usually put off any would-be brawlers. “I said, go home, lads.” Bess planted her feet and put down the bottle.

“Cor, not a beaut by any measure,” one of them said as he stalked closer.

“What’s with yer nose, pretty?” The men chuckled.

Bess took the insults without blinking. These jabs didn’t hurt, but she steadied her breathing, readying for the moment to come.

“Jeezus, Harry, look at her ears!” another said.

Bess had tried to take pride in the uneven scarring of her cauliflower ears. Male pugilists were proud of this physical sign of their profession, but somehow, Bess didn’t care for it, despite her status as a fighter being apparent in so many other ways.

“Eh,” said the one who was probably Harry. “Put a sack over ’er head.”

“You should be grateful some blokes want to have a bit o’ fun with you,” one insisted.

“Such a compliment,” another said, daring to pluck at her sleeve.

It was the sleeve that pushed her over the edge. She kicked the man closest to her and went after the one who had touched her. A quick right cross followed by a left uppercut and right kidney shot put him on the ground.

She pivoted to survey the other three. The man she’d kicked had stumbled but was on his feet. “Go home, lads,” she said, her hands still ready. She wasn’t above running, but with a group like this, it would be easy for them to overcome her if her back was turned.

They didn’t speak for a moment, still unable to understand how their chum had ended up on the ground.

“Let’s go, Mickey,” urged the one who had been kicked.

The silhouettes faded into the darkness of the streets. Bess sighed and scooped up the bottle, inspecting it for damage. Suddenly, Bess heard clapping from behind her. She spun towards the noise, her heart ticking faster just as it had begun to slow down.

“Well done,” a low voice boomed.

Searching the dark shadows of the storefronts, Bess felt the voice almost in her bones. “Show yourself,” she said.

A large man with dark skin stepped out of the shadows and into the light. He was at least two hands taller than Bess, and twice as wide. In his hand, he carried a blacksmith’s hammer.

“I’d prefer if you put down the weapon,” Bess said. Again her nerves prickled, but this time in a way she could not identify. The man was powerfully built, but likely slow on his feet. If nothing else, she could slide in a few hits and then run. The hammer swing would be slow enough to dodge, but a mistake would be fatal.

He chuckled, another low noise that sounded more like the shifting starts of an iron locomotive. She felt it in her ribs, and it made an ache bloom almost as if she had been knocked by a belly-go-firster.

He put up one of his massive paws as a show of peace. “I’d not raise a weapon to the great Bess Abbott,” he said, lowering the hammer to rest on the ground.

“You have me at a disadvantage,” she said, still not abandoning her defensive stance but no longer thinking about running. The ache in her chest eased, and she was distracted by the roping power in his bare forearms, the low light etching him in silver and gold.

The man shook his head. He had no hair, and the dark skin of his bare pate gleamed. “I don’t believe you could have a disadvantage. You’re too quick.”

She watched him a minute more, waiting for something else to happen: an insult, a shout, or even for him to slide back into the shadows. Instead he smiled at her, which made her suspicious.

“You’re my favorite fighter,” he said, leaning back against the building. His accent was strange. The lilting sounds of the West Indies came through, tempered by what sounded Northern, maybe a Manchester accent. The odd mix was pleasing to hear.

It sounded so wrong to hear, it almost struck her as a joke. She shook her head and walked over to where he stood. The hammer leaned against the wall next to him, the handle coming near to her waist. It was no ordinary tool. Suddenly, she forgot how to breathe, being this close to a man that wasn’t trying to train with her. “Then I thank you,” she said, gasping for no reason. “You a smug?”

“My foundry is up there,” he said, gesturing with his chin back toward Edgeware Road.

Bess frowned. “Isn’t that Barnsworth’s?”

“Took it over when he died. It’s been mine for a little over a year now,” the blacksmith said, shifting his weight to better look at her.

“I didn’t hear.” So many people from her childhood were passing that she could barely keep track of the old neighborhood anymore. The foundry was a landmark in everyone’s mind, a place of perpetual fire, the sound of metal on metal at all hours.

He lifted his massive shoulder and let it fall. The motion only showed how much power was poised inside of him. If he’d an inclination, there’d be plenty of money to be found in the ring.

She felt him weighing her, taking in all these odd pieces. It was only a matter of time before he ran away, having identified her for what she was. Unnatural. Strange. She braced for the impact of his judgment.

“I’ve always wanted to tell you that I like your ears,” he said. “I thought if I met you someday, on the street, I would tell you that.”

Heat flushed Bess’s face. Without thinking, her hand went to cover the telltale scarring. “It makes me ugly.” She pulled her cap down lower, covering the dirty-dishwater color of her unwomanly short hair.

He lifted his dark eyebrows, the whites of his eyes near glowing. “It makes you powerful,” he said, picking up the heavy blacksmith’s hammer with ease.

“I never got your name,” Bess said, reaching out with her hand before she thought better of it.

“Come by the shop and I’ll tell you,” he said before he slung the hammer over his shoulder and sauntered away.

Bess stared at his receding figure before remembering the empty bottle in her hand. The glass was warm from where she clutched it. Talking to the blacksmith had been so distracting she had almost forgotten if she was coming or going.

Turning to finally head down to Tuck’s, Bess kept looking back at him, this blacksmith who liked her ears.

About  the Book

Can London’s lady champion fight for love?

As London’s undefeated women’s boxer, Bess Abbott has the scars-both inside and out-to prove it. But when one of her boxing students, Violet, needs protection, Bess Abbott’s rock hard heart cracks open. And when a handsome blacksmith comes along, giving her compliments and treating her, well, like a woman, Bess doesn’t know what to do. She’s on the ropes in the face of love.

Os Worley was a child when he became an accidental stow-away. He grew up not knowing the family or the island that inflected his accent. His only memory of his mother is a head bent, hands working a stitch, a voice humming a melody. Now that he has his own foundry, and his own apprentice, he’s come to London to find the woman attached to this memory. His heart is already tempered and quenched, focused on his goal-but a lady boxer threatens to recast his love in her own image.

As Os and Bess face off, will they toe the line or retreat to their corners?

Buy Links:

A Lady’s Revenge https://books2read.com/u/38EojZ

The Boxer and the Blacksmith https://books2read.com/u/3JXDEJ

About the Author

Edie Cay writes Feminist Regency Romance. Her debut, A LADY’S REVENGE won the Golden Leaf Best First Book in 2020. The next in her series, THE BOXER AND THE BLACKSMITH won the Hearts Through History Legends Award as an unpublished manuscript in 2019. She obtained dual BAs in Creative Writing and in Music, and her MFA in Creative Writing from University of Alaska Anchorage. She is a member of RWA, The Beau Monde, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. Follow her on social media for pictures of the latest baking project with her toddler @authorEdieCay.

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Where does that woman get her information?

Sam Clemens shoved the offending article across his desk and then tugged it back, once more scanning the pages. He was the proprietor and editor of the Teatime Tattler, London’s–nay, the ton‘s–premiere scandal sheet. If anyone published tales such as those within these covers, it should be him. And yet, this person had scooped him. Him! With all his contacts, all his reporters sniffing out stories, all the correspondents (anonymous and named) who sent him letters unasked when something of interest happened in their vicinity, all the readers who waited impatiently for the two editions he published each week!

“How does she do it?” he asked Arthur, the boy who responsible for keeping him supplied with coffee, cigars, and ink, and for running his copy to the presses.

Arthur shook his head. “Must know folks,” he offered.

She must. “The Hicklestones? I knew the earl had married a neighbour, but I had no idea about her daughter. Why didn’t I know that? And that little tidbit about where Viscount Charmly first met the Dowager Duchess of Fambrough! Mind you, I don’t know that I believe it! Still, it’s true the old duke met his wife in Italy somewhere, and no-one knows anything about her people.”

He glared at the offending book. “Who failed to let me know that the Marquis of Gamford was back in the country, and reuniting with his child bride, now all grown up? Why weren’t we first with the story that she was living retired in the country? And if her name was linked in gossip with a local man, are the happy couple, in fact, happy?”

Sam made a note to send someone to Somerset to find out.

“Then there are the Millchurches.” Another sigh. He had actually covered the story of the attempted murder, the treachery, and the arrests. But the story behind the story had happened without him finding out, as did the rather nasty story of the Baron Collinwood, his cousin, and the vicar’s missing daughter.

There were other stories in the book, too, but they did not concern him. “I don’t care about the Enright stables, though there might be a story in the way Durridge cheated. Have to look into that. But they’re not ton, Arthur. No-one can say they are. Same with that agent who purchased a wife in Scotland while he was out of mind with fever, and the retired naval commander who discovered the mystery behind the girl in charge of the ruined bookshop.” He flipped through the book one more time. He might have covered the story of the woman torn from her lover and forced into marriage to a devil; after all, she had been a gentlewoman. But her relationship with the local miller put her below his notice. And the other two stories didn’t trespass on his territory at all, the one about a nun who was actually the wife of her sworn enemy being set in Scotland in medieval times, and the other some kind of futuristic fantasy about a farmer’s wife in far away New Zealand, where only sealers, whalers, missionaries, and tattooed natives lived. Even if,  seventy years from now, New Zealand did have colonial settlers, they were unlikely to be visited by angels. Unemployed wanderers, certainly.

He shook off the unproductive thought. “Arthur, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I am writing to this Mrs. Jude Knight to offer her a job. Clearly, her sources are better than mine.”

***

Sam has been reading Chasing the Tale, Jude Knight’s latest book. It’s a collection of eleven short stories, perfect for reading when you’re too tired for something longer, or want something to finish while you have a short wait. Get it now for 99c before the price goes up to $2.99.

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