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Scandal on the Streets of Headstone, Arizona

Our devoted readers will no doubt find this clipping forwarded to The Teatime Tattler from The Headstone Gazette across the pond. Obviously, concerned citizens and devotion to proper behavior are not limited to here in London. — S. Clemens

Dear Ms. Decorum:

I’m penning this letter out of the utmost concern for the wellbeing and safety of our latest young debutante from Boston who arrived into Headstone yesterday. Lord have mercy, if the lovely Miss Daisy Danvers wasn’t thronged by a posse of train robbers the moment she set foot on the train platform! One witness claimed she fainted dead away and toppled straight over the side of the platform.

I’ve yet to verify the details, but another witness claims she was caught in the arms of none other than Prescott Barra, the rough and ready local bull rider who set a previously-unheard-of, 10-second record at our last rodeo. And you know what they say about those Barra brothers? Nothing but trouble, that’s what!

What’s worse about this report is the most unfortunate fact that Daisy hasn’t been seen since Prescott rode off with her on his horse yesterday. The very notion of them being lost in the desert — without a chaperone, no less — is giving me the vapors right this second. Oh, where are my smelling salts?

I did a little digging on my own and discovered that Daisy was sent to Headstone by the reputable Boomtown Mail Order Brides Company in Boston, which can only mean one thing: She is under contract as a mail-order bride to some gentleman in our town. Our very town, dear citizens! I’m not certain how reputable the name of this bridal agency will remain when they discover one of their brides is missing. The poor gel could be anywhere. Oh, the horrors! Is she safe? Is she alive? I can hardly bear to consider the possibilities.

Scandal in Arizona

Even if Daisy Danvers is returned to town whole and in one piece — may the good Lord let it be so! — I am distressed to be the one to point out that her reputation will be in shreds. The way I see it, the lovely Miss Daisy will only have one choice to salvage those shreds. Regardless of whom she is currently affianced to (may the Lord comfort him and send him another, more suitable bridal candidate), it is my Christian belief that Miss Daisy has been thoroughly compromised by Prescott Barra. Alas, he is the man she must marry.

I’ll be joining a group of God-fearing women who will be holding vigil on the steps of the General Store this afternoon. It is my hope and prayer they will have an update on this brewing scandal. Be assured I will report back with anything new I hear.

Sincerely, A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

Scandal in Arizona

About the Book

Dare-Devil Daisy: Mail Order Brides Rescue #5

To the world, Daisy Danvers is a spoiled young debutante from Boston who always gets what she wants. But she has secrets — big, festering secrets she doesn’t want her best friend, Meg Nicholson, to find out. All she needs from Meg is a promise to help her find the perfect husband the moment she steps off the train in Headstone, Arizona. Her very life might depend upon it.

She never dreamed her troubles would follow her out West, and a whole posse of armed robbers would be waiting for her when she disembarked. She also never dreamed a cocky cowboy would sweep her away to safety on his horse.

It’s way too bad the devilishly handsome Prescott Barra claims he’s already affianced to another woman, because he’s everything she’s been looking for in a husband. He’s brave and fearless with a streak of adventure as wide as the canyons they’re riding. When she discovers he has a secret or two of his own, she begins to hope that maybe — just maybe — their secrets will lead them to each other.

Available in eBook on Amazon + FREE in Kindle Unlimited at
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07W61WBRR  
Coming soon to paperback!

An Excerpt~

The storm swirling across Meg’s features cleared. She stood and held out both hands to him. “You dear, dear man! I am so happy you’ve agreed to help me.”

That made one of them. He was fairly certain pretending to be engaged to Meg’s dearest friend was the most foolish thing he’d ever been asked to do.

“I’ll be sure to tell Shad how kind you were to me in his absence.”

Right. He was only doing this to help out a man he respected. Or at least the friend of the wife of a man he respected… Which was the same thing, wasn’t it? His brain hurt just thinking about it.

“What is her name?” he asked abruptly. He at least deserved to know the name of the chit he was going to be saddled with for a few days.

“Daisy.” Meg beamed at him. “Daisy Danvers, though some folks like to call her Dare-Devil Daisy.”

Blast it all! Helping Daisy sounded like a pack of trouble. Then again, he was a Barra brother. Trouble followed him everywhere he went. Trouble was his middle name.

About the Author

Jo Grafford writes sweet historical and contemporary romance stories — with humor, sass, and happily ever afters.

A typical day finds her with her laptop balanced on her knees, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat snoozing on her knees. He takes credit for most of what she does.

When Jo’s not writing stories, she’s reading them. She adores dashing gentlemen, resilient heroines with a sense of adventure, humorous sidekicks, dusty cowboys, bounty hunters, mail order brides…you get the idea.

She loves to visit with readers in her Cuppa Jo Readers group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CuppaJoReaders/.

To receive a personal email about each book she publishes, join her New Release Email List at JoGrafford.com or follow her on BookBub at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jo-grafford.

Plus you can read free chapters of many of her books on Wattpad.com/user/JoGrafford.

Foreign Children in Our Park

Many of Society’s finest will recognise the Redepenning boys, the three fine young sons of one of the Nation’s Heroes. Captain Richard Redepenning, second son of that well-beloved patriarch known to us all as Lord Henry, is deservedly renowned his courage and dashing.

His lovely wife, daughter of another Naval hero, was seen yesterday in Hyde Park with her three sons, accompanied by her sister-in-law, Mrs Julius Redepenning.

The fourth son of Lord Henry also serves his country as Captain in His Majesty’s Royal Navy. We regret to remind our readers that this gentleman’s reputation is not as sterling as that of his close male relatives.

You may recall his close brush with a court martial less than ten years ago, his hasty marriage in scandalous circumstances seven years ago, and his immediate departure to flee his brand new bride to the other side of the world, to return to his mistress and children.

This is old news, you may say, but this newspaper regrets to say that the man’s effrontery has no equal. We have it on good authority that the dusky complexioned boy and two little girls playing with Captain Richard Redepenning’s children were, in fact, the son and daughters of the very mistress for whom Captain Julius Redepenning left his unfortunate bride.

What pressure was brought to bear on Mrs Julius to force her to not only acknowledge these offspring of a kept woman — and a coloured kept woman, at that — but to take them into her care? This newspaper shudders to think!

The story took on an even more dire aspect when we learned that the boy who was being treated every bit as if he were the equal of Captain Richard’s sons has no Redepenning blood at all! Indeed, he is a child of a previous lover, whom Captain Julius permitted, undoubtedly motivated by lust, to remain with the seductress who drew him from his marriage vows.

We register our protest, as all right-thinking people must, at the probable contamination of three such fine young men as the Redepenning boys by the casual offspring of a harlot. May the Redepenning family come to their senses before too much harm is done.

Naval captain Jules Redepenning has spent his adult life away from England, and at war. He rarely thinks of the bride he married for her own protection, and if he does, he remembers the child he left after their wedding seven years ago. He doesn’t expect to find her in his Cape Town home, a woman grown and a lovely one, too.

Mia Redepenning sails to Cape Town to nurse her husband’s dying mistress and adopt his children. She hopes to negotiate a comfortable married life with the man while she’s there. Falling in love is not on her to-do list.

Before they can do more than glimpse a possible future together, their duties force them apart. At home in England, Mia must fight for the safety of Jules’s children. Imprisoned in France, Jules must battle for his self-respect and his life. Only by vanquishing their foes can they start to make their dreams come true.

Buy links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TXXK53N/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/unkept-promises-by-jude-knight

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47161695-unkept-promises

Barnes and Noble Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/unkept-promises-jude-knight/1132401931?ean=2940163272938

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/nz/en/ebook/unkept-promises

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/947394

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/unkept-promises/id1471938393

About Jude Knight

War and Petty Grievances

This letter appeared in my upper desk door this week by means I can’t explain. One continues to be astounded at how much jealousy, gossip, and spite is by nature the same in every era.

S. Clemens

Amiens, France, March 4, 1918

Darling Céline,

Oh why do I write this? By the time it arrives I may already be in Marseilles! You will have heard the news that the Russians have made peace with the Huns, the traitorous animals. Now the German war machine will pour its entire might into northern France while the worthless Yanks drag their feet rather than deploy their troops. Amiens will be destroyed—leveled even as Arras has been or the villages along the Somme.

Dear Edgar insists I come to you and Aunt Adele and remove myself from the path of the Hun army. Lucille, our maid of all work, is packing as I write this.

Gossip
Sabine

I was astonished that you would ask after Rosemarie when you well know I no longer speak to the hussy. Believe me, my brother’s widow has not improved her behavior in the past year, for all she now parades on the arm of a Canadian soldier—as if that would erase the taint of collaboration with a German. Rauol himself told me what she did before he died. Just wait. She will get what she deserves when the war is over.

The boy looks better fed this year, but of course decent women wonder what the trollop does to manage that miracle. The stupid English, now that she sews in one of their workshops, treat her as the would any decent woman. It is almost more than I can bear.

Rosemarie

I will never understand why God blessed her with a son while cursing me with none. Abbé Desjardin, that wrong-headed priest, takes her side. Well, let him protect her when the German war machine rolls into Amiens. She can suffer as she deserves. and she certainly isn’t coming with me. I just wish I could take her son south with me. Life is not fair.

Your loving cousin,

Sabine

About the Book

When it is finally over will their love be enough?

After two years at the mercy of the Canadian Expeditionary force and the German war machine, Harry ran out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images of darkness. When he encounters color among the floating islands of Amiens and life in the form a widow and her little son, hope ensnares him. Through three more long years of war and its aftermath, the hope she brings keeps Harry alive.

Rosemarie Legrand’s husband left her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation when he died. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier, but Harry’s devotion lifts her up. The war demands all her strength and resilience, will the hope of peace and the promise of Harry’s love keep her going?

Available for Pre-order now. You can find it here: https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/christmas-hope/

Gossip

Doings Near Hadrian’s Wall

A report from the Vindolanda excavations.

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I trust that you remember me from your visit to Hadrian’s Wall last summer. You expressed much interest in the diggings, and despite the severe cold you caught (t’was but a summer squall) invited me to share updates on the excavations. I do so with great delight, we have uncovered many items that in combination, allow us to paint a vivid picture of a time lost to us for two thousand years.

Vindolanda discoveries

The site of Vindolanda is a treasure of ancient artefacts. The site conditions can at times be grim – there is no winter season, and the Summer season is brief and intense. The colder months are devoted to cleaning and recording our finds.

The fort itself was manned from around 85AD to 370AD, thus spanning much of the early days of Roman occupation. The fort was manned by a troop from Gaul. The site so far consists of a bathhouse, many layers of wooden structures, the stone buildings of the fort and a larger town to the west, where many native Britons would have lived, and the families of the garrisoned soldiers.

The site is fascinating. It is buried deep in rank muds, but that is its glory. The mud is low in oxygen, which is the enemy of preservation of objects. So many things have emerged from this mud that it staggers the imagination. There would be few sites indeed that allow us to get a glimpse into the day to day lives of people two thousand years past.

The town itself would have been a hive of activity, perhaps typical for the towns along the Wall, close to the forts – where the money and markets were. We have uncovered spinning whorls in great quantity, a business important for textile manufacture. The town – or vicus – as it is known in latin, also had an animal butchery, with excellent drainage. We know that the soldiers consumed vast quantities of bacon, sheep and used goat hides for their tents. There is also a bathhouse, which would have been heated, and used by locals and soldiers.

But the finds are what has made Vindolanda famous. Hundreds of leather sandals have been uncovered, and of all sizes – from children shoes, to the dainty lattice patterned ladies sandals, and rugged soldiers foot wear. Other leather goods include goathide tents, the neat lines of stiches joining the hides still intact.

Wooden objects such as combs, and many pieces of horse harness, game pieces, weaponry, arrowheads, and textile fragments are also well preserved. You will pardon the personal nature of the following, but we also found the first known wooden toilet seat, its design similar to the ones in use today.

The most fascinating of all has been the Vindolanda tablets. Written on thin sheets of oak, and a similar size to a modern postcard, many tablets have been uncovered, and to our joy, the writing (in a blackish mix of ink gall) is still readable. While many are like a modern shopping list one might give a servant, some are letters home from soldiers complaining about the weather, and one is a party invitation from a young lady.

Vindolanda

I will finish up, Mr Clemens, in the hopes that you will find this of sufficient interest to publish in your newspaper. We trust that should you visit England again, you will pay us a visit, and perhaps participate in the diggings yourself.

I have taken the liberty of enclosing some photographs of the finds.

About the Druid’s Portal Series

The Druid’s Portal series is a genre blend of action, adventure, romance, time travel and magical historical fantasy. Set in Roman Britain in the Hadrian’s Wall and Northumberland region.

On the First Journey, travel back in time with modern day archaeologist Janet and meet Roman soldier Trajan. Described as the book the writers of Indiana Jones wanted to write, and a runner up in the Raven awards for dark fantasy.

The Second Journey is now out on Amazon. Join Ethan, son of Janet and Trajan as he follows his heart into danger and an alternate history that will lead him from Hadrian’s Wall to the dark past of Stonehenge.

Available on Amazon https://amazon.com/author/cindytomamichel

Vindolanda

 Druid’s Portal: The Second Journey

A love that can never be.
Ethan—latest guardian of the Arwen pendant—finds his heritage of time travel a burden he can scarcely endure. Rowena—last of the line of Daman—is a soldier in the Celtic army, forced to perform deeds that haunt her. Both tormented by visions of the other, separated by barriers of time.
A time that should not exist.
Rowena flees the catastrophic end of her time but is trapped by an ancient family pact with an evil goddess. Desperate to save her, Ethan crosses over into her timeline, where his parents never met, and Daman—their greatest enemy—rules.

The past is ruled by a man who knows the future.
Thirty days to stop a goddess taking over her body. Thirty days to save his timeline. Together they will fight their way through an altered history to the dark past of Stonehenge.

Time is running out – for everyone.

Vindolanda

An excerpt from Druid’s Portal: The Second Journey

Then a sound… soft laughter… and he gazed at the woman with hair the colour of moonlight and eyes as dark as the night. Coloured mist wrapped around her, tight woven as destiny. Dark threads of death and red banners of danger – all centred around and surrounding the woman.

His love.

She filled a hole in his heart he had always known was there, but had never known the shape of it was her. The sense of completeness hit him like a blow.

“I will find you… ” he shouted as she faded. “I will protect you, always… ”

But she was gone, leaving nothing but a ghostly fragrance of flowers, and he was alone once more.

Read a preview: https://tinyurl.com/DruidsPortal2

or buy on Amazon: http://getbook.at/DruidsPortal2

About the Author

Cindy Tomamichel is a multi-genre writer. Escape the everyday with time travel action adventure novels, scifi and fantasy stories or tranquil scenes for relaxation.

Find a world where the heroines don’t wait to be rescued, and the heroes earn that title the hard way.

Contact Cindy on

Website: http://www.cindytomamichel.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CindyTomamichelAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CindyTomamichel

Amazon Author page: https://amazon.com/author/cindytomamichel

Who is the Intrepid Female Smuggler?

The little Sussex village of Boltwood is in a sorry state indeed—or so I learned during a visit to my mother’s dear friend, Mrs. Ponsonby of Chichester.

I stopped by for tea and found Mrs. Ponsonby already entertaining Lady Ariadne Luttrow, one of the ton’s worst gossips. She never hesitates to tear a character to shreds. Poor Mrs. Ponsonby dislikes backbiting, but she cannot afford to offend the daughter of an earl, so she puts up with Lady Ariadne’s occasional visits.

I, on the other hand, was delighted. As a regular contributor to the Teatime Tattler, I am not in the least averse to listening to gossip, especially the scurrilous sort. After giving Mrs. Ponsonby a sympathetic glance, I prepared to enjoy myself.

“My dears,” Lady Ariadne said, “we are overrun with smugglers.” Her hands fluttered here and there as she spoke. “They have become so bold that one can scarcely sleep at night. Trains of pack ponies pass without hindrance through one’s property. These dreadful criminals even store some of the smuggled brandy in one’s own outbuildings!” She helped herself to one of Mrs. Ponsonby’s delicious drop cakes. I took one in a hurry, for the plate was almost empty.

“Surely,” I said, “your husband can put a stop to that.” Sir William Luttrow is dead set against smuggling—officially, at least, for like everyone on the coast, he gets his brandy from the free traders.

Lady Ariadne took a sip of tea. One restless hand hovered over the last cake on the plate. “Yes, but we are often in London, and meanwhile the servants do their best to aid and abet the smugglers. I suspect that my head groom, a violent sort of man, is actually a member of the gang.” She snatched the cake and devoured it.

“How terrifying!” Mrs. Ponsonby cried.

“The stuff of nightmares,” Lady Ariadne said, but I didn’t believe that for an instant. The smugglers are no threat to her. She was enjoying herself, leading up to something even more shocking.  

She glanced about, as if she feared being overheard, and lowered her voice. “As if that weren’t bad enough, there are rumors that the gang is now led by…a woman!”

“Surely not,” Mrs. Ponsonby bleated, but I rather liked the notion. Women so seldom get to run any sort of enterprise.

“It is a disaster in the making,” Lady Ariadne said with a pout. “This creature, whoever she is, will bring the whole smuggling gang to ruin.”

It was one thing to tell frightening tales to an elderly lady, and another entirely to wax indignant at the possible failure of the local gang. How strange. Why would Lady Ariadne care?

“Surely the arrest of the gang is ‘a consummation devoutly to be wished?’” I asked.

The quotation sailed right over Lady Ariadne’s head, but Mrs. Ponsonby, who adores Shakespeare, said, “Not for the wives and children of the smugglers. It is foolhardy of the men to put their faith in a mere woman.”

What nonsense. “A clever woman is just as capable as a man of running a successful enterprise—legal or illegal,” I said.

Mrs. Ponsonby shook her head. “My dear child, you will never find a husband if you insist on such opinions. We are the weaker sex. Men are naturally superior in every way.”

On this, Mrs. Ponsonby and I will never agree. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to digress, for Lady Ariadne’s conflicting sentiments about the smugglers had aroused my curiosity. However, that talkative lady had already moved to another subject.

“Dear Lord Boltwood, who would have dealt firmly with the smugglers, is not expected to live out the week,” she said.

“Poor Lady Boltwood,” Mrs. Ponsonby said. “She is a close friend of mine.”

“Of mine as well,” Lady Ariadne said soulfully. “She suffers doubly, for while her husband is on his deathbed, her only son, Richard, cavorts in London. If you had heard the tales about him, you would faint on the spot! He’s a dreadful rake and a bitter disappointment to his unfortunate mother.”

With that, we turned to rather more scurrilous gossip. Lady Ariadne moved from drop cakes to macaroons and did her best to shock us, and Mrs. Ponsonby sighed with relief when she finally left.

Well, now. I have met Richard Boltwood. He is a devilishly witty man, and a great favorite with the ladies—and perhaps with females of another sort. But no mother could be disappointed in such a handsome, charming son.

Why, I wondered, does he absent himself from his father’s deathbed? Might there be an estrangement of which society is unaware?

And who is the intrepid female smuggler?

It is clearly my duty to find out.

After escaping the guillotine, Noelle de Vallon takes refuge with her aunt in England. Determined to make her own way, she joins the local smugglers, but when their plans are uncovered, Richard, Lord Boltwood steps out of the shadows to save her. Too bad he’s the last man on earth she ever wanted to see again.

Years ago, Richard Boltwood’s plan to marry Noelle was foiled when his ruthless father shipped him to the Continent to work in espionage. But with the old man at death’s door, Richard returns to England with one final mission: to catch a spy. And Noelle is the prime suspect.

Noelle needs Richard’s help, but how can she ever trust the man who abandoned her? And how can Richard catch the real culprit while protecting the woman who stole his heart and won’t forgive him for breaking hers?

Released today, 24th July. Buy now on Amazon!

Excerpt:

“Open it, my love,” Richard said. “If you don’t like it, the jeweler will allow us to exchange it for something else.”

Slowly, almost reluctantly, Noelle opened the little box. Nestled inside was a delicate necklace of diamonds and sapphires. “It’s beautiful.” She closed the box and returned it to his hand.

“Take it, sweetheart. It will suit you admirably and as befits my wife.”

She sighed. “As I have told you over and over, I will not marry you.”

He tried to drum up his usual lighthearted retort, but fortunately she forestalled him. “I will accept your gift under one condition,” she said.

He managed a smile. “A condition. How delightful! Do tell me.”

Noelle, his darling, the love of his life, said, “Will you take me as your mistress instead?”

About Barbara Monajem

Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young, then moved on to paranormal mysteries and Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Regency mysteries are next on the agenda.

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups. She used to have two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding (because it was too weird to resist) and to succeed at knitting socks. She managed the first (it was dreadful) but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

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