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Bounder deceives Lady Taffy

Mr. Clemens–

It is with great reluctance and heaviness of heart that I write to you today, but decency demands I must. Were that it not so! A most intriguing stranger arrived at the Pump Room not a fortnight past — you’ll note I hesitate to call him “gentleman”! The Chevalier d’Aubusson — if indeed he holds the honor — has charmed all and sundry with a practiced grace and the face of an Adonis, but I rather suspect –nay, I am certain! — he means to abscond with one of our impressionable young ladies. For their part, the young ladies are only too happy to comply!

His attention has fallen upon the rather tragic figure of Lady Emilia Lloyd-Marshal, known to some by the affectionate appellation “Lady Taffy” because of her unfortunate Welsh roots. As you well know, Lady Emilia was presented late, and is now on her sixth — sixth! — season with not a suitable swain in sight. What does she expect, carrying on the way she does? She shocked the assembly into silence with an impromptu harp recital whilst we were attempting to take the waters in peace. She discarded her gloves, then emptied her glass into a ficus — a ficus, I ask you! At the ball this Thursday last, I espied her sneaking gin from a flask concealed on her person, then she stole a dance with the chevalier from my daughter, and deported herself like a veritable harlot. If that isn’t enough to scandalize you, my dear Mr. Clemens, you may need to find your seat for what I am about to impart.

Lady Emilia Lloyd-Marshal is to appear in a play with none other than the infamous Countess of Somerton — in a theater!

Truly, some Good Samaritan ought to save that girl from her own worst impulses. I suppose it cannot be helped. Though I have not seen her parents in your scandal sheet of late, I can assure you their behaviour is as reprehensible as ever. It is an open secret Lord Brecon lives in sin with a fishwife in some Welsh backwater, while Lady Brecon frequents the bawdy houses of Soho with her retinue of misguided lords, chief among them the hapless Lord Dorchester, who seems quite devoted, poor lamb. In such a household, I daresay Lady Emilia hadn’t the slightest chance of reaching maturity unscathed. But I digress–!

Mr. Clemens, I only wish to caution the unmarried ladies of the ton against this mysterious chevalier. He must be a pretender, for what gentleman would ever seriously court Lady Taffy? Fortune cannot make up for shamelessness or ill manners, and I’m afraid Lady Emilia has an abundance of both. I shudder to think what machinations the “chevalier” has in store for her, but whatever fate awaits her, I am assured she brought it on herself.

Regretfully,

Lady C—-

Beauty and the Bounder by Jessica Cale

He’s a liar and a fortune-hunter . . . and exactly what she needs.

The moment Lady Emilia sets eyes on the Chevalier d’Aubusson, she knows their fates are tied together. For good or ill, she cannot say. A mysterious aristocrat with a tragic past, the chevalier makes waves with his considerable charm.

Seb Virtue is not as he seems. A once-famous actor with a limited options, his future depends on him catching a rich bride. He thought it would be easy, but he didn’t count on Emilia.

There are cracks in Seb’s story, and Emilia never could resist a mystery. Whether he’s a gentleman or a bounder, he might just be the man for her.

Beauty and the Bounder in Valentines from Bath — see more, including buy links, here.

Excerpt

Seb had as much right to be here as anyone. Birth be damned, he was just as good as them if not better. Hadn’t he fought and nearly died for his country? So, he didn’t have a fortune or an ancient name that meant anything outside of Southwark, but he knew how to treat a woman. If Emilia took a chance on him, she’d find out just how good he was at that.

As the couples split into pairs, Seb took Emilia in his arms. She looked startled as his hand found its natural place at the base of her back. At a loss, her free hand skimmed his chest and settled behind his neck. Holding their joined hands tighter, he led her around the room. As he spun her in clockwise circles in an anticlockwise direction, the unavoidable dizziness gave one the sense of flying.

Emilia followed him easily, but he had the sense he’d shocked her. They were moving too quickly to properly converse, and he preferred it that way. He relaxed into the familiar steps and focused on her face. Her eyes were bright, her cheeks flushed, and her lips parted in surprise. She was a little breathless, but not nearly breathless enough. As he twirled her, a sprig of lavender fell from her hair and was crushed underfoot, adding to the perfume of beeswax and warm bodies in the air. She gasped as he caught her and held her to his chest.

Her gaze fell to his lips. “I’m quite scandalized.”

He regarded her with interest. Not yet, she wasn’t.

Jessica Cale is an author, editor, and historian based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned her B.A. in History and MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. She is the editor of Dirty, Sexy History, and you can visit her at dirtysexyhistory.com.
Website: http://www.dirtysexyhistory.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dirtysexyhistory
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JessicaCale
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/caleisafourletterword

After the Ball is Over: Part 2

He found the Forster twins in the face of Rob Jones, the junior footman. “We get the card room. We always do. It’s ourn,’” Hiram Forster shouted at the boy. The card room always had good hunting for stray coins and half-empty wine glasses. Valuables were meant to be turned in, but they all knew Fowler would pocket any coin they handed over.

“Then get you here early,” Harold snarled, coming up behind him. Hiram looked as if he might complain, but the miscreant looked up at Harold’s size and backed down. “Get up into the gallery, you two. Clean the floor. There’ll be wine stains, make no mistake. Mind you scrub it good.”

Hiram stuck out a defiant chin, but his brother Grady pulled his arm. “Told you to come sooner,” the brother muttered. “Let’s see what we can find in the gallery.”

Harold shook his head. If it was up to him, he’d fire the pair of them. As they walked away, something caught his eye. “What’s that sticking under your shirt, Forster,” he demanded stepping smartly to grab Hiram by the arm and spin him around. He reached under the shirt and pulled a silky white garment out, a pair of lady’s lace drawers.

“That’s mine!” Hiram shouted.

“Wear them often?” Harold sneered.

Hiram turned beet red. “Found it, din’t I? Keeping it for m’ sister.”

“Where would you ‘find’ something like that?”

“That big pot at the end of the portico where it meets the alley. Nice dark spot is that at night.” Hiram shrugged. “Some widow no better than she should be.”

Harold looked at the object he held between thumb and forefinger. It cost someone a pretty penny, but he doubted any lady of quality would admit to losing it. He tossed it at Hiram. “Go ahead. Keep it. Give it to your sister.”

“Yah. Yer sister,” Grady laughed. They scurried off and Harold shook his head. He peered up at the clock on the Octagon. Half-past ten, and still no sign of Fowler.

“Do I need to turn this in?” Rob asked. He held up one black leather glove. Harold nodded at him. “Sorry to say it after those two, but yes. You know where it goes. A gentleman might ask for that.” Rob glanced at the departing Forsters and nodded his understanding.

Maudy approached him when he went back about his work. “Here’s the flannel square, Mr. Randal. Bit damp yet.” She beamed at him, and his heart warmed.

“Put it on the subscription desk, Maudy. We’ll see what Fowler wants to do.” If the fool turns up to work.

He had moved the second row of chairs and was staring on the back one when Maudy returned. “It will go faster if I move them and you mop,” she suggested. He should send her into the tea room, he knew, but what harm in the pleasure of her company? They set to work, and it went quickly, until he found himself mopping the very back row by the wall while Maudy moved the last of the chairs. He looked over to see her bent over, gifting him with the sight of her rounded little behind, and rattling his brain so that he didn’t hear what she said.

“Mr. Randal,” she repeated. “Did you hear me? I found something.” She pushed herself off the dirty floor, and wiped one hand on her skirt, the other holding something. He leaned in and saw it was a book. “Miss Middleton’s Guide To Etiquette,” he read, “Some lady’s no doubt.”

“It’s well thumbed, for sure,” she murmured. “Do you think they’d let me keep it? I won’t want it if I have to ask Fowler.”

Harold didn’t blame her but, as it turned out, she didn’t have to. The Master of Ceremonies, Old King himself, appeared on the scene just as they got the chairs back in their proper places. And it just noon—odd that.

“Good man—Randal, is it? The men told me you sorted the work out.” He must not have spoken to the weasels in the musicians gallery.

“Aye, Sir. They’re good workers.”

“Have you seen any sign of Fowler?” King asked.

“No, Sir.”

“Had complaints from no less than an earl last night. Went to fetch him and he’d scampered. Took the money from the safe with him.” King looked like he’d sucked a lemon. “We can’t have it out, mind you. I’m trusting you to keep it to yourself.”

“No problem, Sir. We don’t want our Assembly Rooms besmirched,” Harold said.

King nodded. “Can you manage the thing? At least for a while until I can sort it out?”

“Yes, Sir. I know I can.” Harold stood a bit taller. Over King’s shoulder he saw Maudy smiling at him. If a promotion was on offer he could afford—well, best left unsaid for now.

“It was a fine ball, though, wasn’t it?” King said. “Valentine’s Day Ball. We’ll have to do it again next year, don’t you think?”

“Yes, Sir. A night for lovers that was.” Maudy’s smile spread into a cheeky grin. Next year might be even better.

For Part 1 of After the Ball is over, see last Wednesday’s post.

For more about Valentines From Bath, the box set of five stories this is the Afterword to, see our joint project page.

For the Foreword to Valentines From Bath, see an earlier Tattler post.

After the Ball is Over: Part 1

When the toffs dance the night away, they spend the morning in bed. The folks who run about to take their coats, clean their spills, and carry trays laden with delicacies—not to mention deliver their billets doux and right scandalous invitations—have no rest at all.

Harold Randal woke at dawn, stuffed his rumpled shirt into his trousers—no need to look sharp during cleanup—and gulped down coffee from a tavern on his way to work. He didn’t worry about being late; that snake Fowler wouldn’t waltz in before ten. Harold prided himself on being better than that. He would have to get the lazy Forster twins moving on his own or they would be at it all day.

He found the key in its spot under a brick by the tradesmen’s door and let himself in. The caterer’s kitchen looked well enough. They always take their glassware and leave their bill. He wandered down the servants’ passageway, under the stairs to the musicians gallery, and into the Octagon. Sun streamed through the east windows, and he wished it didn’t. They had a long day ahead.

A soft sound from the ballroom startled him. He thought he was alone. He peeked around the door to see Maudy, the shy little maid of all work, scrubbing away at a doorknob with an odd little scrap of flannel. Pretty little thing was Maudy, but how did she get in?

“Good morning, Mr. Randal,” she said twinkling up at him and not pausing in her work. She peered closely at the brass handle and rubbed it harder. Harold stood transfixed by the sight. Pretty and industrious. She glanced up and blushed. “I ’spect you’re wondering how I got in so early.”

“The thought did come to me.”

“I never went home,” she told him. “I fell asleep under the counter in the cloak room. Thought I best get to work.” She stared down at her dress. “Sorry I’m so wrinkled up.”

Harold laughed at that and pointed to his own clothing. “No need to look fine for cleaning,” he assured her. “Have you had something to eat?”

“I found a half-eaten cake on a plate on the counter when I crawled out. I hope no one minds I ate it and all.”

“What were you doing under the counter, Maudy?” he asked.

She stared at her feet.

“Maudy…”

“Hiding from Fowler,” she whispered, glancing furtively around. “It doesn’t do to get cornered by that one, and he was in a taking last part o’ the night. Frightens me, he does.”

“Dirty bounder,” Harold muttered. He groped for something else to say. “What’s that you’re using to clean with? Looks finer than our usual.”

She held up a piece of flannel, cut in a neat square with embroidery clear around the hem. “I found it on the floor of the cloak room. It’s perfect for shining brass. I can clean it if you think someone will come looking for it.”

Harold’s brows came together. The edge looked fancied up, but who would care about a scrap of flannel left on the floor. “Keep doing what you’re doing. We can clean it if they ask, like you say.”

He fetched a mop and began cleaning the floor to the ballroom, moving chairs back as he went. In a half hour, he had a pile of dust, used tokens, and crumpled valentines fetched up in the middle of the floor. At least four of the gents had their sentiments rejected, near as Harold could see.

By that time most of the crew had wandered in. Most needed no direction. They set about dusting, scrubbing and polishing as needed. He reached the rows of chairs where the dowagers and wallflowers generally sat and began moving chairs so he could mop. He hadn’t gone more than a row deep when he heard a scuffle in the Octagon room.

To be concluded next week.

This Teatime Tattler post is the Afterword from the Bluestocking Belles’ new book, Valentines from Bath. We’ve already given you the Foreword, in an earlier Tattler piece, Will You Be My Valentine.

A Traitress In the Tower?

There have numerous reports of strange goings on in the capital yesterday, after a flotilla of Royal Navy gunships sailed unexpectedly down the Thames in broad daylight. Despite petitioning the Admiralty for an explanation for this strange phenomenon during a time of peace, this reporter has been unsuccessful in procuring an answer from anyone in authority. In fact, the government has remained very tight-lipped on the matter, stating only that the ships involved were on a mission of the utmost secrecy regarding a matter of national security!

But fear not for your safety, dear reader! These shores are not under imminent threat of invasion nor are our brave sailors preparing for yet another war. Our sources inside the hallowed halls of Whitehall tell us the naval escort was merely a precautionary measure to ensure one of England’s most wanted criminals was brought to town to face justice. The excessive security was necessary because the suspect has managed to escape the clutches of the authorities not once- but twice- since their arrest on the continent last week.

Witnesses also saw a prisoner being taken into custody. But whoever this nefarious scoundrel is, they have been deemed too dangerous for Newgate! They were taken to the Tower of London no less, through the infamous Traitor’s Gate! And if that detail isn’t scandalous enough, it also appears this fearsome traitor is a woman!


We wait with bated breath to hear the lady’s identity and the charges she has been held on. All we can say, with any certainty, is that whoever she is, what ever she has done, our sources say she will hang for her crimes. Until then, an additional battalion of Royal Marines and the King’s finest agents have been drafted in to guard her. Even the Royal Navy gunships remain anchored next to the fortress to keep the wench inside…

The Uncompromising Lord Flint

Imprisoned by her past– set free by her enemy!

Charged with high treason, Lady Jessamine Fane is under the watchful eye of icily calm Lord Peter Flint. It’s a task this spy won’t be swayed from, no matter how alluring his prisoner! Only it’s not long before Flint realises that tenacious Jess hides a lifetime of pain. With so much at stake, can he afford to take a chance on their powerful attraction?

Buy the book  http://viewbook.at/kingselite2

About the Author

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. But despite publishing fourteen books already, there are still hundreds more in her head so it still takes her ages to fall asleep.

Website https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/

Or follow her daily witterings and the diary of her Labrador Trevor on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/

Fare Thee Well, Nicole

Mr. Clemens regrets to inform the reading public that Nicole Zoltack, busy as she is with four children and her prolific writing, has regretfully resigned from the Bluestocking Belles, the members of which will sorely mourn their loss, although they expect she will remain a regular attendee at their events.

Take heart! As the author focuses on her writing, her work will continue to flourish. The lady’s works are broad and include historical romances, epic fantasy romances, paranormal romances, and urban fantasy (a genre this editor does not understand but gathers is highly successful in some times and places). Her books interest readers of all ages. We are informed from trustworthy sources that her supporters might even encounter her at a Renaissance fair dressed in period garb. Do report any such sightings to our newsroom.

Your Teatime Tattler staff wishes her well.


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