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Reckless Accusations

Sam,

Loose lips and reckless accusations ‘ll get us in trouble every time. Best hold off.

I went to the Marquess of Wellbridge’s townhouse as you said, but I couldn’t get past the butler. When I asked after Lord Ethan Alcott, all I got was a cold stare, and “His Lordship is as well as can be,” before the door shut in my face.

Reckless accusations

I set up in the pocket park in the square behind some bushes.  You’ll owe me extra for this one. Cold it was. The watch caught me making a small—really  very small—fire and almost took me in. Anyway, the Earl of Chadbourn, you know—the one with his paws in all the charities for the raggedy parade of veterans being shipped back from the Peninsula—came and went every day. A couple of times I saw two ladies I later figured out were the earl’s sister and—get this!—Lady Georgiana Hayden, daughter of a duke and the sister of the Marble Marquess hisself. Yep. I mean Glenaire. I’m guessing the whole bunch of them’ve made a project of Lord Ethan, that’s what I think.

Monet, Snow at Argenteuil

I tried the nearby pubs and all I got is that the lost sheep had returned. He’d been missing all right, but I couldn’t find anyone who could confirm he deserted after Badajoz. I know your man Baker got wind he disappeared from his unit, but here he is in London as free as you please.

Before you go calling the man a deserter in print, Sam, we need something solid. With a Marquess for a father  and with Glenaire and Chadbourn involved, they’d be able to cover it up, even if it was true and thrash you in the process.
Besides, what if it turns out your boy here was actually a certified hero? Have you thought of that? You don’t want to get on the wrong side of this one, I’m telling you. I’ll sniff around the mews at Lords and Horse Guards but no more freezing my arse in front of Wellbridge House. I’m done with that.

Yers most sincerely, Horace Coffee

Horace is right to tell Clemens to be cautious. Just how Ethan found himself transported with the enlisted men and unidentified remains a mystery. You can bet his father will keep it that way—unless the facts make the son look like a hero.

Watch for Lord Ethan’s Honor in Fire & Frost: a Bluestocking Belles Collection

When a young woman marches into an alley full of homeless former soldiers, Ethan Alcott feels something he thought dead stir to life: his sense of honor. Effort at charity put the chit in danger; someone needs to take her in hand.

Lady Flora Landrum discovers that the mysterious one-armed ruffian she encountered in a back alley is Lord Ethan Alcott, son of the Marquess of Welbrook; her astonishment gives way to determination. As Ethan comes to admire Flora’s courage, perhaps he can reclaim his own.

About the Book

Join The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans in their pursuit of justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.

The Napoleonic Wars have left England with wounded warriors, fatherless children, unemployed veterans, and hungry families. The ladies of London, led by the indomitable Duchess of Haverford plot a campaign to feed the hungry, care for the fallen—and bring the neglectful Parliament to heel. They will use any means at their disposal to convince the gentlemen of their choice to assist.

Their campaign involves strategy, persuasion, and a wee bit of fun. Pamphlets are all well and good, but auctioning a lady’s company along with her basket of delicious treats is bound to get more attention. Their efforts fall amid weeks of fog and weather so cold the Thames freezes over and a festive Frost Fair breaks out right on the river. The ladies take to the ice. What could be better for their purposes than a little Fire and Frost?

Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with six interconnected Regency romances from the Bluestocking Belles.

Caroline Warfield is a Belle. You can learn about her and her writing here: https://www.carolinewarfield.com/

A Slightly Scandalous Sighting in Angel Creek

This clipping came to the Tattler offices from a contact in the former colonies.

Dear Miss Decorum of the Angel Creek Gazette:

It has come to my attention that a certain group of impoverished debutantes from the war-torn city of Charleston have arrived in Angel Creek, Montana for the sole purpose of getting married. Of getting married, my friends! As in…the very moment they step off the stagecoach!

Scandalous Sighting
Postkutsche im Winter. Um 1798.

I’ve yet to verify all the details, but it appears they are responding to an advert in a newspaper that a few gentlemen in our town (who will not be named, at the current time) placed in the hopes of finding themselves wives. Now, I know there aren’t many young ladies in our town of a marriageable age, but my lands! To advertise in a public newspaper in order to find a match seems to exhibit a lack of faith in the good Lord’s ability to provide.

What’s worse, I had to witness (with my own aging eyes) one of these lovely young debutantes dis-embark from the stagecoach just this afternoon. Not only was she dressed in tatters, she was traveling alone without a proper companion or chaperone. Oh dear, where are my smelling salts? Just writing about it is giving me another fit of the vapors.

Scandalous Sighting

I did a little investigating and discovered that this young woman is named Miss Elizabeth Byrd. She served as a battlefield nurse during the Great War. Bless her heart! I don’t even want to contemplate the tragic things she’s seen and the horrid places she had to travel while following the drum. However, if she thinks marrying a man (sight unseen) will make her life any easier, well, heavenly days!  I wish the gel the best, I truly do.

At any rate, Miss Byrd was escorted to the church by none other than the retired Army Captain David Pemberton. I can only presume they said their vows and are married by now. Captain Pemberton is a bit of an odd fellow, albeit a handsome devil — just arrived into town a year ago, himself, and pretty much sticks to his lonesome. A quiet, brooding man who, rumor has it, was widowed during the war. Now, I wonder how in tarnation the other young fellows wheedled him into going along with such a scandalous lark as sending for a mail-order bride?

I’ll be keeping my ear bent for any new juicy tidbits about this developing story and report back as soon as I know more.

Sincerely, A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

About the Book

Can the hope and joy of Christmas light the way for two hearts devastated by war?

Elizabeth Byrd receives an invitation to join her friends in Angel Creek, Montana to become a mail-order bride. At first, the young battlefield nurse is scandalized by the idea of agreeing to marry a man she’s never met, but the war has taken everything from her — her brothers, too many friends to count, and her fiancé. There’s nothing left for her in Charleston but more heartache.

Captain David Pemberton retreats to his hunting lodge in Montana the moment the war is over. He’s looking forward to being alone with the memories of his wife who passed in the early days of the fighting. But the men of Angel Creek don’t see fit to leave a widowed soldier alone during Christmas. Insisting four years is long enough to grieve, they dare him to join them on a holiday venture to acquire wives for them all — a dare he accepts in a weak moment.

He receives the shock of his life at who steps off the stagecoach to claim his hand in marriage.

Available in eBook on Amazon + FREE in Kindle Unlimited at
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XF82LXC
Coming soon to paperback!
 

EXCERPT

So this was Angel Creek.

At least I’ll fit in. Elizabeth glanced ruefully down at her workaday brown dress and the scuffed toes of her boots. Perhaps, wearing the castoffs of her former maid, Lucy, wasn’t the most brilliant idea she’d ever come up with. However, it was the only plan she’d been able to conjure up on such short notice. A young woman traveling alone couldn’t be too careful these days.

With a sigh of resignation, Elizabeth reached down to grasp the handles of her two travel bags that the stage driver had unloaded for her. The rest of her belongings would arrive in the coming days. There’d been too many trunks to bring along by stage. In the meantime, she hoped and prayed she was doing the right thing for her loved ones. At worst, her reluctant decision to leave home meant one less mouth for her mama to feed. At best, she might claw her way back to some modicum of social significance and be in the position to help her family in some way. Some day…

Her hopes in that regard plummeted the second she laid eyes on the two men in the wagon rumbling in her direction. It was a rickety vehicle with no overhead covering. It creaked and groaned with each turn of its wheels, a problem that might have easily been solved with a squirt of oil. Then again, the heavily patched trousers of both men indicated they were as poor as church mice. More than likely, they didn’t possess any extra coin for oil.

Of all the rotten luck! She bit her lower lip. I’m about to marry a man as poor as myself. So much for her hopes of improving her lot in life enough to send money home to Mama and the girls!

The driver slowed his team, a pair of red-brown geldings. They were much lovelier than the rattle-trap they were pulling. “Elizabeth Byrd, I presume?” he inquired in a rich baritone that was neither unpleasant nor overly warm and welcoming.

Her insides froze to a block of ice. This time, it wasn’t because of the frigid northern temperatures. She recognized that face, that voice; and with them, came a flood of heart wrenching emotions.

“You!” she exclaimed. Her travel bags slid from her nerveless fingers to the ground once more. A hand flew to her heart.

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.

Overheard on the Ice

The Teatime Tattler
Special Edition: coming to you from the frozen Thames River
2 February 1814

The third full day of the Frost Fair dawned cold and still this morning. Your humble servant was out on the ice at the earliest possible minute, mixing with the crowds of common, gentle, and even noble folk, listening for any snippets of news that might delight your eyes and ears, Gentle Reader.

Tomorrow is the social event that everyone has been talking about. The charity subscription ball Her Grace of Haverford holds every year will this year be supplemented by a Venetian Breakfast ON THE ICE.

You read that correctly, Gentle Reader. Her Grace and her group of Society ladies have requisitioned a section of the ice, where all–or at least a goodly number–of the great folk of the nation will gather tomorrow for this breakfast.

But, before they can eat, we are to be treated to a basket auction. For those who have not heard of this quaint country custom, the ladies intend to auction the food for the breakfast one basket at a time–and not just the basket, but the company of the fair cook.

We are assured that the sale of a lady’s time is not scandalous when it is for charity, and promoted by the leading ladies of Society. Gentle reader, you may draw your own conclusions, as have we.

Meanwhile, we have heard some other interesting tidbits of gossip that we must share.

The Granite Earl was seen escorting the Ice Princess and her two sisters in a Haverford troika. Will we see a chip in his facade; a thaw in her cold heart? Their conveyance hints that the courtship, if such it is, has her family’s approval, but who can believe that this highly proper gentleman intends an honourable offer to a female of such murky birth?

The shocking Miss C., though shunned by many, has a champion in the Earl of T. Yet, after the confrontation between her and her cousin at the theatre, which your reporter was fortunate enough to witness, many are rethinking their stand. Is the lady innocent? Will she remain innocent, or does the Earl of T. have other plans?

Is the Duchess of S. aware that her eldest daughter has come out of seclusion to write pamphlets for the good ladies led by the Duchess of H.? Should you wish to read one of them, Lady G. is herself giving them away at a Frost Fair booth. Just look for the banner with the ridiculously long name on it. That pretty debutante, Lady F., is keeping Lady G. company. Are their brothers too busy with affairs of state to keep the ladies out of mischief?

A certain Lieutenant who capitalised on his planned engagement to a wealthy young lady is out in the cold, it seems. Lady C. is once more being escorted by Lord O., and she shows the gentleman a marked preference. Given that he assisted to put up the aforementioned banner, we believe the inclination is returned. Will the military gentleman take his dismissal with grace?

Lady T., sister to the Duke of E., was heard to comment to a friend that her reclusive brother, scars and all, will come to the auction tomorrow, and perhaps even to the ball. He will not be able to resist, she claims, for Lady H. R. has invoked The Umbrella. Are wedding bells on the horizon for the reclusive peer, and if so, will his bride survive the occasion?

The paragraphs above are about events and characters in five of the novellas in coming Bluestocking Belles box set, Fire & Frost. Preorder now, and watch for more news as the Belles share gossip and snippets from their stories.

Duchess undermines civilisation

As those who regularly read The Teatime Tattler know, the relationship between the Duchess of S. and the Duchess of H. mirrors that between their husbands: to whit, it has always been, at best, frosty.

Since the wards of the Duchess of H. made their courtesy to the Queen last year, even after the Duchess of S. tried to have them barred on account of their irregular origins, any possibility of rapprochement has become encased in ice.

Today, in Hyde Park, half the beau monde and a considerable number of the lesser sort witnessed the further cooling of the connection.

Her Grace of H. was taking the air with Captain and Mrs J. R. and the children they have claimed as their own. Society has cautiously opened its doors and its hearts to this unlikely family, in part because of the affection many have for the gentleman’s father, and in part through the offices of his powerful allies, not least the duchess herself.

Society, I say, but not the high sticklers among them, and the leader of those most determined to hold the moral line against all possible sources of corruption is, of course, the Duchess of S.

Today, dear readers, when her carriage passed that of the Duchess of H., Her Grace of S. was staring at the trees on the opposite side of the carriage. Was it the cut direct? Not quite, for she showed no awareness of her fellow duchess before turning her shoulder.

Even so, those close enough to the carriage heard her say to her companion, “One wishes to be kind, of course, but some people take kindness to the point of gullibility. Mrs R. has adopted her husband’s natural children as her patroness also did. However, I am reliably informed, these are Hottentots, or as near as makes no difference. It is an outrage, and the Duke and I will not tolerate it.”

Quite what the Duchess of S. plans to do, she did not say.

Readers may wish to note that, as The Teatime Tattler has been informed, the three children in question are not Hottentots, but are quarter-breeds, as their maternal grandmother was Batavian.

The three wards of the Duchess of Haverford are half-sisters, all the daughters of the Duke of Haverford. Melting Matilda, in the Bluestocking Belles’ Fire & Frost box set which is on preorder for February 4, stars Matilda Grenford, the eldest of the sisters.

The Duchess of Sudbury and the Duchess of Haverford are leaders of two rival groups of Society’s ladies. The Duchess of Sudbury and her family, notably her rebel daughter Georgiana and her commanding son, the Marquess of Glenaire, appear in Caroline Warfield’s Dangerous series. (Georgie and Richard have a book each.) Her Grace is not present in the new box set, Fire & Frost, but her disapproving attitude is.

The Duchess of Haverford and her son, the Marquis of Aldridge, are connecting characters in Jude Knight’s regency novels, and particularly the forthcoming Children of the Mountain King series, to which Melting Matilda belongs as a novella. (It fits between To Wed a Proper Lady and To Heal the Broken-Hearted. Last year’s Paradise Regained is a prequel to the Mountain King series.)

Captain and Mrs J. R. are Jules and Mia Redepenning. Unkept Promises, published last month, tells how Mia came to adopt his three children.

“… oaths and anchors equally will drag: naught else abides on fickle earth but unkept promises of joy.” Herman Melville

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.

Books2Read: books2read.com/Unkept-Promises

Jude’s Bookshop: https://judeknight.selz.com/item/unkept-promises

A Found Horse and Missing Widow?

Dear gentle readers,

Perhaps it passed your notice that three of our fashionable young ladies, led by the Duchess of Beloin, journeyed from London to Paris this Spring. They told their husbands it was to be a shopping trip, but they added to their numbers the widow Spencer. Is that not curious? And now that they have returned without said widow they have been spreading tales of seeing Mr. C. Bittlesworth’s stolen horse. Have these young misses been attending horse races unattended?

WIDOW

But more, this reporter is wondering what became of the widow Spencer. That lady is known to run with a bit of a fast crowd in London. Did her heart give out from all the shopping? Was she trampled by one of the racehorses? It will certainly sadden the gentlemen of London if the lovely widow never returns. What could she be getting up to in Paris?

It isn’t for this reporter to conjecture, of course. But certainly all the fashionable of Town are led to wonder what could keep a popular woman away for the Season. And what sort of welcome she will receive when she returns.

With fondest regards, dear readers ~ L.D.

About Pheme’s Regret

Can the darkest of betrayals ever be forgiven?

Miriam is known as Lady Spencer among the ton. A charming young widow with a string of admirers. In the London papers she is only known by the initials L.D., the signature given to all the best, and worst, gossip from Town. But she has been harboring her own secrets and will need the Haberdashers to accompany her on a trip to France to retrieve her illegitimate daughter.

Nicolas Baudin has everything in his life precisely as he likes it. Some might find his persnickety ways annoying, but when you’ve had your entire life upended by lies and speculation you prefer routine. That is part of why he enjoys practicing the law. Until a woman from England, his former home, comes to him with an unusual case, and everything he has been trying to forget comes crashing back.

WIDOW

Excerpt:

She heard him sigh and close the door. Biting her lip, she shut her eyes. She didn’t want to be a burden. She would not blubber all over him as though he had any responsibility for her.

But he didn’t ask her any questions. He simply wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to his chest, resting his chin on her head. Comfort. Pure, clean comfort. Bloody hell, but she was going to start blubbering, just not for the reason she originally thought. When had anyone ever thought to comfort her? She’d gone from willful daughter to headstrong wife to independent widow. There had never been room for anyone to treat her this way. No one ever thought she needed it.

“Just remember,” he murmured into her hair. “Sometimes all that’s left is to do the right thing. Ultimately she’ll have to respect that.”

She melted into his embrace and admitted a secret to herself. She was falling in love with Nicolas Baudin, né Jon Bristow. He would be her measure for every other man for the rest of her life, and she was fairly certain they would all be found wanting. Brave, smart, honorable, and compassionate. Yes, she loved him, but it was a hopeless love. He could never forgive what she’d done to him. And just from a practical perspective, her life was in London, while he could never return to England. If she were to move to France it would mean the end of her gossip column and likely make her book publishing too difficult. Not that it mattered. He wouldn’t want to be with her, not the woman who had destroyed the trajectory of his life.

But her heart knew she loved him. And it hungered.

She turned in his arms and pulled him down for a kiss. There was a sweetness to their meeting of lips, teasing and clinging as if they had all the time in the world. When she sighed he pulled her closer, and the sweetness gave way to a burning intensity. His tongue mated with hers in a way that felt primal and necessary. She wished to stay here, like this, forever. If she could have gathered him into her heart to keep with her then she would.

“This has all the adventure, intrigue and romance we love Sue London for providing. Always a few surprises along with the necessary happy ending. Loved every minute of it!” ~ Amazon & Goodreads Reviewer

Universal Link US * Amazon UK * Amazon CA * Amazon AU

Keep up with Sue London online at her author website bysuelondon.com, on Twitter, or at her Facebook page. You can also get behind the scenes info, special excerpts, and other fun goodies on her Patreon.

LONDON

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