Because history is fun and love is worth working for

Author: Bluestocking Belles Page 2 of 22

A Golden Opportunity

She slipped out the side door of the private wing and crossed Mrs Brewster’s personal garden.

At this time of day, the Brewster family were fully occupied with their duties in the inn. No one was present to see their maid — their now former maid –unlock the private gate to the lane with the keys she had lifted from their hook in Mr Brewster’s office.

She would leave them in the lock. By the time they were discovered, she would be far from here, on her way to a position far, far away.

Freddie was waiting in the lane with his family’s gig and pony. It wasn’t elegant, but it would get them to the nearest coaching inn on the highway, 20 miles away inland.

His eyes widened as he took in the picture she made in her new gown and bonnet. One of the outfits she’d acquired for her new life. As she approached the gig, she saw that he’d found the bag and trunk she’d hidden in the stables last night. She hoped no one saw him take them away. Almost, she asked him, but, no, she mustn’t give him any reason to think she doubted him.

She let him lift her up into the gig, and hurry around to the other side.

“You look right pretty today, Miss Alice,” he said, as he took off the brake and gave the reins a shake. “Walk on, gray mare.”

Alice kept scanning the surroundings, to make sure no one saw them leaving. Not that they could stop her. She was the Brewster’s employee, not their slave. Had been the Brewster’s employee. Her resignation letter was hidden in the clutter of papers on Mr Brewster’s desk. He would find it about the time she was due back at work after her day off.

No, they couldn’t stop her, but if they knew what she had been doing and where she was going, they might make her departure difficult. Certainly, Freddie would not be allowed to transport her.

She smiled at him, and tucked her hand into his arm. Dear Freddie. He was a kind soul, and she felt just a little guilty for using him in this way, but needs must. She wasn’t going to settle for a fisherman’s son and spend the rest of her life in Fenwick.

She had new clothes, a job waiting for her, and money jingling in her reticule. She would say goodbye to Freddie at the coaching inn. Perhaps she would even give him a peck on the cheek — some sort of recompense for the trouble he was going to be in when he got back to Fenwick on Sea.

Freddie was chattering away about the men who had arrived at the inn to question all the servants about the source of the reports that had been published in the Teatime Tattler.

Alice smirked. Miss Abney always said that education gave you opportunities. Alice had found an opportunity. She had always been good at listening to people, putting two and two together, telling stories. Writing them was not much different. Sending them to Mr Clemens had been a clever idea, if she did say so herself.

And Miss Abney was right. The first opportunity had given her another. “I can use someone like you,” the letter from Mr Clemens had said. “Someone with the skills to work within a household and the brains to collect the stories I need.”

Alice was off to London to take up a permanent job as a reporter with The Teatime Tattler.

Alice is a character in the stories of Storm & Shelter. See the link for novella blurbs and buy links, and the collection for some of Alice’s Teatime Tattler reports.

Read more Storm & Shelter flash fiction at our blog hop, where our characters try to figure out who the mystery reporter is.

And congratulations to our prizewinners, who read the book, correctly named the reporter, and had their names drawn in the prize draw.

Serious Skulduggery at the Queen’s Barque

Our readers will be aware that, due to the recent storm and floods, a great variety of strangers have been trapped in Fenwick-on-Sea, especially at the Queen’s Barque Inn. Among the rife scandal and gossip, we now have reason to believe, greater skulduggery is afoot..

We recently reported on the startling physical similarity of one shipwrecked guest, Mrs. Simon, to the heiress Miss Letitia Lovell. We can now reveal that Mr. Kent, the heiress’s maternal uncle and guardian, has been seen in the neighborhood of the inn, along with his son, who, in the past, has claimed an “understanding” with his cousin, Miss Lovell.

Is this coincidence? Or are the Kents in pursuit of a runaway? Are the supposed Mr. and Mrs. Simon even married? Has the mysterious Mr. Simon, who was observed enjoying a pint of ale in the company of Mr. Kent, been, in vulgar parlance, “bought off” by the lady’s legal guardian? Is there a tug-of-war for the young lady’s safety and well-being? Or for her fortune?

All will surely be revealed in the coming days.

Those Bluestocking Belles are investigating our reporter!

Since your Teatime Tattler has been able to report doings in Fenwick on Sea, authors have offered a reward for someone who unmasks our reporter!

Enter to win.

Correctly identify the reporter and be entered to win a $100 gift card and other great prizes. There are details amd instructions for entering here: https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/storm-shelter/wanted-the-snooping-teatime-tattler-reporter/

About the Book

Eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas, one horrific storm!

When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

A Bluestocking Belles and Friends Collection

CLICK for links to various retailers

An Improbable Hero: Mary Lancaster

A runaway heiress, a mysterious stranger.

When Letty’s ship founders in a violent storm, she forges a rare bond with her rescuer.

Simon is a troubled man on a final, deadly mission—until the spirited yet soothing Letty makes him question everything. Hiding in plain sight among the refugees at The Queen’s Barque, Simon is more than capable of protecting them both. But when the floods recede, can either of them say goodbye?

Eyebrows Raised in Staffordshire

My Dearest Readers:

If your chaise-longue requires fresh feathers, I must recommend you send for the upholsterer before reading this any further. Once you have been assured that your preferred furniture will not cause injuries should you feel the inevitable urge to faint, you may proceed.

I fear a dreadful scandal has occurred in Staffordshire. I sympathize with the utter unrest you are most certainly feeling at this unexpected news. We associate scandals with London and Brighton, but never Staffordshire, home of an abundance of ceramics and grazing grounds for livestock.

Mrs. Blythe has been recording the events that have been happening at Laventhorpe Castle, near the Staffordshire Moors. We do not like to ponder her expenses for smelling salts.

As I am certain you are well aware, the Duke of Framingham recently became betrothed to Princess Aria Eleonora Ingrid Petronella of Sweden. Though the wedding announcement caused our eyebrows to reach a higher than customary perch, we were naturally pleased for them, even if we wondered at the wisdom of the match. After all, the aged duke’s unpleasant visage cannot compensate for his brash, equally unpleasant personality, and the princess is so wealthy, we doubted even the duke’s vast estate held much temptation to her.

It seems though that shortly after the wedding, the princess absconded with the duke’s younger cousin. Quel horreur! There are rumors that he kidnapped her and her pet dog, Galileo, though that is no excuse, naturally, for a woman to abandon her marital bed on her wedding night. They are even now hurrying through Staffordshire, though I am assured that the duke and his men are pursuing them.

Mrs. Blythe’s new book, The Truth about Princesses and Dukes, details these events at length. I hope, dearest readers, that you should not feel the urge to behave in equally outrageous manners.

About the Book: The Truth about Princesses and Dukes

Princess Aria Eleonora Ingrid Petronella of Sweden has been exchanging letters with the most marvelous man in the world. Perhaps her true love is somewhat aged, and perhaps butterflies don’t swarm inside her chest when they meet briefly at a ball, but she is certain no man equals the Duke of Framingham in magnificence. When he proposes marriage in a letter, she eagerly accepts.

Rupert Andrews doesn’t expect to enjoy writing letters on behalf of his elderly cousin. But when the Duke of Framingham informs Rupert that he’s fallen in love with a beautiful woman and needs someone to write letters on his behalf, Rupert reluctantly agrees. After all, the cottage he inherited after his mother’s death is heavily mortgaged, and the duke has kindly let him take longer to repay the debt. On the duke’s wedding day, Rupert overhears the duke tell his mistress that he plans to toss his new bride off his balcony so they can marry. The duke merely desires the princess’s money, and Rupert knows one thing: he has to rescue her. 

Princess Aria is astonished when a young, spectacle-wearing man kidnaps her. She’s in love with the duke—after all, he’s sent her such wonderful letters for weeks. Soon though, she’s on the run with Rupert to London. If only Rupert had sent her such lovely letters. . .

Amazon

Excerpt

Blast.

Rupert marched through the room and opened various drawers. There must be another key. He scrummaged through the duke’s attire, then crawled under the bed.

Nothing.

Finally, he glanced toward the window.

He rather wished the first Duke of Framingham had decided to put his bedroom on the ground floor. If only that duke had had a premonition of the viciousness of one of his descendants and his propensity to go about locking relatives in bedrooms. Evidently, the duke’s success at fighting the French so many centuries ago had not translated into an equal ability to foretell the future.

Rupert attempted to open the balcony door, but it was locked. He scowled, before hastily moving to the window.

Rupert unlocked the hinge on the window and pushed it open. A brisk wind met him. Birds chirped merrily, and the sun was in full force. He squinted into the light. Then he lowered himself carefully from the window until his feet touched the battlement.

The birds jerked their heads toward him from their perches on the parapet, before flying away. A few servants were outside, marching to the chapel with flowers.

Where was the princess?

Would she be in the chapel now? In the drawing room? Still touring the castle?

Her dressing room.

Rupert lowered himself down and hurried to the other wing, crawling along the crenellations. He wasn’t certain which room she’d been placed in, but he assumed it was the best one. The wind brushed against him, as if urging him to reenter the house. A few leaves, which had no doubt laid in the battlements for months, flew into his face. He pushed them away, and they crunched against his fingers.

Damnation.

Why was the castle so large? Evidently, no one had calculated the utter inconvenience the large size would be when someone was forced to circumvent it on one’s stomach.

The chapel bells rang, and Rupert scurried forward.

About the Author

Born in Texas, Bianca Blythe spent four years in England. She worked in a fifteenth-century castle, though sadly that didn’t actually involve spotting dukes and earls strutting about in Hessians.

She credits British weather for forcing her into a library, where she discovered her first Julia Quinn novel. She remains deeply grateful for blustery downpours.

After meeting her husband in another library, she moved with him to sunny California, though on occasion she still dreams of the English seaside, scones with clotted cream, and sheep-filled pastures. For now, she visits them in her books.

FB Group

Follow on Amazon

Website

A Phantom Stalks Derbyshire

Item from The Derbyshire Diary News

The residents at the great estate of Pemberley have learned a hard adage of late: “It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.”

What do we mean? Our reporters have learned that Sir Phillip Spurlock, the magistrate for the area around Lambton and Matlock, has been called out to investigate multiple suspicious deaths at Pemberley.

Unfortunately, for the investigation, the recent ice storm hampered Sir Phillip’s ability, first, to reach the estate, and, then, to corner all the possible suspects, but we understand progress as been made as of the time we went to press.

It seems when the storm hit, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the Master of Pemberley, opened his doors to a variety of unexpected houseguests, including his renown aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter, Miss Anne de Bourgh, who reportedly was recently observed in Liverpool on the arm of a lieutenant in the British Army; Lord Stafford, the heir to the Earl of Greenwall and the gentleman’s cousin, a Miss Cathleen Donnel, who was supposedly on her way to Mobberley for the funeral of a dear uncle; Colonel Fitzwilliam, the second son of the Earl of Matlock and Mr. Darcy’s cousin, Nigel Worth, a well-known and admired solicitor from Cheshire; a Mrs. Williams, the widow of the highly-respected Admiral Samuel Williams, and Mrs. George Wickham, the youngest sister of Mrs. Darcy.

Many believe the deaths, which on first glance appear to be unconnected, have come at the hands some mysterious “phantom” — some sort of “Shadow Man” or “Hat Man,” for there have been multiple sightings of such an apparition in the area, including several by the Darcys themselves. In addition, a series of unusual thefts have been reported, as well as a disembodied ghost haunting some of the rooms. The thing is, what the Darcys have encountered appears to be a “phantom” set on revenge, and no one knows how to stop him or when he will strike again.

In dreams, that voice calls to me and speaks my name. And do I dream again? For now I find the Phantom is there, inside my mind.

_________________________________________

About the Book

The Phantom of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Murder Mystery

HAPPILY MARRIED for over a year and more in love than ever, Darcy and Elizabeth can’t imagine anything interrupting their bliss-filled days. Then an intense snowstorm strands a group of travelers at Pemberley, and terrifying accidents and mysterious deaths begin to plague the manor. Everyone seems convinced that it is the work of a phantom—a Shadow Man who is haunting the Darcy family’s grand estate.

Darcy and Elizabeth believe the truth is much more menacing and that someone is attempting to murder them. But Pemberley is filled with family guests as well as the unexpected travelers—any one of whom could be the culprit—so unraveling the mystery of the murderer’s identity forces the newlyweds to trust each other’s strengths and work together.

Written in the style of the era and including Austen’s romantic playfulness and sardonic humor, this suspense-packed sequel to Pride and Prejudice recasts Darcy and Elizabeth as a husband-and-wife detective team who must solve the mystery at Pemberley and catch the murderer—before it’s too late.

If he has to kill a thousand men, the Phantom will kill and kill again!

Purchase Links:

Kindle

Kindle Unlimited

Audible

About the Author

Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”

Social Media Links:

Every Woman Dreams (Blog)  https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com

Austen Authors (Blog)  http://austenauthors.net

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/Regina-Jeffers-Author-Page-141407102548455/?fref=ts

Twitter  https://twitter.com/reginajeffers

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Regina-Jeffers/e/B008G0UI0I/

Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/jeffers0306/

BookBub  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/regina-jeffers

Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/darcy4ever/

You Tube Interview  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzgjdUigkkU

Website  https://rjefferscom.wordpress.com/

Mischief and Murder in the Midlands

Dear Mr Clemens

How sad it is to see a maiden fall. And yet, blood will tell, will it not? When a young woman (for I will not say lady) is born and raised in a barbarous foreign land, amid pagans and idolaters, how can she be expected to know the proper way to conduct herself?

Even if she is the daughter of a duke.

And yet, dear Mr Clemens, I am sure your readers will weep, as I do, at the fate of Lady R. W. For she has been — who knows by what wicked stratagems — inveigled into the lair of a Monster.

I speak, Sir, of the Earl of A, a man who hides on his estate in the Midlands, afraid to let the light of day fall on his loathsome face. he fought bravely against the French, or so they say. Yet all that courage has turned to brutality when injuries made him as ugly without as he became within. Even the local villagers shun him, knowing of his madness.

This wicked villain killed his brother and his own wife. His sister-in-law escaped by inches, having hidden his daughter and his niece away for safety.

What then, are we to assume happened when the poor maiden entered his lair? (If she was, in fact, a maiden, and who can know what happens in foreign places where they have harems and the like). Entered, I say, whether willingly or not, and stayed for more than a month!

He must have tired of her, or perhaps she escaped. Be that as it may, she has returned to her family and was recently seen in London, where she is attempting to move among Polite Society as if nothing has happened.

We will know what to do about that, Mr Clemens, will we not?

Articles such as this brought the Earl of Ashbury out of exile and racing to London, then on to Brighton, to rescue Lady Ruth Winderfield, the lady he had come to love. Read on for more.

To Mend the Broken-Hearted

Ruth Winderfield is miserable in London’s ballrooms, where her family’s wealth and questions over her birth make her a target for the unscrupulous and a pariah to the high-sticklers. Trained as a healer, she is happiest in a sickroom. When a smallpox epidemic traps her at the remote manor of a reclusive lord, the last thing she expects is to find her heart’s desire.

Valentine, Earl of Ashbury, was carried home from war three years ago, unconscious, a broken man. He woke to find his family in ruins, his faithless wife and treacherous brother dead, his family’s two girl children exiled to school. He becomes a near recluse while he spends his days trying to restore the estate, or at least prevent further crumbling.

When an impertinent, bossy female turns up with several sick children, including the two girls, he reluctantly gives them shelter. Unable to stand by and watch the suffering, he begins to help with the nursing, while he falls irrevocably for both girls and the lovely Ruth.

The epidemic over, Ruth and Val part ways, each reluctant to share how they feel without a sign from the other. Ruth returns to her family and the ton. Val begins to build a new life centred on his girls. But danger to Ruth is a clarion call Val cannot ignore. If they can stop the villains determined to destroy them, perhaps the hermit and the healer can mend one another’s hearts.

This is a new release in the The Return of the Mountain King series. Published on 23 March, you can preorder now through Books2Read: https://books2read.com/Broken-Hearted

Page 2 of 22

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén