My name? Let’s just call me Miss Kitten. I have some of the most wonderful gossip about Lord Belmont!
You see, he’s in town with his mother for the Season and it seems he’s taken a liking to the most inappropriate of women. You probably know who she is, of course. That’s right, Miss Emma Sellars, the bluestocking who fancies becoming a doctor! Now I’m not exactly sure if he knows that about her, but I’m not going to say a word! Her parents are simply desperate to marry her off and once they find out about Lord Belmont they’re going to want to keep it as quiet as possible. I only hope Miss Sellars can keep herself in line long enough for him to ask for her hand!
The Hellion and the Highwayman, now available for preorder at all retailers as part of the A Hellion’s Midnight Kiss boxset!
Emma Sellars wants to be a doctor, but her parents would rather see her as a bride. Her sister Katherine is excited about the upcoming Season, but with her parents’s ultimatum that she either find a suitor or leave their house, Emma is less than enthusiastic about it.
Lord Thomas Belmont recently came into his title as Earl of Arabel when his father died, and in London at his mother’s request. While the balls are a delight, his real interest lies in the pockets of the affluent people coming in on the London highways.
When they meet by chance on an outing with Emma’s sisters, Thomas is immediately taken with Emma but knows his nighttime outings won’t make for a happy courtship. He’ll have to choose between duty and love, or leave Emma to continue her studies penniless.
About the Author
Rebecca Lovell fell in love with history when she first visited the stockyards in her native Fort Worth and she has been writing and studying different eras ever since. When she’s not writing she enjoys crocheting, running, and playing with her many cats. Find her online at:
Where, oh where, is the Duke of
Reddington? Since the 23-year-old Viscount Tisdale acceded to the dukedom upon
the death of his father last month, he seems to have disappeared. A certain
housemaid in the Half Moon Street residence of the volatile beauty known as La
Fantasia (with whom, readers may recall, the viscount has for some time enjoyed
an intimate acquaintance) informs the Tattler that the young duke
returned to Town after the funeral only to quarrel violently with his
inamorata, at last being driven from the beauty’s abode by means of vases,
figurines, and sundry other bric-a-brac hurled at his head.
When questioned as to the duke’s
whereabouts, Sir Ethan Brundy will only say that the duke is seeing to one of
the several estates that came to the young man along with his ducal title. Pressed
for particulars, he declined to specify which estate, claiming that the duke
controls so many he cannot keep them all straight. Given that the late duke had
sufficient confidence in Sir Ethan’s intelligence to name him executor of his
will, we at the Tattler suspect his professed ignorance is, in fact,
false modesty. Readers will remember that Sir Ethan is the brother-in-law of
the young duke (having married the duke’s sister four years ago in what at that
time was called the mésalliance of the century) as well as the political
rival of Sir Valerian Wadsworth, both men currently standing for the same seat
in the House of Commons.
Adding to the mystery, a young
man fitting the duke’s description has been sighted in a Lancashire village
near Manchester—specifically, at what was formerly the home of the late Mr.
Henry Drinkard, now converted to a boardinghouse run by his widow and daughter,
Daphne, the latter being a promising young poetess whose work the Tattler
has had the honour to publish.
But what’s this? An examination
of public records by one of our intrepid reporters indicates that none of the
duke’s holdings are located in Lancashire; however, that northwestern county is
the location of a thriving cotton mill owned by none other than Sir Ethan
Brundy himself. Can it be that Sir Ethan knows more than he is telling? And
where do Mrs. Drinkard and Miss Drinkard fit into the puzzle?
We are pleased to assure readers that our intrepid reporter is on the case, and we hope to have an answer very soon to the Mystery of the Disappearing Duke.
“Truth to tell, Ethan, I’m deuced glad you’re
here” Theo confessed. “I’d be obliged to you if you can advance me something on
my inheritance—just enough to tide me over until the will is probated, you
Sir Ethan shook his head. “Much as I’d like to
oblige you, I can’t.”
But—well, but dash it, Ethan! You’re the executor, aren’t you?”
“Aye, I am.”
“Theodore, all that means is that I’m charged
with making sure the terms of your father’s will are carried out the way ’e
intended—and that includes seeing to it that everything is done open and
“But it’s my own money, dash it!” Theodore
Sir Ethan nodded. “And you’ll get it, all in
“Good time for you, maybe!”
“Aye, and for you. After all, you’d not like it
if I started doling out legacies to your father’s valet, or housekeeper, or
butler, would you?”
“But the money’s rightfully theirs,” he added
with a look of bland innocence in his brown eyes. “It says so in the will.”
“It’s not at all the same thing!”
“It is so far as the law is concerned. If I
were to distribute so much as a farthing from your father’s estate before
probate is granted, I’d open meself up to legal action.”
would be the logical one to bring any such action against you, and it’s not
like I’m going to prefer charges against you for giving my money to me!”
might not do so, but your father’s lawyer might,” his brother pointed out. “
’e’d be within ’is rights, too. In fact, ’e might even consider it an
obligation to ’is grace.”
“Crumpton is my lawyer now—and he’d do well to remember it!”
“Aye, that ’e is. And if you know ’e can’t be
trusted to look out for your father’s interests, ’ow can you trust ’im to look
after yours?” Seeing this observation had deprived his young relation of
speech, Sir Ethan added gently, “What’s the matter, you young fool? Surely you
’aven’t got yourself rolled up within a se’ennight of in’eriting the title?”
“I’m not ‘rolled up,’ ” Theodore protested.
“I’ve got plenty of money—or I will have, as soon as it comes into my
“Is it that little ladybird you’ve ’ad in
“No—that is, not entirely, but—dash it, Ethan,
she expected me to marry her! I may have been green, but I’m not such a flat as
all that! And when she saw I couldn’t
be persuaded, or seduced, or coerced into it—” He broke off, shuddering at the
“Didn’t take it well, did she?” Sir Ethan
Theodore gave him a rather sheepish grin.
“Lord, you never saw such a shrew! It made me think that perhaps I’m well out
of a bad business. But I couldn’t let it get about that she’d ditched me, so I
went to Rundell and Bridge and bought her the most expensive thing they had.”
Sir Ethan, who had bestowed upon his wife more
than one bauble from this establishment and thus had a very good idea of the
prices to be found therein, gave a long, low whistle.
“And then,” Theodore continued, “I went to
White’s and—well, I just wanted to forget about it, just for a little while—not
just Fanny, but all of it: the dukedom, and the steward and his blasted
‘improvements,’ and the House of Lords, where I’ll no doubt be expected to take
my seat, and—oh, you don’t understand!”
“Actually, I do,” said his brother with a
faraway look in his eyes.
Theodore, intent on his own troubles, paid no
heed to the interruption. “And I can’t let it get out that the Duke of
Reddington don’t pay his debts, for we’ve had quite enough of that in the
family already! But I don’t have to tell you
that—God knows you shelled out enough blunt, towing Papa out of the River
Tick.” At this recollection, a new possibility occurred to him. “I say, Ethan,
I don’t suppose you would be willing to lend me the ready? Just until the will
is probated, you know, and at any interest rate you care to name,” he added
hastily, lest his brother-in-law balk at agreeing to this proposal.
Sir Ethan gave him an appraising look, and
asked, “ ’ow much do you need?”
Theodore told him.
“You’ve managed to run through that much in
less than a fortnight?” demanded his brother-in-law.
“No!” Theodore said, bristling. “That is, I’ll
admit I’ve spent more than I should, but old Crumpton says the will could take
months! A fellow has to have something to live on in the meantime.”
This figure, while high, seemed quite
reasonable compared to the sum Theodore had felt necessary to sustain him for
the few months it might take for the will to go through probate.
“All right, then,” pronounced Sir Ethan. “It’s
Theodore was moved to seize his brother’s hand
and wring it gratefully. “I say, Ethan, you’re a great gun! You’ll have every
penny of it back, I promise—and, as I said, at any rate of interest you care to
Sir Ethan shook his head. “There’ll be no
interest. As for paying me back, you don’t ’ave to do that—at least, not in
pounds, shillings, and pence.”
This assurance left Theodore more than a little
puzzled. “What do you want, then?”
“You’ll pay me back by working it off.” In case
further explanation was needed, he added, “In the mill.”
About the Book
When 23-year-old Theodore becomes Duke of Reddington after his father dies, his new responsibilities are enough to send him off in a blind panic. Within days, he’s amassed a pile of debts, which his brother-in-law, mill owner Ethan Brundy, agrees to pay—provided Theo works in the mill until his father’s will is probated. In the meantime, Theo has a lot to learn about how the other half lives—and there’s no one better qualified to teach him than Daphne Drinkard, forced to take in boarders since the death of her father has left her and her mother penniless.
About the Author
Sheri Cobb South is the bestselling author of the John
Pickett mysteries (now an award-winning audiobook series!) as well as Regency
romances, including the critically acclaimed The Weaver Takes a Wife and
its sequel The Desperate Duke, winner of the 2019 Colorado Authors
League Award for Best Romance Novel.
While perusing the dusty records of St. Ignatius All Angels Church, our humble reporter, discovered a pair of cryptic letters between the parish vicar and a benighted parishioner. If only we knew the story behind these letters. What a tale that would be!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
15 November 1816
The Reverend Albion Stern, St. Ignatius All Angels Church, 18 Clappersgate, Oxford
Dearest Mr. Stern,
As a constituent of your parish in good standing with God Almighty
and the Church of England, I feel it my duty, nay, my righteous obligation to
inform you of a most unseemly affair involving two misguided members of your flock.
I wish not to gossip, but my conscience compels me to share the sordid details
if only to protect the tender sensibilities of our impressionable youth.
As you know, the families of Mr. Adam Ashford and Miss Jane
Hancock have been engaged in a distasteful feud for nigh on seven decades. Some
two months ago, both families fell under a financial cloud that drew them to
the brink of shameful bankruptcy. Rather than facing the appropriate
consequences, Mr. Ashford and Miss Hancock absconded on a fool’s errand to the
nether realms of England – together, and with only the merest of chaperones.
While this news is indeed shocking, the events of their subsequent journey
serve to mortify.
I have it on good faith from a reputable source that while
gallivanting about the country these foolish youngsters fell into the company
of sailors, drunks, rabble, poets, lawyers, and all other manner of low folk.
They rode swine wagons in one another’s company, broke into a garrisoned
fortress through subterfuge, and communed with druids. They slept on floors, in
fields, and in public places as if common vagrants. They traipsed through
church graveyards with fanciful tales of giants and no respect for the dead.
They dug through any number of ruins, hollows, and holes in the ground in
search of unholy treasure. It was said even that they walked with Beelzebub.
All the while, they engaged in very public acts of congress, including the
holding of hands and, yes, the impassioned locking of lips.
As a humble parishioner, I believe it only appropriate to
bring this ignoble matter to your venerable attention. These events leave me
deeply disturbed. Your swift condemnation of Mr. Ashford and Miss Hancock would
put my heart at ease and my soul at rest.
Phineas T. Lilywhite
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
19 November 1816
Mr. Phineas T. Lilywhite, Number 5 Grapevine Way, Oxford
Dear Mr. Lilywhite,
You have my deepest gratitude for bringing this matter to my
attention. I wholeheartedly agree. You are indeed deeply disturbed. For this
malady, I will offer heartfelt prayers of intercession on your behalf.
Regarding the rumors, I can confirm their veracity. Your
source relayed the events of the affair between Mr. Ashford and Miss Hancock
with a commendable degree of accuracy and detail. However, as your vicar, I
consider it my obligation to instruct you spiritually in this matter. I will do
so by referencing two holy scriptures. First, consider Matthew 5:44, where the Good
Lord admonishes us to love our enemies. Mr. Ashford and Miss Hancock have
practiced this particular teaching far beyond anything I have witnessed before.
My heart swells with pride.
Second, consider Proverbs 26:3 – “You must whip a horse, you
must bridle a mule, and you must beat a fool.” For the sake of your physical
health, I pray that you will take less interest in the affairs of others and
more interest in maintaining open eyelids during my sermons. Perhaps then you
would have heard my reading of the banns these past two Sundays and recognized
the names of a particular young couple. Furthermore, you would have known that
Beelzebub will be in attendance at the wedding and that you should therefore
take appropriate precautions.
Grace and Peace to You, sir, and give my regards to your
poor, miserable wife.
Mr. Albion Stern, St. Ignatius All Angels Church
About the Book
The Hancocks and Ashfords have had a long-standing feud between their families long before Miss Jane Hancock couldn’t stand the sight of gentleman farmer Adam Ashford. But after both families fall on hard times and an unscrupulous creditor forces Jane and Adam to sign a devil’s bargain, they’ll finally understand the true meaning of keeping your enemies close at hand.
The terms of this bargain? Locate a lost treasure shrouded in deception and mystery.
The catch? Only one can claim it to win…the loser is left to ruin.
As Jane and Adam embark on a trek throughout England they plan to hate their adversary, no matter how attractive, generous, and kind they are.
Sometimes, plans change…
About the Author
After self-publishing science fiction novels over a period of years, I made the truly odd move into historical romance. Although romance is a strong thread in nearly all my works, I came to straight-up, nothing-but-romance only after turning fifty. Since then, I am plagued by the question, “What took me so long?” My awakening began rather innocuously when I casually watched the 2015 version of Poldark. Before I knew, I was falling headlong into the abyss of historical romance and read fifteen such novels over a three-month span. However, no number could sufficiently scratch my itch for more, so I did what any writer would do and began constructing stories of my own. In April of 2019, I received my first contract with Entangled Publishing.
It is with the greatest of reluctance that I put pen to paper. I am not, I assure your readers, sir, one to speak ill of my fellows, but I also believe most strongly that we of the highest ranks must set a good example to others.
Sadly, what I have observed with my own eyes leads me to believe that a previous correspondent to your paper has the right of it. One of the highest ladies in the land outside of the Royal Family has, indeed, been led into the most grevious of errors by the kindness of her heart.
Just the other night, I was at the theatre. It was not a memorable occasion to begin with — a very mediocre crowd, and much focused on some actor from the provinces who was making his debut on the London stage. At the interval, however, a vast crowd, all very merry, joined us, which was a great improvement, for what is the point of getting dressed to attend the theatre, if few people see you?
But I digress.
Miss C., a young person (I do not say ‘lady’, though she aspires to such) who currently lives in the household of the great lady I mentioned, was reprimanded — very properly, I might add — by the cousin who is the head of her family, and responded most pertly.
Are these the manners she learns at a ducal table, I ask you?
Perhaps so. You will be shocked — I was shocked, sir — to know that one much closer to the great lady’s heart (though not precisely what a proper gentlewoman would consider family) was also seen behaving scandalously a few days earlier.
I happened to be walking in Hyde Park on one of the first days without snow and fog, and I came across Miss J. G. in the arms of Lord D., who has been heard to wager he will be there to catch the maiden, if maiden she be, when she falls.
Miss J. G., you will know, is said to be the ward of said great lady (though the polite world knows she has no right to be in a ducal household, unless in the most menial — or the most scandalous of positions). It appears she has inherited the appetites of the mother who gave away her virtue to the great lady’s husband.
I interrupted them and they were soon after joined by Miss J. G.’s sister and Lord H. — another scandalous pairing.
Furthermore, the newly minted earl, Lord C., might look to the company that his sister, Lady F., is keeping under the sponsorship of the great lady. As if walking the back alleys of London with only a one-handed footman for protection is not foolish enough, she has now taken up with the Recluse of Cambridge!
Alas. One hears rumours that the great lady’s husband is ailing, and that his ailment is of the type to affect the brain. Perhaps the condition is infectious, for what else can explain such terrible flaws in judgement on the part of a lady we should all look up to.
I am sure you and your readers will join me in my concern over the ruin that encouraging such behaviours will make of public morals. In my own family, moral turpitude had such terrible consequences that my only recourse was to flee my home. Let a public outcry arise before London likewise sinks entirely into the mire.
I remain, most sincerely,
Lady Ashbury, is, of course, having a go at the Duchess of Haverford, patroness of a Ladies’ Society formed to help veterans. She also takes a swipe at the heroines of three of the stories, plus Jessica Grenford, the sister of my heroine, Matilda Grenford.
For more about these stories of love in a time of ice, see our Fire & Frost page, which has blurbs for each story and buy links for most retailers of ebooks. You can also buy Fire & Frost in print from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Lady Asbury appears in my Children of the Mountain King series. She is the wicked sister-in-law of my Earl of Ashbury, the hero of the second book, who is one of the people she is accusing of moral turpitude; safely enough, because he hasn’t ventured from his estate since he recovered from the injury that crippled him to find his wife and brother dead, children sent off to school, and sister-in-law gone.
Your readers might be interested to
peek into the noble world of prizefighting, pugilism and beyond. This reader
has too many questions for what is proper and what is right when it comes to
the social aspect of athletes. Perhaps your column may help me find the answers
If there was ever a champion of
hearts, former pugilist “Corinthian” John Arthur could contend for the title.
Those who consider themselves amongst The Fancy will recognize the
now-unblemished visage of the man from those infamous mills. Just as many of
our other pugilistic favorites have gone on to flourish in other professions
that don’t require fists, Mr. Arthur has shown prowess with pocket change. For
once a pugilist retires, is he not still the ennobled fellow we cheered for,
and dare I say, gambled for?
Gone are his blackened eyes and
scraped knuckles. Some say he’s found patrons amongst the Mayfair set. Some say
he’s found a patroness.
Could it be the lovely yet unmatched
eldest daughter of Lord L___? Despite her lively figure, she’s so close to
being on the shelf that her younger sister must dust her daily! It did not go
unnoticed that Mr. Arthur danced with the lady at the private ball of Lady
Would we cheer such a matching, now
that the prizefighter has a home in Marylebone? Is he still the heroic figure
he once was, or now that his days of fisticuffs have drawn to a close, we
withdraw our favor? As for the lady who seems to have captured his eye, do we
condemn this particular thorny flower to wilt on the vine, or let her pursue a
match that is less agreeable to her lineage?
Lydia Sommerset is an earl’s daughter. At the ripe age of twenty-five, she
still wears the lavish gowns and dances the dainty steps of the haute
ton as if she were pursuing a husband; but her goals are far more
personal. Instead, she pursues her tormenters: the men who bet that taking a
girl’s virginity really can cure a brothel’s plague. Pugilism, England’s
manliest pastime, is her only relief. Training in secret with a female boxer
keeps her sane, but when her instructor is hired away by one of the men she is
seeking to destroy, she is in a bind.
Arthur was a street kid who dazzled with his fists, he now impresses as a
miracle worker on the London Stock Exchange. But a man can’t forget a boyhood
spent in the gutter. Easy-going and affable, John Arthur knows he should be
happy with a full belly and coin-filled pockets. But when he finds a woman who
finds boxing as vital as he does, his life gets suddenly complicated.
between revenge and finding love with a man who might truly understand her,
Lady Lydia must commit to opening her heart or closing it forever.
John walked into the
crowd. The ring was marked out by lazy ropes on the floor, men crowding the
lines. Typically, the ladies’ fight was first, but some young amateurs must
have taken the opening slot. Ladies’ fights worked the crowd into a frenzy.
Hopefully, Vasily could properly protect Lady Lydia when the time came.
Bess was nowhere to be
seen. John pushed through the mob of people. The mill was still going none of the men wanted to let him pass, so he elbowed the best
he could. Before he knew it, he was face to face with Vasily, whose meaty,
folded arms gave no unsure impression of his feelings.
“Hello, old friend,”
John said, restoring his aristocratic dialect.
Lady Lydia peered around
the mountain of a man, surprise writ across her face. Her hood was still up,
masking those who might try to recognize her, but anyone who knew Vasily would
spot her instantly.
“What are you doing here?”she demanded. Her eyes trailed down to his undone cravat and partially unbuttoned shirt.
He’d fight bare-chested,
but the first ceremony of any match was peeling off the garments. The room was
already hot with anticipation of blood.
“I should ask you the
same. This is no place for a lady,” he said. “Are you part of the Fancy?” His
eyes flicked to the big man. The crowd erupted. John didn’t need to look at the
ring to know that one of the fighters was knocked out. Money would be changing
hands soon, the ring would be cleared, and the next match would be set.
Lady Lydia glanced to
the ring and back to him. People elbowed past, everyone wanting the best
vantage point. She was uncomfortable with him, that much was clear, but she
didn’t seem to be bothered by the jostling masses. She seemed the type to abhor
the crush of this sweaty basement, but here she was, at ease with them and not
“Should you need any
further assistance,” he said, glancing at the pony-sized driver, “I am at your
disposal. However, I have a pressing matter in just a few more minutes.”
“You took a fight on the
same night as our invitation to dine?” She seemed insulted.
Should she be insulted?
He fought every night he could, and the invitation was issued days before he
knew the night of the fight. It was the only way they could keep ahead of the
“A prizefighter must
in the name, is it not? So what good would I be if I turned down such
invitations, whether to dine or to bleed?”
“That’s a pretty speech
for a half-dressed man,” she countered.
“You should hear my
speeches when I am thoroughly undressed,” he said, flashing a smile that he was
almost certain would earn him a backhand from her driver.
“I’m not certain I could
stand it,” she said, not batting an eye.
He took a step forward,
not thinking, just wanting to engage her further, smell her hair somehow?
Oranges and vanilla would be a far sight better than the stink of unwashed men.
But Vasily wedged his foot between John’s and hers. He retreated, and Vasily
gave a grunt of approval.
“I would be happy to help you push your limits,” John said, bowing as best he could amongst the crowd.
“Fine manners, wot you
got,” he heard from beside him.
He straightened to see
Bess Abbott standing there, hands on hips, towering over Lady Lydia and damn
near looking the Russian bear in the eye.
“Bess!” He clapped his
hand on her shoulder and shook her hand with the other.
“John,” she said,
grinning. “Like the old days, right? Me on first, then you bringing in the
crowd for the crimson end.”
“Nuffin’ like old
mates,” he said, his accent shifting again.
He glanced past Vasily’s meat barrier to Lady Lydia, who was looking at him with an expression he couldn’t read. What better time to scandalize the highborn than when they went slumming?
Meet Edie Cay
Katie Stine, writing as Edie Cay, has an MFA in Creative Writing, a bachelor’s degree in English as well as a bachelor’s degree in Music. She is a history buff, an avid traveler, and an eager reader of all genres. She has lived all over the United States, but currently calls California home. Under her other name, she has published articles and participated in documentary filmmaking. She is a member of the Paper Lantern Writers, a historical fiction author collective, as well as a member of the Historical Novel Society. A LADY’S REVENGE is her first published novel.