Because history is fun and love is worth working for

Author: Elizabeth Ellen Carter

What’s a poor girl to do?

By a special correspondent

The Four-to-One Fancy by Elizabeth Ellen CarterThe Ladies London Observer has sent your reporter up north to the fair city of York to report on events happening outside of London, renowned for the Season. Yes, Season with a capital ‘S’.

For many of us, there is one Season, but for those young women who are not fortunate enough to make their debut and be selected to have their coming out attended by royalty, some of the regional cities of the Kingdom may yield eligible young men – especially if they happen to be short of a dowry.

This is what leads me today to sit in Lady Clune’s salon to observe the young ladies of quality who have come to her notice.

“I take my role as hostess for the season very seriously, indeed,” said Lady Clune. “Before they receive vouchers for various events under my auspices, the young ladies are required to attend an at-home so I can see their comportment.

“I wish to ensure that as many successful matches will be made as possible. What we lack in numbers, we make up for in enthusiasm!”

I look around and see a dozen young ladies at today’s event, there are precious few young men.

Lady Clune sees the direction of my gaze and is keen to reassure me that there will be plenty of young men of quality from the towns outside York – ah yes, the landed gentry. I ask our hostess who she has the most hopes for

She discreetly points to a couple of local beauties who, I have to admit, wouldn’t be out of place in London. My eye is caught by two young ladies in conversation in a small party. They draw my attention because of how very alike they are and not just in physical appearance – willowy and graceful with auburn hair.

Their mannerisms mirrored each other completely – the raise of a hand to take a cup of tea, the slight tilt to the right as they considered their part in the conversation. It was the most remarkable display.

I discreetly took a step closer as I would listen in on the conversation. One would begin a story or an anecdote and the other would take up the story seamlessly, as thought it was being told by one person.

“Ah, I see you have spotted Lady Ivy and Lady Iris Bigglesworth,” said Lady Clune uncertainly. This  particularly piqued my interest.

The good lady inclined her head and silently indicated that I should follow her a discreet distance away.

“There is something you should know about the girls,” she began.

I told her that I had guessed that Lady Ivy and Lady Iris were twins.

“Yes that is true and of all nine sisters, they and their older sister Josefina have the best chances of making a successful match.”

Nine? All from the same family? All hoping to find husbands?

“Oh! No, I should clarify, three of those girls are still in the school room, cared for by late Earl of Seahaven’s fifth and youngest wife, Lady Patience Bigglesworth.”

Six young women – seven if you include the young widow from the same family all in York for the same purpose. The late Earl must have left a substantial dowry.

Lady Clune shook her head sadly. There is barely enough to make a decent dowry for one, she tells me.

“I don’t care to be quoted on this, but the new Earl of Seahaven has been most dreadful to the girls. They were living quite happily in the family holding and there was enough room for them to do so comfortably but he refused,” she said.

“He tossed the girls out and most of them have had to,” Lady Clune drops her voice to a whisper, “work for a living.

“Mind you, Seahaven’s affairs were in the most dreadful shambles. He so expected a son from each woman he married that he never got around to updating his will.”

Excerpt from the Four-to-One Fancy (previously published in Desperate Daughters). This novella will be released as a standalone on 1 May.

Iris watched her sister shift the heavily laden basket onto another arm.

“Here, let me take it for a while,” she said.

Ivy shot her a grateful look and relinquished the basket.

After a moment Iris spoke. “Are you nervous?” she asked.

“What about?”

“I feel the weight of expectation—on you, me, Josefina—to find a husband this season.”

Ivy nodded. “Patience has expended an enormous sum to give us this opportunity, that to go back to Starbrook without an offer…”

“It’s only because our sisters gave up their portion of the dowry that we have an acceptable sum to offer,” Iris added.

“We have our titles, but they mean little,” said Ivy.

“We may not be pretty enough to attract the eye of a suitable gentleman.”  Iris let out a long, dispirited sigh.

Silence fell between them for good long minutes before Ivy asked. “What kind of gentleman would you like to marry?”

Iris considered the question a moment before shrugging a shoulder.

“He must be kind. I’d like him to be handsome. Most of all, he must love family because I would want you to visit me often.”

“That worries me as much as not finding husbands,” Ivy confessed. “What if we do? We would marry and be apart for the first time in our lives.”

The notion caused Iris to stop. She turned to her sister.

“I… I can’t imagine not seeing you every day,” she said.

They remained there on the pavement, each lost in their own thoughts.

“Do you think there may be brothers in attendance?”

“There might,” said Iris, tilting her head. “We would need to see an invitation list to be sure. Why do you ask?”

Ivy raised her chin in firm resolve. “It is the only way forward. By marrying brothers, we would be sure to see each other more often than if we married anyone else. We have to marry brothers. It is the only way.”

Count’s Actions Get Curiouser and Curioser

There’s been scandalous talk in some corners of the Bon Ton regarding the company kept by the eligible bachelor, Armand Danger, Comte de Ytres.

Rumour has it that he was spotted at White’s seeking out the company of Lord Kingston Prendegast. Now your correspondent has it on good authority that the only reason why one seeks out the man willingly is to seek an invitations to one of his parties.

Few details are known about what goes on inside these bacchanals, as both guests and servants are sworn to secrecy suffice to say that the finest of spirits (and the finest of the lightskirts) are to be found.

We are curious to know what the good count is up to given his predeliction for attending auction houses of late and being seen in the company of one Miss Jade Bridges, sister of the current proprietor of Bridges & Sons.


To find his future, he must own his past…

An excerpt from A Curio For The Count:
Lord Prendegast was easy to spot.

His costume hinted at a Tudor style – a close-fitting doublet in red satin edged in black which featured mameluke sleeves of red satin slashed with black. His hose was the same shade of scarlet. His shoes were red leather held by gold buckles and black bows, while gold rings and a striking collar made of large square links sat around his shoulders and neck.

Armand imagined this would be how a libertine Sir Francis Drake might dress. But who was he representing?


It seemed appropriate.

Prendegast headed his way. Armand acknowledged him with a nod, but not his name.

His host clasped him by the shoulders. “Come now, do you see nothing to your liking?”

Armand forced a laugh. “I see plenty – too much to take in all at once.”

“Then greed is not your deadly sin. Very wise of you. The virtuous say to delay gratification is to make the conquest more satisfying. Perhaps there is something to it, perhaps not. Every taste is catered for here. You must be one of my first-time guests.”

He nodded over to a clutch of colorfully dressed prostitutes.

“Nothing is off-limits to my guests. If they do not whet your appetite, you may wish to sample the serving wenches as well as the food.”

He watched as Armand took it all in – the spectacle, the displays of flesh. More welcome than any of that was the smell of freshly roasted meat on a spit.

Prendegast noticed his interest.

“Lust and gluttony can be a potent combination. Enjoy.”

Armand bowed, took another sip from his ale, and put a lightness in his step to stop himself from looking entirely sober and used the opportunity to wander around the gardens.

There were more here than just the statue of Athena. There were at least a dozen magnificent life-sized figures from the pantheon of Greek deity. Armand had no idea who the sculptor was, but he could appreciate the workmanship. It was tempting to run his hands along the shapely calf of Aphrodite, so he did and ignored any strange glances that might have been directed his way.

Why not? Nothing was off-limits.

The anonymous sculptor was a master of his craft. Armand understood how Prometheus thought, his desire to create a beautiful woman – his perfect woman captured in marble and yet brought to life.

Armand allowed himself to feel a measure of hope for his mission.

Given the sculptures in the grounds, perhaps it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that the Thalatte clock was in this building after all.


Raised as an Englishman, Armand Danger, Comte de Ytres, is troubled by a dream from his childhood that leaves him speculating on his French past.

He is convinced an elaborate clock belonging to his late father, executed in the French Revolution, holds the answers he seeks.

Miss Jade Bridges works as a valuer in her family’s London antiques shop and auction house. One day she receives mysterious letter from an anonymous client willing to pay any price for a very specific statue clock.

While in pursuit of the clock, Jade and Armand meet and there’s immediate attraction. But how can it amount to anything when they are rivals for the very same object?

As the couple grow closer and attraction deepens, they agree to join forces to find the timepiece together.
Then an antiques dealer is killed. It appears someone else is willing to extract a fatal price to possess the clock for themselves.

What is it about this curio for the count that someone is willing to commit murder for it?

About Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Elizabeth Ellen Carter is a USA Today best selling author who writes richly detailed historical romantic adventures that have been praised for their strong characters and ‘edge-of-seat intrigue’. Her eleventh full length title, Deceiving The Duke, will be released early in 2022 by Dragonblade Publishing.

A former newspaper journalist, Elizabeth ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. She lives in Queensland, Australia with her amazing husband and two adorable and mischievous cats. In addition to writing books, Elizabeth produces a online reader magazine called Love’s Great Adventure.

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All bets are off when love is on the line

Tempers Gallop; An Imprudent Wager Is Made!

From your special correspondent
York 1818

All bets are off when love is on the lineAll eyes will be on young, up-and-coming horse trainer Captain James Bentley and his cousin Captain Sir John Bentley, Viscount Tyrell, at this year’s York Races.

The pair of cavalry veterans have sunk every last penny into the Tyrell estate with ambitions to turn the dilapidated pile into Yorkshire’s finest training facility. This year they will enter a young colt, Crimson Lad, into the stakes.

It’s a risky venture made even more perilous by an imprudent contretemps witnessed by your correspondent.

The Earl of Seahaven, 0ne of this season’s regulars, was seen at the concert held at the  Merchant Adventurers Hall openly mocking the Bentley cousins’ enterprise directly in front of Sir John himself.

The handsome young Viscount– who has newly come by his title, it must be noted – did not take kindly to the insult, and wagered the Earl the princely sum of One-Hundred Pounds on the outcome of a horse race of the Earl’s choosing.

Twin sisters, two cousins... it could be love, or a four-to-one fancy.Such fits of impetuousness are not unknown in these events, dear reader, but the matter becomes all the more intriguing when one learns there is more than just gentlemanly pride involved.

Earlier that evening, Viscount Tyrell was seen sitting alongside the dowager Countess of Seahaven, Lady Patience Bigglesworth, and her step-daughter Lady Ivy Bigglesworth, who is considered to be one of this season’s diamonds. The Viscount and Lady Ivy were also seen in conversation prior to the confrontation with the Earl of Seahaven.

A good source tells me that the Earl was quite surprised to see his late cousin’s young widow and her brood of step-daughters so well turned out, as it has been long rumoured that pleas to improve the dowry of the late Earls’ six eligible daughters have fallen on deaf ears.

I don’t wager as a rule, but if the young Bigglesworth ladies have found champions in the Bentley cousins, I would put my guinea on a victory for Crimson Lad at this year’s York Races.

About The Four-to-One Fancy

Fate has given twins Ivy and Iris Bigglesworth a season in York. They vow to marry only brothers so the sisters will never be apart. But what are the odds of finding and falling in love with two eligible brothers? Hearts race when they meet two handsome cousins who are betting their future on a risky racing venture. Soon the twins learn there are more than fortunes to be lost on a four-to-one fancy.

Excerpt from The Four-to-One Fancy:

The Earl of Seahaven was about a decade-and-a-half older than himself, John estimated, which would put him in his late thirties. Already there were signs that the man was not as healthy as he ought to be.

A redness in the nose indicated a fondness of a little too much drink. A bit of softness around the middle indicated an equal love of food.

He was also introduced to the Countess who, no doubt, was a diamond of the first water in her day. At a distance, she could still claim the title of handsome, but her beauty now was brittle.

After bowing to the woman, John found himself wishing more than anything else to be back in the convivial company of Ivy and her stepmother.

“Did I hear right, Tyrell? You have an interest in the ole gee-gees?”

John gritted his teeth at the use of such a juvenile term for horses. He answered: “Indeed, we do, sir. A very promising colt we hope will do well at the York races.”

“Well, I’ve been known to back a few winners in my time,” the Earl boasted. “A bit of success with the fillies, if you know what I mean.”

John did know and his contempt for the man grew.

“Oh, there’s more to Lord Tyrell’s interest than just the horse,” said Lady Clune, cheerfully oblivious to the rising tension between the two men. “The Viscount and his cousin are looking to build a training facility for racing horses.”

The Earl burst out laughing. “I’d say you’re a damned fool. It’s one thing to have a flutter, quite another to sink your life savings into it.”

John’s jaw ached from gritting his teeth to prevent himself from setting the man on his arse—peer or not.

“Would you care to wager on it, my lord?” he found himself saying.

He watched the Earl’s changing expression closely—humor, smug satisfaction, surprise, then curiosity.

“A wager, you say?”

“A hundred pounds on a winner. You pick the race.”

John heard Lady Clune gasp.

If his rational self had been in charge of his brain, he’d have simply ignored the Earl, but the insult had been given, not just to himself, but also to the Bigglesworth girls. The idea of becoming their champion greatly appealed.

Find out the full story: The Four-to-One Fancy in Desperate Daughters.

Pre-order now.


Elizabeth Ellen Carter is a USA Today bestselling author and an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats.

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