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More News from Lady Ablethorp

Dear Readers,

One of our favorite sources of scandal and on dit, Lady Ablethorp is at it once again. This conversation was overheard in its entirety by our intrepid London reporter.

“Have you heard?” Lady Ablethorp said as she approached her friend dressed in a frothy pink gown and chapeau, whilst carrying a charming pink umbrella, though no rain was in sight.

“Heard what?” the Honorable Miss Patricia Helmsworthy said with keen interest.

The day was balmy with a few clouds ambling above them. Lady Ablethorp looked around, checking none of those she planned to skewer were in the vicinity of Bond Street. Thankfully the coast was clear. “Did you hear about Lady Jersey?”

“I have not.” Miss Patricia Helmsworthy said, leaning closer.

“It appears that most esteemed lady was caught in a gust of wind and somehow her skirt and her chemise flew into the air, up around her head. Her privates were exposed!”

”Indeed!” Miss Patricia’s eyes went wide.

Lady Ablethorp tapped a finger to her cheek. “She was wearing drawers, but they are like chaps, and they made not one bit of difference.”

“Shocking!” Miss Patricia tittered, a flush rising to her cheeks.

“There is more! Lord Kingfisher received a new pair of teeth, and they look mighty strange.”

Much to Lady Ablethorp’s dismay, Miss Patricia merely sniffed.

“Word is, his teeth came from a dead soldier at Waterloo.”

“Indeed,” Miss Patricia said in a somewhat bored voice.

Not at all what Lady Ablethorp was expecting. More disappointment.

“I have a pair of those myself!” Miss Patricia grinned, showing teeth resembling a favorite mare of Lady Ablethorp’s. If she recalled, the mare’s name was Bernice. Lady Ablethorp cleared her throat, then offered a smile. “Yours are quite nice, my dear, though they must have belonged to a very large soldier!”

Miss Patricia sniffed again. “Indeed.”

“Have you traveled lately?” Lady Ablethorp asked knowing well that the Honorable Miss Patricia Helmsworthy had traveled recently, she suspected much to the lady’s chagrin.

“Indeed!” Miss Patricia said, with a wide smile as she rested her hands atop the handle of her umbrella. “To the Lake District, in fact.”

“And was it a comfortable trip?” Lady Ablethorp raised her monocle.

“Oh, indeed, it was, though I did have to share a bed at the Winged Swan, a quite charming inn.”

Lady Ablethorp winked, though it may have looked more like a twitch to observers. “You did not sleep alone?” Lady Ablethorp feigned shock. “In truth, it would be quite lowering for the Honorable Patricia Helmsworthy to share a bed at the inn, common practice or no.” It was her turn to sniff.

“Indeed. As I mentioned, I did share a bed!”

Why was the woman smiling? Lady Ablethorp waited for Miss Patricia’s embarrassment, for her horror. “Honorables” were not meant to lower themselves to cozying up in bed with a stranger. That was for the middle class and poor. And yet Miss Patricia seemed unabashed. Lady Ablethorp waited. And waited. Finally… “Were you not discomforted sharing your bed with riffraff?“

Miss Patricia rolled her eyes skyward. “Not in the least. For the bed I shared was with the Captain Lansdowne.”

“The marquess’ brother? That captain?”


There were those teeth again. “One of the heroes of Trafalgar?”

“Indeed.” Miss Patricia said, her smile increasing.

Lady Ablethorp was confounded and began to imagine Captain Lansdowne. Tall and stately and fit. Very, very fit. And young, not yet thirty. Lady Ablethorp liked the young ones best.

“Are you sure it was the dark-haired handsome one?” Lady Ablethorp said.

Miss Patricia smiled so wide it looked as if her cheeks might break. “We two spent a lovely night beneath the covers. Most lovely indeed.”

What a lucky duck.

About The Bond: Rosamund is at a dangerous crossroads…

Lady Rosamund Fielding hides a secret so terrible it could ruin her, her family, and Major General Lord Rhys Lansdowne, the man she loves. Rose and Rhys were inseparable in childhood—their friendship was the one shining light in Rose’s dark upbringing.

Yet when Rhys proposes, Rose refuses, for he can never know her shameful truth.

Returned from the Napoleonic wars and now the Marquess of Ravenscroft, Rhys is determined to uncover the reason behind Rose’s rejection and win her hand and her heart once and for all.

Yet Rose’s father, Earl Fielding, is demanding Rose accept Brigadier Viscount Pennworth’s marriage proposal, threatening dire consequences if she does not obey.

Time is of the essence as Rose faces this difficult crossroad, where she is forced to confront past demons and choose a path.

Should she marry Rhys, deceiving him, and forever be branded a liar in his eyes? She cannot.

Wed Pennworth? Never.

Or flee? Away from Rhys, away from her father, and away from all she holds dear.

Rose has faced many dangerous choices in her life. Will this final one destroy her?

Available Now:  Amazon: Everywhere Else:

About Samma Brand:  Award-winning author Vicki Stiefel now also writes as Sanna Brand, whose Regency Romance, THE BOND (The Secret Tales Book 1) launches May 15. Vicki has also written the fantasy romance series, The Made Ones Saga, as well as The Afterworld Chronicles, an urban fantasy series. Her award-winning mystery/thrillers feature homicide counselor Tally Whyte.

Vicki tapped into her love of knitting to produce Chest of Bone The Knit Collection and co-write 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters.

After running The Writers Studio with her late husband, William G. Tapply, Vicki taught fiction writing at Clark University.

She is currently working on THE DECEPTION, The Secret Tales Book Two.


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Will Scandal Prevent the Mistletoe Assembly?

Dear readers,

This letter, we assume it is a copy, was left on the editor’s desk anonymously. The information contained herein is so scandalous that we feel obligated to print the missive in its entirety. You dear readers shall be the judges of whether or not you each believe attendance at the Mistletoe Assembly is appropriate or not.

Dear Mrs. Pearler,

I have heard quite reliably that all the tickets to the Grand Mistletoe Assembly have been sold and while I congratulate you on the success of the event to be held at your magnificent residence, I must point out a grave error that must be resolved.

I, Lady Agatha Witherspoon, third cousin to Lady Cowper, was unable to procure one!

Surely, you can find room for one more person, especially one who is held in high regard by members of the ton and who travels in the best circles. I was so looking forward to attending as I heard from my cook (not that I listen to idle rumors from belowstairs, mind you) that you will be serving an array of  delicacies only those of us with the most refined palettes will appreciate.

A monstrous rumor has also been circulating (not that I gossip, but one cannot always leave a room when other people’s conversations are taking place) that tickets have been sold to a female boxer, a woman who was once accused of murdering her husband, and the widow of a philandering artist. I shudder to think these three creatures will be mingling with the crème de la crème of the ton. My heart is palpitating at the mere thought. (Excuse me while I ring for my maid to bring my vinaigrette.)

I suppose you must allow riffraff in when they pay the price of the ticket to a charity ball, but perhaps you’ll consider a charity lecture or sermon next time. I am thrilled of course that your event has already brought in a considerable sum for the foundling home you support. I gather even more will be raised from the silent auction that will take place. If you can find one more ticket, for me, I guarantee that I shall be bidding on the exquisite diamond necklace you are donating to the auction. Are you not afraid of thieves, setting such a tempting item on display? With your unfortunate lack of diligence in ferreting out suitable patrons, you may have one in your midst.

I do hope to hear from you soon. I must have time to order a new gown.


Lady Agatha Witherspoon.

About the Stories in The Grand Mistletoe Assembly: a Regency Christmas Anthology: Can the festive ball of the Season bring these couples together in time for the holidays? A collection of Regency romances with star-crossed lovers, fast-paced plots and timeless connections. Cuddling under mistletoe, fine lace, snowy linen: true love can be found in the flickering lights of a hundred gas lamps. Pearler House is bedecked for the holidays and everyone is attending the event of a lifetime.

He gambles for a ticket to the ball, but might win the love of his life.

High society’s rules make it impossible to meet. Is their love doomed to remain a scandalous secret?

A young woman forging a career as a bare-knuckled boxer. A footman looking for something more … and an overturned platter at the event of the year.

Will her secret stand in the way of their second chance at love?

He’s her brother’s best friend, and he wants her for Christmas.

What’s an earl to do when his sister’s best friend becomes the one temptation he can’t resist?

Experience the joy of the season with six all-new tales of passion. Some are sweet, some are spicy, all will capture your heart.

Available at:

About the Authors:

Bestselling author Sara Adrien writes hot and heart-melting regency romance with a Jewish twist. As a law professor-turned-author, she writes about clandestine identities, whims of fate, and sizzling seduction. If you like unique and intelligent characters, deliciously sexy scenes, and the nostalgia of afternoon tea, then you’ll adore Sara Adrien’s tender tear-jerkers.

Jemma Frost:  Jemma Frost writes steamy, unconventional romances for an easy escape into history. She grew up in the Midwest where she visited the library every day and read romance novels voraciously! Now, she lives in North Carolina with her cat, Spencer, and dreams of stories to be written! She also writes contemporaries under the name Hallie Bennett.

Nina Jarrett, best-selling author, likes to tell mischievous tales of life-changing decisions and character transformations while drinking excellent coffee and avoiding cookies. When she finished school she moved on to work in non-profits assisting recovering drug addicts in South Africa. She now lives in Florida with her real-life hero and fellow bibliophile.

Edie Cay writes Regency Historical Romance about women’s boxing. She obtained dual BAs in Creative Writing and in Music, and her MFA in Creative Writing from University of Alaska Anchorage, and has gone on to win numerous writing awards. Once a month she interviews other authors on the Paper Lantern Writers YouTube channel! Tune in.

Award-Winning and International Bestselling author Tanya Wilde developed a passion for reading when she had nothing better to do than lurk in the library during her lunch breaks. Her love affair with pen and paper soon followed after she devoured all of their historical romance books! She lives in South Africa and when not writing, loves to go off on adventures.

Pamela Gibson’s novelette is called Lily’s Scandalous Secret and features Emily’s aunt, Lily Whittington, from Scandal’s Promise. She’s back in London and meets a man from her past who invites her to the ball. Their “connection” is instant, but Lily shies away because she has a terrible secret and can never marry again.

Excerpt from Lily’s Scandalous Secret:

He took her hand and gently rubbed her covered wrist. She closed her eyes and let herself feel the erotic strokes, imagining those fingers elsewhere. When the carriage stopped, Alastair leaned closer.

“I know we’ve just recently become reacquainted, but it seems like the years have fallen away. May I escort you to the charity assembly at the end of the week? Your niece told me you are reclusive, although I’ve yet to understand why, but I shall honor your decision if you choose not to go.”

She wanted to say yes. She wanted to spend as much time in Alastair’s company as she could before returning to Langston Grange. She wanted to savor his expressions, his seductive voice, and his turns of phrase. She wanted memories of him to cleanse the horrors in her past.

Others would be at the assembly, people he knew and who had known his deceased wife. His daughter would be there. No. She couldn’t risk being recognized by a dowager who might remember the old scandal.

The evening had been perfect, and here she was, contemplating ruining it by refusing to give him the answer he sought. She shouldn’t be churlish. Nothing happened at the theatre. She was being a ninny. She should say yes, say she was looking forward to the assembly.

They entered the quiet house and slipped into the drawing room, away from the prying eyes of the night footman. “Can I offer you a brandy? My nephew’s late father put down an impressive cellar both here and at Cardmore Hall.”

“I have a better idea.” He looked into her eyes as he slowly tugged her glove completely free. He lowered his mouth to her hand, and when his lips touched the inside of her wrist, tingles went straight to her center. His tongue traced a pattern there that nearly melted her knees, then he drew her gently toward him and kissed her.

She’d forgotten what a delicious kisser he was, eliciting murmurs and sighs as the kiss deepened and their tongues entwined. His mouth brushed her ear. “Say yes, Lily. Say you’ll attend.”

When his lips caressed her neck and feathered kisses behind her ear, she knew what her answer would be.

Caution: Attending the Theatre May Be Hazardous!

Rumor has it that the coming season of the Drury Lane Theatre is wracked with drama. Not – as you would hope – with Shakespearean dramas, but rather with drama behind the stage. In fact, there have been so many scandals that one must wonder whether anyone respectable will attend the next production.

First, the company ran out of money for repairs. If whispers are to be believed, a woman of ill repute approached an esteemed personage for an investment. Even more shocking, the aforementioned personage – known to our ears as a duke of extreme eccentricities – put his own money into the theater. One can only guess how the woman persuaded him.

Then, there were whispers that a lady of good family wrote the script. While this type of story may be charming in the privacy of a drawing room, it beggars belief that the theater company expects polite society to brings its ladies and daughters to see a play with such shocking origins.

And now, dear Tattlers, we have heard a whisper that the construction of the sets and the very structure of the theater has been entrusted to a woman carpenter. For the last few decades, the theater (when not burned to the ground) has always been run by the Billings and Sons Carpentry. With the demise of Billings earlier this year, his daughter Miss Billings has taken over the business.

Our source, who is highly placed in the Carpentry Guild, indicates this is highly irregular and leaves the theater at risk of physical calamities. A poor carpentry job could lead to broken sets, trapdoors gone awry, and even the collapse of the audience’s box sets.

To make it worse, Lord Preston and his strange band of ruffians at Northfield Hall have seized this opportunity to sink their teeth into London. Rumor has it that Miss Billings has hired a Northfield Hall carpenter as her supervisor. One can only imagine he will be redesigning the theater so that the common man is in the boxes and good society must stand in the pit!

I am sure you will agree with me, Tattlers, that this season at Drury Lane sounds abysmal. I, for one, will be at the front row to see what happens next.

About The Hellion of Drury Lane: For Samantha Billings, nothing can go right. Ever since she inherited her father’s business as head carpenter for Drury Lane Theatre, she has been fighting off problems from creditors to unending rain. When an inspector of the carpentry guild announces he will stop her work unless she hires a master carpenter, Samantha fears she may lose everything – but she resolves to overcome, one way or another.

For Oliver Chow, nothing can go wrong. In London for the first time ever, he is celebrating his new status as a master carpenter and looking for the adventure of a lifetime. When he happens upon a woman carpentress in distress, he is happy to help – even if it is in name alone.

Thrown together to thwart the guild’s inspector, Samantha and Oliver discover that sometimes, a little drama behind the scenes can have a surprisingly happy outcome.

Pre-order NOW!

Excerpt:  Samantha walked straight into the trap: Benedict Haypenny of the City Carpentry Guild.

“Ah, Miss Billings. I thought I might find you here.”

An unpleasant shiver ran down her back at the mere sight of him. Even over the age of forty, he was a stick of a man, with cheekbones and elbows and knees that jutted out at all angles. Worse, he looked at everything—and everyone, including Samantha and each of her sisters—with greedy, beady eyes.

“Funny, I didn’t think you liked to see where the work actually happens.” Samantha never had been good at keeping her true feelings out of her words, so she didn’t see much point in trying. Even though it led to moments like this, with Haypenny going red in the neck and ears.

Dad had never liked the man, and neither did she. Haypenny came from a long line of carpenters. His great-grandfather supposedly had been the best carpenter in London, and Samantha was fine believing that might be true. The generations that followed, however, rested on that ancestor’s heritage, until by now, Benedict Haypenny earned money from sending apprentices to do his contracted work while he spent the earnings on clothes and carriages and other fixings, as if he thought he could fashion himself into some kind of gentleman.

Samantha preferred a carpenter who knew what he was and loved himself for it.

“You do like to jest.” Haypenny wagged a finger in the air at her. “Your father did too, the way old friends do.”

“My father had many friends.” Samantha had to lock her tongue between the sharp spikes of her teeth to keep from adding You were not one of them. “What business do you have here, Mr. Haypenny? Or are you just stopping in to admire the best carpentry in all of London?”

“I am sure you can guess, Miss Billings. I am here in my office as Chief Inspector for the City Guild to approve this contract. Who is the master carpenter of the project here at Drury Lane?”

The answer had always been Dad. Until last spring, when he had dropped dead of a heart attack. Benedict Haypenny knew that as well as anyone. “I am.”

Haypenny narrowed his eyes. The gesture felt as rehearsed as the diva Mrs. Beckwith exclaiming surprise at an Act II reveal. “And yet, Miss Billings, you are not a master carpenter.”

It was no wonder Samantha bristled at the mere sight of Haypenny. Who had the time for a stickler such as he? He only applied the rules when he saw fit, and that always seemed to be when it would inconvenience everyone else the most.

“My father was a master carpenter. He passed the business on to me same as he would to a son.” In a bid for diplomacy, Samantha added, “Had I been blessed with a brother.”

“Either way, you or a brother would need to be a master carpenter with the guild to accept contracts such as this one from the Drury Lane Theatre.” Haypenny looked about the group now. Behind him was the cart with the last of the lumber, wheeled by the Pelham brothers from the timber yard. Harry Isaacs and Jack Gorseman had come out from the theater to see what the fuss was about; Samantha could feel them gathering behind her as if preparing to roll up their sleeves for a round of fisticuffs. A few of the actors joined the group, too, attracted to the simmering conflict.

They had a crowd, in other words, and Haypenny was all too happy to play to it. He raised his voice to ask, “Is anyone here a master carpenter?”

The answer was no. Because no one in London cared about having a proper master carpenter except for the City Guild, not when Samantha had earned her reputation alongside Dad as the best craftsman for theater set construction. She hadn’t the money to purchase the status from the guild, and even if she did, she wasn’t sure she wanted to give it to the likes of Haypenny.

“I am in all but name,” Samantha replied, with as much sweetness to her tone as she could manage.

“Unfortunately, it is the name that matters most, my dear.” He had the gall to wink, as if this were a flirtatious repartee.

Years ago, when she had just come of age and started working with Dad in earnest, Haypenny had tried to kiss her. Without even so much as a by-your-leave. Dad had made it clear that day that Haypenny wasn’t welcome at the Theatre. Apparently, that task was up to Samantha now. She fisted her fingers. She didn’t care how much it hurt. Slamming her knuckles against Haypenny’s bony face would be worth it.

From behind her, Flory, the stage manager—God bless him—asked, “What’s all this then?”

“Ah, are you the overseer of this enterprise?” Haypenny swept his arms through the air to encompass the entire theater. “Regretfully, all carpentry work here must cease until a master carpenter joins the Billings company to oversee the project.”

“You want a bribe, is that it? A fat payoff so that I may continue to work?” Samantha advanced, close enough that she really could punch him.

She didn’t. Yet.

“You’re a miserable old codger, do you know that? My father taught me all he knew. I am a better carpenter than you, even if I can’t afford to buy myself a ‘master carpenter’ status. What kind of man stands between a family and their livelihood?”

“My dear woman”—this last word he emphasized, as if it negated every claim Samantha had just made—“I stand between no one and their livelihood. I’m sure I can find some other way to ensure my late friend’s family is taken care of.”

Flory nudged between Samantha and Haypenny. “So you are saying we must find a master carpenter, else you won’t allow any carpentry to be completed at the theater?”

“Where are we to find a master carpenter?” Samantha growled. She knew a dozen or more, of course. But they all had their own businesses. Their own projects. And their own petty reasons not to help her.

It was in that moment that a stranger stepped forward from behind the lumber cart. “I happen to be a master carpenter. Perhaps I can be of assistance.”

About the Author:  Katherine Grant writes award-winning Regency Romance novels for the modern reader. Her writing has been recognized by Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards, the Romance Slam Jam Emma Awards, the Shelf Unbound Indie Book Awards, and more. If you love ballgowns, secret kisses, and social commentary, a book hangover is coming your way.

Evidence of an Ancient Fued between the Scots

Dear Readers,

Today we bring you evidence, written in the hand of Lady Aileana MacDonald, that all was not always well between clans MacLeod and MacDonald. This report, found in an old trunk provides a fascinating look into the past of Scotland.

My sister-in-law, Lady Brighde, has fallen in love with our clan’s gravest enemy, Tormund MacLeod, the Demon of the Seas! A secret she has begged me to keep, for her brother who is my husband, Jamie, would never approve. I just caught them nuzzling each other, except… Tormund wasn’t the monster We’ve always thought, but gentle. They were teasing each other secretively, laughing. The fearsome demon can laugh? Can smile?

Now Tormund has stripped his tunic and is lumbering onto the field to compete in the corn cutting, joining Jamie and the other lairds, and sakes, it seems as if the royal seneschal has…paired the two together? Every year enemies are paired to clear the barley fields, in attempts to force them to work together and broker truces betwixt them—for the winners split the harvest to take home to their people. But have there ever been greater enemies than Tormund, the Demon of the Seas and Jamie, the Devil MacDonald? The blood feud betwixt them spans generations!

Yet I can see the verra stars of heaven blooming in Brighde’s bonny blue eyes as she watches him and he, her, like a hawk tracking its quarry. And Brighde seems so…happy. Of course, she’s always happy. But oft I fear her smile is a mask that hides deeper wounds. Yet as Tormund, all muscle, dark braid woven down the crest of his shaved head, and his body adorned with tattoos, casts his battle-hardened glances at her I realize I see…fondness returned. Tenderness? From a demon?

Sakes, she even wears his talon necklace about her throat. She is too far smitten and I fear, so is he—

Nay, what is this!

Jamie is confronting Tormund! They’re…arguing! Goodness, knives are unsheathing! Brighde is fretting beside me, twisting her necklace about her finger, for it’s clear Jamie is antagonizing Tormund and Tormund isn’t one to back down from a challenge. Our clansmen have charged the field! As are Tormund’s men! A sea of red tartans and yellow kilts snapping together like the jagged jaws of a dragon—

Wait, Brighde! “Where are ye going!” She didna’ hear me! She’s crying out for them to stop but if she’s caught in the melee, oh, I cannae bear to think, for the men have drawn weapons and she’s…wait, Tormund is…shouting at his men to back down! Racing down the field for Brighde who is beseeching them to stop and he has scooped her into his arms and carried her from the fray. He cares more about her safety than about his fight with her brother!

Oh, he has protected her! There’s no denying the love and worry contorting his visage. Silence has fallen. The menfolk have stopped. Except now Jamie knows the truth about his sister’s secret tryst, too. How can one ignore what we have all just witnessed? Both men love Brighde dearly, I can tell. Perhaps a peace between these two headstrong men is possible…if their love for her is stronger than their feud?

About Highland Rogue to Ruin: Known as the “Demon of the Seas,” Tormund MacLeod only wants vengeance for his brother’s murder. At this year’s Lughnasadh festival, the vicious and unyielding Laird of the powerful MacDonald clan will know the bite of his sword. But the festival offers many distractions—including a fair and bonny masked vixen whose touch disarms Tormund, body and soul. And och, like the cursed MacLeod he is, he wants what he shouldn’t have…

Lady Brighde MacDonald might understand her brother’s overprotectiveness—but she doesn’t have to like it. What she needs is the reckless freedom in the arms of an imposing, rough, and sweet-talking Highlander. Only too late, they both recognize that they’re enemies. She’s the sister of the man Tormund wants dead. And he is the brutish blackguard of the clans…

Now their tryst could mean war. Brighde would see a truce, but it means she must convince her brother and the man she loves to lay down their swords. But Tormund hides a long-buried secret that could destroy both clans.

Available Now:  Amazon   B&N   Kobo   Apple   Amazon AU   Amazon CA   Amazon U.K.

About E. Elizabeth Watson:  Elizabeth is an Amazon Top 100 and #1 Barnes and Noble Ebook bestselling author. She is convinced life is better with good coffee, chocolate, and a pair of hiking boots. Ever since her elementary school librarian “published” her epic childhood tales–complete with laminated handmade covers–she’s enjoyed exploring the world through literature.

While studying prehistoric Britain at Newcastle University, Elizabeth found story inspiration in the tumultuous history of the British Isles and the folklore of Scotland. As an undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin, her rock art research drew her to the harsh Texas desert where she imagined charismatic cowboys and the stubborn women who tame them.

An archaeologist and biomed research coordinator, Elizabeth spends her days penning heroes ranging from Scottish and Medieval warriors to Texas cowboys crowned with Stetsons. Whether in kilts or pearl-snaps, her heroes wear plaid! She currently lives on a mountainside in West Virginia with her husband, sons, and various pets.

Always honored to hear from readers, make sure to follow her on:

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Goodreads – E. Elizabeth Watson


No Proper Lady

No proper lady goes in search of scandalous on dits. When those on dits land on one’s own doorstep what is a lady to do? Why, share them, of course!

Whilst not in possession of the details, that certainly won’t stop me from telling all I have observed from a few casual hours watching my neighbors. Having a footman to open the windows just enough to allow the breeze and the conversation to flow into each room is most efficacious.

There is increased activity at the St. James Square home of Lady Camilla Bowles Attington Carrington Whitby. (How pretentious is she to have buried three wealthy husbands? Any lady of good breeding would have stopped at two and left at least one of them to the rest of us.) Her nephew, Lionel Carrington-Bowles, has had a scandalous reputation for years, he and those friends of his. Captain Atherton, who paints those naughty portraits. The barrister, Mr. Forsythe, who has had as many lovers as he has won cases before the King’s Bench. That frightening Bow Street Runner, Archer Colwyn. I cannot begin to tell you what I have heard about his bedchamber adventures!

Speaking of bedchambers, I have it on excellent authority (my own, of course) these four have done something which may create a ripple of scandal throughout London. This impending disaster includes the sinful bookshop run by the Duke of Chelmsford’s brother, a lost journal that names names, the search for said journal, and most frightening, the proprietor of Goodrum’s House of Pleasure!

The pirate queen, Captain El, has been in and out of Lady Camilla’s townhouse in the night (thank goodness for gas lighting on St. James Square.) Lady Honoria Eveleigh was seen with Captain Atherton, alone! Mr. Forsythe called upon Lord Trevellyn’s mysterious widow not during calling hours. Broad sheets are full of horrific murders that have something to do with chess masters and blood rituals, and Mr. Colwyn of Bow Street has been seen challenging the masked chess mistress in residence at, of all places, Goodrum’s.

What does this have to do with a missing journal? From the desperate measures these four scoundrels have taken? Everything! London is rife with rumors of kidnappings, London’s foremost barristers in a remote village up to heaven knows what, brawls at the Earl of Livingston’s exclusive club on Bruton Street. (So I have heard. I have no idea if such a place even exists.) Reports of gunfire at the home of Mrs. Julia Amherst, a widow of unimpeachable morals. Much of this activity takes place under cover of night and even with the gas lighting the view from my windows doesn’t allow me to see everything. More’s the pity.

One hopes these young men will find said journal soon. These chess murders are unsettling. Murder isn’t the done thing in our part of London. So undignified. Such a mess for the servants to clean up. All over some lost journal and the bedchamber antics of four of the most notorious…

Captain Atherton and Mr. Forsythe have just come out of Lady Camilla’s. Do open the window, John. I cannot hear a word they are saying.

More to follow, dear friends!

Lady Gladys Kravitz

About Claiming the Chess Mistress: By night, she’s a masked chess mistress who challenges and trounces all takers; by day, she’s the ethereal white-blonde beauty who volunteers at the children’s refuge in Seven Dials — Charlotte Smythe lives a luxurious double life of ease as the mysterious chess genius at Goodrum’s House of Pleasure..

After spending years as a gifted investigator extricating others from their peccadillos, dedicated Bow Street runner Archer Colwyn has landed in a suds of his own making. The light-hearted journal of sensual exploits he and his school chums kept while students at Cambridge has gone missing, and the secrets within his particular pages, if revealed, could set off deadly consequences.

The dangerous Captain El Goodrum, proprietress of the most infamous house of pleasure in London, holds the key to their retrieval. In exchange for her cooperation, she demands he run a gauntlet of secrets to deliver a master criminal to justice. His only path to the damning pages is the inscrutable chess mistress who not only resents his attempts to romance away his journal pages, but seems to relish his dread and panic at the prospect of the pages becoming public knowledge.

Charlotte craves the kind of refuge she provides to the orphans she rescues from London’s stews. The respite she seeks away from the world in her St. John’s Wood villa with her two house companions is all that keeps her sane, but sometimes, late at night, she needs something more, something even she cannot name.

Excerpt:  “Madame Goodrum, there is a good deal about me of which you are unaware. Many others have underestimated me…” He paused a long, silent moment before finally uttering, “At their own peril.”

“Ah, but there you are wrong. I don’t know whom you’ve dealt with in the past, but I see no peril in front of me now.”

“What do you see?” He leaned close again, his voice tense.

“I see a man desperate to reclaim something which could harm someone very close and dear to him.”

He jerked back as if seared by flames.

“Ah, yes. Now you see – I understand fully what is at stake here.” She kept her voice low and soothing, but she was sure he hadn’t missed the meaning of her words. His eyes had widened and he’d sucked in a sharp breath.

Even though she was certain she’d shattered his nerve, he straightened and demanded, “Stop baiting me. Just tell me. What is it you want?”

She slid a leather portfolio across the desk. “Read the papers inside and then bring me proof of the elimination of the man they concern.” She then placed an expensive vellum card into his hand. “This woman is the key to the return of your journal pages. She’s unlike any other woman you’ve ever encountered, so do not think to deal with her the same way you’d deal with the simpering females of your acquaintance.”

He took the card and studied the expensive, gilded printing.

She knew by heart what was on the carefully crafted card: “Madame Domino, Chess Mistress Extraordinaire” Beneath the name were gold edged letters for four nights of the week – Tuesday through Friday. The bottom line was stamped with the symbol of Goodrum’s House of Pleasure – a ship under full sail, flying a pennant etched with a tiny skull and crossbones. The card was the face of the lucrative worldwide business El had built with her own blood and sweat. The hard-won empire was hers to use as she pleased.

When he made to pluck the card from her grasp, she tightened her hold. “If you take this card, you are bound by your word to deliver this man to justice.” She gave the leather bag between them an ominous tap.

He snatched the card from her grasp and shouldered the bag before heading back out through her office door. He said nothing further. He didn’t have to.

She’d successfully leveraged the deeply held secret that could destroy not only him, but his sole reason for continuing to walk among the living.

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After retiring from a European career as an opera singer, Louisa returned to her first love, writing Regency romance. A two-time Golden Heart finalist, three-time Daphne du Maurier winner, and four-time Royal Ascot winner—she is a member of RWA, Southern Magic RWA, and Regency Fiction Writers. She is both indie published and published by Scarsdale Publishing. Her first published work, the novella A Perfectly Dreadful Christmas from Christmas Revels, won the 2015 Holt Medallion. Her novel A Study in Passion won the historical romance mid-length category of RWA’s 2021 Vivian Award.


The daughter of a trucker and an artist, she never knew it would take the hard-work ethic of her father to achieve the light-filled magic of her mother’s art. She grew up a scribbler. The stories just spilled out. A newspaper and publishing professional for thirty years, she ran away to sea for three years, delivering yachts to the Caribbean, earning a USCG offshore captain’s license. Now, she writes about love and adventure on the high seas from her writing room in Colorado. The first of the Men of the Squadron series, Pride of Honor, was a finalist in the RWA Beau Monde Chapter’s coveted Royal Ascot Contest. Rhum Bay, a prequel to the Men of the Squadron, snagged First Place in Romance in the Colorado Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Contest.

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