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Author: Nicole Zoltack Page 2 of 3

A Pirate, A Lady, and A Lord – Part One

Captain Pershore stood on the deck of his ship, his black hair fluttering in a strong breeze. His hand rested on the hilt of his scimitar attached to his belt holding up his dark breeches. He was feeling rather pleased with himself. After all, a lovely lady was waiting for him in his cabin. For the moment, she might be unwilling, but that would not last long. He would have the lady as his.

***

Annamarie twisted and turned her wrists, struggling as much as she could, but the ropes only burned her, not loosening even a tad bit. Nothing short of a blade could free her of this binding.

The pirate had captured her out of her bedroom last night. At least, she assumed it had only been the previous night. She had no concept of how much time had passed since her abduction.

Her parents had been away, visiting friends, so the chances of anyone knowing she had been captured were nearly nonexistent.

What was she going to do?

***

Lord Barnet approached the manor. He had hoped to call upon Lady Annamarie. With her dark hair and darker eyes, she was a vision to see, but it was her mind and her heart that drew her to him.

To his shock and bewilderment, the butler who answered the door had swollen eyes. The maid scurrying by was crying.

“Whatever is going on?” Barnet asked.

“We are waiting for the lord and lady to return, but… It seems someone has stolen into the house and taken Lady Annamarie.” The butler hung his head.

“What? When?”

“Last night—“

Barnet pushed open the door and rushed to Annamarie’s bedroom. Yes, there had indeed been a struggle here. Annamarie had not left of her own free will.

As he turned to leave, he spied something glittering by her bed. A coin, an old one, the kind he had seen a villain of a man juggling in a nearby tavern.

Captain Pershore, a brutal pirate known for taking all he wanted.

Apparently he wanted Lady Annamarie.

“Should we notify—“ the butler called, but Barnet was already leaving.

He would not allow Annamarie to be in that foul man’s presence. He would do all he could to save her.

He would not fail.

To be continued…

 

Taken from the notes of one Lady Anna Wycliff

Lady Anna is the heroine in Christmas Kisses, part of the Bluestocking Belles’ boxed set Holly and Hopeful Hearts available now from various retailers. 25% of proceeds will go to the Malala Fund.

hollyhopefulheartsAbout the Book

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

About the Stories

A Suitable Husbandby Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below. 

Valuing Vanessaby Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life. 

A Kiss for Charityby Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?

Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?

The Bluestocking and the Barbarianby Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy. 

Christmas Kissesby Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts. 

An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

Dashing Through the Snowby Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…

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Which Surpasses All: Friends, Love, or Time?

Vanessa entered the bookshop with her head down. Lately, it seemed as if her life was more like that of a story, and she longed to find refuge in one of the books here, so that she might forget her troubles… such as the strange man who she was beginning to think might possibly be from another time and the horrid man her parents wished her to wed, considering her options were so few.

She bumped into a lady. “Oh, I am quite sorry!”

The lady, one Vanessa had never seen before, granted her an easy albeit preoccupied smile. “Don’t worry about it.”

The lady walked away, but Vanessa found herself watching her. There was something about the way the woman held herself, carried herself, the way her clothes fit, that suggested something was… off, for lack of a better word.

No matter. Vanessa found herself a book, purchased it, and settled into a chair to read. She had only turned the first page when someone sat in a nearby chair. Vanessa paid the newcomer no mind until she heard enough sniffs that the person was either very ill or on the brink of tears.

She closed her book and glanced over to see the lady she had bumped into earlier. A book lay open in the lady’s lap, her head hang low, but her eyes were closed as a single tear ran down her cheek.

Vanessa did not wish to intrude, but the lady seemed so lonely and sad, that she stirred herself to speak. “Is there something I can help you with?” she asked.

The lady jerked back, stiffened, and wiped the tear away. “I’m fine. I’m good. No worries.”

No worries? What an odd thing to say!

The lady grimaced. “Do not worry,” she added.

Vanessa closed her book. “I am worrying, though. You are upset. I know we aren’t aquaintances—I don’t even know your name—”

“Katia,” the lady supplied.

“I’m Vanessa.”

They shared small smiles.

After a moment, Katia sighed, her brief happiness disappearing. “I don’t… I don’t suppose it would hurt to talk to someone.”

Vanessa leaned forward. Katia had lowered her voice so much that she could hardly be heard.

“I… I miss my friends,” she blurted, as if this was a terrible secret.

“Do they live far away?” Vanessa asked.

“You could say that,” Katia mumbled. “I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again.”

“Oh, no!”

Katia nodded emphatically. “I want to see them again, but…” She sighed. Wistfully? Dreamily? Vanessa was not certain.

A crowd entered the bookstore, their chatter and laughter making a private conversation impossible, so they waited until the crowd thinned before speaking further.

“What is holding you back?” Vanessa asked. “From visiting your friends?”

“Time,” she muttered the word as if it were a curse.

Vanessa furrowed her brow. She did not understand. All in all, this Katia seemed like a peculiar lady, but even so, Vanessa found herself wishing to befriend her.

“And then there is Lord Landon…” Katia added, her cheeks staining pink.

“Ah. So time and love are holding you here?”

Katia’s cheeks now burned with seemingly hot red. “O-Of course not love! That’s… Do you think you could love someone who is so different from you?”

Idly, Vanessa found herself thinking of Gerald, the strange man who fancied himself a medieval knight. Despite his oddities—much like Katia—something drew Vanessa to him, something she could not explain.

“I think love is complicated,” Vanessa said after a moment.

“Yes,” Katia murmured. “Complicated. As complicated as…” The last was mumbled, but Vanessa would have been hard pressed to say that she finished with, “time travel.”

Was traveling through time possible after all? Was Gerald not crazy? Could a medieval knight find happiness… and maybe love… today, in the 1800s?

As for Katia, when did she come from? Being from another time would explain her strange mannerisms, the fitting of her clothes, and her odd speech.

Then again, could she truly accepted this notion?

“Who complicates love for you?” Katia asked.

Vanessa laid her book on the table between them. Where to start?

“It all began when I was hungry for a treat from the kitchen…”
Vanessa is the heroine in Love Before Honor, whereas Katia is the heroine in The Test of Time.

LoveBeforeHonor1400x2100To avenge his love’s death, Sir Gerald challenges her murderer to a duel. Her twin, however, feels that Alice never loved the knight and gives him a tea that sends him to into the future, to the Regency era.

Lady Vanessa seeks a Christmas treat when she hears something outside the manor. Upon investigation, she sees a man dressed in armor. Unwilling to turn away a confused man with the approaching holiday, she convinces her parents to house Gerald until the new year.

Scandal has forced her parents to accept William as their daughter’s best chance at marriage. Although rich, he does not understand her or her love of books, whereas Gerald listens to her, confides in her and she him. With the approaching holiday, nothing is certain – not whether Gerald can discover a way back to his duel, whether he can move on from Alice, and not whether this Christmas will be a happy one for either Gerald or Vanessa.

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Nicole is one of the Belles. You can learn more about her here.

Can Love Cross the Boundary of Time?

Landon entered White’s and asked for a drink. His dreams had been trying as of late, the mysterious lady who haunted his nights visiting him often and was beginning to invade his every thought. If he could only drink away her beauty, forget about it, make on with his life as if she did not exist…

With a start, he realized a man had sat beside him, his shoulders hunched, his face closed.

For whatever reason, perhaps because he felt a sudden kinship with the man whose eyes seemed to mirror the growing swell of emotions Landon himself felt, he cleared his throat. “Would you like a drink?” he asked.

“Ale,” the man said after a moment. “The stronger the better.”

Landon ordered one, and it wasn’t until they had shared several rounds without a word that the man felt moved to speak further.

“This be a strange place,” he remarked, glancing around.

Landon frowned. “Have you never been before?” White’s was a staple, where a man could enjoy drink and dice and cards and more.

“Never been to anywhere here,” the man muttered. He glanced around some more and then leaned in close. “Can you be… Who are you?”

“Landon Philamore.”

“A lord, I take it.”

Landon nodded. “And yourself?”

“Sir Gerald of Hanover.”

The man seemed to want to say more, and Landon waited, giving the man time to reason through his thoughts.

“Do you think,” Gerald said slowly, but then he halted.

“I think I great many things.” Landon would have smiled, but the man’s countenance bore too heavy a burden. “Tell me what ails you.”

“I do not think…” Gerald took a deep breath and then said in a rush, “I am not from this time.”

At once, Landon’s heart began to race. The lady from his dreams, the things she sometimes said, her mannerisms, her jokes… On more than one occasion, he suspected the same thing of her.

“I know I must sound daft,” Gerald continued.

“I think you need another drink,” Landon said.

At Gerald’s nod, Landon motioned for two more drinks.

“What is it that you miss most from your time?” Landon asked.

“You believe me?”

He shrugged. “It matters not what I believe. Your beliefs take priority.”

“I do not know what I belief, what I think, who I love.” Gerald stared glumly at his mug.

“Well, I believe that love can transcend anything. Even those from other lands… or other times.”

“Do you?” Gerald asked, the light of hope shining in his eyes for the first time since they began their conversation.

“Yes,” Landon said firmly, but whether he said it for Gerald’s sake or his own, he could not be certain…

Landon is the hero in The Test of Time, whereas Gerald is the hero in Love Before Honor.

ThetestoftimesmallKatia jumps at the chance to go to England with her best friend after Rose ditches her deadbeat boyfriend. While walking through the market, she spies a large mansion and recognizes the guy out front as her high school friend Tony. Just as they start to reconnect, Katia passes through times and lands in the arms of Lord Landon, who looks like Tony but certainly doesn’t act like him.

Soon, Katia learns that this 1815 is different from the one in history books. Trapped in a parallel world, Katia struggles to not fall for Landon but his charm proves too much for her. Just when she is about to confess her love for him, Katia travels through time yet again.

The course of love never did run smooth and if Katia can’t figure out and master the test of time, she’ll never see her friends again, or worse, never be reunited with Landon.

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Nicole is one of the Belles. You can learn more about her here.

Biscuits and Tea with a Side of Questions

 

b5d29f087f038a11e7949613308a1f1aSage gathered some biscuit and tea for the guests. Using her shoulder, she nudged the door open. She smiled at her lady, the strange but kind Katia who did not seem to quite belong to this day and time.

Trying not to be overly intrusive, she couldn’t help but listen to the conversation her lady and her friends were having.

Lady Theodosia pointed to the page. “As always, Aunt Augusta has wonderful advice. Love can be hard sometimes, but if it is meant to be, it will find a way.”

Lady Anna smiled. “And have you found love?”

Lady Theodosia brought her cup to her mouth, but Sage spied her now-pink cheeks.

“Does anyone have a guess as to who Aunt Augusta is?” Katia asked. She murmured her appreciation to Sage for the tea.

Sage was curious herself. Katia had been teaching her how to read, and Sage enjoyed reading the column herself. As to who was the one dispensing the advice, Sage had no idea.

Neither, as it turned out, did any of the ladies gathered.

“She has to be old,” Miss Eliza put forth. “She seems rather knowledge.”

“Yes. And someone who must have experienced a great love,” Lady Vanessa said with a faraway look in her eyes.

“Why else would she be such a proponent for love? I do agree.” Lady Theodosia nodded and helped herself to a biscuit.

“Married then,” Katia said.

“Or else a widow,” Sage commented without thinking.

“True,” Katia mused, as always seemingly unmindful of today’s customs. Sage knew she shouldn’t have spoken; Katia never cared. “Although that is a tragic thought, so hopefully she is still with her love.”

For a time, the ladies conversed and even ventured names, but not one of them could figure out the mystery. Perhaps one day it would be resolved, but until then…

Sage brought forth some parchment and quills and had to smile when she saw each lady surreptitiously fetch one. I wager that Aunt Augusta will be getting a letter from each soon enough.

Will I ever have cause to send one myself?

~~~ 

Sage and Katia are from The Test of Time, Lady Theodosia from Masked Love, Lady Vanessa from Love Before Honor, and Miss Eliza from Joy to the World. Lady Anna will have her story told in Christmas Kisses, which will be included in this year’s Bluestocking Belles’ boxed set.

ThetestoftimesmallKatia jumps at the chance to go to England with her best friend after Rose ditches her deadbeat boyfriend. While walking through the market, she spies a large mansion and recognizes the guy out front as her high school friend Tony. Just as they start to reconnect, Katia passes through times and lands in the arms of Lord Landon, who looks like Tony but certainly doesn’t act like him.

Soon, Katia learns that this 1815 is different from the one in history books. Trapped in a parallel world, Katia struggles to not fall for Landon but his charm proves too much for her. Just when she is about to confess her love for him, Katia travels through time yet again.

The course of love never did run smooth and if Katia can’t figure out and master the test of time, she’ll never see her friends again, or worse, never be reunited with Landon.

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Nicole is one of the Belles. You can learn more about her here.

Scandal at the Masquerade Ball

Gentle readers, I do hope you will not be in too great of an uproar when I tell you this, but I am most certain that there was a great deal of scandalous behavior that occurred at the most recent masquerade ball.

Now, when one wears a mask, the propensity to engage in shocking and outrageous behavior might be tempting, but that does not mean one should give in, and give in I feel certain did happen. Why, I saw several ladies, including one in particular, who spent the entire night talking to a man. Talking and laughing and looking positively too comfortable. This lady had no chaperone with her that I could tell. If her mother only realized the kind of behavior her daughter was engaging in…

But there was another lady too, who, honestly, did not quite seem to fit in. She kept to herself, likewise without a chaperone, but then I spied her dancing with a strapping tall man. They seemed to have eyes for no other, and at one point, I even saw her lift her mask to reveal her face to him!

Now I know just about everyone who is anyone, and I can assuredly tell you, my dear readers, that I did not recognize this lady. My mind continually only goes in one direction—that the lady was no lady at all. But who could she have been?

The man she spent time with seemed beside himself after the lady-who-might-not-be-a-lady left and shortly thereafter departed from the masquerade ball himself. Whether the two will ever cross paths again, I do not know, but I must confess to being disappointed he did not lift his mask as well. I would very much be interested to know who he was, as well as the first lady and her gentleman… friend.

I will be certain to keep an eye open to see if I cannot spy the lady somewhere. I do think it is possible to find love at such a ball—I, myself, in my youth had done the same—but love is not always enough nowadays, it is sad to say.

When, not if, I learn more, I will be sure to share it with you, good readers, do not fret.

 

Your humble servant,

A concerned masquerade attendee

 

The masked man and the lady who reveals her face are the main characters in Masked Love.

MaskedLove1600x2400 MASKED LOVE

Isabelle will do anything for her lady, even accompany her to a masquerade ball. Lady Theodosia needs extra support for tomorrow she will meet the man her par-ents have pledged her to.

Meeting an enchanting young man during the course of the evening makes Isabelle wish for a life she can never have. Imagine her shock when he shows up the next morning, announcing his claim on Lady Thedosia.

Torn between duty and desire, Isabelle hopes for something more this Christmas.

 

Heat: PG

Regency Christmas novella

Series: Beyond Boundaries #1

Price: 0.99

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Nicole is one of the Belles. You can learn more about her here.

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