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Overheard at Gunters

Dear Readers,

The Teatime Tattler prides itself on bringing you the latest news. This fascinating conversation about an old scandal resurfacing was overheard by our intrepid reporter.

“It was all her fault.” With a superior smile, Lady Samantha Ridgewater lifted a spoonful of raspberry sorbet and popped it into her mouth.

“No, really?” queried her companion, this season’s toast, Miss Cecile Ambrose. “Are you sure?” The fair Miss Ambrose, twirled her spoon in the vanilla ice she’d ordered.

“As certain as I am that I look better in strong colors, like this sorbet, than in the pastels we young ladies are cursed to wear.”

“That much is certainly true. Pastels do your complexion no favors. You should have your maid trim all your outfits in ribbons of dark shades so you still have a strong color near your face.”

“What a splendid idea. I shall give that a try the moment we get home.”

“Now, please tell me how it is that Lady Mary Percival Cummins is at fault for the death of her parents.”

“I shouldn’t gossip.”

“No one will know, and I did tell you how to solve your wardrobe problem.”

“You are a true friend, Cecile. It really is a cautionary tale from which we can all learn a lesson.”

“Then it isn’t gossip at all. You’re passing on wisdom to a friend.”

“It happened when Lady Mary had her come out three years ago.”

“I was still in the schoolroom, but my sister Mavis was out and she told me everything. I don’t recall any mention of Lady Mary or a scandal.”

“That’s because Lady Mary, who was bold as brass, never got to London. She disgraced herself and her family before leaving that backwater where she grew up.”

“She must have done something terrible.”

Lady Samantha leaned forward, “She was found kissing a stable lad shortly after her parents announced her engagement to a local gentleman.”

“Who was the gentleman, and how did this cause her parents deaths?”

“I don’t recall who the man was.” Lady Samantha dismissed him with the wave of a hand. “But her father shot himself the next day.”

“Why in the world would he do that? The shame was his daughter’s.”

“It seems that Lady Mary’s wedding would save the family fortunes which her papa had lost through bad investments. Her mother went into a decline and died a few months later.”

“I’m sorry for the death of Lord and Lady Cummins, but their daughter got everything she deserved. Imagine risking your entire family’s well being for a kiss from some smelly stable lad.”

“That isn’t the worst of it.”

“What more could she have done?”

“When her father passed, his cousin inherited. The new Lord Cummins refused to have such a brazen wench in his home. He cut her hair and threatened to have her whipped at the carts tail if she did not leave. Lady Mary was put out to the road like so much rubbish with only the clothes on her back and not a pence to her name.”

“This was after her parents passed?”

“No, her mother was ill, but still living. I understand the new Lord Cummins allowed the woman to remain at the dower house, but because of her daughter’s reputation he refused to see the mother or speak to her.”

“What happened to Lady Mary?”

“No one knows. At the time speculation had it that she ran off to the former colonies with the stable lad. Other rumors said she’d gone to Scotland and become a whore. I only know that she’s never shown her face in London.”

“She wouldn’t dare.”

One would not thinks so, but a friend of a friend says he saw her at the kitchen door of Haverford House.


Dear Readers,

The above conversation will introduce you to the heroine of my next novella with the Bluestocking Belles. As yet, I have no title for the story, and I am just beginning to discover exactly who Lady Mary Percival Cummins is. By next month, I should know much more about her and the eventual love of her life, Major Lord Arthur Trevor PenRhydderch. Until then, keep reading.

Rue Allyn

What Can the Surprise Be?

The Bluestocking Belles are getting ready to party, and they promise a surprise!

“I did well for the Teatime Tattler when I employed Mademoiselle F.,” Sam Clemens, editor of that organ of gossip and scandal, said to himself as he read the latest missive from that lady.

Sam, who was the only person in London–perhaps the world–who knew the lady’s identity (and she was, in point of fact, a lady, the sister of an earl), counted her occasional letters as pure gold. The word from the horse’s mouth, they were, if ‘the horse’ was a reference to those at the pinnacle of London Society. Only through ‘Madamoiselle’ could he hope to hear exactly what they did and said, not from a distance, but through the eyes of one of their own.

Take today’s report. The Bluestocking Belles, a coterie of lady authors, were putting on a party. Something of a literary salon, from what he could tell, but between them, they represented some of the most scandalous gentlemen and ladies every to grace the pages of the Teatime Tattler. Decent types as well, but one couldn’t have everything.

Perhaps the Marquess of Dansbury would attend. His charm would make things interesting. Or Captain Fred Wheatly, a scoundrel of the most charming sort. Daniel Ridgeway was another possibility. Rumor said he was a spy. Would the party welcome such a one as the Duchess of Stonegreave? Mlle F. insisted that all were invited. If the assembly included Lady Miranda de Courtenay, sparks were certain to fly.

A Facebook party. What on earth was a Facebook party? Sam shrugged. He’d let readers work that out for themselves. Of more importance was the prize. He did not know what a kindle was, but it seemed that the Bluestocking Belles were gifting one lucky attendee with a library! Now that was a princely — or princessly– prize.

Join the Bluestocking Belles and a dozen of other great authors of historical romance for a celebration of summer reading.

Enjoy fun, games, new releases, and an announcement or two from wherever you happen to be. The party access is through your own electronic device and Facebook. Go check out the event now, and be there on Saturday, 13 July 2019 (US time) to be able to enter for the Grand Prize. The party is from 13:40-21:00 EDT.

The party is available around the world, so check a time conversion chart for your local time.

Did we say prize? We’re giving away a Kindle Fire loaded with first in series books by every one of the Belles. We will post the opportunity to enter in the form of a poll throughout the event on July 13. Attend and respond to enter.

What’s the poll about, did you say? Now that’s the surprise!

News from abroad

“My dear, the most delicious scandal from Cape Town,” said Lady Laura Hardwick, picking up the missive from her brother.

Her dearest friend, Miss Delilah Sutton, laughed. “How can that be, Laura? One doesn’t know anybody in such a forsaken place.”

Laura raised both brows. “Lieutenant Lord Cecil Hardwick, the third son of the Marquess of Trentwater, is not precisely a nobody,” she scolded.

Delilah made a quick save. “I hardly think your brother is writing scandal about himself, and you have told me yourself that no-one else of consequence is posted there. That is a scandal, if you like, that a man like your brother is not given his own ship, and a more suitable posting.”

Laura’s eyebrows returned to their normal position and she picked up the letter. “Quite so. But listen to this.” She looked up again to meet her friend’s eyes. “The man in question is the fourth son of the fourth son of an earl, so nobody of consequence, but Delilah, we know the lady!”

Delilah leaned forward with all the enthusiasm Laura could desire, as Laura skimmed through the letter, turning from one sheet to another.

Hope you are well. Off to sea tomorrow. Not much to amuse. Ah. Here we are.” She grinned at Delilah, drawing out the moment. “Are you listening?”

Laura nodded.

I’ve told you the youngest Redepenning is a great favourite here. One presumes it is through his parents’ influence he has already made captain. His mother’s father was an admiral, you know, though not one of our kind of people. His own father is a crony of Prinny’s, of course. Every one knows he made Brigadier-General, yes, and picked up his barony, by lifting elbows with Wales.

Laura skipped a few more lines. “The next bit is about how Father doesn’t help him. Ah. Here’s what I was looking for.”

Redepenning lives with a Batavian native woman whom he bought off his old Captain years ago when they were both in the East. Word is she’s dying, so when another woman moved in a few weeks ago, we all thought he was making a start on training up his replacement mistress.”

“No,” Delilah said, the ‘o’ on a long drawn descending note.

Laura grinned again, and went on reading. “It was much more scandalous than that. The woman is actually his wife, a lady by the name of Euronyme Redepenning. Do you know her?

“We do!” Delilah exclaimed. “We’ve both met her, Laura.”

“Yes, I know. Now shush. He has more to say, and you won’t believe it.” Laura turned back to the letter.

Apparently, and I heard this from Mrs Redepenning myself, so you need have no doubt it is true, Redepenning’s wife has come all the way to Cape Town to nurse his dying mistress, and adopt his little yellow bastards. What do you think of that?

“I cannot believe it,” Delilah gasped. “She will be shunned. The little children will be outcasts.”

Laura shrugged. “I daresay the Redepennings think they can make Society dance to their tune.” Her eyes gleamed and she bared her teeth. “What a pity if poor Mrs Redepenning returns to London to find that everyone already knows what she has done, and their minds are already made up.”

Delilah was alarmed. “Oh, Laura, do be careful. She is a favourite of the Duchess of Haverford.”

Laura glared at her friend. “Are you going to help me? Or not?”

Unkept Promises

Book 4 in The Golden Redepennings series

She wants to negotiate a comfortable marriage; he wants her in his bed

… oaths and anchors equally will drag: naught else abides on fickle earth but unkept promises of joy.” Herman Melville

Naval captain Jules Redepenning has spent his adult life away from England, and at war. He rarely thinks of the bride he married for her own protection, and if he does, he remembers the child he left after their wedding seven years ago. He doesn’t expect to find her in his Cape Town home, a woman grown and a lovely one, too.

Mia Redepenning sails to Cape Town to nurse her husband’s dying mistress and adopt his children. She hopes to negotiate a comfortable married life with the man while she’s there. Falling in love is not on her to-do list.

Before they can do more than glimpse a possible future together, their duties force them apart. At home in England, Mia must fight for the safety of Jules’s children. Imprisoned in France, Jules must battle for his self-respect and his life.

Only by vanquishing their foes can they start to make their dreams come true.

My next novel, Unkept Promises, has just gone to the proofreader and is now on preorder. Read on for an excerpt. See my book page for the previous three books, and The Golden Redepennings web page for more about the series. And all my novels are on 50% discount at Smashwords this month.

Buy links:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/947394
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TXXK53N/

Excerpt

His little wife had grown. Not ‘up’ exactly. She was still a tiny creature, her head no higher than his chest, but no-one would take her for a schoolgirl now! Was it the modern fashions that gave her curves he’d not seen seven years ago—not a lush endowment but decidedly female?

Annoyed with her though he was, he could not deny that his body responded to hers, as if something primitive within him rejoiced in the link formed by their long-ago wedding and yearned to set seal to his claim. A physical lust. That was all. It could be ignored.

But the change in her was not only physical. She had been an endearing mix of child and adult. Her isolated life as the only child of a reclusive scholar had given her a wisdom and maturity beyond her years and the innocence of a much younger girl. Now she was a woman. Confident and in charge.

Which was extremely irritating, since she had placed herself in charge of his house! As he allowed his two daughters to drag him back upstairs and show him and Dan around their domain, he had to concede she was competent. No. More than competent.

He couldn’t complain about the changes in the nursery—new paint, shelves instead of trunks for books and toys, new furniture—sturdy painted furniture that would withstand much more activity than the rejects from the rest of the house that had been there before.

“Sit in Ibu Mia’s chair, Papa,” Ada commanded.

Marsha scoffed. “Not Ibu Mia’s. Papa is too big. Sit in Hannah’s chair, Papa.”

“Is Hannah looking after you while she is visiting?” Jules was not above finding out his wife’s intentions from his children, if he could.

“Hannah is not visiting. Hannah is our new nurse,” Ada explained. She was dragging his duffel bag from where Dan had dropped it by the door.

Marsha offered her morsel of information. “Hannah used to be nurse to our cousin Daisy, but Daisy has a governess now, so Hannah came to be our nurse.”

“And to look after Ibu Mia,” Ada corrected. “Hannah said Lord Henry said Ibu Mia could not travel all this way on her own. Is Lord Henry our grandfather, Papa? Hannah says he is.”

“Yes, sweetheart,” Jules confirmed. “Lord Henry is my father, so your grandfather.” Father had approved this trip, had he? He had never been happy about Jules’s irregular living arrangements, Jules was sure of that, though his letters were devoid of any criticism. Susan, Jules’s sister, was more direct in her letters, castigating him for leaving his wife for so long. They probably sent Mia to bring Jules to heel.

But he wouldn’t be leashed by her or anyone else, either.

He pulled the first object from his duffel: a mancala board in carved wood, with stones in bright colours to play the game.

“How pretty!” Ada marvelled. “Look, Marsha. Look at the carvings. What does it do, Papa? Who is it for?”

“This is to share,” Jules warned, “and Dan will teach you how to play the game.”

Next, he pulled out a skipping rope each. One of the men on the Advantage had made the brightly painted wooden handles, sized for small hands, and the ropes fed through a hole in the butt of the handle, so they could be lengthened or shortened to suit the height of the user.

The girls fell on them and wanted to try them out immediately, but settled quickly when he suggested that Hannah would expect them to skip outside, and he had not yet emptied the duffle.

Two of the maids carried in trays with glasses of milk for the children, plates of scones, bowls of jam, and a pot of coffee for Jules. He waved them to the table while he distributed the strings of beads he’d purchased in the market at Toamasina.

“May I serve you a scone, Papa?” Marsha asked.

“I shall pour Papa’s coffee,” Dan insisted. “I know how he takes it.”

Ada’s face fell, and Marsha must have noticed, because she gave the prepared plate to her sister. “You shall take this to Papa, because you helped make them, too,” she said. Jules’s smile must have said how proud he was, for his shy daughter blushed while the bold one climbed on his knee and instructed him on the fine art of scone-eating.

The girls set aside the book each he gave them for reading later, but when the bundle of silk scarves and the handful of pretty combs for their hair emptied the duffel, they forgot about their milk and scones for the pleasures of dressing one another’s hair, and parading the results in front of Dan and Jules.

Jules kept looking to the door, but Mia stayed away. He was disappointed, and annoyed with himself for the emotion. She had charmed his mistress, his daughters, and his servants; was well on her way to charming his son. She would not find him such an easy conquest. Though, to be fair, most of what he’d had against her had evaporated.

Now he’d had time to calm down, he could not object to Mia moving Kirana from the room next to his own, with only one small window, to the top floor at the far end of the wing, with windows on all three sides, though he wouldn’t have called the room over hot. It was, after all, still winter. Though the Cape Town winters were very mild by English standards, Kirana was used to the heat of Ceylon and India.

Still, the difference in temperature and the freshness of the air spoke for itself, and Kirana’s praise for Mia was genuine.

The whole house had the Mia touch. The surfaces gleamed. Every corner was scrubbed and clean. The windows sparkled. Since Raquib and Jwala had returned to India, and Kirana’s illness left her without the strength to supervise the servants, he’d had to ignore cobwebs and dust in remote corners, because it upset Kirana when he spent the first few days of every leave chasing the servants to do their work.

Even if Mia was overstepping her mark by taking over the house he kept for his mistress—whoever heard of a wife doing such a thing? —he couldn’t deny the results were pleasing.

But she had still dismissed a pregnant maid to fend for herself in a port town where men outnumbered women four to one.

And she was still here when she ought to be in England.

The Duke needs a bride!

Could it be true? The answer is yes, dear reader, and you read it here first at the Teatime Tattler.

Confirmation has been verified that none other than the Duke of H is back on the market and will once more be looking for a bride after Lady R returned his ring. The foolish girl. Doesn’t she know the riches she has given up by breaking off their engagement?

This paper has it on the highest authority that the young lady has returned to the country in a self-imposed exile. But the question remains… who will the Duke choose as his bride? Whoever she may be, we certainly know he won’t be choosing his last mistress, much to her annoyance. Still… Inquiring minds want to know…

Samuel Clemons read this latest tidbit from the Danver sisters and grinned. His readers will go mad with the news that the Duke of Hartford lost the lady whom some have whispered was a love match. Love… what a silly emotion getting the better of oneself.

His office door opened and Samuel handed the parchment to the young man whose ink stained fingers implied he had been busy in the press room.

“Make this a special edition,” Samuel declared with a smirk. “I want it on the front page and not buried inside. Our readers deserve to see this first thing with their breakfast.”

“Yes, sir!”

Samuel watch the man leave before leaning back in his chair. A laugh escaped him. He loved his job and was satisfied the Teatime Tattler would be sold out come the morning. Tomorrow was going to be a glorious day.

scottish

Sherry Ewing recently learned that her Regency novel One Moment In Time: A Family of Worth, Book Two was nominated as a RONE finalist with InD’Tale Magazine. It also won their crowned heart and a five star review. She is grateful to all the readers who voted for her story in order for One Moment In Time to become a finalist. Enjoy this excerpt.

Excerpt:

Edmond opened his eyes and found himself gazing into the face of an angel. Emerald pools, green as the Scottish moors, stared back at him with an expression of wonder. He reached out to lightly caress her cheek just to ensure she was real. She trembled beneath his touch and he thanked God Roselyn had awoken once more.

Swinging his legs down to the floor, he stood and reached for her hands to help her to rise. Her beautiful face wore a confused frown, and without thought he acted on the urge to assure himself she was real and on the mend, bringing her into his embrace. He knew in his heart his gesture was inappropriate; he should not be so bold, especially considering all that she had been through, but he could not resist.

Stepping back as he should became impossible when she returned his affection by placing her arms around his waist. As if they had a will of their own, his hands made their way up her arms and into her glorious curling hair that cascaded down the length of her back. It felt like the softest silk to his touch and a lock coiled around his fingers taking possession of him.

He took her chin in his fingers and tilted it up so he could see the face she had been hiding in his chest. Once more staring into her eyes, he saw her lips tremble and wondered how sweet they would taste. Leaning forward, he came to within a breath and hesitated. But only for one second. At last, he brought his mouth down to hers in a gentle first kiss.

There could be no mistaking her hesitation nor that she was inexperienced in her technique. Edmond retained enough control to remember she was a young innocent and he did not wish to scare her away. His heart rejoiced when he felt her arms creep up his back and he tightened his hold upon her. One taste would in no way satisfy the sudden desire he had for her and her encouragement gave him the permission he needed to deepen the kiss all the more.

His sanity finally reined in his desire, and he broke the spell by ending their kiss abruptly. Alarm briefly shook him when Roselyn took several steps backwards to put some distance between them. In the silence of the room, the only sound was the two of them attempting to catch their breaths after the heat of the moment.

One Moment In Time:
A Family of Worth, Book Two

One moment in time may be enough, if it lasts forever…

When the man Lady Roselyn Anne Winslow has loved since she was a young girl begins to court her, Roselyn thinks all her dreams have come true… until the dream turns into a nightmare.

Lady Roselyn is everything Edmond Worthington, 9th Duke of Hartford, could ask for in a wife and he is delighted to find she returns his love… until he loses her, not once but twice.

From England’s ballrooms, to Berwyck Castle and a tropical island that is anything but paradise, Edmond and Roselyn face ruthless enemies who will do anything to tear them apart. Can they recover their one moment in time?

Buy Links:

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More about Sherry:

Sherry is proud to be one of the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. When not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist.

You can learn more about her on the tab above or visit her on one of these social media outlets:

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Letters to the Editor – May 1808

1 May 1808

Haikus to the Editor

They call me harlot. 
For I got my belly full.
But I will survive.   
They left me to die.
Fallen Lady in St. Giles.
A year on, I thrived. 
Hunger, pain, and fear, 
Kept me company at night.
My thoughts on revenge. 
The prince who trained me 
Coaxes vengeance in my heart.
Villains must be stopped. 
This is my warning, to members of the Society for the Purification of England. We are coming for you.
Signed,
A Fallen Woman
London

5 May 1808

Have our standards truly sunk so low? Whereas once our superior paper printed articles on proper etiquette, interesting insights into the movements of Society, and important information regarding current events affecting our great nation. Must we now resort to reading the type of drivel that was posted on the 1st of May? And from a self-proclaimed Jezebel, no less? What is happening in this great nation, when the words of a fallen woman are being forced upon persons of superior standing and greater morals? 
This type of behavior—nay, this type of voice—leads to women having ideas. Demands. Entitlements.
What’s next, then? Women voting? Wearing trousers? Going to school?
This must stop, before our great nation falls to ruin! 
Signed,
Hester T. Smythe
4 Poston Houses
Little Nottingshire, Sussex 

6 May 1808

Hester, you old hag. Put a stocking in it.
Signed,
Lady Harriett Ross 
 —Self-proclaimed Matchmaking Motley Meddler 
 —Mistress of Destiny 
 —Wielder of the Infamous Umbrella 

Bloomfield Place Bath, England 
I’m just an old woman with opinions. On everything.
Woman Reading Book in Wooden Landscape
 Edouard Jean Conrad Hamman (Belgian, 1819–1888)

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