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Category: Bluestocking Belles Page 1 of 41

Last Belvoir Standing Falls Hard

Long known as the game of love, chess had worked its spell again. Guests at Lady Osbourne’s November house party assure us that a certain very proper earl and a lady deep-dyed and scandal spent much time over the board, and now they are betrothed.

We have to ask what this generation of the Belvoir family is coming to. Known for their deep roots in the English aristocracy, their sobriety their prudence, their good name. Eight hundred years since the first Belvoir was raised to the nobility. Eight hundred yearswithout a touch of scandal. Now the three children of this generation have all chosen—shall we say ‘unlikely’ life partners? And in unusual circumstances.

First, Lady S., widowed twice before she could be wed, settled in spinsterhood (or so we thought) runs away from a houseparty with none other than the Merry Marquis AND HIS BROTHER, and was married to the Earl of S. before sunset the following day. The Earl of S., as readers will recall, was an unlikely choice, being the son of Duke of W. and his Persian wife. This was months before the Committee of Privileges ruled that the young man’s parents were validly married. What, we wondered at the time, was the Earl of H. thinking, allowing his sister to marry a man of mixed blood whose parents’ marriage was in question? Though it all turned out in the end.

Second, Lady J., belle, beauty and bluestocking. The youngest of the three Belvoirs seemed settled as her brother’s hostess and chatelain of whatever house his current diplomatic post required. Then along came Lord J. M. Rakehell. Rogue. Possible card-shark. Known dilettante. Suspected duelist. How did their two worlds even touch? And what did the lady see in rogue? Again, the Earl of H. allowed the match. Colour us mystified. And yet… Lord J. M. is a reformed man, a family man, a devoted husband with eyes for no-one but his wife.

Third, and most surprising of all, the Earl of H. had met, romanced, and married Miss A. F-H., who was abducted from the altar before the eyes of the minister, her groom, and all the congregation, and disappeared from sight for years. Where did she spend these years? Nobody knows, unless she has told the Earl of H.

Ladies and gentlemen all, such matches are not to be held up as examples. It seems, against all the odds, that these couples are happy, an outcome on which no wise person would have wagered. It stands to reason, that they have used up all the luck. The next outrageous match is sure to be a dire failure.

The Husband Gamble in The Wedding Wager

When the pawn becomes Queen, she and the opposing King will both win the game of love

Rilla and Hythe write one another off as all wrong, but when they are drawn together at the countess’s house party, they discover how right such a match could be.

The Wedding Wager

Can Lady Osbourne produce at least one “miracle” match every month for a year and win the wager with her cousin? In fifteen sparkling novellas, fifteen of superb historical romance authors bring their notoriously unmarriageable heroes and heroines to a house party in search of the answer.
Introductory price only 99c

Tell no one! A lady calling upon a gentleman in her nightrail?

I write to you today to tell you of a most outlandish tale I heard. That of the Whiskey King’s daughter. (I dare not say her name.) And that she visited the Duke of M—’s son in her nightrail!

Now I know that seems impossible, but one of her neighbors swears it was she who scampered out of her house toward the duke’s.

Who else could it be? That man has no other girl so bold.

Or I do believe it to be so. What say you of his second child?

***

THE RAVEN’S LAST BET in THE WEDDING WAGER

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Desperate Sara Fleming decides the only way to escape her father’s plan is to make her newest betrothed a bet he can’t refuse.

Never good at gambling, Harry Seymour bets he can find a better way to win her heart! 

But he better hurry!

 Harry Seymour is home from years of fighting abroad to clean up the mess his roguish brother left upon his untimely death. Worse, his father, the Duke of Meredith, demands Harry honor a deal he made with his best friend to marry the man’s eldest daughter…for money.

Harry, who’s loved Sara Fleming since she was four, has no problem marrying her. He never did, even when she was denied him because she was the Whiskey King’s daughter. But not for money. 

Sara cannot accept the bargain her father made with the duke. She’s already left two men at the altar because she didn’t love either one. And if she can’t wed Harry for love, she’ll marry no one. But she wagers she’ll walk away happy if Harry will do her the favor of ruining her. It’s a bet Harry can’t refuse.

Can he?

Excerpt, All rights reserved. Copyright Cerise DeLand 2022.

        “Listen to me, Sara. I have a plan. It won’t be one either of our fathers likes but it might work.”

She pulled away. Peering into his magnificent eyes clouded her judgement. His green-brown orbs reflected a sadness in the faint lights that matched her own. “Tell me.”

“We announce that we intend to marry others.”

“I’ve already left two men alone before the vicar. Now there’s this gossip in the Gazette—?”

“Forget those other two men. And hang them at the Gazette.”

She put a hand to her hip. “We’ll send them new stories. Marvelous. I dislike your thinking, Harry. Totally. Marry another? Ba! Precisely who did you have in mind?” 

He gave her a look that said he had the right answer. “A man who makes you tingle.”

“Of whom there is no one.” Which is a lie.

“For each woman, there is a man. A perfect match.”

“I’ve not found him in four years. Why now?”

“You will lure him.”

 By some folly, to be sure. “How?”

A wicked gleam lit those iridescent eyes. “With kisses.”

“You expect me to kiss men?”

He shrugged a shoulder. “How else will you discover the right fellow?”

“How else will I go down as a scarlet woman? I’ve climbed enough fences barring me because I am of the dreaded merchant class. Papa’s money might continue to buy me entry, but if I degrade myself further, no one will touch me!”

He tipped up his chin. “You will be discreet. I will help.”

“You’ll bar doors?”

“And divert traffic.”

She scowled at him. “You’ve been away much too long, sir. You think me so brave. I am different from that child who tagged along behind you and tucked frogs in your pants.”

He scoffed. “Remind me. Who came to me night before last in her nightrail?”

”Dressing gown.”

He waved that away. “Exactly my point.”

Exasperated, she huffed. “The fault, dear Harry, is not in our stars, but in myself.”

“I agree.”

Oh, he infuriated her! “I do not know how to kiss.”

“And so you will learn.”

Only one way. She could barely say it. “By doing.”

“Indeed.” He winked. “With me.”

That way lay disaster and hopeless ruin. She’d should return to this party, because this was hopeless. She’d given up wanting him so long ago. Or thought she had. She threw up her hands. “Absurd.”

“Is it?” He took a step toward her, so near she inhaled his scent, imbibed his familiar allure that she could not allow to thrill her. “You said my kiss left you with no…what is the word?”

“You know perfectly well the word.”

“Tickle?”

If only. “Tingle.”

“Well then, my darling.” With one hand he caught her wrist while he swept his other hand around her waist. “Let’s see if this fits the bill.”

“No, stop!” Wonderful. Now she sounded like the village crier. 

“There, there. Don’t be shy. An experiment, eh?” He lifted her hand toward his mouth. “Or shall we call it…” he murmured, as he put her index finger, fully gloved, against the neat cleft in his chin, “…a demonstration? Visible to the naked eye.”

He smiled. Or was that the show of teeth of a predator? A creature who…gloated? 

He caught the point of her glove between his long white incisors. The act of a male bent on taking a bite of her, he tugged. The fabric slid along her finger, silk on silk, a glissade of shivering delight. Her glove glided from her elbow in a silent skim of her nerves. She shivered.

He halted. Glanced up at her, those long dark lashes of his rising to reveal the facets of a Harry she’d never known. A ravenous devil appeared there, one who pulled at another fingertip, starving for more of her until her hand was bare. Nipping her third finger and the next, he sent tremors up her spine. Her mouth fell open as he took her smallest finger, fabric and all, and bathed the whole of it in his hot moist mouth. His tongue served as succor—and as torture. 

She panted as if she’d run a mile. Her gaze glued to his voracious teeth, she dare not look away or lose a second. What he gave, she took. If it was instruction, it was also a revelation. Though she knew not how to interpret his lips to her fingers as lips to lips, she reveled in whatever he’d choose next. 

With a yank of his teeth, he pulled and her glove slid slowly down her arm and fell to the floor. She was bare to the night air, chilled and burning, as he caught her fingers and pressed them to his open mouth. He cupped her elbow, and her wrist was once more his. Bare skin gave him no pause, but encouragement to lift her hand once more. 

He groaned and crushed her torso fully against him. His possession, from her breasts to her hips, left her pulsing. 

He put her palm to his lips and licked the hollow of her hand. She moaned at his luscious homage and her knees gave way. As he caught her up, he bit the heal of her hand. She yelped. He gave a grunt, nigh unto laughter or triumph, she knew not which, then wrapped her arm around his waist. As he sweetly backed her to the wall, his hair fell loose over his brow and he focused on her lips. 

Then he took them.

Cerise DeLand is the USA TODAY Bestselling author of more than 60 historical romances…and a few other bits, too! 

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Cousin’s private wager creates a public spectacle–who will win the crown?

Who is the greatest matchmaker of the ton? Lady O. has laid claim to the title, and her cousin Lady S. has challenged her to prove it. Which of them first spoke of this private wager–and the prized family possession that will belong to the winner? We cannot know, but we do know that, since the beginning of the year, all of Society has been abuzz with news from houseparties where Lady O. has been bringing together the the notoriously unmarriageable.

So far, the results have been astounding. People who have sworn off marriage have tied the knot, those who don’t believe in love have fallen to Cupid’s arrow, rogues have reformed, parlour games and contests of skill have turned into games of love.

With seven months to go, the betting is running hot in clubs, salons, drawing rooms, and coffee shops; in high and low places. Can Lady O.’s run of luck continue? Or will even her matchmaking eye fail her, giving the game–and the prize–to her cousin?

Find your Buy Links here to take advantage of the pre-order discount-

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Click here to download the prologue

Abducted Bride Seeks New Bridegroom

Miss A.F. had an unsuccessful Season. No surprise, you say, dear reader. Who would want to offer for a woman who jilted her groom at the altar, rode off with a troop of horsemen, and disappeared from sight for three years? Abducted by fairies, say the credulous. Ran off with the gypsies, say others. Fairies or gypsies, the lady’s reputation is non-existent, and one can only marvel at her gall in thinking to appear in Society.

Unsuccessfully, as we say. But the lady is made of strong stuff! She has managed to enveigle her way into one of Lady Osborne’s house parties! Can the noted matchmaker find a husband for such an unlikely candidate? She has a wager with her cousin that she can.

This time, dear reader, we believe she has bitten off more than she can chew!

In other news, the ever proper Earl of H. is attending the same house party. Will he find a bride among Lady Osbourne’s collection of misfits, hoydens, and bluestockings? One thing is certain. Miss A. F. need not apply!

The Wedding Wager

The Boast—pride goeth before the fall…

After facilitating the match of the season, Lady Pandora “Pansy” Osbourne, has boasted that she is the best matchmaker The Ton has ever seen. Always willing to bring her cousin down a peg or two, her cousin, Lady Octavia Sewell insists that was no feat of matchmaking at all, as the couple involved were clearly destined for one another despite Pansy’s meddling. A bitter argument ensues and a dreadful challenge is issued. Pansy must do more than say it… she must prove it.

The terms of the wager are set!

Pansy must produce no less than one match per month between people who have been notoriously unmarriageable—spinsters, bluestockings, rakes and fortune hunters, oh my! But there’s more riding on this than simply her pride! If Pansy loses, she will have to give up her most prized possession—a tiara that belonged to their grandmother will be forfeited into Octavia’s grasping hands.

Published 27 September

Find your buy link at https://books2read.com/b/mdDpyX

The Husband Gamble

When the pawn becomes Queen, she and the opposing King will both win the game of love

Amaryllis Fernhill fled her wedding to her uncle’s thrice-widowed crony, ruining herself in the eyes of ton. Three years on, she needs a husband to unlock her inheritance—preferably one who wants little to do with the society that has rejected her. Can a countess famous for making unlikely matches make one for her?

The Earl of Hythe needs a countess who will add luster to his family name and support his career as a diplomat and politician in London and the capitals of Europe. But he also wants a wife, a partner, a friend. No one he meets seeks to know the man behind the title. Can the matchmaking countess succeed in finding a perfect lady with a caring heart?

Rilla and Hythe write one another off as all wrong, but when they are drawn together at the countess’s house party, they discover how right such a match could be.

He jilted her! How can she receive him?

Sticky post

(Overheard at Lady P’s Brighton Ball last night! Sent by one of our discreet correspondents!)

My dear Lady P., I heard the most ridiculous news a few hours ago. About one of those Irish girls that Lady W. chaperones here this Season. 

I know, I heard, Lady L! The second of the triplets married in haste yesterday. To that dashing Marquess, too. What brass! I do sigh in exasperation. What else can you tell me to make my daughter’s chances this Season wan so disastrously?

Well, come closer. Ahem! At the wedding?

Yes…

Who should appear but the very fellow, Lord G, who jilted the third Devereaux girl two years ago!

No! Outrageous. Why, I would never let such a creature darken my doorstep? Why would Lady W. allow him inside?

He helped the Marquess save his intended, the second sister!

The second sister had a…problem?

Indeed. I have it on good authority she was carried away and the Marquess and Lord G., along with that dashing Colonel of the Royal Buffs, rescued her.

Dear me! And so now Lord Grey…I mean Lord G. is admitted to the presence of his former intended.

Just so. And I understand that she gave him a very cool reception.

As she should. Smart girl. 

Clever Lord G., eh?

pastedGraphic.pngA nibble of my newest cherry? YES! LADY, NO MORE (Encounter of hero and heroine in a bookshop)

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Excerpt, LADY, NO MORE, all rights reserved. Copyright 2022, Cerise DeLand.

She had penned a note to Hadley yesterday and asked him to meet her here today. He had promised to be her adviser on men she found interesting and she had found one. In truth, she sent over the request to him to meet her not so much because she needed his insight into Lord Parnham but because she’d spent the whole of yesterday pining for Hadley’s poetry. Or lack thereof.

Foolish. Certainly. But there it was.

A need to talk with him, if for no other ridiculous, ironic reason than to hear his opinion of another man.

Leaving Fifi to sit on the bench outside under shade of a tree, Laurel entered the shop and paused to inhale the refreshing scent of paper and ink, leather bindings and the dust of decades upon the numerous shelves. The shop was tidy, two windows open to the breezes off the coast gave it the sweet smell of stories awaiting the uplifting of hundreds of minds. She herself had signed up for the subscription service the owner also operated from his shop, but when she had a few spare pence, she wished to own many of the fantasies that others created.

Today however she was attempting to fashion a story of her own. One, perhaps with Lord Parnham. To that end, Hadley had agreed to offer his insights. If he knew the man. If he would give a good report of him, if Parnham deserved it. If she could trust what Hadley had to say of the earl.

“Good afternoon, Lady Laurel.” Hadley doffed his hat and bowed before her. He too had the elegant silhouette of a man of the town. In emerald green frock coat and yellow damask waistcoat, he had a stock that might have held up the Parthenon as well as his chin, had he needed that, of course, which he did not. His buff breeches showed off to her attentive gaze, the line of his muscular thighs and shapely calves. They did nothing for her decision to regard him coolly, or at the most, as an old friend.

The two of them stood between a row of bookcases toward the rear of the shop. In the dim light so far from the entrance, she noted that Hadley appeared tired. His eyes rimmed in dark circles, at first she wondered if he’d been drinking.

“Are you well?” she asked, alarmed.

“Quite. Why do you ask?”

Curt, was he? “You don’t look it.”

“Why would you care?”

She rolled a shoulder. “Because…I don’t like to see anyone ailing.”

“I see,” he said and fingered the brim of his half stove pipe hat in his hand. He lifted his ivory walking stick and thrust it down at the wooden floor. The punctuation made her jump. “You didn’t like my poetry.”

She would give him his due. “But I did.”

He recoiled, then he peered at her.

“I always did, Hadley. Thank you. I…have not laughed much lately.”

“So I saw.” He mellowed but the hurt in his gaze gutted her. “You wanted to meet?”

“I did.”

“You’ve found a man you like?”

My. He was a wasp with his stinger out this morning.

Was this a good thing? “I have,” she told him.

He huffed. “Parnham, I suppose?”

She wrinkled her nose at him. “Do be quiet. Yes, yes. Him.”

He leaned closer and in a stage whisper said, “I don’t like him.”

She inched near and lowered her voice. “Very well. Why not?”

“He’s too good looking.”

She pressed her lips together, her smile hard to contain. “And?”

“He dances well.”

Indeed. “Good rhythm.”

Hadley narrowed his beautiful green eyes to beady slits. “Graceful.”

Hmmm. “And?”

“There has to be more?”

Oh, she rather liked this contretemps. With the roll of a shoulder, she threw him a wide-eyed look. “Naturally. What of his temperament?”

“Sweet.”

“His reputation as a manager of his estates?”

“Dear god.” With a whack, he drove his walking stick into the floorboards. “I have no idea.”

“Ask around, will you?” Oh, she liked that idea!

“No!”

She stomped one impatient foot. “What do you know?”

“He likes you.”

Smart man. “How?”

“What do you mean ‘how’?”

“As a friend? A prospective—?”

“Yes. As a prospective.”

Delightful. “And you know this because you…?”

“Heard it from his lips. Is that good enough for you?”

“The best. Thank you.” She mellowed toward him. Despite his peevish temper—and a hint of jealousy, too, yes?—Hadley had told her the truth. “I’m very grateful to you.”

“Fine.” He jammed his hat on his head.

“Leaving?”

“Of course. Unless you wish to interrogate me about some other man.”

She licked her lips. That brought her to the point, didn’t it? The one that niggled her until wee hours in her bed each night. “I do.”

“There is someone else? Wonderful! Who?”

Oh, he was furious. Could this really be…jealousy? Oh, delights! “You.”

She could have pushed over the bookcase on him and it would not have fazed him as much.

It took him a bit, but he managed to form a word. “What?”

“You. I wish to ask a question about you.”

“Why?” He squinted.

Distrusting soul, wasn’t he?

“I am not one of your swains.”

“Used to be.”

His expression collapsed. To sorrow. “What do you want to know?”

“Why did you not marry the woman to whom your father betrothed you?”

“That is a very long story.” He glanced away, then around at the hundreds of books surrounding him. “Too complicated to tell here.”

“Why not tell me the short version?”

His cheeks went red with anger. “Because she loved another man.”

Had one of the bookcases fallen on her? “That…that’s…”

“Not what the ton says? No, it isn’t.”

Author Cerise DeLand

Sassy ladies and smart men make irresistible romance! That, plus a good dose of historical accuracy, are my hallmarks. Hope you will read all my Regency and Victorian romances!

www.cerisedeland.com

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