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Overheard on the Ice

The Teatime Tattler
Special Edition: coming to you from the frozen Thames River
2 February 1814

The third full day of the Frost Fair dawned cold and still this morning. Your humble servant was out on the ice at the earliest possible minute, mixing with the crowds of common, gentle, and even noble folk, listening for any snippets of news that might delight your eyes and ears, Gentle Reader.

Tomorrow is the social event that everyone has been talking about. The charity subscription ball Her Grace of Haverford holds every year will this year be supplemented by a Venetian Breakfast ON THE ICE.

You read that correctly, Gentle Reader. Her Grace and her group of Society ladies have requisitioned a section of the ice, where all–or at least a goodly number–of the great folk of the nation will gather tomorrow for this breakfast.

But, before they can eat, we are to be treated to a basket auction. For those who have not heard of this quaint country custom, the ladies intend to auction the food for the breakfast one basket at a time–and not just the basket, but the company of the fair cook.

We are assured that the sale of a lady’s time is not scandalous when it is for charity, and promoted by the leading ladies of Society. Gentle reader, you may draw your own conclusions, as have we.

Meanwhile, we have heard some other interesting tidbits of gossip that we must share.

The Granite Earl was seen escorting the Ice Princess and her two sisters in a Haverford troika. Will we see a chip in his facade; a thaw in her cold heart? Their conveyance hints that the courtship, if such it is, has her family’s approval, but who can believe that this highly proper gentleman intends an honourable offer to a female of such murky birth?

The shocking Miss C., though shunned by many, has a champion in the Earl of T. Yet, after the confrontation between her and her cousin at the theatre, which your reporter was fortunate enough to witness, many are rethinking their stand. Is the lady innocent? Will she remain innocent, or does the Earl of T. have other plans?

Is the Duchess of S. aware that her eldest daughter has come out of seclusion to write pamphlets for the good ladies led by the Duchess of H.? Should you wish to read one of them, Lady G. is herself giving them away at a Frost Fair booth. Just look for the banner with the ridiculously long name on it. That pretty debutante, Lady F., is keeping Lady G. company. Are their brothers too busy with affairs of state to keep the ladies out of mischief?

A certain Lieutenant who capitalised on his planned engagement to a wealthy young lady is out in the cold, it seems. Lady C. is once more being escorted by Lord O., and she shows the gentleman a marked preference. Given that he assisted to put up the aforementioned banner, we believe the inclination is returned. Will the military gentleman take his dismissal with grace?

Lady T., sister to the Duke of E., was heard to comment to a friend that her reclusive brother, scars and all, will come to the auction tomorrow, and perhaps even to the ball. He will not be able to resist, she claims, for Lady H. R. has invoked The Umbrella. Are wedding bells on the horizon for the reclusive peer, and if so, will his bride survive the occasion?

The paragraphs above are about events and characters in five of the novellas in coming Bluestocking Belles box set, Fire & Frost. Preorder now, and watch for more news as the Belles share gossip and snippets from their stories.

A truly scandalous liaison discovered!

A delicious bit of news recently came across this editor’s desk from a most reliable source. Knowing our readers at the Teatime Tattler, I had to rush to get this out for the morning edition that involved the upper ton!

I have it on the highest authority that a certain young Lady C, who recently made her debut just this season, was caught in a compromising situation at a house party with none other than Lord d C. Not only did half the ton witness their indiscretion as they frolicked at the entrance to a maze, but Lady C’s father, the Duke of A, watched in horror as his youngest daughter was all but ruined right before his eyes.

Lady C can say goodbye to her hopes of one day becoming a duchess. After this fiasco, she’ll have to settle on being a Countess instead.

scottish

Excerpt:

“I suspect, before long, we shall all be family, if Grace and your uncle have anything to say on the matter.” Adrian assumed there would be a wedding celebration in the near future.

“Do you think so?” she whispered, her eyes bright with excitement. “We would see each other often if they were to marry.”

Adrian cleared his throat, stepping several paces backwards to distance himself. She, in turn, advanced. “Yes, well… I suppose such may be the case. Time will tell.”

“Time… yes… time is all we need. Will you wait for me Lord de Courtenay… Adrian?”

“W-wait for you?” he stammered. “Where the devil is your chaperon?” Good Lord, what had he gotten himself into? This situation had gotten out of hand faster than he ever expected. He went around her to open the door, but the key was missing. Turning back, she waved what he needed.

“Looking for this?” she laughed.

The little scamp! “Lady Celia,” Adrian began, holding his palm upward. “The key, if you please.”

She laughed. “Oh, very well,” she replied, handing the shiny brass object over; it was still warm from her touch. “You do not have to be so formal. As you said, we might be related one day.”

Adrian turned the key in the lock and opened the door. “All the more reason to adhere to the rules of Society. You are the daughter of a duke and should not be alone with a single male, especially me.”

A giggle of girlish delight burst from her lips. “I am certain I am perfectly safe in your company, Adrian,” she said, dropping all formality between them.


The Earl Takes A Wife:
A de Courtenay Novella

Release date October 29, 2019
Pre-order for $0.99

It began with a memory etched in the heart.

Lady Celia Lacey is too young for a husband, especially man-about-town Lord Adrian de Courtenay. But when she meets him at a house party, she falls in love and cannot get him out of her mind. Will he ever think she is old enough to become his wife?

Adrian finds appealing innocent Lady Celia Lacey impossible to forget, though she is barely out of the schoolroom and a relative by marriage. If they are constantly in each other’s company, then how can he move on without her?

His sister’s deceptions bring them together but destroys their happiness. Can they reach past the hurt to the love that still burns?

The Earl Takes A Wife first appeared in the Bluestocking Belles’ box set, Valentines From Bath. It’s now available for individual sale.

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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.

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Duchess undermines civilisation

As those who regularly read The Teatime Tattler know, the relationship between the Duchess of S. and the Duchess of H. mirrors that between their husbands: to whit, it has always been, at best, frosty.

Since the wards of the Duchess of H. made their courtesy to the Queen last year, even after the Duchess of S. tried to have them barred on account of their irregular origins, any possibility of rapprochement has become encased in ice.

Today, in Hyde Park, half the beau monde and a considerable number of the lesser sort witnessed the further cooling of the connection.

Her Grace of H. was taking the air with Captain and Mrs J. R. and the children they have claimed as their own. Society has cautiously opened its doors and its hearts to this unlikely family, in part because of the affection many have for the gentleman’s father, and in part through the offices of his powerful allies, not least the duchess herself.

Society, I say, but not the high sticklers among them, and the leader of those most determined to hold the moral line against all possible sources of corruption is, of course, the Duchess of S.

Today, dear readers, when her carriage passed that of the Duchess of H., Her Grace of S. was staring at the trees on the opposite side of the carriage. Was it the cut direct? Not quite, for she showed no awareness of her fellow duchess before turning her shoulder.

Even so, those close enough to the carriage heard her say to her companion, “One wishes to be kind, of course, but some people take kindness to the point of gullibility. Mrs R. has adopted her husband’s natural children as her patroness also did. However, I am reliably informed, these are Hottentots, or as near as makes no difference. It is an outrage, and the Duke and I will not tolerate it.”

Quite what the Duchess of S. plans to do, she did not say.

Readers may wish to note that, as The Teatime Tattler has been informed, the three children in question are not Hottentots, but are quarter-breeds, as their maternal grandmother was Batavian.

The three wards of the Duchess of Haverford are half-sisters, all the daughters of the Duke of Haverford. Melting Matilda, in the Bluestocking Belles’ Fire & Frost box set which is on preorder for February 4, stars Matilda Grenford, the eldest of the sisters.

The Duchess of Sudbury and the Duchess of Haverford are leaders of two rival groups of Society’s ladies. The Duchess of Sudbury and her family, notably her rebel daughter Georgiana and her commanding son, the Marquess of Glenaire, appear in Caroline Warfield’s Dangerous series. (Georgie and Richard have a book each.) Her Grace is not present in the new box set, Fire & Frost, but her disapproving attitude is.

The Duchess of Haverford and her son, the Marquis of Aldridge, are connecting characters in Jude Knight’s regency novels, and particularly the forthcoming Children of the Mountain King series, to which Melting Matilda belongs as a novella. (It fits between To Wed a Proper Lady and To Heal the Broken-Hearted. Last year’s Paradise Regained is a prequel to the Mountain King series.)

Captain and Mrs J. R. are Jules and Mia Redepenning. Unkept Promises, published last month, tells how Mia came to adopt his three children.

“… 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.

Books2Read: books2read.com/Unkept-Promises

Jude’s Bookshop: https://judeknight.selz.com/item/unkept-promises

Navy captain trapped by smugglers doxy

Sam, this story is all around Margate and the local countryside. Hard to tell what’s smoke and what’s substance, but I’m sending you my notes. Make what you will of it. I’ve spoken to some of the party goers, some servants taken on for the night and dismissed with the guests, local excise men, a few villagers down near the Castle, and even the vicar’s housekeeper.

A bacchanaal hosted by the Merry Marquis at Haverford Castle several nights ago was interrupted by the arrival of a wild-eyed girl who claimed to be pursued by smugglers.

At first, the revelers assumed she was part of the entertainment, and perhaps she was. But if so, the Merry Marquis was not inclined to share, for within minutes of drawing her to one side for private conversation, he evicted all of his guests.

The guests — the usual miscellany of wild youths, dedicated debauchers, ladies of the night, and daring widows — could not say with certainty what the relationship between the two of them was, though most thought he knew the female.

Given what we know of his lordship, even if she was not a close acquaintance one would assume they were very close by the time the night was over. Or perhaps not, given what transpired within the week.

But I get ahead of myself.

The next information comes from several troopers with the excise men, who speaks of the troop being roused by a Haverford Castle groom, and led out to the coast to apprehend a gang of smugglers, and to retrieve some dead bodies from a network of caves the smugglers frequented.

The Merry Marquis and about a score of his servants had already fought a battle with said servants and the girl was with them. I was told she had ridden into the affray astride the Merry Marquis’s horse, clinging to him. Stark naked, some say. Others demurred, claiming she was fully dressed, but all agree that she hurled herself over the body of a man whom the smugglers had beaten, and defied anyone to further hurt him.

This is where information becomes more speculation than fact. I have ascertained that the man in question was taken up to the Castle, as was one of the corpses, an elderly man. The Merry Marquis claimed the two men and the girl had been prisoners of the smugglers. The girl also returned to the Castle — and you know how closed-lipped Haverford servants are.

However, the doctor, who was called to attend the two who still lived, told his housekeeper that the man was a Redepenning — one of the Earl of C’s connections, and almost certainly the youngest son of the General Lord R. (or Lord H. as he is more commonly known). The girl, the housekeeper said, was a nobody from one of the local villages.

Turns out those who know — let’s call her Miss S. — those who know Miss S. are likewise mixed in their opinion of her. Some say she is little more than an innocent child, and that the man that died, her father, was a scholar. Others suggest that he robbed graves and collected bones, and that she is a wicked thing, no better than she should be, and bound to come to a bad end.

Suffice it to say, rumours are rife. Was she a smuggler’s doxy who fell in love with the young Redepenning’s pretty blue eyes, as some attest? Or a helpless victim of said villains, held for nefarious purposes.

It seems almost certain that she had spent several nights in the same locked cave as Redepenning. If she had any virtue to lose, it seems unlikely to have remained intact, particularly given what came next.

Lord H. arrived, along with his daughter, Mrs C. The doctor returned several times to the castle. Next, the vicar was summoned.

Sam, the young Redepenning married the girl. He has now left. Gone back to his ship, which is bound for the Far East. The new Mrs. R. is bound for London.

I don’t suppose you can print any of this — not with such powerful families now protecting the female at the centre of it. But it makes you think, doesn’t it?

Unkept Promise, out this coming week and on special at 99c on release day

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.

Books2Read: books2read.com/UnkeptPromises

Jude’s website (where you can read the first three chapters): https://judeknightauthor.com/books/unkept-promises/

The English Captain has a consecutive harem

Cape Town
July 1812

Dear Sister

How lovely our homeland must be now that Summer is here. I regret being so far away, even though I know you have many worries in these troubled times.

We, ourselves, are under the boot of the British, as you know. I have told you that their Governor has freed most of the slaves owned by the Company, and that the British who have come to live here are very unlike us in their ways.

A prime example, dear sister, is the irregular household of Captain Redepenning of the British naval ship the Advantage. It has been distressing the upright citizens of our little community for the past three years. At least the native girl he installed in his house knew her place, and did not venture out among proper wives and their families; at least after she attempted to attend divine services that one time I told you about.

A few words to our dear pastor and his wife ensured that the congregation was not required to tolerate the presence of a woman of her kind. ‘Mrs Redepenning’, she dared call herself, but we all knew she was no more married than the lowest female who markets her body on the waterfront. She is his mistress, of course, or was until she was too ill. Consumption, they say. A likely story! Paying the price of a dissolute life, I say.

You will understand the impudence of the man when I tell you that he hired a nursemaid for his mistress’s brats. As if such children need that kind of care. It came as no surprise to us all when he moved the nursemaid into his bed, which I daresay was his intention all along. At least she had the virtue of being white, even if she was Irish.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. Another female, also calling herself Mrs Redepenning, turned up just a few weeks ago. Her first act was to throw the Irish slut into the street. We all waited for the native harlot to follow, but it seems the woman who claims to be his wife has some compassion for a sick woman.

She has been out walking with the children. She even had the nerve to attend services at the Church of England chapel on Sunday! I’m relieved to say that the English followed our example , and made it clear that misbegotten coloured children were not welcome in the House of God.

That was not the end of it, though! She has had the effrontery to take the children about town with her fancy man, even attending the races and shopping in the emporiums! The latest outrage is that she has been holding dinner parties. You will be as horrified as I am, dearest, when I tell you that people have attended — not just other naval officers, but even one or two wives!

Apparently — though I find it hard to believe — the woman really is the Captain’s wife, and well connected to the English aristocracy. It may be so, but she has put herself beyond the pale by not just tolerating the presence of his native woman and her children, but actually nursing the mistress, and treating the children as if they were her own.

Whatever is the world coming to? I can only say that I yearn for this war to end and the English to go back to where they belong, so we are no longer obliged to meet such people as Captain and Mrs Redepenning.

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

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.

https://judeknightauthor.com/books/unkept-promises

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TXXK53N/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/unkept-promises-by-jude-knight

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47161695-unkept-promises

Barnes and Noble Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/unkept-promises-jude-knight/1132401931?ean=2940163272938

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/nz/en/ebook/unkept-promises

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/947394

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/unkept-promises/id1471938393

Excerpt

Adiratna’s eyes widened and sparkled. “Presents!” In moments, she was back across the room, tugging on Perdana’s hand. “What has Papa brought me, Dan? You know, I know you do.”

“Lumps of coal, like the Black Peter we saw on St Nicolas Day,” Perdana answered, promptly, “And a switch to beat you with, for you have undoubtedly been a great trouble for Mami and Ibu Mia.”

Adiratna sniffed, and poked her nose in the air. “That shows you know nothing, Dan, for Hannah never lets me be a trouble, do you, Hannah?” She smiled at her new nurse, who had been an instant favourite with both girls for her store of stories and the energy and imagination that allowed her to keep them constantly on the move from one interesting activity to another.

“Brothers tease,” Hannah told her. “I do not know why they do it, but there it is.”

Perdana grinned at her, not in the least perturbed by this set down, but Adiratna wanted the last word. “Papa never beats us, even when we deserve it. So there.”

“Do you deserve it?” Jules spoke from the doorway, his tone one of scientific inquiry. Both girls forgot their brother and their dignity to hurl themselves into his waiting arms. Mia exchanged a glance with Hannah, who gave a satisfied nod. The man’s clear delight in his children had won that stern arbiter’s cautious approval.

Mia, too, found it hard to retain her indignation while watching him listening to their chatter, squatting on the floor with his back against the door jamb, each arm around a daughter on his knee. Adiratna was pouring out two months’ worth of news at full speed, and even Marshanda spoke so fast her words were tumbling over themselves.

Adiratna suddenly remembered that Jules had not yet disgorged his gifts. “Where are my…” she broke off, sneaking a glance at Hannah, who had been impressing the little girls with the unexpected information that they were ladies. Marshanda stuck her nose in the air. “Ladies,” she informed her sister, “do not ask. Ladies wait to be offered.”

Jules frown over her head at Mia. “Who has been telling you that?” he asked.

Adiratna, however, was not to be deflected. “I like presents,” she announced. “It makes me very happy when people give me a present. Ibu Mia brought presents for me and Marsha. I expect she brought presents for you, too, Dan. I do like presents.”

Faced with this flagrant attempt to get around the ‘ladies do not ask’ rule, the adults struggled to maintain their gravity. Even Jules, who was holding onto whatever grudge had blown in with him, couldn’t resist a twinkle. “I happen to have some presents,” he commented.

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