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Category: Bluestocking Belles Page 1 of 43

An older society Dragon does not need a younger lover! Said…no one!

T’is said that a certain older lady who runs the ton is now enamored of a certain young military hero. That cannot be, can it?

I say, I wave my fan at the very idea. How can a lady purport to be one if she encourages a younger man to call upon her in the middle of the night and give her outrageous gifts?

Really! Shameful.

Although I too would really like a fine new pair of horses and a newer phaeton. I say! Wouldn’t you?

LADY, YOU’RE MINE

She’d spent so many years acting like a proper lady, she’d forgotten how to be a woman.

He’s determined to help her remember.

*******

EXCERPT: COPYRIGHT 2022 CERISE DELAND. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

“You avoid me,” he told her with a small smile easing his handsome lips. He brought her a glass of cool white wine and settled beside her in a double chair far aft.

They’d been out to sea an hour or more. The day was pleasant, the sea calm, the air balmy.

Not so her heart to have him grace her with his presence.

 Only two others sat near them. Most were fore listening to the Rensfords discuss the construction of the yacht.

“You rattled me the other night,” she admitted freely. “We knew each other too young to be obtuse in our older age.”

He grinned.

“Don’t look so satisfied.” She cast him quelling glance, yet couldn’t help but laugh at his insouciance. 

He took a drink of his wine. “I’m not only pleased you confess I ruffled your fine feathers, but you are still miffed with me.”

“Angry is the word, Magnus.”

He mashed those fabulous lips of his together. “If you say so.”

“I do.” She took a hearty drink of the wine he’d had the good sense to bring her for this conversation.

“I would think my intentions would be a great compliment.” He lifted his glass in the direction of the Countess of Huntington and her friend. “Some would definitely welcome similar statements.”

She snorted. “What they’d welcome would be a proposal to be indiscreet.”

“I could give you that too if it would bring you closer to the prospect of accepting my desire to make an honest woman of you.”

“I am already an honest woman.”

He looked her over with the careful compassionate eyes of a lover. “I know you are, darling.”

She thrilled to his ardent words and fumed at his audacity. “What I mean is—“

“I know what you mean, Cass. You are a widow. Of independent means. With a sterling reputation. Wealth. All the freedom and power of a dragon of the ton. And you have no need of me. Not my title. My money. My name. Or my hand in marriage.”

“Exactly.”

“What you do need is the man I am.”

She opened her mouth to continue to argue…but halted, stumped over that last.

He stared straight into her eyes. “I know about William.”

That took her aback. “He was a good husband.”

He looked off to the horizon, licked his lips then took a sip of his wine. Finally, he faced her. “How good?”

“He was kind.”

“Left you to your own devices.”

“He was considerate.”

“And gave you all the money you needed to furnish the house, throw tea parties, visit your modiste and go south to the sea.”

She emptied her glass. He was right. How he had learned this was beyond her. Gossip, she supposed. Heaven knew, no one was free from it. But when what the ton knew was true, it could wound and make one bleed and want and cry.

She got to her feet. The pitch of the boat did not help and she thrust out a hand to catch hold of her chair. “I must go.”

She managed to get across the deck to head down on the steps to go below. She’d found the ladies’ retiring room there minutes ago, but the first door was that to the map room. There she hoped for privacy. It contained one small desk, two chairs and a round flat table. Small enough to compose herself and wipe her tears.

Except right behind her came Magnus.

“No, no.” She put up her hands to ward him off as he closed the door behind him. “Go back up. Leave me.”

“I did not mean to make you cry.” He shook out a large white handkerchief that he’d extracted from inside his coat.

She grabbed it and dabbed at her cheeks. “Well, you did.”

“I want you to allow me to court you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

He shot backward. “I am many things. Proud, determined. Never that.”

“I apologize. I mean…” She waved the handkerchief. “I am beyond the age of courting. I will look ridiculous.”

“I don’t care. I want you to have it.”

She glared at him as if he had two heads. “Now you are, pardon me, delusional.”

“Never. I want you to have the joy of it. Dancing and flirting. Being treasured and chased.” He took a step toward her and in that tiny room, they stood together, flesh to solid flesh. He put his hands on her shoulders and smiled down at her. “William never gave you any of that. You should have had it, Cass. Young and beautiful as you were, you would have had a host of young men drooling to dance attendance on you. Be your beau, your beloved. But you never had the pleasure.”

“Oh, you can sweet talk among the best of men.”

“Not so sweet was what you did have.”

The truth bit deep. “Papa had no money for his youngest daughter to debut. William knew it, learned it somehow. He saw me. William saw me. At church one Sunday when we were in town and he offered to Papa for me.” 

She remembered the lazy Sunday afternoon her father had called her into his study and he’d told her of her future. A day so much like today, bright and tranquil. “I was sixteen when William decided I was to be his wife. He’d told my father then, but they both waited two years to inform me. Imagine.”

Magnus put his arms around her and drew her against him. His hands stroking her spine, she rested her head on his shoulder as if it were the most natural pose in the world. She felt the rough wool of his uniform and the point of a medal on her cheek, but she welcomed the succor as she had never embraced any before.

“He paid my father to marry me.”

Magnus grunted. “Cass,” he murmured and held her more dearly to him.

“It sounds hideous, primitive. I was bought. Paid for. Papa took the money to pay his debts. I never knew until William told me years later just before he died. He sought redemption, I suppose, or wished to clear his conscience before he drew his last breath. By then, I had cut myself off from my family and I had no one to scream out my misery or my insult. I vowed then no one would ever disparage me so, not ever again. And they haven’t.”

“They respect you,” he said, drawing back to regard her with sympathy.

She huffed. “My due for being a dutiful wife. Yet William was good to me.” She looked up into this man’s starkly handsome face. “He never asked more than that I be a good hostess.”

Magnus caressed her cheek. “For his political ambitions.”

She dropped her gaze to the red of his uniform. “I did it. That was easy. To check menus and make seating charts. To ensure there was always brandy in the crystal and port on the sideboard.”

“And for you, there were all the comforts.”

“Oh yes, every one.”

“But he was not a friend.”

She bit her lower lip.

“Or a companion.”

She shook her head.

He raised her chin and delved into her eyes. “Or a lover.”

She considered the fact that with this man she could be totally honest as she had never been with any other person in her adult life. “I am not a virgin, Magnus.”

“He had you.”

Those were definitely the right words. Simple possession without any emotion. “He did.”

He lowered his face to hers, his lips a breath away. “Did he kiss you?”

“Sometimes.”

Those enchanting blue eyes of his narrowed on her. His lips brushed across hers. “Did he make you want?”

Him? “No.”

“Can I?”

At his words, the world spun and she was giddy with a need she’d known only once before. Forbidden then. But now hunger fueled curiosity and carelessness. She put her mouth near his and whispered, “Let me see.”

The grin he gave her was in his gaze and the rapture erupted in his fierce embrace. His arms around her bending her over the table, he took her down and spread her upon the cool wood. His hands holding hers, he put his lips to hers in the gentlest of claims. A butterfly’s kiss made her sigh. A marauder’s kiss had her gasping.

His kisses became long luxurious explorations, his tongue insistent, probing and thorough. Her hat fell off, the pins pulling her coif with it. But he was ardent, reverent and she cared for nothing but his tender lips and ravenous fingers. 

He bit her earlobe and laughed at her shiver. He licked his way down the column of her throat to her cleavage. She arched in abandon, her desire for more, a compulsion she could not sate. He swept two fingers inside her bodice and pulled at the fabric. She wiggled beneath his heavy weight and rejoiced at the urge to find fulfillment.

But he was no novice at seduction or ladies’ gowns. He had the silk down, his hot mouth upon the hard begging point of her breast. She moved and he gave her what she wanted and shoved the fabric beneath her other heaving breast. With both his hands on her naked flesh, he spread wet lavish kisses from one to the other. 

A knock came at the door.

Fright blasted her bliss.

He grumbled about intrusions as he pulled her upright. “We will have more of this. Soon.”

She and he tugged her gown back to its original position. Her heart hammering, she told herself to be grateful to whomever was on the other side of that portal. Yet the adventurous girl in her—shocking as it was—did not wish to be saved. 

She stared at him as he ran his fingers through her disheveled hair and pulled at her little curls over her ears. 

Then he bent and dusted off her broad-brimmed chip hat, quite crushed. His smile was totally evil as he pushed the thing into her hands. “Here, before you go, don this.”

In the hallway, people conversed. 

“Good god, how many are out there?” she said as she fought with her hair and her hat.

“Whoever it is, we will stare them down and dare them to babble about this.”

Should she laugh or cry? “You have not been in society very long.”

“You have not seen how frightening I can be.” He chucked her under her chin. “Ready now?”

“No! Button your coat.” She righted him as best she could, then tried to get nearer the door so that she did not appear to hide behind it. Even that was silly. She would either look like a young girl compromised alone with a man—or a complete coward. “Now. Do it.”

He nodded and yanked open the door.

“Ladies,” he greeted whomever stood there while Cass figured her future in London now would be selling fish on the docks. 

As if he were in this room merely consulting on navigation of the seas, he gave their intruders a most courtly bow, then ran two meaty hands through his long tousled golden locks. “The cousins, I see. Good of you to find us.” 

Cass nearly fainted with delight that those outside were Adelaide and Laurel.

He paused, threw them a half smile and turned toward Cass. “Breathe, my darling. You’re saved.”

He swung wide the door and the two young ladies to whom she had appeared only as a regimented fire-breathing dragon gaped at her. She could picture the image they saw. Her eyes dreamy. Her cheeks aflame. Her lips swollen from kisses. Her bodice awry and skirts rumpled.

Welles pulled his coat to, then threw her a wink.

Addy and Laurel rushed inside and shut the door. They did not ask her anything nor did they comment on her disarray. They went to work to straighten her gown and pin her hair so that minutes later, the three emerged and rejoined the party on deck.

The Countess of Huntington, that bird of rumor, was—blessedly—nowhere in sight. 

******

LADY, YOU’RE MINE, BOOK 4 in NAUGHTY LADIES

Lady William Downs revels in her reputation as a Society dragon, a Diamond (still!) at her age, too—and a widow of independent means.

Colonel Lord Magnus Augustus Welles is home from the savagery of the wars. Heir to his ailing father the Duke of Ruscombe, Magnus wants a wife. He knows just who that will be. But the lady doth protest far too much.

To woo her is easy.

To win her he’ll persuade her with the best gifts of all—a new phaeton, horses—and, yes, himself. In all the racy ways she’s never enjoyed!

THE AUTHOR, CERISE DELAND

Cerise DeLand is the USA TODAY Bestselling author who has written more than 70 novels in her nearly 4 decade career. Find her on Amazon, Bookbub and her new YOUTUBE CHANNEL, Travels with Cerise!

Oh, those Scots!

Dear Reader,

The New Year is almost upon us, and how appropriate that I have another story to offer you from the northern climes where this day is known as Hogmanay. (A most wretched name for a holiday, is it not?)

Some time ago I shared last year’s scandalous report of a Duke from the northern climes who married his housekeeper!

Suffice to say that, in the normal course of things, the Lady (for as it turned out, she was always a Lady) has done her duty, and the Duke has assured the succession of the title with a healthy male sprout.

Ah, but there is more, revealed to the Teatime Tattler by a gentleman guest of the Duke and Duchess, a direct witness. (Though, as he was in his cups when the story was revealed, we may not be entirely certain of the veracity of all the details.) However, the principle facts I have verified from a source close to an outstanding member of the London medical community.

As it happened, the Duke insisted his Duchess be attended by a physician, and it seems that only a particular doctor would do, a man of humble origins, a recent graduate of Edinburgh’s medical college, who needs must hurried north from his new practice in our fair capital–for who doesn’t obey a Duke’s command?!

Dear Reader, this promising young man had hoped for fame and fortune, and dare I say, romance in London, but instead was called north only to find…

Here is where the details become a trifle uncertain. I won’t say more, except to tell you that the young doctor’s story includes a trap laid by a wealthy heiress (rumored to be the doctor’s former amour), a loathsome nabob, fortune-hunting noblemen, rowdy peasants, and a surprise bequest.

Will our young hero find his wished-for fame, fortune and romance in the Highlands? Your intrepid reporter will endeavor to find out for you!

The Nabob’s Designing Daughter

Book 4, The Upstart Christmas Brides

Blurb:

A wealthy nabob’s daughter has designs on a handsome young doctor, but not the romantic sort, despite the one kiss he stole from her ages ago. The poor crofters she’s been tending behind her father’s back need more than a rich miss’s potions, they need a real doctor. And fortunately, she has the leverage to provide one.

Ripped from his prestigious London practice to deliver a Highland duke’s heir, a young doctor finds there are more snares awaiting than a risky birth, including a surprise—and worthless—bequest. There’s also his best friend’s cousin, who’s blossomed from mousey to heart-stirringly beautiful, with enough wiles to convince an ambitious man that his heart belongs in the Highlands.

Excerpt

They handed over their outer garments and entered a grand room, the fireplace at one end almost the size of the bedchamber he’d shared with his father’s man-of-all-work. Stag heads lined the walls, along with ancient weapons and tapestries. In the far corner, near the blazing fire, a woman rose from her chair, and hurried toward them, the man with her rising and following.

Attractive and dark-haired, she was heavy with child, but rosy-cheeked and smiling. Other than an awkward gait—to be expected—she moved swiftly and caught Mrs. MacDonal, in an embrace.

Introductions were made. Andrew MacDonal, Duke of Kinmarty was a well-formed man of about thirty, he would guess, his wife not quite that age, yet older than one might expect of a duke’s wife bearing his first child. Most noblemen married young women, anxious for as many years as required to produce a male heir.

“So, you’re the physician.” The duke scanned him from head to toe and back up again. “You might wish to know that my lady—”

“No, Andrew.” The duchess touched her husband’s arm. “Dr. Robillard has only just arrived. There is no urgency. We must let him rest before we get down to business.”

Her calm demeanor put him at ease. Demme, but he was nervous, and that wouldn’t do. “Your grace, if it is your time, I am ready now.”

The duke sent her a smug look. “You see, Fil. We men of action are always ready.”

Minny or Fil. What was the duchess’s Christian name?

The duke nodded to him, as if they were equals, and his confidence rose. “If there’s something you wish to tell me about your condition, your grace,” Errol said, “I’d most assuredly like to hear it.”

“Are you having false labor, Minnie?” Mrs. MacDonal appeared beside him and handed him a glass of whisky. “The Kinmarty brew. Quite good, and it will settle your nerves for the night ahead, if it is indeed Minnie’s time.”

“Enough talk of my upcoming ordeal. Edme, Dr. Robillard, we welcome you to our Yuletide celebration. Andrew and I grew up in England and at least where Christmas is concerned, we’ve brought our English ways.” She smiled. “Come the New Year, we’ll celebrate Hogmanay the Scottish way. Now, you must refresh yourself, Doctor Robillard. Come closer to the fire.” She nudged her cousin aside and led Errol to the hearth, whispering. “My husband is apprehensive.”

“And you, Duchess?”

“No.” She shivered. “Or, yes, in fact. My first, and at the advanced age of eight and twenty.”

Nerves were normal, but it wouldn’t do to encourage them. “You will do well, your grace.”

The great door knocker pounded again, and they both looked toward the hall. “More visitors have arrived.” She smiled up at him, and he saw the strain around her eyes.

“Are you in pain?”

“As my cousin said, it is likely false labor,” she whispered. “It comes and goes.”

“When did it start?”

“A few days ago, I had a spell.”

“And now?”

“Now I have a bit of a backache. Please. Sit. I’ll go greet our next arrivals.”

He set down his untouched glass, reached for her hand and placed it over his arm. “I’ll escort you. And after greeting the new arrivals, perhaps you will retire, and I might examine you?”

She laughed. “Men of action, indeed.”

A large, well-tailored, but otherwise lumpy man with white hair and a ruddy complexion entered. The girl next to him wore an equally stylish blue gown that brought out the peaches and cream of her perfect complexion. Errol’s heart stuttered.

Ann Strachney was here, looking as elegant as some of the ladies he’d seen shopping on Bond Street.

He straightened his spine. Why the devil was his heart racing? He’d had more than his share of women, but his heart only raced in the laboratory, or the clinic, or over a particularly well-researched journal article. Never over a girl, and certainly not over a lass who’d asked him for scientific studies and then never answered his letter. True, he’d been glad for the excuse to dispense with the promise to write, but the snub had still rankled.

Buy Links

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Universal Link https://books2read.com/u/3yVl6J

Alina K. FieldAbout the Author

Award winning and USA Today bestselling author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but prefers the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California, where she shares a midcentury home with a spunky, blond rescued terrier and a good-natured rescued chihuahua. She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. Though hard at work on her next series of romantic adventures, she loves to hear from readers!

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On a mission…

Abigail Danvers watched the dancing with a frown. On a mission to find any sort of possible gossip for the Teatime Tattler, she had become frustrated that time to find anything newsworthy was passing her by. But that was only the start of the problem. Abigail had begun to wonder if her life wasn’t also becoming meaningless. An anonymous reporter for Mr. Clemens wasn’t going to provide her with a husband and children to fill her home.

“Stop scowling, sister, or you’ll scare away any gentleman who even remotely has the thought of asking you to dance,” Prudence whispered in her ear. “Who are you watching, anyway?”

Her attention on a couple only caused her displeasure to deepen. “Sophie Templeton with the Earl of Wilmott,” she said with clenched teeth. “She’s younger than I am and it looks as though those two will be engaged by Christmas if I read all the signs right.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” Prudence asked.

“Just another titled gentleman who will be off the market. I thought by coming here to the country we might find husbands of our own or at the very least something noteworthy to send to Clemens.” Abigail shook her head to clear her melancholy mood.

“Maybe it’s time to start looking out for ourselves instead and not be so determined to provide Mr. Clemens with the latest gossip,” Prudence replied with a small smile. “I say we wish Miss Templeton and her earl the very best and start looking out for our own interests instead.”

“Perhaps you’re right, sister,” Abigail proclaimed.

She looked once again at the couple and nodded. They looked so happy gliding across the dance floor to a waltz and Abigail could only wish to find her own happiness someday, too. As two gentlemen began to head toward her and her sister, Abigail smiled. Clemens could find his own gossip to report in his morning rag. She had a new quest in mind and this could be the start of her own happily-ever-after!


This is a short original piece by Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing. It refers to Sherry’s latest characters in her novelette, A Mistletoe Kiss in the Belles’ Christmas boxset Belles & Beaux. Read on for an excerpt from Sherry’s story and happy holidays, dearest readers!

Excerpt:

She began playing again. One tune after another until she grew bored with the keyboard. What difference did it make how well she played if Spencer wasn’t in the room to hear her? As if she conjured the man up with her thoughts, the men returned to the parlor causing Sophie to lose her breath when Spencer came to stand by her chair.

“I am sorry to cut our evening short, but I must return home. In my eagerness to visit with your family, I completely forgot that I had agreed to dinner with my parents,” Spencer stated looking a bit embarrassed. “I’ll have some explaining to do.”

“Let me get your coat and hat. I’ll inform a lad to bring your horses out to the front.”

She left the room, delivered her message to one of the staff, and then went to a closet to retrieve Spencer, and Lord Charville’s things. Taking hold of Spencer’s jacket, she held the fabric up to her nose and inhaled while the heavenly smell of spice filled her senses. She heard footsteps coming closer to the foyer and didn’t want to be found out, so she quickly retrieved the other coat and their hats.

Spencer came into view, took Evan’s things and handed them to the man who returned to the parlor to say his farewells.

His hand brushed hers when he reached for his coat. “Will you walk me out, Sophie?”

Her heart would never be able to stand being this close to him, but she would take the chance she might survive their brief moment of privacy. She took her own redingote from the closet but before she could slip her hands in the sleeves, Spencer took the garment from her.

“Allow me…”

He went behind her to assist her with putting on the garment, his hands briefly resting on her shoulders caused her to tremble. He then went to open the door giving her the opportunity to bow out if she felt so inclined. Nothing could be farther from her thoughts.

The night was cold, and Sophie could see her breath in the air as she exhaled. The clip clop of horses was getting closer causing her to realize that he would be leaving her soon. Plus, Lord Charville would be exiting the house at any moment. She didn’t have much time!

“Spencer… I—”

He took her hand this time bringing it to his lips. “Ah… there it is…”

“What?” she asked in confusion.

“The sound of my given name passing your lips as though you are happy to be alone with me,” he answered tucking her hand in the crook of his elbow. He began walking toward the road. “I have waited years to hear such a sound, if I am being perfectly honest.”

“You have?” she gasped out.

“Yes, I have. It’s been torture waiting for you to grow up,” he said caressing her hand.

She halted their progress to the road not believing he was speaking the truth. “You’ve been waiting for me?”

“Yes.” A simple answer with so many possibilities.

“Why me?” Her eyes widened when she realized she had spoken the words aloud.

He took his hands to caress her cheeks. Leaning down, he stared into her eyes. “Because you were worth waiting for, my dear.”

She closed her eyes hoping for her first kiss. But she was to be disappointed when the front door opened, and they broke apart.


Belles & Beaux: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
Available Now!

Just in time for Christmas 2022 comes this boxed set of eight charming stories of love, family, and miracles. Each Belle has contributed a tale set in the festive season–one just long enough to fit in between tasks at this busy time of the year. The tales are unrelated, except by the festive season.

Some have been written for this collection, some are made-to-order stories never before published, some have been used as fan giveaways. All are delightful.

Belle Sherry Ewing’s A Mistletoe Kiss Blurb:

All she wants for Christmas is a mistletoe kiss…

Miss Sophie Templeton has been waiting a lifetime for the one man who owns her heart, but he seems to court a different woman every Season. As Christmas approaches, Sophie’s one wish is a kiss from him beneath the mistletoe.

Spencer, Earl of Wilmott has quietly watched Sophie through the years, holding her in his heart, and biding his time until he can offer for her. He appeases his parents by being seen with a variety of eligible women. But Sophie is grown up now, and he must put aside his worries that she’ll find him too old and make his offer.

One chance encounter, one dance in which he all but claims her; can Spencer convince Sophie to make this a Christmas romance that will last a lifetime?

So order your copy now for the opportunity to pour the drink of your choice, find a favourite chair, and step into one of our worlds: https://books2read.com/BellesBeaux

About the author:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. An award-winning and 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 Sherry and her books on her website where a new adventure awaits you on every page at www.SherryEwing.com.

 

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Persian Princess in Gypsy Thief Scandal

Zahrah snorted at the newspaper her brother had handed her, and threw it on the table. The Teatime Tattler had the headline completely wrong. “I am not Persian, nor a princess, nor Romanichal, nor a thief,” she told him. “Also, there was no scandal.”

“Actually,” Jamal retorted, as he helped himself to breakfast from the sideboard, “the last bit is correct. The article is about the fall of the House of Strickland, which is the scandal du jour. All of the papers have been covering the separate arrests and subsequent legal cases against father and son. The Teatime Tattler has done a bit of digging around and uncovered your role in precipitating the collapse of their house of cards.”

Zahrah forbore to point out that she had not invited her brother to breakfast. He would merely retort that he knew how much she missed him. “They have written about me?” She picked up the paper again to scan the article.

“They’ve changed a few details, probably because the duke made sure the papers knew there’d by consequences if they brought you into it.”

Ah yes. They had called her Sarah Joseph, and made those ridiculous claims that were in the headline. The overall outline was true, though. The innocent governess, persecuted by the eldest son of the house who then stole from her. Her eviction when she complained. The trials of her attempt to reach Birmingham, culminating in her arrest at the behest of a pack of drunken yokels who insisted that she must be a gypsy, and therefore a thief. The lies that saw the man who was now her husband arrested with her.

Indeed, thanks to the machinations of the Stricklands, she and Simon had had time to fall in love and decide to marry. “God closes the door but opens the window,” as her father was fond of saying.

Well. Let the Tattler have its story. It was nothing to do with Zahrah Marshall, wife of a Birmingham jewellery. Zahrah, whose father was from Egypt, and who was the vizier and best friend of an English duke. The duke’s first wife had, indeed been a Persian princess. In fact, if one knew the backstory, and interpreted the headline in that light, it wasn’t too far from the truth.

“I suppose ‘Protege of Persian Princess Victim of Gypsy Thief Allegations’ would not be nearly as exciting a headline,” she said. “Eat up, Jamal. Since you are here, you can escort me for a ride in the park. Simon is visiting a possible client, and I would like the company.”

***

Zahrah ibnit Yousef (ibnit means daughter of) is the  heroine of my story in Belles & Beaux, due for release on 15th December. Find out more about this story and the other seven, and preorder, on our projects page.

Our great hero weds a widow and promises only companionship?

Dear Reader, 

I have it on best authority from servants in the house of a relative of the bride-to-be that our illustrious Hound of the Cavalry, decorated as he is and a newly minted earl, weds a widow today!  This is such a loss to our many younger ladies who had hoped for a chance to enchant him!

We understand however that he has made promises to his new wife that they shall be forever just friends. Friends?

Does he not deserve more?

The comfort of a loving wife? The joy of children? The certainty that his  line will be continued?

We are astonished that the lady would agree. But then, we’ve also heard that she requested this celibacy herself? What could possibly be her reason? Did she love her first husband so much? Did she promise him abstention? If so, where is her duty and her loyalty to her new husband?

Where is her love for him?

THE LYON’S SHARE by Cerise DeLand

She’d spend every last penny to marry again for security, comfort—or even friendship.

He’d win her wager, possess her, keep her for himself—even if he’d never win her love.

Excerpt, All rights reserved. Copyright Cerise DeLand 2022.

(Their wedding day in London.)

Sydney’s good friend and now his new brother-in-law, Henry, Lord Norbridge, handed him a whisky. “Welcome to the fold. Marlowe women are a unique brood.”

Sidney emptied his glass. Nerves were not a condition in which he usually indulged. “I’m pleased to be among you.”

“Do not say that too loudly.” Henry considered the three men younger than he who stood to one side of the bishop by the piano. “Our other brothers-in-law will have a thing or two to add to buck you up for the challenge.”

“Come now, Henry. You don’t want to frighten me off. I’ve had enough trouble getting this done.”

Henry clinked glasses with him. “Good job, too. However, I understand from my best source that we are still denying how good this union can be.”

Sidney frowned even as his heart swelled with the sight of his bride who stood across the room talking with her four sisters. “Adriana appears happy and …” Blast it. “Resigned to the match.”

“I hope you have plans to hasten her along. She’s been at this mourning business much too long and I dare say, it grows tedious. She needs to buck up.”

“I do agree.” I’d have her forget about Paul and focus her every thought on me.

Across the room, his new wife threw back her head to laugh at some remark of one of her sisters. Sidney vowed one day he’d make her do that whilst talking to him. She was a glory when happy. 

“Give yourself joy in this too, Sidney. You deserve it. Don’t let her cow you into a friendship with no…”

“Benefits? Yes.” He absorbed the delicate beauty of his bride. How tall she was, how elegant, her long fingers and lithe limbs. Her lovely firm breasts. Her troth was his. Her vows. Her honor. But he had yearned for decades for more. Without hope too had he pined. Like a schoolboy. Watching Paul take her hand, help her to mount her horse or a carriage, embracing her in jest or passion. 

His gaze swept down her form, her plump breasts spanning a gown of citron green velvet. She shifted to speak with one of her nieces and one long leg pulled the fabric taut to accentuate her limb. He wanted to run his hands up her leg, her arms, each inch of her. And how long could he wait to have her like that?

Forever, man. You vowed.

He put down his glass on a footman’s tray. “I have plans to draw her to me. But I have promised myself and Dove-Lyon, if she never wishes it, I will not pressure her.”

“A damn lonely way to live your life, my friend. You are Middlethorpe now. You have responsibilities.”

“That I know.”

“And needs.”

His gaze locked on Henry’s. “Never worry about that.”

“But I do. It is not natural what you promise. And I know how you truly regard my sister-in-law.”

He went to dust. “You will never say.”

“No, never. I would not break your trust. But damn it, Sidney, I like you as you are. I don’t want to see you turn bitter because you sold yourself into a bad bargain.”

“I fought one war, Henry. I can fight this one, too.”

“Can you?” His friend shook his head, weary. “It’s one thing to fight a foe with sabers and pistols. This opponent is yourself. Your very nature. Your every des—”

He clamped his hand on Henry’s shoulder. He’d had many women for a night, for the comfort and relief. One lovely French countess he’d kept in Paris last year for a month. “I will be well. I have girded myself with my own forbearance.”

“Which is strong, I do hope.”

Love. “The very stuff of life.” He smiled at his friend. “Forgive me now. I must take her away.” And begin my next campaign. The hardest one of all will be to become her best friend—and remain celibate.

The Lyon’s Share, the story

Adriana, Lady Benton, has many regrets—and one hope. To wed a good man to gain a life to which she is entitled. One free of sorrow, penury and ridicule. Appealing to Mrs. Dove-Lyon, Adriana hopes to attract one man who may appreciate her assets. But never need her love.

Colonel Sidney Wolf, once hailed as the ruthless ‘Hound of the Horse Guards’, vows to end Adriana’s hardships. He’s home from the wars and faces the daunting task of filling his father’s role as the Earl of Middlethorpe. Believing only Adriana will do as his helpmate, he strikes a deal with Dove-Lyon that brings him the one woman he admires. The one woman he tells himself he can live with—and never touch.

But the nearness of his funny, charming, beautiful bride drives him mad. Knowing she will never love other than her first husband, can he keep his hands—and his heart to himself?

And if he doesn’t, can she ever forgive him?

Cerise DeLand is the USA Today Bestselling author of romantic fiction starring sassy ladies and the charming men who adore them!

In KU on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3bc6ri3

 

 

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