Because history is fun and love is worth working for

Category: Jude Knight Page 1 of 9

Scandal In Ducal Household: Are Twin Beauties Hiding Ruinous Secrets?

Have the Winderfield twins fallen at last from Society’s highest pedestal? Or, were they undeserving of such regard from the first?

Dear reader, your faithful correspondent has known the two beauties since their debut. They have always been the focus of attention, being nieces of the current Duke of Winshire and daughters of the heir to that esteemed title, the current duke’s elder brother, until his untimely death.

Perhaps, like many, you have admired their poise through the many illnesses and tragedies that haunted their young lives and prevented them from enjoying to the full the success destined for two of such high birth and beauty.

Or perhaps, like others, you have wondered why two ladies with so many advantages have turned their faces steadfastly against marriage, that high and holy goal of all proper women.

Let us reprise what is known. They were to make their debut a year late, after a mysterious illness that apparently struck them both and kept them immured in the country when they should have been making their curtsey to the Queen and to Society. However, their brother’s untimely death sent them both into mourning and back into the country.

The following year, even though they were nearly nineteen, they were immediately hailed as the Beauties of the Season. Indeed, Lady Sarah Winderfield was dubbed the Winderfield Diamond. The Earl of Sutton was swamped with applications from prospective suitors, some of them from gentlemen of high rank and great fortune. Alas. The ladies refused all offers, and would not be shifted from their resolve.

The Diamond continued to sparkle at Society’s entertainments, but Lady Charlotte Winderfield’s interests were more philanthropic, and her undertakings won her the sobriquet ‘the Saint’. Perhaps, said the men of Society–for many were desirous of possessing such lovely beings to ornament their lives–they need a year to enjoy themselves before giving themselves into the care of a husband, and settling into motherhood and the loving service of a wife. Certainly, the duke their grandfather made it very clear that he would not tolerate another year of refusals. If they would not choose, he declared to close associates, he would do it for them.

A number of gentlemen resolved to court the lovely ladies (or at least their grandfather) the following year. Their hopes were dashed when their father’s death put them back into mourning.

Which brings us to 1812, when their notorious uncle returned from the mysterious lands north of Persia, where he had apparently married and fathered ten children. With the duke bedridden and dying, it was to the uncle that all suitors applied, only to be told that the ladies were not interested in marriage.

For the past two years, even after becoming duke in his turn, he has continued to support his nieces rebellion against the proper order. Perhaps, some of us speculated, he knew of secrets in their past that had left them unfit for marriage?

And now, it appears, the Diamond has lost her luster, the Saint shows feet of clay.

Let us consider Lady Sarah, first. For the past few days, she has been seen much in the company of Viscount Bentham, heir to the Earl of Sutton. You will remember that Bentham has been lost for seven years and only recently recovered. You may not, however, have had the opportunity to notice the resemblance between Bentham’s little half-sister and the boy that Lady Sarah has taken as her ward. A boy who is believed to be a Winderfield by-blow, and who was born six years ago, around nine months after Bentham’s disappearance and at the time Lady Sarah was in the country with that mysterious illness mentioned above.

Coincidence? We shall see.

As for Lady Charlotte, reputable witnesses saw her visit Aldridge at his home late at night. Yes, dear readers, the Merry Marquis himself. Within half an hour of her arrival, they left in a carriage, and were gone all night. Some say they were carousing in the slums. Certainly, they did not return to the Winshire mansion until after the cock crowed and the sun rose.

How can one put an innocent interpretation on that?

To Claim the Long-Lost Lover

The beauty known as the Winderfield Diamond hides a ruinous secret. Society’s newest viscount holds the key.

Sarah’s beloved abandoned her eight years ago, leaving her to face the anger of her family and worse. And now he is back, more compelling than ever. Sarah is even lovelier than when she was a girl, but what did she know about her father’s revenge on Nate: forcible enlistment into the navy and years of servitude?

Book 3 of The Return of the Mountain King

New release

Buy Links

Amazon US  * Other links on Books2Read  *  Jude Knight’s book page

 

To Tame the Wild Rake

The whole world knows Aldridge is a wicked sinner. They used to be right.

The ton has labelled Charlotte a saint for her virtue and good works. They don’t know the ruinous secret she hides.

Then an implacable enemy reveals all. The past that haunts them wounds their nearest relatives and turns any hope of a future to ashes.

Must they choose between family and one another?

Book 4 of The Return of the Mountain King

Released 17 September

Buy Links

Amazon US * Other links at Books2Read *  Jude Knight’s book page

Scandalous Ducal Family Continues to Shock

As the Little Season draws to an end, one question is on every person’s lips. “Who is Elias W.?”

We understand from reliable sources that this young boy was found, dear reader, in a workhouse! A child of the gutter, we might be forgiven for assuming, and of no possible interest to proper families. However, his reception into one of the highest households in the land suggests that at least one of his parents was of very high birth, indeed.

All over London, people are wondering who it was. The W. family, despite their high estate, have had their share of scandal–generation after generation of rakes, at least two of whom (now sadly no longer with us) might have sired the boy. Since one was the father and one the brother of the lovely lady who has taken the boy home with her, perhaps all is explained.

And now, or so it is said, the lady is looking for a husband, after years of refusing all offers. Is it for the boy’s sake? Beyond a doubt, she will find one. She is no longer in the first flush of her youth, but she is still one of the great Diamonds of the ton. And the loveliness of her person pales in comparison to the loveliness of her dowry.

Still, should it prove (as some have whispered) that the link between Elias and the W. family is on the maternal rather than the paternal side, any gentleman might think twice about the cost of bringing such a scandal under his roof. Even the new Viscount B., who has been seen much in the lady’s company.

Like Elias, Lord B. has been sprung on Society without warning, when all believed that Lord L., his father, had male offspring. He has, by all accounts, been practicing medicine in the Royal Navy. An odd pass time for a future earl, it is true, but not as odd as continuing to work as a doctor in one of London’s worst slums.

Still, a man who does not turn up his nose at providing treatment to thieves and prostitutes might tolerate a workhouse brat as a ward for the sake of beauty, whether of the lady or her delightful money. Perhaps, after all, the Diamond and the Doctor are made for one another.

To Claim the Long-Lost Lover

Novel 3 of The Return of the Mountain King

Sarah Winderfield has refused every offer of marriage she has received since Nathaniel Beauclair convinced her to run away with him seven years ago, and then disappeared without a word or a trace. But now she needs a husband. She has a child to love and to protect, and the child needs a father.

She does not expect to meet Nate also on the marriage mart. Should she let him explain? Can she believe him?

Dragged back to England to feed his father’s pride in family, Nate refuses to give into the man’s demands that he take a wife. The only woman he will ever love is lost to him, married to a husband chosen by her father—or so his abducters said seven years ago, while they were beating him.

But when Nate finds that Sarah is still single, he rushes to London. Surely, they can find again the promise they believed in when they were young?

Through a labyrinth of old rumours and new enemies, two long-lost lovers must decide whether or not to claim one another, and win the bright future they both desire.

Preorder links (releases 30 July)

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096RLJJBZ

Links to other retailers: Books2Read: https://books2read.com/CMK-Claim

Excerpt

“You look lovely this evening,” Nate told Libby, as she joined him in the foyer.

His father’s wife glowed with pleasure. “And you look very fine yourself, Bentham,” she replied.

He bowed and offered his elbow. “Madam, your carriage awaits.”

“I am so looking forward to this evening, Nate. Perhaps tonight you might meet the young lady who will be your wife!”

Nate smiled and nodded, keeping his reservations to himself. Not unless my Sarah is present. But she is not yet in town, so it won’t be tonight. And even if she was in town, she would surely not be visiting the Hamners. Lady Hamner had been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford, and—according to Libby—the Dukes of Haverford and Winshire had been feuding since Winshire arrived back in the country with a whole quiverful of foreign-born children.

He allowed day dreams about their next meeting to while away the carriage ride and the wait in the street for other carriages to move out of the way. Libby continued to chatter, but she seldom required a response beyond ‘Is that right’ and ‘If you say so’.

It must have been a good thirty minutes before they were announced by Lord and Lady Hamner’s butler. Libby led him over to the Hamners to be introduced, and Nate looked around as he crossed the room.

A profile caught his eye. He shrugged it off. He had seen Sarah wherever he went for the past seven years, and a closer look always disclosed a stranger. This stranger turned towards him, and he stopped in his tracks, cataloguing changes. The fair hair was slightly darker. The heart-shaped face he remembered had matured into a perfect oval. The slender body of the long-remembered girl had ripened to fulfil its promise. But, beyond any doubt, Lady Sarah Winderfield stood on the other side of the drawing room, a smile on her lips as she talked with her friends.

Her gaze turned toward him just as Libby tugged on his arm. “Bentham! Are you well?” He let her pull him along, and Sarah’s gaze drifted away. He wanted to cross the room to her; accost her; demand that she recognise him and all they’d once meant to one another.

Some modicum of sense kept him stumbling after his step-mother. Men change between seventeen and twenty-four, he reminded himself. And people who have been through experiences like mine more than most.

Still, of all the meetings he’d imagined, he’d never envisaged one in which she didn’t know him.

More Scandal for Scandal-Prone Noble Family

Sam, you mentioned when we met several weeks ago that if I came across something interesting there might be a guinea in it. I’m on the track of something now. I’m writing to check that the deal is still on.

I was at my club last night — that’s what you wanted me for, was it not, Sam? The fact that I’m still welcome in Society even though my pockets are to let?

As I was saying. I was at my club last night and I witnessed a confrontation between a peer and another gentleman. I don’t wish to name them just now. You understand, I’m sure. I trust your word, Sam, but my rent is due.

I can tell you that one is a very proper gentleman indeed, which is why it was odd to hear him championing a maiden who, it appeared, was at risk of losing that status. In his hand he held a page torn from the betting book! Have you ever heard of a person doing such a thing? But when he explained to the major domo of the club it included a wager on taking a lady’s virtue, his action received that eminence’s approval

The second person insisted that women of low birth have no virtue — he was in a gentlemen’s club so he must, ipso facto, be a gentlemen, yet I hesitate to ascribe the status to him, given that he was the originator of the wager and intended to be the instrument of its success.

At that, the peer, for the gallant knight was a peer, threatened to rearrange his face, and his dastardly opponent threw oil on the fire by shouting a comparison between the young lady in question and her sister. Whereupon, the gentlemen hit him, and a wisty castor it was, too.

The thing is, Sam, I know both men. The cavalier has been adamant in ignoring one of a pair of sisters, and the cad has been equally diligent in pursuing the other. And here’s the thing. Though they have been raised in a noble house, everyone knows that they are the daughters of its head, but not of his gracious wife.

There are so many ways this could develop. A ruination? A mesalliance? A duel? I’ll keep watching, Sam. Just let me know whether it is worth that guinea.

Melting Matilda

Fire smolders under the frost between them.

Can the Ice Maiden Soften the Granite Earl?

Her scandalous birth prevents Matilda Grenford from being fully acceptable to Society, even though she has been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford since she was a few weeks old. Matilda does not expect to be wooed by a worthy gentleman. The only man who has ever interested her gave her an outrageous kiss a year ago and has avoided her ever since.

Can the Granite Earl Melt the Ice Maiden?

Charles, the Earl of Hamner is honour bound to ignore his attraction to Matilda Grenford. She is an innocent and a lady, and in every way worthy of his respect—but she is base-born. His ancestors would rise screaming from their graves if he made her his countess. But he cannot forget the kiss they once shared.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08YS4DHMJ

For Amazon in other countries and for other book retailers, see: Books2Read: https://books2read.com/MeltingMatilda

A Golden Opportunity

She slipped out the side door of the private wing and crossed Mrs Brewster’s personal garden.

At this time of day, the Brewster family were fully occupied with their duties in the inn. No one was present to see their maid — their now former maid –unlock the private gate to the lane with the keys she had lifted from their hook in Mr Brewster’s office.

She would leave them in the lock. By the time they were discovered, she would be far from here, on her way to a position far, far away.

Freddie was waiting in the lane with his family’s gig and pony. It wasn’t elegant, but it would get them to the nearest coaching inn on the highway, 20 miles away inland.

His eyes widened as he took in the picture she made in her new gown and bonnet. One of the outfits she’d acquired for her new life. As she approached the gig, she saw that he’d found the bag and trunk she’d hidden in the stables last night. She hoped no one saw him take them away. Almost, she asked him, but, no, she mustn’t give him any reason to think she doubted him.

She let him lift her up into the gig, and hurry around to the other side.

“You look right pretty today, Miss Alice,” he said, as he took off the brake and gave the reins a shake. “Walk on, gray mare.”

Alice kept scanning the surroundings, to make sure no one saw them leaving. Not that they could stop her. She was the Brewster’s employee, not their slave. Had been the Brewster’s employee. Her resignation letter was hidden in the clutter of papers on Mr Brewster’s desk. He would find it about the time she was due back at work after her day off.

No, they couldn’t stop her, but if they knew what she had been doing and where she was going, they might make her departure difficult. Certainly, Freddie would not be allowed to transport her.

She smiled at him, and tucked her hand into his arm. Dear Freddie. He was a kind soul, and she felt just a little guilty for using him in this way, but needs must. She wasn’t going to settle for a fisherman’s son and spend the rest of her life in Fenwick.

She had new clothes, a job waiting for her, and money jingling in her reticule. She would say goodbye to Freddie at the coaching inn. Perhaps she would even give him a peck on the cheek — some sort of recompense for the trouble he was going to be in when he got back to Fenwick on Sea.

Freddie was chattering away about the men who had arrived at the inn to question all the servants about the source of the reports that had been published in the Teatime Tattler.

Alice smirked. Miss Abney always said that education gave you opportunities. Alice had found an opportunity. She had always been good at listening to people, putting two and two together, telling stories. Writing them was not much different. Sending them to Mr Clemens had been a clever idea, if she did say so herself.

And Miss Abney was right. The first opportunity had given her another. “I can use someone like you,” the letter from Mr Clemens had said. “Someone with the skills to work within a household and the brains to collect the stories I need.”

Alice was off to London to take up a permanent job as a reporter with The Teatime Tattler.

Alice is a character in the stories of Storm & Shelter. See the link for novella blurbs and buy links, and the collection for some of Alice’s Teatime Tattler reports.

Read more Storm & Shelter flash fiction at our blog hop, where our characters try to figure out who the mystery reporter is.

And congratulations to our prizewinners, who read the book, correctly named the reporter, and had their names drawn in the prize draw.

Mischief and Murder in the Midlands

Dear Mr Clemens

How sad it is to see a maiden fall. And yet, blood will tell, will it not? When a young woman (for I will not say lady) is born and raised in a barbarous foreign land, amid pagans and idolaters, how can she be expected to know the proper way to conduct herself?

Even if she is the daughter of a duke.

And yet, dear Mr Clemens, I am sure your readers will weep, as I do, at the fate of Lady R. W. For she has been — who knows by what wicked stratagems — inveigled into the lair of a Monster.

I speak, Sir, of the Earl of A, a man who hides on his estate in the Midlands, afraid to let the light of day fall on his loathsome face. he fought bravely against the French, or so they say. Yet all that courage has turned to brutality when injuries made him as ugly without as he became within. Even the local villagers shun him, knowing of his madness.

This wicked villain killed his brother and his own wife. His sister-in-law escaped by inches, having hidden his daughter and his niece away for safety.

What then, are we to assume happened when the poor maiden entered his lair? (If she was, in fact, a maiden, and who can know what happens in foreign places where they have harems and the like). Entered, I say, whether willingly or not, and stayed for more than a month!

He must have tired of her, or perhaps she escaped. Be that as it may, she has returned to her family and was recently seen in London, where she is attempting to move among Polite Society as if nothing has happened.

We will know what to do about that, Mr Clemens, will we not?

Articles such as this brought the Earl of Ashbury out of exile and racing to London, then on to Brighton, to rescue Lady Ruth Winderfield, the lady he had come to love. Read on for more.

To Mend the Broken-Hearted

Ruth Winderfield is miserable in London’s ballrooms, where her family’s wealth and questions over her birth make her a target for the unscrupulous and a pariah to the high-sticklers. Trained as a healer, she is happiest in a sickroom. When a smallpox epidemic traps her at the remote manor of a reclusive lord, the last thing she expects is to find her heart’s desire.

Valentine, Earl of Ashbury, was carried home from war three years ago, unconscious, a broken man. He woke to find his family in ruins, his faithless wife and treacherous brother dead, his family’s two girl children exiled to school. He becomes a near recluse while he spends his days trying to restore the estate, or at least prevent further crumbling.

When an impertinent, bossy female turns up with several sick children, including the two girls, he reluctantly gives them shelter. Unable to stand by and watch the suffering, he begins to help with the nursing, while he falls irrevocably for both girls and the lovely Ruth.

The epidemic over, Ruth and Val part ways, each reluctant to share how they feel without a sign from the other. Ruth returns to her family and the ton. Val begins to build a new life centred on his girls. But danger to Ruth is a clarion call Val cannot ignore. If they can stop the villains determined to destroy them, perhaps the hermit and the healer can mend one another’s hearts.

This is a new release in the The Return of the Mountain King series. Published on 23 March, you can preorder now through Books2Read: https://books2read.com/Broken-Hearted

Page 1 of 9

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén