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Shocking scene at Duchess’s ball. Duke discloses dirty secret.

What can one say about the shocking events at a certain important charity ball yesterday evening. The host is well known to our readers, not only for his loyal service to the Crown and his devoted care of his estates, but also for his scandalous behaviour with actresses, other men’s wives and, indeed, it is rumoured, many other females in every level society.

Much is forgiven a man who is wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of most people, and who holds, besides, one of the highest ranks outside of the Royal Family. Indeed, Royal blood runs in the veins of the man they call the Duke of Haveandhold.

Will this latest start be forgiven, we wonder? You will remember, dear reader, recent speculation in this newspaper about the identity of the man who was caught in the shrubbery with the mother of London’s latest reigning beauty. The lovely young wife of the Marquess of T. was born nine months the scandalous discovery and seven months after her mother’s hasty marriage to a man who had not been in London at the time. Until last night, no one knew who had taken the innocence of that young lady so many years ago. Taken her innocence and walked away, furthermore.

Last night, the mystery was solved. The Duke of H. informed the entire ballroom, including all the interested parties, that he was the marchioness’s father. Not, we grant you, in so many words, but his meaning was clear. As was his threat against any who spoke ill of the young lady.

Far be it from us to criticise any young lady for the sins of her father. We wish the marchioness well. That the duke will find forgiveness in public goes without saying. He is far too powerful to offend. We do wonder, however, what the Duchess of Haverford had to say about the matter in private.


The Sincerest Flattery

When Percival Lord Thornstead heads to the far north of England to meet the bride his father has arranged for him to marry, bad weather, the ague and a crooked valet disrupt his travel plans. Turned away at the door of the manor, he takes a job minding sheep to stay close.

Lady Aurelia Byrne sneaks away from the house dressed as a kitchen maid. She is angry at being told she must marry someone she has never met. She’d rather marry the shepherd she meets in the fields than the London fop her father has chosen for her.

Percy guesses who Lia is and is charmed. Lia discovers who Percy is and falls in love. If not for Lia’s overbearing mother all would be perfect.

Then Percy’s father intervenes to carry Lia off to London to make her debut with Percy’s sister. She is having the time of her life when her mother makes public accusations that call her reputation into question. A hasty marriage restores her to favor. Deep in the throes of love, the young couple are blissfully happy, and have fashionable London at their feet.

Until a former mistress of Percy’s comes seeking a boon that takes him away from Lia’s side, and old rumors about Lia’s mother are revived, causing Lia to be shunned by the highest sticklers. Their marriage will be tested to breaking point.

(This is a book in A Twist Upon a Regency Tale, and is inspired by The Goose Girl.)

Excerpt from The Sincerest Flattery

Lia felt her confidence slip two dances later when she and Percy stood out with his family for a dance, and the Duke of Haverford approached, escorting his wife with a raised hand under hers, as if they were about to approach the King or enter the dance.

“Lady Kirkland, Dellborough,” Haverford greeted them. The gentlemen all bowed and the ladies curtseyed. Gwen and Lia dropped into a full court curtsey in honor of the duchess. Even Aunt Enid’s curtsey was a little deeper than usual.

“This little puss must be yours, Dellborough,” said Haverford, putting his hand under Gwen’s chin and forcing her to look up at him. Lia, who was always conscious of her husband, saw him stiffen with outrage.

“Lady Guinevere Versey, my treasured eldest daughter.” The Duke of Dellborough’s voice was pure ice and Haverford withdrew his hand.

There was a glint of mischief in his eyes as he commented, “I do not know which is more likely to wound, on my oath, Dell. Your voice or your minx’s eyes. Both are cold enough to be lethal.” Then, in a change of mood, “You look like your mother, Lady Guinevere. She was a fine lady. Loyal and true, as well as beautiful. You can be proud to be her daughter.”

“I am, Your Grace,” Gwen said, with another beautiful curtsey.

Haverford turned his attention to Lia. “And whom have we here?”

Percy spoke up, addressing the Duchess of Haverford. “Your Grace, may I make known to you my wife, Lady Thornstead.”

Lia curtseyed again, and looked into kind hazel eyes.

“Lady Thornstead, I am pleased to meet you,” said the duchess. “I was a friend of your mother-in-law and have long taken an interest in her sons and daughters. From this day, I shall count you as one of them.”

The glint in her husband’s eyes sparked brighter. “The relationship is closer than you might think, my dear. Since you have seen fit to bring one reminder of my peccadillos under my roof, you can hardly object to me acknowledging another.”

At the flare of alarm in the lady’s eyes, and in her own father-in-law’s, Lia realized that the Duchess of Haverford had not been warned about the proposed announcement, but it was too late. The duke had already signaled the orchestra, and the room had fallen silent. They were close to the bottom of the stairs, and the duke leapt up three of them until he could be seen across the room.

“My friends, I have another announcement to make tonight. I am speaking particularly to those of you who have been tossing gossip around for weeks about one of this year’s debutantes—some would say this year’s most successful debutante, since she was the first married and to the undoubted catch of the season. Aurelia, come here.”

He held out his hand, and Lia saw no choice, but was glad when Percy clasped hands with her and came too.

“Ah! I get two for the price of one,” said the Duke of Haverford. “When my old friend Dellborough asked me to extend my influence and friendship to this charming lady, I wondered at the relationship myself, for a man of my age has many pleasant memories to look back over on a quiet evening.” He grinned at the audience, who were leaning forward in their eagerness to hear more.

“Some are unforgettable, however.” He kissed his hand towards the left, and Lia saw, to her horror, that her mother and Lord Harrowby stood there, a gap widening about them as the crowd drew away.

“So, it is my pleasure to announce that I freely acknowledge my special interest in this lovely young lady, daughter-in-law to the Duke of Dellborough and wife to Lord Thornstead here. The particulars are of no importance to anyone except those involved.” He stopped for the murmur that washed through the crowd as Mama’s face whitened and Lord Harrowby’s reddened.

Haverford changed mood again, the mischief disappearing and the arrogant autocrat rising to the surface. “That being the case, know this. Speak ill of this young lady or her husband, and face the wrath of two dukes, a marquess,” he pointed to Percy, and added in a confiding tone, “—who is a pup, but pups grow and so do their teeth—and an earl.” The last gesture was to Lord Harrowby.

“Not to mention the distaff side,” he added, nodding to Lady Harrowby, and then to Aunt Enid. He also held out a hand to Her Grace.

The duchess took the challenge, climbing the stairs and allowing the duke to bow mockingly over her fingers. “A wise man, or woman, would not discount the distaff side,” she said, her voice ringing clearly over the ballroom as her husband’s had before her. She then kissed Aurelia on the cheek, murmuring, “Welcome to the family.”

Dellborough and Aunt Enid joined them, adding their visual weight to the message. Defy the Haverfords and the Dellboroughs at your peril. As far as it went, that was a good thing, but the Duke of Haverford was a chancy ally. Lia could see he had used the opportunity to settle scores with the Harrowbys and his own wife. Probably with the Duke of Dellborough, too.

Heiress Jilts Earl’s Son to Wager on Lame Fiddler

From those who have much, we ought to be able to expect much. Thus, it is all the more outrageous when a well-born and wealthy maiden–if, indeed, she is a maiden–sets an example, not of prudence and propriety, but of recklessness and scandal.

Sadly, the latest news about a formerly well-respected lady of one of the country’s foremost families is just such a case.

Some five years ago, Lady L. B. entered into a most appropriate betrothal with a gentleman of similar standing—she, the daughter of an earl; Lord T. H., the younger son of a duke. It proved to be a long betrothal. Five times, the wedding has been postponed. The Teatime Tattler understands that the gentleman was the initiator in each case.

When Lord T. attempted to postpone for the sixth time, Lady L. had had enough. She declared the betrothal at an end.

Thus far, the sympathies of our readers—particularly our lady readers—will perhaps be with the lady. Or perhaps not. After all, for a lady to break off a betrothal is scandalous. Not just because of the assumption made by those with prurient minds that the couple have taken advantage of the looser supervision afforded to those who are affianced, but also because, and we dare to say it, the end of a betrothal is almost always held to be the lady’s fault.

If she is the jilt, the assumption is that she is too picky, or too demanding, or too nice in her expectations. If the gentleman refuses to wed, onlookers will seek the reason in the character of the lady, and the results of such a search will not rebound to the damsel’s credit.

Lady L.’s next move might clarify questions of fault. No sooner had she given Lord T. his quittance, that she approached a well-known personage whose income derives at least as much from her matchmaking services as from her gambling hell.

Yes, dear reader, Lady L. sought to purchase a husband through Mrs. D.L.

We understand Lady L. was offered four choices and asked to select two. Offered three gentlemen who are upstanding members of London society, and one violinist who works for Mrs. D.L. in said gambling den, Lady L. rejected the two men from aristocratic families and chose the remaining gentleman and one fiddler. A fiddler who cannot, furthermore, walk without crutches. Does this suggest that the lady has low tastes.

The two successful candidates will compete for the lady’s hand within the next few evenings. We wait with bated breath to discover the outcome. As, we are certain, does Lady L.

Will Lady L. be glad, in years to come, that she rejected Lord T. and gambled with her future happiness, placing it all on a long shot at a gambling den? Or will she have cause to remember the old saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

Hook, Lyon and Sinker

When Lady Laureline Barker asks Mrs. Dove Lyons to find her a husband, she does not expect one of her choices to be the man she admired years ago, when she was still a schoolgirl—the man who rescued her from drowning. He is also a war hero, famed for trading his own freedom and health for the safety of others.

Laurel is committed to a contest, with the winner taking her and her dowry. Can she back out? And will he still want her if she does?

Angelico Warrington doesn’t expect Laurel to remember him. Even if she does, why should she favor him over other suitors? She is the respected sister to an earl, the only flaw on her reputation that she refused to marry a jerk who has been putting off the wedding date for five years.

Angel is a musician in a gambling den, unable to walk without crutches, and with no place in the Society to which Laurel belongs.

This apparently ill-assorted couple are a perfect match, but history must repeat itself and secrets be revealed before they can win their happy ending.

Hook, Lyon and Sinker is part of the Lyon’s Den Connected World, and also a book in Jude Knight’s A Twist Upon a Regency Tale series. It is inspired by The Little Mermaid, with the roles of hero and heroine reversed.

Who did the young earl marry? And what happened to the other bride?

Your tip was a good one, Sam, though none of the villagers of Rorrington will admit to sending it. They had a front-seat row to the goings on at Thorn Abbey, and you’ll be pleased to know that even out here, they’ve all heard about the scandal of the Earl of Spenhurst and his bride. Indeed, since the wedding was at their own Thorn Abbey, and some of the main actors stayed at the village inn at the time in question, they feel quite a sense of ownership.

Rorrington is a tiny village in the wilds of Shropshire, with the border of Wales so close in two directions that, or so the local joke goes, if your cow runs away, you have to go to another country to get it back.

They keep their own counsel, here. Certainly, the lord that owns Thorn Abbey heard nothing of what I am about to relate to you, for nobody can appear less intelligent than a countryman of Shropshire who doesn’t want to answer a question.

But the Teatime Tattler’s sympathetic treatment of the earl and countess had acted as my introduction, and so I am hopeful that, by the end of my visit here, I’ll have as much of the story as these people know.

It seems that the Earl of Yarverton used to be the owner of Thorn Abbey. The ownership was to pass to the Marquess of Deerhaven as part of the marriage agreement between their children, but I don’t know what will happen to it now. But I get ahead of myself.

What I can tell you so far is that Deerhaven’s son was delivered to Thorn Abbey in chains and Yarverton and Deerhaven arranged for the local vicar to perform a marriage ceremony between him and Yarverton’s daughter.

Young Spenhurst dug his toes in and said he would marry Miss Miller or no one. He wouldn’t consent to the marriage, and the good vicar refused to go ahead with the ceremony. Apparently, after he left the mansion, Yarverton beat the poor young man so badly that one of Deerhaven’s guards had to intervene to stop the assault from becoming a murder.

Remember, that the boy was chained!

What happened after that? I hope to know more tomorrow, when I meet with a fellow who was a footman at the Abbey at the time. But I have been able to confirm that there was a wedding a few weeks later, that the two fathers left the Abbey satisfied that the marriage had been consummated, and that the young couple left a few days later. Looking happy, say those who saw the carriage on its way.

The bride must have been Yarverton’s daughter, surely. So what happened to Miss Miller? And who were the couple seen recently in Leicestershire?


For the solution to the mystery, read Weave Me a Rope, currently on preorder and released on 26th January. Weave Me a Rope is Book 5 in A Twist Upon a Regency Tale, and is inspired by Rapunzel.

Weave Me a Rope

By Jude Knight

When the Earl of Spenhurst declares his love for a merchant’s niece, he is locked away in a tower. Spen won’t get out, the marquess, his father says, until he agrees to an arranged marriage.

After the marquess unceremoniously ejects Cordelia Milton from his country mansion, she is determined to rescue her beloved, but it all goes horribly wrong.

She needs time to recover from her injuries, and Spen has been moved across the country under heavy guard. It seems impossible for two young lovers to overcome the selfish plans of two powerful peers, but they won’t give up.

Click below to buy.

Shocking scandal rocks village just before Christmas

My dearest Madeline

You will never believe who I met coming out of the church this morning. You shall not be able to guess, so I shall tell you. Lissette Parslow.

Yes, I know. We were both certain she would never dare to show her face in Fairview again. Not after what she did. But there she was, chatting to the vicar for all the world as if butter would not melt in her mouth. You would think Vicar would know better, for he was curate back then, when it all happened.

But there. He is too good for this world, as I’m sure all of Fairview would agree, and that wife of his encourages him in his misplaced kindness. Well. She would, would she not? We do not forget that she remained friends with Lissie Parslow even after it became obvious what the trollop had been up to. Yes, and who with, for who else could it have been, when she never left the manor, and him with an eye for a pretty girl, as all the village knew–and most of England, too, come to that.

“Lissie Parslow,” I said to her. “You have come back.” I should have thought my expression was enough to put the fear of God into her, for she knows what she did. But she always was a pert baggage. The countess made too much of her, and I always said so, did I not, Madeline?”

“I am Mrs Penworth now,” she replied. “And is it still Miss Albright?”

The cheek of it, Madeline. “Is there a Mr Penworth?” I snapped back. A fair question, given her history!

“Now, now, ladies,” said the vicar. “A little Christmas charity, if you would be so kind.”

So I put him on the spot, right there in front of the brazen hussy. “Do you suppose, vicar,” I said, “that Christian charity applies to those who seduced their lady’s husband and got themselves with child?”

You will never, in a million years, guess what he said. I tell you true, Madeline. He said, “Yes, that is exactly what I suppose. I also suppose that we are instructed not to judge the circumstances of others, when we do not know the facts. Judge not, Miss Albright, lest ye be judged.”

I was so shocked, I did not know what to say, and before I could recover, they both said good day. The Parslow woman–or Penworth, if that is her real name–walked off along the road, and Vicar went back into the church.

But that is not the whole story. On Sunday, when I went to church, she was there, sitting with a man whom I must suppose is Penworth, whether she is married to him or not. Madeline, they were sitting in the earl’s pew with the new earl himself, and with a girl of about the age our dear departed countess was when she came to our village. I could not see her face from where I was sitting, but I had to suppose she was Lissie Parslow’s daughter, and how she came to be sitting in the earl’s pew, I could not fathom.

Not, at least, until the homily was over and the vicar invited the earl to stand up and speak. What he had to say, Madeline, changed everything.

Find out more in A Countess by Christmas, by Jude Knight, a novella in Christmastide Kisses, the Bluestocking Belles with Friends collection that is coming out on 26th December.

Story blurbs and the buy links for the book will be added to our project page over the next week.



Reabridge seethes with scandal and romance

Well, Sam, the town of Reabridge has closed ranks against me since my last missive. Not just me, either, but any curious stranger. They have guessed that someone is sending news of their goings on to you for publication, and they are not best pleased.

Not that I’ve allowed that to stop me, but gone are days I can just walk into a tavern or one of the two inns, strike up a conversation over a beer, and walk away with several stories.

However, a little kindness to a bar maid at the tavern, and I have my handful of leads, for no more price than walking the poor lass home and showing an interest in her life. The kiss was a bonus for me and the handful of coins for her. She has promised to keep her ears open for me.

Here, in no particular order, is what I’ve discovered. There’s another bar maid heading for a fall, apparently. This one is a daughter of the family who owns one of the town’s two inns. The story goes that she had a brief summer fling years ago with a duke’s son. Did he leave her still innocent? Opinions vary. The thing is, he’s back, and it can’t end any better this time, surely.

Not much of interest in the town doctor being a lush. Good doctor, apparently, but can’t stay off the sauce. He was courting the cousin of the local earl before he went off to Waterloo, but she won’t have him now, I imagine.

The earl is courting too—a lady who is French by birth, but a respectable widow of an English gentleman. He was not meant to earl, but his two older brothers died. I’ll dig a bit more, but the only thing we might make something of is the lady’s interest in an abandoned orphan that is currently living with the vicar. She’s not the only lady who wants the little sprog, but we’ll see whether the earl is willing to take on a wife and a child. One who is probably common and possibly base born.

Two other French ladies are scooping up bachelors from the town. One is the son of that same vicar and the French girl is looking after the abandoned orphan. Is it actually hers after all? No one is quite sure, but apparently the aunt has her hooks into the vicar!  

The other lady is of respectable birth and also arrived with an aunt in tow looking, so my bar girl tells me, for a husband. I can’t see an angle for us in that one.

The other possibility involves Lady L. Yes, I thought you’d sit up at that. She has been seen around town escorted by the son of the owners of the other inn! Not in her class at all, though, to be fair, the family has come up in the world in recent centuries, and hire people to run the inn. Not high enough to aspire to an earl’s daughter, though.

Then we’ve got a nobody who is being pursued by a Scottish heiress. Yes. You read that right. He likes her, right enough, but can see as well as you and I can that he’s not the right man for her.

I have nothing to say about the farmer who found a sick woman in his milking shed and now looks at her like the moon rises in her eyes. For a bit, I thought she might be connected to the orphan, but that was a false lead.

Nor do I suppose you will be interested in the farrier and her armless suitor. I thought we could do something with that when I found out he’s been an officer. But apparently it was a battlefield commission, and our readers don’t care when the lower sorts find love.

Anyway, Sam, I’ll find you at least one story. Please send me a bank draft for ten pound. My bar girl is going to cost, and also, I need to stay on for at least another week.

Yours in the brotherhood of journalism.



Read the inside gossip that Frank will never know. Preorder your copy of Under the Harvest Moon today.

As the village of Reabridge in Cheshire prepares for the first Harvest Festival following Waterloo, families are overjoyed to welcome back their loved ones from the war.

But excitement quickly turns to mystery when mere weeks before the festival, an orphaned child turns up in the town—a toddler born near Toulouse to an English mother who left clues that tie her to Reabridge.

With two prominent families feuding for generations and the central event of the Harvest Moon festival looming, tensions rise, and secrets begin to surface.

Nine award winning and bestselling authors have combined their talents to create this engaging and enchanting collection of interrelated tales. Under the Harvest Moon promises an unforgettable read for fans of Regency romance.

Preorder now:

Or find out more about the individual stories.


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