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Where does that woman get her information?

Sam Clemens shoved the offending article across his desk and then tugged it back, once more scanning the pages. He was the proprietor and editor of the Teatime Tattler, London’s–nay, the ton‘s–premiere scandal sheet. If anyone published tales such as those within these covers, it should be him. And yet, this person had scooped him. Him! With all his contacts, all his reporters sniffing out stories, all the correspondents (anonymous and named) who sent him letters unasked when something of interest happened in their vicinity, all the readers who waited impatiently for the two editions he published each week!

“How does she do it?” he asked Arthur, the boy who responsible for keeping him supplied with coffee, cigars, and ink, and for running his copy to the presses.

Arthur shook his head. “Must know folks,” he offered.

She must. “The Hicklestones? I knew the earl had married a neighbour, but I had no idea about her daughter. Why didn’t I know that? And that little tidbit about where Viscount Charmly first met the Dowager Duchess of Fambrough! Mind you, I don’t know that I believe it! Still, it’s true the old duke met his wife in Italy somewhere, and no-one knows anything about her people.”

He glared at the offending book. “Who failed to let me know that the Marquis of Gamford was back in the country, and reuniting with his child bride, now all grown up? Why weren’t we first with the story that she was living retired in the country? And if her name was linked in gossip with a local man, are the happy couple, in fact, happy?”

Sam made a note to send someone to Somerset to find out.

“Then there are the Millchurches.” Another sigh. He had actually covered the story of the attempted murder, the treachery, and the arrests. But the story behind the story had happened without him finding out, as did the rather nasty story of the Baron Collinwood, his cousin, and the vicar’s missing daughter.

There were other stories in the book, too, but they did not concern him. “I don’t care about the Enright stables, though there might be a story in the way Durridge cheated. Have to look into that. But they’re not ton, Arthur. No-one can say they are. Same with that agent who purchased a wife in Scotland while he was out of mind with fever, and the retired naval commander who discovered the mystery behind the girl in charge of the ruined bookshop.” He flipped through the book one more time. He might have covered the story of the woman torn from her lover and forced into marriage to a devil; after all, she had been a gentlewoman. But her relationship with the local miller put her below his notice. And the other two stories didn’t trespass on his territory at all, the one about a nun who was actually the wife of her sworn enemy being set in Scotland in medieval times, and the other some kind of futuristic fantasy about a farmer’s wife in far away New Zealand, where only sealers, whalers, missionaries, and tattooed natives lived. Even if,  seventy years from now, New Zealand did have colonial settlers, they were unlikely to be visited by angels. Unemployed wanderers, certainly.

He shook off the unproductive thought. “Arthur, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I am writing to this Mrs. Jude Knight to offer her a job. Clearly, her sources are better than mine.”

***

Sam has been reading Chasing the Tale, Jude Knight’s latest book. It’s a collection of eleven short stories, perfect for reading when you’re too tired for something longer, or want something to finish while you have a short wait. Get it now for 99c before the price goes up to $2.99.

How Does the Rake Know the Paragon?

The end-of-season ball thrown by the Duchess of Fambrough will be the talk of Society long after the Season ends. Not for its appointments, or the excellence of the supper or the musicians, though these were fine, indeed. Not for the quality of the assembly, though the invitations had gone out to everyone of significance, and many who merely hoped they were. Not even for the long-expected announcement of the duke’s betrothal to a young lady as well born as he.

No, the defining moments of the Fambrough ball came shortly before the supper waltz, when Lord Charming, arriving late but as elegantly dressed as ever, strolled down the stairs into the ballroom, his arms full of roses, and marched straight across the floor, his eyes fixed on the Paragon herself.

Some say he had hailed the duke when that gentleman was riding in Hyde Park that morning, and that the two of them had spoken earnestly for close to half an hour, their horses pacing side by side.

Others report he visited during the time for calls, carrying even more roses and attended by two footmen similarly burdened. The ducal house was not receiving, being consumed with preparations for the ball, but he left the roses behind when he departed.

That made tonight Lord Charming’s third encounter with the ducal household, and the assembled onlookers held their collective breath in order not to miss a moment of the drama that played out before them.

The duke was between the viscount and his stepmother. His Grace moved to one side as she stood. The scandalous gentleman approached close enough to touch, and those close enough heard him say, “I promised you roses, Marie.” Those who murmured at his familiar address were shushed by those around them. His lordship ignored them all as he handed her his roses. “These are from the rose garden at Welling. The plums are ripening on the trees. I had hoped to bring you cherries, but my gardener says they will be next week.”

These were not the loverlike words we expect from Lord Charming, and his expression was unexpectedly open. Serious, too, as was the lady’s.

“What of the conservatory, Sam?” she asked. Another murmur at the intimacy of first names, again subdued by ferocious gestures.

“We are owed clement weather, are we not? But it stands ready, Your Grace, to protect us through storms.”

The duchess looked up from her roses and their eyes met. Lord Charming moved to take Her Grace in his arms. “Will you honour me with a waltz, Marie?”

Without taking her gaze off him, she passed the roses to her step-daughter, and stepped into the viscount’s embrace.

This is an excerpt from one of the stories in Chasing the Tale, Jude Knight’s latest publication. It’s one of eleven short stories, and intended for reading over a coffee or a meal, or at night before going to sleep.

I always enjoy picking up something from Ms. Knight because I know I will not be disappointed. This is a wonderful collection of unique stories ranging from medieval times to the 1800s. Nice, short stories you can read during a lunch break or a quick bedtime read. The stories were all entertaining and enjoyable with well thought out characters that were brought to life with the talented writing of Ms. Knight. The storylines had a nice smooth flow and the plots held my interest all the way through. Definitely a collection you want to have handy when you’re looking for a quick, captivating read. Highly recommend! [Advance Reader Copy reviewer]

Are Runaway Brides in the Spirit of Xmas?

Honoured Sir

I write as a concerned member of the public. This recent rash of BRIDES who refuse to do their duty to their FAMILY must be stopped.

Sir, I protest the latest offering from the Bluestocking Belles, this CABAL of females who publish FICTIONAL ACCOUNTS that encourage women to think for themselves.

As if any female has the BRAIN, sir, to know better than her FAMILY about how to choose a husband to protect and care for her.

In their latest book, the Bluestocking Belles offer stories of brides who RUN from excellent matches. The first has a maiden who is upset to find that a young man is marrying her for her dowry and her pedigree. This, young woman, if the WAY of the WORLD. It is not an excuse to flee your responsibilities.

In the second, likewise, the young woman rejects the excellent match her FATHER made for her on the specious grounds that the chosen man has firm ideas about controlling her behaviour. Clearly a case of spare the ROD and spoil the CHILD.

The third story has a commoner who refuses to marry at the behest of her AUNT, even though the COUSIN the aunt choses is a man with a TITLE, and therefore better than such a female might hope to expect.

In the fourth, a girl whose birth is questionable runs from an earl offering, or so she thinks, a liaison that is NOT respectable. What else does such a female expect?

Two more short stories complete the set, on the same scandalous theme.

I wish, sir, to express the most serious of objections to this collection.

***

If you want to know more about these brides and the grooms they choose, buy Holiday Escapes, released tomorrow. More information and buy links here.

Has the Runaway Bride Returned?

Imagine our surprise, dear reader, at what we saw today on the corner of Milsem and Bond Streets. A certain runaway bride, six months gone from London.

You may remember the scandal we wrote about six months ago; a nobody of a chit, Miss F., who trapped Lord B., the handsome and mysterious earl, into marriage. She was discovered in his bed. Drugged and placed there by her wicked uncle, the earl said. Said we, pull the other one, my lord.

Whoever came up with the ruse, they were wed within days, and a week later the new Lady B. disappeared, run away with a sailor.

Lord B. retired from Society immediately after. Does he know she has returned? And what will he do when he finds out?

‘A Gentleman Honors His Word’ is a bonus short story in the new box set by the Bluestocking Belles, coming out on 15 November. In Holiday Escapes, four runaway brides who first saw their stories told in the Bluestocking Belles’ first box set, long out of publication, are brought together again.

Holidays, relatives, pressure to marry—sometimes it is all too much. Is it any wonder a woman may need to escape? The heroines in this collection of stories aren’t afraid to take matters into their own hands when they’ve had enough.

Holiday Escapes

The Ultimate Escape, by Susana Ellis On the eve of her wedding, Julia needs to take a moment to consider what she is doing, and where better than 100 years in the past? Unfortunately, Oliver finds a way to chase her through time.

Under the Mistletoe, by Sherry Ewing Margaret Templeton will settle for Captain Morledge’s hand in marriage, until she sees the man she once loved at her second-best bridegroom’s Christmas party. 

Gingerbread Bride, by Jude Knight Travelling with her father’s fleet has not prepared Mary Pritchard for London. When she strikes out on her own, she finds adventure, trouble, and her girlhood hero, riding once more to her rescue.

A Dangerous Nativity, by Caroline Warfield With Christmas coming, can the Earl of Chadbourn repair his widowed sister’s damaged estate, and far more damaged family? Dare he hope for love in the bargain? 

These stories are republished here at 20% of the cost of collecting them all from each individual author

But wait, there’s more

Two bonus short stories round out the collection.

The Fugitive Fiancée

What can a penniless orphan do, when faced with a malodorous baron and an authoritarian baroness? She can run, that’s what.

A Gentleman Honors His Word

Dickon marries Letty to save her, but she flees him a week after the wedding, and runs off with a sailor. Now he has until their ship reaches London to give her a good reason to come home.

Order now

Order now from Amazon. Other links coming.

Which Maiden Will the Viscount Choose?

Yes, dear reader, the rumour about London’s newest and most exotic viscount is true. We have it from one who heard it from the Duke of W.’s own lips.

Viscount E. has been ordered choose a bride and marry as soon as possible.

One sees the Duke’s point. The man is heir (after his father) to his grandfather’s title, and he is (not to put too fine a point on it) a foreigner. An English bride as mother of the Duke’s greatgrandchildren, including the one day future duke, would make his existence much more palatable to the high sticklers of Society.

Not that the young viscount is shunned. Far from it. He is handsome (though swarthy) speaks English without an accent, is personable, and is almost certainly extremely rich, if the money now being spent on the much neglected W. estates has anything to say to the matter.

Good looks and fine manners will get him invited to dinner tables and dance floors. Money and the prospect of one of England’s finest titles may assist with the rest. For the moment, the most cautious matchmaking mothers are reserving judgement, waiting to see whether Society’s acceptance will warm beyond reluctant.

But those who have hopes of a duchess in the family may be too late. Our source tells us that Viscount E. has been instructed to marry one of his cousins. Which shall it be? The one known as the Saint of Mayfair? Or Society’s darling, the W. Diamond?

Or, has the prospective groom ideas of his own? His attentions to the sisters of the Earl of H. have not gone unnoticed. Will Lady F. be the viscount’s bride?

Your devoted reporter watches with interest.

***

Excerpt from To Wed a Proper Lady

James had stayed back from the hunt organised for the men in the hopes of spending time with Sophia, and had found out about the charity expedition too late to offer his services. “I am sorry that I missed it,” he said sincerely.

He noted one glaring omission in her descriptions of her preparations for Christmas. “Just a decoration,” she had told him, mendaciously, when he asked about the kissing boughs.

And now pretending to be ignorant of these English Christmas customs was about to pay off. One day, when she was safely his wife, he might admit to Sophia that he and the whole citadel had hung on his father’s tales of an English Christmas, that his mother and her maids had decorated high and low, and his father had led the troops out to find a fitting Yule log to carry home in triumph on Christmas Eve. A harder job in his dry mountains than in this green land.

But this was not the time for that story. Not when Sophia was relaxed and about to pass under a kissing bough that retained its full complement of mistletoe berries.

James suppressed a grin. “Look,” he said, at the opportune time, pointing up. “My Kaka—my father—told me about these.”

She stopped, as he had intended, and with a single stride, he had reached her, wrapped her in his arms, and captured the lips that had been haunting his dreams this past eight months.

And she kissed him back. For a moment… for one long glorious moment, while time stood still and the world ceased to exist, Sophia Belvoir kissed him back.

***

The Children of the Mountain King series

In 1812, high Society is rocked by the return of the Earl of Sutton, heir to the dying Duke of Winshire. James Winderfield, Earl of Sutton, Winshire’s third and only surviving son, has long been thought dead, but his reappearance is not nearly such a shock as those he brings with him, the children of his deceased Persian-born wife and fierce armed retainers.

This series begins with a prequel novella (Paradise Regained) telling the love story of James senior and Mahzad, then leaps two decades to a series of six novels as the Winderfield offspring and their cousins search for acceptance and love. It is free to download from most ebook retailers.

The first novel, To Wed a Proper Lady, tells the story of James junior, the Viscount Elfingham. It was published in April this year and is available from those same retailers.

The novella Melting Matilda (this year’s Bluestocking Belles’ story published in Fire and Frost) is also set in the world of The Children of the Mountain King, and happens after To Wed a Proper Lady and novel 2 (coming soon), To Mend the Broken Hearted.

See the book page on my website for more about my published books. https://judeknightauthor.com/books/

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