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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.

https://www.amazon.com/Hook-Lyon-Sinker-Lyons-Den-ebook/dp/B0CSF79RMD

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.

Frank.

***

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: https://books2read.com/UnderHarvestMoon

Or find out more about the individual stories.

 

Widow In Gentleman’s Apartment Scandal

The headline grabbed attention if Sam did say so himself. The editor of The Teatime Tattler held up the proof copy to the light, and grinned as he thought of all those papers sold. A respectable widow caught in a gentleman’s rooming house, in bed with a gentleman who was not even the room’s renter. Yes. An excellent story, and with credible witnesses!

He ignored a knock on the door. At this time of night, the newspaper office was shut. Indeed, he’d be off home to bed as soon as he gave the nod to the roll the presses and print tomorrow’s scandalbroth, so that it would be on people’s breakfast tables when they woke.

As he stood to go through to the printery to give the order, a couple of solid thuds made him pause. Then it flew open, and two men marched in. Sam blanched. He had already had a run-in with the Earl of Stanford last year, simply because the presses had printed a couple of caricatures the man objected to. Sam knew the man who snatched the newspaper from his hand, too. Lord Arthur Versey, world traveller, writer, and an even more dangerous man than Stanford.

Versey handed the newspaper to Stanford, who quickly scanned it. “It’s a pack of lies, Rex,” he said to Versey. “It says Regina was at Peach Tree Lane for an assignation with Deffew, and that Ashby tied the scoundrel up and abducted Regina.”

“You are going to have to rewrite that, Clemens,” Versey told Sam.

“I have witnesses to everything that’s in there,” Sam insisted. “And I have witnesses!”

“Any Deffews or Snowdens amongst your witnesses?” Standford demanded. “For they are trying to compromise a lady.”

Sam must have shown the truth in his expression, for Versey growled. “It was them.”

“Not just them,” Sam protested.

“And their friends,” Rex added.

Stanford obviously decided a gentler approach would be more useful. “Look, Clemens, you’re an honest man. Your newspaper told the truth about the persecution against my wife. Here’s your chance to be on the side of the angels again. Rex, tell him what really happened.”

***

One Perfect Dance

Regina Paddimore puts her dreams of love away with other girlish things when she weds her father’s friend to escape a vile suitor who tries to force a marriage. Sixteen years later, and two years a widow, she seeks a husband who might help her fulfil another dream—to have her own child.

Elijah Ashby escapes his abusive step-family as soon as he comes of age, off to see the world. Letters from his childhood friend Regina are all that connects him to England. Sixteen years later, now a famous travel writer, the news she is a widow brings him home.

Sparks fly between them when they meet again. Regina begins to hope for love as well as babies. Elijah will be happy just to have her at his side. However, Elijah’s stepbrothers are determined to do everything they can—lie, cheat, kidnap, even murder—so that one of them can marry Regina and take her wealth for themselves.

Love and friendship must conquer hatred and spite before Elijah and Regina can be together.

Buy now: https://books2read.com/1PerfectDance

***

Excerpt from One Perfect Dance

She unlocked the door, and Lady Kingsley swept inside. Wilson stammered apologies, but Regina waved him off. Her mother was a force of nature.

“Go back to your post,” she told him, and closed the door. If her mother was going to make a fuss, she didn’t want her servants and her son to hear.

She turned to ask her mother to explain her presence, but Lady Kingsley spoke first, to Elijah. “Do I need to ask your intentions towards my daughter, Mr. Ashby?”

“No, Mama,” Regina said. “I am a grown woman, and my actions are my own business.”

Lady Kingsley turned a chair around from the desk to face the bed. “You are right, Regina. I withdraw the question.”

Regina’s indignant response to the lecture she expected died on her tongue, and for a moment, she had nothing to replace it.

“My apologies for not rising, Lady Kingsley,” Elijah said, lifting himself off the pillows enough to bow his head, and then collapsing back with a grimace.

Regina’s mother frowned. “Are you unwell, Mr. Ashby?”

“Elijah was injured last night, fighting off some attackers,” Regina explained. She resumed her seat in the chair next to Elijah’s bed, so they were facing her mother together.

“Last night?” Mother asked. “Then you were with Regina, Mr. Ashby?” She turned a concerned gaze on Regina. “There is gossip about your activities yesterday evening, daughter. I want to know how I can help counter what is being said.”

“What is being said?” Elijah asked.

“That Regina had an assignation with Mr. David Deffew in an apartment in Peach Tree Lane. That you broke in, Mr. Ashby, tied Mr. Deffew up, and threatened to shoot Mr. Deffew if he followed. Mr. Deffew claims that Regina has promised to marry him and is threatening to have you arrested for abducting her.”

That perverted version of the evening’s events had Regina’s eyebrows twitching upward. Elijah, however, laughed. “Does Dilly truly think people will believe that?” he scoffed.

“I do not,” Mother insisted. “I know Regina despises the man, and I believe her to be right in his assessment of his character. But several of Richard Deffew’s friends claim to have seen her coming out of the building with you, Mr. Ashby. Richard Deffew is Mr. Deffew’s nephew.”

“Did those friends mention that Elijah’s servant was with us, and that he and Elijah were half-carrying Geoffrey? I was there because a messenger came to tell me that Geoffrey had been injured in an accident and needed me.”

“Ah!” Lady Kingsley commented. “Another abduction attempt.”

“It was,” Regina agreed. “An unsuccessful one, since Elijah saw me leaving here in a hackney with one of the young men that Geoffrey has been seeing. He came after me. We rescued Geoffrey, who had been drugged, and then Elijah and Fullaby fought off a group of the young men, who attacked us when we left the building.”

“Rex was there too,” Elijah disclosed.

Mother gave a single decisive nod. “Excellent. The pair of you have a witness that Society will accept as credible.”

As opposed to Fullaby and Geoffrey, though to be fair, Geoffrey was not in a condition to be much of a witness.

“Do you happen to know whether Deffew has an apartment in that building?” Elijah asked.

Mother shook her head. “Not to my knowledge. He and his nephew live with Matthew Deffew.”

Ash grinned, the flame of mischief in his eye. “Then Society might put its busy mind to wondering why he was in that building at all, let alone in the condition I saw him.”

Mother raised her eyebrows and inclined her head. “The condition in which you saw him?” she repeated, making a question of it.

Elijah’s grin broadened. “I should tell you that the room to which we were directed, the room in which Geoffrey was being held, was towards the far end of the passage from the stairwell. To reach it, one had to pass a door that had been damaged and loosely propped in the frame, so anyone who looked in that direction would see a man spreadeagled on the bed. He was unclothed and tied by his wrists and ankles to the bed posts.”

Impressive! His statement was entirely true but left out any mention of their altercation with Deffew.

“Unclothed!” Mother repeated. “I take it you recognized this man, Mr. Ashby.”

“I did,” Elijah told her gravely. “It was David Deffew. One wonders how he found himself in that state, in what is, after all, a building full of bachelor apartments. A foolish jape? An assignation gone wrong? Perhaps he was waiting for the owner of the apartment?”

“One prefers not to speculate,” Mother replied, dryly, “but it would be unkind not to permit other people to relish such an interesting insight into the character of the man who has been attempting to coerce my daughter into an unwanted marriage.”

“I thought you might see it that way,” Elijah said, and he and Mama exchanged a smile full of accord.

 

 

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