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Frederick & Fiona: Fiona

by Susana Ellis

Fiona Hendrickson woke up begrudgingly as the chamber flooded with bright sunlight from the windows. Shielding her eyes with her hand, she could make out the pudgy figure of her grandfather’s housekeeper in the blinding light.

“What?” Then, “Oh,” after her wits returned to her. Grandfather’s house. The long trip from Yorkshire by stage coach. The prospect of a long, lonely future in the country with only her cantankerous old grandfather for company. Now why had she agreed to this? Oh yes, the farm.

“If ye’d like to break yer fast afore church, ye’d best go down right quick. T’ master’s ‘ad ‘is and it’s no doubt cold by now.” She cocked her head and studied Fiona doubtfully. “Ye kin dress yerself, eh? No maids in this ‘ouse.”

Fiona rolled her eyes, something her stepmother would never have approved of. The thought of her stepmother made her chest ache. Would they ever see one another again?

“I’ve no need of a maid.” Not only had she never needed a maid, but she and her stepmother had never had a servant of any kind. A housekeeper was a luxury beyond reckoning.

“I’m not hungry.” Not true. She was starving after a day on a rattling stagecoach. But the prospect of getting out of bed and facing the reality of her new circumstances gave her a feeling of panic.

The housekeeper (what was her name?) shrugged. “Matters naught to me, miss. But t’ master expects ye t’ be fixed t’ leave by eight. It’s a good two miles, ye know. Likes t’ be on time, ‘e does.”

Fiona took a deep breath and threw aside the bed coverings. It was no good whining. She hadn’t been a child for several years. Grown women left home every day, usually to marry or to start a life on their own, for better or worse, but at some point they had to move on.

“I suppose I’ll have a bite to eat after all. I’ll be down shortly, er Mrs.—“

“Perry, miss.”

Perry. Ah yes, that was it. “Thank you, Mrs. Perry.”

Was that a shadow of a smile on the older woman’s lips as she turned and left the room? Fiona chose to think so, and set her mind to more positive thoughts. It was a beautiful day. She had a grandfather to get to know; perhaps in time they could learn to get on with each other. As far as learning how to manage a farm, well, that seemed unlikely. The city girl in her knew where her food came from, but she wasn’t keen on making its acquaintance when it had eyes to look upon her.

****

“You’ll want to wed a fine, sturdy gent, lass. As soon as may be. A woman can keep hens and a kitchen garden, but it takes a man to plough and make hay and such.”

Her grandfather didn’t waste time issuing commands, did he? They’d barely made it out of the gate when he’d begun setting down his plans for her life.

“I-I suppose there are farm workers I can hire, can I not, Grandfather?”

“What? Have something against marriage, lass? Most women would have married at your age.” He looked at her sharply. “Not looking for a love match, are you? I had enough of that nonsense with your mother.”

Fiona tamped down the resentment that lurked beneath the surface. There was no point in revisiting an event from twenty years past. Of course she wanted a love match; every woman did. Most women had to settle for less, however. She doubted she had the courage to elope to Gretna Green as her mother had. 

“You must at the least allow me time to become acquainted with the neighborhood, Grandfather. I shan’t marry only for someone to run the farm.” Seeing her grandfather’s face start to turn purple, she quickly added, “He must be a man of good character, you know. I refuse to wed a drunkard or a brute.”

He opened his mouth and then closed it. “Girl, I’m not asking you to marry the first man you meet.” He paused and took her shoulders in his hands. “Just don’t be too fine in your requirements. I’m not at death’s door just yet, but it’s best you have a husband before I get there.”

As that was probably true, Fiona nodded and fell silent until they arrived at the parish church and seated themselves on a bench. 

Almost immediately she sensed someone staring at her. Turning her head to the back, she saw an attractive young man with a look of awe on his face. 

The first man she’d met. Well, seen, anyway. Was he perhaps a farmer? Suddenly her heart lightened and she felt a sense of hope for the first time since she’d arrived. 

****

Frederick Hofbauer is the oldest (by two minutes) of triplets, his brothers being Fritz and Franz, who serve tea every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. EST in the Tea Room, hosted by Cerise DeLand and Susana Ellis and their weekly guest authors, who come to discuss themselves and their books. If you are interested in discovering new authors and books, recipes, historical fashion, and lively conversation, please join them.

Fiona hasn’t been to tea as yet, but it’s possible you will see her there in the near future.

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Frederick & Fiona: Frederick

by Susana Ellis

Frederick Hofbauer almost did not go to church that morning.

 

The party at Mellowwood Manor had lasted until the wee hours and he and his brothers Fritz and Franz, as footmen, were kept busy for more than two hours after that assisting the tired and tipsy guests with their outerwear and ensuring they managed to alight their coaches without injuring themselves. He barely had time to remove his livery before falling into bed next to his brothers, who were already snoring softly.

Dawn came much too quickly, and Frederick would have quite happily snored on past breakfast except for the sound of a light tapping on the door of the servant quarters.

“Frederick? Are you awake?” He recognized the soft voice as Daniel, the steward’s son, and sighed. Fitzwilliams had passed out again at the local inn and poor Daniel had to cart him home before word got out to his employer. Frederick would be tempted to leave the drunken lout where he was and suffer the consequences were it not for the frightened lad, barely six years old. He certainly did not deserve to be thrown in the streets.

Rising reluctantly from his bed, he opened the door and whispered to the boy to wait for him in the stable as he quickly donned his ordinary clothes and departed with him and Fitzwilliams’s old nag to the Dawdling Duck. By the time they had him settled in his bed at Hull Cottage, it was full daylight and Frederick was not inclined to return to his own bed. Instead he strolled around the estate, admiring the newly planted fields watching the milkmaids lead the cows into the milking shed. This was his favorite morning amusement during his free time, at least when he managed to retire before midnight.

Upon his return to the house, he found the cook ready to leave for church, about a mile down the lane. She clucked when she saw him.

“Up with t’ roosters again, lad? After all last night’s mayhem? I slept like a log until Mary brought me coffee.”

“Fitzwilliams,” he said simply. She rolled her eyes. “I should ha’ known. ‘Bout every Saturday night now. Yer too good to ‘im. Wretch deserves ta be sacked. Sad ‘bout the boy though.”

Frederick nodded.

She tilted her head to one side as she studied his face. “Come ta church wit’ me? I’ll wait for ye ta wash up.”

Frederick rubbed a hand through his hair. Well, it wasn’t as though he had anything else to do. The house was silent as a grave and it appeared as though its occupants were dead to the world after their evening of merriment.

“Very well,” he said with a smile. “I shall be only an instant, Mrs. Brown.”

Much later on, Frederick reflected that it was surely Fate that impelled him to accompany Cook to church that morning. Because that’s when he met Fiona and the scheme for his entire life was altered forever.

Meet Fiona here!

Frederick Hofbauer is the oldest (by two minutes) of triplets, his brothers being Fritz and Franz, who serve tea every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. EST in the Tea Room, hosted by Cerise DeLand and Susana Ellis and their weekly guest authors, who come to discuss themselves and their books. If you are interested in discovering new authors and books, recipes, historical fashion, and lively conversation, please join them.

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The Tea Room recently celebrated its FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY, and would love to welcome you to the festivities.

Pandora’s Box

32 Leicester Square

London

10 April 1806

“There is a young lady to see you, miss. I believe she gave her name as Miss Fallon.”

“Frederica? She must have finished early at the modiste’s, then. I’ll go down, Brown.” Cornelia placed a ribbon in the book she was reading and placed it on the table next to her. “The blue parlor?”

“Yes, miss.” He held the door open for her as she sprang up and dashed through the door before she recalled her mother’s warnings and slowed her pace No need to rush. Ladies carry themselves with dignity and grace at all times. 

Ladylike behavior did not come naturally to her. From the day she was born she was her papa’s favorite, and the two of them had romped and sported together everywhere, even after her brother was born. At least whenever he was home, which wasn’t often, seeing that he was a naval officer. After she turned sixteen, however, her mother had taken her in hand and set about transforming her hoyden daughter into a young lady, and Cornelia complied, reluctantly at first, but with time and maturity, she settled peacefully into young womanhood.

Her descent down the stairs was far from ladylike, however. When she reached the landing, a door opened and her friend rushed to embrace her.

“Cornelia! Wait until you see it! It’s the most beautiful gown that ever was!”

“Did you bring it?” Cornelia glanced around in search of a dress box.

Frederica shook her head. “No, there are minor alterations to be done, but Miss Gill promised it would be delivered tomorrow. It’s white crape over white satin, with rows of pearls on the bodice. You must come over and see me in it. Mama says it becomes me well.” She clutched at Cornelia’s arm. “But what about yours? It came yesterday, did it not?”

Cornelia grinned. “Indeed it did. Come up and I’ll show you. Mine is the very lightest peach color. I wished for coquelicot, but Mama said it was too dark for a girl my age.”

Frederica’s eyes sparkled. “We two shall be the belles of the ball.”

Cornelia smiled. “At our own balls, I should hope. I should not like to be a wallflower at my own presentation ball.”

The two girls made their way upstairs to Cornelia’s bedchamber, and Cornelia opened the door of her wardrobe and sifted through the garments. “That’s odd. It was here this morning. Norton!”

A short time later, her maid appeared. “Yes, Miss Hardcastle?”

“My gown. The peach one? It’s not here.”

“Oh yes. I believe your mother has it. She had some lace and ribbon she wanted to match with it.” Her eyes narrowed. “I laid it out on her bed. But then she had to go out…”

“Very well. Come, Freddy. We shall go there to find it.”

Frederica hesitated. “She won’t mind?”

Already out the door, Cornelia threw back. “Of course not. I do it all the time.”

Well, that wasn’t strictly true. She might be sent to her mother’s room to fetch something, but she didn’t usually go in there by herself when her mother was not present. But her mama wasn’t the sort to take exception to such things, and seeing as it was Cornelia’s own gown they wished to see, it seemed only natural that they go there to find it.

The gown was a peach crape robe over white satin, with long sleeves ornamented with simple bows of ribbon and pearls crossing the bodice. 

Freddie’s mouth formed an O. 

“You must see it on. It truly does become me. Undo my dress, if you please.”

Cornelia turned her back, and soon the two of them had her day dress off and began to slide the elegant gown over her head. But before the operation was completed, there were footsteps down the hall and Freddie jerked at just the wrong time, sending Cornelia crashing into her mother’s nightstand. 

The footsteps continued on past.

“The dress!”

Freddie rushed to pull it off so they could assess the damage. Other than a few wrinkles, it appeared to be unharmed. Cornelia let out a huge breath, and turned to right the nightstand that had been knocked over in the shuffle and replace the items that had spilled out from the drawer. Her eyes lit on the pages of a small brown book that had opened. The writing was her mother’s, and it was dated about the time her parents had met, when her father’s ship had taken on French royalists being pursued by the vicious Republican army, and they had fallen in love at first sight. 

“What is that?”

Cornelia picked it up and turned the pages. “My mother’s journal. I never knew she had one.”

A pale Freddie made a move to take it from her, but Cornelia waved her away. “I know. I should not read it. But I’ve always been curious… Was it fate that they met, or mere coincidence? I should like to know more. Mama doesn’t talk about that time much, at least not before they were married.”

Freddie shook her head. “There must be a reason for that, Cornelia. Put the journal back in the drawer and let’s get out of this place. I have a bad feeling about it. And your mother could return at any moment.”

Cornelia grimaced and reluctantly returned the book to the drawer. 

But she couldn’t stop thinking about it. It haunted her thoughts for several days until she couldn’t bear it any longer. She had to read that book. And as soon as the opportunity presented itself, she did.

And that’s when her world exploded. If only she had not read the journal. But now that she had… nothing would ever be the same.

About The Marriage Obligation

Confirmed spinster meets thrill-seeking former British spy. A match made in heaven?

At eighteen years old, Cornelia Hardcastle discovered an ugly family secret that caused her to decide against ever marrying. Now that she’s reached the age of twenty-four, her parents have decided it’s time for her to marry. The sooner the better.
The second son of a viscount, Preston Warrington has always been content to leave the estate business to his older brother so that he could follow his penchant for adventure. Now that he has returned home from his service to the Crown as a spy, however, his family has decreed that he must marry and settle down.
The notorious Marriage Maker suggests that these two marriage-averse individuals should marry each other, and after the initial shock, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Little does anyone know that their whirlwind courtship and marriage is not what it seems.
The book releases July 31st. Pre-order available now.

An Interview with Mrs. Barlow

Susana’s time-traveling Regency lady, Lady Pendleton, came down with a stomach ailment and was unable to travel to Oxfordshire to complete the series of interviews she agreed to before returning to the 21st century. (Prior to that, however, she did manage to interview Jane Livingston the hero’s sister, while they were both enjoying the Little Season in London.) And she somehow contrived to send Mrs. Barlow, Lucy’s mother, to Susana at her winter home in Florida for a brief interview. Susana is determined that someday she’s going to find out how Lady P manages to do these things.

Susana: Welcome to Florida, Mrs. Barlow. I hope you enjoy your stay. May I offer you some refreshments?

Mrs. Barlow: [looking around her in wonder] No thank you, Miss Ellis. My stomach is still a bit queasy from the journey.

Susana: Oh dear, I hope you are not coming down with the same ailment that has sidelined my friend Lady Pendleton.

Mrs. Barlow: Lady Pendleton? Oh yes, the woman who sent me here. She’s a bit-er-eccentric, is she not?

Susana: [hiding a smile] Indeed she is, Mrs. Barlow. But kindhearted and quite harmless, really.

Mrs. Barlow: [looking relieved] I’m glad to hear it, Miss Ellis. This is all quite a shock, you know. She said you wished to inquire about my daughter Lucy?

Susana: Er, yes. It’s research for a story I’m writing. I understand you have five daughters?

Mrs. Barlow: [Sighing] Indeed I do. Five daughters to marry off and no sons.

Susana: And Lucy is the eldest?

Mrs. Barlow: Yes, she is already eight and ten years of age and of an age to make her bow to Society, but unfortunately, her father and I have not the means to stake her. [Shaking her head] A house in London with servants is enormously expensive. We cannot even stand the cost of providing her with a suitable wardrobe. [Sighing] It is very sad, really. Lucy is a delightful girl who would be a splendid wife, but there are few eligible gentlemen here in Charlbury.

Susana: I understand the young man next door recently returned from service in the Peninsula. Livingston, I believe. Andrew Livingston. Could he be a prospect, do you think?

Mrs. Barlow: [Sighing deeply] No, unfortunately he’s betrothed to some London chit. Since before he took up his colors two years ago. I suppose they’ll be marrying posthaste now that he’s returned. A shame really, because Lucy has always had a tendre for him. The Livingstons are an unexceptionable family and quite well-to-heel, and it would be a great thing if Lucy were to be settled so near, but no, he’s never seen Lucy as anything but a child.

Susana: What a conundrum! Are there no other ways for young ladies to meet eligible gentlemen in the country?

Mrs. Barlow: Occasionally, someone’s cousin or nephew comes to town for a visit, but there are few eligibles in that lot. There are assemblies, of course. Oh, that reminds me. [Perking up] There was a quite agreeable viscount at the last assembly who seemed quite taken with Lucy. He danced twice with her. Perhaps he will come to call soon. Oh my, that would be a marvelous thing for my girls! To have their sister a viscountess who can sponsor them in London when the time comes! I must urge Lucy to encourage him!

Susana: Was she equally taken with him, then?

Mrs. Barlow: [shrugging] These things resolve themselves over time. I don’t believe she was repulsed by him. He looked well enough, for an older gentleman, and his manners were unexceptionable. It is said that he was a considerate husband to his late wife, and seems to be devoted to his three daughters.

Susana: Oh, he’s a widower. No doubt looking for a mother for his daughters.

Mrs. Barlow: And an heir, of course. He still needs a son to inherit the title, and Lucy is young enough to manage that.

Susana: [Doubtfully] I suppose so, and yet—one could wish a love match for her.

Mrs. Barlow: [Stiffening] Lucy is a practical girl, and not at all the sort to waste time dreaming of the impossible. She will make a wonderful wife and mother and take great pleasure in using her elevated circumstances to assist her sisters.

Susana: I’m sure she will, Mrs. Barlow. I did not mean to imply otherwise. Please forgive me if I offended you.

Mrs. Barlow: [Relaxing] Of course. I’m afraid this is a topic about which Mr. Barlow and I frequently cross swords. He says Lucy is still young and will find her own way. But he’s never been the most practical man, and I suspect he’d be just as glad to have all of them at home with us forever.

Susana: An indulgent father then. [Glances at the clock]. Oh dear, it’s almost time for our visit to end. I wonder if you’d like to take a walk around the park, Mrs. Barlow. It’s such a lovely day, and you might enjoy the flora and fauna here in central Florida. Perhaps we’ll even see an alligator in the lake.

Mrs. Barlow: An alligator! Goodness!

Susana: From a distance, of course. But there are palm trees and snake birds, and plenty of sun to warm you before you go back to chilly England

Mrs. Barlow: [shivering] Chilly indeed! The weather has been exceptionally cold this year. By all means, let us walk a bit in the sunshine.

And so ends the interview. It may interest you to know that the winter of 1813-1814, when A Twelfth Night Tale takes place, was one of the coldest on record, so much so that in February the Thames froze and a frost fair was held for four days, during which an elephant was led across the river under Blackfriars Bridge.

Leah Barlow

Introducing Mrs. Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow, mother of five lovely daughters herself, has graciously condescended to provide Susana’s Parlour (see today’s post here) with some of her tasteful advisements on housewifely matters, such as meal planning and the rearing of children, in hopes that our readers will find them informative. Having recently set up a Twitter account where she will be sharing her most treasured household tips, she hopes many of you will follow her: https://twitter.com/lucybarlowsmom

Much of her advice comes from this manual, which she insists should be in every housewife’s possession:

The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Containing the Most approved Modern Receipts for Making Soups, Gravies, Sauces, Regouts, and All Made-dishes; and for Pies, Puddings, Pickles, and Preserves; Also, for Baking Brewing, Making Home-made Wines, Cordials, &c.

Mrs. Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone), Edinburgh, 1826

Available free on Google

About A Twelfth Night Tale

Without dowries or the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. When Lucy, the eldest, attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, she knows she should encourage his attentions, since marriage to a peer will be advantageous to all. The man of her dreams was Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and now he’s betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to accept reality… and Lord Bexley.

Andrew returned from the Peninsular War with a lame arm and emotional scars. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend, “little Lucy”—now a strikingly lovely young woman—who shows him the way out of his melancholy. But with an eligible viscount courting her, Andrew will need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

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A Flower of Scotland in Flight

The Forfar Inn

Forfar, Angus, Scotland

Roslyn Grant pulled her cloak tighter around her as she watched the coach pull away from the inn, her thin shoulders shivering in the cold air. What to do now? The coach fare to Forfar had cost every last penny of her small savings, and what had it gained her but a mere forty miles from her villainous stepbrother?

“Kin I help ye wit’ yer bag, miss?”

A boy about twelve in a torn jacket and brown wool cap pointed at the small valise at her feet.

Roslyn blinked and bent down to pick it up herself. “Thank you, but no, I can manage it myself.” No doubt he was wanting to earn a coin or two, not knowing that her pockets were as bare as his. In any case, the bag was light enough, as she’d had time only to stuff inside a spare gown, stockings and undergarments, and her nightrail.

The boy stared at her curiously and she realized she must appear a strange sight, standing immobile in the middle of an inn yard with a cold wind whirling about her.

“I’d best go inside,” she said hesitantly.

“There’s a first-rate fire goin’ in the public room,” he offered.

She nodded. “Yes, of course.” The worst they could do was throw her out again. So she took brave steps to the door and made her way inside.

Two men sitting at the bar eyed her with interest, but she walked past them with practiced ease toward the fireplace, where she put down her bag and stretched her hands out toward the fire.

“Kin I git ye somethin’, miss?” A weary-looking woman carrying a jug approached her.

She yearned for a cup of tea, but without coin to pay for it, she shook her head. “No, thank you.”

The door opened again, letting in a gust of icy air and about a half-dozen rough-looking men, cursing and behaving raucously. Roslyn ignored them, leaning closer to the fire, but the harassed serving maid could not.

“Liz-zie! Git yerself over ‘n wait on the new folk! I ain’t payin’ ye to stand there ‘n flap yer tongue!”

Lizzie reddened. “Ye don’t pay me to do the work o’ two,” she said under her breath. “When I see that Ellen girl agin, I’ll give her a piece ‘o my mind, ‘n that’s a fact.”

Roslyn perked up. “Are you short of staff then? I-I might be able to help.”

Lizzie looked her up and down. “Needin’ some o’ the ready, are ye?”

Roslyn nodded. “I-I’m looking for a position, yes.”

“Ye sure ye kin handle rough folk like these ‘uns?” She waved her hand toward the newcomers.

Roslyn set her shoulders back, untied her cloak, and hung it across a chair before making long confident steps toward the table of hooligans.

“Can I get ye some ale, gentlemen? Or is it food yer wantin’ We’ve some fine stew this evenin’,” she said with a look at Lizzie, who appeared to be stifling laughter.

“That so?” said one man, taller and bigger than the rest. “Ole Jack’s stew’s never bin called ‘fine’ afore. Jack git a new cook?”

“He did,” she fibbed. “Me. I cooked up the stew tonight.”

The innkeeper, ‘Ole Jack,’ stared at her incredulously from the kitchen door.

“In that case,” said the big red-headed fellow, “we’ll each have a bowl o’ the pretty gel’s stew. Won’t we, mates?”

They all roared their agreement, and Roslyn hustled toward the kitchen, shrugging sheepishly at the innkeeper. “Yer hired,” he said. “Fer tonight. Wot’s yer name?”

“Ros-er-Rachel,” she lied, using the alias she’d invented previously, in an attempt to cover her tracks.

“Rachel,” he said with a conspiratorial wink. “Git in the kitchen ‘n serve up the stew. Mebbe fancy it up a little. Lizzie! Git ’em some ale!”

Roslyn tied an apron around her waist and went to work on the stew, first siphoning the fat from the top and then adding in some finely chopped onion and thickening it with a little flour. The men, when they tasted it, declared it was the best stew they’d ever had. Roslyn brushed off their improper advances with such practiced good humor that their ringleader declared his intention to return the next night to wear down her resolve.

“Ye say ye need a job?” inquired the innkeeper. “Ye kin have Ellen’s. A lazier lass I never saw. Comes in late more ‘n half the time ‘n sometimes not atall.”

“I wouldn’t want to take Ellen’s position,” Roslyn said. “But I don’t mind helping out for a day or two, until I can find something permanent. In return for food and a place to sleep,” she added.

It would be too easy for Teryn to find her at the Forfar Inn, whatever name she used. Her most pressing need, however, was food and lodging. Once that was satisfied, she could work on devising a longer-term solution.

Roslyn Grant is fleeing the stepbrother who stole her inheritance and sold her to a brothel. Without money and facing the perilous Scottish winter weather, she has only her wits to keep her safe.

In search of one of the Flowers of Scotland, Quinn Murray finds her at his estranged uncle’s home, employed as a housekeeper. Slaying her dragons for her might not be enough, however. Can there be a happy ending for this earl’s heir and a long-lost descendent of Robert the Bruce?

This story will be coming out in the spring with the rest of the stories in the Flowers of Scotland series.

About The Flowers of Scotland series

Only The Marriage Maker can pull flowers from the ashes…

Few men are legends in their own time, great fame more often coming years, even centuries later, and by the pens of scribes who rely on long-told tales rather than fact. Even so, now and again, larger-than-life heroes appear, the sheer force of their personalities raising them above all others. These are the fabled ones, flesh and blood men whose lights blaze so bright they eclipse all who’ve gone before them, as well as those who follow.

In the early years of the thirteen century, when medieval Scotland was entrenched in the treachery and chaos of the Wars of Independence, one such man emerged from the tall shadow of the great William Wallace. This man went on to lead Scotland in a fierce fight for freedom that culminated with his 1306 crowning as King of Scots and then, in 1314, with his stunning victory against Edward II of England at the Battle of Bannockburn.

This man was Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s greatest hero king. Even after his triumph at Bannockburn, he railed against England for another fourteen years, finally securing full Scottish independence in 1328, one year before his death.

Extraordinarily beloved by his men, Robert Bruce was also known for his good looks and charm. Yes, he loved the ladies, and they flocked to him. Such adoration from beautiful women is hard for any man to ignore, especially a warrior king always on the move, long away from hearth and home. The Bruce was married twice and is known to have especially loved his second wife. Yet, medieval wars were brutal and it proved too great a temptation to decline the feminine comfort offered him at every turn.

In short, he succumbed. The hero king who came to be known as the Flower of Scotland for his chivalry, sired many bastards and, great-hearted as he was, he ensured that each one lacked for nothing.

But time rolls on, and after but a few centuries, glory-seekers claimed descent from Scotland’s most revered king. Fortunes turned, and some of his true descendants fell from favor. Eventually, no one remembered that their blood carried the richness of such a great and heroic man.

Of course, no one forgot Robert Bruce. His fame burns as brightly as ever. Some historians are obsessed with him, delving deep into history to uncover every nuance of his life and deeds, including the amorous tales.

When one such historian discovers four young women whose lineages trace directly to the Bruce, this man is deeply troubled. The Flowers of Scotland, as he views these Bruce descendants, should not suffer lives of hardship and obscurity as these women do.

Sir Stirling James

Something must be done and he knows just the man to help them; Sir Stirling James, The Marriage Maker. Sir James is a regular at the Inverness pub run by the hobby historian, an establishment named The Melrose for the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s heart; Melrose Abbey.

Sir James, a true patriot, and history buff himself, agrees that the four young women deserve triumphs of their own. He knows just the four men worthy of them—men who, like the Bruce, possess charm, rank and standing. These heroes can sweep the lassies off their feet and into a world of happiness and love they never dreamed possible.

About the Author

Susana Ellis has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar.

A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA, Maumee Valley Romance Inc., and the (in)famous Bluestocking Belles.

Website: http://www.SusanaEllis.com

Blog: https://susanaellisauthor.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Susana.Ellis.5

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusanaAuthor

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