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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coincidence? We shall see.

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

How can one put an innocent interpretation on that?

To Claim the Long-Lost Lover

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

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

Book 3 of The Return of the Mountain King

New release

Buy Links

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

 

To Tame the Wild Rake

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

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

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

Must they choose between family and one another?

Book 4 of The Return of the Mountain King

Released 17 September

Buy Links

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

On the Books at Whites: Gentleman Rides Side-Saddle?

Whom Colonel Thoroton will marry has been as prolific a topic in the receiving room of every marriageable miss’s mother as it has in the betting books. After all, it’s not everyday that a man comes into possession of an estate as grand as Flintham Hall at only four-and-twenty.

But no purported wager could possibly be more ludicrous than the one rumored to have begun at White’s: Mr. Paling will learn to ride side-saddle before the Colonel becomes engaged.

Whatever shall they think of next?

Mr. Paling would do better if he turned his attention to pursuing females rather than learning to ride like them. Why, it has been years since he has been spotted dancing, in spite of his frequent attendance at Almack’s. A disgrace, if you ask me, his immaculately-tied cravat notwithstanding. And this is the gentleman sent to Nottinghamshire to force Colonel Thoroton out of mourning and into the marriage-mart where he belongs? Let us hope, for all our sakes, that Mr. Paling loses his bet and they both end up engaged before the year’s end.

Anonymous Annie,
Teatime Tattler Guest Correspondent

An Engagement of Sorts

Much to her mother’s dismay, spirited Anne Fletcher is more comfortable in breeches than ball gowns. But when she finds herself facing marriage to a man she does not love, Anne grasps at her last vestige of independence, setting in motion a desperate plan. Now all she needs is a man willing to masquerade as her fiancé.

Buylink: https://www.amazon.com/Engagement-Sorts-Alene-Wecker-ebook/dp/B093S2LBMM 

Excerpt:

My freedom was short-lived, for though I had been able to stretch my knees and ankles in the carriage, my hips had remained at the same angle for far too long; they were less enthusiastic to be put to sudden use. They buckled, causing me to fall face-first into what had once been a gentleman’s carefully tied black cravat.

A rather ungentlemanly voice released an oath. “Sakes alive, hussy, watch what you are about.” The uncouth man had reacted to my assault by bringing both hands to my shoulders and pushing me back until my chest rested over my own torso rather than on his. “If I had a pound for every woman who threw herself at me, I could make my own fortune.” He unhanded me like I might have lice. I looked upward into the gentleman’s—no, Colonel Thoroton’s—scowl.

His frosty look could have frozen the sun, but it flamed my pride. And unlike last time, the threat of Mother’s censure could not protect him from my wrath. “Firstly, I would never throw myself at a gentleman—obviously in name only—who is incapable of coming to my aid and instead treats me like a flea-bitten cur.” I ticked one gloved finger out at him. “Secondly, if I had thrown myself at you, I would have broken your nose rather than crumpling your oriental, which would have served you right as your nose seems bent out of shape for naught. Thirdly—”

Raucous laughter cut off my diatribe. Mr. Paling stood near, cloaked in his usual persona of gaiety and nonchalance.

In strict contrast, the colonel’s tone grew menacing as he spit out each word. “It was a mathematical, not an oriental.”

“Yes, well.” I tried to re-enact his rude turn of voice; I didn’t care if he was the emperor of China. No one spoke to me like this. “I am a lady, not a hussy. Yours was the greater blunder.”

Meet Alene Wecker

Debut novelist Alene Wecker stumbled into the profession quite by accident; she had only meant to entertain herself during a banal bout of bedrest. But the characters in her head wouldn’t leave her alone until she gave them space on the page. She hopes you will be as entertained by her characters’ antics as she was.

As a mother, voice teacher, and opera singer, she must have a penchant for fun but poorly-paid professions. She likes to pretend that her experience and master’s degree in vocal performance come in handy as she describes debutantes who, like herself, speak several languages and are frequently forced to display their mediocre skills at the pianoforte.

website: https://www.alenewecker.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlene

Runaways or a Clandestine Tryst?

Molly,

When I visited Ashmead last summer, I am certain you told me the Duchess of Glenmoor was a recluse. You were quite firm that she rarely  left the Clarion Hall dower house. What is she doing barreling on past Birmingham on the coaching road?

We arrived stopped to refresh at  the  Crippled Cock on our way  south and noticed a carriage with the Clarion crest in the yard. I hoped to catch sight of  the Earl of Clarion, but who did we see leaving  the private parlor but the duchess herself. She and her companion made no greeting and departed smartly. A male companion! I saw no sign of a respectable woman with  them.  assisted her into the carriage and road up behind on a fine mount.

An illustration of “The Follies & Fashions of our Grandfathers: 1807” by Andrew W Tuer. Getty Images

The innkeeper proved closed mouthed, but the serving wench talked freely. The duchess claimed the “companion” was her brother. Isn’t the earl her only brother, and him fair of hair and complexion? In all my years visiting Ashmead I’ve never seen a Caulfield with hair as black as this gentleman, if I can call him that.

Do you have any notion who it might have been or why  they were in such urgency to travel east? Write to me as soon as you can to the Thomas’s townhouse in London.

Your devoted etc.

Maudy Flint

About the Series

The Duchess of Glemoor’s flight east takes place in The Defiant Daughter, Book 2 in Caroline Warfield’s The Ashmead Heirs. It will come out in October 2021. She is the sister of  both  the earl  and of  Sir  Robert Benson.

The Wayward Son, Book One is available now.

About the Book, The Wayward Son

Sir Robert Benson’s life is in London. He fled Ashmead the day he discovered the man he thought was his father had lied to him, and the girl he loved was beyond his reach. Only a nameless plea from his sister—his half-sister—brings him back to discover he’s been left an estate with a choice piece of land. He will not allow a ludicrous bequest from the earl who sired him turn him into a mockery of landed gentry. When a feisty little termagant with flashing eyes—and a musket—tries to turn Rob off the land—his land—he’s too amused and intrigued to turn away. But the longer he stays, the tighter the bonds that tie him to Ashmead become, strengthened by the powerful draw of the woman rooted on land he’s determined to sell.

Lucy Whitaker’s life is Willowbrook, its land, its tenants, its prosperity, but she always knew it wasn’t hers, knew the missing heir would come eventually. When a powerful man with military bearing rides up looking as if he wants to come in and count the silver, she turns him away, but her heart sinks. She can’t deny Rob Benson his property; she can only try to make him love the place as she does, for her peoples’ sake. A traitorous corner of her heart wishes Rob would love it for her sake.

His life is London and diplomatic intrigue; hers is Ashmead and the land. How can they forge something lasting when they are torn in two directions?

Available on Kindle Unlimited or for purchase at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09484DC1D/

About the Author

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Links

Website:   http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WarfieldFellowTravelers

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Good Reads:  http://bit.ly/1C5blTm

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/caroline-warfield

 

 

 

A Shocking Turn of Events at the Siltsbury Ball

Dear Reader,

I must report to you a shocking set of events that has the polite world reeling and convey to you my deepest regrets that, if all is proven true, a stalwart fixture of society will no longer be received.

Lady Witherspoon, who rarely misses an event of importance, was a guest at Miss Jocelyn Stafford’s birthday ball. While the guest of honor seemed to comport herself with the refinement one has come to expect from a gently-bred maiden, Lady Witherspoon sensed something was amiss and made a point of seating herself at the young lady’s table when the buffet was set out.

Her guardian, Lord Ralston, never left her side and  answered most of the questions put to the girl. When Lady Witherspoon peered into Miss Stafford’s face, she detected a tan. A tan! Miss Stafford never leaves home without her bonnet and was as pale as a ghost just last week. When she remarked on it, Ralston said Miss Stafford had taken up strolling in her mother’s garden without her head covering. Not only that, the girl’s spoken words seemed to have odd inflections.

Could this be an imposter?

Rumors, spread by servants who should know not to speak of their betters (and of course, we never listen to such gossip), have speculated that a guest spirited into Lady Siltsbury’s house two days ago late at night is not a widowed relation seeking total privacy, but another daughter who closely resembles Miss Jocelyn. Could Jocelyn have a sister? Surely not a twin.

I shudder to think of how this could be true as Lord Siltsbury departed these shores and hied off to the colonies years ago and has never returned. Of course he was a mere second son at the time. He generously allowed his wife, who is terrified of sea travel, to remain.

I will leave this with you, dear reader. If indeed Lady Siltsbury has tried to fool polite society by foisting an imposter on the ton, then shame on her. And if it is true (and I sincerely hope for the sake of all involved it is not) who is this mysterious look-alike and where is Jocelyn?

Ah, these mysteries are enough to still my faint heart. I must ring for my vinaigrette before penning my next report.

—An Anonymous Correspondent

Scandal’s Deception

Jane Stafford, raised in America, is shocked to learn she is a wealthy heiress, her late father was an earl, and her English mother is alive. Anxious to meet the woman she long-thought dead, she travels to London, only to be whisked away by her sinfully handsome guardian to a remote estate to be “schooled” in the ways of the ton.

Gilbert Carmichael, Lord Ralston, chafes at having to make a rebellious young heiress acceptable to society, especially one who is impetuous and blatantly democratic. Because the instruction she needs is more than deportment and dancing. It’s also about how to spot a rake who might woo her for her fortune.

When Ralston learns his ward is to be used as a pawn in an elaborate scheme involving a secret impersonation, he will move heaven and earth to keep her safe. Because proximity has brought the uncomfortable knowledge that his interest may be more than duty—it just might be love.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B098BBLPR4/

 

Excerpt

Jane lowered her head as she entered Papa’s room, loathe to gaze on her father in his pale, weakened state. The darkened room smelled of camphor and some other sickly-sweet substance she couldn’t place. She dragged a wooden chair to the side of the bed and sat, her hands clasped firmly in her lap.

Papa turned his head to face her. “My dear.”

She leaned closer to hear what he had to say, her throat tightening once again.

“I’m here.” She swallowed and forced herself to look into the feverish eyes.

“You will be amply provided for. Hornsby has the details.”

“I know, Papa. I’m not worried about my future.”

He smiled and her breath caught. “After…after my funeral, he has instructions to purchase passage for you on a ship bound for England.”

Jane leaned further forward, not sure she heard correctly. “England? I shall stay here in Maryland. I do not know anyone in England.”

He turned his face away, his breaths coming faster. The doctor rose from his chair by the fire and peered into his patient’s face. “You need to rest, Mathew. Speaking is taking your energy.”

“No. I have to tell her.”

Jane picked up his cold hand, a chill skipping along her spine despite the heat in the room. “Tell me what?”

He turned back to her. “You have relatives in England who will care for you.”

She hunched her shoulders and bent closer, astonished by her father’s words. “Who?”

He closed his eyes, as if gaining strength, then opened them.

“Your mother.”

Jane squeezed his hand and shook her head. Poor Papa. How cruel for such a brilliant man to be delusional at the end. Her mother was dead. Died in childbed. She’d been told as soon as she was old enough to ask.

“I’ve written to her,” he whispered. “She’s expecting you.”

He lapsed into a coughing fit, the doctor by his side. Janie rose and moved away, her brain unable to process what she’d been told. His mind was tricking him. It must be the pain.

Maddie, standing by the door, hurried in and led Jane out of the room, seating her in a chair in the hall. She handed her the glass she still carried and told Jane to sip slowly. “You need this, child.”

Trying to process Papa’s words, Jane took the glass and held it in both hands, mesmerized by the candlelight playing on the facets of the crystal.

England. Your mother. I’ve written to her.

How odd for him to say such a thing.

She sipped from the glass and handed it back. “Maddie? Wasn’t I born in this house? You were here, weren’t you?”

“You were nearly a year old when your Papa offered me the position of both housekeeper and nanny. It was difficult for me to care for a house and a child, but he paid well so I accepted. I’ve never regretted it.”

You have relatives in England.

“Did you ever ask about my mother?”

“It wasn’t my place. I assumed she must be dead, although I found it odd he never spoke of her.”

“I assumed the same. Whenever I asked about her, he said it was too painful to discuss. So I stopped.” She stared at her tightly clasped hands. “You heard what he said?”

“I did and I have to tell you I’m bewildered.”

The door opened and the doctor came out. A long-time friend of Papa’s, Dr. Hadley shook his head. “He’s gone. I’m sorry.”

Maddie shrieked, her hand covering her mouth. Jane sat silently in the chair, cold to the core, chilled by an ugly premonition.

Her life was about to undergo a momentous change.

And not for the better.

Meet Pamela Gibson

Author of eight books on California history and seventeen romance novels, Pamela Gibson is a former City Manager who lives in the Nevada desert. Having spent the last three years messing about in boats, a hobby that included a five-thousand-mile trip in a 32-foot Nordic Tug, she now spends most of her time indoors happily reading, writing, cooking and keeping up with the antics of Ralph, the Rescue Cat. If you want to learn more about her activities go to https://www.pamelagibsonwrites.com and sign up for her quarterly newsletter and occasional blog. Or follow her in these places:

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The Most Hated Clan in Scotland

In the mid-13th century the Bishop of Durnoch was involved in a land dispute with Baron MacFearann. After exchanging several messages and suffering the disappearance of at least one messenger, the Bishop decided to attempt to resolve the problem in person. He gave notice to the baron that he and his entourage would arrive in time for the Shrove Tuesday feast.

On arrival, the bishop’s escort was welcomed and housed in the MacFearann barracks. The bishop and two of his most essential attendants were greeted with great courtesy and shown to lavish rooms in the MacFearann keep. It was only after a long and in the bishop’s opinion very delicious dinner that he was able to speak privately and at length with the baron.

The bishop did everything he knew how to do to persuade MacFearann to tithe the lands as ordered. But even the threat of ex-communication fell on deaf ears. The last thing the bishop did was to ask if MacFearann had encountered the friar sent more than a month earlier?

“Oh, aye, that I have,” assured the baron.

“Then do you know what became of him,” queried the bishop.

“Aye, I do, and so do yer excellency.”

“Then might you tell me where he is?”

“But ye know that already, excellency.”

The bishop was of course puzzled. “Would I ask you if I knew?”

“Mayhap ye’re a bit confused. Yer friar was present at dinner.”

“I did not see him.” The bishop shook his head.

“Och but ye did. He was setting on the table right before ye.”

The bishop’s eyes went wide and his mouth dropped open. “But that was . . .” he swallowed, clearly discomfited. “That was a roast.”

“Aye.” The baron nodded. “Ye told me from yer own lips how much you enjoyed the roast and the spiced gravy served with it.”

The bishop’s face turned green. “The spiced gravy?”

“Yer friar contributed to every part of the meal, in one way or another.”

The bishop tried to speak but his stomach overcame him and he cast up his accounts into the rushes. “What vile trick is this?” he asked when he could finally speak.

“Why ’tis no trick.” The baron stood and walked to where the bishop sat. “Ye wished to tithe the life blood from Clan MacFearann. I couldna let that happen. So when ye announce ye would visit–note that I dinna invite ye–I decided to take some of the church’s blood, but feeling guilty I then decided to give it back. Yer friar will be a part of ye always.”

*With that MacFearann stabbed the bishop doing severe damage that would lead to a slow death. Above stairs his two most trusted men were enacting the same punishment on the attendants, whose only crimes were to serve the bishop.

The dead bodies were put on display at the border of MacFearann lands and the story was told far and wide by every MacFearan to any and all who would listen. They wanted to be certain that everyone knew what might happen if an attempt was made to take from MacFearann what belonged to MacFearann.

The result was that the Scottish people have long feared and hated the entire clan for daring to so desecrate God’s bishop and his men. This evil has lived so long in the memories of the local folk, that even today the baron’s ancestors are reviled and despised.

Dear Readers,

We beg your pardon for publishing this lurid history, but assure you as gruesome as the tale may be the events are securely in the past. No such actions would be possible in this modern day and age–at least we most sincerely hope so.

As you know our intrepid reporter in Scotland has been researching the histories of various clans connected with the Duke of Cowal and the approaching marriage of his heir. Among these clans the most prominent are the MacTavish, MacKai and Marr. Each of these clans is dominant in regions blanketing Scotland’s Western coast and territories. However, our reporter discovered an obscure and ancient connection between Clan Marr, famous for its Strathnaver Whisky, and a small, currently quite poor clan whose lands once stretched from Thurso to Dornoch. As the history above explains Clan MacFearann was once the most hated of all Scottish clans and the most feared.

The Tattler and its staff, most sincerely pity any family having even a distant connection to such a clan.

From the author, Rue Allyn: Members of the MacFearann clan appear frequently in my fictional version of Scotland. The MacFearanns had their strongest impact to date in Knight Protector – Knight Chronicles Book Two. Because of that story and a few others, at least one member of the clan will appear briefly in The Pirate Duchess – Duchess Series Book Two, one of my current works in progress. You may purchase Knight Protector from your favorite retailer https://books2read.com/u/bwjMAP. Or join my mailing list to receive my latest news and most recent deals. Here’s the link to my website homepage where you may find the subscription form at the bottom of the page.

*The black and white image on the right depicts Tantalus who was condemned after death to starve for all eternity for the grievous sin of serving his dead son as a meal to the gods.

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