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A Christmas House Party invitation which will curl your nostril hairs!

Hunh! Countess of Reddington, here with a warning for you. To whit: 

A house party that will tickle your fancy…not your nostril hairs! (Of all ridiculous accusations! Lady Reddington, you are minx!)

I do marvel at Countess of Marsden and her social calendar. I mean, she is older, you know, and yet she persists in hostessing soirees that meet the stunning standards of Prinny himself!

Why only today, I received an invitation from her. She is selling…pardon me, trying to secure husbands for her three nieces. For that, she hosts a house party that will be, dare I say, notorious.

Notorious! 

Well, why wouldn’t you believe that when we all know that she has…most indiscreetly, too…engaged in a most improper relationship with one man. Who, you ask?

Dare I tell you?

I will.

I cannot resist. 

A duke, no less.

And she has invited him to this house party! As well as dozens of others.

Why, here is her invitation!

The Countess of Marsden

requests

the pleasure of your company

at her home on the North Steyne in Brighton

December 21-December 28, 1815.

She welcomes you to dining, dancing,

charades, cards and match-making

for her nieces and guests. 

Even, dear me, herself!

Card-sharps, smugglers, lecherous lords are not invited.

But many forlorn ladies in search of lost loves, a randy butler 

and a certain older gentleman whom the Countess adores

will not attend.

Yet she suspects they will appear! 

Répondez s’il vous plait!

*** 

Do not go!

I warn you. Do not. She will regale you with stories that are fit for no one’s ears. 

No one…but mine, of course.

Only mine!

Christmas Belles

The Scandalous Christmas House Party where everyone falls in love

ACCEPT THE INVITATION HERE! (BUY LINK: https://amazon.com/gp/product/B07K2JZ8SX)!Christmas Belles

Lies, Damned Lies, and Gossip

The Teatime Tattler wishes to go on record as saying that it does not believe the scurrilous rumours currently circulating throughout society regarding the Merry Marquis, the Saint of Mayfair, and other members of the renowned H. and W. families.

Had these rumours been true, you can be sure that your intrepid Teatime Tattler correspondents would long since have uncovered the facts and reported on them. We are pleased to rank ourselves with the two highly respectable families to deny the rubbish that is being printed elsewhere in lesser journals.

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?

Buy Links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09944JGMR/

Or find other links on Books2Read: https://books2read.com/CMK-ToTame

Excerpt

Her first hint that something was wrong was in the reception line. She smiled a greeting at an acquaintance, who suddenly found it necessary to turn away to speak to someone else. It kept happening, and a space opened up around the three of them—a space surrounded by backs, frowns, and the hum of whispers.

When they reached the reception line, the hostess flushed a deep red. “Lady Charlotte… I did not expect… that is…” She turned to her husband, who spoke to Nate. “Under the circumstances, Lord Bentham, perhaps it would be best if you took—er—the sisters home.”

Nate’s face had turned to granite and his voice was icy. “What circumstances would those be, Lord Fenton?”

The man cast a desperate look around him and stammered, “No smoke without fire, what? Best just to go home.” His wife slipped her hand into his and he pressed her hand to his heart, before pleading, “Look, Bentham, my wife has planned this for weeks. Don’t make a scene.”

Nate stood his ground. “What. Circumstances.”

“Not the place to talk about it,” Fenton insisted. “Ask me tomorrow. Ask anyone. It’s all over town.”

They’ve found out about me and Aldridge. Charlotte touched her brother-in-law’s arm. “Let us leave, Nate. We are not welcome here.”

“I will remember this, Fenton,” Nate commented, his statement all the scarier for its conversational tone.

They left, Charlotte on one of Nate’s arms and Sarah on the other, the crowd separating before them as if afraid of contamination.

Uncle James had not gone out that evening, having shelved his plans to attend the Opera after the altercation with the Duchess of Haverford. He was in his study with Yousef, but called through the open door when they arrived.

Drew was there before them. “Bad evening?” he asked.

“That prat Fenton threw us out,” Nate told him. “Something about ‘circumstances’.”

“Circumstances, eh?” Drew commented. “The manager of my club told me, very politely, that my membership had been temporarily suspended pending investigation of ‘circumstances’.”

“Did the club or Fenton give you any information about these ‘circumstances’?” Uncle James asked. He had poured each of them a brandy, even the twins, and was handing them out.

Another arrival in the hall proved to be Jamie and Sophia.

“Surely you haven’t been shunned, too?” Charlotte asked, as Uncle James poured a brandy for his eldest son and a port for Sophia.

“Oh dear,” Sophia replied. “Has it come to that?”

Uncle James summarised the situation. “Charlotte, Sarah, and Nate were turned away from the Fentons, and Drew’s membership of his club has been suspended. Do you know what this is about?”

Sophia accepted her port. “We came to tell you that the whole town is buzzing with stories, many of them about the Winshires, others about the Haverfords. People have been dredging up history going back to Aldridge’s childhood, and every scandal he has ever been connected with, plus a few I’ve never before heard. Jessica has gone home in tears.”

“And the same with our family,” Jamie added. “Every incident that can be misinterpreted or cast in a bad light, right back to your duel with Haverford when you were a young man, Kaka.”

Yousef swirled his coffee thoughtfully. “It sounds like Wharton, Yakob,” he suggested. “Were not he and his witch of a sister masters of the nasty rumour?”

“You’re right, Yousef,” Jamie agreed. “Let us track the stories to their source and stamp on the snake’s head.”

“Which will not stop people repeating them,” Sarah pointed out, “and how are we to prove they are not true?”

“We cannot,” Charlotte said, slowly, remembering her conversation with the Duchess of Haverford. “We should not. We simply face the scandalmongers down and refuse to bow our heads. We speak not to petty people with evil minds but to those with real power. The Queen will receive Mama, I am sure, and you could talk to the princesses, Sophia. Kaka, you have influence with the Prince Regent. If they will show their support in public, that will help.”

Sophia nodded approvingly. “Yes, Charlotte is quite right. For every rumour we disprove, another will pop up, even worse. Why, they are saying that you seduced your own brother, Charlotte, and that he killed himself as a result. Yes, and that the reason Sarah ran away with Nate was that you and she were disporting with the rakes at one of Richport’s orgies, and Grandfather was threatening to make you each marry one. Also that Charlotte has been Aldridge’s mistress ever since. How can people swallow such rubbish?”

The room swirled around Charlotte. Someone took her hand in a firm grip and advised her to breathe. Sarah. She took a sip from the brandy glass held to her lips and the burn of the alcohol brought her back.

“A kernel of truth,” she croaked, then took the glass from Sarah and sipped again. Her voice steadier, she said again, “A kernel of truth. Richport had an estate next to Applemorn Hall, where Sarah and I were living when Sarah fell in love with Nate. I met Aldridge that summer.” She smiled as her uncle and cousins, without moving, shifted into warrior mode, alert as hawks sighting the rabbit. “He was a perfect gentleman, and kind to a little girl,” she assured them.

She looked around the room. She knew her family loved her, and Yousef was fiercely loyal. But surely, they would look at her differently if she told them the other morsels of truth in that litany of lies. Her brother Elfingham had raped her. She had spent a night with Aldridge.

Sarah squeezed her hand. “I imagine we shall find other morsels of truth buried in some of the other rumours. Although some seem to be made out of whole cloth. I imagine it unlikely in the extreme that Aldridge killed a circus performer who happened to look like the Rose of Frampton in order to allow his mistress to adopt a new identity and marry his friend Lord Overton.”

Drew, Sophia and Jamie each had a rumour to quote, all of them ridiculous.

The attacks on Uncle James and the rest of the family three years ago had been staged to win public sympathy and disguise the fact that Uncle James was an imposter—an Easterner who had known the real son of the deceased duke when he was in prison in Persia. The attacks were real enough, as Charlotte knew. The rest was nonsense.

Aldridge had sold his brother Jonathan to slavers, along with his brother’s wife, Prudence Wakefield, who was a former lover of his. They would be slaves to the Saracens yet, but Prue whored herself to buy her escape. Or Jonathan did. Charlotte had heard Prue speak of how she and Jonathan had been kidnapped from the London docks, and of how they’d escaped into France. So another farrago of lies.

Uncle James and Aunt Eleanor had been lovers in their youth, and had resumed their affair when Uncle James returned to England.

Charlotte spoke again when the chuckles died down. “We need Aunt Eleanor.” She or Mama, but Mama had gone to Leicester to be with Ruth in her confinement.

Sarah started to protest and Uncle James frowned, but Charlotte held up a hand. “No one is better at the politics of Polite Society. And these rumours concern her and her family, so she will be working to combat them. It is better strategy to work together.”

“Charlotte is right,” Sophia said, oblivious to the undercurrents. “A pity that Aunt Grace and Aunt Georgie are both from town. Still, Aunt Eleanor will be able to marshal Society’s dragons on the side of right.”

“Yes, and the Wakefields will know how to track the rumours back to Wharton, wherever he lairs,” Uncle James agreed. “We have a plan, my children. I suggest we sleep on it, and send for the duchess and the Wakefields tomorrow.”

Matchmaking and Secrets in Falmouth

Judging from this missive that went astray and was, er, rescued by The Teatime Tattler, bachelors in Falmouth best beware the designs of matchmakers.

Falmouth, 1811

My dear Hannah,

I hope you and Reverend Simpson are in good health.

Although I long to see you in person, I’m afraid that yet again I will have to put off my trip to Oxfordshire as Admiral Pridham is still rather tied up with naval business, so this letter will have to suffice. You wouldn’t think that a gentleman who has given up active service would still be embroiled in naval matters, but I suppose I must accept that in dangerous times like these with Napoleon rumoured to be poised to invade, an experienced naval man like my Priddy will be of value to the Admiralty.

But enough of sombre thoughts, let me move to the real purpose of my missive, which is to thank you for sending Sophie Turner to me. I am delighted with her. I simply cannot understand why her erstwhile guardian held her in such poor regard.

A View of Bath

The little that Sophie has shared with me about her past paints a dismal picture of her childhood, as have you when you recommended her to me. Indeed it must have been a blessing for Sophie when you arrived in Crawley and took her under your wing.

Her arrival in Bath did more for me than any amount of taking the waters, it was almost like having dear Kitty with me (who, by the way, is very much enjoying life as a naval officer’s wife in Deptford). Sophie and I attended the Pump Room every morning to join the gossip, I no longer needing to take the waters – ghastly stuff! We visited Bath’s fabric warehouses, which I swear are as good as any in London and I spent a great deal of money. Thank goodness the Admiral has deep pockets.

Despite her reluctance, I insisted on new dresses too for Sophie – the dear child needs to look the part as my companion. The lending libraries on Milsom Street are very good, I recommend them, and we indulged ourselves with all the latest novels.

Falmouth Harbor

As you can see, I am now returned to Falmouth and reunited with my Admiral. Alas, I hardly ever see him, so caught up is he with naval business. I planned to meet with him in Falmouth town for nuncheon this morning and took Sophie with me to show her the sights – would you believe that she has never seen the sea? Alas, just as Pridham arrived, accompanied by a certain Mrs Harris – an overpainted and encroaching creature in my opinion – poor Sophie fainted away. It took a feather from my hat to revive her and once I got her back home a dose of Daffy elixir soon set her to rights, so there is no reason for you to worry.

Between you and I, I am hoping to find a suitable match for Sophie here in Falmouth; there is a single young gentleman friend of my husband – not a naval man – yet I think he will do very nicely. I will write soon and let you know how things go on.

Your dear friend, Emmaline

About the Book:  A Bachelor’s Pledge

The woman who haunts his dreams

Secret agent Phil Cullen is upset when he discovers that the young woman he rescued from Mrs Newbody’s establishment has absconded from his housekeeper’s care without a word. Thinking he has been deceived, he resolves to forget about her… something easier said than done.

The man she wants to forget

Sophia Turner is horrified when she is duped into entering a notorious house of ill-repute. Then a handsome stranger comes to her aid. Desperate that no one learns of this scandalous episode, Sophia flees to the one friend she knows she can trust. With luck, she will never see her mysterious rescuer again.

But fate has other plans…

Months later, Phil is on the trail of an elusive French agent and Sophia is a respectable lady’s companion when fate again intervenes, taking their lives on a collision course.

Traitors, spies, and shameful family secrets – will these bring Sophia and Phil together… or drive them apart?

Heart-warming romance combined with action-filled adventure make this third book in Penny Hampson’s Gentleman Series a must-read for all lovers of classic Regency fiction.

Purchase link: mybook.to/ABachelorsPledge

An Extract~

 After walking for a while longer and stopping in various shops to make some small purchases, Emmaline decided it was time for some refreshment. ‘The respectable tavern I told you about is just along here. I’ll bespeak us a private parlour and ask the landlord to send a boy with a message for the admiral.’

Sophia followed her employer into an old-fashioned but tidy-looking inn. Emmaline was obviously well known in these parts, for the landlord swiftly joined them and led them to a pleasant parlour. ‘My Annie will be with you in a moment, ma’am, and I’ll send my lad Jack to you just as soon as he returns from the stables.’

Before long, the boy Jack was sent off with a message to the admiral, who was visiting the custom house, and Emmaline bespoke them some savoury patties, meat pies, cheese, and bread. At Sophia’s look of surprise – for she was still replete from her breakfast – Emmaline explained.

‘The admiral will want something substantial, no doubt, when he joins us. The man neglects to eat if I do not prompt him. He left quite early this morning, and I daresay he barely broke his fast.’ She settled herself on a bench under the parlour window, which looked out on to the busy street. ‘Come, let us sit here, Sophia, where we can entertain ourselves by watching the world go by while we wait.’

Sophia took off her hat and sat down at the other end of the bench, so that she and Emmaline both had a view of the bustle outside through the salt-encrusted windows. Emmaline commented on the uniforms passing by, pointing out the different ranks to a mystified Sophia.

‘See that gentleman there with an epaulette on each shoulder? He has made post and commands a ship. His companion has also earned his own command but has less seniority. Now, how do I know that, Sophia?’

Sophia watched as the two officers walked past, feeling guilty at making such close and unseemly observations of them. ‘Erm… Oh, I see it now. He only wears an epaulette on his right shoulder.’

‘Very good.’ Emmaline smiled. ‘We shall make a naval wife of you yet, my dear.’

Sophia smiled but said nothing.

The food was brought in, but the ladies ignored it, in order to carry on their observations. Suddenly, Emmaline’s face brightened.

‘Ah, here he is at last.’ Her smile was quickly replaced by a frown. ‘Oh dear, now he will be delayed while he exchanges pleasantries. So inconvenient that she should cross his path just now.’

Sophia looked out to where Admiral Pridham was standing. He was doffing his hat to a smartly dressed female whose broad-brimmed hat obscured her face from view. She was accompanied by a young, dark-skinned maid carrying several bandboxes. There was something in the older woman’s attitude that seemed familiar. Prickles of apprehension ran down Sophia’s spine. The woman turned and Sophia saw her take the admiral’s arm. He pointed to the inn, and they both walked on together. As they drew closer, his companion’s face came into full view. Sophia’s breath caught in her lungs. Dear Lord, it was Mrs Newbody.

Sophia’s eyes lost focus, and her heart was pounding in her chest so loudly she was sure Emmaline would hear it as she clutched the table to stop herself from sliding off the bench.

About The Author

Penny Hampson writes history, mystery, and romance. Her first published novel, The Unquiet Spirit, a ghostly, romantic mystery set in Cornwall, was published by Darkstroke in 2020. Penny has also written a series of Regency romances because, as a historian, there is nothing she likes more than researching her favourite period in history and bringing it to life. She lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

Website: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/pennyhampsonauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/penny_hampson

Penny’s blog: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/blog/

 

 

Could a Woman Be Elusive Scholar B. Biggs?

Dear Readers,

You have probably heard the talk regarding that mysterious scholar, B. Biggs. Just in case you have not, the on dit has it that there is no record of any B. Biggs attending at any of the respectable schools or universities in England nor in Scotland. We all recognize that attendance at one of our respected institutions of learning is not a requirement for a keen and educated mind. However, this reporter has learned something previously unknown about the shadowy Biggs.

Starting at the printshop where the scholar’s work is published, this reporter identified which messenger was sent with proofs for Biggs to approve. I was able to follow the messenger as far as the unremarkable village of Starbrook in Yorkshire. Sadly, my horse lost a shoe,. I was delayed at the smithy’s forge and was unable to follow the messenger to his ultimate destination.

Starbrook is a typical village with little worthy of note to the traveler. A quick perusal of the town and some conversation with local patrons of a few taverns, revealed not only that Starbrook is not home to any scholarly or educational institutions but also that the village’s only claim to renown is that it sits within the borders of the ancestral lands of the Earl of Seahaven.

The ninth earl recently passed away–I’m certain you read of his obsequies here–and the tenth Earl has been installed. I have not had the pleasure of meeting the current Earl. However, I have not heard that he has a reputation for incisive scholarship of any kind, let alone the distinguished papers on Egypt that originate in the mind of B. Biggs. It is possible that the earl plays the dullard in society in order to prevent anyone from guessing that his is the hand which pens the Biggs papers. This reporter is of the opinion that it is not the earl but one of his connections, possibly even one of the ten daughters of the previous earl. Disappointingly, the local folk had little to say about the ninth Earl’s family. Thus, despite my best efforts, I have been unable to identify the true mind behind B. Biggs’s scholarship.

Rest assured dear readers that my inquiries will continue, and I hope to have more specific news at a date in the not-too-distant future.

I remain ever your loyal reporter dedicated to bringing you the truth–no matter how scandalous.

Where is the Gossip?

Mr. Clemens glared at the calendar spread across his desk.

Too blasted many empty dates!

The Teatime  Tattler reporters, aka the Bluestocking  Belles,  must be spending their time at the Cock and Bull tavern rather than enticing scandal out of every historical romance writer in  Romancelandia as he expects them to do.

  • Are no rakes endangering  the maidens of Mayfair??
  • Have no hoydens run  of with butlers lately?
  • Are there no more bored wives, fed-up husbands, or interfering mothers-in-law in  all Romanclandia??
  • Are there no villages in the hinterlands eager to steeped in vice and eager to tell the world?

Where are the romance writers with their rumors, innuendo and tittle-tattle?No where to be found!

What is a beleaguered editor to  do? Clemens pulls out a fresh paper, trims his pen, and goes to work on a broadside.

Wanted: Writers of Scandal, Purveyors of Scandal, and Practitioners of Humor (or to put it another way, Calling All Authors of Historical Romance!)

Bring your juiciest (if highly fictional) gossip about your characters to the Teatime Tattler. In exchange we offer you the opportunity to:

      1. Have Fun
      2. Make Friends–and above all
      3. Sell books

All comers welcome.

No gossip too salacious, no scandal too small. Contact Mr. S. Clemens (ok, ok, click here)

“People,”  Clemens roared. “Get this to the printer. I  want it nailed to every  door in Facebook, tacked to every  tree on Twitter, and mailed to every writer’s salon you can find.”

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