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Scandalous Doings in High Places

To the editor, Teatime Tattler

Dear Honoured Sir

It is with the greatest of reluctance that I put pen to paper. I am not, I assure your readers, sir, one to speak ill of my fellows, but I also believe most strongly that we of the highest ranks must set a good example to others.

Sadly, what I have observed with my own eyes leads me to believe that a previous correspondent to your paper has the right of it. One of the highest ladies in the land outside of the Royal Family has, indeed, been led into the most grevious of errors by the kindness of her heart.

Just the other night, I was at the theatre. It was not a memorable occasion to begin with — a very mediocre crowd, and much focused on some actor from the provinces who was making his debut on the London stage. At the interval, however, a vast crowd, all very merry, joined us, which was a great improvement, for what is the point of getting dressed to attend the theatre, if few people see you?

But I digress.

Miss C., a young person (I do not say ‘lady’, though she aspires to such) who currently lives in the household of the great lady I mentioned, was reprimanded — very properly, I might add — by the cousin who is the head of her family, and responded most pertly.

Are these the manners she learns at a ducal table, I ask you?

Perhaps so. You will be shocked — I was shocked, sir — to know that one much closer to the great lady’s heart (though not precisely what a proper gentlewoman would consider family) was also seen behaving scandalously a few days earlier.

I happened to be walking in Hyde Park on one of the first days without snow and fog, and I came across Miss J. G. in the arms of Lord D., who has been heard to wager he will be there to catch the maiden, if maiden she be, when she falls.

Miss J. G., you will know, is said to be the ward of said great lady (though the polite world knows she has no right to be in a ducal household, unless in the most menial — or the most scandalous of positions). It appears she has inherited the appetites of the mother who gave away her virtue to the great lady’s husband.

I interrupted them and they were soon after joined by Miss J. G.’s sister and Lord H. — another scandalous pairing.

Furthermore, the newly minted earl, Lord C., might look to the company that his sister, Lady F., is keeping under the sponsorship of the great lady. As if walking the back alleys of London with only a one-handed footman for protection is not foolish enough, she has now taken up with the Recluse of Cambridge!

Alas. One hears rumours that the great lady’s husband is ailing, and that his ailment is of the type to affect the brain. Perhaps the condition is infectious, for what else can explain such terrible flaws in judgement on the part of a lady we should all look up to.

I am sure you and your readers will join me in my concern over the ruin that encouraging such behaviours will make of public morals. In my own family, moral turpitude had such terrible consequences that my only recourse was to flee my home. Let a public outcry arise before London likewise sinks entirely into the mire.

I remain, most sincerely,

Lady A.

Lady Ashbury, is, of course, having a go at the Duchess of Haverford, patroness of a Ladies’ Society formed to help veterans. She also takes a swipe at the heroines of three of the stories, plus Jessica Grenford, the sister of my heroine, Matilda Grenford.

For more about these stories of love in a time of ice, see our Fire & Frost page, which has blurbs for each story and buy links for most retailers of ebooks. You can also buy Fire & Frost in print from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Lady Asbury appears in my Children of the Mountain King series. She is the wicked sister-in-law of my Earl of Ashbury, the hero of the second book, who is one of the people she is accusing of moral turpitude; safely enough, because he hasn’t ventured from his estate since he recovered from the injury that crippled him to find his wife and brother dead, children sent off to school, and sister-in-law gone.

The sheriff and the proxy bride

Mr. Clemens: Today we welcome Evan Irving, owner and editor of the Howard City Journal in Howard City, Wyoming.

Mr. Irving: Thank you for having me as your guest. I’m honored to meet you.

Mr. C: Always nice to meet another newspaper man and writer. However, I’m interested in learning about these people, Maeve and Luke Sullivan. Can you tell me how you met?

Mr. I: Luke and I met when he came to Howard City about three years ago. He hired on as a deputy sheriff. Everyone was impressed with his dedication to duty. He proved himself when the bank was held up and he helped our sheriff apprehend the robbers. When the sheriff decided to retire, Luke was the obvious choice to take over.

Mr. C: What about his wife?

Mr. I: She was a proxy bride arranged by his aunt and his mother, who are sisters. Luke had already sent for his mother, who worked as a cook at the Sunshine Boarding House. I can tell you, the food has made remarkable improvement since she’s been here. I digress.

After his uncle’s death in Boston, Luke and his mother wanted to bring the aunt here to live.  Now Luke’s dad isn’t dead, he’s an officer on a sailing ship dealing in imports and exports. He sends home most of his wages for the mother to save for their retirement. In a couple of years they plan to buy a nice cottage with a plot for a garden.

Mr. C: You’re digressing again.

Mr. I: Oh, yes, sorry. Maeve worked with the aunt in a laundry. She’d come from Ireland hoping for a better life. Did not find it. The aunt and Luke’s mother conspired to marry Maeve and Luke by proxy. Was he ever mad when he found out he had a bride on the way. Worse, Maeve’s fare was paid for by none other than his own mother from her retirement savings. He’s a good man, though, and consented to keep up his end.

Mr. C: They got their happy ever after, eh?

Mr. I: Eventually, you see both of them are strong people used to ruling their own lives. That made for some interesting conversations. Maeve helped him capture a wanted man so she received enough reward to repay her mother-in-law. Then, there were the threats.

Mr. C: Don’t stop there. What kind of threats, man?

Mr. I: The railway and the miners were about to have an explosive situation. I couldn’t see how it could be resolved without violence. Howard County and Howard City don’t have strong leadership. Solving the problem was up to Luke—although many of us were backing him. I suggest you read A BRIDE FOR LUKE to learn more.

Mr. C: Well, ahem, I don’t have a lot of time, you know, with all my correspondence and my own writing. I suppose I can make an effort this time. Thank you for coming, Mr. Irving.

Mr. I: My pleasure, Mr. Clemens.

A Bride for Luke

Each is struggling to build a better life . . .

Two strong-willed people are bound to clash . . .

Danger forces them to focus on what is at stake . . .

Maeve Kelly came to America for a better life but found only signs that said No Irish Need Apply. When the cousin with whom she is staying leaves Boston, Maeve is left desperate. Her job at the laundry doesn’t pay enough for her to survive alone. Her friend suggests a way out, Maeve resists but finally accepts. What else can she do?

Sheriff Luke Sullivan is proud of his accomplishments. Known for his strong principles, he is admired and well-respected in the community. When he learns his mother and aunt have schemed to get him a proxy bride he’s furious. If he’d wanted a wife he would have found one. He respects and loves his mother and finally agrees to the marriage. Before he and his bride can adjust to one another, Luke is caught in the middle of an explosive situation between striking miners and the railroad. 

Threats against Luke by each side have him fearing for the safety of his wife, mother, and aunt. He must resolve the strike to protect his family and many others. Will he succeed in time to save lives?

Universal Amazon Link: http://mybook.to/Maeve

Excerpt:

He pushed back from the table. “How can I keep you safe if you don’t follow orders? Do you understand?”

She put her hands on her hips. “Oh, so it’s orders you’re giving me, is it? Weel, Lucas Brady Sullivan, I take orders from no man. Do you understand?”

“Mae, you’re making something from nothing.” He tapped his chest. “I’m your husband. You promised to obey me when we wed.”

That brought her temper down a notch. She had promised and Father Patrick had lectured her on the husband being the head of the household. “Mayhap I did, but not high-handed orders.”

“And what would you consider obeying? You want a written invitation to remain home? Shall I show you the other wanted poster and suggest you avoid that man? You’ve no idea what these other men look like so how would you know if they were walking down the street or shopping in the Mercantile? How can you know who’s an upstanding citizen and who’s a stranger in town? You were in front of the Mercantile when Higgins accosted you.”  

She turned toward the sink, hands on her face to hide her shame. “Aye, ‘tis sorry I am. The worry of what’s going to happen has me in bits. I can’t get out of my mind the fact someone may shoot at you from an ambush.”

He wrapped his arms around her. “Don’t fret, honey. I’m doing my best to keep this situation from becoming violent. I can’t focus on my job if I’m worried about where you are and what you’re doing and who’s around you.”

She leaned her head against his broad chest. His strong heartbeat reassured her. “I see the way I was wrong. ‘Twas my mistake and ‘tis sorry I am.”

She looked up at him. “But, for us to have a peaceful marriage you’d best consider making requests instead of giving orders.”

About the Author

Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To compensate for this illogical error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a tiny office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their three rescued indoor cats and dog as well as providing nourishment outdoors for squirrels, birds, and other critters.

The books she creates in her pink cave have made her a bestselling author and won awards. She writes sweet to sensual romances about the West, both historical and contemporary as well as time travel and mystery. Her series include the Kincaids, McClintocks, Stone Mountain Texas, Bride Brigade, Texas Time Travel, Texas Caprock Tales, Pearson Grove, and Loving A Rancher as well as numerous single titles and contributions to multi-author sets. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading her friends’ books, lunching with friends, browsing antique malls, checking Facebook, and taking the occasional nap. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.

Join her and other readers at Caroline’s Cuties, a Facebook readers group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/277082053015947/ for special excerpts, exchanging ideas, contests, giveaways, recipes, and talking to like-minded people about books and other fun things.

Click on her Amazon Author Page for a complete list of her books and follow her there.

Follow her on BookBub.

To stay up-to-date with her releases and contests, subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter here and receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you?

She loves to hear from readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com

Has the pugilist found a patroness?

Dear Mr. Clemens,

            Your readers might be interested to peek into the noble world of prizefighting, pugilism and beyond. This reader has too many questions for what is proper and what is right when it comes to the social aspect of athletes. Perhaps your column may help me find the answers I seek.

            If there was ever a champion of hearts, former pugilist “Corinthian” John Arthur could contend for the title. Those who consider themselves amongst The Fancy will recognize the now-unblemished visage of the man from those infamous mills. Just as many of our other pugilistic favorites have gone on to flourish in other professions that don’t require fists, Mr. Arthur has shown prowess with pocket change. For once a pugilist retires, is he not still the ennobled fellow we cheered for, and dare I say, gambled for?

            Gone are his blackened eyes and scraped knuckles. Some say he’s found patrons amongst the Mayfair set. Some say he’s found a patroness.

            Could it be the lovely yet unmatched eldest daughter of Lord L___? Despite her lively figure, she’s so close to being on the shelf that her younger sister must dust her daily! It did not go unnoticed that Mr. Arthur danced with the lady at the private ball of Lady B____.

            Would we cheer such a matching, now that the prizefighter has a home in Marylebone? Is he still the heroic figure he once was, or now that his days of fisticuffs have drawn to a close, we withdraw our favor? As for the lady who seems to have captured his eye, do we condemn this particular thorny flower to wilt on the vine, or let her pursue a match that is less agreeable to her lineage?

Book blurb:

Lady Lydia Sommerset is an earl’s daughter. At the ripe age of twenty-five, she still wears the lavish gowns and dances the dainty steps of the haute ton as if she were pursuing a husband; but her goals are far more personal. Instead, she pursues her tormenters: the men who bet that taking a girl’s virginity really can cure a brothel’s plague. Pugilism, England’s manliest pastime, is her only relief. Training in secret with a female boxer keeps her sane, but when her instructor is hired away by one of the men she is seeking to destroy, she is in a bind.

John Arthur was a street kid who dazzled with his fists, he now impresses as a miracle worker on the London Stock Exchange. But a man can’t forget a boyhood spent in the gutter. Easy-going and affable, John Arthur knows he should be happy with a full belly and coin-filled pockets. But when he finds a woman who finds boxing as vital as he does, his life gets suddenly complicated.

Caught between revenge and finding love with a man who might truly understand her, Lady Lydia must commit to opening her heart or closing it forever.

Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/38EojZ

Excerpt from A Lady’s Revenge

John walked into the crowd. The ring was marked out by lazy ropes on the floor, men crowding the lines. Typically, the ladies’ fight was first, but some young amateurs must have taken the opening slot. Ladies’ fights worked the crowd into a frenzy. Hopefully, Vasily could properly protect Lady Lydia when the time came.

Bess was nowhere to be seen. John pushed through the mob of people. The mill was still going and none of the men wanted to let him pass, so he elbowed the best he could. Before he knew it, he was face to face with Vasily, whose meaty, folded arms gave no unsure impression of his feelings.

“Hello, old friend,” John said, restoring his aristocratic dialect.

Lady Lydia peered around the mountain of a man, surprise writ across her face. Her hood was still up, masking those who might try to recognize her, but anyone who knew Vasily would spot her instantly.

“What are you doing here?”she demanded. Her eyes trailed down to his undone cravat and partially unbuttoned shirt.

He’d fight bare-chested, but the first ceremony of any match was peeling off the garments. The room was already hot with anticipation of blood.

“I should ask you the same. This is no place for a lady,” he said. “Are you part of the Fancy?” His eyes flicked to the big man. The crowd erupted. John didn’t need to look at the ring to know that one of the fighters was knocked out. Money would be changing hands soon, the ring would be cleared, and the next match would be set.

Lady Lydia glanced to the ring and back to him. People elbowed past, everyone wanting the best vantage point. She was uncomfortable with him, that much was clear, but she didn’t seem to be bothered by the jostling masses. She seemed the type to abhor the crush of this sweaty basement, but here she was, at ease with them and not with him.

“Should you need any further assistance,” he said, glancing at the pony-sized driver, “I am at your disposal. However, I have a pressing matter in just a few more minutes.”

“You took a fight on the same night as our invitation to dine?” She seemed insulted.

Should she be insulted? He fought every night he could, and the invitation was issued days before he knew the night of the fight. It was the only way they could keep ahead of the magistrates.

“A prizefighter must fight. That’s in the name, is it not? So what good would I be if I turned down such invitations, whether to dine or to bleed?”

“That’s a pretty speech for a half-dressed man,” she countered.

“You should hear my speeches when I am thoroughly undressed,” he said, flashing a smile that he was almost certain would earn him a backhand from her driver.

“I’m not certain I could stand it,” she said, not batting an eye.

He took a step forward, not thinking, just wanting to engage her further, smell her hair somehow? Oranges and vanilla would be a far sight better than the stink of unwashed men. But Vasily wedged his foot between John’s and hers. He retreated, and Vasily gave a grunt of approval.

“I would be happy to help you push your limits,” John said, bowing as best he could amongst the crowd.

“Fine manners, wot you got,” he heard from beside him.

He straightened to see Bess Abbott standing there, hands on hips, towering over Lady Lydia and damn near looking the Russian bear in the eye.

“Bess!” He clapped his hand on her shoulder and shook her hand with the other.

“John,” she said, grinning. “Like the old days, right? Me on first, then you bringing in the crowd for the crimson end.”

“Nuffin’ like old mates,” he said, his accent shifting again.

He glanced past Vasily’s meat barrier to Lady Lydia, who was looking at him with an expression he couldn’t read. What better time to scandalize the highborn than when they went slumming?

Meet Edie Cay

Katie Stine, writing as Edie Cay, has an MFA in Creative Writing, a bachelor’s degree in English as well as a bachelor’s degree in Music. She is a history buff, an avid traveler, and an eager reader of all genres. She has lived all over the United States, but currently calls California home. Under her other name, she has published articles and participated in documentary filmmaking. She is a member of the Paper Lantern Writers, a historical fiction author collective, as well as a member of the Historical Novel Society. A LADY’S REVENGE is her first published novel.

The Tattler Apologizes

Could this be the mysterious Miss M. P. C. who requests a Tattler apology?

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I wish to respond to the very detrimental letter published in The Tattler on Jan. 18th of this year and signed D. Cummins (https://bluestockingbelles.net/danger-for-her-grace-of-h/). It can be no secret despite the use of initials that the letter is written by my cousin, Mr. Donald Cummins and includes thinly veiled and insulting references to myself Mis M. P. C and other proteges of Her Grace of H. I must admonish you, Mr. Clemens for publishing this pack of lies and speculation. The Tattler has a reputation as a scandal sheet but also a reputation for scrupulous verification of claims made by its contributors. Mr. D. Cummins knows nothing of me or my character. In fact his assertions are based on hearsay and innuendo.

The events which lead to the storm of rumor that surrounds me never occurred. I was at the time, so hurt that I had not the strength to defend myself. Thanks to the kindness of Her Grace of H, and the other members of The Ladies’ Society for the Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans I have found the strength and courage to expose Mr. D. Cummins’ claims for the lies they are.

Though my circumstances have been impoverished during the past several year, I can say with pride that I have never behaved in any manner unbecoming a young woman of quality. It is due to Her Grace of H. and my fellow Ladies Society friends that I was in a position for others to recognize my true worth. Thus, I am pleased to confirm the announcement published elsewhere in this issue of the Tattler that I am engaged to wed Major Lord Arthur Trevor PenRhydderch, twenty-first Earl of Trehallow. I have been aquainted with Lord Trehallow all of my life. Since his return from the war that friendship has deepened into a love able to withstand the worst sort of rumor and innuendo. This I have gained the courage needed to rebutt the slander of Mr. D. Cummins, and respectuflly request that the Tattler publish a retraction and apology for publishing his letter.

Respectfully,

Miss, M. P. C.

Dear Readers,

It is with deep empathy that we gladly publish an apology to Miss M. P. C. However, we cannot publish a retraction because as noted in our codicil to Mr. D. Cummins’ letter, the opinions and beliefs stated therein are not those of this publication or it’s editor. In fact, we remind our readers and Miss M. P. C. of the editorial statement published in the same column as Mr. D. Cummins’ epistle. I quote, ” We publish this letter in the interests of fair play and welcome any epistles countering the concerns of its author. We cannot help but wonder if the concerned “D. Cummins.” might be a relative of the Miss C. mentioned in the letter. Perhaps a relative who has benefitted from the young woman’s difficulties and would prefer to see her banished from society rather than reformed. We are well acquainted with Her Grace of H’s kindness and wisdom. She is an unlikely dupe, so we welcome any response either in support or in opposition to the concerns noted in the letter above.”

In accordance with that invitation for responses, we publish the above letter from Miss M. P. C. and once again tender our apologies for any harm done due to a misunderstanding of this publications policies.

Sincerely S. Clemens.

Major Lord Arthur Trevor PenRhydderch, twenty-first Earl of Trehallow

About My One True Love, included in the boxset Fire & Frost:

Major Arthur Trevor PenRhyddyrch, Earl of Trehallow, returned to Wales from war and found his best friend gone. No one would speak her name let alone tell him where she might be. Then he found her in the frosty London fog of January 1814 only to lose her in the next moment.

When Miss Mary Percival Cummins saw Trevor in the fog, she ran. She knew he would hate her once he heard what others said, and the memory of their friendship was too dear for her to survive knowing he despised her.

But fate and the Duchess of Haverford had different plans. Her Grace knew, if they did not, that these two friends deserved the happiness of finding their one true love.

About Fire & Frost: The ladies of London, led by the indomitable Duchess of Haverford plot a campaign to feed the hungry, care for the fallen—and bring the neglectful Parliament to heel. Their campaign involves strategy, persuasion, and a wee bit of fun. Pamphlets are all well and good, but auctioning a lady’s company along with her basket of delicious treats is bound to get more attention. When the Thames freezes over, the ladies take to the ice at the Frost Fair. With handsome gentlemen at hand, what could be better for their purposes than a little Fire & Frost?

Buy Links (Available for Pre-order now. Release date Feb. 4, 2020):

Apple Books 

Barnes & Noble

Kobo Smashwords

Amazon US

Amazon Global: UK BR CA DE ES FR IN IT JP MX NL UK

New Singer Plays Hard to Get!

A few nights ago there was a delightful surprise at the Raven. The notorious gambling establishment premiered its new singer, an auburn haired beauty named Charity Walsh. Little is known about the new girl, aside from her talent. She stunned audience members with her Gaelic tunes and stolen a few hearts with her angelic face. The lack of history only adds to the mystery my readers!

After the show I went backstage to see if I could find out a little bit more about the lovely Songbird, only to be turned away. It wasn’t just this humble reporter getting rejected. I heard the owner himself say that the lady was refusing all visitors. That is almost unheard of in the world of performers. I immediately became intrigued.

Sinners Club Singer

Turns out the lady is adamant in her refusal of all gentleman company and from the sources I talked to she has been turning away gifts since her debut. I found out that there is one young man who has at least managed to spend time in her company, but he is only a musician looking for a chance to play. There couldn’t possibly be anything to speculate about there.

The owner has decided to use the little charmer’s refusal to his advantage, encouraging the wild gentleman of his club to try harder. I can confirm that there is both an entry in the betting book at White’s, as well as at least one private wager among a set of young lords, as  to who might be the first to win the her coveted affection. The anticipation of finding out has only made her show that much more popular. It is standing room only and she now plays to a packed house every night.

Will she be able to resist the temptation of a charming, handsome (not to mention rich) protector?  Or will she hold fast to her word of swearing off all men, even those with deep pockets? Perhaps she will find her heart being pulled in an unknown direction. Rest assured, dear readers, I will make sure to find out and keep you apprised of what occurs.

About the Book Song for a Scoundral

Jasper Heade was the second son of the second son of a baron, which meant very little in the world. He was a sharp man, with big ideas and lots of ambition but could only get as far as being secretary to his cousin, the earl. One day, his cousin offers a contest with a sum of money larger than Jasper would ever see. The goal: woo the pretty little songbird that sang at the Raven Club. 

Charity Walsh had grown up a dirt poor nobody and she refused to live her entire life that way. The Irish redhead had convinced the owner of the Raven Club to let her perform and she was a success, but she wanted more. She longed to sing for a bigger stage and a more distinguished audience. To reach that goal, she will need to prove not only her musical skill but also her spotless reputation. That becomes difficult when she is bombarded with suitors. 

Jasper decides to assume a secret identity to win the money, but what does he do when he loses his heart? 

Sinners Club Novellas, Book 2

About the Author

Emma Brady is an author of historical romance set in the Victorian period. She currently has a series about naughty gentleman that get their just desserts in the Sinners Club. She is also working on a group project, a series of Victorian Fairy tales with a great group of authors to release this summer called Lady Goosebury’s Tales. She loves too cook and play with her two dogs, Brady and Jack. For her, romance is all about being willing to take a risk. 

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