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A plea from a desperate sister

Dear Aunt Augusta,

My name is Poppy Wilson and I’m writing to you as a last ditch effort. I’m about at my wits end. I’m afraid my sister, Violet, is about to ignore a golden opportunity. You see, Thomas Jefferson’s landscaper arrived at our landscaping company the other day all the way from America and the man is supposed to spend all his time with Violet, learning about how she hybridizes roses.

Parker Sinclair is one of the most handsome men I’ve ever encountered, but both he and Violet pay me no mind, since I’m so young, at only fourteen. But who did my father turn to when Mr. Sinclair needed a wardrobe? (His trunk was ransacked in Portsmouth, by the way). Of course, it became my responsibility to properly outfit the man.

And Violet. What can I say? She’s got this unruly mass of curls that are out of control even before she begins her day in the humid greenhouse. She wears tired-out clothing that do nothing to enhance her appearance and she’s afraid to leave her greenhouse and even talk with men.

Well, now the gentleman is in her greenhouse, learning her techniques, which she’s shared with the Royal Horticultural Society hoping they’ll recognize that a woman is every bit as intelligent as a man. While I’m impressed with her findings and her experiments, I think she should pay attention to the gentleman she’s spending her days with. I’ve already cautioned her to tame her hair and wear proper dresses, but she ignores me.

It’s my hope that when Mr. Sinclair leaves for America again, he has a boatload of roses, a head full of knowledge and my sister, Violet. What can I do to make certain this happens?

Thanking you in anticipation


Dear Poppy

How lovely of you to be concerned for your sister and her happiness. I think you need not despair, for the situation seems to me to be ripe with possibilities. Your sister is spending her days with a handsome man who is knowledgeable about and admires what she is doing; a heady combination, I assure you.

I understand your desire to help, my dear, but it has been my experience that a nudge in the wrong way at the wrong time can have precisely the opposite effect that the nudger might wish. Let the two of them spend their days working together, and see what happens. Love will find a way, Poppy. And it is love that you really wish for your sister, I am certain: that precious emotion that gilds the most unruly curls, covers a multitude of sartorial sins, and emboldens even the shyest of men and women.

I will watch with great interest for reports on who is in Mr Sinclair’s party when he returns to his own land. Believe me. All will be well.

With every good wish

Aunt Augusta.
(If your characters are in turmoil and confusion, Ask Aunt Augusta)

The Lady Banks rose, which Violet was cross-pollinating with the Scotch rose

Winning Violet

Everything’s coming up roses for an English miss and an American gentleman in this delightful new series from the author of the Cotillion Ball saga!

After British soldiers killed his wife and child during the War of 1812, Parker Sinclair vowed to never set foot on English soil. But as Thomas Jefferson’s landscaper, one must sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice. The last thing Parker expects to find is an educated English beauty who can teach him so much more than how to plant a magnificent garden.

An expert at cross-pollinating roses, Violet Wilson’s dreams of becoming the first woman recognized by the Royal Horticultural Society are fading because she’s afraid to leave the quiet solitude of her family’s nursery. Distrustful of men after a traumatic encounter, she’s not keen on disrupting her routine to help the American landscaper, but she soon blossoms under his kindness and respect.

As they fall in love, can this shrinking Violet take the risk of leaving behind all she knows for a new life with Parker? Or is he considering a different ending altogether?

The Scotch rose


“Now comes the fun part.” Violet picked a small brush from her apron, carefully wiping it free of any lingering pollen. A blush crept into her cheeks as she explained the next step. “I load my brush with pollen from the Scotch rose and brush it over the sticky surface of the pistil. The sticky part is called the stigma.” With a few deft strokes, she brushed a small amount of pollen onto the plant.

Parker observed her carefully. “I should be writing this all down. Although it’s very similar to humans and how they reproduce, so I get the gist of it.” Her cheeks bloomed even pinker, as he suspected they would. Time to change the subject. “Is that all? One time and done?

The tinge in her cheeks grew deeper, almost a reddish hue. “Oh no. Once is never enough. I have to stroke on the pollen at least three or four times to assure it’s taken hold.”

“I see.” Parker stroked the leaves of the Lady Banks as his mind conjured up images best left alone.

Buy Link: Amazon

Meet Becky Lower

Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the United States in search of great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it in America on a covered wagon headed west or in Regency England. Her Cotillion Ball Series features the nine children from an upscale New York family prior to and during the Civil War. Her first Regency, A Regency Yuletide, received the Crowned Heart and has been nominated for the prestigious RONE award from InD’Tale Magazine. A regular contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After section, her books have been featured in the column on eight separate occasions. Becky loves to hear from her readers at Visit her website at

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Hearts and Diamonds At Risk

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Agatha,
I am a young lady with a dilemma. I think one of my dearest friends is going to propose marriage.

You might ask how I know, but one goes not need to be a Scotland Yard detective to see the signs – a particular look, a request for a private interview, hints made at a jewellers…

Now for some, this would be a delightful proposition, but as much as I am fond of my dear friend, I am not in love with him. So how can I kindly  refuse him without ruining our friendship and causing distress to his family and mine?

And secondly, how does a man disappear with an arm full of diamonds without leaving a trace?

Your faithful reader,
Caro A.

Dear Miss C,
My goodness what a conundrum you have my dear!

Let us address your problems one at a time.

Yes indeed, if everything is as you say, then it would appear that your male friend indeed may be proposing marriage but are you sure who the intended bride will be?

Are there other young ladies in your circle of acquaintance you can confide in to see if they concur with your tell-tale signs.

If they are in agreement, then you must break the news as gently as you can to your poor swain, assuring him that the fault is not is, but rather a woman’s heart is a fickle thing.

Have you asked any of your female friends how they feel about your unintended intended? A little matchmaking to nudge cupid along, might be just thing to help two people who truly do belong together.

As to your second question, I cannot answer for the male sex.

For the female of the species, the answer is two fold. One, to obtain an armful of diamonds, she must inherit or marry very well – preferably several times over. Secondly, a woman with such an armful, shows them off and so does not disappear without a trace.

Indeed, that is a question for Scotland Yard.

I wish you the very best,
Aunt Agatha

About The Thief of Hearts

The Thief Of Hearts. This Christmas is going to be magic!

December 1890. London, England.
Some seriously clever sleight of hand is needed if aspiring lawyer Caro Addison is ever going to enjoy this Christmas. To avoid an unwanted marriage proposal, she needs a distraction as neat as the tricks used by The Phantom, the audacious diamond thief who has left Scotland Yard clueless.
While her detective inspector uncle methodically hunts the villain, Caro decides to investigate a suspect of her own – the handsome Tobias Black, a magician extraordinaire, known as The Dark Duke. He’s the only one with the means, motive and opportunity but the art of illusion means not everything is as it seems, in both crime and affairs of the heart.
As Christmas Day draws near, Caro must decide whether it is worth risking reputations and friendships in order to follow her desires.

Available on Amazon


Caro’s butterflies returned as Bertie led her into the jeweller’s.

“Miss Caroline! A pleasure to see you again,” said the jeweller. “I hope you’ve come to tell me that you’ve single-handedly apprehended The Phantom.”

“Alas not, Mr Hargreaves,” she answered, “that is most certainly a job best left for the police. I’m here on a professional matter – your profession.”

Bertie looked up from the glass case in front of him.

“May I see the rings in that tray please?”

Mr Hargreaves was only too happy to oblige.

Bertie fingered row upon row of rings before pulling out two. The first was an oval cut sapphire – from Ceylon, the jeweller informed them – surrounded with round diamonds and mounted in gold. The second gold ring featured a faceted stone that shone pinks, blues and greens – Alexandrite, Caro learned – and that stone was surrounded by tiny seed pearls.

Bertie held them both out to Caro.

“You’re really good at hypotheticals, Caro, so let me try this one on you. If you were going to be surprised with a ring, which one would you prefer?”

Caro quelled her nerves and gave the question serious thought before answering.

“Both rings are absolutely beautiful, but I don’t think it would be much of a surprise if the girl knew she was getting a choice!”

Bertie shook his head with a smile and swept away the fringe that flopped over his brow.

“Seriously? You’re not going to tell me which one I ought to get?”

“I’m not the one proposing – you’re going to have to do that for yourself.” Caro grew serious. “But, this being a purely hypothetical question, let me put it back onto you. When you think of the girl you are planning to surprise, which ring reminds you of her?”

Bertie looked thoughtful for a moment and turned back to Mr Hargreaves.

“Could you put these two rings aside for me for the next few days, while I think about it?”

About the author

Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats. 

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A Curse Only Love Can Break

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Augusta,

By the king’s edict, I recently wedded a knight who’s bent on founding a dynasty. I denied his right to the marriage bed, for my life depended on it. You see, I live under the Ravenwood curse, which claimed my own dear mother and every lady in our line within memory. The curse is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. My husband was furious when I refused him! He thinks the curse is codswallop. For the past few days, he’s done his level best to seduce me. He’s devilishly handsome and hard to resist. I’m also starting to care about him, but I doubt he could ever love me. He’s a hard man. He’s had to be. ‘Tis an impossible situation. I must either protect my virginity or teach him to love. At the moment, both seem hopeless. What would you advise?

Praying for a miracle,

Lady Ravenwood

From the heroine in Flight of the Raven, Book One of The Novels of Ravenwood by Judith Sterling

Dearest Lady Most Torn,

My dear, I am so dreadfully sorry that your line has been cursed and that you had to grow up without a mother! How dreadfully tragic.

Even more tragic is how cruel your husband is that he thinks so lowly of the curse, but a husband does have certain expectations and wants, not that yours should be ignored, of course.

I know it seems impossible, my dear, but you must–you must!–do all you can to ensure that you fall in love with your husband and find a way for him to fall in love with you in return. Believe me. A marriage based on love is a wonderful thing.

Do keep in mind that your striving for love on both accounts should not solely be because of the curse, but I do not fear that is the case because it sounds as if you have already started to fall in love with him. Love is powerful indeed, powerful enough to break any curse!

I wish you the very best,

Aunt Augusta

Flight of the Raven, Book One of The Novels of Ravenwood by Judith Sterling

How eager would the bridegroom be if he knew he could never bed the bride?

Lady Emma of Ravenwood Keep is prepared to give Sir William l’Orage land, wealth, and her hand in marriage. But her virginity? Not unless he loves her. The curse that claimed her mother is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. Emma is determined to dodge the curse. Then William arrives, brandishing raw sensuality which dares her to explore her own.

William the Storm isn’t a man to be gainsaid. He’ll give her protection, loyalty, and as much tenderness as he can muster. But malignant memories quell the mere thought of love. To him, the curse is codswallop. He plans a seduction to breach Emma’s fears and raze her objections. What follows is a test of wills and an affirmation of the power of love.

Judith Sterling’s Website


Dear authors, if ever you should find that one of your characters has found him or herself in a rather trying position, whether in matters of the heart or matters of fashion or any matter at all, do be a kind soul and write to me. I will endeavor to answer your questions, if you but pen them for me.

A Tempting Rake

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Augusta,

I fear I am in a dreadful quandary. I have fallen for a rakish sort of gentleman, one with a fair countenance and fine form. While he shows interest, he does not wish to marry. He has even, dare I say it, kissed me. I know my heart will mend in time, but should I hold onto my last vestiges of hope? Maybe, just maybe, he will change his mind. My cousin thinks I should pursue an older earl, but I do not love him, and cannot help dwelling on my unrequited love. Oh, what ever should I do?


A lady most torn

From the heroine in To Tempt a Viscount by Naomi Boom

Dearest Lady Most Torn,

My dear, I know all there is to know about rakes. You see, they are rather good at knowing just what to whisper in ears and how to tempt us and even, yes, steal kisses. Many a lady has lost her heart to many a rake.

But a lady is bound to marry. I do not blame you for not wishing to pursue an older earl whom you do not love; however, perhaps it would be better for you to not pursue either man, but to let them come to you. Oftentimes, rakes require attention, and if you do not grant him it, there is a chance he will see you in a different light and will come to realize just how much he misses you. Of course, this is a gamble, and your heart is what is at stake, so only you can know for certain if you should ignore the rake, if you should peruse him, or if you should follow your cousin’s advice.

If I were you, I think I would give the rake perhaps one more chance. Hope, and love, do not ever wish to quit.

I wish you the very best,

Aunt Augusta

To Tempt a Viscount by Naomi Boom

Lady Laura Rosing knows two things: first, she will marry for love, and second, she detests rakes. When she meets Lord Gavin Farris, she understands immediately that he fails both her criteria, and worse yet, he is an absolute cad who refuses to leave her be.

Lord Farris has always appreciated women and cannot understand why Lady Laura is so resistant to his charms. While pretty, she is not his usual type, but something about her intrigues him. Much to his chagrin, he finds himself desperately in love with her, but he may be too late. His adamant refusal to marry just might have planted her firmly in the arms of another.

Naomi Boom’s Website


Dear authors, if ever you should find that one of your characters has found him or herself in a rather trying position, whether in matters of the heart or matters of fashion or any matter at all, do be a kind soul and write to me. I will endeavor to answer your questions, if you but pen them for me.

Lonely Widow Looking for Love

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Augusta,

I am in a most unusual quandary. Recently I fell into a handsome stranger’s arms while attending a masquerade ball at Vauxhall Gardens. To say that I had a sudden attraction to this man is an understatement. But, alas, when I did the unthinkable to steal a few moments in the garden with him, he thought the worst of me and actually assumed I would be amicable to spending the night with him. I, of course, refused, and yet I cannot help but constantly think of what might have been if only I had said yes. What am I to do?


A lonely widow

From the heroine in A Kiss for Charity in Holly and Hopeful Hearts by Sherry Ewing

Dearest Lonely Widow,

My dear, I know all there is to know about being a lonely widow. I must say, meeting a man by falling into his arms is a rather thrilling introduction! That he swept you off your feet like so is no small wonder. Alas, men do tend to see hidden meanings and motives in our every action, and I am not shocked to hear that he thought you wanted more than you were actually willing to give. Also, men do tend to think they can take more liberties at a masquerade ball than on other occasions, as I am sure you are aware.

Perhaps if the two of you are to cross paths again, you might give him a chance to return to your good graces, given that you cannot help but think of him. He obviously made an impression on you, and not wholly in the negative either.

Men can make mistakes, yes, that is well known, but if you can find it in yourself to give him a chance to do better, perhaps you will be well pleased with his effort. I do hope that is to be the case.

I wish you the very best,

Aunt Augusta

A Kiss for Charity in Holly and Hopeful Hearts by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?


Dear authors, if ever you should find that one of your characters has found him or herself in a rather trying position, whether in matters of the heart or matters of fashion or any matter at all, do be a kind soul and write to me. I will endeavor to answer your questions, if you but pen them for me.

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