Home of the Bluestocking Belles

Because history is fun and love is worth working for

Category: Guest author Page 1 of 27

Who is the Intrepid Female Smuggler?

The little Sussex village of Boltwood is in a sorry state indeed—or so I learned during a visit to my mother’s dear friend, Mrs. Ponsonby of Chichester.

I stopped by for tea and found Mrs. Ponsonby already entertaining Lady Ariadne Luttrow, one of the ton’s worst gossips. She never hesitates to tear a character to shreds. Poor Mrs. Ponsonby dislikes backbiting, but she cannot afford to offend the daughter of an earl, so she puts up with Lady Ariadne’s occasional visits.

I, on the other hand, was delighted. As a regular contributor to the Teatime Tattler, I am not in the least averse to listening to gossip, especially the scurrilous sort. After giving Mrs. Ponsonby a sympathetic glance, I prepared to enjoy myself.

“My dears,” Lady Ariadne said, “we are overrun with smugglers.” Her hands fluttered here and there as she spoke. “They have become so bold that one can scarcely sleep at night. Trains of pack ponies pass without hindrance through one’s property. These dreadful criminals even store some of the smuggled brandy in one’s own outbuildings!” She helped herself to one of Mrs. Ponsonby’s delicious drop cakes. I took one in a hurry, for the plate was almost empty.

“Surely,” I said, “your husband can put a stop to that.” Sir William Luttrow is dead set against smuggling—officially, at least, for like everyone on the coast, he gets his brandy from the free traders.

Lady Ariadne took a sip of tea. One restless hand hovered over the last cake on the plate. “Yes, but we are often in London, and meanwhile the servants do their best to aid and abet the smugglers. I suspect that my head groom, a violent sort of man, is actually a member of the gang.” She snatched the cake and devoured it.

“How terrifying!” Mrs. Ponsonby cried.

“The stuff of nightmares,” Lady Ariadne said, but I didn’t believe that for an instant. The smugglers are no threat to her. She was enjoying herself, leading up to something even more shocking.  

She glanced about, as if she feared being overheard, and lowered her voice. “As if that weren’t bad enough, there are rumors that the gang is now led by…a woman!”

“Surely not,” Mrs. Ponsonby bleated, but I rather liked the notion. Women so seldom get to run any sort of enterprise.

“It is a disaster in the making,” Lady Ariadne said with a pout. “This creature, whoever she is, will bring the whole smuggling gang to ruin.”

It was one thing to tell frightening tales to an elderly lady, and another entirely to wax indignant at the possible failure of the local gang. How strange. Why would Lady Ariadne care?

“Surely the arrest of the gang is ‘a consummation devoutly to be wished?’” I asked.

The quotation sailed right over Lady Ariadne’s head, but Mrs. Ponsonby, who adores Shakespeare, said, “Not for the wives and children of the smugglers. It is foolhardy of the men to put their faith in a mere woman.”

What nonsense. “A clever woman is just as capable as a man of running a successful enterprise—legal or illegal,” I said.

Mrs. Ponsonby shook her head. “My dear child, you will never find a husband if you insist on such opinions. We are the weaker sex. Men are naturally superior in every way.”

On this, Mrs. Ponsonby and I will never agree. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to digress, for Lady Ariadne’s conflicting sentiments about the smugglers had aroused my curiosity. However, that talkative lady had already moved to another subject.

“Dear Lord Boltwood, who would have dealt firmly with the smugglers, is not expected to live out the week,” she said.

“Poor Lady Boltwood,” Mrs. Ponsonby said. “She is a close friend of mine.”

“Of mine as well,” Lady Ariadne said soulfully. “She suffers doubly, for while her husband is on his deathbed, her only son, Richard, cavorts in London. If you had heard the tales about him, you would faint on the spot! He’s a dreadful rake and a bitter disappointment to his unfortunate mother.”

With that, we turned to rather more scurrilous gossip. Lady Ariadne moved from drop cakes to macaroons and did her best to shock us, and Mrs. Ponsonby sighed with relief when she finally left.

Well, now. I have met Richard Boltwood. He is a devilishly witty man, and a great favorite with the ladies—and perhaps with females of another sort. But no mother could be disappointed in such a handsome, charming son.

Why, I wondered, does he absent himself from his father’s deathbed? Might there be an estrangement of which society is unaware?

And who is the intrepid female smuggler?

It is clearly my duty to find out.

After escaping the guillotine, Noelle de Vallon takes refuge with her aunt in England. Determined to make her own way, she joins the local smugglers, but when their plans are uncovered, Richard, Lord Boltwood steps out of the shadows to save her. Too bad he’s the last man on earth she ever wanted to see again.

Years ago, Richard Boltwood’s plan to marry Noelle was foiled when his ruthless father shipped him to the Continent to work in espionage. But with the old man at death’s door, Richard returns to England with one final mission: to catch a spy. And Noelle is the prime suspect.

Noelle needs Richard’s help, but how can she ever trust the man who abandoned her? And how can Richard catch the real culprit while protecting the woman who stole his heart and won’t forgive him for breaking hers?

Released today, 24th July. Buy now on Amazon!

Excerpt:

“Open it, my love,” Richard said. “If you don’t like it, the jeweler will allow us to exchange it for something else.”

Slowly, almost reluctantly, Noelle opened the little box. Nestled inside was a delicate necklace of diamonds and sapphires. “It’s beautiful.” She closed the box and returned it to his hand.

“Take it, sweetheart. It will suit you admirably and as befits my wife.”

She sighed. “As I have told you over and over, I will not marry you.”

He tried to drum up his usual lighthearted retort, but fortunately she forestalled him. “I will accept your gift under one condition,” she said.

He managed a smile. “A condition. How delightful! Do tell me.”

Noelle, his darling, the love of his life, said, “Will you take me as your mistress instead?”

About Barbara Monajem

Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young, then moved on to paranormal mysteries and Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Regency mysteries are next on the agenda.

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups. She used to have two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding (because it was too weird to resist) and to succeed at knitting socks. She managed the first (it was dreadful) but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

Deny everything

SPECIAL EDITION

TEATIME TATTLER

            Here at the Tattler, we pride ourselves on fair and truthful reporting. Our main competition, THE MIDNIGHT CRYER, is simply vile and reprehensible in their daily scandalous, not to mention, corrupt articles featuring Lord William, the second son of the Duke of Langham (whom we affectionally call, the Rogue Most Wanted), and his beautiful bride, Lady Theodora Worth, the Countess of Eanruig, a Scottish peeress in her own right.

            To find out the absolute truth, we went to the person who has the most intimate familiarity of the subject, Lady Stella Payne, Lord William’s great-aunt. She has first-hand knowledge of the trials and tribulations these two lovebirds had to scale in order to find true love.

            “Those two would have never been successful in their courtship if it hadn’t been for my dearest friend in the whole world, Lady Edith Manton, and me.”

Here at the Teatime Tattler, we believe her. Her modesty is legendary and so are here baubles. The grand dame’s hands sparkled since practically every inch was covered in priceless jewels. This lady is well-familiar with wedding rituals and courtships. Being married three times certainly gives one a wealth of knowledge about the subject… along with a jewelry box filled to the brim.

We asked Lady Payne how she had advised the handsome couple how to circumvent the malicious and constant rumors that seemed to swirl around them. She offered the following with simple honesty:

Darling, my advice is to deny everything.

Dear readers, is it any wonder that Lady Payne is one of the most successful matrons in London society? With her card skills and social maneuverings, this elegant lady is a genius on how to sidestep and crush the plotting and scheming of THE MIDNIGHT CRYER, the worst gossip rag in all of England.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t add that it stands to reason that Lord William and Lady Eanruig couldn’t help but fall for one another. Not when the grand dame set her peacock blues on making a match between these two.

Perhaps we should offer her an executive editorial position at our humble paper?

Wanted: an engagement of convenience. Found: A noble suitor. 

Raised on a remote Scottish estate by her adoring grandfather, Lady Theodora Worth has inherited an earldom as well as the land itself. But when an upstart duke challenges her claim to the title and the Ladykyrk estate, Thea is suddenly in need of a husband—in name, at least. An elderly neighbor with a thoroughly modern sensibility and a dashing great-nephew just might be the answer to Thea’s prayers. Except she has no intention of marrying the first man she meets. That would be utterly ridiculous.

It just can’t be him. . .

Lord William Cavensham is entirely too devoted to his family’s estate—ever since he was jilted as a lad–to wed, but he agrees to meet the woman his aunt has taken under her wing—and introduce her to possible suitors. But after just one meeting with beautiful, spirited Thea, Will is determined to help her reclaim her title. And even moreso, he can’t stop thinking that perhaps marriage to this bold, passionate woman may be the one thing he’s been missing all along? 


Praise for the Cavensham Heiresses series

“Full-bodied romance…with intelligence and heart.”—New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell

“Sparkling…MacGregor brings England’s Regency era to life.” —Publishers Weekly

Buy links for Rogue Most Wanted: 

Amazon * Books a Million * Kobo * Barnes & Noble * Google Play * iTunes/Apple books

Meet Janna MacGregor

Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes the Cavensham Heiresses series where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and a smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pug. She loves to hear from readers.

Visit her at www.JannaMacGregor.com

Twitter: @JannaMacGregor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JannaMacGregor/

Ladies of Langham Hall Facebook Group: https://bit.ly/2KNEifS

Instagram: @jannamacgregor

Bookbub: https://bit.ly/2RTeqCl

Sign up for her newsletter at www.JannaMacGregor.com

Excerpt from Rogue Most Wanted

“Alright, then.” Thea stood straight and stared into Will’s eyes. “Will you…be my friend?”

The songbirds’ warbles, the rustle of the breeze through the leaves, and every other sound slipped to silence, and all sights faded the moment Thea asked him to be her friend. He couldn’t move as the air grew heavy and locked him in place. All his concentration centered on her. Finally, the spell she wove around him lessoned, and Will tilted his head and stared at the folly’s ceiling.

 Cupids and cherubs frolicked in glee as if laughing at him. For the life of him, as Thea hesitated in asking her question, he’d thought she would propose to him. In those mere moments, his emotions had run the gamut from trepidation, relief, happiness, and finally, to disappointment.

Why he experienced disappointment was a complete and utter conundrum that he couldn’t navigate. They’d both agreed that they didn’t want to marry the other. But something deep within him had sparked to life, like a flint against a piece of steel, igniting a hope she might want him. When Theodora had shared the tragic circumstances of her family’s demise, he’d become lost—in her and the extraordinary challenges she’d faced on her own in Northumberland. It was as if they were physically joined in some manner, and he’d never felt that tied to another woman.

The only explanation could be that he’d never met anyone like her before.

Theodora possessed a refreshing honesty and fierceness at times that belied her underlying vulnerability—much like his own. But the more time he spent with her, the more intrigued he found himself. When she’d approached Aunt Stella with her reason to marry, she’d been brutally honest, and he respected her for that.

Well, he was a Cavensham, and a Cavensham never shirked from duty or tough questions or even simple requests such as friendship. “Thea, I’d be honored to be your friend.” He slowly smiled.

A Letter from Town

rogue gossip

My dear Ghislaine,

It will be no surprise to you that your grandson, Sir Perran Geoffrey, is once again featured in the street-corner scandal sheets such as that horrid Teatime Tattler. I realize that, living in Cornwall as you do, you like to believe that both situation and distance isolate you from scandal, but as your friend of some years, let me disabuse you of this notion.

It may give some in the drawing rooms of London comfort to think that, simply because the Countess Lieven and the other Patronesses have dubbed Sir Perran and his friends as the “Rogues of St. Just,” those gentlemen now possess the general approval of society.

Just this week I found myself in the position of having to explain to a social-climbing mama that this is not the case. You likely already know that dear Lady Mainwaring is sponsoring her Penrose nieces in their debuts this Season. I can see already that my work will be cut out for me in that quarter, since from your information, the young ladies are already acquainted with the Rogues.

This very evening, I am welcoming a number of select friends and acquaintances for supper and dancing, and of course have sent Sir Perran and his friends invitations. Part of the reason for my seeming inconsistency is that suitable gentlemen are scarce upon the ground this Season. And part, of course, is that he is your grandson, my dear friend, and I may have news of you from him. While I myself have not witnessed any questionable behavior on his part—he is always civil in his dealings with me—I am quite certain that he and his friends alone could keep the scandalmongers scribbling all Season.

I beg you, dear Ghislaine, to write him a line or two and urge him to curb his wild inclinations to drink, cards, and ladies such as the Countess Eaton, with whom his name is linked. It will be difficult for him to make a good match if he does not. No woman wishes to know for certain that she is the consolation prize.

Your own,

Sally Pennington

About the Book

He is a penniless baronet. She is the wealthy great-granddaughter of a tradesman. Can these childhood friends find their way back to each other when scandal strikes them both?

Sir Perran Geoffrey needs a wealthy bride to repair his family estate and to bring his sister out in Society. But what woman with money and standing will accept him as a husband—practically penniless, his title under a cloud thanks to his ne’er-do-well father, with an estate far away in Cornwall?

Alwyn Penrose and her two sisters are in London for their first Season. Imagine their surprise when they meet the heirs of the neighboring estates—gentlemen whom they are barely allowed to acknowledge. For to be seen with the Rogues of St. Just means the death of one’s reputation.

Except that Alwyn is seen. More than once. And the gossip spreads all the way to the sacred portals of Almack’s, which close in her face and end her hopes for a good marriage forever.

The ruin of her Season is Perran Geoffrey’s fault. And when they are both forced to return to Cornwall, only one thing is clear: One good ruination deserves another.

“Charlotte Henry’s storytelling is nothing short of brilliant—Regency romance that will sweep you away.” —Regina Scott

Rogue

Kindle:  https://www.amazon.com/Rogue-Ruin-classic-Regency-romance-ebook/dp/B07M8P2DZS/

Kobo:   https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-rogue-to-ruin-3

Apple Books:  https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-rogue-to-ruin/id1447539124?mt=11&at=10l9pr

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130951615?ean=2940161390931

Excerpt from The Rogue to Ruin (Rogues of St. Just #1) by Charlotte Henry

Hyde Park, London, Spring 1816

Sir Perran Geoffrey pulled up his horse in such surprise that the sensitive animal danced in the path. “By Jove,” he exclaimed, “isn’t that the Penrose sisters there, coming in at Lancaster Gate?”

Captain Griffin Teague, formerly commander of the sloop of war Artemis, craned his neck, causing his own horse to sidestep. “Easy, boy.” He patted its withers. “Where? On a fine day in London there are a thousand young ladies parading about Hyde Park—how is one to tell one lot from another?”

“There.” Perran inclined his head three degrees to the northwest. “The landau drawn by the pretty matched bays. It is certainly the Penrose girls from home—bonnets or not, I recognize their mother’s nose.”

“There you would be mistaken, old man,” said the third member of their party. Jago Tremayne had probably never mistaken a lady in his life. Or a bird, or the contents of a letter, or a hand of cards. His memory was prodigious—as was his entirely undeserved reputation as a flirt. “Mrs. Penrose died a handful of years ago. That, I suspect, is her sister, Lady Mainwaring.”

“Help us.” Griffin did not quite implore the skies for mercy, but he came close. “Have they come up to London for the Season?”

There was only one answer. Of course they had. “You know perfectly well we cannot renew the acquaintance.” Perran spurred his horse down another path toward the Long Water. “Come!”

“Hold up—we cannot escape it now.” Griffin raised a hand to stop him. “We have been spotted.”

“So? Better to cut a young lady than ruin her.”

About the Author

Charlotte Henry is the author of 24 novels published by Harlequin, Warner, and Hachette, and a dozen more published by Moonshell Books, Inc., her own independent press. As Charlotte, she writes the Rogues of St. Just series of classic Regency romances. As Shelley Adina, she writes steampunk adventure, and as Adina Senft, writes Amish women’s fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, and is currently at work on a PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster University in the UK. She won the Romance Writers of America RITA Award® for Best Inspirational Novel in 2005, and was a finalist in 2006. When she’s not writing, you can find Charlotte sewing historical dresses, traveling for research, reading, or enjoying the garden with her flock of rescued chickens.

Visit Charlotte at www.charlotte-henry.com, or join her and other readers and authors of Regency novels in Lady Catherine’s Salon on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/LadyCatherinesSalon/

You can also find her in these places:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/Charlotte-Henry-350224438886213/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/shelleyadina/rogues-of-st-just/

Memoirs of a Spy

spy

My first mission, as commissioned by, King Charles II, sounded simpler than the genuine affair. I wasn’t prepared to put my life in the hands of dastardly expatriates. While I was escorted by two fully armed compatriots they were of little assistance when establishing intimacy in the name of the crown. I had been given the directive to entreat William Scot, a rogue Englishman, to infiltrate the Belgium political corridors and report his discoveries to the King Charles II. In essence, I was to make a double agent of the man. It was with this request and whisper of a financial benefit that I should employ all my feminine wiles to subdue him into submission. I being in all ways, aligned with the King of England and a true patriot, never mind that I was broke, I took my task with fervor, as you are about to see. 

It was a lengthy journey and I had traveled by coach, horseback, and sea, with my two fellow compatriots in search of William Scot. As I’m sure you can imagine, it was an exhaustive journey to say the least. While we were subject to every ill met experience of, sea sickness, fatigue, soured food, and dehydration, nothing prepared us for the alehouse wherein we would find Scot. 


spy

I was told by King Charles II himself, that the likes of William Scot, would be found in Bruges, Belgium. Probably, in a pub, down by the river, where singing and lascivious dancing is practiced. Indeed it was true. The stench of spilled ale, over burnt meat, and bodily oils wafted through ale house as I entered. Immediately, I pulled a scented kerchief to my nose but the overripe smells of the alehouse drained all perfume from my nosegay.

Coughing and sputtering in the stale rancid air I unwittingly drew attention to myself and my companions. Since it was not customary, in Bruges, for reputable women to visit alehouses I garnered the attention of every patron in the building. The dancers stopped in misstep and the singers held their tongue in surprise.

A stinging silence befell the room and I was at a loss to comprehend which of these drunken lords was William Scot. My two companions were silenced to the bone and I was left to my wits and my good graces to scrutinize the crowd of twenty-five, thirty, or possibly fifty inebriated men.

You understand my predicament, I’m sure. But I took the moment at hand and stood tall enough to see the entire room. I spoke gently and I admit only batted my eye’s just enough to get the gentlemen’s attention. I cleared my throat so my best voice would rise to the occasion. I began.

“Dear Sir’s,” was all I managed until the room broke out in loud jags of laughter and hoots of folly. I was startled to the point of laughing myself.

“Ain’t none of Sir’s, woman,” one man shouted above the din.

Understanding my idiocy I made a second plea once the room had started to silence again.

“I am in search of William Scot, might any of you know his whereabouts?” I said. Silence again fill the alehouse. A man moved forward toward me, slowly and distinctly. I admit until this time I had not ever considered that William Scot would be as handsome as the ocean is wide. In an effort to maintain my constancy, I once again pulled my kerchief to my mouth and batted my eyes. I can assure you it was not to entreat him so much as it was to calm my own nerves. 

As he approached me, I could feel my composure slip.

“Who is it, that’s asking for my attention and why?” he asked, expressing a devilish grin.

I couldn’t lie at this point, but my intelligence reminds me that saying too much in front of this crowd may lead me down the wrong path.

“I come bearing news of a private nature, my good sir, and if we have a place to talk then I can express more fully my duty to you,” I said with a slight bend and upward glance.

It wasn’t a moment before the room was again filled with hoots, whistles, and howls of laughter. With a deep breath Scot, held out his arm, and in the most courtly fashion ever displayed. I took his arm and we walked out of the alehouse and embarked on the path by the river. We were followed at some distance, by my two silent companions.

“Now, M’Lady, what news do you bring to me?”

I had to take a moment to clear my head and find the words to entreat him to our political ends.

“”M’Lady, your taking so long to tell me of your plans, I’m afraid I’m under arrest,” he said with his broad smile.

“I am waiting sire, until we are out of earshot of the crowd, this business I have for you is delicate and not meant for all,” I said and couldn’t help but grin.

“Oh, if it’s that important, then your appealing to a man who is half drunk. Are you sure this will get the answer you seek?”

I looked up at him, “We’ll then, I’ll only make my appeal to the sober half of you, if you’re inclined to listen,” I said stopping on the path.

“With a wit like yours I’ll happily listen to your plea. But understand, I’m not the kind to easily sway my beliefs even for the prettiest of maids,” he said.

“Oh dear, it’s been a number of years since I’ve been a maid, your kindness is treasured. But, I have something of a delicate nature to put to you and need your full attention,” I said.

“More delicate than your neck,” he said reaching and touching her just below her right ear.

His touch was more seductive than anticipated and I felt a ripple of heat run the entire length of my body. When I collected myself to the point I could speak he outmaneuvered me again.

“Or is it a subject more delicate than your sweet blushing cheek?” he said and this time ran the back of his hand over my cheek and I could not stop the rising and falling of my breasts.

“Or maybe it’s the fine china of your décolleté  that is the delicate subject upon which you wish to speak,” he said touching my cleavage in the most tempting way. By now, as you can assume I was all a flutter. Hardly able to gasp a breath I was astonished at his boldness and yet, I could see swaying him politically might be simpler than I had assumed.  

“Sire, it is my rouged lips that bring you news directly from King Charles II, himself.

Upon hearing the news that the King had directly sent me on this errand he backed away in suspicion.

“That is a high honor indeed, and here I am thinking you were here to empty my pockets with your feminine charms. Tell me more,” he said.

“It is a high honor he would like to bestow upon you, Sire Scot. I am humbled to bring a request from the King, that you might, sway your intellectual ideals to include the Crown,” I said and waited a moment for him to respond. He was only still and quiet.

“His Highness, has requested to entreat you to bring news of Belgium to Britain,” I said with more misplaced enthusiasm than intended. 

“What is your name?”

spy, Aphra Behn

“Dear Astrea, does your Highness have such a short memory? The Crown had sentenced my father to death only one year ago. Now they ask for my allegiance?” he said in such a harsh tone it was difficult to hear.  

“ I am Astrea,” I said hoping to regain my station.

“That was a matter most regretful. The Crown was only protecting the King, after all your father, good sir, had planned to murder his Highness in the dead of night. Retribution is customary in a case such as that,” I said. 

He stood ponderously looking out at the passing river then turned slowing to face me with eye’s glowing like embers from a fire and he spoke his final words. “If the King could see his way to pardon my father and rename the misdemeanor, then I would consider aligning with the crown once again, but never until the King honors my father. Upon this, I am settled.” He said and walked away.

At this point, I could tell my duties were going to be considerably more difficult than I first understood.

About the Story and the Author

This memoir is based on a fictitious conversation between Aphra Behn and William Scot. Aphra Behn, when she was actually working as a spy for King Charles II went by the name, Astrea, as listed in the story. It is believed she is the first woman to make her living as a writer, as a playwright and novelist. Prior to taking up the pen, she worked as a spy for the King Charles II, among other things. The portrait above is Aphra Behn, painted by Mary Beale (1639-1699).

Daphne Masque writes contemporary romance set in the theatre. Currently she’s giving away an Autographed copy of Haunting Indiscretions, the second book in her series, “Romance at the Empire Theatre”. She plans to begin writing historical fiction.

Daphne has spent a good number of years acting, directing, teaching and writing for the theatre. And she loves romance, what better way to combine her two passions. To signup for her newsletter go to http://www.daphnemasque.com/contest/


A Gothic Twist

“I’m so glad you could come. Sit please; they’ll bring tea shortly.”

“You have an odd look in your eyes.”

“Please don’t argue. Is it because they say I’m mad? She doesn’t say it—not out loud—that woman on whom my guardian lavishes attention, that Claire Albright chit, who pretends she can ‘cure’ me but who really wants to take him away and silence the church bells in my voice. I’ll show her the limits of her power.

“When I sing, I look into the sky and see my brother bat away the clouds. He smiles down, and I tell him with my holy song that I will keep him from starvation, and he’ll have wine, food, blankets, hay for the horses, too—it’s all in the tower. I’ve collected it all for him, for my brother in the afterlife.

“When I sing, I look into the sky and see my brother bat away the clouds. He smiles down, and I tell him with my holy song that I will keep him from starvation, and he’ll have wine, food, blankets, hay for the horses, too—it’s all in the tower. I’ve collected it all for him, for my brother in the afterlife.

“Did I unnerve you? Don’t go.”

“Ahh, here’s the tea.” (She sits at the pianoforte and sings; ‘He took a stick down off the rack, fall al lal lal lal li-do, and on the back went rickety-rack, of Ruggleton’s daughter of Iero.’) Her eyes glitter, as she throws her head back and laughs, then abruptly stops. “Lady Claire and her potions—chamomile, St. John’s wort, willow bark, and morphine—they disturb my singing—make my brother’s clouds clog my voice, blur my vision. But I am not mad, and my guardian will never put me in an asylum because he loves me. And soon, I will show her to whom he belongs…

The Secret Life of Lords

If Lady Claire Albright had one wish, it would be to forget brooding, powerful Lord Flavian Monroe. But even after two years of bewildering silence, she yearns to touch his sinuous arms and feel his calloused hands upon her cheeks. Then, on the brink of her come out, they accidently meet. His ward is ill, and he begs her to use her knowledge of healing to help the girl. But this patient is sick in a way that’s far different from what Claire expected—dangerously different. And, as she struggles to find a cure, Flavian resists rekindling their love. Is it the ward’s illness that keeps him cold and distant, or a dark and terrible secret?

The thought of Claire in the arms of another man is unbearable, but in his heart Flavian knows he mustn’t ask her to share the consequences of his mistake. Nor should he have brought her to his home and exposed her to his ward’s sickness. Yet he lacks the strength to send her away. Each time he looks into Claire’s eyes, the urge to feel her body pressed against his consumes all reason, and he is left unable to utter the word, ‘goodbye.’

Meet Elf Ahearn

Elf Ahearn, yes, that is her real name, lives in New York with her wonderful husband and a pesky (yet irresistible) cat. Before becoming a novelist, she spent 20 years in Manhattan working as an actress in nearly 100 productions (yet rarely getting paid for any of them). From that lucrative career, she jumped to journalism, and then to corporate communications where she garnered multiple awards for a newsletter she wrote and edited. Her novel, A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing hit #1 in its genre on Amazon this September, and bless its electronic and paper heart, has been consistently selling for over three years. The Secret Life of Lords is the second in the Albright Sisters series.

Website: www.elfahearn.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elf.ahearn?fref=ts

Newsletter: email elfahearn@hotmail.com to subscribe

Buy links:

Amazon

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

In a storeroom at the back of a thatched cottage on the outskirts of Exeter, Lady Claire Albright separated valerian stalks from a wheelbarrow piled high with freshly-picked herbs. Quickly binding the ends with string, she hung the bouquet upside down from a nail in the rafter. As she reached for the next bunch, a deep, rumbly male voice filtered through the wall, and instantly her breath caught and her throat constricted. She knew that voice; had listened for it for two pain-filled years, had longed for it, had fretted about it, had torn through every word it had spoken trying to understand what she’d done wrong. And here it was—so sonorous and wise, laced with a gentleness she now knew she should never have trusted.

“We’ve got fresh chamomile in back,” said Jenny Martin, the proprietress of the odd little establishment: part dwelling, part apothecary shop, and part medical clinic.

Had he married? Claire wondered. Was his wife unable to rest, so he’d travelled all this way for a sleeping potion?

“My lady,” Mrs. Martin called, “Could you bring three bunches of calming herbs?”

Claire’s heart broke into a gallop and she pressed her knuckles to her mouth, frantically wishing there were a hole to dive into. Go out there and see him? Oh, no. No. As if it were on fire, she hurled the herbs back into the wheelbarrow then froze like a rabbit.

“Could you go back yourself, my lord? This brew depends on constant stirring.”

My God, where to hide!

“Which would be the chamomile?” he asked, voice as musical as a bass fiddle.

“The stuff with yellow buds like daisies.”

Yellow buds, yellow buds. Claire dashed behind a multi-tiered rack of dangling lavender, as purple as purple could be. There, she stood absolutely still.

His footsteps approached. She shut her eyes, and in the darkness the volume of his steps roared in her ears. By the sound of it, he’d stopped at the threshold. A few tentative steps further into the room, and the rustle of dried foliage sounded as if he were moving toward the St. John’s wort. A confused exhalation and more movement… closer. Closer.

She sensed him, felt his nearness, the electricity of his body, the heat from him. Had he halted at the lavender? Unable to bear not knowing, she opened her eyes.

In that instant, he parted two bunches of the purple flowers and looked straight at her. “Lady Claire?” he said, startled.

Page 1 of 27

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén