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Vicar with Bad Memories in Need of a Wife

Miss Esme Harvey
Courtland Hall
Wiltshire

April 26, 1816

Dearest Willa,

I am in receipt of your letter to me of yesterday. Oh, my dear friend, I urge you to attend my wedding to the Marquess of Northington next week and our family May Day Frolic!

I do understand your wish not to see Charlie once more. What happened between you last year was unexpected. Yet at the time, you called it delightful. Your moments together did restore your faith that you could attract a man who set your heart aflutter. And if Charlie’s kisses also stirred you to renew your search for a mate among those whom you had not heretofore considered, all the better.

Still you write that, in this past year, you have not found another to compare to him. Does that not speak to the issue louder than any words I can write here?

I know your father demands you wed before your next birthday in January and that you marry one who will bring him political alliance with those in those of Grand Whiggery. Our Reverend Charles Compton is cousin to those famous families. As third son of such an allied earl, he has family connections that should make your papa proud. Charlie’s lack of income and property to call his own is most likely (forgive me for saying this so bluntly) a detraction from his worthiness in your father’s eyes. I am not informed of Charlie’s father’s annual settlement upon him. I doubt it would be subsistence level and Charlie has his Army pension to buoy him. Those are in addition to his wages here in the curate.  Family connection is a value to your father. But what price do you pay for your papa’s political prowess if you spend your hours with one who makes you miserable?

A brief flirtation—as I now serve as example—can indeed engender greater affections. My fiancé and I met by accident in a dark sitting room where I had escaped alone, champagne in hand, the tedium of men who simpered over me. All for my money, of course. (So tiresome!)

I do beg you to come to the May Day Frolic. You love it so. Each year you’ve found something new to adore. The mummers. The music. Last year, Charlie in his new role as our village vicar.

He is a charming man. You cannot deny it. Mama adores him. Papa declares he brings a bit of youth and boldness to our church services. Our tenants think him comforting. And yes, he rues his time in the Army in Spain. His return to the clergy is, he says, his true calling…and his penance. I know not, nor does he speak of the horrors he saw at war. I do find him often sitting alone outside his little house in the Grecian folly and the expression on his face is one of utter madness. I fear for him then. I have tried to lure him from this night of his soul. But I tell you truly, only when I speak of you and his affections for you do I see his expression change. He needs you, Willa.

He needs you. If not for more kisses, if not for more amorous caresses, he needs you to sit with him and talk and laugh. He needs you to soothe his soul and show him the finest elements of humanity. Friendship, solace, communion of like minds are what he needs.

I submit only you can bring that to him.

What will you gain from your attendance at my wedding to Northington? You will renew your faith in yourself as a woman who does inspire friendship and love.

Please come to my wedding, Willa. Charlie needs you. I need you, too, more than I have ever told you.

With great love for your undeying friendship,

Esme

~~~

Miss Esme Harvey is about to marry the man she loves and she wishes a few of her best friends in attendance. One of her closest friends is Lady Willa Sheffield, daughter of the Earl of Seaford. Esme needs all the friends she can get as she has her own challenges concerning her beloved, the heir to a duchy. Willa fancies the new vicar who struggles with his own tormented memories fighting against the French.

So begins the fourth novel, LADY WILLA’S DIVINELY WICKED VICAR in Cerise DeLand’s romantic comedy series, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FROLIC, out October 23. Esme’s story in the series, MISS HARVEY’S ACCIDENTAL GROOM debuts August 21!

For more laughter and romance in her historical novels, do follow Cerise DeLand everywhere you wish!

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.

I Am Crispin

I am Crispin, Chastity Reynolds’ very large, very black cat and, in my humble opinion, central to her story, as you would expect. I am named after the patron saint of shoemakers, which makes sense when you consider my mistress designs ladies’ shoes. However, I have skills of my own. Only my mistress seems to acknowledge my ability to read her moods and identify those lesser creatures with whom she should not willingly associate. I stand guard as any noble cat would.

My life was greatly disrupted when Chastity hauled me off to Brighton to spend the summer with her great-aunt. (Don’t even ask me about the carriage ride from Northampton!) It was in Brighton where I first encountered The Rogue, as Chastity calls him. A man totally unworthy of her. I made clear my dislike for Sir Robert the first time I saw him, hissing and arching my back and placing myself between them, glaring at him with my golden eyes. (I can be quite fierce, you know).

But there came a day, even I had to give the man credit for recognizing my true value. It was the day a viscous dog attacked the fence and quite threw me off my game. I scrambled up a tree as any respectable cat concerned for his safety would. And I had no intention to come down. But my mistress was quite distressed and deigned to allow Sir Robert to assist. He got rid of the menace and carefully retrieved my person from the tree without ruffling my very lustrous fur. Well, after that, I had to give him his due, no matter my mistress called me “Traitor!” and continued to loath the man.

We cats perceive things other miss and I knew my mistress had a fondness for The Rogue. I became rather fond of Sir Robert myself and his very nice boots. I let him know of my new affection by graciously rubbing my body against his boots and meowing loudly. I am certain he was duly impressed as he should be. But still, I feared for the outcome. How could my mistress, a country lass, dubbed The Girl Who Needed Watching, ever hope to win the heart of The Rogue.

Even a spy needs a holiday…

Robert Powell’s work as a spy saves the Cabinet ministers from a gruesome death and wins him accolades from George IV. As a reward, the king grants him a baronetcy and a much-deserved holiday at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton where he thinks to indulge in brandy, cards, good horseflesh and women.

But when Muriel, Dowager Countess of Claremont, learns of Sir Robert’s intended destination, she begs a favor…to watch over an “errant child” who is the grandniece of her good friend living in the resort town. Little does Robbie know that Miss Chastity Reynolds is no child but a beautiful hellion who is seemingly immune to his charms.

Chastity lives in the shadow of her mother and sisters, dark-haired beauties men admire. Her first Season was a failure but, as she will soon come into a family legacy, she has no need to wed. When she first encounters Sir Robert, she dubs him The Rogue, certain he indulges in a profligate lifestyle she wants no part in.

In Brighton, Robbie discovers he is being followed and senses the conspirators who had planned to murder the Cabinet have discovered his identity. Worse, they know the location of Chastity’s residence.   

Buy now:  

Scandal in Garden: Bride Caught with Groom’s Brother

Last night, at a dinner party hosted by a prominent member of the ton, the lovely Lady N was caught in the garden in a passionate embrace with a certain captain, the son of the Earl of W. Reportedly, both the captain’s brother, Viscount S, and the lady’s illustrious father, the Duke of C, witnessed the shocking sight.

Even more disturbingly, an engagement announcement between Lady N and Viscount S had been widely anticipated. Although the captain has been decorated for his bravery, his actions last night were certainly far from heroic. Did the heiress’ rumored immense fortune cause the captain to steal his brother’s intended?

Although we here at the Teatime Tattler fully expect that the young man will do his duty by the young lady, we wonder how these two prestigious old families will ever recover from this scandal. Both the Duke of C and the Earl of W must be very ashamed by their children’s behavior. We certainly expected more from a lady and one of country’s most decorated heroes!

EXCERPT – GAMBLING ON THE DUKE’S DAUGHTER

“He’s a disgrace! Honestly, can you believe the nerve! Making a scene and ruining a perfectly lovely ball!” Lady Amelia Lansdowne fluttered her filigreed fan with unusual vigor, an unbecoming flush on her pale cheeks.

“I wouldn’t call this a scene, Amelia. He merely arrived a little late. I’m sure he had a good reason.” Lady Natalia Sinclair sighed with impatience over her companion’s melodrama, but her own fan fluttered a bit faster as she watched Captain Blake chat with Lord Basingstoke.

Captain Dylan Blake, recipient of the Victoria’s Cross.

Natalia knew all about him. She’d read dozens of newspaper articles touting his courage, but she’d never actually met him.

“He’s dreadfully good-looking,” she mused, as she cast a subtle glance in the captain’s direction.

In his scarlet dress uniform, with his confident military bearing and chest full of medals, he stood out in the crowd of somber, black-garbed lords. His thick black hair, caught at his nape with a piece of scarlet ribbon, contrasted sharply with his light blue eyes. His high, chiseled cheekbones, square jaw, and clear, sun-kissed skin stole her breath.

Amelia gave a delicate shudder. “How can you say such a thing? He hasn’t a title nor farthing to his name. He’s been in the military for years, serving with the very dregs of society, and probably doesn’t know the first thing about how to act around civilized people.”

“Surely, the fact that he fought to preserve our way of life gives him the right to a few eccentricities. He’s a hero, Amelia.” Natalia didn’t bother to point out that a man’s wealth had nothing to do with how attractive he was. It wouldn’t do any good. In Amelia’s eyes, money and power did determine a man’s worth.

Unfortunately, Natalia’s father shared Amelia’s opinions, and he would choose her future husband.

Amelia turned up her nose with a condescending sniff. “Well, hero or not, you wouldn’t catch me marrying such a man.”

“No.” Natalia fought to maintain a civil tone. “I don’t suppose so.” Not that a hero like Captain Blake would want to marry a little cat like you anyway.

To her relief, Amelia soon drifted away, obviously in search of someone more inclined to share her narrow-minded opinions. Natalia found herself alone for a few moments, free to daydream about Captain Blake.

She wanted to meet him, even though her father would never permit a man like Captain Blake to court her. It seemed so unfair. What good were wealth and a title, when so many of those who had them lacked even a hint of character?

Captain Blake had risked his life to save his men. He’d dashed back into the fray three times before he’d been wounded. The mere thought of his courageous actions sent a shiver down her spine.

Unfortunately, Captain Blake and Lord Basingstoke left the ballroom before she could work up the audacity to arrange an introduction. Disappointed, Natalia forced a smile as the next young man on her dance card claimed her for a mazurka.

Lord Roger Densby was the son of a duke. While undoubtedly her social equal, he was at least two stones overweight and stank of sweat and brandy.

He managed to step on her toes twice before he even got her out on the dance floor and didn’t have a heroic bone in his entire well-fed body.

Densby, or someone like him, was her fate. Still, her entire soul rebelled at the thought of spending her life with a man who wasn’t interested in anything but the next hunt or glittering party.

What she really wanted was someone like Captain Blake—a man with poetry in his face and courage in his heart.

BUY LINK

AUTHOR BIO

All my life, I’ve wanted to a writer. Even as a child, my sister claims all I ever did was sit in my closet and scribble in a notebook. Now, I concede the scribbling part, but not the closet part! Why would I need to sit in my closet when I had a perfectly good desk? In any event, I won my first writing contest when I was seven, and I was hooked!

I married young, and soon had three wonderful little boys running around the house, so writing took a backseat for several years as I worked a variety of jobs that I hated. Once I started seriously pursuing a writing career, I found it was not as easy as I had expected, and I was not the prodigy I had imagined. But I joined a writer’s group and made a ton of writing friends along the way who showed me the error of my ways and unselfishly helped me to get a little better. By the time I sold my first book in 2006, I’d already been at this for over ten years and was about ready to give up. Rejection is hard!!! But holding that first book in my hands made it all worth it!

Now my sons are all grown up, and two of them have babies of their own, and being a grandma rocks! I now have all the time in the world to devote to telling the stories that just won’t let me sleep. I hope you enjoy them!

Website – www.dianabold.com

Reader Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/dianasboldbeauties/ Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/diana-bold

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