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A Scandalous Wager

“A good day to you, Saybrook. A bit early for tippling, don’t you think? But perhaps you’re drowning your sorrows over losing Lord Dulcie for your sister.”

Theo Pennington, Viscount Saybrook, set down his glass and glared at the gentleman who had so rudely interrupted his solitary perusal of the Times in the Coffee Room of White’s Gentleman’s Club. “Selsey. What nonsense are you babbling? Dulcie’s father and I are meeting later this week to iron out the details of the marriage settlements.”

“Dulcie’s father, yes. But will Dulcie agree? Fifty guineas says he’ll never show.”

Theo sat up in his chair, his eyes narrowing. He might drink like a fish, but he never gambled. And neither did Selsey—unless he was absolutely certain of winning.

“What have you heard, Selsey?”

“Ah, it’s not what I’ve heard, but what I’ve read,” Selsey said, tapping a finger aside his nose. “Haven’t taken a look at the betting book this morning, have you, Saybrook?”

Theo rose on none too steady feet—coffee was not the only beverage served in the Coffee Room—and made his way to the sideboard where the Club’s betting book lay open. There, below the bet about how soon the recently-widowed Lady Constance Wingfield would take a lover, and above the wager on how long before the new Lord Raikes would pass on his title (the previous five holders of which had all died within a twelvemonth of gaining it), he found the following:

Mr. L. Leverett wagers 500 guineas that sentiment for Benedict Pennington will prevent Viscount Dulcie from courting and stealing away Miss Polyhymnia Adler (and her dowry of Old Masters paintings) from the aforesaid B. P.

It was even worse than he’d thought. If Dulcie won this bet, he’d scuttle all Theo’s efforts to finally get his troublesome sister off of his hands. But if Dulcie lost, the wording of the wager implied it would only be because he harbored some highly irregular feelings for Theo’s brother.

Feelings, Theo worried, that Benedict was all too ready to return.

“Damnation!” he whispered under his breath as he slammed the book shut…

Find out who wins the bet in A Sinner without a Saint:

An honorable artist

Benedict Pennington’s greatest ambition is not to paint a masterpiece, but to make the world’s greatest art accessible to all by establishing England’s first national art museum. Success in persuading a reluctant philanthropist to donate his collection of Old Master paintings brings his dream tantalizingly close to reality. Until Viscount Dulcie, the object of Benedict’s illicit adolescent desire, begins to court the donor’s granddaughter, set on winning the paintings for himself . . .

A hedonistic viscount

Sinclair Milne, Lord Dulcie, far prefers collecting innovative art and dallying with handsome men than burdening himself with a wife. But when rivals imply Dulcie’s refusal to pursue wealthy Miss Adler and her paintings is due to lingering tender feelings for Benedict Pennington, Dulcie vows to prove them wrong. Not only will he woo her away from the holier-than-thou painter, he’ll also placate his matchmaking father in the process.

Sinner and saint—can both win at love?

But when Benedict is dragooned into painting his portrait, Dulcie finds himself once again drawn to the intense artist. Can the sinful viscount entice the wary painter into a casual liaison, one that will put neither their reputations, nor their feelings, at risk? Or will the not-so-saintly artist demand something far more vulnerable—his heart?

Publication date: September 16, 2018

ASIN: B07DZ2CVK9

ISBN (ebook): 978-0-9961937-6-4

ISBN (paperback): 978-0-9961937-7-1

Subgenre: Historical (Regency) romance; male/male romance

Page count: 352

Meet Bliss Bennet

Bliss Bennet writes smart, edgy novels for readers who love history as much as they love romance. Her Regency-set historical romance series, The Penningtons, has been praised by the Historical Novel Society’s Indie Reviews as “well worth following”; her books have been described by USA Today as “savvy, sensual, and engrossing,” by Heroes and Heartbreakersas “captivating,” and by The Reading Wench as having “everything you want in a great historical romance.” Her latest book is A Sinner without a Saint.

Despite being born and bred in New England, Bliss finds herself fascinated by the history of that country across the pond, particularly the politically-volatile period known as the English Regency. Though she’s visited Britain several times, Bliss continues to make her home in New England, along with her husband, daughter, and two monstrously fluffy black cats.

Bliss’s mild-mannered alter ego, Jackie Horne, writes about the intersection of gender and genre at the Romance Novels for Feminists blog.

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Sinner-without-Saint-Penningtons-ebook/dp/B07DZ2CVK9/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1534880673&sr=1-1&keywords=sinner+without+a+saint

NOOK: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-sinner-without-a-saint-bliss-bennet/1128761514?ean=2940162046783

IBOOKS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-sinner-without-a-saint/id1388013379?mt=11

KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-sinner-without-a-saint

The Tragedy of the Town Hall’s Lady

Beautiful ghost girl in white dress

Mr. Clemens is never quite sure what might be in his inbox, but this story begged for front page coverage. Even if the pertinent events happened fifty years after his time, and those remembering them were an unbelievable two hundred years in his future.

Crescent Creek is a quiet little town. Safe, well looked after, and loved by the local folks. Nice people, most of them. Even in the stories I told, trouble came to Crescent Creek, not within.

But the old men, those whose great-great-grandparents were born and died inside the town limits, love to recount the tragic tale of what’s known as the Town Hall’s Lady.

A young girl married to Joseph Jones, the richest and most influential man in Crescent Creek, Helen Jones sinned by falling in love with Nokosi, a warrior of the Ais/Costas Tribe.

The whole thing didn’t amount to much in the Newspapers, as troubles with the native Indian Tribes were a daily occurrence.

Crescent Creek News, July 18, 1864

After reported disturbances with the Costas tribe, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs informed them if they created disturbances with the whites a sufficient military force would be sent to put them down.

We do know the real story from a letter that the Helen sent to a friend in her native Boston, though, and it’s the tale of a broken heart.

Dearest Laura,

My heart died.

Joseph paid the Commissioner to send troops in Nokosi’s village to destroy it. I know he will not see tomorrow’s sun, not with how much Joseph paid. What I do know, is the wrongness in my doing as no wife has the right to yearn for another man but her Husband, and for that sin I will pay in this life and the next. Yet, my heart was, is, Nokosi’s.

Today and always, my tears will fall for him.

I’d leave this place I hate to embrace a life of seclusion in a monastery but here, in the few places I shared with Nokosi, is where I can feel him.

So, I’ll stay in this house, within these walls that had seen our brief joy, and remember him and what he gave me.

And so she stayed, even after she died many years later. The Jones’ house became Crescent Creek’s Town Hall and to this day, it is said you can hear Helen crying on the third floor, where her bedchamber was.

His Midnight Sun

by Viviana MacKade

Tormented, fierce, and broken, sculptor Aidan Murphy has judged himself guilty. He yearns for love but pushes everyone away. He longs for acceptance but has lost the key to open his heart. Until he meets Summer Williams. Beautiful and smart, Dr. Williams promises haven for a man who believes he deserves none. All he has to do is let her in and risk his heart and soul.

Summer’s managed to keep her inner light alive, even through tragedy. She’s created a new life for herself and her daughter in Crescent Creek with loving, caring and fun friends–well, except brooding, breathtaking Aidan. She’s used to keeping away from his type, though. All she has to do is ignore the pull of a man who’s turning up to be much more than snarls and storms. Will her compassion and medical instincts let her?

Love can heal a broken soul and shake up a timid heart. Or it can unleash devastation and revenge.

Will Aidan and Summer survive the hurricane?

Release September 15, available for pre-sale

$ 0.99 FREE with KU

https://goo.gl/L8okF6

THE AUTHOR

Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her husband and her son, her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her boy, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.

Find me:

On my website http://www.viviana-mackade.blog/

On FB

On Twitter

Amazon Author page

The Servants Always Know

Loring Place, Suffolk, 27 May 1814. The upper servants have gathered in the housekeeper’s room. They are:

Mrs Walton, Housekeeper

Meadows, Butler

Dover, maid to the dowager Lady Loring

Hughes, maid to Lady Loring

Cotton, valet to Sir Edward Loring,

Fox, valet to Sir Edward’s heir, Sir Julian Loring.

Mrs Walton poured the tea and deftly plied sugar tongs and cream jug to prepare each cup exactly to the recipient’s liking. They had sat together so often that she no longer needed to ascertain their tastes. Miss Dover, the dowager’s maid was longest at the Place, almost forty years, while even Cotton had been with Sir Edward for more than five years now. She still missed the former valet, Mr Frost, who had died quietly in his sleep one autumn night.

She herself had completed her quarter century last year. Lady Loring had presented her with this handsome teapot to mark the occasion. It was a good place, she thought, as he distributed the cups. While my lady would not tolerate extravagance or waste, she was not one of those mistresses who grudged her servants every bite they ate and Mrs Walton knew how to walk the fine line between propriety and presumption.

Dover inhaled the fragrant steam before sipping the hot liquid. “I am sure I shall be glad to see my bed tonight. We have an early start tomorrow.”

Mrs Walton nodded understandingly. It had been an eventful day, with dinner put back until seven and a flurry of last-minute arrangements to be made for the dowager’s and Miss Chloe’s unexpected journey tomorrow.

“Have you everything packed?”

“All but for Miss Chloe’s pink gown. It will dry overnight and I’ll iron it at Lady Undrell’s—I’d have to press it again anyway.”

“It is unlike her ladyship to travel at such short notice.” Hughes remarked. “I hope all is well at the Undrells.”

“Your lady does not go with them?” Fox enquired

“She was in no state to consider it.” Hughes pursed her lips. “She and Sir Edward had words again.”

“That must be why he was so cranned,” Cotton said. “What was it this time?”

“Something to do with that Mr Chidlow who called earlier about Miss Fancourt, and I’m sure I can’t see how that could be my lady’s fault.”

“Sir Edward was furious that she had received him,” Meadows put in. “He stormed off to the little office as soon as he heard he was on the premises.”

Hughes nodded. “He rang her a fine peal afterwards. I had to give her a composer after he left her, poor lady.”

“I was that surprised to hear that you were having Miss Fancourt’s things packed up, Mrs Walton,” Dover said. “Is there any news of her? My lady would be anxious to know how she goes on, I’m sure.”

“I’m afraid not.” Mrs Walton answered.

“What sort of a man is this Mr Chidlow?

“I only saw him briefly but he seemed perfectly respectable.”

“Not gentry,” Meadows offered. “A man of business, I would say.

Cotton whistled softly. “Acting on behalf of her protector, I imagine. He must be a wealthy man.”

“Or besotted, “Fox said, “to send for her things like that, I mean. Most gentlemen wouldn’t care and a peculiar dresses different to a governess, after all.”

Mrs Walton sat up straight. “I don’t believe it—I never have. A nicer lady than Miss Fancourt you couldn’t meet. In the ten years she was Miss Chloe’s governess, her behaviour was always just so. Why should she suddenly throw her cap over the windmill like that?”

“Now that Miss Chloe has come out, she couldn’t remain here much longer,” Hughes pointed out. “Her ladyship had given her notice to the next quarter day.”

“It would have been wiser to serve her notice and receive her certificate of character,” Meadows said heavily. “Without one, she has no hope of securing respectable employment.”

“An old maid yielding to a sudden passion?” Cotton suggested. “What is she— thirty? She must have known this was her only chance. Why else would she pike off without a word to anyone, leaving all her things behind her? There’s no smoke without fire, that’s what I say. I heard that Mr Purdue saw her up before an officer, riding full pelt, they were—almost ran him down—and showing more of her legs than any decent female would.” He grinned. “Some sight that would be, with her being such a Long Meg—

“That will be enough of that, Mr Cotton,” Mrs Walton snapped. “In my Room, Miss Fancourt will be spoken of with respect until we have good reason — not just alehouse tittle-tattle—to believe she is no longer deserving of it. We are all dependent on our good names, are we not? And words, once spoken, cannot be taken back. It behoves us all to speak as charitably of others, as we would they spoke of us.”

Glossary

Cranned          sour, ill-tempered

Composer        a soothing or sedative draught

To ring a peal  to scold, usually used of a wife to her husband, but in this case the other way round.

Protector         a gentleman who has a mistress in keeping

To throw one’s cap over the windmill            to act in a crazed, reckless or unconventional manner.

To pike off      to run away

Full pelt           at full speed.

Long Meg       a very tall woman

A Suggestion of Scandal:

When governess Rosa Fancourt surprises two lovers in flagrante delicto, her life and future are suddenly at risk. Even if she escapes captivity, the mere suggestion of scandal is enough to ruin a lady in her situation. In Sir Julian Loring she finds an unexpected champion but will he stand by her to the end?

Extract

“The strange thing is that no one else saw the absconding couple,” Julian commented to his grandfather afterwards. “One would have thought it would have been generally remarked upon. There is no talk of an officer being absent without leave or having a new ladybird in keeping either.”

Lord Swanmere looked at him keenly. “Been making enquiries, have you?”

Julian shrugged. “Why should she get away with such a cowardly attack? For all she knows, she left my sister for dead.”

“Perhaps she did not want to be taken up for murder,” Swanmere said dryly. “But she will not go unpunished, my boy. She has only the clothes she stood up in and who knows what support, if any, she will get from her lover. Very likely he put her on the first stage to London. Hers will be a rapid descent into vice and depravity.”

Julian sighed. “I suppose you are right.”

But he could find no comfort in this dismal prophecy. Beneath his concern for Chloe, he strove to ignore another injury inflicted by Miss Fancourt; the betrayal not only of his family but also, on a deeply personal level, of himself. How could he have been so mistaken in her? And yet, at other times he could not accept her guilt.

A Suggestion of Scandal is available worldwide as eBook and paperback. Universal Amazon link: https://nrnk.co/a/B07DRLQZL8

About the author

Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin, Ireland. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector.

Catherine has a keen sense of history and of connection with the past which so often determines the present. She is fascinated by people and loves a good story, especially when characters come to life in a book. But then come the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’. She is particularly interested in what happens after the first happy end—how life goes on around the protagonists and sometimes catches up with them.

Catherine Kullmann’s novels are set in the early nineteenth century—one of the most significant periods of European and American history. The Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland of 1800, the Anglo-American war of 1812 and more than a decade of war that ended in the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 are all events that continue to shape our modern world. At the same time, the aristocracy-led society that drove these events was under attack from those who demanded social and political reform, while the industrial revolution saw the beginning of the transfer of wealth and ultimately power to those who knew how to exploit the new technologies.

Catherine has always enjoyed writing; she loves the fall of words, the shaping of an expressive phrase, the satisfaction when a sentence conveys my meaning exactly. She enjoys plotting and revels in the challenge of evoking a historic era for characters who behave authentically in their period while making their actions and decisions plausible and sympathetic to a modern reader. But rewarding as all this craft is, she says, there is nothing to match the moment when a book takes flight, when your characters suddenly determine the route of their journey.

Catherine’s debut novel, The Murmur of Masks, received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and was short-listed for Best Novel in the 2017 CAP (Carousel Aware Prize) Awards. Perception & Illusion received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and a Discovered Diamonds Award. Her new novel, A Suggestion of Scandal, was published in August 2018.

You can Catherine’s website at www.catherinekullmann.com/ 

Her Facebook page is fb.me/catherinekullmannauthor

 

 

A  Guillotine Widow Takes Tea on the Isle of Guernsey

widowThere I was, sipping tea in the Donets’ lovely parlor, decorated in the warm colors of the gardens and filled with sunlight, trying to forget the horrors I had left behind in Paris. Sitting across from me was my savior, Mademoiselle Zoé Donet, and her English aunt, Joanna, comtesse de Saintonge. Zoé’s question stirred me from my reverie.

“Do you have in mind a place to settle in England, madame?”

“I have friends in London we can visit. After that, I’m not sure. I rather like the countryside. For many years, I lived in a small country palace in the Bois de Boulogne near Paris.”

“Then perhaps you should consider West Sussex,” offered Zoé’s aunt. “There is plenty of room at The Harrows, my family’s estate, and my brother, Richard, the Earl of Torrington, would welcome you and your children. It would be a fine place to recover from all you have been through at least until you decide. But, if you prefer, Richard could arrange for you and your children to travel with him the next time he goes to London.”

“That is so very kind of you, Madame Donet.”

“Not at all. It is settled. When my husband sails to England, you shall accompany him. Perhaps we’ll all go. I have not visited my brother in a while and he worries about me even though I am on Guernsey.”

I set down my teacup, trying to imagine the anxiety this woman must face each time her husband and niece ventured into the port towns in northwestern France to help the fleeing émigrésof which I had been one. “You must fear for your husband and niece going into France to rescue people like me. How ever do you stand the agony of awaiting their return?”

A subtle smile crossed Madame Donet’s face. It was the look of a woman who had long ago conquered her demons.

“I knew when I married Jean Donet I was marrying adventure itself. Oh, perhaps not the terrifying kind he now faces, defying the revolution’s madmen. For that, I think he and my niece are quite brave. But I have always known such a man would not be content to sit in his parlor and gaze at his vineyard, though he has—or rather, had—an excellent one. No, once he discovered the sea, there was no other life for him.”

I considered the niece. At twenty, Zoé was a beautiful young woman attired in an elegant gown, so different from the soot-covered peasant she had been days ago. “I can see why Monsieur Donet would undertake the rescues, but why you?”

“I made a vow to a friend that I would do all I could for the royalist cause, no matter the peril I must face.”

Zoé’s aunt smiled. “Anyone who marries my niece will be making the same decision I made when I wed Jean Donet.”

About the Book

WidowA Fierce Wind: Donet Trilogy, book 3
Love in the time of revolution
France 1794

Zoé Ariane Donet was in love with love until she met the commander of the royalist army fighting the revolutionaries tearing apart France. When the dashing young general is killed, she joins the royalist cause, rescuing émigrésfleeing France.

One man watches over her: Frederick West, the brother of an English earl, who has known Zoé since she was a precocious ten-year-old child. At sixteen, she promised great beauty, the flower of French womanhood about to bloom. Now, four years later, as Robespierre’s Terror seizes France by the throat, Zoé has become a beautiful temptress Freddie vows to protect with his life.

But English spies don’t live long in revolutionary France.

Buy links for A Fierce Wind:
US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FYPFVRL
UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FYPFVRL
Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07FYPFVRL</a

Amazon link for the award-winning Donet Trilogy: https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B071JPXTT5/

About the Author

I didn’t start out as a writer of historical novels. Although I wrote stories as a child, by the time I got to college, and at the urging of my professors, I became a lawyer. After years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government, it seemed time for a change. Becoming an award-winning author was the subject of dreams when I first began writing, but dreams sometimes do come true.

 

Find Regan:

Website (Newsletter signup, Books, Reader Extras and more!): http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104
Regan Walker’s Readers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReganWalkersReaders/
Pinterest (storyboards for my books): https://www.pinterest.com/reganwalker123/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RegansReview
Regan’s blog, Historical Romance Review: https://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/

Protecting the community from a scandalous widow


Dearest Maria,

I simply had to write to tell you the most unbelievable news. It is so outrageous I almost cannot bring myself to reveal it.  I hope you are seated because here it comes, Mrs Florence Beaufort (previously Miss Thackeray) has appeared back in Wellington after twenty years!

I can imagine your expression of surprise when you read this, I mean, the gall of the woman showing herself here after everything she did. You will not believe it, but she was shopping on Lambton Quay as proud as you like as if she had every right to be there.

Then, hark this; she had the audacity to insult not only me, but my poor dear departed mother. That woman’s arrogance knows no bounds. I, of course, kept a civil tongue in my head and asked after her husband Dr Beaufort—the man she stole from me. She informs me he is dead. Yes, I know, dead. It seems she has a propensity for killing off her husbands.

Then, she proceeds to tell me that she is perfectly content as a widow as if poor Dr Beaufort meant nothing to her. I was as shocked as I could possibly be.

I must add that the years have not been kind to her. She is still slender, I suppose, and her hair has not yet turned from its shameless shade of copper to distinguished silver as mine has, but I distinctly noticed lines had formed around her eyes and the heavy black of her mourning dress did nothing for her complexion.

It is bad enough we are forced to endure her dreadful brother with his shameless flaunting of his Māori wife and half-caste children around the town, but now we must also tolerate the presence of that fiancé-stealing Jezebel amongst us.

Mark my words, I will ensure everyone in the town is aware of her sordid past and knows to treat her with the disdain she deserves.  She will not receive invitations from anyone of any worth if I have anything to say about it.

Anyway, I had better sign off now as I must spread the word before she is able to use her airs and graces to ingratiate herself with the unwitting members of our community.

Best wishes to you and your family

Adelia Dorrington

Excerpt from A Pivotal Right, Book Two in the Shaking the Tree Trilogy

Auckland, New Zealand
1874

“Mama, Mama.” Soft tapping on the back of Florence’s hand brought her rushing back from a black void. She opened her eyes to find her daughter’s face hovering above her.

“You fainted, Mama. I think you may have hurt your head on the floor.”

Florence’s vision swam alarmingly. “I must be losing my mind. I could have sworn I saw—” She swallowed. “No, it couldn’t have been.”

“Saw what?”

“Nothing.” She closed her eyes to try to ease the throbbing pain that was building at the back of her skull. “It is impossible.”

“Liam, bring a couple of blankets from the store room.” The voice so familiar and yet so unexpected cleaved her mind, sending shockwaves through her.

Florence gripped her daughter’s hand as her heart lurched violently inside her chest and she feared she would faint again. “I can hear—” She wanted to say, a ghost, but stopped herself. Viola would think her mad. How hard had she hit her head?

A shadow fell across her and she looked up straight into the eyes of a dead man. Blinking, she attempted to clear the spectre, but it would not vanish. Jack had visited her in her dreams many times over the years, but never when she was awake.

There were only two possibilities—either she had lost her mind or she was dead—but no lifeless heart could race the way hers was racing now.

“Am I insane?” she asked the vision of her long-dead husband.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pivotal-Right-Shaking-Tree-Book-ebook/dp/B07FY1BCLQ/

Bio for K A Servian

As a life-long creative, Kathy gained qualifications in fashion design, applied design to fabric and jewellery making and enjoyed a twenty-year career in the fashion and applied arts industries as a pattern maker, designer and owner of her own clothing and jewellery labels.

Her first novel, Peak Hill was a finalist in the Romance Writers of New Zealand Pacific Hearts Full Manuscript contest in 2016. She has also published a romantic suspense novel tilted Throwing Light and her short story, Seeing Him Again for the First Time won the Romance Writers of New Zealand Chapter Short Story contest for 2018.

Never one to do things by half, Kathy creates her own covers and has made and photographed the costumes for the covers of her Shaking the Tree trilogy of historical novels: The Moral Compass (2017), A Pivotal Right (2018), and Slaves in Petticoats (due out in 2019).

She has made and photographed costumes from various periods ranging from Regency to early twentieth century. Images are available for purchase on Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/kathysg.

Kathy has completed a diploma in advanced creative writing. She works fulltime as a writer squeezing it in around teaching the occasional sewing class and being a wife and mother. You can follow Kathy on her website https://kaservian.com/ or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KAServian/.

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