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Regarding the Dangerous Population of Rakes in Our Midst

Dear Readers,

No one will deny that there is a veritable plague of rakehells, rogues, and young blades in the fair city of London. However, it has recently come to the attention of this publication that there has been an incursion of young men of this nature in our very own neighbourhood.

Furthermore, it is disturbingly evident that many residents—young women in particular, believe the countryside to be lacking in men of such vices and are therefore sadly lacking the essential knowledge of how they must be avoided.

We feel it is our duty to expunge this misconception and to caution our young ladies and their Mamas and Papas that nothing could be further from the truth.

In the interest of the public good, we have thereby taken it upon ourselves to put to paper a list, Dear Reader, of five mistakes not to make when in the very dangerous, very deadly (when one considers the potential for spiritual and moral decay) presence of such ones so lacking in tender feelings.

  1. Avoid immodest dress

To begin, we urge young women to be always perfectly neat and clean, both in your person and clothes. Be not swayed by ill-suited finery, excessive ornamentation, or worst of all, styles which reflect an indelicate mind and may lead to loss of innocence. We speak, Dear Reader, of that depraved London fashion of wetting one’s dress.

  1. Avoid improper diversions

Time is invaluable and its loss irretrievable. Look on every day as a blank sheet to be filled with worthwhile pursuits. Diversions, properly regulated, are not only allowable for young women but necessary to youth. But when taken to excess, when they lead to indiscretion or an excess of passions, they grow distasteful. Therefore, guard most carefully against that pastime which may be a danger to your modesty and even womanly chastity itself. We refer, of course, to that insidious fashion—the waltz.

  1. Avoid foolish adventures

Neither knowledge nor pleasure can accrue from indiscreet attempts by youth to seek out adventurous undertakings. We refer, of course, to the pastime of excessive walks and the seeking out of unusual locales for picnics and the like, for during such foolhardy and even dangerous excursions young women may find themselves alone and in perilous situations which the libertine or rake may use to their favor.

  1. Modesty and silence are a woman’s best weapons against the rakes and libertines who hide among us

We wish to warn young women of taking indiscreet freedoms, particularly in conversation with men. Many are of opinion that a very young woman can hardly be too silent and reserved in male company, but we recommend even more strongly that young women avoid the majority of such company altogether for fear their ears be insulted by the words of the unprincipled and their minds contaminated beyond repair.

  1. Pay no heed to erroneous advice

“A reformed rake makes the best husband” is a common opinion oft resulting in unhappy victims of the female persuasion. A man who has long been in the company of the worst sort of women is very apt to contract a contempt for females in general. Incapable of esteeming any woman, the fairer sex is a continual source of ill humour. What prospect of happiness can there be with such a companion?

Further guidance shall appear in subsequent issues of this publication.

The Editors

The Bedford Chronicle

June 3, 1818

MISTAKES NOT TO MAKE WHEN AVOIDING A RAKE

“The enemies-to-lovers trope is Elizabeth-Darcy on steroids. […]If you love small cottages, villages, and dangerous English rain, you will love this novel’s vibe!” – Katherine Grant, Author of The Countess Chronicles

“I was absolutely bitten by the Bridgerton bug. […]  I’m so happy I went with this debut novel by Fenna Edgewood. It was a perfect ‘break into Regency’ read. […] Claire and Thomas immediately had serious Regency style chemistry and once they gave into it, they were moths drawn to a flame.” – Made Me Blush Books

A cynical rake…

The arrival of Thomas Campbell and his elder brother has the village of Bedford abuzz with excitement. Not only is Thomas tall, dark, and handsome, he is also rumored to be a most notorious rake.

Claire Gardner is young, innocent, and completely infuriating. Yet given an opportunity, Thomas can’t help teaching the headstrong beauty a lesson in desire.

A quiet life for a lady…

Content with a simple rural life, Claire Gardner has no wish for a season in London nor is she eager to wed. But after a catastrophic mistake compromises her honor, Claire finds herself ensnared in scandal.

Claire is quite certain reformed rakes do not make the best husbands. She would rather face shame than lose her freedom to a man she is convinced does not love her. But as rumors swirl regarding her ruined reputation, the condemnation of her neighbors becomes more than she can bear.

Tormented by a bitter betrayal, Thomas has steeled himself against ever loving again—but he harbors a secret which leaves him in need of a wife. Will the truth about the other woman in Thomas’s life destroy their marriage before it has even begun?

Meet the Gardner Girls:

Four devoted sisters must face pride, peril, and adventure before each finds a love that conquers all.

The Gardner Girls series is composed of standalone stories which may be read in any order. Mistakes Not to Make When Avoiding a Rake is the first book in the series, but the second chronologically.

Book Details

No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a happily ever after.

Heat Level: Sweet-with-Heat, Slow Burn

Available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0927W7QF9?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

Pity the Duke!

Cairo, 1839

My dear Mr. Clemens,

Our Rambles have taken us to Cairo where we have found  refuge in  Shepheard’s Hotel des Anglais, a tolerable semblance of a civilized hostelry in this exotic outpost. The drinks in the private dining room and outdoor veranda are at least satisfying to the palate and a blessing after heat and sand threaten to choke one.

I digress. As I have throughout our travels, I notice here a tendency of otherwise well-bred English travelers here to throw off the ornaments of their breeding and behave in ways that would shock their peers in London. I am pleased to report that observation does not apply to that illustrious personage, the Duke of Sudbury,  ambassador to the Sultan’s viceroy here. When I observe him arriving and departing Shepheard’s he is always perfectly groomed as befitting and English gentleman.

The duke does strike one as high in the instep, and has haughtily rebuffed attempts to approach him on numerous occasions—but again I digress.

I  have been quite amazed at the number of travelers taking advantage of Waghorn’s Overland Mail to travel from India via Suez. They cross to Cairo via caravan and sail the Nile to embark from Alexandria via steamer. All and sundry pause here at Shepheard’s for a restorative rest. All are generally respectably turned out if dusty from sand and  in need of ablutions.

Imagine my horror this morning when three of Wagner’s latest arrivals  sauntered into the hotel not only in native dress, but filthy. The greater shock, Mr. Clemens, came with recognition. The duke’s own nephew, Richard Mallet was among them. Though  dressed in Arabic garb, and bearing a complexion brown as a native from sun damage, it was he. Piercing blue eyes glared at me from a face so browned by  the  sun as  to  look native. I suspected his identity then. When  he  pulled off his  horrid headdress, the blond  hair, combined with his great  height gave him away.  He  and his companions, one of them a native  woman, were swiftly escorted to  the duke’s suite in  the exclusive upper floor.

Imagine my relief later. My loyal maid has a gift for  befriending local servants, one that has proved valuable at  every stop for gathering information. She tells me that the sister of one of the hotel’s under cooks works in the  home of Doctor Charles Cloutier, the famous French medical director to the viceroy. She recognized Mallet’s companion as Ana Cloutier, the  man’s daughter, and not  some native hussy at all.

My relief was short-lived after some thought. Why would a respectable woman, even a French  one, wear native dress and come to a hotel of this class looking like she had been dragged through the desert for weeks without bathing? Her feet, bare, but for some sort of native shoe, were visible to any man who cared to ogle her ankles.

How, I wondered, could the Duke of Sudbury abide having such a  creature inflicted on his suite?  He must be devistated by his nephew’s disgraceful behavior.

Your devoted correspondent,

Eunice Higgenbloom of Sussex

PS—We have since discovered more peculiar information. My maid’s acquaintance has since discovered that the lady in question cannot possibly be Miss Cloutier for that poor lady is most certainly dead. The reports of her demise come from impeccable sources.

About the Book

Richard Mallet comes to Egypt with dreams of academic glory. He will be the one to unravel the secrets of the ancient Kushite language. Armed with license to dig, he sets out for Meroë, where the Blue Nile meets the White. He has no room in his life for dalliance or entanglements, and he certainly doesn’t expect to face insurrection and unrest.

Analiese Cloutier seeks no glory—only the eradication of disease among the Egyptian women and children of Khartoum. She has no interest whatsoever in romantic nonsense and will not allow notions about a lady’s proper role to interfere with her work. She doesn’t expect to have that work manipulated for political purposes.

Neither expects to be enchanted by the amorous power of moonlight in the ruins of Karnak, or to be forced to marry before they can escape revolution. Will their flight north take them safely to Cairo? If it does, can they build something real out of their shattered dreams?

 

What Happens at The Soho Club?

Rumours abound regarding The Soho Club, an establishment so discreet that many members of the ton are unaware its doorways adjoin their own. All we know, dear reader, is that The Soho Club’s membership is expensive, exclusive — and scandalous.

In what manner scandalous, I hear you ask? To begin, both men and women attend the premises. To go on, it’s said this club offers a place where one’s most daring appetites are expected, and certainly encouraged.

The proprietress is rumoured to be a Mrs Skarsgard, about whom no one knows a thing except that she is wealthy, lovely, and of indeterminate age and status. She’s surely a natural-born cousin of a countess, or the like.

There’s only rule at her Soho Club – discretion above all things. What happens in the Soho Club, stays in the Soho Club. It’s only in this atmosphere of secrecy that our Regency lovers are free to indulge themselves in the pursuit of pleasure, desire, and of course, romance. For those who yearn to love outside imposed boundaries, love is always possible.

About the Collection:  Ten tempting Regency romance novellas to tickle your tastebuds, ranging from sweet to spicy

Theresa Fuller, A Headhunter in London:
A curious journalist is on to the story of a lifetime. But is this scoop worth putting her life – and her heart – on the line?

Heidi Wessman Kneale, Just Glimpse
A shy artist needs real experience when it comes to the human form. But how is she to find a willing model without causing scandal?

Beverley Oakley, Hazard’s Daughter
Louisa Stapleton’s life of drudgery is penance for past ‘sins’. A marriage proposal from the unctuous Mr Rivers could seal her fate. The object of her true affections is Felix Evesham, but Felix is distracted by the mysterious (and masked) ‘Miss Valentine’ at The Soho Club.

Renée Dahlia, Love Wasn’t Built in a Day
Businessman Humphrey Dexington’s love for engineer David Mattson will be forever unrequited. Humphrey invites David and his lover to the Soho Club for an evening together, but when David’s lover doesn’t show, it might just give Humphrey the chance he’s always wanted.

Pamela Hart, A Generous Heart
Accessing her own substantial inheritance from conservative trustees is proving impossible for Adeline Edmonds. Her heart is set on creating a charitable school for the poor of London. Viscount Marryam has his heart set on Adeline Edmonds, but the company she keeps could derail his ambitions.

Joanne Austen Brown, Redemption
Two damaged souls find healing and love thanks to Mrs Skarsgard and The Soho Club.

Clyve Rose, The Case of the Black Diamond
Nicknamed ‘the lonely lord’, Alexander Lindsey has spent a decade spying for the King and believes himself immune to surprises – until he meets Miss Ryan. Claire Ryan doesn’t swoon, and doesn’t blush – but when the Regent’s jewel is stolen, Lord Lindsey turns up at The Soho Club, asking questions. Soon, Claire and Alexander are investigating each other.

Linda Rae Sande, The Making of a Mistress
Miss Daisy Albright has volunteered to assist in exposing the man behind a smuggling ring operating in Yorkshire. Her assignment will require she become the mistress of the suspect. Now if only she can convince Alex Bradley to execute her plan. He’s positively appalled at learning what she wants him to do—at first.

Fiona M Marsden, Mine on Thursday
Angelina Delacourt has been engaged to Sebastion Smith-Davenport for five long years, with no sign of nearing the altar. Angelina cares not for gossip. She owes Bastion her life, and she’s prepared to endure a loveless engagement and marriage to protect his reputation. But Angie knows she’s missing out on something, and fellow Soho Club member Jasper DeMello is willing to provide that certain something.

Ebony Oaten, There’s Something About Miss Mary
Miss Mary Callingsbrooke knows there’s something terribly wrong with her. Her body reacts in such an unnatural way when she’s close to a handsome gentleman. Mary meets the mysterious Mister Smith at the Soho Club, who shows Mary that her ‘faults’ are in fact incredibly attractive features. He’s more than happy to marry Mary, but why the haste?

About the Book: Secrets of the Soho Club

Ten Regency novellas for less than $1.

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER:

 

Release Date: 15 July 2021

 

Multiple Authors:

Theresa Fuller

Heidi Wessman Kneale

Beverley Oakley

Renée Dahlia

Pamela Hart

Joanne Austen Brown

Clyve Rose

Linda Rae Sande

Fiona M Marsden

Ebony Oaten

 

Excerpt from The Case of the Black Diamond, by Clyve Rose:

Outside The Soho Club, dark clouds gathered in the afternoon sky. The air thickened, closely heavy in the prelude to a drenching. Claire shivered at the change in temperature, the tensing of mood. She sipped her coffee, watching Xander Lindsey, watching her. His gaze seemed focused rather closely on the rim of her cup, specifically where the fine china met her lips.

She sipped her brew again. “If you’re intent on seduction, you should know I am not my sister.”

His gaze lifted to her face, steady, focused, powerfully intent. “I have never seduced your sister. I am no rake, Claire.” His voice remained sure, strong, and deeply tempting.

“So it’s a ruse?” She guessed.

He inclined his head, his “mmmm,” resonating low in his throat, like a throb. “We can’t all mask our clandestine activities with scent.” His tone turned husky, intensity sharpening like a honed blade.

“I am not in the habit of short term liaisons,” Claire spoke carefully. “I am not in the habit of being seduced, either.”

“There’s a remedy for that,” he said quietly, suggestively. Did his voice deepen further? How deep does he—stop it.

As though he’d heard her, Xander set down his cup. He walked slowly towards her, the way one might approach a rare and dangerous object.

“Tell me, Claire Ryan, are you armed?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Because I should like to kiss you. If I halt here, you may blade my heart open instead,” he stopped halfway across the chequered floor, arms by his sides like a supplicant. A supplicant with warm brown eyes, and a devastating dimple.

Claire affected a study of the distance between them, lifted her head, locking her gaze to his.

“Three steps back gives you a sporting chance, Xander Lindsey.”

“Indeed?” The resonance from his baritone rippled through her. Nevertheless, he held his ground and Claire lifted a brow, gaze travelling brazenly over his planed face. He stared right back, smiling, offering that dimple where she lingered before studying the cleft in his chin, his corded neck muscles, those powerful shoulders of defined shape. Her gaze dropped lower, taking in his broad torso, narrow waist, and the shapely front of his trousers. She smiled then, wide and joyous, walking slowly towards him, slower than ever, as though she may never reach him, never touch him. Time stretched out, thinning, heating, bringing her closer to the heft of breath beneath flesh, her pulse beating faster with each step until her skin throbbed with the thought of his lips beneath hers, his surrender within her body.

“Something to savour,” she murmured, watching his answering smile. His tongue darted out, licking his lips and she let out a small laugh, not blinking at all. Not missing a moment of Xander Lindsey standing before her, arms at his sides, gaze locked on hers with an impulse she felt in every nerve and muscle. Claire touched his cheek, stroking him gently before leaning forward, lips positioned inches from his. Reaching up, she slipped her other hand beneath his jacket, sliding her palm over his shirt, feeling his breath shorten, his weight shift…until she located his hidden jacket seam. Keeping her gaze on his, she extracted his pistol as smoothly as possible, stroking the barrel along firm muscle as she withdrew. She kept his barrel there, smoothing it lightly back and forth against his shirt, teasing him with danger, with steel, with her unbroken gaze.

“Is it cocked, my lord?”

Scandalous Ducal Family Continues to Shock

As the Little Season draws to an end, one question is on every person’s lips. “Who is Elias W.?”

We understand from reliable sources that this young boy was found, dear reader, in a workhouse! A child of the gutter, we might be forgiven for assuming, and of no possible interest to proper families. However, his reception into one of the highest households in the land suggests that at least one of his parents was of very high birth, indeed.

All over London, people are wondering who it was. The W. family, despite their high estate, have had their share of scandal–generation after generation of rakes, at least two of whom (now sadly no longer with us) might have sired the boy. Since one was the father and one the brother of the lovely lady who has taken the boy home with her, perhaps all is explained.

And now, or so it is said, the lady is looking for a husband, after years of refusing all offers. Is it for the boy’s sake? Beyond a doubt, she will find one. She is no longer in the first flush of her youth, but she is still one of the great Diamonds of the ton. And the loveliness of her person pales in comparison to the loveliness of her dowry.

Still, should it prove (as some have whispered) that the link between Elias and the W. family is on the maternal rather than the paternal side, any gentleman might think twice about the cost of bringing such a scandal under his roof. Even the new Viscount B., who has been seen much in the lady’s company.

Like Elias, Lord B. has been sprung on Society without warning, when all believed that Lord L., his father, had male offspring. He has, by all accounts, been practicing medicine in the Royal Navy. An odd pass time for a future earl, it is true, but not as odd as continuing to work as a doctor in one of London’s worst slums.

Still, a man who does not turn up his nose at providing treatment to thieves and prostitutes might tolerate a workhouse brat as a ward for the sake of beauty, whether of the lady or her delightful money. Perhaps, after all, the Diamond and the Doctor are made for one another.

To Claim the Long-Lost Lover

Novel 3 of The Return of the Mountain King

Sarah Winderfield has refused every offer of marriage she has received since Nathaniel Beauclair convinced her to run away with him seven years ago, and then disappeared without a word or a trace. But now she needs a husband. She has a child to love and to protect, and the child needs a father.

She does not expect to meet Nate also on the marriage mart. Should she let him explain? Can she believe him?

Dragged back to England to feed his father’s pride in family, Nate refuses to give into the man’s demands that he take a wife. The only woman he will ever love is lost to him, married to a husband chosen by her father—or so his abducters said seven years ago, while they were beating him.

But when Nate finds that Sarah is still single, he rushes to London. Surely, they can find again the promise they believed in when they were young?

Through a labyrinth of old rumours and new enemies, two long-lost lovers must decide whether or not to claim one another, and win the bright future they both desire.

Preorder links (releases 30 July)

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096RLJJBZ

Links to other retailers: Books2Read: https://books2read.com/CMK-Claim

Excerpt

“You look lovely this evening,” Nate told Libby, as she joined him in the foyer.

His father’s wife glowed with pleasure. “And you look very fine yourself, Bentham,” she replied.

He bowed and offered his elbow. “Madam, your carriage awaits.”

“I am so looking forward to this evening, Nate. Perhaps tonight you might meet the young lady who will be your wife!”

Nate smiled and nodded, keeping his reservations to himself. Not unless my Sarah is present. But she is not yet in town, so it won’t be tonight. And even if she was in town, she would surely not be visiting the Hamners. Lady Hamner had been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford, and—according to Libby—the Dukes of Haverford and Winshire had been feuding since Winshire arrived back in the country with a whole quiverful of foreign-born children.

He allowed day dreams about their next meeting to while away the carriage ride and the wait in the street for other carriages to move out of the way. Libby continued to chatter, but she seldom required a response beyond ‘Is that right’ and ‘If you say so’.

It must have been a good thirty minutes before they were announced by Lord and Lady Hamner’s butler. Libby led him over to the Hamners to be introduced, and Nate looked around as he crossed the room.

A profile caught his eye. He shrugged it off. He had seen Sarah wherever he went for the past seven years, and a closer look always disclosed a stranger. This stranger turned towards him, and he stopped in his tracks, cataloguing changes. The fair hair was slightly darker. The heart-shaped face he remembered had matured into a perfect oval. The slender body of the long-remembered girl had ripened to fulfil its promise. But, beyond any doubt, Lady Sarah Winderfield stood on the other side of the drawing room, a smile on her lips as she talked with her friends.

Her gaze turned toward him just as Libby tugged on his arm. “Bentham! Are you well?” He let her pull him along, and Sarah’s gaze drifted away. He wanted to cross the room to her; accost her; demand that she recognise him and all they’d once meant to one another.

Some modicum of sense kept him stumbling after his step-mother. Men change between seventeen and twenty-four, he reminded himself. And people who have been through experiences like mine more than most.

Still, of all the meetings he’d imagined, he’d never envisaged one in which she didn’t know him.

Another Scandal: This Time From the Grave

To this seasoned reporter, the entire episode was shameful, dear reader. After returning from the war, Christian, the Duke of Randford, arrived at his solicitor’s office bearing the will of his late half brother, Lord Meriwether Vareck. Once he arrived, the duke faced the most disastrous of calamities. Rumors abound that his late half brother created a scandal to end all scandals. Yet, it appears the duke is also making one of his own.

It seems the celebrated war hero duke failed to offer his sincerest condolences to the first bereaved widow, Lady Meriwether Vareck, the former Katherine Greer. For the record, the Duke of Randford never bothered to meet his late half brother’s wife before he delivered the will. Nor had he met his late brother’s other wives.

Indeed, you read the words correctly. The duke’s half brother fancied wives. He had three tucked away in different corners of England. He couldn’t add to his collection after he’d drowned in a mud puddle during a stormy midnight steeplechase.

Fortunately for the three widows, the exalted duke had a change of heart and called upon them the next day. A spectator walking nearby Lady Meriwether’s home said that the duke had three bouquets of his prized roses in hand. I suspect they were for the three widows. Ah, to be a bird at the window for that titillating conversation, dear reader. One source informed me that the duke offered to repay their lost dowries his half brother spent. However, I find such talk unreliable. Who would want to have anything to do with such women? They face ruination in every sense of the word.

To compound matters, who exactly is Lady Meriwether? No one has heard anything about the woman except she owns a linen business. It’s unseemly she invited the other wives to live with her. Sources share the females of polite society highly regard Lady Meriwether. Even the Prince Regent has even expressed an interest in having her decorate his Royal Pavilion.

But the scandal grows. One of the solicitor’s law clerks whispered that the duke and Lady Meriwether appeared to be a little too cozy with one another as they try to find a solution to this disgrace. It is this intrepid reporter’s opinion that both should review the Church of England’s rules of affinity and consanguinity. That should put a stop to such nonsense.

Did I mention the second wife is in a delicate condition? Did you know the highest echelons of society once considered the third wife a diamond of the first water during her first Season? Oh, how that diamond has dulled.

The Duke of Randford, who has won the highest regard of all our countrymen, will have difficulty resolving this indignity. But as we discover more about the happenings of the three wives, our loyal readers shall be the first to know.

A DUKE IN TIME

“If…looking for something new with Austen’s spirit, humor, and dashing heroes, they can’t do better than MacGregor.” – Entertainment Weekly

A Duke in Time is the first book in a three-story arc that will have you rooting for leading heroines, searching for lost dowries, and falling for swoon-worthy heroes.

Katherine Vareck is in for the shock of her life when she learns upon her husband Meri’s accidental death that he had married two other women. Her entire business, along with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a royal supplier, is everything she’s been working for and now could be destroyed if word leaks about the three wives.

Meri’s far more upstanding brother, Christian, Duke of Randford, has no earthly clue how to be of assistance. He spent the better part of his adult years avoiding Meri and the rest of his good-for-nothing family, so to be dragged back into the fold is…problematic. Even more so is the intrepid and beautiful Katherine, whom he cannot be falling for because she’s Meri’s widow. Or can he?

With a textile business to run and a strong friendship forming with Meri’s two other wives, Katherine doesn’t have time for much else. But there’s something about the warm but compellingly taciturn Christian that draws her to him. When an opportunity to partner in a business venture brings them even closer, they’ll have to face their pasts if they want to share each other’s hearts and futures.

Available at these fine retailers:

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08FZ8B348/

Barnes and Noble https://bit.ly/2JUhXRj

iBook’s  https://apple.co/36lxQb0

Google Books  https://bit.ly/3kdhWEB

Kobo   https://bit.ly/3wSY552

Love’s Sweet Arrow: https://shop.lovessweetarrow.com/jannamacgregor

 

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