My Dearest Readers:
If your chaise-longue requires fresh feathers, I must recommend you send for the upholsterer before reading this any further. Once you have been assured that your preferred furniture will not cause injuries should you feel the inevitable urge to faint, you may proceed.
I fear a dreadful scandal has occurred in Staffordshire. I sympathize with the utter unrest you are most certainly feeling at this unexpected news. We associate scandals with London and Brighton, but never Staffordshire, home of an abundance of ceramics and grazing grounds for livestock.
Mrs. Blythe has been recording the events that have been happening at Laventhorpe Castle, near the Staffordshire Moors. We do not like to ponder her expenses for smelling salts.
As I am certain you are well aware, the Duke of Framingham recently became betrothed to Princess Aria Eleonora Ingrid Petronella of Sweden. Though the wedding announcement caused our eyebrows to reach a higher than customary perch, we were naturally pleased for them, even if we wondered at the wisdom of the match. After all, the aged duke’s unpleasant visage cannot compensate for his brash, equally unpleasant personality, and the princess is so wealthy, we doubted even the duke’s vast estate held much temptation to her.
It seems though that shortly after the wedding, the princess absconded with the duke’s younger cousin. Quel horreur! There are rumors that he kidnapped her and her pet dog, Galileo, though that is no excuse, naturally, for a woman to abandon her marital bed on her wedding night. They are even now hurrying through Staffordshire, though I am assured that the duke and his men are pursuing them.
Mrs. Blythe’s new book, The Truth about Princesses and Dukes, details these events at length. I hope, dearest readers, that you should not feel the urge to behave in equally outrageous manners.
About the Book: The Truth about Princesses and Dukes
Princess Aria Eleonora Ingrid Petronella of Sweden has been exchanging letters with the most marvelous man in the world. Perhaps her true love is somewhat aged, and perhaps butterflies don’t swarm inside her chest when they meet briefly at a ball, but she is certain no man equals the Duke of Framingham in magnificence. When he proposes marriage in a letter, she eagerly accepts.
Rupert Andrews doesn’t expect to enjoy writing letters on behalf of his elderly cousin. But when the Duke of Framingham informs Rupert that he’s fallen in love with a beautiful woman and needs someone to write letters on his behalf, Rupert reluctantly agrees. After all, the cottage he inherited after his mother’s death is heavily mortgaged, and the duke has kindly let him take longer to repay the debt. On the duke’s wedding day, Rupert overhears the duke tell his mistress that he plans to toss his new bride off his balcony so they can marry. The duke merely desires the princess’s money, and Rupert knows one thing: he has to rescue her.
Princess Aria is astonished when a young, spectacle-wearing man kidnaps her. She’s in love with the duke—after all, he’s sent her such wonderful letters for weeks. Soon though, she’s on the run with Rupert to London. If only Rupert had sent her such lovely letters. . .
Rupert marched through the room and opened various drawers. There must be another key. He scrummaged through the duke’s attire, then crawled under the bed.
Finally, he glanced toward the window.
He rather wished the first Duke of Framingham had decided to put his bedroom on the ground floor. If only that duke had had a premonition of the viciousness of one of his descendants and his propensity to go about locking relatives in bedrooms. Evidently, the duke’s success at fighting the French so many centuries ago had not translated into an equal ability to foretell the future.
Rupert attempted to open the balcony door, but it was locked. He scowled, before hastily moving to the window.
Rupert unlocked the hinge on the window and pushed it open. A brisk wind met him. Birds chirped merrily, and the sun was in full force. He squinted into the light. Then he lowered himself carefully from the window until his feet touched the battlement.
The birds jerked their heads toward him from their perches on the parapet, before flying away. A few servants were outside, marching to the chapel with flowers.
Where was the princess?
Would she be in the chapel now? In the drawing room? Still touring the castle?
Her dressing room.
Rupert lowered himself down and hurried to the other wing, crawling along the crenellations. He wasn’t certain which room she’d been placed in, but he assumed it was the best one. The wind brushed against him, as if urging him to reenter the house. A few leaves, which had no doubt laid in the battlements for months, flew into his face. He pushed them away, and they crunched against his fingers.
Why was the castle so large? Evidently, no one had calculated the utter inconvenience the large size would be when someone was forced to circumvent it on one’s stomach.
The chapel bells rang, and Rupert scurried forward.
About the Author
Born in Texas, Bianca Blythe spent four years in England. She worked in a fifteenth-century castle, though sadly that didn’t actually involve spotting dukes and earls strutting about in Hessians.
She credits British weather for forcing her into a library, where she discovered her first Julia Quinn novel. She remains deeply grateful for blustery downpours.
After meeting her husband in another library, she moved with him to sunny California, though on occasion she still dreams of the English seaside, scones with clotted cream, and sheep-filled pastures. For now, she visits them in her books.