Home of the Bluestocking Belles

Because history is fun and love is worth working for

Tag: American Historical Romance Page 1 of 2

Scandal on the Streets of Headstone, Arizona

Our devoted readers will no doubt find this clipping forwarded to The Teatime Tattler from The Headstone Gazette across the pond. Obviously, concerned citizens and devotion to proper behavior are not limited to here in London. — S. Clemens

Dear Ms. Decorum:

I’m penning this letter out of the utmost concern for the wellbeing and safety of our latest young debutante from Boston who arrived into Headstone yesterday. Lord have mercy, if the lovely Miss Daisy Danvers wasn’t thronged by a posse of train robbers the moment she set foot on the train platform! One witness claimed she fainted dead away and toppled straight over the side of the platform.

I’ve yet to verify the details, but another witness claims she was caught in the arms of none other than Prescott Barra, the rough and ready local bull rider who set a previously-unheard-of, 10-second record at our last rodeo. And you know what they say about those Barra brothers? Nothing but trouble, that’s what!

What’s worse about this report is the most unfortunate fact that Daisy hasn’t been seen since Prescott rode off with her on his horse yesterday. The very notion of them being lost in the desert — without a chaperone, no less — is giving me the vapors right this second. Oh, where are my smelling salts?

I did a little digging on my own and discovered that Daisy was sent to Headstone by the reputable Boomtown Mail Order Brides Company in Boston, which can only mean one thing: She is under contract as a mail-order bride to some gentleman in our town. Our very town, dear citizens! I’m not certain how reputable the name of this bridal agency will remain when they discover one of their brides is missing. The poor gel could be anywhere. Oh, the horrors! Is she safe? Is she alive? I can hardly bear to consider the possibilities.

Scandal in Arizona

Even if Daisy Danvers is returned to town whole and in one piece — may the good Lord let it be so! — I am distressed to be the one to point out that her reputation will be in shreds. The way I see it, the lovely Miss Daisy will only have one choice to salvage those shreds. Regardless of whom she is currently affianced to (may the Lord comfort him and send him another, more suitable bridal candidate), it is my Christian belief that Miss Daisy has been thoroughly compromised by Prescott Barra. Alas, he is the man she must marry.

I’ll be joining a group of God-fearing women who will be holding vigil on the steps of the General Store this afternoon. It is my hope and prayer they will have an update on this brewing scandal. Be assured I will report back with anything new I hear.

Sincerely, A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

Scandal in Arizona

About the Book

Dare-Devil Daisy: Mail Order Brides Rescue #5

To the world, Daisy Danvers is a spoiled young debutante from Boston who always gets what she wants. But she has secrets — big, festering secrets she doesn’t want her best friend, Meg Nicholson, to find out. All she needs from Meg is a promise to help her find the perfect husband the moment she steps off the train in Headstone, Arizona. Her very life might depend upon it.

She never dreamed her troubles would follow her out West, and a whole posse of armed robbers would be waiting for her when she disembarked. She also never dreamed a cocky cowboy would sweep her away to safety on his horse.

It’s way too bad the devilishly handsome Prescott Barra claims he’s already affianced to another woman, because he’s everything she’s been looking for in a husband. He’s brave and fearless with a streak of adventure as wide as the canyons they’re riding. When she discovers he has a secret or two of his own, she begins to hope that maybe — just maybe — their secrets will lead them to each other.

Available in eBook on Amazon + FREE in Kindle Unlimited at
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07W61WBRR  
Coming soon to paperback!

An Excerpt~

The storm swirling across Meg’s features cleared. She stood and held out both hands to him. “You dear, dear man! I am so happy you’ve agreed to help me.”

That made one of them. He was fairly certain pretending to be engaged to Meg’s dearest friend was the most foolish thing he’d ever been asked to do.

“I’ll be sure to tell Shad how kind you were to me in his absence.”

Right. He was only doing this to help out a man he respected. Or at least the friend of the wife of a man he respected… Which was the same thing, wasn’t it? His brain hurt just thinking about it.

“What is her name?” he asked abruptly. He at least deserved to know the name of the chit he was going to be saddled with for a few days.

“Daisy.” Meg beamed at him. “Daisy Danvers, though some folks like to call her Dare-Devil Daisy.”

Blast it all! Helping Daisy sounded like a pack of trouble. Then again, he was a Barra brother. Trouble followed him everywhere he went. Trouble was his middle name.

About the Author

Jo Grafford writes sweet historical and contemporary romance stories — with humor, sass, and happily ever afters.

A typical day finds her with her laptop balanced on her knees, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat snoozing on her knees. He takes credit for most of what she does.

When Jo’s not writing stories, she’s reading them. She adores dashing gentlemen, resilient heroines with a sense of adventure, humorous sidekicks, dusty cowboys, bounty hunters, mail order brides…you get the idea.

She loves to visit with readers in her Cuppa Jo Readers group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CuppaJoReaders/.

To receive a personal email about each book she publishes, join her New Release Email List at JoGrafford.com or follow her on BookBub at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jo-grafford.

Plus you can read free chapters of many of her books on Wattpad.com/user/JoGrafford.

Scandal in Virginia

Excerpt from The New Hope Enterprise

Dec. 29, 1863

It is a sad day indeed when we are forced to communicate such news as follows, but it is our duty to bring you even the most scandalous incidents…even if they involve one of the most highly regarded residents of our region—the venerated war hero, Colonel Johnathon P. Wescott.

Mrs. Charlotte Tisdale, a well-respected resident of New Hope reported the following, and we relay it now to you. It seems that an impromptu gala was thrown together at Lacewood by Colonel Wescott’s men, who were given leave by their beloved commander to take part in Christmas Eve festivities. It was late at night before Colonel Wescott left his post on the battlefield, but he finally appeared at Lacewood, looking as gallant and intrepid as ever such a highly esteemed man can look.

Of course, those in attendance at Lacewood included all of the eligible young ladies from the region who hoped to catch a glimpse—or perhaps even a dance—with the widowed father.

Scandal Virginia

Dear readers, here is the news of which I warned you. It has been reported to us by Mrs. Tisdale (and others) that the Colonel danced the night away—not with one of the highly regarded Southern belles in attendance—but with the Yankee caretaker of his young daughter!

Yes, friends, if you live in New Hope, you know the sad story. The poor child was left motherless by the passing of his wife almost a year ago, and now the sweet darling has been left in the hands of a stranger whose reputation and character are known to us only by the gossip that trickles in by attentive neighbors.

However, we know all we need to know. Mrs. Tisdale confirmed that this woman, this Yankee she-devil, hails from New York and has a brother in the Union army. Yes, you read that correctly. A brother…In the Union Army.

Wishing to verify these rumors—which are obviously too absurd and preposterous to be accepted on their face, we discovered that the news gets even worse. It seems Miss Annie Logan (the caretaker) placed herself beneath the mistletoe when Colonel Wescott was near, and, of course, being a Southern gentlemen of the highest order, he felt obligated to satisfy the tradition that has been handed down for centuries.

My own face reddens at the thought of this conniving kiss. Who knows what else has transpired between the walls of Lacewood? We can only hope that it will not stain the character of its occupants for generations to come…

About the Book

Two people trying to escape their pasts find a connection through an old house—and fulfill a destiny through the secrets it shares. Part love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in fate, letting of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.

MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the haunting portrait of a woman in mourning.

Purchasing the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story, Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.

Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…

The past and present converge when hometown hero Will Durham returns and begins his own healing process by helping the “city girl” restore the place that holds so many memories. As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the shadows for centuries is fulfilled.

Take advantage of the low launch-week price of only $3.99, and sign up for the author’s newsletter at https://www.jessicajamesbooks.com.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Apple Itunes

All Other Retailers

An Excerpt

December 1863

“I think Jon has finally broken away from the ladies,” Luke said at last. “Here he comes.”

Annie turned and watched with an incredible degree of composure as Colonel Wescott strode toward her with calm detachment, pinioning her where she stood with his devouring stare. A strange sensation throbbed in her then—like the beating of a new heart—and she marveled at its power to fluster and confuse.

When he reached her he stopped, but his caressing gaze continued to play across her face. “You are aware of the tradition, I suppose.”

Colonel Wescott’s voice, Annie had learned, could be penetrating and commanding, or gentle and kind. He could easily silence an entire roomful of people without yelling or losing control—and could just as effortlessly melt her heart with the tender tones of a father.

The tenor tonight was both warm and imposing, throwing her off balance. Her eyes darted around, not understanding his meaning. “Tradition?”

He merely gestured to a place over her head, his smile widening as she took in the swag of mistletoe hanging above her.

Grasping Luke’s ruse that had placed her in this spot, Annie transferred her gaze to Luke just as he was exchanging a mischievous wink with his brother. Even Miss Benton was now brimming over with amusement.

“Do you need schooling in the ritual?” Colonel Wescott’s tone was businesslike, but the sentiment on his face was not. It reflected a playfulness, a cheerful joviality that was both infatuating and intimidating. He’d never crossed this line of familiarity with her before—and Annie was fairly sure he’d not done so with others, even those he considered close friends.

She wanted to pretend an affront, but when faced with his appealing smile her defenses melted away. Candlelight and music filled the air, exaggerating and intensifying the intoxication of her senses. Laughter and conversation blended and blurred until nothing existed but the man before her, whose smoldering eyes beckoned seductively.

About the Author

Jessica James is an award-winning author of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and Christian fiction, who combined all of her favorite things to create Lacewood.

Her new release is a multi-era, small town, clean, inspirational novel that melds together elements of mystery, history, and romance.

As someone who lives in a 200-year-old house, Jessica was intrigued when thinking about the generations of people who occupied the same home. Lacewood gives readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what took place in an old neglected Southern mansion before two people from the modern world stumble across it and into each other. It’s a love story that spans centuries, taking readers on a journey into the past as the house reveals secrets about a long-lost love affair.

You can find her here:

Website

Amazon Author Page

BookBub

Goodreads

Facebook

Pinterest

Overheard at the Silverpines Inn

By A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

My lands! As if our dear little town of Silverpines, Oregon hasn’t endured enough calamities in the past year — earthquakes, a mud slide, and a fire that consumed nearly everything in its path between 3rd Avenue and Chinatown! It is salt in the proverbial wound to now be forced to endure the scandal brewing across town at the old Kingsley mansion.

If it weren’t for a certain postmistress taking her dinner at the Silverpines Inn yesterday afternoon, we might never have learned the truth. Sadly, it appears the headmistress of the new Silverpines Finishing School for Young Ladies, Rachel West, is stringing along not one but two beaus. Indeed, it is a sad state of affairs to witness an instructor of social graces carrying on so, but I fear the evidence against her is overwhelming.

For one thing, she was overheard having a somewhat heated conversation with the dashing Mr. Finneas Banfield, who I’m delighted to report was wearing the latest in fashion from Boston. Ah, but our small town could use more of his charming Old World manners and British accent. In short, the orphan-widow appeared to be rebuffing the man’s adoring attentions. How heartbreaking!

An hour later, the same young instructor in deportment was seen driving her new, outlandish automobile to the train depot. There she proceeded (without a proper chaperone) to greet a perfect stranger and chauffeur him across town to her finishing school. I wish that was the worst of my news. Alas, there is more.

No one in town has ever laid eyes on the man. I asked around to be certain, and it was confirmed by no less than two other reputable townswomen: Never before has a Black man so much as paid a visit to Silverpines.

Upon further investigation, I learned that Mrs. West posted a letter a few weeks ago for a mail-order groom. And not just any groom! Rumor has it Mr. Boone Cassidy is a bounty hunter. A bounty hunter! I shudder to contemplate the reasons anyone would require the services of such a dark and brooding gunslinger. I can only pray he completes whatever mission he’s been called upon to perform with haste, before the rumors about his budding romance with Mrs. West spin completely beyond my control.

As one of the senior matriarchs in our town, I’ve tried everything within reason to quell the gossip. I truly have. But even a God-fearing, upright citizen like myself cannot easily explain away a public embrace like the one Mrs. West apparently shared this morning with Mr. Cassidy. Be assured, I will keep my ear bent to the ground for more details and report back the moment I can confirm this latest distressing report.

About the Book

Silverpines

Orphan and widow Rachel West is returning home to Oregon after eight years of living with her guardian on the East Coast. Thanks to a lavish inheritance from her great-aunt, she now has the funds to realize her dream of opening the Silverpines Finishing School for Young Ladies.

Unfortunately, a former co-instructor from Boston follows her to Silverpines, claiming a deathbed promise to look after her. Highly suspicious of his intentions, she sends off for a mail-order husband to provide a buffer between them; but she makes it clear in her letter she wishes to court first and only marry if they develop feelings for each other and the “good Lord wills it.”

As a bounty hunter by trade, Boone Cassidy is accustomed to far more dangerous tasks than ridding spoiled debutantes of their unwanted suitors. He fully expects the uppity Mrs. West to send him packing the moment she realizes a Black man has been sent to her aid. After laying eyes on her at the train station, however, he realizes he’s made a great many incorrect assumptions about the lovely headmistress. All of a sudden, thwarting the attentions of her dandified, self-proclaimed beau from Boston becomes a task worthy of his most gallant efforts!

Available in eBook on Amazon + FREE in Kindle Unlimited at
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RKW915S
Coming soon to paperback!

Two Short Excerpts~

RACHEL WEST’S STORY:

November, 1900 — Silverpines, Oregon

Rachel West shivered as she stepped onto the train platform. It wasn’t the chill of the late autumn breeze so much as the feeling of stepping on ghosts that shook her up on the inside. For a moment, she fought the urge to spin around in her designer boots, sprint back to her private cabin on the train, and keep on riding.

She’d been away for eight long years from the one town in the world that felt like home. Or should have…

Squinting against the glare of the morning sun, she turned in a full circle, trying to find one familiar structure or one familiar face from her treasure trove of memories.

And utterly failed.

A spurt of panic gurgled through her mid-section at the sight of the new-looking cafe facing her. A freshly painted butcher’s storefront rested to the left of it, and a post office was located just across a side street from it. They had to be new, because the paint was so bright and un-peeling, and none of their roofs boasted the usual slight ripple of unevenness that so many buildings take on once they’ve had the chance to settle.

Her head swiveled. There was also a book store she didn’t remember standing next to the post office. It was an inviting little building with a big, cheery picture window crowded with books. Normally, she would have tossed all her earthly cares to the winds and made a beeline for the cozy nook for book lovers, but she was too busy pondering the notion that she might have made a horrible mistake at disembarking.
Why, even the depot building squatting behind her looked new! Had she misunderstood the announcement and gotten off at the wrong stop altogether?

“Rachel? Is it really you?”

She jolted at the soft, lilting alto wafting across the train platform. Nothing around her looked familiar, but she’d recognize that voice anywhere.

“Penelope Wallace!” she cried joyfully, whirling to face her childhood friend. She was in the right town after all, even if it didn’t look right.

“It’s Cooper now. Penelope Cooper.”

They threw themselves in each other’s arms with squeals of sheer delight, and Rachel experienced a pang of remorse at the knowledge it had been more than two years since they’d last exchanged letters, maybe three. Good heavens, how the time had flown!

To avoid making any awkward excuses for her lack of correspondence, Rachel fell back on her good manners and well of natural charm. “Eight years hasn’t changed you one bit. You don’t look a day older than sixteen.” The moment the words sailed from her mouth, she regretted them; because it was painfully clear that Penelope had indeed changed.

She still looked young and girlish, but the sparkle that had always lurked in her wide, innocent eyes — despite how hard her temperamental, overly controlling mama had tried to extinguish it — was entirely gone. It its place was bone-weariness and the bruising shadows born of hard times. A recent tragedy, if Rachel were to venture a guess.

They were the same kind of shadows she witnessed in her own eyes every time she stood in front of a mirror.

Silverpines


BOONE CASSIDY’S STORY:

…Thank you kindly for your assistance in this unbelievably stressful matter. If you send me a trustworthy bounty hunter, I will be forever grateful.
Yours truly,
Rachel West 

When a knock sounded on the door of his train car, Boone hastily wadded the letter and stuffed it back in his pocket. “Yes?”

A sandy-haired attendant with a mop of flyaway curls popped his head inside and looked surprised to find a Black man in a pin-striped travel suit lounging in the luxury cabin. “I, ah…” He swallowed. “I’m looking for a Mr. Cassidy?”

“Present and accounted for,” Boone answered dryly, wondering if the man would refuse to serve him like the last one had. In anticipation of such discriminatory treatment, he’d brought along a decent sized stash of non-perishable foods and bottled beverages.

“Very well.” The waiter swallowed again and stepped inside the car, looking nervous. “W-would you care to order any dinner?”

“I would.” Boone was afraid to get his hopes up, but his traitorous mouth started to water at the thought of a warm meal. It had been a full two days since his last one. “What’s on the menu?”

“Roasted ham and chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed asparagus, and a fruit salad.”

“Sounds good to me.” More like heaven, actually. He was already imagining himself biting into the steamy, succulent meat entrees.

“What would you like to drink? There’s tea and lemonade, coffee and…never mind. I don’t believe I’m allowed to serve wine and spirits to your kind.”

As a God-fearing Christian the past twenty-eight years, Boone wasn’t all that interested in ordering wine and spirits, but he couldn’t help resenting the jab about his kind. He knew without asking that the man was referring to his rich-as-molasses color, thanks to his half-Nigerian and half-Hispanic roots. “Tea and coffee would be marvelous,” he assured with a wink, hoping to settle the young man’s jumpiness.

He only looked more nervous. His glazed-over gray eyes dropped to the twin holsters slung around Boone’s hips.

Boone held his gaze steadily. “I’m a bounty hunter, heading up to Silverpines, Oregon to help rescue a little schoolmarm from a conman.”

A faint smile tugged at the edges of the waiter’s mouth, and his shoulders relaxed a fraction. “That sounds like quite an adventure.”

Boone shrugged. “Most of what I do is dangerous work, but it pays well.” Come to think of it, he was probably the wealthiest Black man in the Midwest. In the country, for that matter! Another thought struck him, making him shoot a sly glance up at the waiter. “The sooner you arrive back with my dinner, the bigger your tip will be, son.”

The young man gulped and took off so quickly he stumbled over his own feet on his way out the door.

Boone chuckled at his expense and returned to the wildly un-exciting task of pondering the best way to rid the uppity Mrs. West of her unwanted suitor.

About the Author

Jo writes sweet historical and contemporary romance stories — with humor, sass, and happily ever afters.

A typical day finds her with her laptop balanced on her knees, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat snoozing on her knees. He takes credit for most of what she does.

When Jo’s not writing stories, she’s reading them. She adores dashing gentlemen, resilient heroines with a sense of adventure, humorous sidekicks, dusty cowboys, bounty hunters, mail order brides…you get the idea.

She loves to visit with readers in her Cuppa Jo Readers group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CuppaJoReaders/.

To receive a personal email about each book she publishes, join her New Release Email List at JoGrafford.com or follow her on BookBub at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jo-grafford.

Plus you can read free chapters of many of her books on http://Wattpad.com/user/JoGrafford.

Will Love Run True?

Dear Teatime Tattler Readers,

I am delighted to inform you that everything is proceeding on schedule in my brother’s courtship of my best friend, Constance Drake. How Samuel fretted when Constance’s father put an end to his suit, but Mr. Drake has seen the error of his ways and now gives permission for Samuel to chart a course toward wedded bliss.

Courtship

It seems the original misunderstanding has been corrected. Since Samuel is an ardent abolitionist and travels frequently on lecture tours, Constance’s father believed that his daughter would risk being widowed. We in the Ohio Abolitionist Society all know the dangers abolitionists face. We have dodged thrown eggs and tomatoes in more than one town. But we are determined to do what we believe is right.

Constance and Samuel will make a wonderful couple!


After seminary, Samuel hopes to be placed at a church in Ohio. His reputation grows with every speaking engagement, so I’m sure he will find the perfect church in which to continue his abolitionist mission.

The only fly in the ointment is Micah Spencer. He and Samuel used to be the best of friends when they attended seminary together, but Micah made some poor choices for his life. He once told me how much he admired Constance, but when Samuel started courting her, Micah bowed out. To make matters worse, Micah turned to slave catching as a way to earn money. Can you imagine?  Micah works directly against Constance. Surely he doesn’t think he has a chance with her now.

I cannot imagine a more perfect union than that of my brother and my best friend. My mother often quotes Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “The course of true love never did run true.”  But surely the way is set for my brother. Micah may pine for Constance, but how could she possibly choose him over Samuel?

About the Book

Ohio promises freedom. Kentucky threatens bondage. Only one thing would entice an escaped slave to take the risk

In 1838, escaping slaves know Ripley, Ohio is a good place to cross into freedom. But slave catchers know it as well. Micah Spencer spends a frozen night silently waiting for runaways, unaware that the next escaping slave will change his life.

Runaway slave Opal knows she’s risking her life and that of her infant by leaving Kentucky and making a desperate journey north. If she is to make it, she’ll have to trust the one person she’s learned to fear.


Constance Drake admires the heroic abolitionists of Ripley but wonders if she has the courage of her convictions. When she’s asked to cross into enemy territory, she’ll have to rely on her faith and every ounce of bravery she has.

Read free with Kindle Unlimited or Buy now!

An excerpt from Freedom River

Constance had been high-spirited during their school days together. Since becoming an adult, she’d adopted a more restrained manner, but that daring spirit still twinkled in her eyes.

The warm memory of their one and only dance made Micah smile. During his last year in college, the town had put on a spring dance. Every maiden in the county had shown up in their best frocks, but Constance had outshone them all.

Micah couldn’t dance worth a lick, but he wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass him by. When the musicians had struck up Annie Laurie, he’d approached Constance from behind and slipped his hand into hers. She’d spun around, obviously surprised, but then she’d smiled.

Oh, that smile. With one daring grin, she’d accepted his invitation and branded his heart.

With his heart pounding and his skin on fire, he’d led her to the edge of the dance floor, set his palm on her waist, and lifted her other hand.

Despite her lacy white glove, her hand on his shoulder felt like a hot coal. She’d followed his dubious lead, all the while smiling into his eyes. At that moment, Micah knew what the hawk felt when it soared above treetops. He would win the girl and make her his own. He would marry her, love her, and care for her until he died.

But his best friend loved her too. Samuel had kept him awake half the night, sighing over Constance. A few weeks later, Samuel began calling on her every Sunday afternoon. Micah had watched and waited, unwilling to surrender his hopes and unable to intervene.

That had been the beginning of the rift between he and Samuel. Samuel Lynton had absorbed every word of Reverend Rankin’s abolitionist teaching. In those days he’d been a zealot for the cause, debating with his fellow students and writing articles for various abolitionist newspapers. He’d risen rapidly in Reverend Rankin’s organization, and he was undoubtedly the teacher’s favorite.

But Micah’s school days hadn’t been so ideal. When his father had learned of Reverend Rankin’s message, Micah’s tuition had disappeared. Samuel’s father owned one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the state, a legacy Samuel would one day inherit, but Micah’s options were few. He could either return to his family’s farm or find another way to support himself. How could Micah ever hope to compete with Samuel?  Then he’d seen the notices in the Ripley paper. Rewards for the return of runaway slaves would be easy money.

About the Author

Claire Sanders is an award-winning author of inspirational novels. Her attention is always drawn to stories about someone fighting for what’s right in the face of overwhelming resistance. That, and a life-long interest in history, led to an appreciation for the abolitionists who dared to break mankind’s law in order to uphold God’s law.

Claire writes about Christians in conflict. Never one to preach, Claire lets the plot reveal how the characters’ faith sustains them through the struggle.

To find out more about Claire, see an complete list of her novels, and sign up for her newsletter, visit her website –

       www.clairesandersbooks.com.

email:  claire@clairesandersbooks.com

Twitter:  @booksbyclaire

Facebook:  Claire Sanders News

Bookbub:  Claire Sanders

High and Mighty Teatime

Tea

A flurry of activity whirred through the parlor of Lady Benedicta Rangecroft, where a gathering of ladies was setting up to hear the news of London from Lady Selina Peckham. The tea service, complete with both China and Indian, a selection of finger sandwiches, and delicate pastries were set with the finest care. The visiting guests, five in total, made up the most influential women in Morgan Hill, South Carolina.

They busied themselves with social responsibilities prior to the taking up the responsibilities of motherhood, which would unavoidably usurp their valuable time. This meeting was an invaluable opportunity to discuss important matters of the day. And by extension, to stay abreast of the news from foreign lands. And today, as luck would have it, Lady Selina Peckham, is gathering to delight the group with news of London.

Lady Selina Peckham, while standing by the fireplace holding the mantle with one hand, was in thoughtful preparation to perform an imitation of Henry Irving’s performance of Mathias in “The Bells”.

“Ladies, it was precisely at this time,” Lady Selina began, with a flourish of her arm and placing her wrist upon her forehead, regaling the group with her performance.  “I was dumbfounded, upon the realization that Mathias, the primary lead character, would be haunted for the rest of his life because of a moments madness.”

At this point, Lady Christmas Harper, set down her tea cup and saucer with such command that all could hear the clang of the china. “But didn’t you say that Mathias had virtually killed a seed merchant in order to gather money to pay off his own mortgage?”

Lady Selina’s shoulders slumped knowing that the critical  moment was destroyed with the foolish question. “My dear, it’s not a simple matter of murder, he was a desperate man, the seed merchant was overly fortunate, . . .”

“Heathen, he was a heathen to take another man’s life for such a selfish reason.” Lady Christmas stood to make her views known beyond doubt.

During the kerfuffle, Lady Gertrude Stark, reached out for her third sandwich. She carefully slid the sandwich behind her tea cup, in order, that it would escape Lady Benedicta’s attention. 

Tea

Clearing her throat, Lady Benedicta gently set her tea on the table and ushered her opinion to the fore. “Please, let us remember that we are here to fortify our minds with clever new ideas and thoughts to ponder. We are fortunate that Lady Selina so willingly exposed herself to the dangers of the theatre in order to regale us with the story of Mr. Henry Irving’s performance. Let us be understanding. Continue please,” Lady Benedicta said with authority, and again sat poised with her tea cup and saucer in her lap.

Lady Selina smiled patiently at her challenger until finally Lady Christmas capitulated and dutifully took her seat among group.

“Simply said, Henry Irving’s performance in “The Belles”, was tragic magnifique. I am not over praising his skill when I say his command of the stage is nothing less than astonishing. No other actor will ever be able to match his resonate vocalization, masculine gait across the stage, and his tender fall from grace,” she said tipping her head just enough to show due reverence to the performer.

During the moment of stillness that followed Lady Selina’s pronouncement, Lady Gertrude captured another three cookies from the closest tray, having already finished the earlier sandwiches. She briskly eyed the room, so as to make sure that her theft went unnoticed by all.

It was at this time Lady Philippa leaned forward, glassy eyed and swooning. “It sounds like the most romantic evening that could ever be endured. How can you stand that the performance ended?”

Lady Christmas, upon hearing turned her head from the conversation and bit her lip.

Upon hearing just this one note of appreciation, Lady Selina drew herself to the cushion closest to Lady Philippa and prepared herself for yet another confession. “That is not totality of the surprises we endured that evening.”

Lady Selina stood again, and walked about the room while she gathered the perfect words to compliment the most important revelation of the evening.

The gathering of women, beyond Lady Christmas, waited with bated breath.

“After we arrived at the Lyceum Theatre, and after we enjoyed the opulence of the crystal chandeliers, the velvet wall dressing, and the handsomely carved wooden banisters. After we were met with dignitary’s, business men, and their elegant wives. After we…”

“Get on with it, can you?” Lady Christmas nearly shouted.

Abruptly, Lady Selina turned her back toward Lady Christmas and continued her talk focusing entirely on the other three in the room. She noticed for a brief moment, that Lady Gertrude had a biscuit crumbs on her mouth. Lady Selina, not wanting to be distracted, offered a most discreet wiping of her own mouth, to entreat Lady Gertrude to wipe the crumbs away. Then she continued, maintaining her dignity to the end.

Tea

“After we were seated in our most comfortable box seats, and just before the performance began, can you imagine what happened next?”

“Do, please tell us, before we are lost in your circular theatrical tale,” Lady Christmas blurted.

This outburst was followed by Lady Benedicta clearing her throat for the third time in this conversation.

“Oh, yes, please do put us out of our suspense,” Lady Philippa said, clapping her hands and bobbing her knees up and down.

“Imagine if you will, the red velvet curtain opens, the gas lights on the stage using some magical method of sorcery. . . “

“Sorcery! Holy Mother of God, what demon story is being inflicted on me now!” Lady Christmas exclaimed her protest at the top of her lungs.

The next few moments were a flurry of activity.

Instantly, Lady Philippa audibly gasped, pulled out her ornamental fan, leaned back in her chair, and waived the fan briskly in front of cheeks. Which by this time, at the mere mention of sorcery had gone flush with excitement.

Lady Gertrude took the break in the conversation to refill her tea cup and fill her saucer with the final pastry on the serving tray. 

Lady Benedicta stood, placed her hands on her hips, and with an admonishing glare, stared fiercely at Lady Christmas. 

“You will take care not to insult a guest in my home or you will be forced to leave and not return again. It doesn’t matter that you are my sister-in-law. Am I made perfectly clear?”

It was at this point that Lady Christmas, whose eye’s had filled with scorn, looked to the heaven’s for strength. She muttered a soft prayer to herself and finally took her seat once again, and braced for the worst. Which was inevitably to follow.

Then, without hesitation, Lady Benedicta nodded for Lady Selina to continue.

Lady Selina had determined her best opportunity to complete her story was to focus her attention toward Lady Philippa and remain this way through the duration of her story.

“As I was saying, the gas lamps on the stage were extremely bright and this was the first time I had seen anything like this. But the lights in the theatre were dimmed to the point that the entire audience was sitting in the complete dark.”

“Oh no!” exclaimed Lady Christmas.

“Oh yes!” exclaimed Lady Benedicta.

“Oh my!” exclaimed Lady Philippa.

“I will,” Lady Gertrude said, and pinched an untouched sandwich from another woman’s plate.

Lady Philippa moaned in astonishment. She was dumbfounded beyond measure. Her fan flipped with such energetic gyration that it nearly split up the middle.  “Well, I have never sat in the dark during the performance of any kind, let alone in a box seat with my husband. The entirety of the audience could see you. In the dark, it’s near madness.”

Lady Selina shook her head, “No my dear, all the audience was in the dark. Never in my life, and I have been witness to dozen’s of plays, have I ever sat entirely in the dark with my husband in a public venue. I don’t mind saying, it was thrilling to say the least.”

A wily smiled passed across Lady Benedicta’s sober face for the first time today.

There was a stillness that fell across the room, each woman in her own seat pondering the dark.

“I’ll tell you ladies, it was a celebratory event,” Lady Selina said taking her first sip of tea. 

About the Book

Valentine's Day

Eleven lovelorn singletons. Eleven tales of Cupid, catastrophe, and maybe more…

These characters have had it with love—or, if not with that, with Valentine’s Day. But no matter how they fight it, Cupid refuses to relent. From struggling singles to secret crushes to enemies turned much, much more, these lightning strikes of love will add a spark of hope to your holiday. 

Worst Valentine’s Day Ever flips the script on lonely hearts who seem destined for Valentine’s disaster. If you like laugh-out-loud rom-coms, terrible dates gone right, and gorgeous happily-ever-afters, then you’ll love this adorable collection. It ain’t all hearts and roses; but these tales of triumph will find your faith in Valentine’s Day—and your faith in love—restored. 

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Worst-Valentines-Day-Ever-Anthology-ebook/dp/B07N16BVZD/

About the Author

Daphne Masque – Writes about Romance in the theatre for any time period.

Daphne started keeping a journal during her formative years, junior high. Journaling and bad poetry started her love of working with words. She didn’t know it would last a lifetime. She went on to study Theatre Arts in college and since that time she’s been working in the theatre for over four decades. Her love of dialogue, storytelling, and bringing characters to life has been her passion ever since she first stood on the stage. Writing romance has brought a new dimension to her craft. She adores putting the two elements of romance and theatre in the same world. She hopes you enjoy her stories as much as she enjoying writing them.

Join her email list at:  http://www.daphnemasque.com/contest/

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén