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Tag: An Open Heart

Confused in London

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Augusta,

I am attracted to my mentor’s daughter. Worse than that, I can’t stop thinking of her. As a devout Jew, however, I need a woman who will keep a traditional home. Esther’s parents sent her to a secular girls’ school. She socializes with daughters of very high ranking men, and her father encourages it. I’m afraid she will never want to settle into the quiet home life I envision for our children. My sons will study with a rabbi, but my wife will have the teaching of our daughters. Still I can’t stop thinking about Esther Baumann. What am I to do?


Confused in London

Adam Halevy, the hero in An Open Heart in Holly and Hopeful Hearts by Caroline Warfield

Dearest Confused in London,

My dear Confused in London, I am not the least bit sorry to say that your Esther sounds like a bluestocking. A woman like that is quite unlike any other! A woman with brains is nothing to be feared. Quite the contrary–she will push you to be a better man and a better father.

It seems to me that you know or at the very least suspect this already, which is why you have penned me your letter. If you care for this Esther and wish for her to be your wife and the mother of your children, should you not want her to be happy? If you love her, and I believe you do, then it is because you appreciate her despite her differences from what you think you ought to want. Should you not wish for your daughters to be similar to the woman you love? Should you not want them to be learned? A quiet home life is well and good, but one full of love is best of all.

Fear not. Love is always worth believing in, and hope should never die. Give of yourself, free yourself, and you will be much the happier for it, I truly believe so.

I wish you the very best,

Aunt Augusta

An Open Heart in Holly and Hopeful Hearts by Caroline Warfield

Adam has been sent on a dangerous mission for his cousin. When he returns when hopes to find a suitable wife, someone who understands a woman’s role, and will make a traditional home. Why is Baumann’s outspoken, independent daughter the one woman who haunts his nights?


Dear authors, if ever you should find that one of your characters has found him or herself in a rather trying position, whether in matters of the heart or matters of fashion or any matter at all, do be a kind soul and write to me. I will endeavor to answer your questions, if you but pen them for me.

Our Society Correspondent

The house party at Hollystone Hall has a spy: a lady correspondent for the Teatime Tattler. To find out more about the stories she discusses below, see Holly and Hopeful Hearts—release date and buy links on our project page.


Dear Mr. Clemens,

I have arrived at Hollystone Hall, and, as I suggested to you, the cream of Society is gathering for the Duchess of H.’s house party. The invitations for this event were much sought after and cherished. (Of course they are. It is always so with Her Grace’s entertainments.) Yet I wonder, too, if recipients have not felt a soupcon of trepidation?

For those of your readers not familiar with this great lady, let me explain.

She is, of course, the wife of the Duke of H., and his opposite in every way. Where he is profligate in his private life, reactionary in his politics, and rigidly committed to the existing social order, she is a lady of great probity, and staunchly reformist. Witness this particular event: the lady intends to raise money for a new charity set up to fund education for women! Her Grace will undoubtedly be looking for contributions throughout the fortnight of the house party, as well as at the charity ball at the end.

Not only that, but the duchess is well known for her belief that even marriages at the highest level of Society can be love matches, despite what are undoubtedly her personal experiences.

Can we doubt that those attending will be keeping a careful eye on both their pocketbooks and their hearts?

I shall report further. I am confident that the coming weeks will present many morsels of interest to your readers.

With grateful thanks for the opportunity to be your correspondent,

I remain,

A Lady.


Dear Mr. Clemens

We were greatly excited today when the reclusive, elusive Earl of S. arrived to join the house party, bringing with him the notorious actress, C.H., whom he introduced as his intended!

You can imagine the buzz of gossip that ensued amongst the mothers of hopeful would-be countesses, and who can blame the young ladies for their disappointment? Lord. S. proved to be an ethereally handsome young man with impeccable manners and an air of sad distance that tempts a susceptible maiden to offer a comforting shoulder, or lap.

Miss H. is widely known not to be a maiden, but is she susceptible? I have seen her eyes following the earl, and suspect that she is by no means the gold-digger she is being painted.

His lordship’s cousin, who is also at the party, says Lord S. won’t go through with the scandalous match, but the couple smell of April and May. I rather believe that the cousin’s hopes for the succession are to be frustrated.

Yours sincerely,

A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens

We have been joined by the Dowager Countess of E. and her daughter, Lady A.W., who appears to have not one but two suitors! The Polite World has long watched with interest as Lady A. attempted to hide her regard for the Duke of B.. The scoundrel paid her no more attention than all the other delicate buds — and more mature blooms — around whose petals he buzzed.

One would assume all this would change with the duke’s recent (and somewhat scandalous) betrothal. The lady, indeed, appears to have had a change of heart, looking with favour upon the morose Earl of P., and one cannot miss that the earl’s rare smiles are saved only for this one lady.

Unaccountably, the duke seems to have forgotten his betrothed, and his eyes follow Lady A. around the room. We can only wait and see whether the fair damsel is to be a countess, a duchess, or free to explore the options in another Season.

With cheerful anticipation, I remain,

A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens,

Her Grace can take no credit for the romance between Miss V.S. and Mr. G.D., which has been a settled thing between the couple for some time. A betrothal has not yet been announced, and some ill-natured people have suggested that Miss S. is reluctant to commit to a marriage that would make her the mother of a daughter only a few years younger than herself.

Having seen the lady with her prospective groom and his daughter, I wish to assure your public that such calumnies are unfounded. Miss S. is a charming lady, much admired in right-thinking circles for her practical work in educating orphans. Mr. D. likewise has an interest in that worthy cause, so they have much in common.

Besides, the way they look at one another makes me almost regret my own resolve to stay fancy free.

Sighing, but unreformed, I remain

A Lady.


Dear Mr. Clemens,

The duchess’s goal for her companion is no secret to those at the houseparty. Has Her Grace not, for many years, taken in one distant relation after another and seen them placed in an advantageous marriage or some other occupation that better suits them?

Indeed, Miss C.G. has not minced words. The duchess has advised her to search the house party for ‘a suitable husband’.

Although several men have taken an interest in the shy, attractive, competent young lady, she will not believe this to be the case. However, I believe that her attention has been fixed, and in a most unlikely direction.

The duchess is known for her surprisingly egalitarian views, but what will she make of her companion’s choice? Will Miss G.’s venture below the salt lead to marriage, to scandal, or to a retreat into the safety of life as a poor relation?

I will hope to report a happy outcome in time, but scarcely know what it might be.

A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens

Were it not clearly distressing those most closely concerned, the tension between Lady de C. and Lord N.L. would be most amusing. And now I learn that Lord N. has made a fundamental and ridiculous mistake about the lady’s marital state.

He has been looking daggers at her for the past few days, and leaving the room whenever she enters it? Surely such strong feelings betoken more than a passing fancy?

On her part, the lady is offended that the gentleman will not listen to her, and who can blame her. What can possibly break the stalemate between these two proud and stubborn people?

One hopes that Her Grace has an idea.

I remain,

Your bewildered correspondent,

A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens

We have had some unexpected late arrivals. First was Viscount E., the grandson of the Duke of W.

If any of your readers have been foolish enough to risk their blunt in the betting book at White’s on who V.E. will choose as his bride, I suggest they prepare to lose their money. His presence here is evidence enough that he will not obey his grandfather and wed his cousin, Lady C.W., who is not at the house party. Why would he risk entering the house of his father’s greatest enemy, if not for the sake of the woman he loves.

And I can assure you he is not pursuing Lady F.B., the other lady named in the impertinent bet. Far from it. His own cousin, Mr. W.W., is a guest at the house party, and is spouting nonsense, but your correspondent is not in the least taken in by the common opinion. Lord E.’s attention to a certain lady cannot be doubted. Her brother frowns, concerned about the suitor’s uncertain status while the House of Lord’s deliberates on the validity of his parent’s marriage. But the lady herself is not, I venture to hint, unmoved.

As to the identity of the fair charmer, my lips are sealed.

Later in the day, Her Grace’s sons arrived to make her Christmas complete. And certainly the presence of two rakes must make the party more entertaining for those who watch.


A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens,

We have enjoyed the company of Miss E.B., a perfectly lovely young lady, educated in the best schools, and an invited guest of the duchess. Yes, her father is in trade, and she is of the Hebrew race and faith. But what of that? She is a fine person, and I am proud to call her friend.

On Christmas Day, the household welcomed the arrival of Mr. A.H. It was very romantic. He has been on a mission for the government, carrying some unnamed supplies to our hero in Spain, the Duke of Wellington himself, and rode through the night directly from London to be here.

When one sees him watching Miss B., one cannot doubt his reasons, though the lady herself seems resistant. Will he have the reward he deserves?

In hope, I remain,

A Lady


Dear Mr. Clemens,

The Dowager Viscountess S. is very loud in her comments on others. But will the houseparty ever find out why she arrived alone at the party, without her daughter and her step-son? Perhaps her constant barrage of criticism is a smokescreen for scandal in her own family.

Certainly, one can ignore her unpleasant hints about Mr. and Miss W. Mr. W. is a war hero, and his sister a woman of excellent character, and a confirmed spinster.

Perhaps the Viscountess’s viputeration arises from the marked interest that Mr. W. showed in Miss S. earlier in the year, but they have not been seen together for several months, and we are given to understand that he has been in the north learning his duties as his uncle’s heir.

But the house party finishes after tomorrow’s ball, so perhaps we shall never find out the truth of it.

Yours sincerely,

A Lady


Only Foolish Servants Gossip


Mrs. Mulligan of Pudding Lane came to our offices this very morning with a most intriguing document. Knowing our readers’ avid interest in the activities of the Grenford family, we agreed to her rather ambitious price to obtain the missive. We hereby print the document in its entirety (with some discrete corrections to spelling and grammar, which were greatly needed) and sincerely hope Miss Maud Mulligan, upstairs maid for the Duchess of Haverford at Hollystone Hall, doesn’t find her career as a servant cut short by her willingness to report on the doings her betters, at least until another such missive may come into our possession.

S. Clemens

Maud Mulligan

Maud Mulligan

Dearest Mother,
You said as how you wanted to know how I got on in this big house and what the toffs and their ladies get up to for three weeks running. It would take more time than that the Stanley woman might give me and more paper than I can afford to tell you all I’ve seen and heard. Most of my stories will have to wait until I see you, if I’m ever free to visit.

Right off I was assigned as maid to Miss Dinah Baumann, a spinster lady of some years. I worried, me not knowing anything about hair and clothes and such, but turns out the lady mostly kept to her bed and had me fetching and carrying for her and the little grey kitten that wiggled its way into her bed one afternoon.

Besides getting up early, starting the fire, fetching the lady’s chocolate, and general cleaning, I go up and down the servants’ stairs once or twice an hour, between Miss Baumann’s demands, the cat making disagreeable messes, and Mrs. Stanley sending me off on one errand and another every time she claps eyes on me, there being so many guests and so few maids. The house fairly buzzes with stories, I can tell you.

Esther Baumann

Esther Baumann

Miss Baumann—Miss Esther, the young one, not the old lady—is ever so kind. She brought her own maid and told Reba—that’s the maid—to look after me a bit so I don’t get behind. I wouldn’t say an unkind word about the Misses Baumann for all some in this house, ignorant all, think a Jewish Banker’s daughter ought not to be here. A perfect lady is Miss Esther Baumann, dressed as smart as they come and refined as need be. I won’t hear a word against her and so I said over servants’ tea to the ruffian who tends the spit. Young is no excuse for stupid. That’s what Mr. Fournier, (he be the French cook) said. No excuse for stupid. I know better. Remember Mr. Cohn the baker? Most honest baker in the city and his cakes are heavenly.

I was ever so surprised though when that gentleman of Miss Esther arrived with no invitation and still dirty from the road on Christmas morning. Some said as how it showed disrespect, but the duchess didn’t mind. I heard she welcomed him like a long lost friend. When I helped fetch hot water up to the room he shared with Lord Elfingham—beggars not being choosers—he seemed gentleman enough to me. He put me in mind of Mr. Cohn’s son Havel.

Adam Halevy

Adam Halevy

I should say I believe Mr. Halevy is Miss Esther’s gentlemen, but I’m not sure. She certainly follows him with her eyes when he’s around, or, so a footman told me, but she told her aunt that she never wanted to talk to him. Ever.

But that isn’t the end of it. This is why I took pen to paper tonight. The servant’s hall went all abuzz when the duchess asked Miss Esther and Mr. Halevy to say their Sabbath blessings with the company. I know I shouldn’t have, but I slipped upstairs and into the room where they had set up the table. No one saw me back by the draperies, but I watched it all. I heard that crab, Lady Stanton whisper some horrid things, but most of them looked so interested I think they prayed along. The look on Mr. Halevy’s face when he said the last blessing and she said “Amen,” would have melted any woman’s heart. Maybe the rumor I heard later about Miss Esther going out to the barn with Lord Jonathon Grenford wasn’t true.

Oh my! I’ve gone on too long. The house is in an uproar about the costume ball, and I should be working. Maybe costumes and candlelight and such will make magic for Miss Esther and her gent. I hope so.

Your daughter,

PS When you go for bread, tell Havel Cohn I asked after him.


An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

Adam Halevy prospered under the tutelage of his distant cousin, powerful banker Nathaniel Baumann. He’s ready to find a suitable wife, someone who understands a woman’s role, and will make a traditional home. Why is Baumann’s outspoken, independent daughter the one woman who haunts his nights?

You’ll find it in Holly and Hopeful Hearts, the 2106 Bluestocking Belles’ holiday anthology, available now for pre-order. 25% of all proceeds will go to the Malala Fund. The education of women and girls is the favorite charity of the Duchess of Haverford and the Bluestocking Belles. Scroll to the bottom for links.

An excerpt:

Her restless gaze found Adam standing with the Belvoir ladies and their brother. He smiled down at Felicity Belvoir, who looked utterly rapt.

Esther knew she should move. All afternoon she had avoided him, but at that moment, she could not make her feet move. What has Felicity so fascinated? Is he telling her about Spain? Did he actually meet Wellington? What of his perilous journey? Longing to know kept her fixed in place even as her stubbornness urged her to move away before someone noticed she stared. Too late! Hythe glanced up, saw her, and smiled.

Hythe bowed over her hand and said, “Your friend has had quite an epic adventure.”

“Is that what he’s telling Felicity?” she asked with a haughty shake of her head.

Hythe’s lips twitched, and she felt her cheeks heat. When he offered his arm, panic set in. Does he mean to walk me back to his sisters? Adam is there, the wretch!

Hythe followed the direction of her eyes. “Shall we take a turn about the room, Miss Baumann?” he asked. When she laid a shaking hand on his and nodded, he patted her it with his gloved one, changed the topic of conversation to riding mishaps at the hunt, and soon had her laughing.

An hour later, Esther, relieved to have passed the afternoon without being cornered, she felt composed and less shaken. If Mr. Halevy wishes to speak with me, I’ll permit it. It is foolish to allow him to discomfort me. I’ll be all that is cool and in control.

When she spied him across the room speaking with one of the Duke of Ashbury’s daughters, he looked at her across the expanse of room and smiled with such sweetness that her heart skipped two beats.


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