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Hearts and Diamonds At Risk

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Agatha,
I am a young lady with a dilemma. I think one of my dearest friends is going to propose marriage.

You might ask how I know, but one goes not need to be a Scotland Yard detective to see the signs – a particular look, a request for a private interview, hints made at a jewellers…

Now for some, this would be a delightful proposition, but as much as I am fond of my dear friend, I am not in love with him. So how can I kindly  refuse him without ruining our friendship and causing distress to his family and mine?

And secondly, how does a man disappear with an arm full of diamonds without leaving a trace?

Your faithful reader,
Caro A.

Dear Miss C,
My goodness what a conundrum you have my dear!

Let us address your problems one at a time.

Yes indeed, if everything is as you say, then it would appear that your male friend indeed may be proposing marriage but are you sure who the intended bride will be?

Are there other young ladies in your circle of acquaintance you can confide in to see if they concur with your tell-tale signs.

If they are in agreement, then you must break the news as gently as you can to your poor swain, assuring him that the fault is not is, but rather a woman’s heart is a fickle thing.

Have you asked any of your female friends how they feel about your unintended intended? A little matchmaking to nudge cupid along, might be just thing to help two people who truly do belong together.

As to your second question, I cannot answer for the male sex.

For the female of the species, the answer is two fold. One, to obtain an armful of diamonds, she must inherit or marry very well – preferably several times over. Secondly, a woman with such an armful, shows them off and so does not disappear without a trace.

Indeed, that is a question for Scotland Yard.

I wish you the very best,
Aunt Agatha

About The Thief of Hearts

The Thief Of Hearts. This Christmas is going to be magic!

December 1890. London, England.
Some seriously clever sleight of hand is needed if aspiring lawyer Caro Addison is ever going to enjoy this Christmas. To avoid an unwanted marriage proposal, she needs a distraction as neat as the tricks used by The Phantom, the audacious diamond thief who has left Scotland Yard clueless.
While her detective inspector uncle methodically hunts the villain, Caro decides to investigate a suspect of her own – the handsome Tobias Black, a magician extraordinaire, known as The Dark Duke. He’s the only one with the means, motive and opportunity but the art of illusion means not everything is as it seems, in both crime and affairs of the heart.
As Christmas Day draws near, Caro must decide whether it is worth risking reputations and friendships in order to follow her desires.

Available on Amazon


Caro’s butterflies returned as Bertie led her into the jeweller’s.

“Miss Caroline! A pleasure to see you again,” said the jeweller. “I hope you’ve come to tell me that you’ve single-handedly apprehended The Phantom.”

“Alas not, Mr Hargreaves,” she answered, “that is most certainly a job best left for the police. I’m here on a professional matter – your profession.”

Bertie looked up from the glass case in front of him.

“May I see the rings in that tray please?”

Mr Hargreaves was only too happy to oblige.

Bertie fingered row upon row of rings before pulling out two. The first was an oval cut sapphire – from Ceylon, the jeweller informed them – surrounded with round diamonds and mounted in gold. The second gold ring featured a faceted stone that shone pinks, blues and greens – Alexandrite, Caro learned – and that stone was surrounded by tiny seed pearls.

Bertie held them both out to Caro.

“You’re really good at hypotheticals, Caro, so let me try this one on you. If you were going to be surprised with a ring, which one would you prefer?”

Caro quelled her nerves and gave the question serious thought before answering.

“Both rings are absolutely beautiful, but I don’t think it would be much of a surprise if the girl knew she was getting a choice!”

Bertie shook his head with a smile and swept away the fringe that flopped over his brow.

“Seriously? You’re not going to tell me which one I ought to get?”

“I’m not the one proposing – you’re going to have to do that for yourself.” Caro grew serious. “But, this being a purely hypothetical question, let me put it back onto you. When you think of the girl you are planning to surprise, which ring reminds you of her?”

Bertie looked thoughtful for a moment and turned back to Mr Hargreaves.

“Could you put these two rings aside for me for the next few days, while I think about it?”

About the author

Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats. 

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A Curse Only Love Can Break

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Augusta,

By the king’s edict, I recently wedded a knight who’s bent on founding a dynasty. I denied his right to the marriage bed, for my life depended on it. You see, I live under the Ravenwood curse, which claimed my own dear mother and every lady in our line within memory. The curse is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. My husband was furious when I refused him! He thinks the curse is codswallop. For the past few days, he’s done his level best to seduce me. He’s devilishly handsome and hard to resist. I’m also starting to care about him, but I doubt he could ever love me. He’s a hard man. He’s had to be. ‘Tis an impossible situation. I must either protect my virginity or teach him to love. At the moment, both seem hopeless. What would you advise?

Praying for a miracle,

Lady Ravenwood

From the heroine in Flight of the Raven, Book One of The Novels of Ravenwood by Judith Sterling

Dearest Lady Most Torn,

My dear, I am so dreadfully sorry that your line has been cursed and that you had to grow up without a mother! How dreadfully tragic.

Even more tragic is how cruel your husband is that he thinks so lowly of the curse, but a husband does have certain expectations and wants, not that yours should be ignored, of course.

I know it seems impossible, my dear, but you must–you must!–do all you can to ensure that you fall in love with your husband and find a way for him to fall in love with you in return. Believe me. A marriage based on love is a wonderful thing.

Do keep in mind that your striving for love on both accounts should not solely be because of the curse, but I do not fear that is the case because it sounds as if you have already started to fall in love with him. Love is powerful indeed, powerful enough to break any curse!

I wish you the very best,

Aunt Augusta

Flight of the Raven, Book One of The Novels of Ravenwood by Judith Sterling

How eager would the bridegroom be if he knew he could never bed the bride?

Lady Emma of Ravenwood Keep is prepared to give Sir William l’Orage land, wealth, and her hand in marriage. But her virginity? Not unless he loves her. The curse that claimed her mother is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. Emma is determined to dodge the curse. Then William arrives, brandishing raw sensuality which dares her to explore her own.

William the Storm isn’t a man to be gainsaid. He’ll give her protection, loyalty, and as much tenderness as he can muster. But malignant memories quell the mere thought of love. To him, the curse is codswallop. He plans a seduction to breach Emma’s fears and raze her objections. What follows is a test of wills and an affirmation of the power of love.

Judith Sterling’s Website


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.

A Tempting Rake

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Augusta,

I fear I am in a dreadful quandary. I have fallen for a rakish sort of gentleman, one with a fair countenance and fine form. While he shows interest, he does not wish to marry. He has even, dare I say it, kissed me. I know my heart will mend in time, but should I hold onto my last vestiges of hope? Maybe, just maybe, he will change his mind. My cousin thinks I should pursue an older earl, but I do not love him, and cannot help dwelling on my unrequited love. Oh, what ever should I do?


A lady most torn

From the heroine in To Tempt a Viscount by Naomi Boom

Dearest Lady Most Torn,

My dear, I know all there is to know about rakes. You see, they are rather good at knowing just what to whisper in ears and how to tempt us and even, yes, steal kisses. Many a lady has lost her heart to many a rake.

But a lady is bound to marry. I do not blame you for not wishing to pursue an older earl whom you do not love; however, perhaps it would be better for you to not pursue either man, but to let them come to you. Oftentimes, rakes require attention, and if you do not grant him it, there is a chance he will see you in a different light and will come to realize just how much he misses you. Of course, this is a gamble, and your heart is what is at stake, so only you can know for certain if you should ignore the rake, if you should peruse him, or if you should follow your cousin’s advice.

If I were you, I think I would give the rake perhaps one more chance. Hope, and love, do not ever wish to quit.

I wish you the very best,

Aunt Augusta

To Tempt a Viscount by Naomi Boom

Lady Laura Rosing knows two things: first, she will marry for love, and second, she detests rakes. When she meets Lord Gavin Farris, she understands immediately that he fails both her criteria, and worse yet, he is an absolute cad who refuses to leave her be.

Lord Farris has always appreciated women and cannot understand why Lady Laura is so resistant to his charms. While pretty, she is not his usual type, but something about her intrigues him. Much to his chagrin, he finds himself desperately in love with her, but he may be too late. His adamant refusal to marry just might have planted her firmly in the arms of another.

Naomi Boom’s Website


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.

Mr. Clemens Requests

Gentle Readers and Erstwhile Contributors,
We are filled with Gratitude at the response you have given to our Humble Efforts to bring facts and stories of Interest and Entertainment to the people of London.

The response from people of All Stations has been gratifying to say the least. We hope to continue for many years to come. To that end I wish to announce that our Little Paper has openings for Discerning Contributors of all types. We would welcome new contributors as well as added contributions from those who have joined us in the past. We are always looking for:

  • Purloined letters that may interest the Reading Public
  • Opinion pieces on the Fancies and Foibles of high society
  • News that otherwise might go unreported about the Private Lives of the poor and the prominent.
  • Instructive stories whose morals might serve as admonition to the unwary

As well as (dare I say it) items of a more salacious and titilating nature. Be it noted that those who contribute may also provide our readers with exciting news about their books as well.

Should any of you have an interest in making such a contribution, kindly contact me**. Should you wish instead to seek the advice of our most excellent Aunt Augusta (and receive mention of your book title) there is a form for that as well.

I Remain etc etc



Samuel Clemens, Printer, of London

**Mr. Clemens had deputized this work to staff. If you wish to participate kindly send three Wednesday dates, your name and writer name, and book title to

Lonely Widow Looking for Love

Ask Aunt Augusta

Dear Aunt Augusta,

I am in a most unusual quandary. Recently I fell into a handsome stranger’s arms while attending a masquerade ball at Vauxhall Gardens. To say that I had a sudden attraction to this man is an understatement. But, alas, when I did the unthinkable to steal a few moments in the garden with him, he thought the worst of me and actually assumed I would be amicable to spending the night with him. I, of course, refused, and yet I cannot help but constantly think of what might have been if only I had said yes. What am I to do?


A lonely widow

From the heroine in A Kiss for Charity in Holly and Hopeful Hearts by Sherry Ewing

Dearest Lonely Widow,

My dear, I know all there is to know about being a lonely widow. I must say, meeting a man by falling into his arms is a rather thrilling introduction! That he swept you off your feet like so is no small wonder. Alas, men do tend to see hidden meanings and motives in our every action, and I am not shocked to hear that he thought you wanted more than you were actually willing to give. Also, men do tend to think they can take more liberties at a masquerade ball than on other occasions, as I am sure you are aware.

Perhaps if the two of you are to cross paths again, you might give him a chance to return to your good graces, given that you cannot help but think of him. He obviously made an impression on you, and not wholly in the negative either.

Men can make mistakes, yes, that is well known, but if you can find it in yourself to give him a chance to do better, perhaps you will be well pleased with his effort. I do hope that is to be the case.

I wish you the very best,

Aunt Augusta

A Kiss for Charity in Holly and Hopeful Hearts by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?


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.

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