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The Ashmead Assembly

Special to the Teatime Tattler from Eunice Norton and the Monday Tea Circle of Ashmead on Afan.

We gathered as is our habit on Monday afternoon to review the news of the week here in the valley, and ran so far over our time that Bessy Grigg’s husband took umbrage at the delay in his supper. We had much to discuss.

The Benson family put up an entertainment for all and sundry at the Assembly Rooms on Saturday evening to celebrate old Robert’s sixtieth birthday. There were many who thought that appropriate, him being a fixture in the village, but some of us questioned use of the large room over the village offices for a family party, that space having run to shabby and disrepair in recent years, and the Benson family being in possession of a inn with a perfectly fine dining room, but Emma Corbin—she as was Emma Benson—insisted.

Most of us admitted she did the rooms justice. New paint. Waxed floors. Clean windows. Flowers sprucing it up, and greenery too for all it is summer and not Christmas. She even got that Welsh colonel staying at the inn—him who is some engineer they say—to repair the musicians gallery so it was safe to use. They brought some group of players down from Nottingham, too, for the dancing.

As you may expect every man and woman in Ashmead came, and the tenant farmers from round about as well. Some seemed to find children appropriate, notably the Corbins, but most of us don’t approve of little ones where there is drink and dancing. A bigger surprise was the arrival of the Duchess of Glenmoor, Lady Madelyn Caulfield that was. She rarely socializes with common folk and keeps to herself since the old duke she married died.

Of course, most folk came for a glimpse of Wee Robbie Benson himself, the innkeepers wild son gone these many years. Went off to war and came back a baronet. Emma Corbin claims he was a hero at Waterloo, too. Now he’s come to take ownership of Willowbrook, left to him by the old earl. Most folks claim they always knew he was the earl’s get. You only had to look at him to know, but don’t tell old Robert the innkeeper that. Took him as his own and won’t hear otherwise.

The biggest news was the arrival of the Earl of Clarion himself late into the evening. Come up from London straight to the assembly, though no one knows whether it was the only reason he came. Walked in proud as a lord—which of course he is—walked up and congratulated old Robert as bold as you please as if the innkeeper was a peer when everyone knows he started life as a footman at the Hall.

Then Wee Robbie came from the corner he’d been lurking in. When he stood next to the earl and the duchess stood to join them, you could hear a pin drop. Same eyes. Same hair. Same tall frame (though Robbies is a bit, er, sturdier than the earl.) Same proud tilt to the head. Folks in London ought to be aware that the man they know as Sir Robert Benson is naught but an innkeeper’s charity case and the Earl of Clarion’s bastard brother. No question about it. Don’t know what was said, but Sir Robert left right after.

The earl stayed. He even led Emma Corbin out, and she looked like she was going to burst. Then the duchess danced with that Welsh colonel. It was certainly a night to remember.

About the Book

When the Earl of Clarion leaves a will with bequests for all his children, legitimate and not, listing each and their mothers by name, he complicates the lives of many in the village of Ashmead.

One sleepy village. One scandalous will. Four beleaguered heirs.

One is The Wayward Son.

Rob Benson returns to Ashmead reluctantly, determined to stay briefly. He never expects a shocking bequest and a termagant with flashing eyes—and a musket—to bind him to the place. Lucy Whitaker wants what she can’t have, Willowbrook. If she must turn it over to the heir, she can at least make sure he loves it and its people like she does.  His life is London; hers is Ashmead. How can they forge something lasting when they are torn in two directions?

Pre-order link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09484DC1D/

Watch for the duchess and the colonel in The Defiant Daughter in October.

About the Author

Caroline Warfield, proud Bluestocking Belle, has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

A Grasping Interloper?

Gentle Readers,

Far be it from me, your trusted informant on all matters worth knowing to keep disparaging an honorable gentleman for his youthful foibles, but it would seem the Earl of Bainbridge has succumbed to the lure of face paint and a pair of well-turned ankles once more. Indeed, they are the very same pair that drove him from England’s shores before he ascended to his current title. While his father no doubt applauds his son’s recent endeavors amongst the corps de ballet from beyond the grave, no doubt the present earl’s grandfather takes a considerably dimmer view of recent events and of the lovely Miss Nettie Pomeroy, darling of the Arcadian music hall.

Loyal readers will remember the stir Miss Pomeroy created several years ago when, as one Miss Venetia Crawley, the natural daughter of the former Duke of Graydon, she brazenly attended Lord and Lady Esterly’s ball on the arm of young Bainbridge (then Viscount Dutton). Rumor had it that without the swift intervention of his closest friend, the current Duke of Graydon and Miss Pomeroy’s half-brother, her duplicity would have escaped detection and the Bainbridge earldom would have discovered a veritable cuckoo in its nest. Thankfully, she was routed in time and disappeared to parts unknown at the time of this printing.

While it is understandable how a young man can easily be led astray by a pretty face one would think that an older, more experienced man should have grown immune to that same face. Sadly, that has not been the case with Lord Bainbridge. How must the current Duke of Graydon be feeling about having this blight on his family turn up after believing himself well-shed of the grasping interloper? One must also ask about the mysterious goings on at the Arcadian as well and the sinister dealings of her owner, Morgan O’Banyon. Just what is the truth about his relationship with the fair Miss Pomeroy?

Never fear dear readers! Your intrepid informer shall keep you apprised as I uncover the answers to all your questions.

Humbly Yours,

S. Clemens, Esq.

About the Book

Caelan Hennesy meets the young woman of his dreams in a Paris museum. She is educated, beautiful and refined – everything his family and society require of his bride.
Venetia believes she has found her prince, and she is certain that their love is strong enough to overcome the scandal of her birth. Venetia is the lovechild of a duke and his commoner mistress. When her half-truths and lies of omission are exposed, a disillusioned Caelan walks away, leaving Venetia at the mercy of a ruthless enemy.
Nine years later Caelan, now the Earl of Bainbridge, discovers Venetia is now a dazzling music hall dancer named Nettie Pomeroy. Nettie wants nothing to do with the man who walked away from her. Still, neither one of them can deny the passion or the love that continues to bind them together. As Nettie and Cal continue fighting their feelings, an enemy draws closer determined to bring harm to people Caelan cares about. Will Caelan be able to protect the one woman he refuses to surrender again, and will Nettie trust him enough to open her heart for a second chance at love?

~Excerpt~

FranceWinter, 1856

It was hot and difficult to breath stuffed halfway into the heavy, canvas sack. Her legs and feet remained cold though, because she still wore her gauzy costume from tonight’s performance. Venetia had fought the men who’d abducted her, kicking and screaming for help only to have a large, meaty hand clamp over her mouth, and then came the sack. She’d had a short burst of satisfaction when the wooden block in one of her toe shoes connected squarely with the twig and berries belonging to the other one of her captors. He’d threatened to hurl her against the wall, but the man with the meaty hands threatened him with far worse if he harmed her. Now she lay in the back of a cart where they’d tossed her hours ago, her arms and legs bound tightly together, a foul-tasting gag in her mouth, sick with fright.

There was no question in her mind that the new Duke of Graydon had found her. She’d thought taking a stage name would offer enough protection, but clearly, she’d been wrong. The luck Venetia found on her arrival in Paris had completely deserted her today. First, her grand debut in the lead role for tonight’s performance of ‘Giselle,’ hadn’t been good enough to secure a permanent place outside the corps de ballet, shattering her dreams of one day becoming a premiere danseuse, and now Graydon and his mother had hired these two ruffians to abduct her. She would likely be killed and her body thrown into the sea.

After an eternity, the cart came to a stop and Venetia found herself being lifted and carried with extraordinary gentleness. She struggled in the arms holding her, earning a harsh obscenity from the man she’d previously kicked, but the ruffian carrying her merely leaned closely and whispered to her. “Don’t thrash around now, little blossom. Ye might do yourself an injury.” She heard the sounds of raucous laughter and cheers, of tankards being clashed together along with the smells of ale and wine. She was transferred to the other man who roughly threw her over his shoulder before climbing a set of stairs. A door creaked open and suddenly Venetia felt herself fly through the air and abruptly land on a bed.

“Why’d ye go and do that, Jeb? You could a hurt her!” The gentler of her captors eased her into a sitting position inside the stifling darkness of her sack. “Don’t you worry,” his disembodied voice assured her. “Won’t nobody here hurt ye.”

“Are you so certain of that, Luther?” came a cold, low voice from across the room, and Venetia’s throat contracted painfully around a hard lump of absolute terror at the sound of it.

Available through Amazon Kindle and print

About the Author

Stephanie Patterson began her writing career at age three by designing her own symbol alphabet to represent words and emotions. Writing has always been her first love, which prompted her to begin her first novel, a civil war epic at the age of eight. Her debut romance, “Playing for Keeps,” was published under the pen name, Stephanie Salinas. “The Woman in Question,” a contemporary romantic thriller published under her own name, followed a couple of years later.

Patterson’s series, “Season of the Furies,” a Victorian romance trilogy about three, beautiful debutants who must atone for a despicable act, is now complete. 2020 saw the publication of the first book in her new series, “Tales from the Arcadian,” which follows the performers of a London music hall in 1862. Book one, “Bobby Dazzler,” is currently available in both e-book and print editions.


Patterson is a resident of northern Oregon and comes from a criminal defense background where she worked on all types of cases from petty theft to capital murder and murder for hire in both the state and federal criminal systems. When not writing, she practices and teaches the ancient divination art of cartomancy – a fancy way of saying tarot reading, as well as works on her community’s month-long Halloween festival, ‘Spirit of Halloweentown.’™  

EMAIL: stephaniepattersonwriter@yahoo.com

WEBSITE:  www.stephaniepattersonauthor.com

FaceBook Page: Stephanie Patterson Writes Books

The Gentleman Refused to Move!

What beautiful aristocratic ward of the Duke of Althorn was seen in the company of Lord Claven, son of the viscount? The chandeliers in the ballroom flickered in waves on the decorated ceiling casting undulating shadows against the walls as he danced her through the French doors and on to the terrace. Out of sight, but not out of hearing, this reporter heard him say, “It’s such a crush in there. I thought you’d appreciate a breath of fresh air.”

Through my quizzing glass, I saw the gentleman, and I use the word lightly, place her back against the rock wall, and station himself in front of her, enclosing the woman in a vise-lock embrace. “You are breathtaking in candlelight.”

I overheard the lady in question protest in a loud voice. “What do you think you’re doing? Do you speak such words to every woman you lure away in the dark?” She pushed him back. Her sardonic laugh was one intended to insult, not inflame his untoward ardor.

“Most likely, it usually entices ladies to explore.”

“That’s probably the most honest admission you’ve made tonight. Don’t come closer. I warn you.”

Gentleman Bastard“Honesty only goes so far, when I want to do so much more. I know you have a fondness for that…bastard.” He hesitated.

“Don’t go there,” she cautioned the lord.

“We all know what Thorn is. He’s had the good fortune to have a high placed aristocrat accept him.”

Her words were loud and clear. “I warn you, Claven. I pack a wicked punch.”

“I know he’s trained you in horsemanship. Perhaps he has trained you in other areas too? Like kissing?”

I brought my monocle closer to see her face. Her lips moved quickly and apparently in anger. “I now prefer to return to the ball.” She attempted to move away.

“No,” he said. His voice was gruff to be sure.

“Kindly remove your body from my path.”

Horrors, the gentleman refused to move!

“You lured me here, my darling.” Now he pinned her against the wall.

I could see that she held her reticule between them.

“You have a vivid imagination.” She attempted to move again. “All right then,” and quicker than quick, she sent her fist to his cheek.

Caught unaware, he stumbled to the side, his hand upon his jaw.

gentlemanI then saw her walk by him with a grin. “Thank you.” The sound of her voice echoed a small triumph. “You can thank Thorn Wick, the duke’s son, for teaching me fisticuffs. Come near me again, and I’ll plaster your face against a wall.”

She exited in a rush and straightened her gown only to run into Mr. Wick. With a casual attitude, she said, “You did teach me the art of boxing. I merely employed that education to accomplish my purpose.”

And what did he answer?  “Indeed it appears you did. I’ll have to discipline him, I see.”

What has our Regency world come to when a lady is not safe with a lord?

Arthur Spectator, Senior reporter, Teatime Traveler

About the BookGentleman Bastard

After three years in England, Thorn Wick, the duke’s bastard son, perfectly flawed, still fights for acceptance in his father’s world as a renowned Argamak Turk  horse trainer. Just when he starts to believe in fairy tales, another obstacle looms to thwart his plans: on a dangerous mission to Barbados, Thorn is stunned when secrets are revealed about his mother. Will he exact revenge for the foul deed?

Alicia Montgomery, ward of the duke, is in love with Thorn. Strong willed and adventurous, she determines she can convince him to admit his feelings. But the reality of loving Thorn too much almost destroys her.

Can Alicia quell Thorn’s demons and prove love can pave the way to their happiness to fulfill their destiny?

A Regency Romance with an Element of Suspense

GentlemanAbout the Author

From a humble beginning in Newark, New Jersey, a short stay at a convent in Morristown, N.J. at the age of fourteen, Sandra Masters retired from a fantastic career for a play broadcasting company in Carlsbad, California, and settled in the rural foothills of the Sierras of Yosemite National Park with her husband, Ron, and two dogs, Silky and Sophie. She traded in the Board Rooms for the Ballrooms of the Regency Era and never looked back.

She wrote her first book at the age of thirteen and since then she’s always traveled with pen and notebook for her writing experiences. It’s been the journey of ten thousand miles with a few steps left to go. She deemed it a pleasure to leave the corporate world behind decades later.

Nothing she expected, but everything she desired. Her business card lists her occupation as Living The Dream.

 

Tale of a Tattling Clergyman

Bluestocking belles 483px-'Reverend_Joseph_Stevens_Buckminster,_D.D.'_by_Gilbert_Stuart,_CincinnatiMr. Clements,

After much soul-searching, and with great reluctance of spirit, I find I must give in to your entreaties and share the details of that most shocking event which you probed me about after services Sunday last. The sad details I have confirmed, and though I have no wish to hasten a lady’s descent into perfidy by exposing her true identity to the world, relating these events in your publication will, I trust, provide a cautionary tale for young women readers everywhere.

As I described to you, a young lady under my pastoral care (I shall call her “Miss M”) has involved herself in a sordid situation. Having known Miss M for over a twelvemonth, and her elderly relative for more, it was my most considered duty to shepherd the young woman. Nay, upon the demise of her relative, I even offered that most honorable of states, matrimony, for though the lady’s means are limited, she is a most comely and, I believed, well-bred creature.

Alas, I fear that an excess of sentiment clouded Miss M’s judgment. She embroiled herself in the activities of a female who runs, in her very home, a kind of shelter for the offspring of women who have fallen. With no shame, I count it as a blessing from the Almighty that Miss M declined my suit, and you shall hear why.

At Christmastide Miss M traveled to an outlying inn and involved herself in a most heathen undertaking, a Wife Sale! I know not how or why she came to know of this auction, but it is perfectly reflective of the state of her mind. Had I known of her intent, I would, as her spiritual adviser, have stepped in and stopped this most dangerous scheme.

For you see, the worst has happened. Not only was the object of this mercantile image for Bluestocking Belles post Sampson_Vryling_Stoddard_Wilderevent delivered into an adulterous union, Miss M, I fear, is Lost, having fallen like the mothers of the children she ministered to into the hands of an upstart, Lord C, reputed to be a man of great wealth and poor moral repute. It is said, she has even been residing with him these many days without benefit of wedlock!

I fear that Miss M has descended to the fate of so many young women unsupervised by father or brother, given to vanity and excessive sensibility, and unwilling to accept the guidance of those more prudent. Whether matrimony shall ensue…well, that is anyone’s guess, but even if it does, I fear she is lost to all respectable society.

Let this be a lesson to any young reader who comes across this story.

With regards,

I shall only sign myself “A Clergyman”

RR new coverAbout Rosalyn’s Ring By Alina K. Field

When a young woman is put up for auction in a wife sale, Rosalyn Montagu seizes the chance to rescue her—and to recover a treasured family heirloom, her father’s signet ring. Her plans are thwarted by the newly anointed Viscount Cathmore who finds her provoking beauty, upper crust manner, and larcenous streak intriguing. Her secrets rouse his jaded heart, including the truth of her identity—she is the woman whose home he has usurped. But more mysteries swirl around Rosalyn’s past, and Cathmore is just the man to help her uncover the truth.

~excerpt~

She looked at him earnestly. “Will Mr. Logan raise this little one as his own?” she asked in a worried whisper. “Properly?”

He nodded. “He will.”

She blinked back tears and studied young William. “A boy needs a father. A girl, too. Even the ones born on the wrong side of the sheets.”

His breath left him a moment. She was not, like so many of the philanthropist matrons, a condescending patron of the poor.

“Rosalyn. Why are you not married?”

Her eyes glinted. “Why are you not?”

He smiled, and her face fell. “Or are you, sir?”

“I am not. And you are not. We are both unmarried. I asked you first and you must answer first. That is the rule.”

She turned that over in her head, but answered anyway. “I had offers.” Her nose wrinkled with distaste. “All from clergymen associated with the orphanage. I did not marry them because we did not suit.”

He felt a sense of relief. “Why ever not? I should think a good-hearted maiden like yourself and a clergyman would suit quite well.”

“I did not love any of them, which, I know, practical people say is not important. But besides that, they did not love the children. No, no, they did not like the children. I’ll grant you, some of the children are so hardened they are difficult to like, but they did not like a one of them, not even the babies. They looked at them as, as, offal, trash. I could not abide a man who would claim to serve a child born in a stable and then throw away another child because he or she was base-born.”

“So why were they there?” He lifted a tendril of her hair. “For this, I suppose?”

She blushed hot red, and the air crackled between them.

“It is your turn to tell,” she said. “Why are you not married? You are rich, titled, and handsome.”

“Do you think I am handsome, Rosalyn?” He twirled the tendril of hair in his fingers.

Her brow creased. “Do not be coy, Cathmore. You know you are a handsome devil, even though, or perhaps especially because, you look like a bloody pirate.”

Hamish laughed, startled that such profanity had come from such a pretty mouth. “My lady,” he said in feigned shock. “Your language!”

You can find it on Amazon

Alina K. FieldAbout the Author

Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but she found her true passion in reading and writing romance. Though her roots are in the Midwest, after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband and a blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.

She is the author of the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner in the novella category, Rosalyn’s Ring, a Regency novella, the novel-length sequel, a 2015 RONE Award finalist, Bella’s Band, both Soul Mate Publishing releases, and a prequel novella, Liliana’s Letter, a 2016 National Reader’s Choice Award finalist.

Visit her at:

http://alinakfield.com/
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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7173518.Alina_K_Field
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