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Tag: Bluestocking Belles box set

Persian Princess in Gypsy Thief Scandal

Zahrah snorted at the newspaper her brother had handed her, and threw it on the table. The Teatime Tattler had the headline completely wrong. “I am not Persian, nor a princess, nor Romanichal, nor a thief,” she told him. “Also, there was no scandal.”

“Actually,” Jamal retorted, as he helped himself to breakfast from the sideboard, “the last bit is correct. The article is about the fall of the House of Strickland, which is the scandal du jour. All of the papers have been covering the separate arrests and subsequent legal cases against father and son. The Teatime Tattler has done a bit of digging around and uncovered your role in precipitating the collapse of their house of cards.”

Zahrah forbore to point out that she had not invited her brother to breakfast. He would merely retort that he knew how much she missed him. “They have written about me?” She picked up the paper again to scan the article.

“They’ve changed a few details, probably because the duke made sure the papers knew there’d by consequences if they brought you into it.”

Ah yes. They had called her Sarah Joseph, and made those ridiculous claims that were in the headline. The overall outline was true, though. The innocent governess, persecuted by the eldest son of the house who then stole from her. Her eviction when she complained. The trials of her attempt to reach Birmingham, culminating in her arrest at the behest of a pack of drunken yokels who insisted that she must be a gypsy, and therefore a thief. The lies that saw the man who was now her husband arrested with her.

Indeed, thanks to the machinations of the Stricklands, she and Simon had had time to fall in love and decide to marry. “God closes the door but opens the window,” as her father was fond of saying.

Well. Let the Tattler have its story. It was nothing to do with Zahrah Marshall, wife of a Birmingham jewellery. Zahrah, whose father was from Egypt, and who was the vizier and best friend of an English duke. The duke’s first wife had, indeed been a Persian princess. In fact, if one knew the backstory, and interpreted the headline in that light, it wasn’t too far from the truth.

“I suppose ‘Protege of Persian Princess Victim of Gypsy Thief Allegations’ would not be nearly as exciting a headline,” she said. “Eat up, Jamal. Since you are here, you can escort me for a ride in the park. Simon is visiting a possible client, and I would like the company.”


Zahrah ibnit Yousef (ibnit means daughter of) is the  heroine of my story in Belles & Beaux, due for release on 15th December. Find out more about this story and the other seven, and preorder, on our projects page.

Who is the dowager Countess of Seahaven?

Who is the dowager Countess of Seahaven? It is a question that will be on the lips of many this Season in York.

You may remember that the Earl of Seahaven produced no legitimate sons, despite an effort that almost matched that of the famous Tudor king.  Indeed, some wits dubbed him Henry the Fifth!

Not that the late earl lacked children. Five wives produced ten daughters between them, the last born posthumously to the dowager aforementioned a little more than four years ago..

But what became of the dowager, her daughter, and her nine stepdaughters?

Until today, the Polite World has not been able to answer this question.

However, dear readers, your Teatime Tattler correspondent has been indefatigable in search of the truth, which will be of more interest today than ever, given circumstances.

For Lady Seahaven and her charges are about to burst on the social scene here in York. Your correspondent has learned that the dowager is related to a respected, if eccentric, stalwart of York Society, Lady Rose St Aubyn.

Lady Rose is once again off on her travels, and has arranged for her niece to take over her townhouse.

So we in York are going to be privileged to see the debut of the countess and six of her stepdaughters. (The eldest had a London Season more than a decade ago, but did not take.)

Your correspondent went hunting for more information about the mysterious ladies.

The current Lord Seahaven was unhelpful. All he would tell us was that the ladies did not live in any of his properties, and that the fifth and surviving wife of his predecessor was no lady.

“Her parents were tradespeople, and I will leave it to you to figure out how a female like that enviegled her way into the earl’s bed,” he said.

Given that the lady is an acknowledged St Aubyn, I think we can ignore the earl’s remark. He was, before his unexpected assension to the oak leaves, a minor merchant himself.

However, while we know where the Seahaven ladies will be by the end of March (in Lady Rose’s townhouse), we have been unable to discover where they have lived in the four years since the old earl died.

Dear reader, we will watch this York Season with great interest, and will be sure to keep you informed.

Desperate Daughters

The next Bluestocking Belles Collection with Friends is out on May 8th, and tells the story of nine ladies, all related, who discover happiness awaiting them in York in the season.

Now on preorder at only 99c. Price reduction ends with publication. Click on the project page for more information and buy links.

Overheard on the Ice

The Teatime Tattler
Special Edition: coming to you from the frozen Thames River
2 February 1814

The third full day of the Frost Fair dawned cold and still this morning. Your humble servant was out on the ice at the earliest possible minute, mixing with the crowds of common, gentle, and even noble folk, listening for any snippets of news that might delight your eyes and ears, Gentle Reader.

Tomorrow is the social event that everyone has been talking about. The charity subscription ball Her Grace of Haverford holds every year will this year be supplemented by a Venetian Breakfast ON THE ICE.

You read that correctly, Gentle Reader. Her Grace and her group of Society ladies have requisitioned a section of the ice, where all–or at least a goodly number–of the great folk of the nation will gather tomorrow for this breakfast.

But, before they can eat, we are to be treated to a basket auction. For those who have not heard of this quaint country custom, the ladies intend to auction the food for the breakfast one basket at a time–and not just the basket, but the company of the fair cook.

We are assured that the sale of a lady’s time is not scandalous when it is for charity, and promoted by the leading ladies of Society. Gentle reader, you may draw your own conclusions, as have we.

Meanwhile, we have heard some other interesting tidbits of gossip that we must share.

The Granite Earl was seen escorting the Ice Princess and her two sisters in a Haverford troika. Will we see a chip in his facade; a thaw in her cold heart? Their conveyance hints that the courtship, if such it is, has her family’s approval, but who can believe that this highly proper gentleman intends an honourable offer to a female of such murky birth?

The shocking Miss C., though shunned by many, has a champion in the Earl of T. Yet, after the confrontation between her and her cousin at the theatre, which your reporter was fortunate enough to witness, many are rethinking their stand. Is the lady innocent? Will she remain innocent, or does the Earl of T. have other plans?

Is the Duchess of S. aware that her eldest daughter has come out of seclusion to write pamphlets for the good ladies led by the Duchess of H.? Should you wish to read one of them, Lady G. is herself giving them away at a Frost Fair booth. Just look for the banner with the ridiculously long name on it. That pretty debutante, Lady F., is keeping Lady G. company. Are their brothers too busy with affairs of state to keep the ladies out of mischief?

A certain Lieutenant who capitalised on his planned engagement to a wealthy young lady is out in the cold, it seems. Lady C. is once more being escorted by Lord O., and she shows the gentleman a marked preference. Given that he assisted to put up the aforementioned banner, we believe the inclination is returned. Will the military gentleman take his dismissal with grace?

Lady T., sister to the Duke of E., was heard to comment to a friend that her reclusive brother, scars and all, will come to the auction tomorrow, and perhaps even to the ball. He will not be able to resist, she claims, for Lady H. R. has invoked The Umbrella. Are wedding bells on the horizon for the reclusive peer, and if so, will his bride survive the occasion?

The paragraphs above are about events and characters in five of the novellas in coming Bluestocking Belles box set, Fire & Frost. Preorder now, and watch for more news as the Belles share gossip and snippets from their stories.

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