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Mistletoe and Cold Feet

Tender Readers,

The Teatime Tattler office has bombarded with reports of brides developing cold feet and late nerves, calling off, slipping off, and even running off.

We understand that naval Lieutenant Redepenning—yes one of those Redepennings—has chased after the admiral’s daughter pulling her out of scrapes since she was a nipper. Still, one didn’t expect a young man of his standing to pursue the young lady across half of England only to end up at her aunt’s in Oxford. We understand there was gingerbread involved somehow but the details are sketchy.

As to Lady Julia Tate, the world can guess that Oliver Stanton pursues the woman  for her money. Still, we heard she’d accepted him, and that the marriage would take place. But now she’s gone, and no one knows where. Fantastically, we heard she fled to the Americans, or to the antipodes, or even—we laugh to contemplate it—the future. Wherever she is, it appears Stanton has gone after her. Should we wish a fortune hunter well or no?

The Earl of Chadbourn spent this season rusticating near Wheatton in Wiltshire. Rumors from there are that a local squire’s daughter caught his eye, but she played coy. One hears there are family secrets in his sister’s household. Can they have driven the chit away?

Even vicars’ daughters are not immune, as Mr. Templeton, he that has the holding in Edington, discovered to his distress. His Margaret seemed likely to marry Captain Morledge, an perfectly respectable union, until Viscount Beacham appeared on the scene. Could a man of his standing be serious? Whatever the case, she went missing.  One can only shake one’s head.

About the Book

Holidays, relatives, pressure to marry—sometimes it is all too much. Is it any wonder a woman may need to escape? The heroines in this collection of stories aren’t afraid to take matters into their own hands when they’ve had enough.

The Ultimate Escape, by Susana Ellis

On the eve of her wedding, Julia needs to take a moment to consider what she is doing, and where better than 100 years in the past? Unfortunately, Oliver finds a way to chase her through time.

Under the Mistletoe, by Sherry Ewing

Margaret Templeton will settle for Captain Morledge’s hand in marriage, until she sees the man she once loved at her second-best bridegroom’s Christmas party. 

Gingerbread Bride, by Jude Knight

Travelling with her father’s fleet has not prepared Mary Pritchard for London. When she strikes out on her own, she finds adventure, trouble, and her girlhood hero, riding once more to her rescue.

A Dangerous Nativity, by Caroline Warfield

With Christmas coming, can the Earl of Chadbourn repair his widowed sister’s damaged estate, and far more damaged family? Dare he hope for love in the bargain? 

These stories are republished here at 20% of the cost of collecting them all from each individual author

Two bonus short stories round out the collection.

Buy here!

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A Season Full of Promise!

The Tattler hears from an anonymous lady…


In truth, I find most teas to be dreadfully dull. There are only so many biscuits one can consume while listening to the other ladies gasp and giggle over the same weary gossip as was discussed at tea the day before. But propriety–and appearances–dictate I attend, just the same.

No one knows the inner goings on of a household better than the maids or housekeeper or the occasional footman, and it is not unusual to overhear them talking about their mistresses and masters or the rest of the peerage when they think we are sufficiently occupied. 

Gossip about the Season

Yes, dear reader. I admit I attend teas more so I can stand in darkened corridors, behind heavy doors, or in out of the way corners, and simply listen to the staff! I realize it is scandalous. And you now realize I may know your secrets, as well. But it has been this guilty pleasure that allows me to bring you two tidbits of gossip you have not heard elsewhere.

First, I only just learned the Marquess of Castlereagh has returned to London after a year’s absence. Much to the chagrin of the young ladies of the ton, as he is not only one of the most handsome of the eligible peers, but one of the wealthiest, he left London unexplainably at the beginning of last Season, immediately following the fire at the Darkshire ball.

If you will remember, that fire claimed the lives of several in society, including the aged Viscount Manderly and the young Lady Katherine, daughter of the Marchioness of Windham, whom we have not seen since the fire. The event put a damper on the Season, to be certain, but it doesn’t explain the marquess’s unseasonal absence.

Near the end of the Season last year, I heard the marquess had taken up with an Irish woman while in Ireland–a commoner, no less. That could certainly explain his extended absence. 

Then, this week during my wanderings at one of the teas, I overheard the housekeeper tell the butler that the housekeeper of another house had told her there was an Irish peeress she’d never seen before being fitted in Madam Boutrey’s for the Gloushire ball.

Gossip about the Season

Are these two Irish women one and the same? Will Lord Castlereagh be looking in the lines for a wife this Season? Or does he have a surprise in store for all of us?

In other news, sadly, I must report the passing of Gerald, Earl Dodson, the fourth cousin of the dowager Duchess of Wiltshire. It seems the earl left a young daughter behind, and Lady Maris has become the ward of the duchess. The girl was quite lovely on the one occasion I’ve had to make her acquaintance, and the duchess beyond delighted to introduce her to society. 

I have yet to speak to anyone who personally knew the earl, but the duchess has referred to him at tea as her “country cousin”. Perhaps it is because Lady Maris has been kept in the country that the duchess’s nephew, former naval captain and the Marquess of Wellesley, is said to be so very protective of his young cousin. 

Of course the staff of many houses are already wagering amongst themselves on his intentions, now that the Duke of Wiltshire (the duchess’s nephew by marriage) is escorting Lady Maris to the ball at Pepperstill’s. And at another tea, just this week, I heard one maid whisper that is the reason Lady Twila has at put her foot down and demanded the Marquess at last make good on the marriage arrangement that’s been in place for years.

As for me, dear reader, I suspect both the Marquess of Castlereagh and Lady Maris will make this Season one of the more interesting in ages!

Yrs Truly,
Lady Doe

About the Book

THE BRIAR…
   One moment Raven is alone in the world and working as a maid in the gardens of a grand estate in Ireland; the next she finds herself handed the life of a lady by the dark and handsome Marquess of Castlereagh. Devan insists his intentions are honorable, and that he only wishes to help reunite her with her family. But Raven finds herself in a constant struggle to deny the smoldering attraction between them, and in her secret heart, wishes he wanted more.

THE ROSE…
   Devan, Marquess of Castlereagh, is tormented by his past and determined to live out his days in quiet solitude at his Ireland estate. That is until Raven enters his life. With the face of an angel, the body of Aphrodite, and the tongue of a drunken Irishman, he’s never met any woman so infuriating… so seductive… so… his match.

THE LEGEND…
   From historical Ireland and its mystical legends to the elegant ballrooms of Regency London, together Devan and Raven discover the truth of the past and a love so strong it cannot be denied. ORIGINAL VERSION: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07X3747H6 PG VERSION (closed bedroom door): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081QPPVBG

About the Author

Laura Mills-Alcott’s first love was music, and she began her writing career at the age of eleven, when she wrote her first song. After graduating high school, she moved to Nashville, and some of her music was published. 

Though she wrote her share of love songs, Laura’s favorite was the story songs–the modern day equivalent of the old ballads. However, she often found herself frustrated when attempting to fit a single title novel into three verses, a bridge, and a chorus. So one day she decided she’d try her hand at writing a book. “After writing the first paragraph,” she says, “I was hooked.”

In The Briar and the Rose, she combines her love of music with her love for romantic novels and history.

Laura and her work have been featured in Romantic Times Magazine, on the “Talk America Radio Network”, and she acted as a consultant for the daytime talk show “The Other Half” on a segment dealing with why women read romance novels. Her non-fiction interviews have been published in newspapers and online, and her short stories have been published in a variety of print and electronic formats.

Laura currently resides in NE Ohio with her husband, where she spends her time restoring historical homes, and owns a remodeling company – Regency Remodeling – with her husband. She loves spending time with her children and two beautiful grandchildren, as well as her three dogs, and too many cats.

FB page: www.facebook.com/lmalcott2

Keeping Secrets

Julius Caesar Ibbotson, Skating on the Serpentine, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1796, watercolour, pen and grey ink (Eton College Collections)

Lady Prudence Danvers watched her sister Abigail from across the frozen Serpentine. Pouting, she skated her way over to a bench and plopped herself down. Tears blurred her vision. It was so unfair, she fumed. Why did Abigail constantly get the attention of all the eligible men?

She continued watching her sister and her companion skating side by side. Lieutenant Abernathy had all the qualifications of what made for a proper match. Handsome, well-mannered, and obviously he had enough money to attend all of Society’s most popular events despite his military career.

She followed him as he skated ahead of Abigail who began a conversation with some friends. Her laughter echoed on the wind causing Prudence’s mood to sour. The Lieutenant continued on without Abigail until he came close enough to Lady Constance Whittles to make her teeter on the edges of her skates. Lord Osgood took the lady’s arm to steady her even as the Lieutenant gave her a wicked grin and a tip of his cap. What appeared even more interesting was Lady Constance’s reaction as the lieutenant skated away.

Abigail was too occupied to notice the slight diversion of the Lieutenant’s affection but beamed at him when he rejoined her. The silly fool, Prudence mused even as her eyes narrowed with a devious thought. She began taking off her skates.

This tiny bit of tittle tattle was just the thing Mr. Clemens liked to receive for his Teatime Tattler. Prudence would receive a nice stipend for the information of this possible love triangle and this time she would not have to share the coins with Abigail. Giving no further thought of the disservice she might be doing to her sister, Prudence left the ice and made her way home to pen her missive to the editor.


This is an original piece with minor characters is Belle Sherry Ewing’s A Second Chance At Love that will release in the Belles’ box set, Fire & Frost on February 4th. Read on for the first encounter of Lord Osgood and Lady Constance:

Excerpt:

A rush of air left his lips as though he had been holding his breath while awaiting her answer. He stepped up to the desk and reached for her hand, kissing the air between his lips and her knuckles as any proper gentleman would. “You are very gracious, Constance. I must admit I was afraid you would hate me, considering how I left things between us.”

She gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “I could never hate you, Digby.” A blush rushed to her cheeks at the tone of her voice. They had been on a first name basis two years ago and somehow it seemed right to call him by his given name. My word, she had missed this man.

“Then perhaps you would allow me to escort you to a meeting at the Duchess of Haverford’s residence next week on the third. I understand she is in the process of forming several committees to organize an event for The Ladies’ Society for the Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans.”

Constance laughed. “You must be joking? Why, you will never get all that on any kind of a banner.”

Digby joined her and laughed. “I would never make up such a tall tale, my lady.”

“No one in their right mind would, although it does sound like a worthy cause.”

“I could not agree more, which is why I have offered my services to the gentleman’s auxiliary, whose responsibilities will include making sure you ladies are able to do your work in this dreadful weather. I knew this was just the sort of event that would be of interest to you.”

“You know me so well. I would be happy to accompany you, Digby.”

“Wonderful,” he replied with a smile. “If your aunt could join us and act as chaperone, then I could pick you both up around noon, if that is acceptable.”

“I will eagerly await next week, my lord.”

Digby took her hand again and bowed over it. “As will I, my lady.”

His gloved hand felt warm in hers. When Digby’s thumb gently caressed the back in a small circular motion, Constance’s heart leapt at the possibility that all was not lost. Her eyes went to his in a long lingering glance as pleasure swept across her entire being. She smiled, and he returned it with a smile of his own. Constance could not remember when she had ever been this happy… until the spell was interrupted. They quickly broke apart.

“I say, Lady Constance, is this gentleman bothering you?” Lieutenant Abernathy bellowed as he left the tearoom and rushed to her side. The few patrons who escaped the fog outside looked up from their books at the disturbance he was causing.

“Not at all and please lower your voice,” Constance advised sternly before remembering her manners. “My apologies. Lieutenant Abernathy may I present Lord Osgood, who is an old friend.”

The two men shook hands but, from the looks they exchanged, neither cared for the other.


A Second Chance At Love in
Fire & Frost: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
Pre-order now for only $0.99!

Can the bittersweet frost of lost love be rekindled into a burning flame?

Viscount Digby Osgood returns to London after a two-year absence, planning to avoid the woman he courted and then left. Surely she has moved on with her life; even married by now. A bit of encouragement from a friend, however, pushes him to seek the lady out. Can she ever forgiven him and give them a second chance at love?

Lady Constance Whittles has only cared for one man in her life. Even after he broke her heart, it remains fixed on him. Another man tries to replace him, but she soon learns she can never feel for him a shadow of what she still feels for Digby. One brief encounter with Digby confirms it; she is more than willing to forgive him. Can they truly take up where they left off?

Charity projects and a Frost Fair on the Thames bring them together, but another stands in their way. Will he tear them apart?

Buy Links for Fire & Frost:
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About Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. When not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist.

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The Sad Fate of Chunee

Editorial comment from S. Clemens

No one in London can be unfamiliar with the circumstances of the death of one of our most beloved and renowned citizens, the elephant Chunee, who Wednesday last met his fatal end at the Exeter Change in such a barbarous manner that many were moved to write letters on his behalf. The Tattler has learned the identity of one lady of quality, whose letter we reprint here. While we must applaud the lady’s sentiments on behalf of this noble creature, we must also wonder if so outspoken a young woman as Lady Emily Radstock will ever find a husband among the gentry and nobility of England. Rumor has it that she is one of the financial backers of Sir Arthur Broome’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Sir Arthur currently resides in Marshalsea Prison for debt.

Chunee

Sir:

The facts in the death of Chunee are so well known as to need no recounting. Thousands in London have seen the prints of his cruel slaughter. His agony at the hands of those on whom he long depended for his sustenance and whose pockets were lined with the proceeds of exhibiting him to the public is indefensible.

His handlers’ inability to consider his needs and to foresee a time when distress of body and spirit would render him a danger to himself and others and to plan accordingly for his care and ultimately for his end brings into question the fitness of human persons for keeping any wild animals in captivity, confined against their nature in cages, to be stared at by the masses with no freedom to act in accord with the promptings of their natures.

It is time to close the Exeter Change and all similar institutions whose indifference to the well-being of their charges is a stain on the honor of our city.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

E. Radstock

About the Book: The Spy’s Guide to Seduction

Weeks from her twenty-ninth birthday, Lady Emily Radstock receives from her mother a little blue book, The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London. Outraged at her mother’s attempt to push her out of the nest, Emily declares she’ll marry the first imbecile she meets. Overhearing the beautiful heiress, Baronet Sir Ajax Lynley, newest gentleman spy in the Pantheon Club, takes her at her word. From the moment their engagement begins, Emily finds herself intrigued by her fiancé, a man who encourages her daring and who offers a most seductive partnership in spy-catching. When mounting danger and an uncanny echo of his painful past lead Lynley to abandon the partnership, Emily has to put aside the hurt and humiliation of a missing fiancé to save her partner in spying and seduction. A 2019 Library Journal Top Pick in Romance.

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About the Author

Kate Moore taught English lit to generations of high school students, who are now her Facebook friends, while she not-so-secretly penned Romances. In Kate’s stories an undeniable mutual attraction brings honorable, edgy loners and warm, practical women into a circle of love in Regency England or contemporary California. A Golden Heart, Golden Crown, and Book Buyers Best award winner and three-time RITA finalist, Kate lives north of San Francisco with her surfer husband, their yellow Lab, toys for visiting grandkids, and miles of crowded bookshelves.

Kate@KateMooreAuthor.com

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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.

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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.

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