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A Lady who Pursues a Diplomat Could Ruin Affairs!

“There is something strange afoot, Mrs. Ardmore.” Helen, Dowager Countess Ettesmere, frowned as the housekeeper came into the morning room.

“How do you mean, my lady?”

“Just this.” She folded her hands atop her secretary, much to quell their shaking as much as to project a calm appearance. “Lady Sophia has got it into her mind to romantically pursue Ambassador Mattingly.”

There. She said it aloud. Perhaps now it would make her feel better.

The housekeeper’s graying brown eyebrows rose, but that was the only evidence of her surprise. “Your daughter is in love with the ambassador?”

Oh, if only! Helen giggled and feared it sounded more hysterical than anything else. “I would have no idea, but she has the look.”

“I beg your pardon, my lady, but what look?”

A huff of frustration escaped her. “That look which says a woman is more than interested in a man, and since Ambassador Mattingly only just came to our door the day before, I am a bit concerned of my daughter’s mental state.”

“Due to the ongoing troubles with her heart?”

“Yes, some.” Knots of worry went through Helen’s stomach. Her only daughter, though long a woman grown, and over the age of forty, had received the worst diagnosis a person could—she would die soon of a weak heart. “I suppose if it were me who was facing imminent death, I might wish for one last tryst before crossing over.” Though, that still didn’t excuse the incoming scandal she suspected her daughter was planning.

The housekeeper shifted her weight from foot to foot. “Does the ambassador return her interest?”

“I would have no idea, but he regards her with an attitude that smacks of infatuation.” Helen put her hands in her lap. Oh, this was a terrible mess, and it hadn’t even happened yet. “I’ve seen the way Lady Sophia looks at the man. Why, she practically goggled him up at tea yesterday with her eyes. It would have been the height of scandal had anyone else beyond the family been in attendance.”

“I see.” One corner of Mrs. Ardmore’s lips twitched, but full-blown amusement never materialized. She was too well-trained for that. “Well, if he does return her interest, perhaps it isn’t a bad thing. Given the circumstances.”

Helen groaned. She rubbed her fingers over her eyes. “All my life, I have trained my children to be proper members of society. I orchestrated their first marriages and assumed those matches would have lasted.”

“Nothing is permanent in this life, my lady.”

“No, I suppose it’s not. Even my own husband succumbed to death.” She met the housekeeper’s eyes. “I wanted something lovely for each of my children, but Sophia doesn’t seem interested in anything proper now. Not with death looming. It’s simply too scandalous to let her conduct an affair under the nose of her impressionable daughter. My granddaughter!”

“I rather doubt Lady Sophia will have an affair. That isn’t who she is,” the housekeeper was quick to soothe. “Perhaps you should give it some time and see what comes—if anything—between your daughter and the ambassador. Perhaps it will be a love match.”

Helen couldn’t help but utter an unladylike snort. “Love? In an instant over tea yesterday? Pish posh, Mrs. Ardmore. You and I both know life doesn’t work that way.”

“But there is always room for an anomaly, and if what is between them results in love, who is to say it’s wrong?” One of the housekeeper’s eyebrows went up in inquiry. “Perhaps you should see how the relationship develops over the next few days before crying an alarm.”

“Perhaps.” Helen nodded with a sigh. “My heart goes out to my daughter. She is facing a set of horrible circumstances and is thinking about her daughter’s future, but still. I don’t want her to make a mistake in the time she has remaining.”

“Lady Sophia is clever and intelligent, my lady. Things will come out right in the end.”

“I sincerely hope so, Mrs. Ardmore.” But oh, this situation was fraught with worries.

I hope Sophia won’t be hurt merely to stave off loneliness.

Blurb for Pursuing Mr. Mattingly (Willful Winterbournes #1)

Fragile and fleeting, love is an addiction… Lady Sophia Winterbourne-Stratford-Forrester is a widow twice over. She suffers from a weak heart and has been advised to live a life without excitement or surprise. Wishing for one more romance before she leaves this mortal coil, and not wanting to leave her daughter an orphan, she begins looking, and her pulse leaps when she meets the American ambassador to England. Who gives a fig if she’s older than him?

When life is short and precious, one shouldn’t wait… Mr. Oliver Mattingly is visiting England on holiday. Vastly different from America, he’s anxious to see and experience everything, for adventure is in his blood. But when he immediately falls tip over tail for an enchanting, outspoken widow, the inexperienced bachelor knows where his next journey lies. After discovering her personal history, he asks for her hand. At least he can love her to the best of his ability before the inevitable happens.

Fate, though fickle, usually presents the perfect, if complicated, path… As the pair wed in haste and repent at leisure, they grow closer as desire only intensifies. A picnic by a rain-swollen creek turns into danger, and when Sophia doesn’t suffer ill-effects from the heart-pounding stimulation, they’re both shocked for different reasons. Could the doctor have been wrong? Love doesn’t care about misunderstandings or the foibles of life, it just is. Only they can decide if they truly want it… forever.

You can find the book here: https://amzn.to/3J2PV0j

Suspicious Behavior in York

Dear Euphemia,

Can you enlighten me about the boisterous clan of Bigglesworth women that have invaded York Society this Season? The younger daughters are being launched (one might say cast upon us) and are being feted hither and yon as “the Seahaven Diamonds.” Anyone who is anyone scurried about hoping for invitations to the grand ball they hosted to celebrate said launch, though my own invitation went astray. But that is neither here nor there.

York is virtually crawling with Bigglesworth women. One cannot pay a morning call on a friend without encountering two or three of them, as if they travel in packs. One encounters them in the shops. Some were seen dragging some poor bored children along the walls for a history lecture. Others are rather too cozy with the horse racing scene. Always they are dressed fashionably, which leads one to wonder. How are they managing the expense?

You live near Starbrook and are quite cozy (or so you claim) with the new Earl of Seahaven’s Dear Wife. You gave me the impression in times past that the earl left the widowed countess with little or nothing. How did that chit, the former countess—the fifth wife in a row who failed to produce a male child—manage a season for all those stepdaughters, even the ones clearly on the shelf? Can you enlighten me?

One wonders whether one ought to befriend some or all, or even if one ought to receive them. As if the number and questionable situation weren’t enough, morals are in question. My maid heard a story from our footman who took ale with another footman, one that had been hired by the Bigglesworths—temporarily, mind you, to handle the undiscerning crowds that descended on them after their ball. That person testified that at least one of those young women was seen creeping out of a closet with her clothing askew and her hair out of place in the company of Viscount Stanbeck’s shabby younger brother who purports to be a curate. What must they teach young clergy these days?

Do write back quickly. The Season moves swiftly, and that baggage and her tribe of daughters are everywhere. Ought I avoid them?

Sir William, my dear husband, sends his regards.

Yours

Marian, Lady Smithers

About the Book: Desperate Daughters

Love Against the Odds

The Earl of Seahaven desperately wanted a son and heir but died leaving nine daughters and a fifth wife. Cruelly turned out by the new earl, they live hand-to-mouth in a small cottage.

The young dowager Countess’s one regret is that she cannot give Seahaven’s dear girls a chance at happiness.

When a cousin offers the use of her townhouse in York during the season, the Countess rallies her stepdaughters.

They will pool their resources so that the youngest marriageable daughters might make successful matches, thereby saving them all.

So start their adventures in York, amid a whirl of balls, lectures, and al fresco picnics. Is it possible each of them might find love by the time the York horse races bring the season to a close.

Among them?  “Lady Dorothea’s Curate,” by Caroline Warfield

Employed at a hotel in order to assist her stepmother, Lady Dorothea Bigglesworth had no use for a title. It would only invite scorn, or, worse, pity. Plain Miss Doro Bigglesworth suited her fine.

Ben Clarke dedicated his life to helping the neediest. It gave his life meaning. He tended to forget the younger son of a viscount went by “Honorable.”

Working together at Pilgrim’s Rest, neither saw the need to mention it to the other, before fate separated them. When they were formally introduced after an unexpected reunion— in a ballroom in York—shock rocked them both. Can their budding love survive?

You can find links to various vendors here:

https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/desperate-daughters/

Church Lady’s Lament

To Reverend Mr. Horace Sorsby, Vicar of Saint John the Evangelist Parish, Knaresborough

Sir:

Reluctant though I am to criticize church matters, I truly must speak up, and hope my frequent liberal contributions to your parish will gain me attention. As you know age and infirmity make it impossible for me to attend services in Knaresborough. While I am pleased that a chapel of ease has been set up here in Harrogate for the benefit of leading citizens like myself who find themselves hampered from full participation, the man assigned  it has failed us. I am compelled to report that the curate you appointed to serve my our needs has proven to be negligent and useless.

First of all, his sermons focus entirely too heavily on service due the poor, in my opinion, and too little on the respect the lower classes owe their betters. I suppose I must excuse this as he is young and does seem to have a grasp on scripture.

I excuse it mainly because I am rarely able to attend even the chapel of ease here. That curate, Mr. Eustace Clarke, has been repeatedly asked to attend me at home. We are now moving into December, and I am obliged to report he made but two visits since summer. Neither visit lasted longer than an hour. I ask, Mr. Sorsby, do you believe that shows sufficient care for a frail old woman, one I might add who has generously supported Saint John in the past?

I am quite, quite distressed to add that my precious Wellington, an extraordinarily noble pug, has taken him dislike as well. The impudent young man accused my darling Welly of damaging his boots. I cannot believe poor Welly has developed a taste for leather. He has demonstrated no such affinity in the past. I am certain Mr. Clarke enticed him as an excuse to make a quick departure.

My loyal butler reports that it appears Mr. Clarke persists in wasting his time with that pathetic little soup kitchen he calls Pilgrim’s Rest, feeding every lazy, worthless beggar that imbibes from Harrogate’s public springs but refuses to pay for his lunch. Now news has reached me that he believes he needs funds to repair the roof of that barn. I will not stand for it. I demand you order him to close that fruitless and unproductive little mission down and focus on those of us who support the parish at large as he ought.

If my words have not been enough to convince you the man needs sharp words from his superior there is this. My personal maid, a woman of fine character, has told me that he is now seen walking out with a woman employed in the kitchens of the The Hampton Hotel. What such a woman is doing sporting about town on the arm of a single man, I can only guess. The hussy’s name I’m told is Doro Bigglesworth.

I trust you will counsel your curate about proper behavior and duties. I would hate to take my contributions and charity elsewhere.

With Respect,

Lady Louella Spotsworthy

About the Book: Desperate Daughters

Love Against the Odds

The Earl of Seahaven desperately wanted a son and heir but died leaving nine daughters and a fifth wife. Cruelly turned out by the new earl, they live hand-to-mouth in a small cottage.

The young dowager Countess’s one regret is that she cannot give Seahaven’s dear girls a chance at happiness.

When a cousin offers the use of her townhouse in York during the season, the Countess rallies her stepdaughters.

They will pool their resources so that the youngest marriageable daughters might make successful matches, thereby saving them all.

So start their adventures in York, amid a whirl of balls, lectures, and al fresco picnics. Is it possible each of them might find love by the time the York horse races bring the season to a close.

Among them?  “Lady Dorothea’s Curate,” by Caroline Warfield

Employed at a hotel in order to assist her stepmother, Lady Dorothea Bigglesworth had no use for a title. It would only invite scorn, or, worse, pity. Plain Miss Doro Bigglesworth suited her fine.

Ben Clarke dedicated his life to helping the neediest. It gave his life meaning. He tended to forget the younger son of a viscount went by “Honorable.”

Working together at Pilgrim’s Rest, neither saw the need to mention it to the other, before fate separated them. When they were formally introduced after an unexpected reunion— in a ballroom in York—shock rocked them both. Can their budding love survive?

You can find links to various vendors here: https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/desperate-daughters/

 

The Vile Impersonator

Dearest Reader:

The arrival of another country heiress in the Metropolis is hardly cause for excitement, at least in our considered opinion, for they are two a penny, if you will pardon the pun. That these all-too-often underbred innocents are beset by suitors will amaze no one, for there are at least as many gentlemen with fortunes needing to be mended, and they are none of them nice in their requirements. Let her be well endowed in the stocks, and her other charms—or lack thereof—need not signify.

The particular country heiress who has excited the latest rage, a Miss Lenora Breckinridge, while possessing somewhat more by way of refinement than her contemporaries, appears quite as susceptible to flattering attentions, and may require a hint. She has made no secret of her admiration for a certain gentleman, and is forever being seen with him, at Society parties and driving about town, and has raised both eyebrows and concerns. One can only wonder at her parents for neglecting to advise her in this matter, for they surely must be privy to the rumors which blaze through the town regarding her beau, and if she cares not to safeguard her fortune, her father at least should.

For the man whom our young lady has singled out is none other than the mysterious Lord Helden, whom we do not scruple to style a fortune hunter—though this may be the least of his sins. It is commonly known that his estate is ruined, its bounties wasted by his predecessor for reasons too sordid even for our pen, and he can offer not even a sound roof over the head of his future bride.

But even more shocking, if rumors are to be believed, his lordship may prove to be nothing more than an imposter. The thought makes one stare! However, upon reflection, one will acknowledge that for the lost heir to a viscountcy to suddenly reappear just as an heiress has made no secret of her admiration for his estate, is a fact that must bear more scrutiny than Miss Breckinridge, or her parents, appear to deem necessary.

The near impossibility that anyone but his lordship could prove himself to be Lord Helden, we cannot but allow; however, creditable sources have confirmed that the man claiming to be Lord Helden has been, for the past six months, performing the duties of caretaker to the Helden estate; moreover, he did not show himself to Society in his present guise until after Miss Breckinridge came upon the scene. If this does not arouse suspicion, we know not what could, and we call upon those in positions of responsibility to more seriously consider the matter.

One shudders to reflect upon the depravity of a man who will stop at nothing, be it the entrapment of an innocent maiden or the heinous sin of impersonating a nobleman, to gain a fortune. While such cannot be proven against the man in question at this time, this observer holds it as the duty of all loyal citizens to be vigilant against the mere possibility of evil. At the very least, if neither Miss Breckinridge nor her parents choose to alter her course, and she bestows her hand and fortune upon this Lord Helden, they only will be to blame when his true character is unfolded, as it must certainly be, in their married life. We have done our poor best to undeceive her, and can only hope that our friendly hint will be heeded before it is too late.

–a Disinterested Observer

About the Book

Romance of the Ruin, Book 2 of the Branwell Chronicles

The ruined manor promised her romance, but its master was maddeningly elusive.

Prey to Gothic sensibilities, Miss Lenora Breckinridge is smitten with the air of tragedy and romance surrounding an abandoned mansion. Convinced that she is fated to become its mistress, she sets out to find the master, secure in the belief that he will fall madly in love with her and they will use her fortune to restore the manor together.

Mr. James Ingles is disillusioned by the short hand fate has continually dealt him, but goes to be caretaker to the ruined mansion in a last effort to seek his fortune. When he discovers Miss Breckinridge’s fascination with the ruin, however, he recognizes an opportunity to get the better of fate, if only he can play his cards right.

Excerpt:

Would Mr. Ingles have done something so rash and dangerous as attempt to impersonate a nobleman? Lenora could imagine that the situation was indeed a tempting one, and the family bible might have given him all that was necessary to prove his claim. It may have contained histories, besides the names, with birthdates and places that would come in useful.

But she could not credit it. Mr. Ingles was not that kind of man—she knew that without a doubt. And the Lord Helden she had danced with was a perfect gentleman. How could a rough, coarse, uncouth man suddenly become well-versed in etiquette and possessed of refinement, unless he had been raised and educated so? His years in the army could very well have driven him to hide his finer virtues, and had he not—though briefly and under the influence of spirits—claimed himself a gentleman, at their first meeting?

That Dowbridge had so quickly believed the worst was worrisome, however, and the more she reflected, the more anxious she became. How many others would do as he had done, and would their suspicion be without foundation? Was it possible that Mr. Ingles was a consummate criminal, so conniving that he could touch her heart, even as he played the drunken fool?

Distressed, she took refuge in her room, sinking down into the chair by her fire and gazing unseeing into the flames, her hands wringing in her lap. She was discovered in this attitude some time later by Tess, who instantly strove to discover what ailed her mistress.

Lenora brushed her away impatiently. “Tess! I was merely thinking, for I have a thorny problem, and I am at my wits’ end to know what to do about it. Mr. Ingles is in London professing to be Lord Helden, and I do not know if it is true, or if he will be taken up by the magistrate and transported.”

“Good Lord, miss, I never!” responded Tess, correctly interpreting this cryptic utterance. “To think that such a hairy man could be Lord Helden!”

Lenora shook her head. “And yet he is Lord Helden. At least, I must believe so, for though he has been so rough and rude, and was a drunkard, and a common soldier, and—and so very hairy—I do not believe that he would do so dangerous a thing as to impersonate a nobleman! It defies reason.”

“That it do, miss, and I wonder that he’d have the pluck to try it! He’d have to be bold as brass! But if he fancies himself a gentleman, there’ll be no stopping him, for he’ll be living too high to wish to leave off.”

“You are right, Tess! He will soon be ruined!” responded Lenora, startled. “Who knows how he came by the money to rig himself out in fine clothes and set himself up as a gentleman in town, for even if he is Lord Helden, it cannot last for long, and when he comes to the end of it, he may be driven to desperation to keep up his appearance! He may turn to gaming, or to thievery—or worse!”

As neither young lady liked to think what could be worse than thievery, they did not attempt to envision such vice, but bent their minds to discover a way to save the unfortunate gentleman.

Buy links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09BTPZ6SW/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_41AJA15ZFP5QB0QXQGW3

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09BTPZ6SW/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_HSDZ1PS7XR01HA3CM64T

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09BTPZ6SW/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_PCSETNJBGHQSKK9NX2G9

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/romance-of-the-ruin-judith-hale-h-everett/1139972663?ean=9781736067536

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/romance-of-the-ruin

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/romance-of-the-ruin/id1579888890

About the Author

Judith Hale Everett is a writer of low-heat traditional Regency romance. She is one of seven sisters, and grew up surrounded by romance novels. Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen were staples, and formed the groundwork for her lifelong love affair with the Regency. Add to that her obsession with the English language and you’ve got one hopelessly literate romantic. You can find her at:

WEBSITE: https://judithhaleeverett.com

FACEBOOK: https://facebook.com/JudithHaleEverett

INSTAGRAM: https://instagram.com/judithhaleeverett

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/JudithHEverett

A Discarded Suitor?

Dear Readers

Your correspondent is curious to know why Miss F, Lord B’s eldest daughter, has been out of town for some weeks. You may recall that Miss F was being courted by Lord O who, I have on the best of authority (his own!), is a fine upstanding young man always ready to provide advice and direction to the fairer sex. Perhaps Miss F did not perceive the advantages of an alliance with him as clearly as he did himself?

Whatever the reason for her recent absence, Miss F is now back in society. Only a few days past she was seen in the Park, first driving with Lord O, and then being taken up by Lady C for a turn in her phaeton. Lord O did not look best pleased, to put it mildly. It would not be going too far, I think, to mention the clenching of fists and gritting of teeth.

But the intrigue deepens, my dears. Only yesterday Miss F was driving in the Park with Lady C again, when they met one of the younger sons of Lord D. He was accompanied by a young man I have never set eye upon before—and as I’m sure you are aware, I know everyone who is anyone. This unknown young man spent some time walking with Miss F.

Can there be romance in the air? Has Lord O lost to a nobody from the country? Be sure to look out for more news in this column.


About the Book: An Embroidered Spoon

Can love bridge a class divide?

Wales 1817

After refusing every offer of marriage that comes her way, Isolde Farrington is packed off to a spinster aunt in Wales until she comes to her senses.

Rhys Williams, there on business, is turning over his uncle’s choice of bride for him, and the last thing he needs is to fall for an impertinent miss like Izzy – who takes Rhys for a yokel. But while a man may choose his wife, he cannot choose who he falls in love with.

Izzy’s new surroundings make her look at life, and Rhys, afresh. As she realises her early impressions were mistaken, her feelings about him begins to change.

But when her father, Lord Bedley, discovers the situation in Wales is not what he thought, and that Rhys is in trade, Izzy is hurriedly returned to London. Will a difference in class keep them apart?

Amazon link: mybook.to/Spoon


About the Author

Jayne Davis writes historical romances set in the late Georgian/Regency era, published as both ebooks and paperbacks.

She was hooked on Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer as a teenager, and longed to write similar novels herself. Real life intervened, and she had several careers, including as a non-fiction author under another name. That wasn’t quite the writing career she had in mind…

Finally, she got around to polishing up stories written for her own amusement in long winter evenings, and became the kind of author she’d dreamed of in her teens. At present she is working on the Marstone Series – standalone stories with some characters in common – and trying to fight off all the other story ideas distracting her.


Excerpt from An Embroidered Spoon

Once Lord Ordsall had tooled the curricle through the park gates and could safely divert some of his attention from the track ahead, Izzy asked him if he liked her gown. “For it is new, you know, although not as fine as I’d like.”

It looks very well on you, Miss Farrington,” he said, after a quick appraisal. His expression softened a little as his gaze ran down her body.

“It is rather plain, though.” Izzy fingered the silver embroidery down the front, trying to ignore the uncomfortable feeling his inspection had induced. “Seeing my relatives in Wales made me realise how nice it is to have a rich father who can keep me in new gowns.” She made a brief pout. “But Mama will insist that simplicity is best for unmarried women. I’m so looking forward to being able to decide on my own wardrobe once I am wed.”

A surreptitious glance in Ordsall’s direction revealed his eyebrows rising.

“There are some lovely new fabrics, you know, with real silver and gold thread in them, or embroidered with pearls.” At least, if there were not, there should be. “They are a trifle expensive, to be sure, but my future husband won’t mind.”

“Miss Farrington, I thought you were aware that I would be spending much of my time on my estate. Such gowns are not required for country living.”

“Oh, no, I agree. I will need a completely different wardrobe for that, but even country gowns need to keep up with the fashions, do they not? And I will visit my family in Town often.” She smiled at him kindly, noting the crease between his brows deepening. “I need not drag you away from your estates, you know. A married lady has more freedom to go about.”

“Miss Farrington, I do not—”

“Oh, look—is that a high perch phaeton?” Izzy pointed at a carriage some distance away. “I do so want to learn to drive. That will be useful in the country.”

“Yes, but I have a coachman to—”

“Oh, pooh, that is no fun! A phaeton like that will be just the thing for me, or perhaps a curricle.”

His brows were drawing together now, and was that an angry flush on his cheeks? “Miss Farrington!” His voice was getting louder, too—excellent!

“Ladies do not drive such vehicles.”

Fortune really was smiling on her today. As the phaeton approached, Izzy saw that it was driven by a woman of middle years, smartly dressed in a wine-coloured pelisse. Izzy recognised the driver as an acquaintance of her mother.

“Do you mean Lady Cleeve is not truly a lady?” Izzy adopted her puzzled expression as the phaeton drew to a halt next to them.

“L-L-Lady Cleeve,” Ordsall stuttered, casting a venomous glance at Izzy. “How… how nice to meet you here.”

“Lord Ordsall.” Lady Cleeve nodded at him and turned to Izzy, her mouth curving in a friendly smile. “Miss Farrington, I was hoping to meet you today. Will you take a turn about the park with me?”

Links

Website: www.jaynedavisromance.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jaynedavisromance

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jayne-Davis/e/B078WTF3DP

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