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A Nasty Piece of Work

Ashmead, May 1805

Dear Bessie,

Good to hear grandfather has recovered his ague from April, and  I thank you for keeping  me informed.

You asked about doings in Ashmead. Mary Norton sends greetings. Her boy Issac is well on his way to joining his father in the carpentry. Arthur Corbin’s wife died in  February, grieving many. She was missed by the ladies’ flower committee this Easter past I can tell you.

There has been much dissension about needed repairs at Saint Morwenna and the continued neglect by the folks at Clarion Hall who ostensibly endow the holding. The Earl of Clarion, as you know, prefers his house in London and the fleshpots over to the simple joys of Ashmead.

The son, Viscount Ashmead, Lord David that was, is cut from different cloth. Perhaps he remembers our little village fondly because those parents of his left him and  his sister in the hands of Ashmead servants as children. Whatever  the case, now that he’s at university he makes sure to come to Ashmead between terms. He even attends Sunday  services sitting up there alone in the family pew. He’s no more than eighteen, God love the  boy, but he takes estate business seriously and  shows  an interest in folks here about.

Sometimes I think too much. Rumor from servants at Clarion Hall is he went to the earl on the vicar’s behalf.  Told the old bag of wind to repair the road up to the Hall that runs by  The Willow and the Rose, too. His da didn’t like none  at all.  Treated the lad to a tongue lashing for his troubles, threatened  to cut him off.

Some folks are miserable in their parents, Bessy, I  can tell  you. Ours weren’t perfect, but compared to Clarion, we  did well.

Maud

PS I held this missive waiting a few extra pennies for postage. I’m glad I did. This will shock you. Last time the young viscount came home, he found  his favorite hound  and his prize gelding gone, sold on  his father’s orders. Elsbeth Simmons says, when he came here between winter terms, he encountered Alice Wilcox, her all of nine years old. Maybe just took a good look for the first time. The nipper is a Clarion butter stamp for sure. Looks just like the viscount, his  sister, and truth be told, the oldest Benson boy from up at the Willow, the one that  ran off  to war. Was in a taking about her treatment.

Lord David rode off and  had words with  the earl about looking after his by-blows, and the old man took  offense. The sneak waited until the boy was back at university and sold off the young lord’s prize possessions, including those beloved animals for spite. Said if Lord David was worried about Alice and the Benson boy, he could pay their way himself. Nasty bit of work is the Earl of Clarion.

About  the Series

When the old 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 of them grew believing he was the innkeeper’s son. He is the first of The Ashmead Heirs.

https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

About Book One, The  Wayward Son

Sir Robert Benson’s life is in London. He fled Ashmead the day he discovered the man he thought was his father had lied to him, and the girl he loved was beyond his reach. Only a nameless plea from his sister—his half-sister—brings him back to discover he’s been left an estate with a choice piece of land. He will not allow a ludicrous bequest from the earl who sired him turn him into a mockery of landed gentry. When a feisty little termagant with flashing eyes—and a musket—tries to turn Rob off the land—his land—he’s too amused and intrigued to turn away. But the longer he stays, the tighter the bonds that tie him to Ashmead become, strengthened by the powerful draw of the woman rooted on land he’s determined to sell.

Lucy Whitaker’s life is Willowbrook, its land, its tenants, its prosperity, but she always knew it wasn’t hers, knew the missing heir would come eventually. When a powerful man with military bearing rides up looking as if he wants to come in and count the silver, she turns him away, but her heart sinks. She can’t deny Rob Benson his property; she can only try to make him love the place as she does, for her peoples’ sake. A traitorous corner of her heart wishes Rob would love it for her sake.

His life is London and diplomatic intrigue; hers is Ashmead and the land. How can they forge something lasting when they are torn in two directions?

(As to David, the future earl, his story is The Upright Son.)

The Peculiar Coachman

Rumford, March 1815

Dunno if you can use this, Clemens, but here’s a bit from the tavern last night. It’s about Fred Newell’s peculiar nephew. Fred runs a first class coaching operation. Bit above hisself—don’t much mix down at the public house—but honest. Mostly keeps the good jobs for his boys, so no chance for a local but to muck out his stables. Th’ nephew come home from fighting Boney three years ago, limping and all, and boys at the pub figured him for a charity case. Next thing we know, he has the plum job driving one of the high-class carriages, and him with only part of a leg on the left.

But that isn’t what I have for you. The man comes to the tavern now’n again like I said. Between trips, like, and not often enough to be a regular exactly. Bit tight with his coin. I mean, he’s been known to buy a drink for a body now’n again, but no one has ever seen him buy a round for the whole place like his cousin Paul did when one of Newell’s horses won that race over near Doddinghurst. Ostlers from Fred’s say he don’t spend a penny he don’t have to. Saves it all, but for one thing—books! Have you ever known a coachman who bought so many books his little room over the stables is floor to ceiling three deep in books?

But that isn’t what I have for you. The man came to the tavern last evening, because he’s between trips. Harry Simmons, the keeper, likes him, so at least we know he pays his shot. Damned if the man didn’t start singing! Started out with a ballad and Marion the wench that serves most nights went into raptures about his voice. Moved on mostly soldiers stuff; he said he had passengers for morning that put him in mind of the war. But he got bawdier as the night went on, and none of the girls seemed to mind judging from the sighs.

So that’s it, Clemens. A singing coachman who lives with naught but books for company—is that peculiar enough for your paper? I grumbled to Harry that I wouldn’t want to ride out with a coachman who spent the night before in a tavern. Harry laughed and said then I probably don’t want to ride with the mail or post. Told me the damn fool was drinking straight cider anyway.

About the Story

Neither battle nor loss of his leg destroyed Zachery Newell. Working as a coachman, he tries to build a life in spite of his injuries while he plans for the sort of life he knew in childhood, happy and content above his father’s print shop, but when a woman races out of the storm and into the stable yard of The Queen’s Barque with a wagon full of small boys, puppies, and a bag of books, he is enchanted.

Dismissed by a charity school, Patience Abney struggles on her own to create a school that gives every boy a happy and productive life. Now the roof has caved in. Though she managed to get her boys to the safety of an inn, she has no idea how she will rebuild.

Zach knows Patience, the granddaughter of an earl, is far above the touch of shopkeeper’s son. He tries to keep his distance, but when the two of them make their way across the flooded marsh to her damaged school in search of a missing boy, attraction grows toward passion, complicating everything.

Excerpt

Before she could speak, he crossed the room and pulled her into a crushing embrace, taking her mouth with his until her knees failed and she had only his embrace to rely on.  Insanity born of hope. Zach could think of no other explanation for his behavior.

About the Book

When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.

Release Date: April 13, 2021
Special Preorder price of $0.99
Buy Links:

Amazon US |  Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Amazon AU |BR |CA |DE |ES |FR |IN |IT |JP |MX |NL |UK

Angus & Robertson or Books2Read

About the Author

Bluestocking Belle, traveler, adventurer, writer of historical romance. Caroline Warfield is enamored of owls, books, history, and beautiful gardens (but not the actual act of gardening).

https://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Misplaced or Runaway Fiancé?

A friend of The Teatime Tattler in Shropshire sent word this week of a delicious bit of naughtiness. Lady B—’s cook’s cousin’s daughter serves as an upstairs maid in the house of a rather notorious baroness so we know this report to be true. The baroness and her nephew, we’re told, departed the manor in a rush last week in pursuit of the nephew’s fiancé, who had disappeared. How, we may ask, does on misplace a fiancé.

We will not mention the baroness by name, but she is well known as the daughter of a wealthy mill owner, mills well known for their ghastly employment practice and filthy premises. The woman, Lady B— insists is a jumped-up mushroom who bought a titled husband and now— But perhaps that is a story for another day. Suffice to say, the young woman perhaps had her reasons for departing such a place in a hurry.

We would have left it at that, but one of Lady B—’s happened to follow a similar route and reports that the baroness and the nephew inquired after this person all along the road from under Wrexham to Birmingham and back. One might have ignored the incident except at every stop they queried not only about a gently bred—but distraught—young lady and—this is the important part—a shabby coachman. What sort of well brought up innocent runs off with a coachman? Perhaps she’s no better than she should be. Or perhaps the cad has nefarious designs on an innocent.

Kindly forward any word about the fugitive pair to our offices in London.

About the Story, “The Fugitive Fiancé”

What can a penniless orphan do, when faced with a malodorous baron and an authoritarian baroness? She can run, that’s what.

Alone and without family, Alice Pennysmith puts up with a lot: an unpaid position as companion, waiting on a demanding baroness, people mangling her name, the scorn of superior servants… She almost lets herself be pushed into marriage with the vile Reggie, but his behavior is the last straw. How can she escape?

With his year of service to at an end, Grant Lambert is eager to leave his contract with Lord Reginald Buffton, Baron Albright——a foolish agreement to settle a bet. He already found far better, well-paying, respectable employment. He just can’t bring himself to leave the charming Miss Pennysmith in the clutches of his despicable employer. There’s only one thing for it—he’ll have to take her with him, even if he has to “borrow” the baron’s carriage to do it.

***

“The Fugitive Fiancé was written to order from story element specified by a contest winner. It was given away to subscribers of Caroline Warfield’s newsletter. She gives original stories to her subscribers two to three times a year. To receive this one and others, subscribe to her newsletter:

About the Author

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she is now a writer of historical romance, enamored of owls, books, history, and beautiful gardens, who sits in an office surrounded by windows and 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.

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Cambridge Ladies Take Tea

Mrs. Bailey to Mrs. Smythe

Gossip over tea

First, my dear friend, I wish to thank you for hosting the Cambridge Wives Monthly Tea last May when I was indisposed. Now my turn has come again and I find myself in a quandary. Do you suppose one is required to invite that woman who dwells at Helsington? Duke’s daughter she may be, but I was never comfortable with the woman. Some have hinted we ought to ask her again if only for the titillation (Margaret Evans said that, can you believe it). Mrs. Potter still receives the woman.

Mrs. Smythe to Mrs. Clarke

Poor Maud Bailey seems to feel obliged to invite Lady Georgiana to tea this month. (If “lady” is accurate in her case.) Rumors do swirl, and Maud would get to the bottom of them if she could. She fears Margaret Evans, for one, takes salacious interest. What do you think?

Mrs. Clarke to Mrs. Evans

My dear Margaret, your Christian Righteousness continues to inspire! I understand you wish to invite the Duke of Sudbury’s Scandalous Daughter to tea—in order to let her defend against Certain Rumors, of course. I beg you do not push this issue!! I myself saw the truth of the matter. As you well know I live across the lane from Doctor Mallet’s recently returned son. Hero and fine soldier he may be, but he is not immune to a Woman’s Wiles. I personally witnessed her coming for his bachelor house at various hours. Admittedly it has been in the middle of the day but there is no chaperone in sight. When confronted she claimed she went there for help with her studies, that the man is her tutor. Who could believe such a thing! Greek indeed. She must think we’re all Babes to believe such a thing.

Mrs. Evans to Mrs. Bailey

Do not invite That Woman no matter what Molly Harding or Edwina Potter say. We’ll all hear what Abigail Clarke has to report.

About the Book

Even poetry, with its musical lyrics and sensual traps, is dangerous when you partner with the love of your life. It can quickly lead past improper to positively scandalous. A battered war hero and an abused woman come together in an emotionally complex story about the seductive power of words and the triumph of love over fear.

Lady Georgiana Hayden learned very young to keep her heart safe.  She learned to keep loneliness at bay through work. If it takes a scandalous affair to teach her what she needs to complete her work, she will risk it.  If the man in question chooses not to teach her, she will use any means at her disposal to change his mind.  She is determined to give voice to the ancient women whose poetry has long been neglected.

Some scars cut deeper than others. Major Andrew Mallet returns to Cambridge a battle scarred hero. He dared to love Georgiana once and suffered swift retribution from her powerful family. The encounter cost him eleven years of his life.  Determined to avoid her, he seeks work to heal his soul and make his scholar father proud. The work she offers risks his career, his peace of mind, and (worst of all) his heart. Can he protect himself from a woman who almost destroyed him? Does he want to?

About the Author

Caroline Warfield writes family-centered novels set in the Regency, Late Georgian, and Victorian eras. She lives in quarantine with the love of her life, while writing new stories. A lover of owls, history, and travel, she is also a Bluestocking Belle.

1919: Letters in a Time of Epidemic

The Teatime Tattler has come into possession of a cache of letters and notes from the Kinmel Repatriation Camp, Wales. They appear to be from another time.

Elks Corner, Saskatchewan, January 15, 1919

Dear Harry,

It is glad we were to receive your Christmas greetings, even though they reached us the first week in January. Now the war is over I can tell you of the relief with every letter that came; it meant you were alive and well. This time we can breathe a permanent sigh of relief, no?

As to your question, yes, the influenza found the province, but we got off easy here in Elks Corner. A few folks came down sick. Old Mrs. Butterworth, you may remember from church when you visited us summers—she was ninety—didn’t make it. Come November the epidemic died back mostly. Your grandmother and I escaped it entirely.

Christmas in Ypres, huh? Maybe next year we’ll see you here at the farm again. Your grandmother is already planning what to bake.

She tells me to stop writing nonsense and just send her love.

Grandpa Matthews.

Letters and Notes

Ypres, Belgium, January 16, 1919

Dear Madame Laporte,

It is my sad duty to report that your son Emile, corporal in my unit, passed away in the army hospital in Ypres. He fought bravely alongside my company through three years of the war, only to succumb, worn out by fighting, to the demonic Spanish flu. He was buried with honors in the cemetery near Elverdinghe, along with hundreds of his fallen comrades. I was with him in the end; he died peacefully.

Lieutenant Henry W. Wheatly, Canadian Expeditionary Force

To: The priests remaining at the cathedral, Amiens, France, January 16, 1919

Reverend fathers,

I write again in hope you have some word of Rosemarie Legrand, resident of Les Hortillonnages Amiens. We lost touch some months ago, and it is imperative that I find her. I am currently confined to the Kinmel Repatriation Camp near Bodelwyddan in Wales. They plan to send us home. I need to find Rosemarie and marry her quickly so I can arrange passage as a war bride.

I continue to hope that my old friend Abbé Dejardins has returned.

Lieutenant Henry Wheatly, Canadian Expeditionary Force

letter marked returned to sender
Amiens Cathedral

January 27, 1919, Regina, Saskatchewan,

Dearest Harry,

Just the one letter after Armistice telling us you are well? Not well done of you.

Your father has been bursting with pride since word of your promotion came and he is anxious—we both are frantic, really—to have you back. He heard your regiment has been delayed in some pokey camp in Wales waiting for transport home, and he is furious. He has taken the lieutenant-governor to task, I can tell you.

Please write often.

Love, Mom

Letters and Notes

February 5, 1919

My darling Rosemarie,

I am writing once again to your cottage among the islands of les hortillonnages. I pray that you and Marcel have returned there safely. Send word to me at the address on this envelope and I will come immediately. Your letters to me have gone astray and I suspect mine to you as well.

Please know that I love you and that has not changed.

Harry

letter marked undeliverable and returned
Rosemarie Legrand

February 10, 1919

Mother,

Sorry I have not written often. Even though the fighting has stopped, my life is not my own. Please tell Father to stay away from the lieutenant-governor and to stop sending me letters about what he wants me to do when I get home.

Harry

To Sabine Legrand, Rue du Moulin Neuf, Amiens, France, February 18, 1919

Madam

We have not had the best of relations in the past. I write to beg, however, for any word of your sister-in-law Rosemarie. I am frantic to find her.

Lieutenant (formerly Corporal) Henry Wheatly

A note on the returned envelope :
Monsieur Wheatly, Sabine fled to Marseilles when the Krauts advanced in the summer. She has not returned.
S. Thierot, neighbor
Letters and notes

February 24, 1919

To whom it may concern:

It has come to our attention that no action was taken on our recommendation of commendation for Pvt. Ezekiel Willard for his actions at Vimy Ridge. As we wrote, he charged into a gun nest, capturing the gun and several enemy single handedly, likely saving two of our squads during the first day of the offensive. Witnesses can be supplied, but they will soon be repatriated and dispersed. We urge action on this.

Lieutenant Henry W. Wheatly
Sergeant Angus McNaughton

Telegram

February 28, 1919

From: Lieutenant Henry W. Wheatly, Kinmel Repatriation Camp, Wales

To: Mrs. Martha Wheatly, 538 West Marlboro, Regina, Saskatchewan

Mother: Tell father to cease writing to Gen Fitzgibbon. STOP Tell him I demand it. STOP Don’t listen to stories about Spanish Flu. STOP Have things to do before I come home. STOP Be there soon.

Harry.

March 5, 1919

Willard,

Tell the boys the Spanish crap got the lieutenant. He’s in hospital. He says watch your back from Walker. Get me if you need me.

Mac

Telegram

March 18, 1919

From: Lieutenant Henry W. Wheatly, Kinmel Repatriation Camp, Wales

To: Mrs. Martha Wheatly, 538 West Marlboro, Regina, Saskatchewan

I am well. STOP. Don’t listen to Father. STOP Down with influenza but recovered. STOP Do not worry.

Harry

March 21, 1919

Regina, Saskatchewan,

Dearest Harry,

Your father tells me you’ve gone off in search of a woman. She obviously means the world to you. Go get her Harry, and bring her so we can meet her.  Ignore your father’s interference, I beg you. He means well, truly.

Please take care of yourself, darling boy. You haven’t been well. Find your Rosemarie and come home.

Love,

Mother

About the Book

After two years at the mercy of the Canadian Expeditionary force and the German war machine, Harry ran out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images of darkness. When he encounters color among the floating gardens of Amiens and life in the form a widow and her little son, hope ensnares him. Through three more long years of war and its aftermath, the hope she brings keeps Harry alive.

Rosemarie Legrand’s husband left her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation when he died. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier, but Harry’s devotion lifts her up. The war demands all her strength and resilience,  but the hope of peace and the promise of Harry’s love keep her going.

In the confusion at war’s end, will their love be enough?

More information and buy links: https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/christmas-hope/

About the Author

Caroline Warfield grew up in a perapatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology)before retiring to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, and divides her time between writing and seeking adventures with her grandbuddy and the prince among men she married.

Harry’s lovely story is a departure. She writes primarily family-centered Victorian and Regency novels and believes firmly that love is worth the risk.

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