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Vicar with Bad Memories in Need of a Wife

Miss Esme Harvey
Courtland Hall
Wiltshire

April 26, 1816

Dearest Willa,

I am in receipt of your letter to me of yesterday. Oh, my dear friend, I urge you to attend my wedding to the Marquess of Northington next week and our family May Day Frolic!

I do understand your wish not to see Charlie once more. What happened between you last year was unexpected. Yet at the time, you called it delightful. Your moments together did restore your faith that you could attract a man who set your heart aflutter. And if Charlie’s kisses also stirred you to renew your search for a mate among those whom you had not heretofore considered, all the better.

Still you write that, in this past year, you have not found another to compare to him. Does that not speak to the issue louder than any words I can write here?

I know your father demands you wed before your next birthday in January and that you marry one who will bring him political alliance with those in those of Grand Whiggery. Our Reverend Charles Compton is cousin to those famous families. As third son of such an allied earl, he has family connections that should make your papa proud. Charlie’s lack of income and property to call his own is most likely (forgive me for saying this so bluntly) a detraction from his worthiness in your father’s eyes. I am not informed of Charlie’s father’s annual settlement upon him. I doubt it would be subsistence level and Charlie has his Army pension to buoy him. Those are in addition to his wages here in the curate.  Family connection is a value to your father. But what price do you pay for your papa’s political prowess if you spend your hours with one who makes you miserable?

A brief flirtation—as I now serve as example—can indeed engender greater affections. My fiancé and I met by accident in a dark sitting room where I had escaped alone, champagne in hand, the tedium of men who simpered over me. All for my money, of course. (So tiresome!)

I do beg you to come to the May Day Frolic. You love it so. Each year you’ve found something new to adore. The mummers. The music. Last year, Charlie in his new role as our village vicar.

He is a charming man. You cannot deny it. Mama adores him. Papa declares he brings a bit of youth and boldness to our church services. Our tenants think him comforting. And yes, he rues his time in the Army in Spain. His return to the clergy is, he says, his true calling…and his penance. I know not, nor does he speak of the horrors he saw at war. I do find him often sitting alone outside his little house in the Grecian folly and the expression on his face is one of utter madness. I fear for him then. I have tried to lure him from this night of his soul. But I tell you truly, only when I speak of you and his affections for you do I see his expression change. He needs you, Willa.

He needs you. If not for more kisses, if not for more amorous caresses, he needs you to sit with him and talk and laugh. He needs you to soothe his soul and show him the finest elements of humanity. Friendship, solace, communion of like minds are what he needs.

I submit only you can bring that to him.

What will you gain from your attendance at my wedding to Northington? You will renew your faith in yourself as a woman who does inspire friendship and love.

Please come to my wedding, Willa. Charlie needs you. I need you, too, more than I have ever told you.

With great love for your undeying friendship,

Esme

~~~

Miss Esme Harvey is about to marry the man she loves and she wishes a few of her best friends in attendance. One of her closest friends is Lady Willa Sheffield, daughter of the Earl of Seaford. Esme needs all the friends she can get as she has her own challenges concerning her beloved, the heir to a duchy. Willa fancies the new vicar who struggles with his own tormented memories fighting against the French.

So begins the fourth novel, LADY WILLA’S DIVINELY WICKED VICAR in Cerise DeLand’s romantic comedy series, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FROLIC, out October 23. Esme’s story in the series, MISS HARVEY’S ACCIDENTAL GROOM debuts August 21!

For more laughter and romance in her historical novels, do follow Cerise DeLand everywhere you wish!

Servants Shock the Neighborhood

Number 50, Dudley Crescent, London

July 15, 1821

Dearest Lucinda,

I write to you today to share my outrage at occurrences in Dudley Crescent. I simply cannot abide the recent changes and must have your advice.

Servants Shock

Two years ago, a murder occurred at Number 10. The horrid matter was quickly resolved when the culprit was identified and put away from fine society.  But the greater scandal was that the widowed lady of the house had intimate relations with her butler! Then last year, a noted member of society hired a young woman as ward to his child…and later, did marry the woman! She was far below his station, though, I do understand, an heiress of considerable worth. I must tell you the man is one of our finest gentlemen with a spotless reputation and high military honors. Yet, I worry.

Another event occurring last week causes me to question my presence here!

I understand that one noble gentleman has paid attentions to one of his servants! This time, said woman is not a governess. No, indeed, she is his maid-of-all-work! Can you imagine? I’ve been inconsolable, riddled with a nervous stomach and headaches. My usual little dose of laudanum is simply not enough to calm me.

This causes me to ask you if you think I should move to a better part of town. Is there a curse on the Crescent? Must I expect more servants who will climb above their station to enthrall their masters or mistresses? Worse, will such an affliction affect my own house? I must tell you, quite confidentially, that my only daughter, Lady Mary, seems far too taken with one of our own servants. The new…dear me, I can barely write this…stable boy. Yes! He is most definitely not a boy. Not by any means. He is thirty years of age or more. Tall, taller than my dear departed husband. And devilishly handsome with hair the color of coal and eyes like lavender. He is quite ethereal.

I do rattle on!

Advise me, please!

Most sincerely,

Catherine, the Viscountess of Trelawny

Dudley Crescent is a verdant parcel of land in London, granted by King Charles II to the Earl of Dudley who was one of his staunchest supporters. With gold he’d stolen as a highwayman during Charles’s exile on the Continent, Dudley put his ill-gotten gains to good use and built the finest town homes in the capital. Renting the land in perpetuity to certain Royalist friends quadrupled his fortune.

Today, those who have townhomes surrounding the verdant park are a few of the wealthiest and most influential lords and ladies in the kingdom. But scandals abound on Dudley Crescent. You can find them here:

https://www.amazon.com/Cerise-DeLand/e/B0089DS2N2/

Or here: http://cerisedeland.com/delightful-doings-in-dudley-crescent/

He is awful! But we like him.

Lucinda! Dare I tell you what I heard the other day at my sister’s tea?

I shouldn’t spread such dastardly tales, but the news scarcely bears credence!

I know. I know. Come closer. We’ll sit in this corner near the doors to the garden and I will tell you. We don’t want everyone here to listen in. Why, I’d never forgive myself if such words got out and I was referenced as the one to have told the story!

Well, yes. Settled? No one around us. Hmm. So, here is the tale.

You’ve heard, I am certain, that the Marquess of Ridgemont has had a liaison for the past few months with a certain duchess. Yes, you have? Hmm. And that she is soon to be indisposed for the next six months? Yes. The duke is furious. But he knows not who to blame! Is it Ridgemont? Or perhaps Wales himself? Dastardly choice, isn’t it?

And now there is another problem. Ridgemont is to wed.

Well, yes, yes, everyone knows that. His mama and papa are quite insistent that he do. Finally, he must wed. But he tarries.

Oh, pardon me. I titter! He tarries and dallies, doesn’t he?

I mustn’t snort. So unladylike. Well! Onward with my tale!

Ridgemont is to wed. One of those American gels. The haughty sort. More money than any foolish woman should have. I must throw myself into the nearest ha-ha with outrage…but it is true. Glorious dark-haired, superbly sculpted Ridgemont must wed and get the American dollars he desperately needs.

I hear your question. Which girl, eh?

I do believe it is—

Oh, my! Why, Lord Ridgemont, I did not know you were here! How wonderful to see you!

The garden? With me? You’d like to walk among the roses?

Well. My, my. Let me open my fan. It is so stifling in this drawing room, isn’t it?

You won’t mind, Lucinda, will you, dearest, if I admire the roses with Ridgemont?

No, no, I won’t be but a few minutes.

What’s that, you say, my lord?

More than a few?

Ten, a least?

I say! How flattering and very exciting. Of  course, I will take your arm.

I’ll see you later, Lucinda. Don’t whisper a word of this, will you, my dear?

Thank you, thank you.

I am all yours, my dear Ridgemont!

For more about this spicy tidbit, do read SCANDALOUS HEIRESS, THOSE NOTORIOUS AMERICANS, Book 4, by Cerise DeLand.

For more about this spicy tidbit, do read SCANDALOUS HEIRESS, THOSE NOTORIOUS AMERICANS, Book 4, by Cerise DeLand.

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07LB9KFM9/

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/scandalous-heiress-cerise-deland/1130406401?ean=2940161284896 

KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/scandalous-heiress-4

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GRANDMOTHER FEARS GOVERNESS

Eaton Square

January 1821

Dear Teatime Tattler,

I do believe my darling grandson has lost his mind. I come to you, understanding that by addressing my desperation publically, I may make the gossip about him worse. But I need insights from your readers.

At six and thirty, he’s older than most bachelors should be. More attractive, too, dare I say, with a shock of bright blond hair and charming blue eyes. He’s wealthy with eleven thousand a year from estates, but independently situated because he is a hero of the recent campaigns abroad. Against Bony, my dear boy was a leader of men in our Army. For his service, he gained numerous awards and bonuses that allowed him to purchase a townhouse in Dudley Crescent. He’s lived an honorable life and at the recent demise of his older brother (who by the way never saw fit to open his purse to help him buy his kit!), he has inherited the earldom. He devotes himself to learning his new responsibilities and his tenants do praise him for his devotion. Their lot—shall I praise my boy inordinately?—has risen since his ascension to the title. He is so dear, so dedicated to those who rely upon him, that I fear for him in this new challenge he faces. Bless his soul, he deserves better than more turmoil in his life.

But I must get to the crux of his problem, mustn’t I?

A friend, a former comrade in arms, has recently passed this mortal coil. The man was a widower with a young daughter, age eight, in his sole care. At his demise, this gentleman wrote in his last will that he gave his daughter to the care of my grandson! The child is lovely, at first demure and well-mannered. But she arrived on my grandson’s doorstep with a dog and a parrot. Now mind you, canines are a special species. I keep quite a few hunters at my home in the country. But they sleep in the stables. Never in my home! And a parrot? Really. The creature talks like an inmate of Bedlam! But this, dear Tattler, is not the worst problem. Oh, no.

The child has moved in. She’s intelligent, but forward and will grow into a bluestocking, I wager. The dog seems well-mannered (and without too many fleas, I must add.) The bird, odd creature, irritates me because he (she?) imitates my greetings.

But the bigger problem is now the new governess. She is astonishingly beautiful with a heart-shaped face, green eyes the color of spring grass and a laugh so bright it would charm church bells. From what my grandson tells me, she has no previous employment as governess, but speaks French well and plays the piano like Brahms. He hired her within ten minutes of laying eyes upon her. But she disrupts his life with dancing in the upstairs hall and without invitation, moving pieces on his chessboard. Now he has her dining with him in the kitchen!

I fear, dear Tattler, she is there to lure my boy to the altar.  What should I say? What can I do to alert him to the possibility she will seduce him, marry him and ruin his reputation and his life?

Respectfully,

A doting Grandmother

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(This lady appears in the forthcoming tale, HIS TEMPTING GOVERNESS, Delightful Doings in Dudley Crescent, Book 2, by Cerise DeLand. The first book in the series is currently available everywhere, HER BEGUILING BUTLER!

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