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Gasp! A Lady has Visited her ‘friend’ in the Middle of the Night?

Dear Gentle Reader,

It has been brought to my attention that a certain widow—who, shall not be named at this time but is the daughter of a viscount and has a rather large dog who answers to the name Silvanus— was seen in the country, on her way to pay a second visit in one day to a certain illegitimate son of a baron. Alone and at night!

What is most alarming about this tidbit is not only is she not yet out of mourning, but she has a tendre for said illegitimate son of a baron! And I have it on good authority that Mrs. K was seen gallivanting across the countryside in a lilac riding habit. 

Let me remind you, dearest reader, that this is the very same lady who disgraced her family when she ran off with the son of the head stable master on her sister’s wedding day two years ago. The same sister who was abandoned at the altar, that is. But I suppose I can not judge too harshly, for a notorious rake came to her rescue, and the now Mrs. R is happily married and living in the country with her handsome husband and darling daughter. But I digress…

It has also come to my attention that Mrs. K is not truly Mrs. K for… gather a little closer… It would seem her late husband was quite the swindler and debaucher. It was not enough for him to be married, but to have paramours—yes, plural—waiting in the shadows is beyond understanding. 

Oh, such scandalous behavior!

Far be it from me to judge, but it would seem the lady in question is not quite through with causing scandal for her family. Has she no propriety or care for her family? Only time will tell if the ton forgives her for her transgressions.

Excerpt:

Who in the bloody hell would be calling on such a dreary evening? 

Rubbing his tired eyes, he stood and stretched. He hoped it was just the wind, but instinct told him it was not. Nothing currently in his life was as simple as that. Grabbing the polished candlestick, he walked from the warm sanctity of his study toward the front hall. 

The pounding on the door was getting more persistent, vibrating through the otherwise quiet house. 

He hoped it wasn’t Lord Botte. He wouldn’t be surprised if it were—the man had an uncanny knack for saying one thing and then doing another. Rather than let Weston conduct his investigation as he saw fit, Botte was constantly underfoot. No matter how much proof Weston had presented of his young bride’s infidelities, Botte wanted more. Sadly, his lordship could not accept the fact that his wife was cuckolding him.

Weston would deliver his report and then would not put any further time into the matter. He had wrapped up that case. In fact, he hoped it would be his last. 

Rap… rap… rap. 

Milton had reached the door at the same time. He shook his head at Milton. “I will handle this, Milton.” If it was Lord Botte, he did not want any of the staff to deal with the belligerent man.

“As you wish, sir.” Milton walked into the shadows, shaking his head all the while. Weston did not stand on protocol in his own home. If he wanted to answer the door, he would. 

He reached for the cool handle and eased the door open. Whiffs of lavender, vanilla, and wet dog invaded his senses. 

Wet dog? 

Before he could register what was happening, a petite, blonde-haired figure draped in black pushed past the door and stormed into the house, followed close behind by the largest dog he’d ever set eyes on. 

Without explanation as to why she was on his doorstep, Philippa chattered, “I thought… you meant for us to fr…freeze out there.” She rubbed her arms with quick movements and stepped farther into the hall. The dog shook its body from head to tail, spraying everything with the none-too-pleasant smell of wet fur.

Weston stood dumbfounded. Wasn’t Philippa just here this afternoon? He was still holding the door open, trying to comprehend why she had come again, and at this hour. Glancing outside, he noticed no horse, no carriage, and no chaperone. Damn. One day, her impulsive nature would land her in irreparable trouble, more so than she currently was in.

“What are you doing here?” he sputtered, trying to hide the disapproval and shock from his voice. He shut the door as one last blast of cool wind whipped through the hall. Closing his eyes, he sucked in his breath. Give me patience. Releasing the knob, he turned to face Philippa. 

Smoothing back errant golden locks, she avoided his gaze.

“Do you know what time it is?”

It was late by country standards, and the object of his latest investigation stood in his hallway, yet he still had to determine how to deal with the news he received earlier in the day. 

“I have not a clue.” She turned her crystal blue eyes on him. “It took forever to reach Knights Hall.”

Her answer was not reassuring. He waited for her to elaborate, but no further explanation came. “How did you get here?”

“I walked.” She said those two words like they were commonplace. Perhaps in the middle of the day with a chaperone they were, but at this time of evening, and in the rain, they were inconceivable when spoken by a lady of her station.

“You walked here?”

“Yes.”

“You walked here in the dark… in the rain… unchaperoned?”

“It wasn’t dark or raining when I left. And as for unchaperoned,” she began as she stroked the dog’s gigantic head, “Silvanus was with me. He protected me.” She turned her attention to the large wet dog. “Isn’t that right?” she said in a jovial voice. “You’re the best dog ever.” Silvanus’ tail wagged wildly at the sound of her high-pitched praise.

Weston did not doubt the dog’s ability to scare off any would-be attacker, but he was still no substitute for a proper chaperone. 

“Why didn’t you ride? Or better still, why didn’t you stay at home and send word?” As the words were coming out of his mouth, he could see her face reddening with agitation. He didn’t care. Her carefree spirit had been endearing when she was a child, but now she was headed for Bedlam with this sort of activity. 

If Lord Germayne knew what his daughter was about, he would lock her in her room until she came to her senses. Weston’s blood boiled with the thought of what trouble she could have found herself in, or worse. “I cannot believe you thought it was a good idea to venture out…”

Interrupting his tirade with a stomp of her foot on the marble floor, she yelled, “If you would just be quiet for all of two seconds, perhaps I might explain what I’m doing here.” 

Dancing Around the Truth

Mrs. Philippa Keates thought she’d found her happily ever after when she eloped, but two years later, she’s named a widow. The horror of her husband’s death, and then the shock of discovering that Alfred was a dissolute gambler, has forced Philippa into a life of seclusion. But when she is paid a visit by a woman claiming to be her late husband’s wife and demanding recompense, Philippa knows she must emerge from mourning and discover the whole truth about Alfred. The one person who can assist her is her childhood friend, Benjamin Weston, for whom she once held a tendre until she realized he didn’t feel the same.

Benjamin Weston, the illegitimate son of the late Baron Albryght, has made a name for himself conducting investigations for those willing to pay a high price for discretion. When Philippa arrives on his doorstep, begging for his assistance, Weston fears most of all that she will discover the truth. He insists that his investigations will be done on his terms, vowing to himself that he will continue to keep his distance from Philippa. But as he unravels her mystery, secrets of his own begin to come to light, and soon it becomes clear that there is more at stake than just Philippa’s reputation.

*Reissued in a new series with a beautiful new cover!

https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6442839573

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dancing-around-the-truth-1

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dancing-around-the-truth-alanna-lucas/1122403321

Alanna Lucas, author bio

Bestselling, award-winning author, Alanna Lucas pens Regency-set historicals filled with romance, adventure, and of course, happily ever afters. When she is not daydreaming of her next travel destination, Alanna can be found researching, spending time with family, tending to her garden, or going for long walks. She makes her home in California with her husband and children, and too many books to count.

Just for the record, you can never have too many handbags or books. And travel is a must. 

www.alannalucas.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlannaLucas

https://twitter.com/alannalucas27 

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alanna-lucas

A note from a Disgruntled Reader who says, “Publish This If You Dare!”

Dear Mr. Clemens,

Until last week, you enjoyed my greatest confidence that the Teatime Tattler reported London’s juiciest gossip. But now I must pose this question: whyever was your coverage of the Duke’s ball so woefully incomplete?

Becoming WantonI have never before risked such correspondence, but I cannot resist, for I wish to know, sir. Do you abuse your discretion as publisher to protect certain lords in Parliament? Or were your usual sources so captivated by the obvious they overlooked the most delicious gossip? To be fair, most guests at the ball were not afforded my view…

Oh, I do not disagree that Lady Clara’s scandal was noteworthy. An earl’s sister and a Scottish industrialist? Yes, of course I gasped along with everyone else when that commoner brute swept her into his muscled arms after she swooned! And again when, carrying her to the terrace, he shouldered the very host of the ball out of the way! The Duke!

Any informed reader cannot, however, be surprised. This is the lady who withdrew from her coming-out season and rejected favorable courtships. Why, any close Mayfair neighbor can attest to the wicked music her fingers regularly elicit from her piano. Chopin’s most fervent pieces!

The other honorable guests at the ball were agape at the Scotsman and Lady Clara, but I cannot purge a different passionate image from my memory. I shall share it with you, sir, on the chance that its omission from the Tattler was not occasioned by favoritism. 

At first I cursed being of such delicate stature and politeness that I did not forcefully maneuver to the front of the crowd. I now suspect a divine hand placed me, permitting me to witness…

No, before sharing that, first I must ask you—were you as gullible as I? Did you, too, believe the Marquess of Candleton was the proper statesman his activities in the House of Lords suggest? Were you taken in by the Marchioness’s modest gowns and impeccable manners all these years? Do not feel foolish, for I also had the wool pulled over my eyes. No more.

What was Lady Candleton’s expression full of as she observed the scene with Lady Clara? Not disapproval, as one might have assumed, nor gentle concern. No, she watched raptly and with envy—the kind with knowledge behind it. Her virtuous airs dupe me no longer. 

If that wasn’t shocking enough, do be certain to sit before you read on. Lord Candleton, Britain’s champion and architect of reform, was not watching the scene everyone else was, oh no. He had eyes only for…his wife! 

Suspend your disbelief; cast aside your assumptions about this lord and lady. Had you seen the fierce look of unfulfilled desire in Lord Candleton’s eyes this Society Matron did, you would have no doubt. Mark my words, something is raging within the Marquess and Marchioness, something we would all agree has no place in a respectable marriage!

***

About Becoming Wanton by Rebecca Aubrey: 

This couple’s dilemma? They’re both married…to each other.

Lord William Dalfour, Marquess of Candleton, is in a terrible fix. Oh, he knows what’s expected of him. By day, he’s to face Britain’s challenges as a notable member of the House of Lords. Night means siring heirs in the dark with his marchioness, but only with the utmost decorum. His animalistic urges…well, those are to be unleashed in the Thames Fencing Club. Or with a mistress—if he had one.

One does not engage in wantonness with one’s wife and mother of one’s children. Oh, no. One does not become enchanted by one’s wife!

A respected society hostess and devoted parent, Lady Beatrice should be fulfilled by domestic bliss and having her husband’s ear on parliamentary business. Behind closed doors, however, she dares to come into her own, asking for more and testing the limits of William’s insistence on propriety—and his self-control.

No matter the pain his rejection inflicts, William’s highest duty is to keep Bea wholesome. Isn’t it? To protect her, even from himself? From herself. But what if honoring his wife means succumbing to their mutual craving? Worshiping her, body and soul…

Don’t miss Trade of a Lifetime, Book One in the Trade Wind Series, about Lady Clara and James Robertson. 

Becoming Wanton on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B4LZNWK5

About Rebecca Aubrey:

Romantic by birth. Author by choice.

Rebecca AubreyRebecca writes about strong women, the men they find compelling, and the passion that ensues. Oh, and their clothes come off—whether corsets or clergy collars, gowns or gun holsters, breeches or business suits.

Count on intense emotional and physical attraction, and meticulously-researched settings. Between daydreams, Rebecca has detailed plans for her next book, bake, and cocktail—and a vague notion of what’s for dinner. Rebecca is also a lawyer and proud graduate of Smith College.

Visit her website and sign up for her newsletters at www.rebeccaaubrey.com.

Is that Viscount really a Duke in disguise? A deceit in our midst!

Gentle Reader,

Dowager Duchess M is throwing a house party with a motley assortment of guests. I dare swear most are little better than treasure seekers. 

Worse, she has loudly and publicly welcomed the Duke of E to her home as Viscount R! Now everyone is calling him Viscount R and the man can’t get a word of correction into the conversation.

The absent Viscount R is a suitor for AH, the Duchess’s granddaughter, but this author suspects AH finds the Duke a more compatible companion. If she doesn’t, she should!

Given the Duchess’s reputation as a prankster, the next couple days should prove entertaining. 

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Artful-Deceit-Art-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B09XRCHTP7

Blurb for An Artful Deceit:

What happens when a Duke is mistaken for a Viscount—on purpose?

Add that to two Michelangelo sketches, hidden passages, vanishing and reappearing art, threatening messages, conniving art collectors, arrogant academicians, a Bow Street agent, a lovelorn couple, and an elderly prankster.

It’s enough to give a Duke a headache.

Miles Wingate, the Duke of Ellinbourne, was not supposed to be at the Dowager Duchess of Malmsby’s house party. He was supposed to be in London preparing for the spring opening of the Royal Academy of Art, yet here he was, a stand-in guest for his injured cousin, Viscount Redinger.

This was taking family loyalty too far. The only rational person at the house party was Miss Ann Hallowell, the Duchess’s granddaughter, and as his luck would have it, his cousin’s intended!

Thrown together when he’s mistaken for his cousin, Miles and Ann join to unravel the house party mysteries. But every time they pull one mystery thread free, another appears, for seemingly everyone has a hidden agenda—including the Duchess!

Excerpt from An Artful Deceit:

“Yoo-hoo! Viscount Redinger!” called out Lady Oakley. She stood on the terrace and waved at him. Even at the distance across the grounds Miles could tell she was smiling. She fairly bounced as she waved to them.

Ann dropped his arm as they turned to face Lady Oakley

Ann huffed; her mouth set in a straight line. She crossed her arms over her chest. “She knows you are not Redinger,” she said crossly.

He nodded. “I’ll warrant your grandmother does as well.” He slid a sideways glance at Ann. “I think your grandmother and Lady Oakley are up to some mischief,” he murmured.

“Why do you say that?”

“When the maid showed me to my rooms—the suite reserved for royalty, I might add—she called me Your Grace.”

“You’re in the purple passion suite!” Ann exclaimed. “That is what my cousins and I called that suite.”

A laugh burbled up inside her, then she finally broke into uncontrollable laughter.

“What? What is it?” he asked.

“You are probably right as to mischief,” Ann said as she struggled to get her laughter under control. “I should have realized she has been good for too long!”

“I don’t understand,” Miles said.

“My grandmother loves pranks. Not nasty ones, but fun ones. She was always thinking up pranks to pull on her grandchildren when we were growing up,” Ann explained as Miles smiled and waved back at Lady Oakley. 

“We should probably be heading back to the main house anyway. The wind is picking up and there is the beginning of a chill in the air,” he said as he put on his jacket. 

It impressed Ann that he could shrug into his coat without the assistance of his valet.

“The maid, I believe her name is Donna,” he continued, “addressed me as ‘Your Grace’. I did not tumble to the import of that action until an hour later. If the staff knows I am not Redinger, then I believe your grandmother does as well. So, I’ve decided to play along,” he said as they walked back to the house and Lady Oakley.

Lady Oakley tried to wave them to her at a faster pace; however, Miles chose to ignore that bit of body language and take his time with Miss Hallowell. He enjoyed her company.

 “What do you mean?”

“I shall answer to Redinger.”

“But you’re a Duke! That’s so disrespectful!”

“Perhaps it would be if I had been raised to the expectation, but I wasn’t. I am a clergyman’s son.”

“You have said that before. Do you hold that as some trump card?”

“I suppose in a way I do. It is my way of honoring my father and not allowing myself to become caught up in the title and lose my sense of perspective with those around me.” He laughed. “Too many others do that for me!”

The twilight breeze quickened. Treetops swayed and garden flowers bent before it. The chilling breeze snatched Ann’s untied bonnet from her head.

“Oh!” Ann whirled around to try to catch a ribbon, but the wind sent the bonnet twenty feet away before dumping it to the ground and rolling it over and over.

Miles thrust his sketchbook into Ann’s hands and ran to rescue the bonnet. When first he stooped to pick up a ribbon, the wind playfully skittered it out of his reach. He quickly moved again to the capture the errant headgear and planted his boot on the end of the ribbon to lay claim before the wind could play again.

When he turned back to look at Ann, he found his breath caught in his chest. While the wind had played with Ann’s bonnet, it had played with Ann’s hair as well. Strands whipped free of their confining pins and framed her face in a riot of dark blond curls and waves. This would be a portrait worth painting, he decided, not some staid formal sitting. She was beautiful. Not in the London marriage mart diamond-of-the-first-water sense. She was too real. Her eyes glittered brightly, her cheeks showed a delicate blush that owed nothing to artifice. His cousin was getting a prize, and Miles felt disconcerted by that thought.

About Holly Newman:

Holly lives near the Florida Gulf Coast with her husband and six cats. An Artful Deceit is her 11th novel. When she is not writing she likes to read, garden (more like perpetually pulling weeds) and take walks.

Website: https://hollynewman.com/

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

Pinterest: Reading, Writing, Not ‘Rithmatic

Pity the Duke!

Cairo, 1839

My dear Mr. Clemens,

Our Rambles have taken us to Cairo where we have found  refuge in  Shepheard’s Hotel des Anglais, a tolerable semblance of a civilized hostelry in this exotic outpost. The drinks in the private dining room and outdoor veranda are at least satisfying to the palate and a blessing after heat and sand threaten to choke one.

I digress. As I have throughout our travels, I notice here a tendency of otherwise well-bred English travelers here to throw off the ornaments of their breeding and behave in ways that would shock their peers in London. I am pleased to report that observation does not apply to that illustrious personage, the Duke of Sudbury,  ambassador to the Sultan’s viceroy here. When I observe him arriving and departing Shepheard’s he is always perfectly groomed as befitting and English gentleman.

The duke does strike one as high in the instep, and has haughtily rebuffed attempts to approach him on numerous occasions—but again I digress.

I  have been quite amazed at the number of travelers taking advantage of Waghorn’s Overland Mail to travel from India via Suez. They cross to Cairo via caravan and sail the Nile to embark from Alexandria via steamer. All and sundry pause here at Shepheard’s for a restorative rest. All are generally respectably turned out if dusty from sand and  in need of ablutions.

Imagine my horror this morning when three of Wagner’s latest arrivals  sauntered into the hotel not only in native dress, but filthy. The greater shock, Mr. Clemens, came with recognition. The duke’s own nephew, Richard Mallet was among them. Though  dressed in Arabic garb, and bearing a complexion brown as a native from sun damage, it was he. Piercing blue eyes glared at me from a face so browned by  the  sun as  to  look native. I suspected his identity then. When  he  pulled off his  horrid headdress, the blond  hair, combined with his great  height gave him away.  He  and his companions, one of them a native  woman, were swiftly escorted to  the duke’s suite in  the exclusive upper floor.

Imagine my relief later. My loyal maid has a gift for  befriending local servants, one that has proved valuable at  every stop for gathering information. She tells me that the sister of one of the hotel’s under cooks works in the  home of Doctor Charles Cloutier, the famous French medical director to the viceroy. She recognized Mallet’s companion as Ana Cloutier, the  man’s daughter, and not  some native hussy at all.

My relief was short-lived after some thought. Why would a respectable woman, even a French  one, wear native dress and come to a hotel of this class looking like she had been dragged through the desert for weeks without bathing? Her feet, bare, but for some sort of native shoe, were visible to any man who cared to ogle her ankles.

How, I wondered, could the Duke of Sudbury abide having such a  creature inflicted on his suite?  He must be devistated by his nephew’s disgraceful behavior.

Your devoted correspondent,

Eunice Higgenbloom of Sussex

PS—We have since discovered more peculiar information. My maid’s acquaintance has since discovered that the lady in question cannot possibly be Miss Cloutier for that poor lady is most certainly dead. The reports of her demise come from impeccable sources.

About the Book

Richard Mallet comes to Egypt with dreams of academic glory. He will be the one to unravel the secrets of the ancient Kushite language. Armed with license to dig, he sets out for Meroë, where the Blue Nile meets the White. He has no room in his life for dalliance or entanglements, and he certainly doesn’t expect to face insurrection and unrest.

Analiese Cloutier seeks no glory—only the eradication of disease among the Egyptian women and children of Khartoum. She has no interest whatsoever in romantic nonsense and will not allow notions about a lady’s proper role to interfere with her work. She doesn’t expect to have that work manipulated for political purposes.

Neither expects to be enchanted by the amorous power of moonlight in the ruins of Karnak, or to be forced to marry before they can escape revolution. Will their flight north take them safely to Cairo? If it does, can they build something real out of their shattered dreams?

 

Advertising for a wife? Astonishing!

I hasten to inform you, dear readers, of a most titillating scandal. I am certain many of you have heard of the opening of a very fine (but small and rather shabby) hotel on the Marine Parade in Brighton.

I was there only last week and met with the Lady Proprietor in question. A Viscountess, or once she was, until her dear husband died under mysterious circumstances in Paris. Yes, you grasp about whom I speak, because that man, noble and charming as he was, died while at court of that horrid little Napoleon.

Well! I tell you, dear readers, that this lovely Viscountess W— has moved to Brighton and opened the only asset her dear husband left her. All else that was in the entail, of course, has gone to her departed husband’s rapscallion cousin. Lady W— was hard put to survive and appreciated that her husband had bequeathed her something tangible. If it’s of value remains however to be seen.

Alas! I am off the subject!

It seems that Lady W— has turned the graceful old mansion into a hotel. Yes! She sees how many wish to frolic along with the Prince Regent and she smartly has refurbished the W— mansion into a hotel! And her first guest is none other than Duke of S—.

Imagine that. He comes in search of a wife, too. And how do I know this? Because I have seen, as have you I do imagine, the advert in the Brighton Chronicle yesterday for a wife. It reads:

To the Ladies

A Wife Wanted

A Gentleman, who has lately arrived from Philadelphia, wishes to settle for life and is therefore anxious to be Married. His connections are reputable, his fortune large and he is thirty-one years of age.

He has no objections to a lady without fortune, provided she is young, sensible and with good disposition. 

Any lady who wishes to contact said advertiser, may send a letter to this publication, care of the editor, Mr. Fawkes.

The Gentelmen will take residence in Lady W—’s hotel on the 20th of June and remains until July first. During that time, he will interview those women of whose letters he approves.

The wedding will occur July second.

Can you imagine wedded bliss from such a procedure? 

I ask you, have we not come to the lowest method of seekiing a spouse?

And in such a pleasant place as Brighton. Astonishing!

***

Who is advertising for a wife?

Lady Winston’s Scandalous Hotel is a new series of Regency romantic comedies starring the lovely widow, Viscountess of Winston. A mysterious fellow who appears to materialize on the Brighton sands one morning becomes her assistant in the arts of love. Yes, he has come from the lamp. Come from Istanbul where the sultan’s vizier condemned him to aid widows and those who seek spouses. He is charming. Lady W is dismayed. Her hotel guests are all made quite happy because they are assisted in their quest for romance! For debut in the near future, THE DUKE’S SURPRISING BRIDE, BOOK 1!

Do see my website for more happy reading! 

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