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Eyebrows Raised in Staffordshire

My Dearest Readers:

If your chaise-longue requires fresh feathers, I must recommend you send for the upholsterer before reading this any further. Once you have been assured that your preferred furniture will not cause injuries should you feel the inevitable urge to faint, you may proceed.

I fear a dreadful scandal has occurred in Staffordshire. I sympathize with the utter unrest you are most certainly feeling at this unexpected news. We associate scandals with London and Brighton, but never Staffordshire, home of an abundance of ceramics and grazing grounds for livestock.

Mrs. Blythe has been recording the events that have been happening at Laventhorpe Castle, near the Staffordshire Moors. We do not like to ponder her expenses for smelling salts.

As I am certain you are well aware, the Duke of Framingham recently became betrothed to Princess Aria Eleonora Ingrid Petronella of Sweden. Though the wedding announcement caused our eyebrows to reach a higher than customary perch, we were naturally pleased for them, even if we wondered at the wisdom of the match. After all, the aged duke’s unpleasant visage cannot compensate for his brash, equally unpleasant personality, and the princess is so wealthy, we doubted even the duke’s vast estate held much temptation to her.

It seems though that shortly after the wedding, the princess absconded with the duke’s younger cousin. Quel horreur! There are rumors that he kidnapped her and her pet dog, Galileo, though that is no excuse, naturally, for a woman to abandon her marital bed on her wedding night. They are even now hurrying through Staffordshire, though I am assured that the duke and his men are pursuing them.

Mrs. Blythe’s new book, The Truth about Princesses and Dukes, details these events at length. I hope, dearest readers, that you should not feel the urge to behave in equally outrageous manners.

About the Book: The Truth about Princesses and Dukes

Princess Aria Eleonora Ingrid Petronella of Sweden has been exchanging letters with the most marvelous man in the world. Perhaps her true love is somewhat aged, and perhaps butterflies don’t swarm inside her chest when they meet briefly at a ball, but she is certain no man equals the Duke of Framingham in magnificence. When he proposes marriage in a letter, she eagerly accepts.

Rupert Andrews doesn’t expect to enjoy writing letters on behalf of his elderly cousin. But when the Duke of Framingham informs Rupert that he’s fallen in love with a beautiful woman and needs someone to write letters on his behalf, Rupert reluctantly agrees. After all, the cottage he inherited after his mother’s death is heavily mortgaged, and the duke has kindly let him take longer to repay the debt. On the duke’s wedding day, Rupert overhears the duke tell his mistress that he plans to toss his new bride off his balcony so they can marry. The duke merely desires the princess’s money, and Rupert knows one thing: he has to rescue her. 

Princess Aria is astonished when a young, spectacle-wearing man kidnaps her. She’s in love with the duke—after all, he’s sent her such wonderful letters for weeks. Soon though, she’s on the run with Rupert to London. If only Rupert had sent her such lovely letters. . .

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Excerpt

Blast.

Rupert marched through the room and opened various drawers. There must be another key. He scrummaged through the duke’s attire, then crawled under the bed.

Nothing.

Finally, he glanced toward the window.

He rather wished the first Duke of Framingham had decided to put his bedroom on the ground floor. If only that duke had had a premonition of the viciousness of one of his descendants and his propensity to go about locking relatives in bedrooms. Evidently, the duke’s success at fighting the French so many centuries ago had not translated into an equal ability to foretell the future.

Rupert attempted to open the balcony door, but it was locked. He scowled, before hastily moving to the window.

Rupert unlocked the hinge on the window and pushed it open. A brisk wind met him. Birds chirped merrily, and the sun was in full force. He squinted into the light. Then he lowered himself carefully from the window until his feet touched the battlement.

The birds jerked their heads toward him from their perches on the parapet, before flying away. A few servants were outside, marching to the chapel with flowers.

Where was the princess?

Would she be in the chapel now? In the drawing room? Still touring the castle?

Her dressing room.

Rupert lowered himself down and hurried to the other wing, crawling along the crenellations. He wasn’t certain which room she’d been placed in, but he assumed it was the best one. The wind brushed against him, as if urging him to reenter the house. A few leaves, which had no doubt laid in the battlements for months, flew into his face. He pushed them away, and they crunched against his fingers.

Damnation.

Why was the castle so large? Evidently, no one had calculated the utter inconvenience the large size would be when someone was forced to circumvent it on one’s stomach.

The chapel bells rang, and Rupert scurried forward.

About the Author

Born in Texas, Bianca Blythe spent four years in England. She worked in a fifteenth-century castle, though sadly that didn’t actually involve spotting dukes and earls strutting about in Hessians.

She credits British weather for forcing her into a library, where she discovered her first Julia Quinn novel. She remains deeply grateful for blustery downpours.

After meeting her husband in another library, she moved with him to sunny California, though on occasion she still dreams of the English seaside, scones with clotted cream, and sheep-filled pastures. For now, she visits them in her books.

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Is the Duke’s Daughter a Dark Horse?

This particular duke’s daughter does not often come before the readers of Society pages. Indeed, this reporter has never had cause to mention her since her underwhelming come-out some years ago. It is generally believed she has always been eclipsed by the dazzling beauty and brilliant marriages of her older sisters, and by the important work of her older brothers.

However, after years of silence, this youngest and as yet unmarried daughter of a most influential ducal family has come to our notice not once but twice!

Firstly, though his grace’s influence has kept the story out of most other newspapers, it is rumoured that the maid whose murdered body was discovered near Covent Garden, belonged to this same ducal household, and that the body was found by none other than our Society-shy lady.

Secondly, I can reveal that with my own eyes I clearly saw this same lady in a closed carriage, in company with an extremely handsome gentleman. His identity remains a mystery to this reporter, who is left wondering if there is any connection between the two unusual events. It is certainly difficult to imagine what such a connection might be. Nevertheless, it seems that the shy Lady G. might indeed be a dark horse.

Watch this space for new developments.

Mysterious Lover (Crime and Passion, Book 1)

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About the Book

Mary Lancaster’s thrilling new series “Crime & Passion” from USA Today Bestselling Author Mary Lancaster.

London, 1851

In the shadow of the Great Exhibition, poverty and crime stalk the meaner backstreets of the city. But sin is not confined to the underworld. One couple passes seamlessly between the neighboring worlds of privilege and privation, solving crimes and enabling love to bloom.

Mysterious Lover, Book 1

An unforgettable night at the opera…

When she accompanies her family to Covent Garden, Lady Grizelda Niven does not expect to be discovered in a nearby back street, clutching a dagger over the dead body of her maid. However, she is even more surprised when the police arrest not her but the devastatingly handsome young man who found her. Clearly, it behoves her to have him released and to enlist his alliance in discovering who truly killed Nancy.

Dragan Tizsa, a Hungarian refugee doctor, revolutionary, and soldier, lives constantly with the anguish of loss. The death of one more acquaintance makes little difference to him, except that it brings the vital and eccentric Griz into his life. He is a man who likes puzzles, and the mystery that is Griz soon assumes as much importance as that of the murder.

As they work together to unravel the layers of Nancy’s life and discover why she died, friendship and attraction blossom, much to her family’s unease. From the danger of London’s underworld, to the glittering salons of her married sister, Griz and Dragan look out for each other. But is she right to believe in her new friend when the evidence begins to tell against him?

And as she comes face to face with the killer at last, is love and happiness forever beyond her reach?

Crime & Passion
Mysterious Lover
Letters to a Lover
Dangerous Lover

About the Author

Mary Lancaster lives in Scotland with her husband, three mostly grown-up kids and a small, crazy dog. 

Her first literary love was historical fiction, a genre which she relishes mixing up with romance and adventure in her own writing. Several of her novels feature actual historical characters as diverse as Hungarian revolutionaries, medieval English outlaws, and a family of eternally rebellious royal Scots. To say nothing of Vlad the Impaler.

Her most recent books are light, fun Regency romances written for Dragonblade Publishing: The Imperial Season series set at the Congress of Vienna; and the popular Blackhaven Brides series, which is set in a fashionable English spa town frequented by the great and the bad of Regency society.

Connect with Mary on-line:
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Email Mary: Mary@MaryLancaste

Never Trust a Duke

Dear Reader,

It has come to this author’s attention that the frosty, ever-so-proper Duke of Faircliffe is in possession of stolen artwork!

This salacious detail has also come to the attention of London’s most scandalous family: the Wild Wynchesters. Rumor has it, the painting rightfully belongs to them!

One cannot begin to guess what acts of revenge the motley family of vigilantes might wreak upon His Grace, the Duke of Icy, Yet Maddeningly Sexy Hauteur.

Graham Wynchester has been spied climbing the Palace of Westminster. Elizabeth, purchasing a deadly new swordstick. Tommy, looking disreputable and rakish. Marjorie, with paint under her fingernails. Jacob, amassing an army of highly trained… ferrets?

And as for Miss Chloe Wynchester… er… where did that girl disappear to? She is perhaps the most underestimated of all the Wynchesters. The unassuming wallflower of the bunch and yet, I suspect, the one who poses the greatest danger to the Duke of the Finely Clenched Jaw and Smoldering Gaze…

About the Book: The Duke Heist

A secret identities, forbidden love, opposites attract romance from a New York Times bestselling author: Why seduce a duke the normal way, when you can accidentally kidnap one in an elaborately planned heist?

Chloe Wynchester is completely forgettable—a curse that gives her the ability to blend into any crowd. When the only father she’s ever known makes a dying wish for his adopted family of orphans to recover a missing painting, she’s the first one her siblings turn to for stealing it back. No one expects that in doing so, she’ll also abduct a handsome duke.

Lawrence Gosling, the Duke of Faircliffe, is tortured by his father’s mistakes. To repair his estate’s ruined reputation, he must wed a highborn heiress. Yet when he finds himself in a carriage being driven hell-for-leather down the cobblestone streets of London by a beautiful woman who refuses to heed his commands, he fears his heart is hers. But how can he sacrifice his family’s legacy to follow true love?

“Erica Ridley is a delight!”

—Julia Quinn

“Irresistible romance and a family of delightful scoundrels… I want to be a Wynchester!”

—Eloisa James

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An Excerpt from The Duke Heist

Chloe folded her hands in her lap and did her best not to glare a hole right through the handsome, haughty Duke of Faircliffe. His frigid blue gaze had looked right at her—and slid away just as quickly, having glimpsed nothing to attract his interest.

How many times had she and Faircliffe been in the same room? Eight? Ten? Every disdainful glance in her direction as indifferent as the last. She lifted her chin. Her father had taught her that to the right person, she would be visible and memorable. Faircliffe was clearly the wrong person.

Not that she wanted him to notice her, Chloe reminded herself. The continued success of “Jane Brown” hinged on her uncanny ability to be wholly unremarkable under any circumstances. She gripped the soft muslin of her skirt and took in all the other ladies in the parlor.

Mrs. York clapped her hands together. “And now… a celebratory tea!”

The duke’s face displayed a comical look of alarm. “I don’t think—”

“You must join us!” Mrs. York’s hands flapped like frightened birds. “The girls were about to have oatcakes and cucumber sandwiches before you arrived.”

“We were about to discuss epistolary structure in eighteenth-century French novels,” Philippa murmured.

“I never meant to interrupt,” Faircliffe said with haste. “I mustn’t stay, and in fact—”

“Nonsense! Come, come, all of you.” Mrs. York waved her arms about the room, driving her guests into the dining room like a shepherd herding sheep.

Chloe and Faircliffe were both caught in the flow.

Once they reached the door, however, Chloe stepped to one side. She could not take a seat at the table, or she would be stuck there for the next hour.

While everyone else was occupied, this was her chance to liberate the painting. But first, she needed an excuse to disappear. An adorable, furry reason.

She released Tiglet from the large wicker basket. The calico kitten darted between boots and beneath petticoats with a formidable rawr.

Mrs. York gave a dramatic shriek in response.

Tiglet scaled several curtains in search of an open window before darting out of the dining room and flying off down the corridor as though his tail were afire.

Chloe gasped, as if shocked that her homing kitten was attempting to dash home. “How embarrassing! I’ll run and find the naughty little scamp at once. Go on ahead. Please don’t wait for me.”

With her basket hanging from her arm, she ducked into the parlor and closed the door behind her. She hurried to lift the painting from the wall and carried it behind a chinoiserie folding screen in the corner. Up came the frame’s grips, off came the backing, out came Bean’s painting. She rolled it carefully and tucked it into the basket before stretching the forgery she’d brought over the wooden frame.

She ran to open the parlor door before anyone noticed it had been shut and hurried past the dining room to the front door without taking her leave from the guests. Would anyone notice she failed to return? Doubtful. If anything, the ladies would assume Jane Brown had slunk off in mortification.

Still, there was no time to waste. Any caper’s success depended upon a timely exit.

Keeping her head down, she headed down the front walk toward the first carriage in the queue. Only when she glimpsed the red curtains and a pair of leather gloves on the box did she lift her head toward the driver’s perch.

It was empty.

Her lungs caught. Where was Graham?

Distant shouts reached her ears, and her tight muscles relaxed. Something unexpected must have occurred, and her siblings’ distraction was underway.

This was her cue to flee.

Chloe pushed the basket inside, unhooked the carriage from its post, and leapt onto the coachman’s seat. Female drivers weren’t unheard of, but all the same, she was glad she never went outside without garbing herself in the plainest, dullest, dowdiest clothes in her wardrobe. No one who glanced her way would bother looking for long.

She set the horses on a swift path out of Mayfair.

Only when Grosvenor Square was no longer visible behind her did she allow herself a small smile of victory.

“Did we escape?” came a low, velvet voice from within the carriage.

Chloe’s skin went cold. Who was that? Graham wouldn’t be hiding in the back of the carriage. A stranger was in the coach! She twisted about and wrenched the privacy curtain to one side.

A handsome visage with soft brown hair and sculpted cheekbones stared back at her, glacial blue eyes wide with surprise.

Faircliffe?” she blurted in disbelief.

“Miss… er… you?” he spluttered when he found his voice. “What the devil are you doing driving my carriage?”

About the Series

The Wild Wynchesters are a uniquely talented family of caper-committing siblings who don’t let High Society’s rules stop them from righting wrongs.

You can grab a FREE prequel: The Governess Gambit!

Meet the Wild Wynchesters: This fun-loving, caper-committing family of tight-knit siblings can’t help but find love and adventure!

Years ago, Chloe Wynchester and five other uniquely talented orphans were adopted by a wealthy baron with a secret mission: The motley Wynchester family fights for justice from the margins of high society. And the handsome, clever duke Chloe has long admired proves to be her worst enemy…

An unscrupulous boarding school is exploiting orphans in a secret workhouse. Baron Vanderbean plots a daring rescue. When illness befalls him, Chloe must take the reins. But how can a lifelong wallflower lead the charge to save the children?

GRAB YOUR FREE EBOOK:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ERICA RIDLEY

Erica Ridley is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of witty, feel-good historical romance novels, including the upcoming THE DUKE HEIST, featuring the Wild Wynchesters. Why seduce a duke the normal way, when you can accidentally kidnap one in an elaborately planned heist?

In the 12 Dukes of Christmas series, enjoy witty, heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. After all, nothing heats up a winter night quite like finding oneself in the arms of a duke!

Two popular series, the Dukes of War and Rogues to Riches, feature roguish peers and dashing war heroes who find love amongst the splendor and madness of Regency England.

When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Central America, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.

FRIEND ERICA

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A Grasping Interloper?

Gentle Readers,

Far be it from me, your trusted informant on all matters worth knowing to keep disparaging an honorable gentleman for his youthful foibles, but it would seem the Earl of Bainbridge has succumbed to the lure of face paint and a pair of well-turned ankles once more. Indeed, they are the very same pair that drove him from England’s shores before he ascended to his current title. While his father no doubt applauds his son’s recent endeavors amongst the corps de ballet from beyond the grave, no doubt the present earl’s grandfather takes a considerably dimmer view of recent events and of the lovely Miss Nettie Pomeroy, darling of the Arcadian music hall.

Loyal readers will remember the stir Miss Pomeroy created several years ago when, as one Miss Venetia Crawley, the natural daughter of the former Duke of Graydon, she brazenly attended Lord and Lady Esterly’s ball on the arm of young Bainbridge (then Viscount Dutton). Rumor had it that without the swift intervention of his closest friend, the current Duke of Graydon and Miss Pomeroy’s half-brother, her duplicity would have escaped detection and the Bainbridge earldom would have discovered a veritable cuckoo in its nest. Thankfully, she was routed in time and disappeared to parts unknown at the time of this printing.

While it is understandable how a young man can easily be led astray by a pretty face one would think that an older, more experienced man should have grown immune to that same face. Sadly, that has not been the case with Lord Bainbridge. How must the current Duke of Graydon be feeling about having this blight on his family turn up after believing himself well-shed of the grasping interloper? One must also ask about the mysterious goings on at the Arcadian as well and the sinister dealings of her owner, Morgan O’Banyon. Just what is the truth about his relationship with the fair Miss Pomeroy?

Never fear dear readers! Your intrepid informer shall keep you apprised as I uncover the answers to all your questions.

Humbly Yours,

S. Clemens, Esq.

About the Book

Caelan Hennesy meets the young woman of his dreams in a Paris museum. She is educated, beautiful and refined – everything his family and society require of his bride.
Venetia believes she has found her prince, and she is certain that their love is strong enough to overcome the scandal of her birth. Venetia is the lovechild of a duke and his commoner mistress. When her half-truths and lies of omission are exposed, a disillusioned Caelan walks away, leaving Venetia at the mercy of a ruthless enemy.
Nine years later Caelan, now the Earl of Bainbridge, discovers Venetia is now a dazzling music hall dancer named Nettie Pomeroy. Nettie wants nothing to do with the man who walked away from her. Still, neither one of them can deny the passion or the love that continues to bind them together. As Nettie and Cal continue fighting their feelings, an enemy draws closer determined to bring harm to people Caelan cares about. Will Caelan be able to protect the one woman he refuses to surrender again, and will Nettie trust him enough to open her heart for a second chance at love?

~Excerpt~

FranceWinter, 1856

It was hot and difficult to breath stuffed halfway into the heavy, canvas sack. Her legs and feet remained cold though, because she still wore her gauzy costume from tonight’s performance. Venetia had fought the men who’d abducted her, kicking and screaming for help only to have a large, meaty hand clamp over her mouth, and then came the sack. She’d had a short burst of satisfaction when the wooden block in one of her toe shoes connected squarely with the twig and berries belonging to the other one of her captors. He’d threatened to hurl her against the wall, but the man with the meaty hands threatened him with far worse if he harmed her. Now she lay in the back of a cart where they’d tossed her hours ago, her arms and legs bound tightly together, a foul-tasting gag in her mouth, sick with fright.

There was no question in her mind that the new Duke of Graydon had found her. She’d thought taking a stage name would offer enough protection, but clearly, she’d been wrong. The luck Venetia found on her arrival in Paris had completely deserted her today. First, her grand debut in the lead role for tonight’s performance of ‘Giselle,’ hadn’t been good enough to secure a permanent place outside the corps de ballet, shattering her dreams of one day becoming a premiere danseuse, and now Graydon and his mother had hired these two ruffians to abduct her. She would likely be killed and her body thrown into the sea.

After an eternity, the cart came to a stop and Venetia found herself being lifted and carried with extraordinary gentleness. She struggled in the arms holding her, earning a harsh obscenity from the man she’d previously kicked, but the ruffian carrying her merely leaned closely and whispered to her. “Don’t thrash around now, little blossom. Ye might do yourself an injury.” She heard the sounds of raucous laughter and cheers, of tankards being clashed together along with the smells of ale and wine. She was transferred to the other man who roughly threw her over his shoulder before climbing a set of stairs. A door creaked open and suddenly Venetia felt herself fly through the air and abruptly land on a bed.

“Why’d ye go and do that, Jeb? You could a hurt her!” The gentler of her captors eased her into a sitting position inside the stifling darkness of her sack. “Don’t you worry,” his disembodied voice assured her. “Won’t nobody here hurt ye.”

“Are you so certain of that, Luther?” came a cold, low voice from across the room, and Venetia’s throat contracted painfully around a hard lump of absolute terror at the sound of it.

Available through Amazon Kindle and print

About the Author

Stephanie Patterson began her writing career at age three by designing her own symbol alphabet to represent words and emotions. Writing has always been her first love, which prompted her to begin her first novel, a civil war epic at the age of eight. Her debut romance, “Playing for Keeps,” was published under the pen name, Stephanie Salinas. “The Woman in Question,” a contemporary romantic thriller published under her own name, followed a couple of years later.

Patterson’s series, “Season of the Furies,” a Victorian romance trilogy about three, beautiful debutants who must atone for a despicable act, is now complete. 2020 saw the publication of the first book in her new series, “Tales from the Arcadian,” which follows the performers of a London music hall in 1862. Book one, “Bobby Dazzler,” is currently available in both e-book and print editions.


Patterson is a resident of northern Oregon and comes from a criminal defense background where she worked on all types of cases from petty theft to capital murder and murder for hire in both the state and federal criminal systems. When not writing, she practices and teaches the ancient divination art of cartomancy – a fancy way of saying tarot reading, as well as works on her community’s month-long Halloween festival, ‘Spirit of Halloweentown.’™  

EMAIL: stephaniepattersonwriter@yahoo.com

WEBSITE:  www.stephaniepattersonauthor.com

FaceBook Page: Stephanie Patterson Writes Books

Reflections of a Season Past

London, 1817

As I embark upon a new Season, I cannot help but reflect upon last year, my observations, and the few people in which I’d taken a great interest. One being the Duke of Arscott and how he grew more irritable with each passing day.  

The cause—his daughter, Lady Lucinda Claxton. She was soon to turn two and twenty and had yet to settle upon anyone, though many lords wished to settle on her. Her father claimed that she was being too fastidious. I believe she was being pragmatic. Deciding upon a husband is far more serious than choosing whom one might grant a waltz.

Her admirers were many, as you may recall. Not only was her father a duke, but she also possessed lovely chestnut locks and intelligent grey eyes. However, she did not suffer fools, which could explain why she remained unwed. I, too, have often wondered if intelligence exists during the Season, especially among the dandies.

I waited in anticipation for a lord to win her heart, but alas, as the Season came to an end there was no hope of a betrothal. It was then that I returned my attention to His Grace and wondered if he would be forced into drastic measures to see his daughter his wed. Which is exactly what occurred, and rumors may have already reached your ears regarding the Duke of Arscott’s house party held shortly after Christmas.

It was ten days of festivities, outings, games and a guest list to impress, if not small, all for the purpose of seeing that Lady Lucinda finally settle on a husband.

Did I mention that it was small? Yes, I did. In fact, there were only ten lords invited and all for the single purpose of wooing Lady Lucinda.

The lady herself, was not pleased. Especially since her father refused to reveal the names of the guests for fear that she’d form her objections before they ever arrived.

However, the gathering turned out to be far more pleasant than Lady Lucinda ever dreamed, and you’ll never guess who she settled upon.

About the Book: Lady Lucinda’s Lords: Tenth Day of Christmas

Ten Leaping Lords, one imperious grandmother, and a Mister from Louisiana were her Christmas fate.

Much to Lady Lucinda Claxton’s dismay and irritation, her father’s house party only includes bachelors ready to wed. With her siblings off celebrating Christmas elsewhere, Lucinda is left to fend for herself. A new arrival, however, changes everything, and soon Lucinda decides the next ten days may not be so tedious after all.  

Mr. Caleb Copeland agrees to accompany his great-aunts to the home of the Duke of Arscott on one condition: He’ll not participate in any of the entertainments. He is simply their escort, not an invited guest. However, as much as he tries to keep his vow, his path often crosses Lady Lucinda’s while she is hiding from her court. Before long, Caleb knows none of her leaping lords will ever be worthy of her. Unfortunately, neither is he.

(12 Days of Christmas Book 10):  https://books2read.com/u/brWOLW

RELEASE DATE: December 10, 2020

~An excerpt~

“Why are you up here and not down there?”

Caleb nearly jumped at the female whisper and turned to find a young woman with dark ringlets and laughing grey eyes.

“I’m not really a guest.”

She frowned, her full, rosy lips puckering. “Then why are you here? Did you sneak in? Are you here to rob us? Should I be screaming?”

Affronted, Caleb took a step back, though he was beginning to suspect she teased him. “I simply accompanied my great-aunts.” He pointed to the three older women seated side by side.

She glanced down at the gathering below before a smile burst on the woman’s lips. “Ladies Priscilla, Joanna and Esther Tilson!” She quietly clapped her hands in delight. “I’d not been told they’d be coming. I do so adore them. They may be just what saves this house party from being tedious.”

“Tedious?”

“Yes.” She sighed and leaned on the balcony. “Those ten are the only guests, other than you and your great-aunts. To make matters worse, the rest of my family has found a reason to be absent, leaving me, my father and grandmother to attend to those lords.” She turned. “Forgive me, I’m Lady Lucinda Claxton.”

“Mister Caleb Copeland.” He bowed to the duke’s second daughter. “Why did he only invite ten gentlemen?”

She let out a deep sigh. “To see me married, of course.”

It was as he suspected, though it didn’t explain why his great-aunts needed him. They couldn’t expect him to be included in the group below, who would undoubtedly leap to do any deed to win Lady Lucinda’s favor.

He chuckled. “Ten lords a leaping,” he sang quietly.

Lady Lucinda scowled at him. “I don’t find you the least bit humorous.”

Caleb would have believed her if Lady Lucinda’s lips hadn’t twitched.

“Yes, you do.”

She brought a hand to her mouth to muffle her giggle. “Perhaps I do.”

Merriment danced in her grey eyes. “They do tend to jump, or in this case leap, to do one’s bidding when one is the daughter of a duke.”

“You should be flattered.”

At that she rolled her eyes. “It’s bothersome. I shan’t wed because they are of the right family and are titled, nor should that be the reason anyone wished to marry me.”

“It is the way of things, is it not?”

“For some, but not for me.” She lifted her chin. “Shall we join the others?”

“You go on,” Caleb insisted. He’d much rather have a view of the leaping from where he currently stood.

“Are you not a bachelor as well?” A dark eyebrow lifted with the question.

“I am, but while my uncle may be a duke, and my brother in training to become one, I am but a simple mister from New Orleans.” He then grinned. “And I do not leap.”

 “Such a pity for I do believe I’d enjoy you doing so.” She laughed.

Lady Lucinda swished away from him and for the briefest moment, Caleb almost wished that he could claim the title of lord.

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Jane Charles is a prolific writer of over fifty historical and contemporary romance novels. Her love of research lends authenticity to her Regency romances, and her experience directing theatre productions helps her craft beautiful, touching stories that tug at the heartstrings. Jane is an upbeat and positive author dedicated to giving her characters happy-ever-afters and leaving the readers satisfied at the end of an emotional journey. Lifelong Cubs fan, world traveler and mother of three amazing children, Jane lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She is currently writing her next book and planning her dream trip to England. Be sure to join Jane on Facebook @JaneCharlesAuthor for Wine Pairings Wednesdays.

Follow Jane:

Website:  https://www.janecharlesauthor.com/

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4879172.Jane_Charles

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jane-charles

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