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Triumph—or humiliation—for Lady Pandora?

It has come to this author’s attention that the mysterious Miss E—, about whom the most scandalous rumours have been circulating since the beginning of the Season, will be among the guests at Godstone Abbey. What can Lady Westfield—who is usually most discerning when selecting guests for her Christmas houseparty—be about?

Far be it for this author to cast aspersions on a young lady’s eligibility, but Miss E—, despite displaying  a soupçon of breeding on occasion, is not averse to using a turn of phrase which would make even a Cyprian blush, with her extensive catalogue of anatomical terms. Miss E—’s guardian, Sir A—E—, himself notorious for being what can only be described as a committed bachelor, has been decidedly unforthcoming over the circumstances by which the previously-unheard-of young woman became his ward six months ago. Young ladies don’t just spring fully formed from the ground, neither do they fall from the heavens. And, as every accomplished tattler knows, Dear Reader—the less one is willing to disclose about one’s origins, the more there is to be divulged.

What has piqued this author’s interest in particular, is the anticipation of Lady Pandora Osborne’s presence at Godstone. As the year draws to a close, Lady Pandora’s quest to prove herself the premier matchmaker the Ton has ever seen, enters its final act. She has one more match to make, to secure her crown, Godstone Abbey is to provide the backdrop for her finale.

And what a finale it promises to be! For, the intended bridegroom must be none other than the Duke of S—. And, while this author concedes that His Grace is the most eligible bachelor in England, he’s renowned for a degree of discernment that has hitherto rendered him notoriously difficult to catch. Many desperate mamas have tried—and failed—to secure him for their daughters.

Surely Lady Pandora cannot have elevated her ambitions so high as to consider a pairing between Miss E— and His Grace? While this author applauds her ladyship’s ambition, this final hurdle may prove unsurmountable, even for a thoroughbred of Lady Pandora’s tenacity.

If Miss E— is the intended bride, then Lady Pandora’s fate now lies on a knife’s edge. Either glittering triumph, or calamitous downfall awaits her.

A Christmas Wager

After surviving destitution, the orphaned Eleanor Hawkins re-enters society with a new identity, courtesy of her guardian, Sir Arthur Evans. With a penchant for pickpocketing, learned on London’s streets, Eleanor’s out for revenge on a society that abandoned her—especially Montague Lockhart, the man who broke her heart and brought about her downfall.

Lady Pandora Osborne is determined show her matchmaking prowess by securing a match between committed bachelor Montague Lockhart, Duke of Sedgewick, and Sir Arthur Evans’s new ward—an utterly unladylike young woman, whose origins are shrouded in mystery. Where better to achieve her aim than a Christmas houseparty, where mulled wine, mistletoe, and the season of goodwill is enough to tempt even the most miserly lord into love?

A Christmas Wager is part of The Wedding Wager anthology:

The Wedding Wager

Rival matchmakers…unlikely suitors…a Herculean wager!

Lady Pandora Osborne claims she’s the finest matchmaker the Ton has ever seen. When her cousin challenges her to make good on her claim, or lose a precious family heirloom, the terms of the wager are set! Lady Pandora must produce one match each month between the notoriously unmarriageable—spinsters, bluestockings, rakes and fortune-hunters.

This unique collection of tales of unlikely matches and steamy shenanigans in Regency England is released on September 27th, but can be pre-ordered at a discount here:

https://books2read.com/u/mdDpyX

Extract from A Christmas Wager

Still gazing at the chandelier, she walked forward, then collided with a solid wall of muscle.

“Pardon me,” a deep voice said, in a tone which made the apology sound like an insult.

Eleanor froze.

The arrogance in his tone was matched by the contempt in his eyes—clear blue eyes in a savagely handsome face, surrounded by a mane of thick black hair.

No…

He must be a figment of her imagination, made manifest by years of despair.

She closed her eyes, but though it brought about blessed darkness, the familiar scent invaded her nostrils—the scent which she’d once found so comforting, but now associated with betrayal.

When she opened her eyes, he was still there—tall, broad-shouldered, domineering.

And, most certainly—him.

“Oh!” Lady Westfield cried, breaking the spell. “Miss Evans, may I introduce Montague Lockhart—Duke of Sedgewick.” She turned to him. “Your Grace—this is Miss Evans.”

His attention, which had been focused on Lady Westfield, now turned to Eleanor, and she caught her breath, as her heart stuttered in her chest.

But he showed no sign of recognition. Instead, he clicked his heels together and gave the slightest of inclinations with his head.

“A pleasure, I’m sure.”

Then he turned his back, and walked away.

Bio & Socials

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Emily Royal is a mathematics geek who grew up in Sussex, England and has always had a passion for romance and bad boy heroes in need of redemption. She now lives in rural Scotland with her husband, two daughters and a menagerie of pets including Twinkle, an attention-seeking boa constrictor.

Website: http://www.emroyal.com/

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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.

The Marriage Stakes

My dear Mr. Clemens,

I have the distinction of attending a most exclusive house party at Clarion Hall in Ashmead, hosted by the Earl of Clarion with his sister, Mrs. Morgan—she who was once Duchess of Glenmoor—serving as hostess. Much of London vied for invitations, and ours was obtained only by dint of my longstanding friendship with none other than the Marchioness of Danbury, patron of the event. The usual

Clarion Hall

entertainments have been on offer but I quickly realized that all of this forced conviviality is in the service of politics, of all provoking and boring things. I note the attendance of the Home Secretary himself along with his closest cronies including the Duke of Awbury. I personally have always found Awbury a bit too high in the, well, instep, for my comfort. The man believes himself superior to most mortals except perhaps the Prince of Wales, and he disapproves of Prinny, too. It is all most disappointing, but I digress.

What is most interesting to your dear readers, of course, is the question of the earl’s marital aspirations. For weeks the most frequent on-dit in London would have it that, while the excessively proper earl had finally bent sufficiently to host his peers, he had no intention of looking for a wife, being content to mourn his first spouse dead these six years. Families with daughters to puff off, for the most part, stayed away.

You may understand, then, dear Sir, why I am aflutter with excitement. One could ignore the handful of persistent mamas who inserted ambitious daughters into the party. An unattached earl—particularly one as attractive (dare I say it?) as the earl—is a marital prize they cannot ignore. One can hardly blame them, but one can ignore them. I say that because it quickly became clear that Mrs. Morgan had marshaled the ladies of the family–regrettably not all of them legitimate members—to depress those ambitions. No amount of sprained ankles, lost wandering into the bachelor bedrooms, rearranged seating charts, or manipulated teams for games escaped the vigilance of the earl’s female relatives. I was ready to believe that he actually was not in search of a wife. Almost.

The arrival of Lady Estelle Wilton in the company of her grandparents, the Marquess and Marchioness of Wilbury, was an entirely different thing. A perfect lady, she has resorted to none of the shenanigans the other hoydens have attempted and yet, she has monopolized much of the earl’s attention. A man as reserved and proper as the upright earl would certainly seek such refinement in a wife. A man with political ambition would no doubt seek one with a pedigree as illustrious as that of Lady Estelle who would without doubt make a superior political hostess. As if all that weren’t transparent enough, my maid confided that a footmen told those assembled in the servants hall that the two of them rode out today with only his nominal company. Furthermore, they rode to Willowbrook, the earl’s former home and spent over an hour inside—sans footman or other chaperone.

In short, it appears we anticipate a happy announcement. I write now so that you may have the news first, and get the jump on your competition. You may coyly print:

Has a certain house party in the midlands brought marital aspirations to the Earl of C__? A certain Lady E__ W__ appears to have won the race to capture his attention. We expect wedding bells soon.

I have no doubt you will be merely reporting the truth, though of course you will protect the lady’s name. There has, alas, also been some foolish gossip about Lady Delia Fitzwallace, Awbury’s former daughter-in-law. If she weren’t a widow and a matron one might call her a hoyden as well. She lacks the refinement one would expect in an earl’s bride. Awbury himself is quite critical of her easy ways. Her looks are too coarse for a countess—her skin and hair reflect an island heritage—even as her manners show her family origins in trade. No, she would not do at all, and the earl can be relied on to know it. I’m sure of it.

Your devoted friend,

Alvira, Lady Eaton

About the Book

The final book in Caroline Warfield’s beloved Ashmead Heirs series is available at preorder pricing (only 99 cents) today. It reverts to retail after launch on June 28.
The notorious will left David, the very proper Earl of Clarion, with a crippled estate and dependents. He’s the one left to pick up the pieces while caring for others—his children, his tenants, and the people of Ashmead. He cares for England, too. Now that the estate has been put to right, he is free to pursue his political ambitions. But loneliness weighs him down. Then he meets his new neighbor. When his family plans a house party to launch his political ambitions, nothing goes quite as he planned.
Her uninhibited behavior shocks him. Why can’t he get her out of his mind?
Happily widowed Lady Delia Fitzwallace revels in her newly rented cottage, surrounded by flowers and the wonder of nature, thrilled to free her three rambunctious children from the city of Bristol and let them enjoy the countryside to the fullest. If only she can avoid offending her very proper neighbor, the earl, when their children keep pulling her into scrapes.
She is not what he needs in a countess. Can she help him find a proper political wife?

 

Unchaperoned Encounter between a Mysterious Earl and a Flame-haired Lady! Astonishing tattle!

Dear Readers,

Gazette insiders tell us there was an unchaperoned encounter between a certain deliciously mysterious earl and a flame-haired lady who’s rumored to keep daggers hidden within her skirts. Both were apparently seeking a stolen journal and yet only one was the victor… And considering the gentleman in question was observed limping away from the encounter, wearing a ferocious scowl on his handsome brow, our money is firmly on the lady in question as having won the confrontation. Though if she did best the earl, one does wonder how she accomplished such a feat against what can only be described as a prime specimen of a male, whose athletic prowess is unparalleled and very much admired by the ladies of Society. One does wonder, indeed…

‘Tis a question we shall be pondering as we wait with bated breath to see what the earl will do in reply. After all, the gentleman is not known as a man who gives up easily, in fact his tenacity is both admired and to be feared. The lady would do well to be cautious, very cautious, indeed. Though we’ve heard rumors that this particular lady in question is unlike other ladies; apparently, she prefers to she throw daggers, not dinner parties…. How delightfully wicked!

We suspect things are about to get dangerously scandalous… So, stay tuned, dear reader, for what is sure to be an extremely entertaining and perilous journey ahead as we eagerly anticipate the antics these two undoubtedly have in store for us. 

THE BACHELOR BETRAYAL by Maddison Michaels

Release date: 14 February 2022.

Buy link: www.books2read.com/TheBachelorBetrayal

BLURB:

He wants justice

Underestimating Marcus Black is the last thing his enemies ever do. After all, the respected Earl of Westwood is a deadly threat… when her Majesty needs him to be. And his only goal is to avenge his brother’s murder. Which would be much easier if the viciously-skilled Lady Kaitlyn Montrose wouldn’t swoop in, knee him in the bollocks, and then run off with his only lead…

She wants revenge

Kat is determined to avenge her beloved uncle’s murder and nothing will stop her. Especially not the devastatingly handsome, and equally lethal Marcus Black. The fact that he’s after the same target is a complication she hadn’t planned on.  And as much as she enjoys taunting him, she has a job to do—one that doesn’t include sparring with the infuriating man at every turn. Except Kat has a new plan… one that Marcus will just hate.

Now they’ll have to work together… if they don’t kill each other first

Individually, Marcus and Kat are deadly. If they worked together, they could be unstoppable. But when attraction gets in the way of vengeance, it’s more than hearts on the line. And only one person can win…

AUTHOR BIO AND LINKS:

Indoctrinated into a world of dashing rogues and feisty heroines when she was a teenager and picked up her first ever historical romance, Maddison Michaels has been a prolific reader and writer of historical romance ever since. She is the bestselling author of six books, including THE DEVILISH DUKE which won the 2019 RWA Australia Historical Romantic Book of the Year.

Writing historical romance is Maddison’s way of time traveling back to Victorian London to experience a cornucopia of intrigue, romance and adventure all from the comfort of her living room! She also loves incorporating her previous 16 years experience as a police officer into the mystery and suspense elements of her books.  She lives in Sydney, Australia with her own handsome hero, beautiful daughter and fur baby, and she always starts her day with a cup of liquid gold…coffee – just quietly, she’s addicted to the stuff!

Maddison absolutely loves to hear from her readers and you can find her at http://www.maddisonmichaels.com/ or on most social media platforms!

Author Links:

Website: http://maddisonmichaels.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaddisonMichaelsAuthor/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/mmichaelsauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maddisonmichaelsauthor/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17367583.Maddison_Michaels

Amazon Author Page : https://www.amazon.com/Maddison-Michaels/e/B079LXRLQ7

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maddison-michaels

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