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A Widow at the Lighthouse!

Lighthouse

It has come to our attention here at the Teatime Tattler that in a certain town in Maine, there is a widow in charge of the lighthouse. Perhaps the population there is so sparse that they must press ladies into occupations better suited to gentlemen?


We have investigated this untoward circumstance thoroughly, to see if there is some suitable explanation. Perhaps she holds domestic sway while a son does the more — muscular, dare we say, — duties? While there is a son, he is to attend medical school, leaving the widow to attend the lighthouse, her home, and take care of the raising of two younger girls.

Those in town report the widow has taken the duties of lighthouse keeper upon herself. We can only imagine her grief at the loss of her husband has rendered her incapable of understanding her feminine limitations. Why, much mechanical work must be done to keep the lens in order. And much courage is needed to keep the light burning during stormsy weather. Reading the list of instructions for a lighthouse keeper, it becomes clear that only a man is up to the task.


You may suggest that we, who do not live in this town, have no business reporting on their lighthouse keeper. But you forget that the lighthouse is all that prevents ships from foundering in the dark, in the fog, and in stormy seas, where Mother Nature wreaks her bad temper on unlucky sailors. Do we want our sailors coming near a lighthouse where a widow is in charge? We think not.
It has been reported, but we can scarcely credit it ourselves, that the widow had attended the lighthouse well, in all her duties and the town wishes her to remain in place.
If so, we have a suggestion for them: please find that widow a husband, forthwith.

An excerpt…

The sight of her new home stole Betsy’s breath away. The lighthouse perched like an ancient warrior goddess atop the throne of rocks that acted as a bulwark against the relentless surf. The sound and scent and feel of the water permeated through everything, enfolding her in its powerful embrace. She breathed in, closed her eyes—then opened them and carefully picked her path up toward the entrance. 

The front door was constructed of heavy, unpolished wood, as though it had been salvaged directly from the waves. Its austere beauty reminded her of the duke’s ancient manor home, stalwart and secure. The cracks and peels in the dirty white paint around the base of the massive structure became clear as she approached, but they only added to the picture of a home that would stand through a storm and show little damage for it. 

She frowned slightly, looking around. Not that a woman’s hand wasn’t needed here, she was relieved to see. What scrubby grass had managed to pry its way through the stones was left untended. A child’s faded toy ball sat lonely in the center of the footpath, half-deflated. She would make her mark on her new home. Her husband would see that she was a worthwhile addition to his life. 

Betsy paused. She gazed at the sun-bleached, wind-worn outer walls, at the two crumbling steps leading up to a bare stoop. The light above the doorway was clouded with grime. She glanced over her shoulder, but the driver was long gone. All she had left by way of companionship was the lighthouse and the sea. Where was her new family? Why had they not come outside to greet her yet.

She sighed, hoping that this lonely doorstep wasn’t the beginning of a huge mistake. Then she steeled herself once more, climbed the stairs, and knocked. It was cool in the shadow of the building; she felt a chill run through her. The crazy notion of running away, simply turning and bolting down the long ocean road, flashed through her mind—but right behind it was something Kate had said to her as they parted — the only impossibility is the possibility you fail to see.

The door began to open. In moments, it would be too late to flee.

Betsy squared her shoulders and plastered a smile on her face. Emile Laverdiere was a possibility she must see before she let fear chase her away.

 A wraith of a man stood just inside the threshold, his pale eyes huge in the gaunt frame of his face. Betsy bit her tongue just in time to keep a gasp of surprise from escaping her lips. Though she had not chosen to follow the healer path her mother had taken, with her herbs and potions, she knew this man was gravely ill.

“Betsy Lawton?” he asked in a voice that matched the rest of him—thin, frail, reedy.

“Emile Laverdiere?” She looked into his eyes and saw that he had registered her dismay. No doubt he had been expecting it.

 He smiled, and his cheekbones stood out like mountain ridges underneath his sunken eyes. There was humor there, despite the ravage of illness. “The one and only. We have been counting the minutes until your arrival. Though it may be impolite, we must ask what you think of your new home?” 

Betsy somehow kept her smile in place as she took his offered hand and stepped into the lighthouse. Her soon-to-be-husband’s fingers were cold and bony against hers; she feared that if she squeezed at all, his hand would break. “You have a magnificent landscape at your command,” she answered honestly. He had said nothing of illness in his letters. Nor had those who had attested to his honest character and true desire to wed. Could it be recent? Or had she been duped?

His air of acute attention told her he waited for more. There was an air of patient acceptance in his waiting eyes, as if she could tell him the truth. That she did not want to wed a dying man. Did not know if she truly wanted to immure herself on an isolated jut of rock like Rapunzel in one of the duchess’s favorite fairytales.

But she had come all this way, she would not be her practical mother’s daughter to throw everything away without discovering all she could about this place. Her eyes roamed the interior of the lighthouse’s living space, and she found it plain but comfortable. The rounded room was cozy, softly lit, warmed by a small stone hearth. A spiral staircase formed its centerpiece, climbing up and up through the ceiling. Her eyes could not help following it upward into the unknown. She could hear a slight scraping sound, some rustling, a whispered exchange so low she could almost dismiss it as the sound of the wind.

She looked at her soon-to-be-husband. “What is up there?’ Her eyes swept back upward, toward the sound.

He seemed to approve of her question. “Take a look for yourself, if you like.” He gestured upward. “But forgive me for not accompanying you. I will only slow a young woman like you down. It takes me a while to climb up and down, thought I do it three times a day.”

Of course, Betsy thought. That was why he had not been down to greet her quickly. He had come from the top of the lighthouse. She felt a sympathetic ache in her own healthy joints at what he must endure to do his duty three times a day.

She looked upward, walked to the iron railing, and grasped the cold metal. She began to ascend. On the first landing, she paused at what sounded like sudden whispers, but she saw nothing, so she continued upward.

At the very top, she found her answer. The view that had seemed magnificent when she first arrived, had become almost godlike here, above the sea. She could see for miles. She could pick out the people in the village going about their business, but also the sea life in the ocean. Her breath caught. She leaned closer to look. A whale. She could see a whale in the distance, breaching repeatedly like a child at play.

She was careful not to touch any of the instruments that controlled the light. Emile would teach her to use them, she was certain. She had always been an apt pupil. Living in a duke’s household had exposed her to many lessons not always provided to a governess’s daughter. Living with the Fenster siblings had provided her with lessons that went beyond what was possible even in a duke’s household. She had seen one Fenster sister start a business making beautiful high fashion buttons with a cottager, another become an artist of repute, and one a card sharp that others admired. Kate, her best friend and youngest Fenster sister, had won prizes for the roses she created in her greenhouse.

The gleaming brass of the instruments called to her, but she did not touch, except for one, loving stroke. If she accepted the dying man downstairs as husband, this could be hers.

About the Book: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Bride

At long last, Book 8 in the Once Upon a Wedding series has arrived

Lighthouse Keeper

Raised almost as a sister in a duke’s household, Betsy Lawton has let the duchess’ love of fairytale endings lead her to believe she has a chance at true love with a man far above her station.

Betsy Lawton, the governess’ daughter, dares to give her heart to an earl. When he crushes it under his heel to marry according to his family’s expectations, she turns her back on England and departs for America, where rank and station are no impediment to her dreams. Not that Betsy desires true love any longer. Instead she will be the mail order bride of a lighthouse keeper. It is the lighthouse she will love, she vows.


Matthew Thigpen, Earl of Battingston, had always regretted not fighting hard enough to marry the woman he loved, despite her lack of rank and family. But now he needs to find her. The woman he jilted is the only woman who will understand his predicament and keep his daughter safe.

Now a widow, Betsy must marry again to keep her job at her beloved lighthouse. Matthew offers her a devil’s bargain that will allow her to keep her job at the lighthouse she loves and keep his daughter safe as well. But is his bargain worth the lighthouse, if he breaks her heart all over again?

Find buy links here: https://kellymcclymerbooks.com/book/lighthouse-keepers-bride/

About the Author

Kelly McClymer fell in love with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as a child. Her most prized possession is her copy of The Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm. These are the stories which gripped our ancestors as they huddled around the fire at night, which taught countless children to persevere through hardship and succeed against the odds. Her favorite fairytale remains “The Six Swans” — where a young sister must not speak a word for six years in order to save her brothers from their stepmother’s evil spell.

Enough to Make A Virtuous Lady Swoon

Virtuous LadyOh, my sweet dears, I do hope you are able to publish this in your naughty scandal sheet, because I have witnessed it first-hand. Yes, first hand! I must pause for a moment and fan my face. I shall also take time to fix a nice cup of tea. Love that on a rainy day, don’t you?

Now, where was I? Yes. Oh, yes. I must tell this story to you.

Despite my aching pains, I attended the Ashbourne ball last evening. I find great pleasure in keeping an eye on the young ladies, to make sure there are no missteps, which I’m sure you agree is very important.

The charming Lady Grace and her mother, Lady Spencer, attended also. The gel looked as lovely as ever. I have always liked Lady Grace, she is the epitome of virtuous English womanhood. Never a step out of place, always does the right thing. She would make some man a wonderful wife, would run her staff with an iron hand, and make sure her children have the best of nannies and governesses to guide them through life.

After conversations with her and her mother, I can assure you she would take no pleasure in the marriage bed, and would be most accommodating with a husband slaking his baser needs in other places. A true gem.

However, I digress.

It has been known for some time that Lord St. George was courting Lady Grace, and it was assumed an offer would be forthcoming. I had thought that would be a good match, but was I fooled! St. George is not gentleman, I can assure you.

At the ball, I was on my way to the ladies’ retiring room when there was a commotion in the Asbourne’s library. Anxious to see what the kerfuffle was, in the event I could help, I joined the gathering in the library. I was truly shocked, and would have swooned as poor Lady Grace had, except for my vinaigrette, which I always carry with me.

Right there in front of our eyes was Lord St. George with that Lady Arabella! They had been caught embracing in Asbourne’s library—in the dark! Oh, my dears, I suffer from nerves now just thinking about it.

Lady Arabella has a reputation for being quite odd, and I have heard tales that she actually delves into some sort of animal venture! As a true lady, I’m not completely sure what that means, and have no intention of asking. My nerves can only take so much.

So, there you have it. Lady Arabella is in disgrace. I heard St. George has offered for her, which is, of course, the only gentlemanly thing to do. But one does wonder what sort of wife Lady Arabella will be.

Most Sincerely,
Lady Beauchamp, Marchioness of Huntington

virtuous ladyAbout The Book

She didn’t want to marry anyone, let alone the wrong one…
Lady Arabella Danvers is happy with her life just the way it is. She is free to be herself and take care of broken and abandoned animals. Her mother is desperate for her to marry, and has decided to take things into her own hands. There is just one little problem with her plan.

Nash, the Earl of Clarendon has determined it is time to take a wife. He has selected a woman to whom he intends to propose. However, the annoying Lady Arabella has stumbled into his life at the wrong time, and in the wrong place.

But he of all people should know when Lady Arabella is involved plans will go awry…

Purchase links: http://calliehutton.com/book/marrying-the-wrong-earl/

~An Excerpt~

“Your cat?”

“Yes. She got out of my basket.” She pointed behind her to where a woman, obviously a maid, hurried up, carrying a basket with a blanket draped over it. Lady Arabella looked behind him, up at the branches of the tree. “Oh, dear. She’s climbed up and now she can’t come down.”

Just as she uttered the words, a loud howl came from above. The devil take it, was the animal now going to drop on his head?

Lady Arabella glanced frantically from the top of the tree to him. “My lord, can I ask a favor of you?”

Still trying to process everything that had just happened, he just looked at her for a minute before answering. “A favor?”

“Yes, please. Can you climb the tree and rescue my cat?” She chewed her lower lip, which would have appealed to him if he wasn’t standing in wet, muddy breeches, with an animal yowling over his head.

“Climb the tree?” Surely the woman was daft. This was Hyde Park, for heaven’s sake, not his country estate where he’d done such things as a lad.

“Please?” Her irresistible brown eyes filled with tears. Bloody, bloody, hell. The one thing he could not countenance was a woman’s tears. He ran his hand down his face before he remembered his glove was muddy.

She winced.

“I just smeared mud all over my face, did I not?”

She nodded, and continued to chew her lip. At least she had the good sense not to laugh, as he was sure she was wont to do. The cat continued to screech, and they were gathering a crowd. “Very well.” He stripped off the muddy gloves, then his coat. The sooner he got the blasted animal out of the tree and back into its basket, the sooner he could go home, have a bath and a very large glass of brandy.

“Oh, thank you so much.” She stood, wringing her hands.

“Yes, well. Let’s have at it.” He grabbed a low lying branch above his head and swung himself up. He balanced on the branch and reached, but was not high enough to grab the irritating cat.

“Miss Aphrodite, come down, please. Let this nice gentlemen help you.”

Nash looked down, his eyes wide. “Miss Aphrodite?”

“Yes. That’s her name.”

Miss Aphrodite.

“If you call her by her name she might warm up to you and come down,” she shouted up at him.

He was already making a spectacle of himself in the tree, his arse covered in mud, and dried, caked dirt on his face. He would damn well not call the animal by that ridiculous moniker. “Come here, kitty.”

That sounded no better. The cat wailed and looked down at him. He grabbed another branch and moved higher. Reaching out, he almost had her when she hissed, and leaped right in his face. her nails clinging to his waistcoat. “Ouch!”

He grabbed the animal by its back fur just as a loud sneeze erupted from his nose. Nash wrapped his arm around the branch next to him as he sneezed several more times.

“Oh, my lord. Are you allergic to cats?”

He looked down at Lady Arabella. “Since I’ve never been this close to one before, apparently so, my lady.” He began his descent, trying to hang onto the hissing, scratching cat. More sneezes. “I will drop the animal, if you can catch it.”

“Oh, no, my lord. She will just run off again.”

Bloody hell. The best thing that could happen to any of them was to have the blasted cat run off. As far away from him as possible. He continued to hang onto the feline until he jumped to the ground. He heard the sound of fabric tearing as his feet hit the ground. Nash closed his eyes and groaned when he realized the back of his breeches had just split.

Virtuous ladyAbout the Author

Callie Hutton, the USA Today bestselling author of The Elusive Wife writes both Western Historical and Regency romance, with “historic elements and sensory details” (The Romance Reviews). She also pens an occasional contemporary or two. Callie lives in Oklahoma with several rescue dogs and her top cheerleader husband of many years. Her family also includes her daughter, son, and daughter-in-law. And twin grandsons “The Twinadoes.”

Twitter: @calliehutton
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=callie+hutton
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/callie.hutton
Website: www.calliehtton.com
Publisher: https://entangledpublishing.com/author/callie-hutton
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/callie-hutton

Yet More Shocking Behaviour from London’s Most Scandalous Libertine…

Special to the Teatime Tattler~

Like many of you, I have followed the outrageous shenanigans of Mr Ross Jameson over the last few years with growing concern. It beggars belief how a man with such low-born and repellent connections has wheedled his way into society and I fear for all of our futures if this is a sign of things to come. Surely other see what his crass behaviour clearly implies?

Jameson, as we all know, is little more than an upstart from the slums, the son of a tavern wench and a notorious forger. By his own admission, he hauled cargo at the filthy London docks and probably still consorts with the sort of criminals who thrive there. How is it possible that such a man is welcomed into the homes of the great and the good? I was scandalized when his application to join White’s Gentleman’s Club was approved, although if every terrible story we hear about the man is to be believed, I daresay the other members feared his dreadful retribution if they refused him entry.

It is well known that he ruins other men. Why, only last year he charmed the unwitting Earl of Runcorn into partaking in an innocent card game, then manipulated the poor fellow into wagering the deeds of his own house. Poor Runcorn never stood a chance against the vile trickster and lost it all. Unsurprisingly, in his shock and grief, the unfortunate earl blew his own brains out immediately afterwards in the lobby of White’s!Reinhard_Sebastian_Zimmermann_Ein_gutes_Blatt

Since then, other horrors have come to light. Every week there is a new story about Jameson in the gossip columns. Sordid tales of gambling, debauchery, the cuckolding unsuspecting husbands, confidence tricks and worse. Have you heard about what happened with not one, but TWO! Opera dancers at Convent Garden? Suffice to say, the exact particulars are too outrageous even for this publication, but it involved the shameless seduction of BOTH women at the same time!

There is even talk that he sold his own criminal father down the river in order to claim the reward from the authorities! Whilst I do not now, and never could, condone forgery as a profession, what sort of man betrays his own kin for financial reward?

And to make matters worse, Jameson does not show any remorse for having the blood of at least two men on his hands. He swans around town as if he has a divine right to mix with his betters. I am now reliably informed he intends to live in the beautiful country house he swindled from the deceased Earl of Runcorn, where, no doubt, he will quickly turn my beloved Barchester Hall into a brothel or gaming hell, or some other scandalous den of inequity. We cannot allow this travesty to happen! He must be stopped before he ruins more lives.

He might dress and sound like a respectable gentleman, but mark my words, one day that despicable rogue will hang from the gibbet! And I will happily swing on his legs!

Kind regards

Lady H___

About UntitledThat Despicable Rogue

A lady’s mission of revenge… 

Lady Hannah Steers has three reasons to loathe and despise Ross Jameson. He’s a scandalous libertine, he stole her home and he was responsible for the death of her brother!

Determined to expose Ross for the rogue he is, Hannah dons a disguise and infiltrates his home as his new housekeeper. Unfortunately, this scoundrel proves himself to be the epitome of temptation and, instead of building a case against him, Hannah finds herself in a position she never expected…falling head over heels in love with him.

 

~Excerpt~

Hannah schooled her features into a neutral mask to cover her disgust at being with him. She had heard Jameson was a shocking libertine, but she had not expected to be confronted with such overwhelming evidence of his debauchery straight away. The sight of the rumpled bedclothes and the overpainted woman wantonly sprawled across them, skirts raised suggestively to her knees, had been bad enough- but then her eyes had encountered their first sight of Ross Jameson, and that had been frankly outrageous.

He was a huge bear of a man- showing far more exposed skin than a gentleman would deem proper. Of course, a gentleman would not have the body of a farm labourer either. Jameson was solid and muscled-a sure sign of his coarse upbringing. Men of class were more willowy and less… sturdy. He probably looked ridiculous stuffed into a tailored coat. She supposed the less discerning women would describe his tousled black hair and twinkling green eyes as handsome, but he used those good looks to his advantage.

He appeared to Hannah exactly what he was- a charming, dangerous and duplicitous rogue. She certainly would not trust him as far as she could throw him- which, she conceded, was not likely to be very far…

About the Author

Virginia Heath lives on the outskirts of London with her understanding husband and two, less understanding, teenagers. After spending years teaching history, she decided to follow her dream of writing for Harlequin. Now she spends her days happily writing regency romances, creating heroes that she falls in love with and heroines who inspire her. When she isn’t doing that, Virginia likes to travel to far off places, shop for things that she doesn’t need or read romances written by other people.

 

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2431qYN

Website: http://www.virginiaheathromance.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

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

Lady Whingingley Tells All

Félix_Emile-Jean_Vallotton_-_Woman_Writing_in_an_Interior_-_Google_Art_ProjectDear Mr. Clemens,

I wish to make  your readers aware of the unsavory details surrounding the recently formed engagement between Miss Helena K and the Earl of W. It is incumbent upon the ladies of the ton to maintain the standards of behavior and propriety, which are so critical to the functioning of Polite Society. I shudder to contemplate the many ways that these individuals, in spite of their birth and breeding, have flouted of the standards governing polite behavior.

I am sure that no one who reads this excellent journal is unaware of the fact that Miss K was found kissing Lord Denby in a secluded anteroom at Montagu House during her Season four years since. Not only was she engaged in this abandoned behavior, but when the gentleman quite properly offered her his hand and the protection of his name, this hurly burly hoyden refused him! Naturally, this brassy minx was no longer welcomed at the best houses, and I know that at least one Patroness of Almack’s gave her the cut direct when they encountered each other in the Park during the hour of the promenade. Mercifully to all, she returned to the countryside of Kent before the end of the Season, her reputation in tatters!

And, if Miss K’s history does not bear close examination, why that of the Earl of W is even less savory! This rascal fled England for the Continent some 15 years ago, under suspicion of murdering another gentleman over the Pearl of Sirsi. While it is true that he was not guilty of the murder, no real gentleman exposes himself to even the possibility of being accused of such a thing! As a young man he was ever to be found at mills and in gaming hells, and would wager on anything. All that however, is nothing compared to what one hears about his time on the Continent, and how he operated a fencing school, a gaming hell, and even taught at the Riding School in Vienna! Who knows, he may have been a caper merchant to boot. Furthermore, he is said to have had any number of mistresses during his absence. Is this the kind of low adventurer we countenance in today’s Society?

Admittedly, his sister and brother-in law, the Earl and Countess of Brayleigh are arbiters of taste. However, even Brayleigh’s dealings with the fair sex do not bear close examination to be sure, as any number of barques of frailty enjoyed a connection with him prior to his marriage to Lady Rowena Arlingby, the sister of the disgraced Earl!

So, even though some may call me high in the instep dear readers, I urge the discerning among you to think carefully before lending countenance to either the Earl of W or his affianced bride lest responsibility for the creeping lowering of standards be placed at your doorstep!

Lady Whingingley

ContrabandCourtship2Final-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700About the Book

Malcolm Arlingby, Rowena’s headstrong brother from Alicia Quigley’s A Collector’s Item, settles into his new life as the Earl of Wroxton. Content to while away his time in the decadence he missed during his exile from England, Malcolm hasn’t been paying attention to the duties that come with the title. A letter from the mistress of a neighboring estate warns of smugglers using Malcolm’s lands for their dastardly deeds and he must finally put aside his entertainments to handle the business of being an Earl.

Helena, the one who sent the letter, is not the sour spinster Malcolm was expecting, however. She is a beautiful, vibrant and equally headstrong woman who is more than ready to take Malcolm to task for ignoring his duties. As the pair becomes embroiled in solving the problem of the smugglers, a strong attraction develops. The smugglers aren’t going without a fight, though.

Will a chance encounter with his new neighbor bring Malcolm all the things he never knew he wanted? Or, will the smugglers destroy it all? Find out in The Contraband Courtship.

~excerpt~
“Well, it is not only about Ms. Lacey,” said Rowena, looking a bit embarrassed. “But, certainly, I have my concerns about her. She is married, Malcolm, and unlikely to be free to wed you any time soon.”

“Wed me?” Malcolm gave a hoot of laughter. “I should say not!”

“You see?” said Rowena. “I know that you wish to enjoy yourself, and I would never say you did not deserve to, but surely you are aware of the duty you owe your family.”

“Rowena, I have years ahead of me to sire a pack of children, if that’s what I decide needs to be done,” said Malcolm. “But for now, I have no interest in leg shackling myself to one woman. I’ve spent twelve years on the Continent living by my wits, and damn, I want to enjoy myself now. One of Estella’s principal charms—outside of the most obvious ones—is that she cannot importune me to marry her!”

“You are being very vexing,” said Rowena. “It is not that I wish to deny you your pleasures, Malcolm—”

“I should say not! And, sister dear, should you even know about Estella?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Rowena crossly. “All the world knows about the two of you. I’m hardly an innocent. The gossips are only too happy to inform me that half the ladies in London have either succumbed to you since your return or to Alaric prior to our marriage.”

“Only half? Well, you might have taken Brayleigh out of circulation, Rowena, but you can’t force me into such a staid existence.” Malcolm gave his sister a shrewd glance. “There’s more here than you’re telling me. You might as well come out with it.”

Rowena exchanged a glance with Alaric. “Well, if you must know, I have received a letter from Helena Keighley.”

“Who?” asked Malcolm.

“Helena Keighley. The daughter of Sir Douglas.” At Malcolm’s blank look, Rowena sighed. “Really, Malcolm, this is why you must go to Wroxton. Sir Douglas Keighley’s estate marches with Wroxton to the west. You must have met him, and Helena, dozens of times when you were a child.”

“Oh yes, Keighley, I remember the name,” said Malcolm. “Sir Douglas, you say? As I recall, Father said he was a bruising rider to hounds.”

“Yes, Malcolm, I’m sure he was,” said Rowena impatiently. “But this has nothing to do with fox hunting. “

“A pity, I might almost be tempted to leave London for that,” said Malcolm. “What does this Miss Keighley want?”

“I received a letter from Helena a few days ago,” she said, producing a folded piece of paper and waving it at Malcolm. “She would have written to you, but had no idea where to find you, and we are acquainted. She is a year or two older than I am, but we did spend some time together as children, and of course I have met her at assemblies and house parties. Surely you remember her.”

“I can’t be bothered to remember your childhood friends, Rowena,” said Malcolm. “I had other things to attend to. What does this mysterious letter say?” asked Malcolm.

Rowena unfolded the letter and perused it quickly. “Here it is,” she said. “It seems that French brandy is being smuggled in through Kent, and the lack of interest of the Earl of Wroxton in his estate has been taken as a sign that his lands are free to be used for this purpose. While Felix Arlingby was not a strong-minded gentleman, he cared enough to prevent such nonsense, but now landings occur almost nightly. I have no doubt that some of the servants have been bribed to allow this. The whole affair is unsettling; I have no desire to see Keighley lands overrun by ruffians because Wroxton is poorly managed. It is imperative that your brother cease his wastrel ways and take up the responsibilities that come with his birthright. He was ever an irresponsible young man, but surely the circumstances of the past years must have brought him some wisdom, no matter how slight. Please inform him that he is needed immediately at Wroxton.”

“What a termagant!” said Malcolm. “She doesn’t even know me, and she’s calling me a wastrel!”

Amazon Link

AAbout the Author

Alicia Quigley is a lifelong lover of romance novels, who fell in love with Jane Austen in grade school, and Georgette Heyer in junior high. She made up games with playing cards using the face cards for Heyer characters, and sewed regency gowns (walking dresses, riding habits and bonnets that even Lydia Bennett wouldn’t have touched) for her Barbie. In spite of her terrible science and engineering addiction, she remains a devotee of the romance, and enjoys turning her hand to their production as well as their consumption.

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