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

Gentle Reader,

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

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

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

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

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

Blurb for An Artful Deceit:

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

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

It’s enough to give a Duke a headache.

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

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

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

Excerpt from An Artful Deceit:

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

Ann dropped his arm as they turned to face Lady Oakley

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

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

“Why do you say that?”

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

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

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

“What? What is it?” he asked.

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

“I don’t understand,” Miles said.

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

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

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

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

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

 “What do you mean?”

“I shall answer to Redinger.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Holly Newman:

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

Website: https://hollynewman.com/

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

Pinterest: Reading, Writing, Not ‘Rithmatic

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?

 

One Diamond who seeks an Apothecary? Heavens, no!

Dear Readers, the Earl of Seahaven’s daughters seem determined to raise eyebrows wherever they go, especially the beautiful, but too independent, Lady Josefina Bigglesworth. She may be one of the Seahaven diamonds and certain to turn heads during her season in York, but is this not all the more reason she ought to be careful about running off on her own? Even an innocent daytime excursion to a local apothecary shop in The Shambles may be viewed as too forward.

She has also been seen lately having tea with none other than the Duke of Bourne, York’s most eligible bachelor, and it is said he could not take his eyes off her. Although the Dowager Countess of Seahaven is keeping quiet about it, several reliable sources present at the Castlegate Tea Room assure this Tattler the duke proposed to the lovely Josefina and she has accepted his offer of marriage.

The duke, that handsome devil, is taking Lady Josefina to his seaside estate outside of Whitby to meet his beloved sister. It is rumored she is ill and the doctors seem unable to cure her. Lady Josefina is known as quite the expert in curative plant medicines. Do her plant lore talents have anything to do with his desire to marry her? And will he marry her if she is unable to cure his sister? It would be a shocking scandal if he begged out, ruining the girl and her family. 

Desperate Daughters, Box Set, Bluestocking Belles and Friends

Desperate DaughtersBlurb:

Lady Josefina would much rather spend her time studying plants and their healing properties, but her father, the Earl of Seahaven, has died and left the family impoverished. Marriage seems her only alternative until she meets the handsome Duke of Bourne in an apothecary in York’s ancient Shambles. He offers her an intriguing proposition, a fake betrothal and a king’s ransom as reward if she returns with him to his estate and finds a cure for his sister’s illness. But will the true reward be his heart?

The Earl of Seahaven desperately wanted a son and heir but died leaving nine daughters and a fifth wife. Cruelly turned out by the new earl, they live hand-to-mouth in a small cottage.

The young dowager Countess’s one regret is that she cannot give Seahaven’s dear girls a chance at happiness.

When a cousin offers the use of her townhouse in York during the season, the Countess rallies her stepdaughters. They will pool their resources so that the youngest marriageable daughters might make successful matches, thereby saving them all.

So start their adventures in York, amid a whirl of balls, lectures, and al fresco picnics. Is it possible each of them might find love by the time the York horse races bring the season to a close?

About the Author, Meara Platt:

Meara Platt is an award winning, USA TODAY bestselling author and an Amazon UK All-Star. Her favorite place in all the world is England’s Lake District, which may not come as a surprise since many of her stories are set in that idyllic landscape, including her paranormal romance Dark Gardens series. Learn more about the Dark Gardens and Meara’s lighthearted and humorous Regency romances in her Farthingale series and Book of Love series, or her warmhearted Regency romances in her Braydens series by visiting her website at www.mearaplatt.com 

On the Shelf or On the Stage?

Music room at Chateau de Cheverny. Photo by Cerise Deland.

Dear readers, such excitement at York! Here, as you know, the daughters of the late Earl of Seahaven are taking the Season by storm. They are of course very properly chaperoned by the Dowager Countess, who just happens to be delightfully young and beautiful – younger, even than at least two of her stepdaughters!

And it is to one of those elder stepdaughters we turn our attention today. Lady Barbara, the late earl’s second comely if no longer youthful daughter, has let it be known she attends the events of the Season only as an additional chaperone for her lovely and lively younger sisters. She never dances and she is certainly of an age – all of seven-and-twenty, we hear – to be considered mostly On the Shelf. One would never dream of scandal coming from this quarter…

However, this very daughter, Lady Barbara Bigglesworth, has been seen by this reporter, promenading alone with respected composer and musician, Mr. John Sutton. Rumor says that Lady Barbara is also of a musical turn of mind and is, in fact, most accomplished on the pianoforte. Indeed, a little bird has whispered to me that she has been teaching proficiency on the instrument to her social inferiors – which might be judged by the high sticklers among you to be a scandal in itself.

Considering all of this, and the apparent intensity of the lady’s talk with Mr. Sutton, is it possible that instead of marriage, the stage is Lady Barbara’s goal? In concert, we might say, with Mr. Sutton?

The late earl would turn in his grave at such outrageous behaviour in his family, though one might argue in that case that he should have left his daughters better provided for. But whether Shelf or Stage is to be Lady Barbara’s final destination, we must wish her well – and we shall, of course, be watching closely.

Desperate Daughters, Box Set

Desperate DaughtersThe Earl of Seahaven desperately wanted a son and heir but died leaving nine daughters and a fifth wife. Cruelly turned out by the new earl, they live hand-to-mouth in a small cottage.

The young dowager Countess’s one regret is that she cannot give Seahaven’s dear girls a chance at happiness.

When a cousin offers the use of her townhouse in York during the season, the Countess rallies her stepdaughters.

They will pool their resources so that the youngest marriageable daughters might make successful matches, thereby saving them all.

So start their adventures in York, amid a whirl of balls, lectures, and al fresco picnics. Is it possible each of them might find love by the time the York horse races bring the season to a close?

 

About the author, Mary Lancaster

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.

 

Could this be a Picture Perfect Match?

A Picture Perfect Match

Dear Readers,

Another letter has arrived from a lady whose correspondence appeared on these pages some weeks ago, and she has more news that I know you will find interesting. Without further ado…

Desperate Daughters

Dear Mr. Clemmons

I was ever so thrilled at the successful forwarding of the Teatime Tattler to my temporary abode in York. I daresay that a more convivial social circle could not be found anywhere, not even in London. Alas, I will be returning soon to the country, for the Season has come to an end—a most spectacular end filled with marital triumphs, one of which occurred right under my own roof!

Did I not tell you that Major A.K., a great hero of the recent wars, is residing in my widowed daughter-in-law’s home in York as my grandson’s guest? And did I not proclaim that he (the Major, not my grandson) and she (my daughter-in-law) are of an age to be quite suitable?

Oh, what marvelous news! The announcement will soon appear in the London papers. But you, Mr. Clemmons, and your readers will know first: Major A.K. and Lady H.T. are engaged to be married!

Do ensure that my next copy of the Teatime Tattler reaches me at the new direction I’m enclosing herewith.

I am as ever, your faithful reader,

Lady G.T.

Lady Twisden’s Picture Perfect Match, in Desperate Daughters, A Bluestocking Belles Collection with Friends

Blurb:

After years of tolerating her late husband’s rowdy friends, Honoria, Lady Twisden, has escaped to York where she can paint, investigate antiquities, and enjoy freedom. Then her stepson appears with a long-lost relation in tow, the perfect image of a long-ago relation whose fierce portrait made her shiver with mad imaginings.

Promised York’s marriage mart and the hospitality of his cousin’s doddering stepmother, Major August Kellborn is shocked to find that his fetching hostess is the one woman who stirs his heart. To win her heart, however, he must convince her he’s not just a perfect image, but her perfect match.

Excerpt:

Major August Kellborn, late of his Majesty’s army, beat back an impulse to seize young Sir Westcott Twisden by the neckcloth and shake him.

He’d had long experience beating back that sort of urge with the young nodcocks he’d shaped into officers. He could do so now as well.

Gus paced to the window and looked out a sparkling clean pane onto the narrow street. Their traveling chaise wasn’t visible, but Sir Sancho stood unaccompanied, busily watering a lamppost.

Gus had been in his cups the day he’d met Twisden at a horse market in Brampton, else he wouldn’t have allowed the young pup the informality of his first name, respectable though Wes was. The malaise of his first long winter’s sojourn at Whitlaw Grange, his new estate near what was once the Debatable Land, had made him more sociable than was his wont.

Still, he’d found the friendly lad more sensible than most his age, and the family connection had intrigued him. His late mother had written frequently about the Twisdens, the jovial late baronet and his amiable wife. He knew of their mutual ancestor, Sir Ebenezer Twisden as well, and so, he’d jumped at the chance to visit Twisden Hall. His very resemblance to the old warrior was astonishing, and Gus had been impressed with the well-run estate. Much of it the late baronet’s sensible widow’s doing, Gus’s valet had learned.

And so, when Wes proposed visiting his stepmother and attending the York races and then sweetened the deal with the notion of a marriage mart—it had been a very long, lonely winter—Gus agreed to this sojourn in York.

He turned back to his young erstwhile host. “Practically doddering, you said.”

Wes looked up from pouring spirits from a flask into a tumbler. “What?” His blue-eyed innocence was genuine. Wes saw his stepmother as an ancient, when she could scarcely be much beyond thirty. He ought to have paid more attention to his mother’s descriptions of the Twisdens.

“I cannot stay under your stepmother’s roof, Wes.”

“Whyever not?”

“She is not by any means doddering. She’s a widow, and one young enough that even with you here some of the time…” Wes had planned to depart for several days to visit his Grandmother in Harrogate. “The presence of a single man in her household might stir gossip.”

“She’s three and thirty and is known to be very proper. Plus…” He glanced back at the closed door and lowered his voice. “Though she’s clever and good, she’s plain.”

Gus gazed back at the now empty street. Perhaps plain was the right word to describe each of Lady Twisden’s entirely unremarkable features. But taken as a whole, he would call her appearance amiable, moving, and in fact… pretty. The spark in her eyes when she spotted him, the color rising in her cheeks, those had stirred him as well.

Desperate Daughters:   A Bluestocking Belles with Friends Collection

Love Against the Odds

The Earl of Seahaven desperately wanted a son and heir but died leaving nine daughters and a fifth wife. Cruelly turned out by the new earl, they live hand-to-mouth in a small cottage.

The young dowager Countess’s one regret is that she cannot give Seahaven’s dear girls a chance at happiness.

When a cousin offers the use of her townhouse in York during the season, the Countess rallies her stepdaughters.

They will pool their resources so that the youngest marriageable daughters might make successful matches, thereby saving them all.

So start their adventures in York, amid a whirl of balls, lectures, and al fresco picnics. Is it possible each of them might find love by the time the York horse races bring the season to a close?

Buy Links:

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Alina K. FieldAuthor bio:

USA Today bestselling author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature but prefers the happier world of romance fiction. Her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., but after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California where she shares a midcentury home with a gold-eyed terrier and only occasionally misses snow.

Website: https://alinakfield.com/

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