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This Stuff Will Sell Papers

Clemens, Editor
The Teatime Tattler
Fleet Street, London

Sam,

I don’t know if you can use this, but one of the Jarratt & Martinson tea clippers is leaving Macao in the morning. I’m coming back to London, but I can’t afford the clipper so I’m sending this ahead. It’ll get there faster. You know that favor I owed you? Consider it paid.

Your hunch was right. The Duke of Sudbury’s cub wheedled his way into the East India Company Factory in Canton. By all accounts, the worthless oaf spent more time prowling the flower boats where they provide all the delights he chased in London along with plenty of exotic local depravity tossed in. He either quit the Company or was tossed because he’s supposed to be working for Jarratt, though “work,” may not be what he’s doing. I know you don’t care about politics but Jarratt may be trying to use the pup to get to Sudbury. Bears watching.

Now you owe me because there’s more. It isn’t just the boy that washed up in Macao. A girl followed him—Sudbury’s oldest girl, the uppity one too proud to so much as dance with any gent lower than a duke, the one with the weird Arabic name. Superintendent Eliot and his wife put it out that they’re hosting her on Sudbury’s behalf, but I doubt Sudbury even knows where she is. I saw her myself going in and out of Eliot’s house as swanky and stuck up as ever she was in London, every inch the duke’s daughter, but I heard rumors.

I got myself an invitation to dinner by one of the China traders, Harold McIlroy.  It cost me a pretty penny in drinks at the club where they all congregate, but it was worth it. The ladies of Macao dig dirt with the best of them. I got an earful, I can tell you. I don’t see how it can all be true, but where there’s smoke, there has to be at least an ember or two.

Ingram, Dennison, and Dean’s ladies between them told me the girl:

~wears men’s clothes
~escaped torture and worse for her crimes by convincing some big Chinese official to let her off as the ladies said, “in the way of light skirts everywhere.”
~wormed her way into Jarratt’s house with nothing but a Chinese servant. The Dennison woman said Jarratt actually admitted he had his way with her.
~threw herself at the Duke of Murnane, a married man whose “poor abused wife,” lives in a dumpy little house in the native quarter
~uses opium tar
~sneaks into the house at night even with the man’s wife in residence

The Chit has nerve. All Macao knows what she is, but she parades around town while a little servant hops along behind her holding some fancy parasol on a bent handle to keep the sun off her like she’s some short of rajah’s female.  I cornered the little weasel, a Chinese boy who looks like at least one Portuguese tomcat got at his great-grandfather’s tabbies. Name’s Filipe. The boy talked about the trollop like she’s the queen herself. Calls her “Lady Zamb.” I think he’s half in love with her. Wouldn’t say a bad word. Talked about her like she’s some kind of saint, and I know for fact she isn’t that. He told me to ask the woman who runs the mission school. One of the Quakers. He had to be lying. I can’t see a prune-faced female missionary tolerating the sort those women at McIlroy’s described.

I’ve had enough of the mission crowd myself. That job my cousin promised in the newspaper here? Turned out to be the mission rag. Can you see me writing for some chapel-goers? They print it at a place they call Zion’s Quarter. Bunch of tea totalers. No thanks. I’m for home.

I hope you can use some of this because I need the money. If you print it you owe me. Just send the cash to Greaves at the Horse and Gander in Southwark. He’ll hold it for me. Sudbury will make your life hell if you do it though. I remember what he did to you years ago when he came back to London after he was trapped by the Barbary corsairs. He had a wife and suspiciously well-developed baby in tow. Wait, wasn’t that the one with the Arabic name? Apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Don’t let him bully you. This stuff will sell papers.

See you in six months.
Garrett Mullins
___________________________________________

About the Book: The Unexpected Wife
Children of Empire Book 3

Crushed with grief after the death of his son, Charles Wheatly, Duke of Murnane throws himself into the new Queen’s service in 1838. When the government sends him on an unofficial fact-finding mission to the East India Company’s enclave in Canton, China, he anticipates intrigue, international tensions, and an outlet for his frustration. He isn’t entirely surprised when he also encounters a pair of troublesome young people that need his help. However, the appearance of his estranged wife throws the entire enterprise into conflict. He didn’t expect to face his troubled marriage in such an exotic locale, much less to encounter profound love at last in the person of a determined young woman. Tensions boil over, and his wife’s scheming—and the beginnings of the First Opium War—force him to act to rescue the one he loves and perhaps save himself in the process.

Zambak Hayden seethes with frustration. A woman her age has occupied the throne for over a year, yet the Duke of Sudbury’s line of succession still passes over her—his eldest—to land on a son with neither spine nor character. She follows her brother, the East India Company’s newest and least competent clerk, to protect him and to safeguard the family honor. If she also escapes the gossip and intrigues of London and the marriage mart, so much the better. She has no intention of being forced into some sort of dynastic marriage. She may just refuse to marry at all. When an old family friend arrives she assumes her father sent him. She isn’t about to bend to his dictates nor give up her quest. Her traitorous heart, however, can’t stop yearning for a man she can’t have.

Neither expects the epic historical drama that unfolds around them.The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.

https://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-Wife-Children-Empire-Book-ebook/dp/B07FGGC918/

Here’s a short video about it:

The Unexpected Wife

Charles Wheatly, Duke of Murnane, beloved secondary character in books 1 and 2 of Caroline Warfield's Children of Empire Series, runs to the other side of the world only to find his problems—and true love at last—waiting for him in The Unexpected Wife.

Posted by Caroline Warfield, Storyteller on Saturday, April 14, 2018

About the Author

 

Carol Roddy – Author

Traveler, would-be adventurer, former tech writer and library technology professional, Caroline Warfield has now retired to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, and divides her time between writing and seeking adventures with her grandbuddy. In her newest series, Children of Empire, three cousins torn apart by lies find their way home from the far corners of the British Empire, finding love along the way.

She has works published by Soul Mate Publishing and also independently published works. In addition, she has participated in five group anthologies, one not yet published.

For more about the series and all of Caroline’s books, look here:
https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

Too Hurriedly Matched?

scandal

‘People are sitting in opera boxes using them for many activities. Etching by George Cruikshank.’ . Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

We are reliably informed that hussy, Harriette Wilson, was seen parading on the arm of the Regent at the opera last night. No doubt, she expected the punters would be more interested in her scandalous doings than in watching Edmunde Keane’s faultless performance of the gloomy Hamlet. Alas, her grand moment was eclipsed by the presence of Lord Rogan Windermere and his brand new bride, the erstwhile Miss Jassinda Carlisle.

The pair were recently wed in the old chapel at Windermere Abbey, the Earl’s country seat in Hampshire. Why we ask, when Windermere waited so long to come up to scratch, was the thing done with such haste? Even more intriguing was their being accompanied at the opera by Windermere’s cousin, Dominic Beresford, the Duke of Wolverton.

It is common knowledge the Duke twice laid his heart at Miss Carlisle’s feet and had it rejected. What scandal is that lady now courting by spending the entire evening closely attended by her new husband and her rejected lover? And I do wish someone would tell how she brought an obviously besotted, but just as obviously reluctant, Windermere to his knees. I’m guessing they were desperate measures indeed for the lady is fast approaching the quarter century!

scandalPerhaps she will give a hint to the Heavenly Iceberg, Lady Sherida Dearing, who was also in attendance, though left to the questionable attentions of that handsome scapegrace, Lord Baxendene. One can only surmise the Great Bax is losing his touch for no hint of a thaw was noted. Lady Sherida should consider that even icebergs of the heavenly variety lose their freshness if left too long in the ice house!

Although the gentlemen are frequently seen together it is unusual for any one of them to attend the opera. It is to be hoped that now Miss Carlisle is finally off the marriage market the Duke of Wolverton will allow his heart to engage elsewhere.

(Now there’s a man whose boots would look well under a lady’s bed!)

But we digress! Our informant noted neither gentleman appeared particularly happy nor communicative with the other.

And since I have information from another source hinting at Windermere’s absence from the country for several weeks following the marriage, one suspects all is not charity in Chez Windermere.

Lady Verity Nonesuch, Purveyor of Truth & Treachery

About the Book

The Earl of Windermere Takes a Wife

(Regency Romantica – Sexy Romance with a hint of Erotica.)

How long, and why, must a woman wait for a man to make her his when she knows his love is as great as her own?

Jassinda Carlisle was always to have been his, but by the age of twenty Rogan Wyldefell, Earl of Windermere, knew he could never be hers.

At her 16th birthday, he’d slain her dreams of becoming his wife and had maintained a strictly platonic friendship ever since.

At twenty-five, Jassie had waited long enough.

Her desperation and a small push from fate force Rogan to a point of honor. To save her reputation they must marry, but who will save Jassie from the vengeful monster unleashed within him when the woman in his arms begins to beg?

Is Rogan strong enough to withstand the woman he loves?

Is Jassie strong enough to be his redemption?

~Excerpt~
‘Do you know how old I am, R—Rogan?’

‘What? Of course I know how old you are. Twenty-five. And I know how old I am too. Thirty-six, in case you’ve forgotten,’ he snarled, almost sarcastically. He’d sensed she was off-balance and that what she wanted to discuss with him was, doubtless, even more so. ‘What does that matter to the point?’

Jassie breathed deep and fixed her attention on their hands gripped so tightly their knuckles had whitened. This was her moment, her only chance. She might as well just spit it out, as Philip would have said.

‘I’m never going to marry but—but I—confound it, Rogan, I just have to know—just once—what it’s like to—to make love—no, I’m not asking that—I know the mechanics but I want to know how it feels to—you know—lie with a man!’ He never blinked and her own gaze danced across his face, desperately searching for a reaction, an emotion. Anything but the impression of horror that looked out of his eyes! She swallowed. ‘There is no one else I can ask. No one else I would want to ask—’

Breathing no longer a priority, Jassie wrenched her hands from his and jumped to a spot about three feet away and stared blindly down at Brantleigh Manor, lying like a toy model in the shimmering distance.

Then she closed her eyes and focused on the pain flowering in her chest and spreading to her belly. What had she done?

Links for The Earl of Windermere Takes a Wife

Amazon US:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ENSMA2A
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01ENSMA2A
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01ENSMA2A
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01ENSMA2A

About the Author

Jen Yates has always called New Zealand home, though she grew up with stories of her mother’s great-grandfather who came from England in the 1840s, to ‘drill the first militia’. Thus, England has always called even though Jen is a 4th generation Kiwi. Discovering the Regency era was like coming home, Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer ranking as her two favorite authors.

With a fair bit of life behind her, Jen spent thirty-three years as a primary school teacher, then retired and realized a dream of owning an antiques shop. It would still be one of her favorite things to do – after writing. But while learning the craft, income had to come from somewhere!

Jen now lives with her husband in Piopio, a small rural village in the North Island of NZ, and writes full-time. When she is not writing, she is keeping track of her family now spread through NZ and Australia, wandering about with camera in hand, or hanging out with friends, many of whom are writers!

Social Media Links for Jen YatesNZ

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B009MSEA7U
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JenYatesNZ/
Website – https://www.jenyatesnz.com
Twitter – @JenYatesNZ

Whispers in a Closet

Information comes to the Tattler from many sources, whispers among servants being one of the most fruitful…

Mary Fisher went about her business as her mistress directed, even with the house in an uproar and the mistress preoccupied with worry.  The whole staff had more work than usual, what with a wedding the day before. She carried her bucket and rags carefully up the servant stairs to the third level with great care so as not to spill a drop, an effort that proved futile when a hand snaked out, grabbed her free arm, and pulled her into the linen closet. The door slammed shut.

“Ow! You made me slosh water on the floor. Are you trying to cost me my position?”

In the gloom, she could just make out the gleam in Lizzy Smith’s smug expression.  “Pish posh. That countess is too soft-hearted to fire either of us over some spilled water.”

Mary leaned down to wipe up the spill. “Y’ought to be working, not lurking in closets,” she muttered. “You planning to pounce on that green-eyed footman again? That will get you dismissed if you keep it up.”

Lizzy pulled her up. “Don’t be daft. I just want to talk. Did you hear what went on in the Countess’s sitting room? The Family is in a state and that’s the truth.”

“Everyone knows Mister Rand disappeared last night. Rob Portman heard it all serving the breakfast. His bed wasn’t slept in and—”

“But I know what happened in the countess’s sitting room.” There was no mistaking Lizzy’s self-satisfied smirk now. She knew something. No doubt about it.

Duty warred with curiosity in Mary’s heart. Servants oughtn’t to gossip, her mam taught her that early. The family had been good to Mary, though and she hated all the running about and the countess’s worried expression. Curiosity won out. “What’d you hear?”

“Well, you know as how Mr. Rand’s stayed at Cambridge after the duke, his cousin came to down two months ago?”

“’e just come in three days ago, though he was supposed to stand up with the duke. Rob said they never spoke, even yesterday at the wedding. Like somethin’ happened tween the two o’ them as used to be stuck like burrs one to the other.” It distressed Mary to see two young men that always seemed like good folk be against each other that way. “Never saw one without the other ever—”

Lizzy waved a dismissive hand. “So we know there’s bad blood now, but over what I ask you ?”

Mary shrugged. “Young men fight. They’ll come around.”

“Lurking at keyholes, more like,” Mary muttered.

Lizzy ignored the jab. “I heard the countess crying her eyes out, and the earl, he’s trying to comfort her. He says, ‘Cath…’ (did you know he calls her that?) ‘Cath,’ he says, ‘the whole world knows that woman is carrying a baby, except for maybe Charles, the young fool.’”

“He called the duke a fool? He’s ever so smart.”

“A man can be smart about business and a still let a woman pull wool over his eyes.”

Lizzy would know, Mary thought glumly. The import of Lizzy’s other words hit her. “Wait, are you saying the new duchess is pregnant?” Her jaw hung slack.

Lizzy pursed her lips. “Don’t be a slow top. Of course she is. That isn’t the good part.”

Good may not be the word, Mary thought, but she suspected she was about to hear whatever it was.

“The earl said as how it was too bad Mr. Fred didn’t come to the wedding because he could talk some sense into them both, but the countess says something like, ‘Rand had no idea.’ It were kind of muffled like. The earl, he says Mr. Rand couldn’t know nothing since he stayed away and the countess says—listen up Mary!”

“What did she say?” Mary dreaded hearing it, but couldn’t help listening.

Lizzy dropped her voice, “Clear as a bell, she tells the earl Mr. Rand said the duchess is so far along it had to have happened while he was still walking out with her.”

Mary blinked rapidly, trying to understand.

“Don’t be a booby, Mary. The duke got Mr. Rand’s lady with child while she was still supposed to be with Mr. Rand. No wonder those two are at each other’s throats. No man wants his cousin—much less best friend or any other man—poaching on his preserve. Ran off he did. Said he isn’t never coming back.”

Mary shook her head and picked up her bucket without talking.

“Earl said, ‘That woman will make Charles miserable, mark my words,’ and the countess she said, ‘She already heaped misery on all of us,’ and went on back to crying.”

Mary stopped listening. She went back to work, her heart heavy. Family oughtn’t to treat one another badly. They ought to come together in time of troubles, that’s for certain, she thought.

_________________

About the Book, The Renegade Wife

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly finds his solitude disrupted by a desperate woman running with her children from an ugly past. But even his remote cabin in Upper Canada isn’t safe enough. Meggy Blair may have lied to him, but she and her children have breached the walls of his betrayed heart. Now she’s on the run again. To save them he must return to face his demons and seek help from the family he vowed to never see again.

It is available in Kindle format free with Kindle Unlimited or for purchase as ebook or in print:

Amazon US
Barnes and Noble
BooksAMillion
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE
Amazon IT
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IN
Amazon AU


The Renegade Wifeis Book 1 in Caroline Warfield’s Children of Empire Series.

Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, have been driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman was involved!) Though they all escape to the outposts of The British Empire, they all make their way home to England, facing their past and finding love and the support of women of character and backbone. They are:

  • Randolph Baldwin Wheatly who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Captain Frederick Arthur Wheatly, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies, and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Charles, Duke of Murnane, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau, only to face his past there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Who are their ladies?

  • Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish captain sort out his responsibilities. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Zambak Hayden, eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help protecting the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium, while she’s there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Book 3, The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.

Here’s a short video about it:

https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7/videos/924791187669849/

For more about the series and all of Caroline’s books, look here:

https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

About the Author

Caroline Warfield grew up in a peripatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology) before retiring to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, where divides her time between writing Regency and Victorian Romance, and seeking adventures with her grandson and the prince among men she married.

 

 

 

 

There is Always More to the Story

Dear Readers

They say women are the biggest gossips but the latest scandal doing the rounds, started in the London Clubs, Whites in particular.

Lord Glennvale was overheard telling all who would listen that my good friend, Lord C, one of London’s latest rash of handsome rakes, was known to prefer to watch—watch other couples in the throes of passion that is.

gossipIt was said Lord C had interrupted the Duke of Sandringham with his latest mistress and had stayed to watch. Lord C’s perversions seem to be tolerated by many of his peers, but most of society is aghast at his behavior.

I can assure you, upon my honor, that there is a good reason why Lord C acts in such a scandalous manner, however the secret is not mine to tell.

However, Lord C has recently been seen in the company of the Duke of Sandringham’s widowed sister, and the likes of Lord Glennvale and his cronies are at a loss as to why Sandringham has not forbidden such a match. Does Lady P know more than she is telling? Or is there some reason why she has sought the handsome rake out?

The mystery deepens, and I can reveal that the lady bid against Lord C at the latest Sotheby auction. It was quite the battle…why did they both want this particular painting? Even I’m at a loss…

Yours truly, Lord Helmstone.

GossipDrawn To The Marquess (Imperfect Lords #2)– August 2018 Pre-order

Destined to go blind, a rake sets his sights on the toast of society, lighting a fire of passion that scorches the night, in this captivating novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans.

Stephen Hornsby, the Marquess of Clevedon, has one goal: to see every exquisite thing he can before he goes blind. His greatest joy, watching a woman shuddering in the throes of passion, will be gone. But before the darkness descends, he is determined to seduce a magnificent widow, Lady Penelope Fisherton. Unfortunately, his rakish reputation has preceded him; Lady Penelope spurns his advances. Being a man who relishes a challenge, however, her reluctance adds only luster to his desire for the last beautiful sight he’ll ever see.

Considered the belle of London society, Lady Penelope was married to a scoundrel who cared for no one but himself. Now that she’s free, she wants nothing to do with love, passion, or desire—emotions that abandoned her with a cruel husband. So why does her body react when Stephen smiles? As much as she’d like to avoid the rogue, her brother-in-law wants her fortune, and he’ll kill to get it. Stephen is willing to help, but he’ll take only one thing in return: Her. In his bed.

 Excerpt:

 A bilious sensation churned in Penelope’s stomach. She’d learned his lordship wanted a painting coming up for sale in this auction. She had to buy the painting he wanted or else she would have nothing to barter with.

Unfortunately, Lord Clevedon was extremely wealthy. He was a man who would not need money, so why else would he help her? The painting was the key. 

She would win it.

She’d brought six-hundred pounds with her. More than enough for a painting valued at only one-hundred pounds. She hugged her reticule tightly. Being the Duke of Sandringham’s sister would help if she needed credit, but paying too much for a landscape from a relatively unknown painter, would arouse curiosity. As would buying a painting Lord Clevedon wanted. The last thing she needed right now was the gossips announcing to everyone that she was in town and engaging in a bidding war with the Marquess of Clevedon.

Just then Lady Charlotte retook her seat. Her friend was there for morale support. It was Charlotte who, because she always came to town for the season when Penelope didn’t, had ascertained the identity of Clevedon’s current mistress and allowed them to learn as much as possible about the rake. Luckily for them Lord Clevedon had recently ended his liaison with Lady Diana and she was so heartbroken that she simply wanted to talk about the man all day. That is how Penelope learned about his obsession with the Wilson landscape.

“I see Clevedon’s here. I perfectly understand how Lady Diana ended up in the man’s bed. I must admit I’m very tempted myself.” At Penelope’s alarmed look at her widowed friend, Charlotte added, “Of course not until he has helped you.”

“You may play with him all you like as soon as I’m finished with him.”

Penelope saw Charlotte take a second look. “I shall certainly look forward to that.” She giggled. “And not simply because with his help you’ll be safe. By the way, no woman is safe with that man. He’d tempt a nun.”

“Stop looking at him. I don’t want to be noticed.”

“When will you learn darling, that a little flirtation gets widowed women like us almost anything we want. You could have him twisted round your little finger with a smile.”
Penelope pinched the bridge of her nose and wished she were at home as a headache began to pound behind her eyes. 

“If this plan doesn’t work,” her friend continued, “then you could always offer yourself.”

Her head jerked up and her jaw tightened. “No. I will have to find another way. I will never allow a man power over me again.”

“Oh, darling,” Charlotte turned to stare at Lord Clevedon once more. “I suspect you’ll actually enjoy his bed. But if you’re that certain then there is always your brother.

He would help surely?”

She shook her head until her bonnet almost dislodged. She had her reasons for wanting Lord Clevedon. To pacify her friend she uttered, “If my brother gets involved…Sandringham would think he could control me too. I want to live my life, my way. No men commanding me.”

Charlotte sighed. “Then you best hope this man can save you, painting or no painting. With his reluctance for anything more permanent than a couple of nights of pleasure from his lovers, even if he does request you in his bed, it won’t likely be for long.”

That did not make the idea of intimacies with the Marquess of Clevedon any more appealing.

 Pre-order links: Drawn to the Marquess

Amazon        https://amzn.to/2HJbDGg
iBooks           https://apple.co/2raPFF7
Nook              http://bit.ly/2HFlBN2
Kobo              http://bit.ly/2I3QDNG
Google Play   http://bit.ly/2JGtb6r

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author, Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes.Evans is a three-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand with her dogs Brandy and Duke.

You can keep up with Bronwen’s news by visiting her website

www.bronwenevans.com

and get a FREE book by signing up to her newsletter

http://bit.ly/2dWr4gb
Or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bronwenevansauthor
Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/bronwenevans_NZ

 

Heard From Behind a Potted Fern

Eavesdropping“But Maud, all men have their bit of muslin on the side. My sister told me she knows from experience.”

The woman attempted to sound worldly, but in Harold Wagner’s opinion, her breathless tone sounded more naively thrilled. He leaned one shoulder against the wall behind the potted fern, tilted his head toward the conversation, and pulled out a notebook. Sam Clemens paid well for tittle-tattle and this might yield some sellable gems. The fourth son of a miserly earl needed funds in any way he could get them. If it shocked one over-ripe daughter of the haut-ton, it would probably sell.

“Oh, who cares what a captain gets up to in his bedroom in some heathenish country, Eunice,” the other woman retorted.

EavesdroppingHarold Wagner might, if what the man got up to was exotic enough. Unfortunately, this Maud creature hadn’t much imagination.

“What I heard is worse,” the one named Maud continued.

Worse? Now he found it interesting. He poised a pencil over his notebook.

“There were children!”

Harold’s pencil dropped. Good grief! Of course, there were children.

“Isn’t that always the way? My sister explained—”

“I can guess what sort of nonsense your sister Hortensia told you, Eunice, but listen to me. The mistress was—” She dropped her voice for dramatic effect. “—black.”

Eunice must have looked puzzled because Maud sounded disgusted when she didn’t get the reaction she expected. “You know. Native. Bengali.”

“I don’t see—”

“Think about it, Eunice. The children…”

It took several moments, but Eunice caught Maud’s meaning. “Oh! You mean they are native, or half.”

Another one back from India, leaving his cast-offs behind, Harold thought. He shrugged and recorded it. Sam still might buy it if he had a name to go with it.

“The worst of it is, I heard he flaunts them,” Maud went on, warming to the story. “He sailed to Suez on The Pharaoh before taking the Overland Route My friend Miriam said Captain Wheatly gave them the run of the ship. She called them cunning and encroaching little girls. The older one had her nose in everything.”

Wheatly rung a bell. Harold searched his memory for the family.

“What about the mistress, Maud?” Eunice asked. She managed to make “mistress” sound like something disgusting found on the bottom of her dancing slipper.

“You mean the native one? Miriam says he left her or she died. Must have died because he only brought the girls. No, Fred Wheatly traveled with some other woman, as white as you and I. Miriam says the way she fawned over the girls, he must pay her well.”

Harold scribbled it down, “traveled with a woman…”

Maud barely stopped for breath. “He established them in his cousin’s house, as bold as you please. I don’t care if his cousin is a duke, if he tries to bring them near decent people in London, I for one will give him the cut direct.”

Duke? That was it, of course. Wheatly is the family name of the Duke of Murnane. Harold placed him now. Fred Wheatly was always in trouble. He vaguely remembered him running off to India after some scrape. Related to the Earl of Chadbourn too, if Harold remembered right. Sam Clemens would pay for this little on-dit.

“Me too, Maud. Cut direct. I’ll lift my skirt if I see them on the street,” Eunice responded. “You don’t think he’d be seen in the city with his mistress do you?” she asked. “Wouldn’t that be delicious?”

One thought troubled Harold. Sam never published gossip about children. It was one of the bast—, er, the rogue’s few scruples. He brushed the concern aside. Oh yes. Sam would like this one, at least the mistress part. It won’t even take much embellishing.

~An excerpt from The Reluctant Wife~

Eavesdropping

Fred hated the fear in her eyes. My little warrior should never feel fear. He smoothed a hand over her head. “You managed quite well—too well to suit me—in Calcutta. The village is tiny, and Emma and Mary will be with you.”

“Everyone is different here. I don’t look like them. What if they stare at me?”

Ah. One thing he couldn’t prevent. She managed the horrid headmistress in Calcutta, didn’t she? Fred swallowed hard. He wanted to scream, “Chase them away. Shout at them,” but he kept that to himself. He could think of nothing constructive to tell her.

Mary answered when he failed to. “Easy. We know how to outstare anyone, don’t we, Emma?”

Meghal, intrigued, turned toward her cousin, and Mary babbled on. “First we pretend we don’t see them. Then we raise our chin, thus.” She demonstrated a perfect aristocratic pose, causing Meghal to giggle.

“Then—and this is the good part—we stare at them as if we can see right through them and they aren’t even there. Emma taught me. They don’t exist until we want them to, right, Emma?”

Emma’s lips twitched. “That is precisely how it is done. However, you must remember that this weapon is powerful. It must only be used when someone is very, very rude, but never—well perhaps rarely, I can think of exceptions—on a married lady or an older person.”

Fred watched the girls with growing amusement. His nieces would turn his daughters into formidable young women. They don’t need me.

About the Book

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband, and with a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

It is available in Kindle format free with Kindle Unlimited or for purchase as ebook or in print:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
BooksAMillion

The Reluctant Wife is Book 2 in Caroline Warfield’s Children of Empire Series.

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Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, have been driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman was involved!) Though they all escape to the outposts of The British Empire, they all make their way home to England, facing their demons and finding love and the support of women of character and backbone. They are

  • Randolph Baldwin Wheatly who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Captain Frederick Arthur Wheatly, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies, and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Charles, Duke of Murnane, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau, only to face his past there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Who are their ladies?

  • Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish captain sort out his responsibilities. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Zambak Hayden, the eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help but try to protect the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium, while she’s there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Book 3, The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.

Here’s a short video about it:
https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7/videos/924791187669849/

For more about the series and all of Caroline’s books, look here:
https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

Caroline Warfield

About the Author

Caroline Warfield grew up in a peripatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology) before retiring to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, where divides her time between writing Regency and Victorian Romance, and seeking adventures with her grandson and the prince among men she married.

 

 

 

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