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A Letter from Town

rogue gossip

My dear Ghislaine,

It will be no surprise to you that your grandson, Sir Perran Geoffrey, is once again featured in the street-corner scandal sheets such as that horrid Teatime Tattler. I realize that, living in Cornwall as you do, you like to believe that both situation and distance isolate you from scandal, but as your friend of some years, let me disabuse you of this notion.

It may give some in the drawing rooms of London comfort to think that, simply because the Countess Lieven and the other Patronesses have dubbed Sir Perran and his friends as the “Rogues of St. Just,” those gentlemen now possess the general approval of society.

Just this week I found myself in the position of having to explain to a social-climbing mama that this is not the case. You likely already know that dear Lady Mainwaring is sponsoring her Penrose nieces in their debuts this Season. I can see already that my work will be cut out for me in that quarter, since from your information, the young ladies are already acquainted with the Rogues.

This very evening, I am welcoming a number of select friends and acquaintances for supper and dancing, and of course have sent Sir Perran and his friends invitations. Part of the reason for my seeming inconsistency is that suitable gentlemen are scarce upon the ground this Season. And part, of course, is that he is your grandson, my dear friend, and I may have news of you from him. While I myself have not witnessed any questionable behavior on his part—he is always civil in his dealings with me—I am quite certain that he and his friends alone could keep the scandalmongers scribbling all Season.

I beg you, dear Ghislaine, to write him a line or two and urge him to curb his wild inclinations to drink, cards, and ladies such as the Countess Eaton, with whom his name is linked. It will be difficult for him to make a good match if he does not. No woman wishes to know for certain that she is the consolation prize.

Your own,

Sally Pennington

About the Book

He is a penniless baronet. She is the wealthy great-granddaughter of a tradesman. Can these childhood friends find their way back to each other when scandal strikes them both?

Sir Perran Geoffrey needs a wealthy bride to repair his family estate and to bring his sister out in Society. But what woman with money and standing will accept him as a husband—practically penniless, his title under a cloud thanks to his ne’er-do-well father, with an estate far away in Cornwall?

Alwyn Penrose and her two sisters are in London for their first Season. Imagine their surprise when they meet the heirs of the neighboring estates—gentlemen whom they are barely allowed to acknowledge. For to be seen with the Rogues of St. Just means the death of one’s reputation.

Except that Alwyn is seen. More than once. And the gossip spreads all the way to the sacred portals of Almack’s, which close in her face and end her hopes for a good marriage forever.

The ruin of her Season is Perran Geoffrey’s fault. And when they are both forced to return to Cornwall, only one thing is clear: One good ruination deserves another.

“Charlotte Henry’s storytelling is nothing short of brilliant—Regency romance that will sweep you away.” —Regina Scott

Rogue

Kindle:  https://www.amazon.com/Rogue-Ruin-classic-Regency-romance-ebook/dp/B07M8P2DZS/

Kobo:   https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-rogue-to-ruin-3

Apple Books:  https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-rogue-to-ruin/id1447539124?mt=11&at=10l9pr

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130951615?ean=2940161390931

Excerpt from The Rogue to Ruin (Rogues of St. Just #1) by Charlotte Henry

Hyde Park, London, Spring 1816

Sir Perran Geoffrey pulled up his horse in such surprise that the sensitive animal danced in the path. “By Jove,” he exclaimed, “isn’t that the Penrose sisters there, coming in at Lancaster Gate?”

Captain Griffin Teague, formerly commander of the sloop of war Artemis, craned his neck, causing his own horse to sidestep. “Easy, boy.” He patted its withers. “Where? On a fine day in London there are a thousand young ladies parading about Hyde Park—how is one to tell one lot from another?”

“There.” Perran inclined his head three degrees to the northwest. “The landau drawn by the pretty matched bays. It is certainly the Penrose girls from home—bonnets or not, I recognize their mother’s nose.”

“There you would be mistaken, old man,” said the third member of their party. Jago Tremayne had probably never mistaken a lady in his life. Or a bird, or the contents of a letter, or a hand of cards. His memory was prodigious—as was his entirely undeserved reputation as a flirt. “Mrs. Penrose died a handful of years ago. That, I suspect, is her sister, Lady Mainwaring.”

“Help us.” Griffin did not quite implore the skies for mercy, but he came close. “Have they come up to London for the Season?”

There was only one answer. Of course they had. “You know perfectly well we cannot renew the acquaintance.” Perran spurred his horse down another path toward the Long Water. “Come!”

“Hold up—we cannot escape it now.” Griffin raised a hand to stop him. “We have been spotted.”

“So? Better to cut a young lady than ruin her.”

About the Author

Charlotte Henry is the author of 24 novels published by Harlequin, Warner, and Hachette, and a dozen more published by Moonshell Books, Inc., her own independent press. As Charlotte, she writes the Rogues of St. Just series of classic Regency romances. As Shelley Adina, she writes steampunk adventure, and as Adina Senft, writes Amish women’s fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, and is currently at work on a PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster University in the UK. She won the Romance Writers of America RITA Award® for Best Inspirational Novel in 2005, and was a finalist in 2006. When she’s not writing, you can find Charlotte sewing historical dresses, traveling for research, reading, or enjoying the garden with her flock of rescued chickens.

Visit Charlotte at www.charlotte-henry.com, or join her and other readers and authors of Regency novels in Lady Catherine’s Salon on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/LadyCatherinesSalon/

You can also find her in these places:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/Charlotte-Henry-350224438886213/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/shelleyadina/rogues-of-st-just/

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.

Ghostly Gossip

ghostLady Bell invited Mr. Tilson to tea not because she likes him, but to hear about a ghost. I had learned a little about the specter from friends in Carlisle, and she wanted to know more. Unfortunately, Mr. Tilson didn’t want to discuss ghosts. He preferred to backbite about living people.

“All the Warrens are scandalous, absolutely scandalous,” Mr. Tilson told us. “From Lord Garrison to his sister to his cousins, they’re simply dreadful. It’s in their blood.”

There is a certain amount of truth to this. Lord Garrison and his kinfolk do tend to live by their own rules, but they are also far more fun than most people with whom I’m acquainted.

“Surely not.” Lady Bell motioned to me to pour Mr. Tilson a second cup of tea. “Thomasina Warren is a charming girl, so perfectly behaved that she is known as The One Good Warren. She would have made you an excellent wife.”

“So I thought.” Mr. Tilson heaved a sigh redolent of the seed cake with which he had stuffed himself. “But when I questioned her sternly with the full force of my manly intellect, Miss Warren herself admitted to the taint.” He took a breath. “In fact, she confessed to an uncontrollable urge to sin.”

I ask you, how likely is that?

Her ladyship glowered at him. “What nonsense. No innocent maiden would say anything of the kind.”

Particularly to a stodgy sort like Tilson.

“I do beg your pardon,” he murmured. “It was the truth, but I shouldn’t have mentioned something so unsavory in the presence of ladies.”

He sighed again, and I moved as far as possible from him on the sofa. I like seed cake, but not at second hand.

“I have heard that Miss Warren doesn’t wish to marry,” I said.

“Nonsense, my dear Clara,” Lady Bell said. “Every young woman wishes to do so.” She simply will not accept the fact that I have never been tempted to exchange my comfortable single state for submission to some tedious male.

Ghost“Miss Warren knows full well that she is unmarriageable,” Mr. Tilson said. “Her conniving father tried to trap me into wedding her. Much as I pity her, I was fortunate to escape before I found myself tied to her forever.” He was enjoying himself, which is in frightfully bad taste. How vile to denigrate the former object of his affection!

It was obvious to me that Miss Warren was the one who had escaped. What’s worse, now he gazed at me with a warm expression in his eyes.

Lady Bell gave a smug little smile. Good God, was she thinking I might like to wed this bore?

Time to change the subject. I assumed an expression of trepidatious inquiry. “Earlier, her ladyship mentioned something about a ghost at Hearth House.”

Lady Bell set down her teacup. She is an enthusiastic believer in the supernatural. “Yes, a Roman soldier who patrols Hadrian’s Wall. He carries a spear and threatens anyone who comes near.” She paused, twinkling. “Except courting couples of whom he approves.”

“Now, now, my lady,” Mr. Tilson said. “You will have your little jest, but ghosts do not exist. Old houses like Hearth House tend to creak and groan, especially in cold weather.”

I put on an innocent face. “I was told that you made banishing the ghost a condition of marrying Miss Warren—but how can one drive away something that isn’t real?”

Mr. Tilson reddened, hastening to explain. “To calm her, so she need not fear for the safety of our future children.” What a lie that was! I knew from other sources that it was he who’d been afraid. Imagine refusing to marry a girl because of a ghost!

“Why should she fear?” I asked. “By what I’ve heard, she likes the ghost. It protects her from unwanted suitors.”

Mr. T glared. I must confess, I enjoyed witnessing his attempt to summon his manly intellect and produce an explanation that made him look fearless, noble, self-sacrificing, and so on.

“That only goes to show,” he said, “that sin is not the only taint in her family. There’s madness, too.” He paused dramatically and lowered his voice to a hush. “I saw her talking to the ghost.”

Heavens! “You saw the ghost?”

He huffed. “No, I saw her talking to thin air, which is a well-known trait of the insane. It gave me quite a turn. Thank God for that pleasant young man who was visiting Hearth House and kindly warned me away.”

Hmm…. I wonder now, who is the pleasant young man, and what was his reason for getting rid of Mr. Tilson? I can think of several possibilities. I believe I shall pay a visit to Hearth House and find out!

GhostAbout the Book

Faced with the intolerable suitors her father approves, Thomasina Warren resolves never to marry, and decides to lose her virginity so that no respectable man will have her. Who better to ruin her than handsome, charming James Blakely? But James is an honorable man and refuses point-blank. Humiliated, she resorts to outright refusal to wed, with the help of a ghost who scares her suitors away. But four years later, her father has arranged her marriage to a stodgy gentlemen whose only condition is that the ghost must be banished forever.

James Blakely never forgot the lovely girl who asked him to ruin her, and when he offers to get rid of the ghost, he thinks he’ll be doing a good deed. Instead, he is faced with the hostile Thomasina, her cowardly suitor, pigheaded father, lecherous cousin, an exorcist monk, and a ghost who warns of danger and deadly peril—and a few short days in which to convince Thomasina that with the right man, she might just want to marry after all.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F71SZD6/
Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07F71SZD6/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07F71SZD6/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07F71SZD6/

About the Author

Award-winning author Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young, then moved on to paranormal mysteries and Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

http://www.facebook.com/barbara.monajem
http://twitter.com/BarbaraMonajem
https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/3270624.Barbara_Monajem
http://www.barbaramonajem.com/
http://barbaramonajem.blogspot.com

Writers Needed; The Newsroom Quakes

The Tattler newsroom is in an uproar. Lady Caroline Warfield swept into the premises summoned—summoned!—by Sam Clemens. She slammed his door so hard the wall vibrated and now the staff: printers, correspondents, ink boys, paper sellers, and all held their breath. Did she know she would find that Mrs. Knight had already arrived? Of course she must know. The Bluestocking Belles communicate constantly.

Milly, the maid of all work, stood with her ear to the door. “She told him the Belles ‘have their hands full,’ and she said its his fault for printing all those letters attacking theirTeatime Tattler book, Follow Your Star Home.” Milly grinned over her shoulder. “Sam said, ‘Spelled yer names right din’t they?'”

The staff smirked in unison. Trust Sam. He taught them all publicity is good as long as they spell your name right. That tight-rumped clergy fellow Blowworthey set off a firestorm, but he brought the readers in didn’t he?

Milly leaned down again, “The Knight woman says the Belles have been so busy undoing the damage they didn’t get their usual story in today, and it serves us right.”

“Serves us right?” Ian Pennywhistle, a junior correspondent, demanded. He scribbled down the words. He’d been documenting the whole incident.

“She says we ought to recruit more Wednesday guest author stories and not leave it to them to do.” Pennywhistle wrote that down. Milly shrugged and leaned over to listen and was almost knocked over when the door swung open and the two women left.

“The ladies swanned out leaving Clemens in a fine rage…” Pennywhistle said, putting pen to paper. “I always wanted to write a sentence with ‘swanned,'” he said with self-satisfied glee.

Clemens glared at the young man. “We don’t get 1000 views and more a month because people like your vocabulary. They read to sop up the gossip behind authors’ books, the good stuff, not your drivel. We need more. The schedule is almost empty aside from two weeks in November. January’s even emptier. Bring me some writers.”

The newsroom emptied in a flash.

Read the high-performing articles below to find out what Sam loves to see in the Teatime Tattler, or sign up to write your own, and to advertise your book (new or one from your backlist).

The Mistress and The Wife — by Laura Libricz

A Guillotine Widow Takes Tea on the Isle of Guernsey — by Regan Walker

Lady Farrow Determined to See Her Daughter Wed — by Nadine Millard

The Mistress and the WifeThe Soldier’s Return, by Laura Libritz

A base-born son, a hasty marriageThe Bastard’s Iberian Bride, by Alina K. Field

Mrs Bingham tries againThe Rake and His Honour, by Beth Elliott

Be Careful What You Ask a Hero — Only a Hero Will Do, by Alanna Lucas

Duke in Disguise — To Dodge a Duke, by Naomi Bloom

Overheard at the Courtesan’s Ball — The Pleasure House Ball, by Suzi Love

 

The Wanderer Returns

We are delighted to report that Lord Wayshaw’s younger brother, Rafe, has returned to the magnificent Taverslow estate after his travels in Europe and a stay at the family’s villa in Umbria.

The great and the good of Somerset will no doubt look forward to hearing tales of his continental adventures, while the young ladies will surely hang on every word of the county’s most eligible bachelor. It is said that the dashing Mr. Wayshaw is even more handsome than when he left these shores almost a year ago, and that his already fine skills in riding and dancing have been greatly enhanced by his time in foreign lands.

The debutantes of Somerset and London will have to compete for his affections, however, which are apparently taken by his two charming Yorkshire Terriers, Pepe and Paolo. They may also have to win the approval of Mr. Wayshaw’s faithful valet, Simpkins, from whom he seems quite inseparable. Indeed, some have hinted that they may be more intimate than one would expect of a servant and master. Of course the Tattler would never spread such gossip, but if we hear more of Mr. Wayshaw’s romantic attachments, rest assured dear readers, you will be the very first to know.

About The Book

A Valet’s Duty

At the turn of the twentieth century, Henry Simpkins is a valet at Taverslow, the Earl of Wayshaw’s Somerset home. When the Earl’s younger brother, Rafe, arrives from his villa in Italy, Henry is given the task of caring for his mischievous dogs, Pepe and Paolo. As part of his duties, he also goes to Rafe’s room each night to tidy away his clothes.

One night Rafe asks Henry to go beyond his valet’s duty, to relieve his sexual tensions. Henry enjoys their increasingly intimate encounters, but he’s soon disturbed to find he feels more for Rafe than mere physical attraction. Now Henry faces a difficult decision. Can he remain in the same house as Rafe if his affections are not returned?

A Valet’s Duty is available at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2n1Ei0A

Excerpt

When he followed Lord Wayshaw up the grand marble staircase, Henry wondered what sort of man the brother might be. He seemed to have a sense of humour, since he hadn’t chastised Henry for scolding his precious dogs. Henry only hoped he required as little attention as the earl. Each night, he sorted his lordship’s clothes when he undressed, and took his orders for the following day. His night-time duties were over in a matter of minutes, and he could go outside for a smoke before he turned in.

Henry knocked on Rafe’s door and was somewhat taken aback, when the ornately carved oak opened to reveal Rafe already in his dressing gown.

“Come in, Simpkins. I won’t keep you long.” Henry followed Rafe into the bedroom. “Just tidy my clothes away, would you?”

Rafe settled himself on a sofa and chattered away, as some gentlemen do, while Henry picked up his garments from the floor, sorting those that could be worn again from those that needed to be washed. He listened to Rafe describe his villa in Italy, where he obviously spent much of the year. It sounded enchanting, with its endless sunshine and olive groves, but Henry couldn’t properly picture the place—he’d never been farther south than Dover.

The next few nights passed in a similar way, with Henry nodding and smiling, and sometimes laughing, when Rafe talked of his life in Umbria. Falling to sleep each night in his narrow bed, Henry found himself dreaming of orange trees and vineyards. Sometimes he even dreamt of Rafe wandering among them in the Mediterranean sun, but on the fourth night when Henry went to Rafe’s room, something had changed. Rafe seemed on edge as he opened the door, and he sat on the sofa in silence as Henry carried out his tasks. Henry started to leave, when Rafe spoke at last, an unfamiliar tension in his voice.

“Simpkins, could I ask you something?”

“Of course, sir.”

Rafe gazed intently at his fingernails, giving Henry no clue as to what he might ask. His eyes remained lowered as he made his enquiry.

“Simpkins, are you—are you the same kind of man as Oscar Wilde?”

About the Author

H. Lewis-Foster lives in the north of England and has always worked with books, in one form or another. A keen reader and writer of gay fiction, she is now the proud author of several short stories and a debut novel ‘Burning Ashes’.

Lewis-Foster likes to create characters that are talented, funny and quite often gorgeous, but who all have their faults and vulnerable sides, and she hopes that you’ll enjoy reading their stories as much as she loves writing them.

You can find out more about H. and her books on her website.

 

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