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Family Secrets and Ghastly Deeds

To the editor, Teatime Tattler,

Dear Honoured Sir,

Though it is not in my gentle nature to speak ill of those in the highest of society’s ranks, I feel it my duty to report a most shocking miscarriage of justice. The Amesbury family, those who are relations of my lord, the Earl of Tarrington, may not be all they seem. In fact, they are, in fact, secretly villains. You see, good sir, I have information, nay, verily proof, that while they appear all that is proper and noble, with two of the family’s sons serving His Majesty’s’ army and navy, scandal and danger follow in their wake.
You see, sir, I know for a fact that the current earl married his wife under false pretenses almost too shocking to utter. Although they seem blissfully wedded now, they had most unbecoming beginnings including a false identity. Is their marriage even valid? Is their infant son a legitimate heir?

As far as the second son, it’s a well-known fact that he served as a privateer during the war. However, I have it on good authority that he was, in truth, a pirate! He was captured by His Majesty’s Navy, stood trial, and nearly met his doom at the gallows. Oh, he used an assumed name—that seems to be a family trait—but I know it was him.

The third son, alas, has always been the black sheep. He shuns society, snubbing conventions, and wearing shockingly low apparel. But this is not all; he even works—works!—with the Bow Street officers to solve cases that are best left to those of the working class. To be fair, he has saved lives, but has also taken a good many under the excuse that it was all in the line of duty. But does that include shooting peers without trial?

Though hailed as society’s golden child, the youngest Amesbury son, who most closely resembles the late earl, has the most shocking secret of all. He not only may have participated in arranging the death of a peer with the help of his brothers, but more shocking still, he even married the widow within mere weeks of the ghastly deed.

Now, I ask you, does this not bear further inquiry into the Amesbury family? Do we demand that this family answer to the laws of justice or do we let them live above the law?

The Amesbury sisters, it seems, are perfectly respectable, although one is estranged from her husband, and the other, a bluestocking spinster. This suggests that something went terribly wrong in their upbringing, does it not?

With regards to the men (I refuse to use the word “gentlemen”) of this family, I beseech you to consider my words. Since Bow Street has discounted my concerns—likely due to their familiarity with the aforementioned brother who works with Bow Street—perhaps this public revelation will put pressure on the law to do the right thing. If nothing else, the opinion of society may deliver its own form of justice.

Sincerely yours,

A concerned neighbor

About the Book

The Stranger She Married

When her parents and only brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor’s prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet or a handsome rake with a deadly secret.

Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he’d thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true. When yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer’s attempt to exterminate every member of her family. Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger of all, a danger to her heart.

Excerpt:

As Cole looked down into Alicia Palmer’s face, he knew of a surety she was worth any risk. She touched him in a place he’d thought long dead.

A younger man wearing a saucy grin approached Miss Palmer. “Did you save me a dance, Lissie?”

Cole’s initial irritation for the man’s cheekiness faded to puzzlement. He knew him from somewhere. A vague unease arose.

When the young man’s gaze moved to Cole, he paled visibly. “You!”

Miss Palmer gasped. “Robert Palmer, where are your manners?”

Of course. Robert Palmer. From London. Cold dread trickled  across  his  heart  as  he  considered  the ramifications.

 Palmer pinned him with a dangerous glare. “Stay away from my cousin.”

“Your cousin?” Cole looked from him to the lovely Miss Palmer and understanding dawned. He cursed under his breath. He hadn’t been aware Armand Palmer had a sister. Not that he’d bothered to find out. The possible ramifications took a more serious turn.

Miss Palmer sent Cole a look of apology and turned to her cousin. “Robert, explain yourself.”

In a cold sweat, Cole waited for her condemning stare.

Palmer trembled in rage. He spoke quietly, but each word shot through Cole like bullets fired at close range. “He’s the scoundrel who shot your twin.”

About the Author

Multi-award-winning author of more than twenty best-selling Regency Historical Romances, Donna Hatch is a hopeful romantic and an adventurer at heart. Each book she writes is filled with wit and heart and plenty of swoon-worthy romance. Donna sings, plays the harp, and loves to ballroom dance. Her family, including six children and two cats, recently left their native Arizona for the US Pacific coast. No matter where they live, she and her husband of over twenty years are proof that there truly is a happily ever after.

To find out more about this author and her books, visit her at:

Website: www.donnahatch.com

Blog: www.donnahatch.com/blog

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Donna-Hatch/e/B002BMG9KK/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/RomanceAuthorDonnaHatch

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2072970.Donna_HatchAmazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Donna-Hatch/e/B002BMG9KK

Servants Always Know

You can learn a lot in pubs and cafés. Your Teatime Tattler has long had a policy of lingering in such establishments on the fringe more posh neighborhoods—the sort of places servants might gather on their off days.

The Little Brown Hen Pub has been particularly useful lately. It seems one of our “better” squares, one populated by two earls, a wealthy baron, and a dowager duchess to name a few, has had an abundance of havey-cavey behavior lately—enough to make a debutante blush.

First off an upstairs maid from the Earl of W—’s house and a footman from Mr. M.C.’s both were at pains to tell our man on the spot about strange arrangements in the Earl of C—’s fashionable townhouse—he who came into his title just last summer.

servants

“Y’don’t see them servants here, do ya? They keep to themselves they do. Downright unfriendly,” complained the footman.

“That butler o’thern looks more like a prize fighter than a butler, if you ask me,” the little maid sniffed. “And have you seen that footman missing one ear? His visage has an ugly scar. What kind of earl hires ugly servants?”

They scurried off to fetch more ale when an older woman, dressed in black, and obviously an upper servant shooed them away. She introduced herself as Her Grace’s dresser—that would be the dowager—and insisted on tea. “Only tea,” she said with a sniff. This bird seemed a bit high class for this pub, but then maybe widowed duchesses don’t pay as well as others.

Servants

“If you’re interested in the Earl of C—, I can tell you more interesting things about that house than deformed footmen,” she said, rubbing two fingers together. We’re always willing to spare a few coin for a woman who can use ‘em. We obliged.

“To begin with the man doesn’t live there. He has rooms at the Albany, and God only knows what bachelors get up to there. When the old earl died, the older sister—she who is the Duchess of M— came to look after the younger girl, a flibbertigibbet of the first order, in my opinion.” She drew breath and our man quickly suspected she had many opinions loosened by coin.

“Now the Duke of M— is a fine man, but his wife is a pale shadow of a thing, utterly incapable of minding the hoyden. They must have gotten fed up with her foolish starts and outlandish taking because they up and left. Closed up the house but for a few servants.”

She leaned over and dropped her voice, those fingers moving. Another coin may have slid across the table. “I saw them leave. Saw the carriage pull round, the duchess get in, the duke pull their boy by his collar and toss him in, and then they left.”

Our man waited, and not in vain. “I did not see the younger sister get in that carriage. Nor the one with the maid, valet, and baggage,” she went on. “Neither one. I watched the whole time.” He took her meaning, but to be sure he asked, “Are you telling me the Earl of C—’s young unmarried sister is living on her own in a house that’s supposed to be closed?”

“Well I know I didn’t see her leave with ‘em, and more.” She leaned in again. “I’ve been watching a girl her size wearing the clothes of a scullery maid but walking with the bearing of a countess coming and going through the tradesmen’s door. That chit is up to something, no doubt about it, and heading for ruin.”

“Is that it?”

“Well. The Earl of C— feeds anyone who come to his kitchen. Her Grace has complained mightily that it attracts all sorts of unsavory types. This very morning I saw a particularly horrid specimen—a filthy one-armed ruffian—parade through their garden as free as you please, and get taken in. Taken in and that girl in residence! Not an hour later he was out on the street. Did they toss him on his fundament? No! One of those deformed footmen was giving him directions. I ask you, is that how a respectable household conducts itself?”

________________

The Earl of Chadbourn makes it a policy to hire as many veterans in need of work as he can. The result has been a rather unusual collection of servants. As to his sister, perhaps he wasn’t watching as closely as he should.

Watch for Lord Ethan’s Honor in Fire & Frost: a Bluestocking Belles Collection

When a young woman marches into an alley full of homeless former soldiers, Ethan Alcott feels something he thought dead stir to life: his sense of honor. Effort at charity put the chit in danger; someone needs to take her in hand.

Lady Flora Landrum discovers that the mysterious one-armed ruffian she encountered in a back alley is Lord Ethan Alcott, son of the Marquess of Welbrook; her astonishment gives way to determination. As Ethan comes to admire Flora’s courage, perhaps he can reclaim his own.

About Fire & Frost

Join The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans in their pursuit of justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.

The Napoleonic Wars have left England with wounded warriors, fatherless children, unemployed veterans, and hungry families. The ladies of London, led by the indomitable Duchess of Haverford plot a campaign to feed the hungry, care for the fallen—and bring the neglectful Parliament to heel. They will use any means at their disposal to convince the gentlemen of their choice to assist.

Their campaign involves strategy, persuasion, and a wee bit of fun. Pamphlets are all well and good, but auctioning a lady’s company along with her basket of delicious treats is bound to get more attention. Their efforts fall amid weeks of fog and weather so cold the Thames freezes over and a festive Frost Fair breaks out right on the river. The ladies take to the ice. What could be better for their purposes than a little Fire and Frost?

Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with six interconnected Regency romances from the Bluestocking Belles.

Caroline Warfield is a Belle. You can learn about her and her writing here: https://www.carolinewarfield.com/

A Report of a Haunting in Yorkshire

Dear Readers,

I’ve been given permission to share a most interesting letter received by a dear friend from a lady in York regarding a topic most appropriate as we approach the Eve of All Hallows. Without further ado, I include the letter in its entirety.

Haunting

My dear Lady S,

We’ve excitement in these parts–an actual haunting! My dear husband is beside himself, wishing to cast off his responsibilities and rush to the coast because of news received from the esteemed Reverend N. F.—pardon me, he is now Sir N. F.! Do you remember the dear man? He is at present compiling an encyclopedia of northern folklore. You were visiting us when he came through York with his daughter, Miss M.F., on his way to the manor he inherited.

Oh, but now I recall, you were unable to join us for dinner that night, and you would so have enjoyed such amiable guests. Miss F. is rather a great galloping spinster, hopelessly on the shelf, and shamelessly skeptical of her father’s inquiries, but entirely delightful. Sir N. is blessed to have her to care for him in his old age, and she’ll inherit the manor, as there isn’t an entail. The possibility of wealth (if the enterprise can be made profitable as he hopes) might increase the poor dear’s chance at marriage (though whether any worthy man can be found in that part of the county is questionable).

But I digress from the most exciting news. My husband has always believed that the Manor’s legendary ghostly guest is a Popish priest enclosed within the walls. However, Sir N has written that the general speculation of the villagers is that the culprit is the late Squire, who was a scandalous fiend. Sir N. inquired whether we might assist with finding servants willing to relocate to the wilds of Yorkshire, and unafraid of the resident ghost.

Haunting

For indeed, there does appear to be a ghost! The priest it might be, but more than likely the villagers have the right of it—oh, you have heard the story, have you not? The last Baron, Sir N’s distant cousin, died there terribly. Of course, there’s also a very old rumor about bigamy and a stolen inheritance—a generational curse, as it were, but I cannot quite remember the details of that story.

I can only imagine that Miss F is beside herself, what with needing reliable staff. A more practical and grounded woman…a confirmed spinster, you know…could not be found. She must be such a great help to her father as he tromps about chasing goblins for his book. And yet, even while researching the supernatural, one needs the comforts of a good cook and a few maids.

I shall write more as I Iearn of it. My love to the children.

Does that not whet your appetite to learn more, dear readers? Read on!

About the Book

Haunting Miss Fenwick

Thrilled to finally have a permanent home, a Squire’s daughter won’t let a supernatural creature scare her away. While hunting the ghost she doesn’t believe in, she stumbles upon a mysterious flesh and blood man who might be the key to all of her problems.

When the new Squire moves into Fenwick Manor, an ex-army officer secretly searching the sprawling medieval wreck devises a plan. First, the manor’s legendary ghost will chase servants away. Then, he’ll convince the new residents to leave.

But the Squire’s spirited daughter soon has him wondering if he might have found a perfect comrade in arms to help battle old enemies and find the proof that will clear his family name.

Buy Links:

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About the Author

Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but she prefers the much happier world of romance. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.

She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. She is hard at work on her next series of Regency romances, but loves to hear from readers!

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A Found Horse and Missing Widow?

Dear gentle readers,

Perhaps it passed your notice that three of our fashionable young ladies, led by the Duchess of Beloin, journeyed from London to Paris this Spring. They told their husbands it was to be a shopping trip, but they added to their numbers the widow Spencer. Is that not curious? And now that they have returned without said widow they have been spreading tales of seeing Mr. C. Bittlesworth’s stolen horse. Have these young misses been attending horse races unattended?

WIDOW

But more, this reporter is wondering what became of the widow Spencer. That lady is known to run with a bit of a fast crowd in London. Did her heart give out from all the shopping? Was she trampled by one of the racehorses? It will certainly sadden the gentlemen of London if the lovely widow never returns. What could she be getting up to in Paris?

It isn’t for this reporter to conjecture, of course. But certainly all the fashionable of Town are led to wonder what could keep a popular woman away for the Season. And what sort of welcome she will receive when she returns.

With fondest regards, dear readers ~ L.D.

About Pheme’s Regret

Can the darkest of betrayals ever be forgiven?

Miriam is known as Lady Spencer among the ton. A charming young widow with a string of admirers. In the London papers she is only known by the initials L.D., the signature given to all the best, and worst, gossip from Town. But she has been harboring her own secrets and will need the Haberdashers to accompany her on a trip to France to retrieve her illegitimate daughter.

Nicolas Baudin has everything in his life precisely as he likes it. Some might find his persnickety ways annoying, but when you’ve had your entire life upended by lies and speculation you prefer routine. That is part of why he enjoys practicing the law. Until a woman from England, his former home, comes to him with an unusual case, and everything he has been trying to forget comes crashing back.

WIDOW

Excerpt:

She heard him sigh and close the door. Biting her lip, she shut her eyes. She didn’t want to be a burden. She would not blubber all over him as though he had any responsibility for her.

But he didn’t ask her any questions. He simply wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to his chest, resting his chin on her head. Comfort. Pure, clean comfort. Bloody hell, but she was going to start blubbering, just not for the reason she originally thought. When had anyone ever thought to comfort her? She’d gone from willful daughter to headstrong wife to independent widow. There had never been room for anyone to treat her this way. No one ever thought she needed it.

“Just remember,” he murmured into her hair. “Sometimes all that’s left is to do the right thing. Ultimately she’ll have to respect that.”

She melted into his embrace and admitted a secret to herself. She was falling in love with Nicolas Baudin, né Jon Bristow. He would be her measure for every other man for the rest of her life, and she was fairly certain they would all be found wanting. Brave, smart, honorable, and compassionate. Yes, she loved him, but it was a hopeless love. He could never forgive what she’d done to him. And just from a practical perspective, her life was in London, while he could never return to England. If she were to move to France it would mean the end of her gossip column and likely make her book publishing too difficult. Not that it mattered. He wouldn’t want to be with her, not the woman who had destroyed the trajectory of his life.

But her heart knew she loved him. And it hungered.

She turned in his arms and pulled him down for a kiss. There was a sweetness to their meeting of lips, teasing and clinging as if they had all the time in the world. When she sighed he pulled her closer, and the sweetness gave way to a burning intensity. His tongue mated with hers in a way that felt primal and necessary. She wished to stay here, like this, forever. If she could have gathered him into her heart to keep with her then she would.

“This has all the adventure, intrigue and romance we love Sue London for providing. Always a few surprises along with the necessary happy ending. Loved every minute of it!” ~ Amazon & Goodreads Reviewer

Universal Link US * Amazon UK * Amazon CA * Amazon AU

Keep up with Sue London online at her author website bysuelondon.com, on Twitter, or at her Facebook page. You can also get behind the scenes info, special excerpts, and other fun goodies on her Patreon.

LONDON

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:

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