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A little bit of gossip goes a long way…

Lady Abigail Danvers set the quill down and stared at the letter she had been composing to Samuel Clemens, editor of the Teatime Tattler.

“I don’t know, Prudence.” Abigail gave a heavy sigh and handed over the parchment. “I just don’t think it has enough gossip in it to be worthy of what Clemen’s usually expects from us.”

Prudence took the letter and began to read aloud.

Gentle Readers;
This just in from York… Seen more than once in each other’s company, Viscount C and Lady S may just have a budding romance in the making. Will wedding bells be ringing the York Cathedral? Or maybe one of her stepdaughters will beat her to the altar. Only time will tell and you’ll read the latest news here first in the Teatime Tattler.

An Anonymous Reporter

Prudence tapped her finger to her chin. “It is rather boring, sister. Are you sure you couldn’t find any dirt on the pair?”

Abigail rolled her eyes. “Don’t you think I tried? The Dowager Countess guards her stepdaughters like the fiercest of warriors, along with her own reputation?”

Prudence nodded. “I suppose given she’s trying to get them married off is a good reason to remain so guarded. What of Cranfield? Surely his reputation is slightly tarnished. Didn’t he have a mistress?”

“Old news. He let her go and paid off her accounts months ago before he arrived in York,” Abigail replied taking the letter and folding it. “He’s here to see that his sister finds a match. Since his arrival in York, I haven’t been able to turn anything up on him that might provide any newsworthy gossip.”

A frown marred Prudence’s brow. “Then I guess this will have to do. Send it off to Clemens. Hopefully, he won’t be too disappointed and still publish the piece —”

“—and continue to pay us for whatever tittle tattle we can dig up in the future,” Abigail finished before going to the bell cord to summon a servant to deliver her latest news.


This is an original piece by Belle Sherry Ewing. Richard, Viscount Cranfield and Patience, Lady Seahaven are in her novella, A Countess To Remember in the Belles’ boxset, Desperate Daughters. Continue to read on to learn more along with our ongoing contest!

Excerpt:

The unseen woman was still in the carriage, as if she was still preparing to collect whatever had been left behind. A small dainty shoe poked out onto the edge of the step and Richard heard her heavy sigh that she made no attempt to mask.

Richard stepped forward, offering his hand. “May I be of assistance, my lady?”

“You are most kind,” the lady inside said. She put her hand in his and Richard swore he felt a tingling sensation rush up his arm.

“Where are my manners?” Lady Barbara exclaimed. “May I introduce my stepmother, Patience, Lady Seahaven. Patience, this is Lord Cranfield and his sister Lady Josephine.”

Richard was prepared for a matronly woman to reveal herself as she alit from the carriage. But when she lifted her head once upon solid ground to acknowledge their introductions, he was unprepared for the young beauty he faced. Blue-grey eyes that could rival the sky above met his. Wisps of strawberry blonde hair had escaped her bonnet while her porcelain skin was set in a lovely round face. But when her small bow mouth turned up into an enchanting smile, Richard became lost.

“Lord Cranfield,” her voice reached into his soul. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Richard bowed, completely bewildered in the spell she had captured him in with just one glance. At a loss for words, he could only stare at the woman before him, even while he continued to hold her hand in his. What had she done to him?


Desperate Daughters: A Bluestocking Belles and Friends Collection
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Preorder for only $0.99

Here’s the blurb for Sherry Ewing’s contribution to the set, A Countess To Remember:

Sometimes love finds you when you least expect it…

Patience, Dowager Countess of Seahaven cares for a bevy of stepdaughters and a Season for each to find husbands seems out of reach. With her own young daughter to care for, there’s been no chance for romance for herself. She’s been so busy worrying about putting food on the table, that finding love is the last of her concerns.

Richard, Viscount Cranfield is in York to see to his sister’s Season. He has no desire to find a wife despite his parents prodding him to do so. A chance encounter with a countess leaves him wondering what spell she has cast around him.

Will Patience and Richard find enough time to allow love to fill their hearts?

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Help spread the word about Desperate Daughters.

Share our contest page and our Bachelor and other memes to any of your social media accounts. Each share gets you an entry into one of the weekly draws and the Grand Prize draw.

Congratulations to Catherine Maguire, winner of our week 1 draw.

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Read more about Desperate Daughters here: https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/desperate-daughters/

About Belle Sherry Ewing:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. When not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist. You can learn more about Sherry and her books on her website where a new adventure awaits you on every page at www.SherryEwing.com.

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On the Shelf or On the Stage?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Desperate Daughters, Box Set

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the author, Mary Lancaster

Mary Lancaster lives in Scotland with her husband, three mostly grown-up kids and a small, crazy dog.

Her first literary love was historical fiction, a genre which she relishes mixing up with romance and adventure in her own writing. Several of her novels feature actual historical characters as diverse as Hungarian revolutionaries, medieval English outlaws, and a family of eternally rebellious royal Scots. To say nothing of Vlad the Impaler.

Her most recent books are light fun Regency romances written for Dragonblade Publishing: The Imperial Season series set at the Congress of Vienna; and the popular Blackhaven Brides series, which is set in a fashionable English spa town frequented by the great and the bad of Regency society.

 

Could this be a Picture Perfect Match?

A Picture Perfect Match

Dear Readers,

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

Desperate Daughters

Dear Mr. Clemmons

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

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

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

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

I am as ever, your faithful reader,

Lady G.T.

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

Blurb:

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

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Whyever not?”

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

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

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

Desperate Daughters:   A Bluestocking Belles with Friends Collection

Love Against the Odds

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3qG6WGs

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3HoEVcm

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Alina K. FieldAuthor bio:

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

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Suspicious Behavior in York

Dear Euphemia,

Can you enlighten me about the boisterous clan of Bigglesworth women that have invaded York Society this Season? The younger daughters are being launched (one might say cast upon us) and are being feted hither and yon as “the Seahaven Diamonds.” Anyone who is anyone scurried about hoping for invitations to the grand ball they hosted to celebrate said launch, though my own invitation went astray. But that is neither here nor there.

York is virtually crawling with Bigglesworth women. One cannot pay a morning call on a friend without encountering two or three of them, as if they travel in packs. One encounters them in the shops. Some were seen dragging some poor bored children along the walls for a history lecture. Others are rather too cozy with the horse racing scene. Always they are dressed fashionably, which leads one to wonder. How are they managing the expense?

You live near Starbrook and are quite cozy (or so you claim) with the new Earl of Seahaven’s Dear Wife. You gave me the impression in times past that the earl left the widowed countess with little or nothing. How did that chit, the former countess—the fifth wife in a row who failed to produce a male child—manage a season for all those stepdaughters, even the ones clearly on the shelf? Can you enlighten me?

One wonders whether one ought to befriend some or all, or even if one ought to receive them. As if the number and questionable situation weren’t enough, morals are in question. My maid heard a story from our footman who took ale with another footman, one that had been hired by the Bigglesworths—temporarily, mind you, to handle the undiscerning crowds that descended on them after their ball. That person testified that at least one of those young women was seen creeping out of a closet with her clothing askew and her hair out of place in the company of Viscount Stanbeck’s shabby younger brother who purports to be a curate. What must they teach young clergy these days?

Do write back quickly. The Season moves swiftly, and that baggage and her tribe of daughters are everywhere. Ought I avoid them?

Sir William, my dear husband, sends his regards.

Yours

Marian, Lady Smithers

About the Book: Desperate Daughters

Love Against the Odds

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

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

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

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

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

Among them?  “Lady Dorothea’s Curate,” by Caroline Warfield

Employed at a hotel in order to assist her stepmother, Lady Dorothea Bigglesworth had no use for a title. It would only invite scorn, or, worse, pity. Plain Miss Doro Bigglesworth suited her fine.

Ben Clarke dedicated his life to helping the neediest. It gave his life meaning. He tended to forget the younger son of a viscount went by “Honorable.”

Working together at Pilgrim’s Rest, neither saw the need to mention it to the other, before fate separated them. When they were formally introduced after an unexpected reunion— in a ballroom in York—shock rocked them both. Can their budding love survive?

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Outrageous Rescue

Well now, isn’t this just a delicious tidbit for you all:

A rival newspaper, the Trumpeter no less, is reporting that one Miss Somerset Sinclair, a member of that wildly outrageous family who constantly flaunts society’s rules, has recklessly stepped in to save a man from certain injury, if not death.

The event took place as she was walking, alone I might add, to visit Lolly’s bookstore late one afternoon. Professor Cole Alexander Gusford Charlton was unaware of his impending doom when Miss Sinclair flew at him. Onlookers have reported her diving at the poor man, wrapping her arms around his waist and propelling him backward with some force. He came to rest with a thud against a sturdy wall. With Miss Sinclair still pressed to his body, a chimney pot then crashed to the ground a mere few inches away.

While her behavior was indeed scandalous, one cannot help but commend her for her fast thinking, even if her ankles were seen by everyone who witnessed the event. I’m also happy to report that both parties were unharmed.

As you know, four out of the seven Sinclair siblings are all wed, and not only that, each is married to someone sharing the Duke of Raven’s blood. I’m not one to gossip, but this strikes me as an odd anomaly, which is added to by the fact they all live on the same London street. I must, in good conscience, tell you that the Sinclair and Raven families are a very unusual group of people.

News has just reached us that in fact Professor Charlton is the Duke of Raven’s cousin. One wonders what is in store for him in the coming months.

About the Book: Courting Danger

If only he’d taken more care, she wouldn’t be facing her destiny.

Somerset Sinclair vows not to follow in her elder siblings’ footsteps. There will be no marriages or daring rescues of any man carrying Raven blood. Somer has a career, and nothing is about to thwart that.

Sinclair Investigative Services is flourishing.

Everything was going to plan until Professor Cole Alexander Gusford Charlton foolishly stood under a chimney pot. Now there’s an arrogant, handsome man making her heart beat a little faster. A man of Raven blood whose life she saved, and who irritates her into irrational behavior.

Somer is determined to break the pact that bound her family to his. Her heart would remain intact, no matter how hard it was becoming to keep her distance from the professor.

Gus had one passion, his studies. A highly sought-after scholar, he had no room in his life for a woman as infuriatingly opinionated as Somerset Sinclair. She calls him stuffy and refuses to show him the respect he deserves.

Yes, she’d saved his life, but he’d thanked her for that. Now he must forget her and her strange family, and his life will return to normal.

The problem is she has an unusual occupation that throws her headlong into trouble and no one appears worried about that, except him.

When Somer’s investigations turn deadly and the threat to her life real, Gus knows his dreams of an uneventful scholarly existence are in fact empty without her in them. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe. But will Somer fight her destiny or realize that life would be empty without Gus at her side and in her heart.

 

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B099P9C8PQ

Excerpt~

She felt his thudding heart as it matched her own. Strong thighs pressed into her, and the muscled planes of his chest and belly.

“R-Release me.” Somer’s voice was wobbly. “Please.”

He looked behind him, then eased back and away, and Somer tried to breathe. Tried to still the racing of her heart. No man but family had held her like that.

“Are you all right?” His voice was a growl and reminded her of Max when gripped by strong emotions.

“Y-Yes, thank you.”

He was taller this close, and bigger. His shoulders were wide beneath the black of his overcoat. His eyes were gray, darker than James’s, but lighter than Emily’s. Nice eyes, she thought, and what he should use to look where he was going. They were set in an equally pleasing face. Wide cheekbones, a chin that she thought looked stubborn, dark brows and lashes. His skin was tanned, which suggested he did not frequent society, as it was not done to have such coloring. His hair was too long, past his collar, and deep sable brown. Handsome. The little jab of excitement in the pit of her stomach told Somer he was a man worthy of a second look. Not that she’d be looking. There was no time in her life for men.

She drew in another steady breath.

“If I may suggest, sir,” Somer said in a tone that would cut glass, “you need to be more aware when walking through streets filled with people and obstacles, because next time I may not be on hand to save you from a chimney pot knocking you senseless!”

“I have had no trouble until now,” he said, his eyes steady on her face.

“And yet had I not intervened you would be nursing a serious headache or a great deal worse.”

His eyes moved to the shattered pieces of chimney pot.

“Yes, I can see that.”

“You are bleeding.” Somer pulled out her handkerchief and stepped toward him to place it on his cheek.

“’Tis nothing.” He brushed her hand aside and blotted it with the sleeve of his coat.

“Well then,” Somer snapped. She did not like feeling anything but in complete control, and yet right in that moment she was unsettled. He’d held her, and being close to him had made butterflies form in her belly.

Decidedly odd.

“Well then?” He raised a dark brow.

“Say thank you.”

His smile was small but did several disturbing things to his already handsome face. He was looking at her as if she was amusing. A woman and therefore not terribly intelligent, but worth a smile. She’d been the recipient of that look many times in her life and had to say she was still far from impressed by it.

He was dressed as a gentleman of means, Somer thought, eyeing his well-fitted deep-blue jacket and gray trousers beneath the overcoat. The only bright color was from the fine silver stripe in his waistcoat.

He suddenly swept off his hat, then bowed.

“You have my undying gratitude, madam.”

“Is that sarcasm?” Somer frowned. She’d cut her eye teeth on sarcasm, it was a communication tool in her family, but she did not expect it from a man whose life she’d just saved. “Because if it is, I think that’s exceedingly shabby, as I just rescued you from a hideous headache or death. Either deserves a great deal more gratitude.”

Rather than being angry, he looked intrigued.

Somerset Sinclair vows not to follow in her elder siblings’ footsteps. There will be no marriages or daring rescues of any man carrying Raven blood. Somer has a career, and nothing is about to thwart that.

From USA Today Bestseller Wendy Vella comes an exciting Regency series about legend, love and destiny, with a hint of magic …

Amazon

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