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Pity the Duke!

Cairo, 1839

My dear Mr. Clemens,

Our Rambles have taken us to Cairo where we have found  refuge in  Shepheard’s Hotel des Anglais, a tolerable semblance of a civilized hostelry in this exotic outpost. The drinks in the private dining room and outdoor veranda are at least satisfying to the palate and a blessing after heat and sand threaten to choke one.

I digress. As I have throughout our travels, I notice here a tendency of otherwise well-bred English travelers here to throw off the ornaments of their breeding and behave in ways that would shock their peers in London. I am pleased to report that observation does not apply to that illustrious personage, the Duke of Sudbury,  ambassador to the Sultan’s viceroy here. When I observe him arriving and departing Shepheard’s he is always perfectly groomed as befitting and English gentleman.

The duke does strike one as high in the instep, and has haughtily rebuffed attempts to approach him on numerous occasions—but again I digress.

I  have been quite amazed at the number of travelers taking advantage of Waghorn’s Overland Mail to travel from India via Suez. They cross to Cairo via caravan and sail the Nile to embark from Alexandria via steamer. All and sundry pause here at Shepheard’s for a restorative rest. All are generally respectably turned out if dusty from sand and  in need of ablutions.

Imagine my horror this morning when three of Wagner’s latest arrivals  sauntered into the hotel not only in native dress, but filthy. The greater shock, Mr. Clemens, came with recognition. The duke’s own nephew, Richard Mallet was among them. Though  dressed in Arabic garb, and bearing a complexion brown as a native from sun damage, it was he. Piercing blue eyes glared at me from a face so browned by  the  sun as  to  look native. I suspected his identity then. When  he  pulled off his  horrid headdress, the blond  hair, combined with his great  height gave him away.  He  and his companions, one of them a native  woman, were swiftly escorted to  the duke’s suite in  the exclusive upper floor.

Imagine my relief later. My loyal maid has a gift for  befriending local servants, one that has proved valuable at  every stop for gathering information. She tells me that the sister of one of the hotel’s under cooks works in the  home of Doctor Charles Cloutier, the famous French medical director to the viceroy. She recognized Mallet’s companion as Ana Cloutier, the  man’s daughter, and not  some native hussy at all.

My relief was short-lived after some thought. Why would a respectable woman, even a French  one, wear native dress and come to a hotel of this class looking like she had been dragged through the desert for weeks without bathing? Her feet, bare, but for some sort of native shoe, were visible to any man who cared to ogle her ankles.

How, I wondered, could the Duke of Sudbury abide having such a  creature inflicted on his suite?  He must be devistated by his nephew’s disgraceful behavior.

Your devoted correspondent,

Eunice Higgenbloom of Sussex

PS—We have since discovered more peculiar information. My maid’s acquaintance has since discovered that the lady in question cannot possibly be Miss Cloutier for that poor lady is most certainly dead. The reports of her demise come from impeccable sources.

About the Book

Richard Mallet comes to Egypt with dreams of academic glory. He will be the one to unravel the secrets of the ancient Kushite language. Armed with license to dig, he sets out for Meroë, where the Blue Nile meets the White. He has no room in his life for dalliance or entanglements, and he certainly doesn’t expect to face insurrection and unrest.

Analiese Cloutier seeks no glory—only the eradication of disease among the Egyptian women and children of Khartoum. She has no interest whatsoever in romantic nonsense and will not allow notions about a lady’s proper role to interfere with her work. She doesn’t expect to have that work manipulated for political purposes.

Neither expects to be enchanted by the amorous power of moonlight in the ruins of Karnak, or to be forced to marry before they can escape revolution. Will their flight north take them safely to Cairo? If it does, can they build something real out of their shattered dreams?

 

Will she be mine?

Sir Rolf stared across the great hall to the woman who held his affection as she danced across the floor to a lively tune. Her current partner, one of several who had won the honor of a dance at today’s tourney, was of similar age to Lady Lynett. He caught her gaze and a smile spread across her features and gave Rolf hope that he could somehow capture her heart. But others stood in his way, along with the knight who came to stand beside him.

“She will never be yours, Rolf,” Ian MacGillivray murmured as he, too, watched the lady who now frowned whilst she observed them.

“And you think you will win her hand?” Rolf asked knowing full well that Ian had more of an opportunity of marriage with the fair lady than he did. After all, she had been in love with Ian once. “You had your chance years ago before you disappeared to seek your fame.”

“Lynett was young then and at the time I had nothing to offer her. You know that. She is a woman full grown and, now that I have inherited, I am more than suitable to provide a lifestyle that she is accustomed to. What do you have to offer?”

Rolf glanced at Ian. What indeed? Love perchance? He ignored the underlying taunt and returned his attention to the lady. “I was here to dry her tears whilst she mourned that you did not come back for her. Every. Single. Day. That alone should prove my worth, not that I must needs justify anything to you.”

Ian sighed. “We were comrades once… fighting for the same cause. We can put our differences behind us and remain friends. I only have Lynett’s best interest at heart.”

Rolfe scoffed. “And you think I do not share a similar mind as to what is best for the lady?”

“We are both fools,” Ian said with a shake of his head. “Neither of us will have an easy time winning the lady’s love.”

Rolf’s heart lurched in his chest as though Ian’s words held some merit. As the music died down, Lord Dristan motioned towards him. “If you will excuse me, Ian. I have a dance to claim with the fair Lynett.”

Rolfe did not wait for a reply. Instead, he went to the woman he wished to wed with all his heart. If this was the only time he would ever hold her in his arms, so be it. He would enjoy this moment to cherish for the rest of his lifetime.


This is an original piece from Belle Sherry Ewing for her medieval romance A Knight To Call My Own. Read on to learn more about this bestselling novel.

A Knight To Call My Own:
The MacLarens: A Medieval Romance (Book Two)
By Sherry Ewing

Excerpt:

Lynet should have expected this to happen when she had stated she would stay with him. But nothing in her score of years had prepared her for the sensation of her very first kiss as a woman full grown. She would have thought such a momentous event would send her heart flipping end over end, but ’twas further from the truth than she cared to admit, even unto herself. Although mildly pleasant, such a kiss as this did not make her want to profess her undying love to the knight who would offer her everything she desired if she could but learn to love him.

Perchance, she did not put enough effort into such an endeavor, for how was she to know how this kissing business was accomplished, having only experienced it once afore as a young girl with Ian, haphazard and brief as that had been. She took a step closer. Rolf must have taken this as a sign of encouragement. He deepened their kiss, and Lynet quickly became aware of two startling revelations. For one, Rolf had far more experience than she herself did when it came to kissing and certainly knew what he was doing. The second was far more disappointing to her peace of mind. She abruptly realized, if they were to marry, she would be settling into a relationship where they may have found a common accord, but Lynet would never truly love him deep within her heart. They both deserved much better than such a fate as that.

“I hope we’re not interrupting…” an annoyed voice called out from behind her.

Shame flooded through her, down to her very toes, as they swiftly broke apart. To be caught in such a compromising position such as this and by him, of all people! She turned to see none other than Ian himself making his way up the last of the parapet steps, followed closely by her brother Aiden, who strode menacingly towards Rolf with a clenched fist.

“I should call you out for taking advantage of my sister!” Aiden bellowed, wedging himself between her and Rolf. “What the devil were you thinking to touch her so?” Rolf threw both his hands up, obviously not willing to fight her brother in front of her.

“’Tis wretchedly obvious he was not thinking at all, Aiden,” Ian drawled, taking her elbow. “Come, Lynet. I will escort you to your chambers.”

“Nay! I will go nowhere with you, Ian,” she professed in embarrassment whilst trying to wrench her arm free with little success.

Aiden whirled around, glaring at her ’til she snapped her mouth shut. “You will go with Ian to your chambers. You have enough to worry about in the coming days with all the rabble outside our gates vying for your hand and should get your rest whilst you may,” her brother ordered. He made sure his words were abundantly clear, giving evidence he was not pleased with her behavior.

Her emotions torn between the three men, she watched as Aiden made to usher Rolf from the battlement wall. ’Twas clear her brother had no qualm about leaving her alone with Ian. But she knew otherwise and what this could mean to her already tattered heart. Ian was by far more dangerous to her wellbeing.

“Rolf,” she called, stepping towards him although Ian’s grip kept her from getting any closer to him. “I will see you on the morrow.” He gave her the briefest of nods as acknowledgement afore leaving with Aiden, who continued his lecture as they did so.

Lynet stood in silence as she watched the turret door shut with a resounding slam. She made the blunder of looking up into Ian’s stormy face once they were alone. His visage was furious with possibly a hint of jealousy hidden in the depths of his eyes. ’Twas hard to tell what the man was pondering inside his head, but she knew she would not have to wait long afore he spoke his mind. When he did, it caused her to inwardly cringe.

“You will not meet with him by yourself again, Lynet.” He enunciated each word with clenched teeth, giving confirmation to the anger he was holding in check. “Do I make myself clear?”

Her own rage exploded to the surface like blinding, white-hot lightning. “Who do you think you are that you assume you can just order me about and tell me what to do?” Courage to stand up for herself raced through Lynet, for she would not let him see how he affected her so. Her reckless and traitorous heart skipped a beat with his nearness. Damn the man’s soul to hell. How she hated him!

“I will tell you who I am, lass. I am the man you will forever bow down to and call husband come the end of these games,” he roared ferociously, like a wounded animal.

“I will neither bow down to you, nor any other man, you worthless cur,” she shouted right back at him.

Ian grabbed her arms, giving her a shake ’til she felt her teeth rattle. “You will submit to me, you stubborn woman. Do you not even realize when you have met your match?”

She lifted her head at him with narrowed eyes. “Aye, as a matter of fact, I do, for he just left with my brother!”

“He is only the captain of your guard, Lynet. He has no right to lay claim to you as his future bride,” Ian retorted hotly, “nor to steal your kisses in the moonlight.”

“That did not stop you from loving my sister when the same held true of your position. What makes you think you are a better man than Rolf to hold my affection, or that you can do a finer job of kissing me? I enjoyed his lips on mine and will kiss him anytime I should choose to do so,” she snickered, tossing him a defiant glare that all too quickly fell from her features. With one glance upon him, she might as well have slapped his face, considering the look he gave her. She knew she had pushed him too far.

He said not another word, but made fast work of guiding her down from the lofty parapet walkway. Her slippered feet barely touched the coldness of the stones beneath her, so rapid was their hasty decent down the turret stairs. When they came to the portal of her chamber, Ian backed her up against the solid wood with his arms resting on either side of her, as he had done but recently. There was no escaping him.

They stood, just the two of them, listening to the crackling sound of the lit torches in the passageway. Far more troubling to her way of thinking was her heaving chest as she attempted to gain her breath. She could no longer stand her submissive stance of looking down at her feet, so she raised her eyes to meet his.

When would she stop making such stupid decisions as actually looking at the man, not that she had anywhere else to gaze, given his close proximity. The firelight from the torches in the wall sconces brought out the red of his hair. She would have sighed at the sight of it, but would not give him the gratification. His heavy lidded, hazel eyes took on a light of their own and seemed to search into her very soul. She gulped and watched a gleam enter those knowing orbs whilst a discerning grin formed on his mouth. A mouth that was rapidly closing the distance between them!

“Do not dare─”

Her words were cut off as his mouth quickly took possession of her own, for possess her he did, with just the slightest first brush of his lips. She gasped when a turbulent wave of searing heat radiated throughout her entire body. But, such a profound encounter only allowed him to further plunder her senses as his tongue began to frolic with her own. Sweet Jesus, what in the world is he doing to me?

She felt his hands cup her face ’til he tilted her head, allowing him better access to her mouth. An unexpected moan escaped her. ’Twas, apparently, what he had wanted to hear from her. The sound surely only confirmed his own damn suspicions that she had told a lie when speaking of the effect of Rolf’s kiss. She was certain such a revelation pleased him.

His hands began a slow descent as they roamed down her back ’til he cupped her bottom, bringing her up hard against his solid frame. She quaked in response to such intimacy between them. Her shock did not stop his arm from winding around her waist, keeping her firmly in place as he continued to devour her last shreds of reality. The disbelief of feeling his firmly muscled body pressed up against her own sent any sense of prudence to remain indifferent to him fleeing from her mind. How could one keep a hold on any form of rationality when all she could suddenly feel was the unmistakable form of his manhood pressed intimately against her?

She was lost, and she unexpectedly cared not. Nay… all she could recognize in her feeble attempts to remain level headed was the fact that any control of the situation she may have had up to this point had vanished as soon as Ian had kissed her. Her arms made their way up and around his neck to playfully finger his shoulder length hair. She mimicked what he was doing to her mouth, letting him teach her what he liked. She must have done something right, for she heard his own groan of pleasure whilst he tightened his grip upon her.

About A Knight To Call My Own:

When your heart is broken, is love still worth the risk?

Lynet of clan MacLaren knows how it feels to love someone and not have that love returned. After waiting for six long years, she has given up hope of Ian’s return. Her brother-in-law, the Devil’s Dragon of Berwyck, is tired of waiting for her to choose a husband and has decided a competition for the right to wed Lynet is just the thing his willful charge needs to force her hand.

Ian MacGillivray has returned to Berwyck Castle in search of a bride and who better than the young girl who cared for him all those years ago. But Lynet is anything but an easy conquest and he will need more than charm to win her hand in marriage.

From the English borders to the Highlands of Scotland, the chase is on for who will claim the fair Lynet. The price paid will indeed be high to ensure her safety and even higher to win her love.

Buy Links:

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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!

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A Fall from Grace

Gentle reader,

I have it on good authority, from Lady Merwick, who heard it from her sister, Lady Karstark, that the wedding between the Duke of Wildeforde and Lady Amelia Crofton is off!

Rumor has it that Lady Amelia—the former diamond of the ton, the incomparable—was caught in a compromising position with the son of a footman.

There are conflicting reports as to whether or not the circumstances were more innocent than they appeared, but we all know how strongly opposed to the duke is to scandal. Apparently, he took one look at the half-dressed couple and ended his 15-year long engagement on the spot. Perhaps Lady Amelia should have tried harder to get him down the aisle before now.

Things appear to get be getting even worse for Lady Amelia, as little birdies tell me that her only remaining choice is to marry this Mister Benedict Asterly. Little is known about the other man in the story, except for the fact that he works in a factory. Talk about a fall from grace—from a future duchess to the wife of a man who has to *shudder*undertake manual labor for a living.

It is unlikely we’ll hear more from the former society diamond, for she doesn’t even have a house full of servants for secrets to trickle out from and surely no one of good breeding will visit her now.

About the book

In this whirlwind regency romance, perfect for fans of Netflix’s Bridgerton, a near-death experience leads to a marriage of convenience for two unsuspecting strangers, but will their unusual meeting lead them to true love?

Lady Amelia was raised to be the perfect duchess, accomplished in embroidery, floral arrangement, and managing a massive household. But when an innocent mistake forces her and the uncouth, untitled Benedict Asterly into a marriage of convenience, all her training appears to be for naught. Even worse, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to this man no finishing school could have prepared her for.

Benedict Asterly never dreamed saving Amelia’s life would lead to him exchanging vows with the hoity society miss. Benedict was taught to distrust the aristocracy at a young age, so when news of his marriage endangers a business deal, Benedict is wary of Amelia’s offer to help. But his quick-witted, elegant bride defies all his expectations . . . and if he’s not careful, she’ll break down the walls around his guarded heart.

Buy links: https://linktr.ee/samaraparish

About the Author

As an Australian army brat in the ‘80s, Samara grew up moving from city to city—always with plenty of book boxes (to the movers’ annoyance). Romance novels have been a big part of her life for years. She used them as her ‘escape’ during the trials and tribulations that are working, dating, and living in your 20s before going on to write them in her 30s.

She is now living in Canberra with her husband (a true romance hero) and her menagerie of pets. When she’s not writing, she’s tending to her absurdly large garden, which is a challenge given she historically could not keep a cactus alive.

You can follow her adventures through her newsletter (sign up and you get a free novelette) and on social media.

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An Excerpt from Chapter 1

Benedict Asterly kicked in the door to the Longmans’ empty farmhouse. Despite the crash of splintered wood, the chit slung over his shoulder was as silent as a sack of last season’s grain.

Lady Amelia Bloody Crofton. Half dead, soon to be all dead if he couldn’t warm her up.

He lowered her onto the cold, uneven stone floor before the fireplace.

Damnation. There was no fog of breath, no flicker of pulse, no sign of life at all.

He’d almost ridden past the snow-covered carriage in his effort to get out of the storm. He’d been an idiot for traveling in this kind of weather but apparently not the only idiot on the road.

Why the devil was an earl’s daughter alone in a carriage all the way out here?

He pressed two fingers against her neck. Nothing. He pressed harder.

Th-thump…th-thump. It was faint. It was slow and erratic. But it was there.

Thank God.

He sagged with relief. The ropes around his chest, that had drawn tight the moment he’d seen her pale and unconscious, loosened.

He turned to the hearth and struck flint into the brush with shaking fingers. The scrape, scrape, scrape of steel on stone faint against the howl of the wind.

It caught, and he began the methodical task of building a fire. With each carefully placed stack, his racing heartbeat slowed..

Behind him, Lady Amelia muttered.

“I’m here. I’m with you.” He turned back to the woman who’d previously declined to acknowledge his existence. After all, a man like him was beneath her notice.

He tossed aside the coarse traveling coat he’d thrown over her and removed her gloves and pelisse, struggling with the weight of her ragdoll body.

Bloody hell she was cold.

How long had she been trapped in that broken-down carriage? At least she’d had the good sense not to leave it.

He took her soft hands in his calloused ones, bringing them to his lips, but his breath did little to warm them.

Unbuttoning the cuffs of her sleeves and rolling the fabric up her arms, he exposed as much of her bare skin to the seeping warmth as he could. Her skin was more than pale. It had a blue pallor that caused his heart to skitter.

“Just stay with me. Please.”

In a cupboard by the bed, he found some blankets. He pulled a knife from his boot to cut a piece and wrap the ends of her sodden blond hair. The rest he tucked behind her head and shoulders.

He untied the laces on her ankle boots and pulled the boots off, pausing at the sight of her stockings.

They were cold and damp. They needed to come off too. But a footman’s son had no place touching a lady. And this particular lady? The ice princess would skewer him with the poker if she knew what he was contemplating.

He turned his head aside, giving her all the modesty he could as he reached his hands under her skirts, fumbling with the ribbon of her garter.

“I’m sorry.” She couldn’t hear him, but just saying the words made him feel less of a cad.

He tugged the dark wool off her toes. The skin was red and like wax to touch—but it was only frostnip, not yet frostbite.

“You mustn’t…giant calling.” Her words were so slurred he struggled to understand them.

“I’ll bear that in mind, princess.”

Feeling was slowly returning to his body, if not warmth. He covered Lady Amelia in his coat and then staggered to the bench that ran along the edge of the room. There was a kettle filled with water, sloshy and semi-frozen.

He dumped a small amount of tea inside, grabbed two mugs with his other hand and staggered back to the fire.

The intensifying flame was the best damn thing he’d ever seen.

He hung the kettle from an iron hook and turned back to his biggest problem.

She couldn’t stay on the floor.

There was a large, worn armchair in the corner. He moved it in front of the hearth, as close as he dared. What she needed was heat—and fast—but the fire hadn’t taken a chink out of the bitter shroud of the room.

There was one thing he could do, but damn she was going to flay him alive when she woke. He took off his jacket, pulled his shirt over his head, and picked her up off the floor.

He settled into the armchair, holding her against his naked chest, his bare arms resting along the length of hers. His body heat had to work.

The cold air was whiplike against his skin, and goose bumps covered his arms.

Think warm thoughts. A steam engine furnace. A hot bath. A warm brick under his bed sheets. A warm woman under his bed sheets…

He looked down at the chit on his lap. Lady Amelia Crofton. Diamond of the ton. Leader of the fashionable set. Cold as the ice shards on the window. And Wildeforde’s bloody fiancée. Damn, this was a mess.

Regret is a terrible thing!

Lord Nicholas Lacey heard his wife’s tears even before he reached their bedroom door. Rushing inside, Grace was hunched over on their bed. Her grief more than evident whilst her crying broke his heart.

“My darling…” he murmured before gathering her in his arms. “Whatever has you so distressed?”

“It’s all my fault!” she mumbled against his shoulder while her arms swung around his neck in a fierce embrace.

“Certainly not, Gracie,” he replied as his hands took her cheeks in his palms. He kissed them both before taking a moment to wipe the tears from her face. “Tell me what’s happened.”

“Oh Nicholas!” she replied before picking up the newsprint she had thrown onto the floor. “It’s all here in that dreadful Teatime Tattler.”

He gave a heavy sigh before he took the crumbled paper in his hands. Smoothing it out, he began to read whilst a frown formed on his brow.

Gentle Readers:

This just in from our Faithful Correspondent at the Queen’s Barque in Fenwick on Sea!

Who was the fashionable damsel who entered the inn looking like a drenched field mouse, with no one else to give her countenance but her maid? None other but Miss d.C. 

Dedicated readers of The Teatime Tattler will be familiar with the escapades of this particular young miss. She has been a frequent piece of tittle-tattle in previous editions, barely escaping ruination in the past several years. There is sure to be a bit of excitement while she is stuck here.

Which of the several eligible peers also stranded at the inn will she set her cap on? We will just have to wait and see. Knowing her past, anything is possible. Stay tuned for further developments.

Their eyes met and worry etched itself across Grace’s lovely features. “This is hardly your fault, my dear,” Nicholas said.

“I should have gone with her but I thought Miranda would be fine for the short trip down the coast. She had my maid with her and…” she began.

“…you were unwell,” he reminded her whilst he finished her words.

“But I should have known trouble would follow her whilst she travelled to see her friend.”

“You could hardly predict the weather that caused her delay, my love. Miranda will survive this as surely as she has survived all her past indiscretions.”

“Are you sure?” she asked, her lower lip quivered whilst she attempted to keep her emotions from bubbling over again.

His wife appeared so helpless and he couldn’t stand to see her this way. He gave her a bright smile before kissing her lips. “Trust me, Grace. Miranda has more lives than a cat. She’ll survive this and come out the better for it. Just wait and see.”


This is an original piece by Belle Sherry Ewing. Miss Miranda de Courtenay was previously seen in A Kiss For Charity and The Earl Takes A Wife. She will now get her happily ever after in Before I Found You that is in the Bluestocking Belles’ next box set Storm & Shelter.

Excerpt from Before I Found You: A de Courtenay Novella (Book Three):

“You look as though you belong here, Miranda.” That voice broke into her musings, causing a shiver of pleasure to race throughout her body. His tone was gentle. Might Jasper still care for her? God help me.

She turned to face him and realized he was closer than she thought. Her breath caught in her throat before she finally answered him. “Do I?” she asked hesitantly, before she shrugged. “I never seem to really fit in anywhere.”

“Maybe you’re just looking in all the wrong places.” His solemn expression seemed genuinely concerned. Miranda’s determination to have a titled man as her husband waned in Jasper’s presence. It troubled her, and at the same time she felt guilty. Wasn’t she being untrue to herself?

“Perhaps,” she replied, quietly. She would concede that something inside her was changing. She wasn’t sure if she cared for the changes or not, but she couldn’t stand to see the hurt she might cause this man once again reflected in his eyes.

A few locks of her hair whisked across her face and Jasper reached out to tuck the length behind her ear. “Miranda—”

“I must apologize if my presence has made you uncomfortable, Jasper. I tried to persuade Grace to pick me up after they were done here,” she interrupted. She gestured at the planks beneath her feet. “As you can see, I failed.”

“You are more than welcome onboard. But you’re not remaining in London?” The ship chose that moment to sway and, before Miranda’s stance could falter, Jasper took hold of her elbow to steady her. Her heart betrayed her yet again when he placed her hand into the crook of his arm to offer his support.

“No, I’m afraid not. Nicholas has purchased a cottage on the coast at Cromer in Norfolk. I’m to accompany them and their children while they look the place over and furnish it. It’s part of my punishment for past offenses, I suppose. I’d rather not go into the details.”

“Spending time with your family hardly seems like punishment, Miranda.”

“I’m glad you haven’t heard the gossip surrounding me the past few years. Elsewise, you’d be like the rest of the ton and stay away from me at all costs. I’m only really accepted among them because of Grace and Adrian.”

He pulled her to face him and lifted her chin. “We may not have known one another for long, but you must know I’m not cut from the same mold as most of society. I’ve lived by my own rules, and, while I try to remain the gentleman my parents raised me to be, I don’t mind taking a risk now and then.”

“Like at the ball?” she asked, trying to keep her nerves calm.

“Yes. I thought you also didn’t mind occasionally dismissing the convention of men and women of their ilk since you decided to dance with me.”

She thought of how a foolish bet with Grace had almost been the ruin of her reputation at Hollystone Hall. A laugh escaped her. “If you only knew…”

“Perhaps one day you shall confide in me. I promise to keep your secrets.” His grin was completely wicked, and another piece of her heart melted.

“I just may hold you to your vow, Jasper,” she teased, her eyes twinkling in merriment while they jested with one another.


Storm & Shelter:
A Bluestocking Belles Collection with Friends

When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.

Before I Found You Blurb:

Miss Miranda de Courtenay has only one goal in life: to find a rich husband who can change her status from Miss to My Lady. But when a handsome stranger crosses her path at a Valentine’s Day ball, her obsession with titles dims. Might love be enough?

Captain Jasper Rousseau has no plans to become infatuated during a chance encounter at a ball. He has a new ship to run, passengers to book, and cargo to deliver. But one look into a young lady’s beautiful hazel eyes, and he becomes lost. Does love at first sight really exist?

Their paths continue to cross until they are both stranded in Fenwick on Sea. Their growing connection is hard to dismiss, despite Miranda’s childish quest for a title at all cost. But what if the cost includes love?

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About 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!

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Serious Skulduggery at the Queen’s Barque

Our readers will be aware that, due to the recent storm and floods, a great variety of strangers have been trapped in Fenwick-on-Sea, especially at the Queen’s Barque Inn. Among the rife scandal and gossip, we now have reason to believe, greater skulduggery is afoot..

We recently reported on the startling physical similarity of one shipwrecked guest, Mrs. Simon, to the heiress Miss Letitia Lovell. We can now reveal that Mr. Kent, the heiress’s maternal uncle and guardian, has been seen in the neighborhood of the inn, along with his son, who, in the past, has claimed an “understanding” with his cousin, Miss Lovell.

Is this coincidence? Or are the Kents in pursuit of a runaway? Are the supposed Mr. and Mrs. Simon even married? Has the mysterious Mr. Simon, who was observed enjoying a pint of ale in the company of Mr. Kent, been, in vulgar parlance, “bought off” by the lady’s legal guardian? Is there a tug-of-war for the young lady’s safety and well-being? Or for her fortune?

All will surely be revealed in the coming days.

Those Bluestocking Belles are investigating our reporter!

Since your Teatime Tattler has been able to report doings in Fenwick on Sea, authors have offered a reward for someone who unmasks our reporter!

Enter to win.

Correctly identify the reporter and be entered to win a $100 gift card and other great prizes. There are details amd instructions for entering here: https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/storm-shelter/wanted-the-snooping-teatime-tattler-reporter/

About the Book

Eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas, one horrific storm!

When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

A Bluestocking Belles and Friends Collection

CLICK for links to various retailers

An Improbable Hero: Mary Lancaster

A runaway heiress, a mysterious stranger.

When Letty’s ship founders in a violent storm, she forges a rare bond with her rescuer.

Simon is a troubled man on a final, deadly mission—until the spirited yet soothing Letty makes him question everything. Hiding in plain sight among the refugees at The Queen’s Barque, Simon is more than capable of protecting them both. But when the floods recede, can either of them say goodbye?

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