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Tag: historical suspense

The Dias Imposter

Fazenda Oliveira, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, 1872

Join me behind the slightly ajar larder door as I spy on two Fazenda Oliveira kitchen maids discussing their new colleague.

The Fazenda

Celina wiped her hands on her apron and glanced over her shoulder toward the kitchen entrance. Thinking they were alone, she turned back and smirked at Estela across the large kitchen worktable. “This new maid is going to be trouble for sure. Have you noticed how all the men simper when she’s around? Where on earth did they find her?”

Estela waggled her eyebrows. “Well, she’s supposed to be old Adriana Dias’s niece raised in the Falkland Islands.”

Celina frowned. “Where?”

“You know. The Islas Malvinas. The Falklands, as the English call the islands now.”

“Uh-huh.” Celina snorted and winked at Estela. “If she’s Adriana’s niece, then I’m Imperador Dom Pedro Segundo’s lady, Princess of the Two Sicilies, Teresa Cristina herself! A red-haired, green-eyed Dias? Such a thing does not exist.”

The Coffee Plantation

“True.” Estela spread her arms in an imitation of grace and poise. “If she’s a Dias, I am Senhora Consuelo, Monarch of Fazenda Oliveira. All must bow to before me.”

Celina lifted her wooden spoon like a scepter. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Senhora.”

“And yours, Imperadora.” Estela’s curtsey dragged the hem of her skirt against the floor.

A serious expression replaced the mirth in Celina’s eyes. “Silliness aside, have you listened to her accent? She doesn’t speak like anyone I’ve ever heard, not even the English gentleman who visited last month. Grew up around the English? I do not think so.”

“Well,” Estela replied, “I heard that she just appeared at Adriana and Ricardo’s house. Popped up out of nowhere. One day it was just the two of them, the next they had a niece. No one seems to know how she got here.”

“Really? She’s a strange one for certain.” Leaning over the table, Celina continued in a whisper, “Have you noticed the way the young master looks at her? She better watch out there.”

“Why?” Estela’s voice held a note of indignation. “Senhor Gustavo is so handsome and rich and nice.”

Celina raised her brow and tilted her head. “He may be beautiful to behold, but be wary. Have you not heard the story of why he was sent away for all those years?” Estela shook her head and stretched closer to Celina, who continued, “Rumor says he got one the maids with child and then killed her out of fear that Old Dragon Lady Consuelo would disinherit him for consorting with a peasant.”

A pink glow crept across Estela’s cheeks. “I can’t believe Senhor Gustavo could do such a terrible thing. He’s always been kind and polite to me.”

“That’s because you look like a cow.” Celina pursed her lips. “Believe me. If you looked like this Maria, you would have much to fear.”

Estela scowled. “As if you look so much better. You’re just a jealous cow yourself. Senhor Gus would not hurt a dog, much less kill someone.”

“So you believe, but what I know is that the girl disappeared. When her family came looking for her, they were sent away under threat from Consuelo.”

“That doesn’t mean the girl’s dead.”

“Perhaps.” Celina straightened up and placed a fist on each hip. “What I know for certain is this. We already have enough Oliveira bastards littering the ground and Senhora Consuelo is determined there will be no more. This Maria will be trouble. You can count on it!”

About the Book

Set during the aftermath of the American Civil War, Confederado do Norte tells the story of Mary Catherine, a child torn from her war devastated home in Georgia and thrust into the primitive Brazilian interior where the young woman she becomes must learn to recreate herself in order to survive.

October, 1866.
Mary Catherine is devastated when her family emigrates from Georgia to Brazil because her father and maternal uncle refuse to accept the terms of Reconstruction following the Confederacy’s defeat. Shortly after arrival in their new country, she is orphaned, leaving her in Uncle Nathan’s care. He hates Mary Catherine, blaming her for his sister’s death. She despises him because she believes Nathan murdered her father. When Mary Catherine discovers Nathan’s plan to be rid of her as well, she flees into the mountain wilderness filled with jaguars and equally dangerous men. Finding refuge among kind peasants, she grows into a beauty, ultimately attracting the attention of the scion of a wealthy Portuguese family. Happiness and security seem within reach until civil unrest brings armed marauders who have an inexplicable connection to Mary Catherine. Recreating herself has protected Mary Catherine in the past, but this new crisis will demand all of the courage, intelligence, and creativity she possesses simply to survive.

Buy it on Amazon


I dreamt the dream again last night. In the small hours, I awoke in a tumble of bedclothes and bathed in perspiration despite the howling snowstorm blanketing the city. I rearranged quilts and plumped pillows, but sleep remained elusive. My mind refused to be quiet.

As often happens after such a night, I felt unable to rise at my usual hour and remained abed long after the maids cleared breakfast from the morning room. My daughter-in-law, bless her heart, meant well. I told her it was ridiculous to bring the doctor out on such a frigid day, but apparently the very old, like the very young, are not to be trusted in matters of judgment. After the doctor listened to my chest, a studied sympathy filled his eyes and he gently suggested that perhaps I should get my affairs in order. No doubt he wondered at my smile for he couldn’t have known I have no affairs other than my memories and the emotions they engender.

Unlike most elderly persons, I don’t revel in slogging through the past. It isn’t wrapped in pretty ribbons or surrounded by a golden aura. Instead, its voices haunt my dreams, demanding and accusatory. Until recently, I’ve resisted their intrusion into my waking life, but I now believe the past can no longer remain buried in nocturnal visions. It must be brought out into the light of day. From its earliest moments onward, the past’s substance must be gouged out, pulled apart, and examined bit by bit until its truth is exposed. While total objectivity may not be possible, I have concluded that committing the past to paper is my best hope for sorting facts from imaginings. Perhaps then I will achieve the peace that has so long hidden its face from me.

You see, when I was quite young—only a girl really—I killed four people. Two were dearly beloved, one was a hated enemy, and the last was a dangerous criminal.

About the Author

Linda has been in love with the past for as long as she can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws her in. She supposes it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on her grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into her work.

As for her venture in writing, she has this to say. “Writing has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself, ‘Let’s pretend.’ ”

Linda resides in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

“History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire  

Twitter: @LindaPennell
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Mr. Clemens Requests

Gentle Readers and Erstwhile Contributors,
We are filled with Gratitude at the response you have given to our Humble Efforts to bring facts and stories of Interest and Entertainment to the people of London.

The response from people of All Stations has been gratifying to say the least. We hope to continue for many years to come. To that end I wish to announce that our Little Paper has openings for Discerning Contributors of all types. We would welcome new contributors as well as added contributions from those who have joined us in the past. We are always looking for:

  • Purloined letters that may interest the Reading Public
  • Opinion pieces on the Fancies and Foibles of high society
  • News that otherwise might go unreported about the Private Lives of the poor and the prominent.
  • Instructive stories whose morals might serve as admonition to the unwary

As well as (dare I say it) items of a more salacious and titilating nature. Be it noted that those who contribute may also provide our readers with exciting news about their books as well.

Should any of you have an interest in making such a contribution, kindly contact me**. Should you wish instead to seek the advice of our most excellent Aunt Augusta (and receive mention of your book title) there is a form for that as well.

I Remain etc etc



Samuel Clemens, Printer, of London

**Mr. Clemens had deputized this work to staff. If you wish to participate kindly send three Wednesday dates, your name and writer name, and book title to

The Teatime Tattler recommends the virtues of Prudence

rolinda-sharples-clifton-assembly-room1The Season is off to an excellent, if early, start. Lady S., daughter-in-law of the Duke of W. must be delighted with the attendance at her soirée, though perhaps less than pleased with the behaviour of some.

While this year’s crop of debutantes has not yet been served up to the marriage mart, those remaining from previous seasons were in eager attendance, every mother hoping to steal a march on all the others in attracting the attention of wealthy or titled bachelors or widowers with a mind to wed, while avoiding fortune hunters and those with more sinister intentions.

In corners of the main reception rooms, the powerful decided the disposition of whatever pawns they controlled: brokering treaties between nations, political parties, trading enterprises, families, or potential marriage partners, depending on the interests of the negotiating parties.

brummellBut the affairs of the great are far from the only business conducted at such an event, and last night was no exception.

In rooms set up for the purpose, gentlemen and ladies with a yen for such things offered up the evening to fate represented by the turn of a card.

In the ballroom, fashionable gentlemen eyed one another in the endless struggle for elevation in the eyes of those they are pleased to call friends, while those more given to energetic pursuits danced or stood in small groups discussing horses or hunting or pugilistic exploits.

Ladies spoke sweet flatteries to one another’s faces and shredded appearances and reputations behind one another’s backs. Maidens sought husbands, wives sought lovers, poor widows sought protectors, and wealthy widows amusement. Everywhere, couples—as they have since the beginning of time—bargained for affection: temporary or bound by vows before a cleric; some under the eyes of stern chaperones and others in less well-lit corners on the dance floor or the chilly terrace.

In small darkened rooms throughout the mansion, those desiring a tryst found a few moments of privacy. Among them, we are assured, was Lord S. himself and also his son, Lord E., who was seen to absent himself from public places on two separate occasions, each time with a different companion.

Our informants also observed Lady G., the duke’s spinster daughter, meeting with a much younger man who is believed to have been Mr. W., widely rumoured to be the unclaimed and unwanted base-born son of the Duke of H.

One can hardly imagine that a lady of such pristine reputation would be indulging in an amorous encounter, but that leaves only the possibility that she is employing Mr. W. in his capacity of thief-taker. Has her ladyship lost a valuable item, perhaps? Is she acting on behalf of Lady S. to investigate the activities of her brother or nephew? Or both? We will watch developments and keep you informed.

As if that were not enough, Mr. W. and an unidentified woman, possibly one of the army of companions in attendance on various matrons, were involved in the most shocking event of the evening. They combined to effect a rescue of a foolish damsel who allowed herself to be enviegled into one of the aforementioned private rooms.

maidenOne would expect a maiden in her second season to show more sense than to respond to a note from a man, and certainly the girl’s protectors to display more awareness of their charge’s whereabouts. Was the title ‘Earl’ a lure that caused her and her chaperone to cast discretion and rational thought to the wind?

We could have advised the young lady that this particular earl has been known to ruin and abandon foolish young women who go apart in his company. His recent ascent to the title on his father’s death has clearly not changed his character.

Fortunately for the damsel, the man (we hesitate to call him a gentleman) was interrupted in his evil pursuit, and she was delivered intact, having had a salutary scare, to Lady G., a well-known defender of the innocent. And her own family name and fortune mean that any sanctions against her from the arbiters of social standing will be mild.

As for the Earl in question, we are assured that he has been banned from ever entering the household again. And where Lady S. leads can other hostesses be slow to follow?

Yes, the Season is off to an exciting start indeed!


The Sutton soirée is the scene of the first chapter in Jude’s new historical mystery, Revealed in Mist, currently available on pre-order and to be released early in December. Mr. W. and the unnamed companion appeared in The Prisoners of Wyvern Castle, a novella in Hand-Turned Tales, as the rescuers of the blind earl and his countess who were the hero and heroine of that novella. You may also have met them (as David Wakefield and his mysterious woman partner) investigating a crime for the hero of Farewell to Kindness.

Their pasts could bring them together or separate them forever

revealed-in-mist-smallPrue’s job is to uncover secrets, but she hides a few of her own. When she is framed for murder and cast into Newgate, her one-time lover comes to her rescue. Will revealing what she knows help in their hunt for blackmailers, traitors, and murderers? Or threaten all she holds dear?

Enquiry agent David solves problems for the ton, but will never be one of them. When his latest case includes his legitimate half-brothers as well as the woman who left him months ago, he finds the past and the circumstances of his birth difficult to ignore. Danger to Prue makes it impossible.


Revealed in Mist is on pre-order at most eretailers. Sadly, not on Amazon, since Jude is in Amazon jail for getting the final version of Gingerbread Bride to them two days late, only eight days before release. Circumstances beyond Jude’s control doesn’t cut it with the Amazon guards, so no pre-order. But if you want the book in Kindle format, pre-order from Smashwords, iBooks, or Barnes and Noble, or follow Jude on Amazon for an email the day the book goes live.

Smashwords * iBooks * Barnes and Noble * Follow me on Amazon

About Jude Knight

Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.

Website and blog * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Email

Interview with the spy’s husband

park-444223_1920The newest correspondent for The Teatime Tattler is masked, but the mask cannot disguise the youth of her voice or the slenderness of her form. Still, who better to interview a viscount about his life and his love, than a lady? The predictable, thrifty, chivalrous hero from Barbara Devlin’s book My Lady, The Spy takes the seat beside her in the park, as arranged.

Anonymous interviewer for The Teatime Tattler: What is your full name?

Viscount Wainsbrough: Dirk Henry Archibald Randolph, Viscount Wainsbrough.

TTT: Do you have a nickname?

VW: My brother calls me His Dullship of Wainsbrough, though I take issue with his characterization.  What Rebecca calls me is between my wife and I.

TTT: What is one word that best describes you?

VW: Honorable.

TTT: You don’t elaborate much, do you?

VW: I exercise economy in all things.

TTT: Describe what you are wearing now to our readers.

VW: Buckskin breeches, a white shirt sans cravat, a dark green hacking jacket, and highly polished Hessians.

TTT: Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

VW: I do not believe I am as stodgy as Ms. Devlin thinks, and I suspect my wife would agree with my assessment.

TTT: What makes you laugh out loud?

VW: I am not one to engage in frivolous jollity.

TTT: What is your favorite dessert?

VW: Rebecca, my wife.

TTT: What is your favorite drink?

VW: Brandy.

TTT: What is your greatest fear?

VW: That Rebecca might be recalled into service for the Counterintelligence Corps.

TTT: What is your favorite color?

VW: In truth, I have no such partiality, but Rebecca believes I favor burgundy, which was my father’s preference.  It is a longstanding joke in my family.

TTT: What do you wear when you go to sleep?

VW: That is between my wife and I.

TTT: What is the perfect romantic date?

VW: Ah, Ms. Devlin explained that a date refers to a private event, of sorts, with a lady, and that is an easy answer.  Anything involving my wife.  Beyond that, my needs are simple.

TTT: How ticklish are you? Where are you ticklish?

VW: I am immune to such childish antics.

TTT: What’s your favourite smell?

VW: I adore Rebecca’s lavender water.

TTT: What does it remind you of?

VW: Why, my wife, of course.

TTT: When you look at a woman what catches your interest?

VW: The only woman who holds my attention is Rebecca, and I love her brown eyes.  She is the only woman I have any interest in touching or having touch me.

TTT: Do you have somebody in your life now?

VW: Rebecca is my life.

TTT: What is one word that best describes her?

VW: Incomparable.

TTT: Is your book part of a series?

VW: It is the second in the Brethren of the Coast series.

TTT: What does the future hold for the readers of the series?

VW: Each member of the Brethren has a story, and some have yet to be told.  I believe Damian’s story, The Duke Wears Nada, debuts in January 2017, and I am anxiously awaiting that one, as he is long overdue for his comeuppance.

Barbara says: It’s truly an honor to join the Bluestocking Belles, and I’ve enjoyed introducing one of my favorite characters, the hero from my second book, My Lady, The Spy, which draws heavily on my previous career as a police officer, as well as my personal experiences with undercover work.  Enjoy!


Excerpt of My Lady, The Spy, Brethren of the Coast book II

barabra-devlin-book-coverThe Descendants
April, 1811

Death came in a matter of seconds, and it chose a beautiful, star-filled night.  In the silver glow of moonlight, the blood staining the front of her peach silk gown, and oozing between her fingers, appeared black as soot from a chimney.

“Oh, Colin.  I am so sorry.”  Voices echoed in the distance, and L’araignee peered into the darkness to check the vicinity.  “I never should have left you alone.”

Amid the blooming rose bushes heralding the advent of spring, the renewal of life, another life had ended.  The head cradled in her lap had once sported a boyish expression that melted many a female heart.  Now, with his face eerily devoid of emotion, she bent and kissed the only spot on Colin’s forehead not covered with blood.

“I will avenge you, my sweet angel.”  Despair was a bitter pill, and L’araignee clenched a fist and swallowed a sob.  “I swear it on the graves of my parents.”

A search party drew nigh, and she had to depart or risk a similar fate.

Yet it was so hard to let go.

Her partner would be buried in an unmarked grave, with no ceremony, prayer, or eulogy offered.  And no mourner would shed a tear.

Because no one grieved the death of a spy.

“Over here.  There is someone over here!

“I will cry for you, and I shall carry your memory forever,” she said in a whisper.  For the last time, she caressed his cheek and eased his head from her lap.  She pressed her fingers to her lips, and then touched his cold flesh.  “Be at peace, my darling.”

Rustling in the bushes brought her up short.

“You there, stand fast,” an unknown male ordered.

“I think not,” L’araignee stated softly below the interloper’s earshot.

In a flash, she ran behind a tall hedge to a hailstorm of protestations.  Ah, a garden was an excellent hiding place.  After eluding her pursuers and gaining a measure of safety among the topiaries, she doffed her gown, slippers, and undergarments and rolled everything into a tight ball.

Quickly, she dropped to her knees and crawled beneath the thick canopy of a thorny shrub, which opened countless tiny cuts in her flesh.  Ignoring the burning sensation, she smeared handfuls of damp earth on her skin as camouflage.  When footsteps approached, she covered her mouth, because the slightest gasp could betray her location.  Through the foliage, she counted five rows of buttons on a hussar-style waistcoat and bit her lip.  The man was a member of General Bonaparte’s la Garde imperiale.

And L’araignee was in trouble.

If Bony wanted her, she had been well and truly compromised.

Fear shivered down her spine.  She saluted the disconcerting reaction and set it aside, because now was not the time for hysterics.  She had to get to a safe house.  Had to make a run for the Belgian coast.  If her communiqué had reached London, Colin’s friend, a trusted ally, should be anchored offshore.

Dirk Randolph would take her home.

Information of utmost importance had to be delivered to the Ministry of Defense and the Counterintelligence Corps.  What she possessed was vital to national security, and she could not fail in her duty.

Colin had died for what she knew.

There was a traitor to the Crown in their ranks.

The situation was urgent, and she had to move.  With the stealth and skill of a seasoned agent, she slipped between row upon row of ornamental trees and bushes in the elegant garden.  Conversation ahead halted her flight.  With nary a sound, L’araignee shimmied on all fours and sheltered in the underside of a large holly.  The pointed leaves snagged her hair and the bundled clothing.

“I thought I saw someone come this way.”

From her vantage, several pairs of hussar boots appeared on the path.

“Well, there is no one here now.”  The guard kicked a small stone.  “Get some privates from the infantry, and have them dig a hole for the body.  I am returning to the ball.”

L’araignee sat still for several minutes.  Despite inclinations to the contrary, she remained calm and patient.  An ambitious military man could be lurking in the vicinity, in hopes of making a name for himself at her expense.  It was an old trick; one she knew well.

“You are so very sly,” she whispered to herself.  “But so am I.”

She waited a tad longer.

Muffled footsteps caught her trained ear, and she shook her head and smiled.

They would not catch L’araignee that night.

About Barbara Devlin

barbara-devlin-logoBestselling, Amazon All-Star author Barbara Devlin was born a storyteller, but it was a week long vacation to Bethany Beach, DE that forever changed her life. The little house her parents rented had a collection of books by Kathleen Woodiwiss, which exposed Barbara to the world of romance, and Shanna remains a personal favorite.

Barbara writes heartfelt historical romances that feature flawed heroes who may know how to seduce a woman but know nothing of marriage. And she prefers feisty but smart heroines who sometimes save the hero, before they find their happily ever after.

After a line-of-duty injury forced her to retire from police work, Barbara earned an MA in English and continued a course of study for a Doctorate in Literature and Rhetoric. She happily considered herself an exceedingly eccentric English professor, until success in Indie publishing lured her into writing, full-time, featuring her fictional knighthood, the Brethren of the Coast.


The duke’s by-blow

Gerald Ficklestone-Smythe
Manager of Cowbridge Mine, Llanfair

kitchenThe boy was gone when I got back from the funeral. Little bastard. I told him I’d kick him to next Tuesday if dinner wasn’t on the table, but nothing was prepared, and he was nowhere to be found. And he’d let the fire go out. He’ll come back when he’s hungry, and I’ll have the skin off his back, see if I don’t.

Where else is he going to go? London? To the duchess? He is stupid if he thinks she’s going to want her husband’s by-blow, and so I told him when I took the money for his trip. I had a right to it, didn’t I? I took his mother back after the duke had finished with her. I gave her a home. I even let her keep the boy.

The duke owed me that money. Yes, and more. Made a harlot out of my daughter, and turned her off with a measly few hundred pounds. Then wouldn’t pay more when that ran out. Then, when my daughter lay dying and couldn’t keep house for me any more, that pernicious swine sent his wife to steal the boy I raised, promising him I don’t know what.

The boy said he’d stay till his mother died, and the duchess returned to London without him. And now my slut of a daughter is dead, and the boy can’t be found, but where could he have gone? He has no money for the coach fare, and it’s a long walk to London, especially with winter coming on, and the Black Mountains between here and England.

He’s no fool, the boy. He’ll be back.


Jeremiah Penchsnith
Captain of the Merry Molly, Bristol

320px-steep_holme_looking_over_the_bristol_channelWe didn’t find the lad till we was near Avonmouth. ‘E was hid in the coal, but we saw ‘im when ‘e tried to escape over the side. ‘E fair wriggled when we caught ‘im, begged us to let ‘im go. But ‘e owed us ‘is passage, and so I told him.

If we let away every lad who wanted a free trip over the Bristol Channel, we might as well set up as a ferry, and that’s what I said.

Give the lad credit, ‘e worked ‘ard. Four trips ‘e did wiv us, not counting the first. And then he left us in Bristol. I’d’ve kept ‘im on, I would. Good worker, that lad. I ‘ope ‘e gets where ‘e’s going.”


Maggie Wakefield
Farmer’s wife, Ditchford Frary, East Cotswolds

cotswold_sheepHe was a mystery, young David. Turned up in a snow storm, he did. Bessie the dog found him when Matthew went out after the sheep, huddled up in the midst of the flock where they’d taken shelter in the lee of the old stone wall.

Matthew brought them all home: boy and sheep, the boy limping along on a stick because his ankle was swollen to twice its size. “I’ve a lamb for you to warm by the fire, mother,” Matthew said, and then stood aside. Just a sprain, it turned out to be, but a bad one. I would not turn man or beast out in weather like that, let alone a boy, and no more would Matthew, so of course we let David stay.

Where did he come from in that awful weather? Wales, he said, but that couldn’t be, could it? Wales is a long way away, across the wolds and then the water. And mountains, too, they say.

David was a good boy, so perhaps he was telling the truth. He made himself useful until he could walk again. He was a good hand in the kitchen, and he read to me and Matthew at night, which was a great blessing, for our eyes are not what they were. Not that I’ve ever read more than enough to piece together a few verses from the Bible. Not like David. It was a treat to listen to him, and I was sorry when he left.

But he had people waiting for him, he said, so off he went, off to London. We got him a lift as far as Oxford with Jem Carter. I hope he made it to his people. A fine boy like that? They would have been missing him, I’m sure.


Sir Philip Westmacott
Gentleman, London

curriaMy tiger? He’s taken off. Ungrateful brat. Good boy with the horses, too. But there you go. That’s what I get for taking a boy off the streets. I found him in Oxford, you know. Oh yes, I told you before, didn’t I. He made sure I got back to my inn after a rather exciting evening. Didn’t rob me, either, though he could have. I was somewhat—er—elevated.

I told him to come back in the morning for his reward, and he was waiting outside in the stable yard when I woke. And all he wanted was to come to London with me. I bought him a suit of clothing, of course. Couldn’t be seen with him in the rags he had. Not livery. Not in Oxford. But I thought silver blue, to set off his dark hair. It would have looked stunning against my matched blacks.

We arrived last night, and this morning he was gone. Ungrateful brat.


Henry Bartlett
Gatekeeper, Haverford House, London

Of course I didn’t let him in. A boy like that? Tidily dressed enough, and nicely spoken, but what child of substance is allowed to walk around the streets? But he wasn’t a street urchin, either. He asked if he could send a note, and he wrote it right there on a piece of paper I found him. Never was a street urchin that could read and write.

Anyway, I sent it in to the duchess. Told him he’d have to wait, but it wasn’t but an hour before Her Grace’s own maid came down to fetch him, and the next thing I knew, he was part of the household.

He seems a pleasant enough lad; always polite. But it just doesn’t seem right, raising the duke’s bastard under the same roof as his legal sons. The duke agrees, or so goes the talk in the servant’s hall. But the duchess got her way, this time. And we’re all to treat the boy as if he were gentleman. Her Grace has hired him a tutor, and word is he’s off to Eton in the autumn. And the little Marquis follows him around like a puppy dog.

What will be the end of it, do you suppose?

Revealed in Mist

revealed-in-mistLast time spy Prudence Virtue and thief-taker David Wakefield worked together on a case, they parted in bitterness. When different employers send them to investigate a spying ring that blackmails aristocrats for access to secrets, they need to decide whether to combine forces.

Are they allies? Or opponents?

With friends and families too close to the investigation for comfort, they need to co-operate to find the blackmailer and the spy behind him.

They are professionals. They can work together without becoming entangled. But David and Prue find that murder, secrets from the past, and love can foil the most determined of plans.

Revealed in Mist is in final editing, and I’ll soon be announcing the release date. Keep an eye on my book pages to find out more.

An excerpt from Revealed in Mist

David frowned at the fire in the small hearth. The private parlour he had hired was small and shabby, but at least its size made it easy to heat. And it was neutral ground, which mattered. David hadn’t had a prolonged conversation with his expected guest in a decade and a half.

He must have been seventeen or eighteen on the last occasion, staying at Haverford Castle in Kent between the end of the school term and his first term at university. The Duke of Haverford’s son and heir, the Marquis of Aldridge, would have been 12. The day had begun happily enough with the boy tagging along while David went out after small game with a gun. It had ended with David beaten and driven from the property.

Aldridge had tripped and knocked himself out, and Haverford, finding David leaning over his unconscious heir, had not waited for explanations.

Once the young marquis left school and entered Society, they met from time to time, usually when the Duchess of Haverford insisted on David coming to one of her entertainments. Her husband, the duke, was almost always engaged elsewhere, but her sons often attended. They paid their mother the courtesy of not being rude to her protégé, and he responded with the same polite reserve.

He was expecting Aldridge now. Older brother to one of the courtesan’s lovers. David’s despised father’s oldest legitimate son. His half-brother.

A knock on the door heralded Aldridge’s arrival. A maid showed him into the private parlour. He’d clearly been treating her to a display of his facile charm; she was dimpling, blushing, and preening.

David examined him as he gave the girl a coin “and a kiss for your trouble, my darling.” The beautiful child had grown into a handsome man. David had heard him described as ‘well-put together, and all over, if you know what I mean.’ The white-blonde hair of childhood had darkened to a guinea gold, and he had his mother’s hazel eyes under a thick arch of brow he and David had both inherited from their father.

Aldridge navigated the shoals of the marriage market with practiced ease, holding the mothers and their daughters off, but still not offending them, and carrying out a gentleman’s role in the ballroom with every evidence of enjoyment.

But his real success, by all accounts, was with bored widows and wives, where he performed in the bedroom with equal charm, and perhaps more pleasure. Society was littered with former lovers of the Merry Marquis, though he had the enviable ability to end an affair and retain the friendship.

Aldridge ushered the laughing maid out of the room and closed the door behind her, acknowledging David’s appraisal with a wry nod.

“Wakefield. You summoned me. I am here.”

David ignored the thread of irritation in the young aristocrat’s voice, and took a shot in the dark. Lord Jonathan was unlikely to be the blackmailer, Lady Georgiana thought, but was probably also being blackmailed. Would he have confided in Aldridge?

“I have some questions I wish to ask about the blackmail.”

Aldridge arched a brow, a trick they had both picked up from the duke. “Tolliver has engaged you?”

David hid his surprise at the spymaster’s name. “What is your brother paying blackmail for?”

Uninvited, Aldridge grabbed a chair and straddled it, resting his chin on his forearms. “Our brother,” he said, flatly.

“That won’t prevent me from turning him in if he is a traitor,” David said.

“He isn’t. He’s young. He’s an idiot. But he isn’t a traitor.” Aldridge met David’s eyes with an uncompromising glare of his own.

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