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Tag: inns

Gossip Spreads Through Fenwick on Sea

Kitty Smothers, youngest and newest of the girls in service at the Queen’s Barque, swung her broom with more enthusiasm than skill. It didn’t much matter. With the inn bursting at the seams and all the paying rooms full of well-off travelers, Mrs. Brewster sent them to clean out the old wing, the one with more cobwebs than heat and more mice than usable furniture. They needed it for all the refugees coming up from the beach, didn’t they?

The storm, the fiercest in all of Kitty’s fourteen years, rattled the windows where there was still glass, where they hadn’t been papered over. She listened wide eyed while Nelly Jones chattered a mile a minute while she swatted at the cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and giggled with Annie Burke.

“I think Mr. Simon is the handsomest,” Annie said.

“He don’t hold a candle to Captain Rousseau—Jasper,” Nelly sighed dramatically.

“Looks more like a pirate to me, him with that ship stuck out on the shoals,” Annie argued. “Mr. Simon has that mysterious air…”

“Sneaky more like,” Nelly said. “and besides, he’s married.”

“Shows what you know.” Annie dropped her voice and beckoned Nelly closer. Kitty moved nearer to listen. “Those girls Mrs. Fullerton sent over from Morphew Manor told Mags and Alice in the kitchen that there’s folks from London staying at the manor.”

“So what’s that to us?” Nelly said out loud.

Annie shushed her. “Mags told me they’re here for that so-called Mrs. Simon. Says she’s really betrothed to the dandy staying at the Manor. Simon isn’t married at all.”

Kitty tilted her head, puzzled. “But he and Mrs. Simon are sharing a room.”

Annie and Nelly laughed at her. “You think every pair that puts up at an inn claiming to be married really are?”

“How about that Lord Stanton. He’s as handsome as can be,” Kitty said.

“He’s a lord, ain’t he? No point in mooning after a lord,” Annie said. “Besides, have you seen how he looks at his lady? Honeymooning those two—for sure.”

“But you said not every couple who claim to be married…” Kitty still thought he was handsome.

“Some are, you ninny. The real question about those two is what are they doing in Fenwick on Sea? Folks like that go to Paris. Or Brighton. Odd if you ask me,” Nelly said.

“I’ll tell you who’s odd. That Cosistas fellow. Slimy fish. Have you seen how he looks at that Fynlock woman? Gives me the creeps.” Annie shivered just to show them.

“I—” Whatever Kitty would have said was interrupted by an arrival.

“How is this room coming? Can I send in the men with the straw bedding?” Patience Abney, she that teaches at the charity school above town, stood in the door waiting for an answer.

“Will do in a few more minutes, Miss Abney,” Annie said.

Patience smiled at them. “Good. Mr. Somerville the vicar came with word there are more folk on their way. We need every room. Hurry it up.” She swept out.

Nelly made an ugly face after her.

“I like Miss Abney; she’s always kind,” Kitty said. “It’s generous of her to help out.”

“She’s only working here to pay so her boys can stay out in the stables,” Annie said.

“Thinks she’s better than us, her with her fancy school. Peter told me their roof caved in. We’ll see how high and mighty she is now,” Nelly said.

“High enough. I heard talk,” Annie said.

“What do you mean?” Kitty asked, finishing up her sweeping and picking up the dust pan.

“I heard those two high nosed ladies in the big suite on the first floor talking. Patience Abney isn’t what she looks like. She’s an earl’s niece.”

“Gol. Come on hard times for sure, emptying night soil like the rest of us and sweeping up this ruin of a wing,” Nelly said.

“Got that right,” Annie agreed.

The girls finished the room and picked up their rags and brooms to move on. When they squeezed by Patience Abney in the hall directing footmen to bring straw bedding to the room they just finished, Nelly dipped a mocking curtsy behind her back and Annie giggled.

They handed all the dirty rags and dust pan to Kitty, sending her to the kitchen. As Kitty walked away, she heard Nelly’s last pronouncement.

“I’ll tell you what else I heard. Some folks think there’s a reporter from that Teatime Tattler staying here, taking notes on all these folks. What do you think of that?”

Kitty continued downstairs, dumped the dirt and picked up new rags. She nodded greetings to Alice, Mags, and the girls from Morphew Manor who waited tables and worked in the kitchen. On her way out something caught her eye, lying on the work table. It was The Teatime Tattler folded up to a headline, “Storm ravages Great Yarmouth and the coast.”

“Get on with it, Kitty. This isn’t a library,” Mrs. Brewster snapped pointing to the door.

Kitty smiled on her way up the servant stairs. “We’re going to be famous.”


A Reporter Snooping Around? We can’t have it. There’s an award for the person that figures out who it is. The answers are buried in Storm & Shelter.

A Bluestocking Belles with Friends Collection

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.

Available on Amazon or various other vendors,

More about each story here.

Join the Hunt

There are three big prizes. Enter the contest!

How to enter

  • Read the book.
  • Send your guess about the identity of person writing the reports for The Teatime Tattler to

Details are here!

Guilty or Not?

Dear readers,

The landlord’s wife saw it all. What do you make of this? Is she guilty? I rather think she is.

Overheard in the Ferry Inn, Flushing August 15th 1796.

‘Honest to God, it’s the absolute truth.’

     ‘Slower, please. Start from the beginning. They entered together? What time was this?’

    ‘Must have been about ten. She came in first – not even a backward glance. Went straight to the table near the door. The place was laid like I was told to lay it, and she just sat there with her baskets in front of her. Straight away I could tell it weren’t right. Not at all.’

    ‘In what way wasn’t it right?’

     ‘She kept her cloak tight around her – tight like she was cold – an’ it was that hot in there. An’ then I saw why. She was one of them Society of Friends – the ones that visit prisoners.  Now, you tell me, what would she be doing waiting for a man at that time of night?’

Cornish Lady

      ‘Describe her, please.’

       ‘Brown hair, high cheek bones. Couldn’t see much under her wide-brimmed bonnet. Black cloak. Softly spoken – local accent.’

       ‘She sat at the table and you gave her a meal – one that had been ordered by a man the night before?’

        ‘Yes, as God’s my witness. My best rabbit pie it was. Yet she didn’t eat it. Just sat there waiting for the man to come.’

         ‘She was definitely waiting for a man?’

         ‘Yes. He left a message – I was to tell her he’d be along later.’

        ‘And the man who came in with her, or rather, just after her – the one she left with? Describe him for me.’

        ‘Tall, handsome, fine-boned in a gentlemanly sort of way. And polite, yes, very polite. I’d say he was definitely a gentleman, though he was wearing working clothes – a coachman’s coat an’ hat. Pulled so low ye couldn’t really see his face.’

          ‘And he sat separately?’

           ‘Yes. He was sat by the back door – watchin’ out for her. But I can tell you one thing. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.  Kept staring at her when she weren’t looking. Even in the dark I could see the love in his eyes.’

          ‘And you can swear, on oath, that they showed signs of surprise when the fire was sighted?’

         ‘Yes, I’d say so. But maybe more anger than anything.’

          ‘And yet that could have been fabricated?’

          ‘I’m sorry, sir. What do ye mean by that?’

       ‘Their surprise and anger might have been made up. In other words they might have pretended to be surprised. To fool you. To make you swear, on oath, that they were innocent, when really they were guilty?’

         ‘Well, I don’t know about that.’

        ‘No. Well, never mind. Thank you. You’ve been very helpful.’

About the Book

The Cornish Lady

Educated, beautiful and the daughter of a prosperous merchant, Angelica Lilly has been invited to spend the summer in high society. Her father’s wealth is opening doors, and attracting marriage proposals, but Angelica still feels like an imposter among the aristocrats of Cornwall.

When her brother returns home, ill and under the influence of a dangerous man, Angelica’s loyalties are tested to the limit. Her one hope lies with coachman Henry Trevelyan, a softly spoken, educated man with kind eyes. But when Henry seemingly betrays Angelica, she has no one to turn to. Who is Henry, and what does he want? And can Angelica save her brother from a terrible plot that threatens to ruin her entire family?

The fourth novel in a stunning series set in eighteenth-century Cornwall, perfect for fans of Poldark.

An Excerpt

Henry stood against the taproom bar, nodding to the man beside him. The landlord was red-faced and bald-headed, drying a pewter tankard with a cloth, turning the tap on the barrel. The men who had stared at my arrival turned back to their ale and I settled against the hard wooden bench, trying to stop my heart from hammering. A woman in a tight bodice and large mobcap saw me and smiled. She made her way towards me, holding aloft a plate and jug of wine.

      ‘Pie an’ wine fer ye, my love,’ she said, wiping her brow with the cloth hanging from her apron. ‘’Tis that hot in here, but he likes it like that fer they drink more. Yer friend left a message – said he’d be along soon. Ye just sit tight an’ enjoy that rabbit.’ She smiled and turned and I stared down at the huge crust of pie with carrots and cabbage spilling from the plate.

     Henry must have ordered food. He made his way round the tables, sitting nearest the back door. His hat and coat made him merge with the crowd but even so, he looked out of place. He was sitting slumped forward, his arms on the table, his elbows wide, but there was no hiding his manners. No hiding the charm with which he thanked the landlord’s wife, the elegant way he unfolded his napkin, the shy nod to his fellow diners as he began his meal and I looked away. I glanced back. He seemed somehow vulnerable, a rather charming man doing the wrong job.

    Any other circumstances – any other time or place – and I would have enjoyed his company. I would have enjoyed dining with him, enjoyed discussing his choice of poetry, asked him what he had done in America, how his mother was…which of my plays he had liked the most. I pushed my plate away untouched. He was my brother’s gaoler, yet no man drew me so completely. It was as if I became alive in his presence. The touch of his hand on my cheek making my heart beat faster.

    Sweat trickled down my back, the tight wig making my hair itch. I wanted to take off my cloak, but no woman would sit in a tavern in a prudish grey gown with stiff white collar and cuffs and I pulled the cloak tighter. Henry had finished his meal and was stretching back against the hard bench, cradling his jar of ale in both hands. He was staring straight ahead as if too tired to talk, yet the moment the man took my baskets, he would clasp him in handcuffs.

    The tavern slowly emptied, only a number of men left scattered among the tables. Thin curls of smoke coiled from the guttering candles, the room growing darker. Two men had fallen asleep on their folded arms, two others staring moodily into their empty pint pots. Martha Selwyn had said the man could keep her waiting for hours; it must only have been an hour, yet it seemed so much longer. I glanced at Henry and caught my breath. He was staring at me so intently, the ferocity in his eyes making my heart jolt. I had never been looked at like that before. It felt like pain. Like my body was on fire.

Cornish Lady

About the Author

Nicola Pryce trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. She loves both literature and history and has an Open University degree in Humanities. She’s a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. She and her husband love sailing and together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure. If she’s not writing or gardening, you’ll find her scrubbing decks.

‘Pengelly’s Daughter’ is her first novel, ‘The Captain’s Girl’ second, ‘The Cornish Dressmaker’ third, and The Cornish Lady comes next. Her fifth novel will be published next summer.

Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Historical Writers Association. You can find her at and and

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