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Is the duchess having an affair?

“There’s a story here, Sam,” William Scattermole insisted. “Come on! Everyone will want to read it. The Duchess of Haverford is secretly meeting with the Duke of Winshire? The man she wanted to marry when she was a debutante?” 

He waved the article he wanted Sam to print. “I saw them with my own eyes, going into the same private meeting room at your aunt’s bookshop. They were alone there for a full hour. What were they doing? I can’t tell you that. But I can guess, and so can our readers.”

“Not happening,” Sam told him. “We’re not printing that article, Will, and every newspaper printer in London will say the same.”

“But it’s news!” Will insisted.

Sam sighed. The boy was keen, he’d give him that. And a good writer, or he would be when he learned the use of a fullstop. One of the sentences in the article under discussion was one hundred and fifty three words long! But Will had not yet learned the realities of survival for Society commentators.

“Look, Will. Let me explain this to you point by point. First, what do you think the Duke of Haverford will do if I publish this story about his mother?”

“What can he do,” Will said, belligerently. “It’s the truth. Besides, we’d call her the Duchess of H. Like we usually do, to disguise her identity. People will know we mean her, but they won’t be able to do anything about it because we didn’t use her name.”

Perhaps the boy was an idiot. “That works for Mrs H., or even Lady H. But Will, how many Duchesses of H. and Dukes of W. are there? Disguising the name isn’t going to do us any good at all, and I don’t think you want two dukes out for your blood. I certainly don’t.”

“But it’s the truth,” Will insisted.

“Perhaps.” Sam held up his hand to stop Will’s objection. “I don’t doubt what you saw, Will, but my second point is that your article makes the direct inference that their graces are having an affair. You saw them enter a room, Will. You didn’t see what happened inside it. She’s a lady in her fifties with two adult sons. He must be sixty if he is a day. If they were having an affair, wouldn’t they be looking for more comfort than a room with upright chairs and a table?”

From the look on his face, Will was as uncomfortable with thinking about a dignified matron like the duchess in intimacy on said table or against the wall. He faltered, and then rallied. “We could soften that a little, perhaps.”

“Is there a story without it?” Sam asked. “They are both known for their charitable works, and the duchess has used my aunt’s rooms for philanthropic meetings before. Duke of W. and Duchess of H. meet to talk about scholarships for deserving students. Not much of a story there.”

It took a bit more persuasion, but eventually Will accepted Sam’s dictate. He cheered up when Sam gave him the job of looking into the rumour that the Earl of Ruthford had publicly accused his wife of infidelity, and the pair of them only married a matter of weeks.

“That’s safe enough,” he told Will. “There are any number of Lords and Ladies R.”

Once Will was gone, he counted off the other three points in favour of squashing the story.

“Three, one of our secret investors happens to be the Duke of Haverford, and while I’ve never hesitated to write about him, I’m not going to risk writing about his wife or mother. Not after what he said to me last year, when I published the rumours about Lady C, as she was then.”

He shuddered at the memory.

“Four, I know, better than most, how much good Her Grace does, using her status and her reputation as a most upright and moral lady. I’m a hardened newspaper man, but I’m not going to interfere with her work by painting her as a hypocrite.”

But the last reason trumped all the rest, and was the one he was least likely to disclose to anyone else. If there was one person in the world he feared, it was the formidable lady who ran the Book Emporium and Tea Shoppe. Miss Clemens prided herself on keeping the secrets of her guests (as she preferred to be known). He winced at the mere thought of her reaction to Will’s article.

He opened the folded paper that Will had left behind and read it again. Yes. William showed promise. But this article must never see the light of day.



Paradise Triptych

By Jude Knight

Long ago, when they were young, James and Eleanor were deeply in love. But their families tore them apart and they went on to marry other people. Paradise Triptych tells their story in three parts.

Paradise Regained

James Winderfield yearns to end a long journey in the arms of his loving family. But his father’s agents offer the exiled prodigal forgiveness and a place in Society — if he abandons his foreign-born wife and children to return to England.

With her husband away, Mahzad faces revolt, invasion and betrayal in the mountain kingdom they built together. A queen without her king, she will not allow their dream and their family to be destroyed.

But the greatest threats to their marriage and their lives together is the widening distance between them. To win Paradise, they must face the truths in their hearts.

Paradise Lost

In 1812, the suitor Eleanor’s father rejected in favour of the Duke of Haverford has returned to England. He has been away for thirty-two years, and has returned a widower, and the father of ten children.

As the year passes, various events prompt Eleanor to turn to her box of keepsakes, which recall the momentous events of her life.

Paradise Lost is a series of vignettes grounded in 1812, in which Eleanor relives those memories.

Paradise At Last

Now Haverford is deceased nothing stands between the Duchess of Haverford and the Duke of Winshire. Except that James has not forgiven Eleanor for putting the dynasty of the Haverfords ahead of his niece’s happiness.

Can two star-crossed lovers find their happiness at last? Or will their own pride or the villain who wants to destroy the Haverfords stand in their way?

Paradise Triptych contains two novella and a set of memoirs: Paradise Regained (already published), Paradise Lost (distributed to my newsletter subscribers) and Paradise At Last (new for this collection).

Order your copy now: https://books2read.com/Triptych

More Scandal for Scandal-Prone Noble Family

Sam, you mentioned when we met several weeks ago that if I came across something interesting there might be a guinea in it. I’m on the track of something now. I’m writing to check that the deal is still on.

I was at my club last night — that’s what you wanted me for, was it not, Sam? The fact that I’m still welcome in Society even though my pockets are to let?

As I was saying. I was at my club last night and I witnessed a confrontation between a peer and another gentleman. I don’t wish to name them just now. You understand, I’m sure. I trust your word, Sam, but my rent is due.

I can tell you that one is a very proper gentleman indeed, which is why it was odd to hear him championing a maiden who, it appeared, was at risk of losing that status. In his hand he held a page torn from the betting book! Have you ever heard of a person doing such a thing? But when he explained to the major domo of the club it included a wager on taking a lady’s virtue, his action received that eminence’s approval

The second person insisted that women of low birth have no virtue — he was in a gentlemen’s club so he must, ipso facto, be a gentlemen, yet I hesitate to ascribe the status to him, given that he was the originator of the wager and intended to be the instrument of its success.

At that, the peer, for the gallant knight was a peer, threatened to rearrange his face, and his dastardly opponent threw oil on the fire by shouting a comparison between the young lady in question and her sister. Whereupon, the gentlemen hit him, and a wisty castor it was, too.

The thing is, Sam, I know both men. The cavalier has been adamant in ignoring one of a pair of sisters, and the cad has been equally diligent in pursuing the other. And here’s the thing. Though they have been raised in a noble house, everyone knows that they are the daughters of its head, but not of his gracious wife.

There are so many ways this could develop. A ruination? A mesalliance? A duel? I’ll keep watching, Sam. Just let me know whether it is worth that guinea.

Melting Matilda

Fire smolders under the frost between them.

Can the Ice Maiden Soften the Granite Earl?

Her scandalous birth prevents Matilda Grenford from being fully acceptable to Society, even though she has been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford since she was a few weeks old. Matilda does not expect to be wooed by a worthy gentleman. The only man who has ever interested her gave her an outrageous kiss a year ago and has avoided her ever since.

Can the Granite Earl Melt the Ice Maiden?

Charles, the Earl of Hamner is honour bound to ignore his attraction to Matilda Grenford. She is an innocent and a lady, and in every way worthy of his respect—but she is base-born. His ancestors would rise screaming from their graves if he made her his countess. But he cannot forget the kiss they once shared.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08YS4DHMJ

For Amazon in other countries and for other book retailers, see: Books2Read: https://books2read.com/MeltingMatilda

The English Captain has a consecutive harem

Cape Town
July 1812

Dear Sister

How lovely our homeland must be now that Summer is here. I regret being so far away, even though I know you have many worries in these troubled times.

We, ourselves, are under the boot of the British, as you know. I have told you that their Governor has freed most of the slaves owned by the Company, and that the British who have come to live here are very unlike us in their ways.

A prime example, dear sister, is the irregular household of Captain Redepenning of the British naval ship the Advantage. It has been distressing the upright citizens of our little community for the past three years. At least the native girl he installed in his house knew her place, and did not venture out among proper wives and their families; at least after she attempted to attend divine services that one time I told you about.

A few words to our dear pastor and his wife ensured that the congregation was not required to tolerate the presence of a woman of her kind. ‘Mrs Redepenning’, she dared call herself, but we all knew she was no more married than the lowest female who markets her body on the waterfront. She is his mistress, of course, or was until she was too ill. Consumption, they say. A likely story! Paying the price of a dissolute life, I say.

You will understand the impudence of the man when I tell you that he hired a nursemaid for his mistress’s brats. As if such children need that kind of care. It came as no surprise to us all when he moved the nursemaid into his bed, which I daresay was his intention all along. At least she had the virtue of being white, even if she was Irish.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. Another female, also calling herself Mrs Redepenning, turned up just a few weeks ago. Her first act was to throw the Irish slut into the street. We all waited for the native harlot to follow, but it seems the woman who claims to be his wife has some compassion for a sick woman.

She has been out walking with the children. She even had the nerve to attend services at the Church of England chapel on Sunday! I’m relieved to say that the English followed our example , and made it clear that misbegotten coloured children were not welcome in the House of God.

That was not the end of it, though! She has had the effrontery to take the children about town with her fancy man, even attending the races and shopping in the emporiums! The latest outrage is that she has been holding dinner parties. You will be as horrified as I am, dearest, when I tell you that people have attended — not just other naval officers, but even one or two wives!

Apparently — though I find it hard to believe — the woman really is the Captain’s wife, and well connected to the English aristocracy. It may be so, but she has put herself beyond the pale by not just tolerating the presence of his native woman and her children, but actually nursing the mistress, and treating the children as if they were her own.

Whatever is the world coming to? I can only say that I yearn for this war to end and the English to go back to where they belong, so we are no longer obliged to meet such people as Captain and Mrs Redepenning.

Unkept Promises

(Book 4 in The Golden Redepennings series)

She wants to negotiate a comfortable marriage; he wants her in his bed

… oaths and anchors equally will drag: naught else abides on fickle earth but unkept promises of joy. Herman Melville

HERMAN MELVILLE

Naval captain Jules Redepenning has spent his adult life away from England, and at war. He rarely thinks of the bride he married for her own protection, and if he does, he remembers the child he left after their wedding seven years ago. He doesn’t expect to find her in his Cape Town home, a woman grown and a lovely one, too.

Mia Redepenning sails to Cape Town to nurse her husband’s dying mistress and adopt his children. She hopes to negotiate a comfortable married life with the man while she’s there. Falling in love is not on her to-do list.

Before they can do more than glimpse a possible future together, their duties force them apart. At home in England, Mia must fight for the safety of Jules’s children. Imprisoned in France, Jules must battle for his self-respect and his life.

Only by vanquishing their foes can they start to make their dreams come true.

https://judeknightauthor.com/books/unkept-promises

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Excerpt

Adiratna’s eyes widened and sparkled. “Presents!” In moments, she was back across the room, tugging on Perdana’s hand. “What has Papa brought me, Dan? You know, I know you do.”

“Lumps of coal, like the Black Peter we saw on St Nicolas Day,” Perdana answered, promptly, “And a switch to beat you with, for you have undoubtedly been a great trouble for Mami and Ibu Mia.”

Adiratna sniffed, and poked her nose in the air. “That shows you know nothing, Dan, for Hannah never lets me be a trouble, do you, Hannah?” She smiled at her new nurse, who had been an instant favourite with both girls for her store of stories and the energy and imagination that allowed her to keep them constantly on the move from one interesting activity to another.

“Brothers tease,” Hannah told her. “I do not know why they do it, but there it is.”

Perdana grinned at her, not in the least perturbed by this set down, but Adiratna wanted the last word. “Papa never beats us, even when we deserve it. So there.”

“Do you deserve it?” Jules spoke from the doorway, his tone one of scientific inquiry. Both girls forgot their brother and their dignity to hurl themselves into his waiting arms. Mia exchanged a glance with Hannah, who gave a satisfied nod. The man’s clear delight in his children had won that stern arbiter’s cautious approval.

Mia, too, found it hard to retain her indignation while watching him listening to their chatter, squatting on the floor with his back against the door jamb, each arm around a daughter on his knee. Adiratna was pouring out two months’ worth of news at full speed, and even Marshanda spoke so fast her words were tumbling over themselves.

Adiratna suddenly remembered that Jules had not yet disgorged his gifts. “Where are my…” she broke off, sneaking a glance at Hannah, who had been impressing the little girls with the unexpected information that they were ladies. Marshanda stuck her nose in the air. “Ladies,” she informed her sister, “do not ask. Ladies wait to be offered.”

Jules frown over her head at Mia. “Who has been telling you that?” he asked.

Adiratna, however, was not to be deflected. “I like presents,” she announced. “It makes me very happy when people give me a present. Ibu Mia brought presents for me and Marsha. I expect she brought presents for you, too, Dan. I do like presents.”

Faced with this flagrant attempt to get around the ‘ladies do not ask’ rule, the adults struggled to maintain their gravity. Even Jules, who was holding onto whatever grudge had blown in with him, couldn’t resist a twinkle. “I happen to have some presents,” he commented.

A Rose Thief meets a Bear

That Rosa Neatham. They say that she hurt her ankle. I ask you, is that likely? How did she come to hurt her ankle fifteen minutes walk or more from her home? And her with a sick father to look after?

I say sick, but we all know he is deranged. And no wonder, poor man, after what his wife and then his daughter put him through.

She just happened to hurt her ankle on the doorstep of the most eligible bachelor to come this way in a month of Sundays. Now their banns have been called, and you cannot tell me she didn’t plan it all.

Just wait until he finds out who her aunt is. That’s what I say. Or is the woman her aunt? Some say the scandalous trollop is her mother!

House of Thorns

His rose thief bride comes with a scandal that threatens to tear them apart.

Retired spy, Bear Gavenor has fled the marriage mart for the familiarity of his work; restoring abandoned country manors to sell to the newly rich. Never does he anticipate that his first task will be to deal with the thief he’s caught stealing his roses.

Evicted from her home and ruined with claims she has a lover, Rosa Neatham fears she will soon be unable to care for her invalid father. When she returns to her former home to gather roses to brighten his room, her fortune worsens. She’s startled by the home’s new owner and injured in a fall.

Bear takes her in, but when the rector confronts him about living with an unmarried woman, Bear decides to halt the rumormongers’ attempts to ruin her further and marries Rosa.

He needs an heir.

She needs a home.

Love needs to overcome the scandal, secrets and self-doubts that each brings to this marriage of convenience.

Buy links

Jude Knight’s book page  ♥ Amazon US  ♥ Amazon UK  ♥ Amazon Ca ♥ Amazon Au

Excerpt

The intruder stealing his roses had lovely shaped calves.

Bear Gavenor paused at the corner of the house, the better to enjoy the sight. The scraping of wood on stone had drawn him from the warmth of the kitchen, where the only fire in this overgrown cottage kept the unseasonable chill at bay. He had placed each foot carefully and silently, not from planned stealth, but from old habit. The woman perched precariously on the rickety ladder seemed oblivious to his presence.

Or—his sour experiences as a wealthy war hero in London suggested—she knew full well, and her display was for his benefit. Certainly, the sight was having an effect. Her skirt rose as she stretched, showing worn but neat walking boots. Her inadequate jacket molded to curves that dried his mouth. Wind plastered her skirts to lower curves that had him hardening in an instant, visions of plunder screaming into his mind.

It had been too long since his last willing widow.

Disgust at his own weakness as much as irritation at the invasion of his privacy, fueled Bear’s full-throated roar, “Who the hell are you, and what are you doing with my roses?”

She jerked around, then cried out as the rung she stood on snapped free of the upright. Bear lunged toward her as the ladder slid sideways. One upright caught on the tangle of rose branches and the other continued its descent. The woman threw out both hands but the branch she grasped snapped free and—before Bear could throw himself under her— she crashed onto the ground.

If the fall was deliberate—which would not surprise him after some of the things women had done to attract his attention—she had made too good a job of it. She lay still and white in a crumpled heap, her head lying on a corner of a flagstone in the path. He dropped to one knee beside her and slipped a hand into the rich chestnut hair. His fingers came away bloody.

As he ran his hands swiftly over the rest of her body, checking for anything that seemed twisted out of shape or that hurt enough to rouse her, a large drop of rain splashed onto his neck, followed by a spattering of more and then a deluge. He cursed as he lifted the woman and ran into the house through the garden doors that opened from the room he’d chosen for his study.

She was a bare handful, lighter than she should have been for her height, though well endowed in all the right places. He set her on the sofa and straightened. He needed a doctor.

Writers Needed; The Newsroom Quakes

The Tattler newsroom is in an uproar. Lady Caroline Warfield swept into the premises summoned—summoned!—by Sam Clemens. She slammed his door so hard the wall vibrated and now the staff: printers, correspondents, ink boys, paper sellers, and all held their breath. Did she know she would find that Mrs. Knight had already arrived? Of course she must know. The Bluestocking Belles communicate constantly.

Milly, the maid of all work, stood with her ear to the door. “She told him the Belles ‘have their hands full,’ and she said its his fault for printing all those letters attacking theirTeatime Tattler book, Follow Your Star Home.” Milly grinned over her shoulder. “Sam said, ‘Spelled yer names right din’t they?'”

The staff smirked in unison. Trust Sam. He taught them all publicity is good as long as they spell your name right. That tight-rumped clergy fellow Blowworthey set off a firestorm, but he brought the readers in didn’t he?

Milly leaned down again, “The Knight woman says the Belles have been so busy undoing the damage they didn’t get their usual story in today, and it serves us right.”

“Serves us right?” Ian Pennywhistle, a junior correspondent, demanded. He scribbled down the words. He’d been documenting the whole incident.

“She says we ought to recruit more Wednesday guest author stories and not leave it to them to do.” Pennywhistle wrote that down. Milly shrugged and leaned over to listen and was almost knocked over when the door swung open and the two women left.

“The ladies swanned out leaving Clemens in a fine rage…” Pennywhistle said, putting pen to paper. “I always wanted to write a sentence with ‘swanned,'” he said with self-satisfied glee.

Clemens glared at the young man. “We don’t get 1000 views and more a month because people like your vocabulary. They read to sop up the gossip behind authors’ books, the good stuff, not your drivel. We need more. The schedule is almost empty aside from two weeks in November. January’s even emptier. Bring me some writers.”

The newsroom emptied in a flash.

Read the high-performing articles below to find out what Sam loves to see in the Teatime Tattler, or sign up to write your own, and to advertise your book (new or one from your backlist).

The Mistress and The Wife — by Laura Libricz

A Guillotine Widow Takes Tea on the Isle of Guernsey — by Regan Walker

Lady Farrow Determined to See Her Daughter Wed — by Nadine Millard

The Mistress and the WifeThe Soldier’s Return, by Laura Libritz

A base-born son, a hasty marriageThe Bastard’s Iberian Bride, by Alina K. Field

Mrs Bingham tries againThe Rake and His Honour, by Beth Elliott

Be Careful What You Ask a Hero — Only a Hero Will Do, by Alanna Lucas

Duke in Disguise — To Dodge a Duke, by Naomi Bloom

Overheard at the Courtesan’s Ball — The Pleasure House Ball, by Suzi Love

 

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