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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

 

A sister’s love

Flora hugged her cloak around her, as much for its concealment as for its warmth, though certainly the night grew colder as midnight approached. A dark shape in the shadows of the trees, she could not be seen even if the old hag had men patrolling the grounds. And in the two hours Flora had been watching, no patrollers had shown themselves.

Presumably, the Dowager Lady Rutledge assumed she had her daughter-in-law thoroughly cowed.  And, indeed, how likely was it that such a gentle creature as Chloe would flee into the night?

Flora spread her lips in a fierce grin. Her little sister was stronger than that harpie knew; stronger than Chloe herself knew. She had survived her vicious husband by retreating into herself, but the real Chloe peeped out when she was with her little daughters, or on the rare occasions that Flora was permitted to visit.

Since Lord Rutledge’s death, Flora had been turned away at the door and Chloe had been confined. Flora had laid out far too much of her small stock of coins to confirm that her sister had been locked in her own suite of rooms. If she was successful tonight, they would need to go cap in hand to the Countess of Chirbury. Flora hoped she would take them as her pensioners, for if she turned them away, there was no backup plan.

The last of the lighted windows turned dark. In half an hour, the whole house would be asleep. She began reciting the play Hamlet as a rough measure. When she finished Act II, it would be time to move.

Flora kept to the edge of the shrubbery as she crept closer to the house. When all that separated her from the wall she needed to climb was a large open patch bathed in moonlight, she stopped, waiting for a cloud to cover the moon. In the near dark, she ran across the grass to crouch, her heart pounding, at the foot of the wall.

It would have been too much to hope that Flora’s nieces would be kept with her, so Flora needed first to free Chloe, and then raid the nursery to kidnap the two girls.

She unclasped the cloak, and rolled it into a bundle. Now her childhood prowess at climbing was about to be put to the test. But it was easy. The old vine that draped the wall clung to the stones and provided almost a ladder to the window she had selected, in the suite next door to Chloe’s. Now she would find out whether the help she had been offered was true, or a trap.

The window slid up easily, as she had been promised. And no-one waited to keep her from her sister. Now for a little more light to see if the key was waiting, too.

On cue, the cloud slid away from the moon, and there it was, waiting in the keyhole of the connecting door, as promised. Flora put her ear to the door, but could hear nothing. Chloe had a maid sleeping with her, apparently. But the girl slept deeply, and if the sister remained quiet, they could escape without waking her.

Time to put it to the test.

Flora took a deep breath, turned the key and opened the door.

The scene about takes place around six months before The Realm of Silence. In the book, the new Lord Rutledge has many burdens: a estate bankrupted by his wicked brother, both financially and morally; a mother who hates him; a sister-in-law who hasn’t been seen since she fled into the night with her two children.

The Realm of Silence

(Book 3 in the Golden Redepennings series)

Rescue her daughter, destroy her dragons, defeat his demons, go back to his lonely life. How hard can it be?

“I like not only to be loved, but also to be told I am loved…  the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.” George Eliot

When Susan Cunningham’s daughter disappears from school, her pleasant life as a fashionable, dashing, and respectable widow is shattered. Amy is reported to be chasing a French spy up the Great North Road, and when Susan sets out in pursuit she is forced to accept help from the last person she wants: her childhood friend and adult nemesis, Gil Rutledge.

Gil Rutledge has loved Susan since she was ten and he a boy of twelve. He is determined to oblige her by rescuing her daughter. And if close proximity allows them to rekindle their old friendship, even better. He has no right to ask for more.

Gil and Susan must overcome danger, mystery, ghosts from the past, and their own pride before their journey is complete.

Get the first in series, Farewell to Kindness, for only US 99c for the rest of May, and the second, A Raging Madness, with a US $2.75 discount from Jude’s shop. Just choose the Buy from Jude Knight button, go to checkout and enter the code KWMS6GNW.

WIDOW AND VISCOUNT IN GREAT NORTH ROAD SCANDAL

Was a certain widow connected to some of the highest families on the land seen cavorting on the Great North Road with a retired army officer recently ascended to a viscountcy?

Dear Readers, we can assure you that we have eye witness accounts to confirm the shocking truth.

We speak, of course, of Mrs. C., widow of the Laird of G., a captain in our navy who died a hero’s death three years ago, defending the shores of our beloved country. All witnesses confirm that she and the viscount in the case were alone for several days, perhaps as much as a week, sharing the same carriage and staying at the same inns.

What, do you suppose, will her sponsor and godmother, the Duchess of H., make of that?

You will recall, dear Readers, the Vile Viscount whose death late last year came as a relief to all of his creditors and his dependents, not least to his third wife, who lost no time in escaping, with her daughters, from the monster’s lair. Perhaps Mrs. C. believes that the new Lord R. does not share his brother’s foul nature. Let us hope for her sake that she is correct.

The Realm of Silence

(Book 3 in the Golden Redepenning series: release date 22 May 2018)

“I like not only to be loved, but also to be told I am loved…  the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.” George Eliot

When Susan Cunningham’s daughter disappears from school, her pleasant life as a fashionable, dashing, and respectable widow is shattered. Amy is reported to be chasing a French spy up the Great North Road, and when Susan sets out in pursuit she is forced to accept help from the last person she wants: her childhood friend and adult nemesis, Gil Rutledge.

Gil Rutledge has loved Susan since she was ten and he a boy of twelve. He is determined to oblige her by rescuing her daughter. And if close proximity allows them to rekindle their old friendship, even better. He has no right to ask for more.

Gil and Susan must overcome danger, mystery, ghosts from the past, and their own pride before their journey is complete.

Preorder links and more information on my website

Excerpt

“Gil, can I trouble you to escort me to the Academy?” Susan continued, and Gil had agreed before he thought about how it might look. He quelled his doubts, but they returned fourfold when he descended from washing in his room just behind two gossipmongers who were quacking about a notorious widow and her escapades on the Great North Road. “She travelled all that way with a Rutledge, dear. Need I say more?”

The other protested. “But not the Vile Viscount, Millie. This is the younger brother. One of Wellington’s war heroes, and a family friend of the Redepennings. It is only natural he would offer his help to the sister of his friend.”

Gil should make his presence known, but a perverse need to hear the worst consumed him, and he stopped just above a turn in the stairs to listen.

“A war hero he may be. I say nothing to that. But a man may be brave, and still be a killer and a villain. They say the Vile Viscount killed his first wife, and perhaps his second—though…” the speaker paused, clearly determined if reluctant to be fair… “she may have died in childbed, I suppose. Certainly, his third must be glad he is dead, poor little thing.”

If Gil had been his unknown sister-in-law, he would have danced on Gideon’s grave out of sheer relief, though running away as she did was a practical step, he supposed.

The second woman was still fighting his corner. “The new Lord Rutledge is accepted everywhere, Millie. You know perfectly well that his brother was barred from all but the lowest of places.”

Millie was not impressed by the argument, her harrumph expressing both scorn and disbelief. “The influence of his friends. And look at what friends, Lettie! The Redepennings! Rakes to a man and a woman. Why Countess Chirbury is a Selby, and they are as bad as the Rutledges. And Renshaw married a madwoman, who killed her first husband. I had it from her own sister! The apple does not fall far from the tree, Lettie. Susan Cunningham may walk very high in the instep, but she is no better than a trollop, travelling alone with a Rutledge.”

“Enough,” Gil said, quietly, making them both jump.

Millie was the first to recover, drawing herself up to her full height, still a full head shorter than Gil, even after he rounded her to stand one stair below, blocking her way to the inn’s next floor. He fixed her with his best Colonel Rock Ledge glare.

“Do I know you, sir?” she demanded, haughtily.

“No, madam, you do not. Nor do you know my friends, although you do appear to have a passing acquaintance with my brother.”

“Then you are interrupting a private conversation,” she informed him, and flapped both hands at him as if he were an importunate chicken that could be scared into a scurried retreat. “Go away. I do not speak with men to whom I have not been introduced.”

“Your name, madam?” He asked the second lady, a hint of command infusing the words so that she had introduced herself as ‘Mrs Robert Fenhaven, and this is my friend, Miss Stenhouse.”

Gil ignored Miss Stenhouse’s hissed protest to her friend and bowed. “I am Rutledge, Mrs Fenhaven, and I have a particular interest in a conversation about myself, in which I and my friends are made the subject of scurrilous and evil lies.”

Mrs Fenhaven paled, and Miss Stenhouse coloured but rallied. “Those who eavesdrop seldom hear good of themselves.”

“Those who spread lies about prominent members of Society seldom prosper,” he countered. “I do not know you, Miss Stenhouse, and I do not care to further the acquaintance. I very much doubt that you are personally known to any of the people whose names you freely malign in an open stairway of a public inn. However, I am confident that Mrs Cunningham and the other ladies of her family can find out all about you, your family, your connections, and any skeletons in your family tree.”

“Are you threatening me?” The stance was still belligerent, but the slight quaver in the voice suggested uncertainty, and Mrs Fenhaven was gabbling apologies as fast as her tongue could wag.

Gil nodded, gravely. “Not a threat, precisely, madam. Consider it, instead, a promise. I have spent my entire adult life defending my country, as Mrs Fenhaven has pointed out. I will defend my friends from any attack, including those by ignorant muckrakers spreading false rumours. I promise you, Miss Stenhouse, you would be wise to keep your ill-informed opinions to yourself.”

Mrs Fenhaven was whispering urgently to Miss Stenhouse, who had deflated like the silly hen she was, her eyes glancing everywhere except at Gil, as if seeking a way to leave the battlefield with dignity.

Gil took pity on the poor friend, and stepped to one side, allowing them to pass, Mrs Fenhaven curtseying slightly and saying, in a harried tone, “So nice to meet you, my lord, at least it would have been… oh dear, oh Millie, how could you.”

In the private parlour Lord Henry had ordered for their meal, the rest of his party was already gathered, but after they had eaten and the nursemaid had taken the children upstairs to get their coats for their outing, he told Lord Henry and Susan about the encounter. Susan was scornful. “I’ve never heard of the woman, and I doubt she knows anyone who matters, Rutledge. She cannot harm me or mine. Though I would have paid pounds for a ringside seat on her dressing down. I am sure she must have been shaking in her shoes.”

Gil was less inclined to be amused. “Unfortunately, I doubt I’ve spiked her guns, and she is only one, besides. We can’t deny that we did travel together, and alone, and though you and I know it was in all innocence, people will believe what they will.”

He cast an anxious glance at Lord Henry. “I am sorry, general.”

“No apology required, my boy. Susan has told me how you looked after her; yes, and found and rescued Amy, too.”

Susan made a small delicate noise of disgust. “Apologies, indeed. Are you sorry you came with me, Rutledge? I was going anyway, as you full well know, and while I am fully conscious of what I owe you, I do not appreciate the suggestion that either you or my father controls my behaviour.”

Gil had to smile at that, a wry twist of the lips. No one controlled his goddess. She was a force of nature. Nonetheless, he could not be as blithe about the rumours as her. “Perhaps I should take the children to see the playing fields, and the General should come with you to the school, Susan. My presence will only add fuel to the fire of the rumours.”

Susan shook her head. “Your absence, when you are known to be in Cambridge, will look like guilt, Gil. Be damned to the rumourmongers. I would appreciate your escort.”

Gil glanced at Lord Henry, who said, “Susan is right. The only way to deal with rumours is to act as if you have done nothing at all of which to be ashamed.”

Susan gave a deep sigh. “There. You have the agreement of the male head of my family. Satisfied, Rutledge?”

Even Gil, who had lived in an almost entirely male world since he was a schoolboy, knew better than to give an honest answer to that. “It shall be as you wish, Susan.”

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