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Lies, Damned Lies, and Gossip

The Teatime Tattler wishes to go on record as saying that it does not believe the scurrilous rumours currently circulating throughout society regarding the Merry Marquis, the Saint of Mayfair, and other members of the renowned H. and W. families.

Had these rumours been true, you can be sure that your intrepid Teatime Tattler correspondents would long since have uncovered the facts and reported on them. We are pleased to rank ourselves with the two highly respectable families to deny the rubbish that is being printed elsewhere in lesser journals.

To Tame the Wild Rake

The whole world knows Aldridge is a wicked sinner. They used to be right.

The ton has labelled Charlotte a saint for her virtue and good works. They don’t know the ruinous secret she hides.

Then an implacable enemy reveals all. The past that haunts them wounds their nearest relatives and turns any hope of a future to ashes.

Must they choose between family and one another?

Buy Links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09944JGMR/

Or find other links on Books2Read: https://books2read.com/CMK-ToTame

Excerpt

Her first hint that something was wrong was in the reception line. She smiled a greeting at an acquaintance, who suddenly found it necessary to turn away to speak to someone else. It kept happening, and a space opened up around the three of them—a space surrounded by backs, frowns, and the hum of whispers.

When they reached the reception line, the hostess flushed a deep red. “Lady Charlotte… I did not expect… that is…” She turned to her husband, who spoke to Nate. “Under the circumstances, Lord Bentham, perhaps it would be best if you took—er—the sisters home.”

Nate’s face had turned to granite and his voice was icy. “What circumstances would those be, Lord Fenton?”

The man cast a desperate look around him and stammered, “No smoke without fire, what? Best just to go home.” His wife slipped her hand into his and he pressed her hand to his heart, before pleading, “Look, Bentham, my wife has planned this for weeks. Don’t make a scene.”

Nate stood his ground. “What. Circumstances.”

“Not the place to talk about it,” Fenton insisted. “Ask me tomorrow. Ask anyone. It’s all over town.”

They’ve found out about me and Aldridge. Charlotte touched her brother-in-law’s arm. “Let us leave, Nate. We are not welcome here.”

“I will remember this, Fenton,” Nate commented, his statement all the scarier for its conversational tone.

They left, Charlotte on one of Nate’s arms and Sarah on the other, the crowd separating before them as if afraid of contamination.

Uncle James had not gone out that evening, having shelved his plans to attend the Opera after the altercation with the Duchess of Haverford. He was in his study with Yousef, but called through the open door when they arrived.

Drew was there before them. “Bad evening?” he asked.

“That prat Fenton threw us out,” Nate told him. “Something about ‘circumstances’.”

“Circumstances, eh?” Drew commented. “The manager of my club told me, very politely, that my membership had been temporarily suspended pending investigation of ‘circumstances’.”

“Did the club or Fenton give you any information about these ‘circumstances’?” Uncle James asked. He had poured each of them a brandy, even the twins, and was handing them out.

Another arrival in the hall proved to be Jamie and Sophia.

“Surely you haven’t been shunned, too?” Charlotte asked, as Uncle James poured a brandy for his eldest son and a port for Sophia.

“Oh dear,” Sophia replied. “Has it come to that?”

Uncle James summarised the situation. “Charlotte, Sarah, and Nate were turned away from the Fentons, and Drew’s membership of his club has been suspended. Do you know what this is about?”

Sophia accepted her port. “We came to tell you that the whole town is buzzing with stories, many of them about the Winshires, others about the Haverfords. People have been dredging up history going back to Aldridge’s childhood, and every scandal he has ever been connected with, plus a few I’ve never before heard. Jessica has gone home in tears.”

“And the same with our family,” Jamie added. “Every incident that can be misinterpreted or cast in a bad light, right back to your duel with Haverford when you were a young man, Kaka.”

Yousef swirled his coffee thoughtfully. “It sounds like Wharton, Yakob,” he suggested. “Were not he and his witch of a sister masters of the nasty rumour?”

“You’re right, Yousef,” Jamie agreed. “Let us track the stories to their source and stamp on the snake’s head.”

“Which will not stop people repeating them,” Sarah pointed out, “and how are we to prove they are not true?”

“We cannot,” Charlotte said, slowly, remembering her conversation with the Duchess of Haverford. “We should not. We simply face the scandalmongers down and refuse to bow our heads. We speak not to petty people with evil minds but to those with real power. The Queen will receive Mama, I am sure, and you could talk to the princesses, Sophia. Kaka, you have influence with the Prince Regent. If they will show their support in public, that will help.”

Sophia nodded approvingly. “Yes, Charlotte is quite right. For every rumour we disprove, another will pop up, even worse. Why, they are saying that you seduced your own brother, Charlotte, and that he killed himself as a result. Yes, and that the reason Sarah ran away with Nate was that you and she were disporting with the rakes at one of Richport’s orgies, and Grandfather was threatening to make you each marry one. Also that Charlotte has been Aldridge’s mistress ever since. How can people swallow such rubbish?”

The room swirled around Charlotte. Someone took her hand in a firm grip and advised her to breathe. Sarah. She took a sip from the brandy glass held to her lips and the burn of the alcohol brought her back.

“A kernel of truth,” she croaked, then took the glass from Sarah and sipped again. Her voice steadier, she said again, “A kernel of truth. Richport had an estate next to Applemorn Hall, where Sarah and I were living when Sarah fell in love with Nate. I met Aldridge that summer.” She smiled as her uncle and cousins, without moving, shifted into warrior mode, alert as hawks sighting the rabbit. “He was a perfect gentleman, and kind to a little girl,” she assured them.

She looked around the room. She knew her family loved her, and Yousef was fiercely loyal. But surely, they would look at her differently if she told them the other morsels of truth in that litany of lies. Her brother Elfingham had raped her. She had spent a night with Aldridge.

Sarah squeezed her hand. “I imagine we shall find other morsels of truth buried in some of the other rumours. Although some seem to be made out of whole cloth. I imagine it unlikely in the extreme that Aldridge killed a circus performer who happened to look like the Rose of Frampton in order to allow his mistress to adopt a new identity and marry his friend Lord Overton.”

Drew, Sophia and Jamie each had a rumour to quote, all of them ridiculous.

The attacks on Uncle James and the rest of the family three years ago had been staged to win public sympathy and disguise the fact that Uncle James was an imposter—an Easterner who had known the real son of the deceased duke when he was in prison in Persia. The attacks were real enough, as Charlotte knew. The rest was nonsense.

Aldridge had sold his brother Jonathan to slavers, along with his brother’s wife, Prudence Wakefield, who was a former lover of his. They would be slaves to the Saracens yet, but Prue whored herself to buy her escape. Or Jonathan did. Charlotte had heard Prue speak of how she and Jonathan had been kidnapped from the London docks, and of how they’d escaped into France. So another farrago of lies.

Uncle James and Aunt Eleanor had been lovers in their youth, and had resumed their affair when Uncle James returned to England.

Charlotte spoke again when the chuckles died down. “We need Aunt Eleanor.” She or Mama, but Mama had gone to Leicester to be with Ruth in her confinement.

Sarah started to protest and Uncle James frowned, but Charlotte held up a hand. “No one is better at the politics of Polite Society. And these rumours concern her and her family, so she will be working to combat them. It is better strategy to work together.”

“Charlotte is right,” Sophia said, oblivious to the undercurrents. “A pity that Aunt Grace and Aunt Georgie are both from town. Still, Aunt Eleanor will be able to marshal Society’s dragons on the side of right.”

“Yes, and the Wakefields will know how to track the rumours back to Wharton, wherever he lairs,” Uncle James agreed. “We have a plan, my children. I suggest we sleep on it, and send for the duchess and the Wakefields tomorrow.”

Are Runaway Brides in the Spirit of Xmas?

Honoured Sir

I write as a concerned member of the public. This recent rash of BRIDES who refuse to do their duty to their FAMILY must be stopped.

Sir, I protest the latest offering from the Bluestocking Belles, this CABAL of females who publish FICTIONAL ACCOUNTS that encourage women to think for themselves.

As if any female has the BRAIN, sir, to know better than her FAMILY about how to choose a husband to protect and care for her.

In their latest book, the Bluestocking Belles offer stories of brides who RUN from excellent matches. The first has a maiden who is upset to find that a young man is marrying her for her dowry and her pedigree. This, young woman, if the WAY of the WORLD. It is not an excuse to flee your responsibilities.

In the second, likewise, the young woman rejects the excellent match her FATHER made for her on the specious grounds that the chosen man has firm ideas about controlling her behaviour. Clearly a case of spare the ROD and spoil the CHILD.

The third story has a commoner who refuses to marry at the behest of her AUNT, even though the COUSIN the aunt choses is a man with a TITLE, and therefore better than such a female might hope to expect.

In the fourth, a girl whose birth is questionable runs from an earl offering, or so she thinks, a liaison that is NOT respectable. What else does such a female expect?

Two more short stories complete the set, on the same scandalous theme.

I wish, sir, to express the most serious of objections to this collection.

***

If you want to know more about these brides and the grooms they choose, buy Holiday Escapes, released tomorrow. More information and buy links here.

A Wager Between Siblings

Lord Roland de Wolfe burst into his sister’s bedchamber, sword drawn to meet whatever peril she was facing. A frown quickly marred his brow to see her calmly sitting by the fire reading a book.

“You said ’twas urgent,” he muttered placing the blade in the scabbard strapped to his side. “I thought mayhap you were in danger.”

Livinia gave a light laugh. “I am perfectly fine.” She pointed to his attire or lack thereof. “You could have at least put on a tunic. Obviously, I interrupted your bath with my summons.”

“Aye, you did, among other things,” he replied with a sly grin, not that his sister needed to know of the woman waiting for him back in his own chamber. “What was of such import that it could not wait ’til the morn?”

“I have an idea that could be of mutual benefit to us. A wager if you would care to take a chance,” she said with sparkling eyes. She reached over for a cup and took a sip. “Are you game?”

His eyes narrowed as he pondered her. Livinia had always been mischievous in her youth. In the past, Roland had been more than willing to be an accomplice for whatever she had in mind as long as no one was hurt in her games. She was used to getting her way and Roland supposed he was much to blame since he had been left to raise her.

He came to sit opposite her, leaning his forearms on his legs. “What did you have in mind, my dear?”

“Our cousin Catherine arrived this morn. She brings with her Sir Charles…”

“Nay!”

“… along with her husband’s sister, Lady Freya,” Livinia continued with a smirk.

His brow rose. Now his sister had his attention. Roland knew of his Livinia’s infatuation with Sir Charles since she was a young girl. He had hoped she had outgrown those feelings but apparently not. “Laird Douglas has a sister?”

“Aye, he does, and he has brought her with them to Wolverhampton. I was introduced to them a short while ago, although I am expected to return to the great hall shortly.”

“Go on,” Roland said sitting back in his chair as he began tapping the wooden arms with his fingertips.

“You worm your way into Lady Freya’s affections. I do not care how you do it, only that it drives a wedge between the woman and Sir Charles,” Livinia answered.

“How exactly do you know Charles cares for the woman and why does this matter to you?”

“I am not blind, Roland. Suffice to say I would like to see just how far we can push them, tear them apart, or bring them together. I only care to make Charles suffer a bit for not returning my affections in our youth,” she lifted her nose a bit higher causing Roland to laugh at her antics.

“What is in it for me?” he said mockingly. He just may enjoy this challenge if only to see what depths his sister might go to try and finally win Sir Charles.

“Why, you get the company of a lovely young woman who no doubt has a hefty dowry that could be yours if you play this game right. Have you not said that we both should marry soon to replenish your coffers?”

“And you finally get Charles.” He let his comment fill the space between them ’til he watched Livinia shrug.

“That is the whole point of this, Roland. Are you in?”

“This seems like an easy bet to make with you, sister. You will fail, of course, and would never be happy with Charles as your husband. If he and Lady Freya ended up as husband and wife, our wager will be that you agree to marry the man of my choosing. Agreed?” he smirked knowing Livinia would agree before she thought out her plan in greater detail. Generally, she could charm anyone to bend to her will, Charles being the exception.

“Agreed!” she said clapping her hands.

“’Tis a wager then.” Roland stood and bent down to place a kiss on her sister’s cheek. “Now if you will excuse me, I shall see to making myself presentable.” He also needed to get rid of the woman currently waiting for him in his chamber. As he left Livinia, he began mentally composing a list of eligible noblemen whom he might consider worthy enough to marry his sister.


This is an original piece with secondary characters from Belle Sherry Ewing’s novella, To Love An English Knight: De Wolfe Pack Connected World, that released today. Read on to learn more about her medieval romance.

Excerpt:

Sir Charles de Grey read the missive he held from Wolverhampton Castle a second time. Disbelief changed to anger, filling his soul that perchance the outcome may have been different had he been with Lady Catherine’s brother and his family. But, nay… he was Catherine’s guardsman, sworn to protect her. He knew his duty to her and what was required of him. She may have been born Catherine de Wolfe, but she was now the lady of Berwyck.

Knowing the heartbreak this would cause Lady Catherine, Charles knew he must quickly locate her husband so he could reveal the news from the missive. Charles would like nothing better than to crush the parchment beneath his feet than to deliver such horrible news to someone he cared for.

He gave a heavy sigh as he left the stable area after seeing the runner was sent to the kitchens to fill his belly after his trip. Memories flitted unbidden across his mind, and he shook his head remembering how he had once been in love with Lady Catherine. Aye! ’Twas foolish on his part he knew, but the months he had been at Berwyck had dispelled such feelings. She was happy in her marriage to the Lord of Berwyck. Thankfully, Charles and Douglas fell into a common accord to keep the lady safe at all costs. Her happiness was all that mattered. Charles’s heart would mend one day, or so he supposed.

As he came into the inner bailey, he saw a flash of fabric as a woman ran behind the healer’s hut. A hint of a grin lit his face. Lady Freya, the laird’s sister, had been a bit of an annoyance when he had first met her while traveling to Caen. When he had first captured the woman who had been following him through camp, he had thought her one of the whores who tended to show up at such events. ’Twas hardly his fault for the mistake.

Fire had blazed in her blue-green eyes, and for the briefest moment when their lips touched, he was reminded how long it had been since he had a woman beneath him. His fingers had skimmed her brown hair with blonde streaks lightened from the sun. She was beautiful, but at the time, his heart had been clouded by another.

She had continued to shadow him throughout their time at the tournament and even on their travels to Berwyck last year. He had strange feelings for the young woman who could be no more than a score of years. Considering he had been thrown into Berwyck’s dungeon because of the jealousy she felt toward Lady Catherine, he supposed he could forgive. She was young and sometimes foolish. Charles’s heart had become bitter from the ordeal, and the wound that Catherine loved another was part to blame.

As he neared the hut, she came around the corner carrying a basket as though she had not a care in the world. Her eyes sparkled when they met his while she hummed a merry tune. But this was no time to tarry with whatever antics she was up to today. He must find Douglas without haste.

“Sir Charles,” she called out. She offered him a smile, and he gave the briefest nod of his head. “’Tis a lovely morn, is it not?”

He was momentarily startled by her comment when he looked about at the cloudy sky above. “I suppose if you care for the possibility of rain,” he murmured.

“I love the rain. ’Tis fun tae dance in. Have ye never tried it?”

“I have hardly had time for such amusement. Your brother keeps us busy with our training. Once it rains, I am too busy trying to keep upright from slipping in the mud.”

“Ye should make the effort sometime. Ye might enjoy it as long as ye have the right partner.” She fell into step with him when he continued on his way toward the keep.

To Love An English Knight:
De Wolfe Pack Connected World
By Sherry Ewing
$0.99 or #FREE in Kindle Unlimited

Can a chance encounter lead to love?

Sir Charles de Grey is in turmoil. He cannot forget the Scottish lass he kissed in Caen, but her jealous spite toward the lady he was sworn to guard infuriated him. Living at Berwyck Castle, he is torn between his desire for Lady Freya and his need to rebuke her sometimes reckless behavior. Leaving her almost tears him apart, but it might give him time to recover some balance.

Lady Freya of Clan MacLaren didn’t expect to become blinded by love until she became quickly besotted on first seeing the English knight in Caen. How quickly everything fell apart when she defies him! Even worse, when he begins to show signs of returning her feelings, he receives a message from home that will tear them apart. Defying him again may put an end to any chance they may have together, but what other choice does she have when he leaves her?

Can the fragile love they found blossom into something more or will circumstances beyond their control continue to provoke behavior that keeps them apart?

Buy Links or read for #FREE in Kindle Unlimited:

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About Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. When not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist.

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Enquiring minds want to know…

Dear Mr. Clemens:

You will be pleased to be informed that the latest gossip that will hit Society once you publish the information I now divulge will have sales of the Teatime Tattler soaring.

My sister and I were witness to none other than Lady Roselyn Winslow rushing from a house party in tears. One can only assume what she may have witnessed with her duke and his ex-mistress hiding away in a closed room. From the look on the Duke of Hartford’s face once he emerged to race after Lady Roselyn, he was none too pleased. And his mistress you might ask? Well, she appeared as though there was more going on between her and the duke than just a conversation!

 I know you will see that such a juicy bit of tittle-tattle will not be hidden away from the enquiring minds of the ton.

Sincerely,
Lady Abigail Danver

Abigail looked up while her sister Prudence read the letter over her shoulder. “Will it do?” she asked.

Prudence giggled. “It will do very nicely, Abigail. Well done.”

Abigail nodded and folded the letter. Sealing it with wax, she rang for a servant to deliver it to Mr. Clemens. She was certain Mr. C. would want such information no matter how late in the evening it was so he could include it in the morning edition of his lovely paper.


One Moment In Time
A Family of Worth, Book Two
Special pre-order price of $2.99

Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing is pleased to announce that One Moment In Time: A Family of Worth, Book Two is now available for pre-order. Get your copy at the special pre-order price of only $2.99!

One moment in time may be enough, if it lasts forever…

When the man Lady Roselyn Ann Winslow has loved since she was a young girl begins to court her, Roselyn thinks all her dreams have come true… until the dream turns into a nightmare.

Lady Roselyn is everything Edmond Worthington, 9th Duke of Hartford, could ask for in a wife and he is delighted to find she returns his love… until he loses her, not once but twice.

From England’s ballrooms, to Berwyck Castle and a tropical island that is anything but paradise, Edmond and Roselyn face ruthless enemies who will do anything to tear them apart. Can they recover their one moment in time?

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Qfcy5O
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Bio:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time at night. You can learn more about Sherry and her published work at the links below.

Find Sherry Ewing at:

Website & Books: www.SherryEwing.com
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A Kidnap Threat To The Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples!

Despatches from Palermo (1810)
by Lord William Bentinck, English Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples

Lord William Bentinck, pictured here as Captain in a portrait painted by George Romney. William Bentinck was ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples 1812-1816

My dear Lord Chamberlain,
I enclose this letter to you privately, so it will not appear in official correspondence.

I find myself the subject of a most extraordinary plot – one of kidnap on the high seas.

As you know, I have entered delicate negotiations with the Bey of Tunis for the release of more than three hundred Sicilians who were forcibly abducted from their home by the corsairs of the Barbary Coast.

Not only is it a matter of justice, but freeing of these unfortunate souls would also build immeasurable goodwill among the people whose interest I am trying to further with my reforms.

So far, standard diplomatic tactics have proved fruitless with the Bey. I don’t know if you are familiar with this culture but it appears to be the custom for the all the promises in the world to be made but when it comes time to deliver, it is a never ending litany of excuses.

With Napoleon’s Empire at my back in Naples and the Barbary Coast Pirates at my front, it is no easy task set before me. You know of my penchant to follow my intuition and I have done so once again with two young men.

Let’s hope Captain Hardacre can deal with the captured French Frigate in a less spectacular manner.

Captain Christopher Hardacre is an Englishman who runs a merchant vessel out of Palermo. He’s come to me with the most extraordinary tale. It seems one of the pirates has acquired a French frigate and he harbours ambitions to abduct me and my wife and hold us for ransom.

It sounded like a ravings of a mad man – and I have to confess that if was just his testimony alone I’d ignore it, but in Hardacre’s favour is one of his men, an African by the name of Jonathan Afua who I’ve come to learn is a son of one of Ethiopia’s most aristocratic families. He strikes me as being a much more steady character than his captain. It is his grave assessment I’ve learned to trust.

As for the abduction threat, Hardacre has hatched an audacious plan to keep me safe in exchange for the claiming the French frigate for himself as spoils.

Whether Hardacre succeeds or not is immaterial as I have appraised Admiral Freemantle who has agreed that the next meeting with the Bey of Tunis should be done as a show of force so we will be arriving in Tunisia with a fleet that also contains the flagship The Milford.

I’ll write when I have more news,

William

 

Excerpt

Shadow of the Corsairs

Bagrada

Shadow of the Corsairs – out June 26 2018 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DM9VJ5Z

Jonathan’s stomach soured.

Even though it had been more than a year since his captivity there, the very sound of its name reminded him there was work still to finish, a past that could not draw to a close until he had answers.

“Bagrada. Are you sure?” Elias asked. “We’ve sailed by several times over the past six months and there’s no noteworthy activity there.”

Hardacre looked up from the map of the Tunisian coastline. “Sharrouf is certain.”

Elias snorted and folded his arms. “I think you put too much stock in what that man says. He’s a snake, Kit, and he’s not to be trusted.”

“I never said he was to be trusted. He might very well hate Kaddouri as much as we do. But so long as he is a member of the inner circle, then he is useful to us.”

“Unless Kaddouri is using him to lure us into a trap,” countered the first officer. “We’ve stopped three of his raids over the past twelve months and helped free more than a hundred enslaved souls. He’d be just as keen to see the end of us.”

Jonathan shook his head. Kit and Elias bickered like he and his older brother used to. It was time for him to step in.

“What’s Sharrouf getting in exchange for telling you the location of Kaddouri’s fleet?” he asked.

“Information here and there to help with something.”

“Which is?”

“Kidnapping Lord William Bentinck.”

“You jest!”

Hardacre said nothing for a moment. The upturn of his lip was trouble, Jonathan knew that, and so did Elias who turned away with an exaggerated groan.

“Go on,” said Jonathan. “Tell us the whole thing before you make Elias’ head explode.”

“I might not have been completely honest with Sharrouf,” Hardacre confessed. This time, both ends of his mouth lifted and there was a twinkle of manic glee in his eyes. “I told him Bentinck plans another trip to Tunis to petition for the release of the Sicilian slaves, but I neglected to tell him Bentinck’s going with a show of strength instead of taking one ship with a single escort. Accompanying The Milford will be a dozen heavily-armed ships from the Royal Navy.”

“And both Bentinck and Admiral Fremantle know to expect an attack,” Jonathan concluded. “That’s a good plan. What makes you sure Kaddouri will take the bait?”

“Oh, he will. Sharrouf has told me he’s just managed to acquire a double gunned frigate.”

Elias rocked back on his feet. “How has he managed to get one of those? That would carry almost as much firepower as The Milford.”

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