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Tag: regency suspense

The Servants Always Know

Loring Place, Suffolk, 27 May 1814. The upper servants have gathered in the housekeeper’s room. They are:

Mrs Walton, Housekeeper

Meadows, Butler

Dover, maid to the dowager Lady Loring

Hughes, maid to Lady Loring

Cotton, valet to Sir Edward Loring,

Fox, valet to Sir Edward’s heir, Sir Julian Loring.

Mrs Walton poured the tea and deftly plied sugar tongs and cream jug to prepare each cup exactly to the recipient’s liking. They had sat together so often that she no longer needed to ascertain their tastes. Miss Dover, the dowager’s maid was longest at the Place, almost forty years, while even Cotton had been with Sir Edward for more than five years now. She still missed the former valet, Mr Frost, who had died quietly in his sleep one autumn night.

She herself had completed her quarter century last year. Lady Loring had presented her with this handsome teapot to mark the occasion. It was a good place, she thought, as he distributed the cups. While my lady would not tolerate extravagance or waste, she was not one of those mistresses who grudged her servants every bite they ate and Mrs Walton knew how to walk the fine line between propriety and presumption.

Dover inhaled the fragrant steam before sipping the hot liquid. “I am sure I shall be glad to see my bed tonight. We have an early start tomorrow.”

Mrs Walton nodded understandingly. It had been an eventful day, with dinner put back until seven and a flurry of last-minute arrangements to be made for the dowager’s and Miss Chloe’s unexpected journey tomorrow.

“Have you everything packed?”

“All but for Miss Chloe’s pink gown. It will dry overnight and I’ll iron it at Lady Undrell’s—I’d have to press it again anyway.”

“It is unlike her ladyship to travel at such short notice.” Hughes remarked. “I hope all is well at the Undrells.”

“Your lady does not go with them?” Fox enquired

“She was in no state to consider it.” Hughes pursed her lips. “She and Sir Edward had words again.”

“That must be why he was so cranned,” Cotton said. “What was it this time?”

“Something to do with that Mr Chidlow who called earlier about Miss Fancourt, and I’m sure I can’t see how that could be my lady’s fault.”

“Sir Edward was furious that she had received him,” Meadows put in. “He stormed off to the little office as soon as he heard he was on the premises.”

Hughes nodded. “He rang her a fine peal afterwards. I had to give her a composer after he left her, poor lady.”

“I was that surprised to hear that you were having Miss Fancourt’s things packed up, Mrs Walton,” Dover said. “Is there any news of her? My lady would be anxious to know how she goes on, I’m sure.”

“I’m afraid not.” Mrs Walton answered.

“What sort of a man is this Mr Chidlow?

“I only saw him briefly but he seemed perfectly respectable.”

“Not gentry,” Meadows offered. “A man of business, I would say.

Cotton whistled softly. “Acting on behalf of her protector, I imagine. He must be a wealthy man.”

“Or besotted, “Fox said, “to send for her things like that, I mean. Most gentlemen wouldn’t care and a peculiar dresses different to a governess, after all.”

Mrs Walton sat up straight. “I don’t believe it—I never have. A nicer lady than Miss Fancourt you couldn’t meet. In the ten years she was Miss Chloe’s governess, her behaviour was always just so. Why should she suddenly throw her cap over the windmill like that?”

“Now that Miss Chloe has come out, she couldn’t remain here much longer,” Hughes pointed out. “Her ladyship had given her notice to the next quarter day.”

“It would have been wiser to serve her notice and receive her certificate of character,” Meadows said heavily. “Without one, she has no hope of securing respectable employment.”

“An old maid yielding to a sudden passion?” Cotton suggested. “What is she— thirty? She must have known this was her only chance. Why else would she pike off without a word to anyone, leaving all her things behind her? There’s no smoke without fire, that’s what I say. I heard that Mr Purdue saw her up before an officer, riding full pelt, they were—almost ran him down—and showing more of her legs than any decent female would.” He grinned. “Some sight that would be, with her being such a Long Meg—

“That will be enough of that, Mr Cotton,” Mrs Walton snapped. “In my Room, Miss Fancourt will be spoken of with respect until we have good reason — not just alehouse tittle-tattle—to believe she is no longer deserving of it. We are all dependent on our good names, are we not? And words, once spoken, cannot be taken back. It behoves us all to speak as charitably of others, as we would they spoke of us.”


Cranned          sour, ill-tempered

Composer        a soothing or sedative draught

To ring a peal  to scold, usually used of a wife to her husband, but in this case the other way round.

Protector         a gentleman who has a mistress in keeping

To throw one’s cap over the windmill            to act in a crazed, reckless or unconventional manner.

To pike off      to run away

Full pelt           at full speed.

Long Meg       a very tall woman

A Suggestion of Scandal:

When governess Rosa Fancourt surprises two lovers in flagrante delicto, her life and future are suddenly at risk. Even if she escapes captivity, the mere suggestion of scandal is enough to ruin a lady in her situation. In Sir Julian Loring she finds an unexpected champion but will he stand by her to the end?


“The strange thing is that no one else saw the absconding couple,” Julian commented to his grandfather afterwards. “One would have thought it would have been generally remarked upon. There is no talk of an officer being absent without leave or having a new ladybird in keeping either.”

Lord Swanmere looked at him keenly. “Been making enquiries, have you?”

Julian shrugged. “Why should she get away with such a cowardly attack? For all she knows, she left my sister for dead.”

“Perhaps she did not want to be taken up for murder,” Swanmere said dryly. “But she will not go unpunished, my boy. She has only the clothes she stood up in and who knows what support, if any, she will get from her lover. Very likely he put her on the first stage to London. Hers will be a rapid descent into vice and depravity.”

Julian sighed. “I suppose you are right.”

But he could find no comfort in this dismal prophecy. Beneath his concern for Chloe, he strove to ignore another injury inflicted by Miss Fancourt; the betrayal not only of his family but also, on a deeply personal level, of himself. How could he have been so mistaken in her? And yet, at other times he could not accept her guilt.

A Suggestion of Scandal is available worldwide as eBook and paperback. Universal Amazon link:

About the author

Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin, Ireland. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector.

Catherine has a keen sense of history and of connection with the past which so often determines the present. She is fascinated by people and loves a good story, especially when characters come to life in a book. But then come the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’. She is particularly interested in what happens after the first happy end—how life goes on around the protagonists and sometimes catches up with them.

Catherine Kullmann’s novels are set in the early nineteenth century—one of the most significant periods of European and American history. The Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland of 1800, the Anglo-American war of 1812 and more than a decade of war that ended in the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 are all events that continue to shape our modern world. At the same time, the aristocracy-led society that drove these events was under attack from those who demanded social and political reform, while the industrial revolution saw the beginning of the transfer of wealth and ultimately power to those who knew how to exploit the new technologies.

Catherine has always enjoyed writing; she loves the fall of words, the shaping of an expressive phrase, the satisfaction when a sentence conveys my meaning exactly. She enjoys plotting and revels in the challenge of evoking a historic era for characters who behave authentically in their period while making their actions and decisions plausible and sympathetic to a modern reader. But rewarding as all this craft is, she says, there is nothing to match the moment when a book takes flight, when your characters suddenly determine the route of their journey.

Catherine’s debut novel, The Murmur of Masks, received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and was short-listed for Best Novel in the 2017 CAP (Carousel Aware Prize) Awards. Perception & Illusion received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and a Discovered Diamonds Award. Her new novel, A Suggestion of Scandal, was published in August 2018.

You can Catherine’s website at 

Her Facebook page is



Wedding bells? Or something worse?

I trust you are well and the boys have recovered from the fever they acquired at Lady Slone’s house party. I was pleased to hear it was nothing more serious. The Slone’s governess should be put out on the street for allowing the children to play when she knew their little Fredrick felt ill. Disgusting the quality of help these days.

Father has some news, but I must address my news first, as it is of much more import.

You may have already heard that Lady Harrington left London recently with an unknown Frenchman much her junior. Well, I have discovered he is not her consort as suspected, but a friend of her daughter’s, lately in Paris. Lady Mallory has returned from France all a-flutter. Seems Miss Adella Harrington left her care in the middle of the night without notice or explanation. As you know, Lady Mallory is my particular friend and I share this news with you in complete confidence as she shared it with me.

The Frenchman has been identified as Duc François Armistead, a finely dressed gentleman who is close friends with you-know-who. He courted Miss H. for much of their trip and it was thought he would propose marriage. He was suddenly whisked away to the country by his father. When he returned to Paris, he was livid at Miss H.’s absence and followed her to England, for the purpose we suppose to ask for her hand. Meanwhile, Lord Harrington seems to have received Miss Adella at his country estate in Northumberland and calls for Lady Mallory’s head.

Lord Harrington’s manservant of the worst kind accosted her first in the streets of Paris and now in London to demand she answer to Lord Harrington’s claims she left his sister unchaperoned and “in peril” despite her promise to keep her safe. You should have seen Lady Mallory’s pallor when I asked what she supposed Lord Harrington would do to her if Adella had come to harm. She gripped my arm and stared into my eyes as if taken over by some sort of demon.

“I don’t know!” she cried. “I fear the worst.” And then she bid me go so she could retire, her headache coming on with a vengeance.

So I ask you sister, who is this Duc Armistead to Miss Harrington. Are we to hear wedding bells soon, or is it as Lady Mallory intimated…something much worse? And as far as Lord Harrington, do you believe him the devil Lady Mallory fears? Have you ever happened to meet him? I have not had the pleasure, but then I suppose he can’t be any better than his late father.

Speaking of fathers, ours is begging me to relay his gout has come on quite bad and we shall be leaving for Bath by Sunday at latest. Do write me there, you know the address, and please find out whatever you can about this dark Lord Harrington. Is he as grumpy as we are told, or is he just as silly as any of these serious men?

With love to the family,

Your sister.

Find out if Lord Harrington is as evil as Lady Mallory thinks in Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe by Emmy Z. Madrigal.

Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe

imageLord Alexander Harrington’s life is rather tame until a shoeless, coatless waif is found wandering his estate with no memory of who she is. Despite his stoicism, Lord Harrington finds himself drawn to the lost girl who he compares to a scared doe. Caring for her illness despite speculation of her mental state, he develops feelings for her.

Is she an escaped lunatic, or simply a lost woman desperately in need of his help? A revelation about his own family’s history with the mental asylum down the road causes him to question his feelings. When a massive fire breaks out on estate grounds, will he lose her forever?

Available now on

imageEmmy Z. Madrigal is the author of the contemporary romance series Sweet Dreams and the Anime Girl Series. She also writes horror under Emerian Rich. Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe is her first Regency Romance. Find out more at:

Mysterious accident robs duke’s heir of memory

LF533766_942long (1)The Teatime Tattler has learned of a report of a most grievous nature via The Warwickshire Warbler. It seems that Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, went missing from his mother’s annual summer fête for more than a week, and no one knows what stratagems he practiced during his absence in order to prevent the duke from forcing a marriage upon the marquess. Other guests at the Duchess of Devilfoard’s entertainment speak of the oddity of the situation.

“It is well known that the duke means for his heir to marry the Earl of Sandahl’s daughter, Lady Mathild,” Lady Falonwick shared, “but Malvern foils his father upon each entreaty, even taking up with that lightskirt, Miss Alexandra Dandridge, rather than to marry and produce an heir for the dukedom. In my opinion, it is a shame that the young hold no knowledge of their obligations. One evening after his arrival, I spoke to Malvern of Lord Falonwick’s heir presumptive and it was as if Malvern knew not of whom I spoke. In my opinion, the marquess should be made to memorize Debrett’s. How will he oversee the dukedom upon Devilfoard’s demise if he knows nothing of the peerage?”

Lady Beatrice Cuthbert confirmed what Lady Falonwick purported. “Lord Malvern was more than a week tardy making an appearance at Her Grace’s table, and even then he remained from company, choosing instead to spend his time with his sister, the Viscountess Stoke. Something is definitely amiss. Only last year, Lord Malvern led the nature walk  and all that the adventure entailed for the young ladies and gentlemen of the duchess’s party, and this year he barely leaves one of the chairs meant for the elder attendees. The man is not yet thirty! And more circumspect is the way the marquess’s family treats him, as if there is more than a simple shoulder injury from his reported accident, the excuse given for his tardiness. I cannot decipher what the Duke and Duchess of Devilfoard hide from their guests, but there is a silent uproar brewing beneath the roof of the Devil’s Keep, and when it explodes it will shake the dukedom to his core.”

This reporter wonders if Lord Malvern has a malady not apparent to those who look upon his fine countenance and if Devilfoard conceals the truth of his son’s weak mind. Perhaps the marquess suffered more than initially reported when he was held prisoner upon the French border. Or mayhap it is Lady Mathild who drives him from his home. It is known that the Earl of Sandahl, his countess, and Lady Mathild departed Devil’s Keep the day following the marquess’s return. Surely Sandahl will not readily abandon his hopes of making Lady Mathild the future duchess. Those who know Sandahl recognize that nothing stands in the earl way once he has set his mind to the task.


Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep

HUNTINGTON McLAUGHLIN, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and ANGELICA LOVELACE is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart–and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side?

Excerpt Chapter 7

AnAngelComes_LargeDespite the impropriety of doing so, Hunt poured himself a shot of brandy from a decanter beside the duke’s—correction, beside his father’s—desk. He was not certain whether his doing so was customary or not, but he required liquid courage to face his future. However, before he finished the drink, he heard the quick steps of soft slippers upon the marbled floors he noted outside the room’s open door.

“Oh, Hunt!” the woman gasped as she rushed into his one-arm embrace, seeking his comfort. My mother, he thought. Yet, there was nothing familiar about her—not her appearance, nor her voice, nor even the cloying scent of roses she wore. Surely, such was his mother’s favorite fragrance. Devastation took hold of his heart when he realized if a bevy of other ladies of the same age and social class surrounded the woman in his embrace, Hunt could not chose her from the group. The thought had his heartbeat hitching faster.

“I have worried so,” she whispered as she caressed his cheek. “You are injured?” she said as she noted the crude sling.

“Alibi threw me during the storm,” he said simply, knowing he would be expected to repeat his tale several more times this evening. “Let us wait upon the others,” he said in kindness. “I am exhausted and would tell my tale but once.”

Tears misting her eyes, the duchess nodded. “While we wait, permit me to ask Mr. Strasser to send for Mr. Roddick.”

“If it eases your concerns,” he said with a squeeze of her hand. She rushed to the bell cord, and Hunt studied her. His mother was an exceedingly handsome woman, likely in her late forties. Slender. Taller than he expected, nearly reaching his shoulder. He thought Miss Lovelace would appear a petite touch of sunlight beside the magnificently coiffed duchess. The thought of Miss Lovelace brought a sad smile to his lips. He would never see her again.

Gold and a bit of silver feathered his mother’s warm brown hair. Brown eyes, the color of walnuts. He noted few of his own features in her countenance.

Louder footsteps announced his father’s approach. Instinctively, Hunt straightened his shoulders to meet the man he would one day replace.

“He is home, Hamilton, and safe,” his mother explained to the man who commanded the room with his presence.

“I can see that much for myself, Duchess,” the duke declared with what appeared to be pure relief crossing his countenance. “Harry says you suffered greatly.” Hamilton McLaughlin’s gaze skimmed Hunt’s stance, and Hunt fought the urge to squirm. He wondered how often his father summoned him to this very room. Had he been an exemplary son or a total rascal?

Hunt swallowed the rising consternation flooding his throat. “It was more difficult than I would like.”

The appearance of what had to be Henrietta upon Harrison’s arm brought Hunt further regret. His twin. The woman who entered the world only ten minutes before he. When Harrison told him of the family awaiting Hunt’s return, Hunt imagined if no one else, he would instantly recognize Henrietta. Did not twins possess a special bond?

His sister was beautiful. Yet, she favored their mother. Hunt found himself a bit disappointed not to feel anything exceptional for any of his dear family.

“Thank goodness,” Henrietta gasped as she took his free hand in her two. “Even when some considered the worst, I knew we had not lost you. My heart remained as one. I knew we would find you again. We are two, Huntington. You cannot leave me without my heart knowing.”

Hunt wished he could say the same, but his mental turmoil continued.

Harry cleared his throat. “Perhaps, we should all assume a seat. There is more to Huntington’s story than his obvious shoulder injury.” His brother assisted Etta to a nearby chair. Hunt watched her lower her girth into the cushions, and he wondered how often he assisted his twin in such situations.

“What else is there to know?” the duchess asked suspiciously. She reached for the duke’s hand in comfort.

Harry kept the floor, and Hunt held no objections. He possessed no desire to announce his lack of knowledge of these people, who obviously experienced real concern over his absence.

“Hunt suffered another injury beyond his displaced shoulder.”

The duke’s eyes scanned Hunt’s body again. “Such as?” His father stood imperiously behind his duchess, his hand resting nobly upon her shoulder. Hunt could easily recognize his own countenance in the man. Even a stranger’s assessment would proclaim Hunt his father’s son. He was his father come to life a second time, Etta, his mother, and Harry a combination of the two.

Hunt discovered his voice. “Despite appearing only in disarray, I endured a head injury, which robbed me of a portion of my memory.”

Henrietta’s features scrunched up in confusion. “What portion?”

Hunt’s gaze remained locked upon his father’s. He possessed no doubt of his mother’s and Etta’s sympathy, but the duke would hold other concerns, those directed to the responsibilities of the title. “I recall the names of writers and painters and musicians, as well as the details of historical accounts. I know my sums, my letters, and my gentlemanly manners. All my education as a duke’s son.” He paused to set his stance. “Yet, I hold no knowledge of the Devil’s Keep beyond what I learned of this room with my entrance a quarter hour past.” Hunt went very still. “Nor of its inhabitants.”

The duchess paled. “You mean the identity of my guests?” his mother asked through trembling lips. “Surely, you cannot mean to say…” Her voice trailed off.

In the distant depths of his mind, Hunt studied the terrible tableau before him. His father’s mouth was thin lipped, and his countenance stony, but he said, “You possess no memory of being Malvern?”

“No, sir.” Hunt sucked in a steadying breath. “I imagine I could muster an understanding of estate books and investments specific to the dukedom. I was not struck dumb nor am I without intelligence. I simply lost the names of those most dear to me.” He smiled wryly. “And other members of Society. I have no social history.”

His mother gasped and clutched at the duke’s hand. “How is that possible? Surely you know your own parents!”

“Until you walked into this room, Duchess, I could not conjure your image,” Hunt admitted. He wished to add the only image he owned was that of Miss Angelica Lovelace, but he could not share that particular fact with his family.

“Hamilton, do something!” his mother pleaded.

“What would you have me do, Alberta? Even as a duke, I cannot order the return of my heir’s memory.”

His father’s gaze did not falter. Hunt admired the duke’s control.

His mother was on her feet and pacing. “I want the most learned medical man in the kingdom summoned to Malvern’s side.”

The duke gathered his duchess into his arms. It was a telling moment. It spoke of the state of his parents’ marriage. “We will do all that is necessary, Duchess,” he assured her.

Harry rushed to Hunt’s aid. “Until that time I intend to remain at Hunt’s side so he can manage his social obligations.”

“I can send our guests away,” his mother offered. “Beg off with a family emergency.”

Hunt gestured in the negative. “For now, I would prefer you not bring more attention to my condition. It is my hope just being at the Keep will bring new life to my recollections. I will use my shoulder injury to withdraw when I am overwhelmed by so many new faces.”

“You can use my condition as an alternate excuse. You can be a doting twin brother in Lord Stoke’s absence,” Etta suggested.

A tremendous ache to know his twin again filled Hunt’s heart. “Harry tells me such actions would not be a divergence from character for us.”

A questioning restlessness crossed Henrietta’s countenance. “Soon your reminiscences will belong to you alone and not simply ones borrowed from Harry.”

“It is my dearest hope,” he confessed.

The duke set the duchess from him. “I am not one who acts upon hope. If Malvern is well enough, we should devise some sort of plan to keep this development from becoming common knowledge. There are those who would move against the dukedom if they think Malvern incapable of making fair judgments. Harry, who else knows of Malvern’s dilemma?”

Harry shot a quick glance at Hunt. “Only the Earl of Remmington. He and I traveled together in our search for Huntington.”

“Where is Remmington?” Etta asked. “Did he not return with you?”

“The earl’s horse took on a stone,” Hunt supplied. “His seeking a farrier brought us together, as I was seated on the back of a farm wagon at the time. We met in a small village. Remmington will return when the horse can carry him without pain.”

“Remmington and Hunt have held a close association since their university days. The earl will not jeopardize Hunt’s position in Society,” Harry confirmed. “Remmington understands the demands of a title.”

“Then let us be about discovering a means to protect Malvern from censure.”



The story is charming, with interesting and realistic characters, a complex plot with plenty of surprises, and a sweet romance woven through it all. The author has a good command of what it was like to be a woman in nineteenth-century England–almost as if she had been there. She really did her research for this one.


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