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The Dead Baron?

Dear Reader,

This correspondent gleefully shares the news with you the news that Sir James Branstoke and his new bride, Lady Cecilia Branstoke are not on their honeymoon in the Highlands as they would have all believe. No, no, quite the contrary. They were recently spotted at the theater in the company of Lady Elinor Aldrich.

There was no sign of Baron Simon Aldrich, and Lady Aldrich wore black. Though this correspondent has not heard of any official announcement, it is rumored Baron Simon Aldrich has lamentably met his death in a carriage accident along the White Cliffs of Dover.

Sir James and Lady B. don’t believe it.

We shall do our best to ascertain the truth.

About the Book: Rarer Than Gold, Book 2 of “A Chance Inquiry”

When newlyweds Sir James and Lady Cecilia Branstoke come to console a widow on the death of her husband, they discover some things don’t add up about the death of the young Lord. Worse, a man who won’t state his purpose, but is obviously military, wants a carte blanche to search the dead man’s library! The sheer effrontery!

What begins as sympathy and concern for a troubled neighbor escalates into a mystery with reverberations at the highest level of government.

Napoleon has escaped from Elba and someone has stolen a subsidy shipment meant for England’s allies in their renewed war against Napoleon. The shipment, a valuable mix of gold and guns, soon pits thief against thief and ally against ally with the Branstokes in the middle!

Instead of being on a blissful honeymoon, Sir James and Lady Cecilia Branstoke find themselves dodging knives, fires, and pistols as they search for the missing baronet and the stolen subsidies.

Maybe they should have traveled to the highlands for their honeymoon, as they’d told their friends had been their intention.

~ An Excerpt ~

“The ground is uneven here. It might be best if you stayed here while I search the area,” James suggested.

“No, I will accompany you. Two pairs of eyes. I shall be steady enough. If not, I shall just grab tightly on to you,” Cecilia said.

“And I should enjoy that,” her husband teased. “But be careful. There are fallen stones lying at odd angles that you could sprain an ankle on if you were to step oddly.”

“Yes, I can see that.”

They picked their way through the path of fallen stones toward the nave, wide open to the sky above with patches of blue and lavender and yellow wildflowers growing among the tall grasses shadowing the rocks.

“It is so beautiful and peaceful here,” Cecilia murmured. “Spiritual, though the church is long gone.”

“But not so spiritual that evil stays away,” James said grimly. He left Cecilia’s side to walk to a pile of stones beside a half-standing wall. He bent down to pick something up, then pushed the grass away from the rocks.

“What is it, James?” Cecilia asked as she hurried toward him.

He held out a lady’s glove.

“That’s Elinor’s!” Cecilia said.

He gestured back to the rocks. “There is evidence of blood on the rocks here. Not a lot, but it doesn’t show evidence of rain or time dilution, either. It is recent.”

Cecilia examined the rocks with their blood spatters. Then she looked around at the grass in the surrounding area. She found a few white threads as might come from ripped fabric. She pointed these out to James.

James looked beyond the rocks. “There is a trail,” he said, pointing to the trampled grasses leading to the back of the nave.

“It looks like whoever someone injured leaned against the wall here. There is a large smear of blood. By the location of the blood, I would guess it is from an arm or shoulder wound,” James said.

“Look, there is a bloody handprint.” Cecilia pointed to a partial handprint.

“A man’s hand.”

“Yes,” she agreed. “It appears Elinor bandaged whoever was injured, and then they left. I wonder if we can find traces of the direction they took?”

James glanced at the sky. “The clouds are building. We must hurry if we are to discover any signs of their direction before the weather changes and rain wipes all traces away.”

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Rarer-Than-Gold-Chance-Inquiry-ebook/dp/B096WLGYK8

About the Author

Holly Newman lives in Florida seven miles from the Gulf Coast with Ken and their six cats.

Holly decided to be a writer when she was in the fifth grade and filled notebooks with stories—until a mean-spirited high school teacher told her she had no talent for writing. Crushed, for several years she stopped writing, but the writing bug didn’t go away. Her first book won first place in the University of Texas at Dallas fiction writing competition and was first runner-up for the Rita award from Romance Writers of America.

Holly’s interest in the Regency period started in high school when she volunteered to re-shelve books at the community library. Every week there were Georgette Heyer novels to be shelved. Curious, she checked one out and became immersed in the world of the regency.

Website: Holly Newman | History, Mystery, Humor, and Romance . . . 19th Century Style

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Instagram: @hollynewman1811

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Never Trust a Duke

Dear Reader,

It has come to this author’s attention that the frosty, ever-so-proper Duke of Faircliffe is in possession of stolen artwork!

This salacious detail has also come to the attention of London’s most scandalous family: the Wild Wynchesters. Rumor has it, the painting rightfully belongs to them!

One cannot begin to guess what acts of revenge the motley family of vigilantes might wreak upon His Grace, the Duke of Icy, Yet Maddeningly Sexy Hauteur.

Graham Wynchester has been spied climbing the Palace of Westminster. Elizabeth, purchasing a deadly new swordstick. Tommy, looking disreputable and rakish. Marjorie, with paint under her fingernails. Jacob, amassing an army of highly trained… ferrets?

And as for Miss Chloe Wynchester… er… where did that girl disappear to? She is perhaps the most underestimated of all the Wynchesters. The unassuming wallflower of the bunch and yet, I suspect, the one who poses the greatest danger to the Duke of the Finely Clenched Jaw and Smoldering Gaze…

About the Book: The Duke Heist

A secret identities, forbidden love, opposites attract romance from a New York Times bestselling author: Why seduce a duke the normal way, when you can accidentally kidnap one in an elaborately planned heist?

Chloe Wynchester is completely forgettable—a curse that gives her the ability to blend into any crowd. When the only father she’s ever known makes a dying wish for his adopted family of orphans to recover a missing painting, she’s the first one her siblings turn to for stealing it back. No one expects that in doing so, she’ll also abduct a handsome duke.

Lawrence Gosling, the Duke of Faircliffe, is tortured by his father’s mistakes. To repair his estate’s ruined reputation, he must wed a highborn heiress. Yet when he finds himself in a carriage being driven hell-for-leather down the cobblestone streets of London by a beautiful woman who refuses to heed his commands, he fears his heart is hers. But how can he sacrifice his family’s legacy to follow true love?

“Erica Ridley is a delight!”

—Julia Quinn

“Irresistible romance and a family of delightful scoundrels… I want to be a Wynchester!”

—Eloisa James

WATCH THE TRAILER

GRAB THE EBOOK OR AUDIOBOOK

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An Excerpt from The Duke Heist

Chloe folded her hands in her lap and did her best not to glare a hole right through the handsome, haughty Duke of Faircliffe. His frigid blue gaze had looked right at her—and slid away just as quickly, having glimpsed nothing to attract his interest.

How many times had she and Faircliffe been in the same room? Eight? Ten? Every disdainful glance in her direction as indifferent as the last. She lifted her chin. Her father had taught her that to the right person, she would be visible and memorable. Faircliffe was clearly the wrong person.

Not that she wanted him to notice her, Chloe reminded herself. The continued success of “Jane Brown” hinged on her uncanny ability to be wholly unremarkable under any circumstances. She gripped the soft muslin of her skirt and took in all the other ladies in the parlor.

Mrs. York clapped her hands together. “And now… a celebratory tea!”

The duke’s face displayed a comical look of alarm. “I don’t think—”

“You must join us!” Mrs. York’s hands flapped like frightened birds. “The girls were about to have oatcakes and cucumber sandwiches before you arrived.”

“We were about to discuss epistolary structure in eighteenth-century French novels,” Philippa murmured.

“I never meant to interrupt,” Faircliffe said with haste. “I mustn’t stay, and in fact—”

“Nonsense! Come, come, all of you.” Mrs. York waved her arms about the room, driving her guests into the dining room like a shepherd herding sheep.

Chloe and Faircliffe were both caught in the flow.

Once they reached the door, however, Chloe stepped to one side. She could not take a seat at the table, or she would be stuck there for the next hour.

While everyone else was occupied, this was her chance to liberate the painting. But first, she needed an excuse to disappear. An adorable, furry reason.

She released Tiglet from the large wicker basket. The calico kitten darted between boots and beneath petticoats with a formidable rawr.

Mrs. York gave a dramatic shriek in response.

Tiglet scaled several curtains in search of an open window before darting out of the dining room and flying off down the corridor as though his tail were afire.

Chloe gasped, as if shocked that her homing kitten was attempting to dash home. “How embarrassing! I’ll run and find the naughty little scamp at once. Go on ahead. Please don’t wait for me.”

With her basket hanging from her arm, she ducked into the parlor and closed the door behind her. She hurried to lift the painting from the wall and carried it behind a chinoiserie folding screen in the corner. Up came the frame’s grips, off came the backing, out came Bean’s painting. She rolled it carefully and tucked it into the basket before stretching the forgery she’d brought over the wooden frame.

She ran to open the parlor door before anyone noticed it had been shut and hurried past the dining room to the front door without taking her leave from the guests. Would anyone notice she failed to return? Doubtful. If anything, the ladies would assume Jane Brown had slunk off in mortification.

Still, there was no time to waste. Any caper’s success depended upon a timely exit.

Keeping her head down, she headed down the front walk toward the first carriage in the queue. Only when she glimpsed the red curtains and a pair of leather gloves on the box did she lift her head toward the driver’s perch.

It was empty.

Her lungs caught. Where was Graham?

Distant shouts reached her ears, and her tight muscles relaxed. Something unexpected must have occurred, and her siblings’ distraction was underway.

This was her cue to flee.

Chloe pushed the basket inside, unhooked the carriage from its post, and leapt onto the coachman’s seat. Female drivers weren’t unheard of, but all the same, she was glad she never went outside without garbing herself in the plainest, dullest, dowdiest clothes in her wardrobe. No one who glanced her way would bother looking for long.

She set the horses on a swift path out of Mayfair.

Only when Grosvenor Square was no longer visible behind her did she allow herself a small smile of victory.

“Did we escape?” came a low, velvet voice from within the carriage.

Chloe’s skin went cold. Who was that? Graham wouldn’t be hiding in the back of the carriage. A stranger was in the coach! She twisted about and wrenched the privacy curtain to one side.

A handsome visage with soft brown hair and sculpted cheekbones stared back at her, glacial blue eyes wide with surprise.

Faircliffe?” she blurted in disbelief.

“Miss… er… you?” he spluttered when he found his voice. “What the devil are you doing driving my carriage?”

About the Series

The Wild Wynchesters are a uniquely talented family of caper-committing siblings who don’t let High Society’s rules stop them from righting wrongs.

You can grab a FREE prequel: The Governess Gambit!

Meet the Wild Wynchesters: This fun-loving, caper-committing family of tight-knit siblings can’t help but find love and adventure!

Years ago, Chloe Wynchester and five other uniquely talented orphans were adopted by a wealthy baron with a secret mission: The motley Wynchester family fights for justice from the margins of high society. And the handsome, clever duke Chloe has long admired proves to be her worst enemy…

An unscrupulous boarding school is exploiting orphans in a secret workhouse. Baron Vanderbean plots a daring rescue. When illness befalls him, Chloe must take the reins. But how can a lifelong wallflower lead the charge to save the children?

GRAB YOUR FREE EBOOK:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ERICA RIDLEY

Erica Ridley is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of witty, feel-good historical romance novels, including the upcoming THE DUKE HEIST, featuring the Wild Wynchesters. Why seduce a duke the normal way, when you can accidentally kidnap one in an elaborately planned heist?

In the 12 Dukes of Christmas series, enjoy witty, heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. After all, nothing heats up a winter night quite like finding oneself in the arms of a duke!

Two popular series, the Dukes of War and Rogues to Riches, feature roguish peers and dashing war heroes who find love amongst the splendor and madness of Regency England.

When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Central America, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.

FRIEND ERICA

Want more free books? Join the VIP list at https://ridley.vip for members-only exclusives, including advance notice of pre-orders, as well as contests, giveaways, freebies, and 99¢ deals!

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Scandal in Venice

Baden, Baden 1818

My Dear Mr. Clemens,

I have another tidbit that may be of interest, you darling man. This one is a bit more explosive than some of the other bits I’ve gathered in my travels. I count on you to mask the lady’s name when you publish in your delicious newssheet, for she is young and may yet require the tattered remnants of her reputation.

I reached Geneva in September and to my delight encountered my dear friend Lady Florence Tyree. She fell on me, relieved to have a sensible companion in which to confide. The poor woman had been dragooned into accompanying her niece, Lady Charlotte Tyree when the girl imposed herself on her brother, the Earl of Ambler who by rights ought to be completing his Grand Tour accompanied only by his tutor free to do whatever it is young men get up to on the continent (I don’t need to be explicit with you, dear friend!).

Lady Florence had reached utter weariness with the boy’s behavior, it being as wild as may be expected, abetted by his tutor no doubt. The dear woman fears for the girl who seems to have attempted to absorb every work of art or culture to be found on the continent, in an excess of learning that we all know can only bring feverish distress to a young lady’s mind, causing who knows what enfeeblement of her faculties.

No amount of begging on the part of dear Lady Florence convinced the girl to take her ease at some of the more pleasant gardens or porticoes of the city. When the young people announced they were preparing to move on over those daunting mountains into Italy, Florence reached the end of her patience. She and I decided we needed the restorative spa at Baden, which we are entirely in agreement is precisely what Lady Charlotte needs.

Alas the young woman prove intractable in this matter as well. When Lady Florence forbade her Italy and announce she herself would accompany me to Baden, Lady Charlotte informed her she would leave for Venice with her brother.

Venice! I need not tell you Bryon himself is there. Who knows what sort of immorality goes on, and the young woman insisted she would travel there without a chaperone. Lady Florence declared she would report this to the guardians of this pair of young people who would undoubtedly demand she return to London (leaving the boy on his own to continue his tour, of course). What did Lady Charlotte declare but that she didn’t care. By the time any such demands from the guardians reached her she would be in Rome at last. She has some notion that her life will be poorer forever if she doesn’t see Rome.

I tremble to tell you, good sir, that the following morning we awoke to find the young people gone. My beloved Lady Florence was prostrate. She came to this lovely spa with me to recover. Word reached us yesterday via friends traveling north from there that Lady Charlotte is indeed in Venice, and that the young earl is running with the wildest of crowds exposing his sister to no end of debauchery. We disregarded hints she has taken residence with an Italian gentleman.

Be kind in your publication. She is young.

Your good friend and supporter, Lady Horsham

About the Book: Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil

Love is the best medicine and the sweetest things in life are worth the wait, especially at Christmastime in Venice for a stranded English Lady and a handsome physician.

Lady Charlotte clings to one dream—to see the splendor of Rome before settling for life as the spinster sister of an earl. But now her feckless brother forces her to wait again, stranded in Venice when he falls ill, halfway to the place of her dreams. She finds the city damp, moldy, and riddled with disease.
As a physician, Salvatore Caresini well knows the danger of putrid fever. He lost his young wife to it, leaving him alone to care for their rambunctious children. He isn’t about to let the lovely English lady risk her life nursing her brother.
But Christmas is coming, that season of miracles, and with it, perhaps, lessons for two lonely people: that love heals the deepest wounds and sometimes the deepest dreams aren’t what we expect.

https://www.amazon.com/Charlottes-Christmas-Vigil-Caroline-Warfield-ebook/dp/B0758NLYV2/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lady-charlottes-christmas-vigil-caroline-warfield/1127062287

and for other formats:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/745607

About the Author

Award winning author of family centered romance set in the Regency and Victorian eras, Caroline Warfield has been many things—including a Bluestocking Belle. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Find her here:

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An Officer & an Art-lover

December, 1814

Since Miss B’s sudden visit to Prussia, our fair maiden has all but disappeared. All that remains are some excellent likenesses gracing the walls of Clayford House, and several risqué sketches of her old friend Major M.

Despite this author’s best efforts, we can find no one willing to discuss the lady’s whereabouts, nor can we find any suitable explanation for her old friend Major M’s sudden desire to visit Paris. (True, the Christmas art exhibition is exciting – but how much companionship can be found in art? This author believes it is really past time our handsome Major settled down, don’t you?)

His talents are sorely needed at the Congress of Vienna, for he dances well and improves the dullness of the assemblies immeasurably. One cannot expect English ladies to waltz with the French, can one? After all, the wars have only just ended – haven’t they?

While our dashing Major M is an acknowledged collector of neo-classical artworks, we cannot fathom only any reason for a man of his divine looks to spend an unaccompanied Christmas in Paris. Not when there are so many ladies in Vienna to oblige him – though perhaps it is not these fine ladies who attract him?

We have heard on dubious authority that Major M consorts with artists’ models. Indeed, he has recently been seen in the company of a notorious French artist, the one who paints such scandalous nudes.

The Major is a well known art lover, dear reader, but there are many sides to art – are there not?

We weep for Major M, spending Christmas alone, or at least surrounded by Frenchwomen. Come home, Sir, and choose a companion from among your own countrywomen. We assure you, the English ladies are desolate at your desertion.

About the Book: Le Salon de Noël

Since his oldest friend disappeared during her confinement, Major Henry Musgrave has used his time at The Congress of Vienna to learn all he can regarding the whereabouts of Miss Louisa Beresford.

A series of paintings draws Henry to Paris for the first Salon de Noël (Christmas Salon) since the wars ended. Could the model in the paintings be Louisa? As rumours swirl through the city that France is not yet safe, Henry grows more determined to find the only woman he’s ever loved, and give her a Christmas to remember.

Le Salon de Noël is a Regency holiday reunion novella set among the art salons of Paris and Montmartre in 1814. It contains some of the characters from Always a Princess.
Release date: 19 November

Click here for preorder information

About the Author

Clyve Rose is an award-winning author of historical fiction both in Australia and the US. She has been writing historical romance fiction for the best part of two decades. She works in the Regency and Georgian periods, with occasional detours into Ancient Greece.

Here There Be Pirates

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I write with a warning for all who may consider a journey to the West Indies. The British Government wishes us to believe that Pirates no longer rule the waters of the Carribbean. That the so called ‘golden age of piracy’ ended with the captures and deaths of Edward Teach–commonly known as Blackbeard and Bartholomew Roberts. However, this is far from the case.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

I know from my own experience that Piracy is alive and thriving in the Carribean and the coastal waters of the former Colonies. Our government calls it ‘privateering,’ and claims that such persons as Mr. LaFitte of New Orleans and the infamous Irish Red–supposedly of Jamaica have letters of marque placing them under the protection of legitimate governments and preventing our Navy from summarily executing them when captured.

This is a deception most foul and it must stop. I recently embarked on the merchant ship Tally Ho, returning to England from a visit to my sister who lives in St. Martin. We were three days out of port when sails were sighted on the horizon. Soon enough, it became obvious that the approaching ship was The Dragon’s Rest, flag ship, if you will, in the flotilla led by the pirate–I refuse to dignify this rapscallion with the title privateer, Irish Red.

The Tally Ho was out gunned and its Captain, poor man, unable to outrun or out manuever The Dragon’s Rest. We were boarded and subjected to a most humiliating search. All valuables were seized and our lives threatened, lest we refuse to give over all money, jewels and important papers. Thought what a pirate wants with bonds, certificates and government documents is beyond me.

As a last humiliation we were all assembled on the main deck and forced to kneel, heads bowed for that scum of the oceans Irish Red to inspect each of us personally. I thank heaven he chose to pass me by, though the woman next to me had her chin lifted and was forced to look the heathen in the face.

We were told that because of our cooperation our lives would be spared and the Tally Ho would not be confiscated. The pirate crew returned to their ship and departed. Thankfully no passenger was seriously hurt, although several of our valiant crew suffered wounds in attempting to prevent the pirates from boarding.

Frankly I was astonished that we escaped so easily. However, I was even more astonished to learn from the woman who was forced to face Captain Irish Red that the man is no man at all. It is an insult to the British Navy that it has allowed this renegade female to rule the Carribean for so many years. I call upon our government to do its utmost to capture this woman, and I most emphatically warn all my fellow citizens not to sail in Carribbean waters without well armed naval escort. Heed this warning or you will certainly lose your fortunes and may well lose your lives.

Sincerely yours,

She who shall never again leave England.

A word about this post. This week I will begin my next story, which centers around the character known as the pirate Irish Red. The article above lays some of the preliminary ground work for Irish Red’s book. You can expect to see more about her and her adventures in the next few months. Thank you all for reading and sharing.

About Rue Allyn:  Award winning author, Rue Allyn, learned story telling at her grandfather’s knee. (Well it was really more like on his knee—I was two.) She’s been weaving her own tales ever since. She has worked as an instructor, mother, sailor, clerk, sales associate, and painter, along with a variety of other types of employment. She has lived and traveled in places all over the globe from Keflavik Iceland (I did not care much for the long nights of winter.) and Fairbanks Alaska to Panama City and the streets of London England to a large number of places in between. Now that her two sons have left the nest, Rue and her husband of more than four decades (Try living with the same person for more than forty years—that’s a true adventure.) have retired and moved south.

When not writing, enjoying the nearby beach or working jigsaw puzzles, Rue travels the world and surfs the internet in search of background material and inspiration for her next heart melting romance. She loves to hear from readers, and you may contact her at  <a href=”mailto:contact@RueAllyn.com” title=”Contact Rue Allyn” target=”_blank”>contact@RueAllyn.com</a>. She can’t wait to hear from you.

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