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The Marquess Loses Control

Gibraltar, November 1818

My dear Mr. Clemens,

We were forced to pause our journey to Madras in this place for repairs, which I must say are taking much longer than they ought. The weather is pleasant, the locals backward, and the monkeys an utter nuisance.

The Respectable English Company is scant. Imagine my delight when the HMS Boreas came into port bearing the Earl of Chadbourn and the Marquess of Glenaire. I was even pleased to have the company of the marquess’s brother-in-law, Mr. Mallet. At least, I would be pleased if we didn’t have to endure the presence of That Woman.

We have taken rooms at the best hotel, and so were in the entrance preparing for a leisurely ramble about the island when the party arrived, all looking rather the worst for having suffered some sort of ordeal. Coraires wee blamed. (Our captain assured me that reports of the Barbary menace are exaggerated, so really…)

The earl and Mr. Mallet appeared well enough, but Marquess of Glenaire wore a Lieutenant’s tunic, a bit too small, and trousers which could only be described as ragged. When I could not refrain from my natural horror, the marquess subjected me to one of his famous icy stare. Dressed like that!

But I digress. That Woman, who accompanied them, was a shocking sight. She wore some sort of native dress—African or what not—close to rags. In a respectable hotel. I can tell you they were whisked up the stairs and out of sight quickly, but not before the bundle carried by the marquess himself gave out a loud squawk. You will be surprised, good sir, to hear that the Marquess of Glenaire, that bright light of society, known to one an all as the Marble Marquess for perfecttion of his grooming and manners, carried an infant up those stairs.

Never have I seen such scurrying. Bath water went up. Tea went up. Platters of food ascended the stairs. Clothes were procured. I know this because I Iingered on a comfortable divan near the entrance. Eventually the entire party descended, clothed, thank the Almighty, in respectable, if rather unfashionable, Western dress.

I, of course paid my respects to the earl and marquess and begged an introduction. Chadbourn appeared friendly enough. When That Woman was introduced as the Marchioness of Glenaire, my jaw dropped. I was unaware there even was such a person. The marquess demonstrated his famous stare. The word “ice” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Next season’s crop of debutantes will go into decline to know Glenaire is no longer available. And yet one wonders. There was no notice in the papers of any such marriage when we embarked. Yet here they came bearing a baby, and looking like savages. Whispers among the staff were that they had been held prisoners by the Barbary ruffians. A normal woman would have perished at the disgrace, but That Woman appeared to be in robust health for one who so recently gave birth. She looked down at me with every sign of superiority.

There was one other oddity. My maid happened to attending to an errand and saw  them leave the hotel. They went directly to the English church and were seen entering the rectory. One wonders, dear sir. If that infant is a boy, he will be heir to a dukedom in due time. One wouldn’t want questions about his origins to circulate.

Make of that what you will, Mr. Clemens, but leave my name far from the matter. One wouldn’t want to earn the enmity of the marquess.

Lady X

About the Book

If women were as easily managed as the affairs of state—or the recalcitrant Ottoman Empire—Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, would be a happier man. As it was, the creatures made hash of his well-laid plans and bedeviled him on all sides…

 

So it begins.

Lily Thornton came home from Saint Petersburg in pursuit of marriage. She wants a husband and a partner, not an overbearing, managing man. She may be “the least likely candidate to be Marchioness of Glenaire,” but her problems are her own to fix, even if those problems include both a Russian villain and an interfering Ottoman official.

Given enough facts, Richard can fix anything. But protecting that impossible woman is proving to be almost as hard as protecting his heart, especially when Lily’s problems bring her dangerously close to an Ottoman revolution. As Lily’s personal problems entangle with Richard’s professional ones, and she pits her will against his, he chases her across the pirate-infested Mediterranean. Will she discover surrender isn’t defeat? It might even have its own sweet reward.

As one reviewer said, “There is nothing so  entertaining as watching a man who is always in control, lose that control.” (Night Owl Reviews)

About the Author

Caroline Warfield, traveler, adventurer, lover of owls and other folks’ gardens, writes family centered romance from her lair in the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania. She is a Bluestocking Belle. She is currently  finishing the tale of Glenaire’s nephew and namesake, Richard “Aeneas” Mallet, eager to make his fame in Egypt,  and no more willing to fall in with his uncle’s schemes than his mother or his aunt. Watch for The Price of Glory later this year.

The Incident on Arlington Street

Dear Reader:

You are no doubt aware that the stunning news of Bonaparte’s escape from Elba caps a week of utter chaos. Events of this week in Mayfair are beyond any I might have imagined in this most civilized and prosperous of countries. It is appalling that hordes of rioters have swamped the streets, broken into homes and vandalized belongings. I have heard various tales of mayhem and attacks on Members of Parliament from many of my well-placed correspondents, most of which have been reported elsewhere.

However, one fearless correspondent with first-hand knowledge informs me that these attacks weren’t limited to government officials. Dear Reader, you will find this story nowhere else!

On Thursday night past, a carriage was attacked on Arlington Street. The occupant was a lady on her way to a rout at Lady Camden’s. Her coachman and two liveried servants were unable to drive off the mob, and she was pulled from the carriage by ruffians. Fortunately, Horse Guard arrived in time to rescue her and, it was assumed, returned her home to safety.

Yet, later that evening, a curious thing happened. A Scottish Military Officer burst into the Arlington Street home of Lady Camden, seeking another Scotsman. The other man was not there, but our reporter had the distinct impression that the man being sought was Up to No Good.

But there is even more from our diligent correspondent, and I will share the story in that individual’s own words:

My dear Mr. Clemens,

Following my report of the Incident on Arlington Street and Lady Camden’s Scottish visitor, I have received further information.

The lady attacked by the crowd is newly arrived to town, residing with a relative in Chelsea, and not unrelated to the Scottish officer who visited Lady Camden. In fact, both the lady and the officer were players in a scandalous divorce from twenty years past, one so notorious that news of it (as it took place in the Highlands) reached even the London papers.

Further, I have learned that the attack on the lady was not a random act of the mob, but a targeted attempt at abduction! Nor was she safely returned to her home on Thursday last.

My source in Chelsea hints of a diabolical intrigue to this story. I will visit there later today and report further. Your readers will not want to miss this story!

About the Book

Fated Hearts, A Love After All Retelling of the Scottish Play

Plagued by hellish memories and rattling visions of battle to come, a Scottish Baron returning from two decades at war meets the daughter he denied was his, and the wife he divorced, and learns that everything he’d believed to be true was a lie. What he can’t deny is that she’s the only woman he’s ever loved. They’re not the young lovers they once were, but when passion flares, it burns more hotly than ever it did in their youth.

They soon discover, it wasn’t fate that drove them apart, but a jealous enemy who played on his youthful arrogance and her vulnerability. Now that old enemy has resurfaced, more treacherous than ever. When his lady falls into a trap, can he reach her in time to rescue this love that never died?

Universal link: https://books2read.com/u/bQdyPP

About the Author

Award winning and USA Today bestselling author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but prefers the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California, where she shares a midcentury home with her husband and a spunky, blond rescued terrier. She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. Though hard at work on her next series of romantic adventures, she loves to hear from readers!

Website: https://alinakfield.com/

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Fated Hearts is part of the Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series

Other books in the

Tragic Characters in Classic Literature Project

 

The Monster Within, The Monster Without

by Lindsay Downs (Frankenstein)

I Shot the Sheriff

by Regina Jeffers (Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham)

The Colonel’s Spinster

by Audrey Harrison (Pride and Prejudice)

The Redemption of Heathcliff

by Alanna Lucas (Wuthering Heights) 

The Company She Keeps

by Nancy Lawrence (Madame Bovary)

Captain Stanwick’s Bride

by Regina Jeffers (The Courtship of Miles Standish)

Glorious Obsession

by Louisa Cornell (Orpheus and Eurydice)

 

 

Servants Always Know

You can learn a lot in pubs and cafés. Your Teatime Tattler has long had a policy of lingering in such establishments on the fringe more posh neighborhoods—the sort of places servants might gather on their off days.

The Little Brown Hen Pub has been particularly useful lately. It seems one of our “better” squares, one populated by two earls, a wealthy baron, and a dowager duchess to name a few, has had an abundance of havey-cavey behavior lately—enough to make a debutante blush.

First off an upstairs maid from the Earl of W—’s house and a footman from Mr. M.C.’s both were at pains to tell our man on the spot about strange arrangements in the Earl of C—’s fashionable townhouse—he who came into his title just last summer.

servants

“Y’don’t see them servants here, do ya? They keep to themselves they do. Downright unfriendly,” complained the footman.

“That butler o’thern looks more like a prize fighter than a butler, if you ask me,” the little maid sniffed. “And have you seen that footman missing one ear? His visage has an ugly scar. What kind of earl hires ugly servants?”

They scurried off to fetch more ale when an older woman, dressed in black, and obviously an upper servant shooed them away. She introduced herself as Her Grace’s dresser—that would be the dowager—and insisted on tea. “Only tea,” she said with a sniff. This bird seemed a bit high class for this pub, but then maybe widowed duchesses don’t pay as well as others.

Servants

“If you’re interested in the Earl of C—, I can tell you more interesting things about that house than deformed footmen,” she said, rubbing two fingers together. We’re always willing to spare a few coin for a woman who can use ‘em. We obliged.

“To begin with the man doesn’t live there. He has rooms at the Albany, and God only knows what bachelors get up to there. When the old earl died, the older sister—she who is the Duchess of M— came to look after the younger girl, a flibbertigibbet of the first order, in my opinion.” She drew breath and our man quickly suspected she had many opinions loosened by coin.

“Now the Duke of M— is a fine man, but his wife is a pale shadow of a thing, utterly incapable of minding the hoyden. They must have gotten fed up with her foolish starts and outlandish taking because they up and left. Closed up the house but for a few servants.”

She leaned over and dropped her voice, those fingers moving. Another coin may have slid across the table. “I saw them leave. Saw the carriage pull round, the duchess get in, the duke pull their boy by his collar and toss him in, and then they left.”

Our man waited, and not in vain. “I did not see the younger sister get in that carriage. Nor the one with the maid, valet, and baggage,” she went on. “Neither one. I watched the whole time.” He took her meaning, but to be sure he asked, “Are you telling me the Earl of C—’s young unmarried sister is living on her own in a house that’s supposed to be closed?”

“Well I know I didn’t see her leave with ‘em, and more.” She leaned in again. “I’ve been watching a girl her size wearing the clothes of a scullery maid but walking with the bearing of a countess coming and going through the tradesmen’s door. That chit is up to something, no doubt about it, and heading for ruin.”

“Is that it?”

“Well. The Earl of C— feeds anyone who come to his kitchen. Her Grace has complained mightily that it attracts all sorts of unsavory types. This very morning I saw a particularly horrid specimen—a filthy one-armed ruffian—parade through their garden as free as you please, and get taken in. Taken in and that girl in residence! Not an hour later he was out on the street. Did they toss him on his fundament? No! One of those deformed footmen was giving him directions. I ask you, is that how a respectable household conducts itself?”

________________

The Earl of Chadbourn makes it a policy to hire as many veterans in need of work as he can. The result has been a rather unusual collection of servants. As to his sister, perhaps he wasn’t watching as closely as he should.

Watch for Lord Ethan’s Honor in Fire & Frost: a Bluestocking Belles Collection

When a young woman marches into an alley full of homeless former soldiers, Ethan Alcott feels something he thought dead stir to life: his sense of honor. Effort at charity put the chit in danger; someone needs to take her in hand.

Lady Flora Landrum discovers that the mysterious one-armed ruffian she encountered in a back alley is Lord Ethan Alcott, son of the Marquess of Welbrook; her astonishment gives way to determination. As Ethan comes to admire Flora’s courage, perhaps he can reclaim his own.

About Fire & Frost

Join The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans in their pursuit of justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.

The Napoleonic Wars have left England with wounded warriors, fatherless children, unemployed veterans, and hungry families. The ladies of London, led by the indomitable Duchess of Haverford plot a campaign to feed the hungry, care for the fallen—and bring the neglectful Parliament to heel. They will use any means at their disposal to convince the gentlemen of their choice to assist.

Their campaign involves strategy, persuasion, and a wee bit of fun. Pamphlets are all well and good, but auctioning a lady’s company along with her basket of delicious treats is bound to get more attention. Their efforts fall amid weeks of fog and weather so cold the Thames freezes over and a festive Frost Fair breaks out right on the river. The ladies take to the ice. What could be better for their purposes than a little Fire and Frost?

Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with six interconnected Regency romances from the Bluestocking Belles.

Caroline Warfield is a Belle. You can learn about her and her writing here: https://www.carolinewarfield.com/

A Report of a Haunting in Yorkshire

Dear Readers,

I’ve been given permission to share a most interesting letter received by a dear friend from a lady in York regarding a topic most appropriate as we approach the Eve of All Hallows. Without further ado, I include the letter in its entirety.

Haunting

My dear Lady S,

We’ve excitement in these parts–an actual haunting! My dear husband is beside himself, wishing to cast off his responsibilities and rush to the coast because of news received from the esteemed Reverend N. F.—pardon me, he is now Sir N. F.! Do you remember the dear man? He is at present compiling an encyclopedia of northern folklore. You were visiting us when he came through York with his daughter, Miss M.F., on his way to the manor he inherited.

Oh, but now I recall, you were unable to join us for dinner that night, and you would so have enjoyed such amiable guests. Miss F. is rather a great galloping spinster, hopelessly on the shelf, and shamelessly skeptical of her father’s inquiries, but entirely delightful. Sir N. is blessed to have her to care for him in his old age, and she’ll inherit the manor, as there isn’t an entail. The possibility of wealth (if the enterprise can be made profitable as he hopes) might increase the poor dear’s chance at marriage (though whether any worthy man can be found in that part of the county is questionable).

But I digress from the most exciting news. My husband has always believed that the Manor’s legendary ghostly guest is a Popish priest enclosed within the walls. However, Sir N has written that the general speculation of the villagers is that the culprit is the late Squire, who was a scandalous fiend. Sir N. inquired whether we might assist with finding servants willing to relocate to the wilds of Yorkshire, and unafraid of the resident ghost.

Haunting

For indeed, there does appear to be a ghost! The priest it might be, but more than likely the villagers have the right of it—oh, you have heard the story, have you not? The last Baron, Sir N’s distant cousin, died there terribly. Of course, there’s also a very old rumor about bigamy and a stolen inheritance—a generational curse, as it were, but I cannot quite remember the details of that story.

I can only imagine that Miss F is beside herself, what with needing reliable staff. A more practical and grounded woman…a confirmed spinster, you know…could not be found. She must be such a great help to her father as he tromps about chasing goblins for his book. And yet, even while researching the supernatural, one needs the comforts of a good cook and a few maids.

I shall write more as I Iearn of it. My love to the children.

Does that not whet your appetite to learn more, dear readers? Read on!

About the Book

Haunting Miss Fenwick

Thrilled to finally have a permanent home, a Squire’s daughter won’t let a supernatural creature scare her away. While hunting the ghost she doesn’t believe in, she stumbles upon a mysterious flesh and blood man who might be the key to all of her problems.

When the new Squire moves into Fenwick Manor, an ex-army officer secretly searching the sprawling medieval wreck devises a plan. First, the manor’s legendary ghost will chase servants away. Then, he’ll convince the new residents to leave.

But the Squire’s spirited daughter soon has him wondering if he might have found a perfect comrade in arms to help battle old enemies and find the proof that will clear his family name.

Buy Links:

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About the Author

Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but she prefers the much happier world of romance. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.

She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. She is hard at work on her next series of Regency romances, but loves to hear from readers!

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Local Thief Spots Apparition

Your humble correspondent, journalist for The Teatime Tattler, begs leave to draw notice to Mr. Algernon Cuffy, sometime resident of St. James’s Square, as he describes an alarming encounter with a strange apparition on the night of London’s latest fog.

apparition
Pissarro, Place du Theatre, 1897

“I’m a thief. Write that down, plain and simple. Poverty might have driven some other poor blighters to a life on the hop but I have, you might say, a natural bent.”

Though a bit of a Renaissance man in all the arts of financial misappropriation, Mr. Cuffy likes housebreaking the most.

“Pickpocketing is for children and women—pathetic types who can look sorrowful like Mother Mary or an orphaned lamb. But I got this here,” he said, tracing a finger down a four inch scar running to his left ear, part of which was missing. “Don’t look harmless enough for work at close quarters, now, do I? Anyone with any brains would know to steer clear of me.”

Your humble correspondent backed away as he continued.

“An’ then there’s highway robbery. You’ve got travel and horse fairs and boxing mills and lonely moors—all well and good,” he said, detailing his interests. “But you’d be surprised how few coves are worth getting hung for.”

Your humble correspondent could not but agree.

“The night in question—” your correspondent began, hopeful that Mr. Cuffy would return to ghosts and spirits.

“There’s an art to housebreaking,” Mr. Cuffy continued, warming to his subject. “Liking the name of a street, following a likely looking coach home to its roost… Best to stay clear of the poshest squares. That night, conditions were perfect,” he said, tugging his cap on.

Your humble correspondent dared a question and he obliged with an answer.

“Dark. Dark as coal. An’ fog like soup. I was on the damp roof tiles of Lord Fox’s establishment—”

Readers will imagine an elegant white house in the Georgian style.

“—full to the gills with lacquered snuff boxes and jeweled tie pins, and like most bachelor’s quarters, lax about the housekeeping. I was preparing to ease myself into the empty bedroom of the recently dismissed second footman. That’s when I saw her.”

“What?” your correspondent exclaimed. 

“Pretty young thing. Loose hair, white dress. I dashed near dropped forty feet to the pavement when she rose up out of mist. I could see clear as day that she wasn’t a ghost.”

“She must have been a ghost,” I insisted. “People do not fly.”

Apparition
Russolo, The Solidity of Fog. 1912

“She wasn’t flying,” Mr. Cuffy said, his look quite insulting to the junior correspondent of London’s seventh most popular daily newspaper. “Just sort of floated for a while. Took a good look towards Westminster on the river and another over towards St. Paul’s.”

“And then?” I asked, scribbling hastily.

“Then there was a shout from below and she disappeared into the fog again.”

“Where you drunk?” I asked.

Mr. Cuffy gave no proper answer but resorted to his fists. Thus concluded our interview.

About the Book: Her Caprice

A MOST PRIVATE BATTLE

Since Beatrice Thornton was 13 years old she’s been living with a secret that could ruin her family forever. Her parents are the only ones who know, and now, seven years later, they are forced to put on a sham for Beatrice’s late first Season. The plan, make Beatrice as mousy and ill-clothed as possible so no suitor would consider her. Then they can all escape back to their country home in Dorset to keep the terrible secret safe. But the unthinkable happens… Beatrice meets a man who gives her hope of a normal life, and Beatrice dares to love with horrible consequences.

Captain Henry Gracechurch has resigned his commission after living through the horrors and waste of war. Recently returned from Spain, he is cajoled by his formidable godmother to make an appearance at one of her famous balls. When he sees a young woman abandoned on the dance floor, honour commands him to save the day. Nothing could have prepared him for meeting the person who is a balm to his soul and gives wings to his heart. But winning Beatrice Thornton will take every ounce of courage he has, and this is a war he will win, no matter the cost.

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07N9B81QR

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130437723?ean=2940155962496

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/920856

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/her-caprice

Her Caprice, Excerpt:

Beatrice was left alone to take in the whole scene. It was familiar to her, in a way. She had seen illustrations of balloons before, studied them closely from books and newspapers. The flying machine could do what she did, and yet there were reasons for it, purposes, a whole science, explanations of the mechanics.

“It’s magical,” a deep voice intoned at her side. She looked up to find Henry standing next to her as if he had always been there. Beatrice felt the solid ground she stood on almost melt away.

Quarry stone, the involuntary thought flitted through her mind, and she blinked, feeling herself grow heavy and pressed more firmly into the grass. That was strange. It was not as though she had been about to float away at the mere sight of him in the middle of a bustling London crowd. What a silly thing to think. She shook her head and met his eyes.

There was the usual delight she felt each time she saw him that sent her insides spinning, but it was tempered by the knowledge that he had not called. It was the merest chance that brought him here.

“It’s not magic,” she retorted, swallowing deeply. Six days since she’d last seen him. He had no right to look like he hadn’t been wasting away. Drat. “It’s hydrogen. The gas is produced when sulphuric acid is poured over scrap iron. How did you happen across me in this crowd?” she asked, thankful for the cool morning air, which would be a plausible reason for her pink cheeks.

“Magic,” he asserted, offering her an arm, which she took. He did not lead her anywhere but stood, gazing up at the activity on the rise. “Have you been busy these past days?”

Busy? She felt the shame of returning home each afternoon, her eyes hungry for some sign that he had come. “This and that,” she answered, hoping with all her heart that her tone conveyed a calendar too full for waiting and longing.

He looked down at her. “You’ve not been at home,” he stated.

It wasn’t a question. The damp ground at the bottom of the hill began to seep through her slippers, but she would not move for anything. “No. My mother had a sudden enthusiasm to see everything in Town. I am not sure the carriage horses can take much more. You?”

“I passed your door, hoping that—”

“You called?” The surprise of it made her yelp.

“I said I would.”

Beatrice looked up at him. “You left no sign,” she stated while feeling great relief. Forgetting to leave a card—it was endearing, though it had cost her the enjoyment of racing through the maze at Hampton Court, of savouring the ice at Gunter’s.

His head cocked to the side and his brows came down. “But I—” And then his lips shut into a firm line.

Beatrice waited for him to finish and then, finally, when it was clear he would say no more, the wheels in her mind began to turn. She looked up the hill again to where the balloonist had given Penny a small parcel, some silk fabric full of hydrogen. Her sister let it go and, as it drifted up and up, it moved in easy state, tossed lightly by sudden currents of wind. The crowd let out a great cheer, and in that clamour, Beatrice whispered, “You did leave a card, didn’t you?”

“Yes.”

Penny waved to her as she dashed down the hill and away toward the carriage.

Beatrice lowered her brows. She might have missed the card in her meticulous search of the entry hall, when she had turned each paper over and over, upending the tray and running her fingers along the back of the table, and then closely questioned the townhouse staff. It would not be so amazing if she lost— “Just the one?”

“One each time I visited.”

“Each? What do you mean? How many times was it?” she asked, her words tripping over themselves.

His look was keen. “Seven,” he answered and then his mouth lifted. “I’m almost out of cards.”

She answered quickly. “But it’s been six days.”

“Exactly six? Has it?” he asked, his eyes narrowing like a cat on the trail of a limping mouse. “How clever you are to know the precise number. I came twice on Wednesday.”

Beatrice put a hand to her pelisse, fastening and unfastening the button. Seven cards. Seven messages scrawled on the back. Seven times he had come. Seven times. She couldn’t let the number go. A girl might have her head turned by a thing like that.

Henry didn’t say another word, and merely waited for her to work it out—though the way his eyes studied her face wasn’t helping her concentration at all. It set her blood to warming and her mind to wondering if the world really would come crashing to an end if she leaned up on her tiptoes and kissed him on those firm lips.

About the Author

Keira Dominguez graduated from BYU with a B.A. in Humanities and lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. When she is not busy avoiding volunteerism at her kids’ schools like it is the literal plague, she writes sweet romance novels.

https://www.keiradominguez.com/

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