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Church Lady’s Lament

To Reverend Mr. Horace Sorsby, Vicar of Saint John the Evangelist Parish, Knaresborough

Sir:

Reluctant though I am to criticize church matters, I truly must speak up, and hope my frequent liberal contributions to your parish will gain me attention. As you know age and infirmity make it impossible for me to attend services in Knaresborough. While I am pleased that a chapel of ease has been set up here in Harrogate for the benefit of leading citizens like myself who find themselves hampered from full participation, the man assigned  it has failed us. I am compelled to report that the curate you appointed to serve my our needs has proven to be negligent and useless.

First of all, his sermons focus entirely too heavily on service due the poor, in my opinion, and too little on the respect the lower classes owe their betters. I suppose I must excuse this as he is young and does seem to have a grasp on scripture.

I excuse it mainly because I am rarely able to attend even the chapel of ease here. That curate, Mr. Eustace Clarke, has been repeatedly asked to attend me at home. We are now moving into December, and I am obliged to report he made but two visits since summer. Neither visit lasted longer than an hour. I ask, Mr. Sorsby, do you believe that shows sufficient care for a frail old woman, one I might add who has generously supported Saint John in the past?

I am quite, quite distressed to add that my precious Wellington, an extraordinarily noble pug, has taken him dislike as well. The impudent young man accused my darling Welly of damaging his boots. I cannot believe poor Welly has developed a taste for leather. He has demonstrated no such affinity in the past. I am certain Mr. Clarke enticed him as an excuse to make a quick departure.

My loyal butler reports that it appears Mr. Clarke persists in wasting his time with that pathetic little soup kitchen he calls Pilgrim’s Rest, feeding every lazy, worthless beggar that imbibes from Harrogate’s public springs but refuses to pay for his lunch. Now news has reached me that he believes he needs funds to repair the roof of that barn. I will not stand for it. I demand you order him to close that fruitless and unproductive little mission down and focus on those of us who support the parish at large as he ought.

If my words have not been enough to convince you the man needs sharp words from his superior there is this. My personal maid, a woman of fine character, has told me that he is now seen walking out with a woman employed in the kitchens of the The Hampton Hotel. What such a woman is doing sporting about town on the arm of a single man, I can only guess. The hussy’s name I’m told is Doro Bigglesworth.

I trust you will counsel your curate about proper behavior and duties. I would hate to take my contributions and charity elsewhere.

With Respect,

Lady Louella Spotsworthy

About the Book: Desperate Daughters

Love Against the Odds

The Earl of Seahaven desperately wanted a son and heir but died leaving nine daughters and a fifth wife. Cruelly turned out by the new earl, they live hand-to-mouth in a small cottage.

The young dowager Countess’s one regret is that she cannot give Seahaven’s dear girls a chance at happiness.

When a cousin offers the use of her townhouse in York during the season, the Countess rallies her stepdaughters.

They will pool their resources so that the youngest marriageable daughters might make successful matches, thereby saving them all.

So start their adventures in York, amid a whirl of balls, lectures, and al fresco picnics. Is it possible each of them might find love by the time the York horse races bring the season to a close.

Among them?  “Lady Dorothea’s Curate,” by Caroline Warfield

Employed at a hotel in order to assist her stepmother, Lady Dorothea Bigglesworth had no use for a title. It would only invite scorn, or, worse, pity. Plain Miss Doro Bigglesworth suited her fine.

Ben Clarke dedicated his life to helping the neediest. It gave his life meaning. He tended to forget the younger son of a viscount went by “Honorable.”

Working together at Pilgrim’s Rest, neither saw the need to mention it to the other, before fate separated them. When they were formally introduced after an unexpected reunion— in a ballroom in York—shock rocked them both. Can their budding love survive?

 

Foul Play on a Baron or the Foul Baron Played?

Thomas, the second Baron Lyttelton, has died under mysterious circumstances.

Rumors concerning his death abound. He was an infamous rake, known for using his charm and talent to seduce women and gain influence. He fought duels, gambled away a fortune, and married the misguided Aphia Witts to pay his debts before fleeing to Paris with a barmaid. Upon his return in, he entered the House of Commons in 1768 and exited the next year after being accused of bribery.

Thursday last, 25 November, 1770 Lord Lyttelton told friends of an extraordinary dream he’d had the previous night. A bird had flown into his room, transformed into a woman wearing white, and informed him that he’d die within three days. He discounted the dream, attributing it to a recent party he’d attended where a robin had flown into the room. He was accustomed to a woman’s scorn, so that part of the dream seemed easy enough to explain.

By Saturday evening, he boasted he would “bilk the ghost” and ordered breakfast for the following day. He retired shortly after. Just before midnight, lying in his bed, Lyttelton’s valet said his master died “without a groan.” There was no inquest.

According to close friends, the only legacy he leaves behind is a reputation of questionable character as a compulsive gambler, drug addict, and debaucher of women. So, The Teatime Tattler asks,  was his death an act of vengeance? Or did karma finally come calling for the wicked baron?

About the Book

Upon a Midnight Dreary is up for preorder and will release this month, October 21.

This amazing anthology contains dark, romantic tales of ghosts that haunt and taunt, written by some of your favorite historical romance authors. Each novella will include a romance and a “real” ghost story. Aubrey Wynne’s contribution includes the wicked Lord Lyttelton.

Buy Link: (https://books2read.com/midnightdreary)

Excerpt from “Percy’s Perdition” in  Upon a Midnight Dreary Halloween anthology

Ellie nibbled at a candied apricot as she snuggled against Percy’s chest. They had foregone supper, moved to their bedchambers, and now ate a cold repast spread about the counterpane. “I heard the most delicious tale the other day. Did I tell you of the wicked Lord Lyttelton?”

Percy smiled and kissed the top of her head, the blond waves spread over her bare shoulders. His limbs were heavy, and he couldn’t care less about some rakish peer. “No, love.”

“He was a baron with no regard for mankind, wasting his money and seducing innocents. One mother was so horrified when her daughter succumbed to his advances, she died of a broken heart.” Ellie paused while she took sip of wine. “But the mother had the final word.”

“They always do,” he agreed.

She slapped his arm but grinned. “Anyway, she returned as a ghost and told him of his looming demise. Three days and he would be dead.”

“Ah, but one can do so much living in three days.” He picked up a hunk of cheese and offered Ellie a bite. She shook her head.

“Well, a quarter hour before midnight of the third day, he dropped dead! Can you imagine?” She sank her teeth into the blue and white Wiltshire and smacked her lips.

“People die every day, my dear. It doesn’t mean an apparition caused it.”

“This happened forty years ago, but there is much documentation. And it gets stranger.” She kissed his cheek. “The wicked lord stopped by his friend’s bedchamber on his way to Hell. The man saw the baron at the foot of his bed, miles away in another county, the same night he died. He woke his household to look for the scoundrel since Lord Lyttelton was known for his pranks. But alas, he was never found.”

“Because he was dead.”

“Exactly!” She beamed at him as if he’d done something very clever.

Percy snorted. “You have a way of maneuvering our conversations until it appears I agree with you.” He kissed her soundly on the mouth.

“Don’t you?” she asked, batting her eyelashes.

About The Author

Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule, and barn cats. Obsessions include wine, history, travel, trail riding, and all things Christmas. Her Chicago Christmas series has received the Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, Heart of Excellence, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and twice nominated as a Rone finalist by InD’tale Magazine.

Aubrey’s first love is medieval romance but after dipping her toe in the Regency period in 2018 with the Wicked Earls’ Club, she was smitten. This inspired her spin-off series Once Upon a Widow. In 2020, she launched the Scottish Regency series A MacNaughton Castle Romance with Dragonblade Novels.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.aubreywynne.com

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/AubreyWynne/e/B00II8QD6G/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/magnificentvalor

Aubrey’s Ever After Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AubreyWynnesEverAfters/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Aubreywynne51

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Bookbub page: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/aubrey-wynne

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7383937.Aubrey_Wynne

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There Are Odd Folks in Some Villages

London, Saturday Last

Dearest Catherine,

Although I was thrilled to receive your letter now that you are settled in, I find your new situation most tenuous and upsetting! One can hardly believe that you have no decent milliner in that little town of Clun that you and Randall have moved to, but to also know that a young woman serves by choice to be the town’s layer-out of the dead is most disturbing. I found myself in need of respite after reading your letter the first time through. I cannot imagine the dire straits you find yourself in. Does anyone in that little town serve as your equal? I dare hazard a guess that there is none amongst them worthy of sitting in the same parlor as you.

I do hope Randall understands your sacrifice. While I know he has business interests in the area and hopes to expand into milling and manufacturing, he cannot expect you to reside there forever, does he? Men. Our husbands have no understanding of the sacrifices we make do they?

It is not the same here in London without you. I find I must take tea with the Chatsworth sisters more often now, and I find them much less entertaining without you. They are in need of advice as their daughters are coming of age and shall debut next fall. I do not hold much hope for either of them. Both seem too mousy and indelicate in features and personality. I have forgotten twice now that they were in the same room with us upon meeting with them. Can you even imagine being so forgettable?

As you expected, the snow is beautiful and banked deeply along the Thames as our winter has been a cold one so far. Ms. Starling sends her well wishes and has promised to make you a special hat for me to bring to you, since you have no milliner worthy and equal to her skill in your quaint little town. I shall ask her to use some of that lovely blue fabric you commented on during your last visit.

Please do come and stay with us. You need never wait for an invitation. When you come you must tell me all about this scandalous woman who deals with the dead. Despite my efforts to be only appalled at the thought of it, I find myself quite curious as to what such a woman would look like and act like.

With all my love,

Ophelia

About the Book, Lovely Digits

When two murders strike the sleepy Victorian town of Clun, England, an unlikely partnership forms. But can the killer be found before there is a third?

Lovely Digits is the town oddity…

But quirky spinster Lucy Wycliffe prefers to ignore gossip and embrace her position as the town’s layer out of the dead, despite how her parents’ deaths thrust her into such unlikely work. Lovely Digits, as she’s known to the local townspeople, no longer dreams of marriage, but takes pride in providing dignity to the dead. Desperate to hold on to her family’s cottage and support her widowed sister and young niece, an unexpected offer of employment as assistant to the constable arrives at the perfect time.

Former sailor John Brodie is the mysterious new constable…

But John Brodie is far from a stranger to Clun or the events of its past. Accepting the position as constable in the small town is a double edged sword meant to heal his past and redeem his future, but falling for the beautiful and intelligent Lucy Wycliffe was never part of his plan. As the killer closes in, will John reveal his secret and risk losing everything to save Lucy’s life?

Excerpt

Clun, England

February, 1839

Old Man Codger’s frozen toe rolled across the floor toward the door.

“Lord above. Mind the corner, sister,” Lucy muttered. She blew an errant curl from her cheek as they swung the man’s stiff body onto the scarred wooden table in front of the hearth. The body landed with a thud.

Blast. Lucy scanned the floor. Nothing. Where had it gone? She lifted her skirts.

“There you are,” she grumbled. The rogue digit rested between the scuffed heels of her old brown boots. Using the edge of one of the sleeves of her faded blue blouse, she leaned down and clutched the rather putrid, large hairy toe and placed it on the man’s chest. Now she’d have to sew on a toe, too. A frozen toe.

Perfect.

Priscilla covered her mouth with the back of her hand and yielded a dry retch. Plugging her nose, she rolled her eyes. “There has to be another way.”

Lucy eyed her pert younger sister and sighed. At thirteen, Cil was on the cusp of womanhood. There were so many things she would miss from their parents not being there to guide her. The guilt over the death of Mother and Father a month past stung like a barb under Lucy’s skin. If only she’d arrived home at the cottage sooner instead of lingering about the forest to find her pet starling. She banished the thought away.

After tying back her hair, Lucy pushed up her sleeves to the elbow. “If there had been any other option, we’d have done it. It’s either prep him for burial or starve. It’s just us now, Cil.”

The old man’s time in the woods had not been kind to him, but at least the extreme cold had kept the insects at bay. A white milky maggot dropped from his nose to the table. Lucy shuddered. Most of them. She loathed insects, especially worms. Things that could move without legs weren’t natural.

“Hand me the needle and thread.” Lucy rested her hands on her hips. “I need to get this toe sewn back on when he thaws. I’ll not be docked pay for him missing parts.”

Care to read more of Lovely Digits? Here are the Buy Links: 

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Lovely-Digits-Jeanine-Englert-ebook/dp/B07SB6HJMW/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lovely-digits-jeanine-englert/1133788922

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/search?id=7694523126087&query=lovely+digits&filter=

About the Author:

Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist, Silver Falchion Award Winner, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.

When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.

Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing, is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2020 Silver Falchion Award for Best Mystery and the 2020 Maggie Award for Best Romantic Suspense. It also won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense. Her latest novel, The Highlander’s Secret Son, will be released in May of 2021 by Harlequin Historical.

Where you can find me:

Website: https://www.jeaninewrites.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JeanineWrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46222432-lovely-digits

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeanineWrites

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jeanine-englert?list=about

A Discarded Suitor?

Dear Readers

Your correspondent is curious to know why Miss F, Lord B’s eldest daughter, has been out of town for some weeks. You may recall that Miss F was being courted by Lord O who, I have on the best of authority (his own!), is a fine upstanding young man always ready to provide advice and direction to the fairer sex. Perhaps Miss F did not perceive the advantages of an alliance with him as clearly as he did himself?

Whatever the reason for her recent absence, Miss F is now back in society. Only a few days past she was seen in the Park, first driving with Lord O, and then being taken up by Lady C for a turn in her phaeton. Lord O did not look best pleased, to put it mildly. It would not be going too far, I think, to mention the clenching of fists and gritting of teeth.

But the intrigue deepens, my dears. Only yesterday Miss F was driving in the Park with Lady C again, when they met one of the younger sons of Lord D. He was accompanied by a young man I have never set eye upon before—and as I’m sure you are aware, I know everyone who is anyone. This unknown young man spent some time walking with Miss F.

Can there be romance in the air? Has Lord O lost to a nobody from the country? Be sure to look out for more news in this column.


About the Book: An Embroidered Spoon

Can love bridge a class divide?

Wales 1817

After refusing every offer of marriage that comes her way, Isolde Farrington is packed off to a spinster aunt in Wales until she comes to her senses.

Rhys Williams, there on business, is turning over his uncle’s choice of bride for him, and the last thing he needs is to fall for an impertinent miss like Izzy – who takes Rhys for a yokel. But while a man may choose his wife, he cannot choose who he falls in love with.

Izzy’s new surroundings make her look at life, and Rhys, afresh. As she realises her early impressions were mistaken, her feelings about him begins to change.

But when her father, Lord Bedley, discovers the situation in Wales is not what he thought, and that Rhys is in trade, Izzy is hurriedly returned to London. Will a difference in class keep them apart?

Amazon link: mybook.to/Spoon


About the Author

Jayne Davis writes historical romances set in the late Georgian/Regency era, published as both ebooks and paperbacks.

She was hooked on Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer as a teenager, and longed to write similar novels herself. Real life intervened, and she had several careers, including as a non-fiction author under another name. That wasn’t quite the writing career she had in mind…

Finally, she got around to polishing up stories written for her own amusement in long winter evenings, and became the kind of author she’d dreamed of in her teens. At present she is working on the Marstone Series – standalone stories with some characters in common – and trying to fight off all the other story ideas distracting her.


Excerpt from An Embroidered Spoon

Once Lord Ordsall had tooled the curricle through the park gates and could safely divert some of his attention from the track ahead, Izzy asked him if he liked her gown. “For it is new, you know, although not as fine as I’d like.”

It looks very well on you, Miss Farrington,” he said, after a quick appraisal. His expression softened a little as his gaze ran down her body.

“It is rather plain, though.” Izzy fingered the silver embroidery down the front, trying to ignore the uncomfortable feeling his inspection had induced. “Seeing my relatives in Wales made me realise how nice it is to have a rich father who can keep me in new gowns.” She made a brief pout. “But Mama will insist that simplicity is best for unmarried women. I’m so looking forward to being able to decide on my own wardrobe once I am wed.”

A surreptitious glance in Ordsall’s direction revealed his eyebrows rising.

“There are some lovely new fabrics, you know, with real silver and gold thread in them, or embroidered with pearls.” At least, if there were not, there should be. “They are a trifle expensive, to be sure, but my future husband won’t mind.”

“Miss Farrington, I thought you were aware that I would be spending much of my time on my estate. Such gowns are not required for country living.”

“Oh, no, I agree. I will need a completely different wardrobe for that, but even country gowns need to keep up with the fashions, do they not? And I will visit my family in Town often.” She smiled at him kindly, noting the crease between his brows deepening. “I need not drag you away from your estates, you know. A married lady has more freedom to go about.”

“Miss Farrington, I do not—”

“Oh, look—is that a high perch phaeton?” Izzy pointed at a carriage some distance away. “I do so want to learn to drive. That will be useful in the country.”

“Yes, but I have a coachman to—”

“Oh, pooh, that is no fun! A phaeton like that will be just the thing for me, or perhaps a curricle.”

His brows were drawing together now, and was that an angry flush on his cheeks? “Miss Farrington!” His voice was getting louder, too—excellent!

“Ladies do not drive such vehicles.”

Fortune really was smiling on her today. As the phaeton approached, Izzy saw that it was driven by a woman of middle years, smartly dressed in a wine-coloured pelisse. Izzy recognised the driver as an acquaintance of her mother.

“Do you mean Lady Cleeve is not truly a lady?” Izzy adopted her puzzled expression as the phaeton drew to a halt next to them.

“L-L-Lady Cleeve,” Ordsall stuttered, casting a venomous glance at Izzy. “How… how nice to meet you here.”

“Lord Ordsall.” Lady Cleeve nodded at him and turned to Izzy, her mouth curving in a friendly smile. “Miss Farrington, I was hoping to meet you today. Will you take a turn about the park with me?”

Links

Website: www.jaynedavisromance.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jaynedavisromance

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jayne-Davis/e/B078WTF3DP

Duke’s Grandson Visits Former Colony

Dear Readers,

It has come to this writers attention that a young lady from our very own town is getting married to the grandson of the Duke of Dunsbury. Savannah is in an uproar. It has been well known that Miss Tara Wellesley was a Union Sympathizer during the War Between the States. Some speculate that she was a Union Spy but no evidence was found to prove said scandalous behavior. Sebastian Stafford, the man she is engaged to wed, is said to have been part of a secret society called the Rakes and the Crown. No evidence has been found to ascertain the validity of this either, since records don’t exist on the group, itself. Readers, you can’t get this anywhere else!

Savannah Romance
Harry Fenn, View of Savannah from the River

Strange events have been happening at night here in Savannah. Sounds of musket shots, canon fire, and sword clashing could be heard from near the river. Some have noticed British flags flying from the redoubts, men dressed in Colonial garb, and some even in the bright red coats of the English Army. This humble writer, would love to know more about these somewhat bizarre events and would like to see them for himself. Maybe even write a future article about it.

Savannah Romance

In other news, the Wellesley twins are back from their adventures in the North. There is gossip saying that one of them has a secret child housed at the Whispering Oaks plantation. Oh la la, readers! The other twin is said to have fallen for an English girl whom no one has heard of before. How scandalous! The women of Savannah will surely mourn the presence of such handsome gentlemen.

Readers, this author will have more gossip for you in my next article. Until then, check out “A Sea Between Them” by Jessica A Clements and follow this link to find out more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082S2KVJH.

About the Book

Tara Wellesley, a Southern belle, knew her world was going to change. The only one in her family with the second sight, she could see what would happen to those around her. What she didn’t see, however, was the English Rake that befriended her twin cousins—dragging them into a deadly battle with a rival spy ring.
Sebastian Stafford, the grandson of the Duke of Dunsbury, came to the United States to resurrect the Rakes of the Crown, a spy syndicate that once supplied information for the English Crown. Now, far from England, Sebastian takes solace in Tara’s love and renames his group The Rakes of Liberty. The Rakes have one mission—to keep the Union together no matter the price. That means engaging in their own battle with the Order.
But, fate has other plans. When the Order launches an attack against Sebastian’s family, he races back to England to save what is left of them. With a sea between Tara and Sebastian, will the Order get the upper hand or will love be enough to conquer an old foe?

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