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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?

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.

Find Rue One Line:

social media links—

FB– https://www.facebook.com/groups/RueAllynCrew/

Twitter– http://twitter.com/RueAllyn

Blog– https://www.rueallyn.com/blog/

Amazon– http://www.amazon.com/Rue-Allyn/e/B00AUBF3NI

Email—Rue@RueAllyn.com

Goodreads– http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5031290.Rue_Allyn

Pinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/RueAllyn/

A Season Full of Promise!

The Tattler hears from an anonymous lady…


In truth, I find most teas to be dreadfully dull. There are only so many biscuits one can consume while listening to the other ladies gasp and giggle over the same weary gossip as was discussed at tea the day before. But propriety–and appearances–dictate I attend, just the same.

No one knows the inner goings on of a household better than the maids or housekeeper or the occasional footman, and it is not unusual to overhear them talking about their mistresses and masters or the rest of the peerage when they think we are sufficiently occupied. 

Gossip about the Season

Yes, dear reader. I admit I attend teas more so I can stand in darkened corridors, behind heavy doors, or in out of the way corners, and simply listen to the staff! I realize it is scandalous. And you now realize I may know your secrets, as well. But it has been this guilty pleasure that allows me to bring you two tidbits of gossip you have not heard elsewhere.

First, I only just learned the Marquess of Castlereagh has returned to London after a year’s absence. Much to the chagrin of the young ladies of the ton, as he is not only one of the most handsome of the eligible peers, but one of the wealthiest, he left London unexplainably at the beginning of last Season, immediately following the fire at the Darkshire ball.

If you will remember, that fire claimed the lives of several in society, including the aged Viscount Manderly and the young Lady Katherine, daughter of the Marchioness of Windham, whom we have not seen since the fire. The event put a damper on the Season, to be certain, but it doesn’t explain the marquess’s unseasonal absence.

Near the end of the Season last year, I heard the marquess had taken up with an Irish woman while in Ireland–a commoner, no less. That could certainly explain his extended absence. 

Then, this week during my wanderings at one of the teas, I overheard the housekeeper tell the butler that the housekeeper of another house had told her there was an Irish peeress she’d never seen before being fitted in Madam Boutrey’s for the Gloushire ball.

Gossip about the Season

Are these two Irish women one and the same? Will Lord Castlereagh be looking in the lines for a wife this Season? Or does he have a surprise in store for all of us?

In other news, sadly, I must report the passing of Gerald, Earl Dodson, the fourth cousin of the dowager Duchess of Wiltshire. It seems the earl left a young daughter behind, and Lady Maris has become the ward of the duchess. The girl was quite lovely on the one occasion I’ve had to make her acquaintance, and the duchess beyond delighted to introduce her to society. 

I have yet to speak to anyone who personally knew the earl, but the duchess has referred to him at tea as her “country cousin”. Perhaps it is because Lady Maris has been kept in the country that the duchess’s nephew, former naval captain and the Marquess of Wellesley, is said to be so very protective of his young cousin. 

Of course the staff of many houses are already wagering amongst themselves on his intentions, now that the Duke of Wiltshire (the duchess’s nephew by marriage) is escorting Lady Maris to the ball at Pepperstill’s. And at another tea, just this week, I heard one maid whisper that is the reason Lady Twila has at put her foot down and demanded the Marquess at last make good on the marriage arrangement that’s been in place for years.

As for me, dear reader, I suspect both the Marquess of Castlereagh and Lady Maris will make this Season one of the more interesting in ages!

Yrs Truly,
Lady Doe

About the Book

THE BRIAR…
   One moment Raven is alone in the world and working as a maid in the gardens of a grand estate in Ireland; the next she finds herself handed the life of a lady by the dark and handsome Marquess of Castlereagh. Devan insists his intentions are honorable, and that he only wishes to help reunite her with her family. But Raven finds herself in a constant struggle to deny the smoldering attraction between them, and in her secret heart, wishes he wanted more.

THE ROSE…
   Devan, Marquess of Castlereagh, is tormented by his past and determined to live out his days in quiet solitude at his Ireland estate. That is until Raven enters his life. With the face of an angel, the body of Aphrodite, and the tongue of a drunken Irishman, he’s never met any woman so infuriating… so seductive… so… his match.

THE LEGEND…
   From historical Ireland and its mystical legends to the elegant ballrooms of Regency London, together Devan and Raven discover the truth of the past and a love so strong it cannot be denied. ORIGINAL VERSION: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07X3747H6 PG VERSION (closed bedroom door): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081QPPVBG

About the Author

Laura Mills-Alcott’s first love was music, and she began her writing career at the age of eleven, when she wrote her first song. After graduating high school, she moved to Nashville, and some of her music was published. 

Though she wrote her share of love songs, Laura’s favorite was the story songs–the modern day equivalent of the old ballads. However, she often found herself frustrated when attempting to fit a single title novel into three verses, a bridge, and a chorus. So one day she decided she’d try her hand at writing a book. “After writing the first paragraph,” she says, “I was hooked.”

In The Briar and the Rose, she combines her love of music with her love for romantic novels and history.

Laura and her work have been featured in Romantic Times Magazine, on the “Talk America Radio Network”, and she acted as a consultant for the daytime talk show “The Other Half” on a segment dealing with why women read romance novels. Her non-fiction interviews have been published in newspapers and online, and her short stories have been published in a variety of print and electronic formats.

Laura currently resides in NE Ohio with her husband, where she spends her time restoring historical homes, and owns a remodeling company – Regency Remodeling – with her husband. She loves spending time with her children and two beautiful grandchildren, as well as her three dogs, and too many cats.

FB page: www.facebook.com/lmalcott2

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