I write to you today to share my
outrage at occurrences in Dudley Crescent. I simply cannot abide the recent
changes and must have your advice.
Two years ago, a murder occurred at
Number 10. The horrid matter was quickly resolved when the culprit was
identified and put away from fine society.
But the greater scandal was that the widowed lady of the house had
intimate relations with her butler! Then last year, a noted member of society
hired a young woman as ward to his child…and later, did marry the woman! She
was far below his station, though, I do understand, an heiress of considerable
worth. I must tell you the man is one of our finest gentlemen with a spotless
reputation and high military honors. Yet, I worry.
Another event occurring last week causes
me to question my presence here!
I understand that one noble gentleman
has paid attentions to one of his servants! This time, said woman is not a
governess. No, indeed, she is his maid-of-all-work! Can you imagine? I’ve been
inconsolable, riddled with a nervous stomach and headaches. My usual little
dose of laudanum is simply not enough to calm me.
This causes me to ask you if you think
I should move to a better part of town. Is there a curse on the Crescent? Must
I expect more servants who will climb above their station to enthrall their
masters or mistresses? Worse, will such an affliction affect my own house? I
must tell you, quite confidentially, that my only daughter, Lady Mary, seems
far too taken with one of our own servants. The new…dear me, I can barely write
this…stable boy. Yes! He is most definitely not
a boy. Not by any means. He is thirty years of age or more. Tall, taller than
my dear departed husband. And devilishly handsome with hair the color of coal
and eyes like lavender. He is quite ethereal.
I do rattle on!
Advise me, please!
Catherine, the Viscountess of Trelawny
Dudley Crescent is a verdant parcel of land in London, granted by King Charles II to the Earl of Dudley who was one of his staunchest supporters. With gold he’d stolen as a highwayman during Charles’s exile on the Continent, Dudley put his ill-gotten gains to good use and built the finest town homes in the capital. Renting the land in perpetuity to certain Royalist friends quadrupled his fortune.
Today, those who have townhomes surrounding the verdant park are a few of the wealthiest and most influential lords and ladies in the kingdom. But scandals abound on Dudley Crescent. You can find them here:
What’s this about
you leaving your position with the Grenvilles?
Word is they’re a respectable family. I had hopes that their cook would
train you up. Good cooks are scarce. You’d never want for work with that kind
I must confess,
your new employers sound terrifying. I know you said they assist people who’ve
been done wrong, but they used to be thieves. Even the women! I can’t imagine
why you’d leave a fine household to work for such a strange group. But then,
you’ve always been one to leap before you looked.
I pray to God
every night to keep you safe. Your loving sister, Bess
To Mrs. Thaddeus
I know you’ve
been worried about me taking that new position with the Restitution League, but
I couldn’t be happier. Mrs. Crane and the rest are very kind, even if Mr.
Edison does scare the daylights out of us with his experiments. The explosions
do rattle one’s nerves, I don’t mind saying. Last week he built a brass
automaton that pours tea! It wasn’t long
before the poor fellow knocked over an end table and broke a vase. Mrs. Crane
was not pleased.
As you can see by
this letter, I’ve learnt to use the typewriter quite well. I’m to start lessons
on the telegraph machine next week. Learning Morse code seems impossibe, but
Mr. Edison says I’ve got the brains for it. Time will tell. I’m so happy to be
doing something besides sweeping and dusting.
I hope Thaddeus
and the children are well. It looks as if I’ll get a chance to see for myself
soon. Mr. and Mrs. Crane are going on a delayed honeymoon trip next month. She
says I’m to have a whole two weeks leave. The Grenvilles were never so
I’ve already saved up for the train fare, so
you can plan on having me at the first of the month. There’s no need to fret.
I’m happier than I could imagine. And wait until you see my new clothes! Office girls don’t have to wear stupid old
uniforms like maids do. I’ve got a smart new set of dresses to show you.
I can’t wait to
see you all. Your sister, the office
About the Book
A woman who disdains love collides with a man who lives for passion.
Ada Templeton believes in science. She believes in chemical reactions
and experimentation and old-fashioned common sense. She’s far too clever to be
seduced by a rake like Edison Sweet.
Over Ada’s objections, Edison agrees to guard her latest invention
from a mastermind willing to kill for it. He never expects to be intrigued by
the lovely widow whose body he finds as exciting as her mind.
Scientist and the other books in the Restitution League series are now
available in Kindle Unlimited.
daylight, Ada’s laboratory was nothing short of spectacular.
everything Edison’s own workshop was not. Beakers, test tubes, and glass
decanters, each in their proper place on mahogany workbenches, gleamed in the
bright autumn light. All neat and tidy and pleasingly arranged, not unlike the
scientist who worked there.
more so as he suspected the effect was completely accidental.
there was her scent. That light swirl of violets. Even in the midst of the
acrid, metallic odors emanating from every beaker and box in the crowded room,
it stirred him.
perfume aside, the woman’s obstinance was beginning to grate. Badly.
rubbed a hand over his eyes. “I can’t keep your device safe if you don’t tell
me where it is.”
a beaker to eye level, frowning as she measured dry plaster of Paris to her
liking. “It’s well hidden. Have no worry about that.”
worry? Are you addled?” He threw his hands up. “What do you think those men
were looking for last night? What about the men before that? They weren’t after
your excessive hoard of plaster.”
continued with her measuring. “You’ll have to trust me, Mr. Sweet…Edison. The
device is secure. What I do need your assistance with—and I am fully willing to
admit it—is protection for my family.”
Of course. We’ll keep you all safe. That’s the easy part. I sent the stable boy
to gather the rest of the League before I came down to breakfast. My
reinforcements will be here before lunch, I’m sure. But I can’t protect your
slammed the jar of powder down onto the counter. “You’re already taking a risk
to protect us. I won’t add to that. The device is safe. Even if it were not, I
won’t have you endanger yourself to save it.”
most women, she didn’t resort to coquetry. She met him head to head. Any other
time, he would have found that profoundly appealing. Under the current
conditions, however, it was unduly aggravating.
his eyes, wishing he were contending with the sort of woman who liked to be
cosseted and protected. He understood
those women—how they thought, what they desired.
How to get
what he wanted in return.
him lean close so his breath would caress her ear. He’d been told more than
once it made women shiver delightfully. “I’ll find it eventually, you know.”
melting, softening, shivering, or sighing, she jerked away as if he reeked like
all you like.” She measured chloride into the beakers. “You won’t find it.”
ground his teeth. Dear God, he’d seen granite cliffs less stubborn. If charm
had no effect, intimidation might.
the chloride from her hand and set it on the bench.
fiercely. “I beg your pardon?”
her and closed in, backing her up against a filing cabinet. When she could go
no farther, he spread his arms wide, his palms flat against the cabinet front,
pinning her in.
Letter posted from Cheltenham, England, to Morristown, New Jersey, 1832 leaked to The Teatime Tattler
My darling Earnestine,
We arrived in Bristol Wednesday, two days behind schedule,
much the worse for weather, and happy to be back on solid ground. My darling Howard’s
brother sent a carriage to convey us from the harbor, and we couldn’t leave
swiftly enough for my nerves I tell you. If England has a less salubrious port
than this one, I don’t want to encounter it. Nefarious appearing individuals
lurked along the docks and at every corner where seedy and disreputable
establishments abounded. One has heard frightening stories of civil unrest
about the place as well, but we saw nothing of that sort. Once quit of the
place, England’s green hills unfolded in front of us and I was able to put my
The voyage proved as tedious as I anticipated. Howard
devoted himself to cards in the common room leaving my Ellie and I to our own
devices. Not far into the journey a new acquaintance alleviated our boredom—thank
Mrs. Gordon Melrose, the sister-in-law of an actual baronet,
regaled us with tales of society and the sites of London, whetting our appetite
for the capital I can tell you. She also enlightened us about one of our more
mysterious fellow passengers.
Ellie pointed the man out almost as soon as we embarked from
New York. The girl does have an eye for a fine specimen of manhood! Tall and
lean with thick auburn hair, he had the air of one of those frontier types
young girls find so romantic, yet he dressed like a gentleman. Oddly, he
carried a three-legged cat. We rarely saw him without the beast. When Howard
complained to the captain about the presence of a feline, he was told that
having a predator to keep vermin from the hold was in fact good luck. Ellie
pronounced it adorable, though I could not see how a deformed cat could hunt.
In any case our mystery man proved to have more to his
credit than good looks. Mr. Melrose informed us that Randolph Wheatly—the man’s
name so she said—possesses important connections. His sister, the Countess of
Chadbourn holds sway in the highest reaches of society, and is a friend of two
Duchesses no less. Think of it Earnestine, a countess! (That is the wife of an
earl in case you aren’t as fully
informed as we are).
I thought it prudent to encourage Ellie’s interest in the man, but the girl was profoundly disappointed by his curt refusal of any social overtures. Quite reclusive, he moped in solitude and scowled at all who approached, as if his troubles weighed him down. Ellie of course found his brooding good looks irresistibly attractive, poor girl. When we docked he moved rapidly off the ship and disappeared into the unsavory streets of Bristol, as though the horrid place had been his final destination, something I cannot believe.
Oh well. Perhaps we will encounter him in London. Perhaps
he’ll introduce us to his sister, the countess. Think of it Earnestine!
Your loving sister,
About the Book
Rand has good reason to brood on the voyage and to hurray away. He has a people to rescue, and family conflict to face.
Two hearts betrayed by love…
Desperate and afraid, Meggy Blair will do whatever it takes to protect her children. She’d hoped to find sanctuary from her abusive husband with her Ojibwa grandmother, but can’t locate her. When her children fall ill, she finds shelter in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. But when the owner unexpectedly returns, he’s furious to find squatters disrupting his self-imposed solitude.
Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly had good reason to put an ocean between himself and the family that deceived him. He just wants the intrusive woman gone, yet it isn’t long before Meggy and the children start breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. His heart isn’t as hard as he thought. But their fragile interlude is shattered when Meggy’s husband appears to claim his children, threatening to have Rand jailed.
The only way for Meggy to protect Rand is to leave him. When her husband takes her and the children to England, Meggy discovers he’s far more than an abuser; what he’s involved in endangers all their lives. To rescue the woman who has stolen his heart, Rand must follow her and do what he swore he’d never do: reconcile with his aristocratic family and finally uncover the truth behind all the lies. But time is running out for them all.
Award winning author of historical romance usually set in the Regency and Victorian eras, Caroline Warfield 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 world. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.
Editorial Note: This packet of correspondence came to the Tattler offices when one of our reporters shared drinks with a man at the Bull and Codfish pub. The young man, who seems to be a careless footman in the employ of Mrs. Andrew Mallet of Bedford Square, left it on the table. We of course forwarded the entire packet on to its correct destination.
Mr. Clemens made copies first, but given the involvement of
the Foreign Office, he declared they were not to be published. He must have
forgotten to lock his desk. Besides, nothing here relates to matters of
To the Duchess of Sudbury,
Lily,I am in London, but not at home to callers, family excepted of course. Andrew remains in Cambridge, make of that what you will. When I tell you what has happened you will understand my need to live apart. I beg your support.
I know you send private mail to Richard via official couriers and the packet ships. May I ask you to send the enclosed message as soon as it can be arranged? I need his help and my son must be alerted. I trust him to inform his nephew cautiously.
Athena is gone to
I know that shocks
you, but perhaps not is much as it ought. Since the Heyworths’ visit five years
ago she has spoken of nothing but Italy, reminding me daily that in Italy there
are medical schools that admit women. The desire to study medicine is
admirable; you and I would both cheer her on if the girl was, not to mince
words, normal. Even if she could cope with strangers…but of course she cannot.
She sailed from
Falmouth a week ago. Her brother Archie, who perpetrated this insanity,
accompanied her, which would be a saving grace if I thought he could handle her
in a crisis. Her father, the wretch, professes to be proud of him. For a
scholar Andrew can be remarkably obtuse. I can’t imagine how the poor girl
managed the ship to Rome, much less life in a foreign country. I dread the
condition we will find her in when she returns.
I discovered this
morning that Lochlin assisted Archie as well. I can forgive a young man— they
often think with body parts other than their brains—but I can’t forgive her
father. I suspect Andrew actually abetted the young fools. He denies it, but I
don’t believe him.
Enough! I will tell
you all when I see you.
Editorial Note: The young lady in question, Miss Catherine Mallet, known to her family as Athena, is a recluse who shuns society after some unfortunate incidents of panic and hysteria (this paper has reason to know one such incident occurred in the Pembrook’s ballroom). She rarely leaves the family home in Cambridge except to visit close relatives, and is reputed to have an unnatural interest in the anatomy of animals and humans. Rumors about this abound in that shire, where some consider her quite insane, but others merely the oddest member of a notably eccentric family.
The second missive, in the same hand, although entirely concerning a private matter, was sent through official channels to Cairo. One wonders if that is entirely ethical.
The Duke of Sudbury
Her Majesty’s Envoy to
the court of Muhammad Ali Pasha, Khedive of Egypt
Forgive me for presuming by sending personal mail through the foreign office channels, and troubling you when you are deep into affairs of state—although when are you not?—but time may be of the essence.
To get right to the
point, Archie has taken Athena to Rome from where she expects she can be
admitted to medical school. I don’t need to outline for you all the reasons why
this is nonsensical. Archie, the coward, sent a message from Falmouth saying
that once he had her safely settled (as if that might be possible!), he will
travel directly to Edinburgh and begin his own studies.
This will grieve
Aeneas mightily. He and Archie quarreled on the subject of Athena shortly
before he left for Egypt. Archie has the pudding-brained notion she should be
encouraged to pursue studies to be a physician. Aeneas, ever the level headed
one where his sister is concerned, knows she should be kept close where we can
I send this in the hope that you will use your connections to ensure our officials in Italy watch out for them. If I can further impose on your kindness, please make Aeneas aware that this has happened. If it should go badly, he needs warning.
Your loving sister,
Since you have a way
of discovering things anyway, I will tell you that Andrew and I have separated
over this at least for now. Do not chastise me. I suspect Archie acted with his
father’s blessing. I am too angry to patch things over.
Aeneas may be sensible
about his sister but not his work. I count on you to keep him from doing
something foolish like plunging deep into Africa in pursuit of some previously
undiscovered crumb of knowledge. I want him back in one piece.
Editorial Note: Our
readers who pay follow the doings of the haut ton know that there is little the
Duke will not manage on behalf of his family, his friends, or the Empire come
to that. They will note, however, how unusual it is to have a one of his circle
actually ask for help rather than having it thrust upon them.
About the Author
Caroline Warfield writes family centered historical romance, largely set in the Regency and Victorian eras. The saga of the Mallets, their friends, and their family began with Dangerous Works.
marquess who never loses control (until he does) and a very independent woman
conflict, until revolution, politics, and pirates force them to work together. (In
which Sudbury had not come into his title and was yet the Marquess of Glenaire)
Jamie fled to Rome to hide his shame he didn’t expect a vicar’s daughter and
her imp of a niece to take over his life, with complications from an
interfering nun, a powerful count, and a genial monk.
From the journal of Sophie Hartford – the Tattler has received her PRIVATE Journal from Chateau de Fontanes, the Pyranees, 1818
We returned to the chateau today. I was sorry to say goodbye to my friends in
Ax-les-Thermes but the marquise assures me we’ll go back there soon. For now,
we’re going to spend a quiet few days here in the mountains, and I’m going to
be watching my sister closely. I sense she’s attracted to Joachim. Indeed, who
wouldn’t be, so handsome and warmhearted as he is. With those big brown eyes
and that smile like sunshine, he’s most alluring. But Nell is Nell and she hides
her feelings behind a cool composure. On the other hand, Joachim is making it
plain he likes and admires her.
This afternoon we went down to the stables and the two of them started talking together. I may be four years younger than Nell, but I’m grown up enough to see that Joachim only had eyes for her. So I dawdled around, stroking my horse, petting the stable cat, and then sat down on a bench. Joachim’s lurcher dog, Flocon, came and sat by me. They didn’t notice they were alone as they wandered off down the paddock, talking all the time. At several points they stopped, I could see them waving their arms around as they discussed something. Surely they must be coming to an agreement. Indeed, all the stableboys and grooms found excuses to come out and watch them as well.
My romantic hopes were sadly dashed when
they returned, and I found they’d spent the entire time talking about educating
the poor children of the estate. But tomorrow is another day and I’ll think up
a scheme to bring them together. Why is my 22 year old sister resisting such
29th April. This morning Nell was in the music room, helping a
little boy with his lesson. I casually told Joachim of this and soon I saw him
rush along to the music room. The little boy came out, and I pretended to be
arranging flowers in a vase in the corridor, so as to keep an eye on the door, in
case anyone else tried to go in. Flocon has become attached to me and he sat
watching as I fiddled with the flowers. A rather long time went by and I began
to worry that our kind hostess might come in search of us. So I tiptoed up to
the door, which wasn’t quite shut.
Somehow I stifled a gasp on seeing them
locked in a very passionate embrace
on the windowseat. As I peeped, they
slid down until Joachim was lying almost on top of her. Oh, my stars! What
lightning progress from yesterday’s formal behaviour. But I had to stop them before
they forgot themselves utterly. Suddenly I had a brainwave. I nudged the door a
little further open and pushed Flocon into the room. He started barking and ran
to jump up at his master. I saw Joachim jerk his head up, so I pulled the door
shut again and fled.
This evening. At dinner I
was expecting an Announcement but they both behaved as usual. Such a
disappointment. And later, when we came up to go to bed, Nell didn’t say a word
about her relationship with Joachim. She’s being very sly but tomorrow I shall
tell her that I KNOW!
About the book: TheOutcasts
Joachim is the youngest of the three Montailhac brothers.
Always close to the land, he now manages his father’s estates and
livestock. Athletic and handsome, Joachim seems to have an
ideal existence. But he has a guilty secret and it suddenly reappears to
cause havoc. His life is further complicated by dealing with an accident at the
iron mine on the estate just as visitors arrive, bringing yet more problems.
Nell and Sophie Hartford are cousins of Joachim’s sister-in-law, Olivia [see Scandalous Lady]. In the Spring of 1818 they find themselves outcasts from their officer father’s home in Paris, and are forced to accept Olivia’s assurance that her mother-in-law, the Marquise de Fontanes, will make them welcome. After all, says Olivia, life in the family chateau in the Pyrenees will be a tonic for them. Two unhappy girls struggle to fit into the very different lifestyle of the large and slightly exotic Montailhac family. At the same time, danger threatens from a deranged criminal bent on vengeance against their hosts.
Read an excerpt from The Outcasts
Nell seemed to have grown even prettier while he was away. Joachim joined his family in the Assembly Rooms and gazed appreciatively at her while she exchanged greetings with several of her new friends. Her primrose yellow dress brought out the russet gleams in her hair. She looked elegant and appealing. Glancing towards his mother he found her watching him with a twinkle in her eyes. She raised an eyebrow and he stepped close.
‘Mother, you’ve wrought a miracle. When she first arrived, dressed all in grey, I called her ‘Miss Dismal’ to myself. Now, I wonder if even her own father would recognise her.’
The marquise squeezed his hand. ‘Poor girls. Cast out as they were, no wonder they were so dejected. It is a pleasure to see them thrive here.’ She smiled at the buzz of light hearted chatter coming from the group. ‘Now you can keep an eye on them. I want to talk to my friends for a while.’
‘Hey, Joachim,’ one of the young men greeted him with a horrified air, ‘Did you know what’s in store this evening? Old Deschamps is going to recite one of his endless poems.’
There was a general muttering and some groans.
Nell gave a choke of laughter and looked enquiringly at Joachim.
He crossed his eyes at her, which made her laugh aloud. He sobered suddenly, staring into her green-grey eyes. She really was lovely, especially with that wash of pink colouring her cheeks. He wanted to get her away from the others.
‘Do you play cards? Then we could escape to the card room.’
‘No, neither of us plays.’ She looked round for her sister, but Sophie had disappeared.
‘She doesn’t like poetry recitals, I take it?’ said Joachim, amused.
‘No, but this is rude. I must find her.’
‘I’ll come with you.’ They slipped off towards the other room. ‘Well,’ said Joachim, ‘it seems we don’t care for poetry recitals either.’
She gave him a glance full of mischief, and laughed again, making him want to get her right away from everyone. ‘Let’s hope we don’t find Sophie too quickly, then.’
However, ten minutes later, Sophie was nowhere to be seen and Nell was showing signs of alarm.
‘I’d better see if she’s returned to the recital,’ she decided. They stood in the doorway, peering in. The marquise saw them and beckoned. Nell went to her and sat down. The poet was in full flow, and Joachim shook his head at his mother, who shrugged. He turned back into the card room and came face to face with Sophie. She smiled naughtily.
‘I saw you looking for me,’ she told him. ‘Bertrand spotted me but he didn’t say anything.’
She tossed her head. ‘You had more fun looking for me with Nell than being bored to death in there. Let’s play cards.’ She spun away, towards a table at the back of the room, where Bertrand was shuffling a pack of cards. He rose to his feet and pulled out a chair. Sophie sat down, casting a look of triumph at Joachim.
‘Nell said you don’t play,’ he protested.
She bit her lip, looking shamefaced suddenly. ‘Not really,’ she mumbled, ‘but I can watch you.’
A few of the older players were casting disapproving looks their way, although there were other ladies in the room. It was simply that Sophie was so very young. His mother would give him an earful later but until the poet finished his recitation, they would stay here.
‘Vingt-et-un?’ suggested Bertrand, dealing. The luck went against him for several games. He slammed his cards down. ‘Let’s have a drink. It might turn the luck in my favour.’ He beckoned to a waiter and held up three fingers.
‘Have they still not finished next door?’ he asked. He smiled at Sophie. ‘There’ll be some folk-songs later. You’ll enjoy that.’
She agreed and glanced at the approaching waiter. She stared for a moment and gave a gasp of surprise.
Joachim heard her and looked up. It was that toothy lad, and something was wrong. He saw the boy’s face change as he looked at Sophie. He set the tray down awkwardly, keeping his head bent down.
Bertrand picked up a glass and offered it to Sophie.
‘Er, no, no, sir,’ spluttered the waiter, jerking his hand out, but Sophie had already raised the glass to her lips.
‘Don’t drink,’ said Joachim sharply. Too late.
She set the empty glass down and tossed her head. ‘I’m old enough to drink wine, you know.’ Then the blood drained from her face. She put a hand to her throat. ‘Aargh,’ she croaked.
Both young men were on their feet. Joachim seized Sophie by the arm. ‘Get Nell,’ he shot at Bertrand and pulling Sophie’s arm round his shoulders he half-walked, half-dragged her towards the back door, which was close by.
‘Open it, you,’ he panted.
The rabbit-toothed waiter darted to obey.
They barely made it outside before Sophie began to retch. Joachim pulled out his handkerchief and was turning to look for some water when something struck him on the back of his head. He saw a mighty flash of red and then nothing more.
About the Author
Beth Elliott loves speaking different languages and traveling to out of the way places. A Welsh mother and a Lancashire father mean she has a complicated mix of imagination and practical common sense. After a teaching career in several countries, she settled in the Thames Valley. Settled, that is, except when the traveling bug takes her. An excuse for this is that she has published a number of travel articles, and of course, she can use the settings for her novels.
Her Regency Tales are
stories of intrigue, adventure and romance, with a few real people in among the
cast of characters who find themselves caught up in events that rather upset
their normal lives. She hasn’t yet put Napoleon himself in a story, but he’s on
the waiting list. On the principle of ladies first, especially in the Regency
era, Lady Hester Stanhope played a small but vital role in ‘Scandalous Lady.’
From her own experience of life in Turkey, Beth likes to add a
touch of exotic to some of her stories. But adventure and romance can – and do
– occur just as easily in London, Bath or Brighton as in Constantinople.
For more information, visit her at the following links.