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Strange Gathering, Eery Mansion

December 1874

Mercer Manor, Millbrae, California

An exclusive gathering of wealthy and influential citizens of Northern California was held at the Millbrae home of The Bank of San Francisco’s founder, Montgomery Mercer. A representative from the Teatime Tattler, Susannah Clemens, was invited to a pre-holiday high tea with Mrs. Mercer this past weekend. Miss Clemens was thrilled to attend the social along with the ladies from the Millbrae Philanthropic Society. The group toured the 32,000 acre estate in elaborately decorated coaches before entering the grand home. Mercer Mansion consists of forty-two rooms, three stories, a conservatory, carriage house, and three artificial lakes. The main house took three years to build and is one of the grandest in Northern California outside of San Francisco. Miss Clemens reports that the women on the tour were all aflutter over the gardens and vistas, and were grateful the sun cooperated with their excursion rather than the usual thick fog that blankets the hillside just south of San Francisco proper.

Montgomery Mercer has amassed a considerable fortune aided by the gold and silver boom in California, and he’s set out to create a dynasty in the young state. His eldest child, Montgomery Mercer II, is currently attending the University of California in Berkeley, a new learning institution which his father helped to establish across the San Francisco Bay. The couple’s daughter, Meredith, attends a finishing school located in Grass Valley, and was not present for the event. Montgomery Jr., on the other hand, and his charming friend from the university, Sterling Mackey of the Virginia City Mackeys, entertained the ladies by playing the piano together and singing. The young men are studying law at the new university and shared their aspirations of becoming lawyers and starting a firm together, however Mrs. Mercer sternly reminded Montgomery II that his father had other plans for him, at which point he abruptly left the room and the tea commenced. 

The tea was the first time society women had been invited to the Mercer’s home and while Mrs. Mercer set an impeccable example, wearing a lavish dress she stated had been made by a tailor in New York during their last visit, there was a tension in the air that more than one guest alluded to on the ride back down the hill. The most plausible cause was the upcoming holidays, which would obviously put a lot of pressure on a woman like Mrs. Mercer, however Miss Clemens was struck by something Montgomery Jr. said as he and his friend were leaving the tea. Most of the guests were otherwise occupied, but Miss Clemens overheard Sterling consoling his friend with the knowledge that his twenty-first birthday would be arriving soon and with it a bit more freedom. Montgomery shook his head and simply stated, “not freedom, more responsibility. I’m running out of time.” She heard no more as they disappeared up the back stairwell. 

The Mercer Family remains a mystery to the writers of the Tattler, but never fear, dear reader. We shall uncover the source of the aspiring young lawyer in future articles. Until then, we remain steadfast in our search for the truth. 

About the Book

Harkening back to the glory days of gothic romance that had us up reading all night, we present, Haunts and Hellions… 13 stories of horror, romance, and that perfect moment when the two worlds collide. Vengeful spirits attacking the living, undead lovers revealing their true nature, and supernatural monsters seeking love, await you. Pull the blinds closed, light your candle, and cuddle up in your reading nook for some chilling—and romantic—tales. With stories by: Emily Blue, Lucy Blue, Kevin Ground, Rowan Hill, Naching T. Kassa, Emmy Z. Madrigal, R.L. Merrill, N.C. Northcott, Emerian Rich, Daniel R. Robichaud, Daphne Strasert, Tara Vanflower, and B.F. Vega.

R.L. Merrill’s story “The House Must Fall” is an homage to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher” and tells the tale of Sterling Mackey’s search for the truth about Montgomery’s disappearance from the university mere months after this article was written. Paperbacks available now from Amazon, or a Special Edition pack can be purchased directly from HorrorAddicts.net Press. E-books will be available soon!

About the Author

R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing contemporary, paranormal, or supernatural, she loves to give readers a shiver with compelling stories that will stay with you long after. You can find her connecting with readers on social media, advocating for America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, writing horror-infused music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

Lady Medway and the Scandal of the Decade

I stopped by B.P. Charles and Co., Stationers, to buy some ink, when the heavens opened, letting out a downpour unprecedented in the history of London.

Oh, very well, it was an ordinary shower, but I write for the Teatime Tattler, so I’m accustomed to exaggerating—to making the best better and worst even worse. While I waited out the rain, I began to write my gossip column: 

It has come to our attention that the Countess of Medway, fondly known amongst the ton (and, I dare say, amongst Britons as a whole) as the Perfect Aristocrat, finds herself faced with a dilemma.

A guffaw startled me, and I knocked the inkpot flying. I clapped a hand to my bosom, as Mr. McBrae, who does etchings for Mr. Charles, set the inkpot down.

“What a piece of nonsense!” He gestured at my deathless prose, still laughing.

 “A trifle exaggerated,” I said, “but Lady Medway is as near perfection as makes no odds.”

He snorted. “Only if you define the perfect aristocrat as rude, ignorant, domineering, and utterly convinced of her superiority.”

I haven’t met her ladyship, but I expect Mr. McBrae has, as he has friends in high places. However, the Tattler can’t afford to offend her. My encomium was taken from sightings of her in the park, where she is effortlessly elegant, composed, and aloof. “You may dislike her, but even you would pity her now. Her daughter, Lady Rosamund, is on the verge of another scandal, and as usual, it’s all Corvus’s fault.”

He chuckled at mention of the infamous artist. “In what way? Lady Rosamund is no longer in London, so Corvus will find another victim to caricature.”

 “Not when he hears this.” I lowered my voice. “Her father, the Earl of Medway, has been invited to a house party at the estate of Sir Alphonse Lewis, that well-known frequenter of theatrical circles—and he wants Lady Rosamund to accompany him!”

“Surely not,” McBrae said. “She’s in mourning.”

“Yes, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Sir Alphonse’s guests are playwrights and actors, inferior persons with whom no high-born lady should associate. What’s more, the hostess is his mistress! I don’t know what Lord Medway was thinking. But there’s worse!” I lowered my voice further. “At a previous party at Sir Alphonse’s estate, there was an orgy!”

McBrae huffed. “Lord Medway won’t allow his daughter to participate in an orgy.”

“No, but Lady Rosamund’s reputation is already scandalous, thanks to Corvus. Her poor mother has two choices: either do nothing and hope word doesn’t spread—”

“Which won’t work, because you intend to spread the word yourself,” McBrae said.

I fear I blushed. “True, but spreading gossip is our raison d’être at the Tattler. What else can we do when such a juicy morsel comes our way?”

McBrae acknowledged this with a rueful shrug. He is a kindly sort of man. He disapproves, but he also understands.

“Her second choice is to send her son hotfoot to the rescue,” I said, “and risk that he, being a young, virile man, will participate in the orgy, too!”

“You have a fertile imagination, ma’am,” he said, “but no orgy is likely to take place.”

“I suppose not,” I said dejectedly, for it would have been an astonishing story. “But the real problem is, what will Corvus make of it all?”

“Something amusing, no doubt.”

“If I were Corvus,” I said, “do you know what I would do? I’d go to Sir Alphonse’s house to see what really happens.”

“Ah, but think what fun for Corvus,” McBrae said, “to just make it all up?”

Fun indeed. All England awaits his next caricature with bated breath, and you may count on the Tattler to inform you of every tidbit of news in what could well prove to be the scandal of the decade!

About the Book

Widowed Lady Rosamund spends the first months of her mourning in the Lake District, where it’s safe and peaceful, and murders are exceedingly rare. Luckily, she is rescued from this tedium by a house party comprised of playwrights, poets, and actors—an immoral set of persons with whom no respectable lady should associate. Even so, she hardly expected to wake in the wee hours to find one of the guests lying dead.

As if that wasn’t troublesome enough, Gilroy McBrae is at the same party, masquerading as a footman to investigate a series of thefts. Was the sudden death an accident—or murder? Almost everyone had reason to loathe their unpleasant fellow guest. Rosie must set aside her confused emotions about McBrae and work with him to find the culprit before an innocent person is accused of the crime.

An Excerpt

The first night at a house party, Lady Rosamund is wakened by a scream…

I sat up in bed, heart battering my chest. By the grey light in my room, I surmised it was almost dawn. Had that shriek been merely a dream? The house seemed enveloped in silence.

And then came more screams, ghastly and chilling, one after another after another. 

I leapt out of bed, crammed my feet into my slippers, donned my wrapper once again, and rushed into the passageway.

It was cloaked in gloom, but faint light from the Great Hall filtered up. It was from there that the screams came, now dissolving into hoarse sobs. A door opened behind me across the passage, but I was first to the stairs.

Which you no doubt think was foolish of me, but I couldn’t help myself. Although I have had many small brushes with supposed insanity, I’m not a complete idiot. I peered over the banister before starting down.

Below me, flat on the floor, was a man. All I could discern was his head and feet, for something huge and unidentifiable lay atop him. As I stared, a woman appeared and glanced about. She bent over the huge something, grunting…and then with a swish of skirts, she vanished.

Meanwhile, a sobbing girl stumbled up the stairs toward me. She tripped on her gown and fell, crying out, and I helped her up. “What happened? What’s wrong?”

“He’s dead.” She swayed. “Oh God, he’s dead. He murdered him!”

I feared she would faint, so I kept a firm hold on her. “Who?” A stupid question, I realized. In the first place, I didn’t specify whether I was asking for the identity of the victim or the murderer. In the second place, she was hysterical and unable to speak coherently. I could very well go see for myself, once I got rid of her.

“It’s all my fault,” she whispered, clutching my arm. “I wish I had never come to this horrid place.”

An understandable sentiment, but she couldn’t have predicted this…could she?

“Helen! Miss Gardner, that is.” Mr. Powers hurried up, clad only in shirt and breeches. This utter disregard of the proprieties, coupled with his use of her Christian name, seemed to indicate that his relationship with the young woman might be as close as Harold Bellevue feared. “What happened?”

“He’s dead!” she wailed, and cast herself upon his breast.

“Hush,” he said. “Who’s dead?”

“How could you?” she cried, and sobbed into his shirt. She, at least, was fully dressed, making the embrace less improper than it otherwise might have been.

I left them to it and hastened down to see the body for myself. Obviously, it behooved me to determine first of all whether the man on the floor was indeed dead.

It was the unpleasant Mr. Fence, but looking unlike himself—tranquil and at peace. With a shudder of revulsion, I realized that what lay atop him was a huge rack of antlers. I glanced up at the wall of the landing: sure enough, the largest stag’s head I’d seen there last evening was gone.

I knelt beside him and felt for his pulse—a waste of time, for even if he still lived, he wouldn’t for long. Two prongs of the antlers had pierced his chest.

There was not even a flutter of heartbeat.

I stood and took a deep breath, trying to shove away the thought that ran over and over through my mind: you wanted a corpse, and you got one.

Amazon links. Additional vendors are pending.

Amazon US   https://www.amazon.com/Lady-Rosamund-Horned-God-Regency-ebook/dp/B0913LPHMC/

Canada   https://www.amazon.ca/Lady-Rosamund-Horned-God-Regency-ebook/dp/B0913LPHMC/

UK  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lady-Rosamund-Horned-God-Regency-ebook/dp/B0913LPHMC/

Australia  https://www.amazon.com.au/Lady-Rosamund-Horned-God-Regency-ebook/dp/B0913LPHMC/

About the Author

Rumor has it that Barbara Monajem is descended from English aristocrats. If one keeps to verifiable claims, however, her ancestors include London shopkeepers and hardy Canadian pioneers. As far as personal attributes go, she suffers from an annoying tendency to check and recheck anything and everything, usually for no good reason. Hopefully all this helps to explain her decision to write from the point of view of a compulsive English lady with a lot to learn about how the other ninety-nine percent lived in 1811 or so.

As for qualifications, Barbara is the author of over twenty historical romances and a few mysteries, for which she has won several awards. On the other hand, she has no artistic talent and therefore is really stretching it to write about an artist who draws wickedly good caricatures. But she’s doing it anyway, because he’s irresistible. To her, anyway. Not so much to the aristocratic lady. Or at least not yet.

Social media links:

Website: http://www.BarbaraMonajem.com

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Scandal in Venice

Baden, Baden 1818

My Dear Mr. Clemens,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be kind in your publication. She is young.

Your good friend and supporter, Lady Horsham

About the Book: Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil

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

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

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

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

and for other formats:

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

About the Author

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

Find her here:

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But He’s Not a Gentleman

This letter has fallen into the hands of your Teatime Tattler editors. We trust our readers will find it of interest.

From Mrs. Letitia Piggott-Pym, Berkeley Square, London

To Miss Lorena Ogilvy, Vine Cottage, Sussex

Dear Sister,

At the close of this most successful Season, I am delighted to report that not only have we secured an entirely satisfactory husband for Arabella, but that our future son-in-law, if somewhat lacking in the matter of a chin, more than makes up for it in family connection and social distinction.

But I will confess that for a time our prospects appeared somewhat less propitious when Bella (along with several silly girls of her set) conceived a sudden tendre for a certain Mr. Merion – a development which, as you can imagine, Mr. Piggott-Pym and I found not a little worrisome.

In particular, dear Lorena, it simply wasn’t possible to refuse to receive Mr. Merion. He is a protégé of Viscount Crowden, not only having saved the viscount’s life during a terrible battle at sea, but being quite excessively attractive, looking just as one wishes one’s national heroes to look, as, sadly, they rarely do. War, after all, will cause disfiguring scars, burns, and amputations, but Mr. Merion’s wound is of the more decorative variety. In truth, the nearly imperceptible limp with which he walks, aided by a masterfully wielded cane, can only fan the flames of patriotic virtue among the girls, and perhaps, at times, even within the bosoms of their Mamas.

Not to speak of the fit of his coat, and even what might discern beneath…

But I digress; and in my meanderings have nearly forgotten to add that Mr. Merion is quite rich, or well on his way to becoming so. Of course, a lady doesn’t speak overmuch of such matters, but I am assured that he’s highly respected as a commercial investor in properties in certain neighborhoods. And although one wouldn’t venture to such quarters oneself, Mr. Piggott-Pym tells me that large sums of money may be made there in rents to a certain class of person.

Which brings me finally to the inescapable truth, that as ornamental an addition as Mr. Merion had made to one’s guest list – for his aforementioned assets and as proof of patriotism on the part of his hosts – the fact remains that Mr. Merion was not born a gentleman, and in fact served in His Majesty’s Royal Navy as a common sailor. And although this did not stop certain families from countenancing his attentions to their daughters, I can assure you that Mr. Piggott-Pym and I felt very differently…

And so in consequence, it was no surprise to find ourselves quite vindicated by the most shocking, interesting, and entertaining development… when a week ago, without a word of explanation or apology to any of his generous and condescending new connections, and leaving several dinner parties horribly lopsided, Mr. Merion quite entirely, and inexplicably, disappeared

ABOUT THE BOOK: A House East of Regent Street

The future looks bright for former sailor Jack Merion. His wartime heroics have won him influential contacts, and his good looks and flair for business are definite assets. With funds to invest, he’s on the brink of financial success in the high-stakes world of Regency London.

And buying the house in Soho Square is a can’t-miss opportunity. Once a fashionable brothel, the property will yield a good income in commercial rents and a clear path to the respectable life Jack has never known.

There’s only one problem – another prospective buyer. With a dark past, a desperate future, and some unmistakable assets of her own, Miss Cléo Myles is a formidable obstacle, one that Jack would be wise to steer clear of.

But instead, he proposes a bargain that’s as scandalous as it is irresistible.

Five afternoons. Five rooms. Uncountable pleasures…

…In a neighborhood that’s seen better days. And a house that’s seen everything except love.

An Excerpt

Woman, rather than lady.

Unless, Jack supposed, one knew how to pronounce the word lady with a certain ambiguity – a tone of voice like a wink or smirk exchanged with the other men in the room, to show that one really meant quite the opposite. A courtesan. Or even better, the French phrase Lord Crowden had taught him – trust the French to come up with an expression like grande horizontale. He himself had never encountered such a woman at first hand, and so he’d never been quite sure of all the nuances of implication.

But this… ah, lady could quickly fill the gaps in his education. He need only contemplate her posture and manner of address; it would be like memorizing an entire lexicon – of new uses for ordinary words that Miss Myles’s extraordinary presence had suddenly rendered inadequate.

One couldn’t, for example, exactly say she was small: not with her posture so regal that only the proximity of the lanky servant called attention to her lack of stature. Slender? He doubted that the possessor of such a voluptuous bosom could correctly be called slender. She was hardly young but it wouldn’t do to call her old either; the word ageless came to mind, but here his common sense rebelled. No woman was ageless – her youth, or lack of it, was always a critical index of her value.

Beautiful? He wasn’t quite sure – he’d always thought that beauty brought with it a comforting, disinterested sort of serenity. Well, striking, then, Miss Myles was certainly that. Sparkling eyes slanted catlike above well-drawn cheekbones; her mouth was expressive, the sinuous upper lip curving in a wary half-smile above the full, appetitive lower one. The afternoon sunlight seemed to embrace her as its own, her bright eyes and creamy skin outshining the brilliance even of these surroundings.

And oddly dignified, Jack thought, dignified and defiant – though world-weary might have been a more accurate word…

Release Date October 6, 2020 – Available for Preorder Now

FOR BUY LINKS, go to

About the Author

Author of historical romances set during the English Regency and before the French Revolution, Pam Rosenthal has been praised for her graceful style as well as her writing’s unabashed eroticism. She was twice nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award, and in 2009 her novel The Edge of Impropriety won the RITA for Best Historical Romance. Find out more about Pam and her books at pamrosenthal.com, on Twitter @pamrosenthal, on Facebook, and on Goodreads.

“Elegant, tender, and daring… Pam Rosenthal has an impeccable sense of the Regency and a fearless way with a story.” – Julie Anne Long, USA Today Bestselling Author

An Earl Scandalously Kisses an Innocent Miss

Dear Lovely Readers:

A most scandalous display of courtship occurred yesterday on the stoop of Lady R’s townhome. The dashing Lord B swept the innocent debutante Lady D into his embrace for a scorching kiss. The neighbor’s windows steamed over from the passionate heat. It was said that the lady did not protest the affectionate gesture, but wrapped her arms around the gentleman pulling him closer. The kiss was soon broken-up by the reformed rakes The Duke of S and Lord W.

Earls and Scandal

As Lord B was dragged away by Lord W, he drunkenly declared his apologies. While The Duke of S offered an explanation for his friend’s actions to Lady D. (Who I might add had also courted the lady himself before he wed the lovely Lady S.) A smile of pleasure graced the lady’s face before she closed the door.

But wait, there is more to this story readers. My sources tell me that earlier in the day while at his club, Lord B laid Lord P to the floor with a planter. He threatened him with more punches if he ever approached Lady D and his sister again. It leaves me wondering who the Earl tried protecting more, his sister or the red-haired beauty, Lady D.

Earls and Scandal

Well readers, does the impoverished Earl mean to ruin Lady D for financial gain? Or is he smitten with her charms? While most ladies would have slapped a gentleman stepping over the bounds of propriety, Lady D did not. Which leads me to believe that she welcomes this scandalous courtship. I for one, will enjoy watching this scandal unfold.

About the Book: I Shall Love the Earl (Tricking the Scoundrels #3)

How many times must a gentleman ruin a lady before he offers for her hand….

She waited for the temptation held in his gaze. He refused to give into his desire to court her. Can a ruination of a lady lead toward a love to last a lifetime?

Every ball Dallis MacPherson attended, she saved a spot on her dance card for a certain gentleman. Many balls later and still no offer, prompts her to pursue the earl. When she encounters him on a darkened balcony, he steals a kiss and warns her away. His stolen kiss promises a passion she wants to explore. At every occasion he attends, she tempts him with her own promise. Soon the earl falls for her charms and sends her down a path of ruination with one incident after another. Can Dallis overcome the scandal of the earl’s pursuit?

Roderick Beckwith watched the Scottish beauty from afar. He lost his heart the moment he set eyes upon her. Throughout the season every gentleman offered her a dance, but him. With his financial affairs on the brink of disaster, he couldn’t provide her with the life she deserved. When his mother introduces his sworn enemy to his heart’s desire, he must set aside his pride. However, his courtship is less than ideal. At every opportunity he brings scandal to her name. Can Rory redeem himself and prove to Dallis that he is a gentleman worth loving?

With every glance, Dallis pulls Rory in deeper. His stolen kisses forces him to make her an offer of marriage. As they prepare for their wedding, he acts as the perfect gentleman. However, the proper gentleman was not who Dallis desired. Will her scoundrel show himself before they say I do?

I Shall Love the Earl is the third book in Laura A. Barnes’s romantic historical romance series. If you love a novel filled with a scandalous courtship set in Regency England, then you will enjoy Rory enticing Dallis with promises of love.

Devour I Shall Love the Earl, the third novel in Laura’s Tricking the Scoundrel series today.

Excerpt:

Dallis heard the pounding on the door and realized that for some reason Shaw wasn’t going to answer the caller. Even though it was highly improper, Dallis opened the door herself. She stood in surprise at who stood on her doorstep. Lord Roderick Beckwith swayed back and forth, trying to fight for his balance. His eyes glazed over as his lips pulled into a lopsided smile.

      “Yous is sooooo betiful.”

      He was drunk. The ever-proper, keeping his temper in a tight control, protective Rory Beckwith, was blazing drunk. He reached out to wrap his finger around a stray curl.

      “Soooo soft. Knew wods be.”

      Rory’s touch stilled Dallis from helping him stand. The gentle caress caught her unaware. His thumb brushed across the loose strand. Rory continued to sway and soon lost his balance. He fell into the doorjamb, where he decided to lean. When Dallis didn’t respond to Rory, he took his touch one step further and brushed his thumb across her lips. The jolt propelled Dallis closer to him, her mouth opening at his touch.

      “Soft engf to kiss.”

      Dallis didn’t know how to react. Rory was finally near and touching her. Her body took over, responding to his need. Her tongue slowly slid out to lick his thumb. At her reaction, he groaned and pulled her into his arms.

      “See, I tolds you I’s dangerous.”

      Rory’s lips devoured hers passionately, exploding her senses. His mouth pulling kiss after kiss from her soul, while his hands dived into her hair causing her hair pins to scatter across the foyer. As he sensed her desire, the kiss turned more urgent. Everything she ever read about was coming true at this moment. Still, Dallis held back from responding due to her naivety. Until he groaned and tightened his embrace, giving her the encouragement to return his kiss and match him stroke for stroke.

      “We thought this might be your next destination. C’mon mate, before the neighbors catch sight of your stupidity. I told you, Sheffield, that he would go to her.”

      Sheffield and Wildeburg pulled Rory away from Dallis. Her face flamed with embarrassment to be caught so intimately in Rory’s embrace. Dallis held her cheeks as Wildeburg led him away.

      “Sorrysss Dallis,” Rory called out.

      “For the kiss?” she whispered.

      Sheffield answered for him. “No, my dear, for another matter. I am working to quell that problem. But you should be aware that he defended your honor at the club today with Lord Phipps.”

      “Defended, how?”

      “By a bloody punch to the nose.”

      “Oh. More to add to my embarrassment.”

      “I am afraid so. Do you remember our conversation in the park?”

      “Yes.”

      “If it is any comfort, you are not the only one suffering from love.”

      “Then why does he ignore me?”

      “Pride, my dear Dallis. A man’s greatest downfall in life.”

      “Pshh.”

      “My sentiments exactly.”

      “Thank you, Sheffield.”

      “Anything for a friend. Will we see you at the Sambourne Ball?”

      “Yes, I am very excited. Lady Beckwith offered to introduce me to Lord Holdenburg.”

      “So I have heard. Another reason for our acquaintance’s inebriation.”

      Dallis smiled. Rory’s display of drunken affection proved he was jealous. Was he jealous enough to stop the courtship her grandmother proposed? If not, his actions this afternoon secured that he must court her or ruin her reputation. They could have explained away the punch, but the kiss held the most damage. Dallis knew her grandmother’s neighbors watched them. There wasn’t an activity in the neighborhood they didn’t observe.

      “Give Sophia my love.”

      “Will do. Please save me a dance this evening. We might as well make the bloke so bloody jealous that he will become a pup at your feet, begging for a treat.”

            Dallis closed the door as Sheffield entered his carriage. She leaned against the paneling, her smile growing wider, realizing she had Rory right where she wanted him. Her smile turned to astonishment as she remembered the taste of him on her lips. She pressed her fingers to her mouth. Would he recall their kiss after his drunkenness wore off? If not, she would be sure to refresh his memory.

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About the Author

International selling author Laura A. Barnes fell in love with writing in the second grade. After her first creative writing assignment, she knew what she wanted to become. Many years went by with Laura filling her head full of story ideas and some funny fish songs she wrote while fishing with her family. Thirty-seven years later, she made her dreams a reality. With her debut novel Rescued By the Captain, she has set out on the path she always dreamed about.

When not writing, Laura can be found devouring her favorite romance books. Laura is married to her own Prince Charming (who for some reason or another thinks the heroes in her books are about him) and they have three wonderful children and two sweet grandbabies. Besides her love of reading and writing, Laura loves to travel. With her passport stamped in England, Scotland, and Ireland; she hopes to add more countries to her list soon.

While Laura isn’t very good on the social media front, she loves to hear from her readers. You can find her on the following platforms:

Website: http://www.lauraabarnes.com

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