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A Grasping Interloper?

Gentle Readers,

Far be it from me, your trusted informant on all matters worth knowing to keep disparaging an honorable gentleman for his youthful foibles, but it would seem the Earl of Bainbridge has succumbed to the lure of face paint and a pair of well-turned ankles once more. Indeed, they are the very same pair that drove him from England’s shores before he ascended to his current title. While his father no doubt applauds his son’s recent endeavors amongst the corps de ballet from beyond the grave, no doubt the present earl’s grandfather takes a considerably dimmer view of recent events and of the lovely Miss Nettie Pomeroy, darling of the Arcadian music hall.

Loyal readers will remember the stir Miss Pomeroy created several years ago when, as one Miss Venetia Crawley, the natural daughter of the former Duke of Graydon, she brazenly attended Lord and Lady Esterly’s ball on the arm of young Bainbridge (then Viscount Dutton). Rumor had it that without the swift intervention of his closest friend, the current Duke of Graydon and Miss Pomeroy’s half-brother, her duplicity would have escaped detection and the Bainbridge earldom would have discovered a veritable cuckoo in its nest. Thankfully, she was routed in time and disappeared to parts unknown at the time of this printing.

While it is understandable how a young man can easily be led astray by a pretty face one would think that an older, more experienced man should have grown immune to that same face. Sadly, that has not been the case with Lord Bainbridge. How must the current Duke of Graydon be feeling about having this blight on his family turn up after believing himself well-shed of the grasping interloper? One must also ask about the mysterious goings on at the Arcadian as well and the sinister dealings of her owner, Morgan O’Banyon. Just what is the truth about his relationship with the fair Miss Pomeroy?

Never fear dear readers! Your intrepid informer shall keep you apprised as I uncover the answers to all your questions.

Humbly Yours,

S. Clemens, Esq.

About the Book

Caelan Hennesy meets the young woman of his dreams in a Paris museum. She is educated, beautiful and refined – everything his family and society require of his bride.
Venetia believes she has found her prince, and she is certain that their love is strong enough to overcome the scandal of her birth. Venetia is the lovechild of a duke and his commoner mistress. When her half-truths and lies of omission are exposed, a disillusioned Caelan walks away, leaving Venetia at the mercy of a ruthless enemy.
Nine years later Caelan, now the Earl of Bainbridge, discovers Venetia is now a dazzling music hall dancer named Nettie Pomeroy. Nettie wants nothing to do with the man who walked away from her. Still, neither one of them can deny the passion or the love that continues to bind them together. As Nettie and Cal continue fighting their feelings, an enemy draws closer determined to bring harm to people Caelan cares about. Will Caelan be able to protect the one woman he refuses to surrender again, and will Nettie trust him enough to open her heart for a second chance at love?

~Excerpt~

FranceWinter, 1856

It was hot and difficult to breath stuffed halfway into the heavy, canvas sack. Her legs and feet remained cold though, because she still wore her gauzy costume from tonight’s performance. Venetia had fought the men who’d abducted her, kicking and screaming for help only to have a large, meaty hand clamp over her mouth, and then came the sack. She’d had a short burst of satisfaction when the wooden block in one of her toe shoes connected squarely with the twig and berries belonging to the other one of her captors. He’d threatened to hurl her against the wall, but the man with the meaty hands threatened him with far worse if he harmed her. Now she lay in the back of a cart where they’d tossed her hours ago, her arms and legs bound tightly together, a foul-tasting gag in her mouth, sick with fright.

There was no question in her mind that the new Duke of Graydon had found her. She’d thought taking a stage name would offer enough protection, but clearly, she’d been wrong. The luck Venetia found on her arrival in Paris had completely deserted her today. First, her grand debut in the lead role for tonight’s performance of ‘Giselle,’ hadn’t been good enough to secure a permanent place outside the corps de ballet, shattering her dreams of one day becoming a premiere danseuse, and now Graydon and his mother had hired these two ruffians to abduct her. She would likely be killed and her body thrown into the sea.

After an eternity, the cart came to a stop and Venetia found herself being lifted and carried with extraordinary gentleness. She struggled in the arms holding her, earning a harsh obscenity from the man she’d previously kicked, but the ruffian carrying her merely leaned closely and whispered to her. “Don’t thrash around now, little blossom. Ye might do yourself an injury.” She heard the sounds of raucous laughter and cheers, of tankards being clashed together along with the smells of ale and wine. She was transferred to the other man who roughly threw her over his shoulder before climbing a set of stairs. A door creaked open and suddenly Venetia felt herself fly through the air and abruptly land on a bed.

“Why’d ye go and do that, Jeb? You could a hurt her!” The gentler of her captors eased her into a sitting position inside the stifling darkness of her sack. “Don’t you worry,” his disembodied voice assured her. “Won’t nobody here hurt ye.”

“Are you so certain of that, Luther?” came a cold, low voice from across the room, and Venetia’s throat contracted painfully around a hard lump of absolute terror at the sound of it.

Available through Amazon Kindle and print

About the Author

Stephanie Patterson began her writing career at age three by designing her own symbol alphabet to represent words and emotions. Writing has always been her first love, which prompted her to begin her first novel, a civil war epic at the age of eight. Her debut romance, “Playing for Keeps,” was published under the pen name, Stephanie Salinas. “The Woman in Question,” a contemporary romantic thriller published under her own name, followed a couple of years later.

Patterson’s series, “Season of the Furies,” a Victorian romance trilogy about three, beautiful debutants who must atone for a despicable act, is now complete. 2020 saw the publication of the first book in her new series, “Tales from the Arcadian,” which follows the performers of a London music hall in 1862. Book one, “Bobby Dazzler,” is currently available in both e-book and print editions.


Patterson is a resident of northern Oregon and comes from a criminal defense background where she worked on all types of cases from petty theft to capital murder and murder for hire in both the state and federal criminal systems. When not writing, she practices and teaches the ancient divination art of cartomancy – a fancy way of saying tarot reading, as well as works on her community’s month-long Halloween festival, ‘Spirit of Halloweentown.’™  

EMAIL: stephaniepattersonwriter@yahoo.com

WEBSITE:  www.stephaniepattersonauthor.com

FaceBook Page: Stephanie Patterson Writes Books

An Officer & an Art-lover

December, 1814

Since Miss B’s sudden visit to Prussia, our fair maiden has all but disappeared. All that remains are some excellent likenesses gracing the walls of Clayford House, and several risqué sketches of her old friend Major M.

Despite this author’s best efforts, we can find no one willing to discuss the lady’s whereabouts, nor can we find any suitable explanation for her old friend Major M’s sudden desire to visit Paris. (True, the Christmas art exhibition is exciting – but how much companionship can be found in art? This author believes it is really past time our handsome Major settled down, don’t you?)

His talents are sorely needed at the Congress of Vienna, for he dances well and improves the dullness of the assemblies immeasurably. One cannot expect English ladies to waltz with the French, can one? After all, the wars have only just ended – haven’t they?

While our dashing Major M is an acknowledged collector of neo-classical artworks, we cannot fathom only any reason for a man of his divine looks to spend an unaccompanied Christmas in Paris. Not when there are so many ladies in Vienna to oblige him – though perhaps it is not these fine ladies who attract him?

We have heard on dubious authority that Major M consorts with artists’ models. Indeed, he has recently been seen in the company of a notorious French artist, the one who paints such scandalous nudes.

The Major is a well known art lover, dear reader, but there are many sides to art – are there not?

We weep for Major M, spending Christmas alone, or at least surrounded by Frenchwomen. Come home, Sir, and choose a companion from among your own countrywomen. We assure you, the English ladies are desolate at your desertion.

About the Book: Le Salon de Noël

Since his oldest friend disappeared during her confinement, Major Henry Musgrave has used his time at The Congress of Vienna to learn all he can regarding the whereabouts of Miss Louisa Beresford.

A series of paintings draws Henry to Paris for the first Salon de Noël (Christmas Salon) since the wars ended. Could the model in the paintings be Louisa? As rumours swirl through the city that France is not yet safe, Henry grows more determined to find the only woman he’s ever loved, and give her a Christmas to remember.

Le Salon de Noël is a Regency holiday reunion novella set among the art salons of Paris and Montmartre in 1814. It contains some of the characters from Always a Princess.
Release date: 19 November

Click here for preorder information

About the Author

Clyve Rose is an award-winning author of historical fiction both in Australia and the US. She has been writing historical romance fiction for the best part of two decades. She works in the Regency and Georgian periods, with occasional detours into Ancient Greece.

Who is the Intrepid Female Smuggler?

The little Sussex village of Boltwood is in a sorry state indeed—or so I learned during a visit to my mother’s dear friend, Mrs. Ponsonby of Chichester.

I stopped by for tea and found Mrs. Ponsonby already entertaining Lady Ariadne Luttrow, one of the ton’s worst gossips. She never hesitates to tear a character to shreds. Poor Mrs. Ponsonby dislikes backbiting, but she cannot afford to offend the daughter of an earl, so she puts up with Lady Ariadne’s occasional visits.

I, on the other hand, was delighted. As a regular contributor to the Teatime Tattler, I am not in the least averse to listening to gossip, especially the scurrilous sort. After giving Mrs. Ponsonby a sympathetic glance, I prepared to enjoy myself.

“My dears,” Lady Ariadne said, “we are overrun with smugglers.” Her hands fluttered here and there as she spoke. “They have become so bold that one can scarcely sleep at night. Trains of pack ponies pass without hindrance through one’s property. These dreadful criminals even store some of the smuggled brandy in one’s own outbuildings!” She helped herself to one of Mrs. Ponsonby’s delicious drop cakes. I took one in a hurry, for the plate was almost empty.

“Surely,” I said, “your husband can put a stop to that.” Sir William Luttrow is dead set against smuggling—officially, at least, for like everyone on the coast, he gets his brandy from the free traders.

Lady Ariadne took a sip of tea. One restless hand hovered over the last cake on the plate. “Yes, but we are often in London, and meanwhile the servants do their best to aid and abet the smugglers. I suspect that my head groom, a violent sort of man, is actually a member of the gang.” She snatched the cake and devoured it.

“How terrifying!” Mrs. Ponsonby cried.

“The stuff of nightmares,” Lady Ariadne said, but I didn’t believe that for an instant. The smugglers are no threat to her. She was enjoying herself, leading up to something even more shocking.  

She glanced about, as if she feared being overheard, and lowered her voice. “As if that weren’t bad enough, there are rumors that the gang is now led by…a woman!”

“Surely not,” Mrs. Ponsonby bleated, but I rather liked the notion. Women so seldom get to run any sort of enterprise.

“It is a disaster in the making,” Lady Ariadne said with a pout. “This creature, whoever she is, will bring the whole smuggling gang to ruin.”

It was one thing to tell frightening tales to an elderly lady, and another entirely to wax indignant at the possible failure of the local gang. How strange. Why would Lady Ariadne care?

“Surely the arrest of the gang is ‘a consummation devoutly to be wished?’” I asked.

The quotation sailed right over Lady Ariadne’s head, but Mrs. Ponsonby, who adores Shakespeare, said, “Not for the wives and children of the smugglers. It is foolhardy of the men to put their faith in a mere woman.”

What nonsense. “A clever woman is just as capable as a man of running a successful enterprise—legal or illegal,” I said.

Mrs. Ponsonby shook her head. “My dear child, you will never find a husband if you insist on such opinions. We are the weaker sex. Men are naturally superior in every way.”

On this, Mrs. Ponsonby and I will never agree. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to digress, for Lady Ariadne’s conflicting sentiments about the smugglers had aroused my curiosity. However, that talkative lady had already moved to another subject.

“Dear Lord Boltwood, who would have dealt firmly with the smugglers, is not expected to live out the week,” she said.

“Poor Lady Boltwood,” Mrs. Ponsonby said. “She is a close friend of mine.”

“Of mine as well,” Lady Ariadne said soulfully. “She suffers doubly, for while her husband is on his deathbed, her only son, Richard, cavorts in London. If you had heard the tales about him, you would faint on the spot! He’s a dreadful rake and a bitter disappointment to his unfortunate mother.”

With that, we turned to rather more scurrilous gossip. Lady Ariadne moved from drop cakes to macaroons and did her best to shock us, and Mrs. Ponsonby sighed with relief when she finally left.

Well, now. I have met Richard Boltwood. He is a devilishly witty man, and a great favorite with the ladies—and perhaps with females of another sort. But no mother could be disappointed in such a handsome, charming son.

Why, I wondered, does he absent himself from his father’s deathbed? Might there be an estrangement of which society is unaware?

And who is the intrepid female smuggler?

It is clearly my duty to find out.

After escaping the guillotine, Noelle de Vallon takes refuge with her aunt in England. Determined to make her own way, she joins the local smugglers, but when their plans are uncovered, Richard, Lord Boltwood steps out of the shadows to save her. Too bad he’s the last man on earth she ever wanted to see again.

Years ago, Richard Boltwood’s plan to marry Noelle was foiled when his ruthless father shipped him to the Continent to work in espionage. But with the old man at death’s door, Richard returns to England with one final mission: to catch a spy. And Noelle is the prime suspect.

Noelle needs Richard’s help, but how can she ever trust the man who abandoned her? And how can Richard catch the real culprit while protecting the woman who stole his heart and won’t forgive him for breaking hers?

Released today, 24th July. Buy now on Amazon!

Excerpt:

“Open it, my love,” Richard said. “If you don’t like it, the jeweler will allow us to exchange it for something else.”

Slowly, almost reluctantly, Noelle opened the little box. Nestled inside was a delicate necklace of diamonds and sapphires. “It’s beautiful.” She closed the box and returned it to his hand.

“Take it, sweetheart. It will suit you admirably and as befits my wife.”

She sighed. “As I have told you over and over, I will not marry you.”

He tried to drum up his usual lighthearted retort, but fortunately she forestalled him. “I will accept your gift under one condition,” she said.

He managed a smile. “A condition. How delightful! Do tell me.”

Noelle, his darling, the love of his life, said, “Will you take me as your mistress instead?”

About Barbara Monajem

Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young, then moved on to paranormal mysteries and Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Regency mysteries are next on the agenda.

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups. She used to have two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding (because it was too weird to resist) and to succeed at knitting socks. She managed the first (it was dreadful) but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

Will the orphan thaw her frozen heart?

Ophelia Breckensole linked her elbow with her twin’s as they sauntered into the parlor. “Gabriella, did you see the way the Duke of Sheffield looked at Everleigh last evening?”

“Indeed. Like a man completely awestruck.I didn’t think he was capable of any expression except a scowl.” Chuckling, Gabriella sat on the brocade settee. One finger on her chin, she cocked her  head. “And for once, our dear cousin didn’t turn her frigid glance on another befuddled swain.” Brow arched, she gave a sage nod. “That’s very telling, dearest.”

“It was the child, you know.” Ophelia settled on the cushion beside her sister, pushing a ridiculously frilly pillow aside as she made herself comfortable. “The moment Everleigh picked the little imp up and the child stopped wailing, I could tell she was smitten.”

“Sheffield could too. I had no idea he’d adopted an orphan—one from India, no less,” Gabriella said as she poured their tea.

Setting the silver teapot down, she considered Everleigh beyond the diamond-paned windows. She strolled the lawns with the duke’s ward toddling along beside her, their hands clasped. A moment later, his grace ambled into view.

“I wonder…” Gabriella pulled her brows together in thoughtful contemplation.

Ophelia followed the direction of her sister’s focus. “We could help them along. They’ll both be here for the house party’s duration.”

Gabriella sighed and shook her head. “Everleigh would never permit it. I believe she’s truly sworn off men.” She pressed her mouth into a tense line. “’Tis no wonder, considering the vile creature she was forced to marry. I doubt anyone shed a tear when he met his violent end. I know Everleigh didn’t.”

“True, but she’s still young, and just look how magnificent she is with the little darling.” Ophelia dropped two lumps of sugar into her cup. Slowly stirring her tea, she murmured, “She so wanted children of her own.” She stopped stirring and pulled her spine straight.

Everleigh was laughing at something the duke said. Actually laughing.

And the duke?

Well, he looked about to gobble up their beautiful cousin.

“Gabriella?”

“Yes?” Her twin pulled her attention back inside the cozy parlor.

Angling her head toward the frost outlined windows, Ophelia permitted a self-satisfied smile. “What if we drop a hint or two or three in the duke’s ear on the best way to woo our cousin?”

A December with a Duke

Seductive Scoundrels Book 3

He’s entirely the wrong sort of man. That’s what makes him so utterly right.


After a horrific marriage, widow Everleigh Chatterton is cynical and leery of men. She rarely ventures into society, and when she must, she barely speaks to them. Her one regret for refusing to marry again is that she’ll never bear children. As a favor to a friend, she reluctantly agrees to attend a Christmas house-party. Unfortunately, Griffin, Duke of Sheffield is also in attendance. Even though Everleigh has previously snubbed him, she can’t deny her attraction to the confident, darkly handsome duke.


For almost a year, Griffin has searched for the perfect duchess to help care for the orphan he’s taken on. He sets his sights on the exquisite, but unapproachable widow after her sweet interactions with the child impress him. Everleigh vows she’s not interested in him or any other man. But Griffin is convinced he can thaw her icy exterior and free the warm, passionate woman lurking behind the arctic facade. Only, as he pursues her, it’s his heart that’s transformed.


Can Everleigh learn to trust and love again? Will Griffin get his Christmas wish and make her his bride? Or, has he underestimated her wounds and fears and be forced to let her go? 

Excerpt

For the second time that night, Everleigh stopped on the last riser.

 He truly didn’t know?

“Yes, my daughter, Meredith.”

She touched the locket again. A lock of wispy, thistle-down soft white hair lay tucked inside. Struggling to wrestle her grief into submission, she focused on the long case clock’s pendulum swinging back and forth.

She paced her breathing with the slow tick-tock for a handful of rhythmic beats.

Did a parent ever recover from the loss of a child?

No. Life just took on a new reality. 

“Tomorrow is the three-year anniversary of her death.”

Why had she shared that?

The Duke of Sheffield did the most startling, the most perfect thing in all the world.

He drew her into his arms and held her. He didn’t offer condolences or advice. He didn’t try to change the subject or pretend he hadn’t heard her at all.

He simply offered her comfort, and it felt so utterly splendid, just allowing someone to hold her. Someone who permitted her to show her grief for a child conceived in the worst sort of violation and violence, but who had been adored nevertheless.

For this brief interlude, Everleigh didn’t have to be strong. Didn’t have to maintain her frigid façade, and it was wonderful to be herself. That almost brought her to tears as well.

What was more astonishing was she wasn’t afraid of his touch.

How long had it been since she didn’t flinch when a man touched her?

They stood chest to chest and thigh to thigh in intimate silence for several moments until the clocked chimed the quarter hour, interrupting the tranquility. They really must join the others for dinner, or God only knew what sort of unsavory tattle might arise.

“Thank you for your kindness, Your Grace.”

She disengaged herself, more aware of him as a man than she’d any business being.

He simply nodded, though the amber starburst in his eyes glowed with a warmth she couldn’t identify.

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Rumours of a mad rival

Overheard in a London drawing room.
“To be fair, Lady Amelia, many females have run mad over a red coat.” Lady Fenella’s jibe—and Lady Amelia’s blush—reminded the others present of Lady Amelia’s own excesses last Season in pursuit of a certain officer of the Horse Guard.

“One officer might be a mistake,” Mrs Fullerton suggested, “but two seems a little excessive. It certainly sounds as if this poor mad sister of Braxton’s makes a habit of compromising situations with the cavalry.”

“Only one compromising situation, surely,” Lady Eustace Framley protested. “I thought she was the baronet’s widow. One can’t compromise oneself with one’s husband.”

“One can before he is her husband, darling.” Lady Fenella widened her eyes. “Or do you not remember how you came to marry Lord Eustace?”

“Is it true that this mysterious officer stole her from her bedroom in her chemise?” Lady Amelia wondered.

“It would be rather cold,” said Lady Eustace. “It was, after all, more than a month ago, and in the Spring. One would imagine the Cheshire weather would dampen the ardour.”

“Your innocence is so charming,” Lady Fenella said. “Do you practice it in front of the mirror?”

“I do not much like these Braxtons. If I lived with Mrs Braxton, I dare say I should be mad myself,” Lady Amelia declared.

“I would certainly prefer Major Alex Redepenning to Mr Braxton,” said Lady Fenella, watching Mrs Fullerton very closely.

“Anyone would,” Lady Amelia agreed. “At least one would have before he was crippled. Goodness, Fenella, you don’t mean that Alex Redepenning stole Melville’s widow away! But that’s…” Her voice trailed off and she, too, stared speculatively at Mrs Fullerton.

Lady Eustace proved her relative naivety by rushing to make the comment the other two women merely thought. “Melville’s widow? Sir Gervase Melville? Wasn’t he your particular friend once, Mrs Fullerton? Yes, and Major Redepenning, too!”

“Poor dear.” Lady Fenella took Mrs Fullerton’s hand and gave it a warm squeeze. “It can hardly be pleasant to know you are unlikely in love not once, but twice, and both times have lost to the same woman.”

Their marriage is a fiction. Their enemies are all too real.

Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.

Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him.

In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.

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