10 January 1818
Our ears have been turned this week to news of Mr. G.A., that Darling of the Debutantes these two Seasons past. Not one, not two, but fully three Society Ladies of unquestioned veracity passed these tidbits of information to the Tattler staff on condition of anonymity. Their source is another Lady of like reputation, residing in Yorkshire’s West Riding, and reported to be an Intimate Friend of the A. family.
It seems that the aforementioned Mr. A.’s flirtations with Society’s Innocents may have been less Innocent than Society believed them to be. To that Lady’s certain knowledge, at least one fair Damsel has suffered Disastrous Consequences as a result of a Dalliance with this Knave of Hearts.
The Lady sent her letters, she told her friends, because they, or perhaps other families with whom they are acquainted, have their own Daughters eagerly anticipating a first Season in Town, and the Source would want no other Young Lady to suffer in like fashion. Beyond that, she asked that the information should be kept private. The recipients feel, however, that all families in such a position, whether known to them or not, ought to have the benefit of the scandalous reports contained in these paragraphs. The Tattler applauds the Generous Spirit behind their act of Public Service. ‘Tis small enough punishment for the Perpetrator of such Sins to have them announced to the Fashionable Society of which he purports to be a part.
Curiously, just three weeks past this paper announced the betrothal of Mr. L.A., younger son of the same family, to Miss S. of Bristol, who made her London Debut during the Spring Season of last year. A coincidence indeed that this provincial family, making its first appearance in these pages, should be mentioned twice in such a short time, to such different effect.
About the Book: Anna’s Refuge
Ruined by one brother. Redeemed by the other.
From the glitter of Regency London…
Knowing little of love, Anna Spain arrives for her one and only Season yearning for love. It’s surely fate when she falls for charming, handsome Gideon Aubrey—but when he spurns her in public, after seducing her with lies, she must find a way to support herself and her baby, or abandon the innocent child to the horrors of the workhouse.
To the grit of industrial Leeds…
For Lewis Aubrey, who has grown up under Gideon’s malignant shadow, there’s never been anyone but Anna Spain. Infuriated by his brother’s treatment of the woman he adores, Lewis steps in to shield her. He thinks he might even court her himself—until one day, without a word, she’s gone.
In a winter of impossible choices…
Can a heartbroken young mother learn to love again? Can her would-be hero endure raising the child of a brother he hates? Can one fragile infant bring these two splintered souls a second chance at love in rural Wrackwater Bridge?
What was wrong with Gideon? He had a swagger about him tonight, and his eyes gleamed with devilry. Almost with evil.
Anna forced a laugh and shook her head. It was only a bit of mischief. “Oh, you’re teasing again, Mr. Aubrey.”
She would have gone on, making light of it, but Miss Landrum tossed a careless smile at no one in particular and tugged on Gideon’s arm.
“Beauty calls,” Gideon said with a grin. He stepped toward the dance floor with Miss Landrum.
“But, Mr.—” Anna couldn’t breathe. She lurched forward, reaching out to him. He never looked back.
Miss Wedbury put an arm around her waist, drawing her into the protection of their little flock. “It won’t do any good, I’m afraid.”
“But I… He…”
“Shhh,” Miss Wedbury hissed at her. To the others, she said, “People are starting to notice. I’d best take her to the retiring room. Or to her mama.”
The words hurtled by as in a dream. Surely Anna must awake in her bed at any moment with the ball yet to come, the waltz, her whole future secure in Gideon’s love.
His brother Lewis spoke through clenched teeth. “And I’ll have to watch him gloat for the rest of the evening? I think not.” He took Anna’s hand and set it on his arm. “Come, Miss Spain. We’re going to waltz.”
“I can’t,” she mumbled. “I must—”
“No, you must not.” So fierce and hard-hearted. She’d thought him a kind young man, but his expression showed no sympathy as he led her in amongst the dancers.
Instead, he smiled. How could he, when her world was crumbling to dirt around her feet?
He bowed. She curtsied, hardly knowing what she did. I must talk to Gideon, alone.
The younger Mr. Aubrey put his hands in the right places and set her in motion.
Why would Gideon play such a trick on me? When they next met he would chuckle, and call her a goose, and reassure her with kisses and words of love, and—
“I must apologize for my brother, Miss Spain. He has always been an inconsiderate fellow.”
She glanced at Lewis Aubrey, desperate to get away. To scream, to wail.
It would cause a scene. Break all the rules, embarrass him and herself, Miss Wedbury and her parents.
She missed a couple of steps, slewing around awkwardly in his arms. He righted her, his grip strong and secure.
When he spoke again, his voice was gentle, coaxing.
“Let’s play a game, Miss Spain. Pretend nothing’s wrong. My brother likes to see the misery he’s caused.”
She stared him in the eye. “I don’t believe it. He can’t have feigned it all.” Could he?
“I’ve known him a long time, Miss Spain. He enjoys it even more when there’s a room full of gossips to witness his triumphs.”
He was wrong. Of course he was wrong. To say such things of his own brother! Rivalry must drive him, or jealousy. Sour grapes.
“Miss Spain?” She returned her gaze to his. He grinned, ridiculous and exaggerated.
It was the hardest thing she’d ever done, far more difficult than walking into Almack’s the first time among all those people who belonged there.
But it was necessary.
He squeezed her hand, and for the rest of that dreadful waltz, they competed to see which of them could out-smile the other.
He won, but by heaven, she held up her end. He nodded his approval.
She wanted to cry.
About the Author, Kerryn Reid
TODAY IS RELEASE DAY for the brand new edition of ANNA’S REFUGE, Book One in Kerryn’s series focused on the small town of Wrackwater Bridge in Yorkshire. Kerryn spent Covid Summer learning to self-publish, and this is the result! Her publisher went out of business in June, leaving the ebook they released in December 2019 high and dry. Though unavailable for purchase, it won the Silver Medal for Romance in Florida Authors & Publishers Association’s Book Awards. It’s also a finalist in the Maggie Awards (Georgia Romance Writers) and the Royal Palm Awards (Florida Writers Assoc.). Results next month…
Her first novel, LEARNING TO WALTZ, won Best Regency Romance in Chanticleer Books’ Chatelaine Awards. It will be back on the market before Christmas.
Raised in a New England college town, Kerryn inherited her mother’s passion for the British Isles. At seventeen, she roamed the Rock of Cashel after dark with her first love, a local Irish lad. So illicit, so romantic… and so unsustainable. Instead she married her college sweetheart and wound up in Florida, where they’ve lived long enough to feel like natives, with a rotating selection of dogs and cats, and not enough trips to visit their kids—not to mention the cutest, sweetest, smartest little boy any grandma ever had.
But a piece of Kerryn’s heart still lives “across the pond” where so many adventures took place—as well as the Regency romances she loves. And when the itch to write needs scratching, that’s where her imagination takes her. Enjoy the journey!
Kerryn’s monthly “Letters from Wrackwater Bridge” will keep you up to date. Sign up at her website