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Tag: Teatime Tattler (Page 1 of 12)

A Prescient Conversation!

A new movement is afoot in the nation that has some citizens perplexed and others outright enraged. Your reporter has insinuated herself into a fashionable group of ladies and gentleman discussing this radical concept. Thank goodness the true identity of New York Herald society columnist Truly C. Goode is unknown, for I should never have received an invitation to this august gathering, or any other for that matter.

Join me now as we quietly observe my fellow guests. Mr. Albert van der Roos is holding forth at present, but Mr. Billy Wentworth and van der Roos’s niece, Miss Sarah Smythe are equally passionate on the subject presently under discussion.

“I say, do you really believe it possible? That this preacher should call for the banning of liquor is beyond the pale. The man should keep to the Good Book and leave honest folks in peace with their pastimes.” Mr. van der Roos slammed his fist onto the arm of his chair.

Miss Smythe fluttered her fan and smiled sweetly. “But dear Uncle Albert, surely you do not consider alcohol an entertainment.”

“Entertainment? Hardly. A necessity, by God. I can’t imagine life without its soothing effects. Only thing that gets some of us through the day.” Van der Roos’s eyes grew large as he observed his niece. “Don’t tell me you agree with the damned parson? You’re just a chit of a girl. What do you know of a man’s needs?”

Mr. Wentworth had thus far been content to lounge silently in the corner of the divan, but hearing Sarah so described roused him to give voice to his thoughts. “Miss Smythe may be young, but she has a right to her opinions.” He tilted his head as though in thought. “Of course, should this temperance idea take hold, it could have unintended consequences.”

Miss Smythe had at first brightened when Wentworth spoke, but now a glower marred her continence. “Really? And what bad could possibly occur? I should think preventing husbands of the lower classes drinking to the point of inebriation might better society. As it is, they beat their wives and children after spending the money for food on demon rum. It is the less fortunate of whom we must think.”

Van der Roos harrumphed as his eyebrows rose nearly to his receding hairline. “The poor will always be with us. The Bible says so. Why should I be denied because the lower classes can’t hold their liquor?” Van der Roos ended on a blustery note, so incensed had he become.

Wentworth suppressed a smile with difficulty. “While both of you make excellent points, it is not the poor of whom I am thinking, but rather the criminal classes. Should this temperance thing take hold, and God forbid become law, I foresee great trouble. If we learned nothing from the whiskey tax rebellion of some years past, it should be that the government should leave a man and his liquor alone.”

Van der Roos beamed. “Hear, hear!”

Wentworth held up his hand and continued, “I foresee an entire criminal industry in the making, transporting, and selling of unlicensed liquor growing up overnight should temperance become law.” He shook his head as if in disbelief. “I don’t think you need worry, van der Roos. Such insanity will never pass the Congress. Too many of the members enjoy their tipple overly well.”

________________

Of course, 120 years after this conversation took place, Congress passed the Volstead Act and all of Wentworth’s fears were indeed realized. Linda Bennett Pennell’sMiami Days, Havana Nights gives readers an inside look at the unintended consequences of Prohibition.

Excerpt

Chapter 1
May 18, 1926
105 South Street
New York City
 

Knocking – sharp, loud, rapid – echoed through the empty speakeasy. Sam froze, the notes of a tune stuck in the roof of his mouth. He glanced at the entrance and leaned the handle of his push broom against his shoulder. Puffs of dust settled on the floor boards around his feet while he remained motionless.

It was late, too late, to be admitting customers, even for the city’s illegal watering holes and gambling joints. Although a thick crossbar and several stout locks protected the heavy iron door, an uneasy feeling crawled down Sam’s spine. Growing tension over control of the Fulton Fish Market, in fact the entire South Street area, was making a lot of people jumpy, including him.

Several seconds passed without noise from the other side of the door. Sam let out his breath and laughed at himself. Working at the fish market in the afternoon then staying up half the night at the speakeasy didn’t leave much time for sleep. It kept him on edge. All the rumors and threats floating around these days weren’t helping either. Inclining his ear and hearing nothing, he relaxed and gave his broom a shove.

Bam, bam, bam.

Sam’s heart jumped into his throat.

“Open up, Monza. I know you’re in there.” The shout, colored by an Irish lilt, came from the second floor landing accompanied by renewed pounding. “I come to talk with ya. We need to settle this business. I got a proposition for ya.”

Sam’s breathing kicked up a notch as he looked over his shoulder toward the office. The boss didn’t like to be disturbed when he was meeting with his guys. The pounding from outside in the hall returned in earnest, but the office door remained fixed.

“You gonna open this damned door or do I break it down?” The door knob rattled and jerked.

Behind Sam, the office door clicked open an inch. He watched in the mirror over the bar as the muzzle of a .38 Special emerged from the opening, its nickel-plated barrel glittering in the overhead lights. One of the gangsters stepped into the room, met Sam’s eye in the mirror, and jerked his head, then the room went dark. Sam dropped his broom and backed into an alcove next to the bar. The office door opened wider. Several shadows scurried across the floor. Metal locks and bolts snapped and clanked, then the entrance door swung inward.

About the Book

Debts. Most people have them. Many involve money. Others fall into less well-defined categories

1926, New York City. After witnessing a gangland murder, seventeen-year-old Sam Ackerman is sent to Miami under Moshe Toblinsky’s protection. Once in Miami, Sam is forced into bootlegging. He falls in love with Rebecca, whose devout parents refuse to approve the match until he disentangles himself from his criminal bosses. With the end of Prohibition, Sam persuades Toblinsky to set him free. The price? A debt, as Toblinsky puts it, of friendship. A debt that Sam keeps secret from Rebecca. A debt that will one day come due.

Present day, Gainesville, Florida. History of American Crime professor Liz Reams seems to have it all – early success in her field, a tantalizing discovery associated with old time gangster Moshe Toblinsky, and the love of a wonderful man. Life is perfect. So why does she keep refusing her guy’s proposals? Her journey toward understanding begins when she must confront a long-term, yet unacknowledged, personal debt. Once on the path of self-discovery, she finds clarification at every turning, most importantly during her research into Sam’s life. All of these personal revelations come at a price, however, as she becomes embroiled in emotional and physical dangers that may prove greater than she can handle.

Miami Days, Havana Nights releases on Amazon July 18, 2018.

About the Author

I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, “Let’s pretend.”

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

“History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire  

Other Books:
Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel from Soul Mate Publishing
Confederado do Norte from Soul Mate Publishing
When War Came Homefrom real Cypress Press
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn from the Wild Rose Press

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Too Hurriedly Matched?

scandal

‘People are sitting in opera boxes using them for many activities. Etching by George Cruikshank.’ . Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

We are reliably informed that hussy, Harriette Wilson, was seen parading on the arm of the Regent at the opera last night. No doubt, she expected the punters would be more interested in her scandalous doings than in watching Edmunde Keane’s faultless performance of the gloomy Hamlet. Alas, her grand moment was eclipsed by the presence of Lord Rogan Windermere and his brand new bride, the erstwhile Miss Jassinda Carlisle.

The pair were recently wed in the old chapel at Windermere Abbey, the Earl’s country seat in Hampshire. Why we ask, when Windermere waited so long to come up to scratch, was the thing done with such haste? Even more intriguing was their being accompanied at the opera by Windermere’s cousin, Dominic Beresford, the Duke of Wolverton.

It is common knowledge the Duke twice laid his heart at Miss Carlisle’s feet and had it rejected. What scandal is that lady now courting by spending the entire evening closely attended by her new husband and her rejected lover? And I do wish someone would tell how she brought an obviously besotted, but just as obviously reluctant, Windermere to his knees. I’m guessing they were desperate measures indeed for the lady is fast approaching the quarter century!

scandalPerhaps she will give a hint to the Heavenly Iceberg, Lady Sherida Dearing, who was also in attendance, though left to the questionable attentions of that handsome scapegrace, Lord Baxendene. One can only surmise the Great Bax is losing his touch for no hint of a thaw was noted. Lady Sherida should consider that even icebergs of the heavenly variety lose their freshness if left too long in the ice house!

Although the gentlemen are frequently seen together it is unusual for any one of them to attend the opera. It is to be hoped that now Miss Carlisle is finally off the marriage market the Duke of Wolverton will allow his heart to engage elsewhere.

(Now there’s a man whose boots would look well under a lady’s bed!)

But we digress! Our informant noted neither gentleman appeared particularly happy nor communicative with the other.

And since I have information from another source hinting at Windermere’s absence from the country for several weeks following the marriage, one suspects all is not charity in Chez Windermere.

Lady Verity Nonesuch, Purveyor of Truth & Treachery

About the Book

The Earl of Windermere Takes a Wife

(Regency Romantica – Sexy Romance with a hint of Erotica.)

How long, and why, must a woman wait for a man to make her his when she knows his love is as great as her own?

Jassinda Carlisle was always to have been his, but by the age of twenty Rogan Wyldefell, Earl of Windermere, knew he could never be hers.

At her 16th birthday, he’d slain her dreams of becoming his wife and had maintained a strictly platonic friendship ever since.

At twenty-five, Jassie had waited long enough.

Her desperation and a small push from fate force Rogan to a point of honor. To save her reputation they must marry, but who will save Jassie from the vengeful monster unleashed within him when the woman in his arms begins to beg?

Is Rogan strong enough to withstand the woman he loves?

Is Jassie strong enough to be his redemption?

~Excerpt~
‘Do you know how old I am, R—Rogan?’

‘What? Of course I know how old you are. Twenty-five. And I know how old I am too. Thirty-six, in case you’ve forgotten,’ he snarled, almost sarcastically. He’d sensed she was off-balance and that what she wanted to discuss with him was, doubtless, even more so. ‘What does that matter to the point?’

Jassie breathed deep and fixed her attention on their hands gripped so tightly their knuckles had whitened. This was her moment, her only chance. She might as well just spit it out, as Philip would have said.

‘I’m never going to marry but—but I—confound it, Rogan, I just have to know—just once—what it’s like to—to make love—no, I’m not asking that—I know the mechanics but I want to know how it feels to—you know—lie with a man!’ He never blinked and her own gaze danced across his face, desperately searching for a reaction, an emotion. Anything but the impression of horror that looked out of his eyes! She swallowed. ‘There is no one else I can ask. No one else I would want to ask—’

Breathing no longer a priority, Jassie wrenched her hands from his and jumped to a spot about three feet away and stared blindly down at Brantleigh Manor, lying like a toy model in the shimmering distance.

Then she closed her eyes and focused on the pain flowering in her chest and spreading to her belly. What had she done?

Links for The Earl of Windermere Takes a Wife

Amazon US:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ENSMA2A
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01ENSMA2A
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01ENSMA2A
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01ENSMA2A

About the Author

Jen Yates has always called New Zealand home, though she grew up with stories of her mother’s great-grandfather who came from England in the 1840s, to ‘drill the first militia’. Thus, England has always called even though Jen is a 4th generation Kiwi. Discovering the Regency era was like coming home, Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer ranking as her two favorite authors.

With a fair bit of life behind her, Jen spent thirty-three years as a primary school teacher, then retired and realized a dream of owning an antiques shop. It would still be one of her favorite things to do – after writing. But while learning the craft, income had to come from somewhere!

Jen now lives with her husband in Piopio, a small rural village in the North Island of NZ, and writes full-time. When she is not writing, she is keeping track of her family now spread through NZ and Australia, wandering about with camera in hand, or hanging out with friends, many of whom are writers!

Social Media Links for Jen YatesNZ

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B009MSEA7U
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JenYatesNZ/
Website – https://www.jenyatesnz.com
Twitter – @JenYatesNZ

Whispers in a Closet

Information comes to the Tattler from many sources, whispers among servants being one of the most fruitful…

Mary Fisher went about her business as her mistress directed, even with the house in an uproar and the mistress preoccupied with worry.  The whole staff had more work than usual, what with a wedding the day before. She carried her bucket and rags carefully up the servant stairs to the third level with great care so as not to spill a drop, an effort that proved futile when a hand snaked out, grabbed her free arm, and pulled her into the linen closet. The door slammed shut.

“Ow! You made me slosh water on the floor. Are you trying to cost me my position?”

In the gloom, she could just make out the gleam in Lizzy Smith’s smug expression.  “Pish posh. That countess is too soft-hearted to fire either of us over some spilled water.”

Mary leaned down to wipe up the spill. “Y’ought to be working, not lurking in closets,” she muttered. “You planning to pounce on that green-eyed footman again? That will get you dismissed if you keep it up.”

Lizzy pulled her up. “Don’t be daft. I just want to talk. Did you hear what went on in the Countess’s sitting room? The Family is in a state and that’s the truth.”

“Everyone knows Mister Rand disappeared last night. Rob Portman heard it all serving the breakfast. His bed wasn’t slept in and—”

“But I know what happened in the countess’s sitting room.” There was no mistaking Lizzy’s self-satisfied smirk now. She knew something. No doubt about it.

Duty warred with curiosity in Mary’s heart. Servants oughtn’t to gossip, her mam taught her that early. The family had been good to Mary, though and she hated all the running about and the countess’s worried expression. Curiosity won out. “What’d you hear?”

“Well, you know as how Mr. Rand’s stayed at Cambridge after the duke, his cousin came to down two months ago?”

“’e just come in three days ago, though he was supposed to stand up with the duke. Rob said they never spoke, even yesterday at the wedding. Like somethin’ happened tween the two o’ them as used to be stuck like burrs one to the other.” It distressed Mary to see two young men that always seemed like good folk be against each other that way. “Never saw one without the other ever—”

Lizzy waved a dismissive hand. “So we know there’s bad blood now, but over what I ask you ?”

Mary shrugged. “Young men fight. They’ll come around.”

“Lurking at keyholes, more like,” Mary muttered.

Lizzy ignored the jab. “I heard the countess crying her eyes out, and the earl, he’s trying to comfort her. He says, ‘Cath…’ (did you know he calls her that?) ‘Cath,’ he says, ‘the whole world knows that woman is carrying a baby, except for maybe Charles, the young fool.’”

“He called the duke a fool? He’s ever so smart.”

“A man can be smart about business and a still let a woman pull wool over his eyes.”

Lizzy would know, Mary thought glumly. The import of Lizzy’s other words hit her. “Wait, are you saying the new duchess is pregnant?” Her jaw hung slack.

Lizzy pursed her lips. “Don’t be a slow top. Of course she is. That isn’t the good part.”

Good may not be the word, Mary thought, but she suspected she was about to hear whatever it was.

“The earl said as how it was too bad Mr. Fred didn’t come to the wedding because he could talk some sense into them both, but the countess says something like, ‘Rand had no idea.’ It were kind of muffled like. The earl, he says Mr. Rand couldn’t know nothing since he stayed away and the countess says—listen up Mary!”

“What did she say?” Mary dreaded hearing it, but couldn’t help listening.

Lizzy dropped her voice, “Clear as a bell, she tells the earl Mr. Rand said the duchess is so far along it had to have happened while he was still walking out with her.”

Mary blinked rapidly, trying to understand.

“Don’t be a booby, Mary. The duke got Mr. Rand’s lady with child while she was still supposed to be with Mr. Rand. No wonder those two are at each other’s throats. No man wants his cousin—much less best friend or any other man—poaching on his preserve. Ran off he did. Said he isn’t never coming back.”

Mary shook her head and picked up her bucket without talking.

“Earl said, ‘That woman will make Charles miserable, mark my words,’ and the countess she said, ‘She already heaped misery on all of us,’ and went on back to crying.”

Mary stopped listening. She went back to work, her heart heavy. Family oughtn’t to treat one another badly. They ought to come together in time of troubles, that’s for certain, she thought.

_________________

About the Book, The Renegade Wife

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly finds his solitude disrupted by a desperate woman running with her children from an ugly past. But even his remote cabin in Upper Canada isn’t safe enough. Meggy Blair may have lied to him, but she and her children have breached the walls of his betrayed heart. Now she’s on the run again. To save them he must return to face his demons and seek help from the family he vowed to never see again.

It is available in Kindle format free with Kindle Unlimited or for purchase as ebook or in print:

Amazon US
Barnes and Noble
BooksAMillion
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE
Amazon IT
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IN
Amazon AU


The Renegade Wifeis Book 1 in Caroline Warfield’s Children of Empire Series.

Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, have been driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman was involved!) Though they all escape to the outposts of The British Empire, they all make their way home to England, facing their past and finding love and the support of women of character and backbone. They are:

  • Randolph Baldwin Wheatly who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Captain Frederick Arthur Wheatly, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies, and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Charles, Duke of Murnane, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau, only to face his past there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Who are their ladies?

  • Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children. (The Renegade Wife)
  • Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish captain sort out his responsibilities. (The Reluctant Wife)
  • Zambak Hayden, eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help protecting the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium, while she’s there. (The Unexpected Wife)

Book 3, The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.

Here’s a short video about it:

https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7/videos/924791187669849/

For more about the series and all of Caroline’s books, look here:

https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

About the Author

Caroline Warfield grew up in a peripatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology) before retiring to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, where divides her time between writing Regency and Victorian Romance, and seeking adventures with her grandson and the prince among men she married.

 

 

 

 

A Kidnap Threat To The Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples!

Despatches from Palermo (1810)
by Lord William Bentinck, English Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples

Lord William Bentinck, pictured here as Captain in a portrait painted by George Romney. William Bentinck was ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples 1812-1816

My dear Lord Chamberlain,
I enclose this letter to you privately, so it will not appear in official correspondence.

I find myself the subject of a most extraordinary plot – one of kidnap on the high seas.

As you know, I have entered delicate negotiations with the Bey of Tunis for the release of more than three hundred Sicilians who were forcibly abducted from their home by the corsairs of the Barbary Coast.

Not only is it a matter of justice, but freeing of these unfortunate souls would also build immeasurable goodwill among the people whose interest I am trying to further with my reforms.

So far, standard diplomatic tactics have proved fruitless with the Bey. I don’t know if you are familiar with this culture but it appears to be the custom for the all the promises in the world to be made but when it comes time to deliver, it is a never ending litany of excuses.

With Napoleon’s Empire at my back in Naples and the Barbary Coast Pirates at my front, it is no easy task set before me. You know of my penchant to follow my intuition and I have done so once again with two young men.

Let’s hope Captain Hardacre can deal with the captured French Frigate in a less spectacular manner.

Captain Christopher Hardacre is an Englishman who runs a merchant vessel out of Palermo. He’s come to me with the most extraordinary tale. It seems one of the pirates has acquired a French frigate and he harbours ambitions to abduct me and my wife and hold us for ransom.

It sounded like a ravings of a mad man – and I have to confess that if was just his testimony alone I’d ignore it, but in Hardacre’s favour is one of his men, an African by the name of Jonathan Afua who I’ve come to learn is a son of one of Ethiopia’s most aristocratic families. He strikes me as being a much more steady character than his captain. It is his grave assessment I’ve learned to trust.

As for the abduction threat, Hardacre has hatched an audacious plan to keep me safe in exchange for the claiming the French frigate for himself as spoils.

Whether Hardacre succeeds or not is immaterial as I have appraised Admiral Freemantle who has agreed that the next meeting with the Bey of Tunis should be done as a show of force so we will be arriving in Tunisia with a fleet that also contains the flagship The Milford.

I’ll write when I have more news,

William

 

Excerpt

Shadow of the Corsairs

Bagrada

Shadow of the Corsairs – out June 26 2018 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DM9VJ5Z

Jonathan’s stomach soured.

Even though it had been more than a year since his captivity there, the very sound of its name reminded him there was work still to finish, a past that could not draw to a close until he had answers.

“Bagrada. Are you sure?” Elias asked. “We’ve sailed by several times over the past six months and there’s no noteworthy activity there.”

Hardacre looked up from the map of the Tunisian coastline. “Sharrouf is certain.”

Elias snorted and folded his arms. “I think you put too much stock in what that man says. He’s a snake, Kit, and he’s not to be trusted.”

“I never said he was to be trusted. He might very well hate Kaddouri as much as we do. But so long as he is a member of the inner circle, then he is useful to us.”

“Unless Kaddouri is using him to lure us into a trap,” countered the first officer. “We’ve stopped three of his raids over the past twelve months and helped free more than a hundred enslaved souls. He’d be just as keen to see the end of us.”

Jonathan shook his head. Kit and Elias bickered like he and his older brother used to. It was time for him to step in.

“What’s Sharrouf getting in exchange for telling you the location of Kaddouri’s fleet?” he asked.

“Information here and there to help with something.”

“Which is?”

“Kidnapping Lord William Bentinck.”

“You jest!”

Hardacre said nothing for a moment. The upturn of his lip was trouble, Jonathan knew that, and so did Elias who turned away with an exaggerated groan.

“Go on,” said Jonathan. “Tell us the whole thing before you make Elias’ head explode.”

“I might not have been completely honest with Sharrouf,” Hardacre confessed. This time, both ends of his mouth lifted and there was a twinkle of manic glee in his eyes. “I told him Bentinck plans another trip to Tunis to petition for the release of the Sicilian slaves, but I neglected to tell him Bentinck’s going with a show of strength instead of taking one ship with a single escort. Accompanying The Milford will be a dozen heavily-armed ships from the Royal Navy.”

“And both Bentinck and Admiral Fremantle know to expect an attack,” Jonathan concluded. “That’s a good plan. What makes you sure Kaddouri will take the bait?”

“Oh, he will. Sharrouf has told me he’s just managed to acquire a double gunned frigate.”

Elias rocked back on his feet. “How has he managed to get one of those? That would carry almost as much firepower as The Milford.”

A Sister’s Remorse

Lady Gwendolyn, Countess of Drayton entered her older brother’s townhouse and handed her parasol to Edmond’s butler. She should not be out this morning, not in her delicate condition, but she had to ensure her brother’s welfare.

“Is he home, Edgar?” she asked with familiarity. Her brother’s butler had been with the Worthington family for longer than Gwendolyn could even recall.

“He is, my lady, and in his study going over the accounts,” he replied. “If you would follow me…”

“No need, Edgar, but if you could have Mrs. McDaniel’s brew some tea I would be most grateful.”

She did not wait for a reply but made her way towards her brother’s study. She could not wait to gloat over the fact that for once she was not the subject of this morning’s gossip in that horrendous rag, the Teatime Tattler. She had not taken time to read the morning paper herself but instead had hurried across town instead. A smirk of satisfaction turned up the corners of her mouth before she opened the door.

One look at Edmond Worthington, 9th Duke of Hartford and her smile fell as she rushed across the room to his side. His head rose from his desk as she came near. Bloodshot eyes met hers and it was obvious her brother had been far into the half-filled brandy near at hand.

“I have lost her, Gwen,” he slurred before rubbing his hand across his eyes as though that alone would clear his vision. “How shall I get her back?”

All thoughts of teasing her brother left her when she placed her arm around his shoulder and leaned down to kiss his cheek. “By talking to her, of course.”

“She will not give me the time of day. Probably deserve it given what she saw,” he muttered before pointing to the paper upon his desk. “And those damn Danver sisters! Why they cannot find someone else to gossip about is beyond me. They continue to spread their tales hoping to be the center of attention.”

“Forget about them, Edmond. No one will believe whatever malicious gossip they are spreading this week. Who reads such nonsense anyway?”

His brow rose at the implication, his ducal stare just as unnerving as always despite being well into his cups at such an ungodly hour of the morn. “Everyone who is anyone, Gwen. You know that first hand,” he whispered, reaching for the decanter.

She pushed the crystal away and scooped up the paper but not before pursing the few lines open for her to read.

This reporter has learned from the “D” sisters that a certain Duke of H has been caught in a compromising situation by his fiancé at a recent house party. This would hardly be of much interest except the lady who was found sprawled in his lap was none other than his ex-mistress – or is she really an “ex”? Inquiring minds will eagerly await news of how the rest of this story unfolds…

Remorse filled her at her early thoughts to rub whatever news focused on Edmond today in his face. She threw the paper into the hearth and enjoyed a moment of satisfaction whilst she watched it burned. She then went and pulled the bell cord.

When a maid entered, she went towards her brother to help him rise. “Send for my brother’s valet and have food sent up to His Grace’s bedroom,” she ordered. It was time for her brother to pull himself together.

Coming this summer… One Moment in Time: A Family of Worth, Book Two

In the meantime, dive into Gwendolyn’s story in Nothing But Time: A Family of Worth, Book One, currently #FREE at online retailers.

They will risk everything for their forbidden love…

When Lady Gwendolyn Marie Worthington is forced to marry a man old enough to be her father, she concludes love will never enter her life. Her husband is a cruel man who blames her for his own failings. Then she meets her brother’s attractive business associate and all those longings she had thought gone forever suddenly reappear.

A long-term romance holds no appeal for Neville Quinn, Earl of Drayton until an unexpected encounter with the sister of the Duke of Hartford. Still, he resists giving his heart to another woman, especially one who belongs to another man.

Chance encounters lead to intimate dinners, until Neville and Gwendolyn flee to Berwyck Castle at Scotland’s border hoping beyond reason their fragile love will survive the vindictive reach of Gwendolyn’s possessive husband. Before their journey is over, Gwendolyn will risk losing the only love she has ever known.

Excerpt:

Lady Gwendolyn Marie Worthington strode across the floor of her brother’s study, carelessly threw her bonnet onto a high backed leather chair, and crossed her arms. The missive she held in her hand had driven all thoughts of a trip to the milliner with her friend Lady Calliope out of her head. Her shoe tapped a rapid staccato on the wooden floorboards. Her brother remained indifferent to her demand for his attention whilst he continued writing. The insufferable lout did not even have the decency to acknowledge her presence in his pursuit to finish his correspondence. She cleared her throat, hoping to gain his notice.

He continued whatever business he was attending to without a pause, except to say, in a barely civil and flat monotone, “You did not knock.” His disinterest in her presence served as a reminder of his place within his household, as if she could ever forget she was subject to his directives.

Her brother had had the arrogance to send a servant to deliver his note to her bedroom. He should have come there himself to speak with her, given the news he wished to impart. She tossed the crumbled parchment onto his desk. He, in turn, swatted it aside like it was nothing but a pesky insect.

“You have been given your instructions, Gwendolyn. We have nothing further to discuss.”

“Do not take that tone with me, Edmond. You may hold our father’s title, but that in no way gives you leave to treat me as if I must comply with demands such as these,” she fumed. Where had her carefree older brother of years past gone? Surely some measure of the young man she had adored in their youth lurked behind the expressionless mask of this unfeeling cad before her?

Edmond Gerard Worthington, 9th Duke of Hartford, set his quill down. The blue eyes he at last bothered to turn upon her were just as cold as his voice. Since he had inherited his rightful title of duke after their father’s passing, along with all the responsibilities such a position held, Gwendolyn hardly recognized her brother. She swallowed hard, knowing she could not easily sway this uncaring man. Still, she had to try.

“Mother will hear of this,” she warned. “She will not allow her only daughter to be wed to a man in order to fulfill some business deal made years ago.”

“Mother is fully aware of the obligations that must be met. I should not have to explain how things of this nature are done, sister. Arranged marriages happen every day within the ton. Yours will be no exception.”

“Brandon, then. Surely my younger brother cares what happens to his sister since you have made it painfully obvious you do not,” Gwendolyn retorted sharply.

“He is my brother, too, if you would care to remember.” Edmond sighed heavily. “Both mother and Brandon have been summoned to return to London immediately. The marriage contract was agreed years ago and bears the signatures of all parties, including your own. You would have already been wed, had it not been for father’s death.” Edmond leaned his elbows upon his desk, fingers forming a steeple as if contemplating his next counter to whatever argument she could muster.

She quickly thought of the first excuse that crossed her mind. “I am still in mourning,” Gwendolyn declared through clenched lips.

His eyes roamed down the length of her pink floral gown and his brows rose in unsuppressed amusement. “Your mourning period is long since over, as your garments surely attest. Resign yourself to wedding Lord Sandhurst.”

She stomped her foot in frustration. “Bernard Sandhurst is a lecherous old man and ancient enough to be my father.” She barely held back a cry of despair. “How can you condemn me to a life with that horrible person, however long the vermin will still remain on this earth?”

“I am doing the best I can to save this family from financial ruin. You should be grateful Sandhurst will still have you, given the limited amount I could spare for your dowry. I will not be swayed in my decision, Gwendolyn, and Sandhurst can no longer be put off. He has all but stated his time waiting for you is over. He has been as patient as one could ask of a man getting on in years. You are now twenty years of age and should have been wed with children of your own by now.”

Thoughts of being intimate with a man who repulsed Gwendolyn made her shudder. The few times she had had the displeasure of being alone in the same room with Lord Bernard Sandhurst, he had mauled her with his cool clammy hands. He reminded her of a fish, and an unappealing one at that.

“Edmond─”

Her brother cut her off with a wave of his hand. “Father made this decision and you must abide by it, along with the rest of us.” Edmond picked up his quill and examined the tip before dipping it into the inkwell.

“You are a duke, Edmond. Surely you can pay the man off so I can find a worthy man to love.” She silently pleaded with him, and, for the briefest instant, she held the smallest measure of hope he would accede to her wishes.

His piercing blue eyes leveled on her but briefly. “Love is for fools. Better to marry for wealth and a decent position in society than to lose your heart to such a frivolous emotion as love.” Edmond returned to his work, the quill scratching across the parchment. The sound echoed in her head as though the missive sealed her fate. “Resign yourself to your marriage Gwendolyn. Sandhurst has made arrangements for the wedding to take place two weeks hence.”

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Bio:

Sherry Ewing is proud to be one of the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. When not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist.

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