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Scandal in Virginia

Excerpt from The New Hope Enterprise

Dec. 29, 1863

It is a sad day indeed when we are forced to communicate such news as follows, but it is our duty to bring you even the most scandalous incidents…even if they involve one of the most highly regarded residents of our region—the venerated war hero, Colonel Johnathon P. Wescott.

Mrs. Charlotte Tisdale, a well-respected resident of New Hope reported the following, and we relay it now to you. It seems that an impromptu gala was thrown together at Lacewood by Colonel Wescott’s men, who were given leave by their beloved commander to take part in Christmas Eve festivities. It was late at night before Colonel Wescott left his post on the battlefield, but he finally appeared at Lacewood, looking as gallant and intrepid as ever such a highly esteemed man can look.

Of course, those in attendance at Lacewood included all of the eligible young ladies from the region who hoped to catch a glimpse—or perhaps even a dance—with the widowed father.

Scandal Virginia

Dear readers, here is the news of which I warned you. It has been reported to us by Mrs. Tisdale (and others) that the Colonel danced the night away—not with one of the highly regarded Southern belles in attendance—but with the Yankee caretaker of his young daughter!

Yes, friends, if you live in New Hope, you know the sad story. The poor child was left motherless by the passing of his wife almost a year ago, and now the sweet darling has been left in the hands of a stranger whose reputation and character are known to us only by the gossip that trickles in by attentive neighbors.

However, we know all we need to know. Mrs. Tisdale confirmed that this woman, this Yankee she-devil, hails from New York and has a brother in the Union army. Yes, you read that correctly. A brother…In the Union Army.

Wishing to verify these rumors—which are obviously too absurd and preposterous to be accepted on their face, we discovered that the news gets even worse. It seems Miss Annie Logan (the caretaker) placed herself beneath the mistletoe when Colonel Wescott was near, and, of course, being a Southern gentlemen of the highest order, he felt obligated to satisfy the tradition that has been handed down for centuries.

My own face reddens at the thought of this conniving kiss. Who knows what else has transpired between the walls of Lacewood? We can only hope that it will not stain the character of its occupants for generations to come…

About the Book

Two people trying to escape their pasts find a connection through an old house—and fulfill a destiny through the secrets it shares. Part love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in fate, letting of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.

MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the haunting portrait of a woman in mourning.

Purchasing the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story, Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.

Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…

The past and present converge when hometown hero Will Durham returns and begins his own healing process by helping the “city girl” restore the place that holds so many memories. As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the shadows for centuries is fulfilled.

Take advantage of the low launch-week price of only $3.99, and sign up for the author’s newsletter at https://www.jessicajamesbooks.com.

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An Excerpt

December 1863

“I think Jon has finally broken away from the ladies,” Luke said at last. “Here he comes.”

Annie turned and watched with an incredible degree of composure as Colonel Wescott strode toward her with calm detachment, pinioning her where she stood with his devouring stare. A strange sensation throbbed in her then—like the beating of a new heart—and she marveled at its power to fluster and confuse.

When he reached her he stopped, but his caressing gaze continued to play across her face. “You are aware of the tradition, I suppose.”

Colonel Wescott’s voice, Annie had learned, could be penetrating and commanding, or gentle and kind. He could easily silence an entire roomful of people without yelling or losing control—and could just as effortlessly melt her heart with the tender tones of a father.

The tenor tonight was both warm and imposing, throwing her off balance. Her eyes darted around, not understanding his meaning. “Tradition?”

He merely gestured to a place over her head, his smile widening as she took in the swag of mistletoe hanging above her.

Grasping Luke’s ruse that had placed her in this spot, Annie transferred her gaze to Luke just as he was exchanging a mischievous wink with his brother. Even Miss Benton was now brimming over with amusement.

“Do you need schooling in the ritual?” Colonel Wescott’s tone was businesslike, but the sentiment on his face was not. It reflected a playfulness, a cheerful joviality that was both infatuating and intimidating. He’d never crossed this line of familiarity with her before—and Annie was fairly sure he’d not done so with others, even those he considered close friends.

She wanted to pretend an affront, but when faced with his appealing smile her defenses melted away. Candlelight and music filled the air, exaggerating and intensifying the intoxication of her senses. Laughter and conversation blended and blurred until nothing existed but the man before her, whose smoldering eyes beckoned seductively.

About the Author

Jessica James is an award-winning author of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and Christian fiction, who combined all of her favorite things to create Lacewood.

Her new release is a multi-era, small town, clean, inspirational novel that melds together elements of mystery, history, and romance.

As someone who lives in a 200-year-old house, Jessica was intrigued when thinking about the generations of people who occupied the same home. Lacewood gives readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what took place in an old neglected Southern mansion before two people from the modern world stumble across it and into each other. It’s a love story that spans centuries, taking readers on a journey into the past as the house reveals secrets about a long-lost love affair.

You can find her here:

Website

Amazon Author Page

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Stolen Missives

Editorial Note: This packet of correspondence came to the Tattler offices when one of our reporters shared drinks with a man at the Bull and Codfish pub. The young man, who seems to be a careless footman in the employ of Mrs. Andrew Mallet of Bedford Square, left it on the table. We of course forwarded the entire packet on to its correct destination.

Mr. Clemens made copies first, but given the involvement of the Foreign Office, he declared they were not to be published. He must have forgotten to lock his desk. Besides, nothing here relates to matters of national interest.

To the Duchess of Sudbury,

Lily, I am in London, but not at home to callers, family excepted of course. Andrew remains in Cambridge, make of that what you will. When I tell you what has happened you will understand my need to live apart. I beg your support.

I know you send private mail to Richard via official couriers and the packet ships. May I ask you to send the enclosed message as soon as it can be arranged? I need his help and my son must be alerted. I trust him to inform his nephew cautiously.

Athena is gone to Italy.

I know that shocks you, but perhaps not is much as it ought. Since the Heyworths’ visit five years ago she has spoken of nothing but Italy, reminding me daily that in Italy there are medical schools that admit women. The desire to study medicine is admirable; you and I would both cheer her on if the girl was, not to mince words, normal. Even if she could cope with strangers…but of course she cannot.

She sailed from Falmouth a week ago. Her brother Archie, who perpetrated this insanity, accompanied her, which would be a saving grace if I thought he could handle her in a crisis. Her father, the wretch, professes to be proud of him. For a scholar Andrew can be remarkably obtuse. I can’t imagine how the poor girl managed the ship to Rome, much less life in a foreign country. I dread the condition we will find her in when she returns.

I discovered this morning that Lochlin assisted Archie as well. I can forgive a young man— they often think with body parts other than their brains—but I can’t forgive her father. I suspect Andrew actually abetted the young fools. He denies it, but I don’t believe him.

Enough! I will tell you all when I see you.

Georgiana

Editorial Note: The young lady in question, Miss Catherine Mallet, known to her family as Athena, is a recluse who shuns society after some unfortunate incidents of panic and hysteria (this paper has reason to know one such incident occurred in the Pembrook’s ballroom). She rarely leaves the family home in Cambridge except to visit close relatives, and is reputed to have an unnatural interest in the anatomy of animals and humans. Rumors about this abound in that shire, where some consider her quite insane, but others merely the oddest member of a notably eccentric family.

The second missive, in the same hand, although entirely concerning a private matter, was sent through official channels to Cairo. One wonders if that is entirely ethical.

The Duke of Sudbury

Her Majesty’s Envoy to the court of Muhammad Ali Pasha, Khedive of Egypt

Cairo

Dearest Richard,

Forgive me for presuming by sending personal mail through the foreign office channels, and troubling you when you are deep into affairs of state—although when are you not?—but time may be of the essence.

To get right to the point, Archie has taken Athena to Rome from where she expects she can be admitted to medical school. I don’t need to outline for you all the reasons why this is nonsensical. Archie, the coward, sent a message from Falmouth saying that once he had her safely settled (as if that might be possible!), he will travel directly to Edinburgh and begin his own studies.

This will grieve Aeneas mightily. He and Archie quarreled on the subject of Athena shortly before he left for Egypt. Archie has the pudding-brained notion she should be encouraged to pursue studies to be a physician. Aeneas, ever the level headed one where his sister is concerned, knows she should be kept close where we can protect her.

I send this in the hope that you will use your connections to ensure our officials in Italy watch out for them. If I can further impose on your kindness, please make Aeneas aware that this has happened. If it should go badly, he needs warning.

With gratitude,

Your loving sister, Georgiana

PS

Since you have a way of discovering things anyway, I will tell you that Andrew and I have separated over this at least for now. Do not chastise me. I suspect Archie acted with his father’s blessing. I am too angry to patch things over.

PPS

Aeneas may be sensible about his sister but not his work. I count on you to keep him from doing something foolish like plunging deep into Africa in pursuit of some previously undiscovered crumb of knowledge. I want him back in one piece.

G.

Editorial Note:  Our readers who pay follow the doings of the haut ton know that there is little the Duke will not manage on behalf of his family, his friends, or the Empire come to that. They will note, however, how unusual it is to have a one of his circle actually ask for help rather than having it thrust upon them.

About the Author

Caroline Warfield writes family centered historical romance, largely set in the Regency and Victorian eras. The saga of the Mallets, their friends, and their family began with Dangerous Works.

About the Dangerous Series

Dangerous Works (The Mallets’ Story)

A little Greek is one thing; the art of love is another. Only Andrew ever tried to teach Georgiana both.

Dangerous Weakness (Sudbury and Lily’s Story)

A marquess who never loses control (until he does) and a very independent woman conflict, until revolution, politics, and pirates force them to work together. (In which Sudbury had not come into his title and was yet the Marquess of Glenaire)

Dangerous Secrets

When Jamie fled to Rome to hide his shame he didn’t expect a vicar’s daughter and her imp of a niece to take over his life, with complications from an interfering nun, a powerful count, and a genial monk.

A Dangerous Nativity

With Christmas coming, can the Earl of Chadbourn repair his sister’s damaged estate, and more damaged family? Dare he hope for love in the bargain? (A free novella—prequel to both series)

The Children of Empire Series: the Scattered

Three cousins (introduced in A Dangerous Nativity) torn apart by lies and deceit work their way back home from the far corners of empire.

The Renegade Wife

A desperate woman on the run with her children finds shelter with a reclusive businessman in the Canadian wilderness. Can he save them all?

The Reluctant Wife

A disgraced Bengal army officer finds himself responsible for two unexpected daughters and a headstrong widow. This time, failure is not an option.

The Unexpected Wife

The Duke of Murnane expects work to heal him. He doesn’t expect to face his past and find his future in China (The heroine is Sudbury’s daughter)

The Children of Empire Series: the Seekers

This series, expected in mid 2020 will pick up with the travels and adventures of Aeneas, Archie, and Athena Mallet as they pursue their own happiness.

SOPHIE’S JOURNAL

From the journal of Sophie Hartford – the Tattler has received her PRIVATE Journal from Chateau de Fontanes, the Pyranees, 1818

Tuesday, 28th April. We returned to the chateau today. I was sorry to say goodbye to my friends in Ax-les-Thermes but the marquise assures me we’ll go back there soon. For now, we’re going to spend a quiet few days here in the mountains, and I’m going to be watching my sister closely. I sense she’s attracted to Joachim. Indeed, who wouldn’t be, so handsome and warmhearted as he is. With those big brown eyes and that smile like sunshine, he’s most alluring. But Nell is Nell and she hides her feelings behind a cool composure. On the other hand, Joachim is making it plain he likes and admires her.

Journal

            This afternoon we went down to the stables and the two of them started talking together. I may be four years younger than Nell, but I’m grown up enough to see that Joachim only had eyes for her. So I dawdled around, stroking my horse, petting the stable cat, and then sat down on a bench. Joachim’s lurcher dog, Flocon, came and sat by me. They didn’t notice they were alone as they wandered off down the paddock, talking all the time. At several points they stopped, I could see them waving their arms around as they discussed something. Surely they must be coming to an agreement. Indeed, all the stableboys and grooms found excuses to come out and watch them as well.

             My romantic hopes were sadly dashed when they returned, and I found they’d spent the entire time talking about educating the poor children of the estate. But tomorrow is another day and I’ll think up a scheme to bring them together. Why is my 22 year old sister resisting such charm?

 Wednesday 29th April. This morning Nell was in the music room, helping a little boy with his lesson. I casually told Joachim of this and soon I saw him rush along to the music room. The little boy came out, and I pretended to be arranging flowers in a vase in the corridor, so as to keep an eye on the door, in case anyone else tried to go in. Flocon has become attached to me and he sat watching as I fiddled with the flowers. A rather long time went by and I began to worry that our kind hostess might come in search of us. So I tiptoed up to the door, which wasn’t quite shut.

private journal entries
The Chateau de Fontanes

Somehow I stifled a gasp on seeing them locked in a very passionate embrace on the windowseat.  As I peeped, they slid down until Joachim was lying almost on top of her. Oh, my stars! What lightning progress from yesterday’s formal behaviour. But I had to stop them before they forgot themselves utterly. Suddenly I had a brainwave. I nudged the door a little further open and pushed Flocon into the room. He started barking and ran to jump up at his master. I saw Joachim jerk his head up, so I pulled the door shut again and fled.  

This evening. At dinner I was expecting an Announcement but they both behaved as usual. Such a disappointment. And later, when we came up to go to bed, Nell didn’t say a word about her relationship with Joachim. She’s being very sly but tomorrow I shall tell her that I KNOW!

About the book: The Outcasts

 Joachim is the youngest of the three Montailhac brothers. Always close to the land, he now manages his father’s estates and livestock. Athletic and handsome, Joachim seems to have an ideal existence. But he has a guilty secret and it suddenly reappears to cause havoc. His life is further complicated by dealing with an accident at the iron mine on the estate just as visitors arrive, bringing yet more problems.

Nell and Sophie Hartford are cousins of Joachim’s sister-in-law, Olivia [see Scandalous Lady]. In the Spring of 1818 they find themselves outcasts from their officer father’s home in Paris, and are forced to accept Olivia’s assurance that her mother-in-law, the Marquise de Fontanes, will make them welcome. After all, says Olivia, life in the family chateau in the Pyrenees will be a tonic for them. Two unhappy girls struggle to fit into the very different lifestyle of the large and slightly exotic Montailhac family. At the same time, danger threatens from a deranged criminal bent on vengeance against their hosts.

Read an excerpt from The Outcasts     

Nell seemed to have grown even prettier while he was away. Joachim joined his family in the Assembly Rooms and gazed appreciatively at her while she exchanged greetings with several of her new friends. Her primrose yellow dress brought out the russet gleams in her hair. She looked elegant and appealing. Glancing towards his mother he found her watching him with a twinkle in her eyes. She raised an eyebrow and he stepped close.

‘Mother, you’ve wrought a miracle. When she first arrived, dressed all in grey, I called her ‘Miss Dismal’ to myself. Now, I wonder if even her own father would recognise her.’

The marquise squeezed his hand. ‘Poor girls. Cast out as they were, no wonder they were so dejected. It is a pleasure to see them thrive here.’ She smiled at the buzz of light hearted chatter coming from the group. ‘Now you can keep an eye on them. I want to talk to my friends for a while.’

‘Hey, Joachim,’ one of the young men greeted him with a horrified air, ‘Did you know what’s in store this evening? Old Deschamps is going to recite one of his endless poems.’

There was a general muttering and some groans.

Nell gave a choke of laughter and looked enquiringly at Joachim.

He crossed his eyes at her, which made her laugh aloud. He sobered suddenly, staring into her green-grey eyes. She really was lovely, especially with that wash of pink colouring her cheeks. He wanted to get her away from the others.

 ‘Do you play cards? Then we could escape to the card room.’

‘No, neither of us plays.’ She looked round for her sister, but Sophie had disappeared.

‘She doesn’t like poetry recitals, I take it?’ said Joachim, amused.

‘No, but this is rude. I must find her.’

‘I’ll come with you.’ They slipped off towards the other room. ‘Well,’ said Joachim, ‘it seems we don’t care for poetry recitals either.’

She gave him a glance full of mischief, and laughed again, making him want to get her right away from everyone. ‘Let’s hope we don’t find Sophie too quickly, then.’

However, ten minutes later, Sophie was nowhere to be seen and Nell was showing signs of alarm.

‘I’d better see if she’s returned to the recital,’ she decided. They stood in the doorway, peering in. The marquise saw them and beckoned. Nell went to her and sat down. The poet was in full flow, and Joachim shook his head at his mother, who shrugged. He turned back into the card room and came face to face with Sophie. She smiled naughtily.

‘I saw you looking for me,’ she told him. ‘Bertrand spotted me but he didn’t say anything.’

‘Bad girl.’

She tossed her head. ‘You had more fun looking for me with Nell than being bored to death in there. Let’s play cards.’ She spun away, towards a table at the back of the room, where Bertrand was shuffling a pack of cards. He rose to his feet and pulled out a chair. Sophie sat down, casting a look of triumph at Joachim.

‘Nell said you don’t play,’ he protested.

She bit her lip, looking shamefaced suddenly. ‘Not really,’ she mumbled, ‘but I can watch you.’

A few of the older players were casting disapproving looks their way, although there were other ladies in the room. It was simply that Sophie was so very young. His mother would give him an earful later but until the poet finished his recitation, they would stay here.

‘Vingt-et-un?’ suggested Bertrand, dealing. The luck went against him for several games. He slammed his cards down. ‘Let’s have a drink. It might turn the luck in my favour.’ He beckoned to a waiter and held up three fingers.

‘Have they still not finished next door?’ he asked. He smiled at Sophie. ‘There’ll be some folk-songs later. You’ll enjoy that.’

She agreed and glanced at the approaching waiter. She stared for a moment and gave a gasp of surprise.

Joachim heard her and looked up. It was that toothy lad, and something was wrong. He saw the boy’s face change as he looked at Sophie. He set the tray down awkwardly, keeping his head bent down.

Bertrand picked up a glass and offered it to Sophie.

‘Er, no, no, sir,’ spluttered the waiter, jerking his hand out, but Sophie had already raised the glass to her lips.

‘Don’t drink,’ said Joachim sharply. Too late.

She set the empty glass down and tossed her head. ‘I’m old enough to drink wine, you know.’ Then the blood drained from her face. She put a hand to her throat. ‘Aargh,’ she croaked.

Both young men were on their feet. Joachim seized Sophie by the arm. ‘Get Nell,’ he shot at Bertrand and pulling Sophie’s arm round his shoulders he half-walked, half-dragged her towards the back door, which was close by.

‘Open it, you,’ he panted.

The rabbit-toothed waiter darted to obey.

They barely made it outside before Sophie began to retch. Joachim pulled out his handkerchief and was turning to look for some water when something struck him on the back of his head. He saw a mighty flash of red and then nothing more.

About the Author

Beth Elliott

Beth Elliott loves speaking different languages and traveling to out of the way places. A Welsh mother and a Lancashire father mean she has a complicated mix of imagination and practical common sense. After a teaching career in several countries, she settled in the Thames Valley. Settled, that is, except when the traveling bug takes her. An excuse for this is that she has published a number of travel articles, and of course, she can use the settings for her novels.

Her Regency Tales are stories of intrigue, adventure and romance, with a few real people in among the cast of characters who find themselves caught up in events that rather upset their normal lives. She hasn’t yet put Napoleon himself in a story, but he’s on the waiting list. On the principle of ladies first, especially in the Regency era, Lady Hester Stanhope played a small but vital role in ‘Scandalous Lady.’

From her own experience of life in Turkey, Beth likes to add a touch of exotic to some of her stories. But adventure and romance can – and do – occur just as easily in London, Bath or Brighton as in Constantinople.

For more information, visit her at the following links.

Website:  https://www.regencytales.co.uk/

Blog:  https://regencytales.blogspot.com/

Facebook    http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Beth-Elliott/1128803291

Twitter  https://twitter.com/BethElliott

Her Regency Tales are available as paperbacks or e-books at  

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beth-Elliott/e/B002QM5RGM/

and

https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Elliott/e/B002QM5RGM/

Dark Doings

One of your Tattler contributors has cornered a witness to goings-on in Edinburgh:

Dark Doings

“I am talking with Lady Eufemia here, down at the hotel in Edinburgh where THE DARK DUKE is rumored to have taken his bride for their post nuptials. However, they are not the story of the hour any longer, for the new Duchess of Canterbury has been seen having breakfast with the Honorable Hermione and the truly stupendous Countess of York. 

“She wore a stunning confections, as always, her hat in perfect counterpoint, and showing off her pert countenance. In fact, according to our Lady Eufemia, it also showed up her tears as she went running from the dining room in a decidedly unladylike fashion. Tsk tsk. 

“I ask the Lady Eufemia, what do you make of such shenanigans?

“Well, Lady Charissa, I am decidedly not one to gossip, but, I feel there is already a problem in the newlyweds marriage. And I think Lady Sarah may be at the crux of it. The duchess and countess have long been fast friends, but on the morning after the wedding, Lady Sarah slinks to another part of the dining room, only to run off crying a few minutes later? No, I tell you, Duchess Canterbury said something and Lady Sarah tried to compose herself. Then, when the upset just became to great, she left to find privacy to cry in. 

“I am sure that we will see more of this rift back in town for the season.”

“Why, Lady Eufemia, you have the brightest smile when it is so engaged. Good luck with the season. I am telling you, something dark and nefarious is happening here. I just hope we learn the on dits first.”

About the Book

Dark Doings

Dark times fall upon Lady Sarah and her friends as they try to unravel mysteries of who wants them dead.


Barely snagging Lady Lillian out of danger, Lady Sarah finds herself embroiled in some clandestine mischief. It causes her to doubt Lord Archer and her own feelings for him. But this fashion loving countess is not able to give up on her dreams and love for him. She enlists the aid of her two best friends to piece together what might really be happening. For she couldn’t bear it if he was a traitor to the crown.

Lord Archer’s hero in the spy organization he and his family had long been a part of are in Edinburgh to reveal a traitor to the crown. Only, his boss wants him to spy on the woman he loves and the best friend of her and his own sister. Could he have really fallen in love with a traitor? He keeps his own counsel from his boss. death.Upon deciding that there is no way his beloved could be a traitor, he recruits them all to uncover the dark underworld doings which could lead to Queen Victoria’s

While their lives and love are under attack, the two of them work to bring down one of England’s most powerful lords before he can kill the Queen.

Read **FREE** with Kindle Unlimited or buy it at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MDV3T6J/

An excerpt from Darkest Death

Hermione and Lady Lillian laughed. “I said, you’re thinking about women’s rights again, aren’t you? About the battles and the queens?”

A flush stole over her in embarrassment. “Yes,” she mumbled. “Though I do not see how you are always able to tell when such things cross my mind,” she added primly. “One might think you possessed some magical powers if one lived in the dark ages.”

They laughed harder. “It does not take a genius to see the look on your face. After these many years, I have come to learn this look quite well,” Hermione said. “It used to scare me witless, afraid Father would not approve of you and your ways.”

“Your father would not dare to have offended mine,” Sarah said, a little laugh escaping. “They had too many business interests together. How do you think we ended up playing together so much as children?”

Their food came, and the three of them ate and laughed, enjoying being women. Soon enough, Lord Clarence would come and steal Lady Lillian away again, so Lady Sarah would enjoy that morning together before her best friend left to Lord Clarence’s Scottish estates.

She’d have time later to think of her own marriage and other long-lost stories and dreams.

As they finished their meal, Sarah noticed a man having undue interest in their table.

“Hermione, Lillian, I wish to have tea before we all leave. Care to join me in the suite of rooms? I’ll have some sweets brought up. We must plan our next get together, and I find I need to go…” She flicked her napkin, trying to think of a probable story that would not be a lie. She let out a sigh. “I need to check a few things. I will fill you in when I have been able to finalize my thoughts on the matter.” A half-formed plan to stay in Scotland rather than go back for the slowly starting season began to play on her mind. 

“Of course,” Hermione said. “I will be up when I finish this scone. I find I am hungry more and more these days.”

“I will wait for Clarence, and he can escort us both to the gardens then to your rooms,” Lillian said, a blush stealing over her cheeks once more. No doubt from calling His Grace by his first name. 

“Then it is settled. I will meet you for tea. Thank you.”

She stood and shook her skirts out in a deliberate manner, trying to see the man from the corner of her eye. Most definitely watched her much too closely. A pillar stood near him. She would make her way around to there and try to listen in on the conversation. Call her paranoid, but after what they’d just gone through with Lady Amber and Lord Jarvis, on top of her ugly valentine, she would take no chances. Rather to feel foolish than feel dead. She nodded her head as she walked, then proceeded to listen.

About the Author

Leona Bushman is a USA Today best selling author. She is a crazy writer taught by dragons and known as Dragon Queen of the North. She loves to write and paint, even when her muse tries to muck things up. She chases after the three out of the five children still at home, and sometimes after the other two and the grandbaby. She has many hobbies like SCA, quilting, sewing, and gardening. Or, as one blogger succinctly put it, Leona Bushman is a whirlwind made of sheer will with a dash of clumsy to keep her grounded.

She can be found solving mysteries, exploring space, making art, and loving dragons and other creatures of the supernatural at these places:
Twitter: @L_Bushman
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLeonaBushman
Facebook artist page: https://www.facebook.com/LeonaBushmanArtisteExtraordinaire/
Website: www.leonajbushman.com
Blog: www.lbushman.blogspot.com and www.lbushman.wordpress.com
Newsletter: http://madmimi.com/signups/374285/join

Miranda’s Quest for a Title

Miss Miranda de Courtenay held back the tears threatening to leak from her eyes. Her chin jutted forward even while she took a firmer hold on Phillip, the Marquis of Wyndham’s arm. Her brother Adrian and Lady Celia Lacey both threw accusatory glances in her direction. In their eyes, Miranda had betrayed them. Could they not see for themselves she was doing them a favor? Having arrived with Celia’s father just as the couple had fallen to the ground in a public display had been sheer luck on Miranda’s part and was far more than she had expected when she urged the duke that his daughter needed him. Maybe having the entire ton as a spectator was a step too far but some matters needed to be shook up for the greater good. Adrian and Celia belonged together…

…and Miranda wanted Phillip as a husband. He was as good a choice as any other titled lord and at least he had been giving her the time of day. Celia did not want the man so why should Miranda not take advantage of the situation presented to her.

“I believe I will excuse myself from this fiasco, Miss Miranda,” Phillip murmured before his mouth clamped shut. She peered up at him and saw his cheek tick as though his tightly clenched jaw was an indication as to his true feelings for Celia.

“Of course, my lord,” she replied even though she was disappointed he refused to stay with her. It took everything in Miranda’s power not to stomp her foot to show her displeasure. She let go of his arm with a sense that any thoughts of this man becoming her husband just slipped through her grasp.

She went to a nearby bench and sat beneath the swaying branches of a tree. Adrian and the duke passed by her as though she did not exist. Celia’s sister’s quickly tucked the poor girl into their fold to usher her away while the gossipmongers began their attack.

But it was the whisperings of the Danver sister’s as they walked by that caused Miranda to truly regret her actions both today and in her past.

“You should not be surprised de Courtenay was taking advantage of a young woman like Lady Celia,” Prudence said making no attempt to lower her voice. “Why he is a notorious rake of the worse sort!”

“Really, Prue,” Abigail scolded, “you are just miffed he did not give you the least bit of attention during the last season. I would be far more concerned on what this will do to his younger sister’s reputation.”

A snigger left Prudence’s lips. “Her reputation was ruined during that altercation with the Marquis of Aldridge during the charity ball at Hollystone Hall. She failed to get Aldridge to propose then and it appears she has had no better luck with Wyndham now.”

“Let us hurry and get this all written down while the latest bit of gossip is fresh in our minds. I have no doubt Mr. Clemens at the Teatime Tattler will be publishing this latest development as soon as he receives the news,” Abigail said with a laugh.

Miranda whipped out her fan to flutter it before her flushed face. A sob tore at her throat at the injustice of it all. Making her way from the gardens, she called for her carriage to be brought around and could only wonder just how much farther she must fall before she finally found someone to love…


The Earl Takes A Wife by Sherry Ewing

Lady Celia Lacey is too young for a husband, especially man-about-town Lord Adrian de Courtenay. But when she meets him at a house party, she falls in love and cannot get him out of her mind. Will he ever think she is old enough to become his wife?

Adrian finds the appealing innocent impossible to forget, though she is barely out of the schoolroom and a relative by marriage. If they are constantly in each other’s company, then how can he move on without her?

His sister’s deceptions bring them together, but destroys their happiness. Can they reach past the hurt to the love that still burns?

Valentines From Bath: A Bluestocking Belles Collection

The Master of Ceremonies announces a great ball to be held on Valentine’s Day in the Upper Assembly Rooms of Bath. Ladies of the highest rank—and some who wish they were—scheme, prepare, and compete to make best use of the opportunity. Dukes, earls, tradesmen, and the occasional charlatan are alert to the possibilities as the event draws nigh. 

But anything can happen in the magic of music and candlelight as couples dance, flirt, and open themselves to romantic possibilities. Problems and conflict may just fade away at a Valentine’s Day Ball.

Buy Links for Valentines From Bath:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Wkm5Ma

B&N: http://bit.ly/2FPc04J

iBooks: https://apple.co/2FRdLOL

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2CPg01l

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Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2S9TwSh

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Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing hopes you’ve enjoyed this little tidbit into Miranda de Courtenay’s life. She’s a secondary character in Sherry’s novella The Earl Takes a Wife that is in the Belles box set Valentines From Bath.

If you’d like to keep in touch with Sherry, be sure to follow her on the following social media outlets. She also has a street team on Facebook and she’d love to have you join her team!

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