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An Invitation to Holiday Revels

An invitation addressed to His Grace, the Duke of Harlowe, has found its way into our newsroom. It appears that Gertrude Marsden, Countess of Marsden may have sent several letters of this ilk regarding revels at her country house.  The lady, if we may call her that, is quite bold in her expression in this one. We at the Teatime Tattler believe it will be of interest to our readers, who may wish to be warned about the countess’s nature before they accept.

December 1, 1815

Your Grace~

Now that we’ve sent that rascal Bony to the far reaches of St. Helena, I’m ready for festivities for the Season! I hope you are also.

To marry off my darling nieces, I’ve invited my fondest friends to my Christmas house party on the North Steyne in Brighton from December 21 through December 28. Twenty-six will lodge in the house. More than one hundred also have responded they’ll attend my annual ball Christmas night. At least half of them are eligible men. And should you accept my invitation—which of course this is—you will be numbered among them.

I do hope you will attend us here for the duration! I’ve planned the usual diversions. Greenery gathering, though we do not wish to prick our fingers! Cards and dice, though I will ensure my darling Marjorie does not pick your pocket too deeply! Charades. Do plan to partner me in that game as—perhaps—Romeo and Juliet? Elizabeth and Darcy?

I know it has been five long months since we “played” at anything together. However, I do presume to invite you to join me during this gathering. I need a partner. You.

Yes. You see I am quite frank!

Why?

First and foremost, my step-son, Colonel Lord Marsden, remains with Wellington in Paris. While I wish for his return—especially to do what his heart commands and woo my niece Marjorie—I have no final word from him that the Duke will permit him leave of absence.

Secondly, but not less important, I must declare once and for all, Your Grace, I need you here with me. For Christmas, I wish you close.

I can imagine your marvelous blue eyes wide, your grey brows arched high, with surprise at my declaration of desire. But I am compelled. Driven. Indeed, needy, Your Grace. Needy!

No, I have not written you since I left you in that quaint little hotel room that afternoon in Margate in August. I wished to contemplate what we did there. And I’ve concluded that what I felt then for you, Your Grace, was a passion as hot, an affection as radiant as the summer sun. I feel it still each time I recall us as we lounged like libertines on the terrace naked while the sea crashed upon the shore and took our breaths in such raptures.

I do confess that since I left you that afternoon I’ve been atwitter, hoping against hope you might favor me by calling upon me. Alas, you have not. But I excuse you readily. Of course I do. I put your reluctance down to your desire to conclude your year of mourning for your wife. That formal period ended last week.

After much thought on the matter, I can understand other reasons why you’ve not approached me. You were shocked by your quick affections. I was surprised by my own. After all, it had been five years since last we met…and enjoyed the varied rewards of our mutual affections. Five years ago, those were of conversation and the recognition of like minds. Our Margate encounter was the rekindling of those sparks which previously we dared not fan. Yet I will declare our interlude was a unique rapture. If my heart palpitated with exquisite delights that afternoon we spent in the throes of madness, my mind since then has relived a thousand times the ecstasy we shared.

Might you not come to my party? Might we not rekindle the flames of a glorious afternoon rolling as God made us upon those downy linen sheets?

Yes, you may call me bold. Yes, you may refuse me a response.

But I ask you, Your Grace, is not life for the living?

My husband has long since departed this world.

Your wife, gone less time, but nonetheless not of this world.

My step-son is grown. A man about to take a wife. My other responsibilities of my dearly departed sister’s three daughters will soon cease as they go to their own marriage beds. My days spread before me and I wish for another marvelous taste of true love before I grow too mature to revel in its physical pleasures…and its ethereal rewards.

Won’t you join me and my guests for Christmas?

Let us hail Christmas with reverence. Hail my nieces’ and my step-son’s engagements with joy. And ring in the New Year, just you and I alone in a cocoon of our mutual desires for romance, love and conjugal unity.

Darling Winston, let us not to the marriage of true minds find impediments. We are too old to worry that children may object. Would yours dare? They married for love. We two are also free, unburdened by family responsibilities. Your three are married and prospering. Mine soon will be, too. We both are too established among the ton to care that you are a duke, widowered, and I, a widowed countess who has slept alone for more years than I care to recall.

May we not, my dear, revel in the Season and in each other?

I long to kiss you and invite you to cavort with me!

Let this be a happy Christmas! Come to my party! We’ve much to enjoy!

                                             Yours affectionately,
                                                      Gertrude

About the Books

The Countess of Marsden invites you to her house party! Seven nights and days of frolic, gossip, dancing…and match-making for her three nieces.
Sad, isn’t it, that none of the Craymore sisters wishes to wed?
Exciting, isn’t it, that three war heroes arrive who know precisely what they want for Christmas?
Wonderful, isn’t it, that each might gain the most precious Christmas gift of all?

Find them here:

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0089DS2N2

 About the Author

Cerise DeLand loves to cook, hates to dust, lives to travel, read and write!

She pens #1 Bestselling Regencies and Victorians known for their spice, historical accuracy and eloquence! With awards on her shelves for more than 60 romances, she’s written for Pocket, St. Martin’s and Kensington. She likes awards…and wine at 5 p.m.

Find Cerise:

Cerise DeLand’s Website www.cerisedeland.com

Cerise DeLand’s Delicious Doings Blog: http://cerisedeland.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Asking For A Friend…

Dear Mr Clemens,

I have a friend who is at her wits end and doesn’t know what to do, but she enjoys your newspaper even if she can only read it very slowly and has seen you have offered your sage advice to many others before her. I shan’t tell you her name because the situation is very delicate, and she is likely very soon to become engaged to a Duke, so I must preserve her good reputation.

asking for a friendI say likely, because the whole ton expects the announcement eagerly, and they have done for over a year. I cannot imagine why he is dragging his feet because my friend is considered very beautiful and charming. Yet not only has he failed to ask her, he’s also never bothered trying to steal a kiss either which is very odd. Especially as she’s lauded as an incomparable and had men queuing for her hand before the duke came along.

In truth, he rather scared everyone else off and I had my head turned… I mean my friend did. Who wouldn’t want to marry a duke? Even if this one is a little dull and pads his jackets… only talks about himself…

But I digress, because whilst my friend has been doing absolutely everything in her power- short of smacking him across his arrogant head with her fan to chivvy him into a proposal- there has been another complication.

An unforeseen, unexpected and utterly thrilling complication.

She’s met another man and is inexplicably drawn to him. He’s not noble- not by any chalk- but he is kind and handsome, painfully shy and most definitely does not need to pad out his jacket! I know this because I accidentally encountered him stripped to the waist at my sister’s house a few months ago and I have been entirely unable to dismiss the scandalously magnificent picture of his manly body from my mind.

And he’s a spy! On an important government mission. A secret he entrusted only to me… I mean my friend… when she recognized him pretending to be someone else. Now she is helping him navigate the murky waters of society, a place he feels very uncomfortable within, and in return he is going to make my, er, the duke jealous to hasten the anticipated engagement. Which is marvellous, I suppose, although I’m not entirely sure I want things sped along now that I’ve met Seb… I mean since she met him.

What should my friend do?

Yours sincerely

Befuddled of Berkeley Square

About the Book, The Mysterious Lord Millcroft

Life as a duchess… Or something much more dangerous…?

Constantly told her beauty and charm is all she has to offer, Lady Clarissa is intent on marrying a duke. And intriguing spy Sebastian Leatham will help her! Only first she’ll assist him with his new assignment—playing the part of confident aristocrat Lord Millcroft. Sebastian awakens a burning desire within Clarissa which leaves her questioning whether becoming a duchess is what she truly longs for…
Purchase on Amazon

About the Author

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. But it still takes her ages to fall asleep.

Website: https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

 

Ghostly Gossip

ghostLady Bell invited Mr. Tilson to tea not because she likes him, but to hear about a ghost. I had learned a little about the specter from friends in Carlisle, and she wanted to know more. Unfortunately, Mr. Tilson didn’t want to discuss ghosts. He preferred to backbite about living people.

“All the Warrens are scandalous, absolutely scandalous,” Mr. Tilson told us. “From Lord Garrison to his sister to his cousins, they’re simply dreadful. It’s in their blood.”

There is a certain amount of truth to this. Lord Garrison and his kinfolk do tend to live by their own rules, but they are also far more fun than most people with whom I’m acquainted.

“Surely not.” Lady Bell motioned to me to pour Mr. Tilson a second cup of tea. “Thomasina Warren is a charming girl, so perfectly behaved that she is known as The One Good Warren. She would have made you an excellent wife.”

“So I thought.” Mr. Tilson heaved a sigh redolent of the seed cake with which he had stuffed himself. “But when I questioned her sternly with the full force of my manly intellect, Miss Warren herself admitted to the taint.” He took a breath. “In fact, she confessed to an uncontrollable urge to sin.”

I ask you, how likely is that?

Her ladyship glowered at him. “What nonsense. No innocent maiden would say anything of the kind.”

Particularly to a stodgy sort like Tilson.

“I do beg your pardon,” he murmured. “It was the truth, but I shouldn’t have mentioned something so unsavory in the presence of ladies.”

He sighed again, and I moved as far as possible from him on the sofa. I like seed cake, but not at second hand.

“I have heard that Miss Warren doesn’t wish to marry,” I said.

“Nonsense, my dear Clara,” Lady Bell said. “Every young woman wishes to do so.” She simply will not accept the fact that I have never been tempted to exchange my comfortable single state for submission to some tedious male.

Ghost“Miss Warren knows full well that she is unmarriageable,” Mr. Tilson said. “Her conniving father tried to trap me into wedding her. Much as I pity her, I was fortunate to escape before I found myself tied to her forever.” He was enjoying himself, which is in frightfully bad taste. How vile to denigrate the former object of his affection!

It was obvious to me that Miss Warren was the one who had escaped. What’s worse, now he gazed at me with a warm expression in his eyes.

Lady Bell gave a smug little smile. Good God, was she thinking I might like to wed this bore?

Time to change the subject. I assumed an expression of trepidatious inquiry. “Earlier, her ladyship mentioned something about a ghost at Hearth House.”

Lady Bell set down her teacup. She is an enthusiastic believer in the supernatural. “Yes, a Roman soldier who patrols Hadrian’s Wall. He carries a spear and threatens anyone who comes near.” She paused, twinkling. “Except courting couples of whom he approves.”

“Now, now, my lady,” Mr. Tilson said. “You will have your little jest, but ghosts do not exist. Old houses like Hearth House tend to creak and groan, especially in cold weather.”

I put on an innocent face. “I was told that you made banishing the ghost a condition of marrying Miss Warren—but how can one drive away something that isn’t real?”

Mr. Tilson reddened, hastening to explain. “To calm her, so she need not fear for the safety of our future children.” What a lie that was! I knew from other sources that it was he who’d been afraid. Imagine refusing to marry a girl because of a ghost!

“Why should she fear?” I asked. “By what I’ve heard, she likes the ghost. It protects her from unwanted suitors.”

Mr. T glared. I must confess, I enjoyed witnessing his attempt to summon his manly intellect and produce an explanation that made him look fearless, noble, self-sacrificing, and so on.

“That only goes to show,” he said, “that sin is not the only taint in her family. There’s madness, too.” He paused dramatically and lowered his voice to a hush. “I saw her talking to the ghost.”

Heavens! “You saw the ghost?”

He huffed. “No, I saw her talking to thin air, which is a well-known trait of the insane. It gave me quite a turn. Thank God for that pleasant young man who was visiting Hearth House and kindly warned me away.”

Hmm…. I wonder now, who is the pleasant young man, and what was his reason for getting rid of Mr. Tilson? I can think of several possibilities. I believe I shall pay a visit to Hearth House and find out!

GhostAbout the Book

Faced with the intolerable suitors her father approves, Thomasina Warren resolves never to marry, and decides to lose her virginity so that no respectable man will have her. Who better to ruin her than handsome, charming James Blakely? But James is an honorable man and refuses point-blank. Humiliated, she resorts to outright refusal to wed, with the help of a ghost who scares her suitors away. But four years later, her father has arranged her marriage to a stodgy gentlemen whose only condition is that the ghost must be banished forever.

James Blakely never forgot the lovely girl who asked him to ruin her, and when he offers to get rid of the ghost, he thinks he’ll be doing a good deed. Instead, he is faced with the hostile Thomasina, her cowardly suitor, pigheaded father, lecherous cousin, an exorcist monk, and a ghost who warns of danger and deadly peril—and a few short days in which to convince Thomasina that with the right man, she might just want to marry after all.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F71SZD6/
Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07F71SZD6/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07F71SZD6/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07F71SZD6/

About the Author

Award-winning author 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). She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

http://www.facebook.com/barbara.monajem
http://twitter.com/BarbaraMonajem
https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/3270624.Barbara_Monajem
http://www.barbaramonajem.com/
http://barbaramonajem.blogspot.com

Writers Needed; The Newsroom Quakes

The Tattler newsroom is in an uproar. Lady Caroline Warfield swept into the premises summoned—summoned!—by Sam Clemens. She slammed his door so hard the wall vibrated and now the staff: printers, correspondents, ink boys, paper sellers, and all held their breath. Did she know she would find that Mrs. Knight had already arrived? Of course she must know. The Bluestocking Belles communicate constantly.

Milly, the maid of all work, stood with her ear to the door. “She told him the Belles ‘have their hands full,’ and she said its his fault for printing all those letters attacking theirTeatime Tattler book, Follow Your Star Home.” Milly grinned over her shoulder. “Sam said, ‘Spelled yer names right din’t they?'”

The staff smirked in unison. Trust Sam. He taught them all publicity is good as long as they spell your name right. That tight-rumped clergy fellow Blowworthey set off a firestorm, but he brought the readers in didn’t he?

Milly leaned down again, “The Knight woman says the Belles have been so busy undoing the damage they didn’t get their usual story in today, and it serves us right.”

“Serves us right?” Ian Pennywhistle, a junior correspondent, demanded. He scribbled down the words. He’d been documenting the whole incident.

“She says we ought to recruit more Wednesday guest author stories and not leave it to them to do.” Pennywhistle wrote that down. Milly shrugged and leaned over to listen and was almost knocked over when the door swung open and the two women left.

“The ladies swanned out leaving Clemens in a fine rage…” Pennywhistle said, putting pen to paper. “I always wanted to write a sentence with ‘swanned,'” he said with self-satisfied glee.

Clemens glared at the young man. “We don’t get 1000 views and more a month because people like your vocabulary. They read to sop up the gossip behind authors’ books, the good stuff, not your drivel. We need more. The schedule is almost empty aside from two weeks in November. January’s even emptier. Bring me some writers.”

The newsroom emptied in a flash.

Read the high-performing articles below to find out what Sam loves to see in the Teatime Tattler, or sign up to write your own, and to advertise your book (new or one from your backlist).

The Mistress and The Wife — by Laura Libricz

A Guillotine Widow Takes Tea on the Isle of Guernsey — by Regan Walker

Lady Farrow Determined to See Her Daughter Wed — by Nadine Millard

The Mistress and the WifeThe Soldier’s Return, by Laura Libritz

A base-born son, a hasty marriageThe Bastard’s Iberian Bride, by Alina K. Field

Mrs Bingham tries againThe Rake and His Honour, by Beth Elliott

Be Careful What You Ask a Hero — Only a Hero Will Do, by Alanna Lucas

Duke in Disguise — To Dodge a Duke, by Naomi Bloom

Overheard at the Courtesan’s Ball — The Pleasure House Ball, by Suzi Love

 

The Wanderer Returns

We are delighted to report that Lord Wayshaw’s younger brother, Rafe, has returned to the magnificent Taverslow estate after his travels in Europe and a stay at the family’s villa in Umbria.

The great and the good of Somerset will no doubt look forward to hearing tales of his continental adventures, while the young ladies will surely hang on every word of the county’s most eligible bachelor. It is said that the dashing Mr. Wayshaw is even more handsome than when he left these shores almost a year ago, and that his already fine skills in riding and dancing have been greatly enhanced by his time in foreign lands.

The debutantes of Somerset and London will have to compete for his affections, however, which are apparently taken by his two charming Yorkshire Terriers, Pepe and Paolo. They may also have to win the approval of Mr. Wayshaw’s faithful valet, Simpkins, from whom he seems quite inseparable. Indeed, some have hinted that they may be more intimate than one would expect of a servant and master. Of course the Tattler would never spread such gossip, but if we hear more of Mr. Wayshaw’s romantic attachments, rest assured dear readers, you will be the very first to know.

About The Book

A Valet’s Duty

At the turn of the twentieth century, Henry Simpkins is a valet at Taverslow, the Earl of Wayshaw’s Somerset home. When the Earl’s younger brother, Rafe, arrives from his villa in Italy, Henry is given the task of caring for his mischievous dogs, Pepe and Paolo. As part of his duties, he also goes to Rafe’s room each night to tidy away his clothes.

One night Rafe asks Henry to go beyond his valet’s duty, to relieve his sexual tensions. Henry enjoys their increasingly intimate encounters, but he’s soon disturbed to find he feels more for Rafe than mere physical attraction. Now Henry faces a difficult decision. Can he remain in the same house as Rafe if his affections are not returned?

A Valet’s Duty is available at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2n1Ei0A

Excerpt

When he followed Lord Wayshaw up the grand marble staircase, Henry wondered what sort of man the brother might be. He seemed to have a sense of humour, since he hadn’t chastised Henry for scolding his precious dogs. Henry only hoped he required as little attention as the earl. Each night, he sorted his lordship’s clothes when he undressed, and took his orders for the following day. His night-time duties were over in a matter of minutes, and he could go outside for a smoke before he turned in.

Henry knocked on Rafe’s door and was somewhat taken aback, when the ornately carved oak opened to reveal Rafe already in his dressing gown.

“Come in, Simpkins. I won’t keep you long.” Henry followed Rafe into the bedroom. “Just tidy my clothes away, would you?”

Rafe settled himself on a sofa and chattered away, as some gentlemen do, while Henry picked up his garments from the floor, sorting those that could be worn again from those that needed to be washed. He listened to Rafe describe his villa in Italy, where he obviously spent much of the year. It sounded enchanting, with its endless sunshine and olive groves, but Henry couldn’t properly picture the place—he’d never been farther south than Dover.

The next few nights passed in a similar way, with Henry nodding and smiling, and sometimes laughing, when Rafe talked of his life in Umbria. Falling to sleep each night in his narrow bed, Henry found himself dreaming of orange trees and vineyards. Sometimes he even dreamt of Rafe wandering among them in the Mediterranean sun, but on the fourth night when Henry went to Rafe’s room, something had changed. Rafe seemed on edge as he opened the door, and he sat on the sofa in silence as Henry carried out his tasks. Henry started to leave, when Rafe spoke at last, an unfamiliar tension in his voice.

“Simpkins, could I ask you something?”

“Of course, sir.”

Rafe gazed intently at his fingernails, giving Henry no clue as to what he might ask. His eyes remained lowered as he made his enquiry.

“Simpkins, are you—are you the same kind of man as Oscar Wilde?”

About the Author

H. Lewis-Foster lives in the north of England and has always worked with books, in one form or another. A keen reader and writer of gay fiction, she is now the proud author of several short stories and a debut novel ‘Burning Ashes’.

Lewis-Foster likes to create characters that are talented, funny and quite often gorgeous, but who all have their faults and vulnerable sides, and she hopes that you’ll enjoy reading their stories as much as she loves writing them.

You can find out more about H. and her books on her website.

 

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