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Is that Viscount really a Duke in disguise? A deceit in our midst!

Gentle Reader,

Dowager Duchess M is throwing a house party with a motley assortment of guests. I dare swear most are little better than treasure seekers. 

Worse, she has loudly and publicly welcomed the Duke of E to her home as Viscount R! Now everyone is calling him Viscount R and the man can’t get a word of correction into the conversation.

The absent Viscount R is a suitor for AH, the Duchess’s granddaughter, but this author suspects AH finds the Duke a more compatible companion. If she doesn’t, she should!

Given the Duchess’s reputation as a prankster, the next couple days should prove entertaining. 

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Artful-Deceit-Art-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B09XRCHTP7

Blurb for An Artful Deceit:

What happens when a Duke is mistaken for a Viscount—on purpose?

Add that to two Michelangelo sketches, hidden passages, vanishing and reappearing art, threatening messages, conniving art collectors, arrogant academicians, a Bow Street agent, a lovelorn couple, and an elderly prankster.

It’s enough to give a Duke a headache.

Miles Wingate, the Duke of Ellinbourne, was not supposed to be at the Dowager Duchess of Malmsby’s house party. He was supposed to be in London preparing for the spring opening of the Royal Academy of Art, yet here he was, a stand-in guest for his injured cousin, Viscount Redinger.

This was taking family loyalty too far. The only rational person at the house party was Miss Ann Hallowell, the Duchess’s granddaughter, and as his luck would have it, his cousin’s intended!

Thrown together when he’s mistaken for his cousin, Miles and Ann join to unravel the house party mysteries. But every time they pull one mystery thread free, another appears, for seemingly everyone has a hidden agenda—including the Duchess!

Excerpt from An Artful Deceit:

“Yoo-hoo! Viscount Redinger!” called out Lady Oakley. She stood on the terrace and waved at him. Even at the distance across the grounds Miles could tell she was smiling. She fairly bounced as she waved to them.

Ann dropped his arm as they turned to face Lady Oakley

Ann huffed; her mouth set in a straight line. She crossed her arms over her chest. “She knows you are not Redinger,” she said crossly.

He nodded. “I’ll warrant your grandmother does as well.” He slid a sideways glance at Ann. “I think your grandmother and Lady Oakley are up to some mischief,” he murmured.

“Why do you say that?”

“When the maid showed me to my rooms—the suite reserved for royalty, I might add—she called me Your Grace.”

“You’re in the purple passion suite!” Ann exclaimed. “That is what my cousins and I called that suite.”

A laugh burbled up inside her, then she finally broke into uncontrollable laughter.

“What? What is it?” he asked.

“You are probably right as to mischief,” Ann said as she struggled to get her laughter under control. “I should have realized she has been good for too long!”

“I don’t understand,” Miles said.

“My grandmother loves pranks. Not nasty ones, but fun ones. She was always thinking up pranks to pull on her grandchildren when we were growing up,” Ann explained as Miles smiled and waved back at Lady Oakley. 

“We should probably be heading back to the main house anyway. The wind is picking up and there is the beginning of a chill in the air,” he said as he put on his jacket. 

It impressed Ann that he could shrug into his coat without the assistance of his valet.

“The maid, I believe her name is Donna,” he continued, “addressed me as ‘Your Grace’. I did not tumble to the import of that action until an hour later. If the staff knows I am not Redinger, then I believe your grandmother does as well. So, I’ve decided to play along,” he said as they walked back to the house and Lady Oakley.

Lady Oakley tried to wave them to her at a faster pace; however, Miles chose to ignore that bit of body language and take his time with Miss Hallowell. He enjoyed her company.

 “What do you mean?”

“I shall answer to Redinger.”

“But you’re a Duke! That’s so disrespectful!”

“Perhaps it would be if I had been raised to the expectation, but I wasn’t. I am a clergyman’s son.”

“You have said that before. Do you hold that as some trump card?”

“I suppose in a way I do. It is my way of honoring my father and not allowing myself to become caught up in the title and lose my sense of perspective with those around me.” He laughed. “Too many others do that for me!”

The twilight breeze quickened. Treetops swayed and garden flowers bent before it. The chilling breeze snatched Ann’s untied bonnet from her head.

“Oh!” Ann whirled around to try to catch a ribbon, but the wind sent the bonnet twenty feet away before dumping it to the ground and rolling it over and over.

Miles thrust his sketchbook into Ann’s hands and ran to rescue the bonnet. When first he stooped to pick up a ribbon, the wind playfully skittered it out of his reach. He quickly moved again to the capture the errant headgear and planted his boot on the end of the ribbon to lay claim before the wind could play again.

When he turned back to look at Ann, he found his breath caught in his chest. While the wind had played with Ann’s bonnet, it had played with Ann’s hair as well. Strands whipped free of their confining pins and framed her face in a riot of dark blond curls and waves. This would be a portrait worth painting, he decided, not some staid formal sitting. She was beautiful. Not in the London marriage mart diamond-of-the-first-water sense. She was too real. Her eyes glittered brightly, her cheeks showed a delicate blush that owed nothing to artifice. His cousin was getting a prize, and Miles felt disconcerted by that thought.

About Holly Newman:

Holly lives near the Florida Gulf Coast with her husband and six cats. An Artful Deceit is her 11th novel. When she is not writing she likes to read, garden (more like perpetually pulling weeds) and take walks.

Website: https://hollynewman.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/HollyNewmanAuthor

Pinterest: Reading, Writing, Not ‘Rithmatic

The Marriage Stakes

My dear Mr. Clemens,

I have the distinction of attending a most exclusive house party at Clarion Hall in Ashmead, hosted by the Earl of Clarion with his sister, Mrs. Morgan—she who was once Duchess of Glenmoor—serving as hostess. Much of London vied for invitations, and ours was obtained only by dint of my longstanding friendship with none other than the Marchioness of Danbury, patron of the event. The usual

Clarion Hall

entertainments have been on offer but I quickly realized that all of this forced conviviality is in the service of politics, of all provoking and boring things. I note the attendance of the Home Secretary himself along with his closest cronies including the Duke of Awbury. I personally have always found Awbury a bit too high in the, well, instep, for my comfort. The man believes himself superior to most mortals except perhaps the Prince of Wales, and he disapproves of Prinny, too. It is all most disappointing, but I digress.

What is most interesting to your dear readers, of course, is the question of the earl’s marital aspirations. For weeks the most frequent on-dit in London would have it that, while the excessively proper earl had finally bent sufficiently to host his peers, he had no intention of looking for a wife, being content to mourn his first spouse dead these six years. Families with daughters to puff off, for the most part, stayed away.

You may understand, then, dear Sir, why I am aflutter with excitement. One could ignore the handful of persistent mamas who inserted ambitious daughters into the party. An unattached earl—particularly one as attractive (dare I say it?) as the earl—is a marital prize they cannot ignore. One can hardly blame them, but one can ignore them. I say that because it quickly became clear that Mrs. Morgan had marshaled the ladies of the family–regrettably not all of them legitimate members—to depress those ambitions. No amount of sprained ankles, lost wandering into the bachelor bedrooms, rearranged seating charts, or manipulated teams for games escaped the vigilance of the earl’s female relatives. I was ready to believe that he actually was not in search of a wife. Almost.

The arrival of Lady Estelle Wilton in the company of her grandparents, the Marquess and Marchioness of Wilbury, was an entirely different thing. A perfect lady, she has resorted to none of the shenanigans the other hoydens have attempted and yet, she has monopolized much of the earl’s attention. A man as reserved and proper as the upright earl would certainly seek such refinement in a wife. A man with political ambition would no doubt seek one with a pedigree as illustrious as that of Lady Estelle who would without doubt make a superior political hostess. As if all that weren’t transparent enough, my maid confided that a footmen told those assembled in the servants hall that the two of them rode out today with only his nominal company. Furthermore, they rode to Willowbrook, the earl’s former home and spent over an hour inside—sans footman or other chaperone.

In short, it appears we anticipate a happy announcement. I write now so that you may have the news first, and get the jump on your competition. You may coyly print:

Has a certain house party in the midlands brought marital aspirations to the Earl of C__? A certain Lady E__ W__ appears to have won the race to capture his attention. We expect wedding bells soon.

I have no doubt you will be merely reporting the truth, though of course you will protect the lady’s name. There has, alas, also been some foolish gossip about Lady Delia Fitzwallace, Awbury’s former daughter-in-law. If she weren’t a widow and a matron one might call her a hoyden as well. She lacks the refinement one would expect in an earl’s bride. Awbury himself is quite critical of her easy ways. Her looks are too coarse for a countess—her skin and hair reflect an island heritage—even as her manners show her family origins in trade. No, she would not do at all, and the earl can be relied on to know it. I’m sure of it.

Your devoted friend,

Alvira, Lady Eaton

About the Book

The final book in Caroline Warfield’s beloved Ashmead Heirs series is available at preorder pricing (only 99 cents) today. It reverts to retail after launch on June 28.
The notorious will left David, the very proper Earl of Clarion, with a crippled estate and dependents. He’s the one left to pick up the pieces while caring for others—his children, his tenants, and the people of Ashmead. He cares for England, too. Now that the estate has been put to right, he is free to pursue his political ambitions. But loneliness weighs him down. Then he meets his new neighbor. When his family plans a house party to launch his political ambitions, nothing goes quite as he planned.
Her uninhibited behavior shocks him. Why can’t he get her out of his mind?
Happily widowed Lady Delia Fitzwallace revels in her newly rented cottage, surrounded by flowers and the wonder of nature, thrilled to free her three rambunctious children from the city of Bristol and let them enjoy the countryside to the fullest. If only she can avoid offending her very proper neighbor, the earl, when their children keep pulling her into scrapes.
She is not what he needs in a countess. Can she help him find a proper political wife?

 

A little bit of gossip goes a long way…

Lady Abigail Danvers set the quill down and stared at the letter she had been composing to Samuel Clemens, editor of the Teatime Tattler.

“I don’t know, Prudence.” Abigail gave a heavy sigh and handed over the parchment. “I just don’t think it has enough gossip in it to be worthy of what Clemen’s usually expects from us.”

Prudence took the letter and began to read aloud.

Gentle Readers;
This just in from York… Seen more than once in each other’s company, Viscount C and Lady S may just have a budding romance in the making. Will wedding bells be ringing the York Cathedral? Or maybe one of her stepdaughters will beat her to the altar. Only time will tell and you’ll read the latest news here first in the Teatime Tattler.

An Anonymous Reporter

Prudence tapped her finger to her chin. “It is rather boring, sister. Are you sure you couldn’t find any dirt on the pair?”

Abigail rolled her eyes. “Don’t you think I tried? The Dowager Countess guards her stepdaughters like the fiercest of warriors, along with her own reputation?”

Prudence nodded. “I suppose given she’s trying to get them married off is a good reason to remain so guarded. What of Cranfield? Surely his reputation is slightly tarnished. Didn’t he have a mistress?”

“Old news. He let her go and paid off her accounts months ago before he arrived in York,” Abigail replied taking the letter and folding it. “He’s here to see that his sister finds a match. Since his arrival in York, I haven’t been able to turn anything up on him that might provide any newsworthy gossip.”

A frown marred Prudence’s brow. “Then I guess this will have to do. Send it off to Clemens. Hopefully, he won’t be too disappointed and still publish the piece —”

“—and continue to pay us for whatever tittle tattle we can dig up in the future,” Abigail finished before going to the bell cord to summon a servant to deliver her latest news.


This is an original piece by Belle Sherry Ewing. Richard, Viscount Cranfield and Patience, Lady Seahaven are in her novella, A Countess To Remember in the Belles’ boxset, Desperate Daughters. Continue to read on to learn more along with our ongoing contest!

Excerpt:

The unseen woman was still in the carriage, as if she was still preparing to collect whatever had been left behind. A small dainty shoe poked out onto the edge of the step and Richard heard her heavy sigh that she made no attempt to mask.

Richard stepped forward, offering his hand. “May I be of assistance, my lady?”

“You are most kind,” the lady inside said. She put her hand in his and Richard swore he felt a tingling sensation rush up his arm.

“Where are my manners?” Lady Barbara exclaimed. “May I introduce my stepmother, Patience, Lady Seahaven. Patience, this is Lord Cranfield and his sister Lady Josephine.”

Richard was prepared for a matronly woman to reveal herself as she alit from the carriage. But when she lifted her head once upon solid ground to acknowledge their introductions, he was unprepared for the young beauty he faced. Blue-grey eyes that could rival the sky above met his. Wisps of strawberry blonde hair had escaped her bonnet while her porcelain skin was set in a lovely round face. But when her small bow mouth turned up into an enchanting smile, Richard became lost.

“Lord Cranfield,” her voice reached into his soul. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Richard bowed, completely bewildered in the spell she had captured him in with just one glance. At a loss for words, he could only stare at the woman before him, even while he continued to hold her hand in his. What had she done to him?


Desperate Daughters: A Bluestocking Belles and Friends Collection
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Preorder for only $0.99

Here’s the blurb for Sherry Ewing’s contribution to the set, A Countess To Remember:

Sometimes love finds you when you least expect it…

Patience, Dowager Countess of Seahaven cares for a bevy of stepdaughters and a Season for each to find husbands seems out of reach. With her own young daughter to care for, there’s been no chance for romance for herself. She’s been so busy worrying about putting food on the table, that finding love is the last of her concerns.

Richard, Viscount Cranfield is in York to see to his sister’s Season. He has no desire to find a wife despite his parents prodding him to do so. A chance encounter with a countess leaves him wondering what spell she has cast around him.

Will Patience and Richard find enough time to allow love to fill their hearts?

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How about a contest?

Help spread the word about Desperate Daughters.

Share our contest page and our Bachelor and other memes to any of your social media accounts. Each share gets you an entry into one of the weekly draws and the Grand Prize draw.

Congratulations to Catherine Maguire, winner of our week 1 draw.

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Read more about Desperate Daughters here: https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/desperate-daughters/

About Belle Sherry Ewing:

Sherry Ewing 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. You can learn more about Sherry and her books on her website where a new adventure awaits you on every page at www.SherryEwing.com.

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On the Shelf or On the Stage?

Music room at Chateau de Cheverny. Photo by Cerise Deland.

Dear readers, such excitement at York! Here, as you know, the daughters of the late Earl of Seahaven are taking the Season by storm. They are of course very properly chaperoned by the Dowager Countess, who just happens to be delightfully young and beautiful – younger, even than at least two of her stepdaughters!

And it is to one of those elder stepdaughters we turn our attention today. Lady Barbara, the late earl’s second comely if no longer youthful daughter, has let it be known she attends the events of the Season only as an additional chaperone for her lovely and lively younger sisters. She never dances and she is certainly of an age – all of seven-and-twenty, we hear – to be considered mostly On the Shelf. One would never dream of scandal coming from this quarter…

However, this very daughter, Lady Barbara Bigglesworth, has been seen by this reporter, promenading alone with respected composer and musician, Mr. John Sutton. Rumor says that Lady Barbara is also of a musical turn of mind and is, in fact, most accomplished on the pianoforte. Indeed, a little bird has whispered to me that she has been teaching proficiency on the instrument to her social inferiors – which might be judged by the high sticklers among you to be a scandal in itself.

Considering all of this, and the apparent intensity of the lady’s talk with Mr. Sutton, is it possible that instead of marriage, the stage is Lady Barbara’s goal? In concert, we might say, with Mr. Sutton?

The late earl would turn in his grave at such outrageous behaviour in his family, though one might argue in that case that he should have left his daughters better provided for. But whether Shelf or Stage is to be Lady Barbara’s final destination, we must wish her well – and we shall, of course, be watching closely.

Desperate Daughters, Box Set

Desperate DaughtersThe Earl of Seahaven desperately wanted a son and heir but died leaving nine daughters and a fifth wife. Cruelly turned out by the new earl, they live hand-to-mouth in a small cottage.

The young dowager Countess’s one regret is that she cannot give Seahaven’s dear girls a chance at happiness.

When a cousin offers the use of her townhouse in York during the season, the Countess rallies her stepdaughters.

They will pool their resources so that the youngest marriageable daughters might make successful matches, thereby saving them all.

So start their adventures in York, amid a whirl of balls, lectures, and al fresco picnics. Is it possible each of them might find love by the time the York horse races bring the season to a close?

 

About the author, Mary Lancaster

Mary Lancaster lives in Scotland with her husband, three mostly grown-up kids and a small, crazy dog.

Her first literary love was historical fiction, a genre which she relishes mixing up with romance and adventure in her own writing. Several of her novels feature actual historical characters as diverse as Hungarian revolutionaries, medieval English outlaws, and a family of eternally rebellious royal Scots. To say nothing of Vlad the Impaler.

Her most recent books are light fun Regency romances written for Dragonblade Publishing: The Imperial Season series set at the Congress of Vienna; and the popular Blackhaven Brides series, which is set in a fashionable English spa town frequented by the great and the bad of Regency society.

 

Whispers from the Countess of H. regarding Those Scamps, the Devereaux triplets!

A Gentleman in Search of Revenge

August 7, 1815
Brighton, England

Today is a sad day, I tell you, when three young ladies from Ireland are brought to our distinguished shores to celebrate among the ton the end of Bony’s horrid regime.

Why, you may ask?

Oh, truly, these triplets appear to possess the best credentials. They are ladies by birth, the granddaughters of an earl, recently deceased. They are ladies by training, although one does wonder what caliber of education one can acheive in Dublin! They are ladies by inclination, even if it whispered that they have no dowry of any worth. And that, my dear friends, we may lay at the doorstep of their rapscallion grandfather who had quite a few marks against his character.

But then verily, I say that these three young ladies—dare I call them that—are known in Dublin and Waterford as…yes…scamps! Now I am astonished that they are brought here by that light of London society, Lady William Downs.

That formidable scion of our social order, it turns out, is cousin to the three girls’ dear departed mother. Having been favored by that lady when she was young, the lady who is their chaperone and mentor is eager to introduce these three young ladies to our English shores and our estimable English gentlemen.

Of course, these triplets are so unique that to look at them is to gasp in astonishment at their beauty. They are elegant of face and form, beautifully attired in the latest fashion, courtesy of their cousin.

A lady who wants to reform!

But what of their character?

Ahh. It has been whispered (not by me, of course) that one is rather…ahem…light-fingered. She has been known to acquire a few things that are not her own.

The oldest is light-fingered in another way and we shudder to think in what way. The third and the youngest, Adelaide, has no marks against her character. Lovely beyond belief. She certainly is a Diamond. But is she also a bit of an airhead?

I shudder to think at what will occur when these three ladies debut this evening at the latest ball of the season.

Countess of H.

BUY LINK: https://books2read.com/u/b5XRE6

LADY, BE WANTON, NAUGHTY LADIES, Book #1

The lady wants to be good.
Lady Imogen has reformed! She’s witty, from an old Irish family, in pursuit of a fine man to marry—and she swears she’ll never indulge in her little…um…peccadilloes again!

She’s arrived in Brighton with her two sisters and her cousin for the Season—and she’ll ignore anyone who gossips about Grandpapa’s notorious odd talents—or her own tiny scandal. After all, a lady can change.

The gentleman wants revenge.
Returning home after the wars, Lex Rowlandson, the Earl of Martindale, vows to find the cur who sold him and his father into the hell of Napoleon’s dungeons.

With a few clues to the identity of the creature who stole years from his life and caused the death of his father, Lex seeks out suspects at a Brighton ball. But he’s captured by the effervescent woman whose smiles light the dark corners of his heart.

He should not be distracted from his cause. Yet he cannot resist the lure of Imogen’s charm. When he witnesses her plight at the hands of one fellow who threatens her reputation, Lex saves it—and marries her.

Falling in love with her husband, Imogen sees that the best way to thank him for saving her is to commit the very crime she vowed never to repeat.

But can a man whose life was stolen from him love a wife whose skill is taking from others what is not hers?

BUY LINK: https://amzn.to/3Hfcm0G

Cerise DeLand embarks on her next romcom adventure with these three Irish ladies in this new series! She hopes you forgive their peccadilloes…and love how they reform and how they catch their man. Or, in these books, most often how the dashing men catch them! Cerise is really Jo-Ann Power who has been published since…well, forever! She is currently counting the number of novels she’s published because she has not kept track! Enjoy a laugh with Cerise DeLand’s newest releases, NAUGHTY LADIES from Dragonblade Publishing!

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