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Tag: The Renegade Wife

The Lascivious Duchess

The Hare and Ewe Public House, Wheatton

July 1834

Rob Wilkens came in acting like a bug on the edge of a hot kettle the morning the duke left the Hall. We all knew it would be thus and had warned him, but he would insist on taking a job in the big old barn that is Eversham Hall. Fancied the footman’s livery, he did.

“His Grace always leaves as soon as he gets wind the duchess is coming back,” we warned him. I warned him. Warren the blacksmith warned him. Peck from up at the Hall warned him. Hell, even his mother warned him. The Duchess of Murnane is a harpy and that’s a fact.

“She left with some Italian count this time,” he had answered, fool that he was. “Maybe she won’t come back. Italy is so far from Wiltshire, she may as be going to the moon,” he said.

That were two years ago, when the duke came back and his cousin Rand married the Indian woman before they returned to Canada. Lots o’ folks took work at the Hall. His Grace always fills the jobs after she leaves, not that he has to. There are always them that are stupid enough to take her coin until she works ’em half to death, gives ’em the sharp edge of her tongue one time too many, or poisons ’em with her lies.

In the case of comely lads like Rob, she does worse, at least worse for the innocent ones. Some of ’em take what she offers and laugh behind her back, strutting around yard like roosters who got one over on their fellows. Danny Sullivan, though, he fancied himself in love with the woman. When she used him and moved on, she fired him for complaining. His father claimed the gun that killed him was an accident from cleaning the thing, but there were those who thought otherwise.

“What are you going to do?” Warren asked Rob that morning.

“What can I do? My mother needs the coin I send,” Rob said glumly. Danny’d been his friend. I hoped that made him think hard about working there.

“I can be wary, but—” he raised his hands looking helpless.

“What can she do if she comes after you and you say no?” One of the farmers asked him.

“She’ll fire him,” Peck said. “He may as well quit first.” Peck would know. Tough old bastard was too much gristle for the lady’s taste, so he stayed on during the comings and goings, trying to keep things up for the duke’s sake.

We all like the duke well enough, but the county could use his attention. Between the duchess’s outrages and his boy’s illness, he don’t pay much attention to the estate, much less the neighborhood. Even when he’s here he hares off to London often enough, with some government work. “Affairs of State,” Peck called it. It wasn’t like the old days when at least Miss Catherine, she who’s now a countess, lived over at Songbird Cottage and Squire Archer across the river.

“You in charge now?” I asked Peck.

“I can’t manage the books and such, but I keep the boys working,” Peck answered, “Them as stay on. His Grace hired another steward. Starts next week before she comes.”

We all stared into our ale for a while after that. She goes after the stewards first. We figured this one wouldn’t last a year.

“So,” Peck said to Rob, “Are you quitting or staying? Old Banks will help you duck out of her attention.” We all knew the butler, Banks, was useless against the duchess. Rob did too. Peck raised his tankard and gave Rob a sly look over the top before he took a sip. “You can just take what she offers. Some do.”

Rob shuddered. “Makes me feel dirty just thinking about being used like that.”

Ellen the barmaid snorted when she slammed down three tankards of ale on our table. “Now you know how the lasses feel when you sniff under their skirts.” She sashayed away with her nose in the air, and Rob’s eyes followed her across the room.

I glanced at Ellen and back at him. “I can use a lad willing to work hard,” I said, though I didn’t know it until that very moment. “I can’t pay the Hall’s wages, but I’ll hire you.”

He stared into his drink a while, then gazed over at Ellen standing in the kitchen door. “Thank you kindly Mr. Doughty. I think I’ll take you up on that.”

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The Duke of Murnane’s cousin Rand is the hero of Caroline Warfield’s The Renegade Wife. The duchess caused a rift between the two of them in their youth before moving on to other game. The duke appears in that book and also its sequel, The Reluctant Wife, coming in April 2017. The duchess does not, but her pernicious influence permeates both books.

About The Renegade Wife

Desperate and afraid, Meggy Blair will do whatever it takes to protect her children. She’d hoped to find sanctuary from her abusive husband with her Ojibwa grandmother, but can’t locate her. When her children fall ill, she seeks shelter in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. But when the owner unexpectedly returns, he’s furious to find squatters disrupting his self-imposed solitude.

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly had good reason to put an ocean between himself and the cousin that betrayed him. He just wants the intrusive woman gone, but it isn’t long before Meggy and her little ones begin breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. But their fragile interlude is shattered when Meggy’s husband appears to claim his children, threatening to have Rand jailed.

The only way for Meggy to protect Rand is to leave him. But when her husband takes her and the children to England, Meggy discovers he’s far more than an abuser; what he’s involved in endangers all their lives. To rescue the woman who has stolen his heart, Rand must follow her and do what he swore he’d never do: reconcile with his aristocratic family and finally uncover the truth behind all the lies. But time is running out for them all.

Read it for FREE with Kindle Unlimited or buy a copy by clicking here.

 

A Rather Disappointing Wedding

We petitioned our contact in the neighborhood of Wheatton in Wiltshire for information about the wedding of Mr. Randolph Wheatly, cousin of the Duke of Murnane to his commoner bride from Canada. The personage, who chooses to remain anonymous, managed to obtain an invitation to both wedding and the wedding breakfast. Those hoping for some elements reminiscent of the American savage wilderness (reputed to be the home of the bride) will be disappointed, but our contact reports some on-dits of interest to those who follow the eccentric activities of the Landrum/Wheatly family.
________________________________________________

After a standard Church of England ceremony, conducted I must say with Little Elegance, but blessedly no Whiff of Papist Nonsense, we retired to Eversham Hall for a breakfast provided by the Duke. The fare rated Tolerable at best, with the meal more than adequate but the cakes being of little distinction. The entertainment was flawed by Running Herds of small children. One might have expected better in a home of this station, but one would have been disappointed. This Sad Fact owes itself, perhaps, to the absence of the duchess. His Grace, being a Man, did his best no doubt, but he is rarely home long enough to ensure a well-run household.

The newlyweds slunk off indecently early to spend an extended honeymoon in the groom’s childhood home, Songbird Cottage, amid a flood of Sickening Sentimentality. Neighbors expressed surprise that a man of Wheatly’s means did not take his bride to Paris or one of the Better European spas, but the woman professed herself more comfortable in the Wretched Cottage, a preference that reveals much about her Common Origins, and more than she might like about her Taste.

The Earl and Countess of Chadbourn have elected to linger with his nephew, the duke, and Eversham Hall will be overrun with children for some days as a result. The earl has ever doted on his brothers-in-law and his nephew, whom he refers to as “the boys,” as if he were their father. A father’s love, as they say, is blind, which appears to be true in this case.

We neither saw nor heard anything about the Countess’s other brother, Mr. Frederick Wheatly, One is given to understand that he remains with the East India Company forces in Bengal, but one hears no sign of any Distinction or Honors associated with such service. A persistent rumor would have it that he fled from a posting in Cambridgeshire, taking the appointment to Bengal to get out of some sort of trouble.

I feel compelled to add a note about the Duke and Duchess of Murnane who rarely reside in the same place at the same time. The duke appears to prefer London and visits his estate only when the duchess is on one of her Extended Holidays, generally accompanied by an Italian count or Polish princeling. When she is at home it becomes obvious why mothers in the neighborhood discourage their sons from taking positions as groom or footman at Eversham Hall. The woman is shameless. One pities the duke, particularly because he has sole care of the boy who appears more sickly whenever one lays eyes on him. The entire situation is unnatural.

Be that as it may, His Grace hosted the wedding celebration. It carried on much of the afternoon with neither brother nor duchess in appearance, becoming commoner and commoner as the hours stretched and wine bottles emptied.
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Rand, Fred, and Charles Wheatly, the boys of A Dangerous Nativity, are the heroes of Caroline Warfield‘s Children of Empire Series. This wedding takes place in the first book of the series, The Renegade Wife

About the Book

Desperate and afraid, Meggy Blair will do whatever it takes to protect her children. She’d hoped to find sanctuary from her abusive husband with her Ojibwa grandmother, but can’t locate her. When her children fall ill, she seeks shelter in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. But when the owner unexpectedly returns, he’s furious to find squatters disrupting his self-imposed solitude.

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly had good reason to put an ocean between himself and the family that deceived him. He just wants the intrusive woman gone, but it isn’t long before Meggy and the start breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. But their fragile interlude is shattered when Meggy’s husband appears to claim his children, threatening to have Rand jailed.

The only way for Meggy to protect Rand is to leave him. But when her husband takes her and the children to England, Meggy discovers he’s far more than an abuser; what he’s involved in endangers all their lives. To rescue the woman who has stolen his heart, Rand must follow her and do what he swore he’d never do: reconcile with his aristocratic family and finally uncover the truth behind all the lies. But time is running out for them all.

Read for free with Kindle Unlimited or buy a copy on Amazon.

Men Are So Blind

This heavily perfumed missive from Miss Mary Carlton to Lady Elsbeth Willknott has gone astray and finds itself in the Tattler

gerard_ter_borch_d-_j-_001Cambridgeshire, 1826

My dear Elsbeth,

How I wish you were here for a heart to heart talk. Who else can I confide in? Do tell me you will return soon. Mother refuses to see what is beneath her nose, and father—well, he’s as blind as the rest of the men.

Why are gentlemen unable to see what is obvious to the supposed weaker half of the population? Well, we know why. Where Certain Women are concerned, they do not always make use of their minds.  A woman may make herself look delicate and helpless, bat her eyes, and lean on a man’s arm, and men assume she is what she wishes to appear. They do not see the artifice, catch the avid gleam in the eye, or hear the nasty undertone when she speaks with those of her own sex.

emma_hart_later_lady_hamilton_george_romney_rothschild_collection_mfa_bostonYou and I both know Miss Julia Barrett, the squire’s daughter, for the harpy she is, while the men see only her delicate figure, blond hair, and adoring blue eyes.  They do not hear how she mocks them to other women. They do not see her forward behavior. I believe, dear one, that she is no better than she should be.

Julia fluttered, blushed, and swooned into the arms of Mr. Rand Wheatly, oozing sweetness, until that poor lovesick gentleman lost all reason. He has hung on her lisping speech and adoring gaze for weeks, solicitous to each spoken or unspoken need. He praises her as a delicate flower of English womanhood. Behind his back she laughs at his goodness.

The poor fool made the mistake of introducing her to his cousin. True to her nature, she turned her attention to Charles Wheatly who, after all, is a duke, while Rand Wheatly is simply mister. I have watched her keep both on the end of her silken tether, flirting shamelessly with whichever one is in front of her behind the back of whichever is absent.

Today I happened upon Mr. Rand Wheatly in front of the millinery shop. He looked so rapt in thought that I followed his eyes to see what had his attention. Less than a block away Julia Barrett clung to His Grace’s arm, leaning her bosoms against it in a most shocking manner while staring into his eyes. Mr. Rand Wheatly looked as if he had been slapped. Mark my words. She will bring the duke up to scratch and soon.

Neither Mr. Wheatly nor his ducal cousin seems aware of her shamelessly forward behavior when men from the King’s regiment garrisoned nearby attend assemblies. I know for fact she has evaded all chaperonage for assignations with more than one of them. My brother mentioned seeing her near their quarters. Did Ralph express disapproval of that? No! He said he envied the officers.

I long, dear Elsbeth, for tea and a cozy talk. Do come home soon.

Your friend,
Mary

PS
A horrid thought wormed its way into my brain. Isn’t Rand Wheatly’s brother an officer garrisoned nearby? What if Julia has thrown herself at all three of them? She’ll make trouble in that family. Mark my words.


CRITICALTheRenegadeWifeJulia does indeed make trouble for the cousins.

The Renegade Wife
Betrayed by his cousin and the woman he loved, reclusive Rand Wheatly flees England, his dreams of a loving family shattered. He clings to his solitude in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. Returning from a business trip to find a widow and two children squatting in his house, he flies into a rage. He wants her gone, but her children are sick and injured, and his heart is not as hard as he likes to pretend.

Meggy Blair harbors a secret, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her children safe. She’d hopes to hide with her Ojibwa grandmother, if she can find the woman and her people. She doesn’t expect to find shelter with a quiet, solitary man, a man who lowers his defensive walls enough to let Meggy and her children in.

Their idyllic interlude is shattered when Meggy’s brutal husband appears to claim his children. She isn’t a widow, but a wife, a woman who betrayed the man she was supposed to love, just as Rand’s sweetheart betrayed him. He soon discovers why Meggy is on the run, but time is running out. To save them all, Rand must return and face his demons.

Available on Amazon

Caroline Warfield is a Bluestocking Belle. You can learn more about her here or visit her website.

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