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The Restitution League

To Miss Nelly Tremaine

Dear Sister—

What’s this about you leaving your position with the Grenvilles?  Word is they’re a respectable family. I had hopes that their cook would train you up. Good cooks are scarce. You’d never want for work with that kind of skill.

I must confess, your new employers sound terrifying. I know you said they assist people who’ve been done wrong, but they used to be thieves. Even the women! I can’t imagine why you’d leave a fine household to work for such a strange group. But then, you’ve always been one to leap before you looked.

I pray to God every night to keep you safe. Your loving sister, Bess

To Mrs. Thaddeus Wilton

Restitution

Dear Bess—

I know you’ve been worried about me taking that new position with the Restitution League, but I couldn’t be happier. Mrs. Crane and the rest are very kind, even if Mr. Edison does scare the daylights out of us with his experiments. The explosions do rattle one’s nerves, I don’t mind saying. Last week he built a brass automaton that pours tea!  It wasn’t long before the poor fellow knocked over an end table and broke a vase. Mrs. Crane was not pleased.

As you can see by this letter, I’ve learnt to use the typewriter quite well. I’m to start lessons on the telegraph machine next week. Learning Morse code seems impossibe, but Mr. Edison says I’ve got the brains for it. Time will tell. I’m so happy to be doing something besides sweeping and dusting. 

I hope Thaddeus and the children are well. It looks as if I’ll get a chance to see for myself soon. Mr. and Mrs. Crane are going on a delayed honeymoon trip next month. She says I’m to have a whole two weeks leave. The Grenvilles were never so generous.

 I’ve already saved up for the train fare, so you can plan on having me at the first of the month. There’s no need to fret. I’m happier than I could imagine. And wait until you see my new clothes!  Office girls don’t have to wear stupid old uniforms like maids do. I’ve got a smart new set of dresses to show you.

I can’t wait to see you all.  Your sister, the office girl

Restitution
Yost Typewriter 1890

About the Book

A woman who disdains love collides with a man who lives for passion. Explosions ensue.

Ada Templeton believes in science. She believes in chemical reactions and experimentation and old-fashioned common sense. She’s far too clever to be seduced by a rake like Edison Sweet.

Over Ada’s objections, Edison agrees to guard her latest invention from a mastermind willing to kill for it. He never expects to be intrigued by the lovely widow whose body he finds as exciting as her mind.

Seducing the Scientist and the other books in the Restitution League series are now available in Kindle Unlimited.

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Excerpt:

In the daylight, Ada’s laboratory was nothing short of spectacular.

It was everything Edison’s own workshop was not. Beakers, test tubes, and glass decanters, each in their proper place on mahogany workbenches, gleamed in the bright autumn light. All neat and tidy and pleasingly arranged, not unlike the scientist who worked there.

All the more so as he suspected the effect was completely accidental.

And then there was her scent. That light swirl of violets. Even in the midst of the acrid, metallic odors emanating from every beaker and box in the crowded room, it stirred him.

Delightful perfume aside, the woman’s obstinance was beginning to grate. Badly.

Edison rubbed a hand over his eyes. “I can’t keep your device safe if you don’t tell me where it is.”

She raised a beaker to eye level, frowning as she measured dry plaster of Paris to her liking. “It’s well hidden. Have no worry about that.”

“Have no worry? Are you addled?” He threw his hands up. “What do you think those men were looking for last night? What about the men before that? They weren’t after your excessive hoard of plaster.”

She continued with her measuring. “You’ll have to trust me, Mr. Sweet…Edison. The device is secure. What I do need your assistance with—and I am fully willing to admit it—is protection for my family.”

“Yes, yes. Of course. We’ll keep you all safe. That’s the easy part. I sent the stable boy to gather the rest of the League before I came down to breakfast. My reinforcements will be here before lunch, I’m sure. But I can’t protect your device, unless—”

She slammed the jar of powder down onto the counter. “You’re already taking a risk to protect us. I won’t add to that. The device is safe. Even if it were not, I won’t have you endanger yourself to save it.”

Unlike most women, she didn’t resort to coquetry. She met him head to head. Any other time, he would have found that profoundly appealing. Under the current conditions, however, it was unduly aggravating.

He closed his eyes, wishing he were contending with the sort of woman who liked to be cosseted and protected. He understood those women—how they thought, what they desired.

How to get what he wanted in return.

Habit made him lean close so his breath would caress her ear. He’d been told more than once it made women shiver delightfully. “I’ll find it eventually, you know.”

Instead of melting, softening, shivering, or sighing, she jerked away as if he reeked like a fishmonger.

“Search all you like.” She measured chloride into the beakers. “You won’t find it.”

Edison ground his teeth. Dear God, he’d seen granite cliffs less stubborn. If charm had no effect, intimidation might.

He lifted the chloride from her hand and set it on the bench.

She glared fiercely. “I beg your pardon?”

He ignored her and closed in, backing her up against a filing cabinet. When she could go no farther, he spread his arms wide, his palms flat against the cabinet front, pinning her in.

He’d planned to frighten her, to scare her into letting him have the device. But that sweet scent wrapped around him again, obscuring his train of thought in a sensual mist. All he could think of were her lips, slightly parted and begging to be kissed.

She squinted up at him. “What are your intentions?”

The words did not match her tone, which was soft and sweet and—dare he hoped—welcoming.

He smiled. “What would you like them to be?”

Her mouth opened wider. Her chest rose and fell as her breath deepened and her eyes dilated. “I believe I should like you to kiss me,” she said finally.

About the Author

Riley Cole writes sexy, sassy historical romances set in the innovative, energetic Victorian Era.

If you enjoy high adventure with your historical romance, delve into Riley’s version of late Victorian London. Thieves, rogues, and love await.

Stay updated on Restitution League news, exclusive content and new releases, subscribe to Riley’s newsletter at http://bit.ly/rileynews

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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.

An Encounter in the Cyder Cellars

In the basement of 21 Maiden Lane in London, the great metropolis, there is a tavern called the Cyder Cellars, much frequented by writers and artists, and the young men about Town. After curtain in the nearby theatres, it tends to be packed with men desiring supper and some old-fashioned glee-singing. It was there that Mr. Clemens of the Teatime Tattler ran into his flame-haired colleague Mr. William MacNeil from that esteemed Victorian magazine Allan’s Miscellany.

The Great Mac was in a gloomy mood. “I envy you, Mr. Clemens,” he said, staring into his mug of cheap beer. “I do envy you. In your time you don’t yet have to endure the dreadful consequences of Mr. Scott’s medieval flights of fancy in all their full extent. You don’t have to endure your chief artist — well, only artist, really — and your publisher ganging up on you and force you to travel to the Scottish wilderness to attend a [redacted] tournament.”

Mr. Clemens raised a brow. “A tournament?” he asked mildly.

“A tournament.” MacNeil shuddered. “Lord Eglinton’s medieval tomfoolery. With lords of the realm and members of the gentry donning all the impediments of chivalry to joust like knights of old, giving themselves silly names — the Knight of the Swan and the like — and generally making fools of themselves. Old England forever, and all that.”

“Ah.”

“Well you may say, ‘Ah,’ but you did not have to travel to Ayrshire on roads crammed full with ten thousands of carriages, totter around a village in desperate search for a room and a bed, where no more beds were to be had for miles and miles. And everybody milling around in the most ridiculous costumes imaginable.”

“I say!” said Mr. Clemens.

“But that wasn’t the worst,” MacNeil continued, his voice becoming even gloomier. “No, the worst was when I sat on that gallery amidst all the chivalric gaiety and had to watch my chief artist and best friend”—he leaned closer as if to divulge a terrible secret—“fall in love.”

“But that is very romantic, is it not?”

MacNeil reared back and cast the other man a baleful glance. “Romantic! What nonsense! As if one ought to take delight in one’s best friend turning into a veritable mooncalf! A detestable spectacle, if I ever saw one.” He drank from his beer. “And on top of everything else,” he muttered, “we had forgotten to take our umbrellas.”


 The Bride Prize: Allan’s Miscellany 1839

A medieval tournament in Victorian Britain,

two unlikely lovers, a very grumpy editor,

& an unfortunate dearth of umbrellas.

It’s 1839, and Lord Eglinton’s tournament in Scotland is the most anticipated event of the year: he and a group of his noble friends will don medieval armor and joust like knights of old.

Does this mean a revival of true chivalry? Miss Florence Marsh thinks it might.

Or is the tournament mere tomfoolery and the greatest folly of the century? Mr. Robert Beaton thinks it is.

But when Flo and Robbie meet at Eglinton Park, they’ll learn that a dash of romance can overcome the greatest differences and that true love might find you in the most unlikely place.

If only Robbie wasn’t working for that scandalous new magazine Allan’s Miscellany! If only Flo’s father didn’t detest the periodical press!

And if only they had remembered to bring an umbrella!

~~~

“[T]hese books are dang cute. So freaking cute. You just get happy by reading.”

~ Blodeuedd, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

~~~

The Bride Prize is free on Amazon US | UK | AUS as well as on B&N | Apple | Kobo

Or download the novella from Instafreebie (until 28 September 2017)

Excerpt

St. John’s Wood, London, 13 July 1839

Charging down the lists towards the wooden dummy on wheels, the noble Knight of the Swan suddenly lost both his balance and the control over his horse. One moment he was a shining star of chivalry, his armor glinting in the sun, and the next he was flying over the head of his horse and landed in the mud in an undignified sprawl.

A groan rippled through the crowd of spectators, then laughter as the Knight of the Swan—the Honorable Mr. Jerningham—heaved himself upright, unhurt, with nary a dent in his fine armor.

Robert Beaton, writer and chief—indeed, only—artist of that hopeful new periodical Allan’s Miscellany scribbled into his notebook, his boyishly round face crunched up in concentration. He added a few lines, a hasty sketch…

Drat, we need somebody to do satirical illustrations, he thought, glancing up to see how the next knight riding against the wooden dummy would fare.

Once again, he was struck by the incongruity of the scene: The gardens of the Eyre Arms had been transformed into a jousting ground, with elevated benches on either side to accommodate the spectators, members of the gentry and the aristocracy. There were several thousand people present this afternoon to watch the chivalric proceedings—and this was merely the final rehearsal before the tournament proper!

There was no question: he needed to get Mac up to Ayrshire next month. All the papers and periodicals would be writing about Lord Eglinton’s medieval spectacle. Unthinkable that Allan’s Miscellany should not!

Down at the grounds, the dummy knight was cleared away and preparations were made for the main event of this rehearsal: the tilting between the Lords Eglinton and Waterford.

Lud! It’s Ivanhoe sprung up to life! Or rather, Astley’s in St. John’s Wood. A circus show with buffoons in sparkling armor, who took their chivalric endeavor very, very seriously indeed. They had even given themselves names—the Knight of the Swan, the Knight of the Dragon; there were a few lions as well—as if they were children playing at dressing up.

Robbie snorted.

Oh, Mac would just love this—he would get that glittering look in his eyes as if he wished nothing more than to level somebody. Or at very least demolish them with words. He was very good at that, Mac was. It had been his sarcastic wit which had made Allan’s Miscellany notorious these past months. Good for making people talk about the magazine, but not necessarily something which would secure them a wider audience. Hence it fell to Robbie to tune down his friend’s more caustic outbursts.

A flourish of trumpets sounded, and amidst the cheering of the crowd, the two noble lords…eh, knights charged at each other. Or rather, trotted towards each other and passed each other with a good few yards in between them. If anybody had expected the thunder of galloping hooves from a historical novel, they would be sorely disappointed.

Robbie chuckled. They should have taken some lessons from the performers at Astley’s!

Bio

Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now, she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances (some of which she now uses to shamelessly fangirl over Punch, her favorite Victorian magazine).

She holds a PhD in English literature, and in autumn 2015, she appeared on the BBC documentary Great Continental Railway Journeys to talk about another favorite topic of hers, the Grimms’ fairy tales (while walking through a rather muddy stretch of the Black Forest) (there were a lot of slugs, too).

She lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.

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