An exclusive gathering of wealthy and influential citizens of Northern California was held at the Millbrae home of The Bank of San Francisco’s founder, Montgomery Mercer. A representative from the Teatime Tattler, Susannah Clemens, was invited to a pre-holiday high tea with Mrs. Mercer this past weekend. Miss Clemens was thrilled to attend the social along with the ladies from the Millbrae Philanthropic Society. The group toured the 32,000 acre estate in elaborately decorated coaches before entering the grand home. Mercer Mansion consists of forty-two rooms, three stories, a conservatory, carriage house, and three artificial lakes. The main house took three years to build and is one of the grandest in Northern California outside of San Francisco. Miss Clemens reports that the women on the tour were all aflutter over the gardens and vistas, and were grateful the sun cooperated with their excursion rather than the usual thick fog that blankets the hillside just south of San Francisco proper.
Montgomery Mercer has amassed a considerable fortune aided by the gold and silver boom in California, and he’s set out to create a dynasty in the young state. His eldest child, Montgomery Mercer II, is currently attending the University of California in Berkeley, a new learning institution which his father helped to establish across the San Francisco Bay. The couple’s daughter, Meredith, attends a finishing school located in Grass Valley, and was not present for the event. Montgomery Jr., on the other hand, and his charming friend from the university, Sterling Mackey of the Virginia City Mackeys, entertained the ladies by playing the piano together and singing. The young men are studying law at the new university and shared their aspirations of becoming lawyers and starting a firm together, however Mrs. Mercer sternly reminded Montgomery II that his father had other plans for him, at which point he abruptly left the room and the tea commenced.
The tea was the first time society women had been invited to the Mercer’s home and while Mrs. Mercer set an impeccable example, wearing a lavish dress she stated had been made by a tailor in New York during their last visit, there was a tension in the air that more than one guest alluded to on the ride back down the hill. The most plausible cause was the upcoming holidays, which would obviously put a lot of pressure on a woman like Mrs. Mercer, however Miss Clemens was struck by something Montgomery Jr. said as he and his friend were leaving the tea. Most of the guests were otherwise occupied, but Miss Clemens overheard Sterling consoling his friend with the knowledge that his twenty-first birthday would be arriving soon and with it a bit more freedom. Montgomery shook his head and simply stated, “not freedom, more responsibility. I’m running out of time.” She heard no more as they disappeared up the back stairwell.
The Mercer Family remains a mystery to the writers of the Tattler, but never fear, dear reader. We shall uncover the source of the aspiring young lawyer in future articles. Until then, we remain steadfast in our search for the truth.
About the Book
Harkening back to the glory days of gothic romance that had us up reading all night, we present, Haunts and Hellions… 13 stories of horror, romance, and that perfect moment when the two worlds collide. Vengeful spirits attacking the living, undead lovers revealing their true nature, and supernatural monsters seeking love, await you. Pull the blinds closed, light your candle, and cuddle up in your reading nook for some chilling—and romantic—tales. With stories by: Emily Blue, Lucy Blue, Kevin Ground, Rowan Hill, Naching T. Kassa, Emmy Z. Madrigal, R.L. Merrill, N.C. Northcott, Emerian Rich, Daniel R. Robichaud, Daphne Strasert, Tara Vanflower, and B.F. Vega.
R.L. Merrill’s story “The House Must Fall” is an homage to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher” and tells the tale of Sterling Mackey’s search for the truth about Montgomery’s disappearance from the university mere months after this article was written. Paperbacks available now from Amazon, or a Special Edition pack can be purchased directly from HorrorAddicts.net Press. E-books will be available soon!
About the Author
R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing contemporary, paranormal, or supernatural, she loves to give readers a shiver with compelling stories that will stay with you long after. You can find her connecting with readers on social media, advocating for America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, writing horror-infused music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.
Although I was thrilled to receive your letter now that you are settled in, I find your new situation most tenuous and upsetting! One can hardly believe that you have no decent milliner in that little town of Clun that you and Randall have moved to, but to also know that a young woman serves by choice to be the town’s layer-out of the dead is most disturbing. I found myself in need of respite after reading your letter the first time through. I cannot imagine the dire straits you find yourself in. Does anyone in that little town serve as your equal? I dare hazard a guess that there is none amongst them worthy of sitting in the same parlor as you.
I do hope Randall understands your sacrifice. While I know he has business interests in the area and hopes to expand into milling and manufacturing, he cannot expect you to reside there forever, does he? Men. Our husbands have no understanding of the sacrifices we make do they?
It is not the same here in London without you. I find I must take tea with the Chatsworth sisters more often now, and I find them much less entertaining without you. They are in need of advice as their daughters are coming of age and shall debut next fall. I do not hold much hope for either of them. Both seem too mousy and indelicate in features and personality. I have forgotten twice now that they were in the same room with us upon meeting with them. Can you even imagine being so forgettable?
As you expected, the snow is beautiful and banked deeply along the Thames as our winter has been a cold one so far. Ms. Starling sends her well wishes and has promised to make you a special hat for me to bring to you, since you have no milliner worthy and equal to her skill in your quaint little town. I shall ask her to use some of that lovely blue fabric you commented on during your last visit.
Please do come and stay with us. You need never wait for an invitation. When you come you must tell me all about this scandalous woman who deals with the dead. Despite my efforts to be only appalled at the thought of it, I find myself quite curious as to what such a woman would look like and act like.
With all my love,
About the Book, Lovely Digits
When two murders strike the sleepy Victorian town of Clun, England, an unlikely partnership forms. But can the killer be found before there is a third?
Lovely Digits is the town oddity…
But quirky spinster Lucy Wycliffe prefers to ignore gossip and embrace her position as the town’s layer out of the dead, despite how her parents’ deaths thrust her into such unlikely work. Lovely Digits, as she’s known to the local townspeople, no longer dreams of marriage, but takes pride in providing dignity to the dead. Desperate to hold on to her family’s cottage and support her widowed sister and young niece, an unexpected offer of employment as assistant to the constable arrives at the perfect time.
Former sailor John Brodie is the mysterious new constable…
But John Brodie is far from a stranger to Clun or the events of its past. Accepting the position as constable in the small town is a double edged sword meant to heal his past and redeem his future, but falling for the beautiful and intelligent Lucy Wycliffe was never part of his plan. As the killer closes in, will John reveal his secret and risk losing everything to save Lucy’s life?
Old Man Codger’s frozen toe rolled across the floor toward the door.
“Lord above. Mind the corner, sister,” Lucy muttered. She blew an errant curl from her cheek as they swung the man’s stiff body onto the scarred wooden table in front of the hearth. The body landed with a thud.
Blast. Lucy scanned the floor. Nothing. Where had it gone? She lifted her skirts.
“There you are,” she grumbled. The rogue digit rested between the scuffed heels of her old brown boots. Using the edge of one of the sleeves of her faded blue blouse, she leaned down and clutched the rather putrid, large hairy toe and placed it on the man’s chest. Now she’d have to sew on a toe, too. A frozen toe.
Priscilla covered her mouth with the back of her hand and yielded a dry retch. Plugging her nose, she rolled her eyes. “There has to be another way.”
Lucy eyed her pert younger sister and sighed. At thirteen, Cil was on the cusp of womanhood. There were so many things she would miss from their parents not being there to guide her. The guilt over the death of Mother and Father a month past stung like a barb under Lucy’s skin. If only she’d arrived home at the cottage sooner instead of lingering about the forest to find her pet starling. She banished the thought away.
After tying back her hair, Lucy pushed up her sleeves to the elbow. “If there had been any other option, we’d have done it. It’s either prep him for burial or starve. It’s just us now, Cil.”
The old man’s time in the woods had not been kind to him, but at least the extreme cold had kept the insects at bay. A white milky maggot dropped from his nose to the table. Lucy shuddered. Most of them. She loathed insects, especially worms. Things that could move without legs weren’t natural.
“Hand me the needle and thread.” Lucy rested her hands on her hips. “I need to get this toe sewn back on when he thaws. I’ll not be docked pay for him missing parts.”
Care to read more of Lovely Digits? Here are the Buy Links:
Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist, Silver Falchion Award Winner, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.
When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.
Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing, is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2020 Silver Falchion Award for Best Mystery and the 2020 Maggie Award for Best Romantic Suspense. It also won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense. Her latest novel, The Highlander’s Secret Son, will be released in May of 2021 by Harlequin Historical.
It has come to the attention of this author that the Viscount and Viscountess Grange are delivered of their first child, a baby girl by the name of Violet. Felicitations to the delightful parents. The Viscount Grange is well known for his mathematical acumen and his siblings are dabblers in the natural sciences as well. We wonder if his new daughter will follow in the family’s footsteps.
A certain Lady M. has suffered an attack of nerves following a visit to the Grange estate for an afternoon of croquet and refreshments. This Author has been informed that the Grange daughters have indeed inherited their family’s interest in the natural sciences. The young Granges are so enamored that they have taken to performing their scientific experiments to aid in their sporting endeavors as poor Lady M. found out. It seems the eldest daughter, Miss Grange, filled a croquet ball with a volatile powder designed to explode when one of her younger sisters hit it with a mallet. Lady M. reports that the resulting noise and chaos was far too much excitement for a gently bred woman to bear. Seeing as Miss Grange is ten years old, the author can only reflect with increased concern about the well-being of distinguished guests to Lincolnshire.
News out of Lincolnshire has reached our ears. It appears that after a series of explosions, floods, and strange smelling fogs that have rattled the environs of the Grange estate for the past two years, the oldest of the Grange sisters, Miss Grange, will be attending The Yorkshire Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a scientifically-minded school for young women on the Yorkshire coast. We wish Miss Grange the best of luck in her new adventures and sympathize with the neighbors that the Misses Peony, Lilly, and Pansy Grange have also inherited the family interest in science. No doubt they will provide this author with plenty of news in the years to come!
About the Book
A Lady’s Formula for Love
What is a Victorian lady’s formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry–it’s elemental.
Lady Violet Greycliff is keeping secrets. First, she founded a clandestine sanctuary for England’s most brilliant female scientists. Second, she is using her genius on a confidential mission for the Crown. But the biggest secret of all? Her feelings for protection officer Arthur Kneland.
Solitary and reserved, Arthur learned the hard way to put duty first. But the more time he spends in the company of Violet and the eccentric club members, the more his best intentions go up in flames. Literally.
When a shadowy threat infiltrates Violet’s laboratories, endangering her life and her work, scientist and bodyguard will find all their theories put to the test–and learn that the most important discoveries are those of the heart.
Explosive chemistry, a heroine who loves her science, and lines that made me laugh out loud–this witty debut delivered, and I’d like the next installment now, please.--Evie Dunmore, USA Today bestselling author of Bringing Down the Duke
A witty, dazzling debut with a science-minded heroine and her broody bodyguard. Fiercely feminist and intensely romantic, A Lady’s Formula for Love is a fresh take on historical romance that’s guaranteed to delight readers.–Joanna Shupe, author of The Devil of Downtown
Elizabeth Everett lives in Upstate New York with her family. She likes going for long walks or (very) short runs to nearby sites that figure prominently in the history of civil rights and women’s suffrage. A Lady’s Formula for Love is her first novel, inspired by her admiration for rule breakers and belief in the power of love to change the world.
Excerpt From A Lady’s Formula for Love
After Violet’s nightly ritual of brandy and a bath followed by a journey to her empty bed, she concluded her routine with one final step. She would imagine someone climbing into the bed from the opposite side, blowing out the candle, and taking her into their arms before falling asleep.
These nighttime visitors remained firmly in her head. Violet’s late husband had insisted that a woman with a physical appetite was both unladylike and distasteful. Although she suspected this might not always be the case, she’d never searched out a real-life lover to prove him wrong. Her reputation was too important to the future of Athena’s Retreat.
Worse, what if he was right?
In all those lonely nights, Violet had never conjured a pair of arms that surrounded her like this man’s holding her now. The sensation of a warm, solid body against her stunned her, more than the chaos and the scattered shards of glass and wood. The soles of shoes whipped past her; all around her, voices were raised in angry, frightened cries.
None of this touched her.
She was safe.
Not because the man holding her had rasped those words in her ear, although that was delightful, how his lips had brushed against the sensitive lobe. No. Something else told her everything would be well.
She had seen him before the explosion, standing next to Grey. In the commotion around her, the dark figure at Grey’s side had remained preternaturally still until he exploded into motion.
A typical reaction might have been to step back or shy away from a strange man hurling himself at you. Instead, as he came closer, Violet had the strangest urge to step toward him.
Nothing about his appearance signaled safety. He wore a dull brown frock coat, a few years out-of-date. He was tall, but not too tall. Broad, but no more than an average laborer. His top hat of felted wool was nondescript, as was his dark, curly hair and the whiskers halfway down the sides of his cheeks. Deep lines evidenced exposure to the elements over many years, and he’d broken his nose at some point.
In any other setting, he would have slipped her notice, as though he were a shadow or a slight blur at the edge of her vision.
Except she happened to look into his eyes.
Not even when she’d had no idea why he would have laid hands on her, in the seconds it took between the time he grabbed her until the explosion—not even then—was she frightened.
Cradling her head in one large hand to protect her skull from the fall, he held their bodies flush. When he’d pulled his mouth away from her ear and locked his gaze on hers, Violet had understood. Although they were an unremarkable shade of brown, his eyes were what told Violet she would be safe, no matter what.
His glance swept her face, then traveled the length of her body, before he turned his head to survey the crowd. The lack of expression and preternatural calm belied the intense vigilance in the depths of his gaze.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Your loving sister,
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
It has come to our attention here at the Teatime Tattler that in a certain town in Maine, there is a widow in charge of the lighthouse. Perhaps the population there is so sparse that they must press ladies into occupations better suited to gentlemen?
We have investigated this untoward circumstance thoroughly, to see if there is some suitable explanation. Perhaps she holds domestic sway while a son does the more — muscular, dare we say, — duties? While there is a son, he is to attend medical school, leaving the widow to attend the lighthouse, her home, and take care of the raising of two younger girls.
Those in town report the widow has taken the duties of lighthouse keeper upon herself. We can only imagine her grief at the loss of her husband has rendered her incapable of understanding her feminine limitations. Why, much mechanical work must be done to keep the lens in order. And much courage is needed to keep the light burning during stormsy weather. Reading the list of instructions for a lighthouse keeper, it becomes clear that only a man is up to the task.
You may suggest that we, who do not live in this town, have no business reporting on their lighthouse keeper. But you forget that the lighthouse is all that prevents ships from foundering in the dark, in the fog, and in stormy seas, where Mother Nature wreaks her bad temper on unlucky sailors. Do we want our sailors coming near a lighthouse where a widow is in charge? We think not. It has been reported, but we can scarcely credit it ourselves, that the widow had attended the lighthouse well, in all her duties and the town wishes her to remain in place. If so, we have a suggestion for them: please find that widow a husband, forthwith.
The sight of her new home stole Betsy’s breath away. The lighthouse perched like an ancient warrior goddess atop the throne of rocks that acted as a bulwark against the relentless surf. The sound and scent and feel of the water permeated through everything, enfolding her in its powerful embrace. She breathed in, closed her eyes—then opened them and carefully picked her path up toward the entrance.
The front door was constructed of heavy, unpolished wood, as though it had been salvaged directly from the waves. Its austere beauty reminded her of the duke’s ancient manor home, stalwart and secure. The cracks and peels in the dirty white paint around the base of the massive structure became clear as she approached, but they only added to the picture of a home that would stand through a storm and show little damage for it.
She frowned slightly, looking around. Not that a woman’s hand wasn’t needed here, she was relieved to see. What scrubby grass had managed to pry its way through the stones was left untended. A child’s faded toy ball sat lonely in the center of the footpath, half-deflated. She would make her mark on her new home. Her husband would see that she was a worthwhile addition to his life.
Betsy paused. She gazed at the sun-bleached, wind-worn outer walls, at the two crumbling steps leading up to a bare stoop. The light above the doorway was clouded with grime. She glanced over her shoulder, but the driver was long gone. All she had left by way of companionship was the lighthouse and the sea. Where was her new family? Why had they not come outside to greet her yet.
She sighed, hoping that this lonely doorstep wasn’t the beginning of a huge mistake. Then she steeled herself once more, climbed the stairs, and knocked. It was cool in the shadow of the building; she felt a chill run through her. The crazy notion of running away, simply turning and bolting down the long ocean road, flashed through her mind—but right behind it was something Kate had said to her as they parted — the only impossibility is the possibility you fail to see.
The door began to open. In moments, it would be too late to flee.
Betsy squared her shoulders and plastered a smile on her face. Emile Laverdiere was a possibility she must see before she let fear chase her away.
A wraith of a man stood just inside the threshold, his pale eyes huge in the gaunt frame of his face. Betsy bit her tongue just in time to keep a gasp of surprise from escaping her lips. Though she had not chosen to follow the healer path her mother had taken, with her herbs and potions, she knew this man was gravely ill.
“Betsy Lawton?” he asked in a voice that matched the rest of him—thin, frail, reedy.
“Emile Laverdiere?” She looked into his eyes and saw that he had registered her dismay. No doubt he had been expecting it.
He smiled, and his cheekbones stood out like mountain ridges underneath his sunken eyes. There was humor there, despite the ravage of illness. “The one and only. We have been counting the minutes until your arrival. Though it may be impolite, we must ask what you think of your new home?”
Betsy somehow kept her smile in place as she took his offered hand and stepped into the lighthouse. Her soon-to-be-husband’s fingers were cold and bony against hers; she feared that if she squeezed at all, his hand would break. “You have a magnificent landscape at your command,” she answered honestly. He had said nothing of illness in his letters. Nor had those who had attested to his honest character and true desire to wed. Could it be recent? Or had she been duped?
His air of acute attention told her he waited for more. There was an air of patient acceptance in his waiting eyes, as if she could tell him the truth. That she did not want to wed a dying man. Did not know if she truly wanted to immure herself on an isolated jut of rock like Rapunzel in one of the duchess’s favorite fairytales.
But she had come all this way, she would not be her practical mother’s daughter to throw everything away without discovering all she could about this place. Her eyes roamed the interior of the lighthouse’s living space, and she found it plain but comfortable. The rounded room was cozy, softly lit, warmed by a small stone hearth. A spiral staircase formed its centerpiece, climbing up and up through the ceiling. Her eyes could not help following it upward into the unknown. She could hear a slight scraping sound, some rustling, a whispered exchange so low she could almost dismiss it as the sound of the wind.
She looked at her soon-to-be-husband. “What is up there?’ Her eyes swept back upward, toward the sound.
He seemed to approve of her question. “Take a look for yourself, if you like.” He gestured upward. “But forgive me for not accompanying you. I will only slow a young woman like you down. It takes me a while to climb up and down, thought I do it three times a day.”
Of course, Betsy thought. That was why he had not been down to greet her quickly. He had come from the top of the lighthouse. She felt a sympathetic ache in her own healthy joints at what he must endure to do his duty three times a day.
She looked upward, walked to the iron railing, and grasped the cold metal. She began to ascend. On the first landing, she paused at what sounded like sudden whispers, but she saw nothing, so she continued upward.
At the very top, she found her answer. The view that had seemed magnificent when she first arrived, had become almost godlike here, above the sea. She could see for miles. She could pick out the people in the village going about their business, but also the sea life in the ocean. Her breath caught. She leaned closer to look. A whale. She could see a whale in the distance, breaching repeatedly like a child at play.
She was careful not to touch any of the instruments that controlled the light. Emile would teach her to use them, she was certain. She had always been an apt pupil. Living in a duke’s household had exposed her to many lessons not always provided to a governess’s daughter. Living with the Fenster siblings had provided her with lessons that went beyond what was possible even in a duke’s household. She had seen one Fenster sister start a business making beautiful high fashion buttons with a cottager, another become an artist of repute, and one a card sharp that others admired. Kate, her best friend and youngest Fenster sister, had won prizes for the roses she created in her greenhouse.
The gleaming brass of the instruments called to her, but she did not touch, except for one, loving stroke. If she accepted the dying man downstairs as husband, this could be hers.
About the Book: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Bride
At long last, Book 8 in the Once Upon a Wedding series has arrived
Raised almost as a sister in a duke’s household, Betsy Lawton has let the duchess’ love of fairytale endings lead her to believe she has a chance at true love with a man far above her station.
Betsy Lawton, the governess’ daughter, dares to give her heart to an earl. When he crushes it under his heel to marry according to his family’s expectations, she turns her back on England and departs for America, where rank and station are no impediment to her dreams. Not that Betsy desires true love any longer. Instead she will be the mail order bride of a lighthouse keeper. It is the lighthouse she will love, she vows.
Matthew Thigpen, Earl of Battingston, had always regretted not fighting hard enough to marry the woman he loved, despite her lack of rank and family. But now he needs to find her. The woman he jilted is the only woman who will understand his predicament and keep his daughter safe.
Now a widow, Betsy must marry again to keep her job at her beloved lighthouse. Matthew offers her a devil’s bargain that will allow her to keep her job at the lighthouse she loves and keep his daughter safe as well. But is his bargain worth the lighthouse, if he breaks her heart all over again?
Kelly McClymer fell in love with Cinderella,
Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as a child. Her most prized possession
is her copy of The Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm. These are the
stories which gripped our ancestors as they huddled around the fire at
night, which taught countless children to persevere through hardship and
succeed against the odds. Her favorite fairytale remains “The Six
Swans” — where a young sister must not speak a word for six years in
order to save her brothers from their stepmother’s evil spell.