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Reunited at last, but can it last?

Can it be TRUE? Has the Viscount Deverall reunited with his long estranged wife? Lady Genevieve is well-known throughout the city for her selfless good work and perfect demeanor (if not for her fashion choices). The tall and graceful viscountess is an inspiration to young women, who are so flighty today, with their insistence on love-matches and their continued passion for French fabrics and styles (despite the fact that we are at WAR with France!). The charity which she operates, the Society for the Improvement of Friendless Children, has announced a large project which will house orphans who currently dwell in the city’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, beset with crime and sin! 

            Lord Cameron, Viscount Deverall, is well-known for very different reasons, not least of which is his devastatingly handsome appearance and keen sense of style (even Brumell has offered praise!). However, his most famous exploits are too shocking for this news column to put into words. In order to spare the delicate constitutions of ladies who may be reading, I will not even hint of them. 

            For those unaware of the rumors (though they are more than rumors! No fewer than thirty members of the ton have confirmed what they saw that night!), Deverall embarrassed the new viscountess soon after their wedding in a most scandalous way (a mere three weeks into their marriage! And who WAS the unknown woman also seen that night?). Following the public transgression of a lord who should know better, the couple has not been seen together for nearly three years, and Deverall lives exclusively in his rented rooms near St. James Street. But perhaps things have changed!

            Last week, the viscount moved back into the townhouse where his viscountess has been keeping residence and maintaining the honor of her family’s name during the many years her husband has avoided all the duties of his role and title to instead dally with gamblers and the wort sort of characters. What lord puts pleasure above duty to such degree? To date, there is no heir (nor spare) to Deverall’s title! 

            What mysterious event could have occurred to cause Lady Genevieve to allow Lord Deverall back into their home? What silver lies did the admittedly charming lord spin to convince his wife to tolerate his presence? 

            If this couple can reconcile, all things may be possible. Perhaps the authorities can even capture the Black Mask, the criminal mastermind who has stolen thousands of pounds of jewelry from all over the city (not to mention a few ladies’ hearts!) And to think, I once feared the end of the Season would mean London would grow sleepy and dull!

            Even in the countryside, the potential for news beckons. It has been reported that the family of Lucien Bonaparte has purchased a grand estate in Worcestershire, where they will take up residence (still well guarded by the British army, for the estate and the nearby town represent the limit of the Bonaparte’s parole.).

            Any one of these situations may blossom into a real story. Indeed, this summer may be a season of revelations! Dear readers, I will deliver any scrap of knowledge that comes my way. 

Yours faithfully, 

Verity Truetale

Book Excerpt:

(From A Most Relentless Gentleman)

            The Season was nearly over. Summer was about to begin her reign over the city, though the warm air had not yet brought out the terrible stench of the Thames that would emerge in a few weeks. Now it was actually pleasant, the air soft and the evening light of the sky filtering through newly leafy trees. 
            As he got closer to his destination, Cameron opened the letter again. Three years of nothing, and now this. In the solitude of the carriage, he allowed himself to speculate. Was it possible Genevieve was as sick of this separation as he was? Or was her family applying some pressure to live up to expectations?
            The carriage clattered to a halt in front of a familiar house. A golden glow seeped from all the lower windows. As he strode up the walk, he heard the faint sounds of laughter and talk. Gen was entertaining. He was vaguely annoyed at the idea of her happily toasting guests after she penned a letter implying that the sky was falling.
            He knocked once, also annoyed by that. A man shouldn’t have to knock on his own front door.
            The door opened. The mouth of the maid also opened as she stared at him in shock.
            Cameron stepped inside. “Where is my wife?”
            “In the dining room…my lord,” the maid squeaked out. “Shall I…shall I announce you?”
            “Who else is in the dining room?”
            “The whole board of the Society for the Improvement of Friendless Children, my lord. And their spouses.”
            Cameron curled his lip in disdain. “Just tell her I’m waiting in her study.”
            The maid nodded, finally regaining her composure. “Yes, my lord.”
            Cameron showed himself into the study. He looked at the expansive walnut desk, the surface covered with documents and ledgers. On the wall hung several framed charcoal drawings of no artistic merit. Children could have done better, he thought, before realizing that children probably were the artists and these were gifts to their greatest patron. 
            He leaned toward one, a crude rendering of Genevieve herself. Despite the rough medium and the scant talent of the creator, something of Genevieve was in that drawing. The remarkable height, the dark hair, the direct gaze of the avenging angel.
            “What are you doing here?”
            At the sound of the voice, Cameron turned to the door, where the real Genevieve stood. The drawing faded into nothing. There she was. Tall, slender, with the dark hair curled and pinned atop her head with only a silk ribbon as an adornment—she needed no other. He took in the rest of her in a glance, and then had to do more than glance, because her gown demanded it. The neckline dipped enticingly low, treating him to an expanse of soft skin that no one but him should ever see. 
            And yet. Here she was, evidently thinking she looked perfectly acceptable to appear before the gaze of the entire board of the Society for the Improvement of Friendless Breasts.
            “I asked you a question, my lord.” Genevieve crossed her arms. He saw her left hand as she wrapped it around her elbow. No ring. He added another item to the list of things that were annoying him, along with the fact that his breeches were suddenly a little too tight.
            Cameron had to say something. 
            “Genevieve.”
            He probably should have said something wittier than that. 
            She narrowed her eyes. “Why. Are. You. Here?”

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Auckland

The Lords and Ton of New Zealand… and the Scumbags… or are they?

“Mama, why must we,” Emma twitched at her crinoline with a scowl in an attempt to keep it clear of the mud and manure in the middle of the main thoroughfare, “wear the height of London fashion in this God-forsak—”

“Emma!” Mrs.Wyndham-Smyth hissed. “Ladies do not use that sort of language.” She flicked glances over both shoulders, her face paling.

Her daughter continued like she hadn’t heard her. “I thought we were moving to the wilderness when we came all the way to New Zealand and we’re still stuck in this filthy town. At least if we went to the provinces we could have some fun and not dress like trumped-up—”

“That really is enough, young lady.”

Auckland
from http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/dbtw-wpd/heritageimages/index.htm

Emma took a deep breath to steady herself before she went on. “Tūī says we wear too much clothing. I agree. It’s steaming hot in these woolen dresses. We should dress like—”

“Heathens!” her mother declared. “You pay no mind to what the servants say. They are servants and we are their masters.”

She stared at her mother. “Tūī is my friend. She works for us, even though New Zealand is their land. The Māori’s land. I’m not sure why you treat them with the disdain you and so many others do.”

“It’s just the way it is.” Her mother tried to look indignant, but she seemed to be losing ground and stole more looks around her. As if her friends might be nearby.

“Anyway, I want to go live in the provinces. Coromandel Town seems a nice place.”

Driving Creek, Coromandel

“The mines?” Mrs. Wyndham-Smyth’s eyes goggled and she turned a shade whiter. “Wherever did you hear that claptrap?” Her knuckles whitened on her shopping basket and she walked faster toward the market.

“From that nice Prussian newspaperman, ummm…”

“You mustn’t say ummm, my—”

Emma went on. “That Mr. von Tempsky whom Papa invited to supper last month.”

Her mother’s lips tightened. “He’s not a newspaperman any more. He’s leading our colonial troops into the bush… against the Māori. To ensure the successful invasion of the Waikato.”

von Tempsky

“But…” Emma froze, then finally slapped her mouth shut a full half minute later. “That can’t be true.”

“True it is,” the woman said, turning back toward her. “And don’t let your father hear you say that. He’s the one who secured the commission for ‘The Prussian’ to help our army.”

“But we can’t…” Emma whispered. “It’s their land. They have all the land south of the—”

“Not any more.” Her mother gritted her teeth. “Seems the land in the Waikato has already been offered to the Australians and mercenaries who are coming to help fight.”

“Clear the way, prisoner coming through!” shouted a burly man. It was the jailor, bundling along a tall, dark man who would’ve been as handsome as Mr. von Tempsky if only he wasn’t so dirty and wearing manacles.

“Do you know who that is?” Emma whispered to her mother.

“It must be that Spaniard—Xavier Argolli or something, I think they said. The constable just caught him. He’s been running free after murdering his ship’s captain on the voyage to New Zealand.” She sniffed. “Imagine that.”

The prisoner looked up then and his eyes met Emma’s. He shook his head and just had time to whisper something before his captor dragged him past.

Fort Britomart, Auckland

Find von Tempsky,” had been his words.

Emma stared after the prisoner. He must’ve heard her mention the Prussian’s name. “Excuse me, Mama, I’m not feeling well,” she said as she spun on her heel and raced for home, already planning what to pack in her saddlebags. She’d find him.

scottish

Excerpt from A Sea of Green Unfolding:

December 1863, Auckland

Crowned by a spired white church, a high, rocky headland jutted out of the coastline to their port side. The captain of the whaler steered wide of the breakwater extending from the point and headed his ship into the next big bay.

“Auckland,” the captain said, nodding his head at the sprawling city behind the ships filling the inlet and docked at the wharves.

Upon the headland ranged several cannon and many one- and two-storied stone buildings. A Union Jack, flying from a flagpole, presided over the site.

“Complete with fort?” Xavier said.

“Fort Britomart, on the point of the same name.” Thompson nodded at the cluster of buildings. “Built on an old site.”

“Big ditches around the outsides and all,” Xavier said, staring up at them as they passed.

“They’d be the original Māori trenches,” the captain said, never taking his eyes from the rocks to their port side. “We’ll dock at Queen’s Wharf,” he added.

The city of Auckland spread out before them, rising up the gradual slope beyond the bay. The fort was sizable, but the church dominated the skyline behind Point Britomart. Warehouses and stores lined the road running along the water’s edge and houses covered the hills in the background.

“That’s a bit grand for this little place,” Xavier said, pointing to the church.

“Eh? Oh, that’s St. Paul’s Anglican. It was the first one here. It’s been there for twenty years, already. And up there,” he jutted his chin up the hill a little further, “is St. Patrick’s. Take your pick. They’re both grand.”

“I think I’ll find Aleksandra before I start looking around at churches,” Xavier said, with a grin.

The sounds and smells of port hit him when they edged up to the wharf and threw out their hawsers to the waiting men. As soon as the boat was moored, Xavier grasped the hand of the captain and thanked him profusely, then climbed down the rope ladder to the dock.

“Von Tempsky shouldn’t be too hard to find,” the captain called down after him. “Just ask at Fort Britomart. They’ll know where to find him.”

“Thanks again,” Xavier said, waving, as he headed for the point.

The rough scoria of the road surface grated on the soles of his boots as he passed the church. With its tall spire and elegant lines, it was truly beautiful. Certainly a finer building than he’d expected to find here. Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a backwater, after all.

His legs were proving a bit unsteady from his time at sea, so he stretched them out as he walked, nodding to passers-by, many of whom turned their faces away as he neared them. He grinned, despite himself. He must smell like a fiend after being on ship for three months, and the last of that on a whaler. Once he set the wheels in motion to find von Tempsky and Aleksandra, he’d get a room and a bath. He could almost feel the warm water of a scented bath enveloping him.

“Hold there,” the guard at the entrance to the fort challenged.

He held up his hands and stood still, coming out of his daydream.

“Hello,” Xavier said. “De veras, of course.”

“State your name and business,” he barked.

“Xavier Argüello, looking for Captain Gustavus von Tempsky. I understand he may be near Drury?”

Several men looked up at his comment, brows narrowed.

“Right this way,” the guard said, giving him a sideways glance, his hand on his sword hilt.

The other men melted away, then the guard stood aside for him to precede him into a stone building.

The door slammed behind him and metal scraped upon metal.

Xavier turned, but the guard was nowhere to be seen.

He surveyed the waiting room. A five by five room, with only a wooden bench against one wall and a high, barred window.

Some welcome.

If they were trying to discourage visitors, they were doing a good job. He knocked on the door. A shiver ran up his spine when no one replied. He tried to lift the latch, but it wouldn’t budge. Even when he shook it. “Hey, you’ve locked me in! Guard!”

Only silence, then retreating footsteps on the boardwalk outside the door.

It finally clicked.

This was a gaol cell. But why? Had von Tempsky disgraced himself?

Xavier sat down to wait patiently, but eventually he rose to prowl from one wall to another. He pulled the bench before the grilled window, but it didn’t give him enough height to see out, so he put it back and continued to walk the walls.

There must be some mistake.

scottish

A Sea of Green Unfolding

When you’ve already lost everything, the only place left to go is up…

Tragedy strikes in Aleksandra and Xavier’s newly-found paradise on their Californio Rancho de las Pulgas and newspaperman Gustavus von Tempsky invites them on a journey to a new life in New Zealand—where everyone lives together in peace.

Unfortunately, change is in the wind.

When they reach Aotearoa, they disembark into a turbulent wilderness—where the wars between the European settlers and the local Māori have only just begun—and von Tempsky is leading the colonial troops into the bush.

Buy Links:

Amazon (All) ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ 24 Symbols ~ Playster

About the Author

lizzi tremayne image

Lizzi grew up riding wild in the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods, became an equine veterinarian at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and practiced in the Gold and Pony Express Country of California before emigrating to New Zealand.

Busy raising two boys, farming, and running her own equine veterinary practice, she never thought she’d sit down long enough to write more than an article. A serious injury, however, changed all that, and planted her in one place long enough to jump-start her new career as an author!

With Lizzi’s debut historical romance, A Long Trail Rolling, she was: Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings; Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award for the best unpublished full manuscript; Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel and third in the 2015 RWNZ Koru Long Novel section; and Finalist, 2015 Best Indie Book Award. She’s working on her eighth story!

When she’s not writing, she’s swinging a rapier or shooting a bow in medieval garb, riding or driving a carriage, playing in the garden on her hobby farm, singing, cooking, practicing as an equine veterinarian or teaching high school science. She is multiply published and awarded in special interest magazines and veterinary periodicals.

Lizzi loves the friendships she’s developed with the rest of the Belles. She adores how they’re so progressive, organized, and fun. Best of all, they are all willing to put themselves out there, together, to achieve more, create more, than would be possible going it alone.

Lizzi loves to connect with her readers. How would you like to connect?

Read more about Lizzi’s books

A Traitress In the Tower?

There have numerous reports of strange goings on in the capital yesterday, after a flotilla of Royal Navy gunships sailed unexpectedly down the Thames in broad daylight. Despite petitioning the Admiralty for an explanation for this strange phenomenon during a time of peace, this reporter has been unsuccessful in procuring an answer from anyone in authority. In fact, the government has remained very tight-lipped on the matter, stating only that the ships involved were on a mission of the utmost secrecy regarding a matter of national security!

But fear not for your safety, dear reader! These shores are not under imminent threat of invasion nor are our brave sailors preparing for yet another war. Our sources inside the hallowed halls of Whitehall tell us the naval escort was merely a precautionary measure to ensure one of England’s most wanted criminals was brought to town to face justice. The excessive security was necessary because the suspect has managed to escape the clutches of the authorities not once- but twice- since their arrest on the continent last week.

Witnesses also saw a prisoner being taken into custody. But whoever this nefarious scoundrel is, they have been deemed too dangerous for Newgate! They were taken to the Tower of London no less, through the infamous Traitor’s Gate! And if that detail isn’t scandalous enough, it also appears this fearsome traitor is a woman!


We wait with bated breath to hear the lady’s identity and the charges she has been held on. All we can say, with any certainty, is that whoever she is, what ever she has done, our sources say she will hang for her crimes. Until then, an additional battalion of Royal Marines and the King’s finest agents have been drafted in to guard her. Even the Royal Navy gunships remain anchored next to the fortress to keep the wench inside…

The Uncompromising Lord Flint

Imprisoned by her past– set free by her enemy!

Charged with high treason, Lady Jessamine Fane is under the watchful eye of icily calm Lord Peter Flint. It’s a task this spy won’t be swayed from, no matter how alluring his prisoner! Only it’s not long before Flint realises that tenacious Jess hides a lifetime of pain. With so much at stake, can he afford to take a chance on their powerful attraction?

Buy the book  http://viewbook.at/kingselite2

About the Author

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

Website https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/

Or follow her daily witterings and the diary of her Labrador Trevor on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/

Fare Thee Well, Nicole

Mr. Clemens regrets to inform the reading public that Nicole Zoltack, busy as she is with four children and her prolific writing, has regretfully resigned from the Bluestocking Belles, the members of which will sorely mourn their loss, although they expect she will remain a regular attendee at their events.

Take heart! As the author focuses on her writing, her work will continue to flourish. The lady’s works are broad and include historical romances, epic fantasy romances, paranormal romances, and urban fantasy (a genre this editor does not understand but gathers is highly successful in some times and places). Her books interest readers of all ages. We are informed from trustworthy sources that her supporters might even encounter her at a Renaissance fair dressed in period garb. Do report any such sightings to our newsroom.

Your Teatime Tattler staff wishes her well.


Will you be my Valentine?

Maudy Braxton sidled into the ballroom behind Miss Waterson, the subscription secretary, and two of the senior maids. She had been maid-of-all-work at the Upper Assembly Rooms in Bath for all of three days, and she had already learnt not to attract the attention of Mr. Fowler, the manager.

He was there up the front, smarmy toad, but so was another man – a fine-looking gentleman, elegantly dressed in pantaloons and neatly fitted jacket, with an embroidered waistcoat that she regarded with the eye of a connoisseur.

Such fine work had been her ambition when she worked for Mrs Primm. She was employed to sweep the floors under the cutting tables and to fetch and carry the threads and fabric needed by the artists Mrs Primm employed in her workroom. She had been promised lessons in creating the blossoms and scrolls that decorated the skirts of the gowns intended for fashionable ladies. Borders and ornate waistcoats such as this – the work of those at the top of the trade – had been a distant dream.

She nudged Annie, the maid who had been so kind at showing her how things were done here, and whispered, “who is that with Mr Fowler?”

“That’s Mr King himself; that’s who that is.”

The Master of Ceremonies? What a magnificent gentleman. And what did he require of all the staff of the upper assembly rooms?

“Quiet, there.” Mr Randal, the senior footman, spoke sternly but with a small smile playing in the corners of his lips. Mr Randall was ever so kind. Tall and handsome too, though handsome is as handsome does, Granny always said. Granny would have approved of Mr Randal.

Mr King cleared his throat. “You may be wondering why Mr Fowler asked you all together. I wanted to tell you myself that the committee has approved a Valentine’s Day ball. This will be held on a Tuesday night, not one of our usual assembly nights, but I am sure you will all work with me to make it a success.

“I realise it will involve extra work both in the preparation and on the night itself. I have authorised Mr Fowler to meet the costs of employing you for the extra hours required. I intend this to be an event to remember; the highlight of the 1815 Bath Season. Now, does anyone have questions?”

Miss Waterson raised her hand. “Mr King, will this event be covered by the usual subscription, or will it require a separate ticket?”

“An excellent question.” Mr King inclined his head to the lady, recognising her superior status to most of the Upper Room’s other servants. “The ladies and gentlemen of Bath will purchase tickets to this Ball. I have suggested to Mr Fowler that, in addition to advertisements in the Bath Chronicle and notices in the pump rooms and other places where Society gathers, we send out personal invitations to each of our members and to other prominent residents. I imagine I can leave this in your capable hands, Miss Waterson.”

After several other questions, the servants were dismissed and scattered to their work, most of them fervently discussing the coming event.

“I did not expect all this extra work,” Miss Waterson was complaining to Mr Fowler. “My sister has been begging me to give up this work and come and be her companion.”

“Please, Miss Waterson,” Mr Fowler said. They turned the corner and Maudy heard no more.

Maudy left with Annie, but they separated off, Annie to tidy the card room, and Maudy to fetch a bucket and mop from the supply cupboard behind the anti-chamber. The floor in the card room awaited her attention.

She found the buckets easily enough, but as she looked around for the mops, Mr Fowler entered the covered, closing the door behind him.

“How are you enjoying working here?” Mr Fowler asked, prowling closer.

Maudy backed up a step, which was as far as she could go. “Good, thank you, sir.” Her voice trembled. She clutched the bucket more tightly, and wondered how long her employment would last if she hit Mr Fowler with it. Her job with Mrs Primm had not survived her resistance to a man who mistook her for a seamstress, and mistook seamstresses for loose women.

As if he could read her thoughts, Mr Fowler purred, “I hear your last job was as a seamstress. Perhaps you’d like to show me a fine — uh herm — seam?”

“No, sir,” Maudy stammered, “I was Mrs Primm’s maid. I am a good girl, sir.”

Mr Fowler put out a hand to fondle her cheek just as the door opened behind him. He dropped his hand. Harold Randal took in the scene in a single glance.

“Is that door swinging was shut again? We should get the carpenter to look at it, sir.” He held out a hand for Maudy. “Come along, girl. That card room won’t clean itself.”

Maudy followed him gratefully, wondering how to explain the scene he had witnessed. She didn’t need to. As soon as they were out of earshot of Mr Fowler, Mr Randal said, “I should have warned you, Miss Braxton. I tell all the girls. Always work in pairs. Never be alone with Mr Fowler.”

Annie was waiting in the card room, already armed with bucket and mop. Mr Randal left them to their work and the friendly conversation that helped pass the time. “If you was a lady,” Annie said after a while, “which gentleman would you choose to dance with at the Valentine’s Day Ball?”

Maudy said she didn’t know any gentleman. Mrs Primm had said the man who tried to assault her was no gentleman. Annie knew several, having taken their cloaks and coats on many an occasion here at the assembly rooms. She was happy to chatter on, comparing their features and deficits.

Maudy listened with half an ear. In her own mind, she was dressed in one of Mrs Primm’s finest ball gowns, and was dancing in the arms of a gentleman who bore a stunning resemblance to Mr Harold Randal.

Join the Bluestocking Belles for five original stories set at and around the Valentine’s Day Ball. On preorder now, and published 9 February.

For blurb (including the individual blurbs for each story) and buy links, see our project page.

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