The Teatime Tattler prides itself on bringing you the latest news. This fascinating conversation about an old scandal resurfacing was overheard by our intrepid reporter.
“It was all her fault.” With a superior smile, Lady Samantha Ridgewater lifted a spoonful of raspberry sorbet and popped it into her mouth.
“No, really?” queried her companion, this season’s toast, Miss Cecile Ambrose. “Are you sure?” The fair Miss Ambrose, twirled her spoon in the vanilla ice she’d ordered.
“As certain as I am that I look better in strong colors, like this sorbet, than in the pastels we young ladies are cursed to wear.”
“That much is
certainly true. Pastels do your complexion no favors. You should have your maid
trim all your outfits in ribbons of dark shades so you still have a strong
color near your face.”
splendid idea. I shall give that a try the moment we get home.”
tell me how it is that Lady Mary Percival Cummins is at fault for the death of
“No one will
know, and I did tell you how to solve your wardrobe problem.”
“You are a
true friend, Cecile. It really is a cautionary tale from which we can all learn
isn’t gossip at all. You’re passing on wisdom to a friend.”
when Lady Mary had her come out three years ago.”
“I was still
in the schoolroom, but my sister Mavis was out and she told me everything. I
don’t recall any mention of Lady Mary or a scandal.”
because Lady Mary, who was bold as brass, never got to London. She disgraced
herself and her family before leaving that backwater where she grew up.”
“She must have done something terrible.”
Lady Samantha leaned forward, “She was found kissing a stable lad shortly after her parents announced her engagement to a local gentleman.”
“Who was the gentleman, and how did this cause her parents deaths?”
“I don’t recall who the man was.” Lady Samantha dismissed him with the wave of a hand. “But her father shot himself the next day.”
“Why in the world would he do that? The shame was his daughter’s.”
“It seems that Lady Mary’s wedding would save the family fortunes which her papa had lost through bad investments. Her mother went into a decline and died a few months later.”
for the death of Lord and Lady Cummins, but their daughter got everything she
deserved. Imagine risking your entire family’s well being for a kiss from some
smelly stable lad.”
the worst of it.”
could she have done?”
father passed, his cousin inherited. The new Lord Cummins refused to have such
a brazen wench in his home. He cut her hair and threatened to have her whipped
at the carts tail if she did not leave. Lady Mary was put out to the road like
so much rubbish with only the clothes on her back and not a pence to her name.”
“This was after
her parents passed?”
mother was ill, but still living. I understand the new Lord Cummins allowed the
woman to remain at the dower house, but because of her daughter’s reputation he
refused to see the mother or speak to her.”
“What happened to Lady Mary?”
knows. At the time speculation had it that she ran off to the former colonies
with the stable lad. Other rumors said she’d gone to Scotland and become a
whore. I only know that she’s never shown her face in London.”
“She wouldn’t dare.”
One would not thinks so, but a friend of a friend says he saw her at the kitchen door of Haverford House.
The above conversation will introduce you to the heroine of my next novella with the Bluestocking Belles. As yet, I have no title for the story, and I am just beginning to discover exactly who Lady Mary Percival Cummins is. By next month, I should know much more about her and the eventual love of her life, Major Lord Arthur Trevor PenRhydderch. Until then, keep reading.
“I did well for the Teatime Tattler when I employed Mademoiselle F.,” Sam Clemens, editor of that organ of gossip and scandal, said to himself as he read the latest missive from that lady.
Sam, who was the only person in London–perhaps the world–who knew the lady’s identity (and she was, in point of fact, a lady, the sister of an earl), counted her occasional letters as pure gold. The word from the horse’s mouth, they were, if ‘the horse’ was a reference to those at the pinnacle of London Society. Only through ‘Madamoiselle’ could he hope to hear exactly what they did and said, not from a distance, but through the eyes of one of their own.
Take today’s report. The Bluestocking Belles, a coterie of lady authors, were putting on a party. Something of a literary salon, from what he could tell, but between them, they represented some of the most scandalous gentlemen and ladies every to grace the pages of the Teatime Tattler. Decent types as well, but one couldn’t have everything.
Perhaps the Marquess of Dansbury would attend. His charm would make things interesting. Or Captain Fred Wheatly, a scoundrel of the most charming sort. Daniel Ridgeway was another possibility. Rumor said he was a spy. Would the party welcome such a one as the Duchess of Stonegreave? Mlle F. insisted that all were invited. If the assembly included Lady Miranda de Courtenay, sparks were certain to fly.
A Facebook party. What on earth was a Facebook party? Sam shrugged. He’d let readers work that out for themselves. Of more importance was the prize. He did not know what a kindle was, but it seemed that the Bluestocking Belles were gifting one lucky attendee with a library! Now that was a princely — or princessly– prize.
Join the Bluestocking Belles and a dozen of other great authors of historical romance for a celebration of summer reading.
Enjoy fun, games, new releases, and an announcement or two from wherever you happen to be. The party access is through your own electronic device and Facebook. Go check out the event now, and be there on Saturday, 13 July 2019 (US time) to be able to enter for the Grand Prize. The party is from 13:40-21:00 EDT.
The party is available around the world, so check a time conversion chart for your local time.
Did we say prize? We’re giving away a Kindle Fire loaded with first in series books by every one of the Belles. We will post the opportunity to enter in the form of a poll throughout the event on July 13. Attend and respond to enter.
What’s the poll about, did you say? Now that’s the surprise!
“My dear, the most delicious scandal from Cape Town,” said Lady Laura Hardwick, picking up the missive from her brother.
Her dearest friend, Miss Delilah Sutton, laughed. “How can that be, Laura? One doesn’t know anybody in such a forsaken place.”
Laura raised both brows. “Lieutenant Lord Cecil Hardwick, the third son of the Marquess of Trentwater, is not precisely a nobody,” she scolded.
Delilah made a quick save. “I hardly think your brother is writing scandal about himself, and you have told me yourself that no-one else of consequence is posted there. That is a scandal, if you like, that a man like your brother is not given his own ship, and a more suitable posting.”
Laura’s eyebrows returned to their normal position and she picked up the letter. “Quite so. But listen to this.” She looked up again to meet her friend’s eyes. “The man in question is the fourth son of the fourth son of an earl, so nobody of consequence, but Delilah, we know the lady!”
Delilah leaned forward with all the enthusiasm Laura could desire, as Laura skimmed through the letter, turning from one sheet to another.
“Hope you are well. Off to sea tomorrow. Not much to amuse. Ah. Here we are.” She grinned at Delilah, drawing out the moment. “Are you listening?”
“I’ve told you the youngest Redepenning is a great favourite here. One presumes it is through his parents’ influence he has already made captain. His mother’s father was an admiral, you know, though not one of our kind of people. His own father is a crony of Prinny’s, of course. Every one knows he made Brigadier-General, yes, and picked up his barony, by lifting elbows with Wales.“
Laura skipped a few more lines. “The next bit is about how Father doesn’t help him. Ah. Here’s what I was looking for.”
“Redepenning lives with a Batavian native woman whom he bought off his old Captain years ago when they were both in the East. Word is she’s dying, so when another woman moved in a few weeks ago, we all thought he was making a start on training up his replacement mistress.”
“No,” Delilah said, the ‘o’ on a long drawn descending note.
Laura grinned again, and went on reading. “It was much more scandalous than that. The woman is actually his wife, a lady by the name of Euronyme Redepenning. Do you know her?“
“We do!” Delilah exclaimed. “We’ve both met her, Laura.”
“Yes, I know. Now shush. He has more to say, and you won’t believe it.” Laura turned back to the letter.
“Apparently, and I heard this from Mrs Redepenning myself, so you need have no doubt it is true, Redepenning’s wife has come all the way to Cape Town to nurse his dying mistress, and adopt his little yellow bastards. What do you think of that?“
“I cannot believe it,” Delilah gasped. “She will be shunned. The little children will be outcasts.”
Laura shrugged. “I daresay the Redepennings think they can make Society dance to their tune.” Her eyes gleamed and she bared her teeth. “What a pity if poor Mrs Redepenning returns to London to find that everyone already knows what she has done, and their minds are already made up.”
Delilah was alarmed. “Oh, Laura, do be careful. She is a favourite of the Duchess of Haverford.”
Laura glared at her friend. “Are you going to help me? Or not?”
Book 4 in The Golden Redepennings series
She wants to negotiate a comfortable marriage; he wants
her in his bed
“… oaths and
anchors equally will drag: naught else abides on fickle earth but unkept promises of
Naval captain Jules
Redepenning has spent his adult life away from England, and at war. He rarely
thinks of the bride he married for her own protection, and if he does, he
remembers the child he left after their wedding seven years ago. He doesn’t
expect to find her in his Cape Town home, a woman grown and a lovely one, too.
Mia Redepenning sails to
Cape Town to nurse her husband’s dying mistress and adopt his children. She
hopes to negotiate a comfortable married life with the man while she’s there. Falling
in love is not on her to-do list.
Before they can do more
than glimpse a possible future together, their duties force them apart. At home
in England, Mia must fight for the safety of Jules’s children. Imprisoned in
France, Jules must battle for his self-respect and his life.
Only by vanquishing
their foes can they start to make their dreams come true.
His little wife had grown.
Not ‘up’ exactly. She was still a tiny creature, her head no higher than his
chest, but no-one would take her for a schoolgirl now! Was it the modern
fashions that gave her curves he’d not seen seven years ago—not a lush
endowment but decidedly female?
Annoyed with her though he
was, he could not deny that his body responded to hers, as if something
primitive within him rejoiced in the link formed by their long-ago wedding and
yearned to set seal to his claim. A physical lust. That was all. It could be
But the change in her was
not only physical. She had been an endearing mix of child and adult. Her
isolated life as the only child of a reclusive scholar had given her a wisdom
and maturity beyond her years and the innocence of a much younger girl. Now she
was a woman. Confident and in charge.
Which was extremely irritating,
since she had placed herself in charge of his house! As he allowed his two
daughters to drag him back upstairs and show him and Dan around their domain,
he had to concede she was competent. No. More than competent.
He couldn’t complain about
the changes in the nursery—new paint, shelves instead of trunks for books and
toys, new furniture—sturdy painted furniture that would withstand much more
activity than the rejects from the rest of the house that had been there
“Sit in Ibu Mia’s chair, Papa,”
Marsha scoffed. “Not Ibu
Mia’s. Papa is too big. Sit in Hannah’s chair, Papa.”
“Is Hannah looking after
you while she is visiting?” Jules was not above finding out his wife’s
intentions from his children, if he could.
“Hannah is not visiting.
Hannah is our new nurse,” Ada explained. She was dragging his duffel bag from
where Dan had dropped it by the door.
Marsha offered her morsel
of information. “Hannah used to be nurse to our cousin Daisy, but Daisy has a
governess now, so Hannah came to be our nurse.”
“And to look after Ibu
Mia,” Ada corrected. “Hannah said Lord Henry said Ibu Mia could not travel all
this way on her own. Is Lord Henry our grandfather, Papa? Hannah says he is.”
“Yes, sweetheart,” Jules
confirmed. “Lord Henry is my father, so your grandfather.” Father had approved
this trip, had he? He had never been happy about Jules’s irregular living
arrangements, Jules was sure of that, though his letters were devoid of any
criticism. Susan, Jules’s sister, was more direct in her letters, castigating
him for leaving his wife for so long. They probably sent Mia to bring Jules to
But he wouldn’t be leashed
by her or anyone else, either.
He pulled the first object
from his duffel: a mancala board in carved wood, with stones in bright colours
to play the game.
“How pretty!” Ada marvelled.
“Look, Marsha. Look at the carvings. What does it do, Papa? Who is it for?”
“This is to share,” Jules
warned, “and Dan will teach you how to play the game.”
Next, he pulled out a
skipping rope each. One of the men on the Advantage had made the brightly
painted wooden handles, sized for small hands, and the ropes fed through a hole
in the butt of the handle, so they could be lengthened or shortened to suit the
height of the user.
The girls fell on them and
wanted to try them out immediately, but settled quickly when he suggested that
Hannah would expect them to skip outside, and he had not yet emptied the
Two of the maids carried
in trays with glasses of milk for the children, plates of scones, bowls of jam,
and a pot of coffee for Jules. He waved them to the table while he distributed
the strings of beads he’d purchased in the market at Toamasina.
“May I serve you a scone,
Papa?” Marsha asked.
“I shall pour Papa’s
coffee,” Dan insisted. “I know how he takes it.”
Ada’s face fell, and
Marsha must have noticed, because she gave the prepared plate to her sister. “You
shall take this to Papa, because you helped make them, too,” she said. Jules’s
smile must have said how proud he was, for his shy daughter blushed while the
bold one climbed on his knee and instructed him on the fine art of
The girls set aside the
book each he gave them for reading later, but when the bundle of silk scarves
and the handful of pretty combs for their hair emptied the duffel, they forgot
about their milk and scones for the pleasures of dressing one another’s hair,
and parading the results in front of Dan and Jules.
Jules kept looking to the
door, but Mia stayed away. He was disappointed, and annoyed with himself for
the emotion. She had charmed his mistress, his daughters, and his servants; was
well on her way to charming his son. She would not find him such an easy
conquest. Though, to be fair, most of what he’d had against her had evaporated.
Now he’d had time to calm
down, he could not object to Mia moving Kirana from the room next to his own,
with only one small window, to the top floor at the far end of the wing, with
windows on all three sides, though he wouldn’t have called the room over hot.
It was, after all, still winter. Though the Cape Town winters were very mild by
English standards, Kirana was used to the heat of Ceylon and India.
Still, the difference in
temperature and the freshness of the air spoke for itself, and Kirana’s praise
for Mia was genuine.
The whole house had the
Mia touch. The surfaces gleamed. Every corner was scrubbed and clean. The
windows sparkled. Since Raquib and Jwala had returned to India, and Kirana’s
illness left her without the strength to supervise the servants, he’d had to
ignore cobwebs and dust in remote corners, because it upset Kirana when he
spent the first few days of every leave chasing the servants to do their work.
Even if Mia was
overstepping her mark by taking over the house he kept for his mistress—whoever
heard of a wife doing such a thing? —he couldn’t deny the results were
But she had still
dismissed a pregnant maid to fend for herself in a port town where men
outnumbered women four to one.
And she was still here
when she ought to be in England.
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
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
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
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
About the Book
A woman who disdains love collides with a man who lives for passion.
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.
Scientist and the other books in the Restitution League series are now
available in Kindle Unlimited.
daylight, Ada’s laboratory was nothing short of spectacular.
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.
more so as he suspected the effect was completely accidental.
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.
perfume aside, the woman’s obstinance was beginning to grate. Badly.
rubbed a hand over his eyes. “I can’t keep your device safe if you don’t tell
me where it is.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
melting, softening, shivering, or sighing, she jerked away as if he reeked like
all you like.” She measured chloride into the beakers. “You won’t find it.”
ground his teeth. Dear God, he’d seen granite cliffs less stubborn. If charm
had no effect, intimidation might.
the chloride from her hand and set it on the bench.
fiercely. “I beg your pardon?”
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.
Letter posted from Cheltenham, England, to Morristown, New Jersey, 1832 leaked to The Teatime Tattler
My darling Earnestine,
We arrived in Bristol Wednesday, two days behind schedule,
much the worse for weather, and happy to be back on solid ground. My darling Howard’s
brother sent a carriage to convey us from the harbor, and we couldn’t leave
swiftly enough for my nerves I tell you. If England has a less salubrious port
than this one, I don’t want to encounter it. Nefarious appearing individuals
lurked along the docks and at every corner where seedy and disreputable
establishments abounded. One has heard frightening stories of civil unrest
about the place as well, but we saw nothing of that sort. Once quit of the
place, England’s green hills unfolded in front of us and I was able to put my
The voyage proved as tedious as I anticipated. Howard
devoted himself to cards in the common room leaving my Ellie and I to our own
devices. Not far into the journey a new acquaintance alleviated our boredom—thank
Mrs. Gordon Melrose, the sister-in-law of an actual baronet,
regaled us with tales of society and the sites of London, whetting our appetite
for the capital I can tell you. She also enlightened us about one of our more
mysterious fellow passengers.
Ellie pointed the man out almost as soon as we embarked from
New York. The girl does have an eye for a fine specimen of manhood! Tall and
lean with thick auburn hair, he had the air of one of those frontier types
young girls find so romantic, yet he dressed like a gentleman. Oddly, he
carried a three-legged cat. We rarely saw him without the beast. When Howard
complained to the captain about the presence of a feline, he was told that
having a predator to keep vermin from the hold was in fact good luck. Ellie
pronounced it adorable, though I could not see how a deformed cat could hunt.
In any case our mystery man proved to have more to his
credit than good looks. Mr. Melrose informed us that Randolph Wheatly—the man’s
name so she said—possesses important connections. His sister, the Countess of
Chadbourn holds sway in the highest reaches of society, and is a friend of two
Duchesses no less. Think of it Earnestine, a countess! (That is the wife of an
earl in case you aren’t as fully
informed as we are).
I thought it prudent to encourage Ellie’s interest in the man, but the girl was profoundly disappointed by his curt refusal of any social overtures. Quite reclusive, he moped in solitude and scowled at all who approached, as if his troubles weighed him down. Ellie of course found his brooding good looks irresistibly attractive, poor girl. When we docked he moved rapidly off the ship and disappeared into the unsavory streets of Bristol, as though the horrid place had been his final destination, something I cannot believe.
Oh well. Perhaps we will encounter him in London. Perhaps
he’ll introduce us to his sister, the countess. Think of it Earnestine!
Your loving sister,
About the Book
Rand has good reason to brood on the voyage and to hurray away. He has a people to rescue, and family conflict to face.
Two hearts betrayed by love…
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 finds 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, yet it isn’t long before Meggy and the children start breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. His heart isn’t as hard as he thought. 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. 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.
Award winning author of historical romance usually set in the Regency and Victorian eras, Caroline Warfield reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the world. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.