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He jilted her! How can she receive him?

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(Overheard at Lady P’s Brighton Ball last night! Sent by one of our discreet correspondents!)

My dear Lady P., I heard the most ridiculous news a few hours ago. About one of those Irish girls that Lady W. chaperones here this Season. 

I know, I heard, Lady L! The second of the triplets married in haste yesterday. To that dashing Marquess, too. What brass! I do sigh in exasperation. What else can you tell me to make my daughter’s chances this Season wan so disastrously?

Well, come closer. Ahem! At the wedding?


Who should appear but the very fellow, Lord G, who jilted the third Devereaux girl two years ago!

No! Outrageous. Why, I would never let such a creature darken my doorstep? Why would Lady W. allow him inside?

He helped the Marquess save his intended, the second sister!

The second sister had a…problem?

Indeed. I have it on good authority she was carried away and the Marquess and Lord G., along with that dashing Colonel of the Royal Buffs, rescued her.

Dear me! And so now Lord Grey…I mean Lord G. is admitted to the presence of his former intended.

Just so. And I understand that she gave him a very cool reception.

As she should. Smart girl. 

Clever Lord G., eh?

pastedGraphic.pngA nibble of my newest cherry? YES! LADY, NO MORE (Encounter of hero and heroine in a bookshop)


Excerpt, LADY, NO MORE, all rights reserved. Copyright 2022, Cerise DeLand.

She had penned a note to Hadley yesterday and asked him to meet her here today. He had promised to be her adviser on men she found interesting and she had found one. In truth, she sent over the request to him to meet her not so much because she needed his insight into Lord Parnham but because she’d spent the whole of yesterday pining for Hadley’s poetry. Or lack thereof.

Foolish. Certainly. But there it was.

A need to talk with him, if for no other ridiculous, ironic reason than to hear his opinion of another man.

Leaving Fifi to sit on the bench outside under shade of a tree, Laurel entered the shop and paused to inhale the refreshing scent of paper and ink, leather bindings and the dust of decades upon the numerous shelves. The shop was tidy, two windows open to the breezes off the coast gave it the sweet smell of stories awaiting the uplifting of hundreds of minds. She herself had signed up for the subscription service the owner also operated from his shop, but when she had a few spare pence, she wished to own many of the fantasies that others created.

Today however she was attempting to fashion a story of her own. One, perhaps with Lord Parnham. To that end, Hadley had agreed to offer his insights. If he knew the man. If he would give a good report of him, if Parnham deserved it. If she could trust what Hadley had to say of the earl.

“Good afternoon, Lady Laurel.” Hadley doffed his hat and bowed before her. He too had the elegant silhouette of a man of the town. In emerald green frock coat and yellow damask waistcoat, he had a stock that might have held up the Parthenon as well as his chin, had he needed that, of course, which he did not. His buff breeches showed off to her attentive gaze, the line of his muscular thighs and shapely calves. They did nothing for her decision to regard him coolly, or at the most, as an old friend.

The two of them stood between a row of bookcases toward the rear of the shop. In the dim light so far from the entrance, she noted that Hadley appeared tired. His eyes rimmed in dark circles, at first she wondered if he’d been drinking.

“Are you well?” she asked, alarmed.

“Quite. Why do you ask?”

Curt, was he? “You don’t look it.”

“Why would you care?”

She rolled a shoulder. “Because…I don’t like to see anyone ailing.”

“I see,” he said and fingered the brim of his half stove pipe hat in his hand. He lifted his ivory walking stick and thrust it down at the wooden floor. The punctuation made her jump. “You didn’t like my poetry.”

She would give him his due. “But I did.”

He recoiled, then he peered at her.

“I always did, Hadley. Thank you. I…have not laughed much lately.”

“So I saw.” He mellowed but the hurt in his gaze gutted her. “You wanted to meet?”

“I did.”

“You’ve found a man you like?”

My. He was a wasp with his stinger out this morning.

Was this a good thing? “I have,” she told him.

He huffed. “Parnham, I suppose?”

She wrinkled her nose at him. “Do be quiet. Yes, yes. Him.”

He leaned closer and in a stage whisper said, “I don’t like him.”

She inched near and lowered her voice. “Very well. Why not?”

“He’s too good looking.”

She pressed her lips together, her smile hard to contain. “And?”

“He dances well.”

Indeed. “Good rhythm.”

Hadley narrowed his beautiful green eyes to beady slits. “Graceful.”

Hmmm. “And?”

“There has to be more?”

Oh, she rather liked this contretemps. With the roll of a shoulder, she threw him a wide-eyed look. “Naturally. What of his temperament?”


“His reputation as a manager of his estates?”

“Dear god.” With a whack, he drove his walking stick into the floorboards. “I have no idea.”

“Ask around, will you?” Oh, she liked that idea!


She stomped one impatient foot. “What do you know?”

“He likes you.”

Smart man. “How?”

“What do you mean ‘how’?”

“As a friend? A prospective—?”

“Yes. As a prospective.”

Delightful. “And you know this because you…?”

“Heard it from his lips. Is that good enough for you?”

“The best. Thank you.” She mellowed toward him. Despite his peevish temper—and a hint of jealousy, too, yes?—Hadley had told her the truth. “I’m very grateful to you.”

“Fine.” He jammed his hat on his head.


“Of course. Unless you wish to interrogate me about some other man.”

She licked her lips. That brought her to the point, didn’t it? The one that niggled her until wee hours in her bed each night. “I do.”

“There is someone else? Wonderful! Who?”

Oh, he was furious. Could this really be…jealousy? Oh, delights! “You.”

She could have pushed over the bookcase on him and it would not have fazed him as much.

It took him a bit, but he managed to form a word. “What?”

“You. I wish to ask a question about you.”

“Why?” He squinted.

Distrusting soul, wasn’t he?

“I am not one of your swains.”

“Used to be.”

His expression collapsed. To sorrow. “What do you want to know?”

“Why did you not marry the woman to whom your father betrothed you?”

“That is a very long story.” He glanced away, then around at the hundreds of books surrounding him. “Too complicated to tell here.”

“Why not tell me the short version?”

His cheeks went red with anger. “Because she loved another man.”

Had one of the bookcases fallen on her? “That…that’s…”

“Not what the ton says? No, it isn’t.”

Author Cerise DeLand

Sassy ladies and smart men make irresistible romance! That, plus a good dose of historical accuracy, are my hallmarks. Hope you will read all my Regency and Victorian romances!




A most dreadful account of misbehaviour and scandal

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Dear Sir,
As an avid reader of your illuminating reports, it behoves me to inform you of some rather scandalous behaviour recently observed concerning a certain gentleman of my acquaintance, FD. This man, well known in the first circles of society, is of the finest pedigree, if not, perhaps, always so gentlemanly in his actions toward others. He is, at present, rusticating in parts not far from London, where he is consorting with a lady so far below him as to make one wonder at his intentions.

Whilst in Hertfordshire, at the home of his friend, this gentleman has found himself in a most alarming situation, for there are now residing in the house not one but three unmarried ladies, only one of whom is related to either gentleman.

One of these is the above-mentioned lady, EB, who has been heard hurling the most venomous insults towards FD, and FD—so unlike anything a gentleman ought to do—has responded in like manner. Scarcely a word can pass between them that is not barbed like an arrow, which brings one to imagine whether this is all a show for the benefit of their companions to divert all notions that there might be some other, even less respectable, association between them. The town is quite put out by this outrageous behaviour, and now the two are forced to be living in the same house!

Furthermore, there have been a number of scandalous activities taking place in this very house, such as eavesdropping, deliberate trickery on the part of others, and play acting. I, myself, have been party to some of these as an invited guest and have seen such goings-on as to cause me to blush.

EB’s character must be brought under suspicion for her role in this whole affair, and likewise that of her sister J must likewise be concerning. FD is certainly consorting with people so far below him.

This is, I might add, the same FD who only last summer removed his dear sister from a most fortuitous engagement, thereby depriving her of the love of her life, and casting her into a sort of prison, guarded over and unable to receive any communications from those who have her interests at heart. I put it to you, sirs: should this gentleman—in name only—be permitted to retain his elevated position in society when he engages in such dreadful behaviour?

Yours, etc,

Buy Link: http://www.books2read.com/muchadoinmeryton

LAUD’S HEIR RETURNS FROM GRAND TOUR. In search of wife, says reputable source.

15 September 1801

“LAUD’S HEIR RETURNS FROM GRAND TOUR. In search of wife, says reputable source.”

Della’s brother threw down the latest copy of The Teatime Tattler and snickered. “Poor sod’s too young for a leg-shackle. Doubtless Lady Laud’s pressing for grandchildren. Mothers!”

Their father lifted an eyebrow. “If your mother were still alive, you’d be wed by now, Thomas. I suppose I’ve been negligent on that front. You’re what, thirty now? Ought to be settled down.”

Thomas’s fork clattered when it hit his plate. “And who would I marry? Some farm girl like Della here? If I were a banker’s son I could look higher.”

Della winced and her father’s face turned red. “THOMAS! Apologize to your sister this instant!”

“Sorry,” he mumbled. But Della could tell he wasn’t sincere, even before he added, “But dammit, she should be wed by now too. But what choices does she have, as a cattle breeder’s daughter? We should all be better off if we sold out and went into banking.”

Thomas Sr. pounded the table hard enough to rattle his plate. “ENOUGH!”

Both of his children stiffened and stared at him incredulously. Their father rarely lost his temper, and never at the breakfast table. But there had been more than a few arguments recently, Della mused. 

“This farm has provided you an easy life, Thomas. You’ve been handed everything you need and want, even a chance for a superior education at Cambridge, which you squandered by neglecting your studies in favor of—er—” he swallowed as he glanced at Della  “studies of a different sort.”

Della snorted and promptly looked down at her lap when her father gave her a stern look. Well really. She was twenty years old, the same age as Thomas when he returned home from Cambridge in disgrace. Did they really believe she hadn’t heard all the stories about his misdeeds there? Rumors had been rife at the time, and although she might not have understand exactly what they meant at the age of ten, she had since apprehended them more clearly.

“I’m inclined to believe that this self-indulgent lifestyle you’ve embarked on can be attributed to the influence of the useless young lords with whom you caroused first at Eton and then at Cambridge.” He shook his head. “Your mother would be ashamed, Thomas.”

His son had the decency to drop his chin. 

And well he should, thought Della. He’d had the good fortune to have had a mother, at least. She’d never had that opportunity, her mother having died at Della’s birth.

Their father pushed back his chair and rose from table. “Thomas, your jaunts to London and York and all points in between are now cancelled. Henceforth, you will spend your time at Humberstone Farm, employed in furthering the interests of our sheep and cattle.” 

Folding his arms in front him, he glared at his son. “In case you’ve forgotten all you’ve been taught over the years, I’ll put the lad in charge to refresh your memory.”

With that, he marched out of the room.

Della giggled. The image of Thomas being bear-led around the farm by the much-younger estate manager seemed dubious at best.

He slapped the table. “It’s not funny! I don’t care a jot about sheep and cattle, and you all know it! Besides, I have a shooting party next week. It’s almost the end of the grouse season.”

Della’s hands curled up. “You should care. This farm will be yours someday! It’s in your own best interests to ensure its prosperity.”

Thomas’s lips curled. “It’s been losing money for years. By the time it comes down to me, it’ll be worth a pittance. Best to sell out now and put the capital where it can do some good.”

Tilting his head, he studied her with a gleam in his eye.

“If I’m not mistaken, you are out there with the cattle everyday. And Kit too. Now there’s a match for you—the rustic farm girl and the penniless estate manager.”

Della tossed the remainder of her sausage at him. “You are horrid, Thomas.”

“And you’re a twit,” he threw back as he exited the room.

Della heaved a sigh. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Kit. He’d been one of her best friends forever. But as for marriage, she had something else in mind. 

Reaching for the Teatime Tattler, she smoothed her fingers over the headline. Toby was looking for a wife, was he? Well, she intended that he look no further than the neighboring estate.


This story will be part of a 2024 Christmas anthology for the Maumee Valley Romance Authors, Inc. (Susana’s local writers’ group). We’ll keep you posted on our Book Lovers Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/251624704125214.

Susana Ellis loves reading, writing, and sewing, but deadlines not so much. Besides being a part-time caregiver for her elderly mother, she enjoys her retirement and her kind and considerate author friends, particularly the Bluestocking Belles and the Maumee Valley Romance Authors!

Reabridge seethes with scandal and romance

Well, Sam, the town of Reabridge has closed ranks against me since my last missive. Not just me, either, but any curious stranger. They have guessed that someone is sending news of their goings on to you for publication, and they are not best pleased.

Not that I’ve allowed that to stop me, but gone are days I can just walk into a tavern or one of the two inns, strike up a conversation over a beer, and walk away with several stories.

However, a little kindness to a bar maid at the tavern, and I have my handful of leads, for no more price than walking the poor lass home and showing an interest in her life. The kiss was a bonus for me and the handful of coins for her. She has promised to keep her ears open for me.

Here, in no particular order, is what I’ve discovered. There’s another bar maid heading for a fall, apparently. This one is a daughter of the family who owns one of the town’s two inns. The story goes that she had a brief summer fling years ago with a duke’s son. Did he leave her still innocent? Opinions vary. The thing is, he’s back, and it can’t end any better this time, surely.

Not much of interest in the town doctor being a lush. Good doctor, apparently, but can’t stay off the sauce. He was courting the cousin of the local earl before he went off to Waterloo, but she won’t have him now, I imagine.

The earl is courting too—a lady who is French by birth, but a respectable widow of an English gentleman. He was not meant to earl, but his two older brothers died. I’ll dig a bit more, but the only thing we might make something of is the lady’s interest in an abandoned orphan that is currently living with the vicar. She’s not the only lady who wants the little sprog, but we’ll see whether the earl is willing to take on a wife and a child. One who is probably common and possibly base born.

Two other French ladies are scooping up bachelors from the town. One is the son of that same vicar and the French girl is looking after the abandoned orphan. Is it actually hers after all? No one is quite sure, but apparently the aunt has her hooks into the vicar!  

The other lady is of respectable birth and also arrived with an aunt in tow looking, so my bar girl tells me, for a husband. I can’t see an angle for us in that one.

The other possibility involves Lady L. Yes, I thought you’d sit up at that. She has been seen around town escorted by the son of the owners of the other inn! Not in her class at all, though, to be fair, the family has come up in the world in recent centuries, and hire people to run the inn. Not high enough to aspire to an earl’s daughter, though.

Then we’ve got a nobody who is being pursued by a Scottish heiress. Yes. You read that right. He likes her, right enough, but can see as well as you and I can that he’s not the right man for her.

I have nothing to say about the farmer who found a sick woman in his milking shed and now looks at her like the moon rises in her eyes. For a bit, I thought she might be connected to the orphan, but that was a false lead.

Nor do I suppose you will be interested in the farrier and her armless suitor. I thought we could do something with that when I found out he’s been an officer. But apparently it was a battlefield commission, and our readers don’t care when the lower sorts find love.

Anyway, Sam, I’ll find you at least one story. Please send me a bank draft for ten pound. My bar girl is going to cost, and also, I need to stay on for at least another week.

Yours in the brotherhood of journalism.



Read the inside gossip that Frank will never know. Preorder your copy of Under the Harvest Moon today.

As the village of Reabridge in Cheshire prepares for the first Harvest Festival following Waterloo, families are overjoyed to welcome back their loved ones from the war.

But excitement quickly turns to mystery when mere weeks before the festival, an orphaned child turns up in the town—a toddler born near Toulouse to an English mother who left clues that tie her to Reabridge.

With two prominent families feuding for generations and the central event of the Harvest Moon festival looming, tensions rise, and secrets begin to surface.

Nine award winning and bestselling authors have combined their talents to create this engaging and enchanting collection of interrelated tales. Under the Harvest Moon promises an unforgettable read for fans of Regency romance.

Preorder now: https://books2read.com/UnderHarvestMoon

Or find out more about the individual stories.


More News from Lady Ablethorp

Dear Readers,

One of our favorite sources of scandal and on dit, Lady Ablethorp is at it once again. This conversation was overheard in its entirety by our intrepid London reporter.

“Have you heard?” Lady Ablethorp said as she approached her friend dressed in a frothy pink gown and chapeau, whilst carrying a charming pink umbrella, though no rain was in sight.

“Heard what?” the Honorable Miss Patricia Helmsworthy said with keen interest.

The day was balmy with a few clouds ambling above them. Lady Ablethorp looked around, checking none of those she planned to skewer were in the vicinity of Bond Street. Thankfully the coast was clear. “Did you hear about Lady Jersey?”

“I have not.” Miss Patricia Helmsworthy said, leaning closer.

“It appears that most esteemed lady was caught in a gust of wind and somehow her skirt and her chemise flew into the air, up around her head. Her privates were exposed!”

”Indeed!” Miss Patricia’s eyes went wide.

Lady Ablethorp tapped a finger to her cheek. “She was wearing drawers, but they are like chaps, and they made not one bit of difference.”

“Shocking!” Miss Patricia tittered, a flush rising to her cheeks.

“There is more! Lord Kingfisher received a new pair of teeth, and they look mighty strange.”

Much to Lady Ablethorp’s dismay, Miss Patricia merely sniffed.

“Word is, his teeth came from a dead soldier at Waterloo.”

“Indeed,” Miss Patricia said in a somewhat bored voice.

Not at all what Lady Ablethorp was expecting. More disappointment.

“I have a pair of those myself!” Miss Patricia grinned, showing teeth resembling a favorite mare of Lady Ablethorp’s. If she recalled, the mare’s name was Bernice. Lady Ablethorp cleared her throat, then offered a smile. “Yours are quite nice, my dear, though they must have belonged to a very large soldier!”

Miss Patricia sniffed again. “Indeed.”

“Have you traveled lately?” Lady Ablethorp asked knowing well that the Honorable Miss Patricia Helmsworthy had traveled recently, she suspected much to the lady’s chagrin.

“Indeed!” Miss Patricia said, with a wide smile as she rested her hands atop the handle of her umbrella. “To the Lake District, in fact.”

“And was it a comfortable trip?” Lady Ablethorp raised her monocle.

“Oh, indeed, it was, though I did have to share a bed at the Winged Swan, a quite charming inn.”

Lady Ablethorp winked, though it may have looked more like a twitch to observers. “You did not sleep alone?” Lady Ablethorp feigned shock. “In truth, it would be quite lowering for the Honorable Patricia Helmsworthy to share a bed at the inn, common practice or no.” It was her turn to sniff.

“Indeed. As I mentioned, I did share a bed!”

Why was the woman smiling? Lady Ablethorp waited for Miss Patricia’s embarrassment, for her horror. “Honorables” were not meant to lower themselves to cozying up in bed with a stranger. That was for the middle class and poor. And yet Miss Patricia seemed unabashed. Lady Ablethorp waited. And waited. Finally… “Were you not discomforted sharing your bed with riffraff?“

Miss Patricia rolled her eyes skyward. “Not in the least. For the bed I shared was with the Captain Lansdowne.”

“The marquess’ brother? That captain?”


There were those teeth again. “One of the heroes of Trafalgar?”

“Indeed.” Miss Patricia said, her smile increasing.

Lady Ablethorp was confounded and began to imagine Captain Lansdowne. Tall and stately and fit. Very, very fit. And young, not yet thirty. Lady Ablethorp liked the young ones best.

“Are you sure it was the dark-haired handsome one?” Lady Ablethorp said.

Miss Patricia smiled so wide it looked as if her cheeks might break. “We two spent a lovely night beneath the covers. Most lovely indeed.”

What a lucky duck.

About The Bond: Rosamund is at a dangerous crossroads…

Lady Rosamund Fielding hides a secret so terrible it could ruin her, her family, and Major General Lord Rhys Lansdowne, the man she loves. Rose and Rhys were inseparable in childhood—their friendship was the one shining light in Rose’s dark upbringing.

Yet when Rhys proposes, Rose refuses, for he can never know her shameful truth.

Returned from the Napoleonic wars and now the Marquess of Ravenscroft, Rhys is determined to uncover the reason behind Rose’s rejection and win her hand and her heart once and for all.

Yet Rose’s father, Earl Fielding, is demanding Rose accept Brigadier Viscount Pennworth’s marriage proposal, threatening dire consequences if she does not obey.

Time is of the essence as Rose faces this difficult crossroad, where she is forced to confront past demons and choose a path.

Should she marry Rhys, deceiving him, and forever be branded a liar in his eyes? She cannot.

Wed Pennworth? Never.

Or flee? Away from Rhys, away from her father, and away from all she holds dear.

Rose has faced many dangerous choices in her life. Will this final one destroy her?

Available Now:  Amazon: https://amzn.to/3I5G7n6 Everywhere Else: https://books2read.com/u/4DJvx7

About Samma Brand:  Award-winning author Vicki Stiefel now also writes as Sanna Brand, whose Regency Romance, THE BOND (The Secret Tales Book 1) launches May 15. Vicki has also written the fantasy romance series, The Made Ones Saga, as well as The Afterworld Chronicles, an urban fantasy series. Her award-winning mystery/thrillers feature homicide counselor Tally Whyte.

Vicki tapped into her love of knitting to produce Chest of Bone The Knit Collection and co-write 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters.

After running The Writers Studio with her late husband, William G. Tapply, Vicki taught fiction writing at Clark University.

She is currently working on THE DECEPTION, The Secret Tales Book Two.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vicki.stiefel.5/

Facebook, Author: https://www.facebook.com/vickistiefelauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vickistiefel/

Will Scandal Prevent the Mistletoe Assembly?

Dear readers,

This letter, we assume it is a copy, was left on the editor’s desk anonymously. The information contained herein is so scandalous that we feel obligated to print the missive in its entirety. You dear readers shall be the judges of whether or not you each believe attendance at the Mistletoe Assembly is appropriate or not.

Dear Mrs. Pearler,

I have heard quite reliably that all the tickets to the Grand Mistletoe Assembly have been sold and while I congratulate you on the success of the event to be held at your magnificent residence, I must point out a grave error that must be resolved.

I, Lady Agatha Witherspoon, third cousin to Lady Cowper, was unable to procure one!

Surely, you can find room for one more person, especially one who is held in high regard by members of the ton and who travels in the best circles. I was so looking forward to attending as I heard from my cook (not that I listen to idle rumors from belowstairs, mind you) that you will be serving an array of  delicacies only those of us with the most refined palettes will appreciate.

A monstrous rumor has also been circulating (not that I gossip, but one cannot always leave a room when other people’s conversations are taking place) that tickets have been sold to a female boxer, a woman who was once accused of murdering her husband, and the widow of a philandering artist. I shudder to think these three creatures will be mingling with the crème de la crème of the ton. My heart is palpitating at the mere thought. (Excuse me while I ring for my maid to bring my vinaigrette.)

I suppose you must allow riffraff in when they pay the price of the ticket to a charity ball, but perhaps you’ll consider a charity lecture or sermon next time. I am thrilled of course that your event has already brought in a considerable sum for the foundling home you support. I gather even more will be raised from the silent auction that will take place. If you can find one more ticket, for me, I guarantee that I shall be bidding on the exquisite diamond necklace you are donating to the auction. Are you not afraid of thieves, setting such a tempting item on display? With your unfortunate lack of diligence in ferreting out suitable patrons, you may have one in your midst.

I do hope to hear from you soon. I must have time to order a new gown.


Lady Agatha Witherspoon.

About the Stories in The Grand Mistletoe Assembly: a Regency Christmas Anthology: Can the festive ball of the Season bring these couples together in time for the holidays? A collection of Regency romances with star-crossed lovers, fast-paced plots and timeless connections. Cuddling under mistletoe, fine lace, snowy linen: true love can be found in the flickering lights of a hundred gas lamps. Pearler House is bedecked for the holidays and everyone is attending the event of a lifetime.

He gambles for a ticket to the ball, but might win the love of his life.

High society’s rules make it impossible to meet. Is their love doomed to remain a scandalous secret?

A young woman forging a career as a bare-knuckled boxer. A footman looking for something more … and an overturned platter at the event of the year.

Will her secret stand in the way of their second chance at love?

He’s her brother’s best friend, and he wants her for Christmas.

What’s an earl to do when his sister’s best friend becomes the one temptation he can’t resist?

Experience the joy of the season with six all-new tales of passion. Some are sweet, some are spicy, all will capture your heart.

Available at:    https://buy.bookfunnel.com/zk90pzt05b

About the Authors:

Bestselling author Sara Adrien writes hot and heart-melting regency romance with a Jewish twist. As a law professor-turned-author, she writes about clandestine identities, whims of fate, and sizzling seduction. If you like unique and intelligent characters, deliciously sexy scenes, and the nostalgia of afternoon tea, then you’ll adore Sara Adrien’s tender tear-jerkers.

Jemma Frost:  Jemma Frost writes steamy, unconventional romances for an easy escape into history. She grew up in the Midwest where she visited the library every day and read romance novels voraciously! Now, she lives in North Carolina with her cat, Spencer, and dreams of stories to be written! She also writes contemporaries under the name Hallie Bennett.

Nina Jarrett, best-selling author, likes to tell mischievous tales of life-changing decisions and character transformations while drinking excellent coffee and avoiding cookies. When she finished school she moved on to work in non-profits assisting recovering drug addicts in South Africa. She now lives in Florida with her real-life hero and fellow bibliophile.

Edie Cay writes Regency Historical Romance about women’s boxing. She obtained dual BAs in Creative Writing and in Music, and her MFA in Creative Writing from University of Alaska Anchorage, and has gone on to win numerous writing awards. Once a month she interviews other authors on the Paper Lantern Writers YouTube channel! Tune in.

Award-Winning and International Bestselling author Tanya Wilde developed a passion for reading when she had nothing better to do than lurk in the library during her lunch breaks. Her love affair with pen and paper soon followed after she devoured all of their historical romance books! She lives in South Africa and when not writing, loves to go off on adventures.

Pamela Gibson’s novelette is called Lily’s Scandalous Secret and features Emily’s aunt, Lily Whittington, from Scandal’s Promise. She’s back in London and meets a man from her past who invites her to the ball. Their “connection” is instant, but Lily shies away because she has a terrible secret and can never marry again.

Excerpt from Lily’s Scandalous Secret:

He took her hand and gently rubbed her covered wrist. She closed her eyes and let herself feel the erotic strokes, imagining those fingers elsewhere. When the carriage stopped, Alastair leaned closer.

“I know we’ve just recently become reacquainted, but it seems like the years have fallen away. May I escort you to the charity assembly at the end of the week? Your niece told me you are reclusive, although I’ve yet to understand why, but I shall honor your decision if you choose not to go.”

She wanted to say yes. She wanted to spend as much time in Alastair’s company as she could before returning to Langston Grange. She wanted to savor his expressions, his seductive voice, and his turns of phrase. She wanted memories of him to cleanse the horrors in her past.

Others would be at the assembly, people he knew and who had known his deceased wife. His daughter would be there. No. She couldn’t risk being recognized by a dowager who might remember the old scandal.

The evening had been perfect, and here she was, contemplating ruining it by refusing to give him the answer he sought. She shouldn’t be churlish. Nothing happened at the theatre. She was being a ninny. She should say yes, say she was looking forward to the assembly.

They entered the quiet house and slipped into the drawing room, away from the prying eyes of the night footman. “Can I offer you a brandy? My nephew’s late father put down an impressive cellar both here and at Cardmore Hall.”

“I have a better idea.” He looked into her eyes as he slowly tugged her glove completely free. He lowered his mouth to her hand, and when his lips touched the inside of her wrist, tingles went straight to her center. His tongue traced a pattern there that nearly melted her knees, then he drew her gently toward him and kissed her.

She’d forgotten what a delicious kisser he was, eliciting murmurs and sighs as the kiss deepened and their tongues entwined. His mouth brushed her ear. “Say yes, Lily. Say you’ll attend.”

When his lips caressed her neck and feathered kisses behind her ear, she knew what her answer would be.

Caution: Attending the Theatre May Be Hazardous!

Rumor has it that the coming season of the Drury Lane Theatre is wracked with drama. Not – as you would hope – with Shakespearean dramas, but rather with drama behind the stage. In fact, there have been so many scandals that one must wonder whether anyone respectable will attend the next production.

First, the company ran out of money for repairs. If whispers are to be believed, a woman of ill repute approached an esteemed personage for an investment. Even more shocking, the aforementioned personage – known to our ears as a duke of extreme eccentricities – put his own money into the theater. One can only guess how the woman persuaded him.

Then, there were whispers that a lady of good family wrote the script. While this type of story may be charming in the privacy of a drawing room, it beggars belief that the theater company expects polite society to brings its ladies and daughters to see a play with such shocking origins.

And now, dear Tattlers, we have heard a whisper that the construction of the sets and the very structure of the theater has been entrusted to a woman carpenter. For the last few decades, the theater (when not burned to the ground) has always been run by the Billings and Sons Carpentry. With the demise of Billings earlier this year, his daughter Miss Billings has taken over the business.

Our source, who is highly placed in the Carpentry Guild, indicates this is highly irregular and leaves the theater at risk of physical calamities. A poor carpentry job could lead to broken sets, trapdoors gone awry, and even the collapse of the audience’s box sets.

To make it worse, Lord Preston and his strange band of ruffians at Northfield Hall have seized this opportunity to sink their teeth into London. Rumor has it that Miss Billings has hired a Northfield Hall carpenter as her supervisor. One can only imagine he will be redesigning the theater so that the common man is in the boxes and good society must stand in the pit!

I am sure you will agree with me, Tattlers, that this season at Drury Lane sounds abysmal. I, for one, will be at the front row to see what happens next.

About The Hellion of Drury Lane: For Samantha Billings, nothing can go right. Ever since she inherited her father’s business as head carpenter for Drury Lane Theatre, she has been fighting off problems from creditors to unending rain. When an inspector of the carpentry guild announces he will stop her work unless she hires a master carpenter, Samantha fears she may lose everything – but she resolves to overcome, one way or another.

For Oliver Chow, nothing can go wrong. In London for the first time ever, he is celebrating his new status as a master carpenter and looking for the adventure of a lifetime. When he happens upon a woman carpentress in distress, he is happy to help – even if it is in name alone.

Thrown together to thwart the guild’s inspector, Samantha and Oliver discover that sometimes, a little drama behind the scenes can have a surprisingly happy outcome.

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Excerpt:  Samantha walked straight into the trap: Benedict Haypenny of the City Carpentry Guild.

“Ah, Miss Billings. I thought I might find you here.”

An unpleasant shiver ran down her back at the mere sight of him. Even over the age of forty, he was a stick of a man, with cheekbones and elbows and knees that jutted out at all angles. Worse, he looked at everything—and everyone, including Samantha and each of her sisters—with greedy, beady eyes.

“Funny, I didn’t think you liked to see where the work actually happens.” Samantha never had been good at keeping her true feelings out of her words, so she didn’t see much point in trying. Even though it led to moments like this, with Haypenny going red in the neck and ears.

Dad had never liked the man, and neither did she. Haypenny came from a long line of carpenters. His great-grandfather supposedly had been the best carpenter in London, and Samantha was fine believing that might be true. The generations that followed, however, rested on that ancestor’s heritage, until by now, Benedict Haypenny earned money from sending apprentices to do his contracted work while he spent the earnings on clothes and carriages and other fixings, as if he thought he could fashion himself into some kind of gentleman.

Samantha preferred a carpenter who knew what he was and loved himself for it.

“You do like to jest.” Haypenny wagged a finger in the air at her. “Your father did too, the way old friends do.”

“My father had many friends.” Samantha had to lock her tongue between the sharp spikes of her teeth to keep from adding You were not one of them. “What business do you have here, Mr. Haypenny? Or are you just stopping in to admire the best carpentry in all of London?”

“I am sure you can guess, Miss Billings. I am here in my office as Chief Inspector for the City Guild to approve this contract. Who is the master carpenter of the project here at Drury Lane?”

The answer had always been Dad. Until last spring, when he had dropped dead of a heart attack. Benedict Haypenny knew that as well as anyone. “I am.”

Haypenny narrowed his eyes. The gesture felt as rehearsed as the diva Mrs. Beckwith exclaiming surprise at an Act II reveal. “And yet, Miss Billings, you are not a master carpenter.”

It was no wonder Samantha bristled at the mere sight of Haypenny. Who had the time for a stickler such as he? He only applied the rules when he saw fit, and that always seemed to be when it would inconvenience everyone else the most.

“My father was a master carpenter. He passed the business on to me same as he would to a son.” In a bid for diplomacy, Samantha added, “Had I been blessed with a brother.”

“Either way, you or a brother would need to be a master carpenter with the guild to accept contracts such as this one from the Drury Lane Theatre.” Haypenny looked about the group now. Behind him was the cart with the last of the lumber, wheeled by the Pelham brothers from the timber yard. Harry Isaacs and Jack Gorseman had come out from the theater to see what the fuss was about; Samantha could feel them gathering behind her as if preparing to roll up their sleeves for a round of fisticuffs. A few of the actors joined the group, too, attracted to the simmering conflict.

They had a crowd, in other words, and Haypenny was all too happy to play to it. He raised his voice to ask, “Is anyone here a master carpenter?”

The answer was no. Because no one in London cared about having a proper master carpenter except for the City Guild, not when Samantha had earned her reputation alongside Dad as the best craftsman for theater set construction. She hadn’t the money to purchase the status from the guild, and even if she did, she wasn’t sure she wanted to give it to the likes of Haypenny.

“I am in all but name,” Samantha replied, with as much sweetness to her tone as she could manage.

“Unfortunately, it is the name that matters most, my dear.” He had the gall to wink, as if this were a flirtatious repartee.

Years ago, when she had just come of age and started working with Dad in earnest, Haypenny had tried to kiss her. Without even so much as a by-your-leave. Dad had made it clear that day that Haypenny wasn’t welcome at the Theatre. Apparently, that task was up to Samantha now. She fisted her fingers. She didn’t care how much it hurt. Slamming her knuckles against Haypenny’s bony face would be worth it.

From behind her, Flory, the stage manager—God bless him—asked, “What’s all this then?”

“Ah, are you the overseer of this enterprise?” Haypenny swept his arms through the air to encompass the entire theater. “Regretfully, all carpentry work here must cease until a master carpenter joins the Billings company to oversee the project.”

“You want a bribe, is that it? A fat payoff so that I may continue to work?” Samantha advanced, close enough that she really could punch him.

She didn’t. Yet.

“You’re a miserable old codger, do you know that? My father taught me all he knew. I am a better carpenter than you, even if I can’t afford to buy myself a ‘master carpenter’ status. What kind of man stands between a family and their livelihood?”

“My dear woman”—this last word he emphasized, as if it negated every claim Samantha had just made—“I stand between no one and their livelihood. I’m sure I can find some other way to ensure my late friend’s family is taken care of.”

Flory nudged between Samantha and Haypenny. “So you are saying we must find a master carpenter, else you won’t allow any carpentry to be completed at the theater?”

“Where are we to find a master carpenter?” Samantha growled. She knew a dozen or more, of course. But they all had their own businesses. Their own projects. And their own petty reasons not to help her.

It was in that moment that a stranger stepped forward from behind the lumber cart. “I happen to be a master carpenter. Perhaps I can be of assistance.”

About the Author:  Katherine Grant writes award-winning Regency Romance novels for the modern reader. Her writing has been recognized by Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards, the Romance Slam Jam Emma Awards, the Shelf Unbound Indie Book Awards, and more. If you love ballgowns, secret kisses, and social commentary, a book hangover is coming your way.

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