Tag Archive | Bluestocking Belles

Amy Rose Bennett: The Ice Duchess (Scandalous Regency Widows, Book 2)

In The Ice Duchess, my heroine, Georgiana, the widowed Duchess of Darby, prides herself on her ability to be a brilliant piquet player. Because of her past history—she suffered tremendous heartbreak at the hands of a scoundrel when she was a debutante—she became an adept player. She uses piquet as both a shield and a weapon during ton social events. In her mind, her fearsome card-playing reputation is a way to keep men, especially rakehells, at bay. Rather than converse, or worse still, flirt, she can just play cards. And it feels good to trounce the other player, particularly if he is a man!

Piquet was a popular card game during the Regency era and was often played at home, society events and even at the gaming table. A trick-taking game played by two players, it has quite a complicated scoring system. My hero, Lord Markham, and Georgie play several games during the story and as an author, it was quite a challenge to first of all, come to grips with the rules, and secondly, write the card playing scenes in a way that would be both entertaining and further the plot. I hope readers get a sense of the great strategy involved during the course of play as well as enjoy the banter between Georgie and Markham as both try to gain the ‘upper-hand’. And if any piquet experts out there read my story and find I haven’t got it quite right, I hope they’ll forgive me—it is a very tricky game to say the least!

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About The Ice Duchess

Georgiana Dudley, the ‘Ice Duchess’, has just emerged from mourning after a nine-year marriage of convenience to the Duke of Darby, her twin brother’s lover. Deeply hurt by a scoundrel a decade ago, Georgie swore she would never turn her head for any man, let alone another rakehell. But then she encounters the wickedly handsome and all too charming Rafe Landsbury, the Earl of Markham and against her better judgment, her interest is reluctantly aroused. An affair may be impossible to resist but dare she trust Lord Markham with her most intimate secrets… and her heart?

Society believes Rafe to be a diplomat but for many years he has been working on the Continent as a spy for the Crown. Leaving the shadowy world of espionage behind, he returns to London with the intention of finding a wife. When he is paired with the frosty yet fascinating Duchess of Darby at the piquet table during a ton ball, he is intrigued. Do-or-die man that he is, he’s certainly not going to let her cool demeanor dissuade him from pursuing her.

When Rafe’s dark past returns to endanger Georgie, he is determined to protect her at all costs, even if that means hiding who he once was. With the stakes so high, both Georgie and Rafe must decide if love is a risk worth taking…

Heat Level: Steamy to hot. This story is a Regency romance with open-door love-making scenes and frank language is used.

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Excerpt

To give you an idea of the game, I thought I’d share an excerpt from The Ice Duchess. In this scene, Georgie, and Rafe, Lord Markham, are engaging in a piquet re-match at the end of a dinner party. Both are skilled players and both are equally determined to put the other off their game by flirting, which is quite a novel thing for Georgie…

Whilst she shuffled, he deliberately raked her with an appreciative gaze, his eyes shamelessly lingering on her face, her delicious mouth and then her breasts. As he’d anticipated, color immediately rose to her cheeks. She glanced away from him, suddenly very interested in the cards in her hands.

Leaning forward a little, he drew her gaze to him again. “Because the rest of the company are otherwise engaged and we are still somewhat… alone,” he said in a low voice, “I thought I should take this opportunity to tell you how beautiful you look this evening, Your Grace.”

She affected a little laugh before she placed the cards on the table. Something hot and bright flashed beneath the cool blue of her eyes. Anger or desire, he couldn’t tell. “Heavens, you are full of compliments this evening, Lord Markham,” she said. Although she sounded a little breathless, she arched an eyebrow. “But you must realize by now that flattery will get you nowhere when it comes to playing. Only strategy will.”

Cutting the cards with a decided flip, she revealed the seven of clubs. Not good by any means. Her lips flattened, her displeasure clear.

“It would seem a modicum of good luck doesn’t go astray either,” Markham ventured with a wicked grin. He took his turn to shuffle and added, “I don’t know about you, Your Grace, but I’m feeling rather lucky tonight.” His cut revealed the knave of hearts. Although he wouldn’t have first choice from the talon in this first round, the advantage would be his in the sixth and final round of the partie. “I shall be the younger hand to begin with.”

“Of course. I wouldn’t have expected anything less.” The duchess observed him from beneath her eyelashes as he started dealing. “Playing with you again will be quite a romp I should expect, regardless of the outcome.”

The seductress was back. He couldn’t help but play the rake. “I can think of no lovelier woman to romp with than you, Duchess.”

This time, when she blushed, it was to the roots of her hair. There could be no mistaking what he meant by romp. He was a devil, but if she wanted to play with fire, she should expect to get a little burned.

Join Amy’s Release Day Party!

Friday, September 30, 2016 • 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. EDT

Guest Authors • Fun • Books • Prizes

https://www.facebook.com/events/944693238989915/

6-6:20pm EST- Amy Rose Bennett – Author
6:20-6:40pm EST- Susana Ellis
6:40-7pm EST- Jessica Cale
7-7:20pm EST- Nicole Zoltack
7:20-7:40pm EST- Jude Knight
7:40-8pm EST- Elizabeth Ellen Carter – Author
8-8:20pm EST- Sherry Ewing
8:20-8:40pm EST- Cerise DeLand
8:40-9pm EST- Amanda Mariel
9-9:20pm EST- Aurrora St. James
9:20-9:40pm EST- Gina Conkle, Writer
9:40-10pm EST- Amy Quinton

About the Author

AuthorPic copyAmy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre. She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

Amy is happily married to her own Alpha male hero, has two beautiful daughters, and a rather loopy Rhodesian Ridgeback. She has been a speech pathologist for many years but is currently devoting her time to her one other true calling—writing romance.

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Valuing Vanessa: Griswold Finds a Home (Giveaway)

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Holly and Hopeful Hearts

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

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Griswold’s Story

from Valuing Vanessa

The second morning of their visit dawned sunny and unseasonably warm, so Louise and Blanche and her cousins Alice and Celia decided to explore the extensive grounds. Miss Grenford recommended that they stay within view of the house for the morning, but that the head groom should be able to provide mounts for them in the afternoon if they wished to go beyond.

There really was much to explore, Louise discovered. The fountains were drained for the winter, but the classic statuary was much to be admired.

“Mee-ouw!”

Louise stopped in her tracks, finding herself underneath a large beech tree.

“Mee-ouw!”

Casting about for the source of the sound, her eyes finally made out the presence of a small gray and white kitten on a branch about ten feet off the ground.

“Meee-ouww!” The kitten seemed to be demanding to be rescued.

“You’ve quite a shrill voice for such a tiny creature,” said Louise. “Not very sensible, are you? You might have thought you were brilliant to have managed to climb so high, but what now? Too afraid to come down again, are you?”

“Meee-ouww!”

“I believe that kitten is screaming at you,” said Blanche, as she reached Louise’s side.

Louise grinned. “I believe you are right,” she said, “a cheeky bit of fur, don’t you think?”

“There are half a dozen or so kittens running around the house and gardens,” said Alice. “I wonder if Papa will let me have one.”

“Well, you can’t have this one,” Louise said, at the same time tying up her skirts between her legs. “He found me, and I’m keeping him, so long as the duchess allows it.”

“She’s going to climb the tree!” said Celia. “I hope she doesn’t get stuck up there with the silly kitten,” she added with a chuckle.

Louise pulled herself up to the lowest branch, and carefully got to her feet while clutching the upper branch where the kitten was perched with her hands.

“Here, kitty.”

griswold2The kitten didn’t budge, but stared at her with its clear gray eyes.

“Well! You asked to be rescued, didn’t you? Here I am.”

“Mee-ouw!”

“What a silly fellow you are!” Louise reached over and carefully plucked the kitten off the branch. But as soon as she brought him close to her chest, he dug his claws into her coat, which was not quite thick enough to absorb them.

“Ouch!” she complained. “You are going to have to learn some manners, you know. Scratching someone upon first acquaintance is quite improper.”

One hand firmly supporting the kitten, she leaned her back against the trunk of the tree and slowly slid down to a sitting position on the lower branch, then hopped down to the ground.

“Now, let’s have a look at you. What a pretty little fellow you are!”

On top he was charcoal gray with striped ears and legs and a white throat and underbelly.

He seemed to be content to rest in her arms and look up at her with his curious eyes.

“I think he likes you,” said Alice.

“Of course he does. She just rescued him,” said Blanche. “Are you really going to keep him, Louise? I wonder I could have one too. Let’s go back to the house and find the rest of them.”

“I want one too,” said Celia.

“Don’t be silly,” chided her sister. “You have two cats at home.”

“Not in London. And they aren’t kittens anymore either.”

Duke’s daughters, thought Louise, shaking her head as she walked across the lawn with her kitten in her arms.

“Griswold,” she said. “His name is Griswold.”

“Are you sure it’s a boy?”

Louise frowned and turned the kitten over to check its white underbelly. “How can you tell?”

Blanche ran her finger down the kitten’s nether regions. “It’s a boy,” she pronounced. “Hello Griswold. Pleased to meet you.”

And for the remainder of the house party, Louise and Griswold were inseparable.

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Valuing Vanessa

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

The last thing widower George Durand thinks he wants is another wife, but his difficult daughter is proving difficult to handle. In any case, the admirable Miss Sedgely is far too young for him.

A love match is not even a remote consideration for these two. Or is it?

Kitten Giveaway

Griswold’s twin is looking for a home. Check out the Rafflecopter link to enter the contest to be his new human.

Update: Griswold’s giveaway is now closed. Winner will be announced at the Book Launch Party on November 13th. However, his siblings will also be in search of new homes in the weeks to come.

Baby: Jessica Cale

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Cover Reveal: Holly and Hopeful Hearts by the Bluestocking Belles

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About Holly and Hopeful Hearts

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below.

Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?

Excerpt

Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?

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The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.

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Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.

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An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

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Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…

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Coming November 8.

Eight original stories, 578 pages of diverse characters,  complex relationships, and happily-ever-afters for $2.99.

Pre-order Now!

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Excerpt from Valuing Vanessa

“Are you certain it is not an imposition, Miss Sedgely? Because I shouldn’t mind showing the ladies around myself, in Mrs. Seavers’s absence.”

Vanessa’s chin rose as she directed a firm gaze at the institution’s housekeeper. “I assure you there is no imposition whatsoever, Mrs. Barnes. I shall be pleased to guide the ladies on their tour this morning, as Matron directed.”

Mrs. Barnes flushed. Obviously she considered the task her own prerogative, but Vanessa had not taken the trouble to get the hospital matron out of town just to be foiled by the housekeeper.

“But what about your class, Miss Sedgely? The children do so look forward to them! Why, they will be exceedingly disappointed to miss them today.” She leaned in closer, her eyes gleaming. “I hear that little Willie had prepared a special passage to read for you. He is quite partial to you, you know.”

Vanessa refused to allow herself to be diverted, in spite of the tiny twinge of guilt she felt deep inside. “My maid has agreed to take my classes for today. She has assisted me previously, you know, and thus is well-known to the children.”

She gave a curt nod to the housekeeper, who took it as the dismissal it was meant to be, and walked out of the room.

The Board of Governors were conducting a meeting in a quarter hour’s time, and Vanessa had taken great pains to find a reason to be lingering in the foyer as the gentlemen arrived. It was Mr. George Durand she wished to encounter, of course. During the week since the masquerade at Vauxhall, she had unearthed a great deal of information about the attractive gentleman.

George William Durand was the grandson of a viscount, his late father being the younger son, who had made law his profession. Durand’s cousin William had become the 4th Viscount Faringdon five years ago following his father’s death, and he had four healthy sons to follow him, which meant the title was unlikely to fall to George. George had followed his father into the law profession, although interestingly, he had briefly studied landscape gardening with one of Capability Brown’s former associates. That ended after his marriage, however, when young George set himself to becoming a successful solicitor like his father. His wife, Geneviève d’Aumale, was a French émigrée, the daughter of a comte who had lost his head on the Place de la Concorde at the hands of revolutionaries. She, her sister Juliette, and their mother the comtesse had lost their lives in a carriage accident which had arisen from an attack of highwaymen.

So dreadful. Life was so ephemeral. In a matter of minutes, three ladies’ lives had been snuffed out in such a horrific manner, leaving their husbands to bear the loss as best they could. And their adolescent daughters, of course. Both Durand and Lord Nicholas had daughters, approximately the same age. And perhaps not surprisingly, both had been residing with relatives since the tragedy. Men were notoriously helpless when it came to their maturing daughters. But in retrospect, Vanessa thought it rather pitiable that the girls had effectively lost both parents in that one disastrous moment.

One thing was certain, however. A well-off gentleman with a near-grown daughter was clearly in need of a wife. And Vanessa thought she might suit this one very well indeed.

Caroline Warfield: The Renegade Wife

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Love is worth the risk…

New cover, new release, new series! Coming in October

The heroes and heroines of Caroline Warfield’s Dangerous series overcame challenges even after their happy ending. Their children seek their own happiness in distant lands in Warfield’s new Children of the Empire series. In The Renegade Wife, first of the new series, reclusive Rand Wheatly finds contentment in his remote cabin in Upper Canada, intent on making his fortune in timber, until his precious solitude is disrupted by a woman running from an ugly past. He quickly realizes she wasn’t what she claims, but now she’s on the run again and time is running out for him to save her.

Caroline is celebrating with a GIVEAWAY on her website.

http://wp.me/p5qiDD-vj

Jessica Cale: How Royal Copenhagen Conquered Europe

Eighteenth Century Porcelain: How Royal Copenhagen Conquered Europe

13509851_263614374004128_2085781765_oThe Royal Porcelain Factory (Den Kongelige Porcelænsfabrik), better known as Royal Copenhagen, was founded in a converted post office in Copenhagen on May 1st, 1775 under the protection of Queen Juliane Marie. Although porcelain had been made in Germany since 1710, it was not produced in Denmark until chemist Frantz Heinrich Müller developed a method for its manufacture in 1774. Juliane Marie had an interest in mineralogy and porcelain was a family passion: both her brother, Charles I of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and sister, who was married to Frederik II of Prussia, had founded porcelain factories in Germany.

The factory’s first pieces were dining sets for the royal family. Juliane Marie insisted each piece be stamped with the factory’s mark, three wavy lines that symbolized Denmark’s three straights–the Øresund, the Great Belt and the Little Belt–as well as the royal crown stamp to highlight the firm’s royal connections. Each piece is marked this way to this day.

Blue and white china became popular across Europe as early as the seventeenth century with the import of goods from the far east. The fine porcelain of China’s Ming and Qing dynasties sparked an enduring love for floral patterns in blue and white and Royal Copenhagen quickly developed their own. Blue Fluted Plain (Danish: Musselmalet) was their first pattern and at more than two hundred fifty years old, it is the world’s oldest china pattern still in production.

13467665_263614317337467_432371625_oBlue Fluted Plain was inspired by Chinese floral patterns and updated to include flowers native to Denmark. Cinquefoils were added to the stylized chrysanthemums to give the pattern a more Nordic appearance. The ultramarine blue pigment in the paint was originally purchased from the Blaafarveværket (“blue colour factory”) in Norway, a company that provided up to eighty percent of the world’s cobalt during the nineteenth century. Each piece was and continues to be hand-painted by blue painters who spend at least four years in training for the position.

Since its development in 1775, Blue Fluted Plain has appeared on more than two thousand different pieces and has inspired countless imitations. It reached the height of its popularity in the early nineteenth century and appeared on everything from tea cups to washbasins and chamber pots.

Lord Nelson brought Royal Copenhagen porcelain back for his mistress, Lady Hamilton, following the Danish defeat at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. While Denmark lost that particular battle, Royal Copenhagen’s invasion of Britain was a success. It qualified for London’s World Expo in 1851 and gained international fame by winning the grand prize at Paris’ World Expo in 1889.

13509748_263614310670801_2069635372_oThis pattern has also appeared in some well-researched historical films and television shows, so not only does the pattern “look right” for the period, but even newer pieces are historically accurate for any time after 1775. You can still find pieces in this pattern to this day, so if you would like to add a little eighteenth century elegance to your kitchen or a touch of the Regency to your cup of tea, look for Royal Copenhagen’s Blue Fluted Plain.

Note: For more images or shopping information, Replacements Ltd. has a spectacular assortment of pieces in this pattern here: http://www.replacements.com/webquote/rcoblfp.htm

About The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home, Book 3 in The Southwark Saga is a magical, adult fairy tale that will keep you entertained from start to finish. Find out what happens when a paranoid king, a poison plot, and hideous shoes prove… it’s not easy being Cinderella!

coverAfter saving the life of the glamorous Marquise de Harfleur, painfully shy barmaid Alice Henshawe is employed as the lady’s companion and whisked away to Versailles. There, she catches King Louis’ eye and quickly becomes a court favorite as the muse for Charles Perrault’s Cinderella. The palace appears to be heaven itself, but there is danger hidden beneath the façade and Alice soon finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, murder, and Satanism at the heart of the French court.

Having left his apprenticeship to serve King Charles as a spy, Jack Sharpe is given a mission that may just kill him. In the midst of the Franco-Dutch war, he is to investigate rumors of a poison plot by posing as a courtier, but he has a mission of his own. His childhood friend Alice Henshawe is missing and he will stop at nothing to see her safe. When he finds her in the company of the very people he is meant to be investigating, Jack begins to wonder if the sweet girl he grew up with has a dark side.

When a careless lie finds them accidentally married, Alice and Jack must rely on one another to survive the intrigues of the court. As old affection gives way to new passion, suspicion lingers. Can they trust each other, or is the real danger closer than they suspect?

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About the Author

jessicaJessica Cale is a historical romance author, a Bluestocking Belle, and a journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at www.authorjessicacale.com.

Her series, The Southwark Saga, is available now. You can visit her at www.dirtysexyhistory.com.

 

Nicole Zoltack: Loving Outside of Your Class

Back in the day, and even nowadays, people look down on certain relationships, especially if the people involved are from different classes. How can a duke or other titled person fall for someone outside of the ton? A movie star and a nobody? An actor and a musician? (Okay, I’m sour about the rumors of Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift, I’ll admit it.)

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During the Regency era, aristocrats weren’t supposed to marry from other classes. Money, land, reputation, politics… they were what drove marriage for the upper crust. For the working class—the servants, maids, housekeepers, soldiers, etc—marriage was very important. Their parents had less of a say in whom they married, and they were a little more autonomous; however that was only within their own class, of course.

If a handmaid were to fall for a viscount… if a stablehand were to love a lady, most likely, it would not have played out well in real life, but what’s the fun in that?

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My series, Beyond Boundaries, is specifically about couples who fall in love despite obstacles like class.

If you were a lady back in the Regency, do you think you would ever consider someone outside of your class despite what your parents wish for you, despite the opinions of your friends and peers? I like to think I would!

About Masked Love (Beyond Boundaries #1)

maskedloveIsabelle will do anything for her lady, even accompany her to a masquerade ball. Lady Theodosia needs extra support for tomorrow she will meet the man her par-ents have pledged her to.

Meeting an enchanting young man during the course of the evening makes Isabelle wish for a life she can never have. Imagine her shock when he shows up the next morning, announcing his claim on Lady Thedosia.

Torn between duty and desire, Isabelle hopes for something more this Christmas.

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Starry Love (Beyond Boundaries #2)

With the Season rapidly approaching, Lady Elizabeth is ready to make her match until her father is stricken deathly ill. Her mother is desperate and hails for doctors, surgeons, even apothecaries. The upkeep of the house falls on Elizabeth, and she spend long hours beside her father, watching as he betters one day and fares worse on others. Long walks with the stable hand Callum on starry nights save Elizabeth’s sanity.

When the inevitable happens, Lady Elizabeth is forced to go to London. The gentlemen there, however, hold no candle to the kind and caring Scottish Callum.

Shortly before her father’s death, Callum returned to his homeland to try and find a cure for her father. As time passes with no word, no letters, Elizabeth must choose whether the love that blossomed between them is worth denying the man her mother wishes for her.

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About the Author

nicole photoNicole Zoltack loves to write in many genres, especially romance, whether fantasy, paranormal, or regency. She’s also an editor for MuseItUp Publishing and works as a freelance editor.

When she’s not writing about gentlemen and their ladies, knights, superheroes, or witches, she loves to spend time with her loving husband, three energetic young boys, and precious baby girl. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dressed in garb. She’ll also read anything she can get her hands on. Her current favorite TV shows are The Walking Dead and Arrow.

To learn more about Nicole and her work, visit her blog at http://NicoleZoltack.blogspot.com. She can be found on most any social media site under Nicole Zoltack. Stalk away!

Jude Knight: A notorious woman visits the Parlour

Rebecca, Lady Overton prefers to be out of the public eye. Before she consented to join her author for tea in Susana’s Parlour, she extracted a promise that this interview would not be published until more than 200 years in her future.

“I have had notoriety and notice enough for a lifetime, Jude,” she says. “You saw to that.”

Becky is right. As the Rose of Frampton, treasured mistress to the notorious Marquis of Aldridge, she was whispered about (but not acknowledged) the length and breadth of polite Society. It is no consolation to her that I was only doing my job, nor that I did not know anything about her history when I started. I thought to write a cheerful romp about a dissolute rake, not a story about how a woman with few choices nonetheless made the best ones she could, and eventually won her way to a happy marriage and a secure family.

She does not wait for an answer to her remark. “And you are still doing it,” she scolds. “This latest start of yours has spread my story to countries that did not even exist when I was alive. That smug look does not make me feel better, you know!”

I wipe the grin off my face. I have been posting A Baron for Becky on Wattpad for months, one chapter a week until it was completed. In the past month it has taken off, garnering hundreds of reads every day. I am particularly thrilled that 15% of my reads are from India, another 10% from the Philippines, and more than 50% overall from countries in Africa and Asia where I do not normally sell books.

“You have to admit,” Becky continues, “it is not at all a light, frothy read. Girlhood trauma? Years of suffering? Two heroes, Jude, and neither of them particularly heroic seen in a certain light.”

“It is a story of resilience, Becky. You survived, and eventually you thrived. And both your first hero and your second helped with that. More than they hindered, I am sure you will agree. Did you know that Susana, our hostess today, has a story on Wattpad that is actually called ‘Resilience’? You might enjoy meeting her heroine. You have some sad circumstances in common.”

“Ah,” Becky says. “Betrayed into a brothel, was she? Poor girl.”

“It comes right in the end,” I sooth. “After all, we write happy endings, Susana and I.”

Becky’s speaking look states her opinion as loudly as words. Perhaps that which does not kill you makes you stronger, but the memories and the scars remain, giving a dark underpinning the future happiness. I dream that people who have had their choices torn from them will find hope and the courage to find new choices by reading stories about heroines like Becky. But pain endured and overcome is still pain.

“We are about to start posting a new book, Mari Christie and I,” I tell Becky, hoping to change the direction of her thoughts.

It works. “Mari Christie? She writes as Mariana Gabrielle, does she not? She created my dear friend Kali. Is the book about her?”

“No, indeed. This is something different. Never Kiss a Toad is about the romance between Aldridge’s daughter Sal and his friend Wellbridge’s son David. The first part goes up next Friday.”

About Never Kiss a Toad

Never Kiss a Toad copyDavid “Toad” Northope, heir to the Duke of Wellbridge and rogue in the mold of his infamous father, knows Lady Sarah “Sal” Grenford, daughter of the once-profligate Duke of Haverford, will always hold his heart. But when the two teens are caught in bed together by their horrified parents, he is sent away to finish school on the Continent, and she is thrown into the depths of her first London Season.

Can two reformed rakes keep their children from making the same mistakes they did? The dukes decide keeping them apart will do the trick, so as the children reach their majority, Toad is put to work at sea, learning to manage his mother’s shipping concern, and Sal is taken to the other side of the world, as far from him as possible.

How will Toad and Sal’s love withstand long years of separation, not to mention nasty lies, vicious rumors, attractive other suitors, and well-meaning parents who threaten to destroy their future before it has begun?

To be published in weekly instalments on Wattpad, alternating between Mariana Gabrielle’s page and Jude Knight’s.

Jude Knight

Mariana Gabrielle

(Mariana Gabrielle is also posting Royal Regard, in which you can read about the fraught and beleaguered courtship of Toad’s parents, and Jude is posting stories from her collection Hand-Turned Tales.)

About A Baron for Becky

BfB cover final small copyBecky is the envy of the courtesans of the demi-monde – the indulged mistress of the wealthy and charismatic Marquis of Aldridge. But she dreams of a normal life; one in which her daughter can have a future that does not depend on beauty, sex, and the whims of a man.

Finding herself with child, she hesitates to tell Aldridge. Will he cast her off, send her away, or keep her and condemn another child to this uncertain shadow world?

The devil-may-care face Hugh shows to the world hides a desperate sorrow; a sorrow he tries to drown with drink and riotous living. His years at war haunt him, but even more, he doesn’t want to think about the illness that robbed him of the ability to father a son. When he dies, his barony will die with him. His title will fall into abeyance, and his estate will be scooped up by the Crown.

When Aldridge surprises them both with a daring proposition, they do not expect love to be part of the bargain.

Follow A Baron for Becky on Wattpad, or purchase while it is on sale for 99c

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About the Author

Jude Knight copyJude Knight has been telling stories all her life: making up serial tales to amuse her friends and children, imagining sequels to books that have moved her and left her wanting more, occasionally submitting short stories to magazines and the radio, starting more than a dozen novels set in different times and places.

She has devoted most of the last forty years to a career in commercial writing and raising a large family (most recently as grandmother-in-residence while a daughter was out of action for three years). She and her own personal romantic hero, with whom she has shared those forty+ years, now live with two cats and frequent visitors in a small town in rural New Zealand.

Judy wrote and published her first historical romance in 2014, and now has the wind in her sails and a head full of strong determined heroines, heroes with the sense to appreciate them, and villains you’ll love to loathe.

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Bluestocking Belles Valentine Hunt

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Join the Bluestocking Belles Valentine hunt. Match the heroes with their heroines to be entered in a draw for their book. For entry details, see http://bluestockingbelles.com/valentines/ #BellesBrigade #Valentines #BellesInBlue

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Zoltack MMM Stephen

The Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour: Course #4

Welcome to the 4th stop of the

Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour!

Lady Pendleton

Lady Pendleton

The time-traveling Lady Pendleton and her family welcome you to Christmas 1811 at the Pendleton estate in Wittersham, East Sussex. Present are: Lady Julia Tate, her eldest daughter; Lady Philippa Bland and her husband George, Viscount Hooper; Lady Sarah Newsome, her husband Sir Henry Newsome, and their two daughters, Emily (2) and Theodora (3 months).

Note: Julia’s sister Lady Sarah and her family feature prominently in the sequel to An Ultimate Escape, which is titled A Home for Helena (available soon).

To win a digital copy of Lost and Found Lady and a lovely perfumed frame and cameo, mention (1)  your favorite Christmas film and (2) the name and title of the hero of Amy Rose Bennett’s story in Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem in the comments below (one random commenter will be chosen). The answer can be found on her post here: http://amyrosebennett.com/the-bluestocking-belles-holiday-wassailing-tour/.

perfumedframe&cameo

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Lady Julia Tate

Lady Julia Tate

Lady Pendleton, her daughter Julia, and Oliver Stanton are characters in The Ultimate Escape, a time travel novella in Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem.

Oliver Stanton

Mr. Oliver Stanton

On the eve of her wedding, Julia realizes she cannot marry her fiancé after all, no matter that it’s been her dream for eight long years. Too distraught to face him, she follows in her mother’s footsteps and flees to the future for a brief reprieve.

Oliver knows he has bungled things badly, but he is determined to win the woman he loves, even if he must travel through time to do it.

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Christmas 1810 had been a sober affair, the Pendletons’ first without their beloved patriarch’s gentle humor. A year later, however, his wife and daughters had recovered from their grief well enough to feel his spiritual presence in their lives.

“Remember how Papa loved to sing Christmas carols before dinner?” Julia suggested as they waited in front of the fire in the music room for their Christmas dinner to be ready. “I’d like to suggest Deck the Halls. Philippa, will you play for us?”

Philippa raised her eyebrows. “You may do it yourself, Julia. We all had the same music lessons, after all.”

Julia shrugged. “I’m holding the baby,” she argued. “Little Theodosia is fast asleep. You would surely not wish to wake her, would you?”

Lady Pendleton and her youngest daughter exchanged a glance. The rivalry between Julia and Philippa had become routine in their family, even after they had become adults.

Philippa gave Julia a look of annoyance and moved to the pianoforte. “What song shall we begin with?” she asked, deliberately ignoring Julia’s request.

“I Thaw Thwee Ships come thailing in,” chimed in two-year-old Emily, “on Chwithmath Day, on Chwithmath Day.”

Sarah’s oldest daughter was playing on the floor with a model of the HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s ship at the Battle of Trafalgar, that her father had given her for Christmas. Her mother had lightheartedly accused him of wishing Emily were a boy, but for whatever reason, their little daughter eschewed her dolls for the colorfully-painted ship.

“Emily has decided. I Saw Three Ships it is,” Philippa agreed, and played a chord to begin the singing.

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I Saw Three Ships

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5LROczmJHg

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Excerpt from The Ultimate Escape

She’d been standing there a few minutes, beginning to feel the sudden chilling of the air through her fur-lined cloak when the door to the house opened and a stout, middle-aged woman gestured for her to come inside.

“Weren’t you told to come in through the back entrance? We’ve been expecting you for over an hour, you know. Dear me, you must be freezing to death out there… might have a bit of snow this evening, or so they say.”

Julia’s mouth fell open. They were expecting her? No, of course not. She was being mistaken for someone else.

“I don’t think…” she began, but was interrupted by another, taller, woman, who unhooked her cloak and dragged her into a back room.

“The hair needs some work,” she commented as she surveyed Julia’s appearance. The dress is the right period, but the freckles! The agency surely knows proper ladies of the Regency did not have freckles.”

Julia’s eyes narrowed. She’d heard enough of that nonsense in her early years. “I assure you, they did, madam, if that was the complexion they were born with.” Scrubbing them with lemon juice and taking parasols everywhere had never made much of a difference, so she had learned to accept hers gracefully.

The tall woman raised her eyebrows and mumbled something about the “impertinence of young people these days,” and the other woman brought her some coffee and biscuits, and before she knew what was happening, her hair was restyled, her gown brushed and tidied, and she was sent upstairs to the “Striped Drawing Room” to mingle with the guests and talk to them about what it was like to live in “the Regency.”

There was an awkward moment or two before she learned that “the Regency” was the period from 1811-1820 when the Prince of Wales ruled as his father’s proxy until the king’s death in 1820. The Prince had been Regent for nearly two years in her own time, but nobody she knew called it “the Regency.” And she hadn’t, of course, known the date of the King’s death. That caused a tear or two until she realized suddenly that he had been dead for nearly 200 years, and so was everyone else she knew. Even she herself. Just thinking about it made her head spin.

But she didn’t have long to brood, because there were visitors to talk to. And other interesting things to learn—more awkward moments—such as the name of the house—Apsley House—and its most famous occupant—the Duke of Wellington, who turned out to be Arthur Wellesley, a particular friend of her father’s who, in her time, had only recently been made a marquess. From listening to the guides of some of the groups who toured the house, she learned that Wellesley had triumphed against the French emperor in a famous battle in an obscure Belgian town called Waterloo… that he had been showered with lavish gifts from all over the world, and even become Prime Minister. How intriguing!

Although she found it amusing to speak with the visitors about attending balls and dinners and answering a multitude of questions about the period in which she lived, she was relieved when the young woman whose place she had taken finally arrived, and she could leave to continue her explorations of the London of the future. What else might she discover before returning to her own time?

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christmasgoose

“The Christmas goose looks lovely,” Lady Pendleton commented, her eyes a bit moist. “Will you not carve it, Sir Henry? It is a Tate family tradition for the senior male to carve the bird.”

The butler placed the goose on the table in front of him, and a footman handed him the necessary utensils.

“My pleasure, your ladyship.” He rose and winked at Lady Sarah, who bit her lip to keep from smiling. It was no secret that she was considerably younger than her husband and that he had nearly a decade on Philippa’s husband, Viscount Hooper. “I’ve carved a few birds in my time.”

Yorkshire Christmas pie

http://www.janeausten.co.uk/yorkshire-christmas-pie-georgian-turducken/

First make a good standing crust, let the wall and bottom be very thick; bone a turkey, a goose, a fowl, a partridge, and a pigeon. Season them all very well, take half an ounce of mace, half an ounce of nutmegs, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, and half an ounce of black pepper, all beat fine together, two large spoonfuls of salt, and then mix them together. Open the fowls all down the back, and bone them; first the pigeon, then the partridge, cover them; then the fowl, then the goose, and then the turkey, which must be large; season them all well first, and lay them in the crust, so as it will look only like a whole turkey; then have a hare ready cased, and wiped with a clean cloth. Cut it to pieces; that is, joint it, season it, and lay it as close as you can on one side; and the other side woodcocks, moor game, and what sort of wild fowl you can get. Season them well, and lay them close, put at least four pounds of butter into the pie, then lay on your lid, which must be a very thick one, and let it be well baked. It must have a very hot oven, and will take at least four hours.

Recipe from: Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1747

With thanks to the Jane Austen Society (Please see above link for an in-depth discussion of the recipe)

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Wassail

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/wassail-recipe.html

Recipe by: Alton Brown

Ingredients

  • 6 small Fuji apples, cored
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 72 ounces ale
  • 750 ml Madeira
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 whole allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 2-inches long
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 large eggs, separated

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Put the apples into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Spoon the brown sugar into the center of each apple, dividing the sugar evenly among them. Pour the water into the bottom of the dish and bake until tender, about 45 minutes.
  • Pour the ale and Madeira into a large slow cooker. Put the cloves, allspice, and cinnamon into a small muslin bag or cheesecloth, tied with kitchen twine, and add to the slow cooker along with the ginger and nutmeg. Set the slow cooker to medium heat and bring the mixture to at least 120 degrees F. Do not boil.
  • Add the egg whites to a medium bowl and using a hand mixer, beat until stiff peaks form. Put the egg yolks into a separate bowl and beat until lightened in color and frothy, approximately 2 minutes. Add the egg whites to the yolks and using the hand mixer, beat, just until combined. Slowly add 4 to 6 ounces of the alcohol mixture from the slow cooker to the egg mixture, beating with the hand mixer on low speed. Return this mixture to the slow cooker and whisk to combine.
  • Add the apples and the liquid from the baking dish to the wassail and stir to combine. Ladle into cups and serve.

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Negus

http://www.janeausten.co.uk/negus/

To every pint of port wine, allow 1 quart of boiling water, 1/4 lb. of sugar, 1 lemon, grated nutmeg to taste.

As this beverage is more usually drunk at children’s parties than at any other, the wine need not be very old or expensive for the purpose, a new fruity wine answering very well for it. Put the wine into a jug, rub some lumps of sugar (equal to 1/4 lb.) on the lemon-rind until all the yellow part of the skin is absorbed, then squeeze the juice, and strain it. Add the sugar and lemon-juice to the port wine, with the grated nutmeg; pour over it the boiling water, cover the jug, and, when the beverage has cooled a little, it will be fit for use. Negus may also be made of sherry, or any other sweet white wine, but is more usually made of port than of any other beverage.

Sufficient: Allow 1 pint of wine, with the other ingredients in proportion, for a party of 9 or 10 children.

Recipe from: Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861

With thanks to the Jane Austen Society (Please see above link for an in-depth discussion of the recipe)

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Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
In this collection of novellas, the Bluestocking Belles bring you seven runaway Regency brides resisting and romancing their holiday heroes under the mistletoe. Whether scampering away or dashing toward their destinies, avoiding a rogue or chasing after a scoundrel, these ladies and their gentlemen leave miles of mayhem behind them on the slippery road to a happy-ever-after.

***All proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.***

Goodreads Reviews

Amazon | Smashwords | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Donate to the Malala Fund

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Links to all of the Belles’ holiday wassailing stops, with a different Regency era Christmas carol, dinner selection, and beverage, and wassail recipes at every stop that you can make in the modern kitchen.

christmas

Digital Christmas Card by EKDuncan using digital Christmas ornaments of Regency ladies

Caroline Warfield: Dangerous Weakness (Giveaway)

DANGEROUS WEAKNESS2 (5) copy 

Night Owl Reviews, in reviewing Dangerous Works, said, “There is nothing so entertaining as watching a man who is always in control lose that control.” I was delighted because that is exactly what I tried to accomplish in that story. The Marquess of Glenaire, cool, calm and in control, managed the lives of his friends through two novels and a novella. I was determined to muss his hear, rip his suit, and throw him into the unknown.

How about you? Do you like to see a man is just too perfect lose it?  I’ll give a Kindle copy of Dangerous Works to one person who comments.

About Dangerous Weakness

If women were as easily managed as the affairs of state—or the recalcitrant Ottoman Empire—Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, would be a happier man. As it was the creatures—one woman in particular—made hash of his well-laid plans and bedeviled him on all sides.

Lily Thornton came home from Saint Petersburg in pursuit of marriage. She wants a husband and a partner, not an overbearing, managing man. She may be “the least likely candidate to be Marchioness of Glenaire,” but her problems are her own to fix, even if those problems include both a Russian villain and an interfering Ottoman official.

Given enough facts, Richard can fix anything. But protecting that impossible woman is proving to be almost as hard as protecting his heart, especially when Lily’s problems bring her dangerously close to an Ottoman revolution. As Lily’s personal problems entangle with Richard’s professional ones, and she pits her will against his, he chases her across the pirate-infested Mediterranean. Will she discover surrender isn’t defeat? It might even have its own sweet reward.

Amazon US http://amzn.to/1L8IDXp

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1JYxerM

Amazon Canada http://amzn.to/1NwQmMt

Amazon Euro http://amzn.to/1PrxeAQ

Amazon India http://amzn.to/1hdwC6C

Amazon Aus http://bit.ly/1NikayC

Excerpt

“Who invited Lilias Thornton?” Richard demanded under his breath. His eyes followed a slender young woman who paced out the steps of the Quadrille across the parquet floor of the earl’s ballroom.

“No ‘thank you for turning your country seat into a diplomatic snake pit for an entire week so the haut ton can mingle with exotic visitors from the East while the foreign secretary manages the fate of Greece over Brandy and cards?’” Will demanded.

Richard looked at his friend, one eyebrow raised. “Chadbourn Park fit the need precisely. I thanked your Catherine this morning.”

Will grunted. “My Catherine worked miracles when Sahin Pasha showed up with six extra people in his party.”

“We can’t predict how many retainers the Turks will impose,” Richard growled. The Ottomans danced to their own tune; the Foreign Office never knows what to expect. Richard loathed the unpredictable. He went back to surveying the overheated ballroom.

“Who invited Lilias Thornton?” he repeated while he moved along the mirrored wall of the earl’s spectacular ballroom to a position next to a massive marble urn that gave him a better view of his quarry. His eyes never left the dancers.

Will snatched two glasses of champagne from a footman stationed discreetly along the softly flocked wall, tray in hand. He handed one to Richard who took it without looking.

“Catherine also had to scurry when your mother demanded that she invite three more marriageable young ladies and their eager mamas,” Will complained.

“I would rather that she refused.”

“Refuse the Duchess of Sudbury? Surely you jest.”

Richard nodded without taking his gaze from the dancers. “I jest. I have less control over my mother than I do Sahin Pasha.” He loathed loss of control even more than unpredictability. He had been forced to sidestep the marriage-minded chits for two days.

Right now only one woman interested him, Lilias Thornton. He watched her throw her head back, send auburn curls bouncing, and laugh up at her partner. She dances with grace, I’ll give her that—grace and unbridled joy. A man could lose his senses over that look. The last thing he needed was to lose his senses.

Will followed his friend’s line of sight. “Beautiful woman,” he acknowledged. “Catherine called her dress ‘beyond perfection.’”

That dress radiates so damned much continental sophistication she makes the women around her look countrified, my esteemed mother’s protégées included. The woman laughed freely again, and Richard felt himself harden in spite of his determination; the surge of attraction irritated him. I have no time for such nonsense.

“Who invited her?” he demanded. “It’s a matter of some urgency.”

Will shrugged. “I believe Catherine included some regular attendees at your sister’s literary salon. She must be one of those. You said to invite women who could provide intelligent conversation to members of the diplomatic corps.”

“So I did. My men tell me she has been in conversation with Konstantin Volkov three times these past two days.”

“You’re tracking her conversations?”

“Volkov’s. He has no official role, yet he follows the Russian delegation and slinks through society in the shadows. I want to know who he works for, why he sought an invitation, and what he intends.”

The entire house party had been arranged to provide a discreet opportunity for the foreign secretary—or more precisely, Richard, his second—to persuade Ottoman officials to moderate their suppression of revolutionary rumbling in Greece. England did not want the kind of chaos that would tempt Russia. Expansionist Russia threatened all of Europe. The weak and floundering Ottoman Empire did not.

“Ask him,” Will suggested. “Unless diplomacy requires a more devious approach.”

“Lilias Thornton accompanied her father to St. Petersburg three years ago. The crown appointed him to the trade delegation at our embassy there,” Richard explained. “She returned without him rather abruptly in early January. I wonder why. Volkov arrived shortly after. It puzzles me.” He did not like puzzles.

“It isn’t unusual for a young woman of marriageable age to seek London before the Season starts,” a woman’s voice cut in. Catherine Landrum, Will’s countess, reached for her husband’s glass and took a sip. She tasted it slowly, seemed to pronounce it fit, and handed the glass back. “Lilias made it clear she’s seeking a good marriage,” the countess told Richard. “Who is Volkov?”

“She’s well beyond the age,” he answered. He ignored her question about the Russian.

“Surely not!” Catherine laughed. “Twenty-two may be somewhat older than the norm . . .” She paused when a young woman of seventeen pranced by and smiled coyly at the marquess over her partner’s shoulder.

“Well, perhaps quite a bit older,” she acknowledged when they passed.

“She served as her father’s hostess in his postings abroad since she turned sixteen. She has shown no interest in the marriage mart until this year,” Richard said. “I don’t care about the gossip. I want to know about her connection to Konstantin Volkov.”

“Ask her,” the countess suggested.

“I intend to,” Richard said as the last notes of the dance faded. He set out in the woman’s direction.

About the Author

Carol Roddy - Author

Carol Roddy – Author

Caroline Warfield has at various times been an army brat, a librarian, a poet, a raiser of children, a nun, a bird watcher, an Internet and Web services manager, a conference speaker, an indexer, a tech writer, a genealogist, and, of course, a romantic. She has sailed through the English channel while it was still mined from WWII, stood on the walls of Troy, searched Scotland for the location of an entirely fictional castle (and found it), climbed the steps to the Parthenon, floated down the Thames from the Tower to Greenwich, shopped in the Ginza, lost herself in the Louvre, gone on a night safari at the Singapore zoo, walked in the Black Forest, and explored the underground cistern of Istanbul. By far the biggest adventure has been life-long marriage to a prince among men.

She sits in front of a keyboard at a desk surrounded by windows, looks out at the trees and imagines. Her greatest joy is when one of those imaginings comes to life on the page and in the imagination of her readers.

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Other Books by Caroline

Dangerous Works

Dangerous Secrets