Tag Archive | Georgian

Never Too Late: A Bluestocking Belles Collection

Eight authors and eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t.

Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, welcome to the romance of the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 Holiday and More Anthology.

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We’re still working on the rest of the retailer links but just in case you want to take advantage of our special pre-order price, jump on over to Amazon and order your copy now. The release date for NEVER TOO LATE is November 4th. Remember, 25% of the sales from the Belles’ box sets benefit our mutual charity, The Malala Fund. You, too, can make a difference in the life of a young woman or child by contributing to this worthy cause!


The Piper’s Lady by Sherry Ewing

True love binds them. Deceit divides them. Will they choose love?
Coira does not regret traveling with her grandfather until she is too old to wed. But perhaps it is not too late? At Berwyck Castle, a dashing knight runs to her rescue. How can she resist?

Garrick can hold his own with the trained Knights of Berwyck, but they think of him as a piper, not a fighter. When his heart sings for the new resident of the castle, he dares to wish he is something he is not. Will failure to clear her misunderstanding doom their love before it begins?

Excerpt

“You saved me,” she whispered in a shaky tone. “You are truly a gallant knight to rescue me. Your liege lord must value you as one of his warriors.”

Warrior? Him? He opened his mouth to correct her assumption but could not find the words. He knew she would think less of him if she but knew he was only the clan’s piper.

“Are ye harmed?” he murmured, still holding the pleasing womanly curves of the lady who had not yet moved from atop him. Her brow rose, and Garrick inwardly cursed knowing there was no way to hide his Scottish accent.

“Nay, but only because of your ability to move so quickly. Thank you, Sir…” She left her sentence linger in the air between them.

“Garrick,” he answered, giving her his name, “of Clan MacLaren.”

“My thanks, Sir Garrick,” she replied with a kind smile.

They seemed to come to the realization the lists had become eerily silent with the exception of one person running in their direction.

“Get your hands off her!” a voice bellowed.

Before either of them could move, the woman was ripped from his arms, and Garrick saw her enveloped in the fierce embrace of Morgan. Her arms wrapped around his neck, and Garrick could not help the feeling of jealousy assaulting his emotions and tugging at his heartstrings.

“Coira! By St. Michael’s Wings you gave me such a fright, woman,” Morgan scolded in concern. Setting her down upon her feet, he proceeded to clasp both her cheeks afore placing kisses on each.

Her Wounded Heart by Nicole Zoltack

An injured knight trespassing on Mary Bennett’s land is a threat to the widow’s
already frail refuge. Even so, she cannot turn away a man in need and tells him he has her husband’s leave to stay until Christmas.

Doran Ward wishes only to survive for one more day. However, as he begins to
heal and to pay for his lodgings by fixing the rundown manor, the wounds to Mistress Bennett’s heart intrigue him.

Can two desperate souls find hope in time for Christmas?

Excerpt 

To her surprise, her guest had laid out a few vegetables, and she set about cutting them without saying a word to him.

At one point, he reached across her for another knife.

She stiffened and jerked back.

“My apologies,” he said. “I did not mean to startle you.”

“Do not touch me,” she said, fear melting into anger in her voice. “My husband is a very strong and angry man. He shall take exception to anyone who dares to touch me.”

“Will he be joining us for dinner?” he asked as if unfazed.

She did not like to lie to him. Lying, after all, was a sin. But she also must protect herself.

“No,” she said shortly. “He already ate and has retired for the evening.”

“So it shall be only the two of us?” He glanced over his shoulder at the chunks of meat he had cooking over the fierce fire.

“Aye. You can brine-cure the meat we do not eat.”

“Very well.” He never did grab the knife but returned to tending to the meat.

Soon enough, she added the vegetables to a pot, along with some of his meat. A short time later, the stew was finished.

The man brought over two bowls. She stared at the wooden spoons in her hands. Her husband had lost their silver in yet another game.

Another sign to alert him that all is not well here.

Head back, she took a deep breath. Matters such as they were, she had no other recourse. As cold as the house was despite fires, she could not imagine anyone surviving the night out of doors. Would her good intentions spell even more doom for herself?

A Year Without Christmas by Jessica Cale 

London, 1645

Edward Rothschild returns home from war defeated in more ways than one. His friends killed and his property seized, he is an earl in name only. His family and his servants have all deserted him– all except his housekeeper, Lillian Virtue.

Lillian feels like home in a way that nothing else does, but as his servant and a recent widow, it would be impossible for them to be together. Then again, Christmas has been banned and the social order fractured; can one more impossible thing happen this year?

Excerpt

Somerton’s smile was like a bolt of lightning, a sudden flash of terrifying intensity that surprised them both. One shot of light across the darkness of his face and it was gone.
Her knees failed her suddenly and Lillian caught herself on the edge of the table just as Somerton reached out to catch her arm. His hand closed around her elbow and sent a shock up her spine.

“Are you well?”

Lillian had always held her master in the highest regard, but some part of her had feared him, as well. It was not only that her position depended upon his good graces, but he had seemed more than human to her. His presence was overwhelming and perhaps otherworldly; he had a spark of the infinite that suggested a link to the Divine. She could have easily taken him for a priest or a saint.

She had known he was objectively handsome; what she had not realized was that she thought he was handsome.

She felt her blush deepen and took a steadying breath. “Quite well, my lord. Forgive me.”
He frowned as he examined her face. “You look peaked. Join me for coffee.”

Somerton wanted her—Lillian Page, no, Virtue—to sip coffee with him in his private bedchamber? It was inappropriate, to say the least, but when she opened her mouth to object, all that came out was, “I only brought one cup.”

The Night of the Feast by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

As a spy deep in the heart of Revolutionary France, Michael St. John hopes to make amends for a wasted life his by helping the citizens of the Vendée stage a counter-revolution.

Jacqueline Archambeau, tavern owner and cook, accepts that life and love have passed her by. She never dreamed she would fight her own countrymen for the right to keep her customs and traditions.

When they plot together to steal plans at a regimental dinner will they risk their lives—and their hearts?

Excerpt 

Bonjour.” The smile on Jacqueline’s face was unexpected, as was the greeting and he found himself returning it.

Until he felt the unmistakable press of a gun barrel at his lower back. It seemed that Madame Jacqueline was not alone.

“Your knife, monsieur.” Jacqueline held out her hand.

Michael obliged, handing the weapon over hilt first.

“So, Jacques is really Jacqueline?” he asked, feeling like the world’s greatest fool.

“And I’ll take any other weapons you might have on your person,” she continued.

He hesitated, and the barrel pressed at his back became silently insistent.

“Please?” she asked as pleasantly as if she had simply asked him to pass the butter.

Michael raised his arms, threaded his fingers, and placed them at the back of his head.

“You’ve completely disarmed me, madam, but you are welcome to check for yourself.”

Hazel eyes clouded with mistrust. Jacqueline glanced to the person behind him as though looking for instruction.

“Who sent you?”

The voice behind him was that of another woman.

Michael gritted his teeth. He would kill Colonel Jeffers when they next met. The man knew his contacts were women and thought it amusing not to tell him. To further his bona fides, Jeffers had even made him memorize the first stanza of a poem, Ode To Him Who Complains, no less, by scandalous poetess Mary Darby Robinson.

The Umbrella Chronicles: George & Dorothea’s Story

by Amy Quinton 

Lord George St. Vincent doesn’t realize it, but his days as a bachelor in good standing are numbered.

He has a fortnight, to be precise—the duration of the Marquess of Dansbury’s house party.

For I, Lady Harriett Ross, have committed to parting with several items of sentimental worth should I fail to orchestrate his downfall—er, betrothal—to Miss Dorothea Wythe, who is delightful, brilliant, and interested (or will be).

If I have anything to say about matters, and I always have something to say about matters, they’re both doomed.

Did I say doomed? I mean, destined—for a life filled with love.

Excerpt 

Without a doubt, he made her breath catch every single time he looked her way, even if only looking past her, which was pretty much all the time and kind of pitiful. But who cared? It was another secret that was all hers.

Besides, she was undoubtedly not the only woman who struggled to breathe in his presence.

Dory clenched her hands into fists and reminded herself for the millionth time that she was more of the glasses and books type (of which there were far too few in the world) than the roguish smile and flirty type (of which far too many abounded). Hence, her easy slide into spinsterhood at the ripe age of thirty-one.

Yes. St. George was blond and slender and solidly built. And he was beautiful, somehow elegantly masculine, and gloriously tall. She wasn’t the only person that understood this. Everyone acknowledged these traits as if they were all a set of facts that could be found in any book on science. Or a math fact, a proven geometrical theorem.

Like the bluestocking she was, Dory imagined writing proofs over the theory of his gentlemanly beauty. Given George St. Vincent is taller than most men. Given St. Vincent has blue eyes the color of the sky and blonde hair the color of wheat. Given George St. Vincent has a blinding smile and broad shoulders. Prove George St. Vincent is the most swoonworthy man in all of England.

Dory chuckled to herself, though she felt on the verge of hysterics.

But all of that didn’t mean he was a worthy man for her affections.

A Malicious Rumor by Susana Ellis

Vauxhall gardener Alice Crocker has had to defend herself from encroaching males all her life, but the new violinist is a different sort. So when she discovers that he is the victim of a malicious rumor, she naturally wants to help.

Peter de Luca greatly admires the lady gardener, but this is his problem to resolve.

What will it take to prove to this pair that they would be stronger together as a harmonious duo than two lonely solos?

Excerpt

Alice found her feet tapping in time to the music of the orchestra rehearsal while she inspected the site for the new illumination, which would honor the new Duke of Wellington after his victory over Bonaparte at the Battle of Paris. If only the designer had included the measurements! It was difficult to decide how to arrange the plantings without some inkling of the space requirements. With luck, the fellow himself would arrive soon, since the spectacle was planned to open the next day.

Miss Stephens must be singing tonight, she thought as she found herself humming the tune of the popular Northumberland ballad about a brave lass who rowed out in a storm to save her shipwrecked sailor beau.

O! merry row, O! merry row the bonnie, bonnie bark,

Bring back my love to calm my woe,

Before the night grows dark.

She liked the idea of a woman rescuing her man instead of the other way around. It might seem romantic to be rescued by a handsome prince, but one could not always be a damsel in distress, could one? Alice knew from her mother’s marriage that there was no happiness or romance in a marriage where one partner held all the power. She herself had no intention of placing herself in the power of any man. She would be responsible to no one but herself—and perhaps her employer, as long as she was permitted to work for a living. She narrowed her eyes. She could work as well as any man, better than some, in fact. Why did so many men feel threatened by that?

Forged in Fire by Jude Knight

Burned in their youth, neither Tad nor Lottie expected to feel the fires of love. The years have soothed the pain, and each has built a comfortable, if not fully satisfying, life, on paths that intersect and then diverge again.

But then the inferno of a volcanic eruption sears away the lies of the past and frees them to forge a future together.

Excerpt

She was nothing to him. He was sorry for her, that was all. As he’d be sorry for anyone stuck in her predicament. She’d be better off staying in New Zealand, where Mrs. Bletherow’s malice couldn’t reach her. There was work in Auckland, in shops and factories. Not that a proper English lady would consider such a thing.

She could do it, though. She wasn’t as meek as she pretended. He’d seen the steel in her, the fire in those pretty hazel eyes.

The word ‘pretty’ put a check in his stride, but it was true. She had lovely eyes. Not a pretty face, precisely. Her cheeks were too thin, her jaw too square, her nose too straight for merely ‘pretty’. But in her own way, she was magnificent. She was not as comfortably curved or as young as the females he used to chase when he was a wild youth, the sort he always thought he preferred. Not as gaudy as them, with their bright dresses and their brighter face paint. But considerably less drab than he had thought at first sight. She was a little brown hen that showed to disadvantage beside the showier feathers of the parrot, but whose feathers were a subtle symphony of shades and patterns. Besides, parrots, in his experience, were selfish, demanding creatures.

 

Roses in Picardy by Caroline Warfield

 After two years at war, Harry is out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images for darkness. Color among the floating islands of Amiens and life in the form of a widow and her little son surprise him with hope.

Rosemarie Legrand’s husband died, leaving her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier.

Excerpt

Are men in Hell happier for a glimpse of Heaven?”

The piercing eyes gentled. “Perhaps not,” the old man said, “but a store of memories might be medicinal in coming months. Will you come back?”

Will I? He turned around to face forward, and the priest poled the boat out of the shallows, seemingly content to allow him his silence.

“How did you arrange my leave?” Harry asked at last, giving voice to a sudden insight.

“Prayer,” the priest said. Several moments later he, added, “And Col. Sutherland in the logistics office has become a friend. I suggested he had a pressing need for someone who could translate requests from villagers.”

“Don’t meddle, old man. Even if they use me, I’ll end up back in the trenches. Visits to Rosemarie Legrand would be futile in any case. The war is no closer to an end than it was two years ago.”

“Despair can be deadly in a soldier, corporal. You must hold on to hope. We all need hope, but to you, it can be life or death,” the priest said.

Life or death. He thought of the feel of the toddler on his shoulder and the colors of les hortillonnages. Life indeed.

The sound of the pole propelling them forward filled several minutes.

“So will you come back?” the old man asked softly. He didn’t appear discomforted by the long silence that followed.

“If I have a chance to come, I won’t be able to stay away,” Harry murmured, keeping his back to the priest.

“Then I will pray you have a chance,” the old man said softly.

Journal of a Georgian Gentleman

The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman:

The Life and Times of Richard Hall, 1729-1801

by Mike Rendell

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https://www.amazon.com/Journal-Georgian-Gentleman-Richard-1729-1801-ebook/dp/B00A3EY1TO

Treasures from the Past

Have you ever wished you could find a trunk somewhere that is full of diaries and papers and mementos from one of your ancestors? Remnants from the past that give you a glimpse of the person, and not just the name and dates generally found in family Bibles or ancestry.com?

Sadly, most of my ancestors weren’t the sort to write things down, so when they disappeared from the earth, most of their life experiences disappeared with them. One exception was my great-grandfather, Jess Sherry. An educator who valued words, he left a legacy of writings that are in many ways as apropos today as they were a hundred years ago.

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A silhouette of Richard Hall, made by his daughter Martha.

Preface

In his lifetime Richard kept copious notebooks, diaries and journals as well as everyday ephemera of the time—newspaper cuttings, admission tickets, catalogues and so on. Apart from a dozen contemporaneously written diaries which are still extant, Richard completed numerous retrospective accounts of events which had influenced his life. These were often interspersed with details about the weather, the price of bread, recipes for making wine, inventories of his assets, and so forth. Separately he also maintained little notebooks on favoured topics—‘Observables’ (referring to what he had seen and noted, e.g. eclipses, earthquakes, violent storms and other natural phenomena), ‘Fossils’ (which he took to mean anything dug out of the ground) and ‘Receipts’ (i.e., recipes, which included medicines rather than just meals). He left behind his collection of coins, shells and fossils. He was also, from the 1750’s onwards, an avid collector of books, many of them bought from local booksellers.

trunk

Richard often wrote his thoughts and ideas—as well as copied out sermons—in manuscript books, which were then bound up. Many remain. A fastidious record-keeper, at the end of each year he would set out a list of the books which he had read—and most of these lists survive, too. Together these collections give a fascinating insight into the man and his times. Many of the items were stored in Richard’s horse-hair trunk. One of the restrospective journals is entitled ‘Family and Personal Recollections’. It begins:

I have frequently thought of writing a little history of my life interspersed with as much information as I could collect from letters and memorandum in my possession, of my family connexions. No very striking incidents, I am fully aware will be presented. Still I trust it may be attended with benefit in awakening feelings of deep humility and a lively gratitude in my own mind whilst it will afford an outline of a family history to my children they could not otherwise obtain.

What follows is a story of the life of Richard Hall—my great-great-great-great grandfather. It is based on what Richard himself wrote and collected—with some additional material from his son, who maintained the family tradition of retrospective musing and diary-keeping, and from his brother-in-law William, whose three surviving diaries give a fascinating counterpart to what was happening in the Hall family in the middle part of the eighteenth century. To this family source material has been added background information—to give a fuller picture of Richard’s life and times.

Richard’s Story

Richard’s grandfather Thomas, a gentleman farmer, managed to survive “the end of the English Civil War—the execution of Charles I, Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate, the Restoration of Charles II, the upheavals of the reign of James II, the accession of William of Orange and the start of the Hanoverian dynasty.” But also, he was financially ruined by the notorious South Sea Bubble (see blog post here). The end result was that Thomas’s son Francis had to go to London to find work, as many did in that situation. Francis got an apprenticeship with a hosier, which, as the author puts it, was “quite a step down for a young man brought up as the son of a ‘gentleman farmer’.

An only child, Richard was brought up on Red Lion Street in Southwark. What was it like for him growing up in that rather unsavory neighborhood? Rendell sets that scene for us, using historical data that is pure gold for a historical author who might be seeking a background for a character who was in trade during that period.

How were babies treated? Words pronounced? What would Richard have learned in school? What did they eat? How did they cook? What was the postal system like? The roads? Was it necessary to have a passport to travel abroad? How much did Richard weigh? How much did things cost? Where did he go for entertainment and what curiosities garnered his interest? What did men and women wear?

In 1766, Richard, aiming for a more fashionable clientele, signed a contract to build a shop on London Bridge (“the corner London Thames Street, London Bridge). With this move, now he was able to offer fabrics as well as silk stockings. He took out fire insurance. Eventually, he took on his own son as apprentice. And his life continued, well-documented—through 1801. Even better, his descendants had the good sense not to destroy the remnants that he left.

school expenses

Do you have an ancestor who left journals or writings behind to document his/her life? What sort of plans do you have to document your own life for your descendants?

About the Author

Mike RendellBorn in Bristol, England, Mike Rendell read Law at Southampton University. After graduation he joined a Bristol law firm where he was to launch the UK s first 24/7 residential property transfer service. He contributed regular articles on property matters to legal journals and wrote a weekly legal advice column in the local press. He retired in 2003 and now lives with his wife Philippa, sometimes on the edge of Dartmoor in the South West of England, and sometimes in Spain, where he tends his garden of olives, pomegranates and citrus fruits. He has two children from a former marriage. He is currently working on a novel set in Georgian England as well as on a book to be published by Pen & Sword entitled “Sex, Scandal and Satire – in bed with the Georgians” – due out 2015/6.

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Guest Author Elizabeth Bailey: A Lady In Name

The Georgian Gentleman’s Version of the Little Black Book

by Elizabeth Bailey

Women who fell from grace in the 18th Century had few options open to them. Get married with speed was top of the list. Preferably to the fellow with whom you did the deed, but frankly anyone of respectability would do.

If Darcy had not intervened to get Lydia married to wicked Wickham, as Lizzie Bennet points out, not only Lydia, but her four sisters would have been tainted and probably doomed to spinsterhood since they had no money to bribe a prospective bridegroom into overlooking the disgrace.

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A page from Harris’s List

The Bennet girls were lucky. In reality, the family would likely have disowned Lydia. When Wickham tired of her, she was young and pretty enough to have found herself another protector. As time went on, Lydia might have drifted in the direction of Covent Garden where she could well have found herself portrayed in a couple of extremely frank paragraphs in the annual publication of Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies.

This fascinating little volume was started in 1757 by one Samuel Derrick, as a venture to get himself out of debtor’s prison. His lively descriptions of the ladies who made themselves available for a gentleman’s amours proved so popular that he not only procured his release, but he started a phenomenon that continued until 1795.

Almost all the ladies spoken of as being of good education evidently fell into “the life”, as it was popularly called, by way of seduction and subsequent abandonment.

Like Miss Char-ton (note the missing letter, a thinly veiled anonymity) of No. 12, Gress Street, who “came of reputable parents…yet the address of a designing villain, too soon found means to ruin her; forsaken by her friends, pursued by shame and necessity; she had no other alternative…”

Prostitutes propositioning a sailor

Prostitutes propositioning a sailor

Seduction was not confined to the educated classes. There was Miss Le-, of Berwick-Street, Soho, who “was debauched by a young counsellor, from a boarding-school near town, where she was apprentice.”

Then there was Miss We-ls, of No. 35, Newman-Street, daughter of a Welsh farmer, who is described as being “as wild as a goat, of a sandy colour, her features are small, and is a tight little piece.” She was sent to London when young where “a young gentleman ingratiated him so far into her graces, as to gain her consent to make him happy by her ruin, under a promise of marriage” and then he subsequently “abandoned her to the reproaches and calumny of a merciless world”.

The majority of the ladies featured in this entertaining little black book for your pleasure-seeking young buck were in their teens or early twenties. An example is Miss Townsend, nineteen, of whom we learn that “the use of the needle first fired this lady’s imagination with the use of a certain pin”. This sort of witty euphemism abounds.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the anodyne of choice for a number of the ladies is strong liquor. Like Miss Godfrey, a commanding female, who “will take brandy with any one, or drink and swear, and though but little, will fight a good battle.”

The women are delineated in detail, depending on their particular attractions: “she is amorous to the greatest degree, and has courage enough not to be afraid of the largest and strongest man that ever drew weapon in the cause of love”. Or non-attractions, as “but a middling face, with large features, a coarse hand and arm, and in stature short and clumsy”, but she is “an excellent bedfellow”.

Their looks are described: “of a middle size, black eyes, plump made and her skin good” or another with “fine blue eyes that are delicious”. We are told about good teeth and “sweet breath”, in a day where these were rare. We hear about “yielding limbs, though beautiful when together, are still more ravishing when separated”.

Disposition is mentioned, whether she is “agreeable” or “animated with no small degree of vanity” or indeed “a pompous heroic girl, without either wit or humour”. There is a figure to suit every taste, and an accommodation for every sexual whim. We learn whether or not she has a keeper (which doesn’t stop any lady selling her favours elsewhere) and what it may cost our young man about town to enjoy her charms.

Prostitutes angling for business in the lobby of a theatre

Prostitutes angling for business in the lobby of a theatre

One or two guineas appears the norm, with here and there a more expensive luxury on offer. The genteel Miss Le- above, who was led into sin, is only seventeen and “has a piece of the termagant about her”, but she commands three or four guineas for her services, which include birching for those so inclined. While Miss – of Wardour Street, who is “but newly arrived” and “darts such irresistible glances as can scarcely fail to engage the hearts of the beholders” will not accept less than five guineas. Mrs Ho-fey, on the other hand, who “calls forth all her powers to give delight with uncommon success” will happily settle for half a guinea.

A guinea (one pound, one shilling) seems a pathetic sum to us. Yet these women were the middling class of prostitute. They could not aspire to the heights of high-class courtesans like the later Harriette Wilson, whose clients included the Duke of Wellington, but they were a good deal better off than the street corner girls who plied their trade for a few pence, or a few shillings at best.

But whether they earned a pittance or a fortune, many women ended up selling their bodies to make ends meet. There were 50,000 prostitutes in London in 1797, according to a contemporary magistrate’s account. That statistic argues a lack of opportunities for women to find gainful employment. The better bred, the fewer the options.

It’s tempting to withhold sympathy for our Covent-Garden ladies when you convert their earnings to the present day. In today’s money, a guinea is worth around £60. A lady’s maid was paid less than that in a year, and no doubt worked a lot harder. While Miss Le- with her five guineas was getting buying power to the tune of our £300 every time she lay flat on her back!

What’s more, these ladies of the night could afford to please themselves how they lived, which was more than could be said for most wives, be their husbands lord or boot boy. They lived in comfortable apartments, had a great deal of freedom, could pick and choose among their clientele, and enjoy all the entertainments on offer in the shops and theatres of the time. And all at the trifling cost of respectability.

Hogarth—a bawd from a brothel enticing a country girl newly arrived in London

Hogarth—a bawd from a brothel enticing a country girl newly arrived in London

The downside was the future. The lifestyle was no sinecure. There are very few females over thirty in Harris’s List. Assuming one could avoid a dose of “the pox” or any other disease and live, what to do when the charms of youth faded? How many of them were canny enough to salt away a quantity of takings as insurance?

A few, one assumes, if they had garnered sufficient fortune, might be lucky enough to marry. Others are mentioned as having moved into brothel-keeping themselves. But the rest?

What happened to Sally Robinson, who was given five shillings at the age of fifteen to cure her of the clap “which she got from her deflowerer”? On the town in 1761, what hope had “a tall, fat girl” of any kind of living thirty years later? Or Kitty Buckley, who was one of the few older females and already 35 in 1761? She was “reported to have ruined twenty keepers” because she was “as wicked as a devil, and as extravagant as Cleopatra”. Since she had been in the bailiff’s hands about three times a year, did she end her days in prison?

While Harris’s List is a delight in many ways, there is something a little distasteful in the warts-and-all public exposure of a whole generation of unfortunate females, whose only mistake was to succumb to the lure of sensual gratification.

Besides marriage or prostitution, was there any other way out for the fallen woman? If they were lucky, or had kind and generous relatives, there was hope. Transported to another place, perhaps with an allowance, they could start a new life under an assumed name – but with the shadow of the past always ready to catch up with them.

This is of course a familiar theme in our modern take on the historical romance. Our heroine is plucked from this life of shame and obscurity by the love of a good man. What better way to compensate her for enduring such punishment for what was, to our twenty-first century thinking, perfectly natural behaviour?

As for the luscious Covent-Garden Ladies, who had the gumption to use the only means they had of making a decent living – good for you, ladies!

About A Lady In Name

On discovering she is the illegitimate daughter of a peer of the realm, Lucy Graydene, bereft and grieving, sets out to confront Lord Pennington with the result of his misdeeds. She finds instead his autocratic heir, Stefan Ankerville, and is dragged willy-nilly into the new earl’s unconventional family. Lucy is driven to battle for her independence while she struggles against the venom of the half-sister she never knew she had.

When the secrets of Lucy’s past begin to unravel, she is reluctantly obliged to rely on Stefan’s help. Can Lucy overcome a dangerous attraction to the earl, with whom an alliance is impossible? Or is there a faint hope of happiness in the hidden truth of her origins?

Excerpt

The hubbub of a busy inn penetrated dimly into the quiet of the upstairs parlour. It was a small apartment, designed for privacy rather than comfort, and furnished with the minimum of necessities. A chill hung in the January air, little eased by the meagre warmth from a fire in the grate, but the solitary occupant of the room appeared unaffected by this circumstance, although her aspect was far from relaxed.

Lady in Name 500 x 750She was seated on one of the straight high-backed chairs placed about the heavy oaken table at which travellers were encouraged to partake of refreshments, but she had not thought to move it nearer to the hearth. Nor was there any sign that she had availed herself of the innkeeper’s offerings to assuage either hunger or thirst. She was clad in a plain black greatcoat, and a simple black bonnet, unadorned, concealed her hair and a good deal of her face. She sat perfectly upright and still, except for her gloved hands, which she repeatedly clasped and unclasped where they lay in her lap.

From time to time, her eyes flickered to the door, as if in the expectation of its opening at any moment. And once she cast a frowning glance at the case clock on the mantel, which was dragging its way about the eleventh hour, its steady ticking pulling her out of her unquiet thoughts.

She scarcely knew what she was doing here, and the longer she waited for an arrival upon which she could place no real dependence, the stronger grew her anxieties. What had she to hope for, thrusting herself upon the notice of Lord Pennington? The man who had repudiated her three and twenty years ago was unlikely to greet her sudden appearance with complaisance. Nor could she imagine the intervening years had changed one hard-hearted enough to reject all responsibility for the consequences of his libertine conduct. Despite his cloth, Papa’s dictum, frequently uttered, had been that a leopard never changes his spots.

The remembrance caught at her heartstrings, turning a knife in the wound. Papa—so she must always think of him. She churned again with the futile yearnings that had plagued her from the instant of his uttering the fateful confession.

If only he had not chosen to reveal the horrid truth of her origins. If only he had been spared the necessity. If only the Almighty had spared him. And most painful of all, if only Lucy had been more alert to his weakness after the dreadful downpour.

It had caught him on a visit to Mrs Mimms—one of the poorest of Papa’s parishioners, her cottage situated a good five miles from Upledon vicarage with no vestige of shelter between. The dread picture of his return, his clothes dripping, his horse streaming in the deluge, had haunted Lucy from the onset of his short and fatal illness.

In vain had Papa protested at her rage of tears, his once round tones faint with effort as he drew each difficult breath. ‘My child, you could not have known. Recollect that I was well for days after the incident.’

‘Apparently well,’ Lucy had argued, fierce against the inevitable doom she was powerless to prevent. ‘You were pale, Papa. And you could not stand for long without a rest. I see it now. I should have seen it then.’

‘Lucy, there is nothing you could have done. It is God’s will, and you must accept it.’

But Lucy was incapable of trusting to the will of a deity who could deprive her at one stroke of her sole source of loving comfort and the entirety of her life’s belief. Oh, Papa, if only you had not told me! Except that if he had not, he would not have been the man she had known and cared for as her father: compassionate, patient, and the exemplar of “the milk of human kindness” demanded by his calling. Else he could not have taken to his heart and raised as his own the child of dubious parentage Lucy now knew herself to be.

Caught in the turmoil of her unhappy thoughts, the opening of the door took Lucy unawares. She jumped, her eyes flying to the aperture where a man stood revealed. She took in a tall frame enveloped in the grey of a many-caped greatcoat, one slender hand holding to the door handle. From under a dark beaver hat, a steel gaze pierced her in a countenance considerably younger than Lucy had anticipated.

Startled, she shot out of her chair, starting forward a step or two, a riot of question leaping to her tongue.

‘Oh! Surely you cannot be—? There must be some mistake! Unless—have you been sent by him? Or, no—perhaps you have mistaken the room?’ Lucy gathered her scattered thoughts. ‘This is a private parlour, sir.’

The gentleman made no move to vacate the room, but the disconcerting violence of his regard lessened a trifle.

‘Miss Graydene?’

‘Yes, I am she. But you—I was expecting Lord Pennington.’

‘I am Pennington.’

Elizabeth Bailey close-up reducedAvailable

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About the Author

Elizabeth Bailey grew up in Africa with unconventional parents, where she loved reading and drama. On returning to England, she developed her career in acting, theatre directing and finally writing. Elizabeth has 18 novels published by Harlequin Mills & Boon and recently began a Georgian historical crime series of which the first two books were published by Berkley (Penguin US). But since she still loves romance, Elizabeth is delighted with the opportunity to publish her work independently.

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