Transport on WIP Wednesday

Boat, carriage, horse, train, rocketship or shanks pony, our characters need to get around. In today’s WIP Wednesday, I’d love to see your excerpts about travel. Mine is from Forged in Fire, my Bluestocking Belles’ box set story for 2017. My characters are tourists in New Zealand’s Rotorua in 1886.

Lottie was pleased to be on the road again. The morning had been a trial with Myrtle determined to exact vengeance for Lottie’s avoidance of her trap. She might calm down a bit now they were once more with the rest of the party, since Mr. Farthingale was avoiding Lottie’s gaze and speaking to her as seldom as politeness allowed, though a gleam in Mr. Farthingale’s eye suggested she should be careful not to let him catch her alone.

The Pritchard family normally took one carriage, while Mr. Farthingale joined Myrtle’s party in the other. How could Lottie avoid the horrid man? Fortunately, her interests and Myrtle’s aligned, and when Myrtle suggested that the two Misses Pritchard might like to join her carriage to discuss London fashions ‘to while away another boring bush trip’, Lottie eagerly seconded her, but lowered her lids to veil her eyes when Mr. Berry climbed up to take the seat opposite her. If Myrtle caught a hint of how Mr. Berry affected her, Lottie would never hear the end of it.

The road wound around the shores of the lake, and then struck up into the hills. They would spend two nights at Te Wairoa, since the trip to the famed terraces of Rotomohana would consume the day in between.

Mr. Berry was distant today, too, but he smiled when he caught her looking at him, so she acquitted him of prejudice and just wondered what had him out of sorts. No. Sad. Something had happened to distress him, though he hid it well.

She left him to his brooding and Myrtle and the young ladies to their discussion, all but pressing her nose to the window. Boring? By no means. Lottie could not see enough of the ever-changing textures and the unending variety of greens in the passing scenery.

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Tea with Morag and Caitlinn

London, 1790

Eleanor Haverford welcomed her guests to her private sitting room. Thank goodness the duke was not in residence! He would never approve of such company for her.

In the three years since news of their marriages rocked the ton, the two women before her had made no attempt to join Society. Instead, they had remained on the the most northern of the Duke of Kendal’s holdings; a Scots estate, complete with castle, that had formerly belonged to the most ancient enemies of his family, the Lorimers of Lorne.

As had her guests. The remaining two women of the Lorimer family had married the last surviving men of their traditional foes.

Society had been beside itself when the news broke. Michael Normington, Duke of Kendal, had wed his housekeeper, disappointing dozens of marriage-minded mamas and their tedious offspring. Worse, the housekeeper was worthy of the position, even though she had been hiding her own lofty origins for twenty years. And if she had been concealed in the duke’s household, no one suggested for a moment she had been up to anything unseemly, unless it was with the duke himself. Marriage covered any such sins.

Worse, for those who wanted the ducal title for a grandchild, the duke had found evidence for his first marriage, elevating his base-born son to legitimacy and a courtesy earldom. Which would have been good news if Lord Farringhurst, the new earl, had not married his new step-mother’s cousin, the two couples plighting their troth in a dual ceremony weeks before the news made its way south to Town.

“Scots ways,” her husband had declared. “Barbarians the lot of them. Even Kendal, who is English born. No idea of the proper way to behave.”

But now the Kendals and Farringhursts were in London, and a chance meeting at an inn had led them to accept Eleanor’s hospitality when the roof on their own house proved to be leaky. How her rivals in Society would seethe to know she had stolen a march on them. And Eleanor would be happy to help smooth the way of these new friends if she could. She very much liked what she’d seen of them. Why, the duchess and countess fed their own babies at the breast, and spent every spare minute in the nursery!

Eleanor placed a hand on her abdomen as she swore silently that this child, if it lived, would have the same maternal care.

“We must thank you again, duchess,” said her grace of Kendall. “We will not long trouble you. Our husbands swear the repairs will be completed in a week.”

“Indeed, an inn would have been difficult for the children,” Lady Farringhurst agreed. “We cannot thank you enough.” Upstairs in the Haverford nursery, four Normington infants were being tended by a small army of servants, from both ducal households. Her own nursemaids were glad of something to do, her son, the Marquis of Aldridge having long since been released to the schoolroom.

“It is no trouble,” Eleanor assured them. “I am delighted to have the company.” She blushed. “I do not go much into Society at this time.” With a bare two months until her confinement, and four babies lost in the ten years since Aldridge was born, she would obey her doctor’s every directive.

“Then you must call me Caitlin, and my daughter-in-law is Morag, and we shall be comfortable together,” the duchess declared.

Eleanor smiled broadly. If these were Scots ways, then she much preferred them to the ways of the haut ton. “I am Eleanor,” she said.

Morag and Caitlin, and their husbands, are the lead characters in The Lost Treasure of Lorne, which will form part of my next collection of stories, Lost in the Tale. Lost in the Tale will also include The Lost Wife, My Lost Highland Lass, and possibly one or two others. If I get myself into gear, this will come out late next month or early in September.

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Sunday Spotlight on Daring and Decorum

Daring and Decorum, the first volume in what the author hopes will become a series, is a highwayman’s tale with a delightful twist, due out August 1 from Supposed Crimes. It features rambles across lonely moors, daring rides on horseback, sword-fights, unexpected desire, a bit of botany, and endless cups of tea.

The second volume, covering the period of Elizabeth’s first book publication and art showing in London, is entitled Silence and Secrecy. It deals with the secrets Elizabeth must keep to lead a life she never could have imagined choosing, but which now seems the only possible one for her. The author hopes to see it published sometime next year.

Both books feature as a background (and sometimes as a foreground) the political milieu of mid-1790s England: poverty contrasted with lavish wealth, bread riots, calls for political reform, counter-charges of treason and sedition, the movement for abolition, and above all, the fear of the French revolution being imported to British shores.

A separate story involving the highwayman will appear in an upcoming holiday box set from The Final Draft Tavern (which will also feature stories from Jude and Mari Christie!).

Buy Links for Daring and Decorum:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Website | Smashwords

Excerpt from Daring and Decorum

Miss Elizabeth Collington and her widowed friend, Mrs. Rebecca Burgess, have just emerged from a concert in Bath’s Upper Assembly Rooms when they are accosted by an old friend of Elizabeth’s.

I enjoyed the concert, but in truth I found Bath’s constant round of entertainments rather a chore, and was already beginning to long for the quiet routines of home. I was about to voice this thought to Rebecca as we emerged from the Upper Rooms after the performance, when I spotted Anthony and two other gentlemen in the crowd, moving toward us. They made a distressing sight. Anthony appeared not to have changed clothes since the previous night, and had even slept in them, judging by their disheveled state. His cravat hung limply from his collar, its diamond stud missing. His tailcoat remained unbuttoned, and his waistcoat was only partly fastened. His companions were in a like state of undress. Worse, they leaned on one another and staggered together as if they were under the influence of strong drink.

Rebecca pulled on my arm, whispering in my ear, “This way, Lizzie. Pay them no mind.”

But it was too late. Anthony had seen us, and had already tipped his felt hat to us. I could not give my oldest friend the cut direct, no matter his condition. I felt a measure of sympathy for him, and concern over what evils these companions might even now be encouraging in him.

“Lord Burnside,” I greeted him, giving a brief curtsy. I did not smile, but let my eyes show my concern. Rebecca, standing to my left, regarded me for a moment before at last giving her own curtsy.

“Lizzie—” Anthony said with a slight bow. He seemed the soberest of the three. “Miss Collington, I mean.” He turned to Rebecca and did the same. “Mrs. Burgess.” As he straightened, he tried to stand more erect, and to restore some semblance of propriety to his countenance while fumbling at the buttons of his tailcoat. “I hoped we would find you here.” Remembering his manners, he turned to his companions. “Allow me to introduce my friends, Lord Hartwood and Lord Petersly.”

Anthony might have recovered something of his gentlemanly manners, but his companions had not. Before either of us could curtsy to them, the one standing next to Anthony, Lord Petersly, exclaimed, “So this is the one you’ve been pining over. Damn me, Burnside, I can see why!”

Anthony gave him a cutting glare. “Petersly, remember where we are.” Around us, the crowd leaving the Assembly Rooms was thinning as sedan chairs carried people away, but we were still in danger of creating a scene.

As Anthony seemed unable to control his friends, I turned to see how Rebecca would manage the situation. She glared coldly at the three, meeting Anthony’s apologetic gaze at eye level. She had to tilt her head back to look up at Lord Hartwood, who now moved up to her on her left, returning her glare with his own frank appraisal of her person. “I always did like a tall woman. Mr. Burgess is a lucky man.” With an arch grin, he stepped within an impertinent distance of her.

“Stand a pace farther off, my lord,” Rebecca said, fiddling with the sleeve at her right wrist. I had never heard her voice sound so grim and hard.

Just then my attention was directed away from her as Lord Petersly grasped my right hand and pressed it to his lips. Never had I been so glad of my kidskin gloves! Even still, I could feel the rasp of his unshaven chin through the cloth. “It is the greatest pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Elizabeth,” he said.

I pulled back at his use of my Christian name, which he should not have known, but he still grasped my hand in his own. Anthony looked on in mortification, but seemed incapable of the slightest attempt at restraining his friend.

“Burnside may have a family that thwarts his desires,” the lout went on, “but I assure you I do not. I would be glad to pay my attentions to a young lady of such blushing manner and attractive person.” His eyes roved up and down, taking in every inch of me.

Finally Anthony had heard enough. “Come now, Petersly.” He grasped his friend by the shoulder to pull him away, stepping in between us as he did so.

Just then there was a jostling on my left as Lord Hartwood gave a cry. I turned to see him sprawling into the street, Rebecca looking down at him as she rearranged the skirts of her gown. All around us the remaining concert goers gasped and paused to watch. “You’re in your cups, my lord,” Rebecca said, “and you’ve trod on my gown.” She put a protective arm around me as the fellow got clumsily to his feet.

“You—” he stammered. “She—”

“What?” Rebecca snapped. “Are you saying a woman threw you to the ground?”

“No, of course not! That would be absurd!” He stared around in confusion. “Apologies for my clumsiness, madam, and—for treading on your gown.”

Rebecca turned me away from them. “Come, Miss Collington, let us leave the young lords to their entertainment. We have an early start tomorrow.” We didn’t bother waiting for chairs, but made our way down the square in front of the assembly rooms toward Alfred Street.

We had not gone far when Anthony made to follow. “Please! Wait!” he called after us. “You must accept my profoundest apologies for my friends’ reprehensible conduct. Please, won’t you allow me to escort you?” He seemed almost sober now.

Rebecca froze and turned halfway to him. “Oh, certainly! We never know when we might be accosted by a trio of drunken wastrels.”

Meet Larry Hogue

Lawrence Hogue’s writing is all over the place and all over time. He started out in nonfiction/nature writing with a personal narrative/environmental history of the Anza-Borrego Desert called All the Wild and Lonely Places: Journeys in a Desert Landscape. After moving to Michigan, he switched to writing fiction, including contemporary stories set in the desert and fanfiction based on the videogame Skyrim. He’s a fan of folk music, and got the idea for Daring and Decorum while listening to Loreena McKennitt’s outstanding adaptation of Alfred Noyes’ poem, The Highwayman. When not speaking a word for nature or for forgotten LGBT people of history, he spends his white-knighting, gender-betraying energies on Twitter and Facebook, and sometimes on the streets of Lansing, MI, and Washington DC. He’s been called a Social Justice Warrior, but prefers Social Justice Wizard or perhaps Social Justice Lawful Neutral Rogue.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Amazon

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Relatives on WIP Wednesday

This week’s post is about relatives. All of our protagonists have them, even the orphans. And, dead and alive, they contribute to our hero’s and heroine’s situation, if only by helping to form their character.

As always, I invite you to put an excerpt in the comments where a relative of your hero or heroine is mentioned or appears. Mine is from Forged in Fire, my story for the Bluestocking Belles 2017 boxed set.

Bother. Botheration. Not for the first time since Cousin Myrtle had offered her a refuge from her disgrace, Lottie wished she had dared a few of the choice epithets she’d heard her brother use. He always apologised for offending her delicate sensibilities, and at the time, she had been shocked, as her upbringing demanded. But oh how she wished he was still alive to shock her again.

She tucked her guilt and her grief back where they belonged, deep below the surface. This evening would be trial enough. Mr Berry was waiting for an answer, his eyes fixed on hers.

“Thank you, but I suspect that will just make things worse. Mr Berry, I should warn you that my cousin is very likely at this moment impugning your reputation to the other guests. I am very sorry. I should not have come, or at least, I should have asked for a maid to accompany me.”

The brows dived inwards as he frowned. He really was remarkably good looking; the contrast between his workman’s muscular build and sun-darkened skin, and his gentleman’s speech and good manners, only adding to his appeal. “My reputation? And yours? But we have not been alone, Miss Thompson.” He waved to the group of natives who were chatting just outside the door, Mr Berry’s partner, Mr Te Paora, among them. A magnificent young woman with a tattooed chin waved back.

“I did not realise that the old harridan was your cousin,” Mr Berry continued. “My commiserations. Why would she spread malicious gossip about her own relative?”

To keep Lottie under her thumb, of course. Myrtle had been a bully from the first, but when Lottie recovered enough from her grief to rebel, she found herself trapped. Without money of her own, she needed a paid position or a husband, and in the circumstances of her disgrace, Myrtle had the perfect weapon to keep her from either. It was old news now, more than a decade gone. But Myrtle had added to it over the years with supposition and outright lies. And circumstances like this, which were not what they seemed.

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Tea with Elizabeth

“Was the showing everything you hoped it would be, Miss Collington?” the Duchess of Haverford asked as she handed Elizabeth a cup of tea.

“I was quite pleased with its success, your Grace,” Elizabeth replied.

Elizabeth Blackwell, ‘The Curious Herbal’ 1737-39, Prunus Amygdalus from “A Passion for Plants”

To call it a success was an understatement. The crowd of finely dressed ladies and gentlemen had been larger than expected, most of the copies of her book on the natural wonders of Devonshire had been sold, as had many of her original watercolors, and she had received several new commissions in the days since.

“I am pleased the event went well,” the Duchess said, “and I look forward to examining your work.” She nodded toward the valise sitting unopened next to the chair in which Elizabeth sat. “But first, I hope you will satisfy a curiosity of mine.”

Elizabeth took a sip of her tea, hoping to quell the sinking feeling in her stomach. In the invitation to tea, the Duchess had mentioned her regret at not having been able to attend the showing, but that she had read and appreciated the favorable reviews. Elizabeth had assumed an interest in her work was the primary object of the invitation.

Her hopes had only received encouragement as a bespectacled secretary ushered her through the lavishly appointed rooms of the Duchess’s manor to the salon in which they now sat; surely the owner of such a place, which even surpassed that of her friend and neighbor, Lord Burnside, would have it in her power to purchase several new landscapes to accompany the artwork already adorning the walls. To see her own watercolors in such company!

Arum maculatum (Lords and Ladies) from Flora Londinensis (1777-87)
from National Museum Wales

Then she had caught herself, wondering with chagrin what her father, the Vicar of Leighton parish, would have to say about such mercenary ambition. He’d already made known his views of young ladies, much less his own daughter, earning their own living. A commission here or there was one thing, but to be constantly putting oneself forward in such a manner – it was neither genteel nor ladylike.

And perhaps he was right, perhaps she should have resisted pressure from Rebecca and from her publisher to put on such a public display – for this was not the first time her name had appeared in the news.

As Elizabeth had feared, it was to that previous notoriety that the Duchess now moved the conversation. “Am I right in guessing you are the same Miss Collington about whom we heard so much last summer?”

Exactly the connection Elizabeth had hoped to avoid. “Your Grace refers to my kidnapping?”

“I do, and I hope my curiosity does not offend. It’s only that the Burgundy Highwayman had such a gallant reputation when he worked the London roads.”

“Yes, I know – never harmed a soul, robbed only from the rich, and even the prettiest misses were safe when he and his gang robbed their carriages.”

“And it was even said that he gave half his booty to the poor. Not a few young ladies looked forward to having him rob their carriages, to experience for themselves the dark, flashing eyes, the gallant demeanor, and the gentle touch as he removed a necklace from about their pretty necks.”

“Yet I only learned that was his reputation after he accosted me. At the time, I had no idea who he was, as his fame had not yet spread as far as Devonshire. I thought only that he was a quite forward rogue when he pressed his lips against my own, with no warning at all.”

“Quite different from his usual behavior. Not a few of our fashionable young ladies were quite jealous that a simple country miss had won such attentions.”

“Perhaps they would like to trade me places,” Elizabeth said, trying not to sound too arch.

“Oh, they are silly, of course. But when I saw your name in the paper and made the connection, I simply had to see the young lady who could cause such a change in the highwayman’s behavior.”

It took all of Elizabeth’s self-mastery not to blush at receiving the Duchess’s notice for such a purpose. Clearly, Her Grace was used to getting her way, yet there was something of compassion about her as well. Elizabeth took a sip of tea and set her cup back down. “These tea cakes are marvelous, your Grace. My compliments to the cook.”

The Duchess would not be put off so easily. “But there are discrepancies between the public account and certain rumors making the rounds – rumors which, if I may be honest, are quite concerning. I have to wonder, which is the correct version?”

And so they came to the point. How much could Elizabeth risk telling her? She chose to take a light-hearted approach.

“Oh, there are many versions of the tale,” she said with a laugh. “One even has it that I made the ultimate sacrifice in order to warn the highwayman away from the inn where the redcoats held me. Something to do with a musket bound beneath my breast, if you can believe it. As you can see, the tale cannot be true, because here I am.”

The Duchess smiled. “No, I had not heard that version, and I am glad that it’s false. But it bears a similarity to other rumors. That you went willingly with the highwayman. That you were, in fact, his lover and accomplice.”

This time Elizabeth did feel warmth rising to her cheeks, but she returned the Duchess’s gaze in a forthright manner. “That is the story the redcoats put about, but their Captain did not believe it, nor did Lord Burnside, who came to rescue me at the old inn. No, the newspaper reports are true, as far as they go. Perhaps one day I will write a more detailed account, but for now, that is all I can say.”

The duchess was silent for a moment. “And yet these rumors persist, to the damage of your reputation.”

“Yes, my prospects are quite ruined. I must make my living as I may, even if I have to put myself forward in an unladylike manner.” She glanced down at her valise, wondering if her artwork was of any interest to the Duchess, or if she had been invited here as a mere subject for gossip.

The Duchess seemed to have read her mind, for she said, “I hope you will forgive me these impertinent questions, but I wished to judge for myself before offering my support. Surely the notice of the Duchess of Haverford will go some way to rehabilitating your reputation.”

“But why would you go to such lengths for me, your Grace, as I was a stranger to you until half an hour past?”

“Quite simple, my dear. I could see from the reviews of your showing that you are a young lady of talent and worth. It seems a pity for you to be held back by such a mere whiff of scandal. You may be having some success now, but fashions change in this town more quickly than the French change their rulers. You could find yourself reduced to taking silhouettes or drawing caricatures in the park; a sad waste of your talents.  But with an establishment, you could pursue your art for its own sake.”

“Yet I am but a vicar’s daughter, with only a paltry dowry.”

“I see you are quite unaware of your own charms, which tempted the highwayman from his usual course of behavior. If you are not too picky as to titles and ancient lineage, I can introduce you to several gentlemen, well-behaved in themselves, who would overlook whatever scandal is in your past.” Here she gave Elizabeth what seemed more than a knowing look.

Yet more bachelors to be paraded before her! Jamie had been bad enough on his current leave while his ship was under repair, trotting out one officer after another. Her brother was only worried for her future, but it became tiresome.

Could she risk telling all? The Duchess seemed so sympathetic and good-hearted. But on a first acquaintance? No, it was impossible.

“Begging your Grace’s pardon, but it is really quite unnecessary. I find that I enjoy the challenge placed before me, as improper as it may be. If you would truly be of service to me, I would ask only that you take notice of my watercolors. That would carry me farther than introductions to gentlemen possibly could.”

“It is remarkably brave of you, to look forward to depending entirely upon your own means of support.”

“Not entirely on my own, your Grace. My friend, Mrs. Rebecca Burgess, is the widow of a Naval captain, and has an independence through her widow’s pension. When the day of my father’s passing comes – a far-off day, God willing – we will pool our resources and share a household.”

The Duchess smiled. “I see you are quite the determined bluestocking.”

Elizabeth did not think she heard derision in the duchess’s voice, but could it possibly have been admiration? “I suppose I am,” she agreed, returning the smile.

“Well then, let us have a look at your drawings, shall we?” The Duchess held out her hand for the valise. “And I can only hope you will publish that more complete account of your experience with the highwayman without too much delay.”

“And if I do, your Grace can rest assured you will be the first to read it.”

Fortunately for the Duchess and the rest of us, Elizabeth did sit down many years later to recount her experiences with the highwayman. Daring and Decorum, the first volume in what the author hopes will become a series, is a highwayman’s tale with a delightful twist, due out August 1 from Supposed Crimes. Covering all the events about which Elizabeth is so coy with the Duchess, it features rambles across lonely moors, daring rides on horseback, sword-fights, unexpected desire, a bit of botany, and endless cups of tea.

The second volume, covering the period of Elizabeth’s first book publication and art showing in London, is entitled Silence and Secrecy. It deals with the secrets Elizabeth must keep to lead a life she never could have imagined choosing, but which now seems the only possible one for her. The author hopes to see it published sometime next year.

Both books feature as a background (and sometimes as a foreground) the political milieu of mid-1790s England: poverty contrasted with lavish wealth, bread riots, calls for political reform, counter-charges of treason and sedition, the movement for abolition, and above all, the fear of the French revolution being imported to British shores.

A separate story involving the highwayman will appear in an upcoming holiday box set from The Final Draft Tavern (which will also feature stories from Jude and Mari Christie!).

Buy Links for Daring and Decorum:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Website | Smashwords

Excerpt from Daring and Decorum

In this scene, the highwayman, fresh from taunting a band of redcoats, has come across Elizabeth, who had uncharacteristically become lost on a foggy moor. They are riding double on the highwayman’s horse, and the rogue has just upbraided her for walking on the moors without a compass.

Piqued by his criticism, I asked, “Whose carriage did you rob, to set the militia after you?”

“Why, none at all, for today the militia itself was our target.”

“Whatever could you want with those gallant young men?”

“Oh, it’s great fun to goad them. Today, we led them a merry chase and finally lured them into that bog down below.”

“I find it hard to believe you would engage in such foolish trickery for mere fun.”

“Stopping them from cracking the heads of unemployed weavers is a further inducement, I must admit.”

“Those soldiers are only trying to keep the peace! Surely a mob cannot be allowed to run wild.”

The Cornwood Maidens, photo by Richard Knights, similar to the fictional Whiddleston Moor where Elizabeth becomes lost in the fog.http://www.richkni.co.uk/dartmoor/relics.htm

He turned to look at me over his shoulder. His eyes, which I had thought black in the poor light of our earlier encounters, I now saw were brown. “Four children were made orphans last week, thanks to your gallant lads’ efforts. I don’t call that keeping the peace. It is not much, but if we can distract King George’s men, and perhaps make laughingstocks of them to cheer the people, it seems the least we can do.”

“Still, I fail to see what you could gain from such an endeavor.”

“Yes, for what motive could a highwayman possibly have, if not self-interest?” He uttered this statement with such a tone of derision that I saw no way to respond, and we fell into silence.

After a time, a rock wall loomed out of the fog, a narrow lane running beyond it. “That is Whiddleston Lane,” the highwayman said, his tone now decidedly cold. “A quarter-mile along it to the left is the village of Whiddleston. I trust you can make your way home from there? Surely you wouldn’t want to be seen in the company of outlaws.”

I wondered at the feeling of regret his demeanor provoked within me even as I agreed to his plan.

Throwing a leg over Juno’s neck, he dropped to the ground, then turned to lift me from my seat. The look he gave me had lost all its humor, and he seemed in fact quite grave and troubled. I tried to ignore the slight disappointment I felt when he turned away to retrieve my drawing case from his accomplice. Then he climbed over the stile and held out a hand to help me follow, all without a word.

I found his coldness provoking. “I assume, in mentioning your motive, you refer to your Robin Hood act?” I looked him boldly in the eye as I alighted next to him. “Yet I can think of many reasons for robbing the wealthiest. And now I discover that you are a traitor as well as an outlaw.”

He took a step forward, looming above me. “No, Miss Collington, never a traitor, for I am loyal to England and her people. It is only the decadence of the aristocracy which I detest, leeches sucking the lifeblood of the nation.” He turned as if he would leave, but then stopped, one hand on the rock wall next to the stile. “Would you believe that half our income goes to the poor and to those same orphans new-minted by the militia?”

Wondering why he felt such a need to justify his actions to me, I replied, “No, for I find it hard to believe that one who resorts to such villainy could harbor such selfless compassion.”

“Is that so?” He nodded at his ginger-haired associate. “Tell her, Jack.”

“Aye, it’s true, miss. Lord knows I’d be quit o’ this business by now if it weren’t.”

“That’s Jack for you,” said the highwayman, “always good for a cheery word. In due time, when we have saved enough, all of what we steal from the rich—or my portion, at least—will go to those most in need.”

“Yet it is hard to credit such beneficence in a common highwayman.”

“Ha!” exclaimed the one called Jack. “Robin, common! That’s a laugh.”

“Quiet, Jack,” the highwayman barked. “Why don’t the two of you stand farther off and keep a sharp eye?”

Jack and the other scoundrel rode off a bit, Jack singing a vulgar tune in a gravelly voice. I caught these words before he was out of earshot: “I’m a poor loom weaver, as many a one knows. I’ve naught t’eat, and I’ve wore out me clothes.”

The highwayman turned back to me. “It is as I told you before—I hope that good works will atone in some measure for the evil I have done. Perhaps if you knew my full story—”

“You are mistaken if you think I have any interest in hearing your self-justifications.”

“At the very least, I can promise you a story worth hearing, one equal to any gothic romance.”

“I do not stoop to reading romances.”

“No? Perhaps you should. They have more of actual life in them than all your Cowper and your Pope. Now, what say you?” His aspect, or what I could see of it above the mask, was one of such earnest pleading that it surprised me, coming from one usually so bold in taking what he wanted. “Will you agree to meet me, if only to hear my tale? I have more than repaid my debt to you, after all.”

A Mother and Child Seated in a Garden by one of Elizabeth’s inspirations, Paul Sandby
from WikiGallery

I should have given him a firm negative on the spot. But he had just saved me much discomfort, if not my very life, and I felt I owed him something for it. What harm could there be in hearing his story? I told myself it had nothing to do with our close contact of a few moments before, or with his earlier kisses.

“There is a great oak tree on the north boundary of Holbourne. Do you know it? You may find me there on any fine day, though of late I do not often walk there alone. If we happen to meet, I will listen to your story.” I removed his cloak and handed it to him.

“It is all I can ask,” he said. He leaned toward me for a moment, and I did not back away. Then he seemed to think better of himself, turning to step over the stile and leaping into his saddle with great alacrity. He turned back to look at me for a moment, then touched the brim of his hat. “Till we meet again, Miss Collington.” He rode off after his companions, leaving me with an unsettled feeling of regret at his not having kissed me a third time.

Meet Larry Hogue

Lawrence Hogue’s writing is all over the place and all over time. He started out in nonfiction/nature writing with a personal narrative/environmental history of the Anza-Borrego Desert called All the Wild and Lonely Places: Journeys in a Desert Landscape. After moving to Michigan, he switched to writing fiction, including contemporary stories set in the desert and fanfiction based on the videogame Skyrim. He’s a fan of folk music, and got the idea for Daring and Decorum while listening to Loreena McKennitt’s outstanding adaptation of Alfred Noyes’ poem, The Highwayman. When not speaking a word for nature or for forgotten LGBT people of history, he spends his white-knighting, gender-betraying energies on Twitter and Facebook, and sometimes on the streets of Lansing, MI, and Washington DC. He’s been called a Social Justice Warrior, but prefers Social Justice Wizard or perhaps Social Justice Lawful Neutral Rogue.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Amazon

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Sunday Spotlight on Blind Tribute

The Battle of Fort Sumter was the first engagement in the American Civil War.

Today’s Sunday Spotlight is on Blind Tribute, by Mari Anne Christie.

Good non-fiction gives us a new perspective on the facts. Great fiction puts us into someone else’s shoes, letting us live a life so different from our own that we withdraw dazed and changed. The view from Blind Tribute will remain with me always.

Blind Tribute begins on the same day as the Battle of Fort Sumter, the start of the American Civil War, and the conflicts and attitudes underpinning the war are the central themes of the book.

Harry, the protagonist, has been a newspaper man since his university days, first in his hometown of Charleston, then in war zones around the world, and—for the past twenty years—in Philadelphia, as editor of its most successful newspaper. The conflict between the States is played out in his family, his birth family demanding allegiance to the South, and his wife and son castigating him for lack of loyalty to the North.

But Harry is loyal to the neutrality of the press, and determined to make of himself his greatest news story. When he returns to Charleston but refuses to take sides, he expects to offend. He wonders if he will survive. He almost doesn’t.

Blind Tribute is a book about integrity, about the real meaning of family, about pride and its costs, about who pays for our acts of conscience. The exploration of the relationship between government and media is timely in today’s political climate, but also timeless, applying as much today as it did when Lincoln and Davis saw newspapers as propaganda machines. Harry’s view of neutrality is no more popular today than then, and more needed than ever.

Blind Tribute is meticulously researched and brilliantly written. Mari Anne Christie’s characters are real, her plot lines compelling, and her descriptions vivid. The scene that describes Harry’s ordeal is one of the most grueling things I’ve ever read.

I’ve been reading bits of this book for three years, as Mari reshaped, rewrote, and polished every line. I’ve seen it grow from good to great. If you read one historical fiction book in 2017, make it this one.

Blind Tribute

Every newspaper editor may owe tribute to the devil, but Harry Wentworth’s bill just came due.

As America marches toward the Civil War, Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, finds his calls for peaceful resolution have fallen on deaf—nay, hostile—ears, so he must finally resolve his own moral quandary. Comment on the war from his influential—and safe—position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself South of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?

The day-to-day struggle against countervailing forces, his personal and professional tragedies on both sides of the conflict, and the elegant and emotive writings that define him, all serve to illuminate the trials of this newsman’s crusade, irreparably altering his mind, his body, his spirit, and his purpose as an honorable man. Blind Tribute exposes the shifting stones of the moral high ground, as Harry’s family and friendships, North and South, are shattered by his acts of conscience.

Universal Link

Buy from Mari’s website

Facebook Launch Party, July 28th, 2pm – 8 pm MDT

Giveaway

Mari will be giving away a quill pen (like Harry’s) and powdered ink, a swag pack including Harry’s Editorials Collection, and a e-copy of the book to one winner.

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Meet Mari Anne Christie

Mari was “raised up” in journalism (mostly raising her glass at the Denver Press Club bar) after the advent of the web press, but before the desktop computer. She has since plied her trade as a writer, editor, and designer across many different fields, and currently works as a technical writer and editor.

Under the name Mari Christie, she has released a book-length epic poem, Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness: Poetry of the Mayan Underworld, and under pen name Mariana Gabrielle, she has written several Regency romances, including the Sailing Home Series and La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. Blind Tribute is her first mainstream historical novel. She expects to release the first book in a new family saga, The Lion’s Club, in 2018.

She holds a BA in Writing, summa cum laude and With Distinction, from the University of Colorado Denver, and is a member of the Speakeasy Scribes, the Historical Novel Society, and the Denver Press Club. She has a long family history in Charleston, South Carolina, and is the great-great niece of a man in the mold of Harry Wentworth.

Author Website & blog: www.MariAnneChristie.com

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The Grand Tour through the Pacific

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, New Zealand was one stop on a circuit for wealthy tourists making a six-month grand tour of the world. The majestic Milford Sound, the grand Whanganui River and, of course, the magical thermal wonderlands of Rotorua made New Zealand a special destination for those able to afford the long journey.

The Pink and White Terraces at Rotomahana were the climax of any visit. They were in the hands of the Tuhourangi people, who provided guides, canoes, meals, accommodation and entertainment. Their loss in the Tarawera eruption of 1886 was a serious economic blow to the tribe, made worse as the Government slowly took over the businesses they attempted to establish in their new homes in Rotorua, employing them as guides and entertainers.

Another important stop for our intrepid European and American travellers was Hawaii, about which E Ellsworth Carey wrote in Thrum’s Annual (1893):

An epitome of the world’s scenery is found in Hawaii. There
cliffs and caves; grand canyons and measureless waterfalls; spouting
caves and singing sands; bottomless and rivers of lava.

Sydney, Australia, was on many steamer ships’ itineraries, part of a circuit from San Franciso through New Zealand, Sydney, and then various Pacific Islands and back to San Francisco. Other ships came from Europe passing through Egypt and the Suez Canal, then making stops at India, Indonesia, and Singapore on their way down under.

Women tourists were common enough that Lillian Campbell Davidson made a great success with her 1889 publication “Hints for Lady Travellers at Home and Abroad” (recently republished and available on Amazon). One contemporary review notes that the preparation for such a trip may make it a burden rather than a pleasure.

The ” Hints ” inform us that the lady who wishes to be well equipped for a journey, must carry with her a bath and bath towels, a bottle of kid-reviver, a dressing-bag, a spirit-lamp for boiling water, with a sufficient quantity of methylated spirits, a flask, and a small filter.

To these comforts the lady-traveller must add provisions, including extract of meat, “one’s own tea and coffee;” waistbelts for money, a holdall for rugs and umbrellas, a hot-water bag, a lamp for reading at night, some light literature (it must be light in two senses, for “books add enormously to the weight of one’s luggage “) ; a small medicine-chest, which, among other articles, should contain pills and ointment, and a roll of fine old linen.

Matches and a candle, too, should always be carried ; a door-wedge is a great convenience ; “a tin of insect-powder should never be omitted ;” with a railway-key “one is quite independent;” and “a compass is a most useful accompaniment to the traveller who has to be her own guide.”

It is necessary also to carry an eyestone, “the use of which is a common custom in America.” If there is dust in the eye, this tiny stone, or rather fishbone, is inserted within the lower eyelid. “Almost immediately it begins to work its way slowly round the eyeball, and never stops till it has made the complete circuit of the eye, when it drops out, bringing with it whatever object of an alien nature it has encountered on its journey.”

Then if ladies curl their hair, capital little cases may be had, containing a pair of tongs and a minute spirit-lamp ;” a good toilet-water also is often desired by ladies in travelling, and sulpholine lotion may be carried for sun- burning and freckles.

Full particulars, too, are given with regard to clothing ; each dress must have a tray to itself, for “gowns are the terrible part of packing,” and, finally, “it is as well, for every reason, to travel with as little luggage as circumstances admit.”

It is to be feared that if a lady who proposes to travel studies these ” Hints ” previously—and we have mentioned only a few of them —she will be tempted to wish that the new conditions of life had not arisen, which make “a thousand conveniences and comforts” necessary to the traveller. (Review in The Spectator, 16 November 1889, p44, my paragraphing)

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Attraction on WIP Wednesday

At some point in our stories, if they include a romance, those involved must each become aware of an attraction to the other. In this week’s WIP Wednesday, I’m inviting excerpts about that moment, from one or the other.

It might be just the stirrings of desire. It might be seeing something in the other that prompts a deep sense of recognition. It might be falling in love, as I did during a long evening at the Outward Bound Old Boys Ball in Auckland in August 1969.

I saw the moment that he fell, on the same evening.We were waltzing, having spent the whole evening dancing, talking, enjoying good food and wine. And I looked up and saw his eyes change, the suddenly intense warmth hinting at a depth of feeling that belied our so far casual association. It lured me, drew me in, and by the time we set off for home, I was head over heels in love. We finished the evening kissing and conversing in his father’s car outside my mother’s house, and by the time we parted we had chosen the name of our first son. Next month marks our 48th year together since that moment.

For this excerpt from my Christmas novella for the Bluestocking Belles, I’ve picked an earlier point in the process:

Miss Thompson was entranced by the concert party, and even Mrs Bletherow was interested enough to forget her usual pointless errands and pointed remarks. Tad had taken a seat close by, ready to offer his escort if Miss Thompson was sent on another wild goose chase, and was surprised by his own disappointment when it didn’t happen.

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. Parrots, in his experience, were selfish, demanding creatures.

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Tea with the Wentworth ladies

“Smooth your hair, young ladies. You are going to meet a duchess, for Heaven’s sake.” Anne Wentworth chided her daughters as the Earl of Strafford helped them each alight from the carriage in front of Haverford House in London. Although Anne had presided over two mansions of her own back in Philadelphia, and she was currently living in one as the guest of the Earl and Countess of Strafford, she had never seen a home as stately—as large—as this. Her hand twitched just slightly, as it always did before she entered a social event where she was expected to reflect well upon her husband, the illustrious writer, P.H. Wentworth III. Though such onus was no longer on her shoulders, the habit was deeply ingrained after 20 years of marriage.

The earl offered her his arm, and she gratefully slipped her hand under his elbow. Her husband’s cousin had been a stalwart support to her since they had arrived in England, hardly what she had expected, given their past, but she couldn’t be more appreciative.

The enormously stressful situation had been almost more than she could bear. Packed off to Europe by her husband, without so much as a by your leave, expected to sit out the American conflict in England, leaving her son to his fate, and her parents and sisters. She would not even have the comfort of her daughters, as she would escort them to Paris to their new finishing school in less than a sennight, to leave them for a year. And then to find that Palmer had not given her access to his accounts in London as he had promised, but rather expected her to live on an allowance, like a child, at the mercy of a banker who had no idea of her needs or her social standing. It was intolerable.

“You need not dwell, my dear,” Strafford whispered in her ear. “The frown does not suit your lovely face, and we shall find a way to alleviate your cares. I promise you, my cousin cannot abandon his wife in so callous a manner. I will not allow it.”

She squeezed his fingers and pasted on the smile she had perfected before she was fifteen, that had charmed presidents and prime ministers, and half the nobility of Europe, on those few occasions Palmer agreed to such trips.

“Much better,” Strafford murmured. “You will be fine with the duchess. She is a kind woman, underneath her steel, and I am afraid I must speak to her son, Lord Aldridge, with some urgency, or I would be pleased to take tea with you ladies.”

“It is fine, Strafford. We shall be fine. Thank you. Girls?”

Strafford slipped off around the side of the house, for Lord Aldridge had a separate entrance to his portion of the house, and Anne rapped lightly with the door knocker. Before the door was opened, she took one last look at her daughters’ deportment, straightening a ribbon on Fleur’s dress, tucking a curl back behind Belle’s ear. As long as they behaved themselves, they would do credit to her. And to their father, not that he cared.

The butler showed them into a parlour larger than Anne’s dining room at home. No, no longer her home, since Palmer had sold it right out from under her. No sooner had they taken seats in a grouping of chairs set around a tea table than the duchess swept in. Greying hair perfectly coiffed, and a dress that must have cost three times Anne’s and her daughters’ combined.

All three women stood immediately, and Fleur’s and Belle’s curtseys were all their mother could have asked. It was a moment before she realized she was tardy in making her own bow, so she rectified the social blunder immediately. “Your Grace, it is so very kind of you to ask us for tea before the girls leave for school.”

“The pleasure is mine, Mrs Wentworth. Your daughters are charming.”

“Thank you, Your Grace,” the girls recited in unison.

“Please do be seated, my dears, Mrs. Wentworth. Tell me; you are as matched as a pair of bookends, but which of you is the elder?”

“I am,” Belle said, and Fleur finished the thought with, “I am only younger by eight minutes, Your Grace.”

“And I believe I recall from our brief meeting at Lady Bannister’s party that the yellow hair ribbon is Miss Fleur’s and the green Miss Wentworth’s?” With a small giggle, both girls nodded.

“Would you care for a cup of tea, young ladies, or shall I send for some lemonade?”

“Tea will be lovely, I’m sure,” Anne replied, nudging Belle to sit up straighter.

Belle opened her mouth and then closed it again, with a sidelong look at her mother. While the duchess arranged with a maid to bring more refreshments than were available on the sizable tea tray, Anne narrowed her eyes at the girls. They had, perhaps, not spent enough time in society before they left America, and, since they had arrived in England, had shown a propensity for countermanding their mother in company.

When the duchess turned back, Anne, who had conversed with the wives of the most important men in the world, to say nothing of the wealthiest industrialists in America, found herself a bit tongue-tied. Her Grace of Haverford was among the most influential of the nobility. A word from her and the girls’ presentation to the queen next year would be a success, no matter how likely they were to switch hair ribbons and make fools of the gentlemen who would wish to meet them.

“Cream and sugar, Mrs Wentworth?”

“Cream, please,” Anne said. Belle began to ask for sugar, but Anne spoke over her. “None for the young ladies. They are watching their weight.”

The duchess passed the first cup to the maid and prepared the second as it was delivered to Anne.

“You are leaving for school in France soon, I believe you said when last we met?” the duchess began. “I am so pleased you could spare the time for this visit. I do enjoy the company of young ladies. Are you looking forward to your new school, Miss Wentworth? Miss Fleur?

“Yes, Your Grace,” Belle said in a perfectly modulated tone, but before Anne could stop her, Fleur added, “But we’ve heard Madame LaPointe is terribly strict.”

Thankfully, the duchess did not seem disturbed by the outburst. “But very elegant, my dear,” Eleanor assured Fleur. “If one wishes to make a stir in Society, one could do much worse than to learn from the mistress of a French finishing school.”

Turning back to Anne, who couldn’t help thinking this was where the duchess’ attention should have been all along, rather than indulging young ladies not even presented yet, the duchess said, “I met your husband when he worked in London, Mrs Wentworth. Many years ago, of course, but I still follow his occasional columns in the Financial Times. I find his commentary intriguing.”

Anne struggled to keep a smile on her face, but just managed it. “Indeed? A great many people seem to find his commentary useful. Straff–er, Lord Strafford has been investing on Mr. Wentworth’s advice since they were young men.” It would not do for the duchess to think her on intimate terms with her husband’s cousin, no matter that they were sleeping under the same roof. And it would not hurt to remind anyone in the nobility that while she might be from the “colonies,” her husband was a man of global influence. “It has been ten years since we were in London last, but I am given to understand the royal family still follows his columns.”

“I have heard that. My sons, as well. You must be very proud of your father, young ladies.”

“Oh, yes,” Fleur gushed, while Belle merely glanced at her mother before she rightly held her tongue. “Of course, we are too silly to understand all of the things he writes, but everyone says how brilliant he is. My friend Fanny’s papa has been trying to convince him to join Mr. Lincoln’s cabinet.”

“Fleur refers to Fanny Seward, the Secretary of State’s daughter. My husband is close friends with Mr. Seward, and our families often visit.”

“But I understand he insists on remaining neutral in your current conflict?”

“He is, he says.” Anne’s smile slips. “Though it is difficult to see how when he also insists upon living among the slave-trading heathens.”

“I daresay he must live on one side of the conflict or the other, or in another country entirely,” the duchess pointed out. “I doubt his views are popular with the Confederacy, however.”

“His views are not popular with anyone,” Anne said curtly.

At a nod from the duchess, the maid passed each of the girls a plate filled with delicately iced cakes. Anne could not gainsay a duchess, but she hoped Fleur and Belle recalled they were not to be eating sweets.

“But let us speak of pleasanter things,” the duchess offered, seemingly as a peace offering. “Do you intend for the girls to be presented here in London, Mrs Wentworth, when they have finished their schooling? You are remaining here with the Straffords, I believe?”

Schooling her face into a more serene expression, Anne agreed, “Lady Strafford has graciously offered to sponsor the young ladies once they have finished school next year. I… I am not certain of my plans. We have engaged a town house, but I may be… needed in Philadelphia. Strafford—Lord Strafford—is making enquiries on my behalf.”

Her Grace gave no sign that she had heard any of the gossip that had arisen briefly during their last visit to London, which Strafford had promptly put down. Instead, she smiled at the girls. “You shall certainly set the young gentlemen on their ears, my dears. Two such lovely young ladies, and each the image of the other. I shall make certain to ask my friend, Lady Strafford, which of my entertainments might be suitable for you.”

As she spoke, the two gentleman joined the party. Anne cast her eyes down at her teacup at the heated glance Strafford sent her way, hoping the duchess hadn’t noticed.

“We are just in time, I see,” Lord Aldridge said. “Strafford, you sly dog. You did not tell me your cousins were so lovely.”

Fleur and Belle both blushed identically, glancing at the terribly handsome new addition to the party from under their lashes. Anne, however, once she looked up again, saw the same sort of heated stare directed toward her daughters by this new arrival. Milord or no, it would not do. She sat up straighter, clearing her throat to recall the girls’ attention.

“Your Lordship,” she said, standing and smoothing her skirt. “I am Anne Wentworth. Mrs. Palmer Wentworth,” she emphasized. She gave a brief curtsy. “Delighted to meet you, I’m sure.”

Both girls stood up in a rustle of silk, waiting to be introduced. They could wait a lifetime, if their mother had anything to say about it.

“And these lovely young ladies must be your sisters,” Lord Aldridge said, bowing to them.

Anne felt a flush rise to her cheeks as Strafford’s lips twitched. She narrowed her eyes, but it didn’t stop Belle from stepping forward with another deep curtsy, “I am Belle Wentworth, Your Lordship.” Gesturing to Fleur, she added, “And this is my sister, Fleur.”

“How appropriate,” Lord Aldridge said. “Two beautiful flowers transplanted to our English shores.”

“Will you be at Lady Beckett’s ball this evening, Your Lordship?” Fleur asked with more animation than she had yet shown.

Anne gasped and snapped, “Fleur Wentworth, that is inappropriate in the extreme.” Turning to Lord Aldridge, she apologized, with a speaking glance at the duchess. “I am sorry my daughter is so forward, my lord.”

“I am sorry my son is so forward,” said the duchess, amusement colouring her dry tone. With a son who looked like… this, she must see ladies lose their heads on a daily basis. No, hourly.

“You must forgive them, Mrs Wentworth,” Lord Aldridge said with a small smile. “London is very exciting, is it not, ladies? But alas, I shall not be at the ball. How fortunate that your cousin Strafford and I finished our business in time for me to meet you before you left.”

“Indeed, my lord,” Anne said, both girls frowning at the news he would not be availing himself of a dance. “It has been a pleasure, but I am quite certain we have overstayed. I am afraid we must leave before the young ladies forget their manners entirely.”

Lord Strafford stepped forward to take Anne’s hand, tucking it under his elbow, and she let out a sigh of relief. Strafford could keep this wolf at bay. Fleur and Belle kept their eyes trained on Lord Aldridge until Anne’s gesture forced them into another curtsy, murmuring, “A pleasure, my lord.” Finally, not a moment too soon for their mother, they turned back to the duchess with only a pair of warm glances back over their shoulders.

Eleanor smiled at each of the girls in turn. “Miss Wentworth, Miss Fleur, perhaps you will be kind enough to call again when you return from Paris. I shall speak with Lady Strafford to arrange it.” With a spare nod at Anne, she added, “Mrs Wentworth, thank you for calling. Perhaps we shall meet again if you stay in London. But you must be anxious to return to Charleston and your husband.”

Before Anne can decide if she is being cut, Fleur and Belle both curtsied again. Belle said, “It was lovely to meet you, Your Grace,” and Fleur followed with, “Thank you ever so much for the lovely tea, Your Grace. We shall look forward to calling when we return.”

Anne made a much shallower curtsy, in the event the duchess was subtly insulting her. “We thank you for your time and your most gracious hospitality, Your Grace.” Strafford patted her hand on his arm and directed her to the door, the girls following.

Blind Tribute

Every newspaper editor may owe tribute to the devil, but Harry Wentworth’s bill just came due.

As America marches toward the Civil War, Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, finds his calls for peaceful resolution have fallen on deaf—nay, hostile—ears, so he must finally resolve his own moral quandary. Comment on the war from his influential—and safe—position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself South of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?

The day-to-day struggle against countervailing forces, his personal and professional tragedies on both sides of the conflict, and the elegant and emotive writings that define him, all serve to illuminate the trials of this newsman’s crusade, irreparably altering his mind, his body, his spirit, and his purpose as an honorable man. Blind Tribute exposes the shifting stones of the moral high ground, as Harry’s family and friendships, North and South, are shattered by his acts of conscience.

Universal Link

Buy from Mari’s website

Facebook Launch Party, July 28th, 2pm – 8 pm MDT

Giveaway

Mari will be giving away a quill pen (like Harry’s) and powdered ink, a swag pack including Harry’s Editorials Collection, and a e-copy of the book to one winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Meet Mari Anne Christie

Mari was “raised up” in journalism (mostly raising her glass at the Denver Press Club bar) after the advent of the web press, but before the desktop computer. She has since plied her trade as a writer, editor, and designer across many different fields, and currently works as a technical writer and editor.

Under the name Mari Christie, she has released a book-length epic poem, Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness: Poetry of the Mayan Underworld, and under pen name Mariana Gabrielle, she has written several Regency romances, including the Sailing Home Series and La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. Blind Tribute is her first mainstream historical novel. She expects to release the first book in a new family saga, The Lion’s Club, in 2018.

She holds a BA in Writing, summa cum laude and With Distinction, from the University of Colorado Denver, and is a member of the Speakeasy Scribes, the Historical Novel Society, and the Denver Press Club. She has a long family history in Charleston, South Carolina, and is the great-great niece of a man in the mold of Harry Wentworth.

Author Website & blog: www.MariAnneChristie.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MariChristieAuthor

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Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marichristie

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Reading my way through a cold

I’m slowly surfacing from hibernation with a winter cold. The irritating cough lingers, and I still flake mid-afternoon and yearn for a nap, but at least the fog has lifted from my brain and the plot elves are functioning again.

I’ve put the time to good if lazy use by catching up on the books I’d downloaded to my kindle app but never read, and raiding my library’s electronic catalogue for entire series that I read years ago and wanted to read again. I’ve binge read most of Jo Beverly’s Company of Rogues, Shana Galen’s de Valère series, Elizabeth Boyle’s Brazen series, Stephanie Lauren’s Lester Family and her Adventurers’ Quartet, Anna Campbell’s Dashing Widows Club, and individual books by Shana Galen, Jane Ashford, Sally MacKenzie, Grace Burrowes, Allison Lane, Callie Hutton, Sandra Schwab, Tessa Dare, and others.

(Yes, I read fast.)

Who are your favourite go-to authors when you’re proper poorly?

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