Tea with Jake

Jake Cohen followed the footman through the manor house as fast as his leg would carry him, so lost in thought he barely noticed the fine art and sumptuous furnishings. When the invitation had arrived from the Duchess of Haverford, his wife had read it three times to be sure it had come to the right person. What on earth would a duchess want with an innkeeper?

Meg had shrugged. “She’s probably seen you fight.”

“Didn’t see a lot of duchesses in Bear Gardens.” He shrugged it off. In the past months he had already done so many things he thought he never would, and tea with a duchess would not be strangest. He had come from wealth, but of course the duchess had no way of knowing that. Or did she? “Do you want to come with?”

“Lord, no. They wouldn’t let me in the door, assuming I’d fit.” She rested her hands on her swollen belly as though feeling the burden of her sensitive state, though her expression was nothing if not serene. “You go, darling. See what she wants. If she’s looking for a different Jake, pinch some cakes and come home. Don’t let her run off with you, now.”

He smirked, flattered in spite of himself. Meg regularly told him he was the handsomest man ever to walk the earth, and he knew she believed it. The fact no one else seemed to share her opinion didn’t keep him from enjoying it. He was a very fortunate man. He’d kissed her on his way out. “As if she could.”

Now, walking through a house finer than any he’d visited, the question bothered him again. In his thirty-nine years, he’s been a goldsmith, a boxer, and an innkeeper. What would a duchess want with any of them?

She waited in a room that seemed to exist for just such a purpose, sunlight pouring through a huge window with panes of glass so fine and clean he could hardly see them. They had finally replaced their broken windows at the inn, but the filth of the street had immediately dimmed their shine.

The duchess’s smile was pleasantly bemused, as if she hadn’t been certain he would come. “Mister Cohen.”

He bowed. Wasn’t one meant to bow at times like these? “Your Grace.”

She opened her mouth to say something, then emitted a sound not unlike nervous laughter. “Forgive me, Mr. Cohen, I confess I am faintly stunned to meet you in person. The engravings did not do you justice.”

His stomach sank with dread. “Engravings?”

“Quite so. They were completed when you were a little older, I believe. Won’t you join me? You’ve come a long way, you must be exhausted.”

Jake frowned. What had she meant by “when you were a little older”? He’d thought his English was fluent, but he’d never heard that particular turn of phrase. As far as he was aware, there were no engravings of him anywhere. “I beg your pardon, Your Grace. Are you quite certain you have the right man?”

“Oh, yes. Quite certain. Please, come.”

He took the chair she offered and watching silently as she poured two cups of tea from a beautiful white pot covered all over in painted blue flowers. He had never seen a matching set of china before, let alone tea cups with little handles. They must have been designed for ladies; he could barely hook a fingertip through the delicate loop. He smiled at the lovely absurdity of the design.

“You like the tea cups?”

“I do,” he replied. “The pattern is very distinctive, it looks like some I saw back in Amsterdam. Is it Dutch?”

“Danish,” she supplied. “Royal Copenhagen. It’s all the rage.”

“I have not seen these before.”

“I should think not.” Her cheek quirked as she suppressed a laugh. “They are not yet sold in England, and have only been produced in Denmark since perhaps 1775.”

He choked on his tea.

She gave no indication she noticed, but offered a plate of small iced pastries “Cake?”

He coughed to clear his throat. “Thank you.” The cake was light as a dream and tasted faintly of vanilla and cardamom. The orange-scented black tea complimented it perfectly. If this was a dream, the tea tasted very real. “Did you say these cups were produced in 1775?”

“Not this precise set, no, but I believe that was when the factory was founded. Forgive me, I’ve shocked you. What year is it, where you live?”

He almost laughed. “It is 1679, Your Grace.”

“That would make you…?”

He flushed slightly. “Thirty-nine.”

A secret, knowing smile crept across her face. “Still a young man, for all that. Half your life is still ahead of you.”

Who was this duchess, who drank from cups not yet manufactured and seemed to know the future? “Where am I?”

“You are at Haverford House, and it is 1797.”

He felt light-headed as the blood drained from his face. “Impossible.”

“Quite possible, Mister Cohen. I am resolved to hire only the best tutors for my sons, even if that means procuring them from the previous century.”

He was just about to open his mouth to make his excuses and leave the company of this mad duchess when she produced a set of engravings from the sideboard. She passed them to him with no little reverence.

In the first, he was depicted stripped to the waist, demonstrating his fighting stance before a crowd of gentlemen. He did look older, but he knew he was looking at himself—fortunately for them, no one had a face quite like his. The artist had made him enormously muscular and rakishly handsome, with longer, curling hair and a serious expression. He smiled in spite of himself. It was rather flattering.

His smile faded when he looked at the second engraving. He stood proudly next to a handsome young man, as if showing him off. Their hands were wrapped to fight and they were surrounded by an audience.

“I suspected you might not believe me, so I wanted to show you these…”

“When were these done?” he asked, too quickly.

“The date is on the back. I believe they were part of a series published in 1690.”

“1690,” he repeated to himself, eyes on that second engraving. The young man in the picture looked a bit like Tom Callaghan, but less mad. He was younger, softer, and he had his mother’s smile. Tears sprung to his eyes as he realized who he was looking at. “This is Tommy.”

The duchess grinned. “Tom Henshawe, your son. He made quite an impression in his day. Sired by one legend and raised by another. What could he be but a pugilist? Tom Henshawe was undoubtedly the finest of his generation, but you’re the man who trained him. I want you to teach my son the art of pugilism.”

He blinked. “Assuming this is not some fever dream—“

“It is not.”

“—you would like me to come here, to 1797, to teach your son to fight?”

“Quite so, Mister Cohen. You will be handsomely compensated. I daresay your wages will go a bit further in 1679. The inn still needs some work, does it not?”

He nodded. “It does.”

“There you have it. My driver will collect you for one afternoon once per week and bring you here. Would Monday next suit? Aldridge is already seventeen and he is most anxious to begin.”

Jake ran a hand over his face. A duchess was offering to pay him handsomely to go to the future to teach a future duke to box. “I would be happy to oblige, Your Grace, but are you certain this is what you want? Boxing is not a gentlemanly sport. Would he not be more suited to fencing?”

“Things have changed, Mister Cohen. Pugilism is very popular among young gentlemen, and I am resolved my son shall excel at it.” As he excels at everything else, he heard, even though she didn’t say it aloud. “At any rate, he’s been fencing for years. Say you’ll consider it?” 

“I would be happy to oblige, but I am struggling to believe this is 1797. How is it possible I am here?”

“Never underestimate a mother’s love, Mister Cohen.”

He raised his eyebrows. “I do not. Forgive me for asking, but is there any other way you might prove this is real?”

The duchess nodded to a footman who produced a printed broadsheet unlike any he’d ever seen. He was still learning to read English, but he could make the date out clearly enough. 21 May, 1797. He looked up sharply. “What do you know of my life?”

She sipped her tea. “Perhaps men are not meant to know these things. Suffice to say, you live a long, prosperous life and enjoy a good deal of fame in your later years. As you have seen, Tom becomes a boxer, and your daughter—“

“Daughter?” His heart sped up as he thought of Meg at home, mere weeks away from giving birth.

The duchess smiled. “Your daughter will do many great deeds, and will live an exceptional life. I will say no more.”

It was madness, but he knew in his bones she told the truth. He didn’t know how it was possible, but he wanted to believe it. “Very well. If you are correct and my wife gives birth to a girl, I will return and teach your son to fight.”

“Excellent.” She grinned. “I have taken the liberty of packing some cakes for you to take home to your wife. She’ll want them after the day she’s had.”

He accepted the parcel as he rose to leave, wondering what else this mad duchess knew that he didn’t. “What of Meg? Is she well?”

The duchess smiled her secret smile. “Oh yes, but perhaps you ought to hurry back.”

Jake’s heart hammered all the way back to Southwark—back to his time, if the duchess was to be believed—terrified she knew something about Meg he didn’t. Had something happened while he was away?

The inn was in a flurry of activity when he returned. Clouds of steam billowed from the kitchen and Achille, Judith’s odd Frenchman, hurried past with his arms full of clean linen. He broke into a wide smile as he saw them. “My felicitations. You have a daughter.”

Jake almost dropped the cakes in his shock. He gripped the doorjamb with his free hand to keep from fainting. As he looked at his boots, the room spinning around him, a pristine note was pushed beneath the door. He grabbed it and broke the Dunchess of Haverford’s seal. Inside was only one word: 

Monday?

 

Broken Things

By Jessica Cale

Rival. Sister. Barmaid. Whore.

Meg Henshawe has been a lot of things in her life, and few of them good. As proprietress of The Rose and Crown in Restoration Southwark, she has squandered her life catering to the comfort of workmen and thieves. Famous for her beauty as much as her reputation for rage, Meg has been coveted, abused, and discarded more than once. She is resigned to fighting alone until a passing boxer offers a helping hand.

Jake Cohen needs a job. When an injury forces him out of the ring for good, all he’s left with is a pair of smashed hands and a bad leg. Keeping the peace at The Rose is easy, especially with a boss as beautiful—and wickedly funny—as Meg Henshawe. In her way, she’s as much of an outcast as Jake, and she offers him three things he thought he’d never see again: a home, family, and love.

After Meg’s estranged cousin turns up and seizes the inn, Meg and Jake must work together to protect their jobs and keep The Rose running. The future is uncertain at best, and their pasts won’t stay buried. Faced with one setback after another, they must decide if what they have is worth the fight to keep it. Can broken things ever really be fixed?

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Meet Jessica Cale

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

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Tea with Lady Gwendolyn

Lady Gwendolyn Marie Worthington made her way through the richly appointed manor home of Her Grace, the Duchess of Haverford. Why she had been summoned at such a time was beyond her understanding. She had more important concerns, like her unfortunate wedding days from now, but one did not easily dismiss an invitation, no matter how untimely, from Her Grace.

She continued following the footman, largely ignoring paintings of several generations of Haverfords upon the walls. The house and its furnishings were no different than the ones she herself grew up with. being the daughter of a duke. Even so, she could still appreciate several unique pieces of artwork that caught her eye as they continued through several hallways to meet Her Grace.

Gwendolyn began to wonder just how large the house was when they at last rounded a corner and stopped before an open doorway of a salon. The servant announced her as she entered the room, and she saw the duchess sitting behind a desk attending to her correspondence.

“Lady Gwendolyn, so nice of you to join me,” Her Grace said, placing her seal upon her letter and then giving Gwendolyn her full attention. “I do so admire promptness in my guests.”

Gwendolyn curtseyed. “Thank you for receiving me, Your Grace.”

The duchess stood and came to sit in a chair near the hearth just as a trolley cart was wheeled in by another ever-efficient maid. She motioned to the vacant chair. “Do be seated and join me for a cup of tea, Lady Gwendolyn.”

Gwendolyn sat as the duchess began to pour and offered her a cup of tea. She gave a nod of thanks and they sat in silence for several minutes, leaving Gwendolyn concern as to what this meeting was all about. She took a sip of her tea and waited.

“Gwendolyn, my dear, I will get straight to the matter of why I have invited you here today,” Her Grace began.

“I was concerned about why you wished to see me,” Gwendolyn replied setting down her cup. The duchess focused on her and Gwendolyn swallowed hard. Those eyes. She seems to know my deepest secrets, she thought.

“I would be remiss in my duties as a friend to your mother, if I did not voice my concerns about your impending nuptials to Lord Sandhurst.”

“My marriage was decided upon years ago before my father passed.”

“I understand you had given your consent.”

Gwendolyn gave a heavy sigh trying not to shiver at the thought of being wed to a man she would never come to love. “Being a dutiful daughter, I would not go against my father’s wishes. For reasons known to him, he favored Lord Sandhurst’s suit.”

“And your brother continues to honor the commitment.” Her Grace took another sip of her tea.

Her Grace looked none too pleased with her brother’s decision. “I attempted to plead my case to Hartford but was unsuccessful at changing his mind. I have no idea why he was so adamant we honor the contract.”

The duchess tapped a finger along the brim of her cup. “So your mother has informed me. I thought if anyone would be able to persuade your brother, it would be her. There must be some underlying reasoning behind his decision.”

“I am afraid that still does not get me out of a marriage to a man I loathe.”

“If Hartford will not agree—and I understand you have no money of your own. Very improvident of your father.”

Her Grace’s comment did not require an answer. Gwendolyn stared at the hands holding the cup, blushing a little.

“If you are willing, my dear, I will help you run away. My friend Lady Grace Winderfield provides a—what can I call it—a refuge for women suffering from the power that men use so carelessly.”

“A refuge?” Gwendolyn had never heard of such a thing.

“Indeed. I must warn you, it would not be what a duke’s daughter is used to. You would be encouraged to find another name. You would need to work.”

“And– and leave my family?”

The duchess’s gaze was compassionate.

“It would need to be a complete new beginning, my dear. Those my friend helps rely on no one discovering their whereabouts. Everyone who joins the group must cut all ties with the past.”

Gwendolyn’s heart sank. She could not do it. Never see her mother again? Or Brandon? Or even Hartford, annoyed though she was with him at the moment?

“I cannot,” she replied. “Thank you, Your Grace, but I cannot. Surely things are not that bad?”

“Yours will not be the first marriage to start off under such circumstances. But you are your mother’s daughter and shall make the best of a horrendous situation,” Her Grace informed her, setting down her cup.

“Yes, of course, Your Grace.” Gwendolyn finished her tea and could tell her meeting with the duchess was at an end. “Thank you for receiving me today.”

“Thank you for coming,” the duchess replied before leaning over to take Gwendolyn’s hand. “These things have a way of working out, my dear. Somehow, I have the feeling life will throw you an opportunity when you least expect it and did not even see coming.”

Gwendolyn rose, curtseyed, and excused herself. She began mumbling to herself as she left about the injustice of her life and being married to a man she could not love. How she could look forward to some unknown opportunity in her future was beyond her. Two days later, she was a married woman and her descent into hell had just begun.

Nothing But Time: A Family of Worth, Book One

They will risk everything for their forbidden love…

When Lady Gwendolyn Marie Worthington is forced to marry a man old enough to be her father, she concludes love will never enter her life. Her husband is a cruel man who blames her for his own failings. Then she meets her brother’s attractive business associate and all those longings she had thought gone forever suddenly reappear.

A long-term romance holds no appeal for Neville Quinn, Earl of Drayton until an unexpected encounter with the sister of the Duke of Hartford. Still, he resists giving his heart to another woman, especially one who belongs to another man.

Chance encounters lead to intimate dinners, until Neville and Gwendolyn flee to Berwyck Castle at Scotland’s border hoping beyond reason their fragile love will survive the vindictive reach of Gwendolyn’s possessive husband. Before their journey is over, Gwendolyn will risk losing the only love she has ever known.

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Excerpt:

Lady Gwendolyn Marie Worthington strode across the floor of her brother’s study, carelessly threw her bonnet onto a high backed leather chair, and crossed her arms. The missive she held in her hand had driven all thoughts of a trip to the milliner with her friend Lady Calliope out of her head. Her shoe tapped a rapid staccato on the wooden floorboards. Her brother remained indifferent to her demand for his attention whilst he continued writing. The insufferable lout did not even have the decency to acknowledge her presence in his pursuit to finish his correspondence. She cleared her throat, hoping to gain his notice.

He continued whatever business he was attending to without a pause, except to say, in a barely civil and flat monotone, “You did not knock.” His disinterest in her presence served as a reminder of his place within his household, as if she could ever forget she was subject to his directives.

Her brother had had the arrogance to send a servant to deliver his note to her bedroom. He should have come there himself to speak with her, given the news he wished to impart. She tossed the crumbled parchment onto his desk. He, in turn, swatted it aside like it was nothing but a pesky insect.

“You have been given your instructions, Gwendolyn. We have nothing further to discuss.”

“Do not take that tone with me, Edmond. You may hold our father’s title, but that in no way gives you leave to treat me as if I must comply with demands such as these,” she fumed. Where had her carefree older brother of years past gone? Surely some measure of the young man she had adored in their youth lurked behind the expressionless mask of this unfeeling cad before her?

Edmond Gerard Worthington, 9th Duke of Hartford, set his quill down. The blue eyes he at last bothered to turn upon her were just as cold as his voice. Since he had inherited his rightful title of duke after their father’s passing, along with all the responsibilities such a position held, Gwendolyn hardly recognized her brother. She swallowed hard, knowing she could not easily sway this uncaring man. Still, she had to try.

“Mother will hear of this,” she warned. “She will not allow her only daughter to be wed to a man in order to fulfill some business deal made years ago.”

“Mother is fully aware of the obligations that must be met. I should not have to explain how things of this nature are done, sister. Arranged marriages happen every day within the ton. Yours will be no exception.”

“Brandon, then. Surely my younger brother cares what happens to his sister since you have made it painfully obvious you do not,” Gwendolyn retorted sharply.

“He is my brother, too, if you would care to remember.” Edmond sighed heavily. “Both mother and Brandon have been summoned to return to London immediately. The marriage contract was agreed years ago and bears the signatures of all parties, including your own. You would have already been wed, had it not been for father’s death.”

Edmond leaned his elbows upon his desk, fingers forming a steeple as if contemplating his next counter to whatever argument she could muster.

She quickly thought of the first excuse that crossed her mind. “I am still in mourning,” Gwendolyn declared through clenched lips.

His eyes roamed down the length of her pink floral gown and his brows rose in unsuppressed amusement. “Your mourning period is long since over, as your garments surely attest. Resign yourself to wedding Lord Sandhurst.”

She stomped her foot in frustration. “Bernard Sandhurst is a lecherous old man and ancient enough to be my father.” She barely held back a cry of despair. “How can you condemn me to a life with that horrible person, however long the vermin will still remain on this earth?”

“I am doing the best I can to save this family from financial ruin. You should be grateful Sandhurst will still have you, given the limited amount I could spare for your dowry. I will not be swayed in my decision, Gwendolyn, and Sandhurst can no longer be put off. He has all but stated his time waiting for you is over. He has been as patient as one could ask of a man getting on in years. You are now twenty years of age and should have been wed with children of your own by now.”

Thoughts of being intimate with a man who repulsed Gwendolyn made her shudder. The few times she had had the displeasure of being alone in the same room with Lord Bernard Sandhurst, he had mauled her with his cool clammy hands. He reminded her of a fish, and an unappealing one at that.

“Edmond─”

Her brother cut her off with a wave of his hand. “Father made this decision and you must abide by it, along with the rest of us.” Edmond picked up his quill and examined the tip before dipping it into the inkwell.

“You are a duke, Edmond. Surely you can pay the man off so I can find a worthy man to love.” She silently pleaded with him, and, for the briefest instant, she held the smallest measure of hope he would accede to her wishes.

His piercing blue eyes leveled on her but briefly. “Love is for fools. Better to marry for wealth and a decent position in society than to lose your heart to such a frivolous emotion as love.” Edmond returned to his work, the quill scratching across the parchment. The sound echoed in her head as though the missive sealed her fate. “Resign yourself to your marriage Gwendolyn. Sandhurst has made arrangements for the wedding to take place two weeks hence.”

Meet Sherry Ewing

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical & time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. Always wanting to write a novel but busy raising her children, she finally took the plunge in 2008 and wrote her first Regency. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Beau Monde & the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry is currently working on her next novel and when not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist. You can learn more about Sherry and her published work at www.SherryEwing.com.

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How to be a child in Regency England

Today, I welcome Quenby Olsen to the blog, to talk about her research into Regency childhood. Over to you, Quen.

While writing The Firstborn (a story that features a very chubby, very assertive infant named George) I fell down the frequent rabbit hole of research about how babies and children were regarded in the nineteenth century. The fact that stood about above everything else? If you were a child born in Regency-era England, then your childhood was most likely remarkably different from only one generation before you.

In the eighteenth century, the prevailing belief about children was that they should be treated (and be expected to behave) as miniature adults. The advice we hear today, to let kids be kids? Not something you would have heard in the early Georgian-era of powdered wigs and telling French peasants to eat cake. But round and about the turn of the nineteenth century, there was a tremendous change in not only how children were brought into the world, but how they were raised.

Obstetricians began to take the place of midwives, and women were encouraged to “lie in” for at least a month after giving birth, taking on help from neighbors and family. Many households still sent their young children off to be cared for by wet nurses from about the age of three months (poorer households would most likely not have this option) presumably to give the mother freedom to re-enter society and also to bring about the ability to have more children quickly. (Jane Austen, for instance, was sent to live with another family from the age of three months to two years. As dire as this sounds, she was visited by one or both of her parents every day. Though this practice was looked down on by the generations immediately followed.)

The tight, constraining swaddling of an infant that had been the norm in the eighteenth century was pushed aside in an effort to give babies more freedom of movement. Swaddling had also been used in an effort to keep babies calm and quiet, as if the crying of a child was a bad thing. In the nineteenth century, adults began to understand that crying was a normal part of infancy and childhood, often a result of the baby and child still learning how to express themselves.

Play and games were encouraged as being essential towards a child’s development, and children’s clothing reflected these changing attitudes. While babies were kept in long gowns to keep them warm, as soon as they reached the age of crawling and walking, they were placed in “short clothes” to give their chubby little legs room to maneuver. Pudding caps were used as well, a slightly padded helmet, of sorts, to help prevent the bumps and bruises that came with learning to walk and run and jump. (And just when you thought overprotective parenting was a modern invention…)

Children were also drawn tighter into the bosom of the family, and many households all ate their meals together rather than keeping the children separate with a nursemaid round the clock. The belief was that they would better learn to socialize and grow into better adults by seeing the behavior of their elders and to “practice” with them. But it had the added benefit of keeping the family together and letting the parents and children play a larger part in each other’s lives.

By the age of eight is when things would begin to change in the child’s life. If you were a boy, your education went into overdrive. Being sent off to school, the hiring of a tutor, or being sent to learn from the local parson were all popular options. Girls, on the other hand, were more likely to be kept at home for their education (especially as a girl’s education consisted of things like needlework, painting, music, and less history, science, and languages than their brothers). A governess would often be added to the household staff (though we all remember Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s horror at discovering that all five Bennet daughters were raised without the aid of a governess).

As the nineteenth century moved forward, the role of motherhood and the importance of children being children only progressed further. A short while after the Regency period, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert arrived, two people who both reportedly doted on their children (all nine of them!) and all while running an empire. Now, nearly two centuries later, it is remarkable how many things have changed, and yet how with the upswing in popularity of cloth diapers and midwives and ensuring that kids have ample time to play, just how many things have remained the same.

The Firstborn

Sophia has sacrificed everything for her younger sister, Lucy. She has removed them from the only home they ever knew, taken on the care of Lucy’s illegitimate son, George, and even assumed the role of a widow and mother in order to erase all hint of scandal from the boy’s birth. But rumor continues to follow them like the darkest of clouds, and Sophia must adapt to her new existence as a false widow with no prospects beyond the doors of her small cottage.

Lord Haughton will stop at nothing to prevent the slightest whiff of disgrace from tainting his family’s name. When he learns of his younger brother’s latest indiscretion-one that leaves a bastard child in his wake-Haughton rushes across the country to offer the boy’s mother a comfortable living in exchange for her silence about the child’s true parentage. But he arrives only to have his generous offer thrown back in his face by Sophia Brixton, a sharp-tongued and sharper-witted woman who proceeds to toss him out of her house. But just because he is banished from her home does not mean he is so easily banished from her life.

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Excerpt:

Finnian shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Up to this point, nothing had transpired in the way he’d imagined it would. And as for Sophia, she was too blunt, and too intelligent. And that was what worried him most.

He gestured towards the recently vacated table. “Will you be seated?”

Her shoulders pressed back. “I’ll stand, thank you.”

He cleared his throat. She was not going to make this easy for him. A point for her, since he doubted she had any idea what had brought him all this way. “The child—”

“George,” she said, interrupting him. “His name is George, after our father.”

“Of course.”

“No,” she spoke again, while his next words still danced on the tip of his tongue. “Not ‘of course’. Such a phrase denotes your being aware that our father’s name was George, or knowing what type of man he was and why we would choose to honor him in such a way. But here you are, darkening my doorstep nine months after his birth. A fact which proves to me that either you didn’t know about him before now, or you simply didn’t care.”

He inclined his head, yet dared not take his eyes off of her, not for a second. “My apologies. I assure you it was the former, and as soon as I discovered that my brother had a son—”

“And where is your brother? And why are you here in his stead?”

Finnian could feel his temper beginning to rise. Never before had he allowed himself to show anger in front of a woman, and yet she was the most infuriating creature he’d ever encountered. “He is in London. I assume.”

“You assume?” To his surprise, her mouth broke into a smile and a soft laugh emanated from the back of her throat. “In other words, you have about as much sway over the life of your brother as I have over my sister.”

“I’m not here to discuss my family,” he said, his voice taking on a note of warning he hadn’t even intended to be there.

“Oh, but I’m sure you’re here with the sole purpose of discussing mine. Or am I wrong?” A flash in her eyes countered the steel in his voice. “The mere fact that you’ve arrived today with a prior knowledge of not only both our names, our location, George’s existence, and no doubt a myriad other trivial items concerning our past and present life tells me that you’ve gone to great lengths to find out all you could before traveling here from…” She waved her right hand in a vague circle. “… wherever you call home. Which means, no doubt, that you wanted the upper hand in this discussion. Which also means that I will most likely not care for whatever it is you’ve come to tell me.”

Finnian fumed in silence. If the baby’s mother was even half as maddening as the woman standing before him, he wondered how David had survived with his manhood and his sanity intact. “I had come here with the intention of speaking to the mother of my brother’s child,” he ground out between clenched teeth.

“But she is not here,” she said, delivering the confession with the precision of a wielded weapon. “And she is not like to be anytime soon. And since your appearance here is most likely connected with George, then you will have to make do with speaking to me.”

Meet Quenby Olsen

Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she writes, homeschools, glares at baskets of unfolded laundry, and chases the cat off the kitchen counters. After training to be a ballet dancer, she turned towards her love of fiction, penning everything from romance to fantasy, historical to mystery. She spends her days with her husband and children, who do nothing to dampen her love of the outdoors, immersing herself in historical minutiae, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who.

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Tea with Lady Emma

Lady Emma Landrum curtseyed deeply when the Duchess of Haverford’s secretary announced her. Puzzling over the invitation during the carriage ride over had brought her no conclusions, and she had no more idea why the duchess wished to see her than she did when the summons arrived. Summons it had been. An invitation can be declined politely.

She ought to have sent regrets, but didn’t dare, even if it did force her to delay her return to Chadbourn Park by a day. Mother would worry and Papa would rant when she failed to appear as expected.

How on earth did Her Grace know I raced to town for a fitting? We didn’t even put the knocker out. How did the woman know everything? Emma feared the duchess somehow found out about her little unauthorized excursion the day before. She prayed not. A woman of eighteen years with one season behind her ought to be allowed a bit of freedom for pity’s sake.

“Lady Emma, my dear, stop gazing at me owlishly and take a seat.” If the duchess’s knowing eyes rattled her a bit, the amused expression reassured her. Emma sat, and let the age-old ritual of the tea service calm her nerves.

“I don’t bite, you know,” Her Grace said after a particularly long silence when polite comments on the weather petered out. “But I expect you wonder why I wanted to speak with you.”

“I have been wondering,” Emma replied. “I know you have more important concerns than my opinion of Mme. Delacroix’s latest designs.”

The duchess laughed out loud at that. She did enjoy young people, and this one was a particular favorite. Emma Landrum had backbone and plenty of opinions. Her Grace was certain the girl would be a force to be reckoned with in a few years.

“I understand your uncle has returned from India.”

Emma felt her shoulders relax. Fred? This is about Fred? She grinned at the duchess. “He has indeed. With no notice, two heretofore unknown daughters, and a charming companion.”

The duchess’s eyebrows shot up. “I hardly know which question to ask first,” she said.

“Mama quite likes Clare—that’s the woman’s name. Apparently Uncle Fred engaged her to accompany his daughters to us. Mama says he expected—these are her exact words—to foist them off on us. But Clare forced him to come as well, at least until he introduced them to us. Mama is determined he will stay and—her words again—do his duty by those darling girls.”

“If the Countess is determined, your uncle has no chance. She finds the daughters ‘darling?'”

“Oh, Your Grace, they are charming! Meghal has more wit than those twice her age, and backbone too. Mama says Meghal alone will make sure Fred stays where he belongs. She adores the girl.”

“Meghal? Is that Bengali?”

“I believe so. They lived in West Bengal.” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “Their mother was Fred’s mistress in Dehrapur.”

Her Grace’s lips twitched with suppressed laughter. She whispered back, “So I had guessed.”

“But how did you—Oh. Cousin Charles was here.”

“He was indeed. I’m afraid he ended our tête-à-tête rather abruptly before I could ask him why he hired an enquiry agent. Is there trouble at Eversham Hall?”

Emma shrugged helplessly. “No one tells me anything. A man died in a haying incident. There were whispers it was no accident, but when I asked they hushed me up as if I was a moony ten-year-old.”

“Being protected can be a dreadful bore,” the duchess murmured. “I tell Aldridge that often.” She did so on the rare occasion her son thought he might keep something unpleasant from her.

“You’re right, Your Grace. I hate it,” Emma exclaimed. “As if that wasn’t bad enough, Fred and Charles forbade us to leave the house without an army of footmen and grooms. Would they tell me why? No! Peck said it was about the nabob who bought the Archer place across the river, but that’s all I know.”

The duchess caught her lower lip between her teeth, nodding. “Nabob,” she said at last. “Someone Fred knew in India?”

“I have no idea.”

The duchess deftly turned the conversation to fashion after that. Emma did indeed have opinions about this year’s fashion, all of them astute and some wickedly funny. When the girl departed she called for her secretary.

“I need to pen a message to Walter Stewart. I believe the Duke of Murnane and his cousin Fred may be his current employers. Let’s ask him to call for tea.”

The Reluctant Wife

Children of Empire, Book 2

Genre: Pre Victorian, Historical Romance  µ Heat rating: 3 of 5 (two brief -mild- sexual encounters)

ISBN:  978-1-61935-349-9 µ ASIN:  B06Y4BGMX1 µ Page count: 275 pages

Pub date: April 26, 2017

When all else fails, love succeeds…

When Captain Fred Wheatly, a soldier with more honor than sense, is forced to resign from the Bengal army, and his mistress dies leaving him with two half-caste daughters to raise, he reluctantly turns to Clare Armbruster for help. But the interfering widow has her own problems, and a past she would rather forget. With no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must return to England and turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above the past to forge a future together.

Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Wife-Children-Empire-Book-ebook/dp/B06Y4BGMX1/

And click here for my review.

About Caroline Warfield

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Website http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

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Twitter @CaroWarfield

Email warfieldcaro@gmail.com

Giveaway

Caroline is sponsoring a grand prize in celebration of her release. You can enter it here: http://www.carolinewarfield.com/2017blogtourpackage/

The prequel to this book, A Dangerous Nativity, is always **FREE**. You can get a copy here: http://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/a-dangerous-nativity-1815/

Excerpt

Before they reached the top, the door swung open. There stood a stiff-backed English butler in a high white collar and black coat. His chin pointed upward, he wore a perfectly professional glower, but his eyes held the slightest gleam of curiosity. Meghal startled him before he could speak.

“Are you my uncle?”

The old man frowned ferociously and said, “I beg your pardon?”

Clare let go of the girl’s hand and pulled her close. “We are . . . that is, these young ladies are Mr. Frederick Wheatly’s daughters. He has been delayed by an accident with a hay wagon, and we’ve come on ahead. He sent word to his family.” Did he? Now she wasn’t sure. Even if he did, would it have reached them here?

“We know of the accident. Men have been sent to help.” The butler’s brows drew together, and he frowned at the girls, unable to speak.

“Fred’s children? Truly?” came a voice from behind the man. A blond head peered around him, a vision with laughing eyes and a beguiling smile.

“Lady Emma, I am not sure,” the butler said cautiously.

“Of course they are! How perfectly marvelous! Bring them in, Banks. Don’t leave them standing there.”

The butler escorted them into an immense foyer from which a wide marble stairway curved upward; its heavy wooden railing gleamed with polish. Clare wondered that they permitted anyone to walk across the stunning parquetry, much less three travel-stained strangers.

The young woman who had welcomed them rocked up on the balls of her feet in excitement, hands clasped in front of her. She had carefully coifed blond hair and wore a pink gown with a cinched waist and expansive skirt which Clare assumed was the height of fashion. She wasn’t exactly sure since she had been away more than a year.

“Oh dear,” Lady Emma exclaimed. “Who shall make introductions? Rules of proper behavior leave this situation out,” she laughed. “I am Emma Landrum, your cousin.”

Lady Emma, Clare remembered. “This is Miss Meghal Wheatly and Miss Ananya Wheatly,” she said, studying the young woman, who demonstrated no sign of distress, rejection, or even surprise that her uncle had brought two half-caste children home unannounced. On the contrary, Clare saw nothing but joy in her face. Both girls stared back at her.

“Are you a princess?” Ananya lisped.

“You survived your come out with body parts intact,” Meghal said, quoting Catherine’s letter and causing Lady Emma to burst out laughing.

“I did indeed! Who told you that?” Lady Emma asked, eyes dancing with delight.

“It was in a letter from Catherine. She is my aunt.”

“That sounds like something she would say.” She drew up, suddenly remembering something. “Oh! Yes. Mother. Banks, please let the countess know we have visitors.” That settled, Emma looked expectantly at Clare. “And you are?”

“I’m Clare Armbruster,” she said. She had to think for a moment. What am I? Nanny? Governess? I am nothing. “The girls’ escort. I will leave once they are settled.”

“But you did say Uncle Fred is coming,” the young woman reminded her, worrying her lower lip between her teeth. Clare assured her he was.

Emma reached out both hands toward the girls to lead them to the drawing room. “Come, cousins, let’s get acquainted.”

Clare took a step backward. Perhaps I should go back out and wait for Fred, she thought and then chided herself for acting like a ninny.

“Were you expecting us?” she asked.

Emma paused to smile back at her over her shoulder. “Not in the slightest, although I should say yes. My mother has expected Uncle Fred any time for nine years. Do come and rest, Miss Armbruster. You must be exhausted. I’ll ring for refreshments.”

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Sunday Spotlight on What the Scot Hears

Amy Quinton has produced another fun romp in her Agents of Change series. MacLeod, the Scot of the title is superb: gloomy, pessimistic, suspicious, and totally befuddled by the brash American woman who keeps stumbling across his work as a spy for the British Crown.

For all her cheerful outgoing personality, Amelia hides secrets of her own, not least her identity and her background.

Read this book to discover how this mismatched pair discover they are perfect for one another, while negotiating people determined to kill them and MacLeod’s reaction to Amelia’s lies. Better still, read the series. Two other couples already matched are in this novel, and it was fun to see them again. I very much enjoyed What the Duke Wants, and am now itching to read What the Marquis Sees, which I’ve skipped. See? The books can be read independently and out of order, but I want to see how Beatrice won her man. I’ve a suspicion she may be my favourite of the three heroines so far.

I’d have loved a bit more of a sense we were in 1814. The voice is very modern, and there’s little period detail. But still a rollicking good yarn, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

What the Scot Hears

Agents of Change, Book 3

England 1814: Reticent Scottish Lord pursues Mouthy, Independent, American Woman… She is an outspoken American orphan with a questionable past and a dubious purpose. He is a man of few words on the lookout for a traitor. How could they NOT get along?

Mrs. Amelia Chase is a highly-opinionated, 23-year-old woman from America on the run from her past with a penchant for self-preservation and a healthy love for Shakespearean insults. Much to a certain Scotsman’s dismay:

She isn’t:

  • Quiet – not with her tendency to talk to everyone about anything…
  • Demure – highly overrated if one cannot wear red and show off one’s curves…
  • Equine-savvy – she once fled some currish, toad-spotted, coxcombs – er, villains – in a stolen carriage at a pace slower than a meandering walk. Oh, and mistook a common mule for a thoroughbred. But other than that…

And she is:

  • Brave – Smart, Loyal, Witty. Er, charming. Plus, Modest, Lonely, Secretive – Um, forget that last part…
  • And In love – with a distrustful Highlander of all things…

Lord Alaistair MacLeod is an agent for the Crown and a man with secrets. He doesn’t speak of them, he doesn’t dwell on them, and he certainly doesn’t let them define his future. Much. One thing is for certain, he definitely doesn’t share his confidences with a peery, outspoken American woman who is obviously trouble, acts highly suspicious, and is far too nosy for her own good… No matter:

He is always:

  • Focused – men who cannot stay to task are foolish…
  • Pointed and Reserved – enough said…

And he isn’t:

  • Cheeky – like a certain American firebrand…
  • Led by his… ahem…even when following on the heels of a curvy, red-wearing… ahem
  • Or In love… especially not with a Troublesome, Meddlesome, so-called Independent American Woman…

Can he trust enough to embrace such an enigmatic woman? Can she awaken the passions of such an intensely private man?

Amazon ☼ Barnes & Noble ☼ KOBO ☼ iBooks

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Tea with Alexandra

When Alex Graham enters the Duchess of Haverford’s elegant salon, she can’t quite contain an admiring gasp. “It’s so…modern,” she says, taking in the plush chairs, the elegant drapes.

Her Grace: Why, thank you my dear. I just had it redecorated—after all, one must keep up with the times, must one not?

Alex (sitting down tentatively on one of the chairs): I suppose that depends on what times, my lady.

Her Grace: Your Grace, actually. But you may call me Eleanor if you wish, and I, in return shall call you Alexandra.

Alex: No one calls me Alexandra—it’s Alex. (She extends her hand. The duchess looks at it with raised brows. Alex drops her hand) No handshakes?

Her Grace: No. (She smiles) Now, I hear you have a hankering for tea. (She gestures at the cups and the pot) As I understand it, tea is a rare commodity in your time.

Alex: Once again, depends on what time.

Her Grace: Ah, yes: you’re the time traveller, aren’t you?

Alex: Most reluctantly. (She studies her surroundings) Imagine if one day you were thrown out of this comfortable existence and sent flying through time to land in the 17th century. That wouldn’t be much fun, would it?

Her Grace: I’d say it depends on where I landed—and with whom. (She winks and hands Alex a cup)

Alex (takes a moment to inhale the aroma of her tea, looking quite blissful while doing so): I landed on a moor in 17th century Scotland. (She shivers) Just like that, all modern amenities were gone. No cars, no washing machines, no hot showers…

Her Grace: Mmm, that does sound awful—even if I have no idea what a car is, and I have laundry maids to do the washing. (Sips at her tea) Was there no compensation at all?

Alex (fidgets): Well, there was Matthew. (Laughs) You know, the first time I saw him, I thought he might be some sort of hermit, a wacko determined to live outside the confines of modern society.

Her Grace: A wacko?

Alex: Someone who’s slightly insane.

Her Grace: Ah. And was he a…wacko?

Alex: No. (She touches the ring she is wearing) No, he was my destiny, my fate—however pathetic that might sound.

Her Grace: It doesn’t sound pathetic to me. But it must have been difficult, adapting to a new life and a new man.

Alex: Tell me about it. It didn’t exactly help when Matthew was abducted and sold as a slave on a Virginia plantation.

Her Grace: Oh, my! How awful!

Alex: Or when he almost got himself killed trying to save his brethren in faith from deportation and death. (She glances at the duchess) Matthew’s sort of devout—well, a very devout Presbyterian, proud member of the Scottish Kirk and all that. (She grins) It causes a lot of arguments between us: he thinks I’m borderline heathen, I consider him far too rigid at times.

Her Grace: I find men of convictions to be rather attractive.

Alex: So do I—until those convictions threatened me and our children. (She sighs, picking at the heavy fabric of her woollen skirts) Ultimately, we were forced to emigrate, which is how we ended up in Maryland.

Her Grace: Is it a nice place?

Alex: If you’re into woods, yes. Neither St Mary’s City or Providence qualify as major must-sees in my book. Small, colonial towns—one with a predominantly Catholic population, the other chockfull of dour Puritans. (She chuckles) Matthew doesn’t like it when I call him dour.

Her Grace: One wonders why.

Matthew: Mayhap because I’m not? (He strides into the room, all six feet and three of him. In breeches and boots, no coat over his shirt, he’s quite the sight) Your Grace. (He bows)

Her Grace: A man with manners—how lovely.

Alex (somewhat sarcastically): Manners and convictions—what else can one ask for?

Her Grace: A fortune, perhaps?

Matthew: No fortune, Your Grace. (He turns to look at his wife) Undying devotion, perhaps? (He takes Alex’s hand and lifts it to his mouth. She blushes, making him smile as he kisses her digits)

Her Grace:  How sweet! Now, where can one read about all this?

Alex: Well, Anna Belfrage has written eight books about our undying, time-transcending love and our various adventures. Mind you, at times I do feel she makes things excessively exciting. (She clasps Matthew’s hand) She puts us through so much loss, so much heartbreak, and sometimes… (Her voice breaks)

Matthew: Shush, lass. (His long mouth curves into the softest of smiles) As long as we have each other, we can handle whatever life—and Anna—throws our way.

Alex (wiping her eyes): Yeah, I guess we can.

Her Grace: Some more tea, my dear? (She pats Alex’s hand) I find it has such a soothing effect. (Addresses Matthew) What are the names of these books?

Matthew: Well, the first one is called A Rip in the Veil, and collectively they’re called The Graham Saga (chuckles) No points to Anna for dazzling creativity there.

Her Grace: Maybe not—but I see the books are available on…Amazon, is it?

Matthew: Aye, they are. They’re also available on other online—odd word, isn’t it?—bookstores. Here’s the blurb—yet another odd word, that—for the first book:

On a muggy August day in 2002 Alex Lind disappears without a trace. On an equally stifling August day in 1658, Matthew Graham finds her on an empty Scottish moor.  Life will never be the same for Alex – or for Matthew.

Due to a series of rare occurrences, Alexandra Lind is thrown three centuries backwards in time. She lands at the feet of Matthew Graham – an escaped convict making his way home to Scotland in this the year of our Lord, 1658.

Matthew doesn’t quite know what to make of this concussed and injured woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies- what is she, a witch?

Alex gawks at this tall, gaunt man with hazel eyes, dressed in what to her mostly looks like rags. At first she thinks he might be some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realises the odd one out is she, not he.

Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with this new existence, further complicated by the dawning realization that someone from her time has followed her here – and not exactly to extend a helping hand.

Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew – a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. But for all that Matthew quickly proves himself a willing and most capable protector he comes with baggage of his own, and on occasion it seems his past will see him killed. At times Alex finds it all excessively exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.

How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she want to?

Her Grace: Utterly Intriguing! Well, my dears, it has been a pleasure to meet you both, but I fear I must prepare for my evening event. (She stands. Matthew immediately follows suit, bowing yet again)

Matthew: The pleasure is ours, Your Grace. (He lifts her hand, kisses it)

Her Grace: Such a charmer! (She smiles and bats her eyelashes) I must congratulate Anna on your creation. For a 17th century devout Presbyterian, you carry yourself well in the salons of the rich and powerful.

Alex (stands up as well): Yes, my man is quite something, isn’t he? (Major emphasis on the possessive pronoun)

And there, dear readers, we leave the salon. But before we go, here’s some additional information about the author:

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with The King’s Greatest Enemy, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power.

When Anna is not stuck in the 14th century, chances are she’ll be visiting in the 17th century, more specifically with Alex and Matthew Graham, the protagonists of the acclaimed The Graham Saga. This series is the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him. A ninth instalment is on its way, despite Anna having thought eight books were enough. Turns out her 17th century dreamboat and his time travelling wife didn’t agree…

Anna can be found on her website, on Facebook and on her blog. Or on twitter and Amazon.

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Spotlight on Nothing But Time

In today’s Sunday Spotlight is Sherry Ewing’s Nothing But Time.

This short Regency novel is the tale of Gwendolyn, married despite her protests to a nasty old man who bullies and abuses her, and cuts her off from contact with her friends. It’s also the story of Neville, the successful investor and rising aristocrat who falls in love, quite against his will, with another man’s wife.

Adultery is a daring topic for a romance. To keep our sympathy, the writer needs to give us extenuating circumstances, and Ms Ewing does so to the max. The story has it all: thwarted love, a villain,  a mad chase north, a heart-wrenching  separation, and a few passionate interludes to give us hope that all will be well.

I liked Gwendolyn’s compassion for her ungrateful spouse, and how hard she tried to be true to the vows she didn’t want to make. But Neville was my favourite of the two. He was not an innocent, but he was in love for the first time, and he was putty in Gwendolyn’s hands, as well as charming, determined, faithful, and brave.

The book was short and the characters only lightly painted. The horrible husband was a caricature, but the boorish elder brother and the mischievous younger one both show promise. I look forward to more stories of the Worth family.

They will risk everything for their forbidden love…

When Lady Gwendolyn Marie Worthington is forced to marry a man old enough to be her father, she concludes love will never enter her life. Her husband is a cruel man who blames her for his own failings. Then she meets her brother’s attractive business associate and all those longings she had thought gone forever suddenly reappear.

A long-term romance holds no appeal for Neville Quinn, Earl of Drayton until an unexpected encounter with the sister of the Duke of Hartford. Still, he resists giving his heart to another woman, especially one who belongs to another man.

Chance encounters lead to intimate dinners, until Neville and Gwendolyn flee to Berwyck Castle at Scotland’s border hoping beyond reason their fragile love will survive the vindictive reach of Gwendolyn’s possessive husband. Before their journey is over, Gwendolyn will risk losing the only love she has ever known.

 

Amazon US  |  Barnes and Noble  |  iBooks |  Kobo  |Amazon AU  |  Amazon BR  |  Amazon CA  |  Amazon DE  |  Amazon ES  |  Amazon FR  |  Amazon IN  |  Amazon IT  |  Amazon JP  |  Amazon MX  |  Amazon NL  |  Amazon UK

Neville’s first glance at Gwendolyn

He held her stare. How could he not when he had been admiring her beauty just a short while ago? He did not dally with women whose husbands were living, and certainly not one who was associated with a potential business associate. The last thing he needed was some man breathing down his neck challenging him to a duel, and that most assuredly included her brothers as well as her husband.

To say she was beautiful would not have done the lady justice. She was young, perhaps no more than twenty. Her light brown hair was swept up into a pleasing coiffure and one long curling ringlet cascaded down her left shoulder. He could not tell the color of her eyes from this distance but they were framed in a round face with a clear complexion. Neville should not let his gaze linger on those lips for long. They were meant to be kissed and kissed often.

Something about the lady continued to pull at his heart, and, for the life of him, he could not look away. She seemed sad, and he could only ponder the cause. Why her disposition was important to him he could not say, and yet, he had a sudden desire to sweep her away and fill her days with happiness. He squashed down the notion of what he would like to do with her nights.

They continued staring, one to the other, and he watched in fascination as her chest rose and fell as if she were attempting to catch her breath. Neville had been tempted long enough and he gave into the impulse by offering her the slightest of nods. She must have at last come to her senses at his gesture, for she quickly turned away, but not before Neville witnessed a lovely blush rising to color her cheeks.

Meet Sherry Ewing

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical & time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. Always wanting to write a novel but busy raising her children, she finally took the plunge in 2008 and wrote her first Regency. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Beau Monde & the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry is currently working on her next novel and when not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist. You can learn more about Sherry and her published work at www.SherryEwing.com.

Website & Books: http://www.SherryEwing.com

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Tea with Xavier

Her Grace of Haverford smiled at the strangely-dressed young man who has suddenly materialised in her private sitting room.

¿Como? ¿Donde estoy?” he said, staring around himself. “I was just locked in a gaol on a ship, en route to New Zealand, and…???”

Her Grace nodded. Such things often happen on a Monday, and the duchess has learned to take them in her stride. “Then I daresay you would like a cup of tea. Or perhaps coffee?” She repressed the urge to sniff. He didn’t smell too fresh, but undoubtedly the chair cushions could be cleaned.

The young man blinked. “Dios mío, but I would die for a coffee,” he said, grateful tears filling his eyes. “I wondered if I’d ever have any again…or if I’d get out of that gaol stateroom alive”

“I am Eleanor Haverford, and you are temporarily in 1811, in England. I do not know how it works, señor, but you will be here long enough for some refreshments, so please, make the most of the opportunity.”

He stared now, then remembered his manners. “Your Grace,” he bowed over her hand. “My Aleksandra told me of you,” he shook his head, “and of your wondrous mansion, and of ‘taking tea’ with you. I’m so pleased to be here…much better than where I was. So to what do I owe this,” he gazed over the spread on the table before him, “unexpected pleasure?”

“I am always At Home on a Monday, my dear. I seldom know who to expect or where or when they will come from, but someone always arrives. It is most fascinating. And some are even hungrier than you!” (And less fragrant, she thought, and did not say.)

“That is hard to believe,” he said, as he stayed his hand from reaching for the little cakes.

“Please, help yourself,” the duchess pours him a coffee and hands him a place. “I hope and trust the food will remain with you on your return, but even if it does not, you will have had the flavour.”

“I apologise for the state of my clothing, I’ve been on a ship for nearly three months. And I’m sure,” he gave her a twisted grin, “that I smell atrocious.”

“It is of no matter. You are Xavier, of course! How is dear Aleksandra?”

Xavier bit his lip. “I was hoping you could tell me. If you can pull me into the past, can you tell the future? I’ve just left 1863.”

An elegant shrug of one tiny shoulder. “I do not control who visits or how, my dear. I am so sorry. You and she are not together then?”

“If together means being together somewhere in the Pacific on the same barque, headed for New Zealand, yes, we are. Unfortunately, the scoundrel of a first mate has likely killed the captain and locked me in the brig for something I didn’t do. I worry about that madman Brockhurst out there, with my wife.”

“Oh dear! But your wife is a very resourceful woman. I expect she has plans of her own.”

“She is fantastic with her shashka, but even she can be overcome by a stronger man or two…especially if they’re armed with laudanum, as well as whatever else they had to hand.”

“You are now many years in her past, my dear,” the duchess said, topping up her coffee. “If I understand how this works, you will be returned to the time you left. Aleksandra will use her wits, and you must trust her. Tell me, what are you doing on a ship? Have you left California for good?”

“We’re headed for a new life in the peaceful country of New Zealand.” Xavier took another sip, and helped himself to one of the little pies from the plate she put before him, before continuing, “My newspaper friend Gustavus von Tempsky says New Zealand is a wonderful place to start a new life.”

The duchess was fascinated. “I know little of New Zealand, except that a savage chieftain from there visited the Court several years ago.”

“We’re heading to meet von Tempsky in the town of Coromandel, where he’s offered us a share in his gold mine. He says the natives of the place, the Maori, and the settlers live in peace and harmony.”

“A town! Things must have changed in the last fifty years! Are there many towns in New Zealand?”

“Ah, yes, there are, and the missionaries have apparently been there since the 30’s. Apparently, the Maori have wonderful crops and farms… it is said they even supply most of the wheat for the settlements in Australia, on their own ships!”

Her Grace leaned forward, her eyes shining. “It will be very different to my England or your California. How exciting for you and your family.”

“It will,” Xavier agreed. “It is meant to be so very green!”

The duchess passed the plates of sweet cakes, each individually iced and topped with a candied flower. Xavier took one.

“Take another,” the duchess recommended. “My chef purchases them from M. Fournier’s , and he makes the finest in London.”

Xavier grinned and put too more on his plate. “Oh, thank you! I’ve not seen a petit four since my graduation from high school in San Francisco!”

He took the first tiny cake in a bite and continued, “So our new life will be wonderful. Once we find von Tempsky, we’ll settle in and have the quiet life we’ve both wanted, which seems to have escaped us in the past, and start a family…” silence…”again,” he adds, in a whisper.

The duchess patted his hand. “You will, I am certain, overcome your challenges and find the happiness you seek. You and Aleksandra deserve it.”

“Thank you. I can only hope you are right.” He stared pensively at his hands.

Her Grace broke the silence. “And how will you and Aleksandra support yourselves in New Zealand?”

“We have adequate funds to support ourselves.” Xavier grinned, suddenly, and added “and we will, of course, strike it rich in the Coromandel mine, like every other miner.”

“Of course!” The duchess returned his grin, then added, her eyes twinkly, “My son would say that the best way to become rich in a gold rush is to sell shovels.”

“Ah, an enterprising son you must have. My mother would have said the same.”

At this description of the Marquis of Aldridge, the duchess laughed aloud. “Enterprising. Yes, some might describe him so. Have some more to eat, Xavier. I am delighted to see your excellent appetite.”

Xavier filled his plate again. “Thank you, Your Grace. It’s been a while since I’ve had anything but hardtack and stale water.”

A SEA OF GREEN UNFOLDING, BOOK THREE IN THE LONG TRAILS SERIES, FOLLOWING THE HILLS OF GOLD UNCHANGING.

In the multiply-awarded A Long Trail Rolling, Lizzi Tremayne told the story of Aleksandra Lekarski, a trapper’s daughter who finds herself alone—and running to prevent her father’s killer from discovering their family secret. The tale continues in The Hills of Gold Unchanging

The third story, A Sea of Green Unfolding,picks up Aleksandra and Xavier in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1862, Rancho de las Pulgas, San Francisco Bay Tragedy strikes in Aleksandra and Xavier’s newly-found paradise on their California Rancho. Their friend, von Tempsky, invites them on a journey to adventure and a new life in peaceful New Zealand, but change is in the wind. They reach Aotearoa, only to discover the place is a turbulent wilderness—where the land wars between the European settlers and the local Māori have only just begun.

This is the third novel in the series of historical romantic suspense sagas following Aleksandra and Xavier from the wilderness of 1860 Utah to Colonial New Zealand.

With Book One, A Long Trail Rolling, Lizzi Tremayne was: Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings; Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award; Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel plus third in Koru Long Novel section; and finalist in the 2015 Best Indie Book Award.

In the story, tragedy strikes in Aleksandra and Xavier’s newly-found paradise on their California Rancho de las Pulgas. Von Tempsky invites them on a journey to a new life in peaceful New Zealand, but change is in the wind. When they reach Aotearoa, they disembark into a turbulent wilderness—where the wars between the European settlers and the local Māori have only just begun. It will be released in May 2017 and is available for preorder on the regular sites.

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Research and The Reluctant Wife

My guest for Footnotes on Friday is Caroline Warfield, who will talk to us about the different types of research that inform her wonderful books. And continue scrolling for a giveaway and an excerpt of her next release.

Research represents one of the vital tools of a historical novelist. We’re frequently asked to share our research when we discuss our books. I’m always bemused by that. Which research?

Early in the process, academic research is important. I need to understand the era, the setting, the historical figures, the circumstances and a general picture of people’s lives.  A stack of books glares at me from across the room as I type this.  East Asia the Modern Transformation, my Fairbank-Reicshauer survey text from college is buried under two works on the East India Company.  The Reluctant Wife is set in India, but that one is finished. The work-in-progress, The Unexpected Wife (due next October) takes the hero to Canton, China where he will encounter—surprise—the East India Company. Again. This kind of research mostly sets the mood and enlightens the setting. It isn’t terribly helpful on a daily basis.

Some details are tough to get at. Tomes on the company, and even forays into the internet, weren’t much help with details of daily life. I got stuck on uniforms and military life on the edges of the Bengal Presidency. A friend connected me to her father-in-law who provided pages of wonderful detail. I may have only used bits and pieces but those bits make the story much more alive and, I can only hope, more authentic.

Once writing is underway, the questions we didn’t anticipate crop up left and right. What is the punishment for counterfeiting coins in 1832?  (severe, possibly capital) How would the heroine treat burns in 1835? (with honey) How could the hero tell if a dead assassin was hindu or muslim? (circumcision) When was foxglove found to be useful for heart failure? (before 1800) For those, I scurry to the Internet, usually successfully.

There is another sort of research that enlivens my work, however. Fiction, regardless of historical era or setting, is about people, and romantic fiction is about relationships. My books are all embedded in family—the families of origin of the hero and heroine, and the family they form when they finally come together. For that, my research is all around me. Family is the great school of life. Families mold us for better or for worse. They lie under our character, conflicts, and motivation good and bad. They  provoke the strongest of all human emotions, both negative and positive. Reasearch? I’d say so—if we’re paying attention.

What do you think?  How much real information do you look for in what is, after all, a novel? Is the human more or less important?

The Reluctant Wife

Children of Empire, Book 2

Genre: Pre Victorian, Historical Romance  *  Heat rating: 3 of 5 (two brief -mild- sexual encounters)

ISBN:  978-1-61935-349-9 * ASIN:  B06Y4BGMX1 * Page count: 275 pages

Pub date: April 26, 2017

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband. She certainly doesn’t need a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Wife-Children-Empire-Book-ebook/dp/B06Y4BGMX1/

About Caroline Warfield

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Caroline is a RONE award winner with five star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, Night Owl Reviews, and InD’Tale. She is also a member of the writers’ co-operative, the Bluestocking Belles. With partners she manages and regularly writes for both The Teatime Tattler and History Imagined.

Website http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Amazon Author http://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Good Reads http://bit.ly/1C5blTm

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7

Twitter @CaroWarfield

Email warfieldcaro@gmail.com

Children of Empire

Three cousins, torn apart by lies and deceit and driven to the far reaches of the empire, struggle to find their way home.

Giveaway

Caroline will give a kindle copy of The Renegade Wife, first book in the series, to one randomly selected person who comments. She is also sponsoring a grand prize in celebration of her release. You can enter it here: http://www.carolinewarfield.com/2017blogtourpackage/

The prequel to this book, A Dangerous Nativity, is always **FREE**. You can get a copy here: http://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/a-dangerous-nativity-1815/

Excerpt

Clare briefly explained what she had learned about the inaugural run of a mail steamer to the Suez.

“What is the advantage?” he asked.

“It cuts four months off the time we would spend cooped up on a ship,” Clare answered.

“Camels,” Meghal declared. Her eyes widened as a new idea struck. “And crocodiles.”

“The disadvantage?” he asked, barely controlling his laughter.

“Goodness, Fred. I would have to disembark with two children, travel overland to Cairo, travel by river barge down the Nile and the Mahmoudiyah Canal to Alexandria before embarking on yet another steamer for Falmouth or Southampton while managing luggage and keeping your daughter from wandering off with the first interesting band of Bedouins she encountered.”

“But Papa can help with the luggage, and I promise not to follow any—what are Bead-oh-ans?”

Clare’s face registered the shock he felt. Neither one of them had mentioned his plans to his daughters. Clare raised a brow and shrugged, obviously unwilling to rescue him.

You’re on your own, Wheatly, he thought as he tried to put words together while Meghal smiled hopefully at him.

“I thought you knew, Meghal. I’m not going with you. You will have to take care of Miss Armbruster for me.” She will like the idea of caring for everyone, he thought, pleased with himself for coming up with that.

His daughter’s instant response disabused him of that notion. “Why?” she demanded, the universal challenge of children everywhere. Before he could think, she stabbed him in the heart and twisted the knife. “Don’t you care for us?”

“Of course, I do! Never think that.”

“Where will we go? Who will take care of us? Do we have to live with Miss Armbruster?” Meghal colored and turned to Clare. “I’m sorry, Miss Armbruster. Ananya and I like you, but you aren’t family,” she said. “We need family.”

Fred seized on her words. “That’s just it. I’m sending you to family. Your Aunt Catherine and your cousins will be happy to have you come and stay with them while I”—he clenched his teeth—“while I find work so I can send her money for your care.”

Meghal sank back in the chair, outrage still rampant on her face.

“Meghal, I can’t care for you if I can’t work.”

In lieu of an answer, she jumped down from her chair and hurried to the bedroom, returning with her beloved box. Fred groaned. I should never have read them to her. She dug down under her cousins’ missives and pulled up ones she knew were from his sister.

“My aunt wants you to write to her. She would be dee-lighted to see you if you come to England. She would help us, and the earl who is a farmer would too,” Meghal announced, folding her arms across her chest and thrusting out her lower lip. “We can come back after we see them. You must come.” She leaned forward when another notion flitted across her expressive face. “We could go by Egypt if you come. Please come,” she wheedled.

 

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Tea with Sarahjane and Felix

When Sarahjane Collias and Felix Gryffith step through the door from the late nineteenth century, they are not completely surprised to find themselves greeted by a mature lady dressed in the height of Regency fashion. After all, the invitation that requested their company for tea was dated 1810, and bore the crest and signature of Eleanor, Duchess of Haverford.

Eleanor Haverford: Welcome, my dears! Won’t you come in? The tea is ready and I’ve been so looking forward to seeing you!

Felix: You’re too kind, Madame.

Sarahjane: We’ve looked forward to this afternoon for a while.

Eleanor Haverford: Now then, I hear you two have some interesting pastimes. Sarahjane Collias is a—now what was the word? Photographer, I believe.

Sarahjane: Painter. Although, I must admit, the new technology does intrigue me.

Eleanor Haverford: Ah yes, painter. My apologies, Miss Collias. And you, Mr. Gryffith?

Felix: Felix, please.

Eleanor Haverford: Yes, Felix. You are… involved with the steam power?

Felix: Electrical lights, yes.

Eleanor Haverford: Not steam power?

Felix: No, not exactly. Electrical power is the wave of the future, madame.

Eleanor Haverford: Future… Oh, yes. You come from far in my future, do you not? And you have a queen? One not born yet, I am told.

Sarahjane: 1888, yes. And Queen  [Sarahjane sniffs] Dear, don’t make our hostess’s head explode so soon with your technical jargon. She won’t be hearing about such things for another 60 years or so.

Felix [blinking]: How else should I answer her question?

Sarahjane [laying a hand on his]: Succinctly, Your Grace, he works with technology too. Much more deeply than I, I must admit.

Eleanor Haverford: I see… Well maybe we will bring that up a little later. Tell me something that won’t ‘make my head explode’. Where did you two meet? The late nineteenth century! I must say, I can’t begin to imagine. Did your father arrange your marriage?

Felix: Sarahjane’s? By God, no. He’d rather roast me.

Sarahjane: We were friends long ago, Felix and I. But we had a bit of a falling out.

Felix: That’s putting it nicely.

Eleanor Haverford: Oh?

Felix: We had such a “falling out” that she left not only London, but Britain altogether.

Eleanor Haverford: Did you?

[Sarahjane nods]

Sarahjane: Felix, really! Did you have to bring that up?

Felix [frowning]:  Sarahjane spent the time studying in Italy, you see.

Eleanor Haverford: My goodness!

Sarahjane [returning the frown]: While he went off to god knows where.

Felix: Russia. I had a job offer there, you see.

Eleanor Haverford: A long way away from her. Did you court her via post, then?

Sarahjane: No. We met up again, last year.

Felix: Via Lady Morville.

Eleanor Haverford: Ah, yes, I’ve heard of her. Quite the philanthropist. Fine woman.

Felix: She is.

Sarahjane [blushing]: I daresay. Stubborn too. I’d say she threw us together on purpose, if I didn’t know better. Felix was working for her, at the time. How was I to know she’d send him to York on business? Right to Mr. Keane’s house. My then-tutor.

Eleanor Haverford [covering a laugh with her hand]: She didn’t!

Sarahjane: Alas, it’s true.

Felix: Good thing, too. Where would you be if she hadn’t?

Sarahjane [picking up her tea]: I shudder to think. Do you know Keane, my lady?

Eleanor Haverford: No, my dear, I do not.

Felix: Believe me, you’re better off not knowing him.

Sarahjane: Felix is right, though I still think his paintings are divine.

Felix: Never mind, that. He’s a devil, who tried to force you to marry into his family.

Eleanor Haverford: Oh my! He didn’t!

Eleanor Haverford: Yes, marry his brother, to be more precise. The Keane brothers turned out to be dreadful. If it wasn’t for Felix, I don’t know where I’d be.

Eleanor Haverford: Dear me. That is just the sort of incident our gossip columnists delight in. I hope you did not suffer unfortunate coverage in the paper.

Felix [patting Sarahjane’s hand]: Doesn’t matter. We’re heading back to North Carolina tonight.

Sarahjane: He has work to do. He has to figure out how to keep storms from blowing out his mechanisms.

Eleanor Haverford: Sounds intriguing!

Felix [picking up his tea]: Damnable things, is what they are.

Sarahjane: Don’t listen to him. He already onto an idea to help that, I daresay.

Felix: [stares]

Sarahjane: Don’t play innocent, dear.

Eleanor Haverford: You don’t think you’ll succeed?

Felix: Oh, I will. One day the whole earth will be lit by electricity.

Duchess: Sounds exciting! And I understand you married in the summer, so there was a bright side to all your trouble. I must say, it has been a pleasure to meet with you both. Thank you so much for accepting my invitation to tea. Before you go, I hear a talented young lady wrote your story down…in a book that’s currently available at a bookshop called Amazon. Can you tell me something about it?

Sarahjane [huffs]: Oh, that’s right. Ms. Juli D. Revezzo wouldn’t be happy with me if I forgot to mention that. She named it…some dreadful thing. What was it, dear?

Felix: I think it was House of Dark Envy. Appropriate, since Keane was….

Sarahjane: Yes, I know. The story, House of Dark Envy, goes a bit like this:

Surely, lightning can’t strike twice…

1888: When Sarahjane attends Lady Morville’s costume party, she never expects to learn her old beau Felix Gryffith is under the illustrious woman’s patronage and stands on the cusp of making a world-changing discovery. Felix, whose lies disgraced her in the eyes of the London elite by labeling her a flirt.

Felix’s love for Sarahjane has never wavered, despite the scandal that forced them apart. He’s desperate to tell her the truth, if he can convince her to listen.

Fate lurked in the shadows that night, years ago. Has it returned to grant Sarahjane and Felix their wishes, or terrorize them?

House of Dark Envy is available in ebook and paperback at: https://www.amazon.com/House-Dark-Envy-Juli-Revezzo-ebook/dp/B06WWM8T8R/

Sarahjane: So that’s our story. Thanks for inviting us here, Your Grace.

Felix: Yes, indeed. It’s been a pleasure, dear lady. *kisses Duchess’ hand* And if you or your friends would like to find out more about fr—er, author, you’re welcome to visit her lovely home websites:

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Juli-D.-Revezzo/e/B008AHVTLO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Homepage: https://www.julidrevezzo.com/

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

Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5782712.Juli_D_Revezzo

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/111476709039805267272/posts

Instagram: http://instagram.com/julidrevezzo

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jewelsraven/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/julidrevezzo

Sign up for her newsletter at: http://bit.ly/SNI5K6

Duchess: Before I go, dear readers, if you’re curious about Juli, here’s what Sarahjane told me about her:

Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic mythology and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of the historical romances, House of Dark Envy, Watchmaker’s Heart, and Lady of the Tarot, the Antique Magic paranormal series and Celtic Stewards Chronicles series and more. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

 

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