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.

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

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Release day for The Renegade Wife

Today is release day for the first book in Caroline Warfield’s new series, Children of Empire. I was privileged to be an early reader for The Renegade Wife, and if you don’t already have it, rush out and get it now! Amazon link at the bottom of the page after a word from Caroline, the blurbs, my review and an excerpt.

Caroline, you know I love the book, and now everyone else knows it too, because there’s a quote from me on the front cover. Congratulations, and I wish you every success.

A message from Caroline

Meggy visited the Duchess of Haverford last week on Monday for Tea. Check that post for more insight into this gripping book.

Meggy visited the Duchess of Haverstock last week on Monday for Tea.

Thank you, Jude, for hosting me on my book’s release day. I tend to almost hop up and down with excitement over a new release, and I’m delighted to have the chance to introduce it to your readers. Here are seven things they might like to know about The Renegade Wife.

1. The characters may be familiar. The elders who assemble to brainstorm ways to get Rand and Meggy out of trouble are the heroes of my Dangerous books. Rand himself appears in A Dangerous Nativity as a boy.

2. Meggy, as quickly becomes apparent, is an abused wife. Faced with such abuse, she stands up and takes control. You’ll like her.

3. Rand’s heart isn’t as hard as he likes to pretend.

4. There are children. Somehow my books always have children.

5. It’s the first of a new series, The Children of Empire. This one begins in His Majesty’s colony in Upper Canada. The empire spanned the globe. The next book begins in India.

6. The story is set in 1832, too late to be Georgian and too early to be Victorian. Let’s just call it “historical.”

7. I plan to celebrate the launch with a Facebook party on Sunday, October 16. You’re all welcome to join us. There will be prizes!
https://www.facebook.com/events/552255998312179/
A side note (Because Caroline can never resist a side note):
Why “Upper” Canada, you may ask? When the British took Quebec in 1760 the entire territory was called Canada. The Quebec Act made it French in law, language, and religion. The influx of loyalists in the 1780s prompted a need for a colony with English language and law with some religious tolerance, and so they divided into parts up river (Upper Canada, which we now call Ontario) from the parts down river (Lower Canada, or the current province of Quebec). As to the other provinces and eventual union, that’s probably a story for another novel.

meme4

The Renegade Wife

therenegadewifeBetrayed by his cousin and the woman he loved, Rand Wheatly fled England, his dreams of a loving family shattered. He clings to his solitude in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. Returning from a business trip to find a widow and two children squatting in his house, he flies into a rage. He wants her gone, but her children are sick and injured, and his heart is not as hard as he likes to pretend.

Meggy Blair harbors a secret, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her children safe. She’d hopes to hide with her Ojibwa grandmother, if she can find the woman and her people. She doesn’t expect to find shelter with a quiet, solitary man, a man who lowers his defensive walls enough to let Meggy and her children in.

Their idyllic interlude is shattered when Meggy’s brutal husband appears to claim his children. She isn’t a widow, but a wife, a woman who betrayed the man she was supposed to love, just as Rand’s sweetheart betrayed him. He soon discovers why Meggy is on the run, but time is running out. To save them all, Rand must return and face his demons.

Children of Empire

Raised with all the privilege of the English aristocracy, forged on the edges of the British Empire, men and woman of the early Victorian age seek their own destiny and make their mark on history. The heroes and heroines of Caroline’s Dangerous Series overcame challenges even after their happy ending. Their children seek their own happiness in distant lands in Children of Empire.

Jude Knight on The Renegade Bride

I love Caroline’s writing, and was not at all surprised when her Dangerous Secrets won a RONE in this year’s awards. I’ve read each of the Dangerous books, thrilled with their heroine, and fallen in love with their hero.

This is the best yet. Her writing is superb, and her characters are hugely likable (except for Blair and his offsider, who are not). I particularly enjoyed the double vision effect at the beginning: Rand as cat rescuer and altogether nice fellow vs Rand as scary monster.

No spoilers, but suffice to say that Meggy would do anything to protect her children. And with a husband like Blair, they need protection. And Rand is heart-sore and hiding out in the woods, avoiding all people. But the children and then the woman herself get under his defenses.

Can these two damaged souls heal one another? Not if Blair has anything to do with it.

And then there is Charles. Charles is Rand’s cousin; the one that Rand hates even as he loves him. To save Meggy, Charles and Rand have to work together. Charles is every kind of darling, and deserves the happiest of endings. I can barely wait for his book, which is the third of the new series.

I was privileged to receive a beta copy of this book, and am waiting breathlessly for my purchased copy to download so I can read it again.

An excerpt from the book

“Let go of her, Blair, or I’ll shoot you like the dog you are. God knows you deserve it.” For untold minutes all Rand heard was the wind in the trees, and Lena’s whimper behind Pratt’s back. Even Meggy seemed to hold her breath.
Blair let go of her arm so suddenly she stumbled before running back to her children. “The slut and her children are mine, Wheatly, and that makes you a thief.”

“Get on your horse, Blair, and get out of here before I change my mind and shoot you anyway. You too, Pratt.”

Rand kept his pistol aimed at Blair while the men mounted and turn their horses to the lane. Pratt and Martin galloped up the hill and into the woods, but Blair turned half way up and pointed back at Meggy hugging the children in Rand’s doorway.

“They’re mine, Wheatly. I have a writ. I’ll be back with the magistrate and the deputy to have you jailed for resisting. Won’t your fancy relatives like that?” He turned and galloped off.

Rand eased back the hammer of his pistol, when the men cleared the trees. He slid it into a holster, jumped down, and ran to Meggy and the children, pulling all of them into an embrace. Meggy began to weep almost as soon as his hand came around her back, pulling her close with Lena between them and Drew in the crook of his arm.

“You might have killed him, and then where would we be?” she sobbed.

“You would be safe from him.”

“And you would be in jail or worse.”

He didn’t deny it. He kissed the top of her head and down her cheek.

Links

Buy The Renegade Wife on Amazon.

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Tea with Meggy

monday-for-tea

Meggy Campeau waits nervously to be ushered into the presence of the Duchess of Haverford. Since she arrived in London days ago, she has been overwhelmed by titled ladies.  She knows she belongs in a cabin along the lakes in Canada, not in this room full of priceless antiques. She fidgets with the dress she has borrowed from the Countess of Chadbourn. Rand’s sister. Who insists on being called Catherine. Meggy will never get used to it.

meggyCatherine herself smiles fondly. “Meggy, calm down. She isn’t a dragon, truly!”

The door opens on silent hinges and the duchess herself sweeps in. “Catherine! It is wonderful to see you as always. Miss Campeau, welcome. Or do you prefer to be called Mrs. Blair?”

Meggy feels her cheeks heat. She looks at the wall to the left of the duchess’s ear and tries to formulate an answer.

“Perhaps I should call you simply Meggy. Would that make you more comfortable?”

The duchess’s smile certainly helps Meggy calm down. She nods. “Thank you, Your Grace.”

The arrival of the teacart gives Meggy a brief moment to collect herself. All too soon the duchess looks at her over a dainty porcelain cup and asks, “How is that scamp Randy doing? I understand he has been somewhat overwrought.”

Catherine raises a brow at Meggy, urging her to answer.

“Rand worries for my children, Your Grace. I don’t mind admitting they are in danger at their father’s hands.”

The duchess nods, knowingly. “Well done of him. From what I’ve been able to ascertain, they need his protection. You do, too.”

Meggy stiffens her spine. “I can take care of myself, Your Grace.”

“But not your children?”

Meggy crumples. Tears threaten. The duchess is at her side in a moment, a reassuring arm on her shoulder. “My dear, we all need help eventually. There is no shame in taking it. You have Rand.”

Meggy’s head bobs up, but the duchess waves her protest away. “You do have him, if you want him, you know, but that is a matter for another time. First you must allow all of us help you deal with your vile husband and the criminals that surround him.”

“You too?”

The duchess smiles. “Well, perhaps not directly. Sudbury, Chadbourn, and Rand’s darling cousin Charles have things well in hand. Should you need us, however, the Grenford family stands ready to help. ” She pours another cup and her face takes on an impish expression. “After all, Rand is well on his way to enriching me even further with this timber enterprise. I’m grateful he let me invest.”

With that, the duchess and Catherine turn the conversation to mutual friends, the weather, and the theater season, leaving Meggy to contemplate what she just heard. She sits back and lets the feeling of security sink in. I’m not alone, and my children will be safe.

The Renegade Wife

renegade-wifeBetrayed by his cousin and the woman he loved, Rand Wheatly fled England, his dreams of a loving family shattered. He clings to his solitude in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. Returning from a business trip to find a widow and two children squatting in his house, he flies into a rage. He wants her gone, but her children are sick and injured, and his heart is not as hard as he likes to pretend.

Meggy Blair harbors a secret, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her children safe. She’d hopes to hide with her Ojibwa grandmother, if she can find the woman and her people. She doesn’t expect to find shelter with a quiet, solitary man, a man who lowers his defensive walls enough to let Meggy and her children in.

Their idyllic interlude is shattered when Meggy’s brutal husband appears to claim his children. She isn’t a widow, but a wife, a woman who betrayed the man she was supposed to love, just as Rand’s sweetheart betrayed him. He soon discovers why Meggy is on the run, but time is running out. To save them all, Rand must return and face his demons.

For purchase on Amazon.      

Giveaway

To celebrate the launch, Caroline will have a grand prize drawing for a kindle copy of the book, a $25 Amazon gift certificate, and a bundle of other prizes. To enter, click here:

Contests and Giveaways

First in a new series: Children of Empire

Raised with all the privilege of the English aristocracy, forged on the edges of the British Empire, men and woman of the early Victorian age seek their own destiny and make their mark on history. The heroes and heroines of Caroline’s Dangerous Series overcame challenges even after their happy ending. Their children seek their own happiness in distant lands in Children of Empire.

 

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What Elyse said

Elyse writes in defence of romance novels on Smart Bitches Trashy Books.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what I read. It doesn’t even matter that I do read, quite frankly. What matters is that we live in a world where fiction aimed directly at women is perceived as garbage. That doesn’t say anything at all about me, it says a lot about what needs to change.

I’ve quoted the last paragraph, but read the whole thing. Cheers and cookies, Elyse.

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