Tea with the Duchess of Haverford

To the Characters of Historical Romance

From the hand of Jude Knight
Amanuensis to Her Grace, the Duchess of Haverford

Subject: Promotional opportunity for you and your author

Dear heroine, hero, or supporting character

Her Grace has charged me with letting you know she is At Home to visitors on Mondays (USA time), and would be delighted to welcome you for conversation and a cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or the beverage of your choice.

Characters from any historical fiction, any era or place, may apply. While Her Grace’s lifetime spans the late Georgian and early Victorian, and she is delighted to meet her own contemporaries from different fictional worlds, she particularly enjoys time travelers. Be warned that all metal and weapons must be left at the door. No exceptions. Not even armoured knights and Chicago gangsters.

A typical post would have a few paragraphs of conversation between you and the duchess, then your book’s blurb, buy links, and an excerpt.

I keep Her Grace’s calendar, and would love to hear from you or your author. If you wish to participate, please send the dates of three Mondays to jude [at] judeknightauthor.com (replace [at] with @). Include your name, your author’s name and pen name, and your book title.

Kindest regards

Jude Knight

(for Eleanor Haverford)

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Tea with Susan


Unrelieved black suits few women, but Susan Cunningham is one of those whose beauty it enhances, her guinea-gold hair glowing under the black lace that covered it, her porcelain skin looking whiter by contrast.

“I sent my condolences when I heard, Susan, but may I say in person how sorry I was to hear that your husband’s ship was lost?” the Duchess of Haverford says, as she takes the younger woman’s hand and kisses her cheek.

“I still do not believe it,” Susan answers, taking her seat once the duchess does. “I keep expecting to get another letter from him, or have some false friend commiserate about his misbehaviour in some foreign port or see him walk in the door, upset the children, and waltz back out to find someone to get drunk with.”

She flushes. “Oh dear. I have no idea why I just said that, Aunt Eleanor.”

“Because you know that I knew the Captain,” the duchess says dryly, “and because you are tired of pretending to agree with all those false comforters that want only to sing his virtues.”

“His mother has him fitted for a halo,” Susan agrees, “but then, she never could see a fault in him.”

“Which is undoubtedly why he had so many.” Her Grace’s tone is drier still.

“He had virtues too, Aunt Eleanor. And I find I miss him far more than I expected. It is odd. He was seldom home, and that was just how I like it after we grew so far apart. But now that he will never come home again, I miss him.”

 

 

 

Today’s visitor appears in Farewell to Kindness and A Raging Madness as a support character. She is Rede’s cousin and Alex’s sister. She will be the heroine of The Realm of Silence, which is the next book in the Golden Redepennings series. She was not looking for a second husband. But I have my eye on her.

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Tea with [Name of your heroine here]

To the Characters of Historical Romance

From the hand of Jude Knight
Amanuensis to Her Grace, the Duchess of Haverford

Subject: Promotional opportunity for you and your author

Dear heroine, hero, or supporting character

Her Grace has charged me with letting you know she is At Home to visitors on Mondays (USA time), and would be delighted to welcome you for conversation and a cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or the beverage of your choice.

Characters from any historical fiction, any era or place, may apply. While Her Grace’s lifetime spans the late Georgian and early Victorian, and she is delighted to meet her own contemporaries from different fictional worlds, she particularly enjoys time travelers. Be warned that all metal and weapons must be left at the door. No exceptions. Not even armoured knights and Chicago gangsters.

A typical post would have a few paragraphs of conversation between you and the duchess, then your book’s blurb, buy links, and an excerpt.

I keep Her Grace’s calendar, and would love to hear from you or your author. If you wish to participate, please send the dates of three Mondays to jude [at] judeknightauthor.com (replace [at] with @). Include your name, your author’s name and pen name, and your book title.

Kindest regards

 

Judy Knight

(for Eleanor Haverford)

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Tea with Georgiana

monday-for-teaGeorgiana, the widowed Duchess of Darby, greets the Duchess of Haverford with a carefree smile even though her insides are fluttering about like the autumn leaves falling from the plane trees outside. The duchess has been her friend and mentor since the early days of Georgie’s marriage, proclaiming herself an honorary aunt, but she is far too perceptive and she is sure to notice Georgie’s unease even though this is just a morning call. But will she know why? Of course, Aunt Eleanor is much too dignified to pay any attention to salacious gossip… isn’t she?

However Aunt Eleanor doesn’t seem to notice that anything is amiss; she clasps Georgie’s hand warmly and places a gentle kiss upon her cheek before stepping back to study her face. “My dear,” she says gently, her soft blue eyes regarding her with genuine fondness. “It is wonderful to see you in Town again.”

“Thank you, Aunt Eleanor. It has been too long hasn’t it?”

“Quite understandable given the circumstances.” With an elegant wave of her hand, the Duchess of Haverford indicates they should both take a seat before the crackling fire in her sitting room where tea things and all manner of delightful morsels—tiny cakes, sandwiches and delicate biscuits—have been set out on a low mahogany table.

“Yes… indeed,” Georgie replies as she chooses a damask upholstered wingchair and then busies herself with smoothing the folds of her blue silk gown and removing her gloves. For all the heartfelt concern in Aunt Eleanor’s direct gaze, Georgie doesn’t wish to talk about the passing of her husband, Teddy, the Duke of Darby. He might have been a husband in name only but he was also her best friend. And my twin brother’s lover. Not that Aunt Eleanor knows any of that… She might a good friend to Georgie ever since her marriage, but it was but one of the many secrets Georgie vigilantly keeps under lock and key. Raising her own gaze to meet Aunt Eleanor’s again, she adds, “My brother, Sir Jonathon, and Helena, Lady Maxwell have been keeping me busy this past week.”

“Ah yes, the recent ball at Latimer House. How lovely it was for Lord and Lady Maxwell to welcome you back in such a fashion. I understand it was a lively occasion…”

Was that a twinkle of interest in Eleanor’s blue eyes? What if she had heard some of the on-dits floating around London this past week? On-dits involving Georgie and the mysterious Rafe, Lord Markham… Not only did he flirt outrageously with her during the ball, he’d also trounced her at piquet not once but twice. The indomitable Ice Duchess had been well and truly vanquished. Thank heavens Eleanor didn’t know the man had also kissed her… Even now the memory of that kiss made her stomach flip and her pulse skitter about. If only Lord Markham weren’t so attractive…

In an attempt to hide her blush, Georgie pretends to scrutinize the cakes before randomly choosing a pale pink petit-four.

But perhaps Aunt Eleanor does know something as she next remarks in an all too innocent tone as she adroitly dispenses tea and milk, “And I also heard that the company was most diverting.”

Georgie places her untasted cake on a fine bone china plate then sighs. “You know me too well, Aunt Eleanor. And if truth be told, ‘diverting’ is rather an understatement.”

Aunt Eleanor smiles conspiratorially as she hands her a cup of tea. “So, tell me all about Lord Markham.”

Excerpt

theiceduchess_med-copyGeorgie took her seat at one of the piquet tables in the card room and removed her gloves, hoping that Phillip, Lord Maxwell, wouldn’t notice her slightly trembling fingers when he joined her. It seemed absurd to be so nervous. Where was her famous sang-froid?

It probably didn’t help that a hush had descended over the card room as Jonathon had escorted her in, and at this very moment, she could feel at least a dozen pairs of eyes, if not more upon her. The unvanquished Ice Duchess—the woman who barely ever lost a game—was about to play cards again. Of course people were going to notice.

Curse her brother and Helena. She would have attracted much less notice if she had simply decided to dance after all. Lemonade in the ladies’ retiring room seemed more appealing by the second. And where in heaven’s name was Phillip? She glanced about the room but could not spy Helena’s husband anywhere.

Not only that, she could see Jonathon disappearing out of the card room, no doubt chasing the dapper young buck he’d been making calf’s eyes at earlier.

If Phillip didn’t appear within the next thirty seconds, she would cut and run.

“May I join you, Your Grace?” A soft baritone drew Georgie’s attention away from the ornately arched doorway of the card room and back to the table.

She glanced up. And it was all she could do not to gasp.

A dark-haired, lean-jawed rake was smiling down at her. Her dastardly brother and friends had set her up after all.
Blast them all to hell.

Drawing in a steadying breath she summoned a slight smile. Her well-practiced, cool duchess’s smile—a smile that had sustained her for almost a decade in the face of such obvious raw masculinity. Thank God she still had it.

“And you are?” she asked smoothly, arching an eyebrow. “I believe we’ve never been introduced.” She thought she knew most rakes of the ton and she had only been away from London for a year. But this tall, handsome man with smoke-gray eyes and a dark velvet voice, she didn’t know at all.

The corner of his wide, well-shaped mouth lifted into a smile. “Forgive my boldness, Your Grace. I am Rafe Landsbury, Lord Markham. Lord Maxwell has been… detained and offers his apologies. He asked me to stand in, in his stead.” His eyes held hers—a question or perhaps it was a spark of challenge flared in their gray depths. “If you don’t mind of course.”

As if she could refuse with everyone watching. She’d gleefully strangle Phillip, Helena and Jonathon later for putting Lord Markham up to this. They probably thought she’d build up a rapport with the man over cards. Then he’d suggest they dance or perhaps peruse the supper table together. His large hand would touch her elbow, the small of her back. His fingers would brush against hers as he passed her a glass of champagne… She knew all the ploys he would use to try and get her hot and bothered. But she wouldn’t fall for any of them. Never again. Just because she was a widow, it didn’t mean she was fair game.

Lord Markham was still watching her expectantly so she affected a small tinkling laugh and shrugged a shoulder. “Of course I don’t mind. Please, take a seat.”

“Thank you, Your Grace.”

Georgie tried not to stare as the nobleman folded his long, lean frame onto the damask covered Adams chair opposite her. Markham, Markham. No, not a memory of him stirred at all. Where had such a man been hiding for the last decade? He exuded such a quiet self-assurance as he watched her reach for the deck of cards, a completely unexpected and most disconcerting wave of heat swept over her face.

She hadn’t blushed in years. What is wrong with me?

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

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

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

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

Length: Novel (109,500 words)

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

Amazon Buy Link

Meet the author

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

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

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Tea with Prue

monday-for-tea

Eleanor, Duchess of Haverford, feels a strong sense of obligation to today’s caller. Not that she will say so. Her Grace has engineered a dozen meetings in the past five years, and not once has Miss Virtue raised the connection between them. Perhaps she is unaware of it? No, surely not. But if she wishes to ignore it, then the duchess will comply. The young lady is entitled to her privacy.

The butler escorts Miss Virtue into the conservatory, where Her Grace and her guest can enjoy the autumn sun and the splendid views of the gardens without suffering the chilly breeze. The duchess rises in greeting.

“Miss Virtue. How kind of you to come.”

Her caller curtseys gracefully, without comment, and seats herself when the duchess invites her to do so. For a few minutes they discuss courteous nothings: the weather, the number of people in Town, the War on the Continent, how Miss Virtue would prefer her tea.

But once she has a fine bone china cup in her hands, Miss Virtue cuts directly to the point in the way the duchess has come to expect and admire. “But I do not wish to take up too much of your valuable time, Your Grace. How may I be of service to you.”

Her Grace suppresses a sigh—will the child never trust her? “I have a commission for you, Miss Virtue, if you are free to undertake it. My godson, the Earl of Penworth, appears to have gone missing…”

castle-silhouette-vector-954843-small

Prue Virtue is a spy for the Crown, but occasionally undertakes freelance commissions. The following excerpt is from The Prisoners of Wyvern Castle, a novella in my free book Hand-Turned Tales (click here for buy links). Prue, disguised as the nurse Miss Tyler, is here on the duchess’s errand, looking for the Earl of Penworth. She finds that he has acquired not only a prison but also a wife.

Prue is also the heroine of Revealed in Mist, coming in December 2016.

prisoners-of-wyvern-smallSeveral minutes passed, and all remained quiet. This might actually work! First, she needed to find a boat small enough for her to handle. Hugging the walls, keeping to the shadows, she began to circle the courtyard toward the deeper darkness that signalled the passageway through the walls. Beyond, the road led down to the docks.

She was nearly there when a woman’s voice spoke behind her. “Do not be alarmed, Lady Penworth.”

Madeline spun around, one hand to her chest to hold her pounding heart in place.

“Who is it?” She could see a vague shape in the darkness, but no details.

“A friend.”

It was not Lady Wyvern, nor—from the accent, which was aristocratic—one of the servants. As she froze, trying to decide whether to run or speak, she heard footsteps and voices approaching from the other end of the passage.

“Quick. This way.” The woman took her hand and pulled her through a doorway, into the room beyond. Just in time. Pressed against the wall inside the door, she could hear them clearly: several men arguing in hushed voices.

“It was the White Lady, I tell you.”

“Rubbish.”

“She was coming out that window. I saw her with my own eyes. It was like a long coil of smoke, twisting in the wind.”

“A long coil of smoke. Listen to him. Next, you’ll be telling us she’s off to join her husband in the dungeon.”

A chorus of guffaws.

“You’ve heard what the islanders say, same as me,” the first voice insisted.

“Yes, and right fools they are, too.”  The speaker pitched his voice in a falsetto. “Ooooh! Moaning in the dungeon. It must be the ghost!” Then, reverting to his own low rumble. “Silly tossers. A good thing Her Ladyship sent the whole lot of them packing.”

The first voice began, “If you ask me…”

Another man interrupted. “You can stand around talking about ghosts all night if you want. I’m for the kitchen and a tot of something hot and strong. Securing those boats was cold work.”

She could make out no more. They were across the courtyard and… yes, they had gone down the steps into the servants’ area Rupert had pointed out from their window.

“Come,” her companion said. “Lord Wyvern is awake and wishes to speak with you.”

“Let me go,” Madeline pleaded. “Now, while the courtyard is clear.”

“I will help you, my lady. That is why I am here. But first, we need to share information. Come with me and see Lord Wyvern.”

“Who are you?” Madeline asked, but the woman gave her no answer, just moved away, surefooted in the dark.

After a moment, Madeline followed her. They climbed the stair until they reached the room where Lord Wyvern lay, propped up on pillows, looking—by the light of the lamp at his bedside—more alert than he had earlier in the day.

The light allowed Madeline to recognise her companion. “You are the nurse. Miss Tyler. You work for Lady Wyvern.”

“I work for Lord Wyvern,” Miss Tyler corrected. “I am here to rescue him, and you and the earl.”

“Lady Wyvern took the earl away. I don’t know where.”

“Dun… jin,” Lord Wyvern said, and Miss Tyler nodded. “They were keeping Lord Wyvern in the dungeon when I was brought here to care for him. I expect that is where they have your husband and the other two men.”

Lord Wyvern was a frail shadow of the hearty man Rupert had described, and pale enough to have been in a dungeon these six months. Madeline didn’t understand how his own servants could have allowed such a thing.

“Why did your people let it happen?” she asked him, but it was Miss Tyler who answered.

“His Lordship had an apoplexy. Lady Wyvern saw her moment and removed anyone who might object to her regency while he was ill. Then, when he began to recover… well, she made sure to keep him bedridden. And she hid him, so those loyal to him would not know what she was doing.”

“How could the Ice Dragon hope to get away with it?”

Goodness. She was so used to Rupert’s name for his sister that she said it without thinking. But Lord Wyvern was laughing silently, and even the nurse was smiling.

“A good name for her,” Miss Tyler said. “She is an arrogant woman, Your Ladyship. She makes her plans and assumes the rest of the world will fall into line. She must have been horrified when the King sent Lord Morpeth to see what was happening here, but she and Sir James decided to bully their way through.

“They sent most of the islanders away, to keep complaints and rumours from reaching Lord Morpeth’s ears. That may yet work to her disadvantage, since they are now on the mainland and will be talking to all their friends and relatives. Word will reach the ears of the gentry sooner or later, and people with authority will start asking questions.”

“I cannot wait for that,” Madeline said. “I need to rescue the earl now.”

“Plan?” Lord Wyvern asked.

“Yes, my lady. What was your plan? Do you have a helper? Somewhere to go?”

Madeline shook her head. She and Rupert had no one to help them. But they had a plan, of sorts, and she intended to carry it out.

Miss Tyler saw her hesitation. “Lady Penworth, you are wise to be cautious, but you can trust us. Lord Wyvern, as you know, is as much a victim of the conspirators as you and your husband. And I have been sent by the earl’s godmother to find out what is happening and help if I can.”

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