Tea with Janet

Three young women, linked by marriage and scandal, awaited the duchess today.

The Countess of Chestlewick had intrigued Society less than a year ago, making her appearance as a young, impoverished, and extremely beautiful widow. The much older Earl of Chestlewick had been, as far as Eleanor understood the matter, one of the few to offer her a permanent arrangement of the legal kind. Many had more illicit relationships in mind.

Gossip suggested she had chosen Chestlewick for his wealth, but Eleanor had seen them together. Yes, the earl doted on his young wife, but equally the wife looked up to and admired her husband. It was, in short, a love match, and Eleanor was confident that the robust baby the joined the household only a few months after the marriage was, in fact, the true son of the earl who claimed him.

With her was her daughter-in-law, Countess Medford. Now there was a story. The Earl of Medford had returned from a hunting trip in the Scottish Highlands with an aching heart, after a lass who nursed him through sickness disappeared without a trace. Medford’s lack of interest in his former rakish pursuits, his dogged devotion to finding his lost love, and his mournful demeanour won him the nickname ‘the Cursed Earl’.

Imagine Society’s delighted horror when the missing girl proved to be none other that the Earl of Chestlewick’s daughter by a former marriage. Lady Jane Amhurst, as she was known here in England, arrived from the Highlands with a pair of Scottish servants, a small daughter, and no husband. As Mrs Pellingham, the third guest this morning, gleefully explained to anyone who would listen.

But it turned out that the pair had married in the Highlands, and their blissful reunion was rather more than a nine-days wonder, especially when a chastened Mrs Pellingham made her first appearance with her wronged sister-in-law.

The gossip had not died down, of course, but Eleanor would see what she could do to help ease at least the way of the Countess of Medford, and the others, too, if they seemed deserving.

My Lost Highland Lass is a story in my new book of lunch-length reads, Lost in the Tale.

Other Monday for Tea posts about stories in the book are:

Tea with Mrs Markinson (The Lost Wife)

Tea with Callie (Magnus and the Christmas Angel)

Tea with Morag and Caitlin (The Lost Treasure of Lorne)

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Cover reveal Lost in the Tale

I’m nearly ready to release my 2017 collection of made-to-order stories. I have the stories and the cover, and I’m just waiting for the proofread files and a bit of time to set up the pre-release. No date yet, but it looks like it’ll be early September.

The short stories in the collection have only been available as print books, on Wattpad, or to party goers and newsletter subscribers as ebooks. The novella has so far been seen only by the giveaway winner who gave me the ingredients.

Like Hand-Turned Tales, Lost in the Tale will be free at all eretailers as soon as I can persuade Amazon to drop from 99c.

The Lost Wife: Teri’s refuge had been invaded: by the French, who were trying to conquer their land, and by wounded soldiers from the English forces sent to fight Napoleon’s armies. The latest injured man carried to her for nursing would be a bigger challenge than all the rest: he had once broken her heart. (short story)

The Heart of a Wolf: Ten years ago, Isadora lied to save her best friend, and lost her home and the man she loved when he would not listen to her. Ten years ago, Bastian caught his betrothed in the arms of another man, and her guilt was confirmed when she fled. Ten years on, both still burn with anger, but the lives of innocent children and the future of their werewolf kind demand that they work together. (short story)

My Lost Highland Love: Interfering relatives, misunderstandings, and mistranslations across a language barrier keep two lovers from finding one another again. The Earl of Chestlewick’s daughter comes to London from her beloved Highlands to please her father, planning to avoid the Englishman who married her and abandoned her. The Earl of Medford comes face-to-face with a ghost; a Society lady who bears the face of the Highland lass who saved his life and holds his heart. (short story)

Magnus and the Christmas Angel: Scarred by years in captivity, Magnus has fought English Society to be accepted as the true Earl of Fenchurch. Now he faces the hardest battle of all: to win the love of his wife. A night trapped in the snow with an orphaned kitten, gives Callie a Christmas gift: the chance to rediscover first love with the tattooed stranger she married. (short story)

The Lost Treasure of Lorne: For nearly 300 years, the Normingtons and the Lorimers have feuded, since a love affair ended in a curse that doomed dead Lorimers to haunt their home, the Castle of Lorne.

Now the last Marquis of Lorne, the last of the Lorimers, is one of those ghosts, and the Duke of Kendal, head of the House of Normington, holds the castle.

Kendal doesn’t care about the feud or the ghosts. He wants only to find the evidence that will legitimate the son his Lorimer bride bore him before her death, and to convince his stubborn housekeeper to marry him.

But the time allotted to the curse is running out, and his happiness depends on finding the Lost Treasure of Lorne before the 300 years draws to a close. (novella)

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