Tea with Lillian and Ed

“Lord and Lady Somerton,” the butler announced. Lillian’s hand clenched on Ed’s arm and he covered it with his own. “As you are,” he murmured, reassuringly, but the look of surprise on the face of the woman—the grand lady—who awaited them had his dear wife shifting nervously.

But in the next moment the lady stood to greet them. “Lord and Lady Somerton. I am so glad you could accept my invitation. I am Eleanor Haverford, and if I might guess by your clothing, I would say you are a little over a century and a half out of your time.”

Ed frowned, looking around at the ornately but tastefully decorated room that showed no signs of the looting by Parliamentary forces and his own flesh and blood that had denuded his own house. “I do not understand. Your Grace.” The invitation had said she was the Duchess of Haverford, and they had come to Haverford House in London, but this mature woman was not the poor child that had recently been wed to the rigid moralist who currently held the title.

“Please, be seated,” the duchess said. “Allow me to pour you some tea.”

Ed escorted Lillian to a seat, keeping a cautious eye on her grace. She did not look insane, but a century and a half? On the other hand, she was dressed very oddly.

“I have no idea how it works,” she said, as she handed him a cup to pass to Lillian, “but every Monday afternoon I am available to visitors from anywhere in space and time. I have had some most interesting conversations. I am correct, am I not, in thinking that you are the Earl and Countess of Somerton from the time of the Interregnum?”

“I am my lord’s housekeeper,” Lillian insisted. “An earl cannot marry a maid.”

“A man can marry the woman he loves,” Ed reminded her. “The rest means nothing in our time, Your Grace.”

“I understand. It was a dreadful time in our history. I wonder if I should tell you… I was surprised when you came, my dears, because I had seen your name on the invitation and was expecting the Lord and Lady Somerton I know. They had their wedding at my estate last Christmastide, and I am pleased to say that Lady Somerton is in expectation of a happy event.”

Lillian’s hand dropped to her abdomen, protectively, and the duchess smiled.

“Descendants of my son Arthur, I suppose.” Ed shrugged. “It is good to know that the earldom survives. Interregnum, you said? So the monarchy returns?”

“In time. And your son will be a favourite of the next king, so the stories say.” She gave a significant look at Lillian’s midriff. “Your son, Lady Somerton.”

Ed and Lillian appear in The Year Without Christmas, a story from the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 anthology, Never Too Late. They are the parents of Nick Virtue, hero of the book Tyburn, and Lillian is mother of Mark Virtue from Virtue’s Lady. Mark also appears in The Year Without Christmas, as a three-year-old. (Ed: I love Mark.)

Never Too Late has its own page on the Bluestocking Belles website, where you can learn more about each story and find buy links for most eretailers. It is still at the special price of 99c, but only until 15 November.

If you’re an Amazon US purchaser, buy it here.

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Sunday Spotlight on Never Too Late

Yesterday, the Bluestocking Belles announced the name of our 2017 box set, out in time for holiday reading on November 1. You’ve heard me talking about my story for the set: Forged in Fire. Here’s the description of the book as a whole, and of each story in it.

Eight authors and eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t.

Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, welcome to the romance of the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 Holiday Anthology.

It’s Never Too Late to find love.

25% of proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.

(Read on below the buy links for individual story blurbs.)

Preorder Links (will add other eretailers as the links go live):

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075VDCLCB
AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B075VDCLCB
BR: https://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B075VDCLCB
CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B075VDCLCB
DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B075VDCLCB
ES: https://www.amazon.es/dp/B075VDCLCB
FR: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B075VDCLCB
IN: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B075VDCLCB
IT: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B075VDCLCB
JP: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B075VDCLCB
MX: https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B075VDCLCB
NL: https://www.amazon.nl/dp/B075VDCLCB
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B075VDCLCB

The Piper’s Lady

By Sherry Ewing

True love binds them. Deceit divides them. Will they choose love?
Coira does not regret traveling with her grandfather until she is too old to wed. But perhaps it is not too late? At Berwyck Castle, a dashing knight runs to her rescue. How can she resist?

Garrick can hold his own with the trained Knights of Berwyck, but they think of him as a piper, not a fighter. When his heart sings for the new resident of the castle, he dares to wish he is something he is not. Will failure to clear her misunderstanding doom their love before it begins?

Her Wounded Heart

By Nicole Zoltak

An injured knight trespassing on Mary Bennett’s land is a threat to the widow’s
already frail refuge. Even so, she cannot turn away a man in need and tells him he has her husband’s leave to stay until Christmas.

Doran Ward wishes only to survive for one more day. However, as he begins to
heal and to pay for his lodgings by fixing the rundown manor, the wounds to Mistress Bennett’s heart intrigue him.

Can two desperate souls find hope in time for Christmas?

A Year Without Christmas

By Jessica Cale

London, 1645
Edward Rothschild returns home from war defeated in more ways than one. His friends killed and his property seized, he is an earl in name only. His family and his servants have all deserted him– all except his housekeeper, Lillian Virtue.

Lillian feels like home in a way that nothing else does, but as his servant and a recent widow, it would be impossible for them to be together. Then again, Christmas has been banned and the social order fractured; can one more impossible thing happen this year?

The Night of the Feast

By Elizabeth Ellen Carter

As a spy deep in the heart of Revolutionary France, Michael St. John hopes to make amends for a wasted life his by helping the citizens of the Vendée stage a counter-revolution.

Jacqueline Archambeau, tavern owner and cook, accepts that life and love have passed her by. She never dreamed she would fight her own countrymen for the right to keep her customs and traditions.

When they plot together to steal plans at a regimental dinner will they risk their lives—and their hearts?

The Umbrella Chronicles

George & Dorothea’s Story

By Amy Quinton

Lord George St. Vincent doesn’t realize it, but his days as a bachelor in good standing are numbered.

He has a fortnight, to be precise—the duration of the Marquess of Dansbury’s house party.

For I, Lady Harriett Ross, have committed to parting with several items of sentimental worth should I fail to orchestrate his downfall—er, betrothal—to Miss Dorothea Wythe, who is delightful, brilliant, and interested (or will be).

If I have anything to say about matters, and I always have something to say about matters, they’re both doomed.

Did I say doomed? I mean, destined—for a life filled with love.

I’m just an old woman with opinions. On everything.

A Malicious Rumor

By Susana Ellis

Vauxhall gardener Alice Crocker has had to defend herself from encroaching males all her life, but the new violinist is a different sort. So when she discovers that he is the victim of a malicious rumor, she naturally wants to help.

Peter de Luca greatly admires the lady gardener, but this is his problem to resolve.

What will it take to prove to this pair that they would be stronger together as a harmonious duo than two lonely solos?

Forged in Fire

By Jude Knight

Burned in their youth, neither Tad nor Lottie expected to feel the fires of love. The years have soothed the pain, and each has built a comfortable, if not fully satisfying, life, on paths that intersect and then diverge again.

But then the inferno of a volcanic eruption sears away the lies of the past and frees them to forge a future together.

Roses in Picardy

By Caroline Warfield

After two years at war, Harry is out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images for darkness. Color among the floating islands of Amiens and life in the form of a widow and her little son surprise him with hope.

Rosemarie Legrand’s husband died, leaving her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier.

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