My Annual Twelfth Night Sale! Regency Romance/Suspense at Its Best! December 26, 2021, through January 5, 2022

Yesterday, December 26, twenty-seven of my non-JAFF titles went on sale for my annual Twelfth Night Sale! The sale runs from December 26, 2021, to January 5, 2022.  Fill up your eReaders!!!! All books will be $0.99. These books are historical romantic suspense, Regencies, and a couple of contemporary choices. Moreover, many are available to read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! [For Jane Austen Fan Fiction titles, see Friday’s post, December 24, 2021.]

 

 A Touch of Scandal: Book 1 of the Realm Series

2011 Write Touch Readers’ Award, 2nd Place, Historical Romance

(Disclaimer: This book is the self-published version of The Scandal of Lady Eleanor.)

The men of the REALM have served their country, while ignoring their responsibilities to home and love, but now Bonaparte is defeated, they each mean to claim their portion of a new and prosperous England. However, their long-time enemy Shaheed Mir has other plans. The warlord believes one of the Realm has stolen a fist-sized emerald, and the Baloch intends to have its return or his revenge.

JAMES KERRINGTON, the future Earl of Linworth left his title and his infant son behind after the death of his beloved Elizabeth, but he has returned to England to tend his ailing father and to establish his roots. With Daniel as his heir, Kerrington has no need to marry, but when Eleanor Fowler stumbles and falls into his arms, Kerrington’s world is turned upon its head. He will do anything to claim her.

LADY ELEANOR FOWLER has hidden from Society, knowing her father’s notorious reputation for debauchery has tainted any hopes she might have of a happy marriage. And yet, despite her fears, her brother’s closest friend, James Kerrington, has rekindled her hopes, but when Sir Louis Levering appears with proof of Eleanor’s participation in her father’s wickedness, she is drawn into a world of depravity, and only Kerrington’s love can save her.

The first fully original series from Austen pastiche author Jeffers is a knockout. – Publishers Weekly

Jeffers’s characters stay in the reader’s heart and mind long after the last page has been turned. – Favored Elegance

Kindle        (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

********************************************************************

 A Touch of Velvet: Book 2 of the Realm Series 

After years away from England, members of the Realm return home to claim the titles and the lives they once abandoned. Each man holds on to the fleeting dream of finally knowing love. For now, all any of them can hope is the resolutions of their previous difficulties before Shaheed Mir, their old enemy, finds them and exacts his revenge. Mir seeks a mysterious emerald, and he believes one of the Realm has it.

No one finds his soul mate when she is twelve and he seventeen, but BRANTLEY FOWLER, the Duke of Thornhill, always thought he had found his. The memory of Velvet Aldridge’s face was the only thing that kept him alive all those years he remained estranged from his family. Now, he has returned to Kent to claim his title and the woman he loves, but first he must obliterate the memory of his infamous father, while staving off numerous attacks from Mir’s associates.

MISS VELVET ALDRIDGE always believed in “happily ever after.” Yet, when Brantley Fowler returns home, he has a daughter and his wife’s memory to accompany him. He promised her eight years prior that he would return to make her his wife, but Thornhill only offers her a Season and a dowry. How can she make him love her? Make him her “knight in shining armor”? Regency England has never been hotter or more dangerous.

Kindle        (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

********************************************************************

 A Touch of Cashémere: Book 3 of the Realm Series  

MARCUS WELLSTON never expected to inherit his father’s title. After all, he is the youngest of three sons. However, his oldest brother Trevor is judged incapable of meeting the title’s responsibilities, and his second brother Myles has lost his life in an freak accident; therefore, Marcus has returned to Tweed Hall and the earldom. Having departed Northumberland years prior to escape his guilt in his sister’s death, Marcus has spent the previous six years with the Realm, a covert governmental group, in atonement. Now, all he requires is a biddable wife with a pleasing personality. Neither of those phrases describes Cashémere Aldridge.

MISS CASHEMERE ALDRIDGE thought her opinions were absolutes and her world perfectly ordered, but when her eldest sister Velvet is kidnapped, Cashé becomes a part of the intrigue. She quickly discovers nothing she knew before is etched in stone. Leading her through these changes is a man who considers her a “spoiled brat.” A man who prefers her twin Satiné to Cashémere. A man whose approval she desperately requires: Marcus Wellston, the Earl of Berwick. Toss in an irate Baloch warlord, a missing emerald, a double kidnapping, a blackmail attempt, and an explosion in a glass cone, and the Realm has its hands full. The Regency era has never been hotter, nor more dangerous.

Kindle      (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

********************************************************************

 A Touch of Grace: Book 4 of the Realm Series

SOLA’s Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, 3rd Place, Historical Romance

“Jeffers’s close look at the dark secrets of Regency society instills a sense of realism.” – Publishers Weekly

After years away from England, members of the Realm return home to claim the titles and the lives they had previously abandoned. Each man holds onto the fleeting dream of finally know love and home. For now, all any of them can hope is the resolution of his earlier difficulties before Shaheed Mir, their old enemy, finds them and exacts his revenge. Mir seeks a mysterious emerald, and he believes one of the Realm has it.

GABRIEL CROWDEN, the Marquis of Godown, can easily recall the night that he made a vow to know love before he met his Maker. Of course, that was before Lady Gardenia Templeton’s duplicity had driven Godown from his home and before his father’s will had changed everything. Godown requires a wife to meet the unusual demands of the former marquis’s stipulations. Preferably one either already carrying his child or one who would tolerate his constant attentions to secure the Crowden line before the deadline.

MISS GRACE NELSON dreams of family died with her brother’s ascension to the title. Yet, when she meets the injured Marquis of Godown at a Scottish inn, her dreams have a new name. However, hope never has an easy path. Grace is but a lowly governess with ordinary features. She believes she can never earn the regard of the “Adonis” known as Gabriel Crowden. Besides, the man has a well-earned skepticism when it comes to the women in his life. How can she prove that she is the one woman who will never betray him? The Regency era has never been hotter.

Kindle     (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

********************************************************************

A Touch of Mercy: Book 5 of the Realm Series

Members of the Realm have retuned to England to claim the titles they left behind. Each holds to the fleeting dream of finally knowing love, but first he must face his old enemy Shaheed Mir, a Baloch warlord, who believes one of the group has stolen a fist-sized emerald. Mir will have the emerald’s return or will exact his bloody revenge.

A devastating injury has robbed AIDAN KIMBOLT, Viscount Lexford, of part of his memory, but surely not of the reality that lovely Mercy Nelson is his father’s by-blow. Aidan is intrigued by his “sister’s” vivacity and how easily she ushers life into Lexington Arms, a house plagued by Death’s secrets–secrets of his wife’s ghost, of his brother’s untimely passing, and of his parents’ marriage: Secrets Aidan must banish to finally know happiness.

Fate has delivered Miss MERCY NELSON to Lord Lexford’s door, where she quickly discovers appearances are deceiving. Not only does Mercy practice a bit of her own duplicity, so do all within Lexington Arms. Yet, dangerous intrigue cannot squash the burgeoning passion consuming her and Viscount Lexford, as the boundaries of their relationship are sorely tested. How can they find true love if they must begin a life peppered with lies?

Kindle           (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited

********************************************************************

  A Touch of Love: Book 6 of the Realm Series

The REALM has returned to England to claim the titles they left behind. Each man holds to the fleeting dream of finally knowing love and home, but first he must face his old enemy Shaheed Mir, a Baloch warlord, who believes one of the group has stolen a fist-sized emerald. Mir will have the emerald’s return or will exact his bloody revenge.. Aristotle Pennington has groomed

SIR CARTER LOWERY as his successor as the Realm’s leader, and Sir Carter has thought of little else for years. He has handcrafted his life, filled it with duties and responsibilities, and eventually, he will choose a marriage of convenience to bolster his career; yet, Lucinda Warren is a temptation he cannot resist. Every time he touches her, he recognizes his mistake because his desire for her is not easily quenched. To complicate matters, it was Mrs. Warren’s father, Colonel Roderick Rightnour, whom Sir Carter replaced at the Battle of Waterloo, an action which had named Sir Carter a national hero and her father a failure as a military strategist.

LUCINDA WARREN’s late husband has left her to tend to a child belonging to another woman and has drowned her in multiple scandals. Her only hope to discover the boy’s true parentage and to remove her name from the lips of the ton’s censors is Sir Carter Lowery, a man who causes her body to course with awareness, as if he had etched his name upon her soul. Cruel twists of Fate have thrown them together three times, and Lucinda prays to hold off her cry for completion long enough to deny her heart and to release Sir Carter to his future: A future to which she will never belong.

Kindle          (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited

********************************************************************

  A Touch of Honor: Book 7 of the Realm Series

For two years, BARON JOHN SWENTON has thought of little else other than making Satiné Aldridge his wife; so when he discovers her reputation in tatters, Swenton acts honorably: He puts forward a marriage of convenience that will save her from ruination and provide him the one woman he believes will bring joy to his life. However, the moment he utters his proposal, Swenton’s instincts scream he has made a mistake: Unfortunately, a man of honor makes the best of even the most horrendous of situations.

MISS SATINE ALDRIDGE has fallen for a man she can never possess and has accepted a man she finds only mildly tolerable. What will she do to extricate herself from Baron Swenton’s life and claim the elusive Prince Henrí? Obviously, more than anyone would ever expect.

MISS ISOLDE NEVILLE has been hired to serve as Satiné Aldridge’s companion, but her loyalty rests purely with the lady’s husband. With regret, she watches the baron struggle against the impossible situation in which Miss Aldridge has placed him, while her heart desires to claim the man as her own. Yet, Isolde is as honorable as the baron. She means to see him happy, even if that requires her to aid him in his quest to earn Miss Satiné’s affections.

Sacrifice and honor, betrayal and redemption, all make for an exceptionally satisfying romance. A Touch of Honor is a mesmerizing story of extraordinary love realized against impossible odds. – Collette Cameron, Award-Winning Author

Kindle         (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

********************************************************************

 A Touch of Emerald: The Conclusion of the Realm Series  

Four crazy Balochs. A Gypsy band. An Indian maiden. A cave with a maze of passages. A hero, not yet tested. And a missing emerald.

For nearly two decades, the Realm thwarted the efforts of all Shaheed Mir sent their way, but now the Baloch warlord is in England, and the tribal leader means to reclaim the fist-sized emerald he believes one of the Realm stole during their rescue of a girl upon whom Mir turned his men. Mir means to take his revenge on the Realm and the Indian girl’s child, LADY SONALI FOWLER.

DANIEL KERRINGTON, Viscount Worthing, has loved Lady Sonalí since they were but children. Yet, when his father, the Earl of Linworth, objects to Sonalí’s bloodlines, Worthing thinks never to claim her. However, when danger arrives in the form of the Realm’s old enemy, Kerrington ignores all caution for the woman he loves.

Kindle         (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

********************************************************************

  His American Heartsong: A Companion Novel of the Realm Series

The Deepest Love is Always Unexpected.

LAWRENCE LOWERY, Lord Hellsman, has served as the dutiful son since childhood, but when his father Baron Blakehell arranges a marriage with the insipid Annalee Dryburgh, Lowery must choose between his responsibilities to his future title and the one woman who makes sense in his life.

Although her mother was once a lady in waiting to the Queen, by Society’s standards, MISS ARABELLA TILNEY is completely unfit to be the future baroness: Bella is an American hoyden who demands that Lowery do the impossible: Be the man he always dreamed of being.

Kindle       (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited 

********************************************************************

  His Irish Eve 

When the Earl of Greenwall demands his only son, ADAM LAWRENCE, Viscount Stafford, retrieve the viscount’s by-blow, everything in Lawrence’s life changes. Six years prior, Stafford released his mistress, Cathleen Donnell, from his protection; now, he discovers from Greenwall that Cathleen was with child when she returned to her family. Stafford arrives in Cheshire to discover not only the son of which Greenwall spoke, but also two daughters, as well as a strong-willed woman, in the form of AOIFE KENNICE, who fascinates Stafford from the moment of their first encounter.

Set against the backdrop of the early radicalism of the Industrial Revolution and the Peterloo Massacre, a battle begins: A fight Lawrence must win: a fight for a woman worth knowing, his Irish Eve.

Kindle       (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited

********************************************************************

Lady Joy and the Earl: A Regency Christmas Romance

Award-Winning Finalist in the Fiction: Novella category of the 2019 International Book Awards

They have loved each other since childhood, but life has not been kind to either of them. James Highcliffe’s arranged marriage had been everything but loving, and Lady Joy’s late husband believed a woman’s spirit was meant to be broken. Therefore, convincing Lady Jocelyn Lathrop to abandon her freedom and consider marriage to him after twenty plus years apart may be more than the Earl of Hough can manage. Only the spirit of Christmas can bring these two together when secrets mean to keep them apart.

Kindle                  (Available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

************************************************************************

Letters from Home: A Regency Christmas Romance 

Second Place in Short Historical Category ~ 2019 International Digital Awards 

She is the woman whose letters to another man kept Simon alive during the war. He is the English officer her late husband claimed to be incomparable. In her, his heart whispers of finally being “home.” In him, she discovers a man who truly stirs her soul. Unfortunately for both, the lady fears no longer being invisible to the world and assuming a place at his side. Can Major Lord Simon Lanford claim Mrs. Faith Lamont as his wife or will his rise to the earldom and his family’s expectations keep them apart?
“This was both a heart-breaking and heart-warming second chance love story, made all the more satisfying by the Christmas setting.” – Calico Hearts Review

Kindle      (Available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

*************************************************************************

Beautified by Love: Two Christmas Novels

“Letters from Home” 

She is the woman whose letters to another man kept Simon alive during the war. He is the English officer her late Scottish husband praised as being incomparable. Even without the spirit of Christmas, she stirs his soul; in her, his heart whispers of being “home.” However, the lady wishes to remain invisible and in her place as her cousin’s companion. Can Major Lord Simon Lanford claim Mrs. Faith Lamont as his wife or will his rise to the earldom and his family’s expectations keep them apart?

“Lady Joy and the Earl” 

They have loved each other since childhood, but life has not been kind to either of them. James Highcliffe’s arranged marriage had been everything but loving, and Lady Joy’s late husband believed a woman’s spirit was meant to be broken. Therefore, convincing Lady Jocelyn Lathrop to abandon her freedom and consider marriage to him after twenty plus years apart may be more than the Earl of Hough can manage.

Bonus Story: “One Minute Past Christmas” (from George T. Arnold and Regina Jeffers) An Appalachian grandfather and his granddaughter are blessed with a special ability—a gift that enables them briefly to witness a miraculous gathering in the sky each year at exactly one minute past Christmas. The experience fills them with wonder, but they worry their secret “gift” will end with them because, in forty-four years, no other relative has displayed an inclination to carry it on to a new generation.

Kindle (Available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

******************************************************************

Courting Lord Whitmire: A Regency May-December Romance

At the bend of the path, an unexpected meeting.

She is all May. He is December. 

But loves knows not time.

Colonel Lord Andrew Whitmire has returned to England after spending fifteen years in service to his country. In truth, he would prefer to be anywhere but home. Before he departed England, his late wife, from an arranged marriage, had cuckolded him in a scandal that had set Society’s tongues wagging. His daughter, Matilda, who was reared by his father, enjoys calling him “Father” in the most annoying ways. Unfortunately, his future is the viscountcy, and Andrew knows his duty to both the title and his child. He imagines himself the last of his line until he encounters Miss Verity Coopersmith, the niece of his dearest friend, the man who had saved Andrew’s life at Waterloo. Miss Coopersmith sets Whitmire’s world spinning out of control. She is truly everything he did not know he required in his life. However, she is twenty-two years his junior, young enough to be his daughter, but all he can think is she is absolute perfection.

Kindle (Available to Read on Kindle Unlimited)

*********************************************************************

Last Woman Standing: A Regency Holiday Tale

JACKSON SHAW, the Marquess of Rivens, never considered the “gypsy blessing” presented to his family during the time of Henry VIII truly a blessing. He viewed it more as a curse. According to the “blessing,” in his thirtieth year, at the Christmas ball hosted by his family, he was to choose a wife among the women attending. The catch was he possessed no choice in the matter. His wife was to be the one who proved herself to be his perfect match, according to the gypsy’s provisions: a woman who would bring prosperity to his land by her love of nature and her generous heart. In his opinion, none of the women vying for his hand appeared to care for anything but themselves. 

EVELYN HAWTHORNE comes to River’s End to serve as the companion to the Marchioness of Rivens, his lordship’s grandmother. However, Lady Rivens has more than companionship in mind when she employs the girl, whose late father was a renown horticulturalist. The marchioness means to gather Gerald Hawthorne’s rare specimens to prevent those with less scrupulous ideas from purchasing Hawthorne’s conservatory, and, thereby, stealing away what little choice her grandson has in naming a wife, for all the potential brides must present the Rivenses with a rare flower to demonstrate the lady’s love of nature. Little does the marchioness know Hawthorne’s daughter might not only know something of nature, but be the person to fulfill the gypsy’s blessing.

Kindle (Available to Read on Kindle Unlimited)

***********************************************************

Something in the Air: Two Regency Romance

Courting Lord Whitmire: A Regency May-December Romance

At the bend of the path, an unexpected meeting.

She is all May.

He is December. But loves knows not time.

Colonel Lord Andrew Whitmire has returned to England after spending fifteen years in service to his country. In truth, he would prefer to be anywhere but home. Before he departed England, his late wife, from an arranged marriage, had cuckolded him in a scandal that had set Society’s tongues wagging. His daughter, Matilda, who was reared by his father, enjoys calling him “Father” in the most annoying ways. Unfortunately, his future is the viscountcy, and Andrew knows his duty to both the title and his child. He imagines himself the last of his line until he encounters Miss Verity Coopersmith, the niece of his dearest friend, the man who had saved Andrew’s life at Waterloo. Miss Coopersmith sets Whitmire’s world spinning out of control. She is truly everything he did not know he required in his life. However, she is twenty-two years his junior, young enough to be his daughter, but all he can think is she is absolute perfection.

Last Woman Standing: A Clean Regency Romance

She is simply his grandmother’s companion.

However, when the Christmas ball ends, the last woman standing wins the marquess.

JACKSON SHAW, the Marquess of Rivens, never considered the “gypsy blessing” presented to his family during the time of Henry VIII truly a blessing. He viewed it more as a curse. According to the “blessing,” in his thirtieth year, at the Christmas ball hosted by his family, he was to choose a wife among the women attending. The catch was he possessed no choice in the matter. His wife was to be the one who proved herself to be his perfect match, according to the gypsy’s provisions: a woman who would bring prosperity to his land by her love of nature and her generous heart. In his opinion, none of the women vying for his hand appeared to care for anything but themselves.

EVELYN HAWTHORNE comes to River’s End to serve as the companion to the Marchioness of Rivens, his lordship’s grandmother. However, Lady Rivens has more than companionship in mind when she employs the girl, whose late father was a renown horticulturalist. The marchioness means to gather Gerald Hawthorne’s rare specimens to prevent those with less scrupulous ideas from purchasing Hawthorne’s conservatory, and, thereby, stealing away what little choice her grandson has in naming a wife, for all the potential brides must present the Rivenses with a rare flower to demonstrate the lady’s love of nature. Little does the marchioness know Hawthorne’s daughter might not only know something of nature, but be the person to fulfill the gypsy’s blessing.

Kindle (Available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

***************************************************************

Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy

2013 SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, 3rd Place, Historical Romance

2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense

2017 finalist Derby Award for Fiction

Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and Angelica Lovelace is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart–and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side?

Kindle (Available to Read on Kindle Unlimited)

**********************************************************

The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 of the Twins’ Trilogy

2016 Hot Prospects Award Finalist, Romantic Suspense 

Hurrying home to Tegen Castle from the Continent to assume guardianship of a child not his, but one who holds his countenance, Levison Davids, Earl of Remmington, is shot on the road and left to die. The incident has Remmington chasing after a man who remains one step ahead and who claims a distinct similarity—a man who wishes to replace Remmington as the rightful earl. Rem must solve the mystery of how Frederick Troutman’s life parallels his while protecting his title, the child, and the woman he loves.

Comfort Neville has escorted Deirdre Kavanaugh from Ireland to England, in hopes that the Earl of Remmington will prove a better guardian for the girl than did the child’s father. When she discovers the earl’s body upon road backing the castle, it is she who nurses him to health. As the daughter of a minor son of an Irish baron, Comfort is impossibly removed from the earl’s sphere, but the man claims her affections. She will do anything for him, including confronting his enemies. When she is kidnapped as part of a plot for revenge against the earl, she must protect Rem’s life, while guarding her heart.

Kindle (Available to Read on Kindle Unlimited)

******************************************************************

Lady Chandler’s Sister: Book 3 of the Twins’ Trilogy

Award-Winning Finalist in the Fiction: Romance category of the 2019 International Book Awards 

Sir Alexander Chandler knows his place in the world. As the head of one of the divisions of the Home Office, he has his hand on the nation’s pulse. However, a carriage accident on a deserted Scottish road six months earlier has Sir Alexander questioning his every choice. He has no memory of what happened before he woke up in an Edinburgh hospital, and the unknown frightens him more than any enemy he ever met on a field of battle. One thing is for certain: He knows he did not marry Miss Alana Pottinger’s sister in an “over the anvil” type of ceremony in Scotland.

Miss Alana Pottinger has come to London, with Sir Alexander’s son in tow, to claim the life the baronet promised the boy when he married Sorcha, some eighteen months prior. She understands his responsibilities to King and Crown, but this particular fiery, Scottish miss refuses to permit Sir Alexander to deny his duty to his son. Nothing will keep her from securing the child’s future as heir to the baronetcy and restoring Sir Alexander’s memory of the love he shared with Sorcha: Nothing, that is, except the beginning of the Rockite Rebellion in Ireland and the kidnapping of said child for nefarious reasons.

An impressive ending to the beautifully crafted Twins’ Trilogy – Starr’s ***** Romance Reviews

Love. Power. Intrigue. Betrayal. All play their parts in this fitting conclusion to a captivating, romantic suspense trio. – Bella Graves, Author & Reviewer

“Lady Chandler’s Sister,” Award-Winning Finalist in the Fiction: Romance Category of the 2019 International Book Awards ~ http://www.internationalbookawards.com/2019awardannouncement.html

Kindle               Kobo                   Nook 

********************************************************************

The Heartless Earl

2020 Write Touch Readers’ Awards – 2nd Place, Romantic Suspense

STERLING BAXTER, the Earl of Merritt, has married the woman his father has chosen for him, but the marriage has been everything but comfortable. Sterling’s wife, Lady Claire, came to the marriage bed with a wanton’s experience. She dutifully provides Merritt his heir, but within a fortnight, she deserts father and son for a baron, Lord Lyall Sutherland. In the eyes of the ton, Lady Claire has cuckolded Merritt. 

EBBA MAYER, longs for love and adventure. Unfortunately, she’s likely to find neither. As a squire’s daughter, Ebba holds no sway in Society; but she’s a true diamond of the first water. Yet, when she meets Merritt’s grandmother, the Dowager Countess of Merritt creates a “story” for the girl, claiming if Ebba is presented to the ton as a war widow with a small dowry, the girl will find a suitable match. 

LORD LYALL SUTHERLAND remains a thorn in Merritt’s side, but when the baron makes Mrs. Mayer a pawn in his crazy game of control, Merritt offers the woman his protection. However, the earl has never faced a man who holds little strength of title, but who wields great power; and he finds himself always a step behind the enigmatic baron. When someone frames Merritt for Lady Claire’s sudden disappearance, Merritt must quickly learn the baron’s secrets or face a death sentence.

Kindle (Available to Read on Kindle Unlimited)

***************************************************************

The Courtship of Lord Blackhurst

What happens when a lady falls in love, not with her betrothed, but rather with his cousin?

Miss Priscilla Keenan has been promised to the Marquess of Blackhurst since her birth. The problem is: She has never laid eyes upon the man. So, when Blackhurst sends his cousin to York to assist Priscilla in readying Blackhurst’s home estate for the marquess’s return from his service in India, it is only natural for Priscilla to ask Mr. Alden something of the marquess’s disposition. Yet, those conversations lead Cilla onto a different path, one where she presents her heart to the wrong gentleman. How can she and Alden find happiness together when the world means to keep them apart? Inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” this tale wants for nothing, especially not a happy ending, which it has, but that ending is not what the reader anticipates.

Kindle

(Available to Read on Kindle Unlimited)

**********************************************************************

Lord Radcliffe’s Best Friend

Hendrake Barrymore, Lord Radcliffe, is a typical male, a bit daff when it comes to the ways of women, especially the ways of one particular woman, Miss Adelaide Shaw, his childhood companion, a girl who plays a part in every pleasant memory Drake holds. 

Yet, since he failed to deliver Addy’s first kiss on her fifteenth birthday, his former “friend” has struck him from her life just at a time when Radcliffe has come to the conclusion Adelaide is the one woman who best suits him. 

This tale is more than a familiar story of friends to lovers for it presents the old maxim an unusual twist.

Kindle

(Available to Read on Kindle Unlimited)

**********************************************************************

I Shot the Sheriff: A Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel

How does one reform the infamous Sheriff of Nottingham? Easy. With Patience.

William de Wendenal, the notorious Sheriff of Nottingham, has come to London, finally having wormed his way back into the good graces of the Royal family. Yet, not all of Society is prepared to forgive his former “supposed” transgressions, especially the Earl of Sherwood. 

However, when de Wendenal is wounded in an attempt to protect Prince George from an assassin, he becomes caught up in a plot involving stolen artwork, kidnapping, murder, and seduction that brings him to Cheshire where he must willingly face a gun pointed directly at his chest and held by the one woman who stirs his soul, Miss Patience Busnick, the daughter of a man de Wendenal once escorted to prison. 

I Shot the Sheriff is based on the classic tales of Robin Hood, but it is given a twist and brought into the early 19th Century’s Regency era. Can even de Wendenal achieve a Happily Ever After? If anyone can have the reader cheering for the Sheriff of Nottingham’s happiness, it is award-winning author Regina Jeffers. 

Kindle Kobo Nook

*********************************************************************

Captain Stanwick’s Bride: A Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel

“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” – Benjamin Franklin

Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?

Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.

Kindle

(Available to READ on Kindle Unlimited)

**********************************************************************

Regency Mid-Summer Mischief Anthology

Seven stories of Regency heroines and heroes finding love in the face of obstructions: mayhem, malice, and mischief.

Varying heat levels, both in the text and during the English summertime. Seven best-selling and award-winning authors team up to delight your summer holiday reading.

A Maiden for a Marquess by Arietta Richmond

A scandal, and interfering grandmother, an unavoidable marriage, dark family secrets revealed, an ever-present threat, a love that thrives despite it all.

Saracen’s Gift by Janis Susan May

An American heiress fulfilling her father’s last wish, Miss Clarissa Wentworth wasn’t sure what to expect of his childhood home, and her grandfather. The reality was beyond anything she might have imagined – in the worst possible way. Now, she finds herself a prisoner, trapped in her grandfather’s schemes. Can one kind neighbour, and the most magnificent horse she has ever seen, save her? Will she find love, or despair?

Seaside Summer by Victoria Hinshaw

Miss Veronica Montgomery desperately wishes to avoid the aristocratic suitor that her mother thrusts upon her. But when the family summer holiday brings her to Weymouth, and the returned soldier who manages the hotel, her perspective on everything changes. Can they overcome the difference in their stations and the machinations of others, to find love?

The Jewel Thief and the Earl by Regina Jeffers

The daughter of a renowned thief, Miss Everley lives quietly, funding charity – oh, and occasionally plying some unique skills on behalf of the government. But when the search for a lost necklace forces her to work closely with the man she has long admired, they both find far more than the missing jewels.

Wildflowers and Wiles by Summer Hanford

Miss Ellie Ellsworth only wanted to help her sister… but somehow, a small deception became a larger one, and now, she is trapped. The man she loves believes her someone else… and it appears that he is not who she thought him to be, either. Can they untangle the truth from the lies, before families and lives are ruined, not to mention their love?

The Journey by Becca St. John

The love of childhood has been pushed aside, and Lady Katherine has resigned herself to watching the man she adores marry someone else. Until a plot gone wrong puts them in an accidental compromise. Now, married to him, and off on a ship to save another, she is most unhappy – and then the murders start. Can the threat be unravelled? Will saving his life also save their love?

Weekend at Baron E’s by Ebony Oaten

Miss Jane Bartholomew, innocent and dutiful, has just been married to a Baron more than three times her age. A Baron with grown children who resent her existence, and the threat to their inheritance she represents. She knows that she needs to bear him an heir as soon as possible, even if that looks to be challenging to achieve. But when the Baron expires at the worst possible moment, Jane, with the help of the most handsome footman she has ever seen, must take desperate measures to keep the truth from the rapacious relatives, lest she, and all of the staff, end up cast out, penniless. Will desperation lead to love? or disaster?

If you love regency romance, and stories where love triumphs, despite the interference of everyone else, then you’ll love these!

Kindle (Available to Read on Kindle Unlimited)

*************************************************

Regency Missives and Mischief Anthology

Seven delightful Regency Christmas stories from best selling and award winning authors.

Each one of these stories involves, in some way, a letter – letters which set in train a series of events that lead to unexpected adventures and, of course, eventually to love and Happy Ever Afters!

Seven delightful Regency Christmas stories from best selling and award winning authors.

Each one of these stories involves, in some way, a letter – letters which set in train a series of events that lead to unexpected adventures and, of course, eventually to love and Happy Ever Afters!

This anthology contains

Lady Augusta’s Letters by Arietta Richmond

A letter misplaced, a ship wrecked on foreign shores, a love thought lost, a journey through terrible hardship, faith rewarded by love regained.

When letters written are not always delivered as they should be, fate can intervene in the best and worst of ways.

His Christmas Violet by Regina Jeffers

They have loved each other since they were children, but how does Sir Frederick Nolan convince Lady Violet Graham to marry him, when she is most determined never again to permit any man dominion over her person?

Heartache and Holly by Summer Hanford

For seven years, Roslyn has carried on a secret engagement with the love of her life, William, with only the letters they exchange to sustain her. Now, William is back on English soil but the letters have stopped. With their time to be together at hand, has he suddenly changed his mind?

The Letter by Janis Susan May

Two correspondences intercepted and diverted, ten years apart, create a tangle which destroys lives. Can Antonia’s well intentioned intervention save them all, or will it make the situation worse?

A Letter for Miss Brixton by Emma Kaye

Miss Brixton has fallen in love. There is just one small difficulty standing between her and happiness. The entire courtship has been carried out through letters – and both she and her love have, from the start used pseudonyms. And to make matters worse, his letters have stopped coming…. How can she find him? Is there no hope for their love? Or has there been a secret plan behind it all, from the start?

Miss Remington’s Steely Resolve by Ebony Oaten

Ladies of the quality do not engage in anything approaching trade. Well, unless they have the camouflage of a widowed aunt to be the face of an enterprise, and grant it respectability. Amelia believes that she will continue as she has been, helping others find the perfect match, and never marrying herself. It is a belief which is sorely challenged by a most unusual customer, and a series of events which begin to unravel everything she has built for herself. Can she trust the solution she is offered? Or is love too much to risk?

The Marquess’ Christmas Match by Olivia Marwood

Becoming a governess seems the best way to save her family from penury, and allow her sisters a Season, as well as allowing Georgiana to avoid the unwanted advances of the cousin who inherited her father’s title. Except… the unpleasant new title holder continues his pursuit. Can the Marquess whose sisters she cares for help her unravel the puzzle, and win her heart? Or will ruin come to everything she cares for?

If you love Regency Romance, and Christmas, then this is the holiday read for you!

Kindle 

(Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited.)

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Second Chances: The Courtship Wars (Contemporary Romance, Psychology, Sexology, Reality TV, Downs Syndrome, Eccentric Hermits)

Rushing through the concourse to make her way to the conference stage, GILLIAN CORNELL comes face-to-face with the one man she finds most contemptible, but suddenly her world tilts. His gaze tells stories she wants desperately to hear. As he undresses her with his eyes, Gillian finds all she can do is stumble through her opening remarks. The all-too-attractive cad challenges both her sensibility and her reputation as a competent sexologist. 

DR. LUCIAN DAMRON never allows any woman to capture his interest for long. He uses them to boost his career and for his pleasure. Yet, Lucian cannot resist Gillian’s stubborn independence, her startling intelligence, and her surprising sensuality. Sinfully handsome, Lucian hides a badly wounded heart and a life of personal rejection. 

Thrown together as the medical staff on “Second Chances,” a new reality TV show designed to reunite previously married couples, Lucian and Gillian soon pique the interest of the American viewing public, who tune in each week, fascinated by the passionate electricity coursing between them. Thus begins an all-consuming courtship war, plagued by potential relationship-ending secrets and misunderstandings and played out scandalously on a national stage. 

Kindle       (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

********************************************************************

  One Minute Past Christmas: Tale of an Appalachian Christmas Miracle [short story, Appalachia, holidays, Christmas, family relationships, legends]

One Minute Past Christmas is the story of a Greenbrier County, West Virginia, family in which a grandfather and his granddaughter share a special ability — they call it a “gift”– that enables them to briefly witness each year a miraculous gathering in the sky. What they see begins at precisely one minute past Christmas and fills them with as much relief as it does wonder. But they worry that the “gift” — which they cannot reveal to anyone else — will die with them because it has been passed to no other relative for forty-four years.

   Kindle         (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

******************************************************************

Posted in books, contemporary romance, eBooks, Georgian Era, historical fiction, holidays, Living in the Regency, modern adaptations, publishing, reading, reading habits, Realm series, Regency era, Regency romance, romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on My Annual Twelfth Night Sale! Regency Romance/Suspense at Its Best! December 26, 2021, through January 5, 2022

Upcoming Twelfth Night Sale!!! Jane Austen Fan Fiction at its Best!!! December 26, 2021, through January 5, 2022

On the upcoming Sunday, December 26, twenty-four of my Jane Austen Fan Fiction titles go on sale for my annual Twelfth Night Sale! The sale runs from December 26, 2021, to January 5, 2022.  Fill up your eReaders!!!! All books will be $0.99. Moreover, many are available to read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! [Return on Monday for a similar list of my Regency and Contemporary Titles, also will be on sale.]

 Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes 

FITZWILLIAM DARCY loves three things: his sister Georgiana, his ancestral estate, and Elizabeth Bennet. The first two come easily to him. He is a man who recognizes his place in the world, but the third, Elizabeth Bennet, is a woman Society would censure if he chose her for his wife. Can he risk everything he has ever known to love an impossible woman, a woman who has declared him to be “the last man in the world (she) could ever be prevailed upon to marry”?

Revisit Jane Austen’s beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, retold from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. Discover his soul-searching transformation from hopeless into the world’s most romantic hero. Experience what is missing from Elizabeth Bennet’s tale. Learn something of the truth of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s pride. Return to your favorite scenes from Austen’s classic: Darcy’s rejection of Miss Elizabeth at the Meryton assembly; the Netherfield Ball; the first proposal; his discovering Elizabeth at Pemberley; and Darcy’s desperate plan to save Lydia Bennet from his worst enemy, George Wickham, all retold through his eyes. Satisfy your craving for Austen’s timeless love story, while defining the turmoil and vulnerability in a man who possesses everything except the one thing that can make him happy.

Kindle      Kobo       Nook   

***********************************************************************

 Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion: Austen’s Classic Retold Through His Eyes

The love affair behind Jane Austen’s classic, Persuasion, rests at the heart of this retelling from Captain Frederick Wentworth’s point of view.

He loved her from the moment their eyes met some eight years prior, but Frederick Wentworth is determined to prove to Anne Elliot that she made a mistake by refusing him. Persuaded by her family and friends of his lack of a future, Anne had sent him away, but now he is back with a fortune earned in the war, and it is Anne, whose circumstances have brought her low. Frederick means to name another to replace her, but whenever he looks upon Anne’s perfect countenance, his resolve wavers, and he finds himself lost once again to his desire for her. Return to the Regency and Austen’s most compelling and mature love story. Jeffers turns the tale upon its head while maintaining Jane Austen’s tale of love and devotion.

Nook      Kobo      Kindle 

***********************************************************************

 Vampire Darcy’s Desire: A Pride and Prejudice Paranormal Adventure

Vampire Darcy’s Desire presents Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a heart-pounding vampire romance filled with passion and danger.

Tormented by a 200-year-old curse and his fate as a half human/half vampire dhampir, Fitzwilliam Darcy vows to live a solitary life rather than inflict the horrors of his life upon an innocent wife and his first born son. However, when he encounters the captivating Elizabeth Bennet, his will is sorely tested.

As a man, Darcy yearns for Elizabeth, but as a vampire, he is also driven to possess her. Uncontrollably drawn to each other, they are forced to confront a different kind of “pride” and his enemy’s “prejudice,” while wrestling with the seductive power of forbidden love. Evil forces, led by George Wickham, the purveyor of the curse, attack from all sides, and Darcy learns his only hope to survive is to align himself with Elizabeth, who is uncannily astute in how to defeat Wickham, a demon determined to destroy each generation of Darcys.

Vampire Darcy’s Desire retells Austen’s greatest love story in a hauntingly compelling tale. Can love be the only thing that can change him?

“An engaging and romantic paranormal surprise” ~ JustJane1813

“Jeffers ups the ante even more by basing the core of the plot line on the traditional Scottish ballad.” ~ The Royal Reviews

Kindle      Kobo      Nook  

***********************************************************************

Christmas at Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary, Told Through the Eyes of All Who Knew It 

THE DARCYS AND THE BENNETS CORDIALLY INVITE YOU TO CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY: A PRIDE & PREJUDICE HOLIDAY SEQUEL

2011 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist, Inspirational Romance

2012 New England Book Festival, 2nd Place, General Fiction

Darcy has invited the Bennets and the Bingleys to spend the Christmastide’s festive days at Pemberley. But as he and Elizabeth journey to their estate to join the gathered families, a blizzard blankets the English countryside. The Darcys find themselves stranded at a small inn while Pemberley is inundated with refugees seeking shelter from the storm.

Without her brother’s strong presence, Georgiana Darcy tries desperately to manage the chaos surrounding the arrival of six invited guests and eleven unscheduled visitors. But bitter feuds, old jealousies and intimate secrets quickly rise to the surface. Has Lady Catherine returned to Pemberley for forgiveness or revenge? Will the manipulative Caroline Bingley find a soul mate? Shall Kitty Bennet and Georgiana know happiness?

Written in Regency style and including Austen’s romantic entanglements and sardonic humor, Christmas at Pemberley places Jane Austen’s most beloved characters in an exciting yuletide story that speaks to the love, the family spirit and the generosity that remain as the heart of Christmas.

Kobo                    Nook 

Kindle 

**********************************************************

 Mr. Darcy’s Fault: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary 

What if an accident prevents Elizabeth Bennet from reading Mr. Darcy’s letter of apology? What if said letter goes missing and ends up in the hands of George Wickham? What if Mr. Wickham plans to use the evidence of both Georgiana Darcy’s ruination and Darcy’s disdain for the Bennets to his benefit? How will Darcy counter Wickham’s plans and claim happiness with the woman he loves?

When he notices his long-time enemy in the vicinity of Hunsford Cottage, FITZWILLIAM DARCY means to put an end to an assignation between ELIZABETH BENNET and Mr. Wickham, but Darcy is not prepared for the scene which greets him in Rosings Woods. Elizabeth lies injured and crumpled beneath the trees, and in order to save her, by Society’s standards, Darcy must compromise Elizabeth. Needless to say, Darcy does not mind being forced into claiming Elizabeth to wife, but what of the lady’s affections? Can Darcy tolerate Elizabeth’s regard being engaged elsewhere?

Kindle       (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

***********************************************************************

 The Pemberley Ball: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary Novella

Elizabeth Bennet’s acceptance of his hand in marriage presents FITZWILLIAM DARCY a hope of the world being different. Elizabeth offers warmth and naturalness and a bit of defiance; but there is vulnerability also. With characteristic daring, she boldly withstood Caroline Bingley’s barbs, while displaying undying devotion to her sister Jane. More unpredictably, she verbally fenced with the paragon of crudeness, his aunt, Lady Catherine, and walked away relatively unscathed. One often finds his betrothed self-mockingly entertaining her sisters and friends, and despite Darcy’s best efforts, the woman makes him laugh. She brings lightness to his spirit after so many years of grief.

Unfortunately for ELIZABETH BENNET, what begins gloriously turns to concern for their future. She recognizes her burgeoning fears as unreasonable; yet, she cannot displace them. She refuses to speculate on what Mr. Darcy will say when he learns she is not the brilliant choice he proclaims her to be. Moreover, she does not think she can submit to the gentleman’s staid lifestyle. Not even for love can Elizabeth accept capitulation.

Will Elizabeth set her qualms aside to claim ‘home’ in the form of the man she truly affects or will her courage fail her? Enjoy a bit of mayhem that we commonly call “Happily Ever After,” along with three alternate turning points to this tale of love and loss and love again from Austen-inspired author, Regina Jeffers.

Kindle       (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

***********************************************************************

 Elizabeth Bennet’s Excellent Adventure: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary 

The Last Man in the World She Wishes to Marry is the One Man Who Owns Her Heart!

ELIZABETH BENNET adamantly refused Fitzwilliam Darcy’s proposal, but when Maria Lucas discovers the letter Darcy offers Elizabeth in explanation of his actions, Elizabeth must swallow her objections in order to save her reputation. She follows Darcy to London and pleads for the gentleman to renew his proposal. Yet, even as she does so, Elizabeth knows not what she fears most: being Mr. Darcy’s wife or the revenge he might consider for her earlier rebuke.

FITZWILLIAM DARCY would prefer that Elizabeth Bennet held him in affection, but he reasons that even if she does not, having Elizabeth at his side is far better than claiming another to wife. However, when a case of mistaken identity causes Darcy not to show at his wedding ceremony, he finds himself in a desperate search for his wayward bride-to-be.

Elizabeth, realizing Society will label her as “undesirable” after being abandoned at the altar, sets out on an adventure to mark her future days as the spinster aunt to her sisters’ children. However, Darcy means to locate her and to convince Elizabeth that his affections are true, and a second chance will prove him the “song that sets her heart strumming.”

Kindle      (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

***********************************************************************

 Elizabeth  Bennet’s Deception: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

What if Fitzwilliam Darcy refused to approach Elizabeth Bennet when he observes her upon the grounds of Pemberley? What if Elizabeth permits Mr. Darcy to think her the one ruined by Mr. Wickham? What if love is not enough to bring two souls together?

FITZWILLIAM DARCY’S pride makes the natural lead to ELIZABETH BENNET’S ruination when the lady appears, without notice, upon Pemberley’s threshold to plead for Darcy’s assistance in locating his long-time enemy, George Wickham. Initially, Darcy cannot look beyond the pain of lost hopes, but when Charles Bingley demands that Darcy act with honor, Darcy assumes the task. Even so, the idea of delivering Miss Elizabeth into the hands of Mr. Wickham leaves Darcy raw with anguish. Yet, Darcy loves Elizabeth Bennet too much to see her brought low. He sets his heartbreak aside to save the woman he affects, but it is not long before Darcy realizes Elizabeth practices a deception, one Darcy permits so he might remain at her side long enough to convince the lady that only in each other can either find happiness.

Kindle      (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited

***********************************************************************

 Mr. Darcy’s Present: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

The Greatest Present He Would Ever Receive is the Gift of Her Love…

What if Mr. Darcy purchased a gift for Elizabeth Bennet to acknowledge the festive days even though he knows he will never present it to her? What if the gift is posted to the lady by his servants and without his knowledge? What if the enclosed card was meant for another and is more suggestive than a gentleman should share with an unmarried lady? Join Darcy and Elizabeth, for a holiday romp, loaded with delightful twists and turns no one expects, but one in which our favorite couple take a very different path in thwarting George Wickham and Lydia Bennet’s elopement. Can a simple book of poetry be Darcy’s means to win Elizabeth’s love? When we care more for another than ourselves, the seeds of love have an opportunity to blossom. 

Words of Praise for Mr. Darcy’s Present…     Jeffers takes a familiar story and reinvigorates it with humor, warmth, and wisdom. – Roses and Lilacs Reviews

Kindle   (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

***********************************************************************

 Mr. Darcy’s Bargain: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

Darcy and Elizabeth are about to learn how “necessity” never makes a fair bargain.

When ELIZABETH BENNET appears on his doorstep some ten months after her refusal of his hand in marriage, FITZWILLIAM DARCY uses the opportunity to “bargain” for her acceptance of a renewal of his proposal in exchange for his assistance in bringing Mr. George Wickham to justice. In Darcy’s absence from Hertfordshire, Wickham has executed a scam to defraud the citizens of Meryton, including her father, of their hard-earned funds. All have invested in Wickham’s Ten Percent Annuity scheme. Her family and friends are in dire circumstances, and more importantly, Mr. Bennet’s heart has taken an ill turn. Elizabeth will risk everything to bring her father to health again and to save her friends from destitution; yet, is she willing to risk her heart? She places her trust in Darcy’s ability to thwart Wickham’s manipulations, but she is not aware that Darcy wishes more than her acquiescence. He desires her love. Neither considers what will happen if he does not succeed in bringing Mr. Wickham before a magistrate. Will his failure bring an end to their “bargain”? Or will true love prevail?

Kindle       (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

***********************************************************************

 The Road to Understanding: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary  

DARIUS FITZWILLIAM’s life is planned down to who he will marry and where he will live, but life has a way of saying, “You don’t get to choose.” When his marriage to his long-time betrothed Caroline Bradford falls through, Darius is forced to take a step back and to look upon a woman who enflames his blood with desire, but also engenders disbelief. Eliza Harris is everything that Darius never realized he wanted.

ELIZA HARRIS is accustomed to doing as she pleases. Yet, despite being infuriated by his authoritative manner, when she meets the staunchly disciplined Captain Fitzwilliam, she wishes for more. She instinctively knows he is “home,” but Eliza possesses no skills in achieving her aspirations.

Plagued with misunderstandings, manipulations, and peril upon the Great Valley Road between eastern Virginia and western Tennessee in the years following the Revolutionary War, Darius and Eliza claim a strong allegiance before love finds its way into their hearts.

This is a faith-based tale based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Kindle     (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

*****************************************************************

A Dance with Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary 

The reason fairy tales end with a wedding is no one wishes to view what happens next.

Five years earlier, Darcy had raced to Hertfordshire to soothe Elizabeth Bennet’s qualms after Lady Catherine’s venomous attack, but a devastating carriage accident left him near death for months and cost him his chance at happiness with the lady. Now, they meet again upon the Scottish side of the border, but can they forgive all that has transpired in those years? They are widow and widower; however, that does not mean they can take up where they left off. They are damaged people, and healing is not an easy path. To know happiness they must fall in love with the same person all over again.

Kobo      Kindle      Nook

*************************************************************

MR. DARCY’S BRIDEs: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.

ELIZABETH BENNET is determined that she will put a stop to her mother’s plans to marry off the eldest Bennet daughter to Mr. Collins, the Bennet heir to Longbourn, but a man that Mr. Bennet considers an annoying dimwit. Hence, Elizabeth disguises herself as Jane and repeats her vows to the supercilious rector as if she is her sister, thereby voiding the nuptials and saving Jane from a life of drudgery. Yet, even the “best laid plans” can often go awry.

FITZWILLIAM DARCY is desperate to find a woman who will assist him in leading his sister back to Society after Georgiana’s failed elopement with Darcy’s old enemy George Wickham. He is so desperate that he agrees to Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s suggestion that Darcy marry her ladyship’s “sickly” daughter Anne. Unfortunately, as he waits for his bride to join him at the altar, he realizes he has made a terrible error in judgement, but there is no means to right the wrong without ruining his cousin’s reputation. Yet, even as he weighs his options, the touch of “Anne’s” hand upon his sends an unusual “zing” of awareness shooting up Darcy’s arm. It is only when he realizes the “zing” has arrived at the hand of a stranger, who has disrupted his nuptials, that he breathes both a sigh of relief and a groan of frustration, for the question remains: Is Darcy’s marriage to the woman legal?

What if Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet met under different circumstances than those we know from Jane Austen’s classic tale: Circumstances that do not include the voices of vanity and pride and prejudice and doubt that we find in the original story? Their road to happily ever after may not, even then, be an easy one, but with the expectations of others removed from their relationship, can they learn to trust each other long enough to carve out a path to true happiness?

Kobo      Kindle          Nook

*************************************************************

51Sj29szsXL._AC_US160_ Pride and Prejudice and a Shakespearean Scholar: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary 

Unless one knows the value of loyalty, he cannot appreciate the cost of betrayal.

What if Darcy and Elizabeth met weeks before the Meryton assembly? What if there is no barely “tolerable” remark to have Elizabeth rejecting Mr. Darcy’s affections, but rather a dip in a cold creek that sets her against him? What if Mr. Bennet is a renown Shakespearean scholar who encourages Darcy to act the role of Petruchio from Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” to bring Elizabeth’s Katherina persona to the line?

ELIZABETH BENNET’s pride has her learning a difficult lesson: Loyalty is hard to find, and trust is easy to lose. Even after they share a passionate kiss outside the Meryton assembly hall and are forced to marry, Elizabeth cannot forget the indignity she experienced at the hands of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Although she despises his high-handedness, Elizabeth appreciates the protection he provides her in their marriage. But can she set her prejudice aside long enough to know a great love?

FITZWILLIAM DARCY places only two demands on his new wife: her loyalty and her trust, but when she invites his worst enemy to Darcy House, he has no choice but to turn her out. Trusting her had been his decision, but proving his choice the right one before she destroys two hearts meant to be together must be hers, and Darcy is not certain Elizabeth is up to the task.

Kindle      Kobo    Nook 

**************************************************************

 Honor and Hope: A Contemporary Pride and Prejudice

Liz Bennet’s flirtatious nature acerbates Will Darcy’s controlling tendencies, sending him into despair when she fiercely demands her independence from him. How could she repeatedly turn him down? Darcy has it all: good looks, intelligence, a pro football career, and wealth. Attracted by a passionate desire, which neither time nor distance can quench, they are destined to love each other, while constantly misunderstanding one another until Fate deals them a blow from which their relationship may never recover. Set against the backdrop of professional sports and the North Carolina wine country, Honor and Hope offers a modern romance loosely based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Kindle        (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

******************************************************************

Where There’s a Fitzwilliam Darcy, There’s a Way 

To him that will, ways are never wanting.

ELIZABETH BENNET’s world has turned upon its head. Not only is her family about to be banished from their beloved Longbourn after her father’s sudden death, but Mr. Darcy has appeared upon her threshold, not to renew his proposal, as she first feared, but, rather, to serve as Mr. Collins’s agent in taking an accounting of the estate’s “treasures” before her father’s cousin steals away all her memories of the place.

FITZWILLIAM DARCY certainly has no desire to encounter Elizabeth Bennet again so soon after her mordant refusal of his hand in marriage, but when his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, strikes a bargain in which her ladyship agrees to provide his Cousin Anne a London Season if Darcy will become Mr. Collins’s agent in Hertfordshire, Darcy accepts in hopes he can convince Miss Elizabeth to think better of him than she, obviously, does. Yet, how can he persuade the woman to recognize his inherent sense of honor, when his inventory of Longbourn’s entailed land and real properties announces the date she and her family will be homeless?

Kindle             Nook             Kobo 

***************************************************************

In Want of a Wife: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen

Elizabeth Bennet Darcy wakes in an unfamiliar room, attended by a stranger, who claims she is his wife and saying she has suffered an injury to her head. He accuses her of pretending her memory loss, but to Elizabeth, the fear is real. 

“Surely you know me,” he protested. His words sounded as if he held his emotions tightly in check. “I am William. Your husband.”

She thought to protest, but the darkness had caught her hand and was leading her away from him. With one final attempt to correct his declaration, her mind formed the words, but her lips would not cooperate. Her dissent died before she could tell him: I do not have a husband!

Fitzwilliam Darcy despises his new wife, for he fears she has faked her love for him, better to see her family well-settled, and if love is not powerful enough to change a life, what is? 

“This is unacceptable. I realize I was never your first choice as a husband, but it is too late to change your mind. The vows have been spoken. The registry signed. You cannot deny your pledge with this ploy. I will not have it. No matter how often you call out George Wickham’s name, he will never be your husband. I will never release you.”

Kindle               Nook               Kobo 

*******************************************************************

Mr. Darcy’s Bet: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary 

“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” – Act 1, Sc. 4, William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure

FITZWILLIAM DARCY has done everything within his power to prove his devotion to ELIZABETH BENNET. He believes they are so close to knowing happiness; howbeit, when his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, accosts Elizabeth with predictions of Elizabeth never being able to fit in with his social connections, everything changes. Although the lady sent his aunt packing with words to the contrary, a bit of doubt has slipped under Elizabeth’s shield of confidence, and she again refuses his hand in marriage, this time to protect him from the gossiping beau monde.

Therefore, Darcy must take a leap of faith; he proposes to her before the congregation gathered for the marriage of Jane Bennet and his friend Charles Bingley—a public proposal from which Darcy cannot legally or morally withdraw, one only Elizabeth Bennet can refuse. He bets, this time, he can win not only her heart, but also her consent. With the assistance of his family and hers, a plan is put into motion to prove to all comers that Elizabeth Bennet is not only worthy of his attentions, but also the only one Darcy should consider marrying.

Kindle 

(Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited

*************************************************

The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery

2013 SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, Honorable Mention, Romantic Suspense

Finalist 2014 Frank Yerby Award for Fiction

Winter Rose Awards 2014, 2nd Place, Romantic Suspense

A THRILLING STORY OF MURDER AND BETRAYAL FILLED WITH THE SCANDAL, WIT AND INTRIGUE CHARACTERISTIC OF AUSTEN’S CLASSIC NOVELS

Fitzwilliam Darcy is devastated. The joy of his recent wedding has been cut short by the news of the sudden death of his father’s beloved cousin, Samuel Darcy. Elizabeth and Darcy travel to Dorset, a popular Regency resort area, to pay their respects to the well-traveled and eccentric Samuel. But this is no summer holiday. Danger bubbles beneath Dorset’s peaceful surface as strange and foreboding events begin to occur. Several of Samuel’s ancient treasures go missing, and then his body itself disappears. As Darcy and Elizabeth investigate this mystery and unravel its tangled ties to the haunting legends of Dark Dorset, the legendary couple’s love is put to the test when sinister forces strike close to home. Some secrets should remain secrets, but Darcy will do all he can to find answers—even if it means meeting his own end in the damp depths of a newly dug grave.

With malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy will keep Austen fans and mystery readers turning the pages right up until its dramatic conclusion.

Kindle       Kobo          Nook 

*************************************************************

The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery 

A THRILLING NOVEL OF MALICIOUS VILLAINS, DRAMATIC REVELATIONS, AND HEROIC GESTURES THAT STAYS TRUE TO AUSTEN’S STYLE

SHACKLED IN THE DUNGEON of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor—the estate’s master. Trusting him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.

Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and his wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.

How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced— finding Georgiana before it’s too late.

Kindle (Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

*****************************************************

Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

She thought him dead. Now only he can save their daughter. 

When Lady Catherine de Bourgh told Elizabeth Bennet: “And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine, Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; but, depend upon it, I will carry my point,” no one knew how vindictive and manipulative her ladyship might prove, but Darcy and Elizabeth were about to discover the bitter truth for themselves. 

This is a story of true love conquering even the most dire circumstances. Come along with our dear couple as they set a path not only to thwart those who stand between them and happiness, but to forge a family, one not designed by society’s strict precepts, but rather one full of hope, honor, loyalty and love.

Kindle Kobo Nook

************************************************

The Mistress of Rosings Park: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

I much prefer the sharp criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses. – Johannes Kepler 

When she arrives at Hunsford Cottage for a visit with her long-time friend Charlotte Collins, Elizabeth Bennet does not expect the melodrama awaiting her at Rosings Park. 

Mrs. Anne Darcy, nee de Bourgh, has passed, and Rosings Park is, by law, the property of the woman’s husband, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy; yet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh is not ready to abandon the mansion over which she has served as mistress for thirty years. Elizabeth holds sympathy for her ladyship’s situation. After all, Elizabeth’s mother will eventually be banished from Longbourn when Mr. Bennet passes without male issue. She inherently understands Lady Catherine’s “hysterics,” while not necessarily condoning them, for her ladyship will have the luxury of the right to the estate’s dower house, and, moreover, it is obvious Rosings Park requires the hand of a more knowledgeable overseer. Therefore, Elizabeth takes on the task of easing Lady Catherine’s transition to dowager baronetess, but doing so places Elizabeth often in the company of the “odious” Mr. Darcy, a man Lady Catherine claims poisoned her daughter Anne in order to claim Rosings Park as his own.

Kindle

(Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

****************************************************

The Phantom of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Murder Mystery

2010 SOLA’s Fifth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, Third Place, Romantic Suspense 

HAPPILY MARRIED for over a year and more in love than ever, Darcy and Elizabeth can’t imagine anything interrupting their bliss-filled days. Then an intense snowstorm strands a group of travelers at Pemberley, and terrifying accidents and mysterious deaths begin to plague the manor. Everyone seems convinced that it is the work of a phantom—a Shadow Man who is haunting the Darcy family’s grand estate.

Darcy and Elizabeth believe the truth is much more menacing and that someone is attempting to murder them. But Pemberley is filled with family guests as well as the unexpected travelers—any one of whom could be the culprit—so unraveling the mystery of the murderer’s identity forces the newlyweds to trust each other’s strengths and work together.

Written in the style of the era and including Austen’s romantic playfulness and sardonic humor, this suspense-packed sequel to Pride and Prejudice recasts Darcy and Elizabeth as a husband-and-wife detective team who must solve the mystery at Pemberley and catch the murderer—before it’s too late.

Kindle

(Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

*******************************************************

Pemberley’s Christmas Governess: A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary

Two hearts. One kiss. 

Following his wife’s death in childbirth, Fitzwilliam Darcy hopes to ease his way back into society by hosting a house party during Christmastide. He is thrilled when his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam sends a message saying not only will he attend, but the colonel is bringing a young woman with him of whom he hopes both Darcy and the colonel’s mother, Lady Matlock, will approve. Unfortunately, upon first sight, Darcy falls for the woman: He suspects beneath Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s conservative veneer lies a soul which will match his in every way; yet, she is soon to be the colonel’s wife. 

Elizabeth Bennet lost her position as a governess when Lady Newland accuses Elizabeth of leading her son on. It is Christmastide, and she has no place to go and little money to hold her over until after Twelfth Night; therefore, when Lieutenant Newland’s commanding officer offers her a place at his cousin’s household for the holy days, she accepts in hopes someone at the house party can provide her a lead on a new position. Having endured personal challenges which could easily have embittered a lesser woman, Elizabeth proves herself brave, intelligent, educated in the fine arts of society, and deeply honorable. Unfortunately, she is also vulnerable to the Master of Pemberley, who kindness renews her spirits and whose young daughter steals her heart. The problem is she must leave Pemberley after the holidays, and she does not know if a “memory” of Fitzwilliam Darcy will be enough to sustain her.

Kindle

(Also available to read on Kindle Unlimited)

Posted in Austen Authors, books, contemporary romance, eBooks, Georgian England, Georgian Era, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, modern adaptations, mystery, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, reading habits, Regency era, Regency romance, romance, suspense, Vagary, vampires, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Closer Look at “One Minute Past Christmas” by George T. Arnold and Regina Jeffers

I came to this story late in the aspect that the nucleus of it was written by my former journalism professor. When I read it, I liked it, but I had the feeling that something was missing. Even so, I kept my mouth shut on the subject for some two years. When he decided to add a new cover and post the story on other seller sites (other than Amazon), I suggested that we work on the story together. That is how it came about. 

When George Arnold originally wrote the story, it involved a grandfather telling his granddaughter the family secret. I changed the story so said granddaughter is now a grandmother herself and sharing that same secret with her granddaughter. We kept all of George’s scenes, making them flashbacks. By doing so we had a three-dimensional story: Layers on layers, but all tied together by this special “secret.” 

The story is a contemporary one, set in West Virginia, as both George and I are West Virginia natives. It is set around his hometown of Beckley, a town set on two interstates: Interstate 64, going east and west, and Interstate 77, going north and south. The family in the story owns a tree farm, one which has been in the family for multiple generations. 

If you are looking for a quick, easy read that will restore your faith in the spirit of Christmas, this is the story for you. It is a novella of some 20,000 words. 

515ZRGQX5VL.jpg  Introducing One Minute Past Christmas 

One Minute Past Christmas is the story of a Greenbrier County, West Virginia, family in which a grandfather and his granddaughter share a special ability — they call it a gift — that enables them to briefly witness each year a miraculous gathering in the sky. What they see begins at precisely one minute past Christmas and fills them with as much relief as it does wonder. But they worry that the “gift” — which they cannot reveal to anyone else—will die with them because it has been passed to no other relative for forty-four years.

Nook  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-minute-past-christmas-george-arnold/1113741423?ean=2940015939545

Amazon   http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1475224273?keywords=one%20minute%20past%20christmas&qid=1443971109&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2

Kindle  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009YZKHZ0?keywords=one%20minute%20past%20christmas&qid=1443971133&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Enjoy this excerpt from “One Minute Past Christmas” 

She climbed the steps to the attic a bit more slowly than she did previously. Jessica claimed her sixty-fifth birthday in September, and even though both the Nicholas and Lawrence families traditionally lived well into their late seventies and early eighties, Jessica could not shake the idea that her days were shorter than she hoped.

“Where to look?” she murmured as she pulled the chain to turn on the bare overhead bulb to illuminate the space once used as a drying room, but which now held the family “treasures.”

Hanna joined Jessica to look around in bewilderment.

“I did not realize there were so many boxes.”

“Several lifetimes chronicled here,” Jessica said as she scanned the markings on the side of many of the boxes.

She turned slowly to inspect the many configurations.

“You used to like to play among all the boxes,” Jessica reminded her granddaughter. “We made castles for you to crawl through.”

“Really?” Hanna asked in surprise, and Jessica could not disguise her scowl of disapproval.

“I don’t wish to think upon the values you lost by movin’ away from your family home,” she pronounced in chastisement. “Yes, your father found a viable position, but your family abandoned so much more.”

“Oh, Gram, don’t be going there again. Papa is accounted one of the best mechanics in the area. He has fifteen men working for him.”

“Financial success doesn’t keep a person warm in the same way as one’s memories do,” Jessica countered.

Her granddaughter rolled her eyes in the way of all young people who think they know everything.

Discarding her frustration with what she could not change, Jessica gestured toward several rows of boxes against the far wall.

“You look over there. I’ll take this side. The boxes are labeled, but it wouldn’t hurt to take a peek into each to make sure the contents match the labels.”

“Do you think there are mice in here?” Hanna asked tentatively.

Her granddaughter lifted a box from the top of the stack to investigate the inside.

“You know nothin’ of livin’ in the country,” Jessica remarked as she adjusted her glasses upon her nose so she could read through the bifocals.

“Your grandfather and I have three of the best mousers in the county. Nothing gets past those cats.”

“I thought you kept the cats because they were treasured pets,” Hanna said in distraction before searching through the first box.

Jessica thought, Not likely, but she said, “No. The cats earn their keep.” Like everyone on this farm.

Silence fell between them as they searched. Hanna made quicker work of the task than Jessica. Reminiscing over one of Jeremy’s toy trucks or a favorite picture frame belonging to her mother required time. Recollections required time. Her grandfather Jared Nicholas taught Jessica that time only bent for those God granted a miracle. When Hanna was born, Jessica thought to teach her granddaughter something of the magic, but Jeremy and Molly snatched the child away from Jessica before she could show the girl what made the child one of God’s chosen beings.

“Any luck?” Hanna called out.

“Not yet,” Jessica murmured as she caressed each of the precious items before returning them to the box. 

Hanna stood to scan the stacks.

“Do you recall anything of how the dress was put away?” the girl asked.

Jessica watched Hanna work her way behind what appeared to be an artificial Christmas tree box along the wall.

A smile of recognition claimed Jessica’s lips.

“I recall now,” she said before crossing the small space to spin the box meant for a fake tree around where she could tear away the tape holding it closed.

“There is no need for an artificial tree on a Christmas tree farm,” she declared. “My mother thought it a good joke to store a family heirloom in a hoax of a box.”

Stripping the masking tape away, Jessica placed the box upon the floor and opened the flaps.

“Ah, here it is.”

Jessica lifted the garment bag, which was closed at the bottom with more tape to keep moisture and air from ruining the dress.

“There are mothballs in the box,” she said with a laugh. “We may need to air the dress out.”

Jessica slowly unzipped the bag.

“I imagine my mother covered the hanger before returning the dress to it. My mama, bless her soul, was most particular about the gown. It was the most expensive dress anyone in the family ever owned. I think her cautions and her protestations nearly persuaded your mama not to marry our Jeremy.”

“Will you be as crazy with my wearing it?” Hanna asked half in a tease and half in fear.

“Count on it,” Jessica said smartly as she lifted the dress from the bag.

Beneath the heavy garment carrier was a dry cleaning bag covering the gown and its layers of soft lace.

“Thanks for the warning,” Hanna retorted in what sounded like cynicism.

The girl reached for the bottom of the bag and lifted the plastic to reveal a dress with all the glamour of the 1920s.

“It is like something right out of The Great Gatsby,” Hanna gasped. “It is perfect. We can do the wedding as if it’s high tea in the Hamptons.”

Jessica was more practical.

“We must check all the seams. The lace has yellowed a bit, but not enough to hurt the look of the dress. We may need to find some replacement lace for the sleeves, but matching it shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s a common rose-and-ivy pattern. I do not want you to think of making this a flapper look. My mama and my grandmother would roll over in their graves. Grandma Lily ordered this dress special, based on a picture of her mother’s wedding dress in the old country. Grandpa Jared spent his last penny to please Lily Hardwick. During their first few years of marriage they had nothing to live on but love, but that was enough. Even later, during the Great Depression, they never considered selling the dress or the lace.”

“I promise I’ll treat it properly,” Hanna swore, crossing her heart with her index finger.

“I’ll return the dress to the bag, and we’ll take it downstairs for a closer look. Later, we’ll go into town for lace and whatever else we might need.”

Jessica reached for the box.

“Help me set the empty carton from the way.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

Jessica thought it ironic that the prospects of wearing her great-great-grandmother’s dress brought a return of Hanna’s manners.

“What’s that?” Hanna asked as she lifted the box to hear a thud hit the floor a second time.

“Best we find out.”

Jessica draped the bagged dress over the back of a chest of drawers, which should be donated to one of the shelters, before she knelt to dig into the bottom of the tree box.

“Well, I’ll be,” Jessica swore with a chuckle. “I haven’t seen these since before Grandpa Jared passed. I thought them long gone. I wonder who put them in this box.”

“You must have put whatever it is there, Gram,” Hanna said with a bit of impatience, common of young people dealing with the older generation.

Jessica’s frown lines met.

“You are assuming I am suffering from early ‘old timer’s’ disease, but it’s not true. I thought these were long gone.”

She withdrew two composition notebooks with hard covers.

“Love poems written to Grandpa Bob?” Hanna teased with a raised eyebrow.

Jessica clutched the two books to her chest as she stood.

“No, they contain a story my Papaw Jared thought should be kept alive to be shared sometime after our deaths.. He was in his eighties when he asked me to record his tale, a story I shared with him. Although he could read and write, Papaw Jared was not much for his letters. He worried too much about correct spelling and such. His teacher was quite strict, striking his hands many times for his poor penmanship, and I often helped with legal papers and the such as I grew older. Eventually, Papaw told his tale into an old tape recorder, and I transcribed it for him.”

Jessica shot a quick glance at her granddaughter, and hope lodged in Jessica’s heart. She long regretted not knowing for certain whether Hanna could be the answer to a family mystery. With the absence of Jeremy’s family during t0hose years when the girl might show herself, Jessica remained uncertain about how to approach the subject.

“I’d like very much to share the story with you,” she said tentatively. “There’s a bit about you in it.”

Hanna’s nose twitched in what appeared to be disapproval, but she said, “As you’re willing to help me with the dress, it’s the least I can do.”

Jessica knew that was likely the best she would earn from her granddaughter. Since her son’s family took “Reading and Writing and Route 23” to the North, there was a chasm of misconstructions between them.

Posted in Appalachia, Austen Authors, book excerpts, book release, books, Christmas, family, holidays, legends, reading habits, tradtions, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Closer Look at “One Minute Past Christmas” by George T. Arnold and Regina Jeffers

Christmas Romance Month with “Lord Radcliffe’s Best Friend”

“Lord Radcliffe’s Best Friend” was originally part of the anthology A Regency Christmas Together. The idea behind the stories in the anthology was the hero and heroine are “trapped” together at Christmas. The “trapping” could be anything from being snowed in to being in a dangerous situation. My story “Lord Radcliffe’s Best Friend“ is something of the latter nature, for those who regularly follow me know I adore a bit of drama in my tales. 

To write the tale, I did my usual LOADS of research, but I also spoke to experts near my home to learn the “do’s” and “don’t’s” of what I was thinking of putting my hero and heroine through.

Lord Radcliffe’s Best Friend 

Hendrake Barrymore, Lord Radcliffe, is a typical male, a bit daff when it comes to the ways of women, especially the ways of one particular woman, Miss Adelaide Shaw, his childhood companion, a girl who plays a part in every pleasant memory Drake holds. 

Yet, since he failed to deliver Addy’s first kiss on her fifteenth birthday, his former “friend” has struck him from her life just at a time when Radcliffe has come to the conclusion Adelaide is the one woman who best suits him. 

This tale is more than a familiar story of friends to lovers for it presents the old maxim an unusual twist.

Kindle   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09D8YJ5NG?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

Kindle Unlimited  https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?_encoding=UTF8&passThroughAsin=B09D8YJ5NG

Excerpt:

from Chapter Three

Wednesday, 6 October 1819

Drake waited in Lord Shaw’s study to speak to Adelaide’s father. Before the window was the cage with the birds he had presented her for her fifteenth birthday. He wondered when she had moved the cage into her father’s sanctuary. Had it been the night which had marked the end of their relationship or later? Perhaps she realized the gift had been his mother’s inspiration, rather than his. He had arrived upon her father’s threshold with nothing more upon his mind than to steal a kiss from a willing female. Obviously, the songbirds were a poor replacement for what she had asked of him: He had failed to present Adelaide the one gift she thought was indicative of their friendship.

Thinking upon how much had changed between their families since that disastrous evening, Drake was not certain what he would say to Shaw. Drake just knew he could not spend another day obsessing over the baron’s daughter. 

He wanted to walk over and look upon the birds. He realized, belatedly, his mother had been correct in her choice: The birds would have been a thoughtful gift for a girl of Adelaide’s nature. Yet, he remained perfectly still; even so, his emotions churned as if he were a duck upon a crystal-clear lake. He hoped he appeared composed on the surface, but beneath the proverbial water, his mind raced to know what he could do to change Adelaide’s opinion of him. 

“My lord,” her father said in the terse tones the man often used when they were forced to converse over business. “How may I be of service, Radcliffe?”

Drake rose to his feet and presented the man a bow. “I have come on a mission of which I expect you, initially, will disapprove, but I pray you provide me time to persuade you otherwise.” 

Shaw pointedly closed the door. “You have piqued my interest, Lord Radcliffe.” The man crossed to a table in the corner of the room and poured himself a drink. “Might I interest you in a brandy, my lord?”

Although Drake would have enjoyed several drinks to bolster his resolve, he politely refused the offer. “I am satisfied, my lord.” 

Shaw claimed the seat across from Drake. The man’s desk separated them. “Is this another issue with Sultan? I have spoken to Lord Shelton and a reimbursement has been settled between us, as he will no longer receive the stud fee from you for your mare Everlee. Obviously, I will not require a like fee from you for Sultan’s efforts. You may sell the foal with no complaints from me.” 

“It is not Sultan.” Drake nervously straightened the line of his coat. “My business is of a more personal nature.” 

Shaw’s eyebrow rose in question. “More personal, you say?”

Drake swallowed hard before announcing, “I am seeking your permission to court Miss Shaw.”

Shaw’s frown deepened, and Drake’s heart plummeted to the pit of his stomach. He would be refused. “You wish to marry our Adelaide? Have you spoken your wishes to my daughter?”

Drake switched his legs to cross the left over the right, seeking a more comfortable position, but it was no use. “I thought it best to approach you first, sir.” 

Shaw folded his hands to rest them on his desk. “As Adelaide is of age, or will reach her majority in three weeks’ time, my daughter would take offense if I chose to speak for her.” 

“I see,” Drake said shakily. He had hoped to convince her father first, allowing the baron to soften Adelaide’s regard. “Then I must speak to Miss Shaw.” He sucked in a steadying breath. “Might I tell your daughter you hold no objections to my suit.” 

Shaw leveled a serious expression upon Drake. “I did not say I possess no qualms regarding your joining. I said Adelaide would have something to say to the acceptance or rejection of your proposal.” 

There was a rush to silence. At length, Drake asked, “May I inquire as to why Miss Shaw would refuse to accept my courtship? We have known each other most of our lives. At one time, we were quite good friends. As my wife, she would be a countess, and she would remain near you and her brother, eliminating her removal to another part of England if she chose another.” 

“All true,” Shaw said, “but I doubt Adelaide will consider any of those points when deciding whether to accept your attentions or not, my lord.” 

Swallowing the dryness in his throat, Drake asked, “Then you suspect Miss Shaw wishes to claim a husband she could love and know affection in return?” Drake held Adelaide Shaw in deep affection—they shared so many common interests, and he was more than just a little attracted to her; yet, he had never thought he would marry for love. His parents’ marriage had been one of convenience, although he knew, for a fact, for he had walked in on them more times than he cared to count, the late Lord and Lady Radcliffe had a satisfying physical marriage. 

“In truth, my daughter and I have never held a discussion regarding what she would or would not expect of her future husband. It was the late Lady Shaw in whom Adelaide confided.” Lord Shaw sighed heavily in honest regard. The muscles along his jaw bunched in obvious disapproval. “On her death bed, my Claire shared what occurred on my daughter’s fifteenth birthday.” 

“I swear,” Drake began, while a flush of color rushed to his cheeks. “My actions that evening were not indicative of the man I have become. I promised Miss Shaw I would confess my ‘sins’ to your wife, and I did so despite Miss Shaw’s disbelief regarding my honesty. When Lady Shaw saw the necessity to dispense with Iris’s services, I spoke privately to my mother, apprising her of my poor choices and asking Lady Radcliffe to offer Iris a position at our Cornwall estate. I did not think then, nor do I now, think the maid should be punished for my lack of judgement.” 

Some nameless emotion crossed Lord Shaw’s features, and Drake felt a sense of dread creep up his spine. “All admirable behavior,” his lordship said through tight lips. A long pause held between them. “Did you believe such would soften Adelaide’s disdain?”

Drake’s temper flared, but he reined it in quickly. Even so, when he spoke, his tone remained biting. “Am I to be held accountable forever? Am I permitted no forgiveness?”

Obviously, from the man’s expression, Lord Shaw neither agreed with nor appreciated Drake’s tone. Shaw inclined his head as if seeing Drake for the first time. Despite that fact, his tone remained cold when he spoke. “Are you not aware of what occurred that evening? Of how my daughter’s world was turned upon its head?”

Drake could not imagine how his forgetting to present Adelaide with her first kiss could have altered Addy’s life to the point she held him in contempt. He stiffened. “You offend me if you suggest my poor choice that evening has kept Miss Shaw from reaching her full potential as a woman of Society.” 

Shaw rose and came around the corner of his desk where he propped a hip upon the edge and looked down upon Drake critically. “You will not approve of what I will share, but it is important you know it all.” 

Drake felt his entire body grow taut, as if in preparation for a blow of the magnitude to bring him down in defeat.

There was an uneasy pause before Lord Shaw began to speak in flat and uncompromising tones. “When Lady Shaw shared Adelaide’s tale, it was all I could do not to race to London, but as my lady wife had sworn me to keep her confidences, I had no choice but to protect Adelaide with my silence. However, perhaps it should be you who protects her, especially if you mean to make her your wife, and, more importantly, it was your foolishness which ruined Adelaide’s chances at happiness.” 

Fearful of what he would learn, instinctively, Drake’s shoulders hitched higher, and his chin jutted out in defiance against the blow he was to receive. “Please speak whatever it is you believe I should know, my lord,” he pleaded. In reality, if he would not be judged cowardly, he would have exited immediately, as fast as his legs would carry him. He was certain what Lord Shaw was about to disclose would change Drake’s life forever, and he wondered if he were man enough to bear some of Lord Shaw’s trials. Unfortunately, for Drake, he possessed many faults, but cowardice was not among them: He would hear, and he would act upon the tale. 

A brief moment of resignation crossed the baron’s features. “This is my wife’s tale, and I will attempt to provide her credit for all I must share. I know nothing beyond the words she provided me, for she did not permit me the liberty of answers to the string of questions rushing to my lips at the time. Therefore, I may not be able to respond responsibility to all of yours.” 

“Fair warning,” Drake said softly. 

Shaw sucked in a breath. “I must have your word of honor you will never tell Adelaide I allowed her story to go beyond these walls.” 

Drake did not wish to look upon the worried expression upon Shaw’s countenance, but he did, nevertheless. “I swear on the honor of all my ancestors, my lord.” 

Something dark settled in Lord Shaw’s eyes as he began the tale. “I understand my daughter had hoped her first kiss would come from a young man she trusted as a friend.” 

Drake meant to protest, but Shaw waved off Drake’s words of regret. 

“Evidently,” the baron continued, “some time or another, you shared Adelaide’s secret with Lord French and Mr. Scott.” 

Drake frowned as he searched for a memory of speaking so intimately of Adelaide to his former friends. Although he did not recall doing so, he knew he had often shared much of his life in Kent with the two in order to impress his good fellows and be taken into their confidences and their companionship. “I did not do so to make light of what I shared with your daughter,” he said because he felt he must voice some sort of defense. “I have always cherished my time with Miss Shaw, even when she was simply ‘Addy’ and I was ‘Drake.’”

Lord Shaw nodded his acceptance before continuing. “On the night of Adelaide’s birthday celebration, your friends convinced you to solicit a kiss from Iris. Am I correct?”

“Yes,” Drake said reluctantly. “But, in truth, I had forgotten the promise to share a kiss with Miss Shaw. I had had more than one glass of champagne, attempting to shore up my courage to steal a kiss from a servant, something I had never considered doing in the past. Naturally, such is no excuse, but I was well on my way to being in my cups, for I was never much of a drinker.” 

Shaw said in reproof, “It appears you were easily persuaded by your companions. I pray you are not so quick to allow others to lead you about by the ear now as you were then. If so, this conversation will know a quicker ending than either of us would wish. I will not place Adelaide’s confidences in the hands of a man who permits others to navigate his life when he should be in charge.” 

“I assure you, sir,” Drake said in honest tones. “After the incident with Iris, my father was quick to rein in my foolish steps. I broke ties with French and Scott and a few others at school. My life at university those last few years was lonelier, but infinitely better than my previous years away at school.” 

Shaw nodded his understanding. “Such is a hard lesson for men, especially those in titled positions, to learn. I am glad some good came from that evening.” The baron claimed the seat beside Drake. “Then you should know the rest. Unfortunately, unlike you, Lord French and Mr. Scott did not forget the intimacies you shared with the pair of your and Adelaide’s relationship. Scott took Adelaide to the side and told her you awaited my daughter in the library. I do not approve of Adelaide’s actions that evening, but I was not blind to my daughter’s fascination with you. Your parents, Lady Shaw, and I often expressed our pleasure at the idea of you and Adelaide forming an affection for each other.”

Shaw sighed heavily before continuing. “After speaking to Scott, during the evening, my daughter rushed to the library to meet you, but it was your friends who awaited her. French attempted to force himself upon my sweet innocent child. When she refused to cooperate, the reprobate raised his hand to her and slapped her hard on the cheek, leaving a bruise.” Lord Shaw’s voice hardened, and Drake realized his own hands fisted into tight knots. “Thankfully,” Shaw bit out the words as if they tasted sour, “you had shown Adelaide something of how to use a sword. She elbowed French’s ribs and caught up the fireplace poker as her weapon.” Shaw chuckled ironically. “It is my understanding Adelaide managed to stab French in the man’s private parts.”

Drake did not know whether to laugh or to curse. He, too, thought it quite appropriate Adelaide had thought to strike French where the man thought himself the strongest; yet, he wished he had known something of what had occurred, at the time. He would certainly have enjoyed beating French into a pulp, for, after his confrontation with Adelaide over Iris, Drake would have enjoyed a bit of fisticuffs to ease the pain of Adelaide’s withdrawal. “Mr. Scott and Lord French departed my parents’ house early the next morning and without an explanation,” Drake shared. “As they were aware of my apologies to Lady Shaw and of my speaking to my mother regarding Iris, I assumed they did not wish to be called to task by my father. Most assuredly, they were the last thing on my mind when I stood to the accounting before the earl.”

Shaw’s gaze settled upon Drake again, and Drake knew there was more to the tale than the birthday celebration incident. With dread, he watched as his lordship pressed his lips together in a tight line. “If that incident had been the end of it,” the baron said in cold tones, “it would have been enough, but French and Scott were in London when Adelaide made her debut. They made a nuisance of themselves, but, what I consider to be most reprehensible, they told others of how they had seduced her.” 

Drake could not breathe. He had delivered the vehicle for Adelaide’s destruction to her door. He had failed her in every means possible. No wonder she despised him. 

“Lady Shaw’s tendency toward first one illness and then another proved a balm for Adelaide’s misery. They were able to leave London with a proper excuse. However, Adelaide blames her own weakness for causing my dear Claire’s death. Although my baroness’s constitution was a weak one, Adelaide believes if she had stayed in Town, then her mother might still be with us. I do not see it as such, but you are aware of my daughter’s nature to fret over her shortcomings. 

“Moreover, you are intelligent enough to know such stories of a woman’s lax morals never go away. They are spoken again and again, true or not, despite the source of the tale.” Tears formed in Shaw’s eyes. “And there is nothing I can do beyond calling French out to defend my daughter’s honor. I have thought of doing just that more times than I care to admit. Each time I look upon my daughter’s woebegotten face, I wish I had done so. I admit I was never a crack shot or so handy with a sword, but it would be satisfying to see that particular pair of scoundrels brought to account. Yet, as my dear Claire pointed out, a duel would not only confirm Adelaide had something to hide, but if I lost, and I would surely expect to do so, there would be no one to oversee the care of my dearest child. I would resign her to becoming a spinster in her brother’s house when her brother Robert comes of age. At least, in this path I have chosen to follow, my silence provides her the glimmer of hope for Adelaide to claim a country gentleman to husband—a man who would gladly accept her dowry despite the whispers of her suitability.”

Posted in book excerpts, book release, Christmas, eBooks, Georgian England, Georgian Era, historical fiction, publishing, reading, Regency era, Regency romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Christmas Romance Month with “Lord Radcliffe’s Best Friend”

Christmas Romance Month with “The Courtship of Lord Blackhurst”

My story, “The Courtship of Lord Blackhurst,” is heavily influenced by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” Many of the characters names, for example, derive from the poem. However, in Longfellow’s narrative, John Alden speaks to Priscilla Mullins because his friend, Miles Standish, wishes to marry Priscilla. In the Longfellow poem, Standish simply wishes to marry Priscilla because his wife, Ruth, has died, and, obviously, at the Plymouth Colony, few English women were available. Yet, it is John Alden who loves Priscilla, and, astutely, she loves John in return.

I did not want my story to follow Longfellow’s tale too closely, just to be influenced by it. Why? You may ask. The reason this tale has captured my attention all over again is John Alden, the Assistant Governor of Plymouth Colony, is my 10th Great Grandfather on my maternal side through Alden’s daughter Rebecca. 

Public Domain ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Alden#/media/File:Priscilla_and_John_Alden_(70453).jpg

Alden was born in approximately 1599, most likely in Harwich, Essex, England. Although there are several other possibilities for his heritage, the Aldens of Harwick were related by marriage to the Mayflower‘s master Christopher Jones. Alden would have been about 21 years of age when he hired to be the cooper (barrel-maker) for the voyage. Once those aboard the Mayflower reached America, Alden chose to remain rather than to return to England. Priscilla Mullins, the woman he eventually married was from Dorking, Surrey, England. Her parents, William and Alice Mullins, and her brother Joseph, all died during their first winter at Plymouth. 

As members of the original voyage, both Alden and Priscilla held shares in the company financing the establishment of Plymouth Colony. Priscilla’s shares were many due to the deaths of her family members. John Alden was elected an assistant to the Colony’s governor in 1631. “He was one of the men who purchased the joint-stock company from its English shareholders in 1626, and was involved in the company’s trading on the Kennebec River. [In 1626, the colony’s financial backers in London, known as the Merchant Adventurers, disbanded. This left the colonists in a quandary as to how to settle their significant debts to those who had funded the effort. Eight of the Plymouth colonists, including John Alden, agreed to collectively assume, or undertake, the debt in exchange for a monopoly on the fur trade from the colony. These men who averted financial ruin for the colony became known as the ‘Undertakers.’ The fact Alden was among them is indicative of his growing stature in the colony.] John Alden, along with Myles Standish and several other Plymouth Colonists, founded the town of Duxbury to the north of Plymouth. Evidence suggests the men began constructing their houses as early as 1629.

http://mayflowerhistory.com/alden

About 1653, he, along with his son Captain Jonathan Alden,built the Alden House, which is still standing and is maintained by the Alden Kindred of America. By the 1660s, John and Priscilla Alden had a growing family of ten children [Elizabeth, John, Joseph, Priscilla, Jonathan, Sarah, Ruth, Mary, Rebecca, and David].  Combined with his numerous public service duties (which were mostly unpaid positions) he was left in fairly low means.  He petitioned and received from the Plymouth Court various land grants, which he distributed to his children throughout the 1670s.  He died in 1687 at the age of 89, one of the last surviving Mayflower passengers.” (Mayflower History)

SOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

John Alden 

The Courtship of Lord Blackhurst

What happens when a lady falls in love, not with her betrothed, but rather with his cousin?

Miss Priscilla Keenan has been promised to the Marquess of Blackhurst since her birth. The problem is: She has never laid eyes upon the man. So, when Blackhurst sends his cousin to York to assist Priscilla in readying Blackhurst’s home estate for the marquess’s return from his service in India, it is only natural for Priscilla to ask Mr. Alden something of the marquess’s disposition. Yet, those conversations lead Cilla onto a different path, one where she presents her heart to the wrong gentleman. How can she and Alden find happiness together when the world means to keep them apart? Inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” this tale wants for nothing, especially not a happy ending, which it has, but that ending is not what the reader anticipates.

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09237K1ZY?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

Kindle Unlimited https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?passThroughAsin=B09237K1ZY&_encoding=UTF8&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

EXCERPT:

1821, Yorkshire

Cilla knocked on the door to her father’s study. “You sent for me, Papa?” She knew quite well what the subject of today’s meeting was to be, for she had observed the marquess’s mark on the express delivered a half hour removed to her father on a silver salver. Ironically, she had been raised with a strong sense of independence, but, today, she was to be maneuvered into accepting a man she had never met—to be the pawn in a chess match where everyone would win, but her.

“Come in, Priscilla. I have additional news from Lord Blackhurst.”

She swallowed her sigh of resignation as she made herself do as her dear Papa said; yet, she was not pleased with the situation. Until Lord Blackhurst had shocked her by sending word to her father that he was prepared to meet the arrangements between the marquess’s family and hers and marry her, Cilla had only heard mention of the man and his family because one of the marquessate’s many properties marched along with her father’s main estate.

Most assuredly, she had heard more than a few tales of the previous Marquess of Blackhurst. Lord Robert Keyes had been her father’s most loyal chum growing up in this part of Yorkshire, and Lord Edward Keenan had often sung the man’s praises. Since learning of the arrangement between her father and Robert, 10th Marquess of Blackhurst, Cilla had often thought if her prospective groom had been the father, instead of the son, she would have held no qualms about marrying the man. Even if only half of her father’s tales were true, there was much to admire in the former marquess.

His son, however, possessed quite a different reputation. Unbending. Sanctimonious. Harsh. Empty of humor. Being forced to marry a man she could not respect was beyond the pale. “Has his lordship changed his mind about taking a complete stranger to wife?”

Her father looked up from the letter resting upon his desk and frowned. “Do you realize how fortunate you are? You are a mere ‘miss,’ the daughter of a baron. His lordship’s agreement to marry you is a rare opportunity for one of your station. Customarily, a duke or a marquess would court daughters of earls—women who are addressed as ‘Lady So-and-So,’ not ‘Miss Keenan.’ Your marriage to Blackhurst will make you a marchioness, one of the leaders of English society.”

She rarely spoke disrespectfully to her father, who had turned his life upside down to raise his five children properly after the loss of his beloved wife. However, in this matter, Cilla could not agree. “What good will it be to become a marchioness if Lord Blackhurst means to clip my wings? I shall not be allowed my own thoughts on anything more important than the color of a pillow in my favorite drawing room.” She worried if she would be allowed to continue to compose music once she married. She had already sold two pieces to Mr. McFadden in London, and she hoped the fugue she was writing would be the third such piece to know authorship.

“Such nonsense,” her father grumbled. “Blackhurst is not an ogre.”

Her brow crinkled in objection. “In the newsprints, he is depicted as a man with a stick down his trousers and not in the front,” she declared in bold tones.

“Priscilla Rebecca Elizabeth Keenan, I will not tolerate such language in this house! Do you understand me?” her father chastised in sharp tones.

She wished to remind him it was she who oversaw the horse breeding upon the estate and knew something of the nature of stubborn stallions and resistant mares, and she was well aware of what the caricatures meant, but, instead, she bowed her head in submission and said, “Yes, Papa. I beg your forgiveness.” Cilla paused before daring to ask, “When was the last time you laid eyes upon his lordship? Perhaps the man you knew is not the man who has returned to London after years in India.”

Her father’s frown lines deepened in concentration. “Blackhurst was perhaps twelve or thirteen. The last few years of Robert Keyes’s life, the family lived on the property belonging to the late Lady Blackhurst through her marriage settlements. Her ladyship preferred Devon to the wilds of Yorkshire, and Lord Blackhurst adored his wife as much as I did your mother. He allowed her to determine his home seat, but the abbey is Blackhurst’s traditional home.”

“More than seventeen years,” she said triumphantly. “Since reaching his majority and leaving university, the current Lord Blackhurst has spent his years in India. For all we know, he would still be there if his father had not passed. And, might I remind you, that was nearly two years removed. His lordship made no effort to rush home to claim this peerage. We know nothing of the type of man he has become other than the tales found in the newsprints of his years of service to the East India Company, most of which are quite unflattering. I cannot believe you mean to send off your only daughter on the arm of a man who is a complete stranger.”

Turbulent emotions reflected upon his countenance, and Cilla realized he was not as pleased with this arrangement between her family and that of the marquess, as she once thought. Her father sighed heavily. “A contract exists between our families. Would you have me know dishonor? Or ruin? I could not afford a large penalty for breaking the agreement. I have your four brothers to consider.”

“I would have you also consider your only daughter,” she said defiantly.

Posted in book excerpts, Christmas, eBooks, estates, excerpt, Georgian England, Georgian Era, historical fiction, holidays, publishing, Regency era, Regency romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Christmas Romance Month with “The Courtship of Lord Blackhurst”

Christmas Romance Month with “His Irish Eve”

I began this story in response to readers’ requests to know more of Adam Lawrence, Viscount Stafford, the heir to the Earl of Greenwall and the hero of this novel. Stafford is a like-able rake about Town: Women flock to his masculine charms, and men know envy in his presence.

Adam Lawrence has made an appearance in many of my story lines. He is the character who ties several of my stories together for he is the constant. For example, Viscount Stafford meets Brantley Fowler and Velvet Aldridge at the infamous Vauxhall Gardens in A Touch of Velvet. In A Touch of Grace, Gabriel Crowden, the Marquis of Godown, despises Stafford’s rakish ways, and although Godown knows Lady Anthony as one of his conquests, the marquis objects to the woman also keeping company with Stafford. They often vie for the attentions of the same women in London, and it smarts for Godown to lose to Stafford. In A Touch of Mercy, Adam Lawrence assists Aidan Kimbolt, Viscount Lexford, rescue Miss Mercy Nelson, and he provides Baron John Swenton some much needed advice in A Touch of Honor, regarding Swenton’s war with priority and his desire to claim the woman he loves. Stafford also makes an appearance in His American Heartsong, the companion novel to the Realm series. He visits a house party hosted by Lawrence Lowery, Sir Carter’s older brother. In the book, he assists in disguising Lowery’s indiscretion that would destroy the reputation of Arabella Tilney, a respectable, but a bit hoydenish American, who serves as the heroine of the tale. 

In each of these “walk through” roles, my readers’ interest in Adam Lawrence piqued. Therefore, the viscount became a major character in my Austenesque novel, The Phantom of Pemberley. A cozy mystery set as a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Phantom brings Adam Lawrence and his mistress Cathleen Donnel to the steps of Pemberley.

When a blizzard blankets Derbyshire, Fitzwilliam Darcy reluctantly provides the couple shelter. Lawrence’s presence proves an asset in the Darcys in solving a most unusual mystery. At the end of the novel, Viscount Stafford generously releases Cathleen from his protection. Cathleen travels alone to Cheshire to support her family following the passing of her uncle. Yet, the connection between Adam Lawrence and Cathleen Donnel is not complete. Phantom takes place in 1813, while His Irish Eve is set against the radicalism of 1819. For six years, the life-changing events at Pemberley have haunted Adam Lawrence’s steps. Loneliness dogs Stafford while the viscount searches for the one thing in his life, which will fill him with contentment. Little does Adam Lawrence know what Fate has in store for him.

Blurb: 

When the Earl of Greenwall demands his only son, Viscount Stafford, retrieve the viscount’s by-blow, everything in ADAM LAWRENCE’s life changes. Six years prior, Lawrence had released his former mistress Cathleen Donnell from his protection, only to learn in hindsight that Cathleen was with child. Stafford arrives in Cheshire to discover not only a son, but also two daughters, along with a strong-minded woman, who fascinates him from the moment of their first encounter.

AOIFE KENNICE, the children’s cousin and caregiver, appears impervious to Stafford’s masculine charms, as one of England’s most infamous rakes. In truth, Aoife is not as immune as she pretends, but she cannot imagine herself as the object of more than a flirtation on the part of the viscount, and Aoife cannot lose her pride, as well as her heart. On balance, they are world’s apart: Aoife is daughter of a minor Irish baron and the opposite of her beautiful cousin Cathleen, who possessed all the skills to lure in a handsome viscount. To make matters worst, Aoife maintains the family’s sheep farm to support Stafford’s family. A “lady,” Aoife is not.

Set against the backdrop of the radicalism of the Industrial Revolution and the devastation of the Peterloo Massacre, a battle begins: A fight Adam must win–a fight for the heart of a woman worth knowing, his Irish “Eve.”

Excerpt: 

Chapter 1
“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”
– Leo Tolstoy

Late May 1819–Cheshire

“Bloody hell!”

Adam Lawrence cursed as his horse bucked again, each ripple of thunder sending the skittish stallion turning in circles. The skies opened unexpectedly in mid-morning, and Lawrence traveled in the rain for nearly an hour. He rode into the storm, the weather following along the God-forsaken emptiness of Cheshire. He knew little of the area except of the Cheshire cheese he often consumed at some of London’s best parties and of the Trent and Mersey Canal, which connected rural Cheshire to the industrial Midlands. Now, as he passed what appeared to be abandoned farmlands, Lawrence took pleasure in noting the aristocracy’s end, at least, the aristocracy his father preached.

In fact, it was his father who sent him out in this torrential downpour. When the Earl of Greenwall summoned his son to Leicestershire, Adam thought he would receive the usual lecture on financial responsibility. Instead, Robert Lawrence delivered a different edict.

“You will bring the boy to me.” The earl narrowed his gaze to rest censoriously on Adam.

Adam stiffened with the unspoken threat. His father’s tone was hardly encouraging.

“Plan to replace me, Father?”

In matters of his father, Adam always expected the worst. Cynicism cloaked Adam’s shoulders so long that no trust remained in his repertoire.
Greenwall’s expression signaled his father’s frustration with their renewed confrontational state.

“You leave me no choice.”

Adam heard what sounded of a hint of regret in his father’s tone. It bothered Adam that his lifestyle brought disdain to Greenwall, but Adam would never admit as such.

“You disregarded your obligation to the title, Adam,” His father spoke with cold indifference. “What am I to do? Turn everything over to your cousin? Atticus Duncan will ruin Greenwall with his taste for extravagance.”

“Worst than mine, Your Lordship?” Adam challenged.

Ignoring his finely tailored clothes, he flopped in a chair.

The earl ignored Adam’s provocations. He shuffled through a stack of papers.
“I will not give credence to a debate on your and Atticus’s reputations.” His father extended a letter for Adam’s perusal. “This is from your own man of business. Mr. Jennings corresponded with the young lady who demands the money from you.”

Adam studied the page. His first thought was the letter wreaked of blackmail.
“How are we to prove this woman even knows Cathleen Donnel? My God! I have not seen or heard from Cathleen for over six years–not since I put her on a public coach to Cheshire. I released my mistress to her family. Even gave her a generous settlement.” Adam’s eyes searched Jennings’s letter for details. “Where in bloody hell is Mobberley?”

“It is south of Manchester, some fifteen miles,” his father supplied.

Adam asked the question he avoided from the beginning.

“What will you do with the boy? How do we explain the sudden appearance of my son? Of your grandson? A child of whom we held no knowledge? A by-blow cannot inherit an entailment, Father.”

“It will be my concern.” The earl closed the conversation. “All you must do is confirm that the boy is yours and then bring the child to Greene Hall. I will see to the arrangements.” With that, his father stood, picked up his gloves, and prepared to take his leave. “A bank draft is available for the woman–repay her for her kindness toward the child.”

“Pay the lady for her silence, you mean,” Adam snarled.

Greenwall’s brow rose in contention.

“Believe what you wish, Adam. All I ask of you in the matter is to provide the child safe passage. Then you may return to whatever entertainment is your latest avocation.”

It was typical of his father’s orders: They spoke of disappointment. No matter what Adam did, he never pleased the earl. Somewhere along the way, Adam quit trying. It spoke profusely of their relationship that his father would welcome an illegitimate child into his home in hopes of salvaging the title.
“As you wish, Sir.” Adam leisurely stood. “Incidentally, I may require an advance on my next quarter’s allowance.”

The earl’s eyes narrowed in disapproval.

“Bring the boy, Adam, and we will discuss it.”

Deep in thoughts of Greenwall’s purpose in this madness, Adam did not react fast enough to prevent the disaster about to beset him. From the mud, an apparition rose to appear before his rain-blinded eyes It eerily spread its wings, opening first one appendage and then another before sending Adam’s mount pawing the air to fight off the attack. Before Adam could react to the manifestation’s appearance, he found himself sliding rear first from the saddle to land unceremoniously in a river of brown ooze. Somewhere in the recesses of his mind, he heard a shriek of surprise, but Adam could not tell whether it came from him or from the dark specter.

* * *

A sudden summer thunderstorm caught everyone in the village unawares, but now only Aoife Kennice fought Mother Nature. She hurried along the muddy road from Mobberley to the small cottage she shared with her late cousin’s three children. The cousin passed from pneumonia two years prior, and since that time, Aoife cared for the children, who were all born on the wrong side of the blanket. That fact might mean something to London aristocrats, but to Aoife the babes were simply the mac and iníons of her col ceathrar–the son and daughters of her cousin.

Although Aoife’s family departed Ireland when she was seven, Aoife often thought and spoke her parents’ native language: Another characteristic, which Aoife shared with her cousin Cathleen. Dear Cathleen, who left home at twenty to join a light opera company. Years later, when Cathleen Donnel passed, Aoife discovered her beloved cousin had, in reality, lost her way and became the mistress of one rich aristocrat after another. When Cathleen returned home briefly following the passing of Aoife’s father, Cathleen brought a tale of a marriage and a husband in the British military. It was only after Cathleen’s untimely demise that Aoife learned the truth. Cathleen’s illness and her trust in the wrong people left nothing for the care of the children, nothing but a few personal belongings; and when no one else stepped forward to care for them, Aoife did not hesitate when the call for assistance went out. She sent for Daniel, Aileen, and Elaine right away.

Today, Aoife made the trek to Mobberley in hopes that the solicitor she contacted in London finally sent word. She desperately needed to locate the children’s father. Realizing the small nest egg her parents left her nearly gone, Aoife abandoned her pride and made a plea for financial assistance. Three growing children could go through clothes and food at an astounding rate. When Aoife contacted the solicitor, Louis Jennings, a man whose name she found in her cousin’s papers, Aoife prayed for a monthly stipend from Cathleen’s former protector, anything to make their lives easier.

In addition to seeking word from Mr. Jennings, among her other errands on this particular day, Aoife dutifully mailed a teaching application to a girls’ school near Newcastle, where her brother was a village vicar.

Now, as the mud practically sucked her worn half boots from her feet, she rued her decision to walk to the village. Not a stitch of her clothing remained dry, and her serviceable bonnet drooped on all sides, permitting a steady stream of water to run down Aoife’s back and between her breasts. A deep rumble of thunder did not threaten her any more than the rain, but knowing Elaine’s fear of storms, Aoife quickened her efforts to reach the cottage.

The water stood on the road, the ditches lining the hardened pathway overflowing. Light-brown ooze filled every nook and crevice as Aoife trudged toward the cottage. As miserable as she every remembered being, she made herself say her daily prayers of thanksgiving, hoping praise would replace the curses fighting to escape. When her foot sank several inches into yet another mud hole, Aoife did not anticipate being slammed face first into the mud and the gook.

Spitting muck and wiping sludge from her eyes, Aoife did not see the stranger before she staggered to her feet, but by then it was too late. All Aoife could do was shield her face with her arms as the animal clawed the air about her head. Impending doom circled about her head. Without thinking, she screamed at the top of her lungs.

Frozen in place, waiting for the worse to happen, Aoife’s mind, initially, did not register the sound of the man hitting the ground. A guttural grunt announced the impact, which knocked the air from his lungs. The curse followed, as his ankle popped, when his weight came down on it at an odd angle.

* * *

Adam struggled momentarily for a coherent thought and a complete breath before realizing the muddy ghost was actually a woman wrapped in a dark cloak.

“Bloody Bedlam,” he yelled over the pounding rain. “Do you plan to stand there like a damn statue or will you offer me your assistance?”

As Adam sprawled on the ground, the woman lowered her arms and stared at him. He grappled with bringing himself upright. Two heartbeats later, she was by his side.

“I beg your pardon, Sir.” She reached for him, realizing too late that mud covered her hands. “What may I do to assist you?”

With the storm swirling around them, the woman spoke close to Adam’s ear, and he recognized the satiny tone of her words. It made him think of silken scarves and luscious fruit spread out before him. Unfortunately, the steady drip of the water from his hat sliding down the back of his shirt carried a taste of reality Adam had no wish to claim.

Adam emitted several expletives regarding the stupidity of the locals before he shouted, “Can you bring my horse around?”

Without hesitation, the stranger nodded her agreement, but Adam watched in doubt as the girl looked up, her bonnet flopping in unladylike pursuits. Muddy trails streamed down her face and seeped slowly into her day dress’s high neckline. When she finally spotted the animal at a short distance, to his amusement, she hiked the swirls of her wet skirt around the upper part of her legs and sloshed off after it.

When the woman stepped over Adam’s outstretched leg, he took a closer look at her. Adam assumed her a farmer’s wife, but after the delectable view of her mud-spattered legs, he certainly hoped the woman belonged to no one. The legs were thin, but muscular, and although he lay on his backside in filthy mud, Adam envisioned those legs wrapped around his body. His gaze rose higher to her small waist and the soft curve of her hips as the rain plastered the woman’s clothes to her lithe form. Even though he was soaked and cold, blood rushed to Adam’s groin, and a smile turned up his mouth’s corners.
The natural lilt of the girl’s voice brought his attention to her efforts.

“Easy now,” she coaxed as she slowed her progress, moving closer to the animal. “Come on, my pretty. Is minic a rinne bromach gioblach capall cumasach,” she murmured, as she reached for the reins before patting his horse’s neck. “You are magnificent,” the girl whispered close to the stallion’s ear, and Adam prayed she might say the same thing of him.

The calming effect the woman had on the skittish animal did not escape Adam’s notice. Taking a hold on the harness, she turned the stallion and led it back to where he sat in the murky mess. Although it still came steadily, the intensity of the rain slackened, but both the woman and Adam moved as if it did not exist. Completely soaked and mud-spattered, they had no reason to protect themselves from the elements.

Without instructions, the girl brought the horse along side where Adam sat. He breathed a harsh sigh as he lifted his weight to his knees.

“Hold him still,” Adam demanded before employing the horse and saddle to pull himself to one leg, avoiding putting his weight on the swelled ankle. Using his upper body to right his stance, Adam managed to first stand and then to place his injured foot into the stirrup. Using the saddle’s horn, he lifted upward. Gritting his teeth, Adam placed his weight on the injured foot as he swung the other leg over the horse’s back and settled into the seat. Releasing a steadying breath, he ordered, “Come.” Adam extended his hand to the woman. “I will take you up with me.”

* * *

The rain having washed away much of the dirt that once covered her eyes, Aoife now fully saw the man. His wide shoulders tapered to a flat stomach–a muscular back supporting his frame and strong arms and thighs, which bunched as the stranger lifted his weight into the saddle, and for a moment she wondered how it would be to know such a man, a man of strength. Deep in thought of masculine arms, it took several heartbeats before the stranger’s words penetrated Aoife’s conscious mind. When she looked up to see his outstretched hand, she backed from him.

“I cannot, Sir,” she pleaded for his understanding. “We know not each other. Moreove, I am covered in mud. It would ruin your fine clothes.”

The absurdity of her contention amused him, and the gentleman offered his best seductive smile.

“I am Adam Lawrence. If you provide me your name, we will know each other, and as far as my clothes, my valet will wish to burn these when he sees them.”

Aoife found herself staring into steel gray eyes, mesmerizing orbs beneath dark brows. As handsome as the devil, she thought. Just looking at him sent her heart pounding uncontrollably in her chest.

“You are…you are Viscount Stafford?” she stammered.

A crooked smile indicated the man’s appreciation, but he retracted his outstretched hand. He chuckled as he stared down at her.

“I realize I hold somewhat of a reputation, but I did not think my fame spread to Cheshire.” He leaned down, crossing his arms over the saddle horn. “However, I will learn more of this vicious gossip later; for now, I wish to be from the rain, and I wish to tend my ankle. However, as a peer and a gentleman, I cannot leave you to tramp through this prank of nature.”

The man gestured to the stream of mud flowing down the road’s center.

“You will come with me, my unknown lady of the sludge; my gentleman’s consequence requires I see you safely to your residence.” Again, Lord Stafford pointedly offered Aoife his hand.

“I thought you said your reputation already poor, Sir?” she challenged. “I would not wish to contribute to your societal renown.”

Aoife watched as his eyes narrowed in disapproval.

“Miss Sludge, you will ride with me of your own free will, or I will take you up without your permission,” the viscount snapped.

Aoife’s chin rose in defiance.

“A threat lacks a choice, Sir.”

Noticeably frustrated with the dampness seeping into his bones and with the logic Aoife threw back at him, the viscount edged the horse forward and caught her upper arm. With a gargantuan effort, he lifted her first beside the horse where he took a better hold, and then Lord Stafford jerked Aoife to his lap, sitting Aoife decidedly before him before touching the horse’s flanks with his heels.

“That is better.” The man caught her around the waist and sat her upon his right thigh. “Now tell me your name, Miss Sludge, or would you prefer my endearments.” Lord Stafford whispered close to Aoife’s ear, permitting his lips to brush across her lobe.

Aoife sputtered from the viscount’s forwardness, but she managed to sit tall, very prim and proper before answering, “Aoife Kennice,” she said waspishly.

Apparently amused by his own consequence, the future earl only half listened. “Pardon me,” he said huskily. With his forefinger, he turned her chin in his direction.

“Did the mud affect your hearing, my lord?” Aoife answered with a smirk. “My name is spelled A-O-I-F-E. It is Irish for ‘Eve’ or for ‘Life.’ It is pronounced ‘Ee-Fa.’ My surname is Kennice, which means ‘Beautiful.’”

The viscount’s smile broke his mouth’s line, and Aoife thought if he smiled at every woman as such he must possess a sheik’s harem.

“Beautiful life. I like that much better than Miss Sludge.” Lord Stafford pulled her closer, where her left shoulder lined his chest’s muscular wall and her hips rested above his manhood. “I am Adam, and you may be my Irish Eve.”

Purchase Links 

Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited   https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?passThroughAsin=B00XJM6GAE&_encoding=UTF8&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

Amazon    http://www.amazon.com/His-Irish-Eve-Regina-Jeffers/dp/1512169773/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441298229&sr=8-1&keywords=his+irish+eve

Kindle   http://www.amazon.com/His-Irish-Eve-Regina-Jeffers-ebook/dp/B00XJM6GAE/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1441298229&sr=8-1

Posted in book excerpts, British history, eBooks, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, historical fiction, Living in the Regency, publishing, Regency era, Regency romance, romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Christmas Romance Month with “Last Woman Standing”

Last Woman Standing first made its appearance in October 2019 as part of the Christmas anthology, A Regency Christmas Proposal. It is now a stand alone short romance available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. 

Kindle eBook: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Woman-Standing-Regency-Christmas-ebook/dp/B089DNBJS6/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=last+woman+standing&qid=1591300412&sr=8-6

Read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?passThroughAsin=B089DNBJS6&_encoding=UTF8&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

JACKSON SHAW, the Marquess of Rivens, never considered the “gypsy blessing” presented to his family during the time of Henry VIII truly a blessing. He viewed it more as a curse. According to the “blessing,” in his thirtieth year, at the Christmas ball hosted by his family, he was to choose a wife among the women attending. The catch was he possessed no choice in the matter. His wife was to be the one who proved herself to be his perfect match, according to the gypsy’s provisions: a woman who would bring prosperity to his land by her love of nature and her generous heart. In his opinion, none of the women vying for his hand appeared to care for anything but themselves.

EVELYN HAWTHORNE comes to River’s End to serve as the companion to the Marchioness of Rivens, his lordship’s grandmother. However, Lady Rivens has more than companionship in mind when she employs the girl, whose late father was a renown horticulturalist. The marchioness means to gather Gerald Hawthorne’s rare specimens to prevent those with less scrupulous ideas from purchasing Hawthorne’s conservatory, and, thereby, stealing away what little choice her grandson has in naming a wife, for all the potential brides must present the Rivenses with a rare flower to demonstrate the lady’s love of nature. Little does the marchioness know Hawthorne’s daughter might not only know something of nature, but be the person to fulfill the gypsy’s blessing.

Excerpt from “Last Woman Standing” 

Prologue

Battle of Guinegate

16 August 1513

“What shall it be, my Lord Rivens?” His Majesty King Henry VIII asked. “My gift of an earldom or the blessing offered by this gypsy hag?”

Hollister Rivens knew he should claim the earldom and forget the promises of the gypsy witch, but he had witnessed firsthand the apparent power the gypsy held, for it had been the Roma who had instructed the English to build five bridges overnight over the river Lys, thus allowing the English army free passage to the other side. With the bridges in place, Henry had moved his camp to Guinegate on 14 August, displacing a company of French horsemen who guarded the Tower of Guinegate, which led to the English victory at Guinegate. “May I not claim both, my King?” Rivens bravely asked.

Thankfully, Henry found the humor in Hollister’s bravado. “You are an odd one, Rivens, but I am thankful you have served me well today.” Hollister had been part of the Earl of Essex’s forces when Essex ordered the English men-at-arms and the heavy cavalry to charge. They had caught the French just as French army thought to execute a retreat, sending them into disorder. Hollister’s men had held the town of Thérouanne by driving off the French with cannon fire. “You will be from this day forward known as the Earl of Rivens, and you may choose to listen to the gypsy’s tale of woe.”

“Of blessing, my king,” Rivens said. “The gypsy promised me a blessing.”

“A blessing, then, it is, Rivens. Go hear what the hag has to offer you.”

Hollister quickly made his bows and crossed to the small hut where the gypsy had been given refuge. She bade him enter at his knock.

“I see a new man before me,” she said cryptically.

“I have been presented a new title by the King,” he explained.

“More land?” she asked in a mix of heavily-accented English and French.

“I did not ask. I am satisfied with the lands I hold,” he explained, “but a barony does not hold the same power as an earldom.”

“A man of reason,” she said. “Most men want both.”

“I chose both,” Hollister explained. “I chose the earldom and your blessing.”

She smiled then, and Hollister knew she understood his reason for coming. “You wish to know your fate.”

“I wish to know my fate and that of my descendants,” he corrected.

“An ambitious man, but one looking forward, not to the rear.”

“You can tell me this?”

“I can tell you what I see,” she cautioned. “I cannot tell you what to do with the message.”

“How do we go about this? Cards? Gold coins?” he asked in excitement.

“Just stand and close your eyes. I shall circle about you and tell you what I see.”

Feeling a bit foolish, Hollister closed his eyes tightly and stood in place. He could hear her steps drawing closer. She hummed an enchanting tune, one he had not heard previously. Finally, she began to speak. “Another step will be taken when the time comes, but it shall not be yours to take, but, rather, the steps of the relations of your great-greatson.”

“Then I will have an heir?” He asked opening his eyes.

She did not answer. Instead, she kept circling him and humming that delightful tune until he closed his eyes again. At length, she spoke again. “To know the blessings of love and prosperity, choose among those who nourish the earth to scent the air—find one who manipulates the light to comfort the planted seed and who blesses the sweet, soft rain that washes clean a troubled spirit, turning it into the blue of heaven.

“Blessings also come from those minding the cattle and the sheep and all the creatures of the earth. Blessings fall upon the roof and the chimney tall and the hearth blazing within. Blessings come from the one who is kind to both friend and foe, who opens wide the door to strangers and kin.

“Lying beside such a person brings a man dreams, possibilities, and promises at dawn and shelter to calm his soul at night. Love guides a person when his steps stray from the path.”

He heard her walk away from where he stood. Slowly opening his eyes, Hollister asked, “What does all that mean? Is Lady Rosalind my future or not?”

The gypsy smiled in amusement. “The only way to know for certain is to ask Lady Rosalind to bring you a flower.”

WILL THE GYPSY’S WORDS PROVE TO BE A BLESSING OR A CURSE FOR THOSE CALLED “LORD RIVENS”?

Posted in book excerpts, British history, Dreamstone Publishing, Georgian England, Georgian Era, giveaway, historical fiction, history, holidays, Living in the Regency, medieval, reading habits, Regency era, Regency romance, research, royalty, titles of aristocracy, war, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Christmas Romance Month with “Letters from Home”

I particularly loved this story for I am a military brat and wife, and I adore a strong military hero. Major Lord Simon Lanford is just such a man. He is the “spare” in the Regency adage of “an heir and a spare.” His father, Lord Geoffrey Lanford had shown love to but two people: his first wife, Lady Alice Lanford, and his heir, Lord Richard Lanford. Neither Simon nor his mother, Lady Victoria Lanford, had known the earl’s favor. Now, Simon has returned to Clarence Hall to claim the earldom after the deaths of both his father and his half-brother, Richard. Even so, he sees himself as the expendable one. 

To complicate matters, his father’s sister, Josephine, a widow who has served as chatelain of the estate from the time of the death of Simon’s mother, has taken up residence and means to control his life as she had done for both his father and brother. She breaks with tradition of a full year of mourning and schedules a Christmas house party to introduce Simon to ladies she thinks suitable for his bride. In other words, young women who would continue to be “tutored” by her, so “Aunt Josephine” remains in charge of the house. 

Enter Mrs. Faith Lamont, a widow serving as a companion to her cousin, Miss Claire DeLong. Claire’s father is not what one would consider good “ton,” and the girl is a bit brash. In Simon’s opinion, Claire is too young to understand the issues of a man who spent a “lifetime” in war and who still sports its injuries. However, Faith Lamont is someone with whom Simon knows an instant connection. What he does not realize is he knows the woman, perhaps more intimately than he first assumes. On the Continent during the War, Faith’s late husband would often read her letters to those assembled in the camps. Simon, who rarely received even the least correspondence from anyone in England, thrived on Lieutenant Lamont’s letters. Simon built dreams of home and of knowing someone who would love him in the manner Mrs. Lamont loved the lieutenant. He idolizes all for which the woman stands, but can he leave those dreams behind and accept the lady with all her faults? 

MDP eBook Cover

Letters from Home 

She is the woman whose letters to another man kept Simon alive during the war. He is the English officer her late Scottish husband praised as being incomparable. Even without the spirit of Christmas, she stirs his soul; in her, his heart whispers of being “home.” However, the lady wishes to remain invisible and in her place as her cousin’s companion. Can Major Lord Simon Lanford claim Mrs. Faith Lamont as his wife or will his rise to the earldom and his family’s expectations keep them apart?

Excerpt from Chapter One

Friday, 22 December 1815

Major Simon Lanford shifted his weight to his good leg as he again scanned his Aunt Josephine’s drawing room—his drawing room now. His drawing room. His study. His library. His servants. His master chambers. His home. Had Clarence Hall ever truly been his home? Since he entered school, other than holidays, Simon had spent but a few dozen days at the Hall. And as quickly as he finished his tenure at Cambridge, his father had purchased him a commission, as was customary for second sons, and sent him off to the Continent to fight Napoleon.

Even when provided the opportunity to return to Clarence Hall, Simon had remained on the Continent, assisting Wellington or one of the others in charge. Just like his mother, Simon had been the expendable one. The spare. In his father’s lifetime, Lord Geoffrey Lanford had shown love to but two people while the man occupied this earth: his first wife, Lady Alice Lanford, and his heir, Lord Richard Lanford. Neither Simon nor his mother, Lady Victoria Lanford, had known the previous earl’s favor.

As he looked about the room, Simon knew his father would despise the fact Simon was the new earl, for it had been Simon’s half-brother, Richard, who had been the anointed one, the one instructed in the ways of managing a large estate and the peerage, but Richard had, literally, choked to death on his own spew, too drunk to realize he needed to sit up in bed or die. Although Simon had never prayed for Richard’s demise, he had not grieved for the loss of his half-brother, a man he barely knew, but one he despised for all the right reasons.

“Home,” he whispered, as he steadied his stance and attempted to feel as if he deserved to be the new earl standing before the gentlemen and ladies with whom his aunt conversed. Simon had no doubt every eye in the room was upon him. After all, he was the 11th Earl of Clarendon, and many of the ladies in the room had set their caps for him, or so he had been told by Riggs, his valet, a man he admired for his stealth on the battlefield and for his cunning means of learning the latest gossip below stairs. 

Dear God, I despise this! he grumbled silently. The women his aunt had invited to spend Christmastide at the Hall were more to Richard’s taste than his. Only once had he and Richard agreed on the comeliness of a woman. Lady Gwendolyn Bastian had been Simon’s first and only love, but Richard could not resist the idea of stealing her away. And so his half-brother executed a seduction of the lady; however, Richard’s intentions, as was typical of his character, had not proven as true as were Simon’s, but that particular fact meant nothing to the lady. She wished to be the Countess of Clarendon, rather than The Honorable Mrs. Lanford. The last Simon heard of her, shamed by her loose morals, the Bastians had sent Lady Gwendolyn away to live with a distant relative in Ireland, while Simon had been sent to a certain death on the European Continent. But he had fooled them all. He had out lived his father and his brother and said “good riddance” to a woman so ambitious she would bargain her virginity to gain a title. No more. When he married, Simon would choose a woman of merit and a loving nature, title or not.

“We are pleased to have Clarendon finally return to us,” his paternal aunt, Lady Josephine, Dowager Viscountess of Plankston, said loud enough to draw Simon’s attention. She wished him to join her, so she might introduce him to yet another young lady. “Young” was the operative word, for he did not think any prospects gathered before him were older than nineteen. Simon was not but seven and twenty; unfortunately, what he had seen of the world made him feel ancient in comparison to so many fresh-scrubbed faces seeking his attention.

As he carefully picked his way across the room, he wondered, How many women in this room would recoil at the sight of my mangled leg? The answer was easy: All. Their sensibilities were too tender.

“You were saying, Aunt?” He bowed stiffly to the group seated before the fire.

His Aunt Josephine smiled courteously. “I was just telling Lady Mareau and her daughter Lady Sophia that it was a shame you did not arrive in England during the summer, so you could have partaken in all the festivities honoring those supporting Wellington and his great victory.”

More gore than glory, he thought, but he said, “I am simply thankful to be standing on English soil at last, Aunt.” He had learned of Richard’s death some three and a half months before Simon fell at the Battle of Quatre Bras, but before he could make arrangements to return to Yorkshire, Napoleon escaped Elba, and the planned victory celebration transformed into another military front. He supposed, in hindsight, he should have insisted upon returning to England, but as Richard had already passed, Simon could offer no succor to those who remained at Clarence Hall. He had always been the interloper here. The Hall offered him nothing but ill memories. Moreover, Simon was never one to leave an occupation undone.

“Your aunt speaks of your glorious connection to Wellington,” Lady Sophia said in what sounded of awe. “We certainly enjoyed the celebrations.” She glanced to her mother for approval of what she said. “It was quite reverential, viewing, of course, from a distance, both His Grace, the Duke of Wellington, and Prince George while in attendance. And the fireworks were quite spectacular, as was the burning of the Castle of Discord. However, the heat was quite unbearable, making all quite uncomfortable. And the streets were full of food vendors and filth. The odors were quite pungent. The air filled with smoke from the staged battles, and I found the sound of the parades quite thunderous.”

“Quite so,” Simon commented in reluctant amusement. The girl’s use of “quite” so often in her speech would surely drive him “quite” insane within a few days if he were foolish enough to claim her. Moreover, she contradicted herself. How could one enjoy something that was so unappealing?

The girl, rather say, any lady he might encounter in an English drawing room, would know nothing of one’s senses being bombarded by the worst of humanity: Dining on stirabout, a watery concoction of oatmeal. The sudden roll of drums along the whole of the enemy’s line. The burst of music from the bands of a hundred battalions. Great columns of infantry advancing over the brow of the hill and marching straight at a man. Two hundred guns firing at the same time. Shot and shell ploughing up the earth at one’s feet. The bagpipes of the Highland brigades. Mist and smoke filling the valley. The tremendous cannonade from two hundred and fifty French guns, firing in close succession. The noise fearful. Loud reports renting the air. A rolling cheer of victory and an equally loud gasp of defeat.

Yet, there was no one in this room who would willingly listen to his stories of undertakings being nothing more than futile feats of bravery. Therefore, he admitted with more calm than he felt, “Despite my exceedingly long stay in a Belgian hospital, I am glad to have missed the celebrations. My memories are too fresh to enjoy such a display.”

“No maudlin,” his aunt warned quietly. “It is nearly Christmastide, a time for hope and for faith’s renewal.”

Simon would soon need to do something about his aunt’s hold on the household. Perhaps both his father and his brother had accepted her tight-fisted maneuvering, but he did not. His Aunt Josephine had come to stay at Clarence Hall after Simon’s mother passed, and it had become evident to everyone that his father did not mean to marry for a third time. She remained to serve Richard in the same capacity, but Simon had never cared for the idea of another woman commanding the household that was once his mother’s domain. Even if he did not claim a bride soon, he would insist on his aunt returning to Derbyshire and her role as the Dowager Viscountess of Plankston, rather than serving as the chatelaine of his manor. Moreover, she had never once expressed an affection for him. Even now, she appeared to tolerate Simon’s presence at the Hall only for the sake of the earldom.

“I meant no offense, your ladyship,” he said dutifully.

Lady Mareau hinted tactfully, “I suppose your injury will keep you from the dance floor at the assembly on the eve of the New Year. I know Sophia had hoped for you to escort her to the floor for the first dance at the assembly.”

Simon glance to the girl, who could not be more than eighteen. He had a decade on the chit. How could his aunt think him so shallow? “I fear my dancing days are long removed, my lady, but I am certain Lady Plankston has invited a number of gentlemen to our Christmastide gathering who will gladly assist you in dancing the evening away.” He nodded his head in respect. “Now if you will pardon me, I note Mr. Thomas has sought my attention. Likely more guests have arrived.” With a curt bow, he carefully negotiated his way across the room, trying not to favor his ailing leg, but failing miserably.

What do I care, he told himself for the hundredth time, if the women gathered about the room look upon me with pity? In truth, the household was just coming out of full mourning for his brother. They should not be hosting a house party, but the invitations had been sent out before Simon had arrived, and there was little he could do without sending up an alarm in Society regarding his mental state. Therefore, beyond what was necessary as the host, he would have no use for the ladies his aunt thought worthy of becoming his countess. He had little doubt, thinking he would wish it, each prospective bride would tolerate his aunt’s presence at the Hall. Absolutely not. Simon had no desire to do the pretty and court any of them. Bloody hell! He was having difficulty even remembering their names, for none had made an impression on him. Some were blonde and some with dark tresses. Some with blue eyes and some with brown. But to Simon there was nothing unique about any. They were all patterns of the same well-bred woman.

As he entered the foyer, he noted Mr. Thomas was assisting another lady with her cloak. “How many bloody women does Aunt Josephine think I can entertain at one time?” he grumbled under his breath. This one would make eleven. Nearly one for each day of Twelfth Night. He did not possess Richard’s easy way with people. When he was still with the Army, Simon had made a conscious endeavor to praise his men’s efforts, but such was the extent of his “smooth” talk, and his speech used upon the battlefield would be termed far from smooth in an English drawing room.

“I must send someone to prepare your rooms, Miss DeLong,” Mr. Thomas explained to the girl as Simon approached.

“I pray they look out over the lawn or over the gardens. I despise a room without a view,” the woman declared with a majestic wave of her hand.

Before he could respond, another female, behind the demanding one, said politely, “All rooms with a window possess a view, Claire. One must simply discover the beauty presented in the world.”

Although Simon did not agree with the sentiment, for he had seen too much destruction over the past five years, he enjoyed the sound of the words: soft and melodic, the type to soothe a man’s soul. The idea had him stumbling in his wake, staying upright only with the aid of his trusted cane.

The one called Miss DeLong spun in his direction when Thomas murmured, “my lord,” and Simon worked to keep the frown from his features. The girl appeared to be another of the well-bred ornaments of Society, typical of all the women he had encountered since his return to England. She dipped a deep curtsey to display her assets. When she rose, she said, “My lord, I assume I am in the presence of Lord Clarendon.”

Perhaps the girl was not one of the pattern he had observed recently: Simon had not encountered so forward a woman previously, at least not one of the genteel sect. He considered himself liberal, especially when it came to the plight of women, but he had the feeling this one would prove beyond the pale. “I am, miss. But we should wait for a proper introduction before we converse. Perhaps one of your parents could perform the deed or, if not, permit me to send for my aunt.”

When no one stepped forward, Simon nodded to Thomas, who scurried away without a word. Secretly, he was thankful the soothing voice he heard earlier was not that of the girl’s mother or guardian, for the lady’s soft words had him thinking the right woman could ease his disappointment at his new situation.

Miss DeLong did not blush from her boldness, which he assumed was a purposeful ploy, nor did she wait for his aunt to appear. “My mother passed some six years removed, sir, and my father is too ill to attend country parties. He permits me to set my own social calendar.”

“I see.” Simon shot a glance over his shoulder in hopes of spying his aunt. “How liberating.” He was not one to stand on protocol. The military had taught him a man’s worth was more than his title or his education, but he would not wish to tie himself to such a girl by breaking with propriety too quickly. After a long awkward pause in which his aunt had yet to respond, Simon swallowed his trepidation. “I am Major Lord Simon Lanford, the Earl of Clarendon, lately of His Majesty’s service.” He executed a stiff bow, balancing his weight upon his cane.

The girl’s eyebrow rose as she looked upon him. He knew the exact instant she realized he required the cane for mobility, rather than it being a fashion accessory. Her features displayed her disappointment for a brief second before she recaptured her inviting expression. “I was not told you required a cane,” she said without much sympathy. “But I suppose such cannot be helped.”

“Claire, please,” the same soft voice as before pleaded, before he could offer his retort.

“Miss DeLong?” His aunt’s arrival surprised even him, for he had not heard her approach. “We were unaware you planned to join us for our festivities.”

“Certainly I planned to join you,” the girl said in petulant tones. “Was not an invitation sent to my father’s manor some months ago?”

Aunt Josephine shot Simon a look of alarm before saying, “Such was when poor Richard was alive. And I do not observe Lord DeLong in your company.”

“Father was too ill to travel,” the girl countered.

“I see.” His aunt took a deep steadying breath before making her decision, one he was certain would go against her better judgment. “Unfortunately, Lord Buchholtz’s party cancelled. Mr. Thomas, you will have someone see Miss DeLong and —”

“My cousin,” the girl supplied.

“At least DeLong did not permit you to travel alone,” his aunt hissed under her breath. Aunt Josephine’s tone spoke of her lack of respect for the girl, as well as the less-than-welcoming attitude she would practice with Miss DeLong. “Again, Thomas, you will see—”

The butler nodded his understanding and darted away before his aunt could finish. Simon suspected Mr. Thomas meant to speak to the housekeeper. Obviously, a young woman attending a party without a parent or guardian was a scandal waiting to occur. Mrs. Osborne would place the chit away from any of the gentlemen’s quarters.”

“While Mr. Thomas organizes the necessary rooms, perhaps you might conduct a proper introduction, Lady Plankston,” Simon suggested gently. “Although I will admit I have broken with propriety to make myself known to our guests.”

“Certainly, Clarendon.” Aunt Josephine’s shoulders stiffened. “My lord, this is Miss DeLong, daughter of Lord DeLong.” Nothing of may I give you the acquaintance. “Miss DeLong’s father holds a barony of the same name. The young lady was a particular friend of your late brother,” she said pointedly.

Ah, now the situation made sense. His brother had made promises to the girl, and Miss DeLong expected him to keep Richard’s pledges. If such were the case, the chit was in for a rude awakening. Now that he understood the situation, when he looked upon the young woman, Simon could imagine his brother taking a fancy to the girl. She possessed “the look” Richard preferred in his women: golden-haired, heart-shaped face, pouty mouth, svelte figure, blue eyes, and, likely, she was a plaguey nuisance.

“Miss DeLong, welcome to Clarence Hall. The party has gathered in the drawing room. Please feel free to join us after you’ve had time to freshen your things.” Realizing he ought also to welcome the girl’s companion, he glanced over Miss DeLong’s shoulder to discover the most enchanting creature looking at him with the appearance of steady intent. There was a sturdiness in her gaze.

Not a classical beauty, like her fair cousin, but delectable, just the same. Blondish-brown curls escaped the bonnet she wore. He imagined them to be soft and smooth and absolutely feminine. A small, straight nose covered with a sprinkle of freckles on golden cheeks, as if she had recently spent time in the sun. Not so thin as her cousin, but with a well-defined waist and ample breasts, against which a man might rest his weary head. Since arriving in England, everyone had reminded Simon of his duty to secure the earldom. He had ignored all reminders of his siring an heir until this very moment. “And your companion?” he murmured. “Would you please extend an introduction, Miss DeLong?”

The girl glanced to her cousin and back to him, and her brows drew together in obvious disapproval. Realizing he had betrayed his interest in the woman, Simon made himself smile on Miss DeLong. The girl’s features followed suit. At length, she said, “My lord, permit me to give you the acquaintance of my cousin, Mrs. Lamont.”

Missus. The word ricocheted through Simon’s body. The woman was married. Naturally, he thought. He knew of few men who would not rejoice at having a woman of Mrs. Lamont’s fine looks on his arm. He made himself say through his disappointment, “Welcome, Mrs. Lamont. I pray you do not find Clarence Hall wanting.”

“I am certain I shall not, my lord.”

With Thomas’s return, Simon said in dismissal, “Anticipating continuing our conversation later, I will release you into Mr. Thomas’s most capable hands.”

“This way, ladies.”

Even though he could not approach the most interesting woman attending his aunt’s house party, Simon watched as Mrs. Lamont gracefully climbed the stairs toward the guest quarters.

“Beware Miss DeLong,” his aunt whispered near his ear. “The chit means to claim a title. Richard led her to believe she might become his countess. Make certain you are not alone with her. And lock the doors to your quarters at night.”

“Perhaps if Napoleon had employed a female strategist,” Simon said with a sad chuckle, “he could have outwitted Wellington.”

“You make light,” his aunt reprimanded, “but do not underestimate a conniving woman. A female soldier would have taken note of the weather and realized cannons cannot move easily and quickly over wet ground,” she remarked. “Although Miss DeLong is young, she learned her arts from her mother, a former opera dancer who lured Lord DeLong in.”

“Then why was an invitation issued to Miss DeLong?” Simon inquired.

“That is a matter I must investigate. The girl was on the list of a previous party when Richard was still alive. It was when your brother first took her acquaintance and when he became quite enchanted by her independent spirit. Personally, I never cared for the family. People say the former Lady DeLong used some sort of aphrodisiac to trap the baron into marriage. Lady Smithson says her husband heard rumors at his club that DeLong has contracted—” His aunt broke off with a blush.

“I should say a woman of quality should know nothing of such matters, but I am not as antiquated as many of my fellow peers,” Simon said with a smile to ease her embarrassment.

“My dearest Plankston never treated me as a mere female,” she admitted.

“Then Lord Plankston was an oddity, but an oddity I wish to emulate in my own marriage. Thank you for the words of wisdom, Aunt. Now, we should return to our guests.”

BLURB:

She is the woman whose letters to another man kept Simon alive during the war. He is the English officer her late Scottish husband praised as being incomparable. Even without the assistance of the spirit of Christmas attempting to bring them together, she stirs his soul; in her, his heart whispers of being “home.” In him, she discovers a man who truly stirs her soul. Unfortunately for both, the lady fears no longer being invisible to the world and assuming a place at his side.

However, the lady wishes to remain invisible and in her place as her cousin’s companion. Can Major Lord Simon Lanford claim Mrs. Faith Lamont as his wife or will his rise to the earldom and his family’s expectations keep them apart?

“This was both a heart-breaking and heart-warming second chance love story, made all the more satisfying by the Christmas setting.”

Read Reviews:
• Meditative Meanderings

Second Place in Short Historical Category

2019 International Digital Awards

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Letters-Home-Regina-Jeffers-ebook/dp/B07SJXDZK7/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2KAFCVZZ6VWUD&keywords=letters+from+home+by+regina+jeffers&qid=1564770214&s=gateway&sprefix=letters+from+home+by+r,aps,135&sr=8-2

 Kindle Unlimited https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?passThroughAsin=B07SJXDZK7&_encoding=UTF8&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

Posted in book excerpts, book release, British history, eBooks, Georgian England, Georgian Era, giveaway, historical fiction, Living in the Regency, marriage, military, primogenture, publishing, reading habits, Regency romance, romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Christmas Romance Month with “Lady Joy and the Earl”

Today, I celebrate one of my favorite Christmas tales,”Lady Joy and the Earl.” It does not have the typical hero and heroine found in historical romances, for James Highcliffe, Earl of Hough, and Lady Jocelyn (Powell) Lathrop are middle aged. James and Jocelyn have known each other all their lives, for his family estate and hers march along together on one side. She was the pesky younger sister when James and her brother Emerson roamed the countryside as youths. However, by the time James was nineteen and Jocelyn, or “Joy” as her family calls her, was sixteen, they were in love. Unfortunately, when his father learned of the situation, Robert Highcliffe informed James he was betrothed to Lady Louisa Connick from the time of her birth. Joycelyn’s father then bargains her away to Lord Harrison Lathrop to pay his gaming debts. Lathrop, a viscount, wanted her substantial dowry and the connection to Lord Powell’s marquessate, but he never cared for her as a person. 

When the story opens, James’s wife, Louisa, has been dead for some eighteen months, and Lathrop for a decade. Both James and Jocelyn have grown children and a boat load of misery to bring to the table. The question is whether their being forced to join their families together at his estate and the spirit of Christmas can finally place them where they always belonged: AS HUSBAND AND WIFE.

The story is set near Aberford, Yorkshire, in December 1815, some six months after the Battle of Waterloo. I chose Aberford because it was about halfway between London and Edinburgh on the Great North Road, and it was situated close to the town of Leeds. In the story, the hero, James Highcliffe, is attempting to demonstrate to Lady Jocelyn how they share many memories. He asks her to assist him in giving his family a real Christmas celebration, for his household has been in mourning for several years. They consider the “wassail bob,” “vessel maids,” and “Cristes Maesse.” 

The service, known as “Christ’s Mass,” eventually became a description for celebrations of Jesus’ birth throughout the world. The word Christmas has its origin from the old English term Cristes Maesse, meaning “Christ’s Mass.” (Celebrating Holidays)

Traditional Customs and Ceremonies tells us, “The demise of this custom shows how easily common traditions can be lost. So popular was the custom that it had a place in the 11th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica:

“What is popularly known as wassailing was the custom of trimming with ribbons and sprigs of rosemary a bowl which was carried round the streets by young girls singing carols at Christmas and the New Year. This ancient custom still survives here and there, especially in Yorkshire, where the bowl is known as `the vessel cup,’ and is made of holly and evergreens, inside which are placed one or two dolls trimmed with ribbons. The cup is borne on a stick by children who go from house to house singing Christmas carols.”

“In the 1800s up to around 1920s, local children around the midlands and northern England, County Durham, Lancashire, and particularly Yorkshire, would enact a curious custom like a mix between carol singing and May Dolls. The custom had many names, often localised Wesley Bob, a Wassail Bob, a Vessel Cup, a Pretty Box or a Milly Box. When the custom was done varied. Visitation days recorded in accounts in Yorkshire emphasize this variation, for example, in Thorpe Hesley it began at Christmas Eve and went on for two to three days. Whereas, Hoyland Common practiced it only on Christmas day morning. In West Melton and Hemingfield, it was Boxing Day, and in Rawmarsh, it was New Year’s Day. Generally though the tradition would begin at Advent or more often St. Thomas’s Day, although in some areas it was November, suggesting there is nothing new in the early celebration of Christmas!

51KCcr2ODoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 

“How the custom was organized differed from place to place. Sometimes it was a private form of begging and at others organized by the church. The basic approach was as follows: two girls would be the ‘vessel maids’ and they carried a box, decorated with evergreens and often fruit and spices, covered in a white cloth. At the people’s homes, the girls would sing a carol and solicit the homeowner for some money, usually a penny, to reveal what was under the sheet. This was a scene of the Holy Family.

Clement Miles in his Christmas in Ritual and Tradition notes that:

“At Gilmorton, Leicestershire, a friend of the present writer remembers that the children used to carry round what they called a “Christmas Vase,” an open box without lid in which lay three dolls side by side, with oranges and sprigs of evergreen. Some people regarded these as images of the Virgin the Christ Child and Joseph.”

MDP eBook Cover

“Lady Joy and the Earl: A Regency Christmas Novella”

They have loved each other since childhood, but life has not been kind to either of them. James Highcliffe’s arranged marriage had been everything but loving, and Lady Joy’s late husband believed a woman’s spirit was meant to be broken. Therefore, convincing Lady Jocelyn Lathrop to abandon her freedom and consider marriage to him after twenty plus years apart may be more than the Earl of Hough can manage. Only the spirit of Christmas can bring these two together when secrets mean to keep them apart.

The story is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. 

Kindle   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HNMR9LY

Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?passThroughAsin=B07HNMR9LY&_encoding=UTF8&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

This is how the use of these traditions play out in the story: 

He had spotted her in the upper gardens on his return to Hough House, and at that moment, James was thankful young Lathrop had insisted on examining the new mill James and Lord Powell had built together across the river separating their lands. Mr. Locke, James’s steward, had agreed to provide the Lathrop brothers a tour after the young lord began asking questions on the operation.

Dismounting, James left Sultan to munch the grass along the hedgerow and entered the garden off the nature trail to cross to where she studied one of the fountains.

“Good day, Joy,” he called as he came near.

“Oh, Lord Hough.” She jumped as if he had frightened her.

“Woolgathering, my dear?” he said with a smile.

“Simply considering something Lady Hough and your aunt mentioned earlier.”

“And what might that be?” An odd shot of desire crawled up James’s spine. Every time he looked upon Jocelyn, a primal demand overcame his good sense, and it was all he could do not to catch her up in his embrace and kiss her senseless.

“They spoke of your wife’s illness and of her slow death,” she confessed.

James frowned. “They should not have bothered you with the particulars of Louisa’s decline.”

As was typical for Jocelyn, she ignored his warning tones. Instead, she said, “I was astonished to learn of Lady Louisa’s propensity to—”

“To what?” he demanded.

Jocelyn hesitated, her gaze landing hard upon his countenance. “I have spoken from form. Your relationship with the late Lady Hough is none of my concern.”

James swallowed the retort rushing to his lips. If he expected to learn what occurred in her marriage, he must be more forthright in discussing his. He made himself respond in even tones. “I have nothing to hide. Louisa and I never fit. Despite what some may tell you, at least, in the beginning, I came to like her; she is the mother of my children, and for that fact, I owe her my kind regard. That being said, my wife and I held little in common. We were of the nature of distant cousins, each holding on to a relationship forced upon us and attempting to make the best of what we had been handed. I said earlier ‘in the beginning’ when I spoke of my caring for my countess. As time passed, we drifted further apart. Our attempts to make the best of our situation vanished. We differed on every point. If Meredith fell in the mud and soiled her dress, I would find my daughter’s actions amusing, praising her for her strong imagination and willingness to fight the dragon as fiercely as did her brother, whereas Louisa would look on the incident and my reaction with abhorrence.”

“Lathrop would have also found Lady Meredith’s actions repugnant,” she disclosed. “Poor Michael knew his father’s strap more than one time for returning home with muddy boots.”

James attempted to disguise his interest in Lathrop’s high-handedness. “Then Michael favors you in more than just his features,” he said cautiously, watching for Jocelyn’s reaction. “I recall your crossing muddy fields, chasing after Emerson or simply enjoying the day, your skirt tail three inches deep in mud.”

She laughed lightly. “My poor maid. Always scrubbing my petticoats. And, yes, Michael favors my temperament.” She looked past his shoulder as if expecting to see someone behind him. “Where are my sons?”

“I pointed out the new mill your brother and I had built at the mouth of the river. Mr. Locke rode out with us this morning, and he agreed to provide Andrew and Michael a tour of the facility. I believe young Lathrop hopes to borrow some of his uncle’s ideas for the Kent estate.”

She sighed heavily. “I am pleased Andrew seeks both your and Emerson’s advice, but I wish he would occasionally place his responsibilities for his title aside and simply enjoy a few days of family. Both of my sons, but Andrew, in particular, have difficulty separating Harrison’s exacting ways from those of the rest of the world.”

James wished to know more, but he had learned not to push Jocelyn for answers. She related more details each time they spoke, and he must practice patience. Instead, he used the opportunity to put forward his plan to bring her family and his together. “Then perhaps we can join forces to indulge our families, for I have promised Sebastian and Meredith a proper Christmastide celebration. Louisa’s long illness and eventual demise kept my household dark for four years. My children requested we celebrate in the manner of their youth, and I mean to see it done. Sebastian has recently met his majority, and Meredith is already asking for a Season. Soon they will claim their own families. I would have them carry happy memories of Hough House with them when they are elsewhere, not the ones of their mother wishing her life away. Please say you will seriously consider being a part of my plan. Surely you wish the same for Andrew and Michael.”

She eyed him suspiciously. “What did you have in mind?”

“The typical things: holly and mistletoe and a yule log, plus Yorkshire pudding and a turkey, as well as the annual hunt. All the things we had growing up here.” He spread his arms wide. “Anything we care to imagine. Tell me, Joy, what are some of your favorite memories of Christmastide at Powell Manor?”

She sighed dreamily. “Spiced cider and charades and visiting neighbors and children singing carols and a proper Yorkshire Christmas pie and the Wassail bob and ‘Cristes Maesse.’ Oh, I am certain some of these are no longer practiced; after all, I have been gone away for two decades, but you understand, do you not?”

James laughed conspiratorially. “I doubt if the new vicar would approve of vessel maids calling upon households and asking each party to pay a penny to view her unwrapping one of the cloth-covered figures of the nativity. Although I do understand the tradition is still accepted over near Haworth, the good people of Leeds and the surrounding area long ago abandoned the practice, despite the good fortune it is said to bring to the households which participate.”

“But you hold no objections to the others?” she insisted.

James’s expression softened when he looked upon her. “My dearest Jocelyn, if you wished for Lathrop and Michael to view the Wassail bob, I would hire a whole troop of vessel maids to entertain them.” He wagged his eyebrows at her. “Nothing is too lavish for such honored guests.”

Her frown lines deepened. “Do not be foolish, James. What kind of mother parades vessel maids before her sons?”

“None that I know personally,” he teased. “Although, I did hear of a most outrageous mother when I was still at university. The chaps spoke of her often. Some opera dancer who married a baron. DeLong, I believe the name was.”

“You are outrageous, my lord.” She laughed prettily. It was a sound James had longed to hear since they had become reacquainted. Her laughter was a sound that reminded him of all the things he missed about her.

“Then you promise to aid me in my quest?” he implored.

“You truly wish my assistance?” she inquired.

“Naturally, my mother will volunteer, but, I fear, even with Aunt Mary’s assistance, Lady Hough cannot handle all the preparations. She contracted consumption some four years removed. Although she thankfully recovered, my mother still tires easily.”

“Why do we not each create a list of favorites and then compare them? Certainly, the young people will also have favorites. We should not ignore their suggestions.”

James caught her hand and placed it on his arm. “It is chilly, and I believe my mother will have ordered tea by now. Let us go in and consult with Lady Hough. She will be thrilled with your involvement. And, of course, your mother will arrive later today. We will make a jolly group, will we not?”

Posted in book excerpts, book release, British history, customs and tradiitons, excerpt, family, Georgian England, Georgian Era, giveaway, historical fiction, holidays, Living in the Regency, marriage customs, publishing, reading, reading habits, Regency era, Regency romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Christmas Romance Month with “Pemberley’s Christmas Governess: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary”

My newest JAFF book, Pemberley’s Christmas Governess, released onNovember 29, it is currently on sale for $0.99. Grab yours before the price goes up! The past couple of months have been hectic for me, and I have been planning ahead — doing my blogs in advance, etc., (actually writing this one on September), but mostly I have been cleaning out closets, shelves, etc., for I am closing on a new house sometime during the last two weeks of December. I am moving into a single story ranch style home after spending the last 18 years in this two-story home and the previous 22 in a bi-level. NO MORE STAIRS to climb!!! The idea delights me greatly, as I recently turned 74 years young, but my knees think I am 74 years old. So, if you follow me on social media, and I disappear for days at a time, I am either packing or writing. I have a Regency book entitled “An Escape to Love” arriving in January 2022 and a Regency historical fiction entitled “Obsession” coming out in March 2022 (which is not exactly a romance, but I will explain more on that later), and I am some 18 chapters into a new JAFF title, tentatively called “Mr. Darcy’s Inadvertent Bride.” It, too, will release in 2022, in all probability in June.

But, for now, you likely, are just wondering something about Pemberley’s Christmas Governess, which is my 28th JAFF title. Can you believe it? [You can find all my Austen-inspired titles HERE.) In this tale, Mr. Bennet has died while Elizabeth has been away visiting with Charlotte and Mr. Collins. Mrs. Bennet’s prediction of their all “being driven into the hedgerows” has come true faster than any of them could have considered. Mrs. Bennet blames Elizabeth for refusing Collins’s offer of marriage. Bingley has not taken Netherfield, so there is not Jane and Bingley. Elizabeth, therefore, has never met Fitzwilliam Darcy. To ease her family’s obligations, Elizabeth has taken a position as a governess, one she has held for 5 years, meaning she is nearly 25 and Darcy is approximately 33 years of age when they first meet.

Darcy has succumbed to the family’s wishes and married Anne de Bourgh, but Anne has died during child birth. He has mourned properly for his wife, a wife he had never truly loved, and he has decided as a means to moving back into society, he will host a house party for Christmastide. Lady Matlock is serving as his hostess. I should warn you Georgiana is not so sickening sweet in this tale as she was in Pride and Prejudice. After all, she is five years older, anxious to reach her majority and claim a husband. She has had to observe the mourning period for Mrs Anne Darcy and is glad to claim the society circumstances have previously kept from her. Miss Bingley is also getting a “little long in the tooth” and is more desperate than ever finally to claim Darcy to husband.

In the tale, Colonel Fitzwilliam has escorted Elizabeth to Pemberley in hopes either his mother or Darcy will provide her a good reference after she was accused of something terrible by one of his officers, which the colonel knew to be false. Obviously, when the colonel sends word he is bringing a young lady with him of whom he hopes both Darcy and Lady Matlock will approve, well . . . you can guess all the assumptions being made to twist the tale. Meanwhile, Elizabeth thinks she must prove herself “worthy,” and she assists in the nursery with Louisa Hurst’s two sons and Darcy’s daughter, Cassandra.

Pemberley’s Christmas Governess: A Holiday Pride and Prejudice Vagary

Two hearts. One kiss.

Following his wife’s death in childbirth, Fitzwilliam Darcy hopes to ease his way back into society by hosting a house party during Christmastide. He is thrilled when his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam sends a message saying not only will he attend, but the colonel is bringing a young woman with him of whom he hopes both Darcy and the colonel’s mother, Lady Matlock, will approve. Unfortunately, upon first sight, Darcy falls for the woman: He suspects beneath Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s conservative veneer lies a soul which will match his in every way; yet, she is soon to be the colonel’s wife.

Elizabeth Bennet lost her position as a governess when Lady Newland accuses Elizabeth of leading her son on. It is Christmastide, and she has no place to go and little money to hold her over until after Twelfth Night; therefore, when Lieutenant Newland’s commanding officer offers her a place at his cousin’s household for the holy days, she accepts in hopes someone at the house party can provide her a lead on a new position. Having endured personal challenges which could easily have embittered a lesser woman, Elizabeth proves herself brave, intelligent, educated in the fine arts of society, and deeply honorable. Unfortunately, she is also vulnerable to the Master of Pemberley, who kindness renews her spirits and whose young daughter steals her heart. The problem is she must leave Pemberley after the holidays, and she does not know if a “memory” of Fitzwilliam Darcy will be enough to sustain her.

So, here is a “taste” of Pemberley’s Christmas Governess to whet your appetite for more of the tale. In this scene from Chapter Six, Darcy cannot seem to keep away from Elizabeth, even though he thinks she is promised to Fitzwilliam.

Finding no one about, Darcy had asked after his cousin only to learn Fitzwilliam was in the school room with Miss Bennet.

Darcy knew he frowned, but he could not quite quash the idea his cousin and the lady might be enjoying some privacy, while settling things between them. His heart sighed in continued disappointment, but he managed to say, “I will not interrupt them, for now. Where might I find the countess?”

Mr. Nathan also frowned, but, obviously, for a different reason. “I beg your pardon, sir. From what I understand, most of your houseguests are in the nursery. That is, all except Mr. and Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley.”

Darcy heard his butler’s unspoken criticism: All except those who should be there. “And what is so fascinating about Pemberley’s nursery?” Darcy asked with a lift of his eyebrows.

“I believe Miss Bennet, sir, convinced Colonel Fitzwilliam and Captain Stewart to reenact several of the battles to which they personally stood witness. Initially, Miss Darcy and the other young ladies accompanied the colonel, but I have learned from Mrs. Reynolds that Mr. Bingley and the other two gentlemen soon followed, as did Lady Matlock.”

Darcy’s lips twitched in amusement. Apparently, Mr. Nathan did not know whether to approve of this turn of events or not. “As I possess a legitimate excuse to call upon the nursery, I believe I will follow the others.”

“As is reasonable,” Mr. Nathan said as he bowed.

Darcy smiled. “If the party is interrupting Cassandra’s nap, I will be sending them down for tea. You might warn Cook.”

“Immediately, sir.”

With anticipation, Darcy quickly climbed the steps to the nursery. He paused briefly at the door to survey the room. The colonel and Captain Stewart were describing the evening of the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels. As if they had rehearsed it, the young gentlemen in the room claimed the hand of one of the ladies, including Mrs. Anderson, and began to waltz their partners about in small circles, for the room was too cramped to move about freely. Even Hursts’ sons danced around with Megs.

It was only then he realized the gentlemen ignored Miss Bennet’s presence in the room. The lady was framed by the window, and she was dancing, only Miss Bennet was dancing with his young daughter. Without considering his actions, Darcy slipped into the room and was standing before her when she turned around. A large smile, likely intended for his daughter or the exercise graced her lips, but he did not hesitate: Darcy placed both the woman and his child in a loose embrace and turned them in a slow circle. “Good afternoon, pumpkin,” he said as he bent his head to kiss the top of his daughter’s head, but his eyes never left Miss Bennet’s shocked gaze.

“Mr. Darcy,” she began in apology, attempting to step from his arms, but he tightened his hold just enough to dissuade her. As the rest of the room hummed the music, Darcy said softly, “I am dancing with my daughter and the most—”

However, at that moment, Colonel Fitzwilliam called out. “That is the moment when Wellington received the message of Bonaparte’s advance. We departed the ball, many of us still wearing our evening shoes and trousers. Partners were left upon the dance floor, some women receiving a brief kiss in parting.” Although Darcy had yet to move, he knew from the sound of giggles behind him, many women in the room received a chaste kiss on their foreheads or their hands.

Such was not what Darcy wished to kiss: Miss Bennet’s lips were so tempting, for the briefest of seconds, the rest of those within the room disappeared.

Then a laughing Mrs. Anderson appeared at his side to reach for Darcy’s daughter. “It’ll be impossible to convince Miss Cassandra to sleep now she has waltzed with her father. Even so, permit me to take her, Miss Bennet.”

Darcy reluctantly released his hold on Miss Bennet and his daughter. He scooped the child from Miss Bennet’s hold and lifted Cassandra into the air, teasing another giggle from his daughter’s lips before he deposited her into Mrs. Anderson’s waiting arms.

He knew Miss Bennet took several steps backward, retreating to the window, just as he turned to the rest of the room.

“Darcy!” his cousin called. “When did you join us?”

“Only a few moments ago,” he said with a well-placed smile. “I came to inform each of you I ordered tea to be delivered to the blue sitting room. However, I did not wish to disturb your tale or the effects of the duchess’s ball on everyone.” He glanced to Cassandra. “I stole a moment to dance with my daughter and enjoy her smile.”

Bingley said, “I thought Miss Bennet entertained Miss Cassandra.”

With difficulty, Darcy kept the scowl from his features, along with the desire to slap his friend across the back of Bingley’s head. He could not understand why none of the gentlemen in the room would think to partner Miss Bennet. If Mrs. Anderson and Megs deserved partners, why did not a gentleman’s daughter—a woman with impeccable manners and a delightful personality. Moreover, if Miss Bennet was Fitzwilliam’s betrothed, why was his cousin dancing with Georgiana? Obviously, the reason the colonel had agreed to this venture was to please Miss Bennet. “She did,” Darcy said with more calm than he felt. “I imposed on the lady to hold Cassandra while Miss Bennet and I took a few turns together. Cassandra did not appear to want to leave the good lady’s care, even to dance with her father.”

Georgiana lifted her chin in a gesture Darcy had never viewed her using previously and one of which he did not approve. It was very reminiscent of a gesture Miss Bingley often employed when criticizing others. “The tea will become cold; therefore, we should go below. I, for one, have had enough of the war for one day. Countess, might you lead?”

Darcy noted the countess’s dismay. “Will you join us, Darcy?”

“I will follow in a few minutes. I wish to spend a bit of time with Cassandra before she falls asleep,” he said in encouragement.

The group nodded their acceptance and departed two-by-two, leaving only the boys, Megs, Mrs. Anderson, Cassandra, and Miss Bennet behind.

Darcy waited until the sound of their voices died away before he turned to Miss Bennet. “Will you not join us, ma’am?”

“I think not,” she said softly. “I believe I will rest for a bit, that is, if Mrs. Anderson and Megs can oversee the nursery.”

“You are not employed by Pemberley,” he reminded her. “You are a guest.”

“I prefer to be of use to the household,” she argued.

“It is not necessary,” he corrected, “but I shan’t chastise you.”

With a quick nod of farewell, the lady made her exit. Darcy again reached for his daughter. “Were you having a good time with Miss Bennet?” he asked as he settled his child in his arms. Cassandra patted his cheeks in that adorable way of all small children.

“Miss Bennet has a way with both Miss Cassandra and Mr. Hurst’s sons,” Mrs. Anderson declared. “It be a shame she be in her situation, for she’d make some man a good wife and a mother for his children.”

Darcy agreed, but he would not be that man, and that particular idea displeased him more than he would ever admit to another. He stifled a groan of despair when he realized that when Colonel Fitzwilliam married Miss Bennet, they would often be in company together. He did not know whether he could tolerate the situation or not. Of course, if Fitzwilliam married, his cousin would likely move into the estate that would be his inheritance, which was located in Oxfordshire. Perhaps distance would provide Darcy time to control his jealousy.

After playing with Cassandra for a quarter hour, Darcy turned his steps toward where his guests were congregated, but as he crossed the passageway leading past Miss Bennet’s quarters, he stopped to consider what must be a strong case of insanity. Had the gentlemen ignored the lady because of her dowdy attire? Had they not noticed her splendid personality because it was hidden behind the “dull curtain” she presented for all to look upon? What would be the result if she made an appearance in something more appropriate? Without taking a full account of the consequences, he paused outside her door and knocked.

Within seconds, the lady opened the door. “Mr. Darcy? Is something amiss, sir?”

For the briefest of moments, he thought to push past her and spend time alone with her in her room, but, instead, he assured, “Nothing unusual. It simply occurred to me that perhaps you might feel from place when we gather.” He paused in awkwardness. Without a doubt, he should have thought over his actions before knocking. “I assure you, ma’am, I do not wish to sound condescending, but I thought you might have use of a few of my late wife’s gowns. You are shorter than was Anne,” he rushed to say, “and . . .” He glanced to her figure and willed the blush away. “If you are handy with a needle, I am certain you could find a use for several of the dresses.”

“I could not think to impose—” she began her protest.

“The gowns will be presented to a rag man when he calls upon the estate after the new year begins,” he declared. “Surely you could find a better use for any number of them. The late Mrs. Darcy was quite modest; therefore, the newer ones should serve you well. You would have new things for your new life.” The idea of her wearing something he had provided her pleased him. Even if she was to marry Fitzwilliam, she would think of him when she wore the gowns. It was the best he could do for now.

“I do not know what to say, Mr. Darcy. You have already been more than kind to me,” she declared.

“Nonsense,” he insisted. “I will ask Mrs. Reynolds to choose several among Anne’s gowns and assist you with your fittings.”

The woman reached out to catch his hand. Wrapping her two smaller ones around his, she said with tears misting her eyes, “When the colonel suggested I join him at Pemberley, I did not believe anyone would be as open in his welcome as you have proven to be. Your generosity has renewed my soul.” She brought the back of his hand to her lips to plant a gentle kiss on it. Heat raced up Darcy’s arm, and his breath caught in his chest. Yet, before he could react, she stepped back. “No one would ever believe my good fortune in taking Colonel Fitzwilliam’s acquaintance. Bless you, sir.” With that, the lady closed the door to her quarters, leaving Darcy in the empty passageway and wanting more.

Purchase Links:

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Pemberleys-Christmas-Governess-Prejudice-Holiday-ebook/dp/B09KHK7FTG/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=pemberley%27s+christmas+governess&qid=1635602893&s=digital-text&sr=1-3

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09KNCX1RF?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Book Bub https://www.bookbub.com/books/pemberley-s-christmas-governess-a-pride-and-prejudice-holiday-vagary-by-regina-jeffers

The book can also be read on Kindle Unlimited.

Posted in book excerpts, book release, Christmas, excerpt, Georgian England, Georgian Era, heroines, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, marriage, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, reading habits, Regency era, Regency romance, romance, Vagary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments