A Suitable Match, Serial Story Section 2 and a Chance to Win

MatchCoverThis is from 2013: Catch this great serial story. To kick off our second year of celebrating Inspirational Regency fiction, we are presenting the serial story, A Suitable Match. At the end of the month we’ll be giving away a fabulous prize package filled with items tied to the story. For a chance to win, find the item mentioned in this section and leave a note in the comments. Details and a list of prizes can be found here. 

Missed an earlier section? Read it here: 1

On the road between Somerset and London
April 1818

Dropping his clenched fists to his breeches, Miles, Earl of Twiford allowed a portion of his anger to subside. The earl stood there half-blinking at the sea nymph emerging from the overturned carriage, her wild ringlets falling about her sleek neck and shoulders.

Twiford shook his head. “Miss Blackstone? Yes, it is you.” He could feel a smile tugging at his lips. More of his fury leeched away. To think he was in high-dudgeon over the near harm to his favourite Arabian team that he’d momentarily overlooked the fact that there might be passengers within the coach requiring assistance.

Yet, as he gazed upon her again something pricked his heart. Wasn’t it ironic to bemoan the loss of a perfectly matched pair: horses, people. He wiped the dust from his chocolate-kid gloves. “Are you injured?”

Her pert mouth clamped shut as if trying to contain one of her tart rebukes. She waved an overly perfumed hand his way.

Pushing aside his manservant, Twiford lifted the creature from the carriage, her slim waist fitting nicely within his grasp. He set her to her feet but not without another blast of violet scent taming the remaining heat of his nostrils.

“Knighting!” She pointed back to the carriage. “You must get my maid out of there.”

With a nod to Drake, his servant of ten years, Twiford set her request in motion. “Where are you headed in such haste? Your noddy driver recklessly cut in front of my party. I suppose he deserved to get the worst of it, but he could’ve gotten you killed.”

“My cou… my driver? Where is he?” She spun away. The hem of her muslin skirts lapped deeper in the river mud. As she marched toward the front of her vehicle, her heart-shaped face drained of all colour. Her gaze descended upon the cresting waters. “Is he…?”

Twiford strode near and almost put his hand on her shoulder. What was it about her that made him vacillate from wanting to throttle Miss Blackstone to tracing the high arch of her neck?

She turned to him with chestnut eyes flashing. “What has been done to him?” She released a shaky breath, then leveled her shoulders. “As you remember, I am not weak or helpless. Spare no truth from me.”

Twiford shifted his stance. How well he did remember. She was a lady with a character more worthy than many of his ilk. “Your driver is in my last carriage. There’s a large, well- deserved bump on his skull, but he’ll live.”

The lady swiveled and headed to his vehicle.

Before he cut in front of her or even opened the vehicle for her, Miss Blackstone thrust open the dusty door. She gasped at the miserable sight, her bloody coachman lying prostrate on the leather seat.

This time Twiford grasped her shoulders to steady her. “He just needs to be cleaned up a bit. The injury looks far worse than what it is. How a man could nod asleep on such treacherous roads is beyond my comprehension.”

Jerking away, she leaned inside and mopped the driver’s brow with a crumpled handkerchief she’d tugged from her pocket.

“Miss Blackstone, he’ll be seen to at our next stop. The George and Pelican is very near. I prom–”

A thin woman pushed past and fell at Miss Blackstone’s feet. “I’ve got your jewels, ma’am. Nothing will be missing from this part of your inheritance. But how will we make your London appointments now? We can’t miss–”

“Knighting.” With a stern look, Miss Blackstone silenced her maid. “I’ll find a way. Blackstones always find away.”

Inheritance? The miss was heading to London? A bad feeling drummed at the pit of Twiford’s stomach. He cleared his throat. “Ladies, let me be of assistance. I am stopping the night at the George and Pelican.”

Miss Blackstone squinted at him as if she looked into a mirror, then fingered her sun-kissed tresses. “Oh, my.”  Gripping bundles of her errant locks, she tamed the wild chignon. “Why are you being so helpful, my lord?”

“We can have your driver seen to at the inn to which I shall drive you,” he added.

With another quick jab of a heavy pearl pin, Miss Blackstone secured the last of her curls then stood tall. The misguided airs of a duchess cloaked about her, and the lass seemed to look through him.

“We have never been friends, my lord. Why start now?”

He toyed with the edges of his withered cravat. His sins toward her and her father mounted high. Maybe too high. Twiford swallowed his guilt and took a step toward her. Providence had a new claim to his heart. It was time to start acting upon His leading. “Miss Blackstone, it is my duty to escort you, since I’m a party to this accident, too. Perhaps the opulence of my barouche blinded your driver and caused him to lose control.”

She folded her arms. Her noble chin lifted as her countenance shifted to the maid gathering an errant garnet cloak. “Your wit is still with you, Lord Twiford.”

“Yes, as is my sense of duty.”

“Duty? Yes, you were always about duty, but I thought that was only in service to a friend.”

Perhaps frightened by Miss Blackstone’s searing tone, the Knighting woman slipped back toward the toppled vehicle with an armful of papers and muslin.

Well, he’d earned every accusatory note in the lady’s address, but this day would be different. A small token to salve the old wounds. “Madam, I must insist you allow me to escort you to the George and Pelican.”

“I suppose I do not wish to be benighted on the road. Get our things, Knighting.” Miss Blackstone marched back to her toppled gig and ran her hand along the broken ribs of the roofing. “Lord Twiford will see us to the next stop.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The maid headed to the brush scooping up unmentionables.

“My man will help. Drake, pack their things on the second carriage. Miss Knighting and Miss Blackstone will ride with me.”

“Yes, my lord.” Drake, his most loyal advocate, shook his head then followed the maid plucking possessions littering the road.

Alone with the feisty sea nymph, smelling of his favorite flower, Twiford extended his arm.

She pried away from the wreckage and put her fingers to his sleeve. Her hold was light as if it proved painful to touch him. “Escort us only to the nearest inn. I will not impose upon you any more than necessary.”

“Must you always be so willful? Can you not accept that years can change a person?”

“Forgive me.” She brushed at the specks of mud on her skirt. The scent of violets washed over him with each strike. “But I seem to remember a few choice lectures from you, my lord, about birthright, and station.”

“Well, fools know words, too.” He laid his palm atop hers. “Let me see you all the way to London. After witnessing how well your man drives, it will ease my mind to know you are safe and well in the city.”

***

This was too cruel. Cressida had hoped for a chance meeting with Lord Twiford in a fashionable drawing room at one of the Season’s soirées. As the tall, broad shouldered man handed her into his carriage, she resisted the urge to swat more mud from the skirt of her old, three-seasons-past gown. Where was a hole to hide in when one needed it?

“Miss Blackstone, are you well? You’ve a worried crease on your pretty forehead.” Lord Twiford plucked off his fine leather gloves as he reclined on the opposing bench.

“I am well.” An odd shiver coursed her spine. Twiford was as opposing and menacing as she remembered, a large raven-haired man with an assessing stare.

She licked her dry lips. “Please do not be overly concerned.” Her limbs ached. Her head pounded. Her pride surely was trampled on the floorboards. She slumped into the seat back.

Knighting leaned into her. “Such a fine carriage, Miss Blackstone. It will be a very comfortable ride.”

“Shh.” Cressida kept her voice low, but Twiford never missed anything. He was always in Chard’s confidence pointing out her flaws. She wrung her hands, then forced them to be stilled in her lap. Oh, why couldn’t he have happened upon her wearing one of Madame Touse’s new walking dresses or after Cressida’s change in circumstances had been circulated? Then maybe those wide sky-blue eyes wouldn’t be viewing her with such speculation.

She lowered her lashes, blurring Twiford’s image with the weave pattern in the Padua silk lining the walls. “My lord, thank you … for your assistance.” A yawn escaped of its own volition. “But I’m sure you’ll be glad to be rid of us.”

“On the contrary, it’s good to have company on these long treks from the country. No one usually wants to go set up the Grosvenor townhouse, just enjoy its offerings. Hopefully, my mother and sister will stay long enough to bring it around. They left ahead of me and are already at the townhouse.”

****

The carriage swayed to a stop. Cressida stretched her arms and gazed out at the well-lit inn. Pivoting to the smiling lord, she sat up straight.

Lord Twiford rolled his shoulders, then tugged on his felt top hat. His grin shone in the dim carriage light. He lifted his hand to her. “Come along. Once I’ve had an apothecary see to your coachman. I could expect you to have some charity and dine with me, along with your maid for chaperone, of course, my dear.”

* Section 2 was written by Vanessa Riley, www.christianregency.com *

Did you find the hidden item? Note it in the comments below for a chance to win. 

Don’t forget that the readers will ultimately choose who truly loves Cressida, and whom she loves in return. Already have a favorite? Go vote for him! Want everyone else to vote for him too? Grab a voting badge from the Suitable Match Extras page

What surprises do you think await Cressida at the inn? Read the next installment!

THE CONTEST AND POLL ARE NOW CLOSED. Feel free to continue to enjoy and share the story.

A Suitable Match, Serial Story Section 5

MatchCoverTo kick off the second year of celebrating Inspirational Regency fiction, we presented a serial story, A Suitable Match. At the end of the month we’ll be giving away a fabulous prize package filled with items tied to the story. 

Missed an earlier section? Read it here: 1 2 3 4

The George and Pelican Inn, somewhere between Somerset and London
April 1818

“Gone? She can’t be gone!” Chard glanced at Twiford who uttered the same words, the  panic and disbelief in his voice mirroring Chard’s.

“I’m sorry, my lord, but I checked her room myself. It’s empty.” The servant shuffled his feet, probably in anticipation of fleeing the company of two angry peers.

Lord Twiford stomped from the room with Chard on his heels. If she had left, she couldn’t have gone far.

***

Cressida pressed her ear to the doorjamb, careful not to scrape it against the rough wood. A little ache and discomfort was one thing. Some things had to be suffered through in order to achieve the desired result, after all. A mass of splinters in the side of her face was another thing entirely, and something to be avoided if at all possible.

Her nose flattened as she pressed into the door, peering through the knothole. If she angled her head just right, she could see the counter at the bottom of the stairs where the innkeeper did business.

Moments earlier the innkeeper had informed the servant that she had vacated her rooms, implying that she had departed from the inn entirely. The man had been hesitant to give her a new room late last night so she could fool the men into thinking she was gone, but an old silver locket had been enough to purchase the new room and his cooperation.

She hated to part with any of her inherited jewels, but this trinket was by far the least valuable. Besides, it was worth it if it allowed her to escape the company of the men from her past.

“What is the meaning of this nonsense?” Lord Twiford’s voice shot up the stairs followed by the reverberation of his pounding on the innkeeper’s counter.

It was too bad that such a contrary disposition wore such a pleasing appearance.

Lord Chard joined the party, adding his own demands that the innkeeper tell him how she had left the premises. Cressida’s heartbeat rushed a little louder through her abused ear. Recollections of stolen kisses and quiet talks flooded her mind. The years had not done enough to dampen the memories of her engagement. How could she possibly find another man to wed in London where frolicking dances and intimate rides in the park would forever make her think of him?

“This is just like her,” Twiford ranted. “Thoughtless. Frivolous.”

It appeared his opinion of her had not improved over the years. Spoiled, careless, and vain were going to be his next insults if memory served correctly.

“Cease, Twiford. She doesn’t deserve your disdain now any more than she did then.” Chard beat his hat against his leg, looking past the innkeeper into the common room beyond. Was he hoping she would be sitting amongst the locals enjoying a cup of tea?

“I will never understand why you jump to her defense so quickly. Are you saying you approve of this reckless behavior?”

A smile crept across Cressida’s lips. Chard had defended her back then? She’d always wondered.

“Of course I don’t approve. It shows she’s never outgrown that blasted impulsiveness that had her breaking our engagement. She may be a bit self-absorbed but that’s no reason to malign her.”

Cressida’s smile fell into a frown. Breaking their engagement had not been a fit of selfish impulsiveness. How dare he discount her sacrifice on his behalf?

“I always thought her desertion of you was rather noble, myself.” Twiford strode out of her line of vision. “You needed money, she didn’t have any. She probably thought she was doing you a favor.”

She pressed a hand to her forehead and abandoned her knot hole to rest her head on the solidity of the wall, feeling dizzy despite her prone position stretched along the floor of her new room, just two doors down from her old one. Men! If they could just decide on whether or not they disliked her, they could go on to London and leave her to figure out her own transportation. The locket she’d given the innkeeper might be enough to rent her a post chaise to continue the journey.

“Pardon me, gentlemen, but could you direct me to Miss Cressida Blackstone?”

Cressida’s eyes flew open. She jammed her face against the door and felt a prick as a prong of wood stabbed her in the ear. Ross Ainsworth had recovered sufficiently from his head wound and decided to join the drama at the innkeeper’s desk.

“Who are you?” Chard demanded.

“Her driver,” Twiford mumbled at the same time that Ross declared, “Her cousin.”

“How distant?” The menace in Twiford’s voice crawled up the stairs and wrapped around her throat. She could feel his displeasure, it was so thick.

Ross’s eyebrows lowered. “Distant enough. Who are you?”

Chard jerked his gaze from one man to the other. “What is going on here?”

Twiford jutted his chin toward Ross. “He nearly killed Miss Blackstone with his reckless driving.”

“I was merely trying to get her to London as soon as possible.”

“You landed her in a river instead. I brought her here to recover.”

Ross took a slow step forward, his scraped hands balling into fists at his sides. “So help me, my lord, if you have dishonored her-“

“Me? I wasn’t the one traveling to London without a proper chaperone.”

Chard stepped between the two men before they could exchange blows. “Gentlemen, calm yourselves. We all know that Cressy – Miss Blackstone would never do anything untoward, despite how the situation might appear.”

An odd warmth filled Cressida’s midsection. It took a moment to recognize it as pleased surprise that he would defend her honor. But which “he” had caused the pleasure?

Twiford grunted. “We may not know Miss Cressida Blackstone as well as we thought. The woman has run off alone in the middle of the night after all.”

The three men leaned over the counter, addressing the nervous innkeeper. “How did she leave?” Chard asked.

“Er, well, I’m not certain, my lord. She mentioned taking a post chaise to London.”

“Then she hasn’t left,” Ross declared.

“Why not?” Twiford asked.

“I spent the night in the stable, as you so comfortably situated me. No conveyances have left the inn in the last several hours.”

“She might have walked.” Chard rubbed the back of his neck, shifting his weight back and forth as if he wanted to do something, anything, other than stand around discussing the situation.

“We could set out in different directions on horseback. It wouldn’t take long to catch up with her.” Ross grimaced, probably thinking of the agony putting his battered body on a galloping horse would cause.

“It certainly speaks ill of a man that he would allow a gentlewoman to stride into the night unescorted,” Twiford added

The men exchanged glances and then glared at the innkeeper. The man coughed and ran a finger between his neck and cravat.

A young servant girl slipped around them, carrying a loaded tray of tea, toast, and Cressida’s favorite orange marmalade.

Twiford held out a hand, stopping her progress. “If I may be so bold as to inquire, where are you taking that?”

“To the young lady upstairs, my lord. Her maid, Knighting, said to bring it up this morning, as her mistress would be indisposed and unable to come down.” The maid bit her lip as she looked from the three men to the innkeeper.

Cressida’s heart stopped. Her breath turned to stone in her lungs. This couldn’t be happening. She’d been so close.

“Where is this ‘indisposed’ young lady?” Chard asked.

Lie! she screamed in her head, willing the servant girl to tell them she was staying in a room at the back, or that she’d been wrong and it was actually an old woman, or, better yet, a child. Anything to buy her just a little more time, though Cressida had no idea what she would do with those precious seconds.

“In the room at the top of the stairs, my lord.”

So much for that wish.

The three men turned and looked up the stairs, right at her little knothole.

* Section 5 was written by Kristi Ann Hunter, blog.KristiAnnHunter.com *

Did you find the hidden item? Note it in the comments below for a chance to win. 

Don’t forget that the readers will ultimately choose who truly loves Cressida, and whom she loves in return. Already have a favorite? Go vote for him! Want everyone else to vote for him too? Grab a voting badge from the Suitable Match Extras page

What do you think the gentlemen are going to do next? Read the next installment!

Originally posted in 2013.

New Inspirational Regency and a Chance to Win

There’s none better than NICHOLAS BRENTWOOD at catching the felons who ravage London’s streets, and there’s nothing he loves more than seeing justice carried out—but this time he’s met his match.

Beautiful and beguiling EMILY PAYNE is more treacherous than a city full of miscreants and thugs, for she’s a thief of the highest order . . . she’s stolen his heart.

Intrigued? You should be!

That’s the description for the latest novel from our very own Michelle Griep.

Emily Payne doesn’t make a very flattering first impression on her temporary guardian, Nicholas Brentwood. Her second one isn’t much better.

He thinks she’s a spoiled excuse for a gentle lady and she thinks he’s a stuffy killjoy. What they both thought would a be a few weeks of escorting her to and from the stores quickly turns into a fight for their lives.

Before long their relationship is thrown into a territory neither is prepared to handle. Tragedy and danger have a way of doing that, after all.

So much more than a love story, Brentwood’s Ward will take you on a nail-biting adventure as justice and love try to prevail.

You have the opportunity to win a copy of Michelle’s latest tale by leaving a comment below. You can enter again on each post now through the end of next week. The winner will be chosen on February 28 and have their choice of print book or audiobook.

 

A Light Among Shadows by Tamela Hancock Murray

A Classic Regency Review by Laurie Alice Eakes

The first Christian Regency romance I read is A Light Among Shadows by Tamela  Hancock Murray. She is an agent now, but started out as an author and a good one at that.

LightAmongShadowsAt first read of this novel, I couldn’t figure out why the author chose the title A Light among Shadows. A few minutes’ reflection on the theme of the story was all I needed to realize that the title is thoroughly appropriate.

The obvious reference to light in this love story is the spiritual light of the heroine and hero’s faith in God. Even more so, however, Abigail, the classic Regency heroine with a head full of romantic dreams that conflict with her parents’ wishes for her, carries several torches that do not all relate to one another.

First, Abigail carries a romantic torch for Henry Hanover, a neighbor. He is her knight in shining armor who, in her dreams, will carry her away from a father besotted with his young wife, and that young wife, who, if not exactly a wicked stepmother, is certainly an annoying one. Despite seeming to agree to an elopement with Abigail, Henry doesn’t show up at the rendezvous, nearly dowsing Abigail’s life torch, when she waits in vain in the rain and becomes deathly ill.

Abigail, waiting cold and frightened in the darkness for a man the reader can guess isn’t going to show up, feels the shadows gathering around her. How can she continue to shine in her social and spiritual life if she is forced to marry the man her parents have arranged for her to wed, a dissolute gamester with a good name and fortune?

But Tedric, the erstwhile fiancée’s brother, rescues Abigail from the shadows, and her light emerges brighter than ever, so bright it spills over onto all with whom this heroine comes in contact. Maids, her self-seeking stepmother and, above all, Tedric find shadows banished from their lives under Abigail’s delightful blend of uppity gentry with charming innocence. Experiencing Abigail from her girlish entries in her diary to the final romantic revelations with the hero, gives a whole new meaning to “light” reading.

Matchmaking Pudding ~ A short story by Laurie Alice Eakes

Merry Christmas from Regency Reflections! Our gift to you is this charming short story written by Laurie Alice Eakes. This is a revised edition of a story previously published in an American Christian Romance Writers (Now American Christian Fiction Writers) newsletter. 

(Note: To the English, “pudding” is not the custard-like substance Americans call “pudding.” English pudding is more like a cake, though it Is boiled, not baked, and plum pudding does not necessarily contain plums.)

 

The Devere family entered the kitchen once a year. From Lord Devere, to his wife ; from Rebecca, the youngest of their nine children, to Sarah, the eldest , the family gathered around the worktable on Christmas Eve morning to take turns stirring the plum pudding. According to tradition begun a century earlier when the last Stewart, Queen Anne,  sat on the throne, each person prayed as he or she stirred—prayed for prosperity and joy, prayed for strength and future spouses.

“Let us say a special prayer for the new year,” suggested Belinda, the middle daughter.

Everyone agreed—except for Sarah. Christmas might now have more meaning to her heart , but to her, what went into and came out of the pudding needed a helping human hand, not divine intervention.

She intended to control the disbursement of the charms, those tiny trinkets that made each slice of the pudding an adventure. When the family gathered with friends and neighbors to partake of the pudding, Sarah would ensure that each person received the charm that she thought befitted their needs.

Belinda would receive the thimble, reminding her to be thrifty with her pin money. Rebecca would receive the wishbone because she, being so small, needed all the blessings she could get during the next year. Their father would find the anchor in his slice of pudding, for he was such a stronghold for all of them he needed a safe harbor himself. The crown would go to fifteen-year-old Geoffrey because he would enjoy directing the festivities as “king” and wouldn’t be mean about his revels. Finally, to Lance would go the ring. Although he was only four and twenty, he was the heir and should wed sweet-natured Eliza. They’d loved one another since infancy.

Sarah frowned as she stirred the pudding with one hand and fingered the trinkets in her pocket with the other. “And, Lord, don’t bring Alexander calling again.”

Eliza’s older brother Alexander Featherstone had begun to court her, Just because I’m the only female in ten counties who hasn’t thrown her cap over the windmill for him.

Not that she was impervious to his looks, charm and intellect. She could love him. . .if he came around too often. She feared she already did love him; thus, she wanted him to stay away from her rather than add her to his quiver of fawning females.

“Tharie.” Rebecca, tugged on the skirt of Sarah’s round gown, “you’re taking all the turnth.”

Sarah released the spoon and stooped to lift her baby sister high enough to grasp the wooden spoon. Once on the floor again, Rebecca looked up with a seraphic smile. “I athked Jethuth for a huthband for Tharie.”

Sarah grimaced. “You’re better off praying for a wife for Lance. That won’t take a miracle.”

Belinda giggled. “Oh, I don’t think it’ll take a miracle—for either of you.

Blushing himself, yet smiling, too, Lance grasped the spoon from Belinda. “I pray that Eliza accepts my offer.”

“We’d like excellent matches for both of you,” their father said. “Who has the charms?”

“I do.” Sarah gave the trinkets to the cook to drop into the batter as she poured it into the bag for boiling.

Except the cook wouldn’t drop them in. Sarah had persuaded her and the butler to press the charms into the pudding slices of the right people. The cook’s nod assured Sarah she would carry on the game, and Sarah followed the family upstairs to rest before church.

At the service, Alex and Eliza joined the Deveres at the church. Somehow, Alex ended up sitting beside Sarah in the box pew.

When they stood, he slipped his large, warm hand beneath her lace-clad elbow. When they prayed, he took her hand in his, and she couldn’t pull it away without drawing attention to them. When they departed, he draped her cloak over her shoulders and allowed his fingertips to brush the side of her neck. Those were courting gestures, and she didn’t know why he teased her so.

Nor why God had ignored her prayer to keep Alexander away.

Disturbed, she tried to climb into the carriage with her parents and younger siblings, but they declared the vehicle overcrowded and insisted she go with the Featherstones. But that carriage was also full, so Sarah and Alex strolled the half mile from village to the Devere estate over ground white and hard with frost, through air that turned white with each breath, beneath a sky that resembled candle flames frozen in black glass. Cold, Sarah didn’t object when Alex tucked her hand in the crook of his elbow, then covered her fingers with his.

At least she said she didn’t object because of the cold. In truth, she felt warm all the way through, and that made her uncomfortable, unsure of herself.

Sarah hated being unsure of herself. She never was unsure of herself—except around Alex lately.

Lord, I don’t want to be another foolish female with a broken heart over him. But she feared she already was, for she’d seen him courting many girls in the decade she’d known him noticing females.

The Lord seemed to be ignoring her. Alex sat beside her at the table as the butler carried in the pudding and began to serve. Smiling, she watched everyone take their first bite of pudding, anticipating the moment when each found his charm.

But no one did.

Family member after guest savored the rich sweet until half of everyone’s slice vanished—except for Sarah’s, as she hadn’t taken so much as a nibble of hers. Everyone glanced around the table, curious,  puzzled.

“Who’th got a charm?” sleepy-eyed Rebecca asked. “I wanted the crown.”

Everyone shook their heads.

Lord Devere looked at Sarah. “You gave Cook the charms, didn’t you?”

“Yes, Father.” Sarah glanced at the butler, who gave her a twinkling glance, and her stomach knotted, her heart pounded.

Alex touched her arm. “You haven’t touched your pudding.”

Sarah read laughter in his gaze, and had to steel herself against running  from the table.

“Here, have a bite.” He seized her fork and cut off a generous mouthful of pudding, then held it up for her.

Face heating, Sarah sprang to her feet. “I don’t want pudding. I want to see everyone finding the charms I made certain they’d receive.”

Everyone looked shocked that anyone dared interfere with the discovery of plum pudding charms—everyone except for Alex and Geoffrey. They started laughing so hard the bite of pudding slid off the fork in Alex’s hand and plopped onto the white linen tablecloth. The pudding fell apart to reveal the tiny silver ring.

“Hurray!” Rebecca clapped her hands. “God anthwered my prayer. Tharie will get married this year.”

Alex turned serious. “I certainly hope so.”

“Oh, you!” Sarah spun on her heel and fled with a cacophony of laughter and exclamations running behind her.

She barely reached the nearest refuge, the winter parlor, before she heard footfalls behind her and felt a hand drop onto her shoulder, stopping her. “Wait,” Alex said.

She faced him, shaking. “Why? So you can make more of a fool of me?”

Alex met her glare with a challenging gaze. “More of a fool than what you’ve been making of me for the past three years?”

“What?”

“Sarah, everyone in the county knows I love you except for you.” He clasped her hands between his. “You treat me like I’m poison.”

“You are as dangerous as poison if anyone gets too close.” When he kept gazing at her in silence, she plunged. “You love every female so much you don’t love any of us. My Christmas prayer was for  God to keep you away tonight.”

“But God has other plans for us.” He took her hands in his. “What better time than Christmas to remember that He knows what we need more than we do?”

Sarah frowned. “And you claim God believes I need you?”

Alex grinned. “You wouldn’t care if I were here if you didn’t love me.”

“Oh—”

He kissed her before she could say more.

She still said nothing because he’d stolen her breath.

“And I went through a great deal of trouble to ensure you got the ring.” His eyes pleaded with her. “Doesn’t that count toward you believing I love you?”

“It’s cheating—”  Blushing, she began to laugh. “If I’m the only lady you’d do that for…”

“The only one. A match made in”—he kissed her again, his lips sweet from the confection he’d been eating at the table—”pudding.”

Banquet of Lies ~ A Preposterous Premise, and yet a Delightful Read

Banquet of Lies CoverBanquet of Lies by Michelle Deiner is more Regency historical romance than traditional Regency, nor is it particularly old, having a copyright date of 2013, and it is not inspirational in the spiritual realm of reading. It is, however, a clean read, well-written, and romping good fun, if you like suspense with your Regency romance, which I do; thus, in my efforts to introduce you to Regency romances that are clean, entertaining, and well-written, if not inspirational, I present this story.

1812. In order to discover who murdered her diplomat father, Gigi Barrington heads to London disguised as a chef. She works in Lord Aldridge’s kitchen, hiding in plain sight. But as she closes in on her quarry, Aldridge’s romantic advances complicate matters.

This is a preposterous premise. I honestly don’t think even a young lady with this heroine’s background would be a good enough cook during the Regency to take on the role of head chef in a nobleman’s kitchen.

For someone like me who says one can get away with a lot as long as it is historically feasible, not that it actually happened, to say I enjoyed this book is a little shocking. I don’t think this is historically feasible, but then, we often suspend our disbelief in exchange for a good story.

Banquet of Lies is one of those stories—fast-paced; lovable characters; suspense and, of course, romance all dropped into the middle of Regency London.

Now here at the end of this little post I do have to confess that I picked up this book to read partly because I also indulged in the preposterosity of having a secondary character in A Necessary Deception (Regency romance from Baker/Revell 2012) who is a female chef from a good family there for the purpose of keeping an eye on someone.

My chef wasn’t planned. She simply popped onto the page and wouldn’t leave.  Because of the release dates, I think this is mere coincidence, rather a fascinating uptake from the ether.

Have you read Banquet of Lies? What did you think of it?

Titles from my Favorite Regency Writer, by Susan Karsten

Hi, Regency fans! I got into reading regency fiction when my children were young. I needed something enjoyable, light, and clean to have on hand whenever I had a few spare minutes to read.

One day, at my library, I stumbled across a book from the House for the Season series, by Marion Chesney — the rest is history — regency era history. She’s still my favorite regency fiction author, and I only wish she still wrote in the genre. Following is a list of her prolific output (Enjoy!):

 

  • Regency Gold (1980)
  • Lady Margery’s Intrigue (1980)
  • The Constant Companion (1980)
  • Quadrille (1981)
  • My Lords, Ladies and Marjorie (1981)
  • The Ghost and Lady Alice (1982)
  • Love and Lady Lovelace (1982)
  • Duke’s Diamonds (1982)
  • The Flirt (1985)
  • At The Sign of the Golden Pineapple (1987)
  • Miss Davenport’s Christmas (1993)
  • The Chocolate Debutante (1998)

Westerby[edit]

  1. The Westerby Inheritance (1982)
  2. The Westerby Sisters (1982)

The Six Sisters[edit]

  1. Minerva (1983)
  2. The Taming of Annabelle (1983)
  3. Deirdre and Desire (1984)
  4. Daphne (1984)
  5. Diana the Huntress (1985)
  6. Frederica in Fashion (1985)

A House for the Season Series[edit]

  1. The Miser of Mayfair (1986)
  2. Plain Jane (1986)
  3. The Wicked Godmother (1987)
  4. Rake’s Progress (1987)
  5. The Adventuress (1987)
  6. Rainbird’s Revenge (1988)

The School for Manners[edit]

  1. Refining Felicity (1988)
  2. Perfecting Fiona (1989)
  3. Enlightening Delilah (1989)
  4. Finessing Clarissa (1989)
  5. Animating Maria (1990)
  6. Marrying Harriet (1990)

Waverley Women[edit]

  1. The First Rebellion (1989)
  2. Silken Bonds (1989)
  3. The Love Match (1989)

The Travelling Matchmaker[edit]

  1. Emily Goes to Exeter (1990)
  2. Belinda Goes to Bath (1991)
  3. Penelope Goes to Portsmouth (1991)
  4. Beatrice Goes to Brighton (1991)
  5. Deborah Goes to Dover (1992)
  6. Yvonne Goes to York (1992)

Poor relation[edit]

  1. Lady Fortescue Steps Out (1993)
  2. Miss Tonks Turns to Crime (1993) aka Miss Tonks Takes a Risk
  3. Mrs. Budley Falls From Grace (1993)
  4. Sir Philip’s Folly (1993)
  5. Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue (1994)
  6. Back in Society (1994)

The Daughters of Mannerling[edit]

  1. The Banishment (1995)
  2. The Intrigue (1995)
  3. The Deception (1996)
  4. The Folly (1996)
  5. The Romance (1997)
  6. The Homecoming (1997)

PS: This is not Christian fiction, but is pretty clean.

Would love to hear from other Chesney fans in the comments. Fondly, Susan

New Regency Book: Prelude For A Lord

It’s our very own Camy Tang, writing as the fabulous Camille Elliot! We’re very excited to announce her new Regency novel, Prelude for a Lord. 

About the book:

PreludeCoverAn awkward young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together . . . or will it tear them apart?

Bath, England—1810

At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal.

But when a thief’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument . . . with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick.

Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul.

Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets . . . just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo . . .

Find out more about Camy’s alter ego and links to purchase the book at camilleelliot.com. She’s also giving away three copies of her new book to people who join her email list!

 

What do you “hear” when a book mentions music? Do you ever look up the songs mentioned?

A Lady’s Honor …Finding True Love

A Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes deals with a person’s inability to receive love because they have never really known love. From growing up with her grandparents who love her but demand a certain standard of behavior to having parents who are living off in London society, Elizabeth Trelawny has come to feel she is only as good as the size of her dowry.

220px-Trebarwithstrand01
Trebarwith Strand on north Cornish coast- Wikipedia

 

The story opens with her fleeing from an unwanted suitor–a much older man who wants her for her money, but whose suit has been sanctioned by her parents. She escapes to her ancestral home in Cornwall, hoping for the protection of her grandparents. They give it, but no sooner is she safely behind the walls of the Cornish estate on a cliff than they are foisting another older man on her.

When the hero Rowan Curnow begins to show his attraction, she doesn’t trust his love. Her grandparents try to point her toward the Savior, but she feels their love is conditional–if she behaves properly, they will love her and give her their blessing. If she acts the way she wants to act, which is an unconventional way for a gently-bred young lady of the regency period, they will be shocked, displeased, or, worse, disappointed.

It’s not until her life and those of the ones she loves are threatened by an outside danger that Elizabeth begins to understand why she has been running from God’s love all these years and why she has put her trust and love in her ancestral home.

220px-Land's_End,_Cornwall,_England
Land’s End, Cornwall

A Lady’s Honor takes the heroine on a spiritual journey without which she is not able to give and receive the kind of love the hero both demands and deserves.

This was a wonderful story, reminiscent of the gothic novels of Victoria Holt and Daphne Du Marier. I could just imagine being in Cornwall, smelling the sea spray, hearing the tide come up, tasting the pasties at the fair, and shivering at the mysterious threats around every corner.

First the Cliffs of Cornwall series, Lady's Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes.
Cliffs of Cornwall series, Book 1, A Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes.

 

Heroine Rescued from Fruitless Vanity by Regency Hero! “A Heart’s Rebellion”

Lovely heroine, Jessamine Barry, daughter of a vicar no less, is tempted, and gives in to vanity when she allows a flattering knave to draw her away from her standards.

A Heart's RebellionYou may have noted my journalistic headline-style title, and the 30 word summary with which I started this post. I don’t know if I got your attention, but the book “A Heart’s Rebellion” got my attention as a wonderful read. And since it has simmered in my heart and mind for a few weeks, a marvelous truth-filled spiritual theme has surfaced from the book’s delight-filled sea of lavish plot, setting, and characterization.

The hero, Lancelot Marfleet, is a Christlike man.  However, he is not deliciously handsome like so many romance heroes. But from Scripture, we learn that our Lord himself was not particularly attractive or handsome:

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him,

nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”  

Isaiah 53:2 

The heroine is Jessamine Barry, who sidetracks onto a tangent of worldliness, seeking satisfaction in being admired by a man…any man.

She reminds me of Folly, a name which could be used for Jessamine as she leaves her family home for the bright lights of London. She also discards the teachings of her youth:

“The wisest of women builds her house, but Folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1

Lancelot, in his Christlike way, shows grace to Jessamine, is patient, long-suffering, and kind, even when she is not.  He ultimately rescues her from her sin and gives her a way out.  He draws her to himself in love and completely saves her.  For me, this chain of events makes this book even more worthwhile for the picture of redemption shown through the character of Lancelot.

To celebrate the release of A Heart’s Rebellion, author Ruth Axtell will be giving away two copies of her book. The first giveaway ended Monday, March 24 at midnight, and the second ends Monday, March 31 (today) at midnight. To enter the giveaway, answer the following question in the comments below:

Giveaway Question: The hero in A Heart’s Rebellion, Lancelot Marfleet, has a hobby, which is botany. What is a famous botanical garden in London, which existed in regency times?

Also, If you’ve read the book, did you notice any other Christlike attributes of the hero? I’d love to read your comments on this post, Thanks for your time, Susan Karsten