I promised another excerpt from BEGUILING THE BARON. It came out yesterday, and if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you can read it for FREE!
But while you’re making up your mind, here’s the next chapter in the book one reviewer called, “Gripping, suspenseful and exciting with characters that come off the pages and pulled me into this tale of desperation, longing, sadness and strong emotions.”
Thank you for that, Lori on Goodreads!
BEGUILING THE BARON
Henry Pelham gripped the battlements on the top of his folly tower and fought against the nausea that assailed him. His knuckles whitened as he stared down, out-facing his demons as he had done every day for the past three years, unable to forget the sound of the falling body striking the rocks below.
The wind tossed his long hair about his shoulders, and he gritted his teeth against the pelting rain, using the sting of it to stiffen his resolve, his own misery restitution for what his wife, the late Lady Mary Ansford, had suffered at his hands.
Lifting his head and scanning the grounds of his medieval home, Foxleaze Abbey, Hal knew again the bitter defeat of her loss, the guilt of being left with a motherless child, and the shame of being held responsible for a tragedy whose repercussions had changed the course of his life forever.
“My heart is dead,” he told the pitiless spirit that haunted his every thought. “I live only to create a fitting memorial to you, Mary, and to make sure Polly is strong enough to withstand the censures of Society.”
This dictum, repeated each day as part of his penance, calmed him with its familiarity. Hal turned away, duty done, and stepped down into the body of the folly tower, out of the storm.
The nausea was so intense, he could almost imagine the tower swayed in the wind, and he had to clutch at the rail as he made his way down the spiral staircase to the uppermost chamber, where a sputtering horn lantern did little to dispel the gloom.
“Foul weather for spring,” he muttered to the restless spirit that dwelt there. “I’d not have them come while the roads are so rough. The month of May will be soon enough if they are to come at all.”
Mary’s shade gave him no answer, but he knew, deep in the worthy corner of what remained of his heart, he’d accept the Wyndhams into his home. He neither needed nor wanted the company of these distant relations, but Polly needed them, and if he did the right thing by Polly, perhaps, finally, the memory of his dead wife would stop tormenting him.
Somewhere beneath all the self-loathing, the black melancholy of his soul, he’d been surprised to discover a nugget of kindness lurking. Kindness had once motivated his political career, had been the guiding star of his universe, even though Mary had mocked him for it and told him it made him soft. His political adversaries would have called him anything but, though he doubted any of his stubborn determination to champion the oppressed remained.
Even so, there had been enough generosity in his heart to extend a helping hand to his destitute cousins. They’d suffered grief of their own and needed the charity he was able to give.
One of his few remaining friends, William Cranborne, Duke of Finchingfield, had used his skill with words to broker a deal between the two parties. Knowing Mrs. Sarah Wyndham to be a proud woman, the duke had promised to make sure she knew Hal wasn’t offering a handout, but employment. In exchange for this employment, they’d have a sizeable allowance, food, clothing, and a decent—if ancient—roof above their heads.
The widowed Mrs. Wyndham had been persuaded to accept on the understanding both she and her unmarried daughter, Galatea, would educate Polly and make her fit for Society. Hal wanted Polly brought up in the strictest of regimes, for he planned to send her away to board at Miss Gates’ Academy for Young Ladies in Selbury, in the far south of the county.
Polly would need to be tough, both inside and out, to cope with the stigma of having such notorious parents, the—allegedly—adulterous Lady Mary Ansford and her—allegedly—murderous husband.
How quick Society had been to condemn.
Hal picked up the most recent letter from Finchingfield and took it across to the lantern to re-examine its contents, but he was still distracted by bitterness. It seemed a man could lead a blameless, even laudable life, win the acclaim of his peers, and be the most admired nobleman in the West of England, but be deemed the very devil the moment something disastrous occurred in his personal life. Where was the sympathy, the understanding? Society had been so determined to blame him after Mary’s death, he hadn’t even bothered to refute the rumors. He’d simply told Society it could go hang and taken himself and Polly out of it.
He returned his attention to the letter. So, it was all arranged. The Wyndhams would be coming toward the end of May. The duke, along with Hal’s steward Lynch, and his housekeeper, Mrs. Dunne, had attended to the details. Rather than allow his new family to spend any longer in that soul-destroying poorhouse than they needed to, Hal had provided money to set them up with accommodation in one of the better parts of Selbury, where they could hold their heads up high, rub shoulders with the ton if they cared to, and be comfortable in every way.
When the Wyndhams eventually arrived at Foxleaze, they must be in full health and looks and be the picture of respectability. What little pride Hal had left demanded it—and he also firmly believed Polly would be more likely to take notice of a pair of smart, upright-looking females.
But were they smart? Were they upright? He’d debated this question a long time and ultimately asked Finchingfield to not only inquire into their history but also appeal to his wife Lucy, for some idea of the character of the two ladies.
This letter contained the answers to both his questions. Sarah Wyndham was reported as being unremarkable in any way, apart from too proud to accept charity. Her daughter, Galatea, had been a friend of Lucy’s for many years, since they’d attended Miss Gates’ Academy together as girls.
This, in Hal’s book, was an excellent reference, as it was the selfsame school where he meant to send his daughter. Miss Gates had a reputation for ruling her pupils with a rod of iron, the perfect way of giving Polly the backbone she was going to need when she became part of the world beyond the walls of Foxleaze Abbey.
Exactly what the Wyndhams would do with their time when Polly was sent off to school, he wasn’t certain. But so long as it didn’t impinge on him, and his activities, he didn’t really care.
His eyes wandered once again to the final sentence in Finchingfield’s letter. It was the only thing about the entire arrangement that perturbed him and made him wonder if he wasn’t about to make the worst mistake of his life.
Miss Galatea Wyndham, or Tia for short, is well-educated, openhearted, graceful, joyful and, so my wife tells me, beautiful both inside and out. Polly will love her. You will both love her.
He chewed on his lip, folded the letter away, and stared unblinkingly at the gray walls of his self-imposed prison.
The last thing he wanted was to love anybody.
Only open until 20th April!
First you will need a copy of the egg matching sheet.
Then match the egg to the author by 1) drawing a line between them, or 2) writing the author’s name next to their egg, or 3) writing the number of the egg next to the author’s name.
When you have all 30 matches, either e-mail a picture of the form (2 pictures since there are 2 pages) or send an e-mail with a list of authors and their matching egg numbers.
E-mail to Heather@HeatherMcCollum.com by 11:59 PM on 4/20/19 to be entered into the $150 gift card giveaway! Grand prize winner will be announced by noon on Easter (4/21/19).
While you are hopping to collect eggs, don’t forget to like, follow, or sign up for the author’s newsletter to keep up to date on their new releases and author wanderings. Thanks for hopping!
You will find my egg on my website. It’s huge, so you won’t miss it, and you won’t have to scroll far through the blog to find it.
If you want to find the eggs in order, the next author to visit after me is the lovely Tara Kingston!
Below is a list of ALL the authors participating, and the locations where you can find their eggs.
Annabelle Anders https://www.facebook.com/HappyWritingGirl/
Lori Ann Bailey http://loriannbailey.com/books/highlander-series/
Tammy L. Bailey https://www.tammylbailey.com/
Katherine Bone http://www.katherinebone.com/
Collette Cameron http://facebook.com/collettecameronauthor
Jane Charles https://www.janecharlesauthor.com/
Elizabeth Essex https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.essex.37/
Tina Gabrielle https://www.facebook.com/TinaGabrielle
Samantha Grace https://www.samanthagraceauthor.com/
Amalie Howard http://www.amaliehoward.com
Amy Jarecki https://www.facebook.com/amyjarecki/
Julie Johnstone http://juliejohnstoneauthor.com/special-offer
Kris Kennedy https://www.kriskennedy.net/excerpts-eggs/
Elizabeth Keysian https://elizabethkeysian.com/
Tara Kingston https://www.facebook.com/TaraKingstonAuthor/
Eliza Knight http://www.eknightauthor.com/
Jerrica Knight-Cantania http://www.jerricasplace.com/shakespeares-daughters.html
Diana Lloyd https://diana-lloyd.com/
Nicole Locke https://www.nicolelocke.com/
Alanna Lucas https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlannaLucas/
Madeline Martin http://www.madelinemartin.com/blog/
Heather McCollum https://www.heathermccollum.com/
Maddison Michaels https://www.facebook.com/MaddisonMichaelsAuthor/
Nadine Millard https://partners.bookbub.com/authors/82544/edi
Meara Platt https://facebook.com/AuthorMearaPlatt/
Jennifer Trethewey https://www.facebook.com/jennifertretheweyromance/
Victoria Vane https://www.victoriavane.com/blog
- Elizabeth Watson https://www.facebook.com/Author.E.Elizabeth.Watson/
Beguiling the Baron is a little different from what Elizabeth Keysian usually writes, but it was just as amazing as her other books! It has only been the last few months that I’ve grown to appreciate gothic romances, so I was thrilled to find out a favoured author of mine wrote one. I completely devoured it!
The story was beautifully written, unpredictable and had me on the edge of my seat. I could feel the excitement and suspense deep in my stomach. I couldn’t get enough! The characters were brilliant. The hero and heroine were both very strong, fascinating and REAL. I love how Elizabeth Keysian writes characters a person can connect with. The characters are incredibly likeable through their struggles, flaws, and all. The chemistry between the hero and heroine was believable and seductive.
I’ll be adding this to my pile of books to reread. It was a complete page turner, and one I really WANT to read again. A resounding 5 stars. Candace Nagy, Goodreads
Just a quick reminder about my multiple giveaways- if you sign up to my newsletter before April 17th, and you live outside the U.K., you could win an ecopy of all five Elizabeth Keysian authentic Regency romances. Subscribers in the U.K. can win a real book bundle, including some fun additions and a signed copy of A POTION FOR PASSION. Here’s the sign up link.
I thought visitors might be interested in a sneak preview of the first few chapters of my somewhat Gothic Historical Romance, BEGUILING THE BARON, due out April 17th with Soul Mate Publishing.
So here you go. I shall put the rest up over the next week. If you can’t wait (LOL), you can pre-order the book on Amazon.
Selbury Poorhouse, Wiltshire, England
Maundy Thursday, 1822
The room was silent but for the breaths of childish concentration as Miss Galatea Wyndham’s pupils bent over their mending. It was a struggle to see in the poor light admitted by the small, high window, and Tia feared the sorry creatures would all have headaches by the end of the morning.
What the poorhouse child needed was sunlight, exercise, fresh air—
“Letter for you, Wyndham.” The beadle’s harsh voice broke the stillness as he thrust open the iron door and pushed the folded piece of paper at her. A letter? Her young pupils were forgotten as Tia turned it over in trembling fingers and saw the seal of the Duke of Finchingfield on the back.
It had been broken, of course. The governor of the poorhouse had a great suspicion of letters. They made the inmates feel important, singling them out from the rest of the throng and giving them ideas above their station.
There was another reason, even less justifiable: that Tia and her mama were gentlewomen, far more likely to receive money by post than anyone else. The beadle and governor didn’t approve of inmates being sent money either.
It was usually confiscated.
As she unfolded the missive, Tia prayed her friend Lucy Cranborne, now Duchess of Finchingfield, wouldn’t have been foolish enough to enclose any banknotes or drafts. Besides, even if she sent enough for the Wyndhams to buy themselves out of the poorhouse, where would they go? The sinking of Papa’s one remaining ship, with him on board, had left his family with so many bills, they were equally as likely to find themselves in debtors’ prison, once their creditors caught up with them.
At least for now, their creditors knew there was no point in hounding them while they were in the poorhouse.
My dearest Tia, Lucy had written, I will send you no coin, for fear of it getting lost.
Tia let out a sigh of relief. Clever Lucy knew better than to trust the authorities. Or, indeed, the post.
I know better than to offer you and your mama charity directly.
True enough. Mrs. Sarah Wyndham, though failing in health since her beloved husband’s death, was too proud to accept handouts. She clung to the hope that a wealthy, distant relative to whom she had written would, at any moment, descend upon Selbury Poorhouse and whisk herself and Tia away to a palatial establishment in the country.
Tia wrinkled her nose. The odor of overcooked cabbage had invaded the sewing room—or cell, as she preferred to call it. A watery stew was being prepared to accompany the paupers’ lunchtime dole of bread, and she heard the children’s stomachs rumbling in anticipation.
Oh, for the smell of freshly cooked, butter-basted chicken, the comforting scent of a raised pie, the mouth-watering perfume of biscuits flavored with rosewater . . .
She shook away the memories. It was too distressing to ponder what she used to have. She needed to think about the present.
I have discovered a distant relative of yours, the letter went on, and have appealed to him to assist you. I can see no reason he should not. He is a widower, though yet young, keeps very much to himself, and has a vast former religious estate in dire need of a woman’s touch. You and your mama would be the perfect companions for him and for his daughter, Miss Mary (Polly) Pelham, who, by my reckoning is aged about nine. I know how you love children.
Tia laid the letter in her lap, her eyes too blurred with tears to continue reading. It had come at last. They were to be freed from this institution, more like a prison than a home. Though she could do much good here, particularly amongst the largely illiterate children, it would be infinitely preferable not to be an inmate herself. She scarcely dared hope, after so many miserable, cold, dark and comfortless months, that escape was truly at hand.
Dashing the tears from her eyes, she checked the children were still absorbed in their tunic-mending and the darning of stockings. It wasn’t unknown for frustration to get the better of them from time to time and if she was not watching, a little girl might pull off another’s cap for a joke and be stabbed with a needle in reprisal.
All seemed calm, so Tia returned to the letter that fluttered in her unsteady hands. A nine-year-old girl for company. The same age her sister Phoebe had been when the putrid sore throat had cut short her life.
If all of this were to come to fruition, if Polly Pelham’s father were to take them, Tia vowed she’d love Polly like a sister, or even a daughter. At one-and-twenty, she was more than old enough to have begun a family of her own.
But who exactly was Polly Pelham’s father? She’d heard the surname somewhere before, but could not recollect where, or when. She scanned the letter, and her eyes snagged on a name.
Her blood ran cold. Henry Pelham, eighth Baron Ansford.
The man some believed to have murdered his wife.
I’m delighted to announce this fantastic giveaway to celebrate the imminent arrival of the latest Elizabeth Keysian historical romance, BEGUILING THE BARON. Think Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, but hotter 😜!
UK residents get a shot at the physical prize, which includes an autographed copy of the breathtaking romantic adventure A POTION FOR PASSION. The Rest of The World gets the chance to win a complete set of Elizabeth Keysian e-books.
This draw is open to newsletter subscribers only, so if you haven’t signed up yet, then click here NOW!
I’ll be doing the draw shortly after publication date, which is the 17th of April. So get that in your diary, folks 😘
And yes, that is a pair of My Neighbour Totoro socks. Just because.
Educational but entertaining as well, I hope. At least, that was my intention…find out about the value and importance of lace historically HERE, and my struggles to get to grips with the stuff!
The address is below. Come as you are. I certainly will be, as I’m currently bedridden!http://bit.ly/2Ecf4Hp
All Elizabeth Keysian books are currently on sale – just a snip at 99 cents each. Here’s a lovely link, if you fancy buying any- http://bit.ly/2D0rgYA
While perambulating through an antique newspaper, I came upon this very poignant letter.
“To the printer. Sir, Monday, July 19th 5 o’clock in the evening. Yesterday evening a young lady, who is under my care, returning from a friend’s house, at the other end of the town, “disappointed of the coach” was accosted, in Fleet-Street, near Temple-Bar, by a brute in human form, well dressed in light-coloured cloathes and bag wig, to appearance about thirty years of age, with great familiarity.
She gave him to understand he was mistaken in the person, and civilly desired him to leave her, which he refused to do with several oaths and after much obscene language and indecent behaviour, which continued to she came to the top of Ludgate-Street, where then he seized her in his arms and swore he would carry her where all her coy airs would be of no use, naming a bagnio, d—–g her for a little obstrupulous b—h; with that she gave a sudden spring from him, and a coach that had just set down his fare luckily standing by she jumped into it and shut the door, which he endeavoured to open swearing she belonged to him. The humane coachman, however, moved with her tears, prevented him after much struggling, and brought her home, where she had not been five minutes before the violence of the fatigue and fright through her into the most excessive fits imaginable, in which she continued until 4 o’clock in the morning, when she slept a little; at nine they returned again with as much force as ever, and so continues to this moment.
At intervals she is sensible, though that seldom lasts more than six or eight minutes, during which I collected the circumstances as above, which, by inserting in your paper, it is probable, may come to his knowledge, and strike the fellow with remorse and horror at the consequences of his brutality, and deter him from such behaviour for the future.
P.S. The convulsion is so violent as to require five people to hold her down in the bed. I am, Sir, et cetera A.B.”
From the London Chronicle for 1762 from Tuesday, July 20 to Thursday, July 22
I sincerely hope the victim recovered from her shock- convulsions were a major cause of mortality in London at this period.
If you’re wondering why there’s a picture of an Easter egg here, you need to follow this link 🙂 but you can’t enter until April 17th!
Welcome to the Cookie Exchange Hop and the chance to win a totally AWESOME prize- 32 e-books AND a $160 Gift Card from your favourite romance authors!!!
Before you read on, I’d love you to sign up to my Sales and Special Offers newsletter. It only comes out when I have a real bargain for lovers of historical romance, exactly like the 5 new novella Regency Xmas anthology, LOVE REKINDLED AT CHRISTMAS, which you can get currently for only 99 cents.
N.B. I’m a Brit, so if I use the word “biscuit” rather than “cookie”, bear with me. I think the terms are interchangeable.
My recipe is for JUMBLES, a medieval sweet biscuit I used to make in my re-enactment days.
Be warned- don’t leave them in the oven too long, or people will be wearing them as jewellery. Believe me, the sight of us Elizabethan kitchen wenches with rock-hard biscuits around our necks was the cause of much hilarity.
You can get really creative with these biscuits, also known as KNOT BISCUITS, and make any number of different “knots”. The examples below are from Peter Brears’ book, FOOD AND COOKING IN 17th CENTURY BRITAIN, as is the recipe.
The original recipe has been adapted to suit modern cooks.
15 ml (1 tbs) ground aniseed
175g plain flour
A dash of rosewater (optional)
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Then beat in the spice, followed by the flour, until you have a stiff dough.
The dough must be kneaded on a lightly floured board. It should be malleable enough for you to roll out 10cm lengths, each about 1cm in diameter. Form these rolls into simple knot shapes (unless you’re feeling adventurous and want to try some complex ones) and drop them, several at a time, into a pan of boiling water on the stove. They’ll sink to the bottom. Let them stay there a moment or two before gently dislodging them with a wooden spoon so they float to the surface. They should swell up a little.
You will need to remove the knots with a slotted spoon and dry them on a clean cloth on top of a wire rack. When they are reasonably dry, grease a baking sheet and bake the jumbles for about 15 minutes at 180℃/350℉. Remove them from the oven, flip them over and bake for a further 10 minutes or so until they are golden in colour.
Now, how do you get a chance to win that STUNNING prize? Here are the instructions-
After you have visited each site to collect the cookie recipes, e-mail the list of authors and their cookies to Heather@HeatherMcCollum.com with the subject line “Romance Authors Sure Can Bake” to be entered into the grand prize drawing. A winner will be selected randomly and announced Monday, 17 December by noon ET. Happy Holidays!
If you’re doing the cookie hop in order, your next stop is the Facebook page of the delightful and thoroughly lovely Tara Kingston.