Saturday, October 30, 2021
Friday, October 29, 2021
A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham
Five years in a New York state reformatory have left a blemish on Hazel's real name. So when she takes a job as Doctor Gilbert Watts's lady in attendance in 1898, she does so under an alias. In the presence of her quiet and pious employer, Hazel finds more than an income. She finds a friend and a hope that if she can set her tarnished past in order, she might have a future after all.
As Gilbert becomes accustomed to the pleasant chatter of his new dental assistant, he can't help but sense something secretive about her. Perhaps there is more to this woman than meets the eye. Can the questions that loom between them ever be answered? Or will the deeds of days gone by forever rob the future of its possibilities?
Rachel Fordham pens a tender tale of a soft-spoken man, a hardened woman, and the friends that stand by them as they work toward a common purpose--to expunge the record of someone society deemed beyond saving--and perhaps find love along the way.
"A Lady in Attendance draws you in from the first page and leaves you captivated until the oh-so-romantic conclusion. A poignant and beautifully written story of faith, forgiveness, and the healing power of love."--Mimi Matthews, USA Today bestselling author
Learn more about current projects at rachelfordham.com. You can also follow Rachel on Facebook, Instagram, BookBub, and Goodreads.
A Lady in Attendance
By Rachel Fordham
Gilbert won the basket fill, came in second for the ten-minute challenge, and lost the hundred-ear challenge to a coin toss. His arms ached, his back ached, even his neck ached, but he didn’t care. Spectators, no doubt, believed him lost in his work, but in truth his mind was stuck back in time, still mulling over the red ear, his choice, and the softness of Hazel’s cheek.
Time had moved slower during those moments, each step across the barn floor a deliberate decision that took him closer to her and the intoxicating scent of lavender. He’d seen the ear in his hand and decided in that instant to muster his courage and act. He’d chosen to kiss her cheek instead of her lips, believing it’d be safer, but even their brief encounter had been enough to leave him far from unaffected. Even now, the memory touched him.
The pile of unhusked corn grew smaller until only a few stray ears remained. Most of the men had left the corn and gone to socialize. He kept husking, slower now but still as steadily, afraid to step away and face the crowd. Soon the last ear rested in his hands.
“You are the most dedicated man around.” Hazel smiled at him, the corners of her lips pulled high, dimpling the very cheek he’d kissed. “No one else competed in every challenge, and now here you are taking care of the last ear despite there being no prize for it. You’ve not even visited the refreshment table. I would not have guessed that a dentist would outlast them all.”
“I think there are a lot of things people wouldn’t expect about dentists.”
“I think you are right.” She picked bits of corn husk off his shirt. “It’s a good thing you are here to set us straight.”
“About the red ear . . .” He wiped his sweaty palms on his pants.
“You had to kiss someone. It’s tradition.” She smiled when she said it, but her eyes lost some of their sparkle. “It meant nothing. I know that, and of course it’s better that way.”
He scratched the back of his neck and nodded despite his being acutely aware of how much the kiss had meant to him.
“I’m grateful it was you and not that lad from earlier.”
They shared an awkward laugh, remembering the boy with the dark hair and his unsuspecting companion.
“There will be dancing soon. I won the partner of my choice for the waltz,” Gilbert said quietly, hoping she’d know with her feminine instincts that he wanted her in his arms.
“Will you dance with Ina?” Hazel pressed her lips together and looked toward her friend. “She borrowed my dress and spent so long on her hair. She’s beautiful, yet no one sees it. Some of us never get a chance to be the woman everyone is watching. It would mean so much to her to be picked from the crowd.”
“Have you been that woman before?” Gilbert asked, wanting to know she’d experienced the thrill she spoke of and at the same time hating the idea of her on the arm of another man.
“Everyone watched when you walked across the floor with that red ear of corn.” A far-off look skirted across her face, and he knew there was more to her story. She rallied and offered him a pleading smile. “Ina has never been that woman. Will you ask her to dance?”
He nodded, unwilling to counter Hazel’s selfless intentions. It did not matter that he wanted to hold Hazel in his arms or that she’d been the reason he’d worked so hard to win.
“I’ll dance with Ina.” He reached out, though, and took her hand, pressing it gently in his own before letting it go. “Thank you for cheering me on.”
The first dance was a reel led by the winner of the fifty-ear challenge. Gilbert stood near the refreshment table and watched as Hazel danced with a man who appeared to be equal to her in age and seemed to possess a plethora of wit, enough to keep Hazel laughing. He wasn’t jealous, of course he wasn’t, but he did have to instruct himself not to scowl as he watched. He thought of dancing himself, but the remaining women seemed far too young. And he couldn’t work up the nerve to ask, so he sampled the food instead.
Before long, Mr. Stoddard stood on a barrel and whistled for the crowd’s attention. “Gilbert Watts has earned himself the pick of partners for the next dance. Ladies, step forward. Gents, step back.”
Gilbert set down his plate and went to the center of the floor. He ambled past Samantha and her cluster of giggling friends. He looked at his feet as he passed Hazel and stopped in front of Ina.
With a hand outstretched, he bowed slightly. “May I have this dance?”
She dipped a deep curtsy and took his hand. The music started, and for a moment they were the only ones on the floor while everyone else scrambled to find a partner.
“Thank you,” Ina said as they stepped together across the wooden floor. “Hazel is a good woman to give her dance to me.”
“She may have planted the idea, but I’m not sorry.” He led her around the floor with ease. “I think it’s the perfect chance to become better acquainted with you.”
“Why have we not seen you at the socials before?”
“I used to come. It’s just been a long time. When my father was ill, I stayed with him and never came back.” He shrugged. “My friends were married, and I felt old . . .”
“But now something, someone, has given you a desire to return.”
“Life has a way of changing when you least expect it.”
“It won’t for me. I believe I’ll continue living at Mrs. Northly’s and teaching until I die. All the girls I teach will grow up, and I’ll keep doing what I’ve always done. I’m sorry to complain. My lot is not so bad.”
“Those girls are lucky to have someone who cares about them and teaches them,” Gilbert said as they floated across the floor. “Did you always want to teach?”
“I don’t remember dreaming of teaching, but I do find fulfillment in it.”
“I did not dream of dentistry as a boy.”
She nodded. “I still hope that life has a few unexpected surprises ahead. Do you not?”
He laughed quietly. He’d been so comfortable with his life not long ago, but now the world seemed to be upside down. “I suppose I do.”
Rachel Fordham, A Lady in Attendance. Revel, a division of Baker Publishing Group. June 1, 2021. Used by Permission.
A Lady in Attendance
Saturday, October 16, 2021
A Rake Like You
by Becky Michaels
About to turn thirty, Charles Finch finally realizes his luck has run out. Heâ€™s twenty thousand pounds in debt, his entire family hates him, and the powerful Duke of Rutley is watching his every move. So Charles sets out to do what any handsome but impoverished earl would: find a young lady with an impressive dowry to marry him and replenish his coffers.
Louisa Strickland much prefers managing the successful estate her father left her to the company of society. But now that her younger sister has come of age, Louisa finds herself in Mayfair, forced to protect her family from desperate fortune hunters like her neighbor, Charles Finch. And when Charles sets his sights on Louisaâ€™s sister, Louisa will do anything to avert his attention elsewhere.
As Charles and Louisa find themselves rekindling an old friendship that once went up in flames, Charles begins to wonder if there could be something more between them. He only needs to prove heâ€™s not the man he once was. But unfortunately for Charles, it will take much more than passionate kisses and giving up brandy to convince independent Louisa to marry a rake like him.
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Louisa walked away from Philip Hayward feeling irritated and embarrassed, muttering a multitude of oaths against men under her breath. She had never received such individual attention from someone so handsome before, but then to find out he was married? From Charles Finch, of all people? She cursed her rotten luck. Charles was surely gloating inwardly at that very moment.
She discreetly checked over her shoulder to see if the earl was still following them. He was. Quietly huffing, Louisa stopped walking and turned to her sister. “Perhaps you ought to go find your mother. She will be wondering how your dance with Lord Bolton went.”
Flora frowned. “But what about Lady Rosamund? You said she might know something about Viscount Fitzgerald.”
By then, Charles had caught up to them, slowing as the two girls spoke furtively by one of the columns at the edge of the ballroom. Charles flashed a pleasant smile, but Louisa eyed him suspiciously before turning back to her sister, whispering, “I will report back what I learn in the carriage later this evening. Until then, you should allow your mother to show you off to other suitors.” Despite whispering, Louisa wasn’t really trying to be discreet. She shot a pointed look at Charles, who frowned. “You mustn’t put all of your eggs in one basket, after all.”
Flora let out an unladylike sound, but Louisa silenced her with a warning look. Even if Louisa didn’t want Charles marrying her sister, Flora still must act like a lady around him. Men talked to other men, after all—especially men like Charles. Flora turned to him, offering a quick curtsey in his direction. “Thank you for the dance, Lord Bolton.”
He bowed, then watched her go. When Flora was out of earshot, Louisa turned to him, finally free to speak what she was feeling. “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?”
Charles looked at her, his brow furrowed as if he didn’t quite understand, though Louisa suspected he did. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“Must you be so thick skulled?” Louisa asked. When Charles still did not give any sign of understanding, she felt her hands starting to curl into tiny fists at her side. “You asked him about his wife to embarrass me!”
His face fell. “That couldn’t be further from the truth,” he argued. Louisa shot him an unconvinced look. “I only brought it up because I doubted he told you himself. What were you thinking dancing with a man like that? Have you any care for your reputation? You are lucky I was there to rescue you.”
Louisa wasn’t sure what Charles meant. Hayward seemed no different from anyone else she might meet in a London ballroom: overly conceited and self-important. “And what sort of man is Mr. Hayward? I have never heard of him.”
“He only owns the most notorious gaming hell in all of London,” Charles said, his voice low. “I would not advise dancing with him again.”
Louisa made a tiny sound of frustration, looking away. This was why she hated society. If a handsome gentleman asked one to dance, one could not say no for fear of being rude. But handsome gentlemen did not exactly come with warnings that they were married and owned a notorious gaming hell.
Oh, why must society dealings be so complicated?
Louisa sighed, finally meeting Charles’s inquisitive gaze. “Who do you advise I dance with, then? Is anyone acceptable to you? Or is a spinster having a spot of fun with someone truly that shocking?”
“You could dance with me,” Charles said with a shrug.
She laughed. “I highly doubt that would be enjoyable for either one of us.”
Charles stared at her for a long moment, and then he leaned in to say something in her ear. Right away, Louisa could tell he smelled different. Gone was the odor of expensive brandy, since replaced with a mixture of fresh laundry and unoffensive cologne. She found herself so surprised by it she could hardly move, allowing his warm breath to assault her ear as he spoke.
“I am only looking out for you, Louisa,” Charles said. He pulled away, their eyes meeting. For a brief moment, she softened toward him. The back of her mind told her she would regret it, but she stupidly ignored it. “You are far too innocent to understand what sort of fun Hayward enjoys.”
Her face fell when she realized the back of her mind had been correct. “Innocent? Innocent?” She made a half-hearted attempt to mollify her anger but failed miserably. Her nostrils flared. “What do you know of my innocence? Need I remind you that I once caught you ravishing an opera singer in your aunt’s library? Do you truly think I am so innocent that I do not understand what sort of fun a man truly wants?”
Louisa thought she saw the beginnings of a blush forming on the earl’s cheeks. “I’d hoped you had forgotten about that,” he mumbled.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Amelia Balfour has one dream. .
.to tour Egypt as a travel writer. But when her wish is finally within reach,
her father dies, and her malformed brother Colin depends upon her to arrange
for a revolutionary surgery. Amelia returns home, hoping he’ll recover before
the ship sails for Cairo.
Former Navy surgeon Graham Lambert is sick—of travelling, loneliness, and especially the injustice of the world. Leaving behind the military, he partners with a renowned surgeon, the man who promises new life to Amelia’s brother.
But just as the operation begins, Graham suspects the surgeon is a fraud. After a botched procedure, Colin goes mad and escapes, terrorizing their neighbor, author Mary Godwin—planting the seed for her greatest creation, Frankenstein. Can Amelia and Graham stop Colin before he destroys everyone in his path and find the tender soul still trapped inside…or will they be too late?
Purchase Link: Amazon
Her breath caught. “You are not letting me go?”
“Actually, I am—to Egypt.” He chuckled. “All expenses paid for you and your maid. The ship sails in a week. Are you up for the challenge?”
Of all the ludicrous questions! Her jaw unhinged, quite unladylike but totally unstoppable. “I assure you, Mr. Moritz, it is no challenge whatsoever to write of veiled ladies with their turbaned sheikhs. In truth, sir, it is a particular dream of mine.”
“As I well know.” He stretched forward, peering at her from kindly grey eyes. “Which is why I put my neck on the chopping block for you. It took a fair amount of arm twisting with old man Krebe, yet I prevailed. Lucky for you, I am all muscle.” He flexed his arm, pride lifting a thin bicep and his sharp chin.
“Oh, Mr. Moritz…” She clutched the tickets to her chest. “How can I ever thank you?”
“By saving the neck I risked and penning the most brilliant journal in the history of travel writing.”
“Which is what I always aspire to.” She tossed back her shoulders. “Don’t worry, sir, I will not let you down.”
Monday, October 11, 2021
Three novellas, three times the romance, and three times the love . . . in this brand new Timeless Regency Collection
The Seventh Star Inn, by
After years of looking after one another, Susan Baxter and her mother view their neighbors in Totnes as family. When a new landlord inherits the leases on their homes and businesses alike, Susan dreads knowing her world could change at the whim of a stranger.
But when she meets Collin Stonecroft and his inquisitive daughter, her feelings shift quickly from cautionary to hopeful. Collin has lived in the confines of London boarding houses all his life, and he’s determined to give his daughter more. They check into the Seventh Star Inn with plans to return to London as soon as possible, but both find Miss Baxter and her local history lessons far too enchanting to leave behind. When Susan learns of Collin’s proposed changes to her beloved neighborhood, will she be able to help him see that some things are perfect the way they are?
The Truth about Mr. Blackmore, by Annette Lyon
Leigh’s life at the Old Grey Inn is drudgery broken by flights of fancy thanks in part to novels by Simon Blackmore. When Mattias McGrady comes to the inn for a fortnight, Leigh captures his attention. A relationship develops, and she dreads the end of his stay, which will mean a
return to an unhappy life. An urgent letter to Mattias leads to him inviting Leigh to an event that stands to change both of their lives forever. If all goes well, Leigh will have a life of her choosing after all. But half-truths and lies have a way of complicating matters. When their plans go awry, Leigh loses her reputation and Mattias almost surely loses his career. Can either of them find happiness?
The Coachman’s Choice, by Deborah M. Hathaway
Ever-reliable Mary Thorne has helped her widowed mother run The Golden Mermaid Inn for years. She spends her days greeting guests, ensuring the inn runs smoothly—and dodging flirtatious remarks from passing coachmen. But she’s far too busy to pay any attention to such men, even the enticingly attractive Mr. Northcott. Known far and wide for his horsemanship, punctuality, and dallying reputation, Robert Northcott relishes his life as a coachman,
especially his freedom to flirt with numerous women from inn to inn, all without the messy details of commitment. There’s just one woman who's immune to his charms: the lovely, single landlady of The Golden Mermaid. Robert is determined to win Mary over, just as heartily as she is determined to keep her distance from him. But his carefree life is threatened when his pursual of Mary becomes more than just a game...
ABOUT THE SERIES
Since 2015, Mirror Press has been publishing the Timeless Regency Collection, a curated anthology of novellas and short stories set in early 19th century England. Featuring bestselling authors from the historical romance genre, the series has hit the USA TODAY bestselling list and charted at #1 at Amazon.com. Learn more about the series and other anthologies published by Mirror Press at their website.
Sally Britton is a wife, mother, and author who loves the world of romance, received her BA in English from Brigham Young University, and reads voraciously. She started her writing journey at the tender age of fourteen on an electric typewriter, and she’s never looked back.
lives in Oklahoma with her husband, four children, and Izzie the Aussie
Shepherd. She loves researching, hiking, and eating too much chocolate.
Annette Lyon is a USA
Today Bestselling author. She's won a Whitney Award (2010) and is an eight-time
recipient of Utah's Best of State medal for fiction and short stories. She's
the author of more than a dozen novels, even more novellas, a cookbook, a
grammar guide, and some 120+ articles. She's worked as a professional editor
for publishers and bestselling authors and graduated cum laude from BYU with a
degree in English.
Deborah M. Hathaway graduated from
Utah State University with a BA in Creative Writing. As a young girl, she
devoured Jane Austen's novels while watching and re-watching every adaptation
she could. She finds inspiration for her novels during her travels with her
English husband to the United Kingdom, where she draws on the beauty of the
country in such places as Ireland, Yorkshire, and her beloved Cornwall. Be sure
to sign up for Deborah's Newsletter to stay updated on new releases, free and
discounted Clean Romance novels, and more!