Lady Violet and Sebastian MacHeath are trying to forge a cordial marriage out of unlikely beginnings. When they are invited to a summer house party, they accept, hoping to make the excursion into a belated wedding journey of sorts–or at least a respite from meddling relatives. No sooner do they arrive, than their host’s ward is accused of petty wrongdoing. As the charges escalate into familial acrimony and worse, Violet determines that a scheme is afoot to discredit the young man.
Unraveling the mystery before a criminal investigation goes too far will require that Sebastian and Violet trust one another as they haven’t in years. They can get to the bottom of the unfortunate developments at the house party, but can they solve the mystery of how to be husband and wife in more than name?
He’s not really a blacksmith, and she’s not really an heiress…
Thaddeus Pennrith finds a way to recover from multiple griefs when he accepts the blacksmith’s post at Fenwick on Sea. Village life gives him a sense of belonging that Polite Society never could, though he must resume his aristocratic duties soon. Along comes Lady Sarah Weatherby, refugee from an engagement gone badly awry, and Thaddeus is faced with both a compelling reason to reveal his titled antecedents, and a longing to keep them forever hidden….
Available exclusively from Grace’s Webstore. Will be released on the major retail platforms later in 2022.
NOTE: This story originally appeared in the Bluestocking Belles anthology, Storm and Shelter, where you will find more tales of romance by the seaside!
Two heartwarming holiday tales of true love set in a place where happily ever afters abound–the library, of course!
Worth More Than Rubies — by Grace Burrowes
All the Duke of Dunfallon wants this holiday season is a respite from the machinations of the matchmakers. When pursued by a particularly determined would-be duchess, he ducks into the West Bartholomew Street Lending Library. Librarian Emerald Armstrong sees a dapper gent in a bit of a hurry and mistakes Dunfallon for a curate overdue for his assignation with West Bart’s theological collection.
Dunfallon is intrigued by Emmie’s love of books, her disdain for society’s games, and her ferocious generosity of spirit toward all of the library’s patrons. She has no patience with posturing, and thus he takes the risk of admitting his true identity. To his surprise, Emmie doesn’t mind all that much that he’s a duke—some things cannot be helped—but she is far less willing to keep silent about Dunfallon’s other secret, the one he has been guarding from even his fellow peers.
If an honest woman is worth more than rubies, what will a duke sacrifice to earn her love?
Diamond in the Rough — by Christi Caldwell
Lady Diamond Carmichael, paragon of propriety, is horrified when she discovers her headstrong younger sister at the Royal Colonade Library reading books that would enrage their ducal father. Worse, this disaster-in-the-making has been abetted by a rude, low-born/outspoken/brash/blunt/cocksure… librarian named Mr. Abbadon Grimoire.
Abbadon clawed his way free of a life of poverty and crime thanks to the refuge he found at the Royal Colonade Library, and he’s determined to help other people find their escapes as well—in the pages of the library’s books. He issues Diamond a challenge: Spend a fortnight exploring the volumes on the library’s shelves; if after two weeks, she still wants to prevent her sister from visiting, he won’t interfere.
Abbadon soon realizes that beneath Diamond’s icy veneer beats the heart of a loyal, loving, and passionate woman, and Diamond comes to see that Abbadon’s devotion to books is a respect for truth and learning. A former guttersnipe and a duke’s daughter aren’t the stuff of matches made in Mayfair, but perhaps happily ever afters aren’t just for fairytales!
NOTE: This duet will be released on Sept. 27, 2022, through library channels (and for our international readers, through Kobo). Readers wishing to purchase the story directly can do so from either authors’ website. Wide-retail distribution for these stories is planned for the 2023 holiday season, when next year’s new duet takes its turn as a library exclusive!
Matilda Merridew, former hoyden of the first water, finds herself widowed, weary, and in want of coin. Along comes Marcus, Lord Tremont, with an interesting–and decent–proposition. Tremont will provide Matilda a handsome salary and keep a commodious roof over her head if she will relieve him of the burden of managing a houseful of unruly former soldiers.
Matilda accepts the post, and soon learns that the proper, soft-spoken earl has a far more dashing side. Marcus, whose lodestars in life have been order and duty, is drawn to Matilda’s determination and pragmatic good cheer. When Matilda’s past rises from the grave to destroy any hope of a happily ever after, Matilda and Marcus will have to decide if love truly can conquer all!
While Lady Violet Belmaine is busy sorting out the odd turns her life has recently taken, Hugh St. Sevier repairs to his Kent estate in hopes of embarking on the placid life of a rural physician. Alas, for St. Sevier, the village of St. Ivo has more secrets than it has pots of heartease, and the good doctor will once again find himself the target of rumors and threats.
Somebody is rigging St. Ivo’s hound races, setting neighbor against neighbor, and turning what should be a friendly entertainment into an occasion for brawling. As an expert on medicinal herbs and soporifics, St. Sevier comes under suspicion. St. Ivo badly needs a physician, and the village also needs somebody to unravel the intrigues that are tearing it apart. St. Sevier can’t get to the bottom of the mystery on his own, but help–in the persons of Lady Violet and Sebastian MacHeath, is on the way!
Henning, Duke of Clonmere must marry one of the Earl of Falmouth’s three giggling younger daughters, but Lady Iris — Falmouth’s oldest, who is not at all inclined to giggling — catches Clonmere’s eye, and his heart!
NOTE: This story originally appeared in the (now de-published) anthology, Dukes by the Dozen. At present, it’s available exclusively through the web store as a free download.
Miss Catherine Fairchild spent much of her life haring about the globe with her diplomat parents, though she grasped at a young age that as a legitimate by-blow, her social standing among Polite Society would be marginal at best. Now she’s lost both parents and is settled back in London, where she learns that not only is she an heiress, but that the family title can be preserved through the female line.
Miss Dubious has become Miss Desirable, though Catherine has no plans to marry–or so she claims. Even if she were to admit to some loneliness, the last place she’d turn for companionship would be one of Mayfair’s fawning fortune hunters. The one person she can trust to treat her honestly is Monsieur Xavier Fournier, a plainspoken émigré who also has no intention of putting his foot in parson’s mousetrap… Or so he claims.
Lady Violet has decided that life in noisy, crowded, busy London is simply not her cup of tea. Her search for a rural property to purchase must be set aside when she learns that Hugh St. Sevier has been accused of murder. Worse, the handsome physician is doing nothing to aid those trying to exonerate him.
Though it requires out-smarting the magistrate, enlisting the aid of Sebastian, Marquess of Dunkeld, and literally poking around in the undergrowth, Violet is determined to prove her friend’s innocence–with or without St. Sevier’s cooperation. Solving the crime also means Violet must face a few of her own demons, and find peace with a past that has proven even more vexatious than this most challenging mystery!
Lady Violet Belmaine emerges from two years of mourning less than enthusiastic about resuming her place in Polite Society. She’s talked into attending a country house party by her French physician friend, Hugh St. Sevier, only to find that the house party guests are preyed upon by a mysterious thief.
Among the guests is Sebastian MacHeath, Marquess of Dunkeld. Violet once considered Sebastian her closest confidant, but war and the passing years have changed him. Nonetheless, when Sebastian’s valet, another veteran, comes under suspicion, Violet, St. Sevier, and Sebastian must work together to discover the true culprit, lest an innocent man be sent to the gallows for crimes he did not commit.
Heiress Anne Baxter seeks a repairing lease by the sea after she’s left standing at the altar for the second time. To her utter mortification, the best man, Augustus, Duke of Tindale, has been invited to a house party at a nearby estate, and comes upon Anne trying to enjoy some solitude along the shore.
Augustus believes Anne is far better off without the buffoon who jilted her, but knows polite society will hold the lady accountable for the failed wedding,… weddings, rather. He proposes to show Anne marked attention at the house party, in hopes that a ducal suitor will prove to the gossips just how lovely Anne is. Alas for Augustus’s brilliant scheme, the best laid plans of dukes of damsels, oft go awry!