Lord Julian Caldicott is summoned to the country home of a family friend to look for a prize foxhound who’s gone missing. The purloined canine turns out to be only the tail of a series of puzzles involving family secrets, slander, blackmail, and fraud. Matters grow more baffling when Julian is told to drop the investigation, though suspects abound, motives are multiplying apace, and a large sum of money has come into play.
Julian survives an attempt on his life, and endures slights to his honor rather than give up on his objective. Before the truth is revealed–and the hound brought safely home–he will have to choose between protecting his only surviving brother from ruin, or allowing a scoundrel to get away with the next thing to murder.
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?
Note: This story was half of Yuletide Gems, a novella duet originally published as a web store/library exclusive in 2022.
Don’t be so dramatic!
Gavin DeWitt has given up a career on the stage to take his place among the respectable gentry of Crosspatch Corners. His older sister has married quite well, and now it’s Gavin’s job to ensure he and his younger siblings make an excellent impression on polite society too. He’s handsome, witty, charming–and quietly dying inside from lack of purpose–but nonetheless playing the role of country gentleman desperately well.
Will it be kisses… or curtains?
Enter Mrs. Rose Roberts, a widow from Gavin’s theatrical past. She broke his heart when last they parted, but oddly enough, he broke her heart too. Can they piece together what really happened and forge a future together, despite the forces of mischief and mayhem plotting more fiercely than ever to keep them apart?
Lord Julian Caldicott, still recovering from his years at war, is tasked with investigating the circumstances of a small boy who could be either the salvation of the Waltham dukedom or a pawn in a scheme to sink the Caldicott family in endless scandal. The boy is alone in the world, though any one of several women might be his mother, and they all claim that Julian’s brother, the late Lord Harry Caldicott, was the child’s father.
To uncover the boy’s parentage, Julian must face demons from his own past, solve puzzles left behind by Lord Harry, and thwart enemies who wish the lad harm for reasons of their own. His investigation takes him from barracks, to brothels, and to Hyde Park by dark of night. The longer he searches, the more tangled—and dangerous—the mystery becomes, for Julian and for the innocent child who deserves to know the truth of his own birthright.
A matter of matrimony…
Lord Julian Caldicott is summoned to the family seat by his ducal brother, whose bachelorhood is imperiled by the very determined Lady Clarissa Valmond. As the only titled Eligible the hostesses avoid including on their guest lists, Julian has little sympathy for the duke’s situation. He nonetheless agrees to lend a hand, because Clarissa is the last person who should be wearing the Caldicott family tiara.
The situation takes a nasty turn when Clarissa’s brother, a talented artist, goes missing shortly before his debut London exhibition. Julian must unravel conflicting motives, dishonest witnesses, confusing evidence, old lies, and the real threats facing the duke if he’s to find the errant viscount before a fate worse than ruin befalls both surviving Caldicott brothers.
Trevor, Marquess of Tavistock, has finally decided to stop larking around on the Continent, come home, and take a bride. His solicitors applaud his decision to settle down, provided he chooses a wealthy young lady to be his marchioness. Those years Trevor spent seeing the world were bad years for the lordly coffers.
Trevor is reluctant to consign himself to a mercenary marriage, and instead considers selling off some of his smaller properties. While inspecting one such estate, he meets Miss Amaryllis DeWitt. Her family is desperately trying to find a title for her to marry, and she does have the most lovely fortune, but she thinks Trevor is an aspiring beer merchant, and he thinks the truth might get him drop-kicked back to France. Then there’s the tenant Trevor finds on another estate, whose existence the solicitors have been trying to hide…Will it be truth or true love for Trevor and Amaryllis?
Two novellas set in the time of mistletoe…
Lady Mistletoe’s Holiday Helper (from Yuletide Wishes)
Lord Marcus Bannerfield is former military and all business. He has no patience with frivolity, but when he becomes guardian to two orphaned nieces, even he knows somebody had better decorate his household for the yuletide holidays. Lady Margaret Entwhistle’s business offers that exact service, but she doesn’t expect his lordship pay for her efforts with kisses!
Kisses and Catnip (from Love and Other Perils)
Max Haddonfield is a man of science with a soft spot for stray cats. When he donates one of his foundlings to a library to protect the books from hungry mice, he never dreams that Lady Antonia Mainwaring will reward his generosity by stealing his heart!
Ash Dorning has loved Della Haddonfield from afar for years. He has played the part of the cordial family connection and battled every demon from lack of funds, to meddling relatives, to a recurring case of the blue devils–while other men have won Della’s smiles. When Della lands in the midst of scandal, those fellows who fawned over her hand disappear behind the nearest potted palms, leaving Ash to waltz to the rescue.
Della is compromised by a thoroughgoing bounder, and only Ash’s loyalty stands between her and hopeless ruin. But Ash has played least in sight with her for too long, and too many secrets lie between them for Della to believe that Ash is motivated by anything other than gentlemanly duty. When troubles comes calling once again, Ash and Della either learn to trust their love, or they will lose everything they hold dear—including each other.
Robert Rothmere is hiding a past no duke should have endured, but he’s not hiding it well enough. Sooner or later, his enemies will learn that he spent years locked away at a private asylum. To get their hands on his wealth, they’ll try to send him right back to his worst nightmares. If Robert is to foil their schemes, he needs to marry a perfectly proper, blessedly boring, deadly dull duchess, immediately — and he knows exactly which quietly delightful lady he’d love to entrust with that role.
Lady Constance Wentworth has cultivated a reputation for utter forgettability. She never speaks out of turn (in public), never has a daring thought (that she admits aloud), and never comes close to courting scandal… as far as anybody knows. Her path crossed Robert’s years ago, though, and she’s never forgotten the extraordinary lengths he traveled to keep her safe when she hadn’t a friend in the world. She longs to be his demure duchess…but little does he know that to marry her would be utter madness
Oak Dorning is an artist determined to take his place among London’s most successful portraitists. Town life is expensive, though, so a temporary post restoring a few old paintings for a ruralizing widow strikes Oak as a prudent detour on the way to his brilliant future.
Verity Channing was married to a renowned artist, and knows firsthand how spiteful London sophisticates can be. A quiet life in the country is fine with her–also lonely and rather dull–until Oak finds scandalous treasures lurking in her art collection. When somebody sets out to ruin Verity, Oak must choose between his cherished ambitions and the lady who fills his dreams.