A Quick Jump Across a Narrow Stream

November 19, 1820

While this newspaper always approaches purloined correspondence with suspicion, we wish to assure our loyal readers that this particular missive came into our possession directly from the hand of the recipient. The marchioness so named in her correspondence is at some pains to defend the reputation of her cousin, the Countess of H_____, in the matter of her husband’s death and the unfortunate involvement of the Duke of W_____. She claims the letter shows the late earl’s illnesses, which the countess blames for his untimely demise, were more extensive and long-lasting than has been widely known heretofore. We leave our readers to draw their own conclusions.

August 1819

To Charlotte Marloughe, Marchioness of Firthley
London, England

By the hand of Bella Clewes, Baroness Holsworthy
Aboard the Arabella, flagship of Seventh Sea Shipping

My Dearest Charlotte,

Can it really be fifteen years since we have seen each other? We are only days away from France now; if the winds remain in our favor, we will make landfall in less than a sennight (when I will post this letter). From Paris to London, after so many years of travelling, seems like naught but a quick jump across a narrow stream.

I cannot say how thrilled I am to be so close to the family I left behind in England, though was deeply distraught to hear of your father’s passing. Uncle Howard was the only man in my family to treat me with any respect or dignity, and I am heartbroken I will now never be able to tell him how much that has meant in my adulthood.

Royal-Regard-Cover-Art-Parts-08Lord Holsworthy and I will remain guests of King Louis and the Duke and Duchess d’Angoulême at the Tuileries Palace until they are satisfied with my husband’s report on their investments, and have decided on a course going forward. We hope His Majesty will add another ship to the fleet, as he is second only to the Prince Regent in the returns my husband has accomplished on his behalf. Knowing royalty as I now do, I expect we will either be in London within a fortnight, or I will not see you for another twelvemonth or longer. I know better than most, the whims of the nobility can never be predicted, and the higher the rank, the more capricious they become. (I shudder to think how fifteen years of marriage to a marquess has “improved upon” your youthful impetuosity.)

It is with great sadness and concern that I confess substantial fear for my husband’s wellbeing. His gout continues to progress, the chalkstones increasing in severity and frequency, leaving him feverish and, for days or weeks at a time, unable to perform the most basic shipboard tasks. Added to this constant worry, his lungs have been visited this past year by a chronic complaint, and he begins to suffer a mild loss of hearing, which he is loath to admit.

Bella Clewes, Lady Holsworthy (A Sweet Glance, Émile Vernon)

I hope to persuade Lord Holsworthy to remain in England upon our return, rather than the short sojourn he intends. His advancing years beg rest and comfort, not further travels that can never improve upon his lifetime of adventure. I am not certain I can change his mind, and I pray you ask your husband to quietly speak to any gentlemen at Court who might assist. In correspondence, His Royal Highness seems reluctant to take my part, if only because it will cut into his profits. Until he can see Lord Holsworthy’s decline for himself, I am afraid he will continue to ask too much of a man who has very nearly given his life for the Crown.

I anxiously await our reunion, and look forward, with great pleasure, to meeting my niece and new nephew.

Your loving sister,
Bella, Lady Holsworthy

Learn what happens to the Holsworthys when Charlotte and Bella are reunited in Royal Regard.Royal-Regard-cover-500x750

After fifteen years roaming the globe, the Countess of Huntleigh returns to England with her dying husband. She soon finds herself plagued by terrible troubles: a new title, estate, and sizable fortune; marked attentions from the marriage mart; the long-awaited reunion with her loving family; and a growing friendship with King George IV.

Settling into her new life, this shy-but-not-timid, not-so-young lady faces society’s censure, the Earl’s decline, false friends with wicked agendas, and the singular sufferings of a world-wise wallflower. Guided by her well-meaning husband, subject to interference by a meddlesome monarch, she must now choose the dastardly rogue who says he loves her, the charming French devil with a silver tongue, or the quiet country life she has traveled the world to find.

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Meet Charlotte and Bella as young women in ‘Tis Her Season, a Royal Regard prequel novella.

Charlotte Amberly would rather eat a lump of coal for Christmas dinner than marry the Marquess of Firthley, so when her parents cancel her London Season in favor of a rush to the altar, the feisty debutante takes husband-hunting into her own hands.

Alexander Marloughe, reluctant heir to a marquessate, would rather not spend his holiday dashing through the snow after a flibbertigibbet just out of the schoolroom, but no woman before Charlotte has ever led him such a merry chase.

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To connect with Mariana Gabrielle

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