Saturday, April 17, 2021

An interview with Lord Stanton hero in SHELTER & STORM Box Set with the Bluestocking Belles!

When a storm blows off the North Sea 
and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.

Lord Stanton’s Shocking Seaside Honeymoon by Cerise DeLand

Regency short story and part of the Storm and Shelter collection by The Bluestocking Belles and Friends.

Storm and Shelter is available now.

Book heat level (based on movie ratings): PG-13

Lord Stanton is about to marry for the second time. But his bride is so different from his first wife, now deceased. Josephine Meadows is her father’s heir to his far-flung merchant marine trading company. She’s smart, savvy and beautiful. What’s more, she’s in love with Stanton. Madly. And she has been for lo, these past six years. 

But now, just as they marry and go off to their first night together, and just as each is ready to prove to the other, their love, an agent of Josephine’s goes missing on the high seas. And both of them, though eager to consummate their vows, must go off to discover if the agent is dead…or alive.

Know the Hero of Lord Stanton’s Shocking Seaside Honeymoon

It’s late, he’s bored. What does he do?

Stanton, of late, likes poetry. Love sonnets to be exact! He’s eager to claim his new bride in all ways and reading erotic words is not what he should be doing!

What kind of food would he impulse buy if hungry?

“I have simple tastes. But I do enjoy a finely done roast of beef.”

Describe the kind of clothes he prefers to wear.

“I wore a uniform whilst in the Hussars and now I prefer my black superfine. My tailor is a marvel and I need not appear in his shop to be fitted. This is a blessing as I am a busy man working in Whitehall to defeat that scoundrel Napoleon.”

Valet or takes care of himself?

“I do employ a valet. A fine fellow who knows how precisely I wish to dress. More than that, he is astute and knows when to appear and when to vanish!”

Necktie/cravat or open shirt?

“I do appreciate a cravat tied in such a manner as to remain tied!”

Carriage or horseback?

“Both means of conveyance have their uses. A horse is a proper beast for quick travel. Also, sadly, for the battlefield. Of carriages, I demand comfort and the best springs. No use breaking one’s bones in order to arrive at a tea party, eh?”

Where to buy Storm and Shelter to get Lord Stanton’s Shocking Seaside Honeymoon

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Cerise DeLand has written since she was eight years old and had a piece published in The Baltimore Sun newspaper! With more than 40 novels published, she is known for writing works with historical accuracy, humor and eloquence.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Who is that Teatime Tattler Reporter? The Blog Hop!

Dear Reader,

Your Faithful Correpondent is thrilled to share with you that among those sheltering from a dreadful storm in the Queen’s Barque Inn in Fenwick has come a new bride, the lovely Lady S—!

She arrived in a hired hack (of all things!) with her little dog…but without her husband!

Did the new couple quarrel? Over what? So soon after the nuptials too! The ton had speculated that theirs was a love match, especially because the bride is of the merchant class, so far beneath his lordship’s vaulted status. 

But we do have sympathy for dear Lord S—. As we are all well aware, this revered hero of the Peninsula Wars did not enjoy wedded bliss in his first marriage! We feared he’d never find happiness again. And yet we’ve come to this debacle!

I ask you, why would the new countess leave her husband? And why hare off to Fenwick?

Does she seek someone else? Alone? 

Who can it be?

Your Faithful Correspondent promises for reveal more as news develops!


Josephine crushed the horrid newspaper, seething at the very idea that she had abandoned her bride groom on a whim! Or worse because they’d had a falling out!


Who was this person who had taken too much upon themselves?  Whoever they were, they had gall. And opportunity to observe not only her but so many who’d taken shelter in the Inn. Josephine had a mind to send the scoundrel out into the flood from the storm. What drivel to write this and publish it for the world to read!

“We have work to do to defeat that hideous little Corsican!” She balled up the paper and threw it against the wall.

“My darling!” Stanton addressed her, the door to the hall opening as he entered their intimate little room in the Queen’s Barque Inn. “What vexes you so?”

“Gossip! I hate it.”

He strode two steps, picked up the crinkled pages and read. Then he arched two long dark brows high. “You hate it only when it does not benefit you or your network. This is harmless, my love.”

She pouted. And relented with a sigh and a smile. “You’re right, of course, Russ. If this person were one of my spies, I’d praise them.”

“Perhaps they need a new employment?”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Or you do.”

“Now that idea,” he crooned as he strolled forward and took her in his arms for the third time today, “is the best you’ve had yet!”



As told in Storm & Shelter in eight original novellas, refugees—the injured, the devious, and the lonely, lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all sheltered at the Queen's Barque Inn. Now concern is buzzing in Fenwick on Sea and across these United Kingdoms, as scurrilous gossip about the goings on during the recent storm spread through the reports in that scandal rag, The Teatime Tattler. Who is the snoop?


Correctly identify the reporter and be entered to win a $100 gift card and other great prizes. There are details and instructions for entering here:


There are clues in every story in Storm & Shelter. Find more clues by following on to each stop in our Snooping Reporter Blog Hop. The next stop is

ABOUT THE BOOK ~ Storm & Shelter: A Bluestocking Belles Collection with Friends

When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.

MY CONTRIBUTION TO THE SET: Lord Stanton’s Shocking Seaside Honeymoon by Cerise DeLand

She is so wrong for him.

Miss Josephine Meadows is so young. In love with life. His accountant in his work for Whitehall. Her father’s heir to his trading company—and his espionage network.

Lord Stanton cannot resist marrying her. But to ensure Wellington defeats Napoleon, they must save one of Josephine’s agents.

Far from home, amid a horrific storm, Stanton discovers that his new bride loves him dearly.

Can he truly be so right for her?

And she for him?

Buy Links:

Amazon US |  Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Google Books | Kobo

Amazon AU |BR |CA |DE |ES |FR |IN |IT |JP |MX |NL |UK

Angus & Robertson


To be in the running for an eCopy of REGENCY ROMPS, Box Set comment below and tell me where is your favorite place to vacation. I’ll generate a random winner Sunday, April 18th.

Good luck and don't forget to continue on to the next stop on our blog hop at CarolineWarfield’s :

Monday, March 22, 2021

First kisses are dangerous! A nibble of my newest Cherry!


Buy Links!

Excerpt, Copyright 2021, Cerise DeLand. All rights reserved. 

SETTING: March 28, 1815

Townhouse of Russell Downey, the sixth earl of Stanton, the night before his wedding to Miss Josephine Meadows, the daughter of his associate, a merchant with whom he often deals to buy supplies for Wellington’s Army on the Continent.

Stanton took her hand. “Come. I’ve something to show you.” 

Josephine could have sworn his bright blue eyes danced, declaring enticing things.

Up the grand main staircase he led her to the second floor, down the long hall, to stand before a set of double doors.

He opened both wide. “Your suite. Or rather, soon to be.”

She gazed upon a sitting room, big as her bedroom in St. James’s Square. And nearly empty.

“Furnishings are spare. The two Hepplewhite chairs you may change, of course. The floor needs rugs. Come in here.” He led her into the chamber with a door ajar to a smaller room, most likely her boudoir. Here before her stood only a gigantic clothes press and smaller French lingerie chest. But there was no bed.

She swung, her mouth open to ask why not.

“I ordered my housekeeper and butler to prepare a list of items the room needed for you. They did, but I must say I failed to choose anything.”

“You’re busy,” she said in quick excuse for him.

“That’s not it at all.”

“No?” Dare she hope he intended to take her to his bed? Tomorrow night? And all the nights thereafter?

He threw out his arms in frustration. “I did not know what to get for you. What you’d like.”

I’d like to sleep with you.

“I want you to have everything you desire.”

The lump in her throat grew large.

“I want you to choose. You have excellent taste.”

“Do I?” she asked, wistful, charmed and so unaware he had ever noticed any details about her person.

That gave him pause. “I know you do. From the green gowns you favor that turn your eyes to emerald and the pinks that accentuate the blush in your cheeks. You are quite stunning.”

No one had ever called her stunning. “Thank you.”

He looked at a loss, this man who had commanded hundreds, fought his opponents to the death and who now ran the logistics of supplies that would either make or break the Duke of Wellington’s forces against the little Frenchman who would not stay in exile.

She got her wits about her. “I didn’t expect you to go to such expense for me.”

“Money has no place in marriage. Not in anyone’s. Not in ours.”

“I agree. And for this, I am delighted to do it.” She smiled and spun, arms out, in full circle to welcome the joys of her marriage. Then she went with her impulse and took two steps toward him, and on her tip-toes, reached up to kiss his lips. Briefly. Too briefly.

He clutched her upper arms and as she stepped away, cleared his throat. “I want you to be comfortable. And happy, Josephine.”

“As I will work to make you happy, Stanton.”

“You’ll make me delirious if you use my given name.”

She tipped her head to and fro. “I must practice.”

“Say it now, then.”


He cocked his right brow. “Russ.”

She let her eyes dance. “Russ.”

“I want this for you, my dear. A completely new start. I owe it to you and to myself. Changing whatever relics of the past that now do not apply to our future.”

“I wish to be your loving helpmate.” 

Once more, he reached out to her and this time, stroked the backs of his fingers down her cheek. “As I will be yours. I am determined to be a good and willing partner, Josephine. Tomorrow I repeat words made by man, meant for God and others. To many who say them, hear them, they are useless. A sign, merely, of lawful commingling. A seal of financial union. I swear to you my words bear none of that. None.”

“Nor will mine.” Ever since I first set eyes on you, I have wanted you for my own. Sans title, money, land. 

His sky blue eyes grew stormy with new happiness and old pain. “Hear me, Josephine. Please, as this revelation is new for me. But I will tell you. I do not wish to belabor you with old sorrows but I will have you know this about me. This, which few have ever learned from my lips.” He seized a breath. “My first marriage was no union of like minds or pleasures.”

He had never spoken of his first wife to her and she doubted to her father, either. While the gossip about the late Countess of Stanton was sparse, the lack of information irritated Josephine especially now that she had accepted his proposal of marriage. A woman who valued an abundance of facts in her work, she knew the past would be vital to understand…and just as vital to avoid duplicating. 

He stared at her. “I married my first wife out of duty. Friendship among our families and land that marched beside each other’s led to an expectation that she and I marry to seal the union of affections. From childhood, I never questioned it. Neither did Henrietta.”

Torment sluiced over his brows and he dropped her hands as if they burned him. Josephine swayed toward him, the magnet of his touch, the hurt of his rejection had always drawn her toward him no matter where he strode.

He took up a stance near the mantel, an Adam’s creation of stark white. His severe black dinner attire created a pillar of harsh contrast to the alabaster. His hand to his lips, the swipe of his fingers across his mouth gave her notice that he meant to continue in this dark vein of remembrance. 

“Growing up together we thought we knew each other. Certainly we valued the same things, didn’t we? The same friends. The Berber horses our fathers raised. The hunt. Poetry.” His pause sent a chill up her back and the hair on her arms lifted. “She wanted to marry young and quickly. Her father had died and her older brother had married. She wished to set up her own house. I agreed to that, to everything. I was free. A carefree lad. Randy, actually. And I had the money. Why should I not marry and indulge us both, eh?

“But I did not see that my agreements were one-sided. I wanted the city. She wanted the country. I wanted the work of Parliament and my friends who worked at Whitehall. She wanted the solitude of her dogs and her roses. When I heard the call of the cavalry and the need to defend my country, she did not approve of my decision to join the Hussars. She demanded I return home and give her babies, days of idling in gardens and reading and pulling deadheads from rosebuds.”

He ran a hand through his hair. The thick mass rumpled wildly around his aquiline features. “She ordered me not to join, not to leave her alone in the country. I refused. For the next few months, she ran hither and yon about the country. Without word of her whereabouts, she kept me guessing. She also kept the ton in ripe gossip. She led me a merry chase. When I learned finally that she had returned home to the Hall, I went there and confronted her. She was wild. She bargained with me. She’d stay in one place if I quit the service and came home to her. She required a constant attendance I could not give her. When I refused, she turned…ugly and took an andiron to me. I bear the scar.”

Josephine’s mouth fell open. She’d never asked how he’d acquired it, assuming it was a battle scar. Oh, my dear.” 

He swung toward her, the horrified look upon his face warning her off. “I left her that night and never returned. I went off to Portugal and Spain, and learned first-hand the delicate art of supplying thousands of men and animals on the march in a foreign land. A year later while I was there, she died of catarrh. I had her buried in her family’s crypt. Six years ago, when I returned home to England, I had the Hall in Bury St. Edmonds stripped of all she’d put into it. Since then, I’ve had a few essential rooms redecorated. That house, too, awaits your kind touch.”

He’d told her last week that he’d written to tell staff there that they would arrive at a future date for a wedding holiday and that she would attend to the renovations.

He threw her a wan smile. “When I married her, I was twenty years old. She was eighteen. I thought I knew her. She said we were…cut from the same cloth. Ah, but what does one know at eighteen?”

I knew I loved you. That first afternoon, when my father brought me into his offices and introduced his friend, the dashing creature who ensured soldiers had uniforms to clothe them, blankets to warm them, beef to sustain them, shot and rifles and cannon and boots.

“I am sixteen years older now, Josephine, and I do hope much wiser. I see in you, my dear, much that resembles my own temperament. You love people and your work, your father and young brother. You see joy in living and cultivate it. I want to make a good husband to you, Josephine, and I promise to give you the best of me.”

No declaration of love, but she would take it. “Thank you, Russ. I do not marry you lightly. I’ve had suitors.”

His face broke into a rueful smile. “I know you have. Many, I would say.”

She took his good humor and wished to build on it. “I refused them all.”

“Good prospects they were, my darling.”

At his use of that endearment, she noted progress in his regard of her. “You knew, did you?”

He grinned. “Your father and I are very good friends.”

She flowed nearer to him, her hands flat to the silk of his waistcoat. “I was never attracted to any of them.”

“I often wondered why. They were young. James Caffrey of Hammond Lane was only twenty-five when he asked for your hand three years ago. And what’s-his-name English? Thomas English is rich as Midas. Clothier to His Majesty’s Army makes him a good catch.”

She toyed with a button on his waistcoat. “Youth and money have their charms but I was not enchanted.”

“Your father was astonished you refused.”

Years ago, he was. Not lately. “Many times, he asked me why. I’m shocked he told you about their proposals.”

Russ reached for her, his large sure hands cupping her cheeks. “Your papa sprinkled details like lures to a treasure. In truth, I heard more from my friends, tidbits of gossip that you would not have any of them. And I rejoiced.”

Her heart pounded with his admission. “I wish I’d known.”

“Do you?” He hooted, hugged her close and kissed her forehead. “Minx! With every man you refused, I could not keep up with the parade.”

“Surely, sir, you can count to five.” 

He guffawed. “Your father counted eight.”

“That many? How complimentary!” She wrapped her arms around his waist and drew back to admire the man who would be hers at last. Here in this noble, honorable, hard-working creature was all she had ever desired of love. “I wanted only you.”

STORM & SHELTER, Box set, 99 cents on pre-order! 800 pages of delight!


Friday, March 5, 2021

A scandalous house party I was fortunate to attend!

Dear Sunday Reporter:

I find it imperative that I comment upon the house party to celebrate the May Day events at Lord and Lady Courtland’s home this past week. While I decline to name us for discretion among the ton, my husband and I are  always invited to the annual event. This year’s frolic was truly a romp!

One lady was known to have secluded herself with a man she barely knows. Another had a most unusual public argument with a gentleman who heretofore was her childhood friend and now, oddly, seems to be her lover! The bride whose wedding we were to celebrate ran off. We know not where, nor does the groom, poor man. And her friend, who has lost two betrotheds, one to casualty of war and another to a terrible catarrh, took up with the vicar and then she disappeared!

Now I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, what kind of party was this to be? 

One shudders to think of the consequences. 

One hopes all these young ladies recover their decorum. Further, one earnestly wishes these young men attend to their manners and their duties. Proposals are expected! Special licenses necessary! Weddings should be soon.

And my, my. I do look forward to next year’s May Day Frolic. Don’t you?


              A lady of fine repute



She believed she destroyed any man who loved her. 

Lady Willa Sheffield had beauty, education, charm, a handsome dowry…and a curse for killing any man who proposed. When she falls for a man who has favor with someone who answers all prayers, she questions if she’s right.

He would move Heaven and Earth to marry her.

Reverend Charles Compton has everything a lady could require: wit, ethics, good family and stable position. But no money and no title. And for a lady who is an earl’s daughter to wed well, she needs a man of some gravitas. But a vicar of a small parish—with rousing political ideas and little income—must move Heaven and earth to make a good future.

Who can doubt the determination or the inventiveness of a man in love?

AMAZON Affiliate:

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Who is a true heroine? What will she do to save those she loves?

A true heroine is not hard to find!

We know that!

Those who are true heroines were those who volunteered during World War One to help save lives of Doughboys!

Five intriguing questions about them!

1. Would you wash your hair in your helmet?

They had to because water was scarce!

2. Would you work in a foreign country for $50 a month?

That was the pay for a nurse, which was half what an Army private earned!

3. For that $50 a month would you work 12 or 24 or 36 hours straight?

As the fighting became more intense, nurses did stand and work hours and days on end.

4. Would you sleep in a hammock in a wardroom in the bottom of a merchant marine ship for 16 nights?

To sail from American ports, nurses did sleep in the holds of ships.

5.  Would you travel on a train for 24 hours which had no bathroom facilities?

American nurses did all of that! And more! 

I hope you will read about them in HEROIC MEASURES, on sale on KOBO until March 1!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Dear Mama, Not all Vicars are prudes! I know!

Amazon! KU!  99 cents Only on Pre-order NOW!

St. Andrew’s in the Field
Courtland Green

The gifts that the Good Lord had granted to Charles Compton, younger son of the Duke of Southbourne, had been many. Sound body, quick mind, kind father, loving mother, formidable education, stout-heart friends and few…if any, foes. He counted these regularly. One should, one would if one were the vicar of a parish with a congregation of one hundred and two souls who were, usually, moderate in their passions and hard-working for their master. Charlie—for he had always thought of himself in that informal way which was the address his mother had used—had come to his calling easily, at his father’s encouragement and at a young age. So when he had chosen to leave his first parish in Sussex and gone off to fight the wars in Spain and France, he’d done it out of as big a love, this time for Country and Crown. His service abroad had been long—years in fact. That it had also opened his eyes to the inhumanity of man to man was a dastardly result. Hard to swallow, really. So when he left the chaplaincy of the Army and returned home last year after Bony had abdicated, his displeasure with the failings of the human spirit had tempted him to leave the clergy altogether. Yet a man must be practical, eh?

And so he had resumed his morning practice of counting his blessings. Soon he was in search of his next assignment and soon took the offer of the Viscount Courtland. St. Andrew’s was a lovely chapel on the man’s estate. And the living he offered Charlie was extraordinarily generous, given the penury that most Anglican clergymen were thrust into upon taking a parish to themselves. That good fortune (not to put too much glory to five hundred pounds a year) was added to Charlie’s daily list.

Among those gifts he praised heaven for, no woman had ever appeared. Oh, he had enjoyed his early years as a young buck in London. His social status what it was, he had similarly well-bred friends and family whose invitations to balls and house parties he always accepted. He knew the One Hundred well. A duke’s son, you know, never lacked for acquaintances or opportunities. His friends and those who were not had marveled that he had decided to enter the Church. 

“Trade?” asked one of his second cousins. “Join me. Sugar from the Indies. I need help.”

But Charlie had declined adventure in the jungles of the New World in favor of the church.

“How can you get on?” his friend, Winston Fullerton had pressed him. “You’ll never have a penny to call your own.”

Money had never been lacking in Charlie’s life so at that point, he easily answered Fullerton that coin was not what made people happy.

“And marriage? Children?” Fullerton had continued. “What if you fall in love?”

“Love,” Charlie had answered, “could come in church as well as out of it.” Or he hoped that would be so. After all, he’d had a general introduction to the varieties of male-female attractions. He had experienced lust, a sad but true admission. Most of those incidents, however, had occurred in his callow youth and five times in Spain (yes, he recalled each one vividly) after imbibing more than a temperate amount of bad Spanish red wine.

Now he was thirty years of age and so, he began to doubt love might come his way. In fact, he doubted love in general came to men easily. He’d seen men slaver after nubile debutantes and wonder at the attraction. He’d seen others mad to possess another man’s wife, a widow or a doxy from the streets. Charlie had admired a few women for their beauty or their skills at cards. But no one woman had ever captured his imagination with a look or a word…or a quest for understanding.

So it was with surprise at himself that he found a woman, head bowed, in one of his pews one spring afternoon, her ebony hair an intricate crown upon her head, her long gloved fingers clasped together in plea, as she argued with God.

“I don’t see why you would do this.” She shook her head, her eyes squeezed tightly closed. “It’s really quite unfair, you know. I’ve been very good.”

He put one hand to the curved back of the sturdy oak pew. He should tell her he was here.

“I’ve been virtuous, Lord. Though who wants to be?” She raised her face. “I’d like a man to savor. A true love to climb into bed with. Just like Esme.”

What? Really? Esme Harvey was Viscount Courtland’s daughter. Esme had climbed into bed with… Oh, this is none of my business! 

“As her friend, I’ve stood by her through all her antics.”

Charlie smiled. A boon companion, eh? Well, hell. Ahem. We all need one of those. Or more!

“To my mother and father, I’ve been respectful. Obedient. Even to the point that now, I cannot be!”

If now she was going to confess sins, he should really make himself known.

“But you know that if I stop agreeing to marry, they will think me odd. I’m not odd!” She sat taller and the lovely line of her profile down the lone line of her neck to her charmingly generous points of her breasts was a vision that set his pulse pounding. And another part of his anatomy stirred to life too.

He raised his hand to announce himself when—

“I will kill them!”

What? Kill? Who?

“You cannot,” she seethed with despair and dabbed at the corners of her eyes, “you simply cannot betroth me to another man.”

No. Definitely not.

That hair, that perfect nose, those wonderfully full lips, that throat and those breasts belong to a man who could savor them…like me.

Friday, November 27, 2020

True heroines to honor!

Many of you know that I am unreal life Jo-Ann Power, that I write historical fiction and mysteries! I republish my 2013 novel, HEROIC MEASURES out January 18. And because of all the research I've done over the decades, I also serve as the curator for the U.S. National World War One Commission for ARMY NURSE COPRS.

Recently, I went to Fort Sam Houston here in San Antonio and took more pictures (most of them obscure and never before published) to show you just how marvelous these 22,000+ women were who traveled far from their homes to nurse wounded Doughboys and comfort the dying.

Please note the descriptions, many of them the originals on the photos. All are black and white and some have been reproduced over the century. But they show how courageous these women were to leave their homes, their towns and travel more than 3500 miles to serve their fellow Americans in need.

I hope you will read my novel, researched for decades, about them, HEROIC MEASURES. Find it here:





For Gwen Spencer, fighting battles is nothing new. An orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt, Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn her keep. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunts demands…and into a world of her own making.

But that world has gone to war.

Volunteering for the Army Nurse Corps, Gwen promises to serve until the end of the conflict, no matter how long that is. She leaves her small hometown with her friends and sails away in the dead of night, chased by German U-boats. Ashore she discovers her new world is dangerous and demanding, helping doctors heal thousands of sick and injured Doughboys in primitive conditions.

Shes determined to overcome the heartbreaks and the challenges. Becoming an expert at anesthesia, she volunteers to go to the front lines with an acute care team. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by pain and despair, she surprises herself when she falls in love with a man she admires—and should not want.

Amid the chaos, she learns the measure of her own bravery to bear any burden, pay any price and claim the one man she adores as she becomes all that she desires.


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

My dear lady, where do you hide your pistol? In your...fluffy...muff?

We've all seen the movie vamp who hides her tiny gun in her purse. Or the back of her jeans. Or slips her dagger into her fishnets. Yes?

But have you seen a lady with a gun in her muff?

Trust me. It will be the New Thing.


Because it was an Old Thing. This Old Thing is from 1805. In its own charming case, this .31 calibre Flint lock pistol was Just the Thing for a lady in need. If she were traveling alone, or about to accost a gentleman, or perhaps even defend herself from lecherous cads, she needed such a handy little item.

Many women carried them, concealed in their fur muffs. True.

My latest heroine, Miss Esme Harvey, has one. Her papa purchased it from a down and out French aristo who needed the money, you see. And Esme has always loved shooting...usually grouse, but she has no qualms about shooting a man if he gets too uppity.

And now, here is Esme with the man she is to marry...until she decides she shan't.

Why? Because Papa will suffer if she does. So will her husband. So she skips town the morning of the ceremony.  Tsk tsk.

Miss Harvey's Horribly Lovable Fiancé, Four Weddings and a Frolic, Book 3

Theirs was to be The Wedding of the Season!

Until the bride ran away and...

The groom chased after her.

Then she pulled her pistol on him…

And thankfully aimed poorly.

How can this escapade end, if she's marrying him for his titles?

And he's marrying her for her money?

Yet their affair appears to be the Romance of the Year?

Excerpt, All Rights reserved. Copyright 2020, Cerise DeLand.

By their fourth meeting—another ball—Northington had been introduced to Esme by a mutual friend. As he took her hand to lead her in a quadrille, he revealed that he’d come only because he’d learned she would attend.

“I’m complimented,” she said, as a challenge to cover her admission of delight.

“Good. Shall I ask you to call me by my given name?”

“You could.”

“Giles. Will you use it?”

“When it’s suitable.”

“You are careful.” He grinned. “I like that about you.”

“Evidently not careful enough. When we met, you found me alone in a most unsuitable place.”

“As you found me.”

She could not help the appeal of his charming mouth. “Did she find you?”

“He did.”

She rolled her eyes at him. 

“You should believe me.”

Time to admit the truth. “I want to.”

He inhaled, frustration ripe on his brow. “Let me talk to you in the hall.”


“Esme—I hope I may address you that way. The hall, behind the marble statue of our host, affords more privacy than here.”

Hope of being naughty with him made her tingle. “My lord, why would we need privacy?”

“Because Esme, I’d like to kiss you.”

She licked her lips.

“I see that idea appeals to you.”

“Are you always so bold with women?”

“Only you.”

Caution was a practice she rarely employed. With him, she should apply it. “I think we’ll wait.”

“Not long, Esme. Not too damn long,” he whispered as he devoted himself to perfection in the rest of the dance. 

That evening, she’d learned from her friends that in the past two years, he’d had two lovers, both wealthy widows. Now he was free of both.

So when he returned to sit beside her, he murmured, “Esme, darling, look at me.”

She’d given in. With such endearments, who could deny him?

His hazel eyes faceted into shades of desire. “I want to become friends.”

“We are.”

“More than friends, Esme.”

She shook her head. She mustn’t lose it. “You’re a marquess.”


“Not considered appropriate for me, a viscount’s daughter.” Furthermore, his father was an old roué. That man, it was said aloud and in gossip sheets, wanted a glorious match for his only son. Specifically, ‘glorious’ translated into rich as Midas. That criteria she fit.

“Will you count me out of your life because of my status?” He joked, appearing amused as well as seriously dismayed.

“You’re twenty-nine,” she said in accusation.

“I am. You are six years younger. Is there a problem?”

“You’ve waited rather a long time to—” Well, why not say the obvious? “A long time to look for a bride.”

“I’ve had other occupations.”

She harrumphed. Yes, she knew two of them, too. “Aren’t you getting long in the tooth?”

He chuckled, looked about and leaned closer. “Do you think me so doddering that I might be incapable of begetting—?”

“No!” She burned with the power of her blush. “No. I do not.”

He laughed whole-heartedly. “I am in want of a wife. And I have looked for one for many years.”

“With any results?”

“None. Until lately.”

So by their fifth meeting (at Lady Elsworth’s tea), they were jovial friends who appeared to one and all to sit and discuss the cartoonist Rowlandson’s ability to portray the ironies of the Royals. 

“May I call on you, Miss Harvey?” he had asked her when those in the room finally left them alone in their cozy corner. 

“Why?” she’d been bold enough to inquire.

“I find I need your company.”

She stared at him and dared not believe it. The way he made her breath hitch just by gazing at her told her that if he pressed his magnificent mouth to hers, if he touched her arm or (please, God) her breast or (yesss) her quivering thigh, she could dissolve into little puddles of goo. And that was no way to maintain one’s reputation, especially if one liked to ride out at dawn or drink three glasses of champagne without comment or censure.

“Have dull friends, do you, sir?” She challenged him. Had to.

“Too many.”

“What of the lady you met in the small salon at Lady Wimple’s?” She had to know from his lips if he was engaged in a new affair with anyone. She wouldn’t stand for him having mistresses. She couldn’t bear the competition. She was no Diamond, no Incomparable. But she had her assets. Good hair. A straight nose. Abundant breasts. So she’d brook no competition. Never. If he wished to marry her, he had to be hers, all hers…or not at all.

“Esme, listen to me.” In that crowded drawing room with dozens of the ton chatting on and noting every eye that drifted to every heaving bosom, he put a hand to hers and held it tightly. “That was no lady.”

Oh, how she wished to believe him. 

“May I call?” he asked once more, his face full of earnest hope.

“Yes.” She wanted him, as she’d wanted no other. “Tomorrow.”

And so he had. 

For three days in succession.

By the fourth day, her Mama (reading the air, Esme supposed) left them alone on some flimsy excuse. 

He moved to Esme’s side on the settee and took her hands. Into both palms, he’d placed hot little kisses. Her nipples had beaded. Her belly had swelled. And her head had swum as he threaded his fingers into her coiffure and placed his firm lips on her own. And oh, he felt like heaven.

“Darling, I want to marry you,” he whispered. His mouth traveled her cheek and he bit her earlobe.

She sank her fingers into his thick soft curls and kissed him back with an ardor that (afterward) frankly shocked her.

“That’s yes,” he stated with finality. “I know it is.” He stood up so fast she thought he’d been shot. He left her there, aching to have his hands on her everywhere. But to his credit, he went in search of a footman and asked for her father. Straight away, he asked Papa who gave his immediate approval.

And then, quick as you please, Northington had disappeared.

The man who had rushed her into courtship, who had teased and bantered and lured her to fantasies of lying abed with him naked, had simply vanished.

Then two weeks ago, he had reappeared at Courtland Hall with a special license in hand. He apologized for his absence, but gave no explanations. Then he had promptly taken her out into her mother’s parterre and had kissed her senseless.

“May second, I want us to wed, darling.”

Not a question. A statement.

And she—twenty-three and aglow from head to heart to breasts to quivering belly—was  in lust with him. She marveled, for she was no twit. No foolish woman whose daydreams ruled her life. No. She’d entertained numerous swains over the years. After all, she was a wealthy catch. She’d refused six gentlemen in marriage. She hadn’t found any of those fellows—titled, well-healed and accomplished in their own rights— interesting or even vaguely exciting.

But this man, this Northington, mesmerized her.

Truth be bald and bold, she pulsed to feel him wholly devoted to her. And soon, all things to her, dear and vital, tender and lusty, sacred and nakedly profane.

That, she concluded, or she was going to run off with him without benefit of marriage and allow him all sorts of liberties.

But that was two weeks ago.

And this morning as she looked out upon the rolling meadow, rosy in the rays of a rising sun, she questioned if her unmaidenly ardor to have him was enough to bind him to her for the next thirty or forty years.

Or did she need much more?