The latest Regency romance short story in our Follyjohn Gossip Series is available now: When She’s A Pretender.
It’s the story of Blythe Ashfield and Lord Derwell.
A new Regency romance short story
Pretty Blythe Ashfield is an heiress. She’s also Follyjohn’s best-known and most notorious spinster. To her horror, and anger — the endlessly gossiping Follyjohn villagers are convinced that she stayed out of sight all through the winter because she bore a child.
Handsome Lord Derwell, Blythe’s neighbor, doesn’t believe the unkind gossip. He’s loved Blythe for years, but he’s never offered for her, because he knows that she has no wish to marry.
Everything changes when Blythe goes visit her aunt in London. She’s escorted by a handsome Russian count, her aunt’s friend. Impulsively, on her return, she tells the village’s biggest gossips that she’s engaged.
Shocked, and angry, Lord Derwell reacts in a way that Blythe doesn’t expect. She realizes that she may have lost Lord Derwell to her biggest enemy. But how can she admit that she lied?
A short excerpt from When She’s A Pretender
Here’s a short excerpt. I hope you enjoy the story of Blythe and Lord Derwell.
Spring, Follyjohn Manor, England, 1817
In every village there’s one person who is the focus of gossip. In Follyjohn, reflected Lady Hollet, it was Blythe Ashfield. Blythe was making a farewell call on Lady Hollet at Follyjohn Manor before leaving to spend several weeks in London with her aunt, Lady Pallenwood.
Blythe lived at Wittonhill Priory, several miles outside the village. With her father long dead, Blythe had looked after her mother in her final illness for three years. However, her mother had died when Blythe was 21, some four years past. Now Blythe lived at the Priory with only her frail grandmother, Mrs. Ashfield.
“I’ll be leaving for town on Sunday,” Blythe told her, her vivid bluebell-hued eyes sparkling. “Shall I take Bella a message from you? I know that she’s invited you to stay with her for her spring ball.”
Lady Pallenwood was a fool, Lady Hollet thought, not for the first time. Bella had far too much influence over her niece. “Bella is giving you a season at last?” She asked, even though she already knew the answer.
“No — I’ve no inclination to marry,” Blythe said, although her eyes clouded little. “Bella says that that would be a sad mistake.”
Why? Blythe was not merely pretty, she was beautiful, with glossy brown hair, and a curvaceous figure. Although small, and older than the crop of debutantes venturing on their first season, she was wealthy. She’d have hordes of men clamoring around her.
Lady Hollet smiled gently. “My dear — do consider that while Bella was unhappy in her marriage to Pallenwood, you might be very happy with a husband and children.”
The Priory, an enormous house, should ring with the laughter of a real family. Besides, when and if Blythe married, it would put paid to the gossip.
Lady Hollet suspected that the gossip stemmed from one source: Marvise Smith. The reason? Jealousy. Marvise had set her cap at Flynn, Lord Derwell.
Derwell Manor marched with Wittonhill Priory. His lordship, a widower these ten years, had something besides money and eligibility: looks that sent women stupid. Unfortunately, while broad shoulders, blue eyes and a lean frame might affect other women, they appeared to have no affect at all on Blythe.
It was common knowledge that Derwell had loved Blythe for years, and had never looked at another woman since his wife’s passing. So Marvise did everything she could to make trouble.
The latest story, a nasty piece of mischief-making instigated by Marvise, said that Blythe had borne a child after her last visit to London. Complete nonsense, of course. Blythe had been ill, and Lady Hollet had visited Blythe and her grandmother often during Blythe’s illness.
Blythe had struggled with a fever for weeks. Her recovery had taken months. Sadly pulled, she hadn’t ridden with the hunt over winter. Nor had she attended any assemblies or parties. Hence, the vicious gossip. Lady Hollet wished that she could slap Marvise’s face.
Inevitably, Blythe had heard about the gossip, and although she didn’t talk about it, Lady Hollet knew that it upset her. She’d become withdrawn, and was even less inclined to visit the village, or to attend any entertainments.
“A visit to London will do you good, but you mustn’t run away, my dear,” Lady Hollet said gently.
When She’s A Pretender is available now.
When She’s A Pretender: A Regency Romance Short Story
One day she doesn't something of which she's ashamed: she lies, and says she's betrothed to a Russian count.More info →