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Elsie carefully balanced the tea service on the tray she carried up the stairs at The Queen’s Barque Inn. She had almost reached the top when the owner’s dog came bounding up behind her barking at her heels begging for attention.

“Not now, Hector,” Elsie said while the dog pranced around her feet. “Can’t you see that I’m busy?” The dog seemed to understand and took off for another part of the inn.

Busy! Busy didn’t even begin to describe what Elsie had been reduced to! She was a lady’s maid and not meant for the duties in the scullery, for goodness sake! But once they had arrived at the inn, Elsie had been overrun with chores after Miss Miranda de Courtenay had offered Elsie’s services. Mr. and Mrs. Brewster, who were the owners of the inn, had been more than grateful to have an extra set of hands to help with their overflowing guests who had also become stranded at the inn due to a storm.

It had taken Elsie a while to get accustomed to where everything was located since the inn was a labyrinth of confusing corridors connecting the entire inn and mismatched rooms with décor from every century of past years. You would have thought the builders would have put more planning into its construction but it appeared as though they added onto it over the years as the owners saw fit. And the cleaning! Why some rooms were so worn down they surely hadn’t seen a proper cleaning in years. Only the mice, rats, and spiders seemed to enjoy these rooms and obviously were not happy their messy domain had been ruined by busy maids.

Some rooms had been converted for the injured and Elsie had been reduced to collecting soiled bandages and used bedding to be laundered. She’d mopped and swept floors until she felt that she’d never stop sneezing from the accumulated dust that reached her nose. Finally, after a hot bath, she was now properly dressed and ready to take tea to Miss Miranda. Perhaps afterwards, she might be able to just go back to her room in the servant’s quarters and nap.

She continued down the second-floor corridor until she saw Charlotte Brewster, one of the owner’s daughters, peering down into one of the more presentable parlors of the Queen’s Barque Inn. At Elsie’s approached, Charlotte silently placed one finger over her mouth and nodded down. Elsie quietly stepped forward to view the scene. One elegantly dressed gentleman sat with two ladies who leaned forward and giggled in delight while he opened a newsprint and began to read.

Gentle Readers:

This just in from The Queen’s Barque in Fenwick on Sea!

Who was the fashionable damsel who entered the inn looking like a drenched field mouse, with no one else to give her countenance but her maid? None other but Miss d.C. Dedicated readers of The Teatime Tattler will be familiar with the escapades of this particular young miss. She has been a frequent piece of tittle-tattle in previous editions, barely escaped ruination in the past several years. There’s sure to be a bit of excitement while she’s stuck here.

Which of the several eligible peers also stranded at the inn will she set her cap on? We’ll just have to wait and see. Knowing her past, anything is possible. Stay tuned for further developments.

An anonymous reporter
for The Teatime Tattler

The gentleman finished and the ladies laughter echoed throughout the parlor. The tea service rattled in Elsie’s hand and when the group below began to look around, Charlotte quickly took Elsie’s elbow so they remained unseen by the nearby wall. Charlotte took the tray from Elsie while she attempted to catch her breath.

“Good heavens! How in the world did that rag learn Miss Miranda was here?” Elsie asked.

“The gentry aren’t the only ones who’ve been spreading the latest bit of gossip. My mum has had to reprimand more than one servant daily to keep their mouths shut whenever that newspaper gets delivered,” Charlotte said with a grimace. “You best make your way to your mistress without delay. She needs to learn that a reporter has somehow learned she’s in Fenwick on Sea.”

“It won’t be the first time her reputation has suffered because of gossip, but it hardly seems fair when this time all she’s doing is going to visit a friend,” Elise said with a frown before she realized she was telling a complete stranger Miss Miranda’s business. Elsie’s eyes widened with worry.

Charlotte gave her a small smile. “I understand,” she whispered before handing the tray back to Elsie. “I must be about the chores my mum has given me but know I won’t say a word about what we overheard.”

“Thank you,” Elsie nodded in gratitude hoping the young girl would be true to her word.

Charlotte left and Elsie took a deep breath before heading toward Miss Miranda’s room. She hesitated but an instant before she gave a short knock. At the call to enter, Elsie opened the door to view Miss Miranda sitting quietly reading a book. Elsie’s expression must have said much for Miss Miranda put the book down in her lap.

“What’s happened now?” she asked as though prepared for the worst.

Elsie placed the tray on a table then poured Miss Miranda a cup of tea, not that tea would actually calm the young lady after she learned she was once again the topic of the latest gossip. “I have news…”


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: https://bluestockingbelles.net/…/wanted-the-snooping…/


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 https://alinakfield.com/storm-shelter-release-day-blog-hop/

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 SETBefore I Found You, A de Courtenay Novella By Sherry Ewing

A quest for a title. An encounter with a stranger. Will she choose love?

Miss Miranda de Courtenay has only one goal in life: to find a rich husband who can change her status from Miss to My Lady.

Captain Jasper Rousseau has no plans to become infatuated during a chance encounter at a ball.

Their connection is hard to dismiss, despite Miranda’s quest for a title at all cost. What if the cost includes love?

Buy Links:

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Angus & Robertson


To be in the running for an eCopy of either A Kiss For Charity or The Earl Takes A Wife (Books 1 & 2 of my De Courtenay series) comment below and tell me: What are you looking forward to the most when we return to our new normal? 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 Alina K. Field’s blog here: https://alinakfield.com/storm-shelter-release-day-blog-hop/