Title: Mysterious Miss Channing
Author: Nadine Millard
Series: Ranford Series
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
Charles Carrington, Earl of Ranford is the very epitome of a devilish rake and he has no desire to change it.
However, taking up the reigns of his family’s estate brings his grand plans of debauching the whole of London to an abrupt halt.
Charles can only imagine the boredom he will experience, living in rural Ireland and being disgustingly respectable.
Then along comes Julia.
Charles has no idea why, but his reaction to the mysterious Miss Julia Channing is more powerful than any attraction he’s ever experienced. And he’s experienced a lot.
She is his opposite in every way; good where he is bad, soft where he is hard and determined to be kind to everyone, which is definitely is not.
But Julia is not all she seems and as their attraction grows, so too does Charles’s certainty that all is not what it seems with the beautiful companion.
Will Charles be able to solve the mystery of Miss Channing? And in doing so, will he find the happily ever after he didn’t even know he wanted?
Georgian/Regency Ireland Fun Facts:
- The Prince Regent, who in 1820 succeeded his father as George IV was the only king to visit Ireland, coming to Dublin in 1821.
- Jane Austen herself mentioned Ireland in her novels, particularly Emma where the elusive Mr. Dixon lived, and Persuasion, where she had Captain Wentworth mistaken for an Irishman.
- And, in actual fact, Jane Austen enjoyed a ‘flirtation’ with Thomas Langlois Lefroy, a man from County Limerick in the south west of Ireland who later became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He left Jane to study the bar in London and then proceeded to marry a wealthy Irish heiress. He wasn’t a popular character to the working classes of Ireland but he always held a special place in Jane’s heart.
- Arthur Guinness, the inventor and original brewer of the famous Irish stout lived in Ireland from 1725-1803 and the brewery still stands in St. James’s Gate, Dublin. The drink sells 1.8billion US pints a year!
- The “Oscar” statuette handed out at the Academy Awards was designed by Cedric Gibbons, who was born in Dublin in 1823.
- The word quiz was allegedly invented in the 1830’s by a Dublin theater owner named Richard Daly, who made a bet that he could make a nonsense word known throughout the city in just 48 hours. Legend says that Daly gave his employees cards with the word “quiz” written on them, and told them to write it on walls all over the city. Some historians argue that the word was already in use at this time, but most agree that it did not acquire it’s current definition – “to question or interrogate” – until sometime in the 19th century.
- In 1800, the population of Ireland was almost twice as large as that of the United States. By 2000, America’s population was about 60 times that of Ireland.
- James Hoban, an architect from County Kilkenny in the midlands of Ireland, designed the original White House in Washington in 1792. After the White House was burned by the British in 1812, Hoban was called in to oversee a three year restoration.
- In 1818 (when Mysterious Miss Channing takes place) there were 198 non-fictional Peers of the Realm in Ireland, 73 of which were Earls like the dashing Earl of Ranford.
- Thomas Moore, the famous Irish poet and composer was born in Dublin in 1779 and died in England in 1852. He counted among his close friends, the infamous Lord Byron and Percey Shelley, whose mother-in-law was none other than Mary Wollstonecraft, a fierce 18th century advocate for Women’s Rights.
“God, I’m bored”, Viscount Charles Carrington, future Earl of Ranford announced petulantly as he stood surveying the guests filling the ballroom of his family’s Mayfair Townhouse.
The ton had converged, en masse, on their stylish mansion to celebrate the much celebrated marriage of Lady Caroline Carrington, daughter of the Earl of Ranford to Mr. Thomas Crawdon, cousin of the Duke of Hartridge.
Really, the marriage should have taken place two years ago but his sister had been a stickler for propriety (meaning boring) and had been adamant that she would only marry a Peer (meaning snobbish).
Tom had been wonderful for Caroline. Loving him meant she was no longer snobbish and, given that she’d hightailed it to London in pursuit of him only weeks ago, she was clearly no longer boring.
Charles had known from the moment he saw them together that there’s was a sickeningly real and everlasting love. Not unlike that of Rebecca, his youngest tearaway of a sister and her husband, Edward the Duke himself.
That one was a bit of a shock, until you saw them together.
Their lives were all insanely intertwined and the four of them were enough to make anyone cast up their accounts they were so happy.
Charles had noticed that Tom had practically dragged Caroline out the door of the mansion earlier with barely a civil goodbye. He refused to think on it any further since Caroline was his younger sister.
It was hard to get away from it, however, since it was all anybody could talk about.
“Disgraceful behaviour”, came the voice of one older lady. “I had high hopes for that girl. He has been a terrible influence.”
“Yes”, came another wavering voice, “but he’s so handsome.”
“And what a reputation he had”, a much younger voice chimed in, one that grabbed Charles’s attention since it was husky and pleasant and the exact type of voice that usually peaked his interest.
“Indeed, Mrs. Campton”.
Ah, the voice was married. Not that that usually stopped him. After all, the ton was nothing if not filled with dalliances between bored spouses.
He was most times willing, and always unattached.
“Mrs. Campton”, he said now to Edward, “do I know her?”
“The wife of Robert Campton, son of the Duke of Salton. A lovely woman.” Edward paused and Charles, in his usual manner immediately took ‘lovely’ to mean ‘attractive’.
“Is she indeed?” he asked, his interest further piqued.
“Oh, yes. Very pleasant and exceedingly attached to Robert and their seven children.”
Charles felt his jaw drop.
“Seven? Good heavens. She did not sound old enough to be the mother of seven children.”
“Well, there she is now”, muttered Edward as a portly woman with a cheerful smile and ruddy complexion came into view, “decide for yourself if she looks old enough. But I assure you, the mother of seven she is.”
Charles shrugged with nonchalance his interest immediately fading. He had no interest in carrying on with somebody’s mother. Or seven somebodies for that matter. What was another woman, in any case? By and large, they were all the same.
And the ones who stood out were the ones who caused trouble. One only had to look at both his brothers-in-law for the truth in this statement. His younger sisters had caused untold problems for both Edward and Tom and still they had both men wrapped round their respective fingers.
Charles was happy for them but had no wish to follow in their footsteps. He had made the silly mistake of falling for a woman’s false charms and protestations of love once before. He would never do so again.
Sighing rather self-pityingly, he wondered if he should take himself off to White’s to drown his sorrows.
Or, perhaps a gambling den where the brandy flowed freely and the women were more than welcoming.
The bride and groom had left, after all. And his father would soon retire.
He frowned slightly as his ice-blue gaze took in his father’s countenance. He seemed older and sicker by the day and the journey from their estate in Offaly, Ireland had certainly taken the wind out of the old man’s sails.
Charles felt a niggling worry. He and his father had been at loggerheads for some years now but Charles loved the Earl, who was a kind and decent man.
His only fault, as far as Charles was concerned, was a determination to see his son return to rusticate in Ireland awaiting the day that he became Earl of Ranford. The problem was that Charles was more than satisfied being a rich and responsibility-free Viscount.
The issue had caused many a headache for both men but Charles grew guiltier by the day. His father did not need the added stress of worrying about his renegade son on top of his health issues. And yet, the thoughts of leaving the thriving, lively city of London for rural Ireland was enough to make him itch.
Try as he might, Charles could not shake his maudlin mood. The weight of responsibility did not lend itself to a jovial party spirit.
The evening, it seemed, would be a dead end. His mood was set and nothing would distract him from it.
His eyes swept the room a final time until a flash of deep, rich red caught his eye.
Charles watched as Miss Channing did her level best to blend into the wall behind her. His eyes raked her from the top of her stunning hair, the colour of a fine claret, right down her breath-taking figure to the tips of her toes. Well, he couldn’t see her toes, he conceded. But they certainly weren’t the parts of her that were holding his attention anyway.
There was an air of vulnerability about her that tried desperately to tug at his heartstrings but he refused to let it. His heartstrings would remain untagged by any woman ever again, he reminded himself fiercely.
He watched as she heaved a great sigh, shifting the bodice of her modest grey gown, and his eyes lit with an unholy blue fire.
Making his way slowly toward her, Charles felt the smile of the hunt begin to spread across his lips.
Miss Julia Channing. It would appear that something could distract him after all.
Ranford Hall, where the story takes place, is based on Emo Court
Emo Court was designed by the architect James Gandon in 1790 for the Earls of Portarlington and is a magnificent example of the neo-classical style. During the middle of this century it was owned by the Jesuits and it was then acquired and extensively restored by Mr. Cholmeley Harrison in the 1960s.
Located in Emo, County Laois, the house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland which were first laid out in the 18th Century and contain formal lawns, a lake and woodland walks with fine trees and shrubs. The house and gardens were taken into state ownership in 1994.
An Unlikely Duchess
I’m Nadine, a writer from County Laois in Ireland.
My debut novel, a Regency Romance called An Unlikely Duchess debuted in March 2014, with Book Two, Seeking Scandal, debuting July 2014. There is a final book in the series, Mysterious Miss Channing releasing in January 2015.
I’m also part of a box set, Forbidden, Regency Romance which contains my novella, A Winter Wish.
My brain is constantly full of stories and characters so don’t be surprised if I come out with something completely different after that…though I have to say, my heart belongs to Regency!
When I’m not writing I can be found scurrying around after my three children. Or perhaps my dog. I don’t scurry after my husband, that’s generally the other way around! 😉
I hate housework so only kind of pretend to do it! Love reading (or research as I like to call it).
I have a brilliant family and wonderful friends who are ever patient and supportive of me.
I’m sometimes asked where my inspiration comes from. I guess it’s from everywhere! I love my gorgeous husband to distraction so that helps! I think I also put a little bit of people I know into my characters…shhhh 😉
Have an ever so mild obsession with Jane Austen and have properly researched time machines in case there’s one who could take me back to 1800s. I know. I need help. My brain might be odd but it’s a pretty fun place to be at times!
My writing really took off when my three year old started preschool. So now, while my seven, five and three year old children are being taken care of by teachers, my characters are being taken care of by me!
To be fair though, I can quite regularly be found at 2am glued to the laptop when I get an idea!