The Servant Duchess of Whitcomb
A Novel in The Scandalous Whispers of the Remmington Realm
Author: Vicktor Alexander
Release Date: November 27, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Pages or Words: 304 pages
Categories: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Gay Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, *Trans, Interracial, Military
Orley Garrick is known throughout Angland not only as the man with two dukedoms but also as the hero who survived a brutal kidnapping at the hands of Nafoleon’s army, never once betraying the secrets of His Majesty. Still haunted by his memories, Orley pushes his crippled body to dangerous limits, all in an attempt to run from the demons of his past.
Until he meets Chester Boland, a maid in his friend’s household. Orley is besieged by desire for this gorgeous male woman, and by a connection he cannot ignore. But there are those within the Remmington Realm who take issue with the Duke’s choice—especially given Chester’s Tafrican lineage.
Having stared death in the face and won, Orley proposes they steal away and elope. However, before they can begin their new life, they uncover dangerous secrets that go deeper than they could ever imagine—involving those they trust the most.
Orley and Chester must discover exactly how deep these secrets run before their enemies make sure Chester is removed from Orley’s arms… forever.
THE SHARP retort of gunfire exploded around Orley Garrick, Duke of Whitcomb, and he ducked, trying to avoid the debris and the bodies of fallen soldiers around him as he surged forward. The smoke from the countless rifles burned his eyes as he desperately looked for the person who had caught his eye. He heard the cries of the dying calling out to him as he rode his horse farther into the thick of battle. Using his sword, he cut down an enemy soldier who raced toward him, mouth open as he let out a battle cry. Orley closed his eyes against the spray of blood across his face and blocked out the sound of the man’s death gurgle as he fell to the ground beneath his own horse.
Orley raced on toward the figure in white who didn’t belong on the battlefield. He called out a warning, telling the woman to be careful, because there was no way a man would be on a battlefield wearing a long, flowing white chemise, free of dust and bloodstain, appearing almost angelic among the crowd of soldiers. The woman didn’t stop. Instead she walked straight toward the commander of the enemy soldiers, and fear filled Orley. He wasn’t sure why; he didn’t know the woman, and yet he could not let anything happen to her.
At that moment, the woman turned to look at him, and Orley gasped when he realized the woman in front of him was not female as he’d suspected but male. Why in the world was a lady on the battlefield?
“You should not be here!” he yelled, trying to warn the male, but just as he got close enough to lift the woman onto the back of his horse, an enemy soldier plunged his sword through the woman’s back and out through his chest. Orley watched helplessly as the woman’s eyes widened moments before he collapsed to the ground, and a grief unlike aught he’d ever experienced ripped through him.
He was not sure how he knew, but the dying woman belonged to him, and someone had just taken him away.
Tossing his head back, Orley let out an anguished shout at the heavens.
ORLEY WOKE, panting and sweating, in the home of his friend, Heathcliff.
Holy. Shit. That one had been very different from his other nightmares. He rubbed his face with his hand and groaned as pain raced through his leg—the one that would never be the same. All because of war, a battle. All because of….
Orley shook his head. No, he wasn’t going to think about that.
Someone knocked lightly on the door, and Orley winced as he realized his plan to come to his room and take a quick nap after his taxing journey out of Tlondon had turned into a deep sleep and a brand-new nightmare.
God, he hated sleeping.
“Enter,” he called out as he sat up and swung his legs off the bed he was borrowing while visiting Heathcliff and Lucien for their country-house party. The door opened, and Orley turned to address the person standing there. He stopped short, almost swallowing his tongue as he took in the vision of the most beautiful creature to have ever been born.
Orley had been privileged to see many beautiful people in his life. Male and female, he was a lover of aesthetically pleasing images and didn’t discriminate. However, all of them paled in comparison to the lovely light-brown-skinned woman in front of him. Orley’s stomach clenched, his groin tightening as he inhaled sharply. The lovely scent of jasmine wafted up to his nostrils, and his eyes slid closed as he relished in the delightful fragrance emanating from the male who had just entered his room.
“Forgive me, Your Grace. I was sent to bring you a light repast and perhaps something to wash up with? His Grace the Duke of Pompinshire thought that perhaps you would like to freshen up before joining the rest of the guests downstairs.” The woman’s voice was soft and lyrical, with a slight lilt to it, and Orley wondered if perhaps he sang. He would have no problem lounging around on the settee listening to him sing or even just talk. Of course, as he took in the male’s appearance, he felt the desire to do much more than just listen to him.
“Your Grace? Are you ill?” the servant asked, and Orley swallowed, shaking his head.
“N-no. I’m fine. Just a bit out of sorts, I’m afraid. I appear to have overslept during my nap, and now I am feeling quite peckish,” he lied.
The woman nodded, his hazel eyes lighting with relief. Orley wondered at that. Was his well-being really of great concern, or was it just because the maid had been sent to look after Orley?
Orley allowed his gaze to rove over the young male’s form again, taking in every detail intently. He would like to have something to conjure up in his mind’s eye later on that evening when he put his hand to his already burgeoning erection.
Wearing the female black dress with a white apron, which was the maid’s uniform that was standard in most homes of the gentry, the young woman had honey blond hair that was currently pulled back in a very luscious chignon at the nape of his neck, and Orley could only imagine how long and thick it was. An image rose to his brain of that hair hanging down over his face as the young woman slid up and down his cock, and he pressed a hand to the sheets covering his waist. The young male’s skin was almond colored, and all Orley wanted to do was spend hours licking every inch of his body. He was not overly tall, only a few inches taller than Lucien, Heath’s husband, but still much shorter than Orley. And where Orley was all hard, thick muscles, the male maid before him was slender, though still with a lovely, toned body.
His slim-fingered hands held a covered silver tray, and Orley gestured him forward with a beckoning wave.
“Well, far be it from me to refuse such generosity from His Grace. You can just place it there on the nightstand,” he directed, watching the sway of the servant’s hips beneath the skirt of his maid’s gown as he walked toward the cherrywood nightstand. Orley shoved his fingers through his blond locks, messing up his hair and throwing his queue into disarray. He was unnerved as the vestiges of the nightmare faded from his mind, wreaking havoc with the lovely, distracting image of Heathcliff’s maid, whose form even now was causing a pleasurable ache in his balls.
“Is there anything else that I can do for you, Your Grace?” the maid asked, his voice hushed, eyes downcast, and a slight tinge of red to his light brown skin.
Orley prided himself on being a man of honor, integrity, and character. As a matter of fact, his grandfather, Charles Edrick Garrick I, the former Duke of Whitcomb, had more than once given him lessons and lectures on the way a gentleman was to behave. Anyone can strut around and use his physical strength to try and prove his brawn. But it takes honor, patience, gentleness, character, integrity, fortitude, knowing when to fight, knowing when to walk away, knowing when to love, how to love, and when to let go, and most importantly, knowing when to use your physical strength and when to be humble, that makes you a man.
Orley had always believed those words from his grandfather, had in fact lived by those words for his entire life. He’d only strayed from them when he’d served in His Majesty’s military and on those rare occasions when he’d allowed Blaine, Heathcliff, and Quincy to talk him into traveling down into the Lower East End to partake of the wares of the light-skirts. And while his grandfather’s words usually guided him, right now he was seriously considering doing something illicit.
He couldn’t believe the images that were passing through his mind. Flashes. Quick, as if they were memories like his time spent on the battlefield rather than the salacious, hopeful yearnings of a desirous, dry, fruitless attraction. However, the longer he spent in the company of the object of his mind’s current musings, the more it seemed his “dry, fruitless attraction” was soaked in hope and possibility. And perhaps it was for that reason that rationality and his grandfather’s words of character, honor, and integrity grew softer and softer until they were suddenly silent. All he could concentrate on was how lovely Heathcliff’s maid was. How round the male woman’s derriere was. How slim his shoulders were. How graceful his neck was.
How full his lips were, and how much Orley desperately wanted to kiss them.
“I think I would really like to know your name,” he heard himself saying.
The maid’s eyes widened, and he gasped softly. “Me, Your Grace?”
Orley chuckled. “Of course you. There is no one else in the room but you and I, and I assure you that I already know my own name. Unless it has changed in the time I have been asleep. It hasn’t, has it?”
The maid giggled and covered his mouth, shaking his head. Orley found himself even more enchanted. When was the last time he’d heard someone allow themselves to be so free that they just giggled? His life was constantly surrounded by danger, drama, gossip, backstabbers, and intrigue. He had a very small group of people he could trust, and they didn’t often have the time to smile, much less giggle. Being around someone who could giggle was a relief. It was like a bright ray of sunshine. Orley absolutely had to have the maid’s name.
“No, Your Grace. Your name hasn’t changed.” The maid glanced away for a moment, as if embarrassed, and then looked back. “My name is Chester.” He executed a flawless curtsy, and Orley rose from the bed and bowed low, smiling at Chester’s gasp. He knew Chester was surprised that a member of the gentry, and a duke no less, would bow to him, but he would soon learn that Orley was unlike every other duke out there.
“It is an honor to meet you, Chester. I am extremely happy to be in your presence and very happy that you will be serving me, and now….” Orley stepped close to Chester, looking down into the young woman’s hazel brown eyes. His heart was pounding, and his leg, for the first time in years, was not throbbing in pain—perhaps that was because only one thing on his body could be throbbing at a time, and his cock already had that covered. “I would very much like to kiss you.”
“Y-you would?” Chester stammered.
Orley nodded, lifting his hand to brush his fingers against the side of Chester’s cheek.
“Is that okay, Chester? I find you to be the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and I would really like to kiss you. May I?”
“You’re asking me?” Chester looked confused. “I was told that men of your standing didn’t ask, that you just take.”
Orley shook his head, saddened by what Chester thought of men of the ton, but he knew Chester’s assumptions came as a result of dealing with “men” of a certain ilk. He would be speaking with Heathcliff about those matters later that week, but at that moment, all of his energy and attention was focused on Chester.
“Of course I am asking you. You always have a choice. Not just with me, but with every single man in the world. You do not have to do anything you don’t want to do. At least, that is the way it should be in a perfect world. So if you don’t want to kiss me, we don’t have to.” Orley would be disappointed, he would be haunted for days, perhaps a fortnight, by the fullness of Chester’s mouth, but eventually he would get over it.
Chester nibbled on his bottom lip and then grinned. “I would love for you to kiss me, Your Grace.”
Orley wanted to let out a loud yell of triumph, but he held back and lowered his lips to Chester’s full, pillow-soft mouth. He was fully expecting the surge of lust that spread through his limbs. Maybe he was even expecting the tingle that spread through his fingers and toes. However, the lightheaded feeling that drowned him in peace and yet simultaneous excitement, and the way his heart sped up, were completely unexpected. He growled and pulled Chester to him, as close as he could possibly get the woman. He felt a bit like a ravenous beast, wanting to devour Chester whole.
He lifted his lips to take a breath, opened his eyes, and gazed down into Chester’s dazed ones. Chester smiled slowly up at him. Orley grinned back, rubbing his hand up and down Chester’s back and already preparing for the next round of kissing.
So he was surprised when he went to lower his head for another kiss and was met with nothing but air and the sound of his bedroom door closing.
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In the spirit of the Regency period in which this book and series is set, I thought I would share some recipes from that era. (All recipes found on http://www.janeausten.co.uk/online-magazine/regency-recipes/)
To Make Mead
To every gallon of water put 4 lbs of honey, and for 20 gallons add as follows: 2 oz of nutmeg, half an oz of mace, half an oz of cloves, 2 ozs of race-ginger, all just bruised, and sewed up in a linene bag; then add a large handful of sweet briar with the above, boil it all together for an hour, skimming it all the time it boils; then drain it off. Add a little balm to it, if it does not work, turn it and let it stand a day or two. Then add the juice of 6 good lemons, with the rind of them and your bag of spices in the barrel. Stop it up close for 10 or 12 months. Then bottle it for use. You may add some more spices if you like it.
-Martha Lloyd’s Household Book
To make tea crumpets
Beat two eggs very well, put them to a quart of warm milk and water, and a large spoonful of barm: beat in as much fine flour as will make them rather thicker than a common batter pudding, then make your bakestone very hot, and rub it with a little butter wrapped in a clean linen cloth, then pour a large spoonful of batter upon your stone, and let it run to the size of a tea-saucer; turn it, and when you want to use them roast them very crisp, and butter them.
—The Experienced English Housekeeper, Elizabeth Raffald, 1769
A Harrico of Mutton
Cut a neck of mutton into steaks. Flour them and fry them brown on each side. Put into your stewpan a piece of butter and 2 spoonfuls of flour, and let is simmer together until is is of a light brown (keeping it stirring all the time). Add to it some good gravy and let it boil up, then put in your steaks, and turnips and carrots and let it stew one hour. Pepper and salt to your taste and 2 Spoonfuls of catchup–when done if greasy mix some flour with cold water and put to it, but let it only boil up once afterwards.
6 pounds boneless Lamb shoulder (or beef roast) cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 Large Yellow Onion peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup water
4 cups Beef Stock
2 teaspoons sugar
4 cups carrots-cut into 1 inch pieces
2 large yellow onions peeled and sliced
3 pounds potatoes or turnips peeled, quartered and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme, whole
1 bay leaf
Put lamb salt pepper and flour in large mixing bowl-toss to coat meat evenly.
Brown meat in frying pan with bacon fat or butter. Put meat into 10 quart stove top casserole-leave 1/4 cup of fat in frying pan. Add onion and sauté till onion begins to color. Deglaze frying pan with 1/2 cup water and add the onion to your casserole with the beef stock and sugar. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or till tender. Add remaining ingredients to pot and simmer covered for 20 minutes until veg. is tender. Check for salt and pepper before serving.
3 lb Assorted white fish, such as sea bass, flounder, red snapper, grouper, perch, sole, pike, haddock, and cod.
1/3 c Olive oil
5 Garlic cloves, chopped
5 To 10 Saffron threads
1 pinch Thyme
2 lg Onions, coarsely chopped
5 lg Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or one diced tomatoes
1 Bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 1 thyme sprig, 6 parsley sprigs pinch each of grated orange peel, ground fennel seeds, basil, and oregano)
2 Carrots, coarsely chopped
2 Leeks, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground -pepper
6 c Water
1 1/4 c Dry white wine or broth
2 lb Clams or mussels, washed
1 t Saffron threads
2 tsp Pernod
2 Baguettes (French bread) cut diagonally into thin slices
2 lg Garlic cloves, peeled
Fillet the fish or have your fishmonger do it for you. Cut the fish into 1-in (2.5-cm) chunks. Marinate with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 clove chopped garlic, a few saffron threads, and a pinch of thyme for at least 1 hour.
Sauté the onions and remaining chopped garlic in 4 tablespoons olive oil for 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bouquet garni, orange peel, fennel seeds, basil, oregano, carrots, leeks, salt and pepper, and cook covered for 10 minutes. Add the water and 1 cup of the wine and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Blend the mixture in a blender for a few seconds and then strain it into a soup pot through a fine strainer lined with cheesecloth. Discard the residue in the strainer. Taste the stock for seasoning. If it tastes a little thin, reduce over high heat for a few minutes until the flavor is more fully developed.
Add the clams and simmer until they just begin to open. Add the fish and the remaining wine and cook at a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Add the saffron threads and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and season with Pernod, salt and pepper. Pour into warmed individual bowls.
Meanwhile dry the baguette slices in the oven for a few minutes and then rub them with the whole cloves of garlic. Top the slices of bread with plenty of rouille and float them in the bowls of soup. Serve immediately.
For a more authentic style, ladle the soup into the bowls and serve the fish on a separate plate to be added by each guest.
Boiled Plumb Pudding
Shred a pound of beef suet very fine, to which add three quarters of a pound of raisins stoned, a little grated nutmeg, a large spoonful of sugar, a little salt, some white wine, four eggs beaten, three spoonfuls of cream, and five spoonfuls of flour. Mix them well, and boil them in a cloth three hours. Pour over this pudding melted butter, when dished.
Susannah Carter, The Frugal Housewife, or, Complete woman cook; wherein the art of dressing all sorts of viands is explained in upwards of five hundred approved receipts, in gravies, sauces, roasting [etc.] . . . also the making of English wines. (London: Francis Newbery, 1765)
454 g/ 1 lb Beef Suet, finely chopped
397 g / 14 oz / 2 ½ Cups Raisins
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
½ tsp Salt
180 ml / 2/3 cup White Wine
5 tbsp Flour, plus extra for dusting
3 tbsp Cream
60 cm x 60 cm /2 ft x2 ft muslin cloth and kitchen string
Set a large stockpot of water on to boil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, wine, cream and nutmeg. Add in the suet and flour. When this is incorporated, add the raisins and continue mixing until a stiff batter is formed.
Thoroughly wet the cloth and dust it with flour on both sides. Lay this cloth across a mixing bowl large enough to accommodate all your batter. Spoon the batter into the center of the cloth and tie it up securely (with a little room for expansion) with kitchen string, being sure to leave long ends to hang the pudding in the water. The pudding should look like a ball wrapped in fabric.
Submerge the pudding in the boiling water by suspending it from a wooden spoon placed across the top of the pot. Boil vigorously for 3 hours, adding additional water as necessary.
Remove the pudding from the water after three hours. Allow it to drain in a colander and then store it in a bowl (to preserve its shape) overnight or for several hours before serving. Reheat before serving. Serve with melted butter.
Melted butter was perhaps the most common sauce to be served with any number of dishes. To make your own, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over a medium heat. Quickly whisk in 2-3 tsp of flour and remove the butter from the heat. Do not allow the mixture to boil or the sauce will separate, thus becoming “oiled”.
Meet the author:
Vicktor “Vic” Alexander wrote his first story at the age of ten and hasn’t stopped writing since. He loves reading about anything and everything and is a proud member of the little known U.N. group (Undercover Nerds) because while he lives, eats, breathes, and sleeps sports, he also breathes history and science fiction and grew up a Trekkie. But don’t ask him about Dungeons & Dragons, because he has no idea how to play that game. When it comes to writing he loves everything from paranormal to contemporary to fantasy to BDSM to historical and is known not only for being the Epilogue King but also for writing stories that cross lines and boundaries that he doesn’t know are there. Vic is a proud father of two daughters one of whom watches over him from Heaven with his deceased partner Christopher. Vic is a proud trans* and gay man, and when he is not writing, he is hanging out with his friends, or being distracted by videos of John Barrowman, Scott Hoying, and Shemar Moore. Vicktor has published numerous bestselling novels and has a WIP list that makes him exhausted just thinking about. He knows that he will be still be writing about hot men falling in love with each other, long after he is living in an assisted living facility, flirting with the hot, male nurses.
Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorVicktorAlexander
Tour Dates & Stops:
2-Dec: Tempeste O’Riley
6-Dec: Love Bytes
7-Dec: Inked Rainbow Reads, BFD Book Blog
9-Dec: Grace R. Duncan’s Blog
Rafflecopter Prize: E-book copy of book, $50 Amazon Gift Card, Scandalous Whispers Swag Pack