Fiction Fest: Carla Kelly’s ‘Reforming Lord Ragsdale’ wraps March previews

Reforming-Lord-RagsdaleToday’s preview of Carla Kelly’s “Reforming Lord Ragsdale” is the last of the Fiction Fest articles for the month, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be back with more from our April releases next month.

We know you love her books, but you’ll have to wait until October for Kelly’s next release, “Softly Falling.” In the meantime, enjoy this sneak peek and get a few of her other titles to tide you over.


Lord Ragsdale has been mystified by what Emma Costello does during the one afternoon a week he has granted her of leisure time. He is riding with his impeccably proper companion (and part of his reformation), Lady Clarissa Partridge, when he spots Emma going into the Home Office. He learns that she is waiting for an audience with someone in the Office of Criminal Business, and he is determined to learn more. He convinces the skeptical Lady Clarissa to wait, but discovers that Emma is still there, after a long day. Puzzled, he takes Lady Clarissa home and returns to the Office of Criminal Business, to find Emma gone.

Emma was not in the anteroom when he returned, out of breath from running through empty corridors. The porter was gathering up his papers and climbing down from his stool by the inner door.

“We’re closed now, sir,” he said, nodding to Lord Ragsdale. “Come again in the morning.”

“I’m sure that won’t be necessary now,” he said, as he approached the porter. “That pretty woman who was here a moment ago… did she finally get in to see Mr. Capper?”

The porter laughed and shook his head. “I love to diddle the Irish!” He winked at Lord Ragsdale. “She can keep coming back week after week until she wears out, and she’ll never get through that door.”

Lord Ragsdale stared at him. “What are you saying?”

The porter grinned back. “I’m saying that I have no use for the Irish. I think they should all be transported, and not just a select few.”

And so I thought too, he considered, pausing to catch his breath. I hated them all, but now I just worry. He tried again.

“Was she asking for information about someone transported to Australia?”

“Well, laddie, America’s out now. Where else do we send them felons?”

“I’m Lord Ragsdale to you,” he snapped, suddenly furious, and fighting down the strong inclination to grab the man by his neck cloth and do him damage. “Give me a straight answer, or it’s your job tomorrow.”

The porter obviously believed him. “She…she said something about wanting to know the whereabouts of some prisoners transported after the Castle Hill Revolt in 1803.”

Castle Hill. Lord Ragsdale remembered reading about it in the London papers over his morning brandy. There were hangings, which only pleased him at the time, and a man who declared that no one would write his epitaph until Ireland took her rightful place among the nations. He remembered laughing over that bit of high Irish drama.

“And you won’t let her in to see Mr. Capper?” he asked quietly, turning his attention back to the porter. “What gives you that right? You are a scoundrel, and I don’t mind telling you.”

“Y-y-yes, my lord,” the porter stuttered, retreating behind his desk again.

“How dare you humiliate that lady,” he said, warming to the cause and coming around the desk.

The little man scrambled over the desk and darted for the door. “But she’s Irish! She’s fair game!” he shouted as he tripped over the doorsill, leaped to his feet, and ran down the hall, leaving Lord Ragsdale in possession of an empty anteroom.