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Devil's Grace -- Karen Dean Benson


Devil's Grace -- Renn Arelia's Story

Devil’s Grace features Renn Arelia who lived in 1788 in Northern England, in a small town, Cheshunt. She is a feisty, intelligent only child of horse-breeders. She teaches school in rural Cheshunt. To illustrate how determined she is I will reveal a little unknown fact about her. At fifteen, without asking permission from her parents, she petitioned the local vicar to start a school with her as the teacher. Neighbors quickly signed on, and she had a classroom filled with youngsters once the harvest was in, and the work on the farms dwindled. She also, has hardly ever cut her hair and wears it in a braid that falls below her waist.

Her heritage is half-Irish, on her father’s side, and half English from her mother. On Epiphany in 1788, Renn Arelia and her beloved Nana Bee are cooking their feast of roasted goose with stuffing, sticky cinnamon buns and chopped apples and cranberries. Her parents are delivering baskets of food to the families who help with the stables and horses. On this particular day, Raymond the stable master, swings open the heavy outer door and stomps onto the slated kitchen floor, his boots dripping with sleet, hat in hand.

The news he delivers turns a seventeen-year old Renn Arelia into a heavy-hearted and bewildered orphan.


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It’s an intriguing debut novel, the first in her “Ladies of Mischief” series, set in the late 1700’s in England and Spain.

The well-designed 290-page trade paperback showcases eighteen-year-old, beautiful Renn Arelia Sheridan, who’s orphaned when her parents tragically drown in a carriage accident...Read More Ray Walsh-www.curiousbooks.com

historical mention

A letter written by Lord Cochran, Sixth Duke of Chippenham, to his wife-to-be, Lady Barbara, on the eve of their marriage. Lady Barbara is the great, great grandmother of Renn Arelia.      

Armitage Hall
Buckinghamshire, England

My beloved Barbara,
          On this, the eve of our marriage, I take pen in hand in fervent anticipation of the morrow.
          This missive accompanies a gift for you, one I discovered quite by chance during the restoration of the west wing of the Hall. Inside the locket is an etching of a sacred symbol of the ancient druids.  Of course, the large emerald surrounded by diamonds on the lid of the locket might seem the fascination, but it’s the meaning of the locket that is priceless.
          Accompanying this piece of adornment was a parchment written in Edward the Fourth’s own hand and dated 1481.
          It seems that, out of gratefulness for fidelity through the years of the Wars of the Roses, Edward bestowed a peerage on an ancestor of mine, Russel of Yorkshire, making him the first Duke of Chippenham. This Hall was once a stone keep and became Russel’s small kingdom. Edward also rewarded the man’s wife, Rachel, for her years of fealty by placing this same locket about her neck. You might also be interested to know, dearest, there is a full sized portrait of Rachel hanging in the gallery. She is wearing this locket.
          There is a legend signed by King Edward IV, that’s been in the vault through the centuries. It appears he held great store by this piece prizing it for sentimental reasons. Perhaps it was got from his travels in the Emerald Isle were the druids practiced without restraint. He was known for his superstitious ways. The legend reads, “I will glow with golden warmth like a living thing for you and the branches of the sacred oak will spread above you in comfort and strength.”
          Though the Celtic druids have been at rest for centuries, and no longer divine the future by means of rods of yew and magic legends, there was a time the druidic legends were the substance of dreams and thought to hold truths far wiser than we might believe today.
          My love for you dearest, is a warm living thing and like the branches of the oak, my arms spread wide in welcoming you to my home and my life. Tomorrow we begin our life together never again to be parted. Please, wear the Chippenham locket for me during the ceremony as a sentimental symbol of our union.

Yours affectionately and devotedly,
January 1660

Kingdom of Navarre


a shallow creek where Renn Arelia and Navarre water their horses while out riding


a side door of Armitage Hall  Renn Arelia uses to escape her betrothal ball



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