Tag Archives: historical romance

Release Blitz: Christmas Angel by Eli Easton

Christmas Angel | Eli Easton

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Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Exclusive to Amazon and Available to borrow with Kindle Unlimited 

Length: 25,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Meredith Russell

Christmas Angel 400

 

Blurb

When John Trent, a dedicated member of the new Bow Street Runners, finds an exquisite carved angel floating in the Thames, he can’t stop thinking about it. He tracks down its creator, a sad and quiet young sculptor. But neither the angel nor the sculptor is done with John just yet. The blasted angel refuses to leave him be, behaving not at all like an inanimate object should.

Alec Allston is resigned to the fact that his love will ever be a river that flows out and never flows in. All he wanted to do was create a special gift so that a small part of himself could be with his unattainable and noble beloved, always. But when the gift keeps showing back up at his shop in the hands of a windblown and rugged thief-taker, Alec will need to reconsider his conviction that love is destined to remain an ethereal ideal.

This book is one of seven stories which can all be read and enjoyed in any order.

The Christmas Angel Series

In 1750, a master woodcarver poured all his unrequited love, passion, and longing into his masterpiece—a gorgeous Christmas angel for his beloved’s tree. When the man he loved tossed the angel away without a second thought, a miracle happened. The angel was found by another who brought the woodcarver True Love.

Since then, the angel has been passed down, sold, lost and found, but its magic remains. Read the romances inspired by (and perhaps nudged along by) the Christmas angel through the years.

Whether it’s 1700s England (Eli Easton’s Christmas Angel), the 1880’s New York (Kim Fielding’s Summerfield’s Angel), the turn-of-the-century (Jordan L. Hawk’s Magician’s Angel), World War II (L.A. Witt’s Christmas Homecoming), Vietnam-era (N.R. Walker’s Soldier’s Wish), the 1990’s (Anyta Sunday’s Shrewd Angel), or 2018 (RJ Scott’s Christmas Prince), the Christmas angel has a way of landing on the trees of lonely men who need its blessing for a very Merry Christmas and forever HEA.

Summerfield’s Angel – Kim Fielding –  Amazon US | Amazon UK

The Magician’s Angel – Jordan L. Hawk – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Christmas Homecoming – L.A. Witt – Amazon US | Amazon UK

A Soldier’s Wish – N.R. Walker – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Shrewd Angel – Anyta Sunday – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Christmas Prince – RJ Scott- Amazon US | Amazon UK

Excerpt

They reached Green Park and paused at its southern end to take it in. It was surprisingly well-attended. The broad lawn, with its distant view of St. James, was dotted with couples and families who strolled the park’s broad paths in their coats and muffs, furs and tricorne hats, enjoying the unseasonal weather. Many carried lanterns so that dozens of flames danced here and there in the park in spectral fashion.

“Would you care to take a turn around the park?” Trent asked. “Or would you rather head back? You must be tired after a long day.”

“No. No, please. How could we resist a scene like that? It looks like a fairy kingdom. We must walk it,” Alec said with feeling.

Trent gave a low chuckle. He half turned so that he could gaze at Alec’s face. “I’ve noticed you’ve a fondness for the fairy kingdom. Your sculptures have a hint of it.”

“They may do,” Alec admitted. “But—”

The words evaporated when Trent pulled the glove off his right hand and raised the backs of his fingers to Alec’s cheek. “Not too cold?”

How his hand could be so hot was a mystery. Or perhaps Alec’s cheek was just that cold. But the touch seared him. His eyes watered, and his insides swooped as though his heart were a bird diving into the sea. He had a strong urge to lean into that touch. He swallowed, his voice gone.

Trent’s smile faded, and he gazed at Alec so seriously for a moment. Then he dropped his hand. “You’re not too cold to go on?”

“No,” Alec said quietly.

“Then let’s promenade, my fairy prince.”

That was so patently absurd it made Alec laugh and the spell was broken. Trent switched to Alec’s other side and this time he took Alec’s arm without asking. Instead of clasping him above the elbow, he threaded his arm through and wrapped it around Alec’s bicep. It was a more secure hold, and it brought them together hip to shoulder, almost huddled against the chill.

They moved onto a path, Alec’s heart once again thudding heavily, his mind a whirlwind.

He can’t truly be interested in me that way, a voice whispered in his head. Only it was getting harder to believe. Honestly, Alec was less interested in believing it.

Trent couldn’t be interested in him professionally. Alec had never witnessed a murder or committed any crime. And while sodomy was illegal, Alec had never done the act. Surely a Bow Street Runner would not set out to entrap a lonely sculptor who was minding his own business.

No, Trent had found the shop because of the angel. The question was: why had he kept coming back?

He decided to broach the subject because his heart couldn’t take much more of this. And it was awfully hard to stand on one’s principles and reject a thing if one wasn’t even sure the thing was on offer.

“You said you are not married,” he began.

“No. Nor do I ever intend to be.”

“Because your profession is dangerous?” Alec asked, then cursed himself. He was so used to skirting around the subject he found it difficult to get even close without shying away in the opposite direction.

“No,” Trent said, squeezing his arm. “No, Mr. Allston. I will never marry because there will never be a woman I want in that way, and to force one to live with half my affection would be wrong.”

“Ah.”

It was like a dash of cold water in the face, one meant to wake the sleeper. Trent couldn’t be more clear. A trill of fear went through Alec at his boldness, at what he was very nearly saying out loud. He remained silent.

They continued down the path. Trent’s hand was firmer now because Alec’s legs had gotten weaker and he was barely going on. They passed two older gentlemen in black tricorne hats with gold trim, both smoking cigars. They all nodded to one another.

“Pardon me if I’ve offended you,” Trent said after the two men had passed. He sounded worried, and Alec realized he was not as brazen as he appeared.

“No. No… I.” He kicked himself for his hesitancy. He wouldn’t be a coward now, not when Trent had put his neck on the line. “What I mean to say is, I am also far from a Lothario when it comes to the female sex. I’m not made that way. That’s why I… why I have decided to remain unwed. And to dedicate myself solely to my work.”

“You’re talking about a life of celibacy.”

Alec swallowed. As usual Trent’s bluntness was a little shocking. “Yes. It’s not so rare. Those in certain professions—priests, for example—have abstained for centuries.”

“That’s bollocks,” Trent said strongly. “And from what I’ve heard about priests, they’re not as celibate as all that.”

“But… If you can keep your mind pure, surely that’s a state to be wished for. To live for art and higher ideas. Particularly if one’s predispositions are not… are not in the natural way of things. I think—”

“Let me ask you something,” Trent interrupted with a hint of impatience. “Would you find it admirable if a man never ate? So that he became skin and bones and got ill and abandoned his duties? And all the while he looked to the heavens with pious eyes and insisted God wanted him to starve to death because gluttony is a sin. Is that something to be admired? Or would you think he had a bat in the belfry?”

Alec pressed his lips together. “That’s not the same thing.”

“Or what about a man who refused to shit? Just kept it all bottled up inside because he felt it was beneath him?”

“Mr. Trent!” Alec gasped.

“We are physical beings, Mr. Allston. We must eat and shit and drink and move and make love. If you ask me, denying any part of our physical nature is not only a tragic folly, but it’s bound to lead to misery in the end. If you want to be happy in life, honor your physical nature, in moderation, with an eye to not harm anyone else, and, indeed, to do good where you can. Art and the church and politics and the law, they enrich a man’s life, to be sure. But the physical self is the base of well-being.”

Trent talked passionately, and Alec had to admit, he made a good argument. He thought of the way William had spoken about denial of the body’s longings as the highest aim, that purity was the only possible state for a man of elevated consciousness.

Yet now a very unhappy thread of doubt crept in. Did William espouse that course merely to avoid intimacy with Alec? Was it his way of holding Alec at arm’s length? Surely, he wasn’t planning to be celibate with his wife. There were the heirs to secure, if nothing else.

Damnation, he didn’t want to think about William and his bride. Tonight, of all nights, he didn’t want to think about William at all.

“But what if… what if one’s physical self, one’s innate appetites, would lead one to acts which are immoral and illegal? In that case surely it’s better to abstain entirely?”

Trent stopped walking. He turned to grasp both of Alec’s arms, as though he wanted to shake him. But he only held him firmly and stared intently into his eyes.

“Do no harm. Does it harm anyone if two people come together who want each other? If they give one another pleasure and warmth and smiles?”

He made it sound so innocent. “But they arrest men for it. Men have been executed!”

Trent’s expression grew pained. “Well I know it. A fellow I board with, Stockbridge, was caught up in that witch hunt in ’26, poor sod. Before that nobody much cared, then the Reformation societies got it in their heads that London was a pit of wickedness and God would destroy it like Sodom if they didn’t ensure that no one ever had a lick of fun again.”

“I’m familiar with the type,” Alec said dryly. He saw them often on the street corners passing out their pamphlets and raging about sin. “They’re terrifying.”

“They are,” Trent agreed. He sighed and took Alec’s arm again and they began walking. “I don’t know if you’ve heard much about their tactics, but back in ’26 they sent agents provocateurs into the molly houses in Holborn and Moorfields and entrapped men, spied on them. They threatened the younger boys with trial and execution if they didn’t testify against their regulars. It was a bloody rout.”

Trent sounded disgusted. Alec said nothing, but his heart was heavy. This was precisely what he feared.

“But,” Trent said firmly. “They’ve found other bushes to beat, and men have gotten shrewder and more secretive, and there hasn’t been a fuss made in some time. One must be careful, but, for God’s sake, we can’t stop living.”

Alec thought about that. “You see no conflict in breaking the law given your profession?” He asked not as an admonishment, but because he truly wanted to understand this complicated man.

“I’m a great respecter of the law. And there are cases which should be pursued. Children despoiled or forced into prostitution, people injured for the sake of another’s pleasure, rape. But not every law is reasonable or fair. Some things are simply misunderstood, minds blindered by tradition. And I return to my earlier point, do no harm.” He sighed. “I suppose you think me a bloody hypocrite.”

“I don’t think so. Not unless you arrested men for doing what you do yourself.”

“That has never come up, and if it did, I would refuse. Fortunately, Judge Fielding is a practical man. He doesn’t apply himself to the cause of London’s morality. We have work enough with real crimes.”

A family with a pretty, round-faced wife in a bonnet, a pleasant-looking husband, and a boy and girl of around ten approached. They greeted the family and received cheerful salutations in return.

What a strange world it was, Alec thought, with so many configurations. Young and old, large families and small, elderly couples, newlyweds, gentlemen who perhaps were bosom friends but would be horrified at the idea of more. And those who got up to things behind closed doors of which no one was the wiser. He supposed it must be so. He and William had carried on their dalliance, mostly in letters, true, but no one had guessed. And who knew but that the butcher’s wife had been secretly in love with the baker for decades? It reminded him of his shop where shepherdesses lounged on tables next to African beasts and King George in his coronation robes was arranged across from a humble field mouse.

Alec had thought himself a solitary figure, set up upon some high shelf, removed from it all. But here he was.

About Eli

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Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been an MM romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.

Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.

In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog-shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.

In 2018 Eli hopes to do more of the same, assuming they reschedule the apocalypse.

Her website is www.elieaston.com
You can email her at eli@elieaston.com


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Book Blitz: Nova Praetorian by N.R. Walker

Nova Praetorian | N.R. Walker

Publication date: October 26th 2018

Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBTQ+

Quintus Furius Varus is one of the best lanistas in Rome.

Tall and strong in build, fearsome in manner, and sharp of wit, he trains the best gladiators bound for the arenas of Rome.

When Senator Servius Augendus seeks personal guards, he attends the Ludus Varus for purchase of the very best.

He puts to Quintus an offer he cannot refuse, and Quintus finds himself in Neapolis, contracted as a trainer of guards instead of gladiators.

Kaeso Agorix was taken from his homelands of Iberia and delivered to Rome as a slave. Bought by a senator to be trained as a guard, his fate is handed to the man who would train him.

Absent free will, Kaeso knows his life is no longer his own, though he soon realises the gods have favoured him when he learns his new master has a kind heart.

Quintus and Kaeso forge a bond that far exceeds the collar at Kaeso’s neck, and together they discover the senator’s move for promotion has an ulterior motive.

Thrown into a world of politics and conspiracy, of keeping enemies close, they move against time to save Rome before traitors and the gods themselves see to their end.

And in doing so, see the dawn of the nova praetorian—the new guard—rise.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Kaeso was again the first to arrive in the training yard, and this pleased Quintus. “I trust the morning sees you well.”

Kaeso acknowledged this with a nod. “And you?”

“Quite.” Quintus held back the smile that threatened his lips and threw a rudis to Kaeso. “Do you favour odds against me when it is us alone? A practice round, perhaps?”

Kaeso caught the wooden sword with ease and smiled. “I have no coin and can wager only pride.”

Quintus grinned at his offer accepted. “Pride is a price we both can afford to pay.”

They stood facing each other, practice swords at the ready. Circling at first, daring to see who made move to strike. Quintus could see strategy in Kaeso’s eyes, and as the smaller man lunged at him, Quintus laughed as he deflected easily, rounding upon him to make contact at his ribs. “Leave your side open for attack like that and your innards will find the dirt at your feet.”

They circled each other again, Quintus seeing every move of foot, every flinch of muscle, every intent in Kaeso’s eyes. They struck again, countered, attacked, and defended, and Kaeso kept favouring a rounded strike. Again and again he made the same move, and just when Quintus was about to reproach him for a foolish tactic, he sidestepped, feigned defence, then moved to attack as Quintus was caught off guard.

He struck the rudis to Quintus’ ribs without force. It was a fair strike. A good strike.

Kaeso stood back, wary and fearful, and he lowered his weapon. Quintus was surprised to be hit, yes. But also pleased. He let out a laugh. “The rabbit shows cunning.”

“You are not offended?” Kaeso asked.

“Offended only at my own mistake.” Quintus’ grin widened as he raised his rudis and resumed position. “Again.”

By this time, the other five guards had appeared. Upon seeing the two men fighting, they were alarmed but soon realised it was only sport. The more the two men lunged and struck, parried and deflected, the more Quintus laughed and Kaeso smiled.

“You hold back,” Kaeso said, easily deflecting a move.

“How so?”

“If you held true concern, you would be absent a smile.”

Quintus lowered his rudis and stood to his full height, their sparring over. “And I would be a fool to think you showed full force in return also.”

Kaeso lowered his head as if to hide the beginning of a smile, but he did so without answering.

Author Bio:

N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance.

She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things: a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things… but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since…

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Sweet slow burn historical romance set in 1919’s Paris

A Position in ParisA Position in Paris by Megan Reddaway

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a historical romance with a difference as everything is written in first person epistolary style through the use of journal entries.

It works quite well as it fits into the narrative style of this slow burn novel, set in Paris just after the end of the Great War as the powers that be came together to hash out the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

The protagonists are a former Army Lieutenant Colonel, holder of a Victoria Cross and missing an eye and a leg for his efforts, and a young man in reduced circumstances supporting his mother and brother under strained conditions due to a family scandal.

The pace suits the period, it’s sombre and languid with brief flashes of emotion and I quite enjoyed it. I think, personally, I’d have preferred there to be more time with the two men together once they’d managed to overcome their obstacles and I’d have liked a bit more on page emotional and sexual contact between them but that’s just a personal choice.

What’s there works for the story.

#ARC kindly provided by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

View all my Goodreads reviews

I love a good historical and this one got it right

39738968A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a good historical and this re-release from Heidi Cullinan is just that, filled with wonderful characters and the flavour of London life.

This isn’t the typical historical though, our heroes have serious issues, one’s a professional sodomite, the other’s an opium addict with a debilitating stutter.

But together they find the courage to be more and they truly are beautiful when they learn to live with their demons. There’s some other drama keeping the plot tension going too and I loved all the secondary characters like Rodger and Penny.

There is a bit of a nice tidy “tie all the ends up” plot development which kind of felt a bit too convenient, but it did fit in with the previous behaviour of the villain, so it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

I also loved all the botanical references, this point in the Victorian time period was a fascinating one for the natural arts and sciences.

#ARC kindly provided by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

View all my reviews

Release Blitz: Kidnapped by the Pirate from Keira Andrews

 Buy Links: Amazon US |Amazon UK

Length: 85,000 words

Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Design

Blurb

Will a virgin captive surrender to this pirate’s sinful touch?

Nathaniel Bainbridge is used to hiding, whether it’s concealing his struggles with reading or his forbidden desire for men. Under the thumb of his controlling father, the governor of Primrose Isle, he’s sailing to the fledging colony, where he’ll surrender to a respectable marriage for his family’s financial gain. Then pirates strike and he’s kidnapped for ransom by the Sea Hawk, a legendary villain of the New World.

Bitter and jaded, Hawk harbors futile dreams of leaving the sea for a quiet life, but men like him don’t deserve peace. He has a score to settle with Nathaniel’s father—the very man whose treachery forced him into piracy—and he’s sure Nathaniel is just as contemptible.

Yet as days pass in close quarters, Nathaniel’s feisty spirit and alluring innocence beguile and bewitch. Although Hawk knows he must keep his distance, the desire to teach Nathaniel the pleasure men can share grows uncontrollable. It’s not as though Hawk would ever feel anything for him besides lust…

Nathaniel realizes the fearsome Sea Hawk’s reputation is largely invented, and he sees the lonely man beneath the myth, willingly surrendering to his captor body and soul. As a pirate’s prisoner, he is finally free to be his true self. The crew has been promised the ransom Nathaniel will bring, yet as danger mounts and the time nears to give him up, Hawk’s biggest battle could be with his own heart.

Excerpt

Cover

 

1710

If pirates were to be the bloody, savage end of Nathaniel Bainbridge, he wished they’d get on with it.

The windswept deck was damp beneath his bare feet, prompting thoughts of the dewy grass of home. What he wouldn’t give for the freedom to run across the fields of Hollington Estate, wind rushing in his ears over the steady thump of his heart, the world falling away in his wake.

Instead he was confined by an endless, restless sea taunting him with its wildness. In England, he’d heard countless tales of villainous pirates and their dastardly deeds. People spoke as if the ocean teemed with the brigands, but the voyage had been mile after mile of…nothing.

Nathaniel shook his head at his foolishness. Not that he actually wanted pirates to attack their ship and massacre them. If only he could move, he would keep boredom at bay.

He gripped the railing, longing for dirt beneath his nails, scratches on his palms from tree bark as he climbed and explored, wonderfully aching muscles from hours in the lake. If he could only run a simple mile. Hardly any distance at all, but trapped on the ship, that much clear land would be a marvel.

He wiped sea spray from his eyes. If only the ability to run and jump and swim was worth anything at all in his world instead of being childish folly he was supposed to have outgrown. Men did not climb trees or swim for hours, and certainly they didn’t run for the sheer pleasure of it the way he had at Hollington.

Of course, the estate wasn’t theirs anymore, sold off to pay debts, so even if he made his way back to Kent one day, he would never return to those rolling hills. Its verdant trees and round, tranquil lake would now be home to another family.

No, for the foreseeable future, home would be Primrose Isle, a new colony his father desperately wanted to see flourish. Walter Bainbridge had found his fortunes in England not the least bit fortunate, and as a governor in the New World had the thing he loved most dearly: power.

Nathaniel’s future bride waited there. Elizabeth Davenport stood to inherit quite a fortune, and for the colony—and Walter—to thrive, alliances had to be made. So Nathaniel would do the only useful thing he could and marry.

He brushed a fresh spray of briny seawater from his face as he stared out at the endless night, keeping a firm hold on the rail. His untucked shirt flapped in the breeze, the lower fastenings on his breeches unbuckled under his knees.

In the dark, there was no one to comment on his state of undress, and he supposed the crew didn’t care a whit anyway. His trimmed hair curled at the ends in the dampness, and he tucked a lock behind his ear. It had been his little act of rebellion to cut it much shorter than most gentlemen. He certainly wouldn’t be wearing dreaded wigs, either, if he could help it.

Clouds conspired to hide the stars and razor-thin crescent of moon. He shivered in the late September night’s chill; he really should have worn his hated shoes and jacket.

At least the wind was no longer the bitter cold of the mid-Atlantic as they neared the West Indies. He shifted back and forth on his feet, lifting them like a racehorse stamping at the starting line.

The Proud William was fairly large, a merchant ship carrying a cargo of salt fish and forged metal tools to the colonies. But when he’d attempted even a light trot around the main deck, the crew had reacted with consternation at best, hostility at worst.

Running was his very favorite activity and the thing he excelled at most in life—much to his father’s disgust. Swimming in the lake in summertime, cutting through the placid water with sure, even strokes, was a joy as well.

To be surrounded now by endless water but unable to dive in and soothe his cramped muscles was the worst torture. He’d asked the captain if he could at least climb the mast or sail rigging and had been flatly refused.

So he stood by the starboard rail and sometimes paced, careful to stay out of the crew’s way. At least he had been told their progress was swift, and that after a month’s voyage—thirty-one days and some thirteen hours since they left England, to be exact—they would reach the island in a fortnight if the wind held.

He was informed that some ships took several months to reach the colonies. Ships could leave London the same day and arrive weeks or more apart. Such was the way of the sea.

Staring out at the nothingness, he stopped his restless shifting and squinted. The weak sliver of moon had valiantly escaped the clouds for a moment, and Nathaniel thought he spotted a strange kind of movement. The night took on shape before becoming uniform once more.

Perhaps it had been a great ocean creature surfacing—a whale or giant squid, or some kind of mysterious monster.

He chuckled. Earlier that evening, Susanna had read aloud fables from one of the old leather-bound tomes they’d brought from home, and his imagination was clearly running wild.

She’d always been the far more indulgent of his two older sisters, and he knew she’d packed books he’d favor, although she certainly had a taste for adventurous tales rather than the sentimental stories ladies were supposed to read. They’d both enjoyed the diary of a naval captain who’d served on several ships of the line and described life aboard in vivid detail.

Although the cabin Nathaniel and Susanna shared was tiny, at least they had privacy. He really should rejoin her in their cabin to sleep and end another interminable day, but the walls closed in on him, and it felt like a prison. Susanna’s thunderous snores didn’t help matters, but he couldn’t begrudge her anything.

For the hundredth time, he wondered what his life on Primrose Isle would be like. The colony was only a few years old, and there had been whispers of struggles with agriculture and trade, rumors of corruption and settlers packing up already.

He’d be forced to work for his father or at some other respectable job procured for him, like Susanna’s husband, Bart. Handsome Bart was thirty and penniless, but of good breeding and an agreeable disposition. He and Susanna had insisted on each other, waiting several years until both their fathers gave in and agreed to the match.

Bart seemed happy enough to do Father’s bidding, including leaving early for Primrose Isle some months ago, not knowing at the time Susanna was with child. When Walter Bainbridge made a demand, it was met. Sometimes Nathaniel marveled that a man he had rarely seen since childhood could loom so large.

Susanna and Bart had hated to be parted, but she was needed to oversee the packing up of the estate and auction of the more valuable items. Certainly it couldn’t have been left to Nathaniel, who wouldn’t have known where to begin given he’d spent as much time outside away from the ornate house as he could.

Nathaniel had considered refusing when he and Susanna were summoned. But what would he do? Where would he live? His marriage to Elizabeth had been agreed upon by their fathers, and should he fail in his duty, Walter would disown him. He’d have nothing, not even a roof over his head.

Bile rose in his throat. No, that would not do. So onward to Primrose Isle he went, to marry as his father saw fit. All he knew of Elizabeth Davenport was that she’d lived with her wealthy family for some years in Jamaica before her father joined forces with Walter to establish a shipping company on Primrose.

Well, he also knew her writing was unfailingly neat, and from Susanna’s recounting of the letter, that Elizabeth enjoyed needlework and greatly looked forward to sharing her life with him.

He’d received her letter just before leaving England and had burned it in the grate in his room. At least the voyage was a worthy excuse for not responding. And as much as he’d wished to stay in England, he couldn’t allow dear Susanna to sail the perilous Atlantic alone.

Although with how smooth their journey had been, completely lacking in beasts of the deep or even a gale of note, he apparently hadn’t needed to fret. Still, it was done.

He’d accepted years ago that he was feeble-minded, and although he knew he should be grateful for the opportunity to hold a position of at least some stature on the new colony, he dreaded the notion of truly being under his father’s thumb once more.

It had been blissful having his father overseas for years. He supposed he should feel remorse for such churlish thoughts, but there was so much else to consume his stores of guilt.

So much else indeed.

He turned away from the rail, resigning himself to another long night in the swaying hammock. Susanna was of course sleeping in the cot in the only cabin their father could afford now that he’d squandered so much money.

The cry from above pierced the night, and Nathaniel jumped a mile.

“Sails!”

In the flurry of activity and shouts, he pressed himself to the ship’s side as the crew emerged from the hull like ants. Nathaniel squinted into the darkness, turning to and fro and seeing nothing.

Then he spotted it—the hulk of a ship emerging from the night, not a single light flickering upon it, drawn to The Proud William like a moth to flame. With a sickening twist of his stomach, he realized he had indeed spotted a monster, and it was upon them.

He raced down to the cabin, bursting inside. Chestnut curls unpinned and tumbling over her shoulders, Susanna bolted up on the cot, her book thudding to the floor. One hand pressed to her round belly, she cried out, “What is it?”

“I think it’s pirates.” He could hardly believe the words as he uttered them. Had he wished them into existence by grumbling over boredom? Oh, what a fool he was.

The blood drained from Susanna’s sweet, round face. “Pirates?”

“I don’t know what else it could be.” He threw open a trunk and dug for his sheathed dagger, cursing himself for not raising the alarm sooner. His mind raced, thoughts jumbled as he grasped the hilt of the weapon and tossed the leather scabbard aside.

The thunder of the crew’s footsteps shook the ceiling, dust motes shaking loose and shouts filling the air. Susanna looked down at her nightgown, despairing.

“There’s no time for petticoats or any of that nonsense.” She threw her flowing green gown over her head, her voice muffled by it. “My God, it really is pirates, isn’t it? Oh, I think I’m stuck.”

Nathaniel helped tug the material down over her swollen belly. She emerged from the folds of soft fabric and peered up at the ceiling, as if she could see through the hull. Footsteps scuffled and thumps reverberated, tense voices shouting commands too distant to make out clearly.

Susanna whispered, “No gunshots. Must be too many. The crew isn’t fighting them. Help me pin this shut.” She had stopped wearing her corset, adopting what was apparently a new French style while she was with child.

After he’d pinned the material enough that the robe-like gown would stay put, drawing a prick of blood from his fingertip in his haste, Nathaniel yanked on his stockings and refastened his breeches below his knees before jamming his feet into his buckled shoes. He wouldn’t face these brigands in a state of undress.

He tucked the dagger into the back of his trousers and whipped on his sleeveless waistcoat, fingers clumsy on the buttons. But there was no time for his cravat or jacket. Raised voices already echoed down the corridor. He spun about, belatedly hoping to find something to bar the door.

Susanna had apparently had the same thought. “The trunks aren’t heavy enough. Besides, it will only anger them. It’s no use.”

“Get behind me.” He urged her to the back of the cabin, which was barely wider than the breadth of one’s outstretched arms.

“Be sure to mind your tongue,” she said. “You know how thoughts can sometimes go right from your head and out your mouth without pausing for assessment.”

He huffed. “What exactly do you think I’m going to say to pirates?”

“Shh!” She slapped his shoulder. They waited, listening.

More pounding footsteps, and shouts that possessed an undeniably feral quality. The hair on Nathaniel’s body stood on end, his mouth going dry. Perhaps the pirates would pass them by. Perhaps they’d plunder the cargo and be done with it. Perhaps—

The door burst open, almost flying off its hinges, and Nathaniel barely held in his yelp. His heart drummed so loudly he was certain the two invaders could hear. One of them brushed matted hair from his eyes. They both wore ripped and stained trousers as baggy as their shirts, and their boots were worn out.

The long-haired man’s beady gaze raked them up and down, and he asked his squat companion, “You ever fuck a bitch with pup?”

Nathaniel’s stomach swooped. How do they know? Susanna was hidden behind him. He lifted his chin, forcing strength to his words. “You shan’t lay so much as one filthy finger on my sister.”

Ignoring him, the squat man leered, baring snaggled, yellow teeth. He answered his friend’s question. “Good and juicy, I tell you.”

Behind him, Susanna dug her fingers into Nathaniel’s shoulder. Heart in his throat, he yanked the dagger from the waist of his breeches, brandishing it toward the pirates. “Stay back!”

The two blinked at Nathaniel, then each other, before bursting into raucous laughter. The long-haired man said, “Oh no, we’re done for, Deeks!”

Heavy footfalls sounded in the corridor, brazen and commanding. Spines snapping straight, the pirates stepped aside as a man filled the doorway, shoulders almost brushing the frame. He was tall enough to duck slightly as he entered, and his sharp gaze swept the cabin, which had never seemed quite so small.

He wore black from head to gold-tipped toes—open-collared shirt, trousers tucked into knee-high boots, and a long leather coat that flared out behind him. A pistol was tucked into his wide belt, and a cutlass winked from his hip. Gold gleamed on the belt buckle, matching the small square earring in his left ear, rings on his fingers, and the tips of those black boots.

The ends of a red sash dangled over his hip, the only splash of color aside from the gold. He had to be twice Nathaniel’s age, his face weather-worn, a scar jagging across his left temple. His dark hair was cut fairly close to his head, a surprise since Nathaniel had expected all pirates to have long, unruly hair like the animals they were.

His trimmed beard shadowed his strong jaw. In the low light, the color of his narrowed eyes was impossible to ascertain, but Nathaniel imagined they must be as black as the pirate’s soul.

He might have been the very devil himself.

Nathaniel’s palm sweated around the handle of the dagger, and he hated the tremors in his outstretched arm. His throat was painfully dry, and he croaked, “We—we don’t have anything of value. No gold or jewels worth your effort.”

Susanna added, “Even my wedding ring is plated.”

Tully, one of the Proud William’s young crew, had entered the cabin. The man—the pirate captain, undoubtedly—glanced to him. Tully nodded. “’Tis true. Only clothin’ and trinkets in their trunks.” He sniffed dismissively, tossing his reddish hair. “Nothin’ hidden anywhere in here we could find since we left London.”

Nathaniel had thought better of the crew, but saw now how naïve he’d been. It must have been Tully who had informed the pirates that Susanna was with child. “What a coward you are, Tully.”

He snorted. “As soon as I got a good look at the flag, I knew we were done for. Everyone knows the Sea Hawk will gut you from stem to stern once you’re in his talons. I ain’t dying for cargo I don’t give a fuck about and a captain who treats us like garbage.”

“Your destination is Primrose Isle?” The pirate—this Sea Hawk—demanded, his tone low and calm.

“Yes,” Nathaniel answered. “It’s a new colony.”

Tully nodded. “Her husband’s there. We’re to drop them off with their father. The old man’s the guvnor or some such thing.”

At this, the Sea Hawk seemed to jolt, but a moment later the ripple had vanished and he was still again, fearsome and dispassionate. Nathaniel thought he must have imagined the hiccup.

Yet a gleam entered the captain’s devilish eyes, and dread slithered through Nathaniel. The Sea Hawk loomed nearer and demanded, in the same deliberate but undeniable manner, “Your name, boy.”

Heart hammering, all he could manage was, “Uh…”

“This one’s called Bainbridge,” Tully offered.

“Bainbridge,” the captain repeated, barely a whisper now. “As in Walter Bainbridge?”

Fingers going numb around the dagger, Nathaniel nodded. He’d have bruises where Susanna clung to him, her sharp exhalations ghosting over the nape of his neck. There was no sense denying it. “Our father.”

“You’re the son Walter Bainbridge killed his wife to achieve?” The captain’s focus sent chills down Nathaniel’s spine.

He couldn’t hide his wince, and had to nod. His mother had never even held him before the rest of her lifeblood drained away. Susanna had been but six, spying through the keyhole, and she’d confessed it all after Nathaniel’s endless badgering when he was a lad.

Strange how he could experience the aching, hollow absence of a touch he’d never had, even after eighteen years.

The captain’s eyes glinted. Good God, the man was enormous. Nathaniel was tall enough, five feet and seven inches or so, but this monster towered well over six feet. It was all Nathaniel could do to hold his ground and not stagger back against Susanna. The tip of his blade quivered mere inches from the villain’s black heart.

The Sea Hawk gazed down at them as though they were prey he was most eager to consume. “Your father is a liar. Corrupt. An evildoer in silk stockings and a curled wig.”

Nathaniel swallowed hard, hand shaking. Could he lunge and push the dagger into this vile man’s heart? Not that he had much love for his father, but who was a pirate to talk of evildoers?

The Sea Hawk’s eyes glowed with hatred. “Your father cheated me. He was tasked with justice, with fairness. Instead he conspired to steal from me. He branded me a pirate when I was a privateer.”

“Aren’t they the same thing?” Nathaniel blurted. As the Sea Hawk’s nostrils flared, Susanna dug her nails into Nathaniel’s shoulder.

“No, they fucking are not,” the pirate gritted out. “Privateers are licensed. Legal. Privateers follow rules. Laws. Just as your father was supposed to as a judge in the Court of Admiralty in Jamaica. Your father tried to strip me and my men of everything we’d worked and suffered for. We escaped him, but in the years that have followed, he has never paid the price.”

Dread consumed Nathaniel. His father’s greed and avarice would once again bring suffering. If not for Walter’s mounting debts, Nathaniel and Susanna would still be safe at home, waiting until she had her babe before making the journey. Hollington wouldn’t have had to be sold at all, and now they faced God knew what at the mercy of pirates.

Oh Lord. Please spare Susanna and her child!

Bile rose in his throat at the thought of any harm coming to his sister, terror clammy on his skin. Sweat slipped down Nathaniel’s spine. “I…” He racked his brain for something—anything—to say, some means of escape. His dagger shook, and he licked his dry lips. “I’m sorry.” He had to fix this.

A slow, ghastly smile curled the devil’s lips. “You will be.”

Author Bio


After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, fantasy, and paranormal fiction and — although she loves delicious angst along the way — Keira firmly believes in happy endings. 
For as Oscar Wilde once said:

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

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Iain gets his story

Unnatural (Enlightenment)Unnatural by Joanna Chambers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was fascinated by Iain when he appeared in David and Murdo’s story and here we finally get to find out more about the dashing Captain Sinclair.

The feel of this book was different, given the long friendship between the two men and there were a lot of times when the both got in their own ways but I totally understood the fears.

It’s always great to read a MM historical done well and this whole series from Joanna Chambers has been a real pleasure.

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Chapter two with David and Murdo clips along at a faster pace

Beguiled (Enlightenment)Beguiled by Joanna Chambers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one is much quicker on plot narrative than the scene setting of the first book. There us also a much greater level of connection between our erstwhile heroes.

Two years later, this centres around the true historical event of George IV’s visit to Scotland at the behest of Sir Walter Scott, novelist and the starting point for the romanticism of the Highland way of life.

I love it when a history novel uses real events to wrap its story around and this one is filled with it.

David and Murdo are thrown together once again but this time there is a much deeper connection being forged between them as the rights of married women become central to the political thriller nature of this series.

I’m also hoping that the delightful Captain Sinclair is going to get his own book, I find him most intriguing.

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