Set in 1789 England, the story opens with the hero, Captain Dalton Evans (fought in the American Revolution) journeying to Dover to meet the ship carrying a distant cousin, Mademoiselle Sophia Devereux, who’s fleeing the French Revolution. *Pause here to note all the research the revolution took, not to mention Georgian England in general, Cornwall in particular, rum smuggling, stage-coach travel and sailing in the late 18th century….you get the idea. But I digress. Back to Dalton who’s irked with his mission, not only because he finds it tedious, but he resents the French, partly as a result of their aid to the Americans during the war and some of the Frenchmen he fought during that lost cause. Plus he thinks French aristocrats are arrogant. However, the young woman he rescues from the sinking ship is nothing like he expects and rocks his world.
BLURB: As the French Revolution rages, the English nobility offer sanctuary to many a refugee. Captain Dalton Evans arrives in Dover to meet a distant cousin, expecting to see a spoiled aristocrat. Instead, he’s conquered by the simplicity of his new charge. And his best friend Thomas Archer isn’t immune to her artless charm, either.
Cecile Beaumont didn’t choose to travel across the Channel. And she certainly didn’t expect that impersonating her own mistress would introduce her to a most mesmerizing man. Now she must play out the masquerade, or risk life, freedom – and her heart.~
EXCERPT from The Opening of CHAPTER ONE
October 1789 Dover Harbor, England, the King’s Arms
Glowering at everyone and no one in particular, Captain Dalton Evans uncoiled his taut body and leaned back into the tall, paneled chair. The mission foisted upon him grew ever more tedious, and he damn well wasn’t pleased about it. He could do with a bloody good gallop on his best hunter after days cooped up in that wretched coach, but the horse remained at Brevin Hall and he was confined to the King’s Arms.
Stretching long limbs cramped from the lengthy journey, he stared out leaded windows awash with rain. How long must he delay here, awaiting her arrival on The White Rose?
He saw no break in the deluge lashing the diamond-shaped panes. The snug inn above the harbor provided a haven from the storm, but Dalton was primed for action—all those years fighting that endless war in America partly responsible for his keenness. Damn it all, when would he let it go? Blasted Americans. Was there ever a more troublesome lot?
Ah yes, the French. As if for one moment he could forget the insanity erupting across the channel or the reason for this—
“Cor! You’ll drown yerself, drinking like a bleeding fish!”
The male hoot jerked Dalton back to the robust men holed up with him.
“Thought I might find you here brooding on your own.”
Brown hair beaded with rain curled loosely at Tom’s shoulders in the carefree style typical of his easy manner, his elegant coat a beacon of gold in contrast to Dalton’s somber olive.
“You’re prompt, Archer,” Dalton said by way of welcome.
A look of satisfaction enhanced Tom’s dark Norman looks; his family claimed noble lineage back to William the Conqueror. “The horses made excellent time. Finest bays in four counties.”
Despite annoyance at his mission, a smile tugged at Dalton’s mouth. “The return journey should go more smoothly.”
“Undoubtedly. And you won’t have to endure a hired coach.”
“Another boon.” Dalton gestured at the serving girl, then swept his hand at the rustic gathering. “Our dining companions.”
Weathered seamen in short wool coats and baggy breeches slouched on high-backed benches along stout tables, their thick boots turned toward the fire in the massive hearth. Pungent pipe tobacco mingled with the pervasive odor of fish and men, while savory aromas seeped from the bustling kitchen.
Tom circled his gaze over the room. “Rough but amiable.”
“Not him.” Dalton jerked his chin at the lean figure in the corner in a black frock coat and wide-brimmed hat, hunched over his second bowl of stew and a crusty loaf. The continual darting of his eyes and the hunger in his manner not satisfied by the ample portions bespoke a man seeking more than food and shelter. “He’d shove a pistol in your gut along a dark highway.”~