Don’t you hate it when something important is supposed to happen, something you’ve looked forward to for months, and then just like that, it changes and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it? My third book, The Captain’s Promise was scheduled to be released on Tuesday, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the book cover isn’t ready yet. Since you can’t really release a book without a cover, the new release date is September 5th. Should I be nervous? Is this a sign that there will be problems with the book? I’m not really a superstitious person, so I will just take a deep breath and hope for the best.

The Captain’s Promise is my first venture into the world of Historical Romance, a change from the romantic suspense novels I’ve had published this year, and I guess I’m a little nervous as to how this book will be received. Writing historical novels requires a great deal of period accuracy. You have to know your facts and write in keeping with the mores and attitudes of the period. The story is set in 1674. Danielle De Cherbourg’s father was a count. When he died, the estate was split between her and her father’s brother,making her an heiress to a fortune in a time when women were considered incapable of making decisions for themselves. She is a pawn in a world of greed and intrigue. Widowed, at the mercy of a jealous aunt who resents her, Danielle’s future is bleak. Only a miracle can save her from a forced marriage to a lecherous man she despises. Enter Etienne, the man she has always loved, but a man who didn’t think he was good enough for her ten years ago. He’s back now, wealthy and eager to help out the woman he still loves.  Can he save her? You’ll have to buy the book to find out. Here is a glimpse from the story to keep you interested.

The Captain’s Promise excerpt

Danielle was going to be sick; there was no doubt in her mind that, unless this ride ended soon, she would disgrace herself—another thing her aunt would use against her.

The thunderstorm had struck just as they were leaving church, forcing them to close the curtains of the carriage to keep out the rain. The cloying lily of the valley perfume her aunt favored combined with the lingering aroma of the Chevalier de Flambeau’s pipe and the sour odors embedded in the walls of the carriage, overwhelmed her. The rapid staccato of the horses’ hooves warred with the pounding thunder, rain, and the hammering in her head, but could not eradicate the sound of the loathsome conversation taking place. Her black wool dress clung to her in the humidity, further adding to her discomfort and nausea.

“It is agreed,” confirmed the Chevalier. “Marie will sail from Dieppe on the last bride ship of the year; I will see to her dowry myself. Danielle will come to Paris within a fortnight. The wedding will take place as soon as she arrives, and once our marriage is solemnized, I will absolve Cherbourg of all debts accumulated by Allain. The papers are being prepared and will be ready to sign as soon as I return to Paris.” A cruel smile etched itself on his face. “What is left of Cherbourg’s wealth will be yours, Madame. The Viscountess is payment enough for me. I have long admired her beauty.”

She trembled, repulsed by the thought of that man touching her as Allain had done. Although that had been unpleasant, at least it had been bearable, and after the first year, he had sought much of his pleasure elsewhere, and confined her to his country estate where she and Marie had lived in relative peace and seclusion. He had visited on a more or less monthly basis, and other than a forced coupling, he barely spoke to her. Theirs had been an unusual arrangement, but one that had impacted her life far less than people thought. His death was causing her far more grief. Although it was considered in bad taste to speak or think ill of the dead, she dammed him for his actions, for leaving her like this, at the mercy of her aunt and the loathsome creature who bargained for her as if he were buying a piece of horseflesh.

Simon de Flambeau sneered, showing that he had noticed her slight tremor. His dark eyes narrowed while he stroked his gray mustache. He was dressed in the latest French style: lace-trimmed white shirt, blousy red and black doublet, black petticoat britches, cut wider than hers, and matching, ruffle-topped high boots—a look that only served to make him look ludicrous. The lacework cuffs of his shirt covered liver-spotted hands, his fat fingers adorned with a number of large, jeweled rings. To complete the ensemble, he wore a black, plumed broad-brimmed hat over his elaborate white periwig. In the stifling heat of the carriage, he perspired like the pig he was.

He might look foolish, but Danielle knew that he was a cruel and dangerous man. Marry him? She would rather die! Her father had refused his suit many years ago; she saw no reason to accept it now. Surely, there was enough money in Cherbourg’s coffers to pay Allain’s debts? And, if her aunt would not open her purse, she could always contact Etienne.

It saddened her that he had not answered any of her invitations, but he was a proud man, and her initial refusal to accept his help must have insulted him. If she must, she would travel to Brest to see him. She did not remember the name of his ship, but surely someone would know Captain Blouin? Her greatest fear was that he might have already sailed, and she had missed him. She straightened in her seat and turned to address her would-be husband.

“Monsieur,” she began hesitantly, “I understand that Allain’s debt is a sizable one, and I appreciate the fact that, as a friend, you have saved me from the usurer who held his marker, but there must be another way we can resolve this. I have access to a sizable amount of money. I have no wish to remarry.” 

 A shrill laugh, punctuated by a clap of thunder that shook the coach, echoed in the gloom of the carriage.

“You no longer have anything to say whatsoever in this matter, Danielle,” replied her aunt. “You asked me to negotiate a better deal for you, and I have. The proposal has been accepted, arrangements made. Debts must be repaid, my dear, and your coffers are bare. Ask your banker if you do not believe me. I cannot imagine where you think you could find the money on your own to repay Simon, and I have no desire to bankrupt the estate for you. He is a generous man, and all he asks is for your hand in exchange for your husband’s exorbitant debt. You are the price upon which we have agreed.” Paulette smiled warmly at the Chevalier. She turned to glare at Danielle, daring her to utter another word.

The carriage rumbled over the cobblestones of the courtyard and stopped. The front door opened, and a footman dressed in the Cherbourg livery rushed to unlatch the carriage door. The rain had stopped, but the heat was unbearable. No doubt, another storm would strike before long.

The Chevalier exited, helped Paulette disembark, and turned to assist Danielle. The touch of his hand sent a shock wave of revulsion along her arm, which made him smile. She looked into his round, pocked-marked face and shadowed, cold, gray eyes.

“Merci, monsieur,” she mumbled, trying to pull away from his painful grip.

 “Do not worry, my sweet,” he whispered into her ear, the rancid smell of his breath almost her undoing. “Soon, I will generate a very different response from you. It will be a pleasure to teach you how to use the fire you hide so well. No woman remains unmoved in my bed.” He smiled slyly, raised her hand to his lips, kissed it, and released it.


Sequence: Who Says You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?

For the record, I don’t do numbers well.

This week, we went on our second camping trip of the summer. We met old friends and enjoyed four days of camping bliss–well, they would have been blissful if it hadn’t rained for two days and been so cold at night.

Getting together with old friends is always fun, and since they are higher up the food chain than we are–they camp in a trailer while we’re stuck in a tent–we had the opportunity to enjoy a few hours playing a new board game called Sequence in the warmth and comfort of their house on wheels. 

We played the game as partners — men against the women. While Rob and Faye were veterans of the game, neither John nor I had played before. Now, that being said, you would expect that we’d be equally matched. Not so! Faye and I, with a lot of luck and a little skill, managed to beat them two matches to one. Since the game involves creating sequences by playing specific cards, I never expected to be very good at it, but I surprised myself because of a new skill I’ve acquired this past year. And what skill might that be? Why plotting of course.

When I write a novel, I am constantly looking and thinking about what’s going to happen next. In other words, I sequence the story: a to b to c to d to e. The game was basically the same. Play card a, look to see where card b might go and so on until you build a five card sequence. Like writing a story, you hit roadblocks– the opposition tries to stop you just as you try to stop them. In the end, like a good novel, the sequence is complete, and the game is over.

While I enjoyed playing the game, it was nice to spend a few relaxing days with friends dear to my heart. I may never be good with numbers, but I’ve become a pretty decent Sequence player. I guess an old dog can learn new tricks!