This week, the work of Lily Silver is in the spotlight here on Nesie’s Place! Get ready for adventure, intrigue, and of course, romance! Lily is also sponsoring an awesome Rafflecopter with a Kindle Fire as the grand prize! ($50 gift card for an international winner!) Check out the excerpt, then scroll down for the Rafflecopter and a FREE gift from Lily!
“Gallant Rogue, Reluctant Heroes Book 3”
Author: Lily Silver
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency
Release Date: October 15, 2014
Gallant Rogue Excerpt, Day 4
Gallant Rogue is Book Three in the Reluctant Heroes Series. It features the story of Jack and Chloe. Captain Jack Rawlings was a support character in Dark Hero. He is Donovan Beaumont’s closest friend and ally. Together, Donovan and Jack were pirates in the East Indies, years before the events of Dark Hero take place.
Jack has had a tragic history. He was engaged to a woman and she died horribly. He blames himself for her death, for not being there to save her. He has a strong, driving need within demanding he save the girl because of that tragedy of his youth. This is a strength but also a flaw. In Dark Hero, Jack misunderstood the marital conflict between the main characters Donovan and Elizabeth, and felt it his duty to take Elizabeth away from Donovan to ‘save her’. His need to redeem himself in his own eyes for failing to save his beloved is at times overwhelming, In Gallant Rogue, he gets that chance at redemption.
His friend asks him to escort a family member to Spain and to deliver her safely to her relations. Donovan (Dark Hero) knows Jack would protect Chloe as fiercely as he would himself if he accompanied her to Spain. Jack has had secret feelings for Chloe for many years. He almost proposed, but Chloe married someone else before he could do so. Now he’s being asked to spend several weeks with her as they sail across the sea to Spain, and those close quarters and intimate exchanges are killing him. He cannot act on his desire for her as Chloe is a recent widow. He believes it would be dishonorable to take advantage of her at a vulnerable time. He also believes it would interferewith his duty to protect her if he allows himself to become distracted by a blooming romance. Jack’s greatest flaw is that he’s gallant—to a fault.
Chloe is also a support character from Dark Hero. She is the love child of a Spanish estate steward and an African slave. Her adoring father died suddenly when she was a girl. She was sent to live in the slave quarters with her maternal grandmother by the cruel plantation owner. She has endured scorn all her life because of her origins. When Elizabeth came to the island as a new bride Chloe found acceptance and friendship. She became Elizabeth’s personal maid, and then her companion. She married a relative of the family and became part of it. Chloe’s happily ever after ended abruptly when her beloved Gareth was killed in an accident. Now she is determined to escape the lingering prejudice and scorn that have shadowed her since birth in the West Indies. She decides to sail to Spain to find her father’s family, and reinvent herself there as a Spanish Lady. Her paternal uncle is a Marquess, after all.
Spain is on the brink of war. It’s 1808 and news from Europe is slow coming to the West Indies. Spain has been under the thumb of France and Napoleon for years, but is just starting to revolt. Chloe and Jack are confronted by the presence of soldiers from France, England, and Spanish Guerilla warriors hiding in the woods. Jack will have quite a task keeping up with Chloe because she is determined to find her Uncle Miquel at all costs. As they traverse the Spanish countryside in search of the missing Marquess, they encounter outward danger and inner simmering passions.
This book is unique in the series as it does not have the strong Gothic tone of the previous books. The characters determine a book’s tone in my work, and both Jack and Chloe did not have any deep magical or supernatural leanings. This book is an adventure romance set on the high seas and in Spain. Jack and Chloe’s story is one of redemption, re-invention, and re-kindled passions of a lost love.
Chloe is a wonderful character who embodies much of the modern woman of this age. She doesn’t want to be defined by the labels society has placed on her. She wants to break out of the exterior definition of her ‘place’ that society has forced upon her. She will not turn back from her quest to find her father’s family. Her singular determination brings surprising results that have a greater impact on the situation in Spain than she could have ever dreamed. Jack is one of my favorite heroes. His gallantry and his sense of honor is the kind that makes me swoon, and isn’t that what we read romances for! I hope he’ll charm your heart as well in Gallant Rogue.
Excerpt from Gallant Rogue, Copyright Lily Silver 2014
The screams coming from the cabin next door brought Jack up from his bunk at a rush.
Jack grabbed the pistols he kept at the ready, a habit from his pirating days, shoved them into the waist of his trousers and reached for his sword. He was out the door and across the hall in a trice.
Three other officers joined him there, all in similar states of undress. Jinks, Lt. Morgan, and Mr. Harris. They looked to him to take the lead and breach the portal.
He hesitated. The shrieking had stopped.
Did she have a bad dream? He really didn’t want to go plowing in there and startle the poor woman with his sword raised and his men following; not in the middle of the night.
“Go on then,” Jinx prompted behind him. “You are the captain, after all.”
Jack grimaced and bit his tongue to contain a raw retort. When had the proper and respectful Mr. Jinx acquired such cheek? Jack raised his fist to the door, determined to at least announce his presence to the poor woman before leading the charge of men into her private suite.
But that nerve-shredding shrieking started again, combined with a steady thumping sound as if someone were being chased and beaten with a stick.
Jack burst through the door, expecting darkness and a sizable intruder to greet him. Instead, he was met with bright lights as all the lanterns in the cabin seemed to have been set ablaze. Chloe was in the corner with her back to the door. She didn’t seem to notice the men filing in. Her arm was raised. She appeared to be in the midst of bludgeoning something.
“Mrs. O’Donovan,” he said in a light tone, trying to get her attention. Her hair was flowing in a gleaming, obsidian waterfall down her back, reaching nearly to her round bottom. Jack cleared his throat and tried again when she didn’t respond to his gentle speech. “Mrs. O’Donovan,” he repeated in his strict captain’s tone. “Is there a problem with your lodgings?”
She turned, and seemed startled to see him standing in the portal with his men. Her lovely ebony arches fell as she frowned. “Yes, there is.” She pointed to the large windows to her left. “It’s that silly girl, shrieking as if to raise the dead over a rodent.”
All attention moved from the delectable and vivacious Spanish beauty clad in a light muslin gown to the thin, pinch–faced adolescent girl, who was standing on the window seat clutching a blanket about her chest and looking as if she were being set upon by an entire crew of pirates.
The maid blinked. Her lower lip quivered slightly. She looked at the men with terror. “There was a large rat in here.”
“Marta, get down and help me,” Chloe scolded. “Your ridiculous shrieking has awakened the crew. The least you can do is help me catch the little blighter.”
“A rat?” Jinx dropped his pistol arm so that the business end was pointing at the floor. “All right, mates, let’s not tarry. Let’s get the dreadful beastie out of here for the lady.” He gestured with his free hand for the men behind him to find the creature for Mrs. O’Donovan.
“Oh, I have him,” Chloe replied without emotion. “At least, I think it is a he.” She set her weapon, a parasol she’d been holding by the pointed end so she could use the wooden handle as a cudgel, on the trunk beside her. Without flinching, the woman picked up the dead rat and held it by the tail for all to see, letting it dangle beneath her fingers as her face registered triumph. The rat’s head was split open. Dark ruby blood oozed from its nose and brow. The left eye appeared to be displaced, crushed by the blow of Chloe’s parasol handle. “If one of you wouldn’t mind burying him at sea, I’d be most grateful.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Jinx, Lt. Morgan, and Harris all pushed forward to assist her. The trio tripped over each other in their rush to aid the fair lady. It was Harris in the end that took the bloody little creature from her.
Muted crying could be heard from the window.
The maid. Jack felt little sympathy for the girl. He hoped this was not going to set a precedent. “Stop whining,” he admonished. “Get your mistress some water so she may wash the blood from her hands. And shame on you, for letting her do all the work.”
“I can’t stand rats, sir.” The girl blathered through fractured sobs. “Disgusting creatures. I’ve never had to catch one before…” Sniff. “My father always does it, or one of my brothers.”
“Water, Marta. Now,” Mrs. O’Donovan commanded. “And my shawl, thank you. I shouldn’t wish to put you out too much in your duties.”
Jack couldn’t contain a chuckle. Chloe was well and truly angry. And she should be. Why didn’t the maid just knock on one of the cabin doors and ask an officer to help them capture the beastie if she was that upset? Instead, she climbed on the furniture, took to shrieking like a banshee while leaving her mistress to attend to the problem.
The girl hopped down from her perch. She hurried to the washstand and fetched the bowl and a towel and brought them to her mistress. Mrs. O’Donovan pushed up the sleeves of her elegant nightgown and began washing her hands while the maid stood holding the bowl for her. Mrs. O’Donovan carefully dried her dainty hands, and shooed Marta away with a silent mouthed word.
“I wonder how the beastie came to be in here in the first place,” Lt. Morgan said to the room at large. “They don’t usually appear this far above deck. They stick to the cargo hold, and the darkness.”
Jack and Jinx exchanged a hard look.
“Oh, I have an inkling of how it might have occurred.” Jack thought of a particular cabin boy who was wont to play such pranks to liven up the tedium of a voyage.
“Do you want the pleasure of kicking his bum, or shall I do it?” Jinx murmured, smashing his lips together with contempt. “Boy needs a lesson in manners, frightening a poor helpless female in the night, and a passenger, to boot.”
“Helpless?” Jack nodded toward Chloe. “I believe you are mistaken, Mr. Jinx.”
Jinx shot him a bold grin. “’Twas speaking theoretically, Cap’n. Shall I rouse the boy for you, then?”
“No. Let him sleep. In the morning, you may discipline him as you see fit. Make certain he understands that passengers are strictly off limits for his mischief.”
“Aye, Cap’n. Good night, ma’am, and… er…pleasant dreams?” Jinx made a polite bow to Chloe.
“Thank you for coming so quickly to our aid, Mr. Jinx.” Chloe gave the man a charming smile. “It is a comfort to know if we were under attack we would be well protected, sir.”
“My pleasure, ma’am.” Jinx was grinning like a fox.
“Get back to your bunk,” Jack grumbled, adding a deep, warning growl to his words. “Out, now.” He pointed to the door with the tip of his sword, knowing his reaction to the exchange between Chloe and his first mate was irrational, but he was unable to contain his fury.
Jinx slunk away, as did the other men. Jack stood in the doorway, his sword in hand, disappointed that he, too, must leave. Chloe was stunning in her plain white nightdress that offered no embellishment save the lace at her wrists and throat. Her lovely features were framed by waves of sleek ebony. Did he imagine the sultry smile curving her lush red lips?
The maid hurried to her mistress’s side and made a great show of placing a silk paisley shawl about her shoulders, lifting her heavy locks and then resettling the jet waves once the shawl was arranged to modestly conceal Chloe’s bosom and shoulders. The spell was not broken by the maid’s intrusion. Jack lingered, wanting to just drink in the sight of this lovely, exotic creature sleeping just down the hall from his cabin.
“Is there anything more I can do for you, Mrs. O’Donovan?” He sounded hoarse. His throat had gone bone dry as he stood rooted to the deck staring at her like a starving man might stare wistfully at a feast he was denied access to.
“Yes, Captain. I could use a strong drink,” Chloe replied, smiling at him.
God, she was breath-taking. She belonged in a fancy painting. The Goddess Awakened.
“A drink?” He felt like a clumsy lad. “I’ve some claret in my cabin. Shall I bring you a glass?”
* * * *
Chloe was anxious for this humiliating episode to disappear. Her behavior was not delicate or lady like. It was practical. More importantly, it revealed her true nature. If she were to convince her father’s family that she was a proper lady she must behave accordingly. Ladies did not kill rats in their rooms. They had servants to do it for them.
“No, Captain. I need some fresh air. And you,” she turned to the little brat who was the cause of this embarrassment, “you will be finding employment elsewhere if you disturb the captain and his officers again. Do you understand me, Marta?”
Marta nodded and bowed her head. Her childish brown braids fell forward, making her seem even younger than her seventeen years. “Yes, ma’am.”
Chloe paced across the cabin to the door, determined to put some distance between herself and the girl until her fury waned. It was bad enough Marta had awakened her with frantic shrieks. Awakening the crew was intolerable.
Rodents, spiders, insects and reptiles were abundant in the West Indies. One learned to deal with them out of necessity. Rats were not her idea of a beloved pet either, but Chloe was not squeamish about dealing with them.
She pulled her silk shawl tighter about her shoulders and moved into the hallway. As she passed the blond warrior clutching a sword at her open door, she secretly grinned up at him. She would laugh later, not in front of Marta. The girl deserved to be shamed for disturbing the crew.
Captain Rawlings was gazing at her with an expression of astonishment.
“Captain, I realize my suggestion may seem odd. My apologies, but given the situation, I need to leave my cabin for a little while.” Before I slap that girl silly, she thought but did not say. “Perhaps you could escort me on a walk about the deck, if that wouldn’t inconvenience you or the crew, sir?”
“No, not on deck, not at this hour of the night.” He gestured with his sword for her to proceed down the narrow hall. “Come to my cabin. I’ll pour you a drink to sooth your nerves.” He spoke the last with sarcasm, bringing a reluctant smile to her lips.
His door was ajar. The captain followed her inside his cabin and placed his sword on the table in the center of the room. Chloe was fascinated by the gleaming steel. She approached the table to admire the fine piece.
Captain Rawlings turned away from the table to open a small cabinet on the wall. “What is my lady’s pleasure?” he asked in a low, rough growl that resonated within her like thunder on the horizon. “Claret or do you prefer something stronger?”
“Stronger. A woman always prefers strength when asked,” Chloe confessed. She had already given the man ample reason to question her behavior in sullying her hands with a dead rat and then asking to share a drink in his cabin. What did she have to lose? “Do you have brandy? Elizabeth and I indulge in an occasional glass. The count’s mother joins us when she visits, of course.” She added the last as a means of softening her request.
Jack chuckled. “The notorious Alicia St. Vincent is never without her brandy and her cheroots.”
Chloe gazed up from her admiration of his fine sword to regard the man himself. The captain was a mystery to her. He was congenial and friendly when he dined at Ravencrest. On his ship, his natural habitat, she was finding him gruffer and sharper around the edges than when he visited her former home.
She studied his back as the sound of liquid splashing into goblets echoed in the room. Captain Rawlings was a veritable rock. The outline of his shoulders arched and bunched, seeming to wish to push through the confines of his cotton shirt. His hair was free from the restraining queue he wore out on deck. She wished she could touch it, run her fingers through the pale golden abundance. It fanned out like a regal lion’s mane, flowing past his shoulders.
Gold. Sunshine; warmth and hugs. And love.
Wasn’t that what Angelica Rose had prophesied would be her portion in Spain?
Yes, in Spain.
Presently, they were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, so she’d best restrain her errant fantasies about embracing this fierce lion of a man and stroking his golden mane.
Author’s note: What follows is a bit of swordplay in the middle of the night, as Jack teaches Chloe how to use a sword, some serious flirting on Chloe’s part, and a few stolen kisses before Jack comes to his senses and returns Chloe to her cabin unscathed.
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