A More Perfect Union
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: ePublishing Works!
Date of Publication: October 4, 2014
Number of pages: 247
Cover Artist: ePublishing Works!
Emily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Then she’s thrown in a loyalist prison for her privateering father’s raids on the British, and her accuser--a former beau--promises to recant if she will marry him.
Frank Thomson always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns of Emily’s plight, he challenges her accuser to a duel.
Freed from prison, Emily ponders returning the affections of her rescuer--the only man she's ever loved and who married her twin to save the Sullivan family's reputation. But Frank cannot afford to be discovered. For the sake of young America, he must deliver his secrets.
Emily hurried down the sandy road beside her friend, noting the waning sunshine draping shadows across the street. The slap of the waves at the distant convergence of the Cooper and Ashley Rivers beat a syncopated rhythm against the array of ship hulls, large and small, in the protected harbor. Many of the masts bobbing against the darkening sky sported the hated British flag. The losing army had resorted to sanctioned looting of the beautiful homes—those still standing after two years of British occupation as well as fires and bombardments—as booty for the officers and soldiers before they withdrew. She hoped they would leave soon, but nobody knew exactly when the British ships planned to depart. They'd already sent the bells to London along with other pilfered items. In fact, the British officers sought retaliation for the threat posed by the patriots, who had hidden their true allegiance, against the loyalists living in the city. The officers encouraged harassment of the American citizens, which translated into her father, a leading merchant in town, fearing for her safety more than ever. Until the British actually evacuated, uncertainty and fear blanketed the town.
Dragging in a deep breath, unease settled over Emily's frayed nerves at the thought of Frank's return. "I cannot believe Father insists I marry him after all that man has done. Surely Americans have matured enough they wouldn't force a woman to marry. It's 1782, after all. I'm not a child. Why doesn't he understand?"
A seagull glided past, its laughing call bringing a smile to her face. Her enjoyment didn't last long, though. The occupation of the town created fear and disquiet throughout the citizenry. Add in the horror of her sister Elizabeth's fiancé Jedediah dying, leaving her pregnant and in need of a husband. Then Jedediah's brother Frank, the man Emily had secretly cared for, married her sister to keep the child from being a bastard. Emily survived the misery of watching Frank marry Elizabeth only to suffer much more when Elizabeth died in childbirth with Frank away at war. Emily had come to terms with the prospect of raising her nephew, but being forced into marriage with Frank, too? How could life turn and twist with such disregard for her future goals and plans?
Frank's imminent arrival now distressed her as much as the three hundred British ships crowding the harbor. The rumor about town suggested the ships stood poised to carry away the defeated enemy troops along with any loyalists wanting to flee the town. Many slaves would likely take the chance on freedom offered by the British, despite the American protests. The constant motion of the water for once failed to soothe her troubled thoughts.
"Have you told your father how you feel?" Samantha matched Emily's stride easily despite her slight limp and the basket she carried.
Sharing her feelings with her father had once enjoyed an easy place in Emily's heart. Now his demands for her to cloister within the theoretic safety of the town house, joined with his desire that she marry to secure her future, made confiding in him difficult. His concern stemmed from her advancing age with few appropriate prospects for marriage due to America's fight for its independence from an overbearing mother country, which seemed to be winding down. She longed for those carefree days, years before, filled with friendly banter and heartfelt discussions with her father.
Emily wrinkled her nose. "I haven't spoken with him, not that I think he'll care. He's more concerned with my supposed need for a protector while he's away." What a pickle. Did he have to choose Frank to serve as both bodyguard and suitor?
The thought created ripples of fear along her spine. Marrying a man, any man, meant losing her individuality, a fate she dreaded. The vows included obeying and honoring him, which translated into having his children. She shivered, recalling her twin sister on her deathbed mere days after delivering her son. Emily held her hand as Elizabeth's life departed, her fingers falling limp within Emily's clutching grasp. Just like their mother before her.
So many young women across the country feared pregnancy and being brought to bed for that very reason. Elizabeth, like many of those women, had written out her will when she discovered she carried a child. At least the document detailed her wishes for her son. And her surrogate husband, Frank Thomson. Elizabeth was to wed Jedediah, the betrothal announced and celebrated, before Elizabeth revealed she was with child. The banns had been read twice when his militia duty arose and he'd left to fight. If Jedediah hadn't been killed, Frank would not have felt obligated to do his duty as Jedediah's brother to wed Elizabeth and give the unborn child a father and thus avoid bastardy.
Emily used to think of him as her Frank, until he told her his decision to wed Elizabeth. Her heart had hurt for months as she struggled to understand and accept the reality that she could never have him. But once Elizabeth died in similar circumstances as their mother, Emily's fear of dying as a result of childbirth eclipsed any naive desire to marry.
No, better to pursue her dreams of opening her ladies' accessories shop. She squared her shoulders, ready to face the astonishment of the ladies in town as well as plan a strategy for the battle when her father voiced his objections.
A More Perfect Union
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: ePublishing Works!
Date of Publication: October 5, 2014
Number of pages: 231
Without a goodbye, Amy Abernathy's childhood sweetheart, Benjamin Hanson, leaves to fight in the American War for Independence.
Amy chooses to pick up the pieces of her heart and leave Charles Town to help her sister who is with child.
Benjamin knows he hurt Amy, but he plans to make it up to her after his mission is completed. Then he learns that Amy has been captured by renegade soldiers. Now Benjamin faces his own choice: free the sassy yet obstinate woman he's never stopped loving or protect Charles Town from vengeful British occupation.
"Benjamin, what brings you out here so early this morning?" Walter slathered yellow butter on yet another slice of bread.
Amy kept her eyes on her plate, but her movements slowed, indicating she listened intently.
"Colonel Scarsdale made an important announcement last week, one that increases the chance of violent retaliation and looting by the British troops as they prepare to evacuate the city." Benjamin kept his eyes on Walter but watched Amy's actions at the side of his vision.
"Is the war finally over then?" Walter laid down his knife, eyes intent on Benjamin.
"It appears to be, all but the acts of signing the peace treaty and evacuating His Majesty's troops."
"When might that happen?" Emily fisted her napkin and gazed at him with hopeful eyes.
"As soon as conditions allow them to leave the harbor. But between now and then they will scavenge for any items of value they can lay their hands upon." He willed Amy to look at him, and finally she rewarded him by lifting her eyes to meet his. The force of her gaze sent a shock racing through him, stirring a reaction below his belt. Shifting to be more comfortable, he held her stare for a moment.
"But how does that impact us out here?" Amy regarded him, one hand poised above her plate, a bite of ham waiting. "Surely the Britons will not harm us so far from town. They'll be busy preparing to evacuate."
"Clearly you do not fathom the reality of the matter." When Amy merely stared at him, realization dawned as to the extent of the situation before him. He nearly let out a loud breath in annoyance. He checked the reflex. He needed to address the fact that Amy wasn't the only one in danger. Ideas popped into his head and he dismissed several before nodding. A simple solution. "I have come to take the girls back to town where I can keep them safe."
A startled silence followed his pronouncement.
"We are safe here." Samantha strode into the room and made straight for the sideboard.
Benjamin rose to greet her, and she waved him back into his seat. As he resettled himself, he noted Walter had not moved from where he sat crunching on a slice of apple.
"Yes, more so than we'd be in town at any rate." Emily looked from one person to another. "So many soldiers still roam the streets, after all."
"Besides, we cannot move Evelyn." Amy held knife and fork poised to slice through the ham. "I won't leave her here alone. She needs help until the baby arrives, and for a span after."
"She has me." Walter laid his hands flat on the table at either side of his plate. "I can take care of her."
Why did Walter brace himself as he spoke about his wife? Benjamin recognized the defensive nature, an insecurity, exemplified in Walter's behavior.
Amy darted a glance at Walter, then returned her gaze to Benjamin. "That's my fear."
Her mouth formed a stubborn pout as her eyes reflected her concern. What had occurred here to provoke such a statement? Amy glanced at Walter with unease plain in her expression, her distrust of the man evident. Despite himself, Benjamin tensed at the idea of Amy living under the same roof as Walter.
"I know how to defend myself, so I'll stay." Samantha placed her napkin in her lap. "More to the point, Evelyn will deliver any day now, and she'll need me."
Walter looked like he wanted to say something but held his thoughts in check. His brow lowered as he dipped his bread into his coffee. Walter did not act as refined in character as his appearance first suggested. More pieces to the puzzle fell into place, but still some holes remained before Benjamin formed an opinion of him.
"You'll need help with running this place." Emily laid her napkin on the table, her eyes steady on Samantha. "I'm accomplished at that, so I will stay to assist."
Seeing where this was leading, Benjamin made an effort to change the conversation's course. "In the event, Miss Amy stays with me." He spoke with less conviction than earlier as his resolve wilted under the arguments put forth by the women surrounding him. "I can't stay away from town long, not only because Captain Sullivan expects me to ensure the museum collection is not touched, but also because Amy's father requested I bring my fiancée back posthaste."
A feminine gasp drew his eyes to Amy's startled expression. Damnation. Too late, he realized his error as, in rhythm with three blinks, her stubborn expression shifted to surprise, then anger.
"Pardon me?" Her eyebrows arched over wide eyes. "You are engaged? To whom, pray tell?"
The set of her jaw dared him to say what he must in order to tell the truth of the matter. An attack of cotton mouth forced him to try to swallow as he searched for the proper response. How crass could he be, blurting out his bald intent? His carefully prepared speech blown apart by his own foolish words. Again, words had tripped him up and left him floundering. Yet, his mother would be proud of him for sticking to the facts, even if they created an awkward moment. He heaved a sigh. Nothing for it but the bare truth. "I spoke with your parents a few days ago, and they agreed..."
"Stop." Amy, face red, held up a hand as though warding off a blow. "Pray, don't tell me my parents actually negotiated with you for my hand?"
Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories featuring strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. In addition to her romantic fiction, she’s the author of several nonfiction books and earned a Master’s in English in 2008. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the Authors Guild. Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com.