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Memoirs of a Spy

spy

My first mission, as commissioned by, King Charles II, sounded simpler than the genuine affair. I wasn’t prepared to put my life in the hands of dastardly expatriates. While I was escorted by two fully armed compatriots they were of little assistance when establishing intimacy in the name of the crown. I had been given the directive to entreat William Scot, a rogue Englishman, to infiltrate the Belgium political corridors and report his discoveries to the King Charles II. In essence, I was to make a double agent of the man. It was with this request and whisper of a financial benefit that I should employ all my feminine wiles to subdue him into submission. I being in all ways, aligned with the King of England and a true patriot, never mind that I was broke, I took my task with fervor, as you are about to see. 

It was a lengthy journey and I had traveled by coach, horseback, and sea, with my two fellow compatriots in search of William Scot. As I’m sure you can imagine, it was an exhaustive journey to say the least. While we were subject to every ill met experience of, sea sickness, fatigue, soured food, and dehydration, nothing prepared us for the alehouse wherein we would find Scot. 


spy

I was told by King Charles II himself, that the likes of William Scot, would be found in Bruges, Belgium. Probably, in a pub, down by the river, where singing and lascivious dancing is practiced. Indeed it was true. The stench of spilled ale, over burnt meat, and bodily oils wafted through ale house as I entered. Immediately, I pulled a scented kerchief to my nose but the overripe smells of the alehouse drained all perfume from my nosegay.

Coughing and sputtering in the stale rancid air I unwittingly drew attention to myself and my companions. Since it was not customary, in Bruges, for reputable women to visit alehouses I garnered the attention of every patron in the building. The dancers stopped in misstep and the singers held their tongue in surprise.

A stinging silence befell the room and I was at a loss to comprehend which of these drunken lords was William Scot. My two companions were silenced to the bone and I was left to my wits and my good graces to scrutinize the crowd of twenty-five, thirty, or possibly fifty inebriated men.

You understand my predicament, I’m sure. But I took the moment at hand and stood tall enough to see the entire room. I spoke gently and I admit only batted my eye’s just enough to get the gentlemen’s attention. I cleared my throat so my best voice would rise to the occasion. I began.

“Dear Sir’s,” was all I managed until the room broke out in loud jags of laughter and hoots of folly. I was startled to the point of laughing myself.

“Ain’t none of Sir’s, woman,” one man shouted above the din.

Understanding my idiocy I made a second plea once the room had started to silence again.

“I am in search of William Scot, might any of you know his whereabouts?” I said. Silence again fill the alehouse. A man moved forward toward me, slowly and distinctly. I admit until this time I had not ever considered that William Scot would be as handsome as the ocean is wide. In an effort to maintain my constancy, I once again pulled my kerchief to my mouth and batted my eyes. I can assure you it was not to entreat him so much as it was to calm my own nerves. 

As he approached me, I could feel my composure slip.

“Who is it, that’s asking for my attention and why?” he asked, expressing a devilish grin.

I couldn’t lie at this point, but my intelligence reminds me that saying too much in front of this crowd may lead me down the wrong path.

“I come bearing news of a private nature, my good sir, and if we have a place to talk then I can express more fully my duty to you,” I said with a slight bend and upward glance.

It wasn’t a moment before the room was again filled with hoots, whistles, and howls of laughter. With a deep breath Scot, held out his arm, and in the most courtly fashion ever displayed. I took his arm and we walked out of the alehouse and embarked on the path by the river. We were followed at some distance, by my two silent companions.

“Now, M’Lady, what news do you bring to me?”

I had to take a moment to clear my head and find the words to entreat him to our political ends.

“”M’Lady, your taking so long to tell me of your plans, I’m afraid I’m under arrest,” he said with his broad smile.

“I am waiting sire, until we are out of earshot of the crowd, this business I have for you is delicate and not meant for all,” I said and couldn’t help but grin.

“Oh, if it’s that important, then your appealing to a man who is half drunk. Are you sure this will get the answer you seek?”

I looked up at him, “We’ll then, I’ll only make my appeal to the sober half of you, if you’re inclined to listen,” I said stopping on the path.

“With a wit like yours I’ll happily listen to your plea. But understand, I’m not the kind to easily sway my beliefs even for the prettiest of maids,” he said.

“Oh dear, it’s been a number of years since I’ve been a maid, your kindness is treasured. But, I have something of a delicate nature to put to you and need your full attention,” I said.

“More delicate than your neck,” he said reaching and touching her just below her right ear.

His touch was more seductive than anticipated and I felt a ripple of heat run the entire length of my body. When I collected myself to the point I could speak he outmaneuvered me again.

“Or is it a subject more delicate than your sweet blushing cheek?” he said and this time ran the back of his hand over my cheek and I could not stop the rising and falling of my breasts.

“Or maybe it’s the fine china of your décolleté  that is the delicate subject upon which you wish to speak,” he said touching my cleavage in the most tempting way. By now, as you can assume I was all a flutter. Hardly able to gasp a breath I was astonished at his boldness and yet, I could see swaying him politically might be simpler than I had assumed.  

“Sire, it is my rouged lips that bring you news directly from King Charles II, himself.

Upon hearing the news that the King had directly sent me on this errand he backed away in suspicion.

“That is a high honor indeed, and here I am thinking you were here to empty my pockets with your feminine charms. Tell me more,” he said.

“It is a high honor he would like to bestow upon you, Sire Scot. I am humbled to bring a request from the King, that you might, sway your intellectual ideals to include the Crown,” I said and waited a moment for him to respond. He was only still and quiet.

“His Highness, has requested to entreat you to bring news of Belgium to Britain,” I said with more misplaced enthusiasm than intended. 

“What is your name?”

spy, Aphra Behn

“Dear Astrea, does your Highness have such a short memory? The Crown had sentenced my father to death only one year ago. Now they ask for my allegiance?” he said in such a harsh tone it was difficult to hear.  

“ I am Astrea,” I said hoping to regain my station.

“That was a matter most regretful. The Crown was only protecting the King, after all your father, good sir, had planned to murder his Highness in the dead of night. Retribution is customary in a case such as that,” I said. 

He stood ponderously looking out at the passing river then turned slowing to face me with eye’s glowing like embers from a fire and he spoke his final words. “If the King could see his way to pardon my father and rename the misdemeanor, then I would consider aligning with the crown once again, but never until the King honors my father. Upon this, I am settled.” He said and walked away.

At this point, I could tell my duties were going to be considerably more difficult than I first understood.

About the Story and the Author

This memoir is based on a fictitious conversation between Aphra Behn and William Scot. Aphra Behn, when she was actually working as a spy for King Charles II went by the name, Astrea, as listed in the story. It is believed she is the first woman to make her living as a writer, as a playwright and novelist. Prior to taking up the pen, she worked as a spy for the King Charles II, among other things. The portrait above is Aphra Behn, painted by Mary Beale (1639-1699).

Daphne Masque writes contemporary romance set in the theatre. Currently she’s giving away an Autographed copy of Haunting Indiscretions, the second book in her series, “Romance at the Empire Theatre”. She plans to begin writing historical fiction.

Daphne has spent a good number of years acting, directing, teaching and writing for the theatre. And she loves romance, what better way to combine her two passions. To signup for her newsletter go to http://www.daphnemasque.com/contest/


Scandalous Doings at Dungarob Keep

Dear Mr. Clemens,

Several weeks back you presented your readers with an interview of a member of the infamous MacFearann clan. I read the interview with interest because the man you featured, Caibre MacFearann, spent the winter here. His presence was a mixed blessing, for he managed to bring our Laird, Baron Steafan MacKai, back home. He also managed, and I cannot begin to imagine how, to return the Brother Blade to Clan MacKai. Your readers may not know that the Brother Blade is a legendary sword that represents the close relationship between Clan MacKai and the Earls of Strathnaver. But that’s where the blessings ended.

This horrible man, for everyone knows MacFearann’s are kin to the devil, took shelter under our roof, ate from the MacKai clan’s table, and pretended to have our clan’s best interests at heart, and all the while he was seducing Baron Steafan’s sister, Miss Aisla MacKai. Why our own Mrs. Grogan caught him kissing Miss MacKai. Miss Aisla protested of course that nothing untoward had occurred, but we all know that kisses are only the beginning. And with a MacFearann involved, a kiss is more than enough to ruin our beloved Aisla.

What will become of her, I cannot say. Her brother may be home, but he is very ill and cannot look out for his sister as he should. Someone must step up and compel the nefarious MacFearann to do the right thing. It is my hope that exposing his devious seductions will result in MacFearann offering for her hand so that Miss Aisla’s good name is restored. Public opinion is a strong force, and is desperately needed in this case. I beg you and your readers to demand Caibre MacFearann take the appropriate action and make an honest woman of Aisla MacKai,

Sincerely,
A concerned member of Clan MacKai

Overheard at the Silverpines Inn

By A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

My lands! As if our dear little town of Silverpines, Oregon hasn’t endured enough calamities in the past year — earthquakes, a mud slide, and a fire that consumed nearly everything in its path between 3rd Avenue and Chinatown! It is salt in the proverbial wound to now be forced to endure the scandal brewing across town at the old Kingsley mansion.

If it weren’t for a certain postmistress taking her dinner at the Silverpines Inn yesterday afternoon, we might never have learned the truth. Sadly, it appears the headmistress of the new Silverpines Finishing School for Young Ladies, Rachel West, is stringing along not one but two beaus. Indeed, it is a sad state of affairs to witness an instructor of social graces carrying on so, but I fear the evidence against her is overwhelming.

For one thing, she was overheard having a somewhat heated conversation with the dashing Mr. Finneas Banfield, who I’m delighted to report was wearing the latest in fashion from Boston. Ah, but our small town could use more of his charming Old World manners and British accent. In short, the orphan-widow appeared to be rebuffing the man’s adoring attentions. How heartbreaking!

An hour later, the same young instructor in deportment was seen driving her new, outlandish automobile to the train depot. There she proceeded (without a proper chaperone) to greet a perfect stranger and chauffeur him across town to her finishing school. I wish that was the worst of my news. Alas, there is more.

No one in town has ever laid eyes on the man. I asked around to be certain, and it was confirmed by no less than two other reputable townswomen: Never before has a Black man so much as paid a visit to Silverpines.

Upon further investigation, I learned that Mrs. West posted a letter a few weeks ago for a mail-order groom. And not just any groom! Rumor has it Mr. Boone Cassidy is a bounty hunter. A bounty hunter! I shudder to contemplate the reasons anyone would require the services of such a dark and brooding gunslinger. I can only pray he completes whatever mission he’s been called upon to perform with haste, before the rumors about his budding romance with Mrs. West spin completely beyond my control.

As one of the senior matriarchs in our town, I’ve tried everything within reason to quell the gossip. I truly have. But even a God-fearing, upright citizen like myself cannot easily explain away a public embrace like the one Mrs. West apparently shared this morning with Mr. Cassidy. Be assured, I will keep my ear bent to the ground for more details and report back the moment I can confirm this latest distressing report.

About the Book

Silverpines

Orphan and widow Rachel West is returning home to Oregon after eight years of living with her guardian on the East Coast. Thanks to a lavish inheritance from her great-aunt, she now has the funds to realize her dream of opening the Silverpines Finishing School for Young Ladies.

Unfortunately, a former co-instructor from Boston follows her to Silverpines, claiming a deathbed promise to look after her. Highly suspicious of his intentions, she sends off for a mail-order husband to provide a buffer between them; but she makes it clear in her letter she wishes to court first and only marry if they develop feelings for each other and the “good Lord wills it.”

As a bounty hunter by trade, Boone Cassidy is accustomed to far more dangerous tasks than ridding spoiled debutantes of their unwanted suitors. He fully expects the uppity Mrs. West to send him packing the moment she realizes a Black man has been sent to her aid. After laying eyes on her at the train station, however, he realizes he’s made a great many incorrect assumptions about the lovely headmistress. All of a sudden, thwarting the attentions of her dandified, self-proclaimed beau from Boston becomes a task worthy of his most gallant efforts!

Available in eBook on Amazon + FREE in Kindle Unlimited at
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RKW915S
Coming soon to paperback!

Two Short Excerpts~

RACHEL WEST’S STORY:

November, 1900 — Silverpines, Oregon

Rachel West shivered as she stepped onto the train platform. It wasn’t the chill of the late autumn breeze so much as the feeling of stepping on ghosts that shook her up on the inside. For a moment, she fought the urge to spin around in her designer boots, sprint back to her private cabin on the train, and keep on riding.

She’d been away for eight long years from the one town in the world that felt like home. Or should have…

Squinting against the glare of the morning sun, she turned in a full circle, trying to find one familiar structure or one familiar face from her treasure trove of memories.

And utterly failed.

A spurt of panic gurgled through her mid-section at the sight of the new-looking cafe facing her. A freshly painted butcher’s storefront rested to the left of it, and a post office was located just across a side street from it. They had to be new, because the paint was so bright and un-peeling, and none of their roofs boasted the usual slight ripple of unevenness that so many buildings take on once they’ve had the chance to settle.

Her head swiveled. There was also a book store she didn’t remember standing next to the post office. It was an inviting little building with a big, cheery picture window crowded with books. Normally, she would have tossed all her earthly cares to the winds and made a beeline for the cozy nook for book lovers, but she was too busy pondering the notion that she might have made a horrible mistake at disembarking.
Why, even the depot building squatting behind her looked new! Had she misunderstood the announcement and gotten off at the wrong stop altogether?

“Rachel? Is it really you?”

She jolted at the soft, lilting alto wafting across the train platform. Nothing around her looked familiar, but she’d recognize that voice anywhere.

“Penelope Wallace!” she cried joyfully, whirling to face her childhood friend. She was in the right town after all, even if it didn’t look right.

“It’s Cooper now. Penelope Cooper.”

They threw themselves in each other’s arms with squeals of sheer delight, and Rachel experienced a pang of remorse at the knowledge it had been more than two years since they’d last exchanged letters, maybe three. Good heavens, how the time had flown!

To avoid making any awkward excuses for her lack of correspondence, Rachel fell back on her good manners and well of natural charm. “Eight years hasn’t changed you one bit. You don’t look a day older than sixteen.” The moment the words sailed from her mouth, she regretted them; because it was painfully clear that Penelope had indeed changed.

She still looked young and girlish, but the sparkle that had always lurked in her wide, innocent eyes — despite how hard her temperamental, overly controlling mama had tried to extinguish it — was entirely gone. It its place was bone-weariness and the bruising shadows born of hard times. A recent tragedy, if Rachel were to venture a guess.

They were the same kind of shadows she witnessed in her own eyes every time she stood in front of a mirror.

Silverpines


BOONE CASSIDY’S STORY:

…Thank you kindly for your assistance in this unbelievably stressful matter. If you send me a trustworthy bounty hunter, I will be forever grateful.
Yours truly,
Rachel West 

When a knock sounded on the door of his train car, Boone hastily wadded the letter and stuffed it back in his pocket. “Yes?”

A sandy-haired attendant with a mop of flyaway curls popped his head inside and looked surprised to find a Black man in a pin-striped travel suit lounging in the luxury cabin. “I, ah…” He swallowed. “I’m looking for a Mr. Cassidy?”

“Present and accounted for,” Boone answered dryly, wondering if the man would refuse to serve him like the last one had. In anticipation of such discriminatory treatment, he’d brought along a decent sized stash of non-perishable foods and bottled beverages.

“Very well.” The waiter swallowed again and stepped inside the car, looking nervous. “W-would you care to order any dinner?”

“I would.” Boone was afraid to get his hopes up, but his traitorous mouth started to water at the thought of a warm meal. It had been a full two days since his last one. “What’s on the menu?”

“Roasted ham and chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed asparagus, and a fruit salad.”

“Sounds good to me.” More like heaven, actually. He was already imagining himself biting into the steamy, succulent meat entrees.

“What would you like to drink? There’s tea and lemonade, coffee and…never mind. I don’t believe I’m allowed to serve wine and spirits to your kind.”

As a God-fearing Christian the past twenty-eight years, Boone wasn’t all that interested in ordering wine and spirits, but he couldn’t help resenting the jab about his kind. He knew without asking that the man was referring to his rich-as-molasses color, thanks to his half-Nigerian and half-Hispanic roots. “Tea and coffee would be marvelous,” he assured with a wink, hoping to settle the young man’s jumpiness.

He only looked more nervous. His glazed-over gray eyes dropped to the twin holsters slung around Boone’s hips.

Boone held his gaze steadily. “I’m a bounty hunter, heading up to Silverpines, Oregon to help rescue a little schoolmarm from a conman.”

A faint smile tugged at the edges of the waiter’s mouth, and his shoulders relaxed a fraction. “That sounds like quite an adventure.”

Boone shrugged. “Most of what I do is dangerous work, but it pays well.” Come to think of it, he was probably the wealthiest Black man in the Midwest. In the country, for that matter! Another thought struck him, making him shoot a sly glance up at the waiter. “The sooner you arrive back with my dinner, the bigger your tip will be, son.”

The young man gulped and took off so quickly he stumbled over his own feet on his way out the door.

Boone chuckled at his expense and returned to the wildly un-exciting task of pondering the best way to rid the uppity Mrs. West of her unwanted suitor.

About the Author

Jo writes sweet historical and contemporary romance stories — with humor, sass, and happily ever afters.

A typical day finds her with her laptop balanced on her knees, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat snoozing on her knees. He takes credit for most of what she does.

When Jo’s not writing stories, she’s reading them. She adores dashing gentlemen, resilient heroines with a sense of adventure, humorous sidekicks, dusty cowboys, bounty hunters, mail order brides…you get the idea.

She loves to visit with readers in her Cuppa Jo Readers group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CuppaJoReaders/.

To receive a personal email about each book she publishes, join her New Release Email List at JoGrafford.com or follow her on BookBub at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jo-grafford.

Plus you can read free chapters of many of her books on http://Wattpad.com/user/JoGrafford.

A Gothic Twist

“I’m so glad you could come. Sit please; they’ll bring tea shortly.”

“You have an odd look in your eyes.”

“Please don’t argue. Is it because they say I’m mad? She doesn’t say it—not out loud—that woman on whom my guardian lavishes attention, that Claire Albright chit, who pretends she can ‘cure’ me but who really wants to take him away and silence the church bells in my voice. I’ll show her the limits of her power.

“When I sing, I look into the sky and see my brother bat away the clouds. He smiles down, and I tell him with my holy song that I will keep him from starvation, and he’ll have wine, food, blankets, hay for the horses, too—it’s all in the tower. I’ve collected it all for him, for my brother in the afterlife.

“When I sing, I look into the sky and see my brother bat away the clouds. He smiles down, and I tell him with my holy song that I will keep him from starvation, and he’ll have wine, food, blankets, hay for the horses, too—it’s all in the tower. I’ve collected it all for him, for my brother in the afterlife.

“Did I unnerve you? Don’t go.”

“Ahh, here’s the tea.” (She sits at the pianoforte and sings; ‘He took a stick down off the rack, fall al lal lal lal li-do, and on the back went rickety-rack, of Ruggleton’s daughter of Iero.’) Her eyes glitter, as she throws her head back and laughs, then abruptly stops. “Lady Claire and her potions—chamomile, St. John’s wort, willow bark, and morphine—they disturb my singing—make my brother’s clouds clog my voice, blur my vision. But I am not mad, and my guardian will never put me in an asylum because he loves me. And soon, I will show her to whom he belongs…

The Secret Life of Lords

If Lady Claire Albright had one wish, it would be to forget brooding, powerful Lord Flavian Monroe. But even after two years of bewildering silence, she yearns to touch his sinuous arms and feel his calloused hands upon her cheeks. Then, on the brink of her come out, they accidently meet. His ward is ill, and he begs her to use her knowledge of healing to help the girl. But this patient is sick in a way that’s far different from what Claire expected—dangerously different. And, as she struggles to find a cure, Flavian resists rekindling their love. Is it the ward’s illness that keeps him cold and distant, or a dark and terrible secret?

The thought of Claire in the arms of another man is unbearable, but in his heart Flavian knows he mustn’t ask her to share the consequences of his mistake. Nor should he have brought her to his home and exposed her to his ward’s sickness. Yet he lacks the strength to send her away. Each time he looks into Claire’s eyes, the urge to feel her body pressed against his consumes all reason, and he is left unable to utter the word, ‘goodbye.’

Meet Elf Ahearn

Elf Ahearn, yes, that is her real name, lives in New York with her wonderful husband and a pesky (yet irresistible) cat. Before becoming a novelist, she spent 20 years in Manhattan working as an actress in nearly 100 productions (yet rarely getting paid for any of them). From that lucrative career, she jumped to journalism, and then to corporate communications where she garnered multiple awards for a newsletter she wrote and edited. Her novel, A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing hit #1 in its genre on Amazon this September, and bless its electronic and paper heart, has been consistently selling for over three years. The Secret Life of Lords is the second in the Albright Sisters series.

Website: www.elfahearn.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elf.ahearn?fref=ts

Newsletter: email elfahearn@hotmail.com to subscribe

Buy links:

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Excerpt

In a storeroom at the back of a thatched cottage on the outskirts of Exeter, Lady Claire Albright separated valerian stalks from a wheelbarrow piled high with freshly-picked herbs. Quickly binding the ends with string, she hung the bouquet upside down from a nail in the rafter. As she reached for the next bunch, a deep, rumbly male voice filtered through the wall, and instantly her breath caught and her throat constricted. She knew that voice; had listened for it for two pain-filled years, had longed for it, had fretted about it, had torn through every word it had spoken trying to understand what she’d done wrong. And here it was—so sonorous and wise, laced with a gentleness she now knew she should never have trusted.

“We’ve got fresh chamomile in back,” said Jenny Martin, the proprietress of the odd little establishment: part dwelling, part apothecary shop, and part medical clinic.

Had he married? Claire wondered. Was his wife unable to rest, so he’d travelled all this way for a sleeping potion?

“My lady,” Mrs. Martin called, “Could you bring three bunches of calming herbs?”

Claire’s heart broke into a gallop and she pressed her knuckles to her mouth, frantically wishing there were a hole to dive into. Go out there and see him? Oh, no. No. As if it were on fire, she hurled the herbs back into the wheelbarrow then froze like a rabbit.

“Could you go back yourself, my lord? This brew depends on constant stirring.”

My God, where to hide!

“Which would be the chamomile?” he asked, voice as musical as a bass fiddle.

“The stuff with yellow buds like daisies.”

Yellow buds, yellow buds. Claire dashed behind a multi-tiered rack of dangling lavender, as purple as purple could be. There, she stood absolutely still.

His footsteps approached. She shut her eyes, and in the darkness the volume of his steps roared in her ears. By the sound of it, he’d stopped at the threshold. A few tentative steps further into the room, and the rustle of dried foliage sounded as if he were moving toward the St. John’s wort. A confused exhalation and more movement… closer. Closer.

She sensed him, felt his nearness, the electricity of his body, the heat from him. Had he halted at the lavender? Unable to bear not knowing, she opened her eyes.

In that instant, he parted two bunches of the purple flowers and looked straight at her. “Lady Claire?” he said, startled.

Will Love Run True?

Dear Teatime Tattler Readers,

I am delighted to inform you that everything is proceeding on schedule in my brother’s courtship of my best friend, Constance Drake. How Samuel fretted when Constance’s father put an end to his suit, but Mr. Drake has seen the error of his ways and now gives permission for Samuel to chart a course toward wedded bliss.

Courtship

It seems the original misunderstanding has been corrected. Since Samuel is an ardent abolitionist and travels frequently on lecture tours, Constance’s father believed that his daughter would risk being widowed. We in the Ohio Abolitionist Society all know the dangers abolitionists face. We have dodged thrown eggs and tomatoes in more than one town. But we are determined to do what we believe is right.

Constance and Samuel will make a wonderful couple!


After seminary, Samuel hopes to be placed at a church in Ohio. His reputation grows with every speaking engagement, so I’m sure he will find the perfect church in which to continue his abolitionist mission.

The only fly in the ointment is Micah Spencer. He and Samuel used to be the best of friends when they attended seminary together, but Micah made some poor choices for his life. He once told me how much he admired Constance, but when Samuel started courting her, Micah bowed out. To make matters worse, Micah turned to slave catching as a way to earn money. Can you imagine?  Micah works directly against Constance. Surely he doesn’t think he has a chance with her now.

I cannot imagine a more perfect union than that of my brother and my best friend. My mother often quotes Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “The course of true love never did run true.”  But surely the way is set for my brother. Micah may pine for Constance, but how could she possibly choose him over Samuel?

About the Book

Ohio promises freedom. Kentucky threatens bondage. Only one thing would entice an escaped slave to take the risk

In 1838, escaping slaves know Ripley, Ohio is a good place to cross into freedom. But slave catchers know it as well. Micah Spencer spends a frozen night silently waiting for runaways, unaware that the next escaping slave will change his life.

Runaway slave Opal knows she’s risking her life and that of her infant by leaving Kentucky and making a desperate journey north. If she is to make it, she’ll have to trust the one person she’s learned to fear.


Constance Drake admires the heroic abolitionists of Ripley but wonders if she has the courage of her convictions. When she’s asked to cross into enemy territory, she’ll have to rely on her faith and every ounce of bravery she has.

Read free with Kindle Unlimited or Buy now!

An excerpt from Freedom River

Constance had been high-spirited during their school days together. Since becoming an adult, she’d adopted a more restrained manner, but that daring spirit still twinkled in her eyes.

The warm memory of their one and only dance made Micah smile. During his last year in college, the town had put on a spring dance. Every maiden in the county had shown up in their best frocks, but Constance had outshone them all.

Micah couldn’t dance worth a lick, but he wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass him by. When the musicians had struck up Annie Laurie, he’d approached Constance from behind and slipped his hand into hers. She’d spun around, obviously surprised, but then she’d smiled.

Oh, that smile. With one daring grin, she’d accepted his invitation and branded his heart.

With his heart pounding and his skin on fire, he’d led her to the edge of the dance floor, set his palm on her waist, and lifted her other hand.

Despite her lacy white glove, her hand on his shoulder felt like a hot coal. She’d followed his dubious lead, all the while smiling into his eyes. At that moment, Micah knew what the hawk felt when it soared above treetops. He would win the girl and make her his own. He would marry her, love her, and care for her until he died.

But his best friend loved her too. Samuel had kept him awake half the night, sighing over Constance. A few weeks later, Samuel began calling on her every Sunday afternoon. Micah had watched and waited, unwilling to surrender his hopes and unable to intervene.

That had been the beginning of the rift between he and Samuel. Samuel Lynton had absorbed every word of Reverend Rankin’s abolitionist teaching. In those days he’d been a zealot for the cause, debating with his fellow students and writing articles for various abolitionist newspapers. He’d risen rapidly in Reverend Rankin’s organization, and he was undoubtedly the teacher’s favorite.

But Micah’s school days hadn’t been so ideal. When his father had learned of Reverend Rankin’s message, Micah’s tuition had disappeared. Samuel’s father owned one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the state, a legacy Samuel would one day inherit, but Micah’s options were few. He could either return to his family’s farm or find another way to support himself. How could Micah ever hope to compete with Samuel?  Then he’d seen the notices in the Ripley paper. Rewards for the return of runaway slaves would be easy money.

About the Author

Claire Sanders is an award-winning author of inspirational novels. Her attention is always drawn to stories about someone fighting for what’s right in the face of overwhelming resistance. That, and a life-long interest in history, led to an appreciation for the abolitionists who dared to break mankind’s law in order to uphold God’s law.

Claire writes about Christians in conflict. Never one to preach, Claire lets the plot reveal how the characters’ faith sustains them through the struggle.

To find out more about Claire, see an complete list of her novels, and sign up for her newsletter, visit her website –

       www.clairesandersbooks.com.

email:  claire@clairesandersbooks.com

Twitter:  @booksbyclaire

Facebook:  Claire Sanders News

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