Rumford, March 1815
Dunno if you can use this, Clemens, but here’s a bit from the tavern last night. It’s about Fred Newell’s peculiar nephew. Fred runs a first class coaching operation. Bit above hisself—don’t much mix down at the public house—but honest. Mostly keeps the good jobs for his boys, so no chance for a local but to muck out his stables. Th’ nephew come home from fighting Boney three years ago, limping and all, and boys at the pub figured him for a charity case. Next thing we know, he has the plum job driving one of the high-class carriages, and him with only part of a leg on the left.
But that isn’t what I have for you. The man comes to the tavern now’n again like I said. Between trips, like, and not often enough to be a regular exactly. Bit tight with his coin. I mean, he’s been known to buy a drink for a body now’n again, but no one has ever seen him buy a round for the whole place like his cousin Paul did when one of Newell’s horses won that race over near Doddinghurst. Ostlers from Fred’s say he don’t spend a penny he don’t have to. Saves it all, but for one thing—books! Have you ever known a coachman who bought so many books his little room over the stables is floor to ceiling three deep in books?
But that isn’t what I have for you. The man came to the tavern last evening, because he’s between trips. Harry Simmons, the keeper, likes him, so at least we know he pays his shot. Damned if the man didn’t start singing! Started out with a ballad and Marion the wench that serves most nights went into raptures about his voice. Moved on mostly soldiers stuff; he said he had passengers for morning that put him in mind of the war. But he got bawdier as the night went on, and none of the girls seemed to mind judging from the sighs.
So that’s it, Clemens. A singing coachman who lives with naught but books for company—is that peculiar enough for your paper? I grumbled to Harry that I wouldn’t want to ride out with a coachman who spent the night before in a tavern. Harry laughed and said then I probably don’t want to ride with the mail or post. Told me the damn fool was drinking straight cider anyway.
About the Story
Neither battle nor loss of his leg destroyed Zachery Newell. Working as a coachman, he tries to build a life in spite of his injuries while he plans for the sort of life he knew in childhood, happy and content above his father’s print shop, but when a woman races out of the storm and into the stable yard of The Queen’s Barque with a wagon full of small boys, puppies, and a bag of books, he is enchanted.
Dismissed by a charity school, Patience Abney struggles on her own to create a school that gives every boy a happy and productive life. Now the roof has caved in. Though she managed to get her boys to the safety of an inn, she has no idea how she will rebuild.
Zach knows Patience, the granddaughter of an earl, is far above the touch of shopkeeper’s son. He tries to keep his distance, but when the two of them make their way across the flooded marsh to her damaged school in search of a missing boy, attraction grows toward passion, complicating everything.
Before she could speak, he crossed the room and pulled her into a crushing embrace, taking her mouth with his until her knees failed and she had only his embrace to rely on. Insanity born of hope. Zach could think of no other explanation for his behavior.
About the Book
When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.
One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.
Release Date: April 13, 2021
Special Preorder price of $0.99
About the Author
Bluestocking Belle, traveler, adventurer, writer of historical romance. Caroline Warfield is enamored of owls, books, history, and beautiful gardens (but not the actual act of gardening).