As a writer, I often fall deeply in love with my characters. Such is the case with Anton and Lenora, the hero and heroine of my historical novella series. Set in America in the 1850s, the story begins with a love-at-first-sight romance and continues as that love deepens and is tried. Each novella reads as a standalone. Taken together, they make an epic story of love and adventure..
The first book, Sweet Lenora, is told in the voice of Lenora Brewer, heiress to the Brewer shipbuilding fortune, whose relatives are ready to marry her off to the highest bidder to keep control of the shipping enterprise. Here’s the sneak peek at the opening:
On the day of my father’s funeral, the gray October sky opened and shed copious tears. It was good that the sky was so willing to cry as I could not find my own sorrow. It seemed I buried it upon learning of his death.
We stood around the gravesite as he was laid next to the mother I had never known. My Aunt Louise looked up now and again from under the awning of her black umbrella to insure herself that I had not jumped in after the coffin or run off into the rain. To Aunt Louise, I was a spoiled and fractious child, not a young woman of twenty with a mind of my own.
“High time you found her a husband,” she had said to Father on more occasions than I cared to count. “It will not do to let her run
Father hardly let me run wild. I suppose he was indulgent after his own way. My mother died giving me life. My only brother, Edward, eight years older than I, had sailed on the MaryAnne five years before and we’d had no word of him since. As I was left sole heir, Father had deemed it necessary that I know about the shipyard. He allowed me free run of the yard’s books. I learned firsthand how the ribs are covered with planks, how to caulk to make the ship watertight and seaworthy.
My father and my Uncle John ran the largest shipyard in all of Salem. They had shipping interests throughout the seven seas, clipper ships that sailed to the ends of the earth and came back deep laden with China silk and India spice.Despite whatever Aunt Louise may have thought, there were suitors aplenty. Letters of introduction forever filled the salver. I wished them all away. I knew well enough that marriage meant an
end to my days at the shipyard. Once married, I would not be able to read as I pleased from Father’s library or walk as I pleased about the town. My days would be filled with endless calls to ladies sitting in dim parlors. In short, I would be as miserable as my Aunt Louise.
The young men came by despite my wishing. They took my handkerchiefs and kissed my hand. They danced me over the floor and promenaded me through the rose garden. I knew they would never love me for the woman I was. When they looked at me, they saw a dowry kindly wrapped in a pretty package.
Book two, To the Wind, is told by Anton Boudreaux, the daring young sea captain, who falls in love with Lenora and marries her. Here’s a peek at this story–
The wind turned steady and hard out of the west. I leaned the Sweet Lenora into it as much as I dared. To be in San Francisco, and soon,was the only answer to our plight, which worsened considerably over the next days. Innis perished and we tied him into canvas. I read the twenty-sixth psalm before we let his body over the side to be taken by the sea. Six more of the crew took ill. The only one who got well was Abercrombie. His wounds were but superficial, despite what I had earlier thought. We were close enough to San Francisco that I could do without him and soon as he was well enough, I told him his
days as first mate were done.
He glared at me. “You dare demote me?”
“You’d best be careful, sir, or I’ll have charges brought against you. You can spend the last week of this voyage in chains.”
He was not moved by my threat. He spit upon the deck. “This ship is cursed and so is her captain.”
I seized him by the collar. “I should have let them kill you.”
“You think that rabble lot would not have mutinied in any case? You have been too busy with your harlot to run a crew. I’ve
heard the rumors from Rio and they do not paint her pretty. If anyone is to blame for the ship’s misfortune, it is you, sir.”
I took my dagger and put it to his throat. “One more word about my wife and you will find yourself without a tongue.”
With this I dropped him and he sidled away like the rat I knew him to be. It was not the last of him, but I had more pressing
matters to attend.
In book three, All Things Returned, Anton and Lenora have settled into an idyllic life in San Francisco, only to have their happiness threatened. This story is told by Lenora. Here’s a peek:
My shock must have shown, for he raised his eyebrows in triumph.
I swallowed my pride and worked to keep my voice even. “I came here in good faith. To beg you to be the gentleman you were born to be.”
“You came here to beg me to save your hide, my darling. To protect yourself and the murderer you call a husband.” He put down his glass. “You could have married a better man, Lenora.”
He was by my side quick as a cat then he grabbed me by the waist and drew me to him. He kissed me, forcing my mouth open, he tasted of whiskey and his teeth grazed over my lips until I tasted blood mixed with the drink.
I pulled away, shocked, and slapped him so hard my handprint was left on his cheek. “How dare you.”
“Oh, I dare, Lenora. I dare, and I doubt very much you’ll tell your husband what has transpired here. If you don’t find the money for me, I think I shall tell him myself.”
“You are a pitiful excuse for a man. You will never get a penny from me. I swear on my life and my last breath you’ll get
My only thought was for home. I wanted the refuge of my cottage. I wanted the refuge of Anton’s arms. With luck and good
weather, he would be home on the morrow. I would stay in my garden, and I would look for the sails coming into the bay. I would run to Anton’s arms and no one, not Jacob, not Brewer Brothers, could harm me in that circle.
The novellas, along with all of my other books, are available through most e-book distributors including
PS– I love these characters so much, that i’m currently working another Sweet Lenora book, a full length that will finish out the series.