STORM AND SHELTER
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.
This sounds like the perfect set-up for complex characters, lots of good tension and sweet romance! How did you end up being a part of this collection?
The year 2020 was awful in many ways, but there were some bright spots. For me, one of those was being invited by the Bluestocking Belles, a group of historical romance authors, to be one of the guest authors in their 2021 story collection. It was a unique experience, and a great deal of fun, interweaving our stories and characters into the collection's setting.
When this opportunity arose, I was in the middle of writing Fated Hearts, my Regency-set retelling of the Macbeth story. Since Fated Hearts was set in London in March 1815, in the middle of the Corn Riots, and in the week that ended with the arrival of news of Bonaparte's escape, the Storm & Shelter project gave me the perfect opportunity for a secondary character's romance. The result is my novella, The Comtesse of Midnight, about Malcolm Comyn, the Earl of Menteith, and his search for the lady who holds the secret of his birth.
Ooooohhh! The secret of his birth! Sounds fantastically mysterious. Do you have a favorite part?
One of my favorite parts of the story is the hero and heroine’s first meeting. In the midst of a terrible storm, she struggles to rescue two kegs of smuggles spirits from a beached sloop. Malcolm comes to the smuggler’s aid, and very quickly recognizes that the free-trader in trousers is not a young man, but a very feminine woman.
A Scottish Earl on a quest for the elusive Comtesse de Fontenay rescues a French lady smuggler from the surf during a devastating storm, and takes shelter with her. As the stormy night drags on, he suspects his companion knows the woman he’s seeking, the one who holds the secret to his identity.
Marielle Plessiers may dress like a boy and go out with the local free traders, but she’s really the Comtesse de Fontenay. She trades in spirits, not secrets, but the information she holds will change Malcolm Comyn’s life forever.
“Halloo,” Malcolm called.
The man scrambled to his feet. Short and slight, his oilcloth coat tented over him. He was otherwise dripping wet, a knit cap clinging down to his eyebrows. He dove under the sail again and came back with another cask.
Either he hadn’t heard or he was ignoring the greeting. “Do you need help?” Malcolm called.
The man spun around, a scowl on his young face, and shook his head.
Another wave swamped him, the sea tugging at his boots and legs. He fell back, still clutching his cargo.
Malcolm dismounted and waded into the surf. He reached a hand and pulled the delicate lad up, swept the cask out of his loosening grip, and fought his way back up the beach with the lad in tow.
Eyes flashed up at him. Gray, or green, or blue—the color was uncertain, but the lashes framing them were long, the lips full, the face a smooth heart shape filled with annoyance.
He swept a gaze over the coats and trousers, confirming the curves below. Almost confirming.
And if confirmed, it would be the first bit of intrigue unrelated to his earldom that he’d had in months.
He whisked the smuggler up under his free arm, swallowing a chuckle and ignoring the unmistakably female howl of protest.
The hand reaching out was large, the arm it was attached to a strong one, and the stranger was a full head taller. He wasn’t a revenue agent though, or not a known one. They’d all be snug in their beds in a storm like this. No, the man was not with the government, yet his scrutiny was a close one.
“Nooo.” The scold came unbidden because he’d plucked a body tight up against him, juggling the cask in his other arm.
The devil he was, and too damned presumptuous. “Put me down. You oughtn’t to be here. Go see to your horse. The animal will have the reins free in moments.”
“Ungrateful brat.” Still cradling the cask, he slogged back to the horse, soothing the creature with a gentle touch that quite impressed. Except, that he still held the cask that wasn’t his.
“You. That’s mine.”
“Aye, and I’m carryin’ it for ye. Come.” He beckoned. “Get yourself out of the surf.”
That was probably wise. Whether the sloop would be there in the morning was anyone’s guess. A pity that. Nothing about this run had been easy—the storm had changed everything. They were lucky to be alive.
“That cask is mine, and I’ll have it now.”
He picked up the other one. “I’ll carry the both. Ye’ll lead the horse.”
The beast rolled his eyes and snorted with only mild annoyance. This was a fine creature to be only a bit discomposed by his day’s work and the weather.
“Fine, then. I will lead him.”
When the man turned with the casks and stomped off toward the embankment a sharp whistle checked him.
“Not that way. We will follow the beach. It will be faster and less treacherous than taking that hillside.”
“Aye. Unless a wee wave comes and sweeps us away. And where would it be that we’re going?”
And there it was, a guess before, but now, certainement: a Scots accent, one that sent a slither of fear up the spine. And why would another finely dressed Scotsman be visiting these parts?
Award winning and USA Today bestselling author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but prefers the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California, where she shares a midcentury home with her husband and a spunky, blond rescued terrier. She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. Though hard at work on her next series of romantic adventures, she loves to hear from readers!
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Alina-K.-Field/e/B00DZHWOKY
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