Title: Fortune’s Folly
Author: Cat Dubie
Genre: Historical Fiction with romantic elements
[mid-1860s] Eden Fitzgerald is no swooning maiden waiting for the man of her dreams to come along. Alex Banning, a decorated naval officer, has vital duties to perform. Although he and Eden shared a strange adventure when young, he cannot get involved with her now. But irresistible forces draw them together again and again, their attraction culminating in a blazing night of passion.
For one shining moment Eden is in love! But her infatuation swiftly becomes contempt when she discovers Alex is part of the British organization that considers the men of her family criminals and traitors. When her father and brother are arrested and imprisoned, she vows to do whatever is necessary to have them set free. Pregnant with Alex's child but determined to keep him from finding out, she enters into a marriage of convenience with the scion of a wealthy Canadian family.
When all legal methods of setting her father free fail, Eden learns she can arrange an escape for him. Needing money, she turns to highway robbery and becomes the legendary Giselle, a beautiful thief who preys on the wealthy. Soon the hunt is on for the alluring criminal--agents of the Crown, Montreal police, a dangerous smuggler she cheated, a brother-in-law she betrayed--who will capture her?
"This way. This is the way she ran!"
"No, it's this way, I tell you."
"Ah, you are both wrong. She went there."
Hand pressed to her mouth, Eden, peeking from behind a load of barrels, lifted one side of her skirts and tucked them into her belt, the trousers she wore beneath giving her the freedom to dart in the direction her pursuers did not take.
The evening had begun well. She had waited in the carriage of a patroness of the Montreal General Hospital. The dowager, draped in gold and diamonds, had attended a charity ball, her maid dispensing cash from a satin pouch. Eden now clutched the pouch, heavy and rattling with coins and jewelry.
Unfortunately, the dowager had not followed her maid's lead and fainted. When the carriage slowed to turn and Eden jumped out, the woman screeched as if she were being murdered. Three young gallants on horseback set out in pursuit.
Eden led them into areas of the city she had come to know well. She ducked into dark alleys and between narrow buildings. The rich swells galloped in circles and argued with each other until they gave up the hunt.
Perhaps the satin pouch carried enough to complete her fund. Elated, she hurried down a dim lane. And she froze, for three figures stood side by side across her path. Her heart began a nervous patter. Were those the three who had been pursuing her? She swung around and swallowed a gasp. Two more dark figures appeared.
One man from the first group made a hand signal, another nodded. Damnation. No time to reach into her pocket and dig the pistol from its snug holster. They converged toward her. One lit a match. The flare showed pockmarked cheeks, crisscrossed by scars.
"What you doing here, girl?"
Another match blazed, another dreadful face leered. They stank of sweat, vomit, putrid food. She took a shuddering breath and flung the contents of the pouch high into the air. Diamonds, gold, and coins rained down, with paper money floating after. The men scrambled for the prizes, cursing, snorting, shoving.
She whirled, fled back the way she’d come. A shout. "Get the girl!" Heavy footsteps pounded after her. She couldn’t stop, dared not turn. Out of the lane and into another she ran. She tore off her mask, tossed it away. Still behind her, he grunted and swore. Her legs burned, her lungs threatened to explode. She needed to catch her breath. Another street and she would stop, grab her pistol—
A wiry arm locked around her waist and she choked on a scream. "Easy, Giselle," a voice crooned in her ear, “‘Tis me, your Guardian Angel, come to save you."
Panting, ready to collapse, she had a ridiculous urge to laugh. Light from a high window filtered into the alley. A ferocious glint in her rescuer’s eyes belied his reckless grin. She pulled away and, hands on her knees, gulped air into her lungs.
Her growling pursuer skidded to a stop.
A blade flashed. "You chasing my girl?"
The man spun and raced off. Able to breathe again, Eden rubbed cold tears from her eyes. "Who—who are you? No angel nonsense. I want to know exactly who you are."
He stowed his knife, lifted his hands. “For now, let’s leave it at a dear old friend."
"You’re following me." Was he a spy? No. He was too Irish to associate with the likes of Sir Peter, Lieutenant Cavendish, or Alex. But what were his intentions?
He grinned and raked fingers through the bush of his hair. "I thought you might be out tonight, so I came to find you. And you did need me, didn't you?"
She couldn’t argue and didn’t want to consider what may have happened had he not been there. But she had tossed a small fortune into the air and would have to try again to complete her fund. Would she be able to after this? "I must go. Thank you for your help."
“Can you in turn help me? 'Tis but a small task, my dear Giselle."
No more adventures tonight, not with her numb feet, aching legs, and shattered confidence. She untucked her skirt, let it fall. “Small task or not, I won’t help you.”
He took her hand, held it between both of his, and said with a sly grin, "Would you be helping me if I dared you? I'm betting you're a girl who can't refuse a dare."
His words gave her pause. Could she trust him?
"Come.” A hand on her back, he steered her to the street where a rough cart waited. “'Tis a short drive, and I'll explain your role in a grand production. Did you never, when young, wish to be a stage actress?"
“Never.” But hadn’t she been playing a role in her own grand production for more than a year now?
The white-haired driver tipped his cap at Eden. She climbed into the cart and sat on heaped blankets, facing her scruffy angel, listening as he presented his plot.
Share a holiday family tradition:
We always saved one evening during the holidays to take the kids to see Christmas lights, following a list published in the newspaper. After this, we’d all go ice skating on the frozen river. There was usually a vendor there selling popcorn and hot chocolate with marshmallows!
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
Well, the book contains many chilling winter and frozen river scenes! But alongside the action and adventure, family love and loyalty drive much of the plot. And how better to spend quiet time after the rush of the celebrations than with an involving story filled with conflict, danger, and spice?
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Runs December 1 – 31.
Drawing will be held on January 3, 2020.
Cat Dubie was the girl who always had her nose in a book, the one who read with a flashlight under the covers or, when the moon was full, sat by a window for hours laughing, crying, loving characters whose adventurous lives wouldn’t let her sleep.
She has traveled the world in books. She has traveled back to the dawn of time and far into the future in books. Her keen interest in history determined the nature of her books, and the first Historical romance novel she read, settled the genre.
After working for various levels of government, she retired and now lives in the beautiful province of British Columbia, where she indulges in her need for creating stories about romance, adventure, passion, mystery, love ...
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