Title: Rogue’s Hostage
Author: Linda McLaughlin
Genre: American Historical Romance
She wants her freedom. Her captor wants her. Can love survive a deadly war?
In 1758 the Pennsylvania frontier is wild, primitive and dangerous, where safety often lies at the end of a gun. Mara Dupré's life crumbles when a French and Indian war party attacks her cabin, kills her husband, and takes her captive. Marching through the wilderness strengthens her resolve to flee, but she doesn't count on her captor teaching her the meaning of courage and the tempting call of desire.
French lieutenant Jacques Corbeau's desire for his captive threatens what little honor he has left. But when Mara desperately offers herself to him in exchange for her freedom, he finds the strength to refuse and reclaims his lost self-respect. As the shadows of his past catch up to him, Jacques realizes that Mara, despite the odds, is the one true key to reclaiming his soul and banishing his past misdeeds forever.
Mara hurried down the path, but Corbeau darted ahead of her and set a bruising pace that soon had her gasping for breath. By mid-morning they arrived at the spot where they had stopped the previous afternoon.
“That way,” he said, stopping and pointing to a side path. “If you had not run away yesterday, we could have taken the easier route. But now we need to make up for lost time.”
Mara faltered as the narrow trail plunged deep into a grove of fir trees as dark, cold, and austere as a Gothic church. The deep shade and dense foliage shut out all traces of the world beyond the forest. The air was damp, filled with the bitter, resinous odor of the decaying hemlock needles crushed beneath their feet. She sensed solitude so all-encompassing it chilled her heart.
“Where are we?”
When Corbeau turned, she sensed the tension coming from him and suddenly knew the answer.
“The Shades of Death,” she whispered, remembering the stories Gideon had told her of the dark forest dreaded by all who had to travel through it.
“It is just a forest, madame. You have nothing to fear.” He held out a hand to her. “Come, we have no time to waste.”
Fear made her swallow her pride. Placing her cold hand in his warm one, she let him lead her through the twisting maze. Huge tree trunks soared upwards like stone columns, and branches arched overhead, so closely intertwined the sun barely filtered through. A forest cathedral, abandoned by all gods known to man.
Growing up in Geneva, she had often stared across the lake at the far distant Juras, their white peaks jutting majestically into the blue sky. Heaven must be like that, she used to think, clean, pure and pristine. If that had been a glimpse of Heaven, then this dark, dank labyrinth must be an outpost of Hell.
She breathed a sigh of relief when the path merged with a wider trail, and the light grew brighter. She again recognized familiar beech and maple trees.
Late in the afternoon, Mara stopped suddenly. “Do you hear that?” she asked.
They listened intently for a moment. “Someone is coming,” Corbeau whispered. “Quick, off the path.”
He pulled her through the trees and into a thicket where they watched without being seen. As the sound of footsteps came closer, he grabbed hold of her from behind, one arm around her waist, pinning her arms to her side. His other hand covered her mouth to keep her from crying out. As a group of soldiers passed by, she saw glimpses of scarlet uniforms and heard snatches of conversation she recognized as English.
Twisting in Corbeau’s arms and arching her body, she struggled to get free, but was unable to break his ironclad hold. Tears of anger and frustration streamed silently down her face.
After a few minutes, she gave up. It was hopeless; he was too strong. She was acutely conscious of his muscular arms holding her against his hard chest. She would never get away from this man, not unless he let her go of his own accord.
He continued to hold her until long after the British were out of sight. Finally, he loosened his grip and turned her to face him, one arm still around her waist. With his free hand he brushed away her tears.
“Hush,” he murmured into her ear.
She opened her eyes and pleaded with him. “Let me go after them. By the time I catch up, you can be far away. I won’t tell them which way you went, I swear it. Only let me go.”
“Oh, no, madame, I cannot. Too much is at stake.”
“What?” she demanded in a shrill tone. “Your bounty money? Just how much am I worth to you? What is the value placed on a human life these days?”
“I do not care about the money, but Gray Wolf would be disappointed in me if I showed up without you. It is imperative that I retain his respect. And I have my pride to consider.”
She placed her hands on her hips and faced him defiantly. “Are you so arrogant that you think the world revolves around your desires? Did I not know better, I might think you an aristocrat.”
“How perceptive you are, madame,” he drawled. “It so happens that my father is the Comte d’Archambault.”
“At least you came by your arrogance honestly. You inherited it. But tell me, Monsieur, what does your father think of his noble son?”
For a second a glimpse of pain flashed in his eyes. “My father thinks highly of his noble son. But he has no use for his bastard.”
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On sale for 99 cents in the US and UK. $2.99 for Canada, Australia, etc. for a very limited time!
What’s the first binge-worthy book you read and why was it a must-read?
Little Women was the first, but the book that made me want to write historical romance was The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare. I loved the colonial setting, the strong, independent heroine and the dashing love interest.
What makes your featured book a binge-worthy read?
Rogue’s Hostage is an exciting, adventurous Enemies-to-Lovers romance set during the French and Indian War. The book was in large part inspired by the most recent movie version of The Last of the Mohicans, starring a dashing Daniel Day Lewis, but with a happier ending. If you enjoy history and romantic adventure, this book is for you!
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon (US) gift card.
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US account to win.
Runs August 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on September 1.
Linda McLaughlin grew up with a love of history fostered by her paternal grandmother and an incurable case of wanderlust inherited from her father. She has traveled extensively within the United States and has visited Mexico, Canada, Australia, Europe and Iceland. She now lives near the ocean in Orange County, California.
Linda writes historical and Regency romance under her real name and spicier romance under the pseudonym Lyndi Lamont.
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