Title The Count’s Castaway
Author Aubrey Wynne
Genre Historical Romance/Pirate Regency
Publisher Dragonblade Publishing
He’s escaping his past… She’s running toward her future… The present just got interesting.
Torn from her bed and indentured to an American as a child, Katherine Wilken demands her freedom seven years later. Denied her liberty, she stows away on The Escape, hoping to return to England. But when the ship sets sail, so does her heart. Katie soon realizes she’s once again a captive—of love. Narrow escapes seem to be Count Alexandre Lecroix’s lot in life. Fleeing France as a boy during the Reign of Terror, he’s a man with no country and soon takes to the sea in search of his destiny. The Napoleonic Wars have filled his pockets and his zeal for excitement, but his heart remains hollow. When he discovers a feisty stowaway on board, he resists the squall of emotion she stirs within him. Two lonely souls find passion in the turbulent waters of the Atlantic, each a fugitive of their past. As land draws near, Zander is torn between his desire for a woman and his hunger for the sea. Can love survive once the ship has anchored, or will their newfound happiness founder?
Alexandre left the office and ambled back to the harbor. Merchants haggled over prices and the condition of shipments, boys called out the name of hotels and taverns hoping for a seaman’s newly paid wage. Doxies weaved among the throng, offering a smile to anyone ogling their wares. His eyes searched the crowded harbor and found the mast of his own schooner. Taking in a long, satisfied breath, he surveyed the busy dock as he dodged out of the path of a fast-moving cart.
Once past, a scuffle on the other side of the yard caught his attention.
“Let go of me!” cried a feminine voice.
Alexandre wiped the sweat from his brow and squinted against the morning sun. The voice sounded female. Most women roaming the docks were hoping for a man’s touch—and the coin in his pocket. Did the customer refuse the price or want something for free?
“You dirty, low-down, sniveling—” The voice pitched higher with each curse.
He spotted a petite woman, holding her ground like a soldier against the enemy. She wore a shapeless linen shirt with a wide collar over a pair of duck trousers. The outfit of a seaman. Deep ruby bounced off her shoulders and flashed with gold as her head bobbed, her palms patting down her loose clothing while she searched for something. The object of her tirade towered over her, giant hands on his hips, shaking his head. From the wide crooked nose and broad face, Alexandre assumed the rotund man wasn’t a stranger to the receiving end of a fist.
“You have no proof. It’s my word against yours. Who do you think the authorities will believe? An indentured servant or a citizen and business owner?” The stout man sniggered.
The redhead produced a piece of paper and waved it in the air. “I have the original document. I’ve kept it hidden away all these years, waiting for this day.” Her blue eyes glittered triumphantly. Even in the ill-fitting clothes, she was a beauty.
“I’ve never laid hands on you, Katie, but you’re trying my patience.” The man’s face hardened. “You’ve been fed, never beaten or… abused in any way. I’ve been a good master, and this is how you repay me?”
“I want my freedom. I’ve earned it. Rory is free, and you bought us on the same voyage.”
Alexandre admired her spunk. Katie wasn’t backing down. He settled against a tower of crates, interested in how this scene would play out. With unexpected speed, the man snatched the paper from the girl’s hand and held it high above her head as she reached on her toes to take it back. He ripped it into shreds, a gleeful grin showing two blackened teeth.
Alexandre’s jaw ticked. He wouldn’t mind wiping the sneer from those flat features. He hated to see the little spitfire taken advantage of.
“You were saying?” he jeered.
Her mouth fell open, large blue eyes sparkling with unshed tears. Alexandre had the oddest urge to scoop her up in his arms and take her on board L'Évasion. He’d probably get a black eye for his effort, he thought with a grin.
The oaf grabbed the girl’s wrist again, and her knee jerked up. “You’re coming with me, you little”—he doubled over, grabbing his crotch—“oomph!”
Katie turned on her heel and ran in Alexandre’s direction. He ducked between the rows of crates, and as she dashed by, he reached out and caught her waist. Pulling her close, he turned them to face the opposite direction, concealing her slight form with his own. His grip tightened as she fought like a hellcat.
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Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule, and barn cats. Obsessions include wine, history, travel, trail riding, and all things Christmas. Her Chicago Christmas series has received the Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, Heart of Excellence, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and twice nominated as a Rone finalist by InD’tale Magazine.
Aubrey’s first love is medieval romance but after dipping her toe in the Regency period in 2018 with the Wicked Earls’ Club, she was smitten. This inspired her spin-off series Once Upon a Widow and the Scottish Regency series A MacNaughton Castle Romance with Dragonblade Novels.
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