Title: The Lady and Her Quill
Author: Ruth A. Casie
Genre: Regency Romance
Publisher: Dragonblade Publishing
Her mind kept telling her to stop loving him, but her heart couldn’t let him go.
Renowned author Lady Alicia Hartley has lost her muse after a bad review. She blames it all on the author JC Melrose. A chance encounter with a handsome, witty Justin Caulfield has her heart racing, and her muse seemingly back. Is he her savior or her worst nightmare?
He didn’t see the turbulent ocean. He was too busy dealing with a different tempest.
The recently retired Captain Justin Caulfield is facing his own demons. As gifted author JC Melrose, his stories honor men who died at the hand of one man. His only focus is to avenge their deaths, that is, until he meets and falls in love with Lady Alicia.
The two authors take on a writing challenge based on a story of stolen gold taken from the newspaper headlines all to determine the better writer. While researching the story, Lady Alicia is captured by the thieves’ ringleader. Can Lady Alicia turn this mystery into an award-winning story? Can Justin save his real-life heroine? Can they both overcome their own challenges for a happily ever after?
“The cathedral was founded in 1091, the same time as Sommer Castle. A great fire destroyed the cathedral in 1216. It took over 130 years to be rebuilt. The tower with its lantern spire is one of the most beautiful of its type. It was added in the early 1400s and was the main navigation point for ships using the Sommer River.
“The tower saved the city from invasion. If no’, I would have been speaking tae ye like a Scotswoman.”
He squeezed his eyes shut and crunched his shoulders. She was aware her attempt at a Scottish accent was laughable. At least he was laughing.
“Ye dinnae have it right, lassie. Ye should no’ try what yer no’ capable of doing.”
She stared at him.
“My grandparents on my mother’s side are from—”
“They’re from Scotland,” she interrupted.
“Yes, my mother is part of—”
“One of my characters was a lass from Edinburgh.”
* * *
The Clan Melrose. That’s what he started to say. On second thought, her interruption was fortunate. He didn’t want to divert a very pleasant conversation. He’d have to find a more opportune time. At the moment, he preferred to learn more about the cathedral’s history.
“How did the tower prevent you from acquiring a fine Scottish brogue?”
“It was during a nine-week siege by Scottish invaders in 1644. They made all sorts of demands. But the people wouldn’t agree to any of them. There were skirmishes and fights. Your ancestors, forgive me Captain, but they were not a nice lot, stole the grain and scared the wild stock so there was no milk from the cows or eggs from the chickens. The villagers fought back valiantly and took prisoners.”
“It’s an unfortunate part of war,” he said softly.
“The invaders took whatever they wanted and when there was nothing left to take, they demanded more. They wanted gold. But the mayor stood firm. The only item of value in the cathedral was the treasured chalice. He wouldn’t surrender the relic.”
“So how did the tower save the good people of Sommer-by-the-Sea?” he asked.
“Patience, I’m coming to that.” She placed her hand on his arm.
Her brief touch made him more aware of her standing at his side than he wanted to admit. Her playful banter charmed him. He enjoyed her tale, and her telling even more.
She leaned in as if she told him the greatest secret. Her large hazel eyes grew bigger when she spoke, and her smile sparkled. He found himself hanging on her every word.
“The Scottish men who came here, not your direct forbearers I’m sure, threatened if the mayor didn’t give them the gold chalice, they would bombard the tower. Gold? There was no gold chalice, especially in the 1600s. The relic’s value was in what it symbolized in the religious ritual, not the substance of which it was made. But I digress. The attackers made their threat, and our mayor Sir John Whitaker developed a plan.” She lowered her voice intriguing him even more.
“Your forbearers suffered their losses. I’m sorry to tell you some lost their lives and others well they became guests of the mayor. He provided quarters for them at Sommer Castle, in the dungeon, deep underground.
“The deeper they went into the ground, the greater the stink of wet, pungent mildew. Black mold grew across the walls and parts of the floor. Despite the smell, they were forced to go on. At the bottom, they came to a door. The door opened onto what appeared to be a stone forest, a broad, pillared hall with stone columns as large as tree trunks.”
“It sounds frightening.” Her eyes twinkled as she artfully painted the picture with words. The story enchanted him, but not as much as the enchantress.
“The dungeon was horrifying. Thick cobwebs filled the corners of the room. Wisps of webbing hung from the ceiling and waved in the stale air. The room held a curious array of tools. Winches and levers projected from every wall, and chains with handles dangle from the ceiling. Manacles were set into the walls. One set of manacles was broken open. This is where the men were held.”
Alicia’s voice had taken on a lost, distant sound reminding him of men who relived their battlefield experiences. His concern grew to alarm. Strong men had crumbled under less.
“When were you there last?” he asked as he gently took her hand.
“I haven’t been there in many years.”
He lifted her chin with the crook of his finger. The urge to kiss her was all consuming. He wanted to kiss away the pained expression in her eyes and bring back the warm smile to her now pale face.
Instead, they spoke not a word and let their eyes convey what they couldn’t. Slowly, her pained expression receded. Her pale face replaced with a warm smile. He removed his hand.
She had immersed herself in the scene and taken him along with her.
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RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages and have earned her several coveted Crowned Heart Awards. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures. For more information, please visit RuthACasie.com or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, Instagram RuthACasie, or Pinterest RuthACasie.
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