Title: The Suffragette’s Vow
Author: Linda Carroll-Bradd
Genre: Historical Romance
Novice reporter Nadina Cutler is bent on proving her worth to the editor of The New Northwest, a suffragette newspaper, and to her wealthy parents. After interviewing the manager of a dairy farm, Nadina then travels to Spruce Hill to do a follow-up with the wayward son.
But nothing goes right. Their personalities clash. Nadina pushes for answers and Michael clams up. He’s not interested in reconnecting with the family that rejected him and Nadina has to find a big story to secure her freedom. Then an ocean tragedy forces them to work together and they see each other in a new light. Will their temporary partnership grow into something more?
“Hey!” No time remained to catch Arthur’s attention. Heartbeat pounding in his ears, he dove toward the dock and stroked hard until he reached the far side and hugged an arm around a piling. To clear the water from his ears, he shook his head and waited for Arthur to steer the boat parallel with the dock before he moved again. The familiar sound of a rope hitting the dock signaled that the boat wasn’t going anywhere. A second later, the engine sputtered to silence.
“I’ve secured the boat. Now, watch your steps. Hold onto my hand until you’re sure you can walk straight.”
That was Arthur’s deep voice. The tender usually traveled alone on his weekly route, so who was he talking to? Who needed to be cautioned about regaining his or her land legs?
Skittering footsteps sounded against the dock planks.
Today, he wouldn’t be completing his full exercise regime. Whenever the lighthouse tender arrived, whoever wasn’t on duty helped with offloading supplies. Michael swam along the dock until his feet touched the rocky ocean floor and he could stand with the water at waist height. With both hands planted on the warm planks, he flexed his arms, shoved his body upward, and levered himself upward to a stand on the dock.
A gasp sounded.”Oh, my goodness.”
The woman’s soft words shot awareness straight through him. Not many women lived in Spruce Hill compared to the male population comprised mostly of loggers. Hearing a feminine voice was a real treat. He swung his head to the side and spotted a goggle-eyed, pretty brunette. She looked out of place in her sunflower-colored dress with skirts that must be three feet wide.
The woman gaped at his bared legs and feet, color rising in her cheeks. A hand pressed the base of her throat.
He couldn’t resist the urge to wiggle his toes, a movement that flexed his calf muscles.
She sucked in a breath. Her gaze traveled upward, and her cheeks flushed brighter.
Curiosity kept him rooted in place. He wanted to see the color of her eyes and if she’d blush even brighter when their gazes connected. The longer she stared, the longer Michael had to study her face. Her features weren’t dainty enough to be labeled as beautiful. Arched brows perched over a strong nose that offset a slightly pointed chin. Her face was longer than a perfect oval shape. Wide lips caught his attention, possibly because he wanted to hear her voice again.
Michael jerked around and spotted his sister, Gala, rushing forward along the dock with arms outstretched. Her welcoming smile was the same one his family all had, and a pang of homesickness settled in his chest. He held out a staying hand. “Stop. I’m all wet. What are you doing here?”
Her footsteps stuttered, but her wide smile remained. “I’ve come for a visit.”
“A visit? Why?” A breeze brought gooseflesh to his arms. Leaning over, he grabbed at the towel he’d left on the dock, but it didn’t move. “Uh, miss, could you move your foot?”Angling his head, he glanced upward into hazel eyes that swirled with a mix of greens and tans. He finally viewed the woman’s entire face. Everything else faded, and he just stared.
The stranger shifted backward then averted her gaze. “I-I beg your pardon, sir.”
After rubbing water from his hair and patting down his legs, he draped the towel over his bare shoulders. “Gala, what prompted this trip? You never mentioned anything in your last letter.”
“Hey, Hamlin. Can you help unload this luggage?”Arthur set a portmanteau on the dock then stepped back into the boat.
“Hamlin?” Gala blinked, her brow wrinkled, and glanced up at her brother. “Mikael, I don’t understand. What does Mister Hugh mean?”
Was his ruse discovered? Had his attempt to put distance between him and his family failed? “I’ll explain later. For now, Gala, head up the path toward the lighthouse. You can’t miss it.” Chuckling, he extended an arm toward the beach. “Take care, because the way is steep.” Without another word, he dropped the towel and moved to help the lighthouse tender unload supplies, postal mail, and the several pieces of luggage that must belong to the two women. His mind raced with this surprise. Had his sister’s spontaneity just put his job in jeopardy?
Although heat flamed her cheeks and neck, Nadina couldn’t help herself from stealing another peek. She glanced over her shoulder at the still-dripping man swaggering down the dock. The bathing costume clung to his physique like a second skin, highlighting broad shoulders and exposing muscled arms, a narrow waist, and slim hips. The brief outfit also displayed more of his body and hair in manly places—chest, arms, and legs—that most men in society kept covered. In her entire life, she didn’t remember hearing of anyone swimming in the ocean. Her father and his cronies frequently took steambaths at the gentlemen’s club. But the women in her family and of her acquaintance didn’t participate in such vigorous, or visible, exercise.
Who was this man living outside the rules that governed her life?
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This story delves into one woman’s drive to prove her abilities and how her persistence to discover “the why” about a family disagreement changes everything for the man she sees is hurting. I loved figuring out ways for her to get under his skin.
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As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda now writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor and a bit of sass from her home in the southern California mountains.
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