Title: An Heiress by Midnight
Author: Clair Brett
Genre: Historical Romance
Lady Louissa Adair was raised by her uncle to be anything but a lady, spending hours scrubbing the decks of his ill begotten ships. Now, he has tasked her with a more deadly task. If she refuses, any hope of finding her long-lost and possibly dead brother will be lost while her uncle moves up his timeline to marry her off to a most dastardly man. While doing her uncle’s bidding, a blasted Englishman running around Scotland sets upon being her champion – not that Louissa has ever needed one. If he doesn’t get them both killed, and she might just kill the fool herself, she faces an even bigger danger – losing her heart.
Lord Clive Colcord, Earl of Breakerton, had escaped to Scotland in an attempt to avoid scrutiny by his late father’s solicitors. It had been a quiet, if not boring rustication until he finds himself tasked by the local magistrate with apprehending the highwayman menacing the North Road. He doesn’t expect to discover a beguiling dark-haired beauty with more dangerous men in her life than Clive has sisters. Yet he finds himself offering aid in an attempt to protect this damsel in distress. He must help Louissa find the proof of her uncle’s crimes and find her brother before she is forced into marriage all the while not losing his own heart in the process.
July 12, 1817
"It's about bloody time," grumbled Clive Edward Colcord, Lord of Breakerton. He had traveled the length of the Milton Road looking for a highwayman that he was beginning to think did not exist. Not that he had anything better to do, but he had begun to consider the men who implored him to find the highwayman threatening the area had done so on a lark. His spirits rose knowing he had not been taken for a fool. He could hear the waves beating against the shore, signaling how close he was to the sea. His blood was still boiling from the two gunshots sending his team careening along the moonlit road. It was only just that Clive managed to get a grasp on his walking stick cum saber, but his pistol had been misplaced within the carriage somewhere.
"Step free of the vehicle. I shan't ask again,” he heard the impatient braggart demand. Considering the hours Clive was forced to ride the Milton tonight looking for this criminal, he could wait.
The moon still shone brightly, but his foe was crafty and remained in the shadows while the cool briny wind from the ocean stung his face.
"Good evening. Wonderfully bright evening, is it not?" Clive quizzed in his usual jovial manner. The reports of this fiend were woefully vacant of tales of violence. He decided to be at his leisure until the situation called for doing otherwise. He was satisfied when his foe stepped further into the shadows. "How might I be of assistance?”
"I am in need of but two things, and as luck would have it, you can assist me with both,” the inky figure answered back in an unusual raspy tone sending Clive's nerves on edge.
"I am at your service.” Clive started toward the voice in hopes of better seeing the person who was speaking.
"Stop!” The shadow ordered. "That will be far enough. What I need is for you to leave your coin purse on that rock to your right, and then regain your carriage, instruct your driver to turn around and go back from whence you came."
"If you are playing at being a highwayman, might I ask why you did not instruct me to stand and deliver? I am not accustomed to such employment, but was under the impression it was a requirement of your profession,” Clive taunted with humor clear in his voice. His would-be assailant seemed to be taken aback momentarily.
"You, sir, seem to have read your share of penny novels. I would have thought them below your station and gender for that matter.”
Clive quite liked a quick wit and it seemed even in these circumstances, he could appreciate it. "Well played, lad," he commended with a bow of his head. "It is quite refreshing to meet one who is so industrious and forward thinking in their craft. I am afraid I will be unable to acquiesce, however.” He turned to see what he already knew he would. Paul, his driver, had been instructed to make haste in hiding out of sight. He might like the diversion of hunting dastardly deed doers, but it was no reason to put his people in danger. "As you can see, I am afraid my driver fled. I do believe he is unaccustomed to having someone shoot at him. Not to mention, I quite like where my coin purse is and would rather keep it on my person. Also, I have business ahead on this road, not behind." The din of the waves drowned out the usual night sounds, making this encounter seem even more intimate than he would have thought.
A stunned silence filled the expanse between them except for the sound of the sea and the wisps of salt air mussing his locks. In the silence, he heard the clean sound of a sword leaving its sheath. Clive, never wanting to be left out, did the same, but continued his attempt at conversation. "Shall I bid you farewell then?" He prodded.
"I am afraid you may not,” the voice answered with a deadly tinge to the huskiness. The shadow advanced with a slow stride. One had to be impressed by such confidence, Clive decided. The moon glinted off the highly polished steel. "I will ask only once more. Leave your change purse, then turn tail and take your arse to whence you came."
"I don't believe my arse is any of your concern, but thank you,” Clive answered. He was enjoying himself quite a bit, which easily waylaid his annoyance from earlier. If nothing else, this highwayman appeared above the pale where intelligence was concerned. "Did you bring that sword for show or were you planning to use it?” He heckled.
Before he could ready himself for the answer, he was forced to jump out of the way, as the blade hummed past his ear. Along with the humming sound, came the smell of--jasmine? He managed to rally and block the next blow with his own sword making his arm tingle from the reverberation of the swords coming to blows. They volleyed back and forth for several moments.
This highwayman had been trained with the blade. Of that, Clive was sure. He himself had studied at Angelo's Fencing Academy. He felt a pang of homesickness for London, and all his chums that spent time at the prestigious academy. However, he doubted any of them would believe he was at this moment fencing for something more than a free pint. Again, the smell of jasmine skittered across his nose filling his senses. That, mixed with the brine of the ocean was a sensual mix.
If money were no object, where would you go for a Spring Break vacation and why?
I LOVE the beach and in particular I Love Sanibel Island, Florida. I would never pass up a chance to go there for a vacation.
What’s your favorite thing about Spring and why?
I love being able to sit out on my porch and write there for the day. I am not a winter lover, so once it starts to get cold I am inside for the rest of the winter.
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Ex-Dragon keeper and historical romance author of two published novels, Clair Brett lives in NH with her hard working husband. Her office staff during the day consists of Cinta, a black cat and the matriarch of the fur babies, Mojo, a yellow kitten who spends his day holding Clair down in her seat to get her word count in, a boxer/beagle mix named Willow, who sleeps next to her chair to make it hard to do an Oreo run without doing a pee run as well, and our newest member a black lab mix who is on alert duty when anything comes into the neighborhood. As official empty-nesters the fur babies get a little spoiled.
A former middle and high school English teacher, Clair has had a lifetime love affair with reading. Once she read Pride and Prejudice as an extra read in high school, she was hooked. Clair began pursuit of publication when she was a new mother in need of a hobby. Her oldest daughter and mama to the bearded dragon grand pet is off to serve in the Air National Guard as a medic and no longer in the nest, so you do the math. Clair is a firm believer that a reader finds a piece of who they are or learns something about the world with every book they read. She wants her readers to be empowered and to have a refreshed belief in the goodness of people and the power of love after reading her work.
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