Excerpt from "No Gentleman Is He" Released March 7, 2013
Young, adventurous and widowed in a new land, Cassandra Courtney Brooks and her deceased husband dreamt of raising a superior breed of saddle horse. Now she found herself left with four horses, living in a tavern attic and her scant savings depleted when her husband perished. With a resolve to see her vision to fruition, the young widow accepts the scandalous position of steward at Varina Farms rather than return to the aristocracy she left behind in England. Cassandra is soon forced to question the wisdom of her decision when she finds herself enamored with the lusty and dangerous owner.
Born in the image of his dark skinned great-grandmother, Pocahontas, it was rumored Colton Rolfe carried the savagery of his Indian ancestor. Scorned by his father, Colt grew into a man of ill temperament who’s only true love was the wild equine beasts on his plantation. His desire to breed his horses with the superior Saddlebreds of the newly widowed Cassandra Brooks left him defying all societal rules when he offered her a position at Varina Farms.
Cassandra needed a place to house her horses and earn income. Colton wanted a steward for his tobacco plantation and breeding rights to her horses. Both fought the attraction growing between them. Their story unfolds with Colt’s growing resentment toward the crown’s proposed taxes and his assistance to Sons of Liberty missions, complicated by the discovery that Cassandra’s father is a titled Englishman. How can he trust the daughter of an English aristocrat?
A fiery passion grows between them through gunfire, treachery, and danger culminating in a kidnapping. Cassandra begins to realize her own spirit of independence and love of the land, and the savage man who is so much a part of it. But will he ever trust her enough to love her as she longed to be loved?
A book of suspense, romance, and historical surprises.
Excerpt from “No Gentleman Is He”,
Book #1 of the Sons of Liberty series
Cassandra and Colton left Boston Wednesday afternoon, one day after the battle of Lexington and Concord. With minimal sleep before their departure, the strain between the two mounted. Adding to the contention, started by her refusal to stay where she’d promised, Jackson rode ahead to scout, leaving the two to ride quietly together, stewing in their juices. By the second night, the discord rose to near unbearable proportions.
Though Cassandra knew it was in part, her fault, Colton again refused to listen to any explanation she offered. If he could remain unapproachable, then so could she. As evening drew near, she looked to another night of cooking and eating in silence. She cheered herself with the thought that by tomorrow they would be out of dangerous territory and Jackson would rejoin them. Though it would not mend the problems between her and Colton, Jackson’s jovial demeanor would lighten the dark mood that settled over them since the night of Concord and Lexington.
“Watch yourself.” Colton said, nodding to the ground. “There are downed limbs and thick mud.”
Unused to hearing no more than a grunt from him, Cassandra turned. Upon seeing the terse look on his face, the compressed lips, she took a snippy tone with him. “It may surprise you, Colton, but it rains in England where I learned to ride. I’m certain I can weave my way through the muck without your direction.”
“Casey, a ditch!”
Cassandra sucked in her breath at his sharp tone. Before she could look, Thunder’s front legs skidded into the hole. Despite tightening her hold on the reins, she lost her balance and slid sideways from the horse, rolling away for safety. She sat upright, rubbing her backside.
Colton dismounted, extending his hand. “Are you hurt?”
“Only my pride.” She muttered as they walked toward Thunder. Both checked her beloved animal for twisted ankles, ruling out any injuries. Satisfied the stallion was no worse for the wear, Colton turned toward her, his lips compressed and eyes stormy.
“You and the horse could have both suffered severe injury due to your recklessness. Your unruly behavior has cast you in a bad light several times.”
Her eyes widened in disbelief. “A bad light? Several times? I might have been careless for turning my head, ignoring the dangers of unfamiliar terrain but I see no reason for you to make false accusations!”
”Skulking outside of my door while Jackson and I discussed the letter from my sister is another example. A mistake on your part, that led us to bring you to Boston.”
“How needless was that?” She shot back. The unbearable silence of their ride bubbled to the surface with Colton’s rude insinuations. “Though without me, I fear you and Jackson would have been hard-pressed to find a safe place to stay.” Tilting her head in indignation, she boldly added, “Not that you have the good manners to thank me for my efforts.”
“I thanked your aunt, who housed us.” Colton’s lip curled. “It wasn’t your house, Casey.”
Infuriated, she placed her hands on either hip, stepping closer to him. “I should have left you to rot in whatever horse prison the British soldiers would have thrown you in instead of rescuing you.”
“A little late for regrets now.” He said.
“Were my horses not in Virginia, I’d have had a good mind to stay in Boston with Aunt Abby.” She added for good measure, still aggravated by his harsh remarks.
With darkness falling around them, he saw little reason to ride further and began setting up camp. “You don’t obey my requests, I’m sure you’d prove too much for your aunt to handle.”
She sighed heavily.”If this is about my leaving the house and returning to Aunt Abby’s, the officer was going to take my horse. I couldn’t allow that.”Her voice softened. Perhaps he had been concerned for her welfare. “Truly Colton, I didn’t mean to cause you worry.”
Colton started the campfire, his back remaining toward her. “You flatter yourself, Casey. My only concern was the bother of finding another housekeeper should you be irrational enough to get yourself killed.”
His words stung and she blinked back the unexpected tears that welled in her eyes. Her voice shaky, she managed one last shot. “Not so irrational that I would have let myself be killed before retrieving my horses from your greedy possession, I assure you!”
Colton turned. She was struck by how handsome he was when the campfire illuminated his dark skin and Native American features. Even angry and hurt, her heart overflowed with emotion when his gaze fell upon her.
“My greed has its limits, Casey. If the weather holds up, we’ll make Philadelphia by late afternoon. We’ll stop there. I have a letter of introduction to a Thomas Mifflin.”
The edge in his voice had lessened and she eagerly responded. “Thomas Mifflin?”
The tension between she and Colton dissipated as they worked together cooking squirrel for their evening meal. She stirred the pan over the fire, while Colton talked about their stop in Philadelphia.
“Dr. Warren discussed the need for horses if we’re to win independence from England,” Colton said. “I’m prepared to offer up fifty from Varina’s stock. Mifflin is the president of the Continental Congress and set to take on the position of Quarter Master General. At least according to Warren.”
Cassandra gazed over at Colton, struck by his unusual generosity. Surely he knew some of these horses would not return and she doubted he would receive more than a bill of goods for them. How likely was the rag-tag Continental Army to continue to stand strong against the well-trained and organized British?
He reached over, tenderly swiping at the hair that fell across her forehead. “Surprised?”
“I shouldn’t have made the comment about greed.” Her tone was apologetic and he laughed. Confused, she asked, “Why send horses you may never be paid for?”
Colton cut up the cooked meat and took hearty bite. “If we want independence from England, I am no better to sacrifice than the rest. I have something to offer. It goes without saying I prefer to be paid at the end of the war.”
“It was Dr. Warren who changed your mind, wasn’t it?” Cassandra asked.
“He’s leaving his patients to fight with the army. Revere and Dawes have very little but they are willing to set their lives aside to fight.” He shrugged. “Makes a man think.”
They finished their modest meal in comfortable silence. As obstinate as Colton could be, there was warmth beneath the surface. One Cassandra wanted to know better, though she doubted she ever would. Colton guarded his feelings like a fortress.