HISTORY, ROMANCE AND...CATS!
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a vet by day and author of intelligent historical fiction by night. Grace is an avid reader and believes that smart people need to read romance - as an antidote to the modern world!
Grace is also obsessed by all things feline.
for his ruthless efficiency, Captain George Huntley is sent to stamp out
smuggling on the south coast of England.
On a night raid, the Captain captures a smuggler, but finds his troubles are
just beginning when the lad turns out to be a lass, Hope Tyler.
Hope as bait, the Captain sets a trap to catch the rest of the gang. But in a
battle of wills, with his reputation at stake, George Huntley starts to respect
feisty, independent Hope. Challenged by her sea-green eyes and stubborn loyalty
Huntley now faces a new threat - his growing attraction to a sworn enemy. But a
love where either Hope betrays her own kind, or Captain Huntley is
court-marshaled, is not an easy destiny to follow.
EXCERPT - in which Captain Huntley gives
his mother a gift
was a comment in a letter from his brother; put the idea in Captain Huntley's
head which culminated with George hobbling towards his mother's bedchamber with
a puppy clamped under one arm. Using his cane to rap on the door, he pictured
Hope on the other side, with those tilted feline eyes and high cheekbones. The
puppy felt him tremble and tried to wriggle free. As the door opened George
boosted the pup higher on his hip and assumed an expression of cool
face was a picture of surprise, her pink lips parted slightly and her brow
is that?" Hope stared at the bundle of fur slipping out of his grasp.
Huntley frowned, finding it increasingly difficult to be dignified whilst
carrying the unruly creature.
would have thought it was perfectly obvious. Tis a puppy.”
have you there, George?” In a white linen nightgown, a lace cap on her greying
hair, his mother called from the bed.
thing was, the pup had wriggled so far backward he had the wretched thing in a
head lock. The puppy squealed and both women gasped, as if they'd lost their
wits. Huntley was beginning to doubt the wisdom of his plan as he limped across
the room and with a twisting turn, deposited his furry burden on the
bedcovers.The back of shirt felt damp
against his skin and he suspected the creature had urinated on him. Distracted,
he rubbed his shirt and sniffed his fingers just as a chorus of excited squeals
broke over his head.
puppy, released from the head lock, shook his floppy ears and, mountaineering
over the counterpane, made straight for Lady Sherminster.
utterly adorable!” His mother clapped her hands. George regarded her with
surprise for she was entirely transformed, wearing a gooey expression as she
waggled her fingers to beckon the puppy closer.
The pup was white with tan patches, his fur
long, his tail fringed with a silky twist and that tail was at that moment
beating a steady rhythm on the blankets.
told he is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.”
The pup completed his sojourn across
the covers and flopped beside his new mistress, staring up with soulful brown
eyes. He squirmed his head along the blankets and rolled over to expose a
rounded belly. Tentatively her ladyship's fingertips brushed against the
exposed pink underbelly which made his tail wag harder.
The effect this small dog had on
two otherwise rational women, bewildered Huntley. With a chorus of ooohs and
aaaahs, their entire attention was focused on the wriggling mass of fur. All
semblance of intelligent, rational people dissolved as they cooed over the pup.
Huntley didn’t know whether to be pleased or bemused. Equally enraptured, the
pup had snuggled against her ladyship and as a pink tongue licked at her arm
and she giggled.
he is adorable, but I don’t understand. Who does he belong to?”
didn’t I say? He’s for you. A present.”
two women stared at him.
didn’t know you had it in you George, but what a wonderful idea. Thank you.’
glad you approve.” From the corner of his eye he saw Hope staring at him with
new appreciation. Huntley bristled for, it wouldn’t do for them to think he was
going soft. “Strictly speaking, this isn’t all my idea.”
was something Jack wrote, some tale about when Eulogy’s housekeeper was ill,
and it struck a chord with me. Of course if you don’t want him I can take him
Constance now held the pup in her arms, pressed firmly
against her bosom, his large brown eyes starting to close as he fell into an
you dare. He’s mine…my… Jasper.”
a lovely name.” Hope’s face aglow, she too leant over and stroked the Jasper’s
velveteen forehead. “It suits him so. Shall he sleep in here, Ladyship?”
yes, a basket beside the fire. The poor thing seems exhausted. I expect being
man handled by George here is tiring.”
rolled his eyes. “It’s not easy carrying a pup when you have a bad leg.”
let him sleep now.” Taking care not to disturb Jasper, her ladyship slipped
deeper under the covers. “I think I’ll nap now. We can keep each other
looked from Huntley to Hope and her expression changed. A look of comprehension
dawned on her face that made George uneasy for he recognised when his mother
was up to something.
dears, why doesn’t George, take Miss Tyler to the parlour for a nice cup of
tea. She’s worked so hard these past few days, I’m sure a break wont go amiss.”
glanced at George. "Are you sure, Ladyship?”
tired. Little Jasper will keep me company. Now, go!”
mood soared but he was careful to conceal his triumph. “Come Miss Tyler, let us
leave mother in peace with her new friend.”
swallowed hard. In his plan he had yet to work out what he would say to Hope
when they were alone.
his surprise, in the corridor Hope grasped his arm, and rising on tip toe
fluttered a kiss against his cheek. His blood surged in response.
is the nicest, sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. Thank you.”
swallowed hard, confused. All his life he’d been striving to be strong, to be a
leader and hide weakness, whilst all along it seemed it was all right to have a
softer side. The sensation was not unlike standing on a ship’s deck with the
landmarks he held as constants spinning around him. Where, he wondered, was all
this going to end?