When The Pirate’s Bride was picked up by Literary Wanderlust, I told them about the short sequel, and they snapped it up. Now, just ten months after The Pirate’s Bride’s debut, the novella is releasing on October 1st, just in time to get your holiday reading started.
The cover artist had a couple of renderings, but all of us involved chose this one.
It just looked rich, with that deep red color, and the two masks implied romance. I was hooked. But, then, there was the title. We went rounds, trying to make it work. The original title, A Pirate’s Bride Christmas, didn’t address the masks on the cover, or the ball where all the action of the story takes place.
We came up with The Pirate’s Bride: A Holiday Masquerade, but didn’t like the look of the colon on the cover. Oh, we struggled, trying to make punctuation visually appealing! At last, my publisher-in-chief came up with the simple, impressive idea to tweak the title into: The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade. By moving the apostrophe, we now had a perfect title.
The story starts with Sophie suggesting to her pirate captain husband, Andre Dubois, that they should spend Christmas in New Orleans, instead of shipboard. Andre prefers the ocean to land, but Sophie hasn’t been looking very healthy, and he’s worried about her, so he agrees to her request.
It is while she is in New Orleans, planning the party, that Sophie meets an evil specter from her past. Here is an excerpt from that moment when Sophie comes face to face with her wicked enemy.
“Sophie? Sophie Bellard? Is that really you?”
Sophie’s head snapped up at the sound of the unforgettable voice from her past, while her purse fell to the cobbled street from suddenly nerveless fingers. Her body began to shudder and vibrate at the nightmare that was Gilbert Harrington’s silky voice.
She felt faint, in danger of collapsing, her past hurtling toward her like an out-of-control mining cart threatening to jump its track. She reached out a steadying hand against the brick wall of the flower shop.
No longer did she occupy a cobbled street of the Vieux Carré during Avent. She’d been transported, trembling and afraid, to that time, five years ago, when she’d lost her innocence. Her innocence, and her youth. Just the sound of his voice, the timbre and its cadence, was enough to catapult her into a shivering mass of fear and dread.
She had no defense, carried no weapon. How could she? Gone was her pirate garb, her protective armor. In its place, she wore silk and brocade, gilt buttons and a feathered hat. There was no hiding place for a deadly dagger or a one-shot pistol. Just as there was no devilish pirate to come swinging in on a line, clenching a curved blade between his teeth and racing to her rescue. She was his defenseless prey.
As she continued to stare dumbly at the man before her, one part of her mind, not frozen in fear, noticed that Gilbert Harrington hadn’t changed much in five years. He’d bulked up slightly, bore a man’s frame instead of a youth’s, and his eyes glittered like hardened chips of ice.
Gone was the thin, gentlemanly veneer he’d used to woo a star-struck young girl experiencing the first throes of romance. In its place stood a man used to getting what he wanted with little or no resistance; a man stimulated and aroused by feminine defiance. She recognized these traits after living in the company of men for those same five years. Recognized, but could not articulate a properly scathing response.
Like a predatory shark, he moved in, grabbing hold of her upper arm in a tight grip and leaning forward until his mouth rested mere inches from her ear. “I remember you, Sophie. I remember every moment we were together like it was yesterday. Every touch, every sound, every movement.”
His hand began to smooth up and down her brocade-covered arm in an unsettling caress. She remained statue-still, incoherent whimpers erupting from her throat. This could not be happening. He could not be standing here, in her present life. But he was, she acknowledged through the haze of fear blanketing her, as she stared straight into his smiling visage.
I hope you’re teased into reading the rest of the novella. While it can be read alone, your reading pleasure would be enhanced if you read The Pirate’s Bride first. My publisher is working on making a boxed set available if you want to buy them together. I hope you do.
Pre-orders start on July 15th. That gives you just enough time to buy The Pirate’s Bride and begin reading it. Set yourself up for two swashbuckling tales of romance, danger, and action. The perfect escape read.