Thank you so much, Kacey, for having me back on your blog today. If you’re not careful, I’ll talk your ear off about my latest book and my love for this hero—Captain Westerbrooke.
Yes, that’s right. I have a new book out plus it’s about a pirate—not the book-stealing kind that we all despise—but a man with a ship who rules that ship with an iron hand. He doesn’t take excuses and weakness lightly and is stubborn as a donkey trapped between two large boulders.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by a few things: dinosaurs, fairy tales and pirates. I’ve written the fairy tales. I’ve read widely about the dinosaurs (still trying to figure out how to write about them in a romance) and I’ve written pirates. There’s just something about the men who used to swagger about the seas with no rules or morals between them. If I had a time machine, I’d definitely dial up one of those ships to observe what exactly happened during the battles for their lives.
ACT OF PARDON features one of the best heroes I’ve ever written—and he’s a pirate to boot.
I’ve always known I wanted to handle another pirate, but with Captain Westerbrooke, I wanted him to be a hard, harsh man who wouldn’t give to anyone else’s dictates. His law and will are what matters on the Lady Catherine. If folks don’t follow the rules, usually death is in store.
But I also knew the heroine for him would need to be made of stronger stuff than a debutante or a shrinking violet. Sarah is just that—plus she wants to kill his no-go hide. Relations break down in a big way and she’s forced to stand up to him… especially if she wants to keep her life.
The result is beyond smoldering and very satisfying. I hope you’ll take a chance on Adrian. Sarah’s going to have to take one as well.
Retribution and sorrow can bring redemption and salvation if you look hard enough.
The year is 1814 and piracy is drawing to an end in the Caribbean yet Sarah Covington, a disenchanted missionary's daughter, has a plan to kill the pirate who murdered her father and fiancé. When the assassination attempt goes horribly wrong, she’s taken aboard the Lady Catherine as prisoner. Though she’s forced to embrace a life of degradation and subservience by the very pirate she tried to kill, he stirs passions she never knew she harbored.
Adrian Westerbrooke captains the Lady Catherine but not by choice. Officially a privateer under England's protection, he has his own agenda and will take down targets for the highest bidder. The only problem is the beautifully flawed Sarah. He'll try everything in his power to break her spirit and make her bow before his. At sea, his word is law, no matter how much she intrigues his mind and inflames his body.
Yet Sarah possesses a stubbornness that matches his own, on deck and in the bedroom, and a battle of wills begins. As trust grows, so does their desire--whether they can survive the threats at sea while working through their differences is up to faith… and perhaps love.
Sarah watched the hangman, a big, hulking man, rough and uncouth compared to the pirate’s inherent charisma, moved into position and gestured to the men holding the criminal. They jockeyed him until he stood over the trapdoor.
The pirate broke the connection with her and glanced first at his booted feet then up at the noose as the hangman lowered it over his head before fitting the loop around his neck. The shirt he wore stretched over his broad shoulders and hung open at the throat to reveal a sprinkling of wiry blond hair and tanned skin that gleamed with sweat. The rope slid beneath the loose collar to scrape his skin. A defiant smile spread over the pirate’s face.
The larger-than-life presence of him coupled with his unexplainable allure and physical form and her tight stays had her breathing coming in shallow gasps. A rush of heat infused her cheeks. In her mind’s eye, she caught a glimpse of the music teacher in the nude. Her gaze homed in on the front of the pirate’s trousers. What would his unmentionable area look like? Would his penis rival the pale one of the effeminate music master, or would it be bigger, manlier?
She shook her head and swallowed to alleviate her dry throat. He didn’t deserve her lustful curiosity or approval. He was evil and a murderer. She wanted him dead.
Again, her elbow was jostled.
“‘e’s a looker, ain’t ‘e miss? Cap’n knows ‘is way around a woman’s body, true.”
“Ain’t that a fact?” Another deeper, and no less smarmy, voice said from her other side.
The first man gave a bark of laughter. “Not’n gets a lady more filled with desire than seein’ a real pirate. Seems they all fantasize about the masters of the seas and bein’ takin’ by ‘em jest the same.”
“What I feel for him is not desire.” And why am I talking to either of these men? Yet warmth ebbed over her skin. Her gaze slid down his torso, past the ragged red sash around his waist, to his tight-fitting breeches tucked into dusty boots. She frowned, as much from the flutters filling her stomach at seeing the faint outline of his manly parts as from the recognition of the excellence of his clothes. What quality fit and expensive Hessian boots for a pirate to own. Of course, he’d likely stolen them.
She tamped her response, angry that her body betrayed her so badly. He deserved to have the clothes and boots stripped from his dead body for all the crimes he’d committed. She closed her fingers around the dagger’s hilt. Almost time.
On the platform, the Spanish general read out what she assumed was a list of charges in his heavy, lyrical language. He paused as the British counterpart translated the charges: treachery, thievery, murder, treason, and a host of others.
John Westerbrooke—pirate—and a captain no less. Sarah bit her lip. An alias no doubt. She narrowed her eyes. Titled or not, he’d swing the same as any man. Once he was finally dead, she could begin to put the pieces of her life back together, such as they were. Perhaps she’d sail to a far-flung country. That thought garnered another snort. And do what? I’ve never been anywhere outside America, never had an adventure of my own. She shook her head. It did not matter. Even if she did manage to travel, she had no survival skills. Hadn’t her father told her time and again she needed someone to look after her? Her stomach pitched. While her future would be bleak, there’d be small comfort in the fact the pirate wouldn’t have one.
As the list of charges concluded, the British general asked, “Do you agree with these accusations?”
One of the pirate’s full eyebrows inched toward his hairline. “I disagree inasmuch as I had no choice with the bulk of them, but on a gentleman’s grounds, I would say yes, I am guilty.”
A collective gasp rose from the crowd.
A strained smile lifted the pirate’s lip. “However, these crimes do not fall squarely on my shoulders as a pirate never acts alone.”
Several nods and verbal affirmations circulated through the gathering.
The hangman touched the pirate’s shoulder. “Captain Westerbrooke, would you like the courtesy of a hood?”
The pirate glared at each man on the platform. “I refuse to assuage your consciences. If you wish to put me to death by hanging, then you can watch the proceedings in all their gruesome color and detail. May God have mercy on your souls.”
Sarah gasped at his daring. Put in the same position, wouldn’t she feel the same way? There was always a chance—however slim—the man wasn’t guilty. A snort escaped. If that were true, then why was he here, since he’d all but admitted to some of them? There must be too much truth that balanced the lies, yet she hated the tiny niggle of compassion she felt. I cannot forget he murdered my father. Ruthlessly ignoring everything except the bite of the metal in her palm, she concentrated on the activity around the pirate.
The hangman took a position near the lever that would release the trapdoor. The crowd strained forward, once again hushed. The other men on the gallows resumed their previous military posture; their gazes focused on the pirate. The olive-skinned priest opened his Bible and began to recite the Twenty-third Psalm in accented English. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”
Her heart lodged in her throat, Sarah raised her hand, and with a quick flick of her wrist, she let the dagger fly. The morning sun glinted off the blade as it arced sure and steady toward the platform. Any second now I’ll have my vengeance fulfilled. The priest chose that moment to move in front of Captain Westerbrooke. While he made the mark of the cross over the pirate, her blade embedded deep into the priest’s back. He staggered. The Bible tumbled to the wood as he fell to his knees.
Dear heavens, this wasn’t supposed to happen.
Pandemonium erupted, robbing her of the ability to think. Their sabers drawn, the men on the platform plunged down the wooden stairs. With nowhere to hide and no open path to flee through, she attempted to shrink within the confines of her cloak. Her heart slammed against her ribcage. I killed the wrong man.
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