Sweet Lenora (Anton & Lenora #1)
by Ute Carbone
Publisher: Champagne Books
Release Date: July 1, 2013
Heat Level: Sensual
Word Count/Length: 20,000 words/54 pages
Lenora Brewer’s family owns the largest shipyard in Salem Massachusetts and Lenora, as her father’s only living child, is given free rein to learn the business. When Lenora’s father is killed in a carriage accident, her relatives arrange a marriage to a wealthy investor who is rumored to have beaten his first wife to death.
Lenora devises a scheme to stowaway on The Sweet Lenora, a ship named for her.
The last thing Anton Boudreaux needs is a naïve young woman stowing away on his ship. The dark and daring captain has secrets of his own to protect.
When Sweet Lenora encounters a dangerous storm off the coast of Brazil, Lenora and Anton find in each other the courage and tenacity to brave the elements. As their love for one another grows it becomes a force to be reckoned with—and it will be sorely tested.
On the day of my father’s funeral, the gray October sky opened and shed copious tears. It was good that the sky was so willing to cry as I could not find my own sorrow. It seemed I buried it upon learning of his death.
We stood around the gravesite as he was laid next to the mother I had never known. My Aunt Louise looked up now and again from under the awning of her black umbrella to insure herself that I had not jumped in after the coffin or run off into the rain. To Aunt Louise, I was a spoiled and fractious child, not a young woman of twenty with a mind of my own.
“High time you found her a husband,” she had said to Father on more occasions than I cared to count. “It will not do to let her run wild.”
Father hardly let me run wild. I suppose he was indulgent after his own way. My mother died giving me life. My only brother, Edward, eight years older than I, had sailed on the MaryAnne five years before and we’d had no word of him since. As I was left sole heir, Father had deemed it necessary that I know about the shipyard. He allowed me free run of the yard’s books. I learned firsthand how the ribs are covered with planks, how to caulk to make the ship watertight and seaworthy.
My father and my Uncle John ran the largest shipyard in all of Salem. They had shipping interests throughout the seven seas, clipper ships that sailed to the ends of the earth and came back deep laden with China silk and India spice.
Despite whatever Aunt Louise may have thought, there were suitors aplenty. Letters of introduction forever filled the salver. I wished them all away. I knew well enough that marriage meant an
end to my days at the shipyard. Once married, I would not be able to read as I pleased from Father’s library or walk as I pleased about the town. My days would be filled with endless calls to ladies sitting in dim parlors. In short, I would be as miserable as my Aunt Louise.
The young men came by despite my wishing. They took my handkerchiefs and kissed my hand. They danced me over the floor and promenaded me through the rose garden. I knew they would never love me for the woman I was. When they looked at me, they saw a dowry kindly wrapped in a pretty package.
Father felt differently. He did love me for myself. He taught me about ships so I could someday know enough to run the business if need be. He was not so anxious to sell me to the highest bidder. I felt blessed by such an arrangement. Until Father died, quite suddenly, when his carriage overturned.
After the burial, I went to my room. I stared into the mirror at my reflection, a green-eyed girl with red-gold hair and a pale face, and I wondered why my countenance refused to crumple into grief.
What was wrong with me that I had not broken under the weight of my father’s death?
Perhaps it was because Father had taught me to be strong. I would need to be now that he was no longer there to champion me. I knew full well what would happen. I hadn’t expected it to happen so quickly.
I had supposed, to my error, that I would be given a full six months to grieve my loss. Not so! Barely a fortnight had passed since Father’s death when Aunt Louise called me to the parlor. After asking the state of my health and reminding me that I needed to eat to keep up my strength, she came to the reason for her concern.
“These are difficult times, Lenora. You are left without parents. Your uncle and I will see to the necessaries, of course. It is our duty as Christians and kinsmen. But you must marry. And soon.”
She drew a handkerchief from her pocket and wiped her brow as though the speech had taken some assertion on her part. “We are in luck. George Settle has asked for your hand.”
I knew Mr. Settle as a man of means who often invested in Uncle’s ventures. He and Uncle were of like mind in the latest, to build a clipper that would sail round the Horn to San Francisco in record time. The record stood at one hundred and two days, made by the Spitfire out of Boston two years earlier. Uncle obsessed over speed of sail and I spied him with Mr. Settle in the parlor, the two of them with brandy, their heads bent over maps and blueprints.
It was also well known that George Settle was a widower with five children. His wife fell down the stairs and broke her neck the year before my own dear father died. The rumors about town said that Settle was a cruel man. And I had seen for myself the purple markings blooming like cold lilies on Mrs. Settle’s arm as she sat in church with her husband and their five offspring. It was, to the minds of some in the congregation, no travesty to discipline a wife as one might a child. Yet when the news of Mrs. Settle’s death came, the gossips’ tongues wagged that she had been pushed and that Mr.Settle had gone far afield of what was allowed a husband.
Ute (who pronounces her name Oooh-tah) Carbone is a multi-published author of women’s fiction and romance. Her romantic comedy, The P-Town Queen, was selected as Champagne Books novel of the year for 2012. She and her husband reside in Nashua, NH. They have two grown sons.
Connect with Ute Carbone
Website – http://www.utecarbone.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Wildwords2
Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.com/Ute-Carbone/e/B005G7U8RM/
Telling Stories (available daily via Paper Li) – http://paper.li/Wildwords2/1355247882