From vicar’s son
To captain of her heart!
Lady Helene Barnes travels to Brussels to bring her battle-seeking younger brother home, only to collide with Rhys Landon, her ex-fiancé! Gone is the penniless vicar’s son, now transformed into a combat-hardened captain. The spark still burns between them, but Rhys has a new love now—the army. Until, on the eve of battle, with Napoleon’s troops advancing, the emotional turmoil of their past explodes into a night of passion!
To be released January 26, 2021
Brussels, Belgium—June 1815
Raucous laughter, loud voices, and the scent of hops and male sweat assaulted Helene Banes as she stood in the threshold of the Brussels tavern. Her mother’s voice rang in her ears. Ladies do not enter such places. But her mother was not here, was she? And Helene had already visited three other such establishments before this one.
Resolutely she stepped through the doorway, followed by her weary old manservant.
‘`Tis a bootless errand, Lady Helene,’ her servant said. ‘We’ll never find him.’
The poor man. She’d dragged him from Northamptonshire to Ramsgate, across the Channel to Ostend and Ghent and finally to Brussels, with very little rest.
‘This will be the last, Wilson. I promise.’ Helene craned her neck to peruse the dark, crowded room. ‘If he is not here, we will return to the hotel.’
They were searching for her younger brother, the only family member she had left since her parents died not even six months ago. David, only eighteen years of age, had tricked her, saying he was visiting school friends. Instead he ran off to Brussels. His letter, posted from the Hôtel de Flandre, had reached her six days before, breezily explaining that he refused to miss the event of the century—the impending battle with Napoleon.
But David was not a soldier. He was little more than a boy with no ounce of sense!
She pushed her way slowly through the crowd of red, blue or black-coated soldiers and plain-clothed Belgians, ignoring the hoots and whistles that had also followed her at the other establishments. She searched for one scrawny blond-haired youth, almost impossible to see in the dim light of the oil lamps and the crowd of larger men. Poor Wilson. Her servant looked dead on his feet, but he’d refused to let her search alone.
One man’s laugh broke through the din. Her head swung around to the sound and all thoughts of her brother fled. A red-coated soldier with dark brown hair and a certain air about him sat at a nearby table. He took a swig of beer and turned his head slightly.
Helene gasped and quickly averted her gaze. Her heart pounded.
It could not be him.
She stole another glance and her chest ached.
He looked older, of course. And thicker—more muscular. Even though she’d only caught a glimpse, that grin was painfully familiar. It was, though, only a glimpse, so she could not be certain. It could be him. He’d left for the army immediately after…after…
After he’d learned she’d changed her mind about marrying him.
Helene closed her eyes and again remembered the pain—Her father said he’d informed him that the elopement was off. He would instead become a lieutenant. She edged away. If it was him, he’d have no wish to lay eyes on her again.
An angry shout and a scraping of chairs made her turn back. She’d found brother, nose to nose with a man twice his size. The man was dressed in town clothes.
‘David!’ she whispered. Her servant caught up to her.
David swayed on his feet, tankard in hand. ‘Napoleon will be defeated!’ he shouted. ‘He’s not half the general Wellington is!’
The man said in French, ‘Napoleon might win. Wellington never faced him in battle.’
‘Napoleon will not win!’ David flung his drink into the man’s face.
The room got quiet. Soldiers half rose from their chairs.
‘No!’ Helene cried.
Suddenly he was there, his hand gripping David’s shoulder.
No doubt now. It was Rhys Landon. The man she almost married.