I have often observed that some projects are more of a struggle to complete than others, and there is often no rhyme or reason of which is which. I have completed the writing of a novella in less than ten days, and taken more than a month on another. I’ve had full length books almost write themselves and I’ve had to set others aside for weeks or even months before returning to them. If I can ever unlock the holy grail of how to write everything quickly and efficiently, I think I’ll just retire, as that would be the pinnacle of my craft! Either that or I’ll write a hundred books and be more popular than Stephen King.
Bonds of Love has been one of the most difficult of all the novels I have written, and that after Bonds of Friendship was one of the easier ones! It was my original intention to release it in summer (I actually indicated that in Bonds of Friendship), but difficulties in the writing have necessitated several delays. Well, now it’s complete in an the final stages of being prepared for publication. Huzzah!
Before we get to the excerpt, let’s talk cover. As is my usual wont, the cover is not yet complete. My son did the cover for the first book, and as he is now back in university classes, time is at a premium. What I can offer you, however, is the concept cover I sent to him as a template of what I was looking for. Again, this is not the end product! The eventual cover will have the same elements, but it will be of much better quality. Having said that, it is something similar to what I envisioned.
At a glance you will note that I called it book 1 (it’s book 2, of course), I called the series Bonds of Love when it’s Bonds of Life, and will also see the stock photo watermark on the photo. You may also note it’s the same male model in the same pose as book 1. Andrew will be using the same models, but in different poses on this cover. You should also see the general similarities between the two, including the ship below and Elizabeth and Darcy above. I’m not sure exactly how the finished product will look yet, but I suspect it will be closer to the first book than my mockup. When it is ready, I’ll do a grand unveiling on the FB page.
The current scheduled release date is November 21. One final point I should mention is that I intend to put Bonds of Friendship back on Kindle Select when Bonds of Life is released. If you consume your Pride and Prejudice variations on Amazon’s subscription service and have not read it yet, you will be able to access both at the same time.
And now we come to the excerpt. Finally! Please have a look at the note below before proceeding, and be aware that this excerpt has been prettied up a bit, but still needs more work. I haven’t finished editing yet.
***Read this before proceeding further!***
There are spoilers in this excerpt—in fact, the excerpt is one large spoiler. If you have not read Bonds of Friendship and still mean to read it, I would advise against proceeding further unless you want a glimpse of what is to come! Unfortunately, there simply isn’t a way to post an excerpt without spoiling the situation for those who haven’t read the first book, as there is a major event late in the first book that leads to everything that happens in the second. The excerpt won’t tell you everything, but it will reveal enough that you will know more of the future than most people would like to know before beginning a series.
* * *
When he returned to the deck in the company of his cousin, Darcy noted that Bingley and Wickham were already present, standing near the captain and speaking in quiet tones. The ship was cutting its way through the Thames estuary, the river growing wider as they sailed. Captain Marshall was, busy with the task of sailing his ship out to the open waters behind, so they left him to it, standing nearby and waiting for him to take notice of them. It was when they finally reached the final headland—Margate and Ramsgate, where the despicable Blackburn had attempted to accost Georgiana—that the ship heeled over and started to sail south. Satisfied with their progress, the captain turned his attention on them.
“Gentlemen,” said he in his booming voice. “Thank you for joining me. I believe there are a few matters we must discuss, now that we are at liberty to do so.”
“I am curious,” said Darcy. “You speak as if you know Miss Bennet.”
Marshall chuckled and shook his head. “Yes, I am acquainted with the little miss, Mr. Darcy. I have been in Gardiner’s employ for many years. When she was a little sprite of about seven, she was staying with him and accompanied him to the harbor one day. I was sailing another of Gardiner’s ships at the time and spent some time fending off her questions while Gardiner and I were trying to conduct business. I have seen her on several occasions since.”
“Aye, that is our Lizzy,” said Fitzwilliam, while the others grinned. “I’ll wager she melted the heart of even a salty old sailor.”
“That she did,” was the captain’s quiet reply. “Gardiner knows I am the perfect man for this job, for I lost a part of my heart to the girl the first time I met her.” Marshall sighed and fixed them with a grin. “If only I had convinced her the life of a sailor was the only life for her.”
Darcy guffawed and the others joined him. Then Marshall turned serious again.
“Now, we need to speak of the practicalities, my friends, so we all know what to expect.”
Sobering at once, the four friends gave him their attention. “Is this ship as fast as you say?” asked Fitzwilliam. “Do you suppose we shall overtake them?”
“Any tales of the Seabird’s speed are not idle boasting, Colonel,” replied the captain. “I am confident that we could catch the other ship within a matter of days. But it would not be my advice to do so.”
Darcy looked on him, wondering at his meaning, and he sensed his companions were no more aware of it than he was himself. Understanding their confusion, Marshall hastened to explain.
“Ship to ship fights are a chancy business, my friends,” said Marshall. “I have participated in a few more than I care to remember. There is much danger for your womenfolk if we risk overtaking and boarding them, for a stray shot may injure or worse, or we may sink—or they may scuttle—the ship before we can rescue them. And that is if they do not simply throw their captives overboard at the first sign of trouble.”
“Then what do you suggest?” asked Fitzwilliam, speaking for them all.
“If we can locate them, we can shadow them to their destination, though the trick will be to avoid appearing like we are following them. The best way to effect their release will be to strike after we arrive.”
“That does not sound promising,” said Fitzwilliam, the commander going over their battle plan. “Will not the entire city rise up against us?”
“The common folk are much the same as those in England,” said Captain Marshall. “Of course, they speak a different language, and they worship what to us appear to be strange gods, but they struggle to feed their families and try to avoid being noticed, much the same as common men everywhere. We must worry about the slavers and his men, and perhaps the sultan’s guards in the harbor. It is not a large port, so I don’t suppose there will be many of them.”
The captain hesitated a moment, and then he said: “I shall not speak of the particulars now, for I know emotions are still raw. The port is only a stopping point—the main slave markets in the area are in Marrakesh, which is one hundred miles inland. After disembarking their captives from the ship, they will remain there for a few days, as much as a week, before they will take them to Marrakesh. It is when they are moving them out of the city on the road to Marrakesh that we must strike.
“But know this: if you do not retrieve them before they take them from the city, you will never see them again.”