The Lost Love of a Soldier
The prequel to The Marlow Intrigues series
I am going to share some excerpts from The Lost Love of a Soldier, leading up to the release date July 17th
Dressing Ellen’s first husband in his Scarlet Military coat (The Illicit Love of a Courtesan)
and adding flesh, blood and bones to John’s father (The Scandalous Love of a Duke)
The Lost Love of a Soldier
Due to the darkness it took half an hour to reach the inn. When she dismounted, his mind counted the minutes passing, aware of her empty bedchamber and the people asleep back at Pembroke’s palatial mansion. At some hour tomorrow they would discover her gone. His heart beat in a steady firm rhythm as he gripped her hand to hold her steady and she slid from the horse.
While she waited on the ground, her arms nervously clasping across her chest, he dropped her bag on to the cobbled yard then slipped his feet from the stirrups, swung his leg over the saddle, and dismounted.
The ice had not yet settled in the enclosed courtyard, but the street beyond was white with cold. He patted the mare’s cheek as it snorted, and whispered a thank you, then looked at the small, yellow painted carriage, and the animals which waited impatiently shaking out their manes and snorting misty breath into the night air.
A groom took the bridle of the hired mare he’d ridden to fetch Ellen and another collected Ellen’s bag to place it in the boot of their carriage.
“Come.” He held out his hand to Ellen and she took it, in complete trust. He was a lucky man.
The inn’s grooms hurried ahead to open the door.
It was strange, holding a woman’s hand. When he’d walked with a woman before, she’d only ever lain her hand on his arm. This was more intimate. She belonged to him. He was responsible for her now; even if it was not yet official.
Paul handed her into the carriage. She climbed the single step then slipped inside. Once her hand left his, he reached into his pocket for a small bag of coins. He looked at the groom beside him and then to the other two who stood in the yard. “For your silence.” He passed it to one to share out among the rest. He could ill afford it and it would be no guarantee, yet he did not want Pembroke warned. He hadn’t said who she was, but she had the distinctive Pembroke colouring and beauty, with her dark hair and very pale blue eyes. She would not be forgotten.
“Thank you, Captain.” The man pulled his forelock and the others bowed their heads as Paul glanced at the postilion rider and the man on the box.
They had two men to keep them going through the night, so one could sleep while the other rode a lead horse.
With a nod Paul climbed into the carriage. The moment he closed the carriage door, they were away. It lurched forward and even before they left the silent village, shrouded in its blanket of darkness, the postilion rider had upped the pace into a gallop, not at all heedful of the frosty track as the carriage bounced over the hardened muddy ruts. “We must make haste,” he’d told the drivers three dozen times before he’d gone to fetch Ellen. It seemed they’d heard his words.
“We are going to be mightily bruised by the time we reach Gretna,” Paul said.
There was that wonderful laugh again which stirred something incredibly masculine in his soul – an instinct to gather her up and protect her. He lifted his arm. She slotted beneath it, pressing close to his side. And there was that ache in his chest and his groin again. Ellen. He could see her face clearly in the lamplight which glowed within the carriage. Beautiful. Perfect. Flawless.
His arm around her, and her warmth clutched against him, he began explaining. “It should take us about three days, I think; maybe less if we are lucky with the roads and the weather. Then after Gretna we shall travel to Portsmouth. From there we will sail with my regiment. I’ll purchase the things you’ll need as a soldier’s wife in Portsmouth. You shan’t be able to carry much, there is a need to travel light, but we can spare you more than a single bag of clothing.”
He couldn’t see her smile, but it was in the press of her hand against his greatcoat over his chest and the stir of her cheek against his shoulder.
He would love this woman for the rest of his life. He knew it. “Come now. Let us take off our outdoor things and use the blankets, then you may sleep a little, if the road is not too rutted.” He moved, letting her rise, and she set her feet on the hot bricks the inn had put on the floor and took off her bonnet, cloak and gloves. He took off his gloves too and gripped her hand as she moved back beside him spreading the blanket over them.
It was even more intimate than before, holding her naked hand, skin against skin – their first physical contact without the boundary of clothing. “Ellen, you need not fear me. I shall not press you. We will be travelling day and night. I shall not ask you to do anything with me until we are man and wife. If you change your mind…” He would not want to let her go, but if she wished to return to her father then he would–
“I will not change my mind. I wish to marry you.” The answer rang with vehemence as she sat up and glanced at him, her pale blue eyes bright and determined. Yes, she had a core of iron. She would survive. “I love you.”
Those words… He smiled. They’d only shared them for the first time a fortnight ago. It had been the first time he’d spoken them to any woman, and the first time he’d heard a woman say them to him. But the feeling was true, it was in his blood and bones. “I love you, also, Ellen. And I shall make you happy and keep you safe. I swear it.”
You can buy The Lost Love of a Soldier by clicking on the cover in the sidebar on the right hand side.
Go to the index
- the story of the real courtesan who inspired The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
- another free short story, about characters from book #2, A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
- the prequel excerpts for book #3 The Scandalous Love of a Duke
Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.
Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark
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