An Affair by the Sea
Book 2 in the Siren's Retreat Novella Quartet series
What happens when a wallflower’s extremely make-believe fake suitor appears in the flesh just in time to ruin all her spinsterly plans? Find out in AN AFFAIR BY THE SEA!
Orphaned pianist Allegra Brown is a poor relation with nothing much to recommend her, save a minuscule dowry and a very big imagination. She has spent the past several years as governess to her younger cousins, who are now ready for their come out—and want Allegra to marry, too. Specifically, they eagerly await the return of Allegra’s dashing, handsome, swashbuckling, conveniently absent and secretly fictional fiancé, the dread pirate Captain L’Amour.
The only place Mr. John Sharp strikes fear is in the courtroom, where his neat, ordered mind is renowned for winning every case he presents. John loves predictability and longs to be a chef. Unfortunately, every time he puts on an apron, the entire kitchen catches fire. Much like passion burning between him and a certain wildly unpredictable spinster, who seems to have confused him for a dashing, exciting pirate. By fulfilling her fantasies, can his dreams come true…together?
Enjoy An Excerpt
Allegra leaned back in the phaeton to smile at her nieces. How she would miss these lazy afternoons, spinning tall tales about her alleged pirate suitor, the dashing—and fictitious—Captain L’Amour.
Dorcas cast a startled glance past Allegra to her sister Portia. “No matter what, this is our final summer with Allegra. We have to make it the best one yet.”
Portia’s eyes sparkled. “No—the wildest one yet. We must send you to your wedding day with stories of your own to tell Captain L’Amour.”
Allegra chuckled. “I’m sure the good captain does not need the tepid tales of a spinster.”
“Start with this.” Portia threw the reins into Allegra’s lap. “Tell him the first time you held the ribbons, you were perched in a smart phaeton in the middle of Brighton.”
Allegra tossed the reins back. “You take them. I can’t drive.”
“You can’t if you don’t try,” Portia agreed, and shoved the reins toward Allegra.
“If Portia can drive,” Dorcas pointed out, “I’m sure you can, too.”
“You’ll be able to tell Captain L’Amour you were wild and spontaneous in your youth, too,” Portia coaxed.
“Listen,” Allegra said. “When it comes to driving a carriage, only one party gets to be wild and spontaneous. If the horse goes first, I don’t know what I’m supposed to—”
“If you can play the piano, you can hold a pair of ribbons,” Dorcas said. “Just keep them steady and firm. Loosen when you want speed, pull back when you want to stop.”
“I want to stop now,” Allegra said. “I think I’ll walk back to the hotel.”
Portia put her palms above her head. “Uh-uh, can’t give the reins to me. Better hold on to them.”
“That looks very dangerous,” Allegra said. “Your experienced hands should at least be near my inexperienced hands, since your hands are the ones that know what to do, and mine are the ones that do not. Dorcas, you’re always the voice of reason. Can you talk some sense into—”
Dorcas lifted her fingers above her head, too. “Ooh, how lovely it is to have a stretch in the fine sea air. I certainly cannot drive a carriage whilst stretching my poor, tired arms. I’m so glad my elder cousin is here to mind the phaeton as we take in the sweeping views.”
Allegra wasn’t taking in a sweeping view of anything other than her white-knuckled grip on the brown leather reins. Very well. Steady. Firm. Not too loose and not too tight. They were all going to die.
Suddenly, Portia bounced in her seat.
“Please stop bouncing,” Allegra said hoarsely.
“But Allegra.” Portia gesticulated at a row of windows on the other side of the cobblestones. “Do you see—just up ahead—”
“I don’t see anything,” Allegra said. “I can only see my hands bloodlessly gripping these reins until you take them away from me. Please take them away from me.”
“Didn’t you say Captain L’Amour was improbably handsome?” Portia insisted. “Like something from a gothic romance?”
“I cannot tell you Captain L’Amour stories right now,” Allegra said. “I am very busy trying not to crash this carriage.”
Dorcas lowered her voice. “But you did say Captain L’Amour possesses rebelliously overlong black hair with a soft curl that invites one’s fingertips?”
“Yes,” Allegra managed distractedly. “I spent many nights stroking it inappropriately. I’ll tell you about it later.”
“You said one can tell by looking at him that he is a sailor with a long and storied history,” Portia added. “The handsome scar, the telling limp, the cane with an eagle handle to symbolize the soaring raptor that gave him that handsome scar…”
“Mm-hm.” Allegra’s fingers were starting to slip with sweat. “These do sound like details I may have shared with you.”
“A face too pretty to stare straight at for long,” Dorcas prompted. “A propensity for blue-green waistcoats because they remind him of the sea…”
“What is your point?” Allegra whispered. “I am trying very hard not to kill us all at the moment.”
“Her point,” Portia said, “is that Captain L’Amour is right there!”
“What?!” Allegra jerked her gaze up from her hands.
There, on the pavement not ten feet away from them, was a man who very much resembled the yarn she had spun for her cousins. Tall, well-formed, curling dark hair, scarred, gripping a cane, a face so beautiful it hurt to look at him…and a brightly spangled blue-green waistcoat that glittered in the sunlight like the froth on the open sea.
She dropped the reins in shock.
Unexpectedly given their head, the horses darted forward too fast for the phaeton. The carriage listed one way. The horses curved the other. The world spun.
Dorcas gasped. Portia screamed.
And Captain L’Amour—or whoever the devil this gorgeous specimen might be—was caught right in their path.
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