By Love’s Honor Bound
by Patricia Bond
Categories: Action/Adventure, Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Release Date: July 17, 2013
Heat Level: Steamy
Word Count: 98,000
Someone is killing Conductors on the Underground Railroad one by one. With a cellar full of runaway slaves, Olivia June Mathieson must decide – is the handsome Fenton Pierce-Smythe savior or traitor?
Both Fenton Pierce-Smythe’s fiancee and grandfather were killed when runaway slaves spooked their horses. Determined no one else will face that pain, he hunts runaways to return them safely to their owners. But can he remain unmoved by their plight? And unaffected by the beautiful woman who risks her life to lead them to freedom?
Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations and/or adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.
God, it was awful.
The whiskey was bad enough, and the stench of sour ale, unwashed bodies, and horse hung in the air like a sail in a calm, but this caterwauling could bring a strong man to his knees.
The girl was pretty, Fenton acknowledged. Remarkably so. She had blond ringlets, brown eyes, and a pair of delicate rosy lips pursed in an invitingly kissable shape. But, the noise coming from them was enough to make one wish for a fence full of toms serenading their lady love.
He closed his eyes and raked his fingers through his hair, praying for the singing to stop. Fenton Pierce-Smythe considered himself a patient man, unflappable and usually tolerant of his fellow man. Truly, though, this was testing even his limits.
Temperance songs were far from popular fare. Especially in taverns. Reactions ranged from drunken jeers and catcalls to being ignored. Fenton admired her courage though, both for her attempt to redeem the souls of his fellow patrons, and for her actually singing with that voice. He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, wishing he had the guts to put his fingers in his ears instead.
The singing came to an end, praise God. He opened his eyes to see the object of his fantasies heading his way with a coffeepot. As she approached, the color of her eyes became clearer, a deep, rich brown capable of drowning a man as surely as sable invited one’s touch. Many souls had been lost for less. He watched her serve coffee at the next table. Then she was right there, standing by his table.
“Save your soul, sir, and give up the devil’s libation.”
He raised a brow and looked from his glass to her face, then slowly smiled. “Only if you’ll stay with me and keep me from temptation.”
Her blush charmed him. “I-I c-can’t. I must try to save all of you.” Her gaze flitted around the room, unable to land on any one place before returning to his face.
“Most of these poor sods could care less about saving their souls,” he said. “As soon as you leave, the whiskey will flow freely again. Wouldn’t you rather know you’ve saved one soul, than try to redeem many and fail?”
She stood there, speechless, which was a pity, for however horrendous her singing was, she spoke with a voice smooth and deep as velvet.
“Join me?” he asked, rising halfway and pulling a chair out from the table.
“I can’t,” she repeated. “Please, take some coffee instead.” She reached behind her for a chipped cup from a tray her companion held, and then took a step forward. Her foot hooked on the leg of the chair he had been bringing out for her, and she lurched forward. As she tried to catch herself on the back of the chair, the hand holding the coffeepot drooped down, pouring the hot liquid directly onto his lap and thigh.
Fenton yelped and jumped up as the coffee ran over him. His eyes cleared from the mist of pain in time for him to see the horror on her face. She looked as if she were about to cry. “I’m sorry,” he heard himself say, and wondered why he was apologizing. It was his manhood and parental possibilities that were at risk here.
From habit, his hand moved to his pocket for a handkerchief instead of reaching for the kerchief tied around his neck. He was immediately grateful he remembered to leave his monogrammed handkerchief at home. Plucking at the cloth of his rough trousers, he tried to get the warm fabric away from his skin. She was still staring at him, and despite his discomfort, he found himself thinking about the feel of her soft lips on his. Her chin trembled, ending his reverie.
“I’m all right,” he assured her, even though his thigh still hurt like hell, and the rest of him . . .
Her eyes sparkled though her smile was watery. “Are you sure?” she asked.
Well . . . “Truly.” He nodded. What the hell? He didn’t want to make her feel too guilty. He doubted he was permanently impaired.
“I’m so glad,” she said in a rush. “I really thought I had hurt you. Would you like some coffee?” She brandished the pot in his general direction. He quickly side-stepped away from her.
“I think I’ve had all I care for, tonight. Thank you just the same.” He restrained himself from grabbing the pot from her hand before she could come close again.
“You’re not from around here,” she stated, studying him. “Not many sailors come this far away from the Potomac. What are you doing here?”
Ah, well. Yes, what was he doing here? Looking for someone who was running slaves to the north, that’s what, but it was decidedly unhealthy to make that kind of information available. Still, perhaps the girl might know someone. “I was told there was a captain here, looking for crewmen. I hoped I could find him, and sign on.”
Not bad as lies went. In truth, he was looking for a captain, and had been told that one of the “conductors” codenames was Captain. He watched her face intently. Her tears threatened to fall and he handed her the kerchief he’d used to wipe his leg.
Olivia June Mathieson, Livvy to her friends, took the proffered cloth, acutely aware of the paper in her pocket. The note from Dragonslayer was very specific. Was this man the Marauder? He’d given Jedidiah’s codename, but not the password she’d expected.
About the Author:
Ever since her first encounter with a long hooped skirt gown at age 5, Ms. Bond fell in love with the style. Her love of historical romance began a bit later, when she discovered Gladys Malvern’s books and scoured the public library for every one she could find. Reading Gone With the Wind as a teenager cemented her suspicion that she was born about 100 years too late. She daydreamed about writing novels but knew it was beyond her ability at that time. Instead, she tried her hand at poetry and really bad iambic pentameter flowed from her fingers. Thankfully, for the world at large, it was a short-lived obsession.
After attending an all-girl high school run by Felician nuns, she enrolled in a local men’s college that had just opened its doors to women. (A Libra, she understands the need for balance.) She earned her B.A. in English, and met her future husband there. Many years, four children and a grandchild later, the man who made her see fireworks with the first kiss is still her go-to research assistant for all things romantic.
The desire to write books never left, even as she worked selling property and casualty insurance, Avon, and craft kits. She sold luggage at a local department store to earn the money to attend her first RWA national conference and finally feels safe enough to admit to hiding a legal pad under her counter where she wrote scenes in between customers. She still does much of her writing longhand. (100 years too late, remember?)
RWA is the best thing to happen to her writing career, teaching the art as well as the craft of writing. It also brought her together with four of the most amazing women she’s ever known – critique partners and friends. Special thanks and much love to Helen, Karen, Carol and Jan. An amateur photographer, Reiki master and Guild knitter, Ms. Bonds lives in Western New York one mile from the home she grew up in. You can often find her at the lakeside, camera and notebook in hand.
Welcome Patricia Bond! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.
Hi. Well, I live in Western New York, not too far from Lake Erie. I’m married for 38 years, and miracle of miracles – haven’t killed my husband yet, though I have given him a few “moments.” Like the time I was researching for a mystery I thought to do, and came home with an armload of books on poisons from the library, set them on the table and blithely asked him what he wanted for dinner. He looked at the stack of books and said, “Um… I’m not really all that hungry. You want to just to do Wendy’s today?” (Note for later, when you don’t feel like cooking.) We have four wonderful children, each successful in their own right, and a one year old grandson whose mission in life is to show Grandma how old she really is! We find ourselves daycare for him for the time being, so he and Grandpa make their morning rounds “around the property, making sure all is secure.” I work in a middle/high school as the attendance clerk, so Patricia Bond is, of course, a pseudonym. I’d rather not have a bunch of hormonal pre-teens and teenagers knowing what I write – especially when I don’t close the bedroom door. Other staff know my secret persona and I threaten to make them characters in the next book if they squeal on me. So far, they’ve kept quiet.
Is “By Love’s Honor Bound” a single title, or part of a series?
Right now, it is a single title. But I am contemplating related books for the future. First would be, I think, Robert Mathieson’s story – that’s the heroine, Livvy’s, brother. Thinking about something set in Reconstruction Era, perhaps. And Fenton’s cousin, Jean Claude – he makes a cameo appearance a couple of times, but I fell in love with him the moment he popped into my head. Still searching for something – and someone – suitable for him. And Grandmere has a past that needs exploring. When she loaned Livvy her “pirate’s sapphire” for an evening, I did a double-take. I absolutely love when characters spring something unexpected on me.
What were your inspirations for the story?
This area was a way-station I guess you’d call it, for the Underground Railroad. Being so close to Canada, many runaways found their way up here where they could cross Lake Erie or the Niagara River to get to Canada and freedom. There are several historic places around here relating to the Underground Railroad, so I guess it was just sort of a natural, even though I didn’t set the book here.
Please share your setting for “By Love’s Honor Bound.” Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?
The book is set in 1860, just before the start of the Civil War, and goes between Washington, DC and Baltimore. I didn’t want to get embroiled in battles, so I had everything happen before the first shots were fired. We’ve never lived in that area (I still live one mile from the house I grew up in), but we did visit DC as part of a vacation when the kids were younger – one of those “it’ll be good for them” vacations. Yeah, we’re those kinds of parents. To be fair, DC was tucked in with Hershey Park, so it wasn’t too bad. That same trip, when I found out how close we were to Harper’s Ferry, I demanded a day there. It’s an amazing place, a historic restoration/recreation. If you have the chance, you should go. Much of the information I use came from there, and the jailbreak scene was inspired there. And the proximity of Chesapeake Bay gave birth to Fenton’s use of his ship for transport instead of being tied to overland routes. That whole vacation was fortuitous – we also made an unplanned stop at Gettysburg and found ourselves in the middle of a re-enactment! I wandered around talking to the actors, picking their brains. A lot of what I learned there is surfacing in my Christmas novella, “Building a Christmas,” which I’m hoping to sell.
When did the writing bug first bite?
Gosh – I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. I think I was born with the desire – a need to write. I need to create, whether it’s with words, pictures, fabric, yarn – whatever. A long time ago (in a galaxy far… no, never mind) my best friend and I tried to figure out our life purpose. I finally decided I was put here to promote the arts somehow. So, here I am.
Who are you favorite authors, book/series?
Wow! How big a spot are you giving me here? Let’s see…. Nora, of course. How I’d love to have the recognition that she has – to be known by just the first name. Anyway, Nora, Jayne Ann Krentz in all her personae – you gotta love a woman who can dream up pet dust bunnies – Julia Quinn, Mary Balogh, Jo Beverly, Mary Jo Putney, Eloisa James. It was people like Jennifer Blake, Shirlee Busbee, and Rebecca Brandywine who turned me on to historicals in the first place. When I’m in a different mood, I pick up somebody like Elizabeth Adler, Maeve Binchy, Steve Barry, Douglas Preston or Lincoln Child. Really, I’m all over the board with my reading.
If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?
Well, it would have to include my favs – Nora, Jayne, Julia. They all have different strengths. And Eloisa – her sense of history is superb. I had the chance to chat with her at a conference some years ago, and she was giving me tips on how to work writing around a full-time job and family. Romance writers are some of the most giving and helpful people I’ve ever met. I’d want a couple of guys at the table, too for the male perspective on personality and some advice on mystery/suspense – not that the women are slouches in that department – it’s just a different sense you pick up from the male point of view.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a Reiki master, amateur photographer – I’ve actually sold a couple of my photos along the way – and an avid knitter. I used to do fine-thread crochet, but carpal tunnel doesn’t like holding skinny hooks and thread. My husband & I love to travel as well. We’ve been to a lot of neat places and since we’re both history buffs, we do off the wall kinds of things too. Like wandering around the coliseum in Arles, France, visiting 221B Baker Street in London, or the side trip we took on an Alaska cruise – we had a hoot taking a tour of an old-time mining town, led by a “Good Time Girl.” I’ll leave that one to your imagination.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?
Something I was actually part of – my critique partners & I met at a Denny’s nearby to go over pages. It happened to be a love scene and we happened to be seated in a booth just behind the counter stools. There was some discussion involving the number of hands the hero had and where he was trying to put them. When one of us said, “Well, if he has his hand on her nipple, then it can’t be (wherever it was) at the same time, and his other hand won’t reach that far. Come here, I’ll show you.” The poor man sitting at the counter was leaning soooo far back on his stool trying to listen, he damned near fell off. Funny thing – there seemed to be quite a few more patrons there the next time we met.
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