Release day is coming for Storm & Shelter, A Bluestocking Belles Collection With Friends!
Bluestocking Belle Caroline Warfield is joining us today to tell us a bit about her Storm & Shelter novella, The Tender Flood, a beautiful story about a wounded combat veteran with a passion for knowledge and a compassionate, determined teacher.
The Tender Flood was a joy to write. I have a weakness for veterans and for women whose passion is education. In this story I got both.
The veteran is Zachary Newell. He left part of his leg behind in Spain when he was forced out of the cavalry, but he emerged with his dignity intact, fond memories of colleagues, a collection of ribald songs that would make a matron blush, and the backbone to set new goals. Now he earns his keep driving hired carriages for his uncle and sleeps over the stables for free while he nurses dreams. He invests his earnings in inventory, and his little room is floor to ceiling, three deep in books. Someday he will open a bookstore. He was a delight to create.
As to the woman with a passion for education, Patience Abney, granddaughter of an earl but daughter of a simple vicar, went to teach in a “charity” school full of ideals. When she discovered she was meant to beat learning into the poorer students and coddle those who paid tuition, she left taking some of the students with her. The Academy for the Formation of Young Gentlemen may be housed in a ramshackle old building with a dodgy roof and decrepit stable, but it is full of boys she loves.
Obviously, these two are made for each other even if Zach frets about getting above himself—after all, she is an earl’s granddaughter. It may take storm, flood, and catastrophe to bring these two together.
Neither battle nor loss of his leg destroyed Zachery Newell. Working as a coachman, he tries to build a life in spite of his injuries while he plans for the sort of life he knew in childhood, happy and content above his father’s print shop, but when a woman races out of the storm and into the stable yard of The Queen’s Barque with a wagon full of small boys, puppies, and a bag of books, he is enchanted.
Dismissed by a charity school, Patience Abney struggles to create a school that gives every boy a happy and productive life on her own. Now the roof has caved in. Though she managed to get her boys to the safety of an inn, she has no idea how she will rebuild.
Zach knows Patience, the granddaughter of an earl, is far above the touch of shopkeeper’s son. He tries to keep his distance, but when the two of them make their way across the flooded marsh to her damaged school, in search of a missing boy, attraction grows toward passion, complicating everything.
She might have been miserable, except heat radiated down her back where Zachary Newell sheltered her against the hard wall of his chest and—she blushed to think of it—belly. She held the reins; he held Patience. At least he anchored her in place with one strong arm while his other held up the makeshift shelter of oilcloth. The oilcloth draped around them, covering Zach’s back, her shoulders and his. He had to lean his head down in order to keep hers covered.
Her position was perilous, cold, and utterly scandalous, yet Zach’s commanding presence wrapped her in a blanket of security. Even her frantic fear for her missing student was kept in check by his decisive leadership. When she hesitated at the crossroads, worried Norb might have wandered up to the landfall in the direction they came, Zach repeated Froggy’s certainty the boy had gone to the marsh. When her companion’s sharp eyes found the track before she could pass it, grey and dim in another of the sudden downpours, his deep voice vibrated through her, assuring her the horse would step carefully as long as they went slowly enough.
The first hours dragged by while Algernon crept forward until she wanted to scream, but the big horse stepped carefully, one foot in front of the other. Until he didn’t.
“Hold on.” Zach slipped off and retrieved his crutch from the holster he and Ryman had contrived.
“The track has disappeared,” she groaned.
“Not entirely. It is merely flooded for a way.” He pointed forward and off to the right where the track could be clearly seen above the marsh.
The rain, which had been slowing all day had dwindled to an intermittent drizzle, but the waters ran high. “There’s no way to see how it meanders over there!” Her heart sank to her half boots.
Zach, leaning on the crutch and grimacing, didn’t answer. She suspected that the ride astride, cramped behind her, bedeviled his leg. When he stepped into the flood where the road disappeared, she held her breath, but he surprised her by taking the crutch from under his shoulder and tamping it in front of him.
“Give me the reins,” he said, reaching back.
“Trust me and this horse.” He took the reins and led Algernon, testing the way in front with his crutch every few steps. With every one, she held her breath in terror, expecting him to sink into the marsh. Zach, unperplexed and utterly confident, pushed forward, and her admiration grew with every step. She could never have done this alone.
As if in blessing, the rain stopped entirely just as they came up on the clear track and a momentary dizziness shook Patience, faint with relief. Two strong hands grasped her waist, pulling her off the horse. She slid down his hard body and sank into his arms. He held her momentarily before moving mere inches away while he searched her face. Tender fingers cupped her cheek. “We’re safe.”
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3kgRmLG
Apple Books: https://apple.co/3lZYHja
About the Author
Award winning author of family centered romance set in the Regency and Victorian eras, Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Someone who begins life as an army brat develops a wide view of life, and a love for travel. Now settled in the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act. When she isn’t off seeking adventures with her Beloved or her grandson down the block, she works happily in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to even more adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart, because love is worth the risk.
Good Reads http://bit.ly/1C5blTm
Alina here: The Tender Flood is just one of several fabulous stories in Storm & Shelter (including my own, The Comtesse of Midnight)! In addition to Caroline and me, the other authors include Bluestocking Belles Sherry Ewing, Jude Knight, Rue Allyn, Cerise DeLand, and bestselling guest authors Mary Lancaster and Grace Burrowes.