Lost Colony Series
Genre: historical romance
Publisher: Astraea Press
Date of Publication: October 16, 2013
Number of pages: 404
Word Count: 121,390
Cover Artist: Mande Matthews
Intelligent and well ahead of her times, ROSE PAYNE'S world is shattered after a secret betrothal to the duke’s son costs her job as a clerk in his father's household. Without a letter of recommendation, she becomes an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Desperate for work, she signs up for a risky overseas venture and sails for the New World, vowing never again fall for a wealthy gentleman.
Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, CHIEF MANTEO is bewitched by the elusive, fiery-haired ship clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in BREAKING TIES.
Special Note: BREAKING TIES is the never-before-told rest of the story of the Lost Colony.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/nBB8_qcG-9I
"You want my help." 'Twas an accusation.
His eyes darkened. "I save your life. I give gifts. I offer marriage." He closed the remaining distance between us, his eyes burning into mine.
I stumbled back.
"You give nothing in return," he snarled. "You only ask for more."
"I would had I something to offer," I whispered. "But I have nothing. I am nothing."
"Then what use are you to me?" He wheeled away.
I sagged against the door, eyes stinging. I blinked rapidly and pressed a hand to my stomach. Nausea rolled at the thought of informing the others of my failure.
Manteo circled the cabin like a hawk stalking its prey. 'Twas a fine room with ornately carved shelves lining one wall. Bunks were built into the next wall. A generous desk jutted from the third, overflowing with maps and navigational devices. I recognized the compass and hourglass but could not identify the other instruments. I jerked in surprise when Manteo swooped down upon me.
"I know our location." His arms shot out and slapped the wall on either side of me, hemming me to the door. "I could swim ashore from here."
"Then why do ye stay if ye can leave and save yourself?"
"Governor White gave his word to deliver me home."
"We are going to starve, Manteo. 'Tis only a matter of days now."
"Nay. You alone starve. The others eat."
"I have no appetite."
"You act as one already dead."
I straightened my back. "I accept what I cannot change."
"And I change what I cannot accept." He shifted his weight to the wall, one arm propped over my head. He drew his fingertips down the side of my face in a feather-light caress.
I closed my eyes against the rush of unbearable sweetness. He made me long for things forbidden. "'Tis within your power to help us. I am begging you."
My eyes flew open. "Ye will do this for us."
"For you." His voice was silken, his features as hard as granite.
I smiled tremulously. "I thank thee, Manteo. Chief Manteo, that is." The new title felt strange on my lips. I beheld him with a mixture of awe and pride.
"I have yet to name my price."
I stared, confused.
He grunted in disgust. "You refuse me as both husband and lover, so you are left with the hiring of my services."
I worried my lower lip between my teeth. At least he was willing to negotiate. His eyes flashed with lust as he followed my movements.
"I will entreat the Dares for payment."
"Nay. You are the one in my debt."
I raised and dropped my hands helplessly.
"You serve this company, no? You can serve my people, too."
"Ye would hire me as clerk?" Hope leaped in my chest at the possibilities. I would not have to part from him so soon.
"My people have no clerks." His eyes narrowed. "We have slaves."
My breath hitched. "Ye wish to punish me, humiliate me?"
"Nay, I only wish to marry you."
I briefly closed my eyes against the pain. He already knew the reason for my refusal.
"Say no more. I will do it. 'Twill be punishment enough to see you so often and—“ I clamped my lips.
Exultation flickered briefly across his face. "You would give up your freedom to save your friends?"
"Swear it," he said grimly.
"I swear it."
His eyes flared with emotion. He bent slowly 'til his breath stirred my lips. My eyelids fluttered closed. Heaven help me, for I had no will left to resist him.
"Now you will eat," Manteo commanded hoarsely. He stepped back, surveying me from head to feet.
"I have no slaves so thin and weak. Go. Collect your rations." He turned from me and bent to pore over a map on the table.
I reached for the door handle, disbelieving at the curt dismissal.
"And send for Anthony. I have need of him."
I glared at his back. Faith, should I press my face to the floor as well? "Aye, master." I bit the words out and fled.
Lost Colony Series
Genre: historical romance
Publisher: Astraea Press
Word Count: 112,300
Cover Artist: Mande Matthews
Jane Mannering can shoot a rifle and handle a knife as well as any Englishman. However, she is no match for the red-painted warriors who ambush her section of a Colonial caravan the moment she and her comrades reach the shores of Virginia.
Jane plots their escape during a forced march inland, leaving a trail of maltese crosses carved on the trees – their pre-agreed upon signal of distress. All the while, she fumes over what interest their captors could possibly have in a twenty-three-year-old spinster and a rugged band of brick masons, sawyers, and farmers.
When the ruthless Chief Wanchese intercepts them at the crossroads of the Great Trading Path, Jane is shaken to discover their greatest enemy plans to keep her for himself. It’s a pity he’s the only man on two continents who’s ever stirred her heart. Alas, she has an entire colony to save, and capturing his attentions is not part of their escape plan.
Special Note: The Lost Colony Seires is the never-before-told rest of the story of the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island.
July 26, 1587 - Roanoke Island
If it had not been for the barking of the dogs and chattering of the lads who scampered at my side, I might have heard the shot - the low vibration of the string as the thin, wooden shaft released, the faint whistle of the arrow as it sliced an invisible yet deadly path through the air, the scattering of wildlife as the forest itself braced before the world's most fearsome predator. Instead, I merely felt the gentle lifting of my late father's top hat as the arrowhead sank into the aged leather and pinned it to the heart of the oak behind me.
The men assigned to guard me fired their muskets wildly into the perimeter of trees. My ears rang with their gunfire and frenzied oaths. Then the slow burn of anger took over.
I pivoted to yank the arrow, top hat and all, from the trunk. Separating the two, I jammed the damaged hat back on my head and tapped the lone arrow against my gloved hand. The miss was deliberate, meant as a taunt. Had the shadowy creature intended to kill me, I would already be dead.
I glared over my shoulder as the gunfire ceased. He remained out there, I was certain. Watching. This was a reminder that he is the hunter. I am the hunted.
Character Name: Jane Mannering
Character Bio: Tall, tan, brunette, twenty-three-year-old huntress and trapper who loves to wear men’s hats, trousers, and boots. Labeled a spinster back in London, she thumbs her nose at high society, signs up for a risky investment venture in the New World, and sails the Atlantic to become one of the first Englishwomen colonists.
Describe yourself. What is your worst and best quality?
I can shoot, hunt, and trap as well as any man. Alas, I am too tall, tanned, and outspoken for the dragons of high society. They labeled me a spinster at age twenty-three and forgot about me the second I landed on the shelf. As if I give a fig about what the London dandies think of me – prancing about in their striped short pants and blasted codpieces. I vow any man who wears a codpiece must be compensating for something!
What is the one thing you wish other people knew about you?
Nothing. I like my privacy, keep to myself, and care little for what others think about me.
What is your biggest secret, something no one knows about?
I do want to fall in love someday when I’m good and ready, but he won’t fit the London mold. Nay, he’ll be a man of my own choosing. Taller than me, stronger than me, someone who can hold his own in a fight.
What are you most afraid of?
What do you want more than anything?
To rescue the ambushed and enslaved members of my colony
What is your relationship status?
I don’t care much for the term “spinster.” I prefer to think of myself as unattached and free to say and do as I please.
How would you describe your sense of fashion?
I despise the dictates of London fashion. ‘Tis painfully difficult to walk and even harder to breath in a ball gown. I’ll take a pair of men’s trousers and good sturdy boots any day over a bloody gown.
How much of a rebel are you?
Enough to board a ship and never look back. I hope to build a new life for myself on the other side of the world, my kind of life.
What do you considered to be your greatest achievement?
After years of practice, I can throw a knife further and straighter than most men.
What is your idea of happiness?
To live in a cabin on a few acres of land I own free and clear of any man
What is your current state of mind?
Worried sick over our missing colonists – especially for the women and children
What is your most treasured possession?
A set of knives and a worn, leather top hat from my late father
What is your most marked characteristic?
I am taller than all the women in our colony and half the men as well
What is it that you most dislike?
Which living person do you most despise?
Roger Bailie. He’s a pompous oaf who cares more about stealing the title of governor than gathering food and preparing our colonists for the upcoming winter.
What is your greatest regret?
Forever crossing verbal swords with Chief Wanchese. He’s the first man who’s ever looked at me with desire, as a real flesh and blood woman. Alas, most of our conversations end with a disagreement.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Honesty and hard work
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Honesty and hard work
Who is your favorite hero in fiction?
Dante in The Divine Comedy. I’m not exactly the religious sort, but I admire his sense of justice – the idea that every man will get what he deserves in the end.
Which living person do you most admire?
My dearest and most loyal friends, Rose Payne and Agnes Wood. They are the first and only women in my life willing to accept me just as I am – scuffed boots, knives, and all – and I love them for it.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I wish I wasn’t so short of temper. “Tis something I am working on. Then again, the good Lord simply didn’t give me the angelic demeanor he handed Rose and Agnes.
What is your motto?
Right now, my life motto is simple: Adapt and survive. My fellow colonists and I didn’t ask to be marooned on an island crawling with hostiles. Nor did we ask to be ambushed on our first attempt to escape. I’m one of the lucky ones who lived to see another day. That has to count for something, right? One thing’s for sure. I’m not going down without a fight.
Jo is a mega reader of all genres and loves to indulge in marathon showings of Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and Castle. Her favorite books are rich in Colonial and Elizabethan history, romance, strong women, alpha males, Native Americans, and creatures from the paranormal - an occasional dragon, vampire, or time traveler.
From St. Louis, Missouri, Jo moves a lot with her soldier husband. She has lived in the Midwest, the deep South, and now resides in Bavaria. Jo holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, college finance instructor, and high school business teacher. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter, and the Writers Group of Ansbach/Katterbach/Illesheim.
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