Heart is my latest title to be released by Accent Press as an ebook and
paperback and comes out on 20th of this month.
Before the formation of police
forces in the 1830s the law was administered by local Justices. Though some
were men of integrity, others used the law for their own ends. Bonded
is set in the early 1800s when the war with France, sky-high food
prices, and poor harvests meant that smuggling was the only way of avoiding
Branoc Casvellan became a Justice to try and wipe out the
stain on the family name caused by his father's behaviour. An honourable man
who tempers justice with mercy, he's appalled by his attraction to Roz
Trevaskis, the illegitimate daughter of a drunken whore.
When Casvellan's brother catches smallpox, it falls to Roz
to nurse him – bringing her into close contact with her handsome employer. But
how will Branoc – and his family – react when the truth about Roz's past, and
her involvement with the local smuggling trade comes out?
I hope you enjoy this short extract:
The constable withdrew, closing the
door quietly. Roz felt a moment’s relief
that no one else would hear whatever the Justice had to say. Surely he would
criticise. She could not blame him. Less
than a month ago her mother had agreed to be bound over. But as the constable
had explained on the walk from Porthinnis, far from being of good behaviour,
Mary-Blanche had been found down at the harbour, drunk and raging at one of the
“I would have took her home, miss,” the constable said. “But
the foreman wasn’t having it. He complained she’d been distracting the men.
Said if I didn’t arrest her, he’d go hisself and fetch the Justice.”
Shame for her mother had made Roz’s face burn as she nodded.
“I understand, Mr Colenso. You had no choice.”
“Sit down, Miss Trevaskis.”
Casvellan’s voice broke into her thoughts.
Doing as she was told, Roz sat straight-backed on the wooden
chair placed at an angle to his desk. Tucking her feet to one side, she stared
at her hands folded tightly in her lap.
“You are aware your mother is downstairs in one of the
“Yes.” Roz’s throat was so dry that the word emerged in a
hoarse whisper. She cleared her throat. “Yes, sir.”
“Be so good as to look at me when I am addressing you.”
She knew she had been guilty of discourtesy, but it was so
hard to meet his gaze. She had made
promises on her mother’s behalf, and they had not been kept. By helping Will
Prowse with the contraband she had broken the law, and must do so again. Like the constable, she too had no choice.
How else could she pay her mother’s fines and still put food on the table?
She raised her head. His eyes were the dark blue of storm
clouds, heavy-lidded and fringed with black lashes. He had a way of narrowing
them that made him appear sleepy. But it was misleading for his glittering gaze
was as sharp as an unsheathed blade. He linked his fingers on the desk in front
of him, his expression bleak.
“Miss Trevaskis, this cannot continue.”
Roz screwed up her courage. “Sir, please, I beg you, not
gaol. Bodmin is almost a day’s ride
away. How am I to keep my job and still find the time to visit?” Driven by
fear, the words tumbled out. “Sir, if she is confined in a small dank cell with
hardly any light and no proper food, her mind will break as surely as her health.
I’ve heard the place is rife with fever.”
She stopped and chewed her lip, gripping her hands so tightly the
Leaning back, he tapped his fingers lightly on the polished
wood table where several neat piles of documents rested alongside a number of
thick volumes. “I am running out of
patience and alternatives, Miss Trevaskis.
I understand your mother has now been barred from the Three Mackerel,
the Bell, and the Red Lion.”
Roz’s breath hitched and as her head snapped up she tried to
hide her shock. But she had forgotten how observant he was, how shrewd.
“You didn’t know.”
“No.” No one had told
her. Like him, they probably assumed she
knew. But if the three main inns in the village were refusing to serve her
mother, where was she getting the brandy?
There were a number of small ale-houses in the back streets by the
harbour where no doubt a keg or two of cognac was kept under the counter. One
day, unable to find her mother, she had asked Annie if Mary-Blanche might be in
one of them. Annie had shaken her head.
“No, my bird. She wouldn’t be let over the step. ‘Tis men
“Miss Trevaskis,” Casvellan’s cool tone pierced the clamour
in her head. “You are clearly not suited
to your current circumstances.“
Before she realised it, Roz was on her feet. “No, I’m not. But I’m doing my best,” she
cried. “If anyone had complained about me I would have been told. Nell - Mrs
Hicks – is very – “
“Sit down.” Though he
didn’t raise his voice it was an order nonetheless.
She sat, her heart pounding.
Heat scalded her cheeks as a lump formed in her throat. If she lost her
job what would she do? How would they manage?
Labels: Early1800s, Justices, smuggling.