Publisher: Zenith Publishing (an imprint of GenZ Publishing)
Page Length: 486 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Love. Politics. War.
Amidst mounting tensions between the British crown and the American colonists of Boston, Annalisa Howlett struggles with her identity and purpose as a woman. Rather than concern herself with proper womanly duties, like learning to dance a minuet or chasing after the eligible and charming Jack Perkins, Annalisa prefers the company of her brother, George, and her beloved musket, Bixby. She intends to join the rebellion, but as complications in her personal life intensify, and the colonies inch closer to war with England, everything Annalisa thought about her world and womanhood are transformed forever.
Join Annalisa on her journey to discover what it truly means to be a woman in the 18th century, all set against the backdrop of some of the most pivotal moments in American history.
Annalisa held Bixby to her shoulder, closed one eye, and pulled the trigger.
The maple shook, and splinters flew from the trunk. Gunpowder stung her nose as she trudged toward the tree, retrieved her musket round, and loaded the firelock again. This time, she aimed at a more distant ash.
The ash shook, but no woody shards flew about. She rushed to the tree and saw the ball lodged into the trunk.
“That was at least sixty yards.”
Satisfied, Annalisa pried the round from the tree, stuck it into her linen coat pocket, and slung Bixby over her shoulder. Burrs buried into her petticoats and dress. She tried brushing them away, but far too many told of where she’d been.
Mamma will chide me. I’ll have to start wearing William’s old breeches when I practice in the clearing.
Annalisa walked toward the path where field met woods, and looked out over her family’s farm in the distance below. Honeysuckle perfumed the air, a distraction from the lingering traces of gunpowder. She would take the longer, less steep trail home. She slipped from George’s old coat, stuffed it into her haversack, and stepped onto the path. As she walked, chickadees sang in the trees overhead, and a gentle breeze rustled the leaves.
She stopped and turned.
Jack Perkins, finely dressed in cobalt silk and with cane in hand, navigated the woods beyond the path. There was no way for her to hide the firelock and cartridge box she carried. She lowered her head and glided along the trail.
“Miss Annalisa.” Jack stumbled over a twisted root. “Miss Annalisa, please wait. I seem to have lost my way to your house.”
At his urgency, she hesitated and studied his attractive figure as he tumbled over a large branch. To hide her chuckle, she bit her lip. She’d almost forgotten his insulting words at Twelfth Night.
When he made it to the path, Jack gave a good-humored laugh as his fingers flew to pick the burrs on his stockings. “I’m clearly unprepared for such an adventure. This is quite the hill!”
“I take it you’re adjusting well to life in the country, sir.” She bobbed a curtsy.
His eyes lit up at her banter. “Quite.”
She started. When last they’d spoken, he’d lectured her. Has he forgotten the encounter?
Though, being alone with him in the middle of the woods tickled her stomach. The ladies would be jealous if they knew. Nay, incredulous. But I won’t be so eager to forgive him like that awful Hannah French would.
“I should return. ’Tis hardly proper for me to be in your presence without a chaperone.”
“And do the rules of Society apply to these woods?” Jack arched a brow and leaned on his cane. His gaze fell on Bixby. “Pray tell, have you plans to hunt with us, Miss Annalisa?”
“Of course not.” Heat rose up her back. “And my uses of Bixby are of no concern of yours, sir.” She curtsied. “Good-day.”
“Miss Annalisa, wait.” He rushed after her, his gaze apologetic beneath his beaver-felt cocked hat. “I meant no offense. Please, allow me to accompany you. I can hardly call myself a gentleman if I let you continue alone.”
“Then you consider yourself a gentleman?”
Jack’s brows furrowed. “Miss, have I offended you in some way?”
“‘One must learn to practice and exercise restraint, and behave with reason.’ You could not have reproached me in a worse way.” She curtsied again. “By your leave, sir.”
Jack lunged after her. “Miss Annalisa, that was not directed toward you.” His azure stare held hers. “Please forgive me. It would be my greatest honor to accompany you home.”
She smirked. “I know the way better than you, sir.”
“That is true.” He cracked a smile. “Can you forgive a fool?”
Annalisa relaxed her grin. “If you can accept friendship in a woman who shoots firelocks for sport.”
“I daresay I can.” He offered his arm, and she took it without reservation. He smelled of amber and pipe tobacco, an amalgamation of scents she’d not yet appreciated of a man.
They walked down the hill until the trees parted and they were greeted by the ancient oak.
“What a sage tree,” Jack said as they passed by, and headed toward her family’s farming fields.
“’Tis my favorite place in all the world.”
Annalisa waved to Dane and Zeke. Their shining faces peered up from under straw hats. “I’ll be out to pick strawberries soon,” she called.
“Strawberry picking?” Jack cocked his head.
“Yes, for Addy’s pies for the festival tonight.”
His smile lines creased. “I look forward to trying them. I hear they’re the best in town.”
They approached the barn and already the horses grunted in their stalls.
Quinn must be inside.
Jack slid open the door, and they entered. To her surprise, the barn was empty. Annalisa reached up and slid Bixby onto the nails, her palm grazing the dry, splintered wood.
The fowler fell, and she clasped her hand. A large shard of wood lodged into her left palm.
Jack rushed to her. “I bet that’s sore. May I?” His stare shifted, the serene calm where ocean meets sky. The nearness of his warmth overwhelmed her as he reached for her hand. He pinched the splinter. “This may hurt.”
The smoothness of his touch and intoxicating perfume were more than enough to disguise the pain. In one swift motion, he plucked the wooden shard, and blood pooled in her hand.
“How foolish of me.”
Jack removed a small, white linen handkerchief from his waistcoat and dabbed away the droplet. “That should do.”
“But your handkerchief—’tis ruined.”
“Nonsense.” He wrapped it around her hand. “’Tis yours now.”
With a loud creak the barn door opened, and Annalisa spun around. Jack stepped away from her and focused on plucking burrs from his coat.
George stepped inside. “Cousin, what’s this?” He eyed the fowler. “Annie, what did you do?”
She held out her hand. “I got a splinter. But Mr. Perkins removed it.”
George crossed the barn in four great strides. He peeked under the linen and chuckled. “I think you’ll live.” He picked up Bixby and leaned it against his hip. “The Perkins gentlemen have come to hunt this morning before the festival. Mary’s waiting to pick strawberries with you.”
Jack stopped her. “Miss Annalisa, I hear ’tis your debut tonight. Will you honor me with a dance?”
She beamed. “I look forward to it.” Annalisa left the barn as Oliver, William, and Andrew entered.
“A rather unlikely place for a young lady,” Oliver said.
Upon hearing his snide, Annalisa slipped around the side of the barn to listen.
“Annie’s in the barn all the time,” William replied. “George taught her to use his firelock.”
Oliver laughed. “Cousin, you willingly taught a girl to use a firelock? This will certainly be the death of you. What sort of young lady wishes to spend her time with weaponry?”
“Plenty of women in town are more than capable of manipulating a fowler,” George said. “Life is different in the country. You’ll do well to keep with the pace of your new town, Cousin.”
Annalisa hurried from the barn and made her way to the strawberry field, where Mary sat with a large basket amidst a row of plants.
“Why are you smiling?” Mary plucked a ruby jewel from its emerald swing. Her delightful, hazel eyes peered up at Annalisa.
Annalisa settled beside her. “I secured a dance tonight at the festival.”
“I knew it,” Mary squealed. “With whom?”
A born and bred New Englander, Lindsey hails from the North Shore of Boston. A member of the Topsfield Historical Society and the Historical Novel Society, she forged her love for writing with her intrigue for colonial America by writing her debut novel, Muskets and Minuets. When she's not attending historical reenactments or spouting off facts about Boston, she's nursing patients back to health in the ICU.
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See you on your next coffee break!
Mary Anne xxx