In 1780, Loyalist Rowena Marsh insists on spying for the British during the American Revolution. As a girl, she must dress as a boy, plus endure devastation and murder as she decodes messages for a mysterious Welshman. The tide has turned in the rebels’ favor. General George Washington appears to be winning. The loyalists are bombarded by threats and lost battles. Rowena stays determined to aid the British cause and preserve her family as they’re chased from their Pennsylvania home.
She struggles with possible defeat and permanent exile, plus her growing love for the Welshman who may have little need for affection. The war might destroy both their lives.
Targeted Age Group:: adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
After writing a novel set during the founding of New Brunswick in Canada, I became interested in the Loyalist plight, the people who fought on the British side, during the American Revolution. Their story is rarely told.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I knew I wanted a bold young woman-more tomboy than beauty; and an enigmatic man with a troubled past from Wales. She fights for her and her father's beliefs, the Welshman more for the intrigue of spying. Dangerous events bring them together, to flourish or die.
“Are ye not up for it?” Mr. Pritchard asked, his black eyes challenging. “Or just insulted?”
“We should put the dress on Sam.” James smirked at her, his tone annoyed. “She hasn’t the mettle. Let’s stop wasting time. She’ll only get hurt.”
“You’ll be surprised by my mettle, James.” Rowena handed Sam her cocked hat. She threw the dress over her head and wriggled it on, the pins already in place on the oversize bodice. It hung on her like a wool sack and stank of perspiration and onions. “I will do what’s required.”
“Any instructions needed? Do ye know what to say?” Mr. Pritchard bent down; his gaze measured her, or he was vexed. “Are ye sure yer able to manage?”
“I’ll concoct something that will stop the rider.” She pinched the cloth between her fingers. “I will say I’ve been held in a root cellar and made to peel onions until I cried.”
“Aye?” He seemed to fight a grin, then turned his face away into shadow.
“Don’t underestimate me.” Rowena took a slow, deep breath. “I can do this, sir.” She loosened her hair from its queue and accepted the lantern from Mr. Pritchard. She had the urge to impress him in a more personal way, then whisked such silliness from her thoughts.
“We’ll be here, in the trees, weapons at the ready. To protect ye.” He bowed to her and slipped like a ghost deeper into the copse of beech and oaks.
“Don’t take any unnecessary chances; behave yourself.” James entered the woods, continuing to mutter his disapproval.
“Be careful, Miss,” Sam said before following the two men.
She nodded, set the lantern at her feet, and pulled her fingers through her curls so they sprang in disorder about her face.
Night birds churred; a breeze ruffled the leaves above. Nerves twitched through her, but being anxious, off-balance, was perfect for this part. Another idea struck. She crouched, scooped up a fistful of dirt and smeared it on her cheeks and bodice.
Silent, long moments passed; too long, yet she stood fast. She stretched her fingers, hearing her own breath go in and out. Then distant hooves clopped up the road from the south. The sound grew closer. Muscles tense, she shut her eyes for a second. What if it wasn’t the courier? Would she be sending this person to their death?
A horse and rider came into shadowy view, hoof beats loud. The sound beat on her brain. Rowena stepped fully into the circle of lantern light.
She waved her arms and spewed out her most plaintive plea in a girlish voice. “Help, I need help. Please, good sir, I’ve been attacked!”
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