Etienne Blouin left Danielle de Cherbourg in tears, promising to return; he didn’t. Ten years later, Etienne learns she’s been widowed and left almost penniless. Now a wealthy ship’s captain, he offers to help her, but the only reply he gets is from her aunt telling him to leave Danielle alone. Convinced she’s in trouble, he determines to rescue her whether she likes it or not, even if it means losing her love.
Danielle is shocked to learn that her companion is going to the colonies, while she is to marry a cruel and powerful man as repayment of her husband’s gambling debts. Despondent, she sees no way out of the horrendous situation. When her carriage is waylaid and she’s kidnapped, she fears the worse.
Etienne has enemies who don’t want La Belle Rose to make port. Can he outfox them to save his ship and the woman he loves?
The Captain’s Promise is available in Kindle format through Amazon.
About the author:
Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. Today, gets to spend her time writing, so she can share her adventures with her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.
Etienne stood beside the Count de Cherbourg and watched Danielle as she finished the movements of the dance. She was stunning! Gone was his child-shadow, the redheaded hoyden who’d followed him around, climbed trees, and had gone fishing with him. An angel stood in her place. Her deep blue gown shimmered in the candlelight and gave her an ethereal look—the goddess Venus come to life couldn’t have matched her beauty. She took his breath away. He was dismayed by what he was about to do. The excitement he’d felt when he’d donned his new uniform had vanished, replaced by a longing he hadn’t anticipated.
“My daughter’s become a beautiful woman, hasn’t she?” The count smiled proudly.
“She most certainly has.” Etienne stared at the girl approaching him. “I wasn’t prepared to see my young friend changed this much.”
“You know, Etienne, I think she’s expecting different news from you tonight. She’ll be most distressed by your decision, but I understand your need to prove yourself. I’d ask a favor of you.” His voice was solemn, far more severe than the situation implied.
Etienne tore his eyes away from Elle and wondered briefly what news she’d been expecting, probably that he was back to stay. He looked up at the man who’d been like a second father to him. “Whatever you want sir, if it’s in my power to give it, consider it yours.”
The count looked at him, smiled sadly, and sighed. “Life doesn’t always turn out the way we hope it will. Promise me you’ll look out for her, that you’ll be there when she needs you.”
Sobered by the request, Etienne nodded and answered as honestly as he could. “It’d be an honor to watch out for your daughter, sir, but you know my commission will take me far from here. I’d never allow harm to come to Danielle, not if I could help it. In as much as I’m able to do as you ask, you’ve got my word. ”
The count nodded. “I can’t ask for more than that.”
Etienne turned away to look at Danielle once more. As she approached, she smiled weakly and held out her hands. He saw uncertainty on her face, an emotion he’d never have attributed to her. She was the feisty, intrepid explorer who’d followed him around like a faithful pup. Never had she shown fear.
“Etienne!” she exclaimed. “I was afraid you might not make it. Look at you. Not a military uniform—don’t tell me you’ve joined the King’s army!” She sounded horrified at the prospect. Etienne smiled and took her hand, placing a small gift box in it.
“Me? Miss your sixteenth birthday? Never! Happy birthday, Elle.” He moved closer to give her the traditional peck on each cheek. The brief contact of his lips on her tender skin filled him with unexpected desire. He stepped back and addressed her father, his voice low.
“Your grace, with your permission, I’d like to take Elle out into the garden. It’s quite warm in here, and I’d like to speak to her privately.”
“Of course, I wish I could escape for a few moments myself… Here comes your mother, Elle. Go, before she decides it wouldn’t be appropriate for you to be with Etienne without a chaperone.”
The air was cooler outside, but Etienne continued to perspire. His months of training to become one of the King’s soldiers had sculpted his body and removed every inch of unnecessary fat. He’d been so eager to boast to Danielle about his new commission, and how he’d travel the world, and make something of himself. Suddenly, he felt as if his dreams were coming to an end. How proud he’d been of his new uniform, his gold lieutenant’s epaulettes decorating his deep blue coat.
He’d taken great pains with his appearance tonight, wanting to impress Elle with his new responsibilities; he wanted her to be proud of him. Like the other young officers in his regiment, he’d left his hair unpowdered, pulled into a queue, secured with a white, silk ribbon, and had grown a beard that followed the edge of his face, but exposed his mouth. The regiment required he keep his neck shaved, and the moustache on his upper lip neatly trimmed. He raised his finger to the tiny crescent scar below his left eye, the result of a swordsmanship training accident, which he felt gave him a dash of mystery. Now, instead of feeling proud of his appearance, he felt as if the white lace jabot at his neck were a noose, threatening to choke him.
Where had his sweet Danielle gone? When he’d last seen her, she’d been awkward, her arms and legs too long for her young body. They’d been constant companions for eight years; how could his tomboy friend have changed this much in so short a time?