As I write this post, I've already uploaded Kissing the Captain to both the Nook and Kindle sites. I will also be finishing the PDF version today, so other e-readers can get in on the party. :) For those of you craving a print book, that version will be out by the end of March. If you're coming to the Romance Slam Jam in April, I'll have copies of it there as well.
I'm so excited about Kissing the Captain! Historical romance has always been my very favorite reading material, with Beverly Jenkins being my very favorite author. I'll tell you up front that my writing style is not the same as hers. My stories are a bit shorter, my voice is different... I don't write like Beverly, I write like Kianna. I put a lot of work into this book, and I don't think you'll be disappointed. I will, however, admit that I'm hoping my books will fill some of the time between her releases for her fans, thereby giving her some much needed vacation time(wink, wink).
So, I'd like to give you a little sneak peak at the story, so you'll know what you're getting into. I'd also love to hear your feedback, so feel free to leave a comment.
Draped in black mourning clothes, Lilly Warren sat on the old oak rocker on the front porch. Beside her on an upside down barrel was her untouched tumbler of lemonade. A weariness reserved for those well beyond her twenty-four years of age gripped her soul like a spider holding its prey.
The bounty of spring's first blush lay before her. The green branches of pines and oaks shaded the house from the sun, and the blooms of golden poppies, violas, and verbena filled the landscape with color and life. Yet on the inside, she wilted.
"Lilly, you must eat or drink something. Your pa would want you to."
She turned to face Prudence, who stepped out of the house. The way her best friend's face appeared lined with concern told her much. "I'm not inclined, Pru."
Prudence folded her arms across her chest. "Three days have gone by since we buried your pa. You can't go on this way, without nourishment." Brushing her hands over her plain brown day skirt, she sat at Lilly's feet. "Besides, the lawyer will be here any minute. Do you want him to see you in such distress, and wearing that sour puss?"
Lilly felt a smile play over her face for a brief moment. She sighed. "I know you're trying to cheer me, Pru. I just can't believe Pa is... gone."
Her friend looked wistful. "I shall miss Mr. Warren. He was a good man." Eyes wide and damp with emotion, she continued, "And I know he would want happiness for his only child."
"I only wish we had known his ague was really the influenza." She swept away a tear falling down her cheek.
Ever the optimist, Prudence patted her leg. "Time to acknowledge the corn. You just inherited twenty-six acres of the most fertile California land there is."
"That may be so, but there is only one of me." She let her head fall back against the rocker. She knew little to nothing about the finer points of the farm's operations. "Who will help me plant the fields, care for the animals, bring in the harvest?"
"I will do whatever I can to help, Lilly. And I am sure you can hire a hand or two in town."
The sound of creaking wheels caught their attention. Lilly eyed the approaching carriage. "I suppose that is Pa's lawyer now."
The covered vehicle, drawn by two horses, pulled to a stop in front of the farmhouse. The driver hopped down from the seat and opened the door. A well-dressed Englishman of about forty exited the carriage, leather satchel in hand.
"Miss Warren?" The Englishman stood at the foot of the porch steps.
"Yes. You must be Mr. Peters."
"I am. Pleased to meet you, miss. And may I offer my sympathies on your father’s passing." He tipped his black bowler hat.
She nodded. "Thank you, sir. Please, sit." She gestured to the empty rocker on the other side of her barrel table. "This is my friend, Prudence."
Prudence smiled. "Hello, sir."
Tipping his hat again, Mr. Peters took his seat. "I'm here to inform you of the details of your father's will." He opened his satchel, shuffling through leaflets of paper until he came to the one he wanted. "Mr. Warren has stipulated ownership of the Warren land belongs to you... and a third party, jointly."
Eyes wide, Lilly sprang up in her rocker. "Who is this third party?"
"His name is Ricardo Benigno, and he is the captain of a shipping vessel. As I understand it, he is also the son of your father's good friend and business partner, Diego."
Her memories of the elder Benigno were vague at best. She could recall him a few times as a child when her father would come back from a shipping expedition. But she had no recollection of meeting this Ricardo person. "Pa expected me to share the land with a complete stranger?"
Mr. Peters nodded. "That is what his will demands, I'm afraid."
Good Lord. She had no idea what to think. Her pa probably thought this was the best way to ensure her comfort and safety, but knowing that did nothing to relieve her apprehension. He'd raised her to take care of her own needs, and find her own way in this world. How could he expect her to meekly go into an arranged marriage? Her limited experience with men left her feeling very anxious about partnering with a strange fellow, a foreigner no less.
The pounding of hoof beats jarred her back to reality. Prudence stood, pointing out toward the fields. With a sly look on her face, she announced, "Looks as if someone else is coming to call on you, Lilly."
A black stallion advanced across Lilly’s land at a gallop. As the beast neared the house, the rider pulled back on the reigns. His Spanish commands to the animal echoed in the silence.
Mouth aloft, Lilly stared at the handsome man seated on the majestic beast. Initially, she wondered whether rider or mount was more magnificent. As she took in the man's golden face, holding full lips and a pair of black eyes sparkling with mischief, she knew the answer to that riddle.
Long waves of shiny black hair grazed his well-muscled shoulders, bulging beneath a white, fancy collared shirt. His thick legs were encased in form fitting black riding pants capped with low heeled black leather boots.
"Hola." He slipped from the horse's back with an air of grace and confidence. He ascended the steps and knelt before Prudence. "I am Captain Ricardo Benigno, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Señorita."
Intrigued? I sure hope so. The plan is for this to be the first in a series of stories about the women of Ridgeway, a fictional mixed California race settlement I've created.
I hope you've enjoyed the excerpt, and I appreciate your support from the very bottom of my lil' ol' heart.
Until Next Time,