Welcome to the virtual blog tour of GEORGANA’S SECRET, Arlem Hawks’ highly acclaimed debut historical romance novel, which starts today at our blog and will close on February 14. Over forty-five popular blogs specializing in historical romance, inspirational fiction, and Austenesque fiction will join in the celebration of its release with excerpts, spotlights, and reviews of this new Regency-era novel set aboard a Royal Naval ship. Discover more about the book and the other blog tour stops scrolling down and enjoy reading the exclusive excerpt Arlem Hawks has granted us.
ABOUT THE BOOK
A Regency romance on the high seas. Two hearts yearning to find a safe harbor, and possibly, a lasting love.
As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls, and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, "George."
Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty's Royal Navy claiming his full attention. While trying to adjust to a new crew, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain's cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the "boy" under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy's secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent and hides his growing affection for her.
Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic's compassion and care but is convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable husband are quickly slipping away.
Dominic hurried into the coach and set his hat on the seat beside him. He let his head fall back, wondering if his face was burning like the secret he kept.
Before the door closed, Mother poked her head in.
Dominic straightened, hoping she hadn’t seen his relief. “What is it?”
“I nearly forgot. There is something you can do for me. I wish you to make inquiries while on board.”
Interest piqued, he leaned closer. Thank heavens she hadn’t renewed talk of promotion and Town. “What sort of inquiries?”
“I knew Captain Woodall’s wife when she was a girl,” his mother said, lowering her voice. “Her family lived very near mine before I married. She died a few years ago, leaving behind a daughter. I have thought of that little girl often, but none of my London acquaintances have heard of her in quite some time. They say she vanished soon after her mother’s death, and no one has seen her since, though she should be in Society by now.”
How odd. Families usually pushed their daughters into Society’s brazen lights, not hid them. “Did the captain send her to a school?” That was a reasonable explanation. “Or to kin, perhaps?”
His mother shook her head. “Her only relation is the captain’s mother, who still lives at his house near London.”
Dominic’s eyes narrowed. Very strange, indeed.
“I thought, while under his command, you might ask about the girl.” She wrung her hands. “Not in a forward manner, of course. I wouldn’t want to jeopardize your relationship with the captain. But surely someone on that ship knows something.”
He covered her hands with his. “I will ask, and I will write as soon as I can.” Would she consider inviting the Woodall girl to stay? It would be nice for his mother to have a companion while he was away, and he didn’t think it would take much convincing, seeing as the girl had little family to speak of.
As the carriage pulled away, he pressed his forehead against the window, watching as his mother vigorously waved a handkerchief from the steps of her little house. His little house, legally, but he never thought of it that way. She had originally let the house on her meager annuity from his father’s will, and Dominic had bought it a few years ago with prize money accrued from conquests at sea. He wished he could give her more than a few bedrooms and a cramped living area, but even saving so much of his earnings, he couldn’t afford better. That was why, when the promotion had come, he’d turned it down.
Dominic kneaded his temples, trying to push down his lingering doubts about his refusal. He had made the right decision. A working lieutenant’s salary was better than the half pay a post-captain received while waiting for a ship. And with so many new captains hoping for a command, he did not know when he’d be back at sea. Better to stay a lieutenant and keep his mother in that tiny home than deplete his funds.
Dominic breathed deeply, anxious to leave behind the stale air of the carriage in favor of the sharp brine of an ocean breeze. Just the thought stirred his heart, but his joy was doused by that ever-present tinge of regret.
He insisted to himself that he had turned down the promotion for his mother, which was true. Yet a small part of him whispered that wasn’t the whole truth.
Dominic scooted to the opposite side of the coach to look out the other window. The docks grew closer, and beyond them, the vast ocean. Tiny specks of birds circled the stately masts that rose above the city. He could almost hear the gulls calling as they wove through the maze of ropes. Bound-up sails clung to the yards, begging for the captain’s cry to unfurl so they could catch the wind.
This was why he could never marry. His heart belonged to the sea. He both feared and hoped it always would. Waiting for a position as captain would keep him aground for months. Better to serve another man and keep the freedom of the sea than be his own master in the prison they called land. (Pages 9-11)
"Fans of sweet love stories as well as readers who fondly remember those marvelous old traditional Signet Regencies will quickly succumb to the siren song of Hawk’s expertly crafted novel, which delivers the perfect blend of Jane Austen-smart romance and Patrick O’Brian flavored seafaring adventure. Teen romance readers will cheer on the plucky heroine as she finds the courage to forge her own path in life and love."— Booklist, starred review
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the Western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. With her travels came an interest in history, especially the history of her English heritage. When she isn't writing, Arlem is baking her characters' favorite foods, sewing Regency dresses, learning how to play the tin whistle, and water coloring. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two children. Having previously published four historical romance novellas, Georgana’s Secret is her debut novel.
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