The Romance Review The Romance Review

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Captain Henry Guffald is no ordinary sea captain. A member of Nelson’s Tea, he’s been ordered to rescue a comrade captured in Spain. The rescue is Henry’s last chance to prove his loyalty to Admiral Nelson. Not so easy a task when the job entails joining forces with a female pirate.

Lady Adele Seaton would no sooner give up the call to rove than marry, contrary to her father’s wishes. When news arrives that her brother has been captured in Spain, Adele quickly develops a plan to rescue him and sets sail to intercept the first royal navy ship she encounters. A brilliant tactician, she doesn’t count on meeting her match in a navy captain bound and determined to outwit her at every turn. Can a pirate be tamed?


“Captain! Captain!”

Henry spun on his heel at the frantic sound of his first mate’s voice. Lieutenant Lucas Winters rushed toward him, sword drawn, his hat askew, eyebrows fretfully knit together, his mouth set in a scowl. It was the same expression the man had worn when he’d forewarned the Dragon was being boarded by pirates. What the deuce was happening now?

Hair rose on the back of Henry’s neck. “Mr. Winters, what has you in such a state?”

Winters’ face turned ashen, and his eyes lit with feral purpose. “There’s a problem below, sir.”

“What kind of problem?” Dreading the answer, Henry drew his own sword.

“We’ve a breach, sir. Several of the prisoners have escaped.”

“Escaped?” he bellowed. His blood began to boil. “Out of an iron cage? How is that possible?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“I gave strict orders the prisoners were not to be left unguarded.”

Enraged by the incompetence of his men, Henry followed Winters down the gangway to the next deck, hurrying as fast as his laborious gait allowed. Damn the useless appendage!

“Where are the guards?” His gaze traveled the length of the deck, finding it empty. “When I said not to let those pirates out of your sight, I meant it.”

“Your orders were carried out to the letter, sir. Still, this development—”

“What development?” he spat.

“This one.”

This strange, new voice knotted Henry’s gut. He stiffened.

Winters looked to Henry’s right. Taking his lead, Henry turned with his sword drawn, prepared for whatever fight would soon befall him. He heard a ping of clanging steel and felt a powerful weight thrust against his sword. He shifted back then stepped forward, lunging as the two blades chinked together, slicing the distance between captain and foe, creating sparks that fired, faded, and then sparked anew.

His opponent moved with lithe grace, whipping his cloak about him and then retreated just as Henry had gotten another foothold. Lurching forward, Henry challenged each lunge more aggressively than the last, taking note of his adversary’s skill. Tall and lean, the masked pirate thrust a gleaming weapon close to Henry’s shoulder then took a step near his side as he skirted around a wooden cask.

Sidestepping another advance, Henry moved forward, dipping low, using his good leg to support his retaliation. Yet again, his efforts were challenged with an agility that surprised him. Changing tactic, he spun on his good heel and brought his sword down in a thunderous swoop, carving wood as his quick-footed enemy dodged his thrusts with uncanny agility.

There was an odd familiarity about the way his opponent fought, a methodic grace he’d practiced with only one other. But that was impossible because that man was in Spain, waiting on the ransom Henry still had to acquire. Yet, the swift turn of his attacker’s wrist, the flexible maneuver of the arm, and the parry behind an arched back illustrated Garrick Seaton’s trademark thrust.

Another well-aimed lob ricocheted off of Henry’s blade, redirecting his thoughts, sparking the twilight with brilliant light. Alarmed, Henry doubled back, retreating toward the Dragon’s rails. His enemy marched toward him. Lightning flashed, momentarily blinding them. Henry took advantage, quickly taking the upper hand, settling his blade against his opponent’s breast bones.

“Tell your men to stand down.”

The pirate moved toward him, baiting him to slide the blade home. Was defeat so horrible a cost that death was a better option? Henry drew back his sword slightly so as not to draw blood. He didn’t want to kill the man, only glean what he could about the Black Belle, who captained it, and where it hailed from. Though he already suspected the truth. He also wanted to know how the vermin had escaped his brig.

His attacker moved menacingly forward again.

“Stay where you are, or I will be forced to drop you where you stand.”

“Surrender is not an option, Captain.”