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Fortune's Horizon                    Secret Harbor

Cover Art: Fortune's Horizon

Fortune’s Horizon
By Andrea K. Stein

Muirgen, 2015, e-book ISBN 978-0-9909566-1-X, $3.99

print ISBN 978-0-9909566-1-7, $11.50


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If nineteen-year-old Lillie Coulbourne were a man, she’d be a soldier in the Confederate Army fighting to protect her beloved South Carolina. Since her father’s a surgeon in the Union Army, he felt it safer for her and her mother to wait out the war in Paris, France. The distance fails to keep her from helping the South. She spends most days decoding messages at the French Finance Ministry and delivering them to a Confederate spymaster. But she wants to do more, which is why she agrees to deliver French documents and gold to an agent in Charleston. Without French aid, the Confederacy won’t be able to continue fighting for much longer. To carry out her mission, she cuts her hair and dresses as a cabin boy because the captain of the blockade runner refuses to allow women on his steamship. But is her disguise good enough to fool the annoying and rude captain, whom she meets at a weekend party in the English countryside?

On leave from the Royal Navy, Captain Jack Roberts has earned his reputation as one of the best blockade runners. He and his men have never been caught, even though they’ve extricated themselves from several dangerous situations. On this latest voyage, he should focus on safely delivering a courier to Charleston, South Carolina. But the impertinent and ill-mannered minx with violet eyes, whom he met at a party, haunts his thoughts and dreams. Once he discovers the true identity of his new cabin boy, he’s determined to foil her plans and get her off his ship. There are just two problems to achieving this. The first is that the more distance he puts between him and Lillie, the more he yearns to have her beside him. The second, and more bothersome, concern is why would the French government entrust such an important and perilous mission to an inexperienced woman?

Wade Devereaux, the brother of Lillie’s best friend, has one goal – profiting from the war. To that end, the conniving double agent sets in motion an elaborate chess game with Lillie as the pawn. He plans to expose her and her family as traitors to the Union, which will enable to him to lay claim to her family’s plantation on Sea Island once the war ends. Whether she survives is of no consequence to him. In fact, it might be better if she doesn’t.

Set during a short span of time in 1863, Fortune’s Horizon is an historical romance intertwined with intrigue, murder, betrayal, and kidnapping. From start to finish, the reader is swept into an intricately woven tapestry populated by characters that capture the imagination and make it difficult for the reader to put down the book. Although Lillie’s and Jack’s adventures are based on the real-life exploits of an American who ran the blockade and lived in Paris and a British blockade runner, the story itself is fiction. Stein’s experience as a sea captain enhances the maritime elements of the novel, and she crafts a well-written, believable adventure where the sizzle comes from the interactions between the hero and heroine, rather than their physical relationship. I thoroughly enjoyed Fortune’s Horizon and look forward to reading other tales from Andrea K. Stein.

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Review Copyrighted ©2015 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: Secret
                      Harbor
Secret Harbor
By Andrea K. Stein

Muirgen, 2015, e-book ISBN 978-0-9909566-2-4, $3.99

print ISBN 978-0-9909566-3-1, $11.50

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After her husband’s death in 1759, Marie Galante learns that his gambling debts put the family plantation at risk. The land once belonged to her father and she hopes one day to turn it over to her children once they return to Guadeloupe. If the sugarcane crop fails to yield sufficient funds, her ruthless neighbor, Antoine Courbet, will seize her plantation. But time grows short and the only workers left to bring in the harvest are older slaves, women, and children. Then a smuggler, who is wanted by the British and the French, demands she accompany him to his outpost on Dominica to heal his men, who are afflicted with an unknown ailment.

Vengeance drives Jean Blanchard. Ever since his parents’ mysterious disappearance many years ago, he has hunted for the man who raped his sister when he was too young to protect her. The debilitating disease killing his men places his smuggling operation in grave jeopardy, and Marie is his last hope. He dislikes threatening her people, but it is the only way to convince her to come with him. Nor does he like hearing what she believes – someone is poisoning his men – but when someone on the island pushes her off a cliff, he must come to terms with the presence of a killer and his growing attraction for Marie.

Antoine Courbet always gets what he wants, regardless of what he must do or who he must harm to achieve his goals. This driving force has made him a wealthy and powerful man on the French islands. When denied, his anger knows no bounds. Marie Gallante’s constant refusal of his marriage proposal and unwillingness to turn over her estate fuels the flame, which ignites when he learns she has gone away with the one man he hates above all others – Jean Blanchard. To show her what it means to cross him, Antoine torches her sugarcane while his minions ferment trouble from within the smuggler’s outpost.

Stein interweaves romance with mystery to create a fast-paced, spellbinding historical novel. Her experience as a sea captain shines through in the maritime aspects of the tale, while her vivid descriptions of exotic locales transport readers to faraway times and places. She populates her story with endearing secondary characters, and treats readers to two love stories in one book. Secret Harbor is the perfect escape from the daily grind of life and renews the age-old belief in happily ever after. Sales of this book benefit the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation.


 
Review Copyrighted ©2016 Cindy Vallar

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