My Fair Regency, including The Aeronaut's Heart, an Alt-History Romance Adventure in the Regent's Devices Universe
October 12 (ISBN 9781944477172, More Than Words Press)
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Fall in love through the year
Celebrate Regency romance all year with six novellas set during festivals throughout the four seasons! Fans of sweet romance will enjoy stories from May Day to Twelfth Night, featuring some of your favorite tropes-enemies-to-lovers, second-chance romance, forbidden love, friends-to-lovers, and more! The collection includes:
May Day Mayhem by Ann Chaney-Intrigue, death, and love come to Horsham-Upon-the-Thames as the small English village anticipates their May Day celebration. Home Office agents the Duke of Doncaster and governess Helen Stokes join forces to uncover a missing list of French agents before an enemy discovers it. Mired in May Day preparations while chasing hoodlums and gentry, Helen and Doncaster try to fight their mutual attraction in a romantic farce worthy of Covent Garden.
My Favorite Mistake by Courtney McCaskill-Sixteen years ago, lady's maid Fanny Price was swept off her feet by a handsome horse trainer named Nick Cradduck. The very next day, he shattered her heart. But now, at the Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, who should Fanny encounter but the man she crossed all of England to avoid… A second-chance love story featuring Fanny, the scene-stealing lady's maid from How to Train Your Viscount!
His Damsel by Charlotte Russell-During her annual visit to Bartholomew Fair, Eliza Cranstoun is mistaken for a lady in distress when in fact she was attempting to avenge the honor of her cousin. Now, she insists Anthony Ripley, her savior, help her bring down a lordly scoundrel. Amidst the scheming however, the independent Eliza and the confirmed bachelor Anthony, discover that love finds even those who choose not to seek it.
When I Fall In Love by Cora Lee-The Harvest Festival is a chance for reunions and love, but perhaps not for childhood friends Sylvie Devereaux and Kit Mathison. When Kit returns to renovate the home he inherited, Sylvie's financial burdens prompt Kit to propose a marriage of convenience. But Sylvie has always wanted to marry for love, and they don't love each other…do they?
Remember by Shannon Donnelly-Over the years, Beatrice Foxton keeps meeting up with Andrew Cliffs on Guy Fawkes Night, but these two friends are separated by her family's expectations for her to marry a well-born lord and his family's background in trade. And, yet, they can't stay away from each other...
The Aeronaut's Heart by Regina Scott-Josephine Aventure was on her way to earning a place in England's Aeronautical Corps until the dashing smuggler she'd once loved showed up. Etienne Delaguard risked much to help England win the war against France. Over a Twelfth Night masquerade, can a gentleman of the sea win the heart of a lady of the air?
4.5 STARS TOTAL! For The Aeronaut's Heart: "This story showcases smart and adventurous ladies and gentlemen who fight for what they believe in during one of History's most volatile times. Strong characters, a bit of history, and romance blend together perfectly. What more could I possibly ask for?" -- Huntress Reviews
"Scott deftly weaves a story that entertains and transports the reader to another world while giving us characters to root for." -- Lynda's Reviews
"Her characters are written so deeply that I feel like I'm sitting across from them at the dinner table!" -- Author Susan Marlene
"The Aeronauts Heart was fantastic. I don't know how, but within pages, I was emotionally invested in these characters and couldn't put my Kindle down!" -- Hott Book Reviews
Off the Coast of England, Near Portsmouth, Christmas Day, 1819
What was she to do after defeating Napoleon?
Josephine Aventure debated the issue as she watched the gauges on His Majesty's Air Ship Royal Eagle. Pressure in the great gas bags overhead was level. Wind was from the southwest, only to be expected this time of night. Altitude varied within tolerances, high enough that she could not catch the briny scent of the sea but only feel the cool, crisp air aloft. Speed was steady, which was remarkably good, considering they were covering the most difficult part of the voyage.
Going from England to France-easy, as demonstrated by the historic flight of 1785. Going from France to England, even in the most sophisticated air ship ever assembled-tricky, especially when the decks were covered with wounded from the Battle of Amiens.
Even now, marines moved among them, offering water, a word of encouragement. The higher-pitched voice of her younger sister, Amélie, was a counterpoint to the deeper male voices as she chatted with the nearest soldier from her place at the vanes. The moonlight turned her hair more silver than blond. If Josie hadn't been standing by the lamp, it would have done the same to her hair, making her look decades older than her nineteen years.
"What will you do now?" she asked the man at the helm.
Her friend Marcel Delaguard tugged the wheel to the left to keep the ship on a heading toward the coast. With his thick black curls partially confined in a dusky red scarf, he looked more like the Moorish pirate some had called him and his brother than the responsible aeronaut that he was.
"I don't know," he admitted, gaze trained out over the waters of the Channel, glistening in the moonlight. "A lot will depend on whether Lord St. Ives can keep his promise about seeing me and Etienne pardoned."
A shiver went through her, but then it often did when in the presence of Etienne Delaguard, Marcel's older brother and captain of the sloop Marguerite. What lady would not shiver in delight at the sight of so fine a man? Tall, well formed, decked out in a long coat and feathered cocked hat, his smile proclaiming he could do anything he set his mind to. Was she now to shiver even at the mention of his name? That was not good. She and Etienne were like air and water, close, but never truly united. Even in more liberal-minded France, a lady aeronaut should not consort with a gentleman smuggler.
"Lord St. Ives is an honorable man," she allowed, frowning as the dial indicating the direction of the wind began to tremble, as if it too felt the pull of Etienne's personality. "If he says he will convince the Prince Regent to pardon you for smuggling, he will. The wind is changing. West now. We must be nearing Portsmouth."
She moved away from her spot to peer out over the bow. The horizon glimmered with light like a strand of diamonds on velvet. "Two miles to go."
"Vanes at forty-five down," Marcel called to Amélie and the marine who had manned the other copper vanes that extended midships at either side of the gondola.
"Vanes at forty-five down, aye," they chorused.
Marcel's smile reminded her even more forcefully of his brother. "You would think we had been doing this for years instead of the last two days."
"We have been doing this for years," Josie reminded him, returning to her gauges. "Just in our dreams."
Yet those dreams had become reality so suddenly she still found it difficult to believe. She, Amélie, and Marcel had been trained at l'Ecole des Aeronauts in France, but the ambitions of Napoleon and the evil machinations among the French Aeronautical Corps had forced them to flee before graduating. With the help of friends, they had sought refuge with Marcel's brother. They had been just outside Portsmouth harbor, aboard Etienne's ship, when they had received word they were urgently needed to aid England.
A French spy had taken command of one of the newly christened British air ships, with the Prince Regent on board, and was kidnapping him. The British hadn't trained enough aeronauts yet to fly the remaining fleet in pursuit. But Lord St. Ives and their friend, Celeste Blanchard, had known of their capabilities, and they had been dragooned into service, still wearing the serviceable blue wool cloaks they had adopted at sea.
And so they had followed the stolen air ship to France; defeated the French army with the help of the armies and air ships of Flanders, the Karlsruhe Confederacy, and Russia; and now were returning to England, victorious. Napoleon would threaten the world no more. It should be cause for celebration. After decades at war, England and France were at peace.
"What of you?" Marcel murmured as she studied the gauges. "What will you do now, Josie?"
She shook her head. "I don't know either. I attended the finest school for aeronauts the world has ever seen. I was trained by the most talented lady aeronaut who ever flew. I have yearned to follow in her path since I was a child. But I do not know whether France will be allowed to field air ships now that she has been defeated. And will the English allow a Frenchwoman aboard her air ships?"
"You are in the air now," he pointed out. "After what we accomplished, your skills cannot be denied."
If only she could be certain of that. She straightened. "Perhaps. But it is time to descend."
"Time to descend, aye," Marcel agreed, and even though she knew he realized she meant the air ship, she thought he also understood the phrase might apply to their options for the future too.
The call from deck sent every gaze on Marguerite skyward. Against the black of night, points of light converged on Portsmouth, as if the stars had aligned to come to earth.
Etienne Delaguard strode across the deck, grabbed a line, and pulled himself up on the gunwale to lean out. The waves brushing the hull of the sloop sent a splash of spray against his boots.
"Six, by my count," he shouted for the benefit of his men. "They are all coming home."
"Unless we are invading," Laut suggested behind him.
Etienne released the thick rope and jumped onto the deck to fix his newest crewman with a scowl. Laut was young, far younger than Etienne's four and twenty years, and had yet to realize how little he knew of the world or his place in it. Even six months serving as cabin boy hadn't taught him to keep his opinions to himself or how to keep his brown hair from blowing in the wind. Etienne had been just like him when he'd started smuggling at sixteen.
"France is not invading," he told the four of them, from Watier, his navigator, to Antin, his surgeon and cook. "France has nothing like these air ships. Very likely, France has lost the battle and will lose more in the coming days. If you want any hope for a future, ally yourself with England."
Basile, his burley, black-bearded engineer and gunner, snorted and turned away. The others nodded. Whatever else they thought at the moment, he was their captain. They would abide by his orders. For now.
He turned to his navigator. "I'm going ashore."
Watier's eyes bulged farther than usual, which was saying a lot. The bandy-legged fellow resembled nothing so much as a plump frog.
"Pardonnez-moi, Capitaine," he said in his deep voice. "That may not be wise. The revenue men will be looking for you."
"The English have better things to do tonight than to search for a French captain who betrayed his country to rescue them." He glanced up at the sky again. Please, God, let her be safe.
Immediately he chided himself. If he prayed, it should be for his brother, not the lovely blond aeronaut who had made his ship her home for the last few months. He knew the gulf that lay between them. That hadn't stopped him from enjoying her company.
Or wishing for more.
And so, a short while later, he leaned back in the jolly boat as his men sent the craft across the water, threading their way past ships both bigger and heavier than their own, anchored just outside the harbor below the reach of the fort battery. No one looked out to watch them slip past. His men knew how to turn the sturdy oars to dip silently. They had worked too hard for too many years to do otherwise, moving illicit cargo between Kent and Calais. They understood the penalty for detection.
If anyone spotted them, they would likely not realize his men should be considered heroes tonight, as surely as the aeronauts returning to port. They had maneuvered Marguerite to block the sous-marins, Napoleon's deadly underwater beasts, which had been attempting to rise and fire on the air ships crossing the Channel. He and his men had risked their lives to protect what was important to England. Would England put itself at risk for them? He nearly snorted like Basile but managed to keep it inside.
They crossed the harbor mouth to ground the boat into the sand at the base of Governor's Green, to the southeast of the naval yard. Above, air ships descended slowly, like dowagers spreading their skirts to crouch on the winter grass. Already, sailors and marines had come running, along with a phalanx of Royal Guards in their scarlet and black. The Prince Regent must be home safe. Was she?
Etienne climbed onto the shore, pulse quickening despite the chill of the night. "Do not wait," he ordered. "If I haven't found a way back to the ship by noon tomorrow, come in search of me."
Watier's bulbous nose twitched, as if the idea of staying in the port town stank as badly as the bilge-water in Marguerite's hull, but he murmured a "Oui, Capitaine," and his men pushed off again.
Etienne mounted the stone steps onto the green that ran along the waterway. Lanterns blazed now, with torches flickering here and there, lighting the tall golden stones of Domus Dei, the garrison church. He made out at least thirty heads. He did not like his odds of getting closer.
And then a cry went up, echoed by a dozen voices. He stiffened, ready to bolt.
Marines clapped each other on the shoulder, sailors threw their hats into the air. Others went running, shouts bouncing off the stone buildings.
"The war is over! We beat the French!"
Etienne rocked back on his heels as more voices took up the call. Candles flickered to life inside homes and hotels across the way. Footsteps thundered from all directions, and bells began to ring from every steeple.
"Mon Dieu," Etienne murmured. "Merci pour votre sauvetage. We are saved because of You."
"You are French."
The voice sounded more impressed than accusatory, but Etienne knew better than to assume the speaker was a friend. He turned, hand poised over the hilt of the dagger at his belt. A shadow waited just beyond the reach of moonlight, as if drawing darkness to itself.
"You are mistaken," he said, exchanging his native French accent for a British one, polished from long use. "What Frenchman would dare show his face in the Navy's home of Portsmouth?"
"One hoping to serve the Emperor still." The darkness swirled, and someone, likely a man, stepped out, swathed in a black cloak. The hood dipped over his forehead, and what Etienne could see of his face was covered in a black leather mask. He was of medium height, and his build was impossible to guess. Small wonder he was so difficult to separate from the night.
"If you have a ship, I can make your trip home worth the effort," he suggested.
Tempting. He had always been one to seize opportunities when they were offered. But he wasn't about to admit he had previously accepted the Emperor's gold for information. And he had no reason to trust a stranger.
"I am home," Etienne told him. "I fear I cannot help you."
Footsteps thudded toward them. The man melted back into the shadows as another pelted for the town from the green. Etienne caught the new fellow's arm as he started past, others at his heels.
"What news?" Etienne demanded. "Did the aeronauts return safely?"
"The air ships did," the fellow managed between pants. "There were wounded aboard. But we won!"
Etienne let him go with a nod, the words a punch to his gut. Wounded. Please, God, not Josie, Amélie, or Marcel.
And wasn't the good Lord laughing now, with him uttering no less than three prayers when he hadn't felt worthy of managing one in years? The God his parents had worshipped did not look kindly on smugglers. Surely He had a softer spot for the aeronauts who flew so much closer to His realm.
He strode onto the green, long coat flapping, more determined than ever to learn the details of what had happened in France. He had been so proud of his younger brother for winning a place at l'Ecole des Aeronauts in Paris, France's preeminent school for aeronauts. But the dangers of Marcel's trade were many, and, unlike a fall from a horse in battle or a tumble overboard while at sea, a fall from an air ship was always fatal.
More people were pouring out onto the green, slapping each other on the back, clapping their hands. He let the tide carry him along, keeping an eye out for constables and revenue men, either of which would have been delighted to take him captive, despite his assurances to his crew.
Tugging his cocked hat lower on his forehead, he bobbed along, hope and dread tangled like ropes in his chest.
The crowd lapped against a line of red-coated guards, a bulwark protecting the air ships and crew beyond. Marines and sailors were ferrying the wounded by pallet from the hovering ships to waiting wagons. He could not make out faces. He pressed closer.
A man stepped away from the ships, guard on either side, their pikes at the ready. He did not look particularly impressive, but a hush fell, and those at the front began going down on one knee. Etienne did likewise.
"Rise, our loyal subjects," he called, and Etienne realized this must be the Prince Regent who had been kidnapped. He did not look much like his caricatures in either the English or the French papers. His girth was no more than middling, and he peered at the crowd through glasses perched on his aristocratic nose.
"We have much cause to rejoice," he told them all. "Today, we defeated the greatest tyrant the world has ever known, with not one of our air ships or valiant aeronauts lost save the man who was a traitor to our noble cause."
A traitor? Then it could not be Marcel. The bands around his chest loosened as cries rose on all sides.
"God save the King!"
The Prince Regent held up his hands, and the crowd quieted again. "Our soldiers and marines were not as fortunate. Many died and will be mourned. Others were gravely wounded. Some are home now, and others will follow by sea. I ask that you give them every support and courtesy. Join me in the morning for a service of thanksgiving."
More shouts of acclaim sounded as he lowered his hands. His guards accompanied him away from the crowd.
"When will the aeronauts be released?" Etienne asked the closest soldier, who stood impassive, as if the milling townsfolk were no more than a flock of pigeons pecking grain around his feet.
"They must attend to their duties," he supplied with a frown in Etienne's direction.
Duties? Josie, Amélie, and Marcel had no duties. They had fled France after incurring Napoleon's wrath and had been living aboard his ship for the last few months. Marcel had convinced him to sail into the dragon's maw of Portsmouth so his brother could warn their friend, Celeste Blanchard, about the possibility of invasion.
They hadn't left the area before Marcel and the others had been conscripted to sail the air fleet to rescue the Prince Regent. Why would the British insist on keeping them at the helm now with peace in the offing? They weren't even citizens!
Someone jostled him, and he turned to find a slight older man standing at his side, head tilted and eyes inquisitive.
"Captain Etienne Delaguard of Marguerite?" he wheezed.
Around him, heads turned, and frowns appeared.
"Captain?" Etienne forced a laugh, pulse starting to pound. "I could only wish for my own ship. Then I might have better served the king today."
Some of the frowns eased, but other men shoved closer.
"That's a French accent," one claimed. "I heard one afore."
"I seen you down on the shore," another threw in with a sharp nudge in Etienne's side. "Giving orders like a captain."
Etienne took a step away, but he bumped into other bodies. "You've mistaken your man. My loyalty is to the king and his Prince Regent."
"Captain Delaguard!" His name swooped across the green like an albatross aiming for the deck. A few minutes ago, he would have given anything to hear her call him. Now her sweet voice spelled his doom.
He caught sight of his brother, Josie, and her sister hurrying his way before the crowd closed in.