Set in 1795, a year since Lord Roland Stratton left Cornwall for France to undertake a secret mission for the British government.
When her father is felled by a stroke brought on by desperate financial problems, Melissa Tregonning has to try to keep the family boatyard running and pay off his debts. Determined to protect his reputation, she must keep his plight and her efforts a secret, even from her family.
She is helped by a mysterious stranger discovered living in woods on her father's land. But who is he? Why does he seek solitude? And what – or who – caused his terrible wounds?
Attraction neither dare acknowledge deepens into love. But dark secrets threaten to part them forever, until Melissa's courage leads to a revelation that changes everything.
Twice shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, Jane Jackson is the author of 27 books. Sales of her 14 Harlequin titles written as Dana James topped ten million in 23 countries and 19 languages.
Cornish by adoption – her home since she was two – Cornwall's rugged scenery, fascinating history and pioneering inventors have provided the inspiration and setting for her historical adventure romances.
Jane has also taught novel writing and eight of her former students are now successful authors.
Melissa reached across to touch her father’s hand.
Glancing at her, he smiled wearily. ‘I know. Talking about it won’t change anything. And we have much to be thankful for. When I think of Sir John Poldyce …’ He shook his head. ‘To have lost a son in battle is bad enough. But to lose another to a duel … Such a waste. Yet life goes on. We go on.’ He was silent for a moment, then raised his glass in salute. ‘To Adrian.’
‘To Adrian,’ Melissa echoed, glancing at her mother over the rim of her glass.
Emma Tregonning’s hand trembled and she barely wet her lips before setting down her glass. In her half-mourning of lavender glazed cotton worn over a quilted silk petticoat of paler hue, she looked as small and fragile as a bird. Puffed white gauze filled the low neckline of her bodice, hiding a now non-existent bosom. Her world might have collapsed with the loss of her son, but she still clung to standards. Her brown hair, beneath a small lace cap, had been carefully dressed in curls and gathered into a low chignon at the back. But over the last 12 months the silver threads at her temples had broadened into wings.
Aware of this poignant anniversary, Mrs Betts had taken special pains with the meal. Melissa was relieved to see her father eating, though she doubted he was truly aware of what passed his lips.
She felt slightly ashamed of her own robust appetite. But, having that morning ridden out to the farm to collect this quarter’s rent, then later taken a long and furious gallop to try and dispel the inevitable frustration of her aunts’ visit, she had come down to dinner ravenous.
Her mother was finding it harder to cope. As the butler leant down to serve her a portion of salmon in a lemon and Madeira sauce with steamed asparagus tips, Emma raised her hand in refusal.
‘Lobb, please tell Mrs Betts how much I appreciate her efforts, but I find I have little appetite this evening.’
Exactly a year ago, on 1st June 1794, her firstborn son, a second lieutenant on one of His Majesty’s frigates, had been killed in action against the French.
Melissa had been shocked and saddened when the news came. It still grieved her to think she would never see him again. But, ten years her senior, Adrian had gone away to school when she was only three. George, two years younger, had followed his brother to school, then into the navy. Duty had sent them to far-flung corners of the globe, making their visits home rare and brief. So to her, growing up virtually an only child, they were strangers.
Though she loved them, for they were her brothers, her strongest feeling toward them was gratitude. Had they chosen to enter the family business instead of the navy, her life would have been far less fulfilling. She would also have been less of an embarrassment to her mother and the rest of the Tregonning family.
This is a first-class historical novel, showing a Cornish lifestyle of 200 years ago, coupled with a gripping story-line.
'An exciting and memorable story. Jane Jackson never disappoints her readers.'