King’s Ransom ($14.95, 234 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-367-9) is a reprint of an early historical romance by bestselling author Mary Daheim. Originally published in 1990, King’s Ransom opens in the year 1658, when Oliver Cromwell presided over England’s Commonwealth. A high-born Puritan girl falls for a dashing highwayman whose booty is helping to fund the restoration of the Stuarts to the throne of England.
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“Mary Daheim’s novels are a rare treat for the lovers of deeply detailed, highly historical love stories that bring history to vibrant life.”
Camel Press has reprinted several of Mary’s other early historical romances: Reunion (formerly Pride’s Captive), The Royal Mile (Love’s Pirate), Gosford’s Daughter (Passion’s Triumph), and Destiny’s Dawn. The remaining titles, Improbable Eden and Gypsy Baron, will be released before the end of 2016.
As a ten-year-old girl, Honor Dale watched in horror as her Puritan parents were slaughtered by Royalists. Now nineteen, she is the ward of her uncle, Oliver Cromwell, who rules England as Protector of the Commonwealth. En route to visit her powerful uncle, Honor loses her family’s jewels to the notorious Captain Hood, who steals to fund Charles Stuart’s restoration to the throne. She despises the highwayman’s cause but can’t help responding to his ardent kiss.
Despite the loss of her inheritance, all goes well for Honor under her uncle’s Protectorate, including her betrothal to handsome Sir Tyler Vail. But after Cromwell’s death, the Protectorate founders in the inept hands of his son. Worse yet for Honor, she’s jilted by her fiancé and has become a ward of the sanctimonious Gouges at their towering ivy-covered manor house, Creepers. Honor bridles at their oppressive lifestyle, especially after again crossing paths with Captain Hood. It dawns on her that his vendetta against the Puritans is every bit as justified as hers against the Royalists. What’s more, her spirited nature is far better suited to the dashing highwayman than the bovine Uriah Gouge, who is being foisted upon her as a husband.
But what is Captain Hood’s true nature? Is he a charming, adventurous rake or a desperate nobleman fired by idealism? The Protectorate is toppling and the Royalists are prepared to do battle to put Charles Stuart on the throne. Honor can trust her heart to an outlaw lover, but she can’t prevent him from risking his life for the Royalist cause.
Says the author, “By my fifth historical romance, I felt I was in a 1500s rut. I needed to expand my writing horizons and my knowledge of history. I took the logical step and set what would become King’s Ransom in the middle of the seventeenth century. Of course that meant doing research. Lots of research, because I can’t write a book about a time or a place without feeling as if I’d be at home in that setting and that era. Does that sound fanciful? Maybe. But it works for me. I hope it works for you, too, when you meet Puritan Honor Dale and Royalist Captain Hood. They find themselves at odds when it comes to politics, but like-minded when it comes to love. That’s another thing I learned about the seventeenth century: The heart knows no time or place. And though I don’t know about you, I find that very reassuring.”
Mary Richardson Daheim, a Seattle native, began her publishing career with the first of seven historical romances before switching to mysteries in 1991. Since then she has published at least 55 books. Click here to find her on the Web.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
“I intend to ask many things of you,” he said, the rugged face hovering over hers. “For now I beg but two. Were you Yorkshire born and bred?”
The question was so unexpected that Honor was caught off guard. “Yes,” she answered simply. “Near Ingleton. But,” she went on bitterly, “the house no longer stands.”
Hood’s grip tightened in her hair, causing her to wince. His features tensed and his skin darkened. “Irony,” he whispered bitterly, “all is not vanity but irony.”
She wanted to ask what he meant, but she held back. For some strange, elusive reason, she feared his answer. Or maybe it was that she knew he had some terrible tale to tell that would arouse her sympathy and blunt her determination to best him in the matter of her dowry. To her relief, he seemed to have regained his aplomb, though he still had his hand entwined in her hair. “The second favor should cause us both less pain,” he said, his mouth twisted into the hint of a smile.
She had forgotten about the other request and started to inquire as to what it might be when his kiss stole words—and breath—away. This was not like Tyler Vail’s bloodless, pristine kisses but a slow, measured assault on her senses that made Honor dizzy. She felt his other arm go round her, pressing her against his chest, while the hand that had stroked her hair now caressed the nape of her neck.
The proper thing to do, of course, was to struggle, to rain blows upon this importunate fraud, to kick and fight and surely to scream. But Captain Hood seemed to render her will useless. Instead of fending him off, she discovered that her arms had slipped around him, that her mouth was yielding to his probing tongue, that she was utterly helpless in his embrace. The revelation should have been humiliating, but was instead delicious.
He drew away, just far enough to see her face, the shimmering dark eyes under gold-tipped lashes, the flush across her cheekbones, the inviting mouth still slightly open.
“I want you,” he said simply in that low voice, which wasn’t quite as calm as usual. “But not now, not until you’re well.” His hand strayed to the opening of her collar, but at last Honor jerked back. Her brain was in chaos. She needed time to order her thoughts. The man was ten times as bold as he had any right to be.
Yet, she thought, as away from his touch the excitement in her blood cooled, his very conceit should play nicely into her hands. “You take advantage of my helplessness,” she accused him, but there was no bite in the words. “You also play upon my generous nature. Any other maid would have raised an alarm.”
“No, not really.” He spoke seriously but then broke into an engaging smile. “Most maids are very kindhearted. I always marvel at their bountiful natures.”
Honor’s eyes sparked and she had to look away; Captain Hood was on the brink of going too far. “You mock me, sir. You would toy with my affections yet make light of my feelings.” Having gotten her temper under control, she risked gazing at him head-on. “For shame, Captain! To think I dared defend you!”