Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Captain's Lady by Louise M. Gouge, A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz

The Captain's Lady

Louise M. Gouge

Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical

Torn between love and duty, American Patriot James Templeton must deny his heart to help win his country's freedom.

Captain James Templeton's orders from General Washington are clear. His target: Lord Bennington, a member of George III's Privy Council. The assignment: find Bennington's war plans. The risks: the future of the East Florida Colony, Jamie's life...and his heart. In spite of the dangers of their hopeless situation, he's fallen in love with Lady Marianne Moberly, Lord Bennington's daughter. Desperate to protect his country, Jamie carries out his orders with a heavy heart. But Marianne's persistence is a challenge he never expected. With love and faith, they must navigate troubled waters to win their future together.

Love Thine Enemy, Love
Inspire Historical, March 2010, ISBN: 13-978-0-373-82832-6
RT 4-Star Review

Chapter One

I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine. Song of Solomon 6:3

March 1776

London, England

Lady Marianne peered down through the peephole into the drawing room while her heart raced. Against her back, the heavy woolen tapestry extolling one of her ancestors' mighty deeds pushed her into the wall of her father's bedchamber, nearly choking her with its ancient dust. Yet she would endure anything to observe the entrance of Papa's guest.

Often in childhood she and her closest brother had evaded the notice of Greyson, Papa's valet, and crept in here to spy on their parents' guests, even catching a glimpse of the Prime Minister once when he deigned to call upon Papa, his trusted friend, the earl of Bennington. But no exalted politician captured Marianne's interest this day.

Her breath caught. Captain James Templeton–Jamie–entered the room with Papa, and warmth filled her heart and flowed up to her cheeks.

The two men spoke with the enthusiasm of friends reunited after many months of separation and eager to share their news. Unable to hear their words, Marianne forced herself to breathe. Jamie, the Loyalist American captain of a merchant ship. How handsome he was, taller than Papa by several inches. His bronzed complexion and light brown hair—now sun-kissed with golden streaks and pulled back in a queue—gave evidence of long exposure to the sun on his voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. In contrast to Papa's blue silk jacket and white satin breeches, Jamie wore a plain brown jacket and black breeches. Yet to Marianne, Jamie, with his stately bearing, appeared as elegant and noble as Papa.

Hidden high above the drawing room, Marianne could not clearly see the blue eyes whose intense gaze had pierced her soul and claimed her heart less than a year ago. Jamie, always honest, always forthright. No wonder Papa took an interest in him, even to the extent of calling him his protégé, despite his utter lack of social position and being an American.
Marianne suspected part of Papa's interest stemmed from wanting to secure the captain's loyalty now that thirteen of England's American colonies had rebelled against the Crown. But last year she had seen that the old dear truly liked Jamie, perhaps even more than his own four sons, a fact that stung both her heart and Mama's. Yet, despite that affection, the earl's patronage might not extend to accepting a merchant for a son-in-law.

How she and Jamie would overcome this prejudice, Marianne did not know. At this moment, all she knew was that her own affection for Jamie was unchanged. Last summer, against the better judgment of both of them, their friendship had intensified through shared interests, from reading Shakespeare and Aristotle to spending hours sailing on the Thames. On a short excursion with Papa aboard Jamie's large sloop, the Fair Winds, Marianne and Jamie had whispered their confessions of undying love. Then Jamie had placed the sweetest, purest kiss on her lips, sealing her heart to his forever. Now her pulse pounded at the sight of him, and her heart felt a settled assurance that no other man could ever win her love.

Wriggling out of her hiding place between tapestry and wall, Marianne brushed dust from her pink day dress and hastened to the door. No doubt Greyson was below stairs, for at this time of day, Papa seldom required his services. Marianne escaped the bedchamber undetected and hurried down the hallway to her own quarters.

"Lady Marianne." Emma emerged from her closet, her hands clasped at her waist. "Why, my lady, your dress." She took hold of Marianne's skirt and shook dust from it, then glanced up.

"Oh, my. Your hair." Her youthful, cherubic face creased with concern.

"Yes, Emma, I am a fright." With a giddy laugh, Marianne brushed past her lady's maid to sit at her dressing table. "Make haste and mend the damage. Oh, dear, look at this." She removed a silvery cobweb from her hair, pulling several long black strands from the upswept coiffeur Emma had created earlier. "Please redo this. And I shall need another of my pink gowns." More than one dandy had told her pink brought a pretty blush to her cheeks, so she wore the color often.

Her appearance repaired and Emma's approving smile received, Marianne clutched her prayer book and hurried from her room. With a deep breath to compose herself, she held her head high and glided down the steps to the front entry hall. A quick glance revealed Jamie and Papa seated before the blazing hearth deep in genial conversation.

Marianne opened the book and mouthed the words of the morning prayer as she entered the room, not looking their way. Last year, Jamie's parting words had encouraged her to greater piety, and she must let him know she had followed his advice.

The rustle of movement caught her attention. She cast a sidelong glance toward the men, who now stood to greet her.

"Why, Papa, I didn't realize—" She stopped before completing the lie, while heat rushed to her cheeks. "Forgive me. I see you have a guest. Will you excuse me?" She could not look at Jamie for fear that her face would reveal her heart.

"Come, daughter, permit me to present my guest." Papa beckoned her with a gentle wave of his bony, wrinkled hand. "You may recall him from last summer. Lady Marianne, Captain James Templeton of the East Florida Colony." His presentation was accompanied by a shallow cough, and he held a lacy linen handkerchief to his lips.

Gripping her emotions, Marianne permitted herself to look at Jamie. His furrowed brow and the firm clenching of his square jaw sent a pang of worry through her. Was he not pleased to see her? Worse still, his gaze did not meet hers. Rather, he seemed to stare just over her head. Surely this was a ploy to divert any suspicion from the mutual affection they had spoken of only in whispers during his last visit.

©Louise M. Gouge 2010 Available at Walmart,,, and, and fine bookstores everywhere.
For more information, contact author at

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A Star Curiously Singing
Kerry Nietz
Book 1 in The DarkTrench Saga.

"Nietz has taken many standard sci-fi tropes...and put his own twist on them. In addition, he's pulled off something I haven't seen in a long time—a truly original way of revealing the truth about God in a world that doesn't know Him. It's highly creative and somewhat inspiring. Highly Recommended."—Christian Fiction Review

2000 AH, Day 36, 1:34:07 a.m.
Chute Sleep, Virtual
I am dreaming, and yet I'm not.
The night is cool, calm—the opposite of the big stew that has just happened. Like the Abduls' god was throwing everything he had down on the city. All flash and action. On the horizon I can still see the bursts of lightning, the power in the moving tempest.
The driftbarges took it the worst, of course. Seventeen of 'em rendered inoperable, according to messages on the stream. Unable to shift their precious cargo from sea to store.
Barges are really land boats—angular hoverlifts on two sides and a large bay in the middle for product storage. The bay is fitted with arms able to lift the product, stack it. They're built tough because they have to be. Anything that travels the streets has to be tough.
I am many stories above the streets. Seated in my personal transport on the strings—the cables that crisscross the upper levels—I scan the cityscape ahead. The streets are the reason for these too. Downriders travel the strings. Shiny, sleek, and compact, they carry people like me, and our glorious masters, to places we need to be. Without complication.
Complication is always waiting for me to arrive. Like the barges.
"Your presence is needed there immediately!" my master's voice says just now in my head.
That will take some explanation, I know. Don't worry, freehead, we'll get to that.
As my downer nears the stockyard, I see the mess the storm has made. To the east—my right—is the great river. A waterway snaking endlessly from north to south. To the west is another sort of river, but this one isn't moving. A long line of dead barges, loaded with valuable supplies. A clogged roadway. Ahead of them, maybe a kilometer away, I can just see the receding taillights of the last barge that is functioning. A lumbering automated giant, able to unload itself while Abduls sleep. Useful equipment, when it works.
The yard is still dark. No one has gotten the lights back on yet? Odd, since I'm not the first to arrive. Masters hate stoppage, so everyone who owns a stalled driftbarge has awakened his personal DR and sent them out here. Soon my downrider will touch down and I'll join them. There are nearly a dozen debuggers here already. I can sense every one of them in the stream.
I'm implanted, you see. Got a metal teardrop in my head. Keeps me connected to the information stream, helps me do my job. It does other things too. Things not as helpful. For me, anyway.
The work lights flicker on then, illuminating the yard below and the red downrider pylon ahead. Ten downers are nestled at the landing, though only one on the same string as mine. That's good, because deboarding gets a little shaky the further you are from the pylon, and I'm not a fan of shaky. I'd live at street level if I could. My downer stops, the transparent canopy slides back, and I step out. Reach back for my supply bag...
"Are you there yet, Sandfly?" my master asks, speaking straight to the implant again. He's not as anxious as he may seem, though. Not really. He just plays the part for appearances' sake. If he were actually upset he would've tweaked my head.
I respond in the affirmative, tell him I'll update him when I can. He goes away then, promising to leave me to my work. He probably will, probably sleep the whole night away.
I take another look at the yard. I see at least three bald heads already scaling barges. For some reason these three have picked barges near the end of the line, instead of near the front—those that will need to leave first. Low-level debuggers, I think. Have to be.
Or fixing only what they're responsible for and leaving. Just as likely.
I stream to my nano-enhanced jumpsuit—standard fashion for a DR—and tell it to take the chill out. The nanos make their presence known, singing back an "OK" and then making with the heat. I smile at their responsiveness, the warmth my chest and limbs now feel. At least something here is working.
The pylon's central ladder is already extended, so I grab hold and slide it to the ground. I make a quick check of the stream. Try to see if I'm familiar with any of the DRs hanging out out there. In my mind the words form, becoming part of my personal—implant-created—waking dream. DanceRate, FrontLot, BerryMast... Most are vague names to me, newer implants with only a single specialty.
Only the moniker HardCandy stands out at me. I know her by stream rep. She's unique, unusual. Better than most, they say. And on top of that—female. Almost unheard of in our world. Abbys, I mean "Abduls," like to keep females mostly for themselves. One with a shaved head must be truly remarkable.
Or real ugly.
To be social, I send out a quick "Hello" to anyone who cares to listen. I approach the mess, reaching the shadow of the nearest barge. This model is immense—maybe three times my height and thirty large steps long. Like all barges, its predominant color is grey, with only a burst of color—a logo or stylized script somewhere—to indicate its owner.
I get a handful of clipped acknowledgements in the stream. No real friends here. I can see bodies in motion on the ground too, though. Bald heads in jumpsuits climbing, running, pawing through their bags.
"Sandfly?" someone says then, aloud. A lanky youngster emerges, formerly hidden behind a barge to my right. He's barely half my age, and, since I'm only twenty-five, that's saying a lot.
"Yes?" I say.
"TreArc property, right?" The kid looks nervous, like this is his first big outage. The first time his master pricked his brain awake.
Kerry Nietz is a refugee of the software industry. He spent more than a decade of his life flipping bits—first as one of the principal developers of the database product FoxPro for the now mythical Fox Software, and then as one of Bill Gates's minions at Microsoft. He is a husband, a father, a technophile and a movie buff. He has one previously published book, a memoir entitled "FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software." "A Star Curiously Singing" is his first novel. You're invited to visit his website at or join his fan group on Facebook. Marcher Lord Press is the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. Find "A Star Curiously Singing" and all the rest of the MLP novels at All Marcher Lord Press novels can also be purchased through Amazon and are available in print and several e-book formats such as Kindle, Nook, and the Sony e-book reader.
A Star Curiously Singing ©2009 by Kerry Nietz. Do not reproduce without permission

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