Shannon here: Louise M. Gouge shares a romantic excerpt from her Historical Romance, Love Thine Enemy. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing for a copy of her rereleased title, along with Laurie Kingery’s The Outlaw’s Lady in a two in one anthology. Deadline: July 13th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Louise:
Having written fifteen books for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical imprint, I was saddened when they closed that line. But then they surprised me by rereleasing my first LIH novel this July 2019 in an anthology with Laurie Kingery’s The Outlaw’s Lady, a delightful tale of the Old West.
I have always loved the history of the American Revolution. Imagine those ordinary people standing together to break their colonies away from the tyrannical English king who cared nothing for their hardships. In Love Thine Enemy, I tell a part of history few know about: What was going on in the English colony of East Florida during the Revolution. Here is the first chapter of my story.
Excerpt from Love Thine Enemy by Louise M. Gouge:
St. Johns Settlement, East Florida Colony May 1775
Through the window of her father’s store, Rachel watched the Englishmen ride their handsome steeds up the sandy street of St. Johns Settlement. Their well-cut coats and haughty bearing – as if they owned the world – made their identities unmistakable.
“Make them pass by, Lord,” she whispered, “for surely I’ll not be able to speak a Christian word to them if they come in here.” She glanced over her shoulder at Papa to see if he had heard her, but he was focusing his attention on a newly opened crate of goods.
Rachel turned back to the window. To her dismay, the two young men dismounted right in front of the store. One snapped his fingers at a small servant boy and motioned for him to care for the horses.
Her dismay turned to anger. How did they know the boy could take time to do the task? Did they care that the child might be beaten by his owner if he lingered in town?
“What draws yer scrutiny, daughter?” Papa approached to look out the window. “Aha. Just as I hoped. From the
cut of his clothes, that’s Mr. Moberly, no mistake. Make haste, child. Go behind the counter and set out those fine tins of snuff and the brass buckles. Oh, and the wig powder and whalebone combs. Mayhap these gentlemen have wives who long for such luxuries here in the wilderness.”
The delight in his voice brought back Rachel’s dismay, but she hurried to obey. Until six months ago, Papa had been a man of great dignity, a respected whaler who commanded his own ship. Why should he make obeisance to these wretches? These popinjays?
When the two men entered, the jangling bells on the door grated against her nerves, inciting anger once more. But for Papa’s sake, she would control it.
“What did I tell you, Oliver? Isn’t this superb?” The taller of the two men glanced about the room. “Look at all these wares.”
Rachel noticed the slight lift of his eyebrows when he saw her, but he turned his attention to Papa.
“Mr. Folger, I presume?”
“Aye, milord, I am he. How may I serve ye, sir?”
The young man chuckled. “First of all, I am not ‘milord.’”
“Not yet.” His companion held his nose high, as if something smelled bad. “But soon.”
The taller man shrugged. “Perhaps when the plantation proves as successful as Lord Egmount’s.” He reached out to Papa. “I’m Frederick Moberly, sir, His Majesty’s magistrate for St. Johns Settlement and manager of Bennington Plantation. This is my friend and business associate, Oliver Corwin.”
For the briefest moment, Papa seemed uncertain, but then he gripped the gentleman’s hand and shook it with enthusiasm. “How do ye, my good sirs? I’m pleased to meet ye both.”
“And I’m pleased to see your fine little store ready for business.” Moberly again surveyed the shelves and counters. Again his glance stopped at Rachel.
Papa cleared his throat. “My daughter, Miss Folger.”
Moberly swept off his brimmed hat and bent forward in a bow, revealing black hair pulled back in a long queue. “How do you do, Miss Folger?”
She forced herself to curtsy but did not speak. The very idea, a gentleman giving a shopkeeper’s daughter such honors. No doubt the man was a flatterer. The one named Corwin made no such gesture, but his intense stare brought heat to her face. Rachel could not decide which man would require her to be more vigilant.
Moberly’s gaze lingered on her for another instant before he turned back to Papa. “Your store and the village’s other new ones are what I’ve been hoping for. If St. Johns Settlement is to succeed as a colonial outpost, we must have every convenience to offer our settlers. Tell me, Folger, do you have any concerns about your shipments? With all that nonsense going on in the northern colonies, do you expect any delay in delivery of your goods?”
“Well, sir, I had no difficulty sailing down here from Boston. I expect all those troubles to be behind us soon. The rebels simply haven’t the resources. I’ll wager wiser heads will prevail. I’m from Nantucket, ye see, and we’re loyal to the Crown.”
Corwin snorted, and Moberly frowned at him.
“Ah, yes, Nantucket.” The magistrate appeared interested. “From whence whalers set out to harvest the world’s finest lamp oil. Will you be receiving goods from there?”
“Perhaps some, sir. My own ship will sail to and from London until things are settled.”
“Good, good.” Moberly nodded. “And are you a Quaker, as most Nantucketers are?”
“I was reared in the Society of Friends,” Papa said. “But I don’t mind wearing a brass button or a buckle.”
“We don’t need any dissenters here.” Corwin’s eyes narrowed.
“Now, Oliver, the man said he wasn’t a zealot.” Moberly gave Papa a genial look. “Moderation in all things, would you not agree?”
“Precisely my sentiments, sir.”
Rachel inhaled deeply, determined not to display her feelings. This was not Nantucket, where women spoke their minds. Nor was it Boston, where patriots – both men and women – clamored for separation from England. Until she got the lay of the land here in East Florida Colony, she must not risk harming Papa’s enterprise.
“Miss Folger.” Moberly approached the wide oak counter behind which she stood. “What do you think of our little settlement?”
She saw Papa’s warning look and stifled a curt reply. “I am certain it is everything King George could wish for.” She ventured a direct look and discovered his eyes to be dark gray edged by black lashes. His tanned, clean-shaven cheeks had a youthful yet strong contour. Young, handsome, self-assured. Like the English officers who ordered the shooting of the patriots at Lexington and Concord just over a month ago.
Her reply seemed to please him, for his eyes twinkled, and Rachel’s traitorous pulse beat faster. Belay that, foolish heart. These are not your kind.
Question for Readers: What part of history fascinates you?
About Louise: Louise M. Gouge has been married to David Gouge for over 50 years. They have four grown children and nine grandchildren. Louise attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando, earning a BA in English/Creative Writing, and Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, earning a Master of Liberal Studies degree. Louise’s novel, Ahab’s Bride, Book One of Ahab’s Legacy, (RiverOak Publishing, 2004) was her master’s thesis at Rollins College. Hannah Rose, Book Two of Ahab’s Legacy, was released in 2005, and was the honored with the Inspirational Readers Choice Award.
Louise has published twenty-five novels, fifteen of which were written for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical Line. She has written about the American Revolution, Regency England, post-Civil War America, and America’s Old West. Her twenty years of living in Colorado serve as an inspiration for many cowboy stories.
For sixteen and a half years, Louise taught as an adjunct professor of English and Humanities at Valencia Community College (now Valencia College) in Kissimmee, Florida. Having received her advanced education in middle age, she sought to inspire her younger students to complete their own education early. For her older students, Louise hoped her experiences proved that it is never too late for them to work toward their dreams. (Her first novel was published after she turned fifty!) In the classroom, she attempted to live out her Christian faith both in words and in action.
Now that she has retired from teaching, Louise spends her time writing Christian fiction, her primary occupation and labor of love. She also works as a freelance copyeditor.
Louise’s favorite Bible verse is ‘He shall choose our inheritance for us’ (Psalm 47:4), a testimony to her belief that God has chosen a path for each believer. To seek that path and to trust His wisdom is to find the greatest happiness in life. Learn more and connect:
About the book – Love Thine Enemy:
The tropics of colonial Florida are far removed from America’s Revolution. Still, Rachel Folger’s loyalties remain with Boston’s patriots. Handsome plantation owner Frederick Moberly’s faithfulness to the Crown is as certain as his admiration for Rachel—but for the sake of harmony, he’ll keep his sympathies hidden. After all, the war is too far distant to truly touch them…isn’t it? A betrayal of Rachel’s trust divides the pair, leaving Frederick to question the true meaning of faith in God and in country. Inspired by Rachel to see life, liberty, and love through His eyes, Frederick must harness his faith and courage to claim the woman he loves before war tears them apart.
Come back July 9th for Laura V. Hilton!