Published by Literary Wanderlust on October 1st 2017
This sequel to The Pirate’s Bride is a fun piratey romp!
Pirate captains Sophie and Andre Dubois have finally reunited and are enjoying marital bliss. However, their good fortune wanes when Sophie contracts a mysterious illness. Andre is at a loss for how to help his wife, so when she asks to return to La Nouvelle-Orléans to throw a ball for Christmas, he doesn’t hesitate to acquiesce.
Once on land, Sophie regains her strength, and preparations for the party begin. Those plans take a dark turn when an old enemy appears. Sophie is left to make the choice between her honor and her husband’s life. Will she have the strength to make the right decision?
I repeat my earlier question, fils. What brings you here at Christmas? And why does your wife look like a shadow of her beautiful self? That is why I ask if you two are getting along. What is the real reason you have docked at my house?”
Andre shook his head, all the piss and vinegar draining from him as he thought about Sophie. His father, blast his soul to perdition, had immediately seen what he himself had been avoiding: his lovely wife was wasting away. Where once there’d been luscious curves, bony angles now emerged. Soft handfuls had become, though still mouthwatering, tidbits of which he could not fail to notice the difference.
He gave a deep sigh. “For the last two weeks, Sophie has not been herself. She barely eats, she sleeps a lot, and she’s just . . . quiet. Coming here has brought the most life out of her in days. Papa . . . I fear my wife is . . . dying.”
All the pent-up worries and forebodings rushed to the surface, threatening to spill out in the form of tears or cursing. At last he could voice his innermost agonies, in the presence of only his father. That man, besides his cursed goading, would still keep his own counsel, and would actually empathize. For all their differences, Andre knew his father had loved his mother, as Andre now loved Sophie.
Louis stared at him in horror. “Tell me this cannot be so. Did she contract some disease in the islands? Get bitten by some strange insect? How do you come to this disturbing conclusion?”
Andre shook his head slowly. “I don’t know, Papa. She says she feels fine, just a little tired, and that perhaps some time on land might make her feel better. She wants to host a Christmas ball here, in your home. That’s why we’ve come. I would do anything for her. You know that. I just cannot say no to Sophie, especially if she is dy—”
“Pshaw,” Louis barked, sitting forward and tapping ash off the end of his cigar. “Since when have you become a doubting Thomas? Where is the obnoxious, I-can-do-anything pirate I raised, hmmm? When have you ever given up, fils? You are not a Dubois if you can roll over and accept what can be fixed. Sophie is not dying. She may be ill, she may be déprim like all women get sometimes. But, dying? Bah.
“We shall allow her this ball she wishes to host. It will give her something for which to plan, to work on, to anticipate. It will brighten her temperament, mark my words, Andy. And in the meantime, you might want to think about getting her with child. There’s nothing like a brand-new baby to revitalize a woman.”
Andre shifted in his chair, eying the brandy decanter across the room. What was it about the Dubois men, that they could find a woman to revere easily enough, but keeping them alive was another kettle of fish altogether. It just didn’t seem fair. Perhaps it was God’s punishment for their chosen lifestyle. The thought bore more contemplation, alongside a good bottle of spirits.
He roused himself to respond. “There’s been plenty of opportunity for un bébé, Papa. We believe that crétin who raped her may have injured Sophie and made her barren.”
Louis sat up, resting his cigar in its glass holder on the desk. “My leads on that salaud all dried up. He set sail for parts of the world even I don’t have informants in. He should have been strung up by his ballocks at the time. I’m surprised Bellard didn’t do it. However, marrying her to you was a good move on his part.
“But therein lies the reason for her mélancolie. No woman wants to be found infertile. Especially after the ordeal she’d been through, though I didn’t think she wanted children, fils. Is there something you haven’t told me? Why would she be sad about something she didn’t want in the first place?”
Andre looked at his father, hated to squelch the hopeful look he wore. He knew Louis wanted grandchildren, wished to be a grand-père. It didn’t seem to be in the cards for the Dubois family. Not that Andre was too cut up about it. But he didn’t want a sickly wife. Besides, her behavior of late had been odd, not at all like the swashbuckling woman he’d been married to these last three years. He shook off his own sense of dismay. “Sophie says she’s happy the way we are, but she’s been acting . . . different . . . at times that I don’t wish to discuss with me father. Let’s just leave it at what I’ve said before, Papa. There have been plenty of opportunities for un bébé.”
Forget the Romance, Let’s Talk Research!
Romance novels don’t get a fair shake. The genre, although gaining respect in publishing circles, is still looked upon as those little books that women read to get all hot and bothered over. The feminine version of porn. Because of this belief, most people don’t think a romance novelist needs to do any research. Aren’t the books all the same? Boy meets girl, they fall in love, have a fight, and then make up. What’s there to research, right? Ha.
Ask any romance writer, and I’ve been asked by a lot of fans, and she’ll show you site after site she’s bookmarked for further study. Or, lists of places she’s travelled in order to add realism to her descriptions. That’s what I’m tackling in today’s post. The research that went into my novella, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade.
I’ve never met a pirate. All I can go by is history books, and movies like Pirates of the Caribbean. While watching the POTC movies is enjoyable, I spent more hours clicking on sites about real life pirates, such as Jean Lafitte, whom my Captain Andre Dubois is based upon. I studied pictures, read articles, and imagined my pirate as a cross between Johnny Depp and Jean Lafitte.
Sophie, the main character in my novella, was completely fabricated, though she bears a strong resemblance to Rachel Weisz from The Mummy movies. However, I had to dress my female pirate, and that’s where my main research began. What kinds of material were available in the 1720s? What dyes did people use to make colorful ballgowns? What were the gown styles then? These are just a few of the questions I had to answer.
The climax of the novella takes place at a holiday masquerade ball. Not only did I research gowns, I studied Venetian masks for men and women. I Googled pictures, I examined types of masks, as well as from what materials they were made. A descriptive paragraph of the ballroom dancers in the finished book might have taken me two hours to research. And then, I had to find out which dances were popular back then. Add another hour.
I often write and research at the same time, leaving research sites open to check for accuracy. Since this novella takes place on land, I didn’t have to study sailing ships, but I needed to refresh my memory on the French Quarter in New Orleans. I’ve been there twice, so I have a feel for the buildings and history, but it’s different now from back then.
I find the research for my novels fascinating. I enjoy reading about places like Congo Square in old New Orleans, or the location of brothels in the French Quarter. Studying birth control back in those days can make a person blush, but it’s also necessary for realism. Nothing is sacred when an author writes. If it could happen, we are there, studying the possibilities and the history.
I invite you to read my novella, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, and enjoy the antics of my sexy newlyweds, Andre and Sophie Dubois. I hope you boo Gilbert Harrington. And, most of all, I hope you enjoy all the little details I’ve included to make this story a richly faceted, historical romance.
To have a chance of winning an epub/pdf version of The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade:
Comment naming four returning characters from The Pirate’s Bride that you think will reappear in this novella.
(The answer lies in the Excerpt/Review/Guest Post)
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade by Cathy Skendrovich is a follow-up Novella to her fabulous book ‘The Pirate’s Bride’. You don’t need to have read that book first but knowing more about the characters if you do will only enhance your enjoyment of this novella.
Sophie and Andre Dubois are pirates and have spent most of their adult lives at sea, the last few as husband and wife. They have a wonderful happy life, but lately, Sophie has been missing the land and wants to spend Christmas at home with his father. She wants to enjoy the festivities of the season with all the people of her hometown. Andre isn’t pleased, he much prefers life at sea, but he’s worried about Sophie’s health, and he can never say no to her, and so, agrees.
It isn’t long before Sophie regrets asking Andre to take her home. She has a run-in with the man who raped her years ago, and being back home could very soon turn into a nightmare.
I don’t want to say too much else because I don’t want to give the story away, suffice to say, Sophie is in quite a predicament, one that could see her losing her husband one way or another!
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, although it was just a novella it still had the perfect amount of passion, suspense and skullduggery. I love Sophie and Andre and how in love they are, especially after their not so great start (as described in ‘The Pirate’s Bride’) and I absolutely adore Andre’s father, he is quite the cheeky character. I am not sure if the author plans on writing any other books in this historical pirate genre, but I hope she does because she is a natural at it!
I voluntarily read an advanced readers’ copy of this book.