Into the Wild Wind

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The daughter of a New England sea captain has lost
her fiancee to the California Gold Rush. Determined to find
him, but short of ...
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New York, NY 1999 Mass-market paperback New. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 320 p. Audience: General/trade.

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The daughter of a New England sea captain has lost
her fiancee to the California Gold Rush. Determined to find
him, but short of funds, she enlists as a navigator on a
clipper ship bound for San Francisco. Along the way, tempers
rise and sparks fly between her and the rugged skipper. Upon
arrival, she finds her fiancee maddened with greed. Unable to
change him, she allows her feelings for the skipper to grow to
fruition. But he is already engaged to another woman. Now she
must fight for the man who strove to win her heart.

Praise for Jane Goodger: * "A beautiful, touching story of a
second chance at life and love...simply wonderful." --Romance
Communications, for ANYTHING FOR LOVE * "Hours of joyful
reading...exceptional characters, blazing passion, and a hum-
dinger of a plot." --Rendezvous, for MEMORIES OF YOU

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Editorial Reviews

Evelyn Feiner
Ms. Goodger has created two strong-minded main characters and a cast of secondary characters that engage readers’ emotions. This romance travels across the seas and a gamut of emotions as the lovers find their path to happiness. Enjoy this sea-faring adventure. Sensual.
Romantic Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hannah Wright is on a mission to find her fianc , who has disappeared into the San Francisco gold rush. Determined to reach him, she signs on as navigator to legendary sea captain James MacRae. The captain welcomes the challenge of matching wits with the strong, spunky and beautiful Hannah; during a dangerous gale, he realizes that he loves her. However, as a child, Hannah vowed never to marry a sea captain like her father. She and James arrive in California, where James proposes, but Hannah is still undetered from plans to set off on the trail of her fianc . James seduces her, but the next morning, Hannah rebuffs him and he heads east. Realizing she's made the biggest mistake of her life, Hannah determines to meet James's ship at the Boston pier. Complications arise, and by the time she gets there, the man she loves is engaged to another. With this adventurous, passionate romance on the high seas, Goodger (Dancing with Sin) once again sweeps her fans away. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Evelyn Feiner
Ms. Goodger has created two strong-minded main characters and a cast of secondary characters that engage readers' emotions. This romance travels across the seas and a gamut of emotions as the lovers find their path to happiness. Enjoy this sea-faring adventure. Sensual.
Romantic Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451408945
  • Publisher: Signet
  • Publication date: 8/1/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 4.48 (w) x 6.78 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

July 12, 1851

Captain James MacRae was blustering again, waving his arms and pounding his fists in a way that would make many a man quake upon seeing it for the first time. But his first mate, George Wright, already knew with one look into his captain's piercing blue eyes that he was not angry. Far from it. Captain MacRae loved a challenge, and the fact that they were scheduled to set sail in three days and were still without a navigator was simply another challenge to be met. Captain MacRae was one of those rare men whose expression often appeared fierce, but whose eyes twinkled with good humor. Indeed, since George had been hired on two months ago as first mate to the clipper ship Windfire, he had never seen Captain MacRae truly angry.

    "I've got a ten-thousand-dollar bonus on the line, Mr. Wright, and I've got little chance of collecting it without a navigator." The captain, a strapping man with broad shoulders who stood a head over most men, strode to his dusty office window and looked out at the forest of masts along New York's East River. Then he turned and glared at George. "Why the hell did I hire you as mate?"

    George suppressed a smile. "Because, sir, there is no one who knows how to set canvas better than me. Present company accepted, sir."

    James muttered a curse. "Hell, the Flying Cloud's probably laying dock in San Francisco as we speak," James said, tapping his fist against a muscled thigh in thought.

    "Or the Challenge," George said, fully knowing his captain's opinion of thatover-canvassed monstrosity. Sometimes it was amusing to watch Captain MacRae bluster.

    "With that crew of cutthroats?" James shouted, happily rising to the bait to discuss his favorite subject. The much-publicized race between the two clipper ships was all the seafaring crowd could talk about since the ships departed in June. It was unlikely either ship would make it to San Francisco until September or November, and it was maddening to James to have to set sail without knowing how fast the ships were making the fifteen-thousand-mile trip. The Windfire was fast, his crew was well trained and well paid, and his stomach curled with the excitement of trying to set a speed record around Cape Horn.

    "You know my opinion of Captain Waterman, the man's a sadist, but he can skipper a ship. I'll give him that. And only that," James shouted and pointed a finger, as if George were about to argue. Then he burst out laughing, a hearty and contagious sound. "Did you see that crew? Did you, lad?" he said, wiping his eyes, his Scottish burr deepening in his mirth. "I stood on the dock and listened to the first mate explain where the bow and stern were. He had 'em shifting from one side of the ship to another, repeating `starboard, port.'" More gales of laughter. "They'll be lucky if they make it around the Horn, never mind beat Captain Creesy and the Flying Cloud."

    James suddenly sobered. "We need a navigator, Mr. Wright. My skills and your skills will get us to port safely—hell, they could probably get me that bonus—but I want to set that damned speed record. We can do it. The Windfire can do it. She's a fine ship, she is." He glanced out the window where the Windfire, a sleek clipper ship, lay at berth on Pier 6, her prow jutting high above South Street. She was a beauty. Her mainmast soared one hundred ninety feet into the sky, her spars carried ten thousand yards of sail. Her bow arched up like a woman well pleased, bending a few feet higher than her stern. She was painted a deep blue and trimmed in gold, and never had James beheld a more beautiful sight than the Windfire. He only wished he owned more than just a few shares of her.

    James had sailed the Windfire from Boston, where she was built by the most successful clipper ship builder in the world, Donald McKay, and launched two months ago with much fanfare. On that short trip, he worked his crew, driving them to obtain speeds of fourteen and fifteen knots on that small strip of the Atlantic. By the time he berthed the ship in New York, he was confident his crew, many of whom had followed him from his former ship, would make Windfire fly.

    "Any answers to that ad we placed?" James asked.

    "No, sir. Not any that I would send your way."

    "Three days. We'll not find anyone in three days if no one has come forward yet." James pounded his thigh lightly. "Ask around, Mr. Wright. Six ships have made port in the past week. One of them has to have a disgruntled mate willing to sign on."

    After George departed, James spent a long moment gazing at his beloved Windfire before turning to a stack of charts unfurled on his desk. Captain MacRae glanced up from the charts to see a stylishly dressed woman navigating around the puddles left by last night's rain. She looked remarkably out of place as she gingerly sidestepped a large pile of horse manure, hefting her many petticoats in an attempt to keep them clean. The woman was a splash of color in her sky-blue dress and bonnet in a place that was mostly brown—brown mud, docks, and water. Behind her, the East River piers were filled with the frenzied movement of dockworkers, stevedores, ships' crew members, and passengers heading toward their ships laden with bags and trunks. But the small strip of mud-filled ground between South Street and the offices of shipowners Haywood & Bennings was devoid of anything but that pretty splash of femininity that appeared to be making its way directly toward him.

    On a ship, James MacRae was not a man who was easily distracted. But on land, his active mind had a tendency to wander to the sea or into the bedroom of some lovely lady he'd been with sometime in the past. To James MacRae, life was meant to be lived. A man didn't breathe, he inhaled until his lungs were filled to the brim with fresh salt air. He did everything with the vigor of a man who expects this day might be his last. Though he did not dwell on it, his profession as clipper ship sea captain made that philosophy of life a practicality, for his was a dangerous profession. He grinned widely when he heard the knock of a small fist on his office door.

    Hannah Wright, her stomach a nervous flutter, knocked determinedly on the captain's office door. Captain James MacRae was her last hope. Standing on the outside second-floor landing of the three-story brick building, she clutched a newspaper clipping in one gloved hand, willing herself not to peruse it again to make certain she was at the correct office. She knew she was, but her heart was in her throat for what she was about to do.

    Hannah Wright was a desperate woman. Leave it to me, she'd thought on more than one occasion, to lose a fiancé. Allen Pritchard had left for San Francisco eighteen months earlier to go work for her uncle and had not been heard from since. Hannah was bound and determined to find him, and Captain MacRae and his Windfire were her last chance of getting to California before the end of the year. When the office door swept open, she lifted her head sharply, for she needed to appear confident and brave, and her eyes settled on the bluest, most beautiful pair of eyes she'd ever seen on a man. His tanned face and thick black hair only made those eyes seem even bluer, and for a moment Hannah could only stare as she was inclined to do whenever she saw something beautiful.

    "Can I help you, miss?"

    Hannah immediately noticed the faint Scottish burr, as well as the obvious admiration in his gaze that swept up and down her form in what should have been an insulting manner, but which somehow was not. "Are you Captain MacRae?"

    He bowed, his eyes crinkling. "At your service, miss." Hannah could only think: He has smiling eyes, the kind that twinkle, the kind that are easy to read. Right now those eyes were telling her they liked what they saw, and Hannah stiffened. She was a woman on a mission and had no time to be flattered by admiring glances, especially not those from a sea captain. The captain, wearing well-fitted brown trousers tucked into gleaming black boots and plain white shirt that was open at the neck, stepped back and waved an arm welcoming her into the rustic office. The whitewash walls were nearly obliterated by ropes, charts, and tackle nailed to the wall to make the most of the cramped space. He turned to his desk, appearing to search for something, then fingered his discarded cravat, as if deciding whether he should put it back on. Dropping the piece of cloth, James settled one hip on his desk and indicated that Hannah should take the only chair in the office. Ignoring his gesture, Hannah remained standing already intimidated by the man's height and muscled bulk.

    Taking a deep breath, she announced, "I've come to apply for the navigator's position, sir." She watched as the captain's easy grin faded and his mouth dropped open. And then he laughed, a loud, hearty, back-slapping sort of laugh that had Hannah inexplicably fighting the urge to join in. She struggled not to smile as she said, "I'm quite serious, sir."

    Still laughing, the captain managed, "I'm sure you are."

    Hannah narrowed her eyes, no longer finding amusement in her predicament. "I must get to San Francisco, sir. As I cannot afford the exorbitant fee as a passenger, I find the only other alternative is to sign on as a crew member. You may test me. You'll find I'm quite knowledgeable."

    James finally controlled his laughter, but his eyes smiled still. "I'm sorry, but you must know that is impossible."

    Hannah jutted her chin up even higher, feeling anger and the tiniest tinge of desperation boiling just beneath the surface. "Captain MacRae," she said as authoritatively as she knew how, "I am aware that you have been offered a substantial bonus to reach San Francisco within one hundred days and more if you make the trip in record time. I am also aware that you will be unable to do that without the help of a knowledgeable navigator. Perhaps you haven't noticed, but thanks to the Gold Rush, there is a dearth of qualified seamen in New York. Beggars, sir, cannot be choosers."

    "Seamen," James shouted, taking his hip off his desk and coming to his full height to loom over her. "A man is what I need. Not some little miss who is looking for an adventure."

    Hannah flinched at the man's loud volume and felt a tingling of fear along her spine at the derision she heard in his voice. And then she looked at his eyes. He wasn't angry. Far from it. He was still maddeningly amused, and Hannah instantly wished he were truly angry. She could handle an angry man better, she thought, than someone who thought every word out of her mouth was vastly funny.

    "You seem to think this is a joke, Captain," she said, well pleased that he narrowed his eyes at her perception. "Well, it is not. I must get to San Francisco. I must." Hannah balled her fist and set her mouth stubbornly.

    "Take a steamship to Panama."

    "Perhaps you were not listening. I haven't the funds for a clipper ship, never mind the money to pay for two steamships, hotels, and transportation across the isthmus."

    James looked her up and down, and Hannah knew he was taking in the richness of her clothes, the pearl buttons, the expensive lace. "You seem to be a woman who can afford passage. And if not, the cross-land route is quite inexpensive."

    Hannah had thought of that, but instantly discarded it. It was already July, far too late to cross the continent. And besides, it would take too long. "I must get to Francisco quickly." Hannah smiled, thinking that perhaps flattery would help her cause. "You have a reputation as a good captain, and your ship is being touted in the papers as the fastest to be launched since the Flying Cloud."

    "Faster," James shouted, sweeping one fist through the air. "We did fifteen knots on Block Island Sound."

    Hannah had to force herself not to flinch at his outburst. "Fine sailing, Captain. And a fine ship. I saw her as I was walking to the office. How much sail does she hold?"

    James narrowed his eyes again, a look that told Hannah he knew what she was doing and found it, too, amusing. She wanted to slap his smug face. "Ten thousand yards of canvas snapping overhead. Ten thousand yards of sail pushing the sleekest, most beautiful ship ever built. A ship," he said, pointing a finger at Hannah, "that won't be navigated by a woman."

    Oh, this stubborn, stubborn, smiling man! What had she expected, after all? That the captain would welcome her with open arms? That he would kiss her boots and hand over his sextant? She must convince him, she thought, battling the panic that was threatening to undo her. She must.

    "Captain, a man's life is at stake. If I do not reach him in time, I do not know what will happen. He may already be dead, for all I know." Hannah turned away and pretended to dab at her eyes. She'd tried reason, flattery; now she thought she'd see if this brute had a heart susceptible to a woman's tears.

    "You cannot help a dead man."

    Hannah could not quite believe he had said that. No, she was certain even this man would not have been so callous. "What did you say?"

    "If the man's already dead," he explained patiently, "it'd be a monumental waste of time and energy to go after him, now, wouldn't it?"

    Hannah spun around, so angry she forgot she was supposed to be crying. Laughing. He was laughing at her. Oh, not out loud, not even with his mouth. But those eyes were crinkled at the corners, so filled with mirth he might as well have been doubled over and letting out gales of laughter.

    "Don't you dare laugh at my pain," Hannah said dramatically. He studied her for a long moment, apparently looking for signs of pain.

    "I wasn't," he concluded, and Hannah was certain he meant he saw no pain in her to laugh at.

    "Why are you being so stubborn?" she said with venom. After all, she had not tried anger yet, and she was truly feeling that darker emotion. "You need a navigator. I need to get to San Francisco. I must get there, Captain. You're just being stubborn. You, sir, are obstinate and bullheaded."

    A smile quirked at his lips, making another wave of anger surge through her. "Tsk, tsk," he said mildly. "Perhaps you should try flirtation instead of insults."

    Oh, he could see right through her, the cad. "You are ... you are ..." She thought and thought, scanning her mind for some of the colorful language she'd heard over the years. "A bastard. Yes. You are one of those ... what I just said." She nodded her head.

    Instead of making him angry, the smile that had been quirking on one side of his mouth, bloomed into a full-fledged grin. He sighed. "Miss ..."

    "Miss Wright."

    "Wright?" And James's brows snapped together. At that moment his first mate strode into the office, eyes lighting up at the sight of the woman standing in his office.

    "Hannah," George said, crossing over to her and drawing her into his arms in an enthusiastic greeting. "What the devil are you doing here?"

    "Applying for the navigator's position," James stated, eyeing the two with interest. "I take it you two know each other?"

    "Cousins," George said heartily. "And I haven't seen Hannah in, what is it, two years?"

    "Nearly three," Hannah said warmly, stepping back so that she might get a better look at her cousin. "Are you on the Windfire, too?"

    "Too?" James asked, one eyebrow shooting up.

    Hannah and George ignored him. "First mate," George said with pride.

    "My mate and navigator got himself killed in a ballroom brawl. Now I have a mate but ..."

    George interrupted, "... but as you know, Hannah, I'm no navigator. I'm willing to learn, but this is not the trip for novices."

    Hannah gave her cousin a friendly smack on the arm. "Why, you were always a fair one with the sextant."

    "Fair isn't good enough," James said, beginning to get slightly piqued that he was being ignored. He found it vastly irritating that as soon as George entered the office, the beauty before him seemed to forget he was in the room. James knew women were attracted to him, not only for his good looks but for the near-hero status he had as a clipper ship captain. Women were in awe of him, and if he were honest, he rather enjoyed that awe. That look Miss Wright gave him when she first saw him, now, that was more like what he was used to. He'd seen more emotions cross that woman's face in the space of a few minutes than most women he'd known had displayed in a year.

    He watched silently as the two cousins talked animatedly. Beneath her overlarge bonnet, he could see brown-gold hair peeking out. He hadn't been close enough to her yet to determine the color of her eyes. He'd first thought they were brown, but now he realized they were not; they were some other indefinable color, and he found himself willing her to look at him so that he at least might take a look at them. Finally, she did. Ah, he thought. Green. Her eyes are the green of a stormy sea, changeable and mesmerizing.

    "Tell the captain, George. Tell him what a fine navigator I am. He won't believe me."

    James crossed his arms. "Yes, Mr. Wright. Please do."

    George smoothed down his beard with one hand, obviously reluctant to answer. "Actually, captain, she's the best damned navigator I've ever seen. Granted, she's never been around the Horn, but she's been to Europe plenty of times."

    James gave his first mate a stunned look. "As navigator?"

    "My father is Austin Wright, Captain," Hannah said as way of explanation.

    James smiled, flashing his white teeth. "Of course he is." James knew Austin Wright slightly, having met him on a few social occasions. He was a fine captain, though to James's knowledge he'd never captained a clipper ship. His career ended because of some illness, he recalled. But when he sailed, he was known as a solid seaman, tough but fair. Though he did not know Austin Wright well, James believed he was not the sort of man who would allow his single daughter to hire on as a navigator.

    "You come from quite a seafaring family, Miss Wright. When was the last time you were aboard ship?"

    "Six years ago. When I was sixteen, my father determined I was missing a formal education and I attended boarding school for two years," she said. "But I've been studying Maury's Charts and Sailing Directions, and I truly do have a good sense about where to find the wind."

    James shot a look to George, who gave a reluctant nod. James could not deny that he needed a good navigator, and here stood his salvation in a pretty little package, literally tied up with a bow, he thought, glancing at the bow at her trim waist. That trim waist which made him look again at Miss Hannah Wright. Hell, he thought, a good gale would knock her off the ship. She barely reached his chin, even with that ridiculous bonnet. It took a hearty soul to take on Cape Horn and survive. A father would have to be insane to allow his daughter to sign on with a clipper ship. James smiled. Austin Wright certainly was not insane.

    "I'll tell you what," he said, a pleasant gleam in his blue eyes. "If your father gives you permission to sign on, I'll allow it." He could not suppress a smile at her crestfallen face.

    "I'm twenty-two years old," Hannah said drawing herself up so that her bonnet reached perhaps up to his smiling lips. "I do not need the permission of my father to sign on."

    "True enough. But that is a condition of hire."

    Hannah set her jaw mulishly, but did not argue. She felt defeat cover her like a thick fog. Her father would never agree.

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