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The Creole Historical Romance Bundle is a 4-in-1 eBook series from bestselling authors Gilbert and Lynn Morris and includes The Exiles, The Immortelles, The Alchemy, and The Tapestry.
The Creoles Series is a captivating group of novels set in nineteenth-century New Orleans, revolving around the romantic adventures of four girls who become close friends while attending the Ursuline Convent School in New Orleans. Each book focuses on one woman as...
The Creole Historical Romance Bundle is a 4-in-1 eBook series from bestselling authors Gilbert and Lynn Morris and includes The Exiles, The Immortelles, The Alchemy, and The Tapestry.
The Creoles Series is a captivating group of novels set in nineteenth-century New Orleans, revolving around the romantic adventures of four girls who become close friends while attending the Ursuline Convent School in New Orleans. Each book focuses on one woman as she faces the trials of life and faith.
The Exiles introduces Chantel Fontaine, who has finished her education at the Ursuline Convent. Readers will follow her through the streets and swamps of Louisiana as she falls in love, faces the loss of both her parents, and searches for the baby sister she thought was lost forever.
The Immortelles follows Damita De Salvado who receives a beautiful slave girl, Rissa, for her sixteenth birthday. She mistreats Rissa, revealing her prejudice and hardening Rissa's heart. When her family experiences financial hardships, Damita grudgingly sells Rissa to a mysterious Christian doctor, Jefferson Whitman, who is Rissa's adopted brother. Now the tables have turned: Rissa is a wealthy, free woman, while Damita's family struggles to keep the plantation.
The Alchemy focuses on Simone d’Or, a vivacious young woman hardened by high society life, and Colin Seymour, a talented young man from humble beginnings. As the famed singer and composer Lord Beaufort nurtures Colin's singing voice, Colin rises to stardom in the opera world. At first, Simone judges Colin as a man beneath her standing, but after hearing Colin at the opera, she finds herself captivated by his talent and passion. Meanwhile, Simone's brother places the family name in jeopardy by his gambling debt, and she must face the possibility of marrying Vernay, a rigid young man of equal status who is feared for his skill in dueling others to the death.
The Tapestry is the striking conclusion to The Creoles Series sharing the story of Leonie Vernay. Abandoned as an infant on the steps of the Ursuline Convent School, Leonie has endured the emotional and financial poverty of an orphan. Now a young woman making her way as a humble seamstress in New Orleans, she is startled by a mysterious stranger who claims to know her identity—and her relatives. Will she find acceptance with her long-lost family, or is she on a misguided quest?
Aimee Fontaine looked out of the open carriage and immediately shut her eyes. She turned and threw her arms around her husband and cried, "Cretien, we'll all be killed!"
He held her tightly and said, "We won't be killed, darling. It's not far to the docks, and once we get on board the ship we'll be safe."
Opening her eyes, Aimee moved her head back far enough to get a good view of Cretien's face, and the very sight of it encouraged her. Faults her husband might have, but if Cretien Fontaine was a coward, no one had ever found out about it. His chestnut hair escaped the tall black top hat, and his brown eyes glowed as they always did when he was excited. He showed no fear whatsoever.
"They've gone crazy," she whispered, holding on to Cretien's arm.
"Revolutionaries are always crazy," Cretien said. He turned to the driver, saying, "Get in the back with Elise, Robert. I'll drive."
"Mind what I say!" Cretien's eyes flashed, and Robert got up awkwardly and fell into the back, where Elise Debon was crouched down, her large eyes frightened. Cretien took the lines and slapped them on the backs of the pair of bays, holding the horses firmly. "They're crazy fools! They don't even know what they're fighting for."
Others besides Cretien had made that remark concerning the uproar that had shaken Cuba to its very foundation. The countryside was alive with flames where men, apparently driven mad by the revolutionary fervor, had set fire to the homes of innocent people. The government had tottered and collapsed, and now Havana was packed with a mindless mass of humanity.
Darkness had fallen, but men carrying torches held them high, and the flickering red flames cast shadows over cruel faces loose with drink. The air was filled with drunken cries and screams of women who were being attacked regardless of their politics. Gunfire rattled, sounding a deadly punctuation.
"We'll never be able to get through this crowd, Cretien," Aimee whispered.
Indeed, it did look impossible, for the street that led to the docks was filled with milling people. Many of them were armed men, but some were the helpless victims of the revolutionaries.
Cretien pulled his hat down firmly, reached low, and pulled the whip from the socket. "Hold on, everybody!" he cried. He slashed the rumps of the horses furiously, and the bays lunged forward against their collars. "Get out of the way! Clear the way!" Cretien yelled. He stood to his feet and whipped at men who reached out to pull him from the carriage.
Once Aimee saw the whip strike a man right across the cheek and leave a bleeding cut. The man fell back with a scream and was seen no more.
Aimee hid her eyes, for the horses ran over anyone in their way, and the wheels bumped over the bodies that had fallen. The carriage careened wildly, and the shouts grew louder. A gunshot sounded clearly close to the carriage. Aimee's heart seemed to stop, but the marksman had missed.
"We'll be all right," Cretien said. He sat back down but kept the horses at a fast clip. "There's the ship, down there." A few moments later he pulled the horses up short, and they stood trembling and snorting under the light of the lanterns that hung from posts on the dock. The Empress, one of the new breed of steamships, loomed large and black against the ebony sky. "Robert, you see to the luggage. I'll take care of the women."
Aimee stood, and Cretien lifted her into his arms and set her down firmly on the dock. She clung to him for a moment, but he gave her a quick hug and said, "We're all right now. Don't worry. I'll get you and Elise on board, and then I'll come back to help Robert with the luggage."
Aimee gratefully leaned against her husband, but they had not gone three steps toward the gangplank when their way was blocked by a roughly dressed group of men. All had a wolfish look, and their eyes were wild with drink.
"Hold it there!" one of them said. "We'll take your money."
"That's right. He's an aristocrat." The speaker, who wore a crimson rag around his forehead, pulled a knife from his belt and laughed drunkenly. "His kind's gone forever. Give us what you've got, and maybe we'll let you go."
In one smooth motion, Cretien pulled a pistol from under his coat and aimed at the man bearing the knife. The shot struck the ruffian in the upper arm. The wounded man shouted, "That's the only shot he's got! Get him!"
The men moved forward, eyes glittering. Suddenly another shot rang out, and a short, stocky man staggered and grabbed his thigh.
"He got me!" he cried.
Robert, Cretien's manservant, stepped out and said, "The rest of you had better leave."
But the three were so drunk they could not think. They all drew knives and, screaming, surged ahead. Cretien reached into the carriage and produced a cane. He pulled a sword from the hollow container, and when one of the men came close he swung the blade in a circular motion. The tip of the sword cut a gash in the chest of the man.
"I'd advise you to leave before you are all dead," Cretien said tightly.
"Come on, let's get out of here!" the leader cried. Since three of the four had been wounded, his words were convincing. They all turned and made their way, cursing and holding their wounds.
"Come along, Aimee," Cretien said at once. His face was pale, and the violence had shaken him, for he was not a man of action. "And you, Elise, I'll get you on board. Robert, start loading the luggage. I'll be back to help you."
Ten minutes later Cretien was greeted by a barrel-shaped man with a clipped white beard and mustache. "I'm Captain Smith. You had trouble on the dock. It's a good thing you made it. The roughs are out in force."
"So I noticed." Cretien glanced at the milling crowd, then turned to face the captain. "Is there any chance they will attack the ship?"
"Not likely! They tried that once, but my men are all armed and fine shots. They won't try that again!"
"Good! We need to get my wife and her maid to our cabin. It's been quite an experience."
"Certainly. I'll take you myself." Captain Smith led Cretien and the two women to a steep stairway, and when they reached the lower deck, he led them down a narrow corridor to a door. "This will be yours and your wife's room, sir. And your servants—we have separate accommodations for them."
"Thank you, Captain. When will we be in New Orleans?"
"Two days at the most, barring engine trouble. When you get the ladies settled, we'll have something for you to eat."
"That would be kind of you, Captain Smith."
Aimee stepped through the door and took a look around the cabin, lit by a single lantern. It was a small room with two beds, a chest, a portable toilet, and a vanity with a washstand.
"Take care of your mistress, Elise. I'll go help Robert with the luggage."
"Come back quickly, will you, Cretien?" Aimee whispered.
"Of course. You rest yourself. I won't be long."
As soon as Cretien left, Elise fluttered over Aimee, helping her take off her coat and bonnet. "We'd all have been murdered if it hadn't been for the master."
"Yes, Elise, I think we would." She hesitated, then sat down on the bunk. "He's a strong man, and I thank God that he is here to take care of us."
* * *
Cretien leaned back in his chair, studied his hand, then pushed some chips forward. "I'll meet your bet and raise you ten." He felt good, for he had slept well the previous night, after a good supper provided by Captain Smith. His wife had slept little enough, but there was nothing he could do for that.
Cretien smiled at the uncertainty in his opponent, a slender man with a razor-thin mustache and hooded green eyes. "Well, Monsieur Sedan, what do you say? Would you like a chance to win some of your money back?"
Sedan threw his cards down. "I never play a man when he's riding on his luck." He pulled a cheroot from his inner pocket, bit the end off, and lit it. When the tip was glowing he said, "Perhaps tomorrow."
"We'll be in New Orleans tomorrow. This may be your last chance."
But Sedan was not interested. He was obviously a professional gambler, and he got up now and left the table. As Cretien collected his chips, a voice at his side caught his attention.
"You're a lucky man with cards."
He turned around to see an attractive woman in a low-cut, pale blue dress. Her hair was yellow and her eyes a deep blue. She had the assurance of a woman who knew the world at least as well as he did, and he stood up at once and nodded. "Lucky in cards, at least. My name is Cretien Fontaine."
"I'm happy to know you, sir. I'm Nan Strickland." She looked expectantly at him, and when he showed no recognition she laughed at herself. "I'm an actress, you see, and I always expect to be recognized."
"May I buy you a drink, Miss Strickland?"
"Certainly." She sat down and studied him boldly.
The waiter brought them drinks, and Cretien began telling her about his last few days.
"You were caught in the revolution?" she asked, sipping her drink.
"Yes. Things have gone badly in Cuba."
"You probably lost all your property. I hear that's what happened to many."
Cretien smiled. He knew he made a handsome picture as he sat there, with his perfect teeth, thin and aristocratic face, and patrician features. He was graceful and cultured in a French manner, and totally confident in a way that told Nan Strickland he was at ease with women. "Not at all. As a matter of fact, I made a profit. I saw this coming months ago." He lifted his drink and smiled at her. "Never stay in the middle of a revolution."
"You are fortunate."
"Yes, I am."
"Where will you go?"
"I've bought a sugar plantation outside of New Orleans. I'll be in town a great deal, of course."
Nan gave him a brilliant smile. She reached into her reticule and brought forth a small card. "My company will be at the Majestic for some time, depending on how well we are received. Give this to the doorman. He'll give you a good seat."
She rose and held out her hand, and Cretien stood as well. He bent over to kiss her hand and smelled her perfume. Then he rose to his full height and looked down at her. "I'll look forward to that."
Nan Strickland smiled. "Give your wife my best wishes."
"I'll certainly do that."
He watched as the actress walked away. She disappeared through the portal, and he sighed, cashed in his chips, and took his money. Leaving the saloon, he went right to the stateroom. It was later than he had thought, and he would have to make excuses.
When he stepped in, he found Aimee already in the lower bunk and said, "Elise, that'll be all tonight."
"Good night, sir. Good night, madame."
"Good night, Elise. I hope you don't get seasick again."
When the door closed, Cretien spoke at once. "I'm sorry to be late." He began to remove his clothes and noted that she was watching him cautiously. "I didn't drink too much, my dear. Don't worry about that."
For a moment Aimee looked sober, and then she smiled. "Come here and kiss me good night," she said. She held up her arms, and when he came to her and kissed her, she held him fiercely. "I'll be glad when we're off this boat and in our own place."
Cretien held her tightly. In other circumstances he would have made love to her, but she had been drained by the events of the past two days. And to his shame, the image of Nan Strickland came to his mind. He ignored it and said, "We'll be in New Orleans tomorrow. We'll find a good hotel and look the city over. It's going to be a good life there, my dear."
For a moment she held him, and then she whispered, "I wish we had a child. I know you're disappointed that I haven't been able to give you a son."
Cretien held her. He knew that this was something that was never far from her heart, and he said quickly, "No, it will be all right. I have you and that's enough."
His words brought balm to her spirit, and she whispered, "Good night."
He settled himself in his own bed and very quickly his breathing became regular. Aimee lay awake for some time, still shaken over the violence of the revolution, but thinking of New Orleans. O God, she prayed, give us a good life there. She finally went to sleep, and her last thought was, It's not too late. I'm still young enough to have a child if the good God pleases.
Aimee stared out at the busy port and exclaimed, "There are so many ships! I never saw such a busy place!"
The port of New Orleans was indeed busy—one might almost say frantic. Ships and boats and crafts of every kind plied the river, some skimming over the water under full sail, others easing in slowly. The sound of steamboats with their shrill whistles rent the air. The river made a large S-curve, and it seemed that the lengths of the banks were made of nothing but docks.
The masts of the ships, their sails furled, lined the docks. "It looks like a forest of bare trees," Cretien remarked. Then his eye caught a sight that pleased him. "Look, they're loading sugar onto that ship, Aimee! Soon it will be our sugar. We're going to do well here. I feel it in my bones."
Aimee leaned against him, and when his arm tightened about her, she felt a surge of desire for a life of peace and contentment. Life in Cuba had been difficult, for the scent of revolution had been strong for the past few years. Both she and Cretien had known they would have to leave sooner or later, and she was grateful that they had sold their land and gotten away without losing everything.
The burly first mate was shouting orders to the crew, and as the gangplank was lowered, Cretien said, "Let's find Robert and Elise and go ashore. I'll be glad to get off of this boat and get my feet on firm land again."
Together they turned to go below. Just before they reached the stairs, they encountered an attractive woman with blond hair and blue eyes. She gave Cretien a bold smile of recognition, and he bowed slightly. Aimee said nothing. She was accustomed to women being attracted to her husband; what would be the point of creating a scene?
In their cabin they found that Robert and Elise had collected their things, and in a short time they were leaving the ship.
As they walked down the gangplank into the hubbub of the port, all seemed to be confusion. Passengers were lined up to board the ship. Peddlers were everywhere, calling in a polyglot of languages. Aimee heard English and French, of course, plus Spanish and others that she could not distinguish.
Cretien took charge and engaged a carriage driven by a muscular young man with inky black hair and white teeth stark against his golden tan. He spoke a mixture of French and English that the newcomers found difficult to understand.
"Ah, monsieur, my name is Jacques. Me, I weel take you anywhere to which you go."
"We want to go to a very good hotel, Jacques," Cretien said as he offered a hand to aid Aimee into the carriage.
"That would be the St. Charles. I theenk you weel like it there, but it is ver' expensive."
"I think I can afford it, Jacques," Cretien said with a slight smile.
Jacques helped Robert load the trunks, then stepped back up into the carriage. He spoke to the horses, a fine matched set of grays, and at once began talking to the group. He was a curious fellow, wanting to know everything about the new arrivals. "There are many come from Cuba because of the revolution. I hear," he said, "over three t'ousand. More than two t'ousand of them black people have come already the last two months. Was it bad over there?"
"Yes, very bad."
"Well, you weel like it here in New Orleans. While you are here I hope you weel avail yourselves of my services."
"We won't be here long. I have a sugar plantation to the west."
That sent Jacques into a lengthy dissertation on the advantages of raising sugar over cotton, but as they moved into the downtown section, the visitors expressed interest in the city. When Cretien mentioned that they had never been there before, Jacques said, "Oh, it is a great city. Plenty to do. Your people, the Creoles, have brought good things to the city. Every one of you people love to go to the theater, no?"
Excerpted from The Exiles by Gilbert Morris Lynn Morris Copyright © 2003 by Gilbert Morris. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 1, 2013
One of my most favorite series ever! You will never regret this purchase! What a deal to be able to purchase as a set. Please, bring the Cheney Duvall series out as a set as well. I will be the first in line!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 20, 2013
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