Jack Absolute: A Novel

Jack Absolute: A Novel

by C.C. Humphreys

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"An absolute delight! ...one of the most appealing military gentlemen ever to wear a sword." – Diana Gabaldon, Author of Outlander

The year is 1777. As the American Revolutionary War rages across the sea, London is swept off its feet by Jack Absolute, the dashing rogue in Richard Sheridan's comedy The Rivals.

When the real Jack Absolute, former captain of the 16th Light Dragoons, returns after years abroad he is immediately embroiled in an illegal duel over a backstage tryst at the Drury Lane theatre.

Jack escapes with his life, only to find himself pressed again into the King's service as a spy for the British in the Revolutionary War.

With his Mohawk blood brother, Ate, at his side-and Loyalist beauty Louisa Reardon on his mind-Jack leaves England and sets sail for the wilds of North America.

When Jack learns there is a traitor in his ranks, he is dispatched as a double agent to root out the secrets of the Illuminati, a secret lodge within the Freemasons with their own agenda in the colonies.

With no one left to trust and more blood spilling with each passing day, it's no longer clear if Jack is a spy...or the target.

From the streets of London to the bloody battlefields of Saratoga, from forest fights on the Hudson to the seedy corners of wintry Philadelphia, Jack Absolute marks the EXHILARATING BEGINNING of an epic 18th century adventure.

One of the best historical fiction novels of the Revolutionary War with a charismatic hero.

Fans of Simon Scarrow, Bernard Cornwell, Jeff Shaara and Diana Gabaldon will eagerly follow the adventures of Jack Absolute.

The Jack Absolute Series:
The Blooding of Jack Absolute, Book #1
Jack Absolute, Book #2
Absolute Honor, Book #3

What readers are saying about Jack Absolute:

"I love this absolutely delightful, swashbuckling, HISTORICAL THRILLER."

"Filled with ACTION, ADVENTURE AND HUMOR... a fabulous, fast paced novel which is hard to put down."

"This book is anabsoluteriot..."

"a fun, rollicking, adventurous good time. He is a bit of a playboy, but I was won over by his heart and personality."

"The action is hot, THE INTRIGUE IS CONSTANT, and the historical grounding is convincing."

"the kind of BREAKNECK ADVENTURE for which the term "rollicking" was coined"

What reviewers are saying about hero Jack Absolute:


"Imagine if Dan Brown were to write historical fiction starring Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock Holmes...and you have this novel. " -Tara's Book Blog

"This is a ROLLICKING HISTORICAL FICTION with a larger than life figure. " -Booksie's Blog

"...heartwarming in the dash of romance it contains, but it's also hysterically funny." -Romance Junkies

"With misadventures, danger, cynicism, a bit of wit, a touch of humor, spies, war, and a bit of romance..." -My Book Addiction Reviews

"An absolute delight! Swashbuckling adventure, eighteenth-century wit, hugely entertaining plots, and one of the most appealing military gentlemen ever to wear a sword." Diana Gabaldon – Author of The Outlander

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402280719
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 05/07/2013
Series: Jack Absolute , #2
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 259,378
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys is an actor, playwright, fight choreographer and novelist.  He has written nine historical fiction novels including The French Executioner, runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers; Vlad – The Last Confession,  the epic novel of the real Dracula; and A Place Called Armageddon. His latest YA novel is The Hunt of the Unicorn. His work has been translated into thirteen languages. Find out more about him on his website: http://cchumphreys.com

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

An Affair of Honor

The snow lay deep over Hounslow Heath and the light was failing fast. They were already late, a double annoyance to Jack Absolute; not only was it considered ungentlemanly to keep people waiting for such an affair, but it also meant that by the time the ground had been reached, the Seconds introduced, the area marked out, and the formalities dealt with as to wills and burials, it would be too dark for pistols. It would have to be swords; and by the look of him, his opponent was in fighting trim. If he wasn't twenty years younger than Jack he wasn't far off and, as a serving cavalry officer, would be fencing daily; while it was five years at the least since Jack had fought in such a manner. With a variety of other weapons, to be sure. But a tomahawk or a Mysore punch dagger had a very different feel to them than the delicate touch required for the small sword. Of course, one could only be killed with the point; it had no cutting edge. But the point, as Jack knew all too well, was all that was required.

As his feet slipped yet again on the icy boot prints of those who had preceded him, Jack cursed. How large will the damned crowd be? The affair could hardly have been announced more publicly, and many would choose to attend such a fashionable fight. Money would already have been staked. He wondered at the odds. Like an older racehorse, Jack had form. He had "killed his man"-in fact, in the plural, several more than these gentlemen of London could know about. But his opponent was certainly younger, probably stronger, and above all, inflamed with the passion of wronged ardor. He fought for a cause. For love.

And Jack? Jack fought only because he'd been too stupid to avoid the challenge.

He sniffed. To top it all, he suspected he was getting a cold. He wanted to be warm in the snug at King's Coffee House, a pot of mulled ale in his hand. Not slip-sliding his way across a frozen common to maiming or a possible death.

"Is it five or six duels you have fought, Daganoweda?"

Jack, whose eyes had been fixed on the placing of his own feet, now glanced at the speaker's. Their nakedness seemed like vanity, especially as Jack knew his companion had a fine pair of fleece-lined boots back in their rooms in St. Giles. However, Até would never pass up such an opportunity to display the superior toughness of the Iroquois Indian. The rest of him would probably have been naked too had Jack not warned him that ladies might attend. The concession had been fawn-skin leggings, beaded and tasseled, and a Chinese silk vest that scarcely concealed his huge chest or obscured the tattoos wreathed around his muscles. Midnight-black hair fell in waves to his almost bare shoulders. Just looking at him made Jack shiver all the more, and he pulled his cloak even tighter around him.

"Six duels, Atédawenete. As I am sure you well remember. Including the one against you."

"Oh," Até turned to him, his brown eyes afire, "you count a fight against a ‘savage,' do you? I am honored."

The Indian made the slightest of bows. Iroquois was a language made for irony. Jack had had too much cognac the night before-the first error in an evening of them-and a duel of wits was one conflict he could live without today. So he reverted to English.

"What is it, Até? Homesick again?"

"I was thinking, brother, that if this young brave kills you-as is very likely since he is half your age and looks twice as vigorous-how then will I buy passage to return to my home across the water, which you have kept me from these eleven years?"

"Don't concern yourself with that, brother. Our friend here will give you the money. It's the least he can do. He owes me after all, don't you, Sherry?"

This last was addressed over his shoulder to the gentleman acting as his First-Second, as the hierarchy of duels had it. The dark-haired young man was struggling to keep pace with his taller companions, his face alternately green and the palest of yellows. The previous evening, Richard Brinsley Sheridan had drunk even more cognac than Jack.

"Ah, money, Jack, yes. Always a wee bit of a problem there." Though he had left Ireland as a boy, a slight native brogue still crept in, especially in moments of exertion. "But, of course, you'll be triumphant today, so the need will not arise. And in the meantime, can you and your fine-looking friend speak more of that marvelous language? I may understand not a word, but the cadences are exquisite."

Jack pulled a large, soiled square of linen from his pocket and blew his nose hard. "Careful, Até, you'll be in one of his plays next. And we all know where that can lead."

The playwright wiped an edge of his cloak across a slick brow, sweating despite the chill. "How many more times can I apologize? As I said, you were thought dead and thus your mellifluous name was free to appropriate."

"Well, I may be dead soon enough. So your conscience may not be a bother too much longer," Jack muttered. He had caught sight of movement through a screen of trees ahead.

If the crowd's big enough, he thought, perhaps even the incompetent Watch might have heard of it and turn up to prevent this illegality. Once he would have objected vigorously to any attempt by the authorities to restrict his right to fight. Once...when he was as young as his adversary, perhaps. Now he could only hope that the Magistrates' intelligence had improved.

But no reassuring Watchmen greeted Jack, just two dozen gentlemen in cloaks of brown or green, a few red-coated army officers, and, in the center of the party, wearing just a shirt, the man who had challenged him-Banastre Tarleton. Jack was again startled by his face. The youth-he could be no more than eighteen-was possessed of an almost feminine beauty, with thickly lashed eyes and chestnut curls failing to be constrained by a pink ribbon. But there was no hint of a lady's fragility in his movements, laughing as he lunged forward with an imaginary sword.

He looks as if he is on a green about to play a game of cricket, Jack thought, and he wondered if it was the cold that made him shrug ever deeper into his cloak. He glanced around the circle of excited faces that turned to him. No women, at least. Not even the cause of this whole affair, that little minx, Elizabeth Farren. The hour was too close to the lighting of the footlights at Drury Lane and her show must go on. Yet how she would have loved playing this scene. The sighs, the sobs wrenched from her troubled-and artfully revealed, carefully highlighted-bosom, as she watched two lovers do battle for her. She would be terribly brave one moment, close to fainting the next.

An actress. He was going to be killed over an actress. It was like one of Sheridan's bloody comedies, not dissimilar to the one in which the playwright had made him the unwitting star. It was an irony perhaps only an Iroquois could fully appreciate. For if Sheridan hadn't used his name in The Rivals, if Jack hadn't then felt it necessary to watch some posturing actor play "him," if he hadn't succumbed, yet again, to the effects of brandy and the actress playing the maid, and if she wasn't already beloved by this brash, stupid, handsome, young officer...

Até and Sheridan had moved across to commence the business, and Jack noted the two men with whom his companions were discussing terms. One, an ensign in the resplendent, gold-laced uniform of the Coldstream Guards, was talking loudly and waving his arms about. Yet it was the other, Tarleton's Second-Second, who held Jack's attention. He was standing behind and slightly to the side, his will seemingly focused, not on the details of the duel, but entirely forward onto Jack, just as it had been the previous night, when his soft whispers had urged Tarleton on. This man had the sober but expensive dress of a rich cleric, the long, pale face of a scholar. And looking now at the man he'd heard named the Count von Schlaben, even in the poor light of a winter sunset, Jack could see that this man desired his death as much as the youth who had challenged him; perhaps even more. And in that moment of recognition, Jack knew that there was more than actresses involved and that honor was only a small part of this affair.

If I am about to die, he thought, looking away and up into the cloud-racked March sky, the least I can do is to understand why.

Something had occurred the previous night at the theater, aside from the play and the challenge. Something that had brought them all here to this snowy common. So it was back to Drury Lane that Jack's mind went, in the few moments before the formalities were settled, and the dying began.

Customer Reviews

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Jack Absolute 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Smuricat More than 1 year ago
B&N’s editor’s statement “Introducing the unforgettable Jack Absolute” is incorrect. This is actually the third book in the “Jack Absolute” Series (Absolute Honor is the 1st and The Blooding of Jack Absolute is the 2nd). This story is an excellent historical adventure set in the American Revolution. The Characters in the book were very good as were the detail given on their views on the war and their society in general. The point of view of the story is that of a British/Canadian army officer during the Saratoga campaign. The story gives a very good portrayal of the British advance down from Canada into New York in 1777. Most Historical adventures I have read from this period are usually that of an American Patriot’s or a British soldier/sailor’s point of view. This story has a distinctly Canadian feel to it. Although still a crown subject, Jack no longer truly considers himself a member of “British Society” as illustrated by what happens to him in London in the beginning of the book. The book had more than its share of “deus ex machine” to get Jack out of trouble, which is ok in a swashbuckler as long as it isn’t over used. Unfortunately it is by the final scene of the book. The final scene felt especially forced, and unsatisfying. I especially disliked the death of one of the main characters in the final scene that were so interesting throughout the book.
vito More than 1 year ago
A reasonably good historical adventure ruined by one too many uses of deus ex machina to save the hero, and an ending that is no ending at all. If the author can learn not to plot himself into a corner the characters and action have real promise.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was not a book I particularly wanted to read, but after reading the first few pages, I couldn't put it down. Truly one of the most remarkable books I have read...romance, espionage, adventure, all wrapped up in a well written story. I don't think I could have enjoyed it more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is Humphrey¿s first volume in a historical military series featuring a character lifted from Richard Sheridan¿s The Rivals¿or, as this story would have it, featuring the man from whom Sheridan (a character in this book) copied his character. Captain Absolute is a loyal, if conflicted, British officer whose intimate knowledge of up-state New York finds him a spy working against the American rebels as well as a secret organization desiring anarchy in the New World.The author has set fictional Jack amidst the historical figures of the time, clearly stamping them with his opinions of their efforts, ranging from a largely vindicated General John Burgoyne, through an unpleasant Benedict Arnold, to British spymaster John André, and even to a very young Edward Pellew (before either his very real fame or his fictional appearance in Forester's Hornblower novels).Despite the (inevitable) comparisons to George MacDonald Fraser¿s Flashman series, this novel is nothing of the kind. Though there are humorous moments, this book is not a comedy, nor is the protagonist someone we despise while enjoying. About the only similarity between the works is that both characters are Army officers incarnated from other works of fiction.There is plenty of action and historical flavor for those enjoy this type of fiction. It is far better than Broos Campbell¿s Matty Graves novels, somewhat inferior to Patrick O¿Brian¿s Aubrey/Maturin stories. Though I found Jack¿s survival a bit too much due to a series of deus ex machinas, particularly the ending, I enjoyed the story and will look forward to trying the sequels.
BruderBane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
C.C. Humphrey's "Jack Absolute" resounds with virtual non-stop action and is replete with 18th century genius loci. Mr. Humphrey's has done some great research into delivering a well made piece of historical fiction and delivers a rousing good tale to boot. While this is not Mr. Humphrey's first foray into noveldom, "Jack Absolute" does have the flavor of a writer's earlier work. In addition, Jack tends to come away a bit too clean from his esapades. However this is not to say that Mr. Humphrey's novel is amateurish or dull, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, here is an author cultivating his writing and I will happily follow and see how he develops.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read his A Place Called Armageddon and loved it. So I decided to check out some of his other books. I am so glad I did. Jack Absolute is a wonderful rollicking adventure that starts in London and ends outside of Philadelphia. In between there is enough action, mystery and romance to satisfy any reader. ENJOY!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Drahthaar More than 1 year ago
entertaining but felt ending could have been better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LaLaNorthwest More than 1 year ago
What fun this was! A romantic, dashing hero; lots of accurate and interesting historical detail; sword fights, gun fights, battles, taverns;
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am brown with black hair and i wear a black jacket with orange shorts. All the time. I am not a meat head but im strong. I also carry an orange tinted sword with me. All the time. I can have a very good attitude most of the time. I DONT TAKE SH<_>IT. I also lov meeting new people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago