Land. Power. Influence. Mary O'Malley knows these are the only things that matter in her war-torn country. Determined to win back her ancestral home, she must embark on a journey across the Atlantic disguised as a cabin boy. But her ruse brings her under the control of a dangerous sea captain who demands from her the one thing she will never give—complete and total submission.
Captain Richard Grant runs a tight ship, and he didn't claw his way up through the ranks of the Royal Navy to be undone by a headstrong Irish girl hell-bent on jeopardizing his mission and his crew. If she insists on dressing like a man, then she can take his punishments. He demands obedience, but his insatiable need for her leads to a complex game of sex, desire, and dominance not even he can control.
Awakened by the passion Grant stirs in her, Mary finds herself falling for the stern captain. But when her false identity leads to rumors of her spying for the French, she must choose between her love for Ireland and the man who commands her body—and her heart.
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The Captain's Rebel
Irish Heroines Series
By C. B. Halverson, Suzanne Evans
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 C. B. Halverson
All rights reserved.
The large trout wiggled in my hands, its glassy eye staring unblinking to the sky. My knuckles strained as I clutched its glittering scales, and I laughed as I held it up to Johnny, the sunlight blinding as I turned to him.
"Look what I found," I cried out with a grin. "I believe that makes one for me, and none for you, Johnny Brighton."
He trudged through the rushing stream, water splashing far above his rolled up trousers. Blond hair swept away from his wide forehead, a smile spreading across his boyish features. "Ah, we will have to see about that."
His nearness sent my heart beating, and the trout jerked in my hand. Its sharp fin cut deep, slashing a wide gash of red along my thumb. Pain shot up through my arm, and I stumbled against the pull of the stream.
"Get off, you dirty fecker." I squeezed hard to hold it still, but the fish slipped through my fingers and back into the water with so much force, I went tumbling into the current. The shock of the freezing stream stopped my heart for a moment, and I grasped at the pebbled riverbed for purchase. So much for dinner.
"Watch yourself, Mary!" Johnny cried, his strong hands lifting me up.
I gasped for air, river water spluttering from my mouth. I had taken off my dress on the riverbank and stood there shivering in my shift, the spring air turning the thin fabric to a sheet of ice.
Johnny's eyes grazed over my chest, and he caught my hand, his touch sending a nervous flutter deep into my belly. We had fished in this river since we were children, and I had never thought anything of prancing around in my skivvies in front of the little lordling.
But Johnny wasn't so little anymore.
My gaze wandered over to my dress draped over a fallen log, and I resisted the urge to cover myself with my bleeding hand. He had grown so used to seeing me as a girl. Tiny Mary O'Malley, the steward's daughter. But now I needed him to see me as a woman, as slight as I was. I would never have the full bosoms and hips of the ladies sketched out on the fashion plates from Paris, but I had a decent enough face, and sure what does it matter in the dark?
I twisted my long hair over my shoulder, wringing it dry. Johnny watched my every move, his gaze hot and piercing. I turned away, smothering a satisfied smile. For the past few months, I had one goal in mind. Seduction. There was no other word for what I intended, but it wasn't carnal pleasure I wanted from the good lad. I knew such things possessed their own delights, but what I desired was a much greater prize.
"You're bleeding." He drew my thumb to his mouth and kissed it, his lips lingering on my skin. His eyes narrowed in a smoldering gaze, a mischievous grin tugging at his mouth.
Extricating a strand of slimy algae from my hair, I quirked an eyebrow at him and stifled a laugh. If I could stand there covered in pond scum, shivering like a wet dog with my hands smelling like fish, and Johnny Brighton still flashed me a look like that, perhaps I had very much over-thought this whole seduction business.
His tongue flickered against my wrist, and I opened my mouth to protest as a decent maiden should, but he clutched my palm with a firm grip, drawing me closer. The movement sent a shiver down my spine, and I glanced up at him through my eyelashes.
His laughing eyes filled with warmth, his irises almost translucent in the sun. All the sound escaped in the intensity of his gaze — the rushing river, the singing birds, the soaring wind through the leaves. I glanced around, making sure no one was watching us. For this to work, I couldn't have Johnny's father Lord Brighton hearing one ill word about me or anything we might do. And Lord help me if Da discovered us. He would lock me in a convent and throw away the key. I needed time. And I was patient.
"What are you doing, Johnny?" I whispered.
His fingers caressed the delicate skin inside my palm, his other hand resting on my hip. "Just playing."
He bent his head down and placed a gentle kiss behind my ear. His tongue traced a soft line against the edge of my scalp, and I exposed my neck in response. Poor Johnny was never clever, but if I couldn't have a smart husband, lord save us, at least he could be kind.
Everyone knew Johnny's father was a miser, making a fortune from the backs of the Irish men and women working the surrounding fields, racking their rents and forcing them into abject poverty. Those poor souls scraped out a subsistence living on the outskirts of the property, huddled in filthy huts. Children with their stomachs distended, their faces little more than skeletons.
But none of that crossed Johnny's mind as he pulled me closer, his lips brushing against my bare shoulder. As Lady of Dunraven I knew I could seize hold of the Brighton's wealth to bring it back to the people, ensure prosperity to all who lived on those craggy moors. It was what my mother always spoke of before she died. Before the uprising of 1798. "The year of the French," we called it, but the French aid never quite manifested. We thought the uprising would change everything. But since that terrible year, conditions had only grown worse, and I knew I needed to do something. It was what she would have wanted. I believed that.
His hand dipped lower on my waist, and I gasped, my hips jerking toward him. I had studied libertines in novels, skimming over the swooning ladies cursing themselves for their fall into temptation. Such flights of fancy didn't seem so terrible in that moment, what with his shoulder muscles wide and rippling beneath his soaked shirt, his abdomen tensing as I stepped nearer to him. I thought I might actually enjoy playing the part of the scoundrel, at least until I got what I wanted. Sure, I'd never heard of a lady scoundrel, but these were revolutionary times.
"'Tis a new game, Mary."
"Is it?" I whispered, tilting my head in confusion.
Oh, but you know I understood the game perfectly well. Better than he did, I would fancy. I may have been a young woman of twenty, but when you grow up in the hills of rural Ireland and see enough sheep humping each other, you pretty much know the lay of it. But it wouldn't do to appear too eager. I had to make Johnny believe this was all his idea.
"I don't understand," I teased, batting my eyelashes.
For a moment, I contemplated holding my breath until I passed out, but I had to maintain some modicum of control in order for my plan to work. I was in it for the long haul, you know.
Johnny pressed me against his body, and his chest flexed beneath my hand as I clutched the damp fabric of his linen shirt. His heart raced, and something hard pressed against my belly. With a firm hand, he brought me closer, our bodies rubbing against one another. The sunlight glinted on his hair, and he ran his hand up and down my waist, making me shiver from the whisper-thin caress of his fingers.
"Maybe we shouldn't," I whispered into his shoulder.
But I knew we should.
And we would.
His hands cupped my bottom and brought me to my tiptoes, his hardness pushing against my inner thigh. He arched his hips into mine and I emitted a low sound from the back of my throat, my body pressing against something that made my insides ache. Clutching his wet shirt, I met his rolling thrusts, throwing my head back to gaze up at him.
"Johnny ..." I let out a small whimper, and it excited him, his breath emitting in thick pants. He bent down to kiss me, and his lips pressed firm against mine, his tongue darting between my teeth. My shoulders tensed at the strange sensation, the storm of desire deep in my belly retreating in a rush of barely disguised confusion.
Something wasn't right.
I had always thought my first kiss would be a dramatic affair, with the earth moving beneath my feet and all that. But Johnny's tongue was a fleshy, foreign weight in my mouth, and it took all my willpower not to push him away. The heat and desire coiling in my abdomen had turned to a block of frigid ice, and I swallowed the wave of nausea bubbling up in my throat.
He broke off the kiss and flashed me a wide smile. "I've wanted to do that for as long as I could remember, Mary."
"Me, too," I breathed, the lie tumbling out easy as anything.
I told myself I would learn to like it, learn to indulge his messy, fumbling kisses as bland as day-old porridge. Women had tolerated empty-headed, incompetent men for centuries. It could have been worse. When we were married and settled in Dunraven Castle and the heat of first romance cooled, he could seek out warmer beds and more willing women. That was how the gentry did things, so they said. I would fulfill my wifely duties, sure, but I didn't fear a loveless marriage. I would be too busy running the estate and making improvements. Lord knew Johnny had no head for such things. Even his own father said so.
He let out a whooping laugh, the same one he used when his horse Firebrand took a leap over the hedge. And flashing a dazzling grin, he dove into the stream, bubbles swirling to the surface. For a moment I thought he had drowned, and a shot of panic bolted down my spine. With an explosive splash, he broke through the current, a wriggling trout dangling over his head.
"Score one against you, Mary," he called to me.
So that was the start of it, and I knew what the villagers would say if they found out. Slut. Whore. But it didn't matter to me a wit. I had my sights set on the greatest treasure of all — Castle Dunraven, the ancestral home of the O'Malleys, torn from our family by foreign invaders hundreds of years ago. To Johnny and his skinflint father, it was no more than a pile of rocks. But to me, it was the greatest mansion of heaven, and I knew if I ruled over it, I could make a difference to the lives of my people.
My father was steward to Lord Brighton, but all the locals knew the truth of it: that he and my Ma — God, rest her soul — ran guns during the uprising a few years back. Oh, of course, Da was the picture of obedience to Lord Brighton's face, but one failed rebellion wouldn't quell the flames of liberty in my heart. Not after what they took from us. Not after what they did to my mother.
But like I said, I could have done a lot worse than that sweet, sunny, Adonis of a man, Johnny Brighton. While the fire of passion eluded me when I lingered in his arms, I did like running my hands through his hair, laughing with him as we said good night beside the garden gate. We never spoke of it, the kiss in the stream, but after that day, his hands took liberties anytime he could get me alone.
One evening, Lord Brighton invited us to dine with a collection of local lords and dignitaries. They argued about politics and what the English were doing about Napoleon. Old Bonny and his tricks. Johnny nodded vigorously at his father's words while his hand wandered up my skirts and across my thigh. I remained perfectly still, my heart thundering against my rib cage. A small bead of sweat crept down my neck, and my hands itched to wipe it away with the cloth napkin I wrung in my lap, twisting it tighter and tighter with every inch Johnny conquered across my exposed flesh. I contemplated swatting his hand away, but something about the secret game thrilled me, the sheer naughtiness of it making the inner walls of my sex clench.
"Now, my daughter has quite a few good plans for opening up a school for the peasants of Dunraven. Haven't you, Mary?"
Blast. With my eyes hazy, my mind blurry from wine and whatever Johnny was doing under the tablecloth, I had neglected to notice the conversation had turned. Da's eyes peered at me guilelessly from across the table, and I prayed no one would notice my flushed face in the dim candlelight. Johnny's hand paused on my thigh, his fingers digging into my naked flesh. I flashed my best ladylike smile, feeling their masculine gazes on the warmth of my cheek, the swell of my breasts.
"Just a few ideas, nothing serious yet." I added a small tittering giggle to hide a gasp as Johnny's hand wandered closer to my core.
A few ideas, indeed. I had blueprints, curriculum, plans for a library, and a vocational annex for developing skills in trade.
"There's danger in educating the Irish," one man said. Lord Kellingsworth, I believe, his bulbous nose red and veiny. "You'll have another rebellion on your hands."
"But it's precisely the lack of education and resources that caused such rebellions in the first place," I argued, batting my eyelashes. Beneath the table, I spread my legs wider in a subtle invitation, and Johnny cupped my mound with a firm hand, as if he was excited by my scandalous talk. He never minded a revolutionary as long as it came with tits.
"That's circuitous logic, my dear," said some other pompous ass from the corner. Lord Shiteforbrainsville or something ridiculous.
"The Irish rise up because of their fiery natures," he continued. "They need the English to quell their mercurial tendencies, give them civilization. Reason."
Oh God, the heat from my rage and Johnny's wandering hand almost sent me over the edge. I took a deep breath, steadying my body as I pulsed with an angry pleasure. "The Irish had civilization long before the English came. We were transcribing Plato while the English were still running around willy-nilly from the fall of the Roman Empire." I swallowed a moan as Johnny's hand rubbed against the small button on my mound, rolling it over and over until I thought I would scream. I flashed the table a wide-eyed innocent look and flung my shiny black curls over my shoulder. "Or maybe my recollection of history fails me?"
"I'm sure it's more complicated than that, my dear." Oh, so much laughter from the big fat English barrister on his tour of the Irish countryside. All the men joining in and me throwing back my head in fake giggles to mask my body arching into Johnny's fingers. I covered my mouth with my napkin to hide the twist of my lips and my shaking exhalations as his hand retreated from my core and traced lazy, maddening circles against my knee.
This was always the way with Johnny. He brought me to the edge of ecstasy, but I knew something else existed beyond that surge of desire, like a ship sailing on the horizon. Whatever games we played, it never felt like enough.
When the laughter died down, and my breathing returned to normal, I took a sip of wine. "Still," I said over the rim of my glass, "a bit of education might do this country some good."
With a single swift movement, Johnny removed his hand from beneath my skirts. Nodding vigorously, he rapped his knuckles, the same knuckles that had pressed into my private flesh, against the table. "Here, here," he said.
"Oh, my dear," Lord Kellingsworth said. "If it had been you instead of Wolfe Tone who had led the revolution of 1798, I daresay you may have enchanted us all into reform!"
I took another sip of wine, catching my father's stare from across the table. He met my gaze and glanced down at his hands, no doubt thinking of Ma, of how she had spied for the Irish during the uprising. How she had inspired so many of our kin to take up arms and fight. He may have moved on, but I could not. I was little more than a child then, but as a woman now, I could find a way to keep the flame of rebellion burning.
And besides ... seduction, sabotage, and usurping weren't such bad business when it came to spending time with Johnny. He wasn't one for rich conversation, but he made me laugh and I liked the feel of his arms around me as we lay in the high grass, watching big white clouds roll over us. I wanted that to be my future. Something soft and dimmed, like fading afternoon light. There was an order to it, a dull contentment that I could throw over my shoulders like a favorite shawl. And when his hand wandered beneath my skirts, seeking out my private spaces, I could almost pretend it was enough — those brief flashes of bliss. It was satisfying. Perfunctory. It would do, in other words. With Johnny by my side and Dunraven within my grasp, I thought that this was what peace must feel like, days and days as predictable as perfectly-lined blocks on a patchwork quilt.
Perhaps my moony eyes had betrayed me, though. Because while Da may not have known the long and short of it, the man was no fool.
"I see the way Johnny Brighton stares at ye," he said the next day as we went to check on one of the sick villagers. "Sick" was merely another word for starving, and even though Da had complained multiple times to Lord Brighton about the living conditions of the cottagers, we would no doubt see another fever outbreak before the year was done, to be sure.
"Ye be careful with that one now," he grumbled. "Don't think for a minute the likes of him would condescend to marry the likes of ye. He'll be having himself an heiress from America more likes than a poor steward's daughter from Dunraven."
Excerpted from The Captain's Rebel by C. B. Halverson, Suzanne Evans. Copyright © 2017 C. B. Halverson. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great steamy read. Highly recommended
One star is too generous for this trash!
Really good story
The Captain’s Rebel by C.B. Halverson is the first story I’ve read by this author, and being a Scorched title ensures there will be steamy scenes as part of the seafaring voyage taken by the heroine to secure her fortunes. It’s a swashbuckling adventure with a side of kink that leads to a very satisfying happy ever after. Mary O’Malley is tired of waiting. Determined to secure her rightful place as the Lady of Castle Dunraven which once belonged to her ancestors, she slowly but surely seduces a promise of marriage from Johnny Brighton, son of the current Lord. When Johnny heads off to fight with the English Navy, her plans are thwarted. A scheming and jealous wannabe suitor destroys the papers proving Mary’s claims, leaving her running for her life, determined to find Johnny come hell or high water. Disguised as a cabin boy, Mary finds her way onto the ship that Johnny was last seen upon. The dangerous but very attractive Captain Richard Grant sees through her disguise and soon Mary finds herself embroiled in an affair with the Captain that opens up a whole new world of dominance and submission. Intrigue, passion, and danger court their every move and Mary must make the ultimate choice – her country, or her heart. I really enjoyed this adventurous and very sexy romance! One must understand that Mary's situation as a young woman in this time period is one of limitations and she believes her only way out of poverty is to marry Johnny. It's her singular goal, and she'll do anything to achieve it. At the same time, she doesn't love him, and though they have some sexual encounters at the start of the story before Johnny joins the Navy, she feels no real emotional attachment to him (nor him to her). Thus, the relationship she enters into with the Captain on his ship, where she must pretend to be his cabin boy and cater to him, is purely a sexual one (at least at first) and doesn't change her goal to find Johnny and marry him. This may make her seem cold-hearted but in her circumstances survival trumps emotions. The story is told in first person point of view, which took a bit to get used to at first, but explains the thoughts behind her actions and makes her a more sympathetic character. Captain Grant is a respected Navy Officer, used to a well run ship and having people follow his orders. As Mary is the only woman on board, and one who attends him daily, he finds it hard to fight his attraction to her. A strapping punishment meted out as he would any other under his command leads to some surprising revelations, and starts a sexual relationship between them. Neither is under any illusion that what is happening between them is permanent. But along the way, something changes and their hearts get involved. Of course it's never smooth sailing at sea, and when French enemy ships are spotted, all bets for an easy voyage are off. There are several action packed scenes that add to the drama and intensity of the story as Mary finds herself embroiled in questions of crown and country. Mary and the Captain eventually get their happy ending but not without testing the limits of their trust and commitment to each other. The Captain's Rebel is an exciting and lusty adventure on the high seas!
This was my first C. B. Halverson book. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this story, I've read many books and for the most part, first person really doesn't work for me. This is not the case with this book. It was very well done. Mary is a very strong-willed woman. She is more than happy to marry her childhood friend to regain her family's lands and to actually help the people who live on them. Mary and her beau Johnny become betrothed in secret and she is beyond happy until Johnny tells her he is going off to war. All hell breaks loose when her father tries to marry her to another man. And Mary's adventure begins! I really enjoyed the basic story in this book. And then there were the hot parts! LOL Wasn't strictly necessary but made the story and the situation so much more intense. The relationship between the "cabin boy" and the Captain was very well written, and well laid out. The pace of the story kept me interested and engaged not letting me put it down too much. It was so intense that it has taken me quite a few days to formulate my thoughts on the book. I will look for more by this author, this was a hot, sweet, thoughtful romance. Courtesy Copy received
WOW was I shocked when I started reading this book! I knew that it was labeled as Erotica, but I was not expecting it to be so hot that I thought my iPad was going to burst into flames! The way I explained this to my besty and hubby was "This is Fifty Shades meets Historical!" But it was also entertaining and full of an amazing story line! I really liked Mary and Captain Grant, both are strong individuals that have had to fight and work for everything they have. I may not have liked the way Mary plotted and schemed to try to get her way, but I can understand her motives enough that it didn't make me hate her. The reason I am only giving this book a 4 star is because I feel like the story was missing a bit at the end. I didn't expect it to end and wrap up like that, it felt to quick. I expected there to be more after story I guess. BUT that is my opinion and even though it ended abruptly I still very much LOVED this book. It kept me interested and sucked in for the entire thing, which made getting anything done EXTREMELY hard!! So if your're looking for something that is Historical but HOT AND SPICY give this book a shot. You will not be disappointed! * I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.*
Who knew….Mary had a dark, sexy, and dangerous side. I found her so interesting. The life she lives was not easy and some of that is of her own doing but much of it is by circumstances beyond her control. Yet when she meets Captain Grant her dark and dominant side came flying out. Mary was strong, bold, and able to hold her own in any situation in a time when women were not fully respected or taken serious. The Captain’s Rebel is a great historical pirate story with the twists of some DBSM. CB Halverson did an amazing job of heating the scenes up while telling a story of life on a pirate ship at the same time. The ending was perfect and unexpected. I thought I knew what was going to happen, I thought I knew where it was heading yet I was surprised. I look forward to more from CB Halverson.
Scorching historical romance story, very good book!
*voluntarily and honestly reviewed the ARC I received from IndieSage PR* I'm not one to love historical romances but this book has made me rethink everything I've been missing out on! Mary is an Irish born rebel who's just one of the many that suffered the effects of the Rebellion in 1798 (I actually learned something) and when the one thing to grant her home freedom disappears, she goes out to retrieve it. At all costs. The tone of this story and writing style were amazing. I loved how stubborn she was, how persistent and passionate she felt for her country. Grant, a captain who knew more than anyone about hardship and hard work, refuses to grasp her understanding of boarding a Navy's ship under guise. Yet when push comes to shove, he finds himself doing everything in his power to keep her safe. Their chemistry was off the charts, and since I'm a sucker for the hate-first-love-later romances, it wasn't hard to get into their dominate games of keeping control. There was adventure, suspense, a thrilling secret that would make or break them. The ending was a little weird for me but in all honesty, I don't exactly have the grounds to judge how one would react in the face of danger. But still, it left me very satisfied in the end and I can't wait to see what other Irish heroines Halverson has in store. Definite recommend for you history buffs that enjoy a good tale.
I loved it! This historical read is fast-paced with lots of suspense and drama. The story really draws you in. The chemistry between Mary and Captain Grant is steamy. Entertaining and scorching hot.
4.5 Stars 'The Captain's Rebel' by C. B Halverson is the story of Captain Richard Grant and Mary O’Malley. Mary thought she was in love with Johnny who she was great friends with. Johnny had promised to marry her but he ended up going off to war. Then her father tried to marry her off to someone that she didn't want to marry...not to mention that he was a mean. When she told the story of her and Johnny were to marry the next set of events has her on the run. That running took her to pretend to be a Cabin Boy on Captain Grants ship. Once they were at see and Captain Grant saw her he knew right away that she was a women and took her to be his 'Cabin Boy'. Mary gave him a false name of Margaret. Captain Grant tried to keep a close eye on Mary and he did have to 'discipline' her a few times. Each time it seem to make them want each other more. This was a very hot exciting read! Can't wait to read more from this author! "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
4.5 stars. Okay, I know. Gorgeous cover, right? Go on, stare at it a bit. I’ll wait. Wipe the drool off your chin now. This book is just as delicious as that cover. The historical detail, the battle scenes, the motivations, and believability, of the main character, Mary, it’s all fantastic. It’s not your typical arranged marriage historical romance either. One of the things I love about Ms. Halverson’s writing (other than the fantastic sense of place I get when I read her books) is that her characters aren’t Mary Sues. They don’t just float along doing nothing much of anything, letting stuff happen to them. Oh no, her characters take life by the balls and make it say uncle, just like women have done throughout history. To see that in a historical novel, a woman bent on doing whatever she must to reach her goals? Absolute perfection. I loved every second of it. THEN we get some delicious, hot as sin, kinky, sex to go with it. Being a practitioner, I’m always a little leery of books that advertise kink, but I didn’t have any issues with presentation. You really can’t go wrong with this book. It’s just so scrumptious. SCORES: Readability: 5/5 Dropping my tablet on my face falling asleep level of good. The plotting, pacing, action and sex is all right where it needs to be to keep the pages turning. Arcs: 5/5 Masterfully executed character arcs, story arc is fantastic. Craft: 4/5 Well-written, well-edited. A couple historical details that weren’t quite right that threw me out of the story because I’m a history geek, (Masters in World History/professional genealogist/historical reenactor level of geekdom) but, to many readers it’s not likely to matter. So, whatcha waiting for? Go get it! Note: If you’re demisexual or asexual, probably not the book for you. It didn’t bother *me* because erotic romance is my brain-candy, but there is a LOT of sex in this book, and it happens pretty early on in the relationship.