Lieutenant Owen Masters and Emeline Baratt meet on a British warship as sworn enemies. Where will Emeline place her loyalties when forced to spy against her country?A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.War Forces a Choice Between Love and CountryA trip home from England to Maryland in 1812 finds Emeline Baratt a captive on a British warship and forced to declare her allegiance between the British and Americans. Remaining somewhat politically neutral on a ship where her nursing skills are desperately needed is fairly easy—until she starts to have feelings for the first lieutenant who becomes her protector. However, when the captain sends her and Lieutenant Owen Masters on land to spy, she must choose between her love for him and her love for her country. Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall. More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)
About the Author
MaryLu Tyndall, a Christy Award finalist and bestselling author of the Legacy of the King’s Pirates series, is known for her adventurous historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. She holds a degree in math and worked as a software engineer for fifteen years before testing the waters as a writer. MaryLu currently writes full time and makes her home on the California coast with her husband, six kids, and four cats. Her passion is to write page-turning, romantic adventures that not only entertain but open people’s eyes to their God-given potential. MaryLu is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.
Read an Excerpt
The Atlantic Ocean off the Coast of Virginia, August 6, 1814
What would it feel like to drown ... to float listlessly down ... down ... beneath the chilled waters of the Atlantic? To feel salty fingers wrap around you, their deadly talons tugging you farther into the murky darkness, your lungs burning until they screamed for air that would never come ... until finally, cloaked in a silent, peaceful tomb, you floated into eternity. ...
Emeline Baratt pondered these things as she gazed upon the dark waves from the larboard railing of her father's merchant brig — or rather, privateer — Charlotte. The pondering sliced an icy knife down her back. Was it the thought of dying or the chilled mist of the morning that caused her to suddenly draw the warmth of her cloak tighter about her neck? Perhaps both.
Unable to sleep as usual, she'd come up on deck just before dawn. It was the only time of day she was left unhindered by the many sailors on board who felt it their duty to protect and entertain their employer's daughter. On her long journey across the pond from Calais, France, she'd endured more than enough male attention to last a lifetime. Whether their desire for her was motivated by her dowry, their need for a wife to take care of them, or her "exquisite" beauty — as many of them claimed she possessed — she did not know. Nor did she care. As far back as she could remember, she had never wanted to marry.
A sliver of a moon frowned its disappointment down upon her. A scowl with which she was quite familiar, having seen it enough on her father's face whenever she'd dared to tell him of her dreams. Mockery always preceded his frustration, a complete dismissal of all that was important to her. Yet she knew he meant well. He wanted to see her settled and cared for. He wanted grandchildren. And while he didn't voice it, she knew he wanted to be free of the burden of her support.
"At two and twenty, you should be married with a bevy of wee ones frolicking about your skirts," he had told her after he'd discovered her painting away the afternoon. "It is the godly and proper station for women — raising children and caring for a husband. Not wasting your time with frivolous art that will never sell."
That frivolous art was the most beautiful seascape she'd ever painted and a secret commission from the mayor's wife, who'd admired Emeline's work from afar.
She never finished it. The next day her father whisked her overseas to Brighton to spend a year with her great-aunt, a wealthy daughter of a baron.
"What you need is a woman's influence, someone to teach you how to be a proper lady." He waved his hand through the air and huffed. "Perhaps you'll even find a husband. God knows you've rejected every eligible gentleman in Baltimore."
Indeed she had. A smile lifted her lips at the memory of those suitors vying for her affections like puppies for their mother's milk. But she would not be any man's pet. Why tie yourself down to a life of endless scrubbing and mending and cooking and tending? She'd done enough of that in the past fourteen years caring for her father and two brothers after her mother died and then most recently her aunt. If that was to be her life, what was the point?
She gazed at the churning water again.
She could jump.
The brig pitched over a wave, sending the deck tilting and wood creaking, jarring her from her morbid thoughts. Gripping the railing tighter, she sighed and gazed at the blanket of golden light swaddling the horizon, fluttering threads of gold and azure over the inky swells. Soon the deck would be abuzz with sailors, joining the two night watchmen and helmsman standing at the wheel. Soon she would have to go below to spend her final day at sea cooped up in a cabin the size of a privy closet. At least she had her charcoal and paper to keep her busy.
She may even finish her sketch of the captain if one of the sailors didn't come down with some phantom illness she had to address. Possessing medical skills she'd learned while accompanying her uncle on his rounds in Baltimore was yet another thing that kept her forever tending to everyone else's needs.
Everyone's but her own.
La, but she sounded bitter. Forgive me, Lord.
The pound of footsteps and groans of men unhappy to be awakened from their sleep rumbled behind her. A brisk wind flapped loose sails and stirred the curls dangling about her neck, and she drew a deep breath of the sea air. She'd grown so accustomed to the scent of brine, wood, and tar these past six weeks she'd all but forgotten what land smelled like.
She'd nearly forgotten her father's face as well — at least the look of chagrin it usually held. Would he be happy to see her? Perhaps her absence for nearly two years had softened his resolve to force her to marry if she returned without any prospects. Or would he be angry that she returned no better off than when she'd left? Without a husband and with but a pittance of an inheritance from her eccentric aunt.
She supposed his anger would win out, especially since he'd been forced to risk one of his merchantmen-turned-privateers to bring her home during wartime. Not just any privateer, but his best one, along with his best captain, Henry Lansing, notorious not only for capturing three British prizes but also for his skill at breaking through the British blockade of American ports.
Now that they neared the American coastline, they'd need his skill more than ever.
"Good morning to you, miss." One of the sailors smiled at her on his way to the foredeck as more men emerged from below and hurried to their posts.
Facing the sea once again, she drew back her shoulders. She had made up her mind. She would give up her art, marry within the year, and settle down to the life that was expected of her, a life that would please her father, society — and most of all, God.
No more wasted time, no more painting, no more frivolous dreams ...
She dropped her gaze once again to the misty sea. She could still jump. Death would come within minutes, and then she would be taken to heaven. To be with Mama.
"Oh Mama, I miss you so." She gripped the locket hanging around her neck as the sun peered over the horizon, soon becoming naught but a golden blur in Emeline's teary vision.
More sailors greeted her.
Wiping her eyes, she leaned over the railing and watched the line of bubbling foam rise and fall over the hull.
It would be so simple.
But of course she wouldn't jump. She straightened and glanced over the dissipating mist. From this moment forth, she intended to be a proper lady. And proper ladies certainly did not hurl themselves into the sea.
"Lay aloft! Loose top sails, Mr. Brook!" the boatswain shouted behind her.
Sailors leapt into the shrouds and skittered to the tops like spiders on a web. Within minutes, sheets were dropped, flapping idly before they caught the wind and ballooned in a thunderous roar.
Lowering her head, she prayed for forgiveness for her negative thoughts. She prayed that God would take away her dreams and help her be a godly woman. Then, perhaps then, He would choose to bless her and not punish her.
Warmth caressed her eyelids, and she opened them to the sunrise kissing the waves with saffron and whisking away the remaining fog. Perhaps an omen of God's favor at last. She started to turn and descend to her cabin, when a dark shape on the horizon caught her eye. Squinting, she watched as it grew larger ... a leviathan emerging from the mist.
"A sail! A sail!" A shout came from the tops.
They hadn't seen a single ship in the entire crossing. Odd since America was at war with Great Britain. Odd also because the captain had warned her that they may encounter some trouble.
She scanned the deck and spotted him mounting the ladder to the quarterdeck where he took the telescope from his first mate.
Another shout came from the tops. "She's flying the Union Jack, Cap'n!"
"What in the blazes! Where did she come from?" Captain Lansing bellowed, scope still to his eye. "Why was she not spotted earlier?"
"There was a heavy fog this morning," the boatswain offered.
"We are at war, man! Fog is no excuse!" Captain Lansing gripped the quarterdeck railing, his face mottled with rage.
"She's heading our way, Cap'n, signaling for a show of colors."
"By God, then we'll show her our colors! Raise the flag! Beat to quarters! All hands make sail!"
The string of orders sent the sailors dashing here and there as the first mate shouted further commands to the crew.
More sails were loosed. Wind glutted them like white pregnant bellies. Emeline stood frozen, watching the harried crew race about, their eyes sparking in fear. The ship veered to larboard. She caught the rail and slammed against the bulwarks.
"She's running out her guns!" the first mate yelled.
Emeline dared a glance back out to sea. A Royal Navy frigate advanced toward them in a sea of raging white foam.
A spindle of terror wove down her back. She couldn't move. Could hardly breathe.
A foul curse spewed from Captain Lansing's lips, followed by something about bearing off and starboard guns. ... Emeline could no longer make much sense of his words.
Boom! The roar shook both sky and brig. Her heart seized.
Someone shouted, "All hands down!"
Her last thought before dropping to all fours was that God so rarely answered her prayers.CHAPTER 2
Captain's orders. You and Mrs. Keate stay here until it's safe." In his haste to join the battle, the sailor's mate all but shoved Emeline and the quartermaster's wife, Hannah, into the tiny cabin and slammed the door.
Safe? Emeline shared a terrified glance with Hannah as shouts ricocheted above them and feet pounded over the deck. The eerie grate of iron set every nerve at attention to what she assumed were the guns being run out.
"Now, now, dear." The older woman took Emeline's arm and tugged her to sit in one of the chairs. "It will be all ri', you'll see."
"All right —" The deck suddenly tilted. Emeline toppled from the chair, lost her footing, and slammed into the bulkhead. Dazed, she clawed the wood, her shriek drowned out by the mad dash of water against the hull.
"Oh dear, you hurt yourself." Hannah's kind face came into view as she dragged Emeline across the small space and forced her to sit. Within moments, a cloth pressed on her forehead.
"Just a wee scratch. Nothin' to worry about."
The wood creaked and groaned as the brig heaved to starboard. Emeline gripped the arms of the chair while Hannah merely bolstered her stance and remained in place. She withdrew the rag. A red line marred the gray fabric.
Boom! The distant explosion roared overhead. Emeline covered her face and crouched into the chair, too afraid to scream or even breathe for fear the shot would crash through the cabin, through her body, and rip her to shreds.
It didn't. But it did hit above deck as the snap and crunch of wood pierced the air, followed by a gut-wrenching scream.
"I should see if the injured need help." Gripping the chair arms, Emeline attempted to rise, but the ship careened yet again, sending her hairbrush and toiletries crashing to the floor from the table.
Shouts increased in volume and intensity, the captain's chief among them. Wind slapped the sails, the sea roared against the hull, and footsteps pummeled the deck like an angry giant.
"You can't go up top now, dear. It is too dangerous."
Emeline wanted to cry, but her eyes were as dry as her throat. "This can't be happening!"
"Try to calm yourself." Hannah dabbed the cloth on her head again.
"Calm? How can I be calm when we are in the middle of a battle at sea?" Emeline eased the woman's arm away. "And against the mightiest navy on earth!"
This time Emeline made it to her feet and instantly regretted it as the brig pitched. She gripped the bunk chain before she toppled to the deck. It nearly yanked her arm out of its socket, and she fell anyway. Pain seared a trail up her tailbone.
Sinking onto the bunk for support, Hannah reached a hand for her. "Never you fear about that. God be wit' us."
Forty years had not stolen an ounce of vigor or vim from Hannah. Though they had rounded out her figure and added a few silver streaks to her chestnut hair. She had been Emeline's companion on the long journey across the pond, but in truth, she'd been more of a mother figure — something Emeline had not had since she was eight.
Taking Hannah's hand, she allowed the older lady to pull her up onto the cot. "How do you know God is not with the British?"
Hannah shrugged. "Don't matter wha' side 'e takes. 'E's still wit' you and me."
Stern voices — brisk and harried — echoed from above. The brig tilted to starboard again. An explosion shook the ship so violently it seemed every timber would turn to dust. The sound pulsed in Emeline's ears. Beside her, Hannah's lips were moving, but Emeline could make nothing of the words ... something about a broadside.
"We must 'ave fired a broadside," Hannah repeated, staring at Emeline with concern. "Are you all ri'?"
"I want to go above. What if the brig sinks and we drown, trapped in this cabin?" The irony was not lost on her that she'd only that morning been brooding on a watery death.
Easing an arm around her, Hannah drew her close, but Emeline leapt up, stumbled over the shifting deck, flung open the door, and barreled into the companionway. She supposed proper ladies didn't barge on deck in the middle of battle either, but if she were going to die, propriety made no difference.
Hannah's shouts followed behind her but were quickly muffled by the mayhem above. Emeline emerged into a scene of such chaos, blood, and destruction she nearly retreated back to her cabin. She would have retreated if a cloud of black smoke hadn't completely enveloped her, stealing her breath and stinging her eyes. Coughing, she batted it away, when a sailor rammed into her. She stumbled to the side. Hannah grabbed her arm before she fell and dragged her against the quarterdeck as the metallic scent of blood combined with gunpowder sent bile into her throat.
Men scurried back and forth, following the captain's orders. Gun crews swarmed the ten cannons — or guns, as they called them — on the port side, reloading them with shot and powder. A charred hole smoked from the starboard railing. A huge gouge had been blasted from the main mast between main and topsail. The enormous pole whined and teetered, remaining upright by a mere breath and a prayer. Splintered wood, stained with blood, showered the deck, slicing the bare feet of the sailors as they hurried past. Above, sails flapped impotently in search of wind. The brig slowed.
Curses showered on them from above where the captain stood.
"They've got the weather edge, Cap'n, and coming fast on our port quarter!"
An agonized moan drew Emeline's attention to a sailor sprawled over the deck by the foredeck ladder. Before Hannah could stop her, she gathered her skirts and dashed toward him, dropping to her knees at his side. A spear of wood protruded from his neck while blood gushed from a wound on his head. She scanned the scene, looking for anyone to assist her in bringing him below, when another boom split the sky. The sailors crouched.
Was this the end? Would she die aboard this ship? Her heart pounded in her ears, drowning out all other sound and slowing time. Thump ... thump ... thump. Sailors moved across the deck as if wading through oil. The captain was shouting something, his lips opening and closing ever so slowly, but his words sounded hollow and muffled. Emeline glanced down at the injured man and blinked, trying to regain her senses. Grabbing his hand, she closed her eyes. "Oh God, help us."
A splash sounded and the clamor on board resumed.
Emeline peered over the railing to see the British ship coming alongside with the muzzles of at least fifteen guns mocking them from its side.
A confident voice bellowed over the water. "This is His Britannic Majesty's frigate Marauder. Lay down your arms and surrender at once or be blown to bits!"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Liberty Bride"
Copyright © 2018 Marylu Tyndall.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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