Book Title: The Captain’s Woman
Series: The Thompsons of Locust Street
Author: Holly Bush
Publication Date: 1/10/23
Publisher: Holly Bush Books
Page Length: 218
Genre: Historical Romance
The Captain’s Woman
by Holly Bush
Meet the Thompsons of Locust Street, an unconventional family taking Philadelphia high society by storm…
1870 ~ Muireall Thompson has taken her duties seriously since her parents died on the family’s crossing from Scotland to America in 1854. As the eldest sibling, their death made her responsible for her family and left little time for a life of her own. But now her brothers and sisters are adults; even the youngest is nearly ready to face the world on his own. What will she do when she is alone, other than care for an elderly aunt and volunteer at the Sisters of Charity orphanage? Has the chance for a husband and children of her own passed her by?
Widower Anthony Marcus, formerly a captain in the Union Army, is a man scraping the bottom of his dignity and hanging on to his honor by the barest thread. Reduced to doing odd jobs to keep a roof over his dear daughter Ann’s head, he often leaves her with the Sisters of Charity while he is out seeking steady work with a decent salary that will allow him to move from their single-room living quarters.
After an initial meeting that finds Muireall and Anthony at odds, a tentative friendship forms as they bond over their mutual affection for Ann. As friendship leads to passion, can a wealthy spinster and a poor soldier overcome their differences in station to forge a future together? Just as Muireall finds the courage to reach for her own happiness, Anthony’s past rises up between them and an old enemy reemerges to bring the Thompson family down once and for all. Will the divide between them be insurmountable, or can they put aside pride and doubt for a love worth fighting for?
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/b6zwwZ
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BNC9FB7V/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BNC9FB7V/
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0BNC9FB7V/
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0BNC9FB7V/
Holly Bush writes historical romance set in the U.S.in the late 1800’s, in Victorian England, and an occasional Women’s Fiction title. Her books are described as emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance. She makes her home with her husband in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Connect with Holly at www.hollybushbooks.com and on Twitter @hollybushbooks and on Facebook at Holly Bush.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Holly-Bush/e/B006ZDTQ1A/
Muireall Thompson rose from her dining room chair in the Thompson family home on Locust Street in Philadelphia. She’d sat at the head of that table since they’d lost their beloved parents on their family’s escape across the Atlantic Ocean in 1855. She was nearly fourteen at the time, and she’d governed the family since then. She’d had help finding a home in a foreign city, furnishing it, raising her siblings, including a babe in arms—her youngest brother, Payden Thompson—from Aunt Murdoch, who was now slowing down in her old age. But her aunt was still lively, and more importantly, she was Muireall’s last connection to the prior generations of Thompsons. To Scotland. To their family’s place in society and the world of the nobility.
Aunt Murdoch sat at the other end of their large dining table, surrounded by Muireall’s siblings and the spouses of those who were married. There was even a wee nephew napping in a crib upstairs and a child on the way for her brother James and his wife. But now there was a commotion in the hallway, where their housekeeper’s son had gone to answer the door. Muireall heard shouting and a masculine voice calling the name of the young child sitting at their table, now scrambling to get down from her chair.
“Ann! Ann! Are you here?” the man shouted. “Ann!”
“Papa! I am here, Papa!” the girl said as she wiggled out of her chair. She flew into the man’s arms as he came through the dining room doorway, dropping his cane as he bent towards her.
“My girl! The nuns said you’d gone with someone, and I didn’t know who that person was. You must never do that again,” he said, holding her tight and kissing her face and hair.
Muireall looked at the man, clearly the child’s father. “The Sisters of Charity would have never allowed a child to be taken by a stranger, sir. They’ve known me for years.”
“But I don’t know you, and my Ann is most precious. I can’t countenance her wandering off with strangers.”
“I have just explained to you that I am well-known at the orphanage. Ann had not eaten all day, thinking you were to return for her and that you would eat together. Should I have let this dear child starve because you were late returning? I think not,” Muireall said, her voice rising. “Instead, I brought her home to dine with my family.”
The man looked away, turning his hat in his hand. “I was to be back from this appointment by midafternoon, but the man I was to speak to did not return until an hour ago.”
“What appointment could possibly be so important that you would worry a hungry child?” Muireall replied. She could feel anger welling up in her throat. The nerve of this person to come into her home and accuse her!
“I was seeing this man about work, ma’am. Work I need to make sure Ann has food on the table and clothes on her back,” he said, his voice rising with each word.
“Papa! The stew is delicious, and there is butter for the rolls! You may have mine, for I’m sure you have not eaten.”
Muireall’s brother stood, glancing from her to the stranger, smiled, and put out his hand. “James Thompson. Won’t you join us for a meal?”
“Captain Anthony Marcus of the Forty-Second. Excuse me. No longer captain. Just Anthony Marcus now. It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.”
“That’s my sister you’re arguing with, Miss Muireall Thompson.”
Muireall glanced at James. What was he about? she wondered. He scooted Ann’s chair closer to him and instructed Robbie to bring a chair for the captain. No, not the captain. Just plain old Anthony Marcus. What a way to introduce yourself to a room full of strangers whom you’ve just interrupted during their evening meal!
The housekeeper hurried to Mr. Marcus with a plate, silverware, and a napkin. He pulled his chair in and looked up at Mrs. McClintok. “Thank you, ma’am,” he said as he took the glass of water from her hand.
“Captain? We’re having beef stew. Allow me to dip you some,” her middle sister, Elspeth, said.
“Pass the rolls to the captain,” her youngest sister, Kirsty, said to her husband.
They were all smiling at the man as if he had not disturbed them and insinuated himself into their own family meal. Although, she would admit that was hardly fair. James had been the one to ask him to stay—and with that mischievous glint in his eye that Muireall did not trust.
“Thank you, ladies,” he said, nodded to her sisters, and spread his napkin on his lap.
“There is butter for the rolls, Papa,” Ann whispered. “Mr. Thompson will help you butter it. He helped me.”
“That was very kind of him,” Mr. Marcus said. But Muireall could tell Ann’s excitement over buttered rolls was embarrassing to him even as he watched bite her roll and lick the extra butter from her lips.
“There is wine, Captain, or whiskey, if you’d prefer,” Elspeth’s husband, Alexander Pendergast, said and lifted the bottle.
“Whiskey would be welcome, sir.”
“What s-sort of work was the man offering?” Dr. Albert Watson, Kirsty’s husband, asked.
Muireall watched as her family prodded him with more gentle questions. Soon he was comfortable and responding to everyone, even eliciting a laugh from Aunt Murdoch. Muireall was so angry she was having difficulty eating her meal. She’d smashed her fork into the potatoes with exaggerated strength, making her stew into a mashed mess with a few pieces of beef dotting it.