Please welcome today me, myself, and I, otherwise known as Leanne Tyler!
Using History as a Backdrop
Historical romances often utilize actual historical events to add flavor to the story. In Because of Rebecca the freeing of slaves via the Underground Railroad was a useful tool. It added a hint of danger for my heroine who was associated with the Vigilante Committee that she became acquainted with while attending a women’s seminary in Virginia. This committee was fictional and used as a vehicle to get my character involved with the movement. Much like the real Underground Railroad those associated with the Vigilante Committee were scattered across the north and south. They took their task seriously and used whatever means possible to complete their task.
Rebecca Davis promises to raise her dying sister’s newborn son as her own. She also agrees to help a female slave reach freedom. It’s the right thing to do but can she trust her fellow conspirators without endangering her future or her son? Her handsome contact, Jared Hollingsworth, won’t discuss their mission, but her attraction to him has Rebecca fearing she will endanger not only her freedom –but her heart.
Jared Hollingsworth refuses to use slave labor. Despite this sentiment, he’s been able to keep his plantation going, even while mourning the death of his wife and son. Now, thanks to his notorious cousin, Jared is in danger of losing Oak Hill. When he meets Rebecca Davis, he isn’t ready to love again, but she may be just what he needs to save his home and his heart. When he discovers Rebecca embroiled in a conspiracy, will he follow his heart and dare to love again? Or will he risk her heart to save his beloved plantation?
Rebecca felt her cheeks flush warm and she looked away lest he see the effect his touch, both physical and visual, had on her. She didn’t understand the perplexing effect he had on her either. Sometimes she felt as if she’d burn to an ember on the inside from an innocent touch or glance.
Jared pushed his chair away from the table.
“Would you like to have a tour of the house?”
“Yes,” she said far too eagerly, but she…they…needed a distraction, if he felt anything like she did when they were alone.
She waited as he stood, pulled back her chair, and offered her his arm before leading her into the foyer.
His golden hair still hung in wet curls around the collar of his crisp white shirt. Standing this lose she could not help but inhale the clean, spiced soap scent and heat threatened to flame her cheeks once more as she imagined him in his bath.
“Let’s start upstairs. I’d like to show you the library. It was my mother’s favorite room in the house. She loved to read. The shelves are stocked with all her first editions of the classics.”
Rebecca smiled, her heart beating faster with each step. She naughtily thought about him bathing, water glistening on his rock hard body. Even though he was dressed, she couldn’t stop sneaking a look at him. She imagined his skin was just as tanned underneath his clothing as above. He no doubt removed his shirt when working in the hot fields, letting the sun bake him. Her desire to touch him was strong. Her mouth felt dry and her heart beat a little faster.
She missed her footing on the next step and stumbled forward, but he caught her, helping her right herself.
“Are you all right?” he asked when they reached the landing.
Embarrassed, she looked away and nodded. She didn’t understand what made her lose all propriety when she was around him. They’d just met, but she’d simply die if he didn’t feel anything for her. She felt like a silly goose allowing herself to hope that he did. She stepped closer to him and laid her hand on his chest.
He blinked and she saw the surprise in his eyes that she’d touched him.
“Do you like me, Jared?”
Her unexpected touch seared his flesh and he hesitated a moment trying to read her thoughts before he answered. “Yes. I like you. Why do you ask?” He could feel the rise and fall of her breasts as she stood so close to him. Her emerald eyes were dark and her lips were pink, inviting him to taste them if he dared.
My God yes, I like you. Inwardly he groaned, but did he dare to confess his desire to her? “Come with me.” He entwined his fingers with hers and led her quickly into the library past the many bookshelves of leather bound volumes. He walked over to an alcove for privacy. Turning around, he pulled her close until she was pressed against him. “I like you far more than I should for the time I’ve known you, Rebecca.”
She swallowed. “You do?”
With his free hand he cupped her cheek, caressing it gently. He rubbed the pad of his rough thumb over her lips. They trembled in response and he lowered his head, nibbling at her mouth with small kisses until she responded in kind. Without warning, he parted her lips with his tongue and captured her mouth, exploring its depths.
Her hand crept up his arm to his neck, holding his head so he couldn’t pull away. Her fingers speared through his damp hair, sending shivers down his spine.
His body hardened and he groaned, pulling away before he lost his head completely. He walked toward the French doors on the opposite side of the library afraid she might see what had started out as an innocent kiss had done to him. He didn’t want to frighten her, or make her think he was on the verge of losing control.
Startled by her reckless behavior, Rebecca didn’t know what had gotten into her asking such a question.