Sunday, December 6, 2015

Astounding Review!

I absolutely love it when I stumble upon a review of one of my stories on the internet. After reading this review, I knew I had to share it. I'm grinning so wide right now and bursting with pride. Yeah, go figure, right?  Thanks so much to Eva Lucia for this FIVE STAR awesome review and for making my day brighter!

Title: “Haunting Secrets” – author: Marie Higgins – pages: 232 (Kindle Edition) – published: 2014
”Victoria Fawson desperately needs answers about her father’s death. When she visits the Maitland Manor to discover those answers, she finds only secrets…haunting secrets that leave her wondering who she can trust. Should she trust her feelings for the one man who hides from the world—the man who might put her in danger?
Justin Maitland hasn’t been human for over a year. He knows things about his family—things that could destroy Victoria. The only way to help her is to send her back home without learning anything. Yet, how can he let her go when he’s given her his heart?”
Where to begin?Do you know the feeling when you open a book, read the first pages and quickly realize that the book will haunt you, both awake and asleep, of wanting to know more about its characters and its plot?
This is feeling that I felt while reading “Haunted Secrets”. It is one of the best books that I have read for a very long time. I didn’t know of the author, Marie Higgins, but luckily, I downloaded it as a coincidence as a Kindle version and started reading one sleepless night. Once I started to read, I was intrigued from the beginning and I really didn’t want to finish it, so I forced myself to take breaks once in a while and put it away – just to save it for a bit longer.
I have always been extremely fascinated and intrigued when an author mixes historical and socio-cultural facts with fiction, and that’s what Marie Higgins achieves. The story is set in mid-1900th Century in Cornwall, England; a time when high status and marriage were some of the most important factors. The story is filled with family traditions, relations, secrets and intrigues. I love the idea of old myths and traditions influencing the plot and the characters of it. The story was well-written and the clear descriptions of the characters made it so easy to get under their skin.
The main character, Victoria Fawson, comes to Maitland Manor to solve the riddle about her father’s death and along the way, you learn more and more about the Maitland family and what they really are capable of. “Haunting Secrets” is a mix of Victorian history, romance, fantasy and there’s a riddle to solve.
Already from the beginning, when Victoria comes to Maitland Manor, you know as a reader that there are things left untold and when Victoria walks around in the big house with the many corridors, it’s easy to get the feeling that you are there yourself – and this is because to Marie Higgins’ interesting visual writing.
“Northanger Abbey”-vibe
While reading the book, I got a feeling of mystery and gothic elements. The atmosphere of the book was brilliant and I can easily imagine myself walking around in Maitland Manor, opening every closet to find secrets left behind. It is never possible to compare literature, but personally, I thought a bit of “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen while reading this. Especially concerning the gothic elements, but also the fact that the female heroine wishes to be independent and only marry for love, not social status. I have always liked when authors have shown women as independent and strong, like Jane Austen, even though it would have been criticized during the time it was written.
Another thing that intrigued me was the classic love story; the theme of star-crossed lovers (known from Shakespeare), but it indeed works in this story. But I will not reveal everything about the story because as a reader it was fantastic to slowly sink deep into the world of Maitland Manor, and everyone should have that experience with this book.
My opinion on the book:
As told earlier, it is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I was lucky that I found this book because I felt that with the use of different genres, it was made for me. Of course, it is very subjective depending what people like, but as for me, it was definitely a great book and hopefully I will get the chance to purchase it for my book shelf one day (sadly, it can only be bought as an Ebook right now). Marie Higgins is a very talented author and I’m so happy that I by accident found her book. Now I can’t imagine the fact of never reading it!
This book truly haunted me and in the end, it finally revealed its secrets to me…
I will look forward to reading more of Marie Higgins’ works because she has a certain way of intriguing and inviting the reader into her magical and literary universe.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I'm Dreaming of a ROMANCE Christmas...

I can hear Bing Crosby singing White Christmas now...except I'm dreaming of a ROMANCE Christmas. Hey, what can I say? I love watching those cheesy Christmas romances movies on Netflix or other TV stations. 

So that got me to thinking - what about my Christmas stories? (And why can't I find someone to turn my stories into movies???) Do my readers know how many Christmas romance stories I have?

For one week only (Dec 8th - Dec 15th), all of my Christmas stories will be priced at 99 cents!!!!!

Here is my Christmas story list:

Katelyn Palmer never believed any harm could come from using her college crush as the hero in her first romance novel—the novel that jumpstarted her writing career.  However, when Shane Hunter storms into town, demanding to meet the writer who used his identity Katelyn is confronted with more than her long, silent emotions.  If Shane takes her to court for invasion of privacy, her career would be over.

Shane doesn’t know how to act when his ex sister-in-law accuses him of having an affair while he was married—and then shows him the romance book as proof.  Now he wants to know who this author really is and why she used his name, and most of the events in his life for her story.  Desperate to know the truth Shane befriends Katelyn but he does not expect to be attracted to her, even more unexpected is the joy he finds watching his twins fall in love with the woman who is stealing his heart, too...

Buy Kindle for 99 cents regular price $1.99
Buy Paperback for only $10.79
Buy Audiobook for FREE (leave me a comment and ask me for the free code!)

Dorothy Paxton is not pleased when a handsome Englishman walks into her inn and announces he's taking her to England to reunite her with the grandfather who turned his back on her years ago. Her escort, Calvin Seton, bribes her by paying her brother's doctor's bills, and soon she's on the ship sailing for London. Little by little, Calvin's charm softens her heart. While her lady's companion teaches her to become a lady, Dorothy is secretly wondering if the price of love is worth it. Especially when she knows Calvin will walk out of her life as soon as they reach England.

Can she afford the cost of love?

Buy Kindle for 99 cents!
Buy Paperback for only $7.85!

In a desperate attempt to keep a man from her past who was wanted by the police from noticing her, Kelsey Manning makes a good-looking stranger an offer. She’ll pay Rick Jarmin if he pretends to know her. That mere request lead into a dangerous kiss . . . An unforgettable kiss through following the bad guy and putting their lives in danger.

Buy Kindle for 99 cents!

Unwilling to let another man control her life, Dr. Jordan Reed hires Brock Hamill to portray her new love interest to satisfy her nagging stepmother. Part of the bargain is that the new man convinces her ex-boyfriend that Jordan has happily moved on. Unfortunately, it’s hard to prove when Brock blames Jordan for his sister’s suicide and embarks on a mission to destroy her psychiatric credibility. Acting the part of a patient, his mission is deterred by the doctor’s sweetness and giving heart, and when he discovers her life is in jeopardy, he’s willing to reveal his true identity to save her. Will Jordan forgive his deceit when she learns the truth?

Buy Kindle for 99 cents
Buy Paperback for only $8.49

Charlene Randall's neighbor is all wrong for her. Rich and handsome, Damien Giovanni's love 'em and leave 'em lifestyle isn't a fit for her. Charley wants it all—the love, the romance, the white picket fence, and someday children. When the new Channel Nine Anchorman shows up at her station, Charley sets her sights on her old high school crush, Maxwell Harrington. Of course, he doesn't remember her, but thanks to the Internet, Charley is armed and ready to make him her boyfriend—an easy no-fail method "Ten Ways to Win your Man". 
Damien knows Max plays fast and loose, and Damien refuses to let Charley's heart be broken again. He offers to help her—to be her own fairy godmother. He does this to get closer to her and win her heart. He's never been one who wanted to marry and have a family, but with Charley he'll consider settling down and becoming a family man.
But which man will Charley want? It's easy to lose track of who's wrong or right.

Buy Kindle for 99 cents, regular price $2.99

Andrew Merrick was whisked from his home in England, 1848 to another time, the very day a mob had attacked his family. Wondering why he remains in this strange place, all he wants is to find the treasure his father had hidden, hoping this might take Andrew back home. But he’s running out of time. When he meets a lovely woman in this new century, he feels she is the one who will help him.

Halle Chapman has come to England to find her missing father. What she finds instead is a nice man who claims he’s from the past. Although she doesn’t believe in time-travel, deep in her heart, she knows she must help Andrew. What she finds instead is that discovering the key to her future lies in the past. Now, to return to her own time, she needs to solve the mystery surrounding Andrew Merrick and his family’s murder.

Buy Kindle for 99 cents, regular price $2.99
Buy Paperback for only $10.92

When a man flees danger to protect himself in a mountain hideaway, will he be able to protect his heart from the woman he discovers in the back seat of his Jeep? Looking for someone who really understands her, she dares give her heart and trust to a stranger.

Justin Monroe's future father-in-law wants him dead. Running for his life, Justin escapes his wedding rehearsal and head for the hills. A December snowstorm and a stowaway are the last things he needs.

When Brooke Cavanaugh wakes in the back seat of the wrong car, she is confronted with more than a blizzard. Although leery of men, Justin captures her interest ... and her heart. It must have been the mistletoe.

Buy Kindle for 99 cents!
Buy Paperback for only $6.95

Humility is a hard emotion to swallow, but Jace Corbett must relook at his faults if he wants to keep from freezing his what's-it off. Literally. In the middle of the Colorado mountains at a family lodge, his date kicks him out of the cabin. The lady in the next cabin is his angel of mercy and rescues more ways than one.
Buy Kindle for 99 cents!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Interview with audio narrator Paula Slade

I'm very excited to interview the narrator for my book "Waiting for You". I was thoroughly delighted in the way she played my characters in the story. And I'm very happy she agreed to do this interview!

"Lovely Story!"
I have both the ebook and paperback copy for this story...the audiobook copy just made it complete. A 
lovely paranormal story! Beautifully written and narrated. Will definitely be re-listening! :)

Listen to a sample of the audiobook - click here

Briefly tell me about yourself. What makes Paula Slade tick?
My family, my friends, a house full of pets, and the day-to-day pleasure of enjoying a life filled with creative possibilities!

What made you want to become a narrator?
Audiobook narration has been a natural evolution for me. Most of my working life has been involved in the entertainment industry. Before beginning my career on radio, I majored in music at the American Conservatory in Chicago, studying voice and opera performance. Over the years, I’ve done everything from on-camera television and film, to theatre, plus behind the microphone, recording voice-overs for commercials and industrial training modules.  I was also fortunate to be able to create programming (writing/producing/directing) for radio/crossover television. And, along the way there were reporting stints for newspapers, magazines and online sites. Seeing the burgeoning audiobook market take hold in the last few years was the impetus

I'm so impressed with your credentials! Do you always enjoy narrating stories? Was there ever a time you became frustrated with this career?
For the most part I love it!  I get to exercise my acting and storytelling skills, plus learn something new almost every day.  The only frustrating part is finding the right book, that is well written and is a good fit as far as marketability and personal interests. 

I think it would be hard to narrate a book that wasn't well written. I'm very happy you agreed to do mine! So tell me of a fun experience you had narrating a story.
Actually, it was when we were recording your wonderful book “Waiting for You.”  I love ghost stories, and I also love comedy. (Some of my theatrical training was at Second City in Chicago, and I don’t often have much of a chance to use comedic timing.) Your character “Vanessa” was so much fun to interpret! Her comedic interludes interspersed with a beautifully moving love story made it fun.  Also, there was one scene in particular (possible spoiler here) where Nick is embracing Abigail (who is a ghost), and a policeman comes along and knocks on their car window to find out what he’s doing.  I laughed so hard and had so many retakes on that scene, but it was fun, fun, fun!

I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the humor in my story!! And I'm glad you laughed at that part. When a reader climbs into my characters shoes, they need to know how they are feeling, and I'm glad you did.
How do you create such compelling voices? What goes through your mind when you’re recording different characters?
Before I begin recording, I do a total read-through, and along the way I find myself getting in sync with the author’s style, character development, and intent of sub text in the dialogue.  Once the reading process is done, I have a full mental image of each of the characters as well as the storyteller.  When it comes time to say, or act out a line, I envision (in my mind’s eye) myself as the character or the storyteller.  This is quite a fascinating process, as sometimes it takes several days to shed different personas.  (Last year, I had to come up with the voice for a talking Chihuahua in Jeff T. Bauer’s “Sadie Sapiens,” and I still anthropomorphize one of our dogs.) 

I would imagine doing this very thing, too! When you narrated, “Waiting for You”, there was a special trick you did in the story when my hero was on the phone. Can you explain how you did that?
Ah, we thought it would be fun to try something new for “Waiting for You.” We loved the first comedic scene so much we were looking for something unexpected that would draw the listener in even further.  Our company’s senior engineer and all around techie, Barry Gillogly (who is also my husband) came up with the idea of using an FFT filter with customized settings.  It worked out so well that we’ve employed a similar technique in later books and the authors seem to love it!  It was a fun creative choice that worked. 

I feel so privileged that you tried this on my story first. It was amazing!
Do you have a website where other writers can find you if they want to hire you as their narrator?
Yes, through our company, Artistic Media Associates, Inc. in the greater Boston area and online at , Or, through my personal website Paula Slade: Audiobooks at , which has links to all my social media sites. Well, this has been so much fun Marie. Thank you so much! 

Paula, thank you so much for the interview. I feel as though I know you better now. I hope you'll consider recording another one of my stories in the future. I would be one lucky author if you agreed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Interview with audiobook narrator, Stevie Zimmerman

I thought it might be fun to get to know the awesome narrators of my audiobooks. So today, I've intereviewed Stevie Zimmerman who narrated "Falling in Love Again".

1st review for audiobook:

"Romance par excellence"
All the elements of a complete romance. Pirates, spies, highwaymen, period detail. Fantastic.
The narration Stevie Zimmerman delivers is amazing. All the characters come to like - even the hero who is TWO people. Sexy and fun and enticing performance.

Briefly tell me about yourself. What makes Stevie Zimmerman tick?

Other than family (two almost grown kids and an almost grown husband) my first love is the theatre. I wanted to be an actor but didn’t have ‘it’, so I tried directing and loved it. That’s where I feel most at home. I direct whenever I’m asked pretty much, and have had some real successes in the DC area. I’m from England originally but have been living here for almost 23 years. Both my children were born here. But I must admit, my heart is still in England and I get back whenever I can, although I try to travel as widely as possible and have a bucket list of places way longer than I have years left to live.  My other great love is our perfect puppy Charlie who is reminding me it is past supper o’clock so I better get a move on!

Well, that's probably why you've done such a great job with the British accents in this story - you're from England!  So, what made you want to become a narrator?

I guess it is a bit of a return to acting in a way. A few years ago someone suggested that my British English accent might have a niche in the voiceover world and I started doing some local commercials. That developed into a little business doing some longer narrations for companies, e-learning and such. And then I thought I’d see if I could get into the audiobook world. The ebook self publishing boom has been a boon for narrators too as there are so many more books on the market.

I agree with you on the self-publishing boom. There are a lot of ebooks now. Do you always enjoy narrating stories? Was there ever a time when you became frustrated with this career?
I do really enjoy it, even when the book itself isn’t one I might pick up and read myself. I love finding different voices for different characters, and even though most of the books I have voiced have been period romances of one sort or another, it is always fascinating the way different authors develop the characters and spin the tales out.

You are really good at what you do!  Tell me of a fun experience you had narrating a story.

Well, one of my earliest books was not quite as ‘romantic’ as I had thought when I took it on. It was rather more risqué than lovey dovey. I found myself a little shocked, and also shocked that I was shocked -  I’m not a prude! I ended up putting it out under a different name, not because I was embarrassed to have done it but I didn’t want it to damage any of my ‘cleaner’ authors’ sales by association.  But of all the books I’ve done, that’s the one my husband likes to tell people about!

That's funny about your husband! How do you create such compelling voices? What goes through your mind when you’re recording different characters?

Well, firstly – thank you! I try to have a picture in my mind, usually helped by the authors’ descriptions. And I try to imagine them on the stage, if I were directing. I don’t read the books ahead of time, so I have to hope that I’m not going to give them a voice that turns out to be inappropriate later. I did have a situation recently when an author didn’t give me any notes going into the narration and it wasn’t until the fourth chapter that she mentioned that the main male character was Australian, so I had to go back and get that accent in there. But generally, I don’t want to know if someone is going to turn out to be the bad guy, and give that away in my voice too early. I want to go on the same journey as the listeners.

That's a good way to do it, I think. Do you have a website where other writers can find you if they want to hire you as their narrator?

I do. Although I’ve been so busy narrating recently that I haven’t got it up to date. Which is a nice problem to have. You’re not on there yet for example.
Anyway it is:

I really hope you get my book on there soon, though (winks), but I'm happy to know you are kept busy. You are very good at what you do, and I'm glad this has been successful for you!

Thanks so much letting me interview you, Stevie.  I know I told you this before, but "Falling in Love Again" is one of my personal favorites, and it was awesome listening to your voice make my characters come to life!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hello, my name is Marie. I have an addiction...

Hi, ya-all. My name is Marie Higgins and I have an addiction. I'm totally and completely addicted to...


I know...I know.  It's sad when you really think about it. When I see an awesome picture from one of my favorite websites - Period Images - I fall in love with it and I think that eventually I'll buy it because I'll definitely have a story idea to go with that picture. Then, my wonderful and amazing cover artist, Sheri McGathy, reads my mind (really, I don't know how it works, but she does) and I see the same couple / pose I found on Period Images that she has already made into a book cover. Usually, I react right away because I want to get it before anyone else buys it and uses it.

What's wrong with me? (no, don't answer that yet. lol)

Sometimes I think there needs to be a new addiction group created just for romance writers like me. Because I can't be the only one! Please, tell me I'm not the only one...

So I was looking through my flashdrive of the covers I still have that I haven't written a story for - or I have started the story and haven't completed. So many little time.

This story is 3/4 of the way finished
No idea for a plot on this one...
I've written three chapters on this story.

I've written seven chapters on this story - still working on it...
Wrote two chapters before stalling...
Just started on this one. I'll probably trade back and forth between this one and "Champion".
I wrote eight chapters before stalling on this one.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I'm excited to be part of this Gratitude Giveaway Hop that will go from Nov. 15th to Nov. 30th.

The story I'll be giving away is my Christmas Romantic Comedy, "Dreaming of You" (Kindle version or PDF file). If you'd like to enter this contest, all you have to do is follow me on this blog and leave a comment stating you are following me.

(NEW COVER as of 11/10/15)

Katelyn Palmer never believed any harm could come from using her college crush as the hero in her first romance novel—the novel that jumpstarted her writing career.  However, when Shane Hunter storms into town, demanding to meet the writer who used his identity Katelyn is confronted with more than her long, silent emotions.  If Shane takes her to court for invasion of privacy, her career would be over.

Shane doesn’t know how to act when his ex sister-in-law accuses him of having an affair while he was married—and then shows him the romance book as proof.  Now he wants to know who this author really is and why she used his name, and most of the events in his life for her story.  Desperate to know the truth Shane befriends Katelyn but he does not expect to be attracted to her, even more unexpected is the joy he finds watching his twins fall in love with the woman who is stealing his heart, too...

To find other giveaways, 

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New face-lift!

I know I might need one, but giving my book covers a new face-lift is MUCH cheaper!! lol

This is the old -

And introducing the new Christmas version....

And here is the cover I use for the other seasons -



Katelyn Palmer never believed any harm could come from using her college crush as the hero in her first romance novel—the novel that jumpstarted her writing career.  However, when Shane Hunter storms into town, demanding to meet the writer who used his identity Katelyn is confronted with more than her long, silent emotions.  If Shane takes her to court for invasion of privacy, her career would be over.

Shane doesn’t know how to act when his ex sister-in-law accuses him of having an affair while he was married—and then shows him the romance book as proof.  Now he wants to know who this author really is and why she used his name, and most of the events in his life for her story.  Desperate to know the truth Shane befriends Katelyn but he does not expect to be attracted to her, even more unexpected is the joy he finds watching his twins fall in love with the woman who is stealing his heart, too...

Purchase Kindle - 

Purchase Paperback

Audio - coming soon!!!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fairy-Tale Series "Where Dreams Come True"

In my last post, I showed you two of the stories I'll be writing for my fairy-tale series, "Where Dreams Come True". Since then, I have decided to add one more book. I have been working on this Young Adult Fantasy story for a few years now. I got the idea from a dream (like most of my stories), and I discussed it with my nephew, Luke, who at the time was a young teenager. Together, we figured out a way to make this Young Adult story into a Fantasy!  I'm excited to finally finish this story, and even more excited to have my niece, Dusti Miller, helping me write it.

"The Witch Hunt" (my twisted version of Hansel and Gretel) will be the first book released in my fairy-tale series, and it will be available in ebook and paperback formats by the end of November 2015. Just in time for Christmas!

The second story in the series to be released will be "Champion" (my twisted version of Robin Hood). It will be out spring of 2016.

The third story to be released will be "Once Enchanted" (my twisted version of Rapunzel). I'm hoping this will be out summer of 2016.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Who loves fairy-tales?

So I must admit, I love a good fairy-tale no matter how old I am. I especially love stories that are done a little differently than most fairy-tales I've read (or watched) throughout my life. That is why I've decided to create a series of books that are based on fairy-tales. These stories will be far different than you've ever read before. And, if you have read my stories, you know I'll throw in a few twists in the plot just to get a reaction from my readers. (always a good reaction, anyway)

I've collected a few authors (and I'd love to gather more) who will write their own fairy-tale spin for this series - "Where Dreams Come True".  If you are a published writer who writes sweet/clean romances, and you'd like to join, send me an email -

I have two ideas for stories already, and I can't wait to get started. My characters are literally SCREAMING at me to write these, so you know, I must do what they ask. Right?

These books will be available as ebooks and in print! (and if I have my way, they'll be in audio, too!)

This first book will center around ROBIN HOOD...

When you wish upon a star…

All romance novel photographer Payton Fox really wants is a hero in her life. A man that is dashing and honorable… a man worthy of his own fairy-tale! One particularly frustrating evening she casts a fleeting wish upon a shooting star. She didn’t actually believe anything would happen, but in the blink of an eye the man of her fairy-tale wishes—a regular Robin Hood—materializes right before her. He even claims to be the legendary archer Robert of Loxley. Uncertain what to believe, Payton is shocked when this hero rescues her time and again, and she can’t help but be swept off her feet.

Slowly she accepts that this strange and noble man might truly be the fairy-tale character of her dreams. Unfortunately, Robert isn’t connecting with the modern-day world and longs to return to his time. She also discovers that if he stays with her his story will cease to exist.

Can she send him back, knowing he’ll take her heart along with him? Can she deprive the world of his story? How can she do that to those looking for their Champion - the perfect hero?

This second story will center around Rapunzel...

Once upon a time…
The time had come for Princess Arabella to find a husband—or so her parents tell her. The shy and somewhat clumsy, Prince Ormond from a neighboring kingdom, is a contender. Arabella knows she’ll never fall in love with him much less accept him as a husband. And yet… seemingly in a spit second, she changes her mind.
Ryder Grey has known Arabella since childhood and cannot understand the sudden change from the girl he once adored, to the woman he sees now. How can she be in love with the meek Prince Ormond? Ryder begins to investigate and discovers that a reclusive witch has Arabella is under a spell.
When Arabella’s childhood friend begins to interfere with her budding romance with Prince Ormond, she takes action and locks Ryder in a little known tower in the forest until she and Ormond can marry.
Forgotten in the tower by all but the rats can Ryder enchant Arabella and break the sinister spell? His chances do not look favorable.

I want to thank the best cover artist in the world...Sheri McGathy. And for the greatest website out there that's devoted to finding wonderful models and dressing them up to look like people from the past - Period Images!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Worth Fighting For

I'm so excited about my next release. "Worth Fighting For" will be in a set with other authors. I'm with these authors in another set of stories about the Duke of Danby, and I'm thrilled to be with them again.

Worth Fighting For

Copyright © 2015 by Marie Higgins
Cover Design by Sheri McGathy


Turkey 1816

 Thieves came in many different forms.
Captain Barrington Braxton stepped to the side of his tent by the crates in the marketplace and folded his arms, his gaze zeroing in on the pretty little thief not far from him. He smoothed his finger and thumb along his mustache and beard as he arched an eyebrow in critical assessment of the thief. In his line of work, he knew the lovely crooks were the most dangerous. The girl was slim, and dressed in the plain brown rags the ruffians wore here in Selcuk. Innocence was the expression on her face as she watched his shop.
Chuckling to himself, he shook his head. Apparently, she was a skilled performer as well to make herself appear innocent. Out of all the thieves he had run across in the five years he’d been in the trading business, not one of them could pull off the innocent act—but this one certainly acted as if she didn’t know what she was doing. Perhaps that was why she’d caught Barry’s attention so quickly.
However, he had to give her credit. She was good. At least her wide-eye expression of interest appeared sincere as she scoped out the expensive artifacts in his little tent-covered shop. But deep down in his gut, he knew something was not quite right about her.
The evening’s dim light didn’t allow him to see the color of her eyes, but they were certainly curious as they darted from person to person who stood at his tent, then to the items for sale. Her dark brown locks spilled from beneath the veil covering her hair, and tumbled over her shoulders. Strange, but her face wasn’t covered that well, either. Most of the women he’d seen in this foreign land had the lower halves of their faces covered with a veil, and all of their hair.
She moved from her spot near one of the wagons and slowly approached his tent. His crew had helped construct this shop as they sold their merchandise this past week. The servant’s stare switched to his first mate, Jeffrey Smithers, as the man explained to another buyer where they had purchased the Oriental vases and other rugs being sold.
Barry waited for the girl to make her move, anticipating the moment she’d try to be sneaky, yet she still acted as though she were more enthralled with his first mate’s tale than with stealing anything.
The girl stepped closer. Not more than three feet away from her was a ten-inch golden statue of Pegasus. If she tried to steal that expensive artifact, Barry would tackle her right in front of everyone. He crept away from the crates, nearing the girl just in case she slipped something of value beneath her long skirts.
A few more buyers gathered around Jeffrey, listening to his first mate’s extravagant storytelling. The thief continued moving closer as though mesmerized. Would she indeed steal it, or was it her purpose to knock the statue over and break it to just take a few pieces of the gold?
Barry wouldn’t let her carry on with this innocent act any longer. His costly statue was at stake. She was within reach, and he wouldn’t allow her to accomplish her goal.
Just as the girl leaned an inch closer to the statue, he grasped her upper arm and pulled her back. She gasped, stumbled, but quickly righted herself before looking up at him. Her head veil slipped down to her neck, displaying more of her glorious mane of dark brown hair. Her eyes appeared to be blue, and very frightened. Up this close, she didn’t resemble a girl any longer, but a beautiful young woman.
“Are you addled?” he asked. “Can you not see where you are going?”
She remained silent; only her quick breath was heard. Her gaze traveled over his face, his eyes, his nose, then down to his groomed mustache and beard before her cheeks reddened. Her throat lurched in a swallow when she continued her exploration down to his chest.
Women had examined him like a prized horse before, but none so boldly. He rather liked her inspection until he realized she might be doing this to divert his attention from the matter at hand.
Perhaps she didn’t speak English. “Answer me,” he demanded in her country’s own language. “Or are you, indeed, addled?”
A spark of awareness snapped into her eyes—which he now could see were azure like the bluest body of water he’d ever sailed across—before she blinked a couple of times and lifted her gaze to his.
She shook her head. “I, sir, am not addled. I can hear and understand you very clearly,” she said in fluent English, sounding just as British as he was.
It wasn’t very often he met a servant who could speak two languages. “Then why are you staring at me like a person gone daft?”
She lifted her chin in defiance. With a tug of her arm, she tried pulling away, but he refused to let go.
“I assure you, I am not daft. You took me by surprise, which is why I was speechless for a few moments.”
Barry grumbled and pointed to Pegasus. “You could have knocked over that expensive statue, and I’m certain you don’t have the funds to pay for it.” He slid his gaze over her servants’ attire before adding, “In fact, I’m certain your master cannot even afford anything I sell.”
“Forgive me. I didn’t see—”
“I said I was sorry.”
“Next time, watch where you walk. Stick to the shops your master can afford.”
She scrunched her face in a scowl. Defiance shown in her expression. Irritated, he pulled her forward, bringing her face closer to his. A soft scent of roses enveloped him. What’s this? A sweet-smelling thief? Impossible!
“Unless, of course, you were not going to pay for the item.”
She gasped again, her eyes growing wider. “How dare you insinuate—”
“Be forewarned, I’m watching you closely. You shall not steal from me. So go lurk someplace else.”
Since he said what he’d wanted, he released her with a shove. She stumbled backward, but thankfully, not to cause destruction to nearby shops.
Feeling victorious, he turned to leave but was surprised when there was a tap on his shoulder. He swung around and met the persistent stance of the young woman, arms folded across her chest; her gaze held more authority this time. What was her game now?
“I beg your pardon, but it’s none of your concern where I choose to lurk.”
Her words stunned him, mainly because they came from a servant. He wanted to grin, but refused to show the playful emotion. The petite woman was brave to challenge a man of his stature. He stood taller than any of his crew by a few inches, and he’d been a ship’s captain for five years. Strange that she’d want to defy him. He’d play along just to see how far she would take this.
“Indeed? It’s not my concern?” he asked, almost dumbfounded.
“Yes. And it’s none of your concern how much or how little you think my master has.”
Could his eyes open any wider? This female amazed him and left him speechless. Usually women in this country didn’t speak what was on their mind, especially in front of a man. Surprising, but this woman actually fascinated him. He waited for her to say more; curious to what would roll off her tongue next.
She tilted her head, keeping her gaze fixed on him. “Are you now the one who is addled? Is your voice not working?” She displayed a victorious grin.
He shook his head and stepped closer. “I’m not accustomed to women servants talking to me as if I’m beneath them. I thought women in this country were meek and obedient.” He grasped her arms, tightening his grip to make certain the little hellcat didn’t escape. “So I think you should take me now to your master so I can tell him about your disrespect for those above your station.”
Color left her face, leaving it ashen. She struggled in his hold. “Please, unhand me. I’m not your property.” The tone of her demand quaked slightly.
“Not until I talk to your master.”
“Please, release me.” Her words came soft, pleading. “I shall be obedient from now on.”
He wanted to laugh over her expression this time. Her eyes begged him to obey her wishes, her long, sooty lashes batting in a steady rhythm. She was very good at this. But he wouldn’t relent.
When she lowered her head and her shoulders wilted, he grinned. The battle was over. He almost wished she hadn’t given in so soon. Thinking he didn’t have to fight her any longer, he loosened his grip. Within seconds, her foot snaked out from underneath her long skirt and kicked him in the shin. Pain shot up his leg and he yelped. He released her to cradle his injured limb. The petite woman had more power to her kick than he would have imagined.
She darted past him. He reached out the grab her, but she was too fast. The little minx raced through the crowd, dodging people on her way.
Cursing, he started out after her, but his blasted limp slowed him down. He wasn’t an easy man to injure, but she must have known right where to kick his shin to make it burn so badly.
With each step, she ran further and further away, darting in and out of tents, avoiding running into carts of fruit and vegetables for sale in the marketplace.
He followed her path, but soon he couldn’t see. There weren’t any signs of where she’d disappeared. With a loud grumble, he leaned down and rubbed the spot still smarting from her strong foot. The woman had tricked him. Obviously, she’d done this sort of thing before. And what an attitude she had!

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