Today I am welcoming Emma Lombard to the blog on her whirlwind blog tour for the historical fiction novel “Discerning Grace”.
Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys. Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously sea sick. Discerning Grace, is the first book in The White Sails Series.
To join the crew—subscribe to Emma’s newsletter: http://www.emmalombardauthor.com
Social Media Links:
Book Title: Discerning Grace
Series: The White Sails Series
Author: Emma Lombard
Publication Date: 22 February 2021
Page Length: 372 pages
Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction
(Book One of The White Sails Series)
By Emma Lombard
As the first full-length novel in The White Sails Series, DISCERNING GRACE captures the spirit of an independent woman whose feminine lens blows the ordered patriarchal decks of a 19th century tall ship to smithereens.
Wilful Grace Baxter, will not marry old Lord Silverton with his salivary incontinence and dead-mouse stink. Discovering she is a pawn in an arrangement between slobbery Silverton and her calculating father, Grace is devastated when Silverton reveals his true callous nature.
Refusing this fate, Grace resolves to stow away. Heading to the docks, disguised as a lad to ease her escape, she encounters smooth-talking naval recruiter, Gilly, who lures her aboard HMS Discerning with promises of freedom and exploration in South America.
When Grace’s big mouth lands her bare-bottomed over a cannon for insubordination, her identity is exposed. The captain wants her back in London but his orders, to chart the icy archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, forbid it. Lieutenant Seamus Fitzwilliam gallantly offers to take Grace off the fretting captain’s hands by placing her under his protection.
Grace must now win over the crew she betrayed with her secret, while managing her feelings towards her taciturn protector, whose obstinate chivalry stifles her new-found independence. But when Grace disregards Lieutenant Fitzwilliam’s warnings about the dangers of the unexplored archipelago, it costs a friend his life and she realises she is not as free as she believes.
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/discerning-grace
Discerning Grace (The White Sails Series Book 1)
London, 13 May 1826
Grace tucked a chocolate corkscrew of hair that had rebelliously come undone behind her ear. “What a pity you shan’t be here for the ball next week, Lieutenant,” she said. “Mother will no doubt outdo herself again.”
Fitzwilliam was about to reply when Lady Flint’s tinkling laughter drew his attention down the other end of the table. Despite numerous suitors declaring that Grace’s natural beauty stemmed from her mother, Lady Flint’s shrewd eyes and downturned mouth erased all prettiness. She glanced back at the handsome naval officer beside her.
“You’ll have to pardon me, Miss Baxter,” Fitzwilliam said ruefully. “I find society balls to be little more than an exercise in attaching one unwitting party to another, usually for monetary gain.”
“Hear, hear!” Fincham banged the table, jangling the silverware. Miss Pettigrew squeaked with fright. Fincham blustered, “The oceans of the world are far less dangerous to navigate as far as I’m concerned.”
Grace laughed. “I quite agree, Captain Fincham. Father had me all but married off to Colonel Dunne until he found out he’s as poor as a church mouse and about to be shipped off to India.” She turned to Fitzwilliam, one brow arching as she whispered from the corner of her mouth, “Dull as a butter knife too.”
Clearly amused by her honesty, Fitzwilliam’s shoulders jiggled with silent laughter, and he smirked. Grace had never understood how Father threw her at suitors who were highly suitable on paper but wholly unsuitable in person.
Uncle Farfar wiped his lips with his napkin. “Speaking of navigating oceans, when was it you two met again?” His bushy grey brows arched expectantly at Fitzwilliam and Fincham.
Fitzwilliam turned to Fincham, and Grace hoped a little reminiscing might revive the man’s spirits. “November 1819, wasn’t it, sir?”
Fincham peered over the rim of his glass. “Indeed. I was a lieutenant, and you were but a midshipman. Wasn’t it your first voyage around Cape Horn?”
“Yes, sir. We were caught in a gale the devil himself whipped up.”
“What an awful experience.” Grace smiled with a tinge of sympathy in her voice.
“Not at all,” said Fitzwilliam. “Captain Fincham found me quivering under a pile of ropes near the foremast, but instead of chastising me, he lugged me up by the scruff of my skinny neck and forced me to watch the ship and the ocean dance.”
Fincham chuckled, but the smile did not reach his rheumy eyes. “Come now, Fitzwilliam—you were scared witless. Convinced we were going to capsize.”
Fitzwilliam pressed a fist to his lips, laughing. Grace dipped her chin, her lips playing with her own amusement.
Fincham offered Fitzwilliam a watery-eyed smile, and shook his head sadly. “It has been a long while since I felt like the reckless young fool I was that day. You were right to be fearful. The sea is a cruel mistress, luring a man in with her sweet songs then breaking his spirit.” Fincham rubbed a weary hand across his grey face.
“You gave me a true appreciation and understanding of what it meant to be a navy man that day, sir,” said Fitzwilliam.
“Nevertheless.” Fincham’s chest expanded as he drew in a deep breath. “One more day at sea is one less day to spend on this earth and one day nearer to our eternal home and to my dear Mrs Fincham. I can envisage nothing finer, can you?”
Fitzwilliam’s brows tightened. A trill of unease shivered down Grace’s neck at Fincham’s gloomy words. She was touched to see Fitzwilliam lean forward, lowering his voice. “Perhaps, if you’re feeling unwell, Mr Beynon can prescribe you something when we board later this evening, sir?”
“Pah!” Fincham waved dismissively. “That old sawbones already has me drinking his ghastly tea. There’s nothing our ship’s surgeon can do for me that a fine brandy can’t.”
With forced buoyancy, Fitzwilliam conceded, “Yes, sir. Nothing revives one’s spirits like the clean smell of the open ocean.”
As the evening progressed, Grace was keenly aware of Father’s growing disapproval from the end of the table. As Uncle Farfar’s brother, he was a younger, slimmer version who scowled at Grace when she laughed. Father’s ire was also because her fiddling had caused her pins to come loose, releasing even more of her curls. With the meal over, Mother rose to retire to the drawing room, and the party rose with her.
Fitzwilliam turned as Uncle Farfar let out a groan and rubbed his stomach. “It’s wretchedly hot in here. I could do with a spot of fresh air,” grumbled Uncle Farfar. “Care to join me in the gardens for a cigar, Captain Fincham? Lieutenant Fitzwilliam?” His grey eyes swung to Grace, softening as he offered her his hand. “You’re welcome too, my darling Grace. You too, Miss Pettigrew.”
Grace, aware that this broke etiquette, flicked a sideways glance at Mother, but she was too enamoured with that lump Silverton to care.
Miss Pettigrew stiffened. “I’d rather not,” she said, clearly scandalised. “It would be discourteous to Lady Flint to hurry away so soon.”
Grace had no such concern about feigning politeness. She preferred sincerity over the likes of Miss Pettigrew’s simpering. “Thank you, Uncle. I’d love to,” Grace smiled, placing her hand in Uncle Farfar’s palm.
Fincham waved an undulating empty wine glass at a servant. “Not for me, Admiral,” he said thickly. “Lord Flint has the most marvellous Duret cognac. Perhaps, Miss Pettigrew, you might like to join me for a drop or two?”
Fitzwilliam hesitated, his eyes fixed on the swaying captain. Glancing between Grace and Uncle Farfar, Fitzwilliam looked set to decline the invitation, but then, turning smartly, he stiffened formally before Fincham. “I think I’ll join the admiral, sir.” He bowed to his dinner companion. “Enjoy the rest of your evening, Miss Pettigrew.”
“Yes, yes,” waved Fincham, his shoulders perking back as more wine glugged into his glass. Miss Pettigrew stood beside Fincham, shoulders and mouth curled down.
Thank you for visiting The Hist Fic Chickie, Emma, and I wish you well on your blog tour!! To visit the next stop on the tour, view the following schedule: