Sunday, April 29, 2018

In National Poetry Month An Old Poem Inspires a New Hero #historicalromance #kensingtonbooks

SweetnSexyDivas post April 2018

Hi All,

Great fun reading recent posts to the SweetnSexyDivas blog.

Right now I’m writing a trilogy for Kensington’s Lyrical imprint—The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London series. In book two A Lady’s Guide to Passion and Property, the young heroine of my subplot meets a mysterious highwayman, the hero of book three, A Spy’s Guide to Seduction.

Do you know the famous Noyes’ poem “The Highwayman”? Here’s how it begins, and below is a link. The poem was definitely one piece of inspiration for my new hero.The Highwayman

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.   
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.   
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

Here's my highwayman:

Miranda was not sure what woke her. Her bonnet was askew on her head, its ribbons cutting into her throat, and her right arm felt tingly from sleeping on it. An unfamiliar weight pressed her to the seat of the coach. It was Nate Wilde stretched across her lap in a shocking way. He was reaching into a pocket in the side of the coach. She tugged at his shoulder to pull him upright, but he was too heavy to budge.
            “What are you doing?” she hissed in his ear. Across from them their fellow passengers snored.
            He closed a panel on the side of the coach with a soft click and righted himself next to her. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” he whispered.
            “What were you looking for?” she asked, whispering like him.
            “There’s nothing there,” he said, his voice puzzled.
            “What did you think—“
            Shots, splintering glass, and sudden darkness cut off her question. The horses veered sharply to the left, and the coach leaned alarmingly. Above them the outside passengers shouted. Miranda clutched Nate’s arm and held on as the coach wobbled like a blanc mange. Just when it seemed likely to topple over, it stopped.
            Over the squeaks and creaks of the vehicle and the rattle of harness, A contemptuous voice said, “Cole, you annoy me. What have I said about using a tommy on your horses.”
             “They’re Radcliffe’s cattle, not fit for the clapper most of them.” Miranda recognized the coachman’s voice.
            “Highwaymen,” whispered one of the passengers opposite them.
            The voice outside spoke again. “Your fellow creatures, Cole.”
            “Just get on with your business, man, and let me do mine.”
            Then the highwayman spoke in a foreign tongue. From the woods on either side of the road came a gang of shadowy figures. There were more voices in the strange tongue and the jingle of harness and clop of horses’ hooves.
            “They’re freeing the horses,” Nate whispered. “Just like before.” He shook off her hold and turned the latch on the door, pushing it slowly open. That was just like him. She was frozen with fear, and he was going to stick his head into trouble.
            Without letting down the steps, he dropped softly to the ground. Miranda hesitated an instant, then stuck her head out of the door. “The steps,” she said to Nate. He put a finger to his lips, and lifted his arms to catch her.
            “You there. You’re in league with the thieves. Stop!” She turned to see the guard pointing his pistol at Nate from the rear of the coach. It made no sense.
Then he fired. The flash of it illuminated his face. The shot spun Nate to his left, and he crumpled to the ground in front of her. Miranda jumped.  She dropped to her knees in the dirt and rolled Nate onto his back, tearing at his coat, searching for a wound.
            Around her she could hear shouts in the strange tongue and moving horses, but her ears were mainly full of the shot. She tore off her gloves and felt his shoulder. Her fingers found the hot blood welling up from the wound. The smell of it terrified her. Nate’s blood was leaving him. She pushed down hard with her gloves against the place that bled.
            She lifted her head to look for help. A man was leading the coach horses away into the woods. Instinct told her the robbers were about to leave. She would be alone to care for Nate with the man who shot him.
            “Wait,” she cried to the highwayman. He turned to look down at her from his black horse. He was nothing like the highwaymen in her stories. His gaze was like ice, like the grave. There was no lace at his throat, no plume in his hat, and not a mark on his horse. The dark brim of his hat hid his features. The moon touched only the black gleam of his pistol.
            “Take us with you,” she pleaded.
            “I beg your pardon, miss. You wish to be kidnapped by a gang of desperate men.”
            Miranda heard amusement in the toffee voice. Miranda knew her gentleman’s voices. No question this man was a gentleman. “The guard shot my . . . husband. Please don’t leave us with them.” She shuddered.
            “Curious.” The highwayman leaned forward in his saddle. The pistol in his hand never wavered. He turned to the coachman again. “Taken to shooting the passengers, have you, Cole?”
            “Go on, man. Ye’ll be paid, same as always. We can take care of the rest.”
            “I think not, Cole. I’ll handle this problem myself.” The highwayman turned in his saddle and spoke again in the strange tongue. Apparently, he issued orders, for two of his accomplices sprang forward and lifted Nate from the ground.
            “Careful,” Miranda cried. “He’s bleeding!”
            Cuidado!” said the highwayman.
            A third man pulled Miranda up. “Senora, ven,” he said. The highwayman reached down a black-gloved hand, and his companion seized Miranda by the waist, and she found herself hoisted through the air onto the great horse. A strong arm came around her waist.
            “Hold on,” said that voice in her ear. The horse stood perfectly still under them. Around them the shadowy figures disappeared into the woods. “Cole,” the man behind her said, “tell your master our deal is off. Can’t have your lot shooting the passengers.” The highwayman fired his pistol. The guard gave a yelp and tumbled back from the coach, and the highwayman turned and galloped into the woods.

You can start reading the series now:



Tina Donahue said...

I love highwayman stories! :)

Janet Walters said...

Ah, yes, I know the poem. Your version sounds interesting.