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A Rose for Major Flint (Brides of Waterloo) Mass Market Paperback – June 16, 2015
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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About the Author
Louise Allen has been immersing herself in history for as long as she can remember. She finds landscapes and places evoke powerful images of the past - Venice, Burgundy and the Greek islands are favourite destinations. Louise lives on the Norfolk coast. She spends her spare time gardening, researching family history or travelling in search of inspiration. Please visit Louise's website – www.louiseallenregency.co.uk, or find her on Twitter @LouiseRegency and on Facebook.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
19th June 1815the battlefield of Waterloo
The briar rose caught at her with grasping, thorny tentacles as she backed away. The pain was real, so this must all be real. The screaming inside her head made it difficult to think, but it hadn't stopped, not since she had found Gerald. What was left of Gerald. He had seemed untouched until she had grasped his shoulder and turned him over.
The noise in her head hurt so much. She lifted her hands to try and clutch at it, squeeze it out, make it stop. Then she could think, then she would know what to do about them. Her arms wouldn't move. She looked down to the imprisoning briars, then up at what was coming towards her across the muddy, shell-ripped ruin of the spinney. This was real and this was hell and so those were demons. They laughed as they came, four of them, blood-soaked and mud-smeared, wild-eyed and ragged, baying like hounds on the hunt. She knew what they wanted, what they would do to her, even if she knew nothing else. Not her name, not how she had lived before this nightmare had begun, not how she had come to be here.
She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing happened. Go away. Help me, someone. Help me! Nothing. Only the sound of her heartbeat racing. Only the sound of their laughter and the words that made no sense as they hit her like fistfuls of slime.
And then he came. He pushed aside the shattered, wilting branches, strode through the mud and the nameless, stinking filth. The Devil himself. He was big and dirty, bare-headed, stubble-jawed, blood-soaked. He had a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other and a smile like death on his blackened face. He roared at the demons and they turned, snarling, towards him. He shot the first and came on, stepped over the body and waited, waited until they were on him and then
She closed her eyes, stayed in the darkness with the screaming in her head, the screaming from the demons, the Devil's roars. She would be next. She had sinned and this was hell.
'Open your eyes. Look at me. You are safe, they have gone.' Gone to a much worse place, the scum. Flint looked down at the pistol in his left hand and the blood-streaked sword in his right, thrust one into his belt and pushed the blade of the other into a tussock until most of the gore was gone. He sheathed the sword and tried again. 'Open your eyes.'
The woman was tall and slim and her hair, where it was not wet and matted, was a dark brown. Rose petals had fallen from the briar that held her. They were fragile, pale pink, incongruously beautiful on the ripped, soaking fabric of her gown, the tangle of her hair. Long lashes fanned over white cheeks and her mouth was slightly open. He could hear her breath coming in short, desperate pants like a trapped animal in a snare. She had bitten her lips and the sight, amidst so much carnage, touched him despite his defences. Angered him.
'Let's get you untangled.' Flint kept his voice calm, used the firm tone that would steady an injured man. The briars tore at his hands, added to the bruises and cuts, the little rips of pain reminding him he was alive. After three days of hell, who would have thought it?
When he got her free she just stood there, swaying. Flint touched the back of his hand to her cheek, leaving a smear of blood on the cold skin. She flinched but her eyes opened, wide and dark, the pupils so distended he could not see the true colour.
'What is your name?' She stared blankly. Shock, certainly, and perhaps she did not speak English. He tried French, Dutch, German. No response, not a flicker. 'My name is Flint. Major Adam Flint. Are you hurt?'
They hadn't raped her, he had been in time to stop that, at least. The sound of their laughter had brought him here at a run. He had heard that unmistakeable excitement too often when men had poured into a besieged, defeated city and found the women and the girls. Children. Sometimes you could be in time. Often, not. Badajoz
Still she stood there, a breathing statue. She must be a camp follower, but he couldn't leave her, not here. Her man, if he was still alive, would never find her, but others would. Flint put his arm around her, ignored the way her body shuddered at the touch, bent and swept the other arm under her knees to lift her against his chest. Pain stabbed from the sabre cut in his right side. The blood must have dried into his shirt and lifting her had ripped the wound open. He ignored it.
After a moment her arms slipped around his neck and she clung as he crossed the glade, stepped over the bodies. She was a reasonable armful, Flint thought as he found the track again and made for where he had left the men. Slim but not skinny, curved but not buxom. Feminine. Any other day he'd enjoy the feel of her against his body, but not now. Not here.
The men had sorted themselves out while he'd been away searching for that last missing private. Sergeant Hawkins looked up from the back of the ammunition wagon they had managed to patch back together that morning. 'Any luck, Major?' His right eyebrowthe left had been burned off in some half-forgotten skirmish when a gun had explodedlifted as he saw Flint's burden.
'Jakes is dead.' There was a chorus of muttered curses from the back of the cart. 'I buried him.' He'd rolled him into a shell hole and kicked earth on top of him, to be exact. Not a decent burial, even for an alley rat like Jakes, but it would keep the looters from his body.
'We can all go then.' Hawkins knew Flint would never leave a man alive on the field, even if it meant staying back himself until he'd exhausted all hope. 'Get a shift on there, Hewitt! Get everyone stowed.' He jerked his head towards the woman. 'Not one of ours.'
'No.' Their camp followers were all safe back at Roosbos where they'd been stationed before the call to Quatre Bras, three days ago. Flint counted heads. 'Thirteen.' He'd lost the tally of the injured they'd sent back already, the dead they'd scratched graves for, but Hawkins had been jotting numbers down as they went. This was the lot.
'Aye, thirteen including us, Major. She hurt?'
'Don't think so, I can't see any wounds, but she's not talking.' In his arms she was as limp as a stunned hare. 'Found her cornered by a pack of deserters back there.'
The one tattered eyebrow lifted in question. Hawkins knew what happened to lone women in the aftermath of battle. Flint shook his head. 'No, I got there first.'
'They won't be troubling anyone else, then.' Hawkins didn't bother to ask how many constituted a pack, he'd seen Flint deal with scum like that before. 'Wonder if she'll scrub up any better than the last thing you picked up, Major.'
That had been Dog. Flint hoped the great shaggy beast had got out of this in one piece. Lord, but he must be tired if he was becoming sentimental.
'I'd got 'em all packed in tight,' Hawkins said. He shoved his shako back to scratch his thinning scalp. 'Llewellyn and Hodge can walk. Where'll we put her though?'
Flint went over and studied the cart. Two men leaned against it, one, with a rough bandage round his leg, sat on the shaft. Three men were laid out on the boards and the rest perched on the edge, fitting their feet and weapons in around the prostrate men as best they could. 'Potts, you can ride well enough to manage one-handed. Get up on my horse, I'll walk and we'll squeeze this lass in your place.'
The man shuffled out awkwardly and jumped down, swearing under his breath as he jarred his wounded shoulder. The others moved up to make room and Flint swung the girl up on to the edge.
She turned her head, stared wide-eyed into the cart and then fastened her arms around his neck in a stranglehold. Where did anything so fragile and helpless get the strength?
'I know they aren't the prettiest sight you'll ever see, but they're good lads and they won't hurt you.' He tried again, but she clung like a burr, her breath panting in his ear. He could use force, but there was enough pain to wade through here without adding to it.
'She looks terrified out of her wits, Major,' one of the men said. 'I don't think it's us, more like the blood an' guts an' all. We've done our best with Jimmy, but he's no sight for a slip of a girl.' He nodded towards one of the men on the floor, unconscious and, if there was any more mercy to spare for a scoundrel artilleryman, likely to die without waking up.
Flint reached into reserves of patience and kept his voice level. 'Back you go, Potts, I'll take her up in front of me.' The sooner they got going, the more chance they had of getting everyone back alive. Except Jimmy. But at least he'd die with his mates round him. Randall's Rogues didn't leave their comrades behindnot if they were breathing, at any rate.
Potts was hauled back in. Hawkins mustered his two walking wounded, went to the head of the nag between the shafts and urged it forward while Flint studied the logistics of getting on to Old Nick with a woman attached to his torso. The big black Spanish stallion rolled an eye and curled back its upper lip to reveal yellow teeth.
'Don't even think of it, or I swear I'll have your bollocks off,' Flint said. How the damned animal had the energy to even contemplate biting anyone after the past few days he had no idea. 'Come on, over here.' There was a shattered wagon and he used it like a set of steps to get high enough to fling a leg over the saddle and settle down with his burden uncomfortably in front of him. 'Stand!' Old Nick shuffled his feet, but obeyed while Flint arranged her as best he could across his thighs. 'Walk on.'
The rickety caravan set off on the twelve miles to Brussels. No distance at all when they rode with the guns. No distance at all to march on a reasonable roadbut this was going to take a long time. He'd sent their guns with the fit officers and men of the unit back to muster behind the ridge for the return march to Brussels while he brought in the wounded and they'd be back well before his ragtag bunch.
Randall would be with them. Strange that he hadn't seen the colonel since mid-afternoon the day before, but he'd have heard if he was seriously injured and certainly if he was dead. Same went for Bartlett, the unit's wild man and resident rake. He was probably drinking claret and nursing his superficial cuts with his boots propped up on a gun carriage by now. Bartlett could find a decent claret anywhere and Dog would be there, too, waiting for his dinner.
That accounted for the officers and gentlemen. Which left him, an officer and definitely not a gentleman, the bastard in every sense of the word, to pick up the messy pieces.
Young Gideon Latymor was dead, cut down at Quatre Bras. He'd avoided thinking about Gideon and he wasn't going to start now. He had more immediate matters than one dead half-brother on his hands. Literally.
He tried again. 'What's your name?' The woman in his arms made no response. 'Votre nom? Wat is je naam? Wie ist dein Name?' Nothing. 'My name is Flint. Adam Flint.' Silence. A rose petal fluttered down from her hair, brushed his knuckles in the ghost of a kiss and fell to the mud. 'Very well, then, I'll call you Rose.'
They rode on at walking pace, limited not so much by the two soldiers on foot but the decrepit horse pulling the cart. Lord only knew where Hawkins had stolen it from, some peasant's stewpot probably, but horses were as rare as hens' teeth after that carnage and they knew from bitter experience that trying to get Old Nick between the shafts would result in more casualties than they had already. The stallion was trained to fight and to kill and it regarded being a carthorse as grounds for murder.
It was like a traffic jam in Piccadilly, Flint thought with unaccustomed whimsy. If, that is, one imagined Piccadilly knee-deep in mud and water-filled ruts, and the other traffic consisting of groups of exhausted troops, rough carts jolting along full of men biting back cries of pain and staff officers, their elegant uniforms filthy and torn, directing carts here, men there. And all along the margins of the road soldiers were lying where they'd dropped, dead or dying amongst the fallen horses, their bodies swelling, already turning black in the wet heat. The stench was an almost solid thing, clogging nostrils and throats.
They got to a particularly boggy patch and Flint kicked his feet out of the stirrups so the two artillerymen on foot could grip the leathers and swing themselves through the mud. Old Nick was used to this, the standard way of getting unhorsed men off the field in a hurry, and ignored the extra weight.
* * *
Waterloo village, when they finally got that far, was jammed. Hawkins forced the cart on through the road between high banks and Flint saw the parish priest on the steps of the church, his head in his hands, as more and more bodies were piled up at his feet. On the other side of the street men were chalking names on doorposts where senior officers had been carried in. Ponsonby, he read. Damn, another good officer wounded. He hoped he was going to make it.
'Rose?' They cleared the village and struggled on. Her back, beneath his arm, was still rigid, her face still buried in the frogging of his uniform. He wouldn't want to get that close to himself, he thought with a sour smile. He couldn't recall the last time he'd washed, he must stink of sweat, black powder, wet wool and blood. A cautious sniff confirmed it and brought a hint of her own scent. Hot, terrified, wet woman. Mud. The faintest hint of herbs and lemon.
Puzzled, he lowered his head until he was almost nuzzling the tangled brown hair. She had rinsed it in rosemary and lemon juice. It seemed such a harmless, feminine thing to have done just before plunging into hell. He imagined her humming to herself as she brewed the rinse, washing her hair over a bucket somewhere in the lines of tents, pouring the decoction over her hair and combing it through. Her man would have been cleaning his weapon, polishing his harness perhaps, his preparations all directed at killing while hers took no account of battles at all.
'What you going to do with her, sir?' Flint jerked out of the daydream. Peters, hanging on to his stirrup leather, looked up at him, bright blue eyes bloodshot in his dirt-smeared face.
'God knows. She needs women to look after her, but these peasants have too much on their hands to leave her with them.' Flint tried to think. His side ached like the devil, the bangs and bruises and minor wounds were coming to life, his guts were empty, his thighs were getting pins and needles, and the men depended on him to get them back to Brussels more or less alive. He could do that, or fight another battle if he had to, but safely disposing of unwanted women, now that was another kettle of fish.
He shifted the girl into a more comfortable position, for him at least. 'There's a nunnery a couple of miles ahead. That'll be the place.' Problem solved. Cheered by the prospect of getting the stray off his hands, he said, 'We're almost at the nunnery, Rose. You'll be better there, the sisters will look after you.' She made no movement. Was she deaf as well?
'Jimmy's gone, Major,' Potts called from the back of the cart.
Hell. Scurvy little sneak thief. And damned good artilleryman. This had been a very expensive battle. They would leave him at the convent, the nuns would bury him and he'd end up as close to heaven as any of the Rogues were likely to get.
'Rest stop at the nunnery,' he called and grinned, despite everything, at the chorus of coarse jokes that provoked.
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Top customer reviews
It was not War and Peace but that is not what I wanted. I wanted a good, well written romance novel to entertain me and that is exactly what this book delivered.
Rose had eloped with a young soldier the night before the battle. Unfortunately, she discovered he was not the man she thought he was. The battle happened before they could marry, but she knows she is ruined anyway. After the battle she goes to the battlefield looking for him, and the things she sees traumatize her to the point that she can't remember who she is. All she knows is that she feels safe with Adam.
Adam is the illegitimate son of an earl, but doesn't consider himself a gentleman. He joined the army at fourteen and came up through the ranks because of his skills with artillery. At one point in his career he was discovered by his legitimate half-brother, who pulled Adam into his own unit and got him a commission as an officer. However, Adam still feels that there is a huge gulf between them.
I loved the protectiveness that Adam had for Rose. He wasn't sure why he felt so compelled to take care of her, but he couldn't just hand her off to someone else. He understands what has affected her so strongly and has the ability to help her through it. He's also very attracted to her, but resists doing anything about it because she is vulnerable and he won't take advantage.
I felt so sorry for Rose as the horrors of what she saw affected her so deeply. The shock of it all caused her brain to shut down all memory of it and what led up to it. She does remember that she was with a soldier and that whatever she did has caused her to be "ruined". She feels that she has no reputation left to worry about. She starts to get flashes of her past, but it takes awhile for her to put them together. In the meantime she is falling hard for Adam.
I enjoyed the relationship that grew between Rose and Adam. Though he believes her to be a camp follower, he also has a feeling that there is more to her story. I loved seeing him trying to do the right thing according to his own sense of honor, but she gets to be more than he can resist. He tries hard to convince her that he is no good for her, but she refuses to believe it. What surprises him is that he is beginning to think of life after the army, with Rose by his side. But when her identity is revealed, he's back to thinking he's too far beneath her. What happens afterward speaks well of his honor and his growing feelings for Rose, though he doesn't really understand what those feelings are.
Rose starts out simply grateful for Adam's rescue of her, but as she starts to recover from the shock she discovers that she wants Adam more than she had wanted the boy she ran off with. I loved seeing how she was willing to go after what she wanted. I also liked the way that she saw past the man that Adam showed to the rest of the world to the amazing man underneath. As her memory begins to return, she worries that she will lose him when he finds out who she is. She also remembers the reasons that she had rejected former suitors and believes that Adam is different than they are. When he discovers who she is and attempts to do the right thing in his opinion, she tells him that she doesn't want a husband from obligation but one who loves her.
During this period I really enjoyed seeing how protective they were of each other. Neither wanted to see the other disrespected and I enjoyed seeing the way that they stood up for each other. I was a bit frustrated with Adam's refusal to see that he is worthy of Rose, and definitely frustrated with Rose's inability to see that Adam really cared for her, even though he didn't know how to say it. I loved the ending and Adam's big moment.
I loved the epilogue and seeing all three couples together. I haven't read the first two books as yet, but I expect them to be just as good. It's unusual to have related books like this taking place at the same time rather than consecutively, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it was done.
Major Adam Flint’s prowess on the battlefield is legendary. An exceptional soldier who would put his neck on the line to defeat the enemy and annihilate his rivals, Adam is a man of honour who will do his utmost to fight for what he believes in. When he stumbles upon a defenseless young woman who is about to be attacked by a gang of evil marauders, Adam loses no time in rushing to her aid. However, little does he realise that the damsel in distress whom he’s just rescued from a fate worse than death is about to turn his entire life upside down…
The last thing Adam needs is to be saddled with a beautiful young woman unable to remember her own name! With death and destruction wherever he turns, Adam does not want or need the added responsibility of a ward on his already overburdened shoulders, but the honourable rake cannot help but be intrigued by his mysterious new charge! Despite her inability to recall anything about her life prior to her arrival on the battlefield of Waterloo, Adam is very much aware that the woman who is causing him no end of upheaval is no ordinary girl, but a lady of quality. But what on earth is she doing away from the sophisticated salons and sumptuous ballrooms that are so obviously her usual milieus?
Christened Rose by her dashing rescuer, she is taken to safety and given refuge in Adam’s boarding house. With her kindly landlady’s gentle ministrations and Adam’s own brand of tender loving care, Rose’s health slowly begins to improve. However, the more time she spends with Adam, the more she begins to realise that she’s got more to worry about than memory loss! Adam has awoken feelings deep within her that she’s never experienced before and when temptation proves absolutely impossible to resist, Rose begins to find the thought of spending the rest of her life without him absolutely unbearable!
As the illegitimate son of a nobleman, Adam has never had anything but scorn and disdain for polite society. A man who has spent most of his life flouting the rules of the Ton and eschewing commitment, he has always given affairs of the heart a wide berth in favour of seducing bored society wives and merry widows. However, Rose’s appearance in his life has changed all that. For the first time in his life, Adam has begun to question his resolve to stay stubbornly single, but with so many obstacles standing between him and the woman he loves with all his heart, will he manage to find a way to be with her? Or is a future out of the question for the two of them?
Louise Allen’s name on a book jacket is a surefire guarantee of historical romance brilliance and A Rose for Major Flint is an outstanding addition to this talented author’s extraordinary back catalogue. Written with all the flair, panache and historical veracity which have become this multi award-winning writer’s trademarks, A Rose for Major Flint is a dazzling tale of sin, scandal and seduction that has got it all: spellbinding characters, mesmerizing historical details, powerful emotion, red-hot passion and poignant romance.
Readers looking for the very best in historical romance writing today, need look no further than Louise Allen and her superb Regency tales!
This review was originally published on Cataromance.