Title: Isabella’s Heart
Author: Diane Merrill Wigginton
Series: Jeweled Dagger Series (Book 2) (The Benjamin Franklin Award Winning Series)
Genre: Historical Romance/Suspense
Publisher: Jeweled Dagger Publishing
Release Date: April 4 2017
Edition/Format: 2nd Edition/Formats ~ eBook & Print
In this follow-up, to Wigginton’s (Angelina’s Secret), the focus is on Isabella Deveraux, the daughter of Lady Angelina Marguerite Amelia Deveraux, the heroine of the first book.
As the story begins, Isabella experiences a disturbing dream about her twin brother, Charlie, on the eve of her 19th birthday. We quickly learn that Isabella has a sixth sense, just like her mother’s, and when she dreams about Charlie’s abduction in London, it’s more than a simple nightmare. She sets off immediately to London, setting into motion events that require her to reunite with her grandparents and eventually her parents, from whom she has been estranged from for years. Complicating matters further, Isabella’s grandfather hires an Irish mercenary to help her locate and rescue her brother and his two school mates. Forced to prove her worth to the mercenary Captain, she is placed in a compromising position and in doing so must open herself up to other emotions that she is not be yet ready for. The Captain is a handsome but brooding man, with a brutish disposition, who is willing to save the lives of three privileged young men, for the right price. Aiden Townsend decides that the best way to avoid suspicion as they travel the Irish country side in search of the abducted men is to pretend to be lovers. Despite Isabella’s grave concern for her reputation, she grudgingly gives her consent to the arrangement and romantic chaos ensues. The romantic tension between Isabella and Aiden intensifies as the search for Charlie also ramps up. During this fast-paced, action-packed tale, readers are treated to many rich historical details about political unrest in Ireland, lending credence to the story’s setting. It is a fun, action packed read with just the right amount of sexual tension to keep even the most seasoned romance reader engaged.
“Captain Townsend, please!” Maria gasped in shock.
“I brought the doctor, how is she?” Caleb blurted out as he came through the doorway with the doctor close behind.
“Still unconscious,” Townsend answered.
“Hey, what are you doing? Get your hands off me you, you big ah… ah, espe’ce de con!” I whispered, slowly regaining my bearings. But still feeling groggy and slightly violated, I grabbed at my shirt, that laid torn open.
The captain had exposed more bear skin than I was comfortable with. I attempted to cover myself. “Ahh…” I gasped, making a guttural sound deep in my throat. “What have you done to me? There’s so much blood,” I yelled in surprise.
“What did she just call me?” Aiden asked, confused by me suddenly switching to French.
“Sorry, my head was a bit fuzzy and I couldn’t remember the English words for, “you big, stupid idiot,” I said with indignation dripping from every word. I found myself suddenly fending off hands that dared to reach for my shredded, blood soaked shirt. “Stop it. Leave me alone,” I demanded while shoving and slapping at their hands. “Take your hands off of me. Have you gentlemen never been taught decorum?”
“You keep that fire burning inside of you. You’re going to need it, judging by the look of that wound,” Doc said as he peered at my arm and adjusted his glasses. “We are going to need plenty of boiling water, Caleb. Hand me my bag, if you wouldn’t mind, Captain?”
I looked between the three men with ever growing doubt that any of them knew what they were doing. Searching about the room for Maria’s friendly face, I pushed past the captain with my good hand, trying to move him out of my way.
“Maria, oh where did she toddle off to?” I called out. I spotted Maria, standing in the far corner quietly crying. Once again I tried to get off the bed and past the two men who were prodding at my arm.
“Maria, stop that caterwauling this instant and do something,” I scolded with an air of authority, as Captain Townsend shoved me back against the pillow.
“And just where do you think you are going?” he asked, with a tone that was beginning to grate on my nerves. “The Doc here needs a look at that arm,” he stated flatly, while grasping my sore appendage tightly, holding it steady for the doctor to examine.
“Ouch!” I screamed louder than before. “Merde!” I cursed in French and punched Townsend in the arm with my good hand. “I don’t bloody think so,” I boldly proclaimed.
Without another word, he took hold of my wounded arm and ripped the sleeve completely off, then pinned me against the bed with a large hand against my good shoulder. I was so shocked by his sudden and decisive action that words escaped me and I laid there with my mouth agape.
“I am afraid this is bad,” Doc said, pushing around on the arm.
“That truly hurts, you know,” I said, finding my voice once again.
“I am sure it does, my Lady,” Doc replied, half heartedly, still poking at my sore arm.
He was a middle aged gentleman with shabby features. Not dirty, but just not crisp. His shirt and trousers looked as if he had been sleeping in them for a week, while his hair was disheveled and uncombed. That confused me, because when I sniffed him, he smelled sterile.
“Ouch! Bloody hell! Get your filthy hands off me,” I yelled, pulling my arm from the Doc’s vice like grasp, as I fixed him with a dirty stare.
“Hand me a clean towel from the cabinet above your head, Maria,” the captain ordered; “You need to lay still, Lady Deveraux. I will not have any more of your nonsense.”
“Like hell you say,” I bristled and narrowed my eyes at the captain. I fixed him with a nasty glare that would have withered most men in an instant, turning them to nothing but a pile of ash where they stood.
“Don’t think you scare me, young lady. I have just battled one of hell’s own minions up on my deck and I have to be honest with you, that was truly frightening,” Aiden teased, trying to lighten the mood, as he took the towel from Maria.
“That minion you speak of will be the least of your troubles if you don’t get your bloody hands off me this instant! That I can promise you!” I said tersely, giving him a wicked glare again as he tightly wrapped the towel around my arm and squeezed.
Unfazed by my angry outburst, Aiden ignored me and continued to call out orders. “Caleb, get the Lady a glass of our best whisky,” he said, pointing at a carafe sitting on the counter.
“I don’t drink, sir,” I stated emphatically.
“Well, you do today,” Townsend said, motioning for Caleb to hurry with a silent gesture he sent over my head.
“That wound needs to be closed soon before we have some real problems,” Doc said, continuing to speak with Aiden as if I wasn’t there. “
Define problem,” I questioned, trying to get the doctor’s attention. But he was too busy having an entire conversation with the captain without using any words.
“Hey Doctor, I’m right here, talk to me. What do you mean by a real problem?” I asked, starting to feel panic rise up in my chest.
“The shirt has to go, it’s covered in blood and will contaminate the area,” the doctor informed Aiden. “Caleb, run down to the galley and tell Cook I need him to boil me up two pots of water. Then stick these instruments in one pot and continue to boil them for ten minutes, but don’t take them out,” Doc instructed, handing Caleb some surgical instruments, wrapped in a towel. “Instead, I want you to bring the entire pot back here to me, and have someone bring me the other pot of boiled water, plus some fresh water when it is ready,” he instructed, continuing to bark out orders to Caleb as he ran out the door.
“Got it Doc,” Caleb called over his shoulder from half way down the hall.
Maria handed Aiden the glass of whisky Caleb had given her just before he left the room.
“I need a fire going in that stove over there to heat the tool,” Doc said, looking at Aiden who nodded his head.
“What tool?” I asked, anxiously.
“Maria, make sure she drinks this,” Aiden instructed as he handed the glass back to her, “And make sure you keep pressure on that wound.”
“Wait! What tool are you intending to place in the fire? More importantly what are you intending to do with it after you have placed it in the fire?” I called out, trying to make eye contact with anyone who would answer my question.
Instead, everyone continued to move about the room, avoiding direct eye contact with me, as if I were invisible.
“You know what? I think we can just wrap my arm up. It’s truly nothing more than a scratch after all. I will be good as new in a couple of days,” I reasoned out loud, while scooting to the edge of the bed.
“Oh, no you don’t, missy, you will stay put,” Doc insisted, forcing me back on the bed with a wave of his hand. Picking up my wrist in one hand, while glancing at his pocket watch, he checked my pulse again. “You better drink up now. We don’t have much time,” Doc said, taking the glass from Maria and pressing it into my hand.
“I told you, I don’t drink,” I replied, with less veracity in my tone this time.
“Drink!” Doc said sternly, pushing the cup up to my lips and tipping it so the amber liquid spilled into my mouth.
Taking a sip, I began to cough and sputter as the liquid burned my throat.
“Keep going, I assure you, it gets smoother with every sip,” the captain said reassuringly as he strolled back into the room.
The cabin boy followed close behind, his arms loaded down with firewood. Coming up behind Maria, Townsend tapped her on the shoulder and took her place when she stood up. Taking hold of the towel, he continued to squeeze tightly, despite my protests.
“We will know you have drunk enough whisky when you stop complaining,” he said flatly, raising an eyebrow and inclining his head toward my glass of liquor.
After fifteen minutes, I managed to get two thirds of the glass down and was feeling no pain at all. I began to laugh uncontrollably every time I hiccupped.
“What is so funny, missy?” Doc asked, standing over me to check my pulse again.
I giggled, then blew air between my lips, “I can’t feel my lips.”
“She’s ready,” Aiden proclaimed, taking the glass from my hand. “It would be such a shame to waste a perfectly good glass of whisky,” he reasoned and then downed the remaining contents of the glass to steady his own nerves. He set the empty glass down on the table with a satisfied sigh. “I also think we are ready to lose the shirt.” Taking hold of the blood stained shirt by the tails, Aiden pulled it over my head and off in one fluid motion. The only thing protecting my modesty now was the bandaging I used to bind my chest that morning.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” Maria exclaimed out loud.
“It’s alright, Maria,” I slurred, “The shirt was old anyway.” I suddenly looked about as if I had just discovered something odd. “Did it suddenly get cold in here?” I asked, as a shiver shook my entire body.
Caleb returned from the galley with the pot of boiled water that contained the Doc’s tools. “Wow,” the first mate exclaimed, as he walked through the doorway and saw me scantily clad.
“Put your eyes back in your head, Daughtery,” Aiden said drolly, placing a blanket over me. “You act as if you have never seen a half naked woman before.”
“Who says I have?” Caleb quipped.
Born in Riverside, California in 1963, my family and I moved to San Diego when I was nearly 8. I had a very rich life growing up, with my brother, David and best friend Gigi, for company. I was married to my current husband, David in 1998 and we moved to Herald, California in 2001. We have a blended family of 6 kids and enjoy the rural life on our 5 1/2 acre ranch, 45 minutes south of Sacramento. I love writing and creating stories that are different and intriguing. I like to give my readers a little something unexpected. I have always wanted to be a published author, but the timing never seemed right. Raising a family and working full time always took precedence. Shortly after I turned 50 I decided that it would never be the right time, and determined that I needed to live my truth and follow my dreams. So I began writing on a whim, and loved everything about it. My first book is out, and the second one is at the publishers, scheduled to be released, April 4, 2017. I am currently working on book 3 of my series, slated to release the first week in August, 2017. I am very excited about the future, and thrilled to be writing. I count my blessings every day because I know how truly lucky I am. Life is good.
Facebook Page/Book Page Angelina’s Secret
Website/Publisher Jeweled Dagger Publishing