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Briony Fairborn, a midwife in eighteenth-century Scotland, comes from a family shrouded in scandal. Left with only one friend after her mother’s death, she has little hope of gaining any others, let alone finding a husband. Instead, Briony tries to live a quiet life and avoid her neighbors’ ridicule as much as possible.
But things in Everton take a drastic turn when a storm brings foreigners to the village docks.
On the night Santiago Mendes arrives, he comes with a broken ship, a broken leg, and a broken spirit that Briony finds herself profoundly drawn to. Her scarred heart slowly starts to open, and although Briony suspects he may be hiding something, she cannot help but dream of the possibility of love.
That is, until another stranger appears in town, intent on repaying a childhood debt. A dangerously handsome stranger who shows Briony that she’s even more different than she could have imagined. And that her past is far darker than she realized.
Magic, romance, and political intrigue collide as the secrets surrounding one Scottish woman begin to unravel. Secrets that she may not be ready to face.
Read an Excerpt
“Open the door! By order of His Majesty the King!” The harsh shout from the street below wrenched Santiago out of his reverie.
The sounds of merriment abruptly ended within the house, and nervous whispers took their place. Santiago peered down from the balcony at the ten quadrilheiros standing right outside the door. He’d never seen that many gathered in one place, since they typically stayed in Lisbon near the king. What could be so important for them to show up here?
The man turned to find his sister standing before him, a nervous Andreas at her side. Her entire body was trembling as though she would fall apart at a moment’s notice, and Santiago observed the way she gripped Andreas’s arm with such intensity that her knuckles had turned white.
“Are they going to arrest us? Why are the quadrilheiros here?” Lucia whimpered in a low voice, her breaths so shallow she could barely get the words out.
Santiago reached out and patted her shoulder. “Calm down, sister. We’ve done nothing wrong. I’m sure they just need information for something—”
The door creaked open below them, and Santiago motioned for Lucia to be silent.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Tomas Cabral, head servant for the Mendes family, demanded. Santiago smirked at the older gentleman’s steady voice; it was difficult for anyone to intimidate Tomas.
“Are Senhor and Senhorita Mendes in?”
Rather than answering, the man said, “Why have you come?”
The leading officer growled and said, “Senhor Mendes is to be taken into custody and his sister brought in for questioning.”
Lucia gasped. “What!”
“Shh!” Santiago insisted.
“You’re arresting Senhor Mendes? On what grounds?” Tomas didn’t sound nearly as confident anymore, but Santiago was proud of the man for not allowing the quadrilheiros into the house yet.
“Treason! Now, stand aside!”
About the Author:
Claire Kohler grew up in Mooresville, NC, as the eldest of four daughters. Her love of stories began at an early age, and as a child, she could often be found borrowing way too many books from the library and scribbling away in a journal.
In 2016, Claire became a full-time middle school English teacher in a public school. In her second year of teaching, she also taught social studies. After becoming pregnant in 2018, Claire decided to shift careers and become an online ESL teacher so that she could also take care of her newborn at home.
She now lives in Statesville, NC, with her husband, two children, and three cats. She is also an active member of Christ Community Church Mooresville, where she often serves as a Bible study and small group leader.
Claire plans to continue creating exciting historical fantasy novels and potentially branching out into other genres as well.
Website Link: https://secretdruleacottage.wixsite.com/clairekohlerbooks
Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/Claire-Kohler-Books-100151582291586