Friday, May 5, 2023

Have a sneak peek between the covers of Lindsey S. Fera's fabulous novel — Muskets and Masquerades #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance @AuthorLinzFera @cathiedunn


Muskets and Masquerades

Muskets Trilogy

by Lindsey S. Fera

Publication Date: April 18th, 2023
Publisher: Pompkin Press
Pages: 500
Genre: Historical Fiction / Historical Romance

Jack and Annalisa are married only five months when, enroute to France, a shipwreck separates them. On different shores, each believes the other dead. But when Annalisa learns Jack is alive, she returns to America and discovers much has changed. After a betrayal, she flees town as her alter ego, Benjamin Cavendish, and joins the Continental Army.

Unbeknownst to Annalisa, Jack has also joined the Continentals, harboring shameful secrets from his days in mourning. Against the backdrop of war with Britain, façades mount between Jack and Annalisa, and the merry minuet of their adolescence dissolves into a masquerade of deceit, one which threatens to part them forever.

With Candlemas upon them, Twelfth Night felt to be years ago, not mere weeks. Annalisa and Mary sat in the parlor. Her sister worked on her needlepoint, and Annalisa reread Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. The pamphlet was now two years old, but the radical words still rang true. She harkened back to the night at the Black Water Inn when Jack, William, and Quinnapin gathered about to read the pamphlet for the first time; before any of them, save George, had left for the army. 

George was returning from the Black Water today, and would be home within the hour, she supposed. Three years had passed since he last stepped inside his own establishment, and two years since Annalisa had seen Elisha Porter. 

She glanced at Mary and smiled. Her darling younger sister would have her debut come spring. Annalisa pondered the kind of gentleman who would ask Mary to dance, and perhaps, court her. My little sister, my dearest Mary. She can’t be courted by just anyone. But who remains to attend these local balls? What young, eligible gentleman hasn’t joined the war? 

Mary seemed unaffected. Her little needle pointed up, then down, her fingers fast at work embroidering a rose. Mary was far better than she or Jane ever purported to be at needlepoint. Annalisa bit her lip to hide her smirk. Her own stitching was base at the best of times, and Jane had always been the accomplished one among them. Now, Mary seemed to surpass even Jane. 

“You’re quite good,” Annalisa said. 

Mary looked up. “I suppose with you and Jane gone I’ve had much time to master these old, hackneyed patterns.”

Annalisa set aside her pamphlet. “I’m sorry I left you alone here.” 

“Don’t be. You were married, and then terrible things befell you. I could never blame you for any of it. I’ve only missed you, ’tis all. Would that I could’ve joined you.”

“Mary, you know ’tis too dangerous.” 

Mary set down her canvas. “What makes you think I don’t wish to partake in this war? What makes you think I couldn’t learn to fire a musket as you have?” 

“I wouldn’t wish what I’ve seen upon anyone, especially you. Battle is full of horrors. If you wish to partake, then weave your own textiles, as other ladies are wont to do—”

“How can you rebuke me so? You of all would scoff at such trite displays of rebellion.”

Annalisa frowned. Mary was right. She could hardly sit by and spin her own fabric while the men left for battle. “Well, if you don’t fight, and you’ll not weave or spin, what will you do?” 

“I go with Henry every other week to George’s tavern. I’ve taken to listening.”


“Aye. I’ve come away with quite a bit of information,” Mary replied. 

“And to whom have you relayed such knowledge?” Though Annalisa chuckled, she remembered the few times she’d been at George’s tavern and overheard Loyalists speaking of British generals and such. A tavern was an easy way to garner intelligence, but it was a matter of ensuring the news ended safely, and in the right hands. 

“I’ve told Henry, of course,” Mary replied. 

“Ah, then he takes it to his contact?” Annalisa asked. 

“I suppose. I know not where he takes my information.” Mary picked up her canvas and continued with her perfect rose. 

Espionage. ’Tis what Mary does. She spies. Perhaps she could be employed by someone within the Continental Army. No one would suspect her… The thought covered her in goosebumps. Spies, if uncovered, always received capital punishment. No, I can never involve her. The dangers are too great.

She suddenly understood the fear George felt all these years about her masquerading as a man. He cared too much for her to see her languishing in a prison, or potentially hanged. 

The front door swung open, and George strode into the parlor. “My two favorite sisters,” he bellowed. “I come bearing gifts from Elisha.” He handed them each a parcel wrapped in paper. 

Annalisa tore it open and sniffed the beef mince pie. Her mouth watered at the buttery crust. “How I’ve missed these.” 

Mary carefully put away her canvas then ripped open the paper, and bit into the pie without moving to the kitchen. 

Annalisa and George laughed. 

“These pies are so delicious, George,” Mary said, her mouth full and her eyes rolling back into her head. 

“Careful, with such vulgar manners, Mother won’t let you have your debut this spring,” George howled. He sat beside Annalisa and drew up the pamphlet she’d been reading. “I’ve read this thing nearly a hundred times.” 

“I’ve but read it twice.” She leaned against him and closed her eyes. 

A knock sounded at the door, and Annalisa lifted her head. 

Abigail hurried inside the parlor with Louisa clutched to her breast, her eyes wild, and frantic. 

“What is it, Abbie?” Annalisa asked. “You look a fright.” 

Shaking, Abigail handed her a letter. “Read it, I don’t mind.”

Annalisa unfolded the page, and George leaned in to read alongside her. When they finished, they peered at one another, then to Abigail, who bit her lip. 

“He’s here. He’s coming for me,” she whispered. 

“Who?” Mary asked. 

“Lord Essex,” Annalisa and George said in unison with Abigail. 

“What should I do? Where should I go?” Abigail cried. Louisa shrieked in her arms, and George reached for the girl. How much smaller she looked tucked against his strapping chest, snuggled within his bulging arms. 

“We can go to the Black Water,” Annalisa said. “He won’t know to look for you there.”

“No.” George rose from the sofa with Louisa. He paced for several moments, then turned to face them, huddled together with Mary. “Come with me to Valley Forge. You, too, Annie. Essex will never know you’re there. ’Tis a secluded place, a day’s ride from Philadelphia—”

“But the British hold Philadelphia,” Mary said. “What if he travels yonder?”

“A sound thought, Mary, but unlikely,” George replied. 

“Let me come, too,” Mary said. 

“No,” Annalisa said with George. They looked at one another, then Annalisa added, “You’re more valuable here. When Essex comes for Abigail, listen to everything he says, but play the unwitting coquette, then write to us. Can you do that?”

Mary nodded.

“No, don’t involve her,” George barked. 

“She wishes to help. Whyever can she not?” Annalisa asked. 

Abigail added, “’Tis true, George, no one will suspect her.” 

The way George looked upon Mary with devastation, made Annalisa’s blood run cold. 

“She and Henry are the last of us to be removed from this war. I wish to keep it so,” he replied. 

Mary crossed her arms. “I’m hardly removed from it, George.” 

George towered over her. “Is that so, young miss?” 

“I can keep to myself, I swear it,” Mary said. “We don’t even know for certain Lord Essex poses any threat to us. Should he call here, Mamma and Papa, and Henry and I shall host him as fondly as we ever hosted gentry.” 

Annalisa asked, “Is William leaving with you, too? Or can he remain here?”

George shook his head. “Wilhelmina has been honorably discharged. After the year he’s had, I doubt he wishes to sign on for another.”  

“What is this?” William asked, stepping into the parlor. 

“Lord Essex has written,” George replied. “He’s landed in Boston and means to come for Abigail. I’ve insisted she, Louisa, and Annalisa return to Valley Forge with me. Mary has offered to garner intelligence on Lord Essex should he come to the house seeking Abigail.”

“Why should Annalisa go with you and leave me behind?” William said with a scowl. “Surely I’m of greater assistance at Valley Forge than here—”

“No, you’ve been honorably discharged,” George said. “You’ll be better help here. You and Henry can guard the house should anything suspicious arise because of Lord Essex’s presence within the province. I doubt it not he has allies within the colony and means to use them.”

“But why would he call here? Should we not warn the Perkinses?” William asked.

“My papa already knows, and Ollie is aware,” Abigail said. “They’ll ensure he does nothing to compromise my family.”

“Only until Congress reconvenes,” Annalisa added. “Then your father will be away. Think you Ollie and Andrew will be sufficient?” 

“Of course, which is why William and Henry must remain here,” George said. 

At this, William nodded. “Aye, but when will you, Quinn, and Jack return?”

“Jack’s been ill since Twelfth Night, else he’d be here now, perhaps to remain. Quinn won’t return until Jack’s beyond his convalescence.” 

William sighed. “Aye, sir.” 

“Mary, you’ll be in charge of writing to us with any information. I’ll put you in contact with an individual I met while stationed at York Island. He’ll instruct you on learning to write in cypher and will supply you with sympathetic stain.”

Mary nodded. “Aye, sir.”

George kissed Louisa’s forehead, then regarded Annalisa and Abigail. “Ladies, we ride at dawn.” 

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Lindsey S. Fera

Lindsey S. Fera is a born and bred New Englander, hailing from the North Shore of Boston. As a member of the Topsfield Historical Society and the Historical Novel Society, she forged her love for writing with her intrigue for colonial America by writing her debut novel, Muskets & Minuets, a planned trilogy. When she's not attending historical reenactments or spouting off facts about Boston, she's nursing patients back to health. Muskets & Masquerades is her sophomore novel.

Connect with Lindsey:

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