I am welcoming H. D. Coulter to the blog today on her blog tour for “Saving Grace”! Scroll down for details, for a book excerpt, and my review!
Book Title: Saving Grace: Deception. Obsession. Redemption.
Series: The Ropewalk series, Book 2
Author: H D Coulter
Publication Date: 11th May 2021
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length: 330 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Beacon Hill, Boston. 1832.
“You are innocent. You are loved. You are mine.”
After surviving the brutal attack and barely escaping death at Lancaster Castle, Beatrice Mason attempts to build a new life with her husband Joshua across the Atlantic in Beacon Hill. But, as Beatrice struggles to cope with the pregnancy and vivid nightmares, she questions whether she is worthy of redemption.
Determined to put the past behind her after the birth of her daughter Grace, Bea embraces her newfound roles of motherhood and being a wife. Nevertheless, when she meets Sarah Bateman, their friendship draws Bea towards the underground railroad and the hidden abolitionist movement, despite the dangerous secrets it poses. Whilst concealed in the shadows, Captain Victor Hanley returns, obsessed with revenge and the desire to lay claim to what is his, exposes deceptions and doubts as he threatens their newly established happiness.
Now, Beatrice must find the strength to fight once more and save Grace, even if it costs her life.
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08YWBZRQY
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08YWBZRQY
Universal Link to other bookshops: https://books2read.com/u/38QrBV
Ropewalk; Rebellion. Love. Survival (The Ropewalk Series, Book 1) is only 0.99 on ebook during the tour. Here are the buy links:
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08MKZW4S5
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08MKZW4S5
Universal Link to other bookshops: https://books2read.com/u/bxjlQd
H D Coulter
Hayley was born and raised in the lake district and across Cumbria. From a young age, Hayley loved learning about history, visiting castles and discovering local stories from the past. Hayley and her partner lived in Ulverston for three years and spent her weekends walking along the Ropewalk and down by the old harbour. She became inspired by the spirit of the area and stories that had taken place along the historic streets.
As a teacher, Hayley had loved the art of storytelling by studying drama and theatre. The power of the written word, how it can transport the reader to another world or even another time in history. But it wasn’t until living in Ulverston did she discover a story worth telling. From that point, the characters became alive and she fell in love with the story.
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The following day, Beth collected the new emerald dress from Miss Julie’s and Sarah helped Bea prepare for the gala. There were so many questions she still had after her experience of the meeting house, but now was not the time. Instead, Bea was more concerned with convincing a group of social-climbers that she was as much one of them as it was possible to be.
“May I come in?” Beth peered around the door.
“Of course, come and sit next to me, and help calm my nerves.” Bea reached out a hand for Beth to take. “I wish we could have secured a place for you to come too. I do not know what I am going to say to these people…”
“You’ll have Joshua there; I am sure he will look after you.”
“We saw it before at the May Day dance, men go off in one corner to talk about work and politics, whilst the women gossip in another.”
She feigned a moustache with one of her curls and pretended to take a puff of a cigar. The three women burst out laughing.
On the other side of the room, Grace stirred from her sleep at the sudden commotion in the room. Instinctively Bea rose from her seat but felt the pressure from Sarah’s hands on her head.
“I’ll get her. You stay and make ready.” Sarah turned her head towards Beth. “Do you mind finishing?”
“It would be my pleasure, like the old days.”
Beth waited for Sarah to exit the room with a now-grumpy Grace in her hands. “I am sure you’ll be fine – you have had time to accustom yourself to things here now, and you are in a better place… in your head. You have a stunning gown which I’m sure Joshua will approve of. Besides: it is just one night, if you find yourself in a huddle of gossipy wives, well – allow them to talk, and simply nod your head like so…” Beth lifted her nose up high and pulled a familiar face, causing Bea to burst out laughing, followed by Beth.
“I have missed that, laughing. It has been like living in a fog, clouding every thought or action. But recently it seems to have been dissipating, finding I can smile once more. Enjoy the small things; laughing and playing with Grace.”
“There, done! I haven’t done your hair since the last dance we had in Ulverston, the night you made Joshua fall in love with you.” Beth gave Bea a wink in the mirror.
“I think we both knew there was something there. But so much has happened since. I wonder sometimes if I am the same woman as I was then.”
“A year ago you were still a girl in many ways. Now you are a woman and have lived through so much more. It would make sense you have changed, how could you not? Now you are stronger; you are a wife, a mother and living in a new world.”
Bea shook her hands, as if ridding herself of a wave of emotions. “You are right, I am just being silly.”
“Bea, are you ready?” Joshua shouted from downstairs.
Beth finished pinning the last braid into the sweeping bun and loose curls. “Yes, all done.” She declared, sealing the hair with a kiss.
Bea stood up, smoothed down her dress and looked at herself in the free-standing mirror. She failed to recognise the woman staring back at her, in a glowing green dress that shone in the candlelight, setting off her warm skin and auburn hair. It gave a curve to her body and an elegance to her frame. “I look like one of them.”
“You look as beautiful as you always do – now go down to your husband.” Beth pushed Bea towards the open door.
Bea could see him standing handsomely at the bottom of the stairs, gazing upwards. He seemed not to have changed since the last dance. How elated she had felt seeing him again there, the daring touch of his hand upon hers – and now they were going together to a gala halfway across the world as husband and wife. Standing at the top of the stairs, she saw his expression change to a delighted smile at the sight of her. One hand on the skirt and the other on the banister. She glided down the stairs towards him. In one move, he grabbed hold of her and pressed her against his body.
“You look radiant. I am a lucky man to be presenting you as my wife this evening,” he whispered into her ear. Something changed in him. Suddenly, they were how they used to be. His mouth met hers as though it were their first kiss all over again, pulling her tight against him, and they both felt a sense of yearning stirring between them that hadn’t been there for a very long while.
Bea skimmed her lips against his. “Do you remember the ball in Ulverston?”
“The night I fell in love with you? How could I forget?” He stole another quick kiss.
“It felt like an unreachable dream – that one day you would be my husband, standing here, holding me. I hope you know how much I love you.” He leaned in and kissed her again. She felt his fingers press into her back, urging their bodies into one. His hands travelled over her. One slid downwards while the other went north. Her skin became hot and flushed under the dress as a new yearning surged inside of her. Reluctantly, he paused.
“I love you too, more that you’ll ever know – and now I almost don’t want to go to the gala.”
Bea felt her cheeks become hotter at his implication. She pulled herself away from his grip.
“We had better say goodnight to Grace.” She lead the way into the sitting room, and with a disappointed sigh, he followed behind her.
They had positioned themselves on a chair, Grace leaning in as Sarah hummed one of her tunes, rocking her back and forth.
Bea quietly crept up and crouched down beside them. “Sweet dreams my darling, I will see you soon.” Grace, on hearing her mama’s voice, turned and smiled at Bea, but her eyes widened in awe at the sight of the magnificent green dress.
“She will be fine. You go and enjoy yourselves. I will keep her in with me tonight.”
“If she needs a feed, bring her in.” Sarah smiled, seeing Bea’s anxiety at leaving her child for the first time.
“Sarah and Beth will take good care of her.” Joshua leaned in a little closer, placed a kiss on his hand, and gently laid it upon Grace’s head. “Good night, my sweetheart.”
Bea could hear Grace moaning as she walked towards Beth, holding out Bea’s cloak.
“If we need you, I will send word to you.” Beth replied, reading Bea’s face, and the question written all over it.
“Now – you go and dance the night away.”
Joshua smiled at Beth as he grabbed hold of Bea’s hand, drawing her towards the carriage waiting outside.
The house was lavish, a real spectacle of Mr Goldstein’s wealth and power within the community, sitting proudly on the northern side of Beacon Hill. Carriages waited their turn to deposit strings of guests in front of the two front pillars, made up of the crème de la crème of the city money-makers, amongst them all, a former Ropemaker’s daughter. But tonight, Bea was not just her Da’s daughter; she was the wife of a successful business manager; she reminded herself. She noticed Joshua tilting his head at certain men as they passed by in the hallway. He strolled into the principal room as though he had always belonged there, tall and proud, comfortable in his own birth-class once more.
“Don’t look so nervous,” he whispered into her ear, “you belong here too.”
Bea nodded. Her throat had become dry and her hands were sweaty as she noticed some women staring at the new arrival in their midst.
Joshua felt her body tense against his and guided her towards the refreshment table. “This should help.” He handed her a glass of champagne and took one for himself.
The bubbles popped in her mouth and caused a fizzy sensation on her tongue. She couldn’t help but giggle. “That’s better.” He lent forward and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
She smiled. As the champagne disappeared, so did the fear.
“Shall we dance, Mrs Mason?”
“I think we shall, Mr Mason.”
Joshua guided her onto the dance floor as the music began. It was a quadrille. Joshua beamed at her, seeing how much of her old self had returned. Then they both remembered: they still didn’t know the steps confidently to a quadrille! A laugh slipped out from Bea, and she tried to cover it with a dainty cough. They watched the other couples do their steps first, and with their turn, in the middle, Joshua took her hand and leaned in close so that no one else could hear: “I love you.”
A passionate happiness surged through her body, and for the first time since their courting days, she wished they were alone. Instead, she waited for their next turn and whispered the same sentiment. She stared at him with wonder. How did she deserve such a man?
“Are you alright?” Joshua whispered, observing a wave of emotions flashing across Bea’s expressions.
“More than, this is wonderful.” She smiled up at him as he placed his arm around her waist, pulling her closer.
“Come with me.” He took her hand in his and weaved them away through the crowd, issuing small nods to anyone he knew.
“Where are we going?” He replied with only a mischievous glance. One of the side doors to the now-empty hall stood ajar, and he pulled her through quickly.
“What- I don’t think they’ll allow us to be in here.” Her eyes darting around the room, making sure they were alone.
It had a musky smell, with a fire crackling in the stuffy air, and worn leather books lining the walls. He let go of her hand and closed the door behind them. Then, in a single movement, he pressed her back against the door and kissed her. It was deep and passionate, reawakening the earlier sensation in her body at the foot of the stairs. She wanted to give in to the moment, to allow all the past inhibitions and trauma behind.
“I’m perfectly happy.” She stroked the side of his face, staring into his sea-blue eyes.
There was a moment of relief and joy reflected in his expression. “I know.”
©H D Coulter
I received an ARC copy of Saving Grace from the author for an honest review.
Having not read the first installment of this series, which I think is a must for this story, I, at first, felt a little off with the backstory of Bea and all that happened to her in Ropewalk. First and foremost, I do think it is necessary to read Ropewalk first.
That being said, the author does a good job of leading you into the lives of Bea and her husband as they embark on a new life in Boston, away from the former tragedies they left behind in England… or at least, they think. I felt for a long time this was more a story of a husband and wife trying to reconnect after tragedy instead of a story about the little girl, Grace, who lends her name to the title. There was a lot of back and forth, a struggle of reaching out, and of hesitation, between the couple for a long time into the story.
Where I felt the story really really blossomed was the introduction of Sarah’s backstory. I truly wished there was a book all on its own for her voice, and the words leapt from the page with passion and emotion. Her story was necessary to Bea’s story in the end, though, and drew them together in a mutual understanding; all with the goal of saving Grace, literally and figuratively.
What I loved about the story? Everything about Sarah and her struggles. What I didn’t love about the story? I felt a little disconnected to Bea for a long time into the book, but I soon discovered the reasons for her disconnect from those around her and the author skilfully has the reader feeling the same detachment. If that was what she was going for, then bravo!
I give this book four stars and look forward to catching up in reading Ropewalk and finding out what happens next in the third book.