Kissing the Captain, Book 1

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 Kissing the Captain: A Roses of Ridgeway Novella
©2012, by Kianna Alexander

Historical Romance- Interracial (African American/Portuguese Heroine, Spanish Hero)

Heat Level: Sweet (love scenes take place off page, behind closed doors)

Setting/Time Period: Victorian America- California, US, 1879

Length: Kissing the Captain is a novella, approximately 25,500 words long

Books Like This: If you enjoy the multicultural historical romance novels of Beverly Jenkins, you will likely enjoy historical romance works by Kianna Alexander.

-Explore love, life, and the challenges of a bygone era.-

Ridgeway, California: A fictional, mixed race settlement founded by abolitionists in 1853, after the madness of the California gold rush died down. Located near present-day Oakland, California, the town is home to a little less than 500 citizens. In Ridgeway, everybody knows everybody else- which can be a good thing- or a bad thing.

The Roses of Ridgeway: The feisty, determined female citizens of the settlement. They are intelligent, loving, and know their own minds- but they are far from perfect. The Roses are: Lilly Warren, Prudence Emerson, and Valerie Ridgeway.

Please Note: The Roses of Ridgeway series books are SWEET in nature. There is no offensive content that would limit these books solely to mature adult readers. Expect some brief foul language, and light violence, and affectionate moments. However, sexual relations take place behind closed doors and are not portrayed on the page. Therefore, these books are appropriate for readers of all ages, from young, to mature, to young at heart.

From Heartbreak to New Beginnings

In 1879, near the small northern California town of Ridgeway, Lilly Warren is a young woman who has recently lost her father. There is little time for mourning, though, as the responsibility of running the twenty-six acre farm now belongs to her. To make matters even more complex, her father has deeded the house and the land to her in his will with an interesting condition: that she share the land with a person she’s never met, or forfeit ownership.

Leaving the Sea Behind for a New Love

Ricardo Benigno is a Spanish captain of the Anna Juanita, a shipping vessel bringing spices and oils to the shores of California. Seeking out the farm of his old friend Leonard Warren, he discovers that the older man has passed away. To his surprise, Ricardo has also been willed joint ownership of Warren land, as long as he shares it with Lilly, Warren’s only child.

Will There be Romance, or Rebellion?

The attraction between them is instant, and they both agree that marriage is the only acceptable way they can share the land. But can two people from such different worlds learn to love each other, or will Lilly’s heart be broken if she dares to kiss the captain?

Roses of Ridgeway Series Chronology

This is book #1 in the Roses of Ridgeway historical romance series by Kianna Alexander. Below is the series chronology:
Book 1: Kissing the Captain- Lilly and Ricardo’s story
Book 2: The Preacher’s Paramour- Prudence and Derrick’s story
Book 3: Loving the Lawman- Valerie and Noah’s story (coming soon)

Excerpt:

A black stallion advanced across Lilly’s land at a gallop. As the beast neared the house, the rider pulled back on the reigns. His Spanish commands to the animal echoed in the silence.

Mouth aloft, Lilly stared at the handsome man seated on the majestic beast. Initially, she wondered whether rider or mount was more magnificent. As she took in the man’s golden face, holding full lips and a pair of black eyes sparkling with mischief, she knew the answer to that riddle.

Long waves of shiny black hair grazed his well-muscled shoulders, bulging beneath a white, fancy collared shirt. His thick legs were encased in form fitting black riding pants capped with low heeled black leather boots.

Hola.” He slipped from the horse’s back with an air of grace and confidence. He ascended the steps and knelt before Prudence. “I am Captain Ricardo Benigno, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Señorita.”

Prudence giggled like a schoolgirl with a new doll. “Likewise, Captain. But I think it is Lilly you want.” She stepped aside.

Lilly’s heart pounded in her ears as the gallant Spaniard knelt at her feet. “Ah, yes. You are the daughter of my good friend. Pardon me, Señorita Warren,” he murmured in his Spanish inflected speech. “I am at your service.” He captured her trembling hand in his, raised it to his mustached lips, and kissed it.

When she found her voice, she stammered, “Nice to meet you, Captain.”

“Please, call me Ricardo.”

She nodded, but not trusting herself to form an intelligent reply, she kept silent.

“I do not mean to disturb you, but I am here to pay a visit to Senor Warren.” He looked around, as if expecting him to appear any moment. “I was hoping I could convince him to train my ship’s new carpenter. Is he available?”

Prudence immediately fell to the porch floor, looking at a loss for words..

Lilly’s breath caught in her chest like a snared animal in a trap. Apparently he was unaware of her father’s death. How could she break such distressing news to a man she had only just met? Were it not for the chair supporting her, she would have swooned.

Mr. Peters stepped up. “I’m Maxwell Peters, Mr. Warren’s lawyer. I am sorry to inform you that he passed away about a fortnight ago.”

Ricardo’s face fell, the handsome smile replaced by a wistful look. “I am sorry for your loss, Señorita. Senor Warren was a fine man, sailor, and craftsman. I only wish I had the occasion of docking in San Francisco sooner, so I might have seen him one last time.”

Lilly grabbed her tumbler of lemonade and took a long drink, lest she faint dead away. Suddenly, the rising heat of spring seemed more stifling than ever. She tugged at the collar of her black shirtwaist, wishing she could loosen a button or two. Being in mixed company made that impossible, so she dabbed at her neck with her handkerchief to catch the perspiration forming there. She did not need a shock like this to cope with on top of her father’s demise.

While she pondered her increasingly complicated situation, Prudence batted her eyes at him. “What brings you to California, Captain?”

He ran a hand through his dark, lustrous hair. “I was delivering a quantity of perfumes and spices to the markets in San Francisco. I thought I would call on Senor Warren while I was here. I have not seen him in quite a few years.”

Mr. Peters launched into a speech. “Well, in a way, it is fortunate that you decided to visit, because you are named in Mr. Warren’s will.”

His eyes widened with surprise. “Truly? I always looked up to Senor Warren, and I’m touched that he thought of me.” He stroked his chin, as if thinking. “What are the terms of the will?”

Lilly groaned inwardly. Addressing this now, when they had only just met, seemed ill advised. But if the lawyer insisted, what choice did she have?

“It grants you the rights to this twenty-six acre plot,” Mr. Peters answered. “With a stipulation that you wed his daughter.”

Sure she’d heard wrong, she massage her aching temple.

This couldn’t be happening. Her heart raced, and her stomach felt as if it were filled with lead.

The captain looked thoughtful for a moment, then smiled broadly. “Then I will do it.”

She gazed into his coal colored eyes, found them twinkling with some unidentifiable gleam. If he found some humor in this situation, she failed to see it. “What?”

“Do not worry, Bella. I will treat you well.” Ricardo stood, bowed. “And I will protect you and our property from all who threaten it.”

She was so stunned, she thought her eyeballs might pop out of her head. “I don’t know who is more crazy, you, for agreeing to marry a woman you just met, or my father, for arranging this travesty in the first place!”

He shrugged. “You are beautiful, and I can sense your sass and fire. I have grown tired of life at sea, so why not?”

Amazed at his nonchalant approach to this lifetime commitment, Lilly drew in a deep breath. She sensed there was a reason he claimed to be tired of sailing, something he would be hard pressed to reveal. At the moment, though, his reasons for accepting her as his wife were less important than what lay ahead for her. Anger and frustration coursed through her so strongly she feared her blood boiled. Wiping her sweat dampened palms on the front of her skirt, she turned a hopeful gaze on Mr. Peters. “Is there any clause that allows me to shirk this union, and still remain on the land?

The solemn faced lawyer shook his head. “I’m afraid not, Ms. Warren. If you don’t wed the captain within two months of your father’s passing, you’ll lose your claim to the land.”

A bitter chuckle escaped her throat. “Well, isn’t this a fine fix.” Her father’s meddling from beyond the grave, while well intentioned, had her mad as a March hare. How could he have done such a thing? She could feel the tears stinging the corners of her eyes, but she refused to shed them, lest she look like a pouting child in front of her company. She was a woman full grown, so she’d do what was necessary to preserve the family lands.

Her knowledge about running the farm was limited at best, since she had only assisted her father in a few of the many tasks required. Also, she did need someone to help work the land, and no one else had offered their services. What choice did she have? She looked to Prudence, who seemed somewhat recovered from her shock. “Well, Pru, I suppose we’ve a wedding to prepare for.” Swinging a cool gaze toward the gorgeous, dark haired man who would be her husband, she announced, “This will be a marriage in name only, Captain.”

He met the challenge in her eyes easily. “As you wish, Senorita.” He captured her hand again, and brought it to his lips. “But be aware, I will court you.”

The contact of his warm lips against her trembling hand was brief, but still left her far more affected than she cared to admit. Vowing to ignore the riotous sensations he invoked, she nodded, but said no more.

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