Today, I’m pleased to share an excerpt from Lindsey S Fera’s latest book, Muskets and Minuets.
They danced the reel, and Abigail with George. For the second, Annalisa paired with Quinnapin, and for the third, Ezra Kimball.
When the cotillion ended, Annalisa scanned the set for Jack.
He stood across from Jane.
Forlorn, she turned away. Perhaps she would not dance with him after all. Jane, at seventeen, had been formally educated in Salem, been out for the past two years, and was now ripe for courting. It was no surprise Jack favored her.
And thank God it isn’t Oliver.
But Annalisa could hardly shake the bitter sting of disappointment, and an opportunity lost.
She slipped away from the set of dancers and wandered toward the common’s edge. Near a large boulder—the Common Rock, as it was known in town—Annalisa sprawled upon the cool, damp grass and lifted her face to the sky. The heavens glittered with a million tiny stars, and the yellow glow of lightning bugs hovered over the field in a thousand flickering lights. The brisk evening air, full of dew and lilac, set her with peaceful ease.
Annalisa reached into her pocket and removed Jack’s linen handkerchief. Holding it to her nose, she sniffed his amber perfume and closed her eyes. She imagined his hands upon her as they twirled beneath the night sky.
“Miss Annalisa, there you are.” Jack’s voice interrupted her fantasy.
Startled, she peered up at him.
“They’ve done the last dance already. I apologize. I’m afraid we’ll have to dance next year.”
Flowers of Edinburgh played one final time in the distance. Amidst the fireflies and sparkling skies, all she noticed were his eyes, glassy from too much ale. She replaced the handkerchief into her pocket.
“Sir, that is foul news indeed.” She sat up. “I’ve never seen so many lightning bugs.”
Jack peered about. “I’ve not seen anything like it myself. Topsfield is agreeable.”
“’Tis home.” She sighed, ready to lift from the ground. “I suppose I should find my parents.”
Jack assumed a recumbent position beside her on the grass. “Just a moment more—to atone for missing our dance.” He held his hat to his chest and looked into her eyes. “Nights like these are rare.”
“You’re right, Mr. Perkins.”
“Call me Jack.” He paused and licked his bottom lip. “Annalisa.”
The impropriety of hearing him utter only her Christian name stole her breath. Giddy, she lay back, and together they watched the stars.
“Adams keeps me too busy. I rarely have the chance to star-gaze in Boston.”
“George and I used to lie out in the western field for hours, watching for shooting stars. Quinn tells us to beware the Puk-wudjies in the woods late at night. I hardly believe in ghost stories, but I’m curious of his tales.”
“Good old Quinn. Wampanoag lore is fascinating, though. After he told me about Puk-wudjies I thought I saw one in Cambridge. Turns out it had been the ale I’d been drinking!” Jack laughed. “I wish I had someone like George growing up. Your brother loves you very much. He spoke of you countless times when he stayed with us.” He paused. “I felt as though I already knew you before we met.”
“I felt the same about you. George wrote of you in nearly every one of his letters.” She ground her teeth, hating herself for having harbored ill feelings toward him. “You must be a good man if he had only good things to say.”
From the corner of her eye, she caught him staring. She turned and smiled.
“I’ve never known a lady so willing to lie in the grass like this.”
“I’m no ordinary lady.”
Jack’s cheeks dimpled. “I can see that.”
This is most inconvenient. Every girl in town holds a dalliance for Jack, including Jane.
She bit her lip, wishing she weren’t on that long list herself, especially when her own sister fancied him.
“Annalisa.” Jane’s voice struck like lightning. “Papa and Mamma are waiting.”
Jack sprung up and held out his hand to her. Annalisa grasped it and scrambled to her feet.
“Mr. Perkins.” Jane gave a brief curtsy.
Jack offered her his arm. “Miss Howlett, ’tis always a pleasure.”
Annalisa trailed behind them until they met with George, his eyes glassy and frown upturned. He dashed to her side and wrapped an arm over her.
“’Tis getting cool, Little One.” George’s breath smelled of stale cider.
She eased against him and relaxed her shoulders. “Tomorrow, let me show you how well I’ve been shooting. You owe me a lesson with Bixby.”
Her brother guffawed and stumbled as they walked. “I like the sound of that.”
In front of her, Jane held Jack’s arm. They beamed at one another, impervious to Annalisa and George behind them.
Annalisa squeezed George’s hand. “I’ve still much to learn.”
And much to forget.
She pulled Jack’s handkerchief from her pocket, crumpled it into a ball, and dropped it onto the common.
Here’s the blurb:
Love. Politics. War.
Amidst mounting tensions between the British crown and the American colonists of Boston, Annalisa Howlett struggles with her identity and purpose as a woman. Rather than concern herself with proper womanly duties, like learning to dance a minuet or chasing after the eligible and charming Jack Perkins, Annalisa prefers the company of her brother, George, and her beloved musket, Bixby. She intends to join the rebellion, but as complications in her personal life intensify, and the colonies inch closer to war with England, everything Annalisa thought about her world and womanhood are transformed forever.
Join Annalisa on her journey to discover what it truly means to be a woman in the 18th century, all set against the backdrop of some of the most pivotal moments in American history.
Violence and battle scenes, sexual assault, mild sexual content, and profanity.
Meet the author
A born and bred New Englander, Lindsey hails from the North Shore of Boston. 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 and Minuets. When she’s not attending historical reenactments or spouting off facts about Boston, she’s nursing patients back to health in the ICU.
Connect with Lindsey