Eleven months ago, my journey toward The Sailor’s Rest began with these words I found squirreled away in a file from April 18, 2022, right after the blog tour for The Grail ended.
A gentleman’s greatcoat and beaver most assuredly were not foul weather gear of the type he was used to. Multiple capes did work together to keep the worst of the wretched sleety rain at bay. However, over time, the wool had gradually become sodden. Plus water irritatingly dripped from his hat’s brim and down his neck. And his hind quarters, he was sure, squelched in the saddle as the frozen precipitation found its way around his legs astride his stallion.
Now I am on the cusp of the launch day (March 28) for the completed book. What began as eighty words in the middle of a character sketch for the villain. Go figure, but as soon as I began toying with the baddie (the actual ‘first words’ in the file: He hated Frederick Wentworth with a richness few men ever achieved. He despised the man’s calm command of the room…it did not matter that he was of no consequence. He despised the man’s comfort in a crowd who were determined to winkle out every weakness…), the first paragraph of the post-prologue book appeared. I do not have a clue as to why. Those eighty words led to about 117,000 more before The Sailor’s Rest found safe harbor.
Today, I bring you the cover of the book, something which I feel gives that sense of mystery needed for this Pride and Prejudice—Persuasion crossover. I refuse to call the book a mash-up because that leaves me with the impression of madcap antics as our characters gambol across the stage. There is a serious effort to examine how affirmed relationships (that of two betrothed couples) can be tested and strengthened. The book is set on the Persuasion timeline of 1815. However, the personality and age constructs established by Austen in Pride and Prejudice were retained to allow the couples to co-exist.
John Atkinson Grimshaw’s 1881 painting Shipping on the Clyde spoke to me. The twilight setting filled with somber blue tones conveyed that sense of mystery with which I tried to imbue throughout the book. The silhouette outlining of the masts and rigging left the unmistakable feeling of a journey through a darkling wood.
I hope you will find your journey through The Sailor’s Rest evocative and fulfilling.
The book itself will go live worldwide on March 28, 2023. Check your local Amazon storefront for the e-book (paper will release a day or so later) and KindleUnlimited options.
If you wish to participate, I am offering ten copies of The Sailor’s Rest ebook. The link to RaffleCopter is http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9d1fdafb1/
The universal link to the book is https://mybook.to/SailorsRestPandP
Now, how did those first eighty words turn out? The first draft of the manuscript was completed in late January 2023. Here is an excerpt from Chapter One of The Sailor’s Rest which opens the action of the book.
This excerpt is © 2023 by Donald P. Jacobson. Reproduction is prohibited. Published in the USA.
Outside of Barton upon Humber, February 9, 1815
He dreamt of his standard tarpaulins. However, they remained in his sea chest in Newcastle. His boat cloak, designed for short trips from the frigate to the steps, kept the worst of the wretched sleety rain at bay. However, over time, the wool had become sodden. Water dripped from his hat’s brim and down his neck. And his hind quarters, he was sure, squelched in the saddle as the frozen precipitation found its way around his legs.
Frederick Wentworth was a man searching for safe harbor as the night deepened.
After surviving a wintery Baltic, he had been pounding south from Newcastle’s roads, Laconia’s resting place. Unlike his first command, Asp, the frigate had come close to falling to the Skagerrak’s fell currents and fickle winds. After delivering the ambassador to Sweden’s court, Laconia had run afoul of the weather. Although the February North Sea was never a millpond, a rogue storm tossed Laconia like a cork floating in a rambunctious toddler’s bath. The shrieks of top men flying from the mainmast’s yards to be embraced by gray froth arms bedeviled his nights. When Chips explained that a seam had sprung during the three-day-long gale, Wentworth knew for the first time that twisting feeling low in his belly when he thought how his wordless disappearance would grieve Anne.
Yet that idea also galvanized the Laconia’s captain into action. He would not be separated from her love again! He shook his fist at the inevitability of his ship’s loss. With nearly seven feet of water in the well, every man from the smallest ship’s boy to her captain manned the pumps through every bell of every watch for four interminable days as the wallowing ship lugged its way toward friendly shores. As Laconia made Newcastle’s roads, Wentworth took the helm as the ship’s boats ferried all hands ashore. Then the captain carefully brought his wounded charge into the shallows and allowed Laconia to settle on the mud until the port superintendent could muster his forces to unburthen the frigate of her battery and masts. Her next stop would be the breaker’s yard.
Wentworth mourned her as would the captain of any ship who had sacrificed herself to deliver her crew safely home. Landbound mortals would never understand the attachment sailors had for their seafaring homes. Old hands fondly would recall vessels from decades before, speaking of the ships not as contraptions made of metal, wood, and cordage but rather as the ultimate examples of another living species. Yet, he could find no cause to repine for her eventual demise had been writ in Whitehall after the departure of the Beast to his Elban exile.
Wentworth thought he had escaped his Admiralty masters when the swiftly-called court martial absolved him and commended his duty to ship and crew. He barely had buckled his sword belt when a marine handed him a packet closed with blobs of carmine wax impressed with the familiar seal of the fouled anchor. His orders were opaque and only insisted that he turn over Laconia’s command to his First Lieutenant and make haste to the Admiralty. The question of how the Navy’s black-clad clerks knew he had hove to in the far north barely registered. He earlier had advised London of his mission’s successful completion. The mysteries of the Admiralty were not the concern of a post captain. Wentworth’s life had been one of unquestioning dedication to the pursuit of orders. This summons was but another in a long chain.
Wentworth’s attention slipped the colder he became. He did not notice the small chaise trailing behind him, carefully picking its way to avoid spoke-shattering ruts. The shadow neither passed nor dropped too far behind to be out of sight.
His seaman’s eye picked up a change in the mist ahead. A flicker from a shielded glim beckoned to him in hospitality, promising a warm bed—or at least a dry bench in the common room. He had spent so many years surviving shipboard damp that even a modest reduction of his discomfort would be as welcome as a guest chamber eiderdown comforter on his brother’s Somersetshire estate. The chance to shed layers of sopping cloth fixed his attention.
A hundred yards further down the track, the wavering light firmed into baskets roaring their orange welcome as pitch-soaked dunnage simmered. Wentworth urged his horse toward the stables behind the lodging house—The Sailor’s Rest. The name warmed him with the knowledge that he had reached the halfway point in his journey. Frederick had discovered the inn’s smoked-darkened comforts as a youngster detailed north to fill a midshipman’s berth. Now he had two more days to London and, assuming their lordships would release him, another three to his wedding in Bath—and Anne. For tonight, The Sailor’s Rest was an auspiciously-named location to end a miserable day.