As regular followers of What Cathy Read Next will know, I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. Add in a ‘What if?’ element and I’m hooked. So I’m thrilled to host today’s stop for False Lights by K J Whittaker which ticks both those boxes.
You can find an extract from False Lights below.
Plus, there’s a chance to win your own copy of False Lights (UK & ROI only). You can enter here. Entries close 15th September 2017.
About the Book
What if Napoleon, instead of Wellington, had won the Battle of Waterloo? Wellington is in secret captivity in the Scilly Isles and the Cornish are threatening to join forces with France against the English. Against this tumultuous backdrop, Hester Harewood manages to escape from the French soldiers who have killed her black sea captain father. Her rescuer – Jack ‘Crow’ Crowlas – takes her to shelter with his aristocratic family in London. But soon they are embroiled in a web of treachery and espionage, as plans are laid to free Wellington and lead an uprising against the French occupation. Meanwhile, Crow’s younger brother throws in his lot with the Cornish rebels and threatens to bring Hester and Crow’s elaborate plans crashing down, as this spellbinding story builds towards its violent and gripping endgame.
Format: Hardback (368 pp.) Publisher: Head of Zeus
Published: 7th September 2017 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find False Lights on Goodreads
Extract: False Lights by K. J. Whittaker
The wind rose again, and dark clouds crept across the sky from the east. Was that small bay Lamorna Cove? Even if these men could be trusted to reach the great stone quay at the western reach of the bay without drowning them all, where might she be safe? The moment she set foot on land, every last scrap of sand, earth and moorland belonged to the Earl of Lamorna. There was a new earl, too – that scandalous boy who had sailed with Papa on the Belle and then left the navy to join Wellington’s staff in Spain.
Hester forced herself to steady her breathing as she weighed up the options: before Buonaparte had escaped his island, prison and set Europe alight with another war, Papa had gone to London on naval business, and she’d spent the winter of ’14 at Nansmornow, the ancient seat of the Earls of Lamorna. She’d never met the new earl – Papa knew him, of course, but he’d run away to sea at such a young age, afterwards joining the army, that she had never chanced to meet him at Nansmornow. The Lamornas were allies – of a sort. For so many reasons, Hester preferred not to recollect those frostbitten mornings, the sidelong glances of the Lamorna servants, ice on the windowpanes, and the Lamornas’ friends – women in fussy silk gowns not quite daring to meet her eye, or staring when they thought she did not attend.
Lord Lamorna – Mark – had died not long after Waterloo, they said, of a fever contracted as he searched the battlefield for the corpse of his estranged eldest son. But by the grace of God, that son had survived what should have been mortal wounds and was now the earl, a little-known quantity. Hester had seen his name in The Times in the weeks after Waterloo: he was the messenger who had failed to reach Wellington with news that the allies had changed sides. Typical Wellington, Papa had said, frowning down at the newspaper. Always first to lay the blame at someone else’s door. Shabby of him to let it get out that it was Crowlas who didn’t reach him, poor lad. Lady Lamorna herself would be in London at this season, the great house Nansmornow cloaked in dust-sheets, but in any case, the Lamorna estates were far too close to what Hester had left behind. The French would look for her at Nansmornow, surely.
Even if by some miracle she escaped these soldiers, Papa’s manumission papers and the codicil confirming her own freedom were locked in his desk in the library on the top floor of the tower at Castle Bryher. Papa had never once left home without them. The Abolitionists might refuse as much sugar in their tea as they like, Papa used to say. The whole economy is bound up in the iniquity of it. The truth was, she could be kidnapped by anyone from Land’s End to the Highlands, disappearing without trace into a slave trade that had diminished, but survived underground. Hester pressed her hands to her face in a useless attempt to smooth away rising panic: the men simply ignored her.
About the Author
K.J. Whittaker is the Carnegie-nominated author of six YA novels published by Walker Books under the name Katy Moran. She works part-time in a bookshop and lives in Shropshire.
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