Georgina Blake flees a refined life in eighteenth century England to avoid a scandal. Determined to begin a new life, she voyages to the Cape of Good Hope, only to find death and destruction await, endangering those she holds dear.
Though she is intrigued by stranger, Anton Villion, trader, adventurer and maverick, his arrival threatens her precarious security. Anton, himself privy to a painful secret, shadowed by heartbreak and seeking peace, is drawn to Georgina despite his hurt and mistrust, and his reservations about her history.
In time, their growing love is thwarted by the past – and Louisa Somerville, hell bent on diverting Anton’s attentions. Fate has thrown them together but can Anton and Georgina salvage their bond before destiny tears them apart? Together, can they find the strength and courage to embark on a journey to redemption and everlasting love?
Georgina hesitated, settling the baby on her breast, choosing her words with care, curious, yet not wishing to fraternize with a servant, and a child at that. “Do you and your mother know the men who arrived this afternoon?”
“Yes, Miss. Anton often stops here when he’s passing through.”
Georgina frowned. “Really? I had not heard his name.”
In truth, her brother James had not been a good correspondent, a trait hardly assisted by the erratic postal system. He had mentioned friends and acquaintances over the years in eagerly-awaited letters that had been opened and read in private by Papa first, then censored and the appropriate passages read aloud to the rest of the family. She had never heard mention of the name Anton Villion. However, the adventures of an intrepid bachelor would have been deemed most unsuitable for ladies’ ears, especially if described with James’s customary wit and lighthearted manner.
Juliette nodded. “He was Master James’s best friend.”
“And the yellow, Hottentot man?”
“His name is Kop. Master James was friends with him too, but he doesn’t often sleep here. He’s got wives living nearby. So many, he says he can’t keep track. And ever so many children, he —”
“Hush, girl! Do not discuss these things. Such conduct is not correct, nor is it humorous. Have you finished your chores?”
“Yes, once I have refilled your water jug and fetched the baby napkins Sara is folding.”
“Well, do those things then.”
“And stay in the house, away from those men.”
“But Kop’s my friend! And Anton said I could talk to the Dutch boy when I had finished my chores—”
“Is this Mr. Villion’s house, Juliette?”
She shook her head. “No, Miss.”
“Then we will not live by what Mr. Villion deems suitable. And you may not go outside. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Miss,” she answered, disappointment dulling her eyes.
“Run along then.”
Juliette slipped away, clutching the jug, leaving Georgina alone in the room, feeling mean. Of course a child would be excited by the arrival of travellers, but one had to be careful. Nevertheless, Georgina wished she hadn’t spoken in reprimanding tones. She had hardly recognized her own voice. God forbid she should turn into her father!
And yet, since her brother’s death, she held responsibility for the household, and the moral conduct of those in her care. She would speak to Sara about Juliette. The girl’s knowledge of the Hottentot man’s personal life was improperly vivid. Her unsuitable familiarity with Mr. Villion and Sara, her own mother, was absurd – for she called both by their first names. And she wriggled and fiddled and tended to chatter. Georgina would not have a slave child behave like that under her own roof. It wouldn’t do at all.
Baby James released her breast with an undignified snort, screwing up his face, puce with wind. She covered herself, stood up, and laid him on a cloth against her shoulder, turning to the window as she rocked his warmth against her body. Through the glass panes she could see the small, temporary encampment under the draping boughs of a mature pepper tree. Holding James with one hand, she opened the window, letting the warm afternoon air billow into the room. Standing withdrawn and unseen in the cool shadows of the bedroom, her eyes sought Anton Villion.
He had been bathing. She could see his bare shoulders as he stood inside the fenced-off area surrounding the trough. He laughed as the boy, Dirk, pumped the water too hard and ducked under it, drenching himself. She heard their joined laughter and Villion’s deep voice as he explained the workings of the temperamental water supply, his roar as Dirk squirted water at him, icy from the stream off the mountain, especially in the extreme heat. The gush of the pump slowed to a trickle, then dripped and stopped, and all was quiet save for the tender music of turtledoves, hidden in the green shade. The boy wandered off, disappearing behind the pepper tree, rubbing his hair to scatter bright water on the dry ground at his feet.
Georgina stilled her rocking, and the hand that patted her baby’s back. She could see more of Villion now, naked to the waist. He wiped his wet face with his hands and leaned against the bleached wood of the fence. Georgina looked down at the polished windowsill. Her father likened the sins of the flesh to a fine meal. One always wanted a second helping, he preached.
And she did.
Keeping her head down, she looked again. Water droplets sparkled on his neck and shoulders as he stretched out his arms along the top of the fence. Georgina raised her head to watch the pulse of muscles under smooth brown skin and saw, again, the shadow of fine hair on his powerful forearms and the back of his hands.
Her breath halted in her throat as he tipped his dark head back and, with a sigh of pure pleasure, turned his face up to the sun. Spellbound, she stared. She had never seen a man like this: half-naked in the open air, the sunlight striking his skin and glancing off his wet hair. Did all men have such wide shoulders? Did they all possess such lean grace without their clothes on? Did they all conceal such power beneath their ridiculous breeches, stockings and lace-trimmed shirts? Or was Villion different?
TO WIN A COPY OF THE WILD HEART ANSWER THE QUESTION BELOW IN COMMENTS AND ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY AT RAFFLECOPTER!
What’s your personal favorite setting for an historical romance novel?
About the Author
Gina Rossi is a writer of women’s fiction, historical adventure romance, contemporary romance, and British chick lit. She’s been lucky enough to live in some beautiful parts of the world: Cape Town – a weather factory between magnificent mountains and two oceans, the Oxfordshire Cotswolds – a green and pleasant decade, and latterly the sunny French Riviera – glamorous hotbed of inspiration. She’s an Italophile, lurking a mere 10km from the Italian border with France, a Pisces who has to live near water, a cat and dog lover, a foodie, and avid writer who started late in life and is sprinting to catch up.