His uncle wanted him dead. Instead, Nicholas Collington was given to pirates.
Robbed of his rightful title and position, Nicholas survived. Now he rides the high seas, helping the wronged and avenging the downtrodden while the man who stole his life goes unpunished. But it’s time to reclaim his title and lands...time to make his uncle pay. However, to get close enough, Nicholas has a role to play.
Grace Thonburg is a gentle soul. Ostracized by the Ton after an accident leaves her maimed, she is content to minister to the villagers with her dear friend and elderly vicar, Finn. But Finn must leave, and a new vicar has arrived--A man so powerful and handsome that Grace is attracted to him in ways she hardly understands. She has accepted that she will never find love, but is this new vicar heaven sent? He seems unconcerned with her past or her position in Society...Yet, she senses he's hiding something.
After Nicholas assumes the role of the town's new vicar, his desire for revenge pales when compared to the desire he feels for Grace. But she is a lady, and he is a pirate.
He loves her unconditionally, but can he win her heart or will the weight of Nicholas's secret quash their new-found love?
He had been told the day he was born was idyllic and filled with promise.
His father paced the study in the silent manor, fear and hope wrapping their way around his heart. It was his duty to produce an heir, and it had taken ten years to accomplish the task. Beads of sweat trickled down his face, which he quickly mopped away with his crisp, monogrammed handkerchief. His wife was his life, more necessary than the air. He prayed she would survive the birth for without her, he could never go on.
Upstairs, the child’s mother brought him into the world of earldom. He was the first born male, the heir, the hope for the future. His titles were long and his riches unequalled, but as his mother held him close, all she saw was her longed-for child. They told him how she refused to give him to the nurse. Instead she held him, kissed him, and cried tears of joy, completely besotted.
He had felt the love of his mother everyday of her short life. He knew her gentle instruction, her warmth, and her graceful care. Never had there been a day that her laughter hadn’t rang out like a song throughout the manor, tickling his father’s serious eyes. Her gifted fingers flew over the piano keys, filling his memories with her music. In every corner of every room, her presence was evident. Always with a soft hand upon his shoulder, a kind word, and an eager ear—a mother’s love made perfect.
And when he looked into his father’s eyes, although he was too young to name pride and acceptance, he saw that he was exactly what he ought to be. He felt his value, his worth, and even his adoration.
Instead of the earl apparent, he had been treated like a royal prince, a valued treasure, a precious son. Every day of his first nine years had been light, burden-less, and filled with happiness.
Then, at just over nine years old, an eruption of the cruelest kind destroyed his life, as he was ripped from the only world he had ever known, and thrust into the darkest, most vile, inhumane place for a young child.
His life became distinctly separated into two parts; before and after. The memories of his former life, these stories of his birth, the knowledge he once knew of love and kindness, the memory of all that was pure and clean, he locked tightly inside a small brass chest, the key had been turned many years ago, and left somewhere in the depth of the Atlantic.
Every so often, his mind would recall that deeply buried coffin of memories, but never would he delve inside, for he no longer felt he deserved even a glance at such things. Over the years, he had come to wonder if the memories of his childhood were real or if in desperation, his mind created them as a way to cope with the harsh reality he had endured. And so, when those thoughts came, his mind, now well-trained, would recoil from that path, and return to the present.
At present, his consuming hunger for vengeance was his only driving force. He fed it as it roared, and it was sated for a while. And when it demanded more, he gave it more.
The Righteous sailed on, splendid in its silent glory, dark, and regal. She split the Atlantic in two, moving always with purpose, like a selective, half-hungry shark, not willing to take any offering, only the one she sought. That sublime chosen prey would satisfy her desire, would curb her appetite— until the next one.
Captain Nicholas Collington brushed his hair from his brow and raised his glass to the velvet sky. The constellations paraded their beauty in the clear, still night. He knew their placement in the spring and in the autumn. They provided him with a small touch of comfort and stability, all except for one.
Above him, she mocked and teased like an untouchable princess. Corona Borealis, the crown of stars, somehow spurred his hatred and soothed his soul all at once. It represented the nobility that should have been his, and the evil one who stole that right away. As he considered the ways he would make that one pay, he felt peace.
A scuffle behind him disturbed his thoughts. Resenting interruptions, he masked his ire behind a calm expression. Crossing his arms, he turned around.
“Cap’n, this rotter here thinks he don’ need to pull his share. Been giv’n ‘ol Vancie trouble about workin’ in the galley,” Old Red said.
Two laughing pirates nearby silenced and scurried off. The waves lapped harshly against the vessel.
Nicholas raised his chin and looked several feet down at the young lad cowering. At his glare, the boy trembled.
Nicholas cocked a brow and smiled. “Is that so, lad?”
Surprising him, the boy actually responded. “Cap’n, forgive me, sir. I been workin’ in the galley since noontime. I worked with Smitty afore that and have chores for Hart in a bit. I only asked for a moment to rest my head. I’m sorry, Cap’n, I’ll do better.”
Although his blood burned, hiding every thought and emotion was second nature to him now. It was a matter of survival, and Nicholas Collington was a survivor.
“Go to my cabin, boy. Wait for me there.”
Old Red smiled, proudly displaying three rotting teeth.
The boy hung his head and went straightway to the captain’s quarters.
When the boy was out of earshot, Nicholas turned to Old Red. “Is the lad your slave or my ship hand?”
“We always work ‘em the first few weeks. Builds respect it does.”
“I’m surprised to hear this news. In fact, it’s quite new to me.” He took a step toward Old Red and the man backed up, clearly shaken. “It appears I have been remiss in my duties, Old Red. My orders are not being followed as they should.”
“Cap’n, I been tryin’ to teach these lads respect.”
“By treating them worse than when they were on the street?” He felt his anger prickling, “You may take his place in the galley. At next port, you will be free to teach others your unique brand of respect.”
Old Red nodded once and seemingly disappeared into the inky night. Nicholas cursed himself. He had felt pity for the old man when he took him in, but something cautioned him against keeping the crusty old pirate. He should have trusted his instinct and made a mental note never to deviate from it again.
He went down the companionway, back to his cabin, and found the boy standing beside his desk. He looked as if he had been physically beaten. Nicholas walked through the lavishly decorated room and sat down behind his desk. His eyes rested on the bottom left drawer. He pulled the handle and found it locked. Good.
The boy swallowed, waiting.
“What is your name, young man?” Nicholas inquired.
“Robert Mitchell Wicks, Cap’n.”
Nicholas looked him over a bit closer. Beneath his dark eyes, grey circles rested on protruding cheekbones. His clothing was filthy and hung from his bones. His boots were nearly worn through.
“I have need of someone to help me in here.” He motioned to the room which held a bed, a stand and basin, his desk, and a large chest of drawers.
“As you can see, I have certain standards. I don’t tolerate filth. You will bathe and sleep over there,” he motioned to a small cushioned seat near the window, “and in the morning, I will give you a list of your new duties.”
The lad sagged with relief. Nicholas could easily imagine what the child had feared. He had seen many who had not fared so well.
“I have some details to see to. When I return, I expect to find you sleeping. In the morning you will fetch me coffee and bread.”
Robert Mitchell Wicks nodded and then offered a smile of gratitude. Nicholas pulled a folded quilt from the chest and handed it to him. “You may use this tonight.”
He made his way back on deck to stand beneath a sky of diamonds. He looked up at the crown of stars and spoke as if to heaven. “One more saved,” he whispered into the blackest night.
The ship’s rocking began to lull him into a familiar state. His flag of scales flapped in the wind. Justice was always the goal.
Question 1: Do you believe it is resonable for a person who feels intensely wronged to desire to seek revenge?
Answer 1: Yes.
Question 2: Is Grace using her disability as an excuse to hide from society, or is she sincere in her love for the villagers?
Answer 2: I see Grace as someone who is sincere in her desire to help others. She has been through a horrible experience and has been able to put her trust in God. She has become a sweeter person as a result of her difficulty.
Question 3: Unlike Grace, Nicholas's ordeal has made him bitter and blood thirsty. What might attribute to the difference in which Nicholas and Grace respond to adversity?
Answer 3: Many things can contribute to their responses to their unique trials. Factors such as their personality types or their individual strength and constitution. But ultimately for Grace, I believe it was her deep, abiding faith, and the loving support of Finn, that helped her accept her lot, and be content. Poor Nicholas was abandoned at a time when he should have been experiencing the security and unconditional love of his family. Nicholas had no one, but his own personal code of honor in which to rely upon.
Question 4: When Nicholas first meets Sebastian after his years at sea, he is surprised by his own mixed emotions. What might account for those feelings?
Answer 4: Nicholas observes the ravages of time on Sebastian and how his once strong uncle has been made weak by life and unfortunate circumstances. I also believe Nicholas being a man of the world has a level of maturity that he did not possess as a boy and it causes his dilemma. Although his wish for revenge is still strong, he seems to have lost his will to actually kill a man.
Question 5: When Nicholas learns the truth about Grace's accident and her subsequent forgiveness of the robber, he cannot comprehend such a thing. What event or events change his thinking?
Answer 5: I think Nicholas is stunned that adversity can be met with forgiveness. Grace exemplifies this in her life and demonstrates it as she forgives the robber who's actions have maimed her hand. Once Nicholas meets the robber and sees that he too is a victim of circumstance, he realizes he has compassion on the man and his sick daughter. For Nicholas, the dawning has begun.
Question 6: Some have said that Nicholas's exoneration at the end of the novel is unfair, and that he has not paid the penalty for his crimes. What do you think?