CAPTAIN JACK RYDER ~ The Duke’s Bastard
Bestselling Historical Thriller
Read free on Unlimited
Cover by Erin-Dameron Hill
Will two army friends find their happy ever after?
The death of Captain Jack Ryder’s father, the Duke of Stamford, leaves Jack restless. The Duchess’ spiteful relatives have made his life a misery, and he wants nothing more than to escape London for a time. Dressed in buckskin breeches, he takes to the road on his horse, Arion, with the intention of visiting his mother’s grave in Ireland. But after one day, events conspire to interrupt his plans.
Jack finds himself not only caught up in a conspiracy of immense proportions, but also in a passionate love affair with a lady he cannot marry. Lady Ashley Lambourne’s father, the Marquess of Butterstone has been murdered, and Jack promises to find his killer.
A close friend of Jack’s from his army days, Harry Feather, heir to one of the largest fortunes in England, faces an arranged marriage to Lady Erina Roundtree. A tall half-Irish beauty, Erina is a spirited lady, who makes it plain she doesn’t wish to marry Harry, either. Determined to enjoy a quiet existence after his years fighting Bonaparte, Harry fears Erina will run him ragged. Why he is indulging Erina in one of her harebrained schemes is beyond him, when he should marry a quiet woman like Miss Beckworth.
~Meet the Regency Sons~
Captain Jack Ryder
Harry Feather, heir to Sir Averil Feather’s fortune
His Grace, Grant Neville, the new Duke of Stamford
Lord Timothy Scott, Baron Waddington’s heir
Lord Miles Hawkeswood, second son of Marquess of Sterling
Captain Jack Ryder, the bastard son of a duke, discovers a murder conspiracy that involves Napoleon who’s recently died in exile on the island of St. Helena. Jack then meets the beautiful Lady Ashley and they begin a passionate affair. Because of his ‘bastard’ status he can never hope to marry her.
Ms. Andersen combines romance and intrigue, believable characters, and lots of adventure in this Regency-set novel. A joy to read. Diane Scott Lewis
HISTORICAL: Captain Jack Ryder nd his best friend, Harry Feather, eet at the funeral for Jack’s ther, the duke. Because Jack, an illegitimate son, is not really accepted by his father’s family, he decides to travel for adventure.
He stops at an inn where he meets Lord and Lady Butterstone and their daughter, Lady Ashley. Lord Butterstone is mortally wounded, but before he dies, Jack promises to see his family safely home.
Along the way, he falls for Lady Ashley. Meanwhile Erina Rountree is told by her father that she must marry Mr. Harry Feather. When Erina and Harry meet, they immediately dislike each other, besides which, neither of them wants to get married. So Erina comes up with a plan and manages to talk Harry into it, but they soon discover well-‐laid plans don’t always go as they should.
This story is a unique combining of two loosely-‐connected stories into one. Despite Jack’s inferior social status, he attempts to do the right thing and even right a wrong. While Ashley is cool and collected and Erina is feisty and spontaneous, both manage to be very likable. Harry, the quiet compassionate hero, manages to worm his way into readers’ hearts by his unassuming nature. Luckily there still manages to be a happily ever after for almost everyone.
When I open a novel by Ms. Andersen I know I will enjoy it. Captain Jack Ryder exceeded my expectations. It combines the adventures of Jack and his friend Harry Featherstone, former officers in a Hussar regiment.
Napoleon and his armies have been defeated. Jack is in mourning for the duke, his affectionate father, and is exhausted after ‘many hours of lost sleep while his father breathed his last.’ Jack, who was educated at Oxford, received property from the duke and has an adequate fortune. He has seen little of his own country and plans to explore. He will travel on horseback, dressed in plain clothes and take little with him other than his pistol with which he can give a good account of himself.
Harry whose father is arranging for him to marry Erin, a wealthy baronet’s daughter, tells Erin, who does not want to marry him, ‘After years in the army I fancy a simple life. An enjoyable book a brandy, my wife with her embroidery at my side. Just looking at you, I can foresee riding to hounds, jumping tall hedges, and dancing till dawn. It fatigues me to think of it.’
When Erin decides to run away to avoid the arranged marriage and visit her cousin in Ireland, who is in trouble, Harry feels obliged to travel with Erin to protect her.
In the meantime, at the inn where Jack puts up for the night, fatally wounded Lord Butterstone, his wife and daughter Lady Ashley arrive. Before he dies Butterstone asks Jack to take Lady Butterstone and their beautiful daughter home.
I read on, wanting to find out why the dead man was killed, who the murderer was and if a relationship would develop between Jack and Lady Ashley. I also wanted to know how Harry and Erin reacted to each other during their journey.
Ms Andersen has created compelling characters in Captain Jack Ryder a novel with danger, mystery, romance and suspense. I look forward to reading the next book in the series about another friend of Jack and Harry, who served in their regiment. Rosemary Morris
Jack approached the sofa where a young, fair-haired woman stood watching the sad tableau, her eyes stricken. The daughter. Jack smiled gently at her. “Let’s see what can be done, Lady Ashley. If you could take your mother away for a moment. Give her a little brandy, or a strong, sweet cup of tea. Mr. Peck will see to it.”
She nodded, murmured something in her mother’s ear. With an anguished glance at Jack, Lady Butterstone allowed her daughter to lead her away.
On his knees, Jack moved aside Lord Butterstone’s fine wool coat and pulled up the linen shirt. The ball had entered one side of his chest where frothy blood gave clue to a lung wound.
When Peck brought the whiskey, napkins and water, Jack wiped away as much of the blood as he could, knowing it was useless. He packed the linen against the wound. When he settled a pillow beneath the gentleman’s head he saw the victim was conscious.
“I’m dying.” A grim smile appeared in his lordship’s gray eyes. “Too late to set things to rights.”
“Jack Ryder, sir. The doctor is on his way. Is there something I can do?”
Lord Butterstone coughed and a trickle of blood touched his lips. With a weak hand, he motioned Jack closer. “Stamford’s son? Knew the duke. A good man.”
“Yes, he was.”
Lord Butterstone moaned. “Don’t have long. I must ask your help.”
“Anything.” Jack waited as the man fought to gain his breath. Did he require a priest?
“No highwayman… shot Bert, my groom, dead. A good servant. Can you see my wife and daughter safely home… stay with them until Lady Butterworth’s brother arrives?”
“Don’t worry, my lord. I will ensure their safety as long as is necessary. Who attacked you?”
“A long story…” He tried to raise his head. “… and no time to tell it.” He licked the blood on his lips.
Jack realized that his lordship was losing his fight and gestured to where Lady Butterworth sat with a teacup in her hand.
She hurried over, knelt beside her husband, and held his hand. “My love.”
“Forgive me, Mary, I’ve been a fool…” His head rolled back.
Lady Butterstone gasped and collapsed onto the floor in a dead faint.
“Mama!” Lady Ashley tried to assist her mother. When she couldn’t rouse her, she looked at Jack with an appeal in her eyes.
Jack grasped Lady Ashley’s shoulders and gently moved her aside. He hefted the unconscious woman up and carried her to an upholstered chair. The lady leaned back against the padded cushion, her face a ghastly white.
He’d seen a lot of death during the war, but watching these women was especially difficult. He hated feeling helpless. “I wish I could have done more.”
Lady Ashley patted her mother’s hand. Her tear-filled blue eyes searched his. “There was never anything anyone could do.”
She was shocked but did not seem surprised. He wondered if she referred to something other than the attack.
“Your father asked me to escort you and your mother home. But might it be better to remain until daylight? I’m sure Peck can find you a room.”
She straightened her shoulders as if trying to find some inner reserve. “I need to get Mama home. But you must be tired, Captain Ryder. We will have roused you from your bed.”
“I spent a few years in the army. I’m used to going without sleep.”
When she nodded, a pale gold ringlet stirred against her cheek. She looked exhausted. Violet shadows lay beneath her eyes, and faint worry lines creased her brow. “But we live twenty miles from here. Will it take you too far out of your way?”
“I’m not in a hurry. Your father asked me to remain with you until your uncle arrives. I’m happy to oblige if your mother wishes it.”
“I’m sure Mama will be most grateful.”
“Did you recognize your attacker?”
She shook her head while continuing to stroke her mother’s limp hand.
“Did he steal from you?”
“No. I suppose he panicked.”
When she met his gaze something unspoken hovered in the air. As if she wanted to say more.
Lady Butterstone stirred.
“Mama, can you sit up? Take a little brandy? This gentleman is Captain Ryder. Papa asked him to take us home.”
Jack addressed the prostrate lady. “I’m told you’ve lost your groom, my lady. I’ll see to your coach. And when you are stronger, I’ll escort you both safely to Ivywood Hall.”
Lady Butterstone blinked at him bewildered. “Thank you.”
Jack crossed the room to where Peck waited. “Have the parish constable, and the magistrate been sent for?”
Peck nodded. “Sent my ostler. Sad business. Butterstone was much liked in these parts.”
“Any idea who was behind the attack? I wasn’t aware of highwaymen roaming this part of the countryside.”
“They haven’t been seen around here for years,” Peck said. “I don’t know who the murderer is, but the locals will be worried.”
Outside in the cold damp air, the coachman walked the horses. The poor man appeared cold and defeated.
“Jack Ryder. Nasty business.”
“John Mullins, sir. Will Lord Butterstone recover?”
“I’m afraid he’s gone.”
Mullins lowered his head. “They were both good men. Didn’t deserve to be cut down like that.”
“Tell me how it happened.”
The coachman wiped his nose with his sleeve. “Blast and bugger your eyes, that rogue galloped straight up to us from out of the trees. Shot the groom, Bert, who sat beside me on the box without a how do you do. Bert was armed, but he might as well not have been. He was holding a lantern and had no time to raise the gun. Then his lordship stepped out of the coach, apparently to reason with the rogue, and was gunned down in cold blood. The murderous devil turned his horse and rode off. Made no attempt to rob her ladyship who was screaming fit to burst. And those diamonds of hers must be worth a king’s ransom.”
Not a robber then. “What did this gunman look like?”
The coachman shrugged. “Wore a handkerchief over his lower face and his hat pulled low. Tall in the saddle, decent roan.”
“I’m to ride with you to Ivywood Hall.”
The coachman nodded, looking pleased. “Lady Butterstone will be relieved to have a big strong fellow like you, guarding her, if you’ll forgive me for saying so.”
Jack retrieved his portmanteau from the bedchamber, loaded his gun and shoved it into his coat pocket. After he paid Peck for the bed he never slept in, he went to the stable to saddle Arion. It had stopped raining. The clouds had shifted away; the landscape cast in a chiaroscuro of silvery moonlight and deep purple shadows. Even with the carriage lamps lit, visibility would be poor, and the roads pot-holed and muddy. Jack checked the sky to the north. An ominous wall of midnight dark clouds lurked on the horizon. It begged the question of why Lord Butterstone had chosen to travel so late at night, and in this inclement weather.
It was going to be an unpleasant and possibly dangerous ride to Ivywood Hall.