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A FAMILY’S SECRETS
Follow Your Heart Book 1
BY PAULA MARTIN
Seamstress Betsy Roberts falls in love with Liverpool mariner John Hughes, but is shocked to discover that her father’s contempt for sailors stems from a long-hidden event for which he holds John’s uncle responsible. When he insists on her marriage to a childhood friend, does he simply want her to stop her from marrying John, or is he hiding another secret? And if Betsy defies him, how will the past affect her and John in the future? Can their love survive despite the secrets and tragedies which threaten to tear them apart?
(Late one Saturday evening in 1844, John rescued Betsy from being assaulted in the street, and took her into his mother’s corner shop to recover)
‘Thank you for rescuing me, Mr. Hughes. I must go home now. Mam will be worried about me being so late.’
As she stood, John reached for his cap. ‘Allow me to escort you, Miss Roberts.’
‘Oh!’ Betsy’s heart fluttered with unexpected excitement. In the next second, she told herself he was only being gentlemanly, and shook her head. ‘Thank you, but that really isn’t necessary. I’m sure I won’t have any further problems.’
‘I insist,’ he said, in a tone which brooked no argument. Pushing back his hair from his forehead, he fixed his cap on his head, held open the shop door for her, and turned to his mother. ‘I’ll probably be back in Liverpool on Wednesday morning, Mam. Depends on the weather, of course.’
Dottie nodded. ‘Aye. Take care, son.’
When they stepped into the street, Betsy knew her inner trembling wasn’t due to the icy weather or her earlier fright. It was caused solely by the tall figure, who moved protectively to her right-hand side when the night-soil man’s horse and cart rumbled past them. Holding her breath against the stench until the cart continued further along the street, it occurred to her that Ned Tanner would never think to shield her from any passing cart when she walked out with him. But Ned was just a timber yard labourer, not a gentleman like John Hughes.
It took a minute or so before her eyes adjusted to the darkness, during which neither of them spoke. Feeling stupidly tongue-tied, she racked her brain for something sensible to say.
‘Are you sailing—?’
‘Where do you—?’
They both started at the same time, but as Betsy glanced around, intending to apologise and let John ask his question first, the sole of her boot skidded on a patch of ice. Involuntarily, she gripped the side of his jacket. Her sudden movement caused him to slip too. He flailed his arms wildly and shot one arm around her back, dragging at her shawl as he fought to recover his balance.
Once they regained their equilibrium, Betsy couldn’t stop herself from dissolving into giggles when she realised how comical they must both have appeared. ‘It’s very slippy, isn’t it, Mr. Hughes?’
A deep guffaw broke from him, and for a few moments they faced each other, both shaking with laughter. Despite the freezing air which condensed their breaths into clouds, a hot flame raced through Betsy’s veins.
Eventually, John coughed to control himself, but smiled as he tilted his head in acknowledgement. ‘Miss Roberts, I applaud you for your profound statement. You’re correct, it is very slippy, so unless we both want to end up sprawling inelegantly on the road, I suggest—’ He raised her arm to link it through his. ‘I suggest we offer each other some mutual support.’
Betsy’s heart danced as he held her close to him, and they continued carefully across Frederick Street toward the dye factory.
Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons.
She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years.
She returned to writing fiction after taking early retirement from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her novels.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places and has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, USA and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.
Links to Paula’s website, blog, books, #ad etc.:
Books We Love Author Page:
Tirgearr Publishing Author Page:
Amazon Author Page:
Thanks, Paula, for sharing your story with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!