Long before the maiden voyage of the Titanic (1912), luxury steamships were crossing the Atlantic Ocean. One such vessel was the twin screw steamer, SS City of New York (pictured). First class accommodations were meant to evoke the interior of a luxury hotel, with such amenities as a sumptuous dining room (saloon), library, smoking room, drawing room, hot and cold running water, barber shop, walking track on the promenade deck, electric ventilation and electric lighting.
As enjoyable as ocean travel might for the moneyed elite aboard these luxury liners, it was not without difficulty. Deadly icebergs would frequently break off from the western coastline of Greenland and these “calves” would float south through shipping lanes. The thick Atlantic fog that often surrounded these huge steamers would obscure hapless fishing vessels, leading to collisions. Should a ship suffer some sort of mechanical failure, it would be at the mercy of passing vessels to render aid. Opportunistic passengers known as cardsharps might also pose a danger to wealthy gentlemen who enjoyed a high stakes game of cards or two. In addition, stormy seas often led to lengthy bouts of sea sickness. Nevertheless, the lure of a relatively quick voyage (a little over six days in 1890) between continents far outweighed the potential dangers. Such is the setting for my sweet historical romance, Duke of a Gilded Age.
When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril, and will cost more than one man his life.
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Read a sample excerpt HERE.