Hope's BetrayalBy Grace ElliotOne wild, winter's night two worlds collide.Known for his ruthless efficiency, Captain George Huntley is sent to stamp out smuggling on the south coast of England. On a night raid, the Captain captures a smuggler, but finds his troubles are just beginning when the lad turns out to be a lass, Hope Tyler.With Hope as bait, the Captain sets a trap to catch the rest of the gang. But in a battle of wills, with his reputation at stake, George Huntley starts to respect feisty, independent Hope. Challenged by her sea-green eyes and stubborn loyalty Huntley now faces a new threat - his growing attraction to a sworn enemy. But a love where either Hope betrays her own kind, or Captain Huntley is court-marshaled, is not an easy destiny to follow.
The Power of the Human Spirit
I've just had an extraordinary emotional experience at the cinema, that left my neck wet from the silent tears that fell unchecked. And the film was? Les Miserables.
I went with my two sons; aged 20, and 16. During the movie I heard my eldest son swallowing back tears, and during the final devastating scene he was crying like a baby. (Afterwards, I asked my youngest if he got teary, and he admitted to feeling a little upset when he realized the popcorn was finished.)
So what was it about Les Miserables that made us so emotional? For me the most moving part of the story is the redeeming power of love. The story line involves the freed convict, Jean Val Jean, and how a bishop bought his soul for god. The Christ-like kindness shown by the bishop shakes Jean's world and he becomes a reformed man. That love for his fellow man leads him to adopt an orphan, Cosette, whilst he is being pursued by his arch enemy….anyhow, to find out what happens you must see the movie.
Going back to my theme, what makes Les Miserables so powerful is the strength of the human spirit and the nobility of sacrifice. When you love someone more than yourself, something wonderful happens that touches the human soul. But those emotions are frightening and can be difficult to take on board - and sometimes it's easier to ignore them. It is when the moment of revelation happens, and the cost of denial becomes too high, that magic happens.
In my latest novel, "Hope's Betrayal", our hero Captain George Huntley believes his duty is to his king and country, and so when he falls in love with a smuggler, Hope Tyler, this challenges everything he believes in. First he ignores his feelings, but when they grow stronger, his remaining option is to request a reposting - and run. But in the way of all good romances, not even distance can dull his feelings and when he is injured and returns home and Hope Tyler, a challenge greater than any physical trial awaits. And when he at last comes to terms with his love for Hope, too late he realizes his greatest enemy intends to hurt him by murdering the one thing he cares about most…Hope.
What Huntley saw shocked him to the core. The tide had advanced at a sickening pace and where once the sea danced around Hope’s slippers, now her skirts floated like a ballooning jellyfish. With Hope tied on the fallen tree, the sea up to her waist; another few minutes and the water would soon be over her head.
The fallen tree was at an angle on the shelving beach; Hope lay on the trunk, her arms bent in a backward embrace. The sea already reached Hope's waist, and each subsequent wave lapped higher and higher. Huntley stumbled into the water but his bad leg gave way and he fell. With grim determination he grabbed at the tree and hauled himself upright, the water up to his thighs. He shook the wet hair from his face.
"Hope! Hope, can you hear me?"
With a jolt of fear, Huntley realized her wrists were tied together under the submerged side of the trunk.
“Hope, I’m going to free you. Do you hear me?”
Weakly, Hope turned her head, there was blood matted in her hair.
“Hope, it’s going to be all right, do you hear?”
She nodded slowly, and in the gloom he could see her smile as if to reassure him. Pressing his head against the trunk, George felt under the water for the wrist bindings. But his fingers rapidly became numb in the cold water and he fumbled to make sense of the knot.
Hope’s struggle to free her had tightened her bonds. Breathless with cold, Huntley worked feverishly, by touch alone; salt water smashing against his cheek. By some miracle he traced the main loop and wormed his thumb inside to loosen it; the saturated fibers were swollen and tight. Grunting with effort George pulled and teased at the rope as the skin was shredded from his fingers. Each fraction of an inch given a victory, as desperation gave him strength. A wave broke in his face. The saltiness filled his nostrils, stinging the back of his throat. Spluttering and choking, he gasped for air. The tide had risen further, Hope's hair floating around her shoulders like silky seaweed. He redoubled his efforts.
Taking a deep breath he dived under the tree. He worked at the knot, which gave little by little. With agonizing slowness he won, his lungs fit to burst as he undid the final loop. Her hands were free. His head broke the surface and greedily gulped down air.
Huntley stood, the sea lapping round his chest, the tug of the swell making it difficult to keep his footing. Her arms hung limp on either side of the trunk, rising and falling with the sea.
She shivered hard and her eyes flickered open.
"He tied my legs too."
The blood drained from Huntley's face.
“Dear Lord, no!”
He closed his eyes against the truth. Already the sea caressed her neck, whispering against her pale skin of her jaw. He would have to dive to free her feet, and to untie the saturated knots would take too long.
“You tried.” Hope smiled and lifted a trembling hand from the water to touch his cheek. “Thank you.”
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. She believes that intelligent people need to read romance as an antidote to the modern world.