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Book Three of

Read an
excerpt below

The long-awaited sequel to Jane Austen's Persuasion
by the author of
The Three Colonels.

After an eight-year separation and a tumultuous reunion, Anne Elliot marries the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth. The pair looks forward to an uneventful honeymoon cruise aboard the HMS Laconia.

But the bride and groom find the seas of matrimony rough. Napoleon has escaped from Elba, the country is at war with France again, and the Admiralty imposes on Wentworth a mysterious passenger on a dangerous secret mission. The good captain is caught between duty to his country and love for his wife.

All eyes are trained for enemies without, but the greatest menace may already be on board...

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree for Historical Fiction.

What the Critics Are Saying about Jack Caldwell

"Caldwell writes in the spirit of Austen, with the same wit that cemented Austen's novels as literary classics."

"Achingly romantic and breathlessly paced, it ate me alive with alternating feelings of dread, mirth, tears, and joy…just what a great read is supposed to do."

Except from Persuaded to Sail

(From Chapter 2:)


 The next morning the coach entered the county and crossed over to Portsea Island and Portsmouth by mid day.

The driver asked his destination.

"The navy docks, if you please," returned Frederick. He looked intently out the window, which was a source of amusement to his wife. But before Anne would utter any remark, Frederick started.

"Here! Stop here, driver!"

Before the carriage could lurch to a stop, Frederick threw open the door and leapt out. "Mrs. Wentworth, would you like to see your new home?"

"With all my heart, Captain."

Frederick helped Anne out of the carriage. There before them, hard against the dock, lay HMS Laconia. It was about one hundred forty feet long, not counting the bowsprit, with three masts and a single deck of main guns. Much lower in the water than the great line-of-battle ships, like the Victory, it appeared fast and deadly.

At least it should have appeared as such, but what Anne beheld was bedlam. The masts were struck down to the deck, rope and cordage were everywhere, cannons were unfastened, the sails were nowhere to be seen, and crawling over the whole like ants were at least a hundred men. A din of hammers, saws, and curses filled the air.

Anne shuddered. Was she to go to sea in that? She could not conceive the ship capable of even leaving the harbor. She turned to her husband to ask whether his command had been attacked by the French, when she saw a singular look on his face. She had seen it only once before--on their wedding night. It was at that moment that Mrs. Wentworth knew she had a rival for her husband's affections. Frederick was in love with the Laconia.

"Is she not beautiful, my dear?"

"Oh yes…" she lied, "I have never seen the like." She? Oh yes, of course. Sailors refer to their ships as female for some reason.

"To be sure, she looks a bit shabby, with her yards all which way, but see her lines!" His eyes were bright. "She will do fifteen knots, ballast set right, or I'm a Spaniard. Not any leeway to speak of. And dry as a bone--and she being near twenty years on! Get her trim and shipshape with a spot of paint and a shine on her brass--why she'd be the beauty of the ocean!"

Anne looked askew at her husband. Before she could ask why his language was so rough, a voice arose from the chaos.

"Ahoy, Captain!"

"Ahoy, Mr. Price!" Frederick returned. "Report, sir!"

Aboard the Laconia a tall, fit-looking young officer crossed over the gangplank. He was dressed in a worn blue coat with one epaulette on the right shoulder, and trousers. About five and twenty, his open face wore what was to prove a habitual grin. He wore his long hair in a queue.

"My dear," said Frederick, "allow me to present to you the first-lieutenant of the Laconia, Commander William Price. Mr. Price, Mrs. Wentworth."

"Your servant, madam. Allow me to wish you joy." He bowed.

Anne curtsied in return. "Thank you, sir. You are very busy, I see."

"Oh yes, ma'am." Mr. Price returned his attention to Frederick. "Captain, the guns are all aboard and the powder and shot, too."

"Excellent. I see you got the long twelves for the quarterdeck."

"Yes, sir. They wanted to give me smashers, but I recalled your preference and stood firm."

"Good, good. I have no desire to fight from pistol range with a lot of scurvy pirates. You got the extra powder?"

"Yes, sir--enough to practice from here to Hamilton."

"Make sure the bill goes to my agent." Wentworth squinted. "What's the trouble with the fore topgallant mast?"

"Carpenter says she's sprung. Would you come take a look?"

"Yes, yes." Frederick turned to Anne.  "I beg your pardon, my dear. Pray excuse us. We shall only be a minute." The two quickly made their way onto the ship.

The minute turned into a quarter hour, but it did not signify to Anne. She was still attempting to clear her head. The nautical terms discussed by the two gentlemen had quite confused her. Long twelves? Smashers? Fore topgallant?

Soon her husband and his subordinate returned to the dockside. "I would like to see that mast set right before sunset tomorrow, Mr. Price."

"Aye aye, sir--as long as the supply yard comes through with the replacement."

"Any trouble, use Admiral Croft's name. He will be here in four days."

Price grinned. "It is handy to have an admiral in the family, sir--if you do not mind me saying so."

Wentworth expression showed that he did mind, but did not to correct his subordinate. "Well done, Mr. Price. I shall see you in the morning. Carry on."

Mr. Price touched his forelock, the naval version of a salute. "Yes sir. My compliments, Mrs. Wentworth."

Anne was saying farewell to Mr. Price when a marine rider pulled up beside the party. "Excuse me, but is Captain Wentworth aboard?"

Frederick stepped forward. "I am Captain Wentworth."

The marine dismounted, pulled an envelope from his saddlebag, and saluted, palm out at his eyebrow. "This dispatch is for you, sir."

Wentworth frowned deeply, thanked the marine and opened the envelope. "Pray excuse me, my dear," he murmured as he turned to read the communication. He stared at it for a full minute, clearly puzzled, before turning back to the rider.

"Any reply, sir?" asked the marine.

"Only that I shall be there at the appointed time."

"Yes, sir." The marine mounted his horse and rode away.

Frederick turned to his companions, who looked at him expectantly. "A dispatch from London. I am to report to the Admiralty." He shook his head. "We are still for Bermuda, at least for now, but it is very strange. I am to report a week hence."

Mr. Price hesitated before responding. "Singular, sir."

"Singular indeed. Very well--until the morrow, Mr. Price. Come, my dear."

Anne and Frederick climbed into the carriage and set off for their rented rooms.

"Is there something wrong?" It was obvious to Anne he had strong feelings about the mysterious order.

Frederick paused a moment too long. "No, my dear. Nothing at all to worry about."

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