A man haunted by the past meets a woman who can’t remember her own in a romance spanning from Regency England to the Greek isle of Corfu . . .
Having grown up wild and carefree on the rugged Greek island of Corfu, Callista Melbourne reluctantly sails to England to honor her father’s dying wish. But before she reaches her destination, a fierce storm knocks her from the ship to face certain death in the icy grip of the ocean. When she finally awakens, in Stanton Abbey, she doesn’t know who she is any more than she knows the handsome stranger caring for her.
When Adam Carlyle pulled the unconscious woman from the sea, she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. Concerned by her amnesia, he figures out Callista’s true identity, and becomes determined to save her from her looming marriage to a scheming fortune hunter. But Adam’s own heart carries a heavy burden, and he’s not sure he can protect his new love from the dangers of his past . . .
“Katherine Kingsley is a miracle worker, a writer who understands the map of the human heart.” —RT Book Reviews
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About the Author
Kingsley grew up between New York City, London, England, and Charleston, South Carolina, and spent twenty-five years in the Vail Valley of Colorado, where she worked as a firefighter, EMT, and teacher before becoming a full-time writer. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, with her husband and two Jack Russell terriers, and spends her autumns in Mykonos, Greece.
Read an Excerpt
April 20, 1818 Hythe Kent, England
Adam Carlyle, fifth Marquess of Vale, seventh earl of Stanton, and ninth Viscount of Redlynsdale was determined to kill himself, and he wasn't about to let a little foul weather get in his way. Indeed, he'd waited for a day when the wind would be blowing from the northeast. What he hadn't planned on was having the wind suddenly pick up into near-gale conditions, nor had he planned on having to fight the angry, churning sea.
Wiping the fierce salt spray off his face with his forearm, he shielded his eyes and glared through the gray haze, trying to work out the best way to navigate the next deep trough ahead. He'd gladly have let the sea swamp the rowboat then and there and put him out of his misery, for his back and shoulders burned painfully from the effort of pulling at the oars, but he had his reasons for forging on: namely, his cousin Harold. His hatred for Harold was second only to his desire to die, and he'd be damned if he was going to make it easy for Harold to inherit the marquessate after Adam was gone.
Therefore, despite the inconvenience, Adam was going to make good and sure that when he drowned he would do so as far from England as possible. He intended the rowboat to sink to the bottom of the Channel and his body to wash up on the shores of France as another nameless victim of the capricious sea. Harold would be a long time waiting for a final declaration of his cousin's death and the chance to get his grasping, greedy fingers on the twenty thousand acres of Stanton Abbey and the fortune that went along with it.
Smiling grimly, Adam relished the thought of how irked Harold would be. But then Adam had spent nearly an entire lifetime doing everything he possibly could to irk Harold, and for the most part succeeding at it.
Just the thought of Harold and his smug fat face gave Adam renewed vigor. He wrapped his hands more tightly around the handles of the oars and dug the blades back into the water, pulling then forward with all his strength. His only regret about dying was that he wouldn't be around to see that smug fat face when Harold received word from Adam's solicitor that Adam had not vanished for good, which would be everyone's initial assumption, but merely gone on a prolonged trip around the world. By God, Adam had put enough time and effort into planning the ruse so that Harold would be many years chasing down false leads before Adam was officially declared dead and Harold finally got his hands on Stanton.
Adam snorted with disgust at the thought, then renewed his grip on the handles of the oars and pulled again, turning the boat slightly sideways to pitch over the crest of yet another wave, getting a cold slap of water in the face for his trouble.
Peace, he thought, gritting his teeth against the strain and willing his aching arms to dig harder. Peace. A complete absence of pain awaited him, no more guilt; no more sleepless nights spent cursing a God he didn't even believe in. He might just as well have blamed the barn cat for all the good that had done him.
Suddenly exhausted, he slowly laid the oars down inside the rowboat and carefully unclenched his numb hands, lowering his head and wrapping his sore arms around his knees as he struggled to catch his labored breath. He had finished his job. The rest was up to the sea — the sea, and the God he didn't believe in. Maybe for once, mercy would prevail. He counted on it.
The little boat bobbed and rolled as if freed to go where it would. Adam hardly cared as long as it didn't go backward, but there was little chance of that given the strength of the current that pulled them out toward France and toward welcome oblivion, for sooner or later a large enough wave would come along and sink the boat, taking its grateful passenger down with it.
His breathing finally slowed and he gingerly lowered himself into the nest of the hull, leaned his back against the seat, closed his eyes, and prepared to die. That wasn't difficult. He'd been as good as dead these two interminable years past and so had no emotional preparation to make. His last conscious thought was that he rather liked the idea of his mortal remains becoming fish food. As the vicar was so fond of saying, one should always give back. With a little luck the fish would make a feast of his flesh and there would be little left to make possible any identification of his body.
Something jolted Adam out of the deep slumber he'd fallen into. A song, that's what it was: a faint, lovely, high-pitched song that sounded like a soprano solo in a heavenly choir. Disoriented, he rubbed his eyes, wondering if this was the heaven he'd scoffed for the last two years and now found himself residing in. Just as quickly he banished that notion, for he was wet, cold, and thirsty, and every muscle in his body ached. Worse, he was still in the blasted rowboat, which was proving most annoyingly to be unsinkable. At least the wind had somewhat abated, so he wasn't being blasted on top of everything else.
Rubbing his sore, swollen eyes again, he peered through the fog, looking for the source of this song, and then somewhere in the dim recesses of his blurred mind he remembered the Sirens, the sea nymphs whose song lured sailors to shipwreck. As he recalled, Odysseus escaped them by tying himself to a mast and stopping up his men's ears. Well, he had no intention of stopping up his ears. Here at last was his undoing, and he was going for it hellbent. He might be an atheist, but he had no arguments with the ancient Greeks. He was just about to settle back to be lulled peacefully to his death when he bolted upright, unable to believe the sight before him.
To his utter astonishment, a clipper ship appeared out of the fog, not thirty feet away from him. In one clear moment he registered not only the source of the song but the singer herself, who balanced precariously on the stern of the ship, hands outstretched as if entreating the sea to take her.
That he understood well enough, but what he couldn't comprehend was why she was singing so joyously.
He didn't have the same feeling about his own impending suicide, but then he didn't really have any feelings about it at all other than sheer relief. Or maybe, he mused, she was leaping to her death to avoid marriage to some overweight windbag like Harold. Yes, that must be it, he decided. An albatross, or a bird large enough to make the image appropriate, winged directly over her head. It was probably a Great Black-backed Gull, but still, he thought it a perfect harbinger of doom, a fitting touch to complete the picture. His Classics tutor would have been most impressed.
What a fine woman, Adam thought, settling lazily back to watch the spectacle of her grand finale. No nonsense with her. A quick leap into the sea and the deed would be done. Of course, she probably didn't have to deal with the complicated problems of trying to keep a large estate from a pesky cousin for as long as possible.
Suddenly the ship lurched as a wave buffeted it from its starboard side and the object of his admiration went flying straight off the stern. The dive was not the swanlike affair that he'd anticipated, but a great business of arms and legs flapping, skirts flying overhead, all punctuated by a loud, prolonged shriek. She struck the side of the ship on her plummet downward, and the force of the impact threw her sideways and out like a rag doll flung carelessly into space. Only a moment later her limp body plopped into the sea.
She surfaced about twenty seconds later, long strands of hair streaming around her face like seaweed, her mouth open and gasping soundlessly like a landed fish, the bird diving around her, making enough noise to rouse an army.
Adam heaved himself to his feet, balancing himself against the rocking of his little boat, wondering if he hadn't been mistaken in her intent. She didn't look like someone who was happy to be consigned to the depths. Instead, the pathetic cries for help she'd started bleating, combined with the wave of her hands over her head toward the direction of the disappearing ship, made him wonder if she meant to be in the water at all.
With a sinking heart he decided probably not, which left him in a most awkward and unpleasant position. Since no one on the ship had noticed the woman's plunge over the stern, that left solely him in the position of rescuer, and he knew he'd better rescue her fast.
"Why can't anything ever go right?" he muttered through parched lips as he picked up the oars and dug in, rowing as fast as he could toward the woman whom he'd decided was no more than an utter idiot.
Clearly he'd have to postpone his death. Adam had never been so annoyed in his life.
"Home, sweet bloody home." Adam had never expected to see Stanton again, but he felt an enormous relief when he finally spotted the lights of the house shining like a beacon from the dark stretch of coastline and guiding him safely to shore.
He groaned as he lifted the limp body of his bedraggled passenger from the rowboat. The bird that had made a complete nuisance of itself for the three full hours it had taken to get back to the Stanton boathouse made one last low circle, emitted a loud series of piercing cries, and headed back to the sea, as if now that it had seen its charge safely on land it had consigned her to Adam's care.
"Don't count on it, you mangy excuse for feathers," he muttered. He didn't know what he was going to do with the girl, since she couldn't be bothered to wake up and tell him who she was or where she belonged, but he reckoned his housekeeper could deal with the immediate situation. After that, he'd send her on her way and wash his hands of the creature. The last thing he needed was someone making any sort of demands on him. He'd rescued her from certain death and owed her nothing else.
His position now clear in his head, he readjusted her weight, threw her over his shoulder, and hauled her up to the main house.
The lights shone in the windows as if he'd never left, as if they'd all been expecting him back, which of course they had. The only person to whom his return came as any surprise was himself.
"Mrs. Simpson," he bellowed, grasping with one hand for the brass knob on the back door to the scullery, the last place anyone expected to see him appear given the reaction he received as the door swung open.
Pandemonium broke out in the kitchen but he ignored the shrieks and crashing of breaking china, continuing to shout for the housekeeper as he kicked the door shut behind him. She obliged him by appearing posthaste, as composed as if she were accustomed to seeing him bearing half-drowned women in his arms.
"Goodness, my lord, what have we here?" she inquired in a level voice, carefully adjusting the starched cap on her head as if that might give her an answer.
"What we have is a disaster, Mrs. Simpson," Adam replied shortly. "Take her away, do whatever has to be done. She fell off a ship into the sea, so I imagine she needs warming and cleansing and anything else you do for people who fall into the sea."
Mrs. Simpson shot Adam a look of extreme alarm. "I will send for the doctor at once. As for yourself, my lord? Perhaps you might benefit from a bath and some dinner on a tray?" She eyed him with deep concern, which for some reason only annoyed Adam more.
"I am perfectly well," he snapped. And then, letting his burden slip from his exhausted arms into some nameless footman's hands, he collapsed, letting the darkness surround him and carry him down into oblivion.
Nigel Dryden, steward to Stanton Abbey and Adam's closest friend since childhood, was trying to concentrate on the ledger, tallying one column of figures against a second, but his thoughts kept drifting back to Adam. Something wasn't right: He'd felt it in his bones all day. He couldn't pinpoint exactly what was wrong, only that Adam had been behaving in an even more distant fashion than usual — or what had become usual since the tragic deaths of his wife and small son. Adam's grief had not diminished with time. If anything he had become more despondent, although he was a master at masking that despondency with a cool, polite detachment.
Nigel was not fooled, but even he had not been able to break through Adam's wall, a wall that had grown higher and more impenetrable as time went by. The saddest part was that the Adam he knew and loved was nothing like the man he'd become. Adam by nature was kind and generous, his heart as big as they came. Despite his mother's dying when he was born, his father's death when Adam was only nine, and the misery of thereafter being raised by his aunt and uncle who were more tormentors than guardians, Adam had always managed to keep a sense of humor and a caring eye on those he deemed less fortunate than himself.
All that had changed. Perhaps the size of Adam's heart and his enormous capacity for love had been his downfall in the end, for the loss of his wife Caroline and little son Ian, both whom he'd loved to distraction, had dealt him a blow it appeared he'd never recover from.
Nigel had despaired for his friend, who had shut the world out so completely that he no longer made the smallest effort to see any of his many acquaintances. He didn't even bother to go to church. Nigel didn't think Adam had set foot in one since the funeral service in the family chapel two springs earlier. He didn't recall his smiling, either, in all that time. All the joy that Adam had taken in life vanished as if it had never been. Worse, he seemed to have given up hope on life altogether.
In the last few months Nigel's concern had grown as Adam seemed to disappear even further into himself, sometimes vanishing from Stanton for days on end without explanation. On his return he would be exhausted and pale, as if he'd been off struggling with demons. Nigel imagined he had, and he had been deeply afraid that one day the demons would win and Adam wouldn't return at all.
Nigel lifted his head as a pounding started at the door of his house. He frowned, wondering who could want him at this hour. Surely it wasn't Adam. Adam never summoned him for anything anymore, save for reports on the concerns of Stanton.
"Mr. Dryden. Mr. Dryden, sir, you're needed!"
Adam ... With a sudden surge of alarm, he leapt to his feet and wrenched his door open. Young Albert the footman stood there, looking frantic.
"What is it, Albert?" he said, forcing his voice to remain calm. Dear God, but he hoped Adam hadn't gone and done something foolish. He'd been dreading something like this.
"There's been an accident, sir," he panted. "A near-drowning. His lordship — his lordship ..."
Nigel fought down panic. "What about Lord Vale?" he said, ready to throttle the lad. "Catch your breath, calm down, and tell me what's happened."
"A woman, sir. She fell off a ship. He — his lordship rescued her from the sea and brought her to the abbey, and he just collapsed, sir, right there on the scullery floor. Now they're both in a stupor and Mrs. Simpson sent for the doctor and sent me for you. She said you're to come at once."
"And so I shall," Nigel said, breathing a sigh of relief that it was nothing worse. He pushed past Albert and took off out the door at a fast clip. Five minutes later he arrived in Adam's bedchamber where Adam lay on the bed, still clothed, and those clothes soaking wet. Two footmen stood on either side doing absolutely nothing.
"For the love of God, get him undressed," Nigel snapped. "Where is Plimpton?"
"His lordship gave him the day and night off, sir. Mr. Plimpton went into the town to visit friends."
"Not the best timing for a valet to go missing," Nigel said, his tone dry. "Very well, one of you fetch hot, sweet tea, and bring up some cognac while you're about it. You go, Michael, and tell someone to heat water and have that brought in along with warm bricks for his lordship's feet. He'll need bathing and he'll need to be kept warm." He moved over to the bed and took Michael's place, helping Henry to remove the rest of Adam's clothing.
Casting his eye over Adam's muscular body, he saw that Adam appeared to be unmarked, save for a sprinkling of bruises on his forearms and some blisters on his palms and thumbs. The doctor could do a more complete examination, but Nigel imagined that Adam suffered from cold and exhaustion rather than any physical damage.
"Right, let's get him under the blankets, Henry." He lifted Adam in his arms while Henry drew the covers aside, then gently laid him back down and piled the sheets and blankets around him. "Build up the fire, then wait outside until Michael returns." Pulling up a chair, Nigel sat down to wait for the requested provisions to appear. For the moment there was nothing more to be done.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Song from the Sea"
Copyright © 2003 Katherine Kingsley.
Excerpted by permission of Diversion Publishing Corp..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----Her beloved father dies imploring Callista to return to her homeland of England and marry his best friend¿s son Harold. She sails to England to honor part of her father¿s wishes, but is also determined to defy his final request to marry an unknown person. But near the shore of England, her ship gets caught in a fierce storm and Callista is thrown into the turbulent sea. ...............................................Adam Carlyle, Marquess of Vale, is fed up, absolutely and completely. He goes rowing out into the middle of the stormy sea in order to commit suicide and at the exact moment he¿s about to do it, he sees a girl fall of a ship! His ingrain sense of responsibility forces him to abandon his suicidal ambitions and rescue the girl. ...............................................Adam cannot wait for the girl to get well and go back to wherever she came from, so that he can once again start planning his suicide! The doctor¿s revelation that she¿s suffering from amnesia comes as a rude shock to him. But in looking after Callie, Adam finally finds a reason to live again. Gradually everything about her begins to enchant him. Soon this woman with no memories and this man who badly wishes he could forget his past, begin to heal together. And then Harold comes back to claim Callie and he turns out to be Adam¿s worst enemy. ...............................................The book is highly intriguing despite its typical storyline and this is mainly due to the character of Adam Carlyle. Hilarity shimmers in the initial pages when we find this peer outraged at having to postpone his suicide to rescue a girl who was dumb enough to fall in the sea! Callie also comes across as a very likeable and believable character, who¿s afraid of the void in her memory, and who¿s desperately trying to cope up with the rapidly changing circumstances. The gradual progress of this duo from utter strangers, to acquaintances, to friends and finally to lovers makes fascinating reading, tinged as it with melancholy, love and even a hint of mystery. There are plenty of side characters too such as the endearing servants of the estate, Neil and many others as convincing as the lead pair and who all conspire to play matchmaker with delightful and mischievous results. The story takes place in Adam¿s beautiful country estate rather than the glittering ballrooms of London, as is usual in Regency stories. Especially interesting are the bits of herbal remedies that pepper the narrative. ...................All in all, `Song from the Sea¿ is a beautifully written, absorbing and complex Regency historical that will compel the reader to read it in one go and is bound to leave them with a vast sense of happiness and fulfillment upon turning the very last page. Absolutely charming and captivating!
In 1818 Lord Adam Carlyle rows his boat in the Channel planning to die as far from England as possible. The distraught aristocrat¿s only pleasure is to thwart his odious cousin by delaying the declaration of inheriting Stanton Abbey. However, his rowboat fails to sink even in a nasty storm and though tired he sees a siren sent overboard from a nearby ship. The siren is knocked unconscious but Adam rescues her....................... Her father sent Callie Melbourne back to England to meet her fiancé Harold Carlyle selected for her by her dad. Now she awakens in a stranger¿s home suffering from amnesia. While Adam helps Callie physically heal, she aids him with his mental healing. As they fall in love, his odious cousin Harold recognizes Callie as his fiancé. Adam, who vowed never to love again, risks his soul because his beloved Callie must never be under the thumb of Harold................... SONG FROM THE SEA is an exciting Regency romance though readers will not accept the hero¿s attempt to commit suicide (sort of like Lethal Weapon I). Adam is too courageous and too contemptible of his cousin to kill himself even though he felt he had nothing to live for when two cherished people recently died. Callie is a delight from the moment Adam sees her as a sea siren while Harold is too nasty to accept as a rival. Still sub-genre fans will appreciate Kaherine Kingsley¿s invigorating historical romantic suspense.................. Harriet Klausner
Callista Melbourne was raised by her father and grew up on the Greek island of Corfu. To honor part of her father's dying wish, she set sail for England. She would meet the man her father wanted her to marry. However, she planned to defy his request of matrimony. She had enough money to live independently and was determined to do so. Shortly before her ship was to land, she was swept overboard during a raging storm and woke up with amnesia. .......... Adam Carlyle, Fifth Marquess of Vale, had lost his wife and son in a hunting "accident". The guilty party had never been found. It had been almost two years and Adam had sunk into deep depression. He was ready to end his life by rowing into a storm. Instead he ended up rescuing a lovely young woman from the sea. ........... She called herself Calliope when she came around. Yet she told next to nothing of her past. Somehow these two, with a little help from Nigel, would heal each other. The only real problem was the scheming fortune hunter that her father had sent her to marry would soon show up. .......... **** Author Katherine Kingsley has written another wonderful tale to enthrall her fans. As always, the heroine is strong-willed instead of threatening to faint at the smallest problem. A smooth flowing romance that I am happy to recommend! ****
A lush green painted room that looks like a forest. Potted plants are everywhere, and green velvet curtains sit beside a large window that opens into a pine forest. A wicker basket with green linen sheets is near the window.