*I’d like to thank Jessica for inviting me to her blog to celebrate the re-release of Midnight Caller. The first book in the Moonlight Romance series, it was also the first romance I’d ever written. I re-edited it, lengthened it, and made it better. Set in Louisville, Kentucky after the Civil War, the town thrives on river traffic.
I think many people have a romanticized view of steamboats. Mark Twain made steamboats popular – there’s even a Riverboat ride in Disneyland. People can also take riverboat tours in the U.S. South. That is actually toward the top of my bucket list. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Show Boat is one of my favorite musicals. However, I think viewers get so wrapped up in the lives of and romance between Julie Laverne and her husband and Magnolia Hawks and Gaylord Ravenal that they forget about the African-American deckhand Joe.
In Midnight Caller I give Frederick, a roustabout on the steamer the Comet a voice. He loads and unloads the boat by day and when the ship is docked at night he sometimes sees to the intimate needs of white ladies. I like showing the romance of the Mississippi River isn’t just for the white and rich in my historical novel.
You can learn a little more about the story below. If you like hot historical romances, I hope you’ll check it out. It is currently on sale for 99 cents through the end of August.
By Haley Whitehall
Re-release August 13th
Life without love is painful, but in the Reconstruction Era South forbidden fruit can be deadly. A fiery romance between a widow and an African-American man has more consequences than either of them imagined.
Slavery has ended, but racial prejudice remains in Kentucky. Emma Bennett guards a secret that could destroy her life. Until now she never considered the price of her security. Becoming a well-respected member in Louisville had seemed a dream come true, but at what cost?
Her husband’s death from a carriage accident releases Emma from her loveless, controlling marriage. Now she has a chance to find happiness and raise a family. But before she begins courting again she wants to experience her freedom. At the advice of the leading socialite in town, she takes a black lover to fulfill her sexual needs. His raw masculine power awakens feelings she didn’t know existed. After the first touch, she craves more.
Frederick works as a roustabout by day and moonlights as a prostitute. He knows better than to fall in love with his white client, but Emma enchants him the first time he calls on her. To keep them both safe, he works hard to put up barriers. Unfortunately, he can’t protect Emma from the slimy Mr. Hawthorne, who wants her as his bride. Frederick vows to keep her safe even if his forbidden love costs him his life.
Frederick licked his lips, drew a deep breath, and knocked on the door. No one answered. Had she heard him? He waited, staring at the back yard. The barn roof could use patching. The woodpile wasn’t well stocked, and the fence marking the property line had a few rotten and leaning posts. Good signs he was going to be with a widow. The bright spot was a well-kept rose garden, many of the flowers climbing and intertwining on a tall trellis against the side of the house. The sweet perfume mixed with the fresh night air. He breathed in deeply. A pleasant feeling bloomed in his stomach.
The door finally opened. Frederick whirled around and found himself face-to-face with the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She was young, couldn’t be much more than twenty, her black hair cascading past her shoulders with a slight wave. She had an ample bosom for her petite frame, the day dress she wore showing off every curve. The red color made her tanned skin look paler. Her hazel eyes seemed so innocent Frederick wondered what he was doing here at all.
“I was told you wanted company,” Frederick said. Why didn’t this woman have every man in town chasing after her?
She offered a tentative smile and opened the door further. “Yes. Please come in.”
Frederick stepped into the house and she softly shut the door behind him. Walking around him, her skirts brushed his side, making his stomach clench. She stood in front of him and assessed him as she peeked through her lashes, working her way down his frame.
He bowed. “My name is Frederick, ma’am. I am at your service.” His toes tensed in anticipation. This was going to be the best night of his life.
The woman shifted her weight and pushed a strand of black hair behind her ear. Nervous energy filled the room. He knew he was a massive man; hopefully the slight woman was not intimidated. She motioned for him to follow her. They walked through the kitchen into the dining room. “Have a seat.”
Frederick slid a chair back from the table and sat. He wanted to drink in her beauty, but that was not polite. He kept his eyes on the table.
“Would you like tea, coffee? Or perhaps brandy from my late husband’s liquor cabinet?”
“Coffee would be fine, ma’am. Thank you.” Some of his clients had him take his clothes off the minute he walked through the door. This woman was a slow mover. He liked that.
Unfortunately, she moved so slow he didn’t even know her name.
She brought him a cup of coffee and sat next to him, drinking a cup herself.
A few awkward moments passed with the two of them stealing glances at each other. He felt eager and uncomfortable, like he was a youth chasing the girls around the plantation yard all over again. The coffee, strong just the way he liked it, gave him the burst of energy he needed. It glided into his stomach with a bitter kick. This pretty young woman would give him more exercise than the old widows he usually visited.
“My name is Emma,” she said. “Emma Bennett.” She blushed, her cheeks a delicious red. “I’ve never done anything like this before.”
“You have nothing to fear, ma’am.” Frederick smiled. “I am here to please you.”
Haley Whitehall lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historical romance set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing. She is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy.
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Haley is also the author of
Midnight Heat (Moonlight Romance, book 2)
Midnight Kiss (Moonlight Romance, book 3)
Wild and Tender Care
Soldier in Her Lap
Civil War Valentine