The third book in the Voices series, Voices Echo stands alone as a riveting depiction of both the beauty of 18th-century Jamaica and the horrors of plantation life in the British West Indies.
When Albert Ross sailed to Jamaica months after their wedding, Rhiannon Ross believed he'd abandoned her for the sanctuary of his West Indies plantation and complacent mulatta mistress. Not one to live life in limbo, Rhiannon has followed in a bid to secure the funds necessary to ensure her financial independence and position as his lawful wife, and to quell her growing attraction to her unsuitable American advisor, Liam Brock.
Within weeks of her arrival, she finds the estate's manager has vanished, a slave rebellion brews in neighboring Saint-Domingue, and a bright, young army major is investigating the planters' activities--including her husband's. Evading Albert's attempts to book her passage back to Philadelphia's safe haven, Rhiannon instead endeavors to unravel the intrigues that threaten her husband and their livelihood.
Determined to put the enticing Mrs. Ross out of his mind, Liam Brock accepts his first assignment as an attorney to escort a young heiress to her father's Jamaican estate. Convinced his and Rhiannon's ships have crossed paths, he is stunned to learn Rhiannon is still with her husband, and shocked when he finds her isolated and frightened--a shell of the vibrant woman who still fills his dreams. Torn between his distaste for slavery and his irrational desire to be near Rhiannon, a woman he can never have, Liam decides to stay and soon settles into the island's rhythm.
But beneath the exotic beauty of an island teeming with vitality beats a sinister pulse. As evidence of smuggling and dark magic are uncovered, Rhiannon realizes that not only is her plantation in danger, but the lives of those she holds dearest are at stake. Though she struggles to conceal her feelings for Liam, she cannot bear the thought he's in harm's way because of her. As greed on the island evolves into violence and violence into murder, Liam and Rhiannon find themselves in the middle of a deadly conspiracy. Both will have to decide how far they will go in the name of protecting the other, and how much they will sacrifice to attain a future neither thought possible.
". . . takes the reader on a dangerous and exotic journey to 1791 Jamaica . . . if you like your historical fiction dark, exciting, and romantic, you're gonna love this book!" Jenny Quinlan of Historical Editorial (historicaleditorial.blogspot.com)
Read an Excerpt
Fain Hill, June 9, 1791
Someone was in her room. And not the duppy her maid had prophesied, either. By Rhiannon's understanding, weightless apparitions did not cause floor boards to groan.
Feigning sleep, she breathed a soft sigh and rolled to her stomach, snaking her right hand beneath her pillow until she touched the smooth glass bottle. She wrapped her fingers around its neck, her grip strong and sure. As well it should be; she'd practiced the move countless times in the light of day.
The temptation to open her eyes was strong. She resisted. Instead, she listened.
She heard the candle's spitting hiss as the sea breeze bent its flame into a hot pool of melting wax—the candle she had snuffed hours ago.
She heard the buzz of mosquitoes hovering outside her bed net and the soft sound they made when they encountered its resistance.
She heard the insistent rhythm of drums. Not on Fain Hill, but in the distance. The far distance, perhaps so far as Paradise Plantation. Her heart rate quickened at the sound, keeping pace with that of the drums. Lord, how she wished the planters would not allow their Negroes to drum.
She heard nothing else. Nothing, not even a reassuring snore from Albert's room across the hall.
Tightening her grip, she sprang up and whipped around, swinging the bottle high.
There was no one there.
She swiveled her head to the wardrobe and its propped open doors, studying the lay of its contents. No one. It stood empty of all but her gowns.
No one crouched beneath her dressing table either. Its skirt was still swept up, and she had an unobstructed view of the floor beneath it.
The bottle wobbled as she took inventory of the room. She had chosen the heaviest she could find for the purpose, and while she had practiced her swing, she hadn't practiced holding it aloft for any length of time. Lowering it to her lap, she kept her grip tight. There was still the space beneath the bed to examine. She scooted to the bed's edge to peer into the looking glass.
It was gone. The looking glass was gone. She hadn't forgotten to put it in place; she was certain she hadn't. It was the last step of her ritual. Move the looking glass from the dressing table to the floor, and then climb into bed to check that it was positioned properly before snuffing the candle. It was an important step. She hadn’t forgotten to do it.
Frantically, her gaze swept the floor. She had placed it on the floor to the left of her bedside table, right where the—there it was. Facedown . . . it lay facedown.
Perhaps a rat had toppled it. She hadn't heard it fall, but it seemed it had. Either that or someone had set it facedown. Regardless, it offered no view of the space beneath her bed.
No one is under there, Rhiannon Wynne Ross. No one. Whoever lit that candle has run. If you weren't such a coward, you'd climb off this bed and see for yourself.
Yes, that was one alternative. Another was to wake Albert. Perhaps this time he'd do more than stumble half-asleep into her room and cast about a quick glance that ended pointedly at her empty decanter.
Still another alternative was to stay alert and wait until sunrise.
She'd take the latter. Sunrise might be near, and her maid, Quaminah, might be in to wake her soon. Albert had promised an excursion at sunrise.
Had she relit that candle herself? Had she forgotten to snuff it? No.
Eyeing the glass of watered rum she'd poured earlier, she grabbed it and drained it, then wiped her sweat-dampened palms down her shift. Curling on her side, she cuddled her weapon close and watched the candle burn.