MARGARET TANNER - HISTORICAL ROMANCE AUTHOR
I am not an animal lover, but I can’t stand to see cruelty inflicted on them. I believe that people who mistreat animals should be severely dealt with by the law. There is no excuse, and no mitigating circumstances for such despicable actions.
The strange thing is, in nearly every historical romance I have written there is at least one scene with an animal in it. The animal, usually a horse or a dog is in distress and is rescued by either the hero or the heroine.
This is an early scene taken from my award winning World War 1 novel, A Rose In No-Man’s Land. The heroine is Sister Amy Smithfield, an army nurse, the hero, Captain Mark Tremayne an English officer serving in the Australian army.
An over laden cart rumbled past and as Amy glanced at the thin, miserable horse straining between the shafts, her blood ran cold. The driver flailed the beast with a long cane. Several times in quick succession it fell on the laboring animal’s back as he struggled to pull the cart through the churned up mud.
She dashed over. “You stop that this instant or I’ll have you arrested.”
“Clear off, lady.” The driver raised the cane again and she grabbed at his arm.
“You callous beast.”
His virulent abuse shocked her almost as much as the swipe of his beefy paw, which sent her sprawling. She scrambled to her feet and launched herself at him again.
“What the hell’s going on?” Captain Tremayne’s fingers biting into the flesh of one arm stopped Amy’s maddened onslaught.
“This crazy woman attacked me.”
“He wouldn’t stop flogging his horse.”
“Put your shoulders to the wheel men,” the captain ordered several soldiers who ran over. “Get the cart back on to the gravel.”
“Plucky thing you did, Sister,” one of the soldiers growled. “I would have flattened him if I’d got here first.”
“Unload your wagon and get out of here.” Captain Tremayne reached across, grabbed the cane from the man and snapped it in half across his knee. “Overload your wagon like that again and you’re out of business. Permanently.” He flung the pieces to the ground.
He sounded so savage that Amy quaked.
“I’ll leave you in charge, Corporal.”
Captain Tremayne strode over to where she waited. “What on earth possessed you?”
“I can’t stand cruelty to animals.” Her lips trembled and her eyes filled with tears.
With a muffled oath he peered into her face. “Oh for God’s sake, don’t cry again.”
“I’m not.” She scrubbed at her eyes with trembling fingertips.
His long lashes fanning out over his eyes hid his innermost thoughts, but she watched in fascination as a pulse convulsed at the side of his jaw.
“Here, into my office.” A hand in the middle of her back propelled her forward.
She looked so little and frail he felt like drowning in her tear-drenched, gray eyes. A feeble ray of sunlight shafting through the window turned her hair to silver. Except for the army nurse’s uniform, she could have been an angel in a religious painting.
“Would you like me to send my orderly out for some tea?” He cursed the fact he wanted to pull her into his arms and kiss all the hurt away. Dammit, why should he care about her being upset?
“No, thank you. I’m glad you broke his whip.”
“He’s lucky I didn’t smash him across the head with it first.”
“You cared too?” Her heart skipped a beat.
“I don’t like seeing animals mistreated.” He ran a fingertip along her cheek before stepping away.
The male scent of him, the heat of his body, his feather-light caress almost had her reaching up to touch his face. Curling her fingers into her palms to keep them from straying, she fought to get her emotions under control. She didn’t want him to know how his touch affected her. How it burned through the layers of skin and seared her soul.
“If you’ve recovered, Sister Amy, I’ll escort you back to your quarters.” His tone sounded all army captain now, unemotional, brusque, as if he couldn’t wait to get rid of her.
A ROSE IN NO-MAN’S LAND:
Nurse Amy Smithfield finds a once in a lifetime love on the French battlefields, but risks losing it when she has to fight for survival in the slums of