Adventure, romance, danger, war, murder, high finance, and a touch of humour--
Miss Jacobson's Journey is the first book in this Regency trilogy (aka the Rothschild Trilogy). Originally published in the US in hardcover in 1992, and also available as an ebook, it will be out in the UK in paperback on October 4th, along with the second and third books of the trilogy, Lord Roworth's Reward and Captain Ingram's Inheritance.
Miriam Jacobson refuses the man her parents chose for her to marry, instead travelling through Europe as assistant to her doctor uncle. When he dies, she's caught on the wrong side of the Channel in wartime. Her only hope to get home to England is to accept an assignment from the Rothschilds, to smuggle gold to Lord Wellington in Spain. She sets out across enemy France with two young men who loathe each other--and her!
(starting middle of Chapter 2)
"The truth is that Nathan, who is a naturalized Englishman, has been commissioned by the British government to convey a very large sum of money to General Wellington in Portugal. I have received the gold here in Paris and now it must be transported through France and across the Pyrenees."
"I'm delighted to hear that you are working for the British government, but what has it to do with me?"
"You have asked a favour of me, now I shall ask a favour of you. I need a guide to assist in this venture. You speak French and Spanish, you know the country. Help me in this and I shall see that you reach England safely."
"Surely you can hire someone!"
"For this task, I cannot trust anyone I might hire in France."
"I suppose not," Miriam unwillingly agreed.
"You see, Fräulein, your government sent a guardian with the shipment, an English goy to make sure that we Jews do not cheat. But this gentleman," he said the word in English, "Lord Felix Roworth, knows nothing of France. There is also Nathan's agent,
who must accompany the gold so that he can take Wellington's receipts back to my brother. He too is unfamiliar with the route. What am I to do?"
In the pause that followed this plaintive question, the fall of a log in the grate sounded loud. Her unseeing gaze on the rush of sparks up the chimney, Miriam recalled that one of the reasons she had insisted on accompanying Uncle Amos on his travels was a desire for adventure. The years had been interesting, she felt she had been useful to him, but there had not, really, been any adventure worth mentioning. A bubble of excitement swelled within her.
Hannah read her mind. "Miss Miriam, you wouldn't..."
"Your patriotic duty," Jakob Rothschild interrupted. "General Wellington is in desperate need of funds to pay the British Army."
"You will send us home as soon as we return to Paris?"
"From Bordeaux, if you wish it, Fräulein." Suddenly he was all business. "You brought your luggage with you?"
"No, but we packed in case we needed to leave quickly."
"Give me the direction and I shall send for it. You leave today."
"But I have not take proper leave of my hosts," Miriam protested, "and I am not dressed for travelling."
"You may change your clothes when your boxes arrive, and write to your hosts in the meantime. I shall see your letter delivered. There are writing materials in my office. Come this way, please. You must make the acquaintance of your travelling companions while I complete the arrangements."
He led the way through a connecting door into a large room furnished with a desk, a huge iron safe, a number of straight wooden chairs and three or four plain leather-covered armchairs. Two of the latter were occupied. The occupants rose to their
feet and bowed as Miriam entered.
"Lord Felix Roworth." Jakob Rothschild indicated the tall, broad-shouldered gentleman with golden hair and blue eyes. Immaculate in a coat of snuff-brown superfine, elegantly simple cravat, dove-grey waistcoat, skintight buckskins and white-topped boots, he appeared to be in his late twenties. "Isaac Cohen," Herr Rothschild continued the introductions. "Mees Jacobson."
Miriam glanced at the second man and nodded, but she scarcely saw him. Her gaze swung back at once to Lord Felix. He was the very embodiment of her schoolgirl dreams.
"Here are pens and ink for your letter, Fräulein." Herr Rothschild crossed to the desk and took some sheets of paper from a drawer. "Cohen, the lady goes with you." He spoke in Yiddish now. "I must make final arrangements. I shall return shortly."
Miriam was distantly aware that Mr. Cohen uttered an unheeded protest. She was all too aware of Lord Felix's rude appraisal, swiftly followed by sneering dismissal.
"What did he say, Cohen?" his lordship enquired in English in a haughty tone.
"Miss Jacobson goes with us," said the other curtly. The air between them crackled with animosity.
As she moved to the desk she turned her attention to Isaac Cohen. Nathan Rothschild's agent, a year or two older than his lordship and a trifle taller, but more slenderly built, was dressed in a fashion less elegant than businesslike. His hair was dark, crisply springing from a broad brow, and his dark eyes stared at her with undisguised hostility.
He looked vaguely familiar. Seating herself at the desk, Miriam wondered momentarily whether she had met him before. Surely she would have remembered him; he was really rather good-looking in his own way, though not to be compared with the
arrogant Lord Felix.
Dipping a quill pen, she began to write to the Benjamins, but already she had half a mind to back out of her agreement with Jakob. Neither of her prospective travelling companions had exactly greeted her advent with delight. In fact, while she wrote she listened with mingled amusement and indignation as they grudgingly united in opposition to taking her with them. They appeared to dislike that idea even more than they disliked each other.
Hannah, who had come to stand behind her, bent down and whispered, "God forbid we should stay where we're not wanted, Miss Miriam."
"It doesn't look promising, does it?" She signed the note, blotted and folded it, though far from certain it would be needed. "Only, what if we can't find anyone else to help us
cross the Channel?"
"There'll be others, God willing, as won't send you to Spain afore they'll send you to England."
"I'd like to help that English general--but you are right. To travel so far with two gentlemen who resent our presence would be foolish. Herr Rothschild will find someone else. I hate to continue to impose upon the Benjamins, though."
"They're glad to have us, for your uncle's sake. Let's be off."
"No, I cannot just walk out on Herr Rothschild. We shall wait until he returns."
An uncomfortable silence enveloped the room's occupants. Lord Felix stood at the window, looking out, his fingers tapping impatiently on the sill. Mr. Cohen strode up and down the room, frowning. His lithe pacing reminded Miriam of a black panther she had once seen at the Tower of London zoo. Neither of them so much as glanced at her, and she realized that neither had spoken a word directly to her. The situation was impossible.
E-book and large print covers
October 14th, I'll post a blurb and excerpt for Lord Roworth's Reward.
Also available in other e-formats