Muskets and Minuets, Excerpt by Lindsey S. Fera

Love. Politics. War.

Amidst mounting tensions between the British crown and the American colonists of Boston, Annalisa Howlett struggles with her identity and purpose as a woman. Rather than concern herself with proper womanly duties, like learning to dance a minuet or chasing after the eligible and charming Jack Perkins, Annalisa prefers the company of her brother, George, and her beloved musket, Bixby. She intends to join the rebellion, but as complications in her personal life intensify, and the colonies inch closer to war with England, everything Annalisa thought about her world and womanhood are transformed forever.

Join Annalisa on her journey to discover what it truly means to be a woman in the 18th century, all set against the backdrop of some of the most pivotal moments in American history..


Jack sat in his uncle’s dimly lit study and unbuckled his stock. It was far too warm for the fires to be lit, but nonetheless, they blazed. Hours had passed since he’d washed the grime of battle from his hands and face, though he remained in his torn and tattered silk suit.

Father paced. “You defied me.” The candlelight cast a flickering shadow onto his grim countenance as he eyed Jack’s uncle. 

Lord Brunswick sat at his large, cherry wood desk. He crossed one leg. “This charade was highly unexpected of you, Jack. First the altercation at the ball, and now this. There are far more judicious ways to show your support—”

“I explicitly forbade you from engaging in battle since Concord,” Father erupted.

Lord Brunswick lifted a hand. “Easy, John—”

“You put William Howlett in danger of being killed, as well as yourself.” Father drove his fist onto the mantle. “You know Mr. Howlett is a Loyalist. He never would have forgiven such an act. You’re lucky he’s forgiven as much as he has. ’Tis one thing for George to join. Your cousin will do as he pleases. He’s certainly got Bixby blood for that.” He cleared his throat. “But your uncle is right. There are superior ways to show your support for the rebels. We’ve discussed your coming to Philadelphia.”

“No.” Jack met his father’s gaze.


“No, sir. I will stay here and join the army with George.”

The vein on Father’s forehead bulged. “You are my heir, and now your uncle’s. You hold far greater responsibility than George.”

Jack slid from his coat. “Sir, you have two other capable sons.”

“Don’t even speak of it,” Father snapped. “You know as well as I, Oliver is far too conniving and ambitious to inherit the estates. He will squander everything. Andrew has not the fortitude.”

Jack threw back the remainder of his brandy. The liquid burned his throat. “Then you condemn me to a life I care little for.” The glass landed on the table with a clatter.

Lord Brunswick rested an elbow on the arm of his chair. “You’ve signed the papers—willingly, I might add—and now you must uphold that honor.”

Father approached. “Our support is strong for the colonies to govern themselves independently. But we will not fight on the front lines. Your uncle in Parliament, and I in Congress. That is where we shall oppose King George, along with several other worthy gentlemen.”

Jack stood. “I’m not a child. I won’t be dictated to as our own king dictates to the colonies. Father, Uncle, I appreciate your generous offers, but I belong with a musket in my hand—and with Annalisa Howlett by my side.” He turned to leave. “If you’ll excuse me, I must check on her.”

“’Tis out of the question.” Father stopped him. “Child or no, you’ve responsibilities—”

“Miss Howlett is the proper choice, Jack,” Lord Brunswick said.

Jack tightened his jaw. “Tell me, does his lordship find bravery and courage so condemning in a woman that he may refuse me the right to marry the woman I love?”

Lord Brunswick shifted in his chair. “Miss Annalisa is not the well-bred woman suitable for being your wife you presented her as. She’s demonstrated this enough over the past two days. Society will not accept her.”

“This is preposterous.” Jack leaned across his uncle’s desk. “Uncle, if being your heir means I cannot marry her, ’tis not worth it. Let me to the papers I signed. I’ll toss them into the fire this instant.”

Lord Brunswick rose from his chair. “I appreciate your frustration, but do be sensible. ’Tis only a marriage.”

Only a marriage? My lord, a marriage is for eternity. I don’t take that promise as lightly as the ton, or apparently, your friends in Parliament do.”

“Enough,” Father said. “You may not throw around insults. Your nuptials will take place this November upon my return from Philadelphia. End of discussion.”

Lord Brunswick frowned. “I am grieved to see you in such a state. Had I known you carried such fondness for this girl, and the disdain you place on Society, perhaps I would have taken better consideration of Oliver.”

“Then do it, my lord,” Jack said. “Offer your estate to him. He will gladly accept, along with all the duties charged him—including a marriage to Jane Howlett.”

“Insolent boy.” Lord Brunswick’s nostrils flared, and his face blazed in the candlelight. “Do you understand the implication of forfeiting your inheritance? You will be left with nothing. Do you understand? Nothing.”

Father lifted a hand. “Peace, Brunswick.” He faced Jack. “Your uncle is right. I understand your heart, Jack. But sometimes we must put reason first, hmm?” He peered over his spectacles as though he were delivering a verdict in court. “A rational mind is of utmost importance, and when matters of heart cloud our judgement, we are no longer able to hear the voice of reason.”

“Father, please.” Jack softened his voice and tamped away his pride. “I swear to you as a gentleman, if you allow me to wed Annalisa…I’ll join you in Philadelphia.”

Father’s lips tightened. “I had given you my blessing, but that was before Bunker Hill.” He spoke the word as though it would conjure the devil himself.

Lord Brunswick sighed. “She may have courage, but she lacks discretion and obedience. You cannot have a wife whose name is clouded in scandal. Society shall never forget what she has done.”

Jack threw up his arms. “Society does not even know.”

“There will be gossip, Jack,” his father replied. “Don’t even deny it.”

Jack returned to the fire and leaned over it. The heat soaked into his face, lighting his spirit aflame. He spun around and eyed his father. “Then we’ll elope.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Father hissed. “If you truly love Miss Annalisa as you say you do, you will give her up at once, and not further dishonor her with the scandal of an elopement. As a gentleman, you owe her at least that…if you love her.”

“Of course, I love her.” Jack’s voice cracked with fatigue.

Father clasped his arm. “Prove to your uncle and me you’re a man of honor. Marry Jane and keep our family—and the Howletts—unsullied.”

Jack swallowed. It burned, but not as harshly as the brandy, or his father’s words—some of which were true. He could hardly elope with Annalisa and cause her and her family more shame and ridicule.

But how can I marry her sister instead?

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Meet Lindsey S. Fera

A born and bred New Englander, Lindsey hails from the North Shore of Boston. A member of the Topsfield Historical Society and the Historical Novel Society, she forged her love for writing with her intrigue for colonial America by writing her debut novel, Muskets and Minuets. When she’s not attending historical reenactments or spouting off facts about Boston, she’s nursing patients back to health in the ICU.

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