Muskets & Masquerades, Excerpt by Lindsey Fera

Jack and Annalisa are married only five months when, enroute to France, a shipwreck separates them. On different shores, each believes the other dead. But when Annalisa learns Jack is alive, she returns to America and discovers much has changed. After a betrayal, she flees town as her alter ego, Benjamin Cavendish, and joins the Continental Army.

Unbeknownst to Annalisa, Jack has also joined the Continentals, harboring shameful secrets from his days in mourning. Against the backdrop of war with Britain, façades mount between Jack and Annalisa, and the merry minuet of their adolescence dissolves into a masquerade of deceit, one which threatens to part them forever.


The discharge of muskets and fowlers resounded a deafening boom! Through the clouds of gun-smoke, the British and Hessians advanced. 

“Load your firelock,” George ordered.

Any well-trained militiaman or soldier could fire three volleys a minute; that was what he’d taught Annalisa when they fired Bixby in the clearing beyond their house. Now, he must set an example with his men.

“Make ready. Fire!”

His militia assaulted again. Still, the Bloodybacks pressed on.

George glanced about the fort for his superior, Colonel Magaw. Only he could give the command to surrender.

“Load and prime, rogues,” George ordered. “Make ready. Fire!”

His chest rattled with another eruption of musket-fire.

“Colonel Magaw,” George called. “We can’t hold them off any longer, sir!”

The colonel appeared through the thick gun-smoke, his chubby face sagging with defeat. “Retreat, men, retreat,” the colonel shouted.

George turned to Bartlett, who stood by. “Bartlett, gather as many of our militia as you can. Colonel Magaw is surrendering. Any of us remaining will fall prisoner.”

Bartlett rubbed his grime-covered face. “Where will we go, Captain?”

“Across the river to Fort Lee. But I daresay, it won’t be for long. Go. Now!”

Bartlett and eight others of their militia dashed toward the river, but Bartlett turned back for George. “Captain Howlett, you’re coming with us, no?”

“Aye, I’ll be along presently. I need to gather the others of our militia. I’ll not abandon them. Now, make haste. ’Tis an order.”

His friend delayed a moment, gripping his coat. “Aye, sir.” Bartlett fled after the others, down to the river.

George turned his back on the river and hastened through the barracks. “Cogswell’s regiment,” he hollered. “Cogswell’s regiment!”

John and Matthew Whipple, a father and son duo from Ipswich, sped toward him. “Captain Howlett?” the father asked.

“Whipple, I’ve ordered our militia to cross the river to Fort Lee. Make haste, man. And bring any of ours you see along the way.”

John Whipple’s harried stare darted across the encampment about to fall to British and Hessians. “Aye, sir.”

George ventured deeper into the camp, seeking the rest of his militia. Gun-smoke ebbed through the air, and another round of musket-fire rumbled the barracks.

“Cogswell’s regiment,” he bellowed over shouts and clamor.

“Halt! Bleib wo du bist.”

George started. Three Hessians breeched the redoubt, weapons engaged and aimed at him.

His hand gripped his fowling piece. “Come at me, you dilberries.” 

“Stay where you are, Provincial.” A British officer, presumably a sergeant, joined the Hessians. “This way.”

“’Tis Captain Howlett, you Bloodyback bastard.” George charged the sergeant. Two Hessians held him back, and the third joined the British officer, laughing.

“My apologies, Captain Howlett,” the sergeant chuckled. “Militia, I presume? You wear no epaulets, Captain.

“Aye, reptile. I’m captain of Cogswell’s regiment, per General Washington himself. You’ll treat me with the dignity and privilege deserving of a field officer. Is that understood, Sergeant?”

The sergeant shifted uncomfortably and glanced behind him. Higher ranking British officers, a colonel and a major, crested the mount, and entered Fort Washington. He nodded. “Yes, Captain, of course. Such are the rules of war, sir.”

Though he clenched his jaw, George sighed, somewhat relieved. A prisoner of war, he was destined to one of their prison ships now docked in the harbor, but as a captured officer, he might be offered parole.  

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Meet Lindsey Fera

LINDSEY S. FERA is a born and bred New Englander, hailing from the North Shore of Boston. As 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 & Minuets, a planned trilogy.

When she’s not attending historical reenactments or spouting off facts about Boston, she’s nursing patients back to health. Muskets & Masquerades is her sophomore novel.

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