Beautiful Gabrielle Hampshire is driven by the single-minded goal of discovering who she is after she witnesses a brutal murder, suffers from traumatic-shock amnesia and is abandoned to a convent. Later, secular life presents her with dangerous challenges when she crosses paths with the killers who try to kill her, fearing she will identify them.
Dashing Jonathan Briercliff--who rescues the lovely Gabrielle from a near fatal attempt on her life and later wins her heart and hand in marriage--deceives her with a growing web of lies to keep her from learning the truth about his terrible secret, which could drive her away from him.
When Gabrielle finds herself in a life and death battle of wits with Jonathan's vindictive old flame, wanton storms come crashing down around her in the most desperate fight of her life.
Impending Danger is a tale of danger, romance, and passion in a suspenseful love story that will warm your heart and keep you guessing the outcome right to the end.
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Impending Danger is a historical romance fiction novel set in Dover England in the late 1700's. I had read many accounts concerning the horrors of English gaols during the period and when my character, Jonathan Briercliff, was falsely charged and gaoled, my research led me to the discovery of John Howard, a man who found the gaols he visted nearly unbelievable and became a strong proponent for gaol reform.
Mr. Howard's motivation for investigating gaols came after the ship he was on was captured, and he spent time in a French prison. After his wife died giving birth to their first child, he eventually dedicated his life to gaol reform, proving foremost in getting Parliament to pass the 1774 Gaol Act. Sadly, however, the Gaol Act, which would have improved the conditions of gaols, was largely ignored by justices and gaolers alike.
Based on my readings, the excerpt below is a fictionalized account depicting gaol conditions of that period. If you're squeamish, I reccomend that you do not read it.
At first, when the turnkey shoved him into that tiny cell of disease, filth and corruption, he gagged and vomited up everything in his stomach for days. The stench was unbearable, human manure, vomit, urine, dead rats, and pure filthy slime merging and festering all together in one of the foulest, most putrid odors imaginable. Eating was impossible at first, and he lost weight quickly, living off the water Ross and Gabrielle provided him. He knew he had to eat, no matter how much it nauseated him. He finally did, shoving his mouth full, grinding it with his teeth as quickly as possible—holding his breath as long as he could—washing it down with water, and dreading the next meal when he’d have to do it again.
Roaches crawled freely, having established their domain long before Jonathan’s tenancy. At night, they bit into his flesh, sucking blood, and he found his sleep disturbed by the minute while he slapped them away from him. After a time, slapping them away wasn’t enough. They simply came back. In defense, when he felt a bite on his skin, he grabbed the interloper in his hand and squashed it in his palm with his fingers, flinging it away, and then wiping his hands on a rag he kept handy.
As bad as the roaches were, they weren’t nearly as bad as the rats. They were everywhere it seemed, their feet pitter patterning over the floor, their sounds echoing throughout day and night as they searched for food. Unlike the roaches that made a small pin prick on his skin, the rats tore into his flesh with teeth that could tear the meat right from his bones. There was no dashing them away as he first did the roaches. He caught them, threw them against the wall, smashing them to smithereens, while their blood, guts and tissue scattered on the wall and floor to become stinking rot. This became an ordeal every time he lay on the cot.
Then there were the screams, the caterwauling, day and night. Pain, fear, lost hope, despair, and sickness boiling from the chest and mouth of gaunt bodies, from persons turned more animalistic than human. Decay and filth could do that to a man, or woman, when time seemed a drawn-out eternity of unyielding despair where minds had nothing to dwell on but the horror of a wretched existence and nothing to look forward to except more of the same.
Jonathan wasn’t entirely optimistic about his own fate. He knew, given time, he would fall to the mentally deranged level of the other inmates. Only a few prisoners, jailed more recently than most, managed to maintain a fraction of sanity. Yet, it only caused the despair and lost hopes to give death greater appeal.