January 16, 2014

Christine Steendam’s Owned by the Ocean

Christine Steendam’s Owned by the Ocean, which is currently free at Smashwords!

Available from 5 Prince Publishing 

Genre: Fiction, Action, Adventure, Historical, Romance, Sea Stories
Release Date: January 16, 2014
Digital ISBN 13: 978-1-63112-004-6 ISBN 10:1-63112-004-2
Owned By the Ocean
Brant’s life is planned for him. He will attend the best academic school in England, run his father’s estate, and marry well. But, with the sea calling to him, and a father that treats him more like a soldier to be commanded than a son, he takes off to find his own destiny.
What Brant doesn’t know, is that the sea is a cruel mistress, and once she owns you she won’t let you go.
About the Author: Christine started writing when she could put pen to paper and form words. Now, many years later, not much has changed. Her stories are romances that you can relate to with a little bit of adventure mixed in. She enjoys writing flawed but loveable characters and more often than not a horse or two will find their way in as well.
Christine makes her home in Manitoba, Canada on a sprawling 15 acre ranch withher sons, husband, and many animals.
Excerpt of Owned by the Ocean:
England, 1660
Brant looked up from his scribbler at his teacher who was droning on about something to do with the politics behind the colonization of the new world… or was it the precarious peace with Spain? Either way, he didn’t really care. Time was moving at a snail’s pace. Every tick of the clock sounded like a hammer hitting an anvil, the boy two rows down was scratching his head. Brant was pretty sure he had lice. In front of him another boy was drumming his fingers incessantly. Every noise and movement was grating and more in focus than Mr. Johnson’s teaching.
Brant shut out everything around him and looked down at the open page of his scribbler. He was supposed to be writing notes but instead the page was covered with carelessly doodled shapes or words that had nothing to do with what Mr. Johnson was teaching.
At sixteen, Brant Foxton had no interest in the politics, grammar, or math that filled each and every day at the school for young men he attended. All he wanted was to leave the masquerade called London society and sail. He had expressed this desire many times over to his father, Sir Calvin Foxton, but he would hear nothing of it.
Calvin Foxton had served his King faithfully for many years in both the army and then as a member of his council. He had been knighted when Brant was but five years old, a moment in history that he could remember being filled with excitement and honor for his father. Too bad it didn’t take long for Brant to realize that he was treated more like a soldier than a son.
This past year, after many attempts at convincing his father to allow him to attend the royal naval academy, Brant had been sent to a prestigious boarding school in the heart of London where he was to be polished and educated for service to the crown as the gentleman his family name required. There would be no sails, sword or pistols in Brant’s future. Instead it held paper work, money and bowing and scraping before the King. That was the life of nobility in England and that was to be the life of Brant Foxton. That was his father’s plan.
Brant stopped his doodling and looked around. Some of the boys were asleep, others intently taking notes and listening to the teacher. Most of the boys at this school were everything their parents expected them to be. The picture of young men of society, they walked and talked exactly as they were instructed, turned their noses up at those less fortunate than them, and flaunted money—that many didn’t have but their name allowed them to pretend—like it was their job. They were raised to outwardly respect someone like Brant due to his family’s status but many whispered behind his back or snickered over their afternoon tea. Brant was an anomaly, someone who didn’t care about prestige, money, and would very willingly throw it all away for a chance at a different future.
Brant was not an overly kind boy, nor humble. He hated his father and family name, he hated the school and the teachers, he hated the boys who hid behind masks their parents had forced on them, and most of all he hated that he was considered to be among them. He was better than this and he knew it. He was better than the acting and the back stabbing that he saw among the boys.
London was full of hypocrites. Brant may be blatantly cavalier and didn’t give a damn, but the boys he went to school with participated in the same activities, but behind well-kept facades. No one but themselves and perhaps their closest friends knew about the things they did that their family would disapprove of. But they all did them. Brant had seen the older boys get drunk and steal things from the younger ones. He had seen, and been a victim of, their bullying behind closed doors. But they all hid it from the outside world, from prying eyes. To the public, to the teachers, they were everything young gentlemen should be. Everyone but Brant Foxton.
The class was dismissed and Brant left the room in a shuffle of feet and a murmur of voices. Politics had been the last class of the day and they now had the evening for free time until dinner was called. Brant went up to his room that he shared with two other boys and, lying on his bed, pulled out a military strategy book he had taken from the library. There was no military strategy class offered since the boys that went here didn’t need to know about battle formations and military hierarchy. But, the library carried books on the subject and Brant spent his free time educating himself on everything he would need to know to join the navy. He hoped that with the knowledge he gained from reading he would be able to make his way through the ranks quickly and become an officer in short order. Of course his father would not even consider forgiving him until he made Captain, then perhaps he could consider Brant was upholding the family name in an honorable fashion. But, until he was prepared, he would remain in school and learn what he could, then take his leave and endure his father’s disapproval.
Things had changed when Brant’s mother passed away six years earlier. Calvin had become hard on his son, without his gentle wife to keep him in line. Brant’s brother; James, who was now six, was mostly taken care of by a nurse and the maids. Calvin Foxton didn’t have much time for his youngest son, not when he was reminded of his wife, who had died giving birth to him, every time he saw him. Brant guessed that his mother was the only person Calvin Foxton had ever been gentle with. He had been young when his mother passed, only ten, but from what he remembered she was a kind woman, and had truly loved her husband, which was not something he saw often among other couples.
It had been an arranged marriage, as many of them were, and Suzanne had been ten years Calvin’s junior. However, they had fallen in love during their years together, and Brant was certain his father would have given Suzanne Foxton anything she wanted. If she gave him even a disapproving look when Calvin adopted his military background with his son he would immediately melt and become a loving and kind father. That had disappeared when Suzanne passed away. Suddenly there was only military discipline and his father was detached from him in every way. No longer did Brant have loving parents but instead he had a commander and he was nothing more than a delinquent soldier. It had been a drastic change that had embittered Brant towards his father. He was convinced that if his mother was alive he would have been allowed to join the Royal Navy. She had always wanted what was best for Brant and what would make him happy in the long run. Calvin would have nothing to do with that now. The military was not the place for his son, especially the sea. There was nothing glamorous about being an officer, Captain, or Commodore. They were respected if they served the King well and had some kind of military genius that brought them to his attention but otherwise they were just another civil servant making low pay and risking their lives for honor that Brant shouldn’t have to earn any longer. He was born with it.
Leo, one of his roommates walked in, took one look at Brant and laughed. “All you ever do is study those useless books. That won’t help you at all with your marks here.”
“I don’t really care about my marks here.”
“You should. Your father is going to beat you if you fail.”
Brant laughed. “He can try. I’m getting a bit old for him to slap around.”
Leo was two years Brant’s senior and had two years left in the school. He was looking to take over his father’s business in Jamaica where he owned a sugar cane plantation.
Out of all the boys in school, Leo was probably the only one Brant considered a friend. In society Leo was what every young man should be, but in his circle of friends he was better known as a womanizer and a gambler. When his father sent him money, Leo made his way to a local brothel where he spent time with Claire, a pretty little blonde that had been used one too many times and had a sad look behind her eyes. He was kind to her though, and when he went out with the guys he would invite her along. Although her company was paid for, she was accepted among them as a friend. One couldn’t help the circumstances life had dealt someone.
When the money didn’t come Leo would pull out his charm and woo a pretty second or third class girl that dreamed of a man like Leo coming along and marrying her, turning her into a real lady. It was never going to happen though. And every time, it was the same, hopeful laughter turning into disappointed tears. It bothered Brant that Leo could be so self-absorbed, yet he considered himself fortunate to be his friend.
Leo was kind enough to most of the boys, but he enjoyed putting some of the more pompous pricks in their place. When Brant had started out his year Leo had considered Brant just one of those; a pompous prick who curtailed off his daddy and thought himself better than everyone else. But, for the most part, Leo was humble and kind. He never considered other boys inferior, even if society deemed them so, and always treated everyone with respect. Even outside of society he seemed to ignore the boundaries and distinction and class and mingled without prejudice. That was what Brant liked about Leo. And for that, he overlooked his friend’s less than upstanding behavior.
Leo and Brant were not so fortunate as to have the third boy who shared their room follow their life philosophies. Robert was a second year student, right between Brant and Leo. He was self-important and had delusions of grandeur. His family was on the verge of losing everything, and everyone knew it. Yet, they held onto their expensive taste, threw just as many dinner parties as before, and turned up their noses at anyone they considered beneath them. They sent Robert to school on their good name and credit, but he strutted the halls as if his father was the King himself and treated the younger boys with such disdain that you would have thought them his servants. He never said a word to Brant or Leo after he discovered they had no interest in playing along. Instead, they took every opportunity to take him down a notch. A biting comment or a prank usually managed to put him in his place for a short time.
“Are you going home for Christmas?” asked Brant, looking up from his book.
Leo too had lay down on his bed and was studying his arithmetic. He looked over at Brant. “Of course. I believe my father is coming to get me next week. Are you?”
“I suppose. My father hasn’t visited me except that one time I got in trouble for pouring ink down Robert’s jacket.”
Leo chuckled, presumably at the memory of Robert’s face turning a plum shade of purple from anger and embarrassment. “He’s a tough one but I’m sure he only wants what’s best for you.”
Brant scoffed, “What’s best for me? Perhaps, but he has a very narrow view of what’s best.”
Leo put down his book and sat up. “I like you, Brant, but I also think you’re in serious need of an attitude adjustment. You father has worked very hard to get where he is now and you don’t appreciate what he has given you. He doesn’t want his life for you. The navy is not easy and often ends in tragedy. Take the easy way. Your father worked hard so you would have the best things in life.”
“It’s not about status and courts and money to me. I don’t want to be stuck in a life where everyone plays a role and wears a mask. I want adventure and freedom.”
“Then you are naive. You think adventure is glamorous? If so I think you will find yourself disappointed. This life isn’t so bad. I have fun still.”
“But your parents, anyone outside of your circle of friends has no idea what you’re truly like.”
“That’s not true. I still act like myself; I just choose to practice discretion in revealing some of my less than appropriate habits. Speaking of which, my father sent some money again. Would you like to go play some cards?”
Brant looked back at his book for a moment then sighed, “Why not? It’s that or stay here reading.”
Leo laughed. “That’s the spirit. Come on let’s dig into your trust fund a little and make use of some of your father’s hard earned money.”

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