Sieur de Chaumont had not always been her husband’s name. Born Jacques Donatien le Ray, he had gambled heavily in the East India trade and made his fortune. Now, while serving on the Privy Council and holding other honorary appointments, he owned a fleet of merchant ships and procured vast numbers of supplies for the French Navy. With his current status had come his title and ownership of the mansion where John Paul Jones now lay in bed, the Hotel Valentinois in the western Paris suburb of Passy. Benjamin Franklin also lived at the hotel, a strong link with America during these years of the War of Independence, as America struggled to throw off the stifling yoke England was determined to keep fastened on her fast expanding colonies. Like a mother reluctant to admit her children can fend for themselves, England refused to untie the apron strings.
Right now, without a ship, Therese’s friendship could be the most worthwhile he pursued. She was younger than her husband and had a way of getting what she wanted. If protocol and the power of the infant American Congress could not obtain John Paul Jones a ship, then perhaps Therese tickling her husband’s ear, and through him the ear of King Louis…
He grimaced at the elaborate woven canopy of the four poster. What if she wanted to keep him in her bed so much she did nothing to procure him a berth, only whispered empty promises as she held him to her soft breasts and clasped him in the warmth of her thighs? It had been two months now since Ranger was taken from him, and now she lay at anchor being refitted and supplied for a voyage back to America. A ship he could have done so much with, and already had done.
Ranger had been only two months old when Paul Jones took command. 318 tons, built at Portsmouth in New Hampshire, she lay 100 feet long overall. Square rigged on her three masts with her black topsides slashed by a yellow stripe, Jones had admired her rakish bows and undercut stern. Although he’d had to modify her masts, the original sail plan more suitable for a sixty-four gunner than the 18 nine-pounders she carried, Jones had been pleased with her. An American ship with which to fight the stubborn English, and she had served him well.
He had set sail from America in November 1777 and shortly after his arrival in France the affaire with Therese had begun. By April the following year he had sailed out of Camaret and Ranger had shown her mettle. After only four days at sea, the brigantine Dolphin had fallen to Ranger’s hooded charm. Jones had scuttled Dolphin, reckoning her valueless as a prize, but if his men grumbled, their disappointment was erased two days later with the capture of Lord Chatham, a 250 ton ship. His exploits did not end there. After a brush with a king’s revenue cutter, Ranger sank a Scots coasting schooner off the Mull of Galloway. Later the same day he sank a Dublin sloop to prevent the Admiralty in London learning his whereabouts, anxious as they were for their men-o-war to find and destroy Ranger before Paul Jones could cause any
‘What Chris has done in this novel is slowly take the reader to a time where historical fact is skilfully woven with the author's own brand of fiction. I was hooked after the first page, and read the whole book over three nights; just did not want to put it down!! Would love to see this book transcribed to the big screen. I hope Chris can deliver another masterpiece for me to devour soon!’ John Barchan