Once a Cavalier
originally published June 2000
A twentieth century doctor,
Larryn Maeller, meets the handsome, tormented ghost of a
seventeenth century doctor, Thomas Northby, Duke of Seldrake,
who had pledged his life to saving children from the Great
Plague in London. Their dogs, both Cavalier King Charles
Spaniels, lead Larryn into the past, where she must keep Thomas
from becoming a tortured ghost... while learning that love
transcends the centuries.
"Linda O. Johnston has gained a
well-deserved reputation for exciting romance novels...
Ms. Johnston provides readers with a wonderfully picturesque
tale that will leave historical and time travel romance
aficionados seeking the author's other works." --
Affaire de Coeur
"Another super story from an author who
excels at time travel." --Rendezvous
"Ms. Johnston delivers an engaging tale
of love, honor and betrayal set amid a London stricken by the Great
"A touching romance that is steady rather
than fast paced. Set in one of my favourite eras it is one that
fewer novels are set in than I would like. I was delighted to find
that I was not disappointed in Linda O Johnston’s interpretation of this
era and I would hope that some day she will return to it with another
"...a good, solid read. Once A
Cavalier is a refreshing change from the standard stuff in the
market nowadays. It even tries to weave in some ghostly mythology instead of
being just another Oops! She hits her head and get sent back in time!
time travel." --
"King Charles’ court and its intrigues are
interestingly depicted with just enough detail. The spaniels are
important to the action and add some humor. The time travel element is
not overdone with too many details of Larryn’s adjustment and because of
this, more time is spent on the plot and the story moves at a good pace. The
epilogue...is satisfying. Readers who enjoy time travel stories
and a setting that is a little unusual will probably enjoy Once a Cavalier".
-- B. Kathy Leitle, The
"ONCE A CAVALIER is an
entertaining time travel romance that will provide much pleasure to
sub-genre fans. ...Linda O. Johnston [tells] an exciting story that
paints a vivid picture of a bygone era. The lead characters are a
dynamic duo whose need to help the young during the health crisis adds
to their appeal. Ms. Johnson is a natural who makes reading fun."
Under the Covers
"Once a Cavalier isn’t your ordinary
romance or time travel tale. It’s a compassionate story of a life,
loyalty, and perseverance. Ms. Johnston uses strong characters, a
descriptively accurate historical past, and the reader’s curiosity to
keep the reader involved. This one has plenty of everything to keep the
pages turning passion, romance, danger, and intrigue; a wonderful
experience in an entertaining read." --Brenda Weeaks,
Larryn had learned over the years that many old, herbal cures had genuine
merit in application, though none replaced medical breakthroughs like
antibiotics and vaccines.
She could learn a lot here, she was certain, if she
remained long enough.
But did she want to stay? Her mind immediately
focused--yet again--on the Duke of Seldrake.
So what if she was turned on by the
man? She wouldn’t act on it. That, at least, she could prevent.
But she also didn’t want to like him.
Or care about him. Or admire his courage, or enjoy his sense of humor
the few times he had let it show.
But despite herself, she realized that
the man was infinitely more appealing than his portrait that had drawn
her in the first place. Sure, she had to get her libido under control
around him. Worse, her emotions had become even more entangled than they
had been when the man’s ghost had pleaded for help....
His ghost. The thought brought her up
abruptly. "He’s going to die," she told herself softly, looking at her
earth-covered hands. There was nothing she could do about that. Everyone
died. But this brave, arrogant, appealing man, who had so captivated her
imagination... and, she was beginning to fear, was beginning to capture
her heart--he was going to die centuries before she would ever be born.
"Oh, Seldrake," she whispered. "I can’t
care for you. I simply can’t."
But seeing the logic did not make it
She heard an excited bark, followed by
another. When she looked up, she saw Caddie and Augie hurtling
themselves through the open gate.
Open? But it had been closed. And
Larryn heard the rumble of a carriage, the clopping of horses’ hooves.
"Oh, no!" She ran toward where the dogs
had disappeared, her long skirts in her way. "Augie! Caddie! Come back!"
From the corner of her eye, she saw a
movement at the front of the house. She didn’t stop to see who had come
out. She strained to hear the dogs. If they were barking, they were
still all right.
Was that just one bark? In her mind,
she could see a small red and white form crushed beneath a horse’s
hooves. "No!" she screamed. She had reached the gate. She threw it open
farther and raced through.
Outside was the hard dirt road. Across
from it were fields of wheat tended by Seldrake’s tenants. She saw no
"Caddie!" Larryn cried. She looked up
the curving road, then down. No dogs. At least neither had become road
kill. But where were they?
She heard a voice she couldn’t quite
make out, the crack of a whip, the creak of a carriage. A large brown
horse appeared from the side road. It plunged around the stone wall.
"Dogs!" she called, terrified. Were they around the corner? Had she
missed them because they were already lost? She ran toward the
carriage--and froze. The horse galloped straight toward her.
She waved her hands. "Hey!" She tried
to dive off the road. The stone wall was in the way. She had nowhere to
go. The horse kept coming....
Could she get to the far side of the
road in time, fling herself into its ditch?
The horse was nearly upon her.
And then... a bark sounded at her side,
and then another. Two small red and white shapes hurtled themselves
toward the horse, yapping and nipping at the hooves.
The horse reared. The small carriage it
pulled nearly toppled. The dogs’ diversion gave Larryn enough time to
throw herself across the road and into the ditch.
The driver got the horse under control.
Gathering speed, the carriage continued down the road. It wasn’t large,
but horse and vehicle could have done one unprotected person a lot of
damage. Larryn hadn’t made out the driver, who was hidden beneath a
"Larryn!" A deep, masculine voice
shouted from the gate. In moments, Seldrake knelt beside her. He wore
soft, shapeless leather shoes with no stockings beneath his breeches,
and his billowing white shirt was open at the throat. "Are you injured?"
His hands ran down her arms, still sheathed in her borrowed shift. She
knew he was examining her for broken bones, yet again his touch
"I’m fine," she tried to say calmly,
but her voice quivered. "The dogs--"
"I shall flog them for placing you in
such danger." The anger in his voice made her shudder.
"No. No, they saved me. They scared the
horse, and it hesitated enough for me to get out of the way."
"Who was the driver? Did he not stop to
ensure your safety?"
Larryn shook her head. "No. In fact..."
"What?" he demanded.
"I’m probably wrong, but I had a
feeling that... that the driver intended to run me down. There was no
hesitation, and I heard a whip crack, and--"
"Describe the carriage." Seldrake spoke
through gritted teeth. "I arrived too late to see, with that bend in the
"It was smaller than the one we rode in
yesterday. It had only one horse."
"Was it a carrier’s cart, a post coach
or a private coach?"
"I... I’m sorry. I don’t know."
The Duke’s blue eyes blazed, as though
his fury was turned on her. "Where in Hades are you from, Larryn
Maeller, that you do not even recognize the type of coach that nearly
killed you? Do not tell me ‘Scotland.’ You have admitted that is a lie."
She laughed bitterly. "Maybe I really
am from Hades." Tears filled her eyes, and she looked away.
She felt his hand beneath her chin.
Firmly, her face was turned so that she faced him.
"You are truly unhurt?" This time,
Seldrake’s voice was quiet, yet there was a tremor in it as well.
"I’m all right." But she was crying
In moments, she was lifted to her feet
and snugged close against Seldrake’s hard chest, the top of her head
resting beneath his chin. He held her tightly until her crying stopped.
"I’m sorry," she whispered.
"As am I, that you should be so
endangered while in my charge." Her chest was still against his, and the
vibration of his voice sang through her entire body.
"I’m not in your charge," she
contradicted, pulling back. "I’m--"
But she did not finish, for her mouth
was suddenly occupied as Seldrake kissed her.