Home > A Caribbean Heiress in Paris (The Lionesses #1)

A Caribbean Heiress in Paris (The Lionesses #1)
Author: Adriana Herrera

 

      Contents

   Prologue

   Paris

   Chapter One

   Chapter Two

   Chapter Three

   Chapter Four

   Chapter Five

   Chapter Six

   Chapter Seven

   Chapter Eight

   Chapter Nine

   Chapter Ten

   Chapter Eleven

   Chapter Twelve

   Chapter Thirteen

   Chapter Fourteen

   The Braeburn

   Chapter Fifteen

   Chapter Sixteen

   Chapter Seventeen

   Chapter Eighteen

   Chapter Nineteen

   Edinburgh

   Chapter Twenty

   Chapter Twenty-One

   Chapter Twenty-Two

   Chapter Twenty-Three

   Chapter Twenty-Four

   Chapter Twenty-Five

   A Note from the Author

   Acknowledgments

 

 

   SS La Bretagne, April 1889


   Life in the Caribbean had taught Luz Alana Heith-Benzan a few vital lessons. First, corsets in the tropics were the purest form of evil. Second, a woman attempting to thrive in a man’s world must always have a plan. Third, a flask full of fine rum and a pistol served well in almost any emergency.

   And most recently, if one was to ever find herself setting sail for the Continent in search of a fresh start, one must do so with her two best friends at her side.

   “Can I go up to the Eiffel Tower too?” Luz’s little sister asked, as if she could sense she had been left out of her sister’s musings. “I promise I won’t drink any of your champagne.” Clarita had been attempting to commandeer their schedule while in Paris since the moment they’d boarded the first steamer in Santo Domingo.

   “Clarita, you’re ten. You would not get champagne regardless of the circumstance.” That elicited a frustrated huff from the little monster, who at the moment was sitting primly by a bay window with the blue sky and water at her back, posing for a portrait.

   “Stop needling her, Luz. You know how she fidgets, and I’m almost done with the sketch.” The artist was Manuela, one of Luz’s two best friends and Clarita’s most fervent enabler. “Don’t worry, querida. I’ll smuggle you up the tower.”

   She was, at the moment, capturing Clarita’s likeness while her sister sat with her hands crossed over her chest and eyes closed, affecting a disturbingly funereal air. One eye popped open. “Can we go to the catacombs?”

   “Don’t encourage her, Manuela. At this rate we will spend the summer traipsing through cemeteries.”

   Clarita responded by lolling her tongue, making Manu guffaw.

   Luz’s sister had become obsessed with the macabre after their father’s death eighteen months ago. She’d tried her best to fill the void he’d left, but with both their parents gone, she also knew there was nothing that could repair becoming an orphan at such a young age. That still didn’t make Luz any more inclined to haunt every graveyard in Paris.

   The truth was that despite the hardships of the last few years, and her unease about what the future held for her and her sister, she was looking forward to the summer. Leaving Santo Domingo had been bittersweet: no matter how sound the reasoning, leaving home was its own sort of death. But there had been too much mourning in her life already. Looking ahead was the only alternative.

   They were finally only a day away from the harbor at Le Havre. From there, another day of travel would take them to the French capital for three months at the Exposition Universelle. Three months of opportunities for her to meet buyers for her rum, Caña Brava. Three months in which to get her and her sister’s futures in order, before the two of them were to permanently settle in her father’s ancestral home in Edinburgh.

   Unexpectedly finding herself at the helm of her family’s distillery had been...difficult. On more than one occasion, Luz wondered if she was capable of stewarding their legacy into the future. A dream that had begun almost fifty years ago with Luz Alana’s mother, Clarise, and her grandfather Roberto Benzan. A distillery owned and operated not by the children of Spanish colonials but by a Black family. Where every pair of hands that worked to make the rum—from cutting the sugar cane to preparing the spirits for shipment—was entitled to a share of the profits. Caña Brava from its inception had been an experiment in what industry without exploitation could be, and it had thrived for decades.

   Her father, Lachlan Heith, a Scotsman who had arrived in the Caribbean looking for investment opportunities, had been the main investor of the distillery. It had not been long before Lachlan proposed marriage to Clarise, and for the next thirty years poured his life into her and her vision. After her mother’s death, her father had continued their plans to expand Caña Brava’s operations. Their rum was well-known all over the Americas. From the Unites States to Argentina, Caña Brava was coveted for its quality and unique smoky flavor. Lachlan wanted to bring the rum to European markets. His strategy was to elevate the spirit’s image, to replace the bottles of brandy being served in the grand homes of Britain and the Continent with their Gran Reserva. Luz was more interested in making products for everyday people. Her father loved the hands-on operations, being in the distillery with the workers. Luz preferred to think of new ideas. Where he’d wanted to focus on selling their rum to the higher echelons of society, Luz believed the key to future success was to enlist the lifeblood of commerce: women merchants. The modern woman had ideas and preferences of her own and that were distinct from men’s, and Luz saw the potential in focusing on them as a market. Her vision for the future of Caña Brava was not quite what her father had wanted, but he at least recognized her talents and innovative thinking.

   Which was why, she could only assume, after his death she’d found out that he’d passed the operations of the distillery to his second-in-command and left her in charge of the expansion to Europe. She’d been hurt by the slight, affronted that her father did not trust her with the business that her mother’s family had built, until she realized that staying in Santo Domingo was much too painful. That she desperately needed a fresh start. And so, before her departure she’d transferred the majority of her holdings in Caña Brava to the people who, like her family, had nurtured it from the beginning.

   She’d left with the promise to find them new prospects, new markets, new buyers... Building partnerships was where she’d always excelled. She hoped her skills would be as effective in Paris as they’d been in the tropics. Like her mother before her, Luz left with the intention to blaze a few trails.

   “Did you hear that, Luz?” Clarita’s voice, which every day sounded less like a little girl’s and more like a young lady’s, brought Luz Alana out of her thoughts.

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