Harlequin Historical May 2014 - Bundle 2 of 2: Unwed and Unrepentant\Return of the Prodigal Gilvry\A Traitor's Touch

BOOK: Harlequin Historical May 2014 - Bundle 2 of 2: Unwed and Unrepentant\Return of the Prodigal Gilvry\A Traitor's Touch
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Harlequin Historical May 2014 – Bundle 2 of 2
Unwed and Unrepentant
Return of the Prodigal Gilvry
A Traitor's Touch
Marguerite Kaye, Ann Lethbridge and Helen Dickson

Harlequin® Historical brings you three new titles for one great price, available now! This Harlequin® Historical bundle includes
Unwed and Unrepentant
by Marguerite Kaye,
Return of the Prodigal Gilvry
by Ann Lethbridge and
A Traitor's Touch
by Helen Dickson.

Look for six compelling new stories every month from Harlequin® Historical!

PRETEND ENGAGEMENT

Burned by love and fearful of being trapped by marriage, headstrong Lady Cordelia Armstrong is furious when her father manipulates her into a betrothal with his business partner, and her one-time lover, Iain Hunter.

Understanding Cordelia's reluctance, Iain proposes a pretend engagement. For now they will make believe, but there is no need to fake the attraction that still burns hotly between them. As they travel to magical Arabia, the lines between fantasy and reality blur. Will either of them really be able to walk away once their deal is done?

His fingers were stroking the skin
at the nape of her neck.

His mouth was curved into a smile that was blatantly sensual. It was there again in his eyes, that heat, and she was pretty certain it was there in hers, too. ‘Iain, we are just pretending to be engaged.'

‘Aye, but there are other things we've no need to pretend about. You know I still want you, Cordelia.'

‘Did you have this in mind when you suggested our engagement?'

‘No, and I won't change my mind if you're not interested. I think you are, though.' Iain laughed softly. ‘Knowing that you want me as much as I want you—have you any idea what that does to me?' His expression darkened momentarily. ‘I don't want you subservient to my desires, Cordelia. I want my desires to be yours. Yours to be mine.'

His words were a low stomach-clenching growl. ‘My desires to be yours,' she repeated, mesmerized.

‘And yours to be mine. Admit it—we have unfinished business.'

* * *

Unwed and Unrepentant
Harlequin® Historical #1184—May 2014

Available from Harlequin® Historical and
MARGUERITE KAYE

Delectably Undone
#1036
“The Captain's Wicked Wager”
*
Innocent in the Sheikh's Harem
#1049
*
The Governess and the Sheikh
#1053
Gift-Wrapped Governess
#1063
“Duchess by Christmas”
The Wicked Lord Rasenby
#1077
The Rake and the Heiress
#328
Rake with a Frozen Heart
#1088
Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah
#1100
The Beauty Within
#1138
Rumors that Ruined a Lady
#1161
Unwed and Unrepentant
#1184

And from Harlequin HQN

Castonbury Park: Ladies of Disrepute
“The Lady Who Broke the Rules”

Did you know some of these novels are also
available as ebooks? Visit www.Harlequin.com.

And in Harlequin Histori
cal Undone! eb
ooks

The Captain's Wicked Wager
The Highlander and the Sea Siren
Bitten by Desire
Temptation is the Night
**
Claimed by the Wolf Prince
**
Bound to the Wolf Prince
**
The Highlander and the Wolf Princess
*The Sheikh's Impetuous Love-Slave
Spellbound & Seduced
Behind the Courtesan's Mask
Flirting with Ruin
An Invitation to Pleasure
Lost in Pleasure
How to Seduce a Sheikh

*Princes of the Desert
**
Legend of the Faol

UNWED AND UNREPENTANT

Marguerite Kaye

Author Note

I live on the west coast of Scotland, and work in a room that faces right out onto the River Clyde. While I write, I see the ferries traipsing back and forth across the river, I see warships and nuclear submarines making their way to and from the naval base at Faslane, I see huge cruise ships, tankers, trawlers and tiny creelers. In the summer months, I also see the
Waverley,
the only surviving sea-going paddle steamer in the world, and it was the
Waverley
which provided me with the inspiration for my ship-building hero, Iain.

Mind you, I suppose you could say that ship-building is in my blood. My paternal grandfather worked in some of the biggest yards on the Clyde during the Second World War, and in the 1960s, was part of the team that built the
Queen Elizabeth II.
My maternal grandfather was a captain in the Merchant navy, twice sunk during the same war (he survived both). When I first started to write, I remember reading the mantra “write what you know” over and over in the various “how to write” books. Since I've never found my previous life in IT particularly romantic, I guess this story is as good as “writing what you know” as I'm going to get!

As ever with my books, the plot has gone through a whole series of changes as the characters developed. My dogged perusal of a learned tome called
Money, Mania and Markets
by R. C. Michie resulted in one fleeting reference to Cordelia's investment portfolio. The majority of the scenes that I had planned to set in Glasgow ended up on my virtual cutting-room floor, though I've used some of their ambiance in the scene where Cordelia and Iain visit the Isle of Dogs.

While I'd set Cordelia up with some passing references in both
The Beauty Within
and
Rumors that Ruined a Lady,
to be honest, I had no more idea than her sisters of why she ran away and what her fate was. I started out putting her in a convent in Italy, then I set her up in business in Glasgow building hotels for young ladies, and at one point I gave her a child, which I then killed off, and then abandoned altogether.

What I did realize very early on was that she needed a very strong hero, a self-made man to match her self-made woman. Setting the story in the year of Queen Victoria's ascendancy followed, not only because I needed Cordelia to have packed a bit of experience under her belt, but because it was with Victoria that the meritocracy started to nudge the aristocracy out of power, and I was very keen that her blackguard of a father, Lord Armstrong, was dealt, if not a mortal blow, then a fairly serious wound to his power base.

This is the last of the Armstrong sisters' stories, a series which didn't start out as a series at all, but a one-off Regency sheikh. I didn't plan to come full circle back to where it started, but as I wrote Iain and Cordelia's story, it felt right to do so. Thanks to my Facebook friends for all their help and support, assistance with points of detail and ideas—you are stars. And once again, thank you to Flo, who deserves some sort of medal for being so patient with me on this one, which had more false starts than the Grand National!

Dedication

For J. When you read this, you'll know why.
First, last and always love.

Prologue

Cavendish Square, London—spring 1828

C
lutching a portmanteau in one hand, a bandbox tied with string in the other, Lady Cordelia Armstrong crept down the main staircase of her father's town house. It was late afternoon, and her Aunt Sophia was taking a nap. Cordelia had been pledged to attend an expedition to Richmond Park. She had been at pains, when the invitation was first issued, to inform her aunt that the company would include at least one rake, one notorious fortune-hunter and the young lady who was competing with Cordelia in a wager—registered by one obliging gentleman in White's betting book—to amass the most offers for her hand in one Season.

Lady Sophia had, as Cordelia anticipated, forbidden her to go. ‘If you are seen in an open carriage in such company,' she had said, her face turning the most alarming shade of puce, ‘I have no doubt whatsoever that your vouchers for Almack's will be withdrawn.'

‘And all poor Papa's plans to marry me off to one of his minions will be in tatters,' Cordelia had been unable to resist retorting.

‘I do not understand you. Don't you want to make a good match?'

‘One that is good for me, yes, indeed. Sadly, that rather precludes it being a man whom Papa has selected.'

Her aunt had looked genuinely shocked, a reaction which had quite taken Cordelia aback. Having seen for herself how miserable trying to please their father had made Cressie, and how very changed poor Caro had become since marrying the man chosen for her, Cordelia had a very low opinion indeed of Lord Armstrong's ability to pick a husband for her, but it seemed Lady Sophia did not agree. It was true, Cordelia had originally
pretended
to go along with her father's plans for her, but she had assumed that her aunt, who was no fool, understood this was simply a ruse to ensure she was not, like Cressie, confined to the country until she agreed to do his bidding. Papa did not like open defiance.
Keep your enemies close,
was one of his maxims, and Cordelia had paid it great heed.

The moment was now ripe to strike, for her father was en route to Russia with Wellington. Sadly, it seemed the wool must also be pulled over Aunt Sophia's eyes too, for the time being. So Cordelia had said defiantly that she would go to Richmond Park no matter how low the company, ensuring that no other invitation could be accepted on that fateful date, and that her sadly abused relative would be too relieved to question her, when informed upon the day that her niece, having thought the matter over, was of the opinion that the expedition would be a mistake. Which was exactly what had happened this morning, as a result of which Aunt Sophia was sleeping soundly in her bedchamber, under the illusion that her apparently contrite charge, with an engagement-free afternoon, was resting in hers.

The house was silent, with not even a footman attendant in the marbled hallway to impede Cordelia's departure. Placing the brief missive on the polished half-table beside the silver salver upon which callers to Lord Armstrong's abode left their visiting cards, she felt a twinge of guilt. Though her ambitious and scheming Papa deserved not a whit of loyalty or consideration in her opinion, she did not feel comfortable deceiving Aunt Sophia, who might look like a camel, might even upon occasion bray like one, but had in her own way always done her best by her nieces.

Biting her lip, Cordelia stared at her reflection in the mirror. Nature had given her the dark golden curls, the cupid's-bow mouth and soft curves which were deemed by society to be beautiful—this Season, at least. At one-and-twenty, combined with an adequate dowry, her lineage and her connections, she was under no illusions about her value on the marriage mart—indeed, she had already amassed enough proposals to prove it.

‘And not a single one of them could care less what goes on behind this pretty facade,' she said aloud, her lip curling with contempt. ‘Within five years, perhaps less, when I've done my duty and produced the requisite heir or two, I'll be retired to the country to grow fat and miserable like poor Bella. Or worse, if I fail, forced into hiding in the shadows like Caro.'

Turning away from the mirror, she picked up her luggage with renewed resolve. Soon, she would be married to a man of her own choosing. A man who derided politics and her papa equally. A man who paid her no pretty, facile compliments but talked to her as if she had a mind of her own, and made it very clear that he desired her not as a matrimonial conquest but as a woman. A man whose kisses made her pulses race. A man who could heat her blood by his very presence in the room. A man whose body and bed she longed to share.

‘Gideon,' she whispered. Heart thumping, Cordelia slid open the heavy front door of her father's house, closing it carefully behind her. The next time she returned, she would be a married woman. ‘And for once, Papa shall dance to my tune, for the one thing he abhors more than disobedience is scandal,' she murmured to herself as she tripped down the stone stairs into Cavendish Square and hailed a hackney cab which was most fortuitously passing. Taking it as a good omen, she clambered in with her luggage and gave her direction.

The carriage rumbled off and Cordelia settled herself for the journey to the posting house where they were to meet before setting out on their journey. Of course, the Honourable Gideon d'Amery had not specifically mentioned marriage, but that was a mere detail. Papa and Aunt Sophia would tell her that no gentleman would propose an elopement to a lady, but Papa and Aunt Sophia had not a romantic bone in their bodies. Cordelia was of age, and Gideon was a man of the world who would see to whatever details were required to formalise their union. Not that she had any idea what such details comprised, though she was hazily aware they required some sort of special licence unless they were headed to Gretna Green.

She didn't care and it mattered not a whit. Gideon would see to it. Cordelia would concentrate on the important things, such as his smile and his kisses and the heated look in his dark-brown eyes when he gazed at her, and the delicious
frisson
that ran through her when he ran his fingers over her breasts in that shocking manner through her gown, and the even more shocking and even more delicious
frisson
when he pressed the evidence of his desire against her as they danced.

She touched her gloved hands to her heated cheeks. How perfectly lovely it was to be in love and to know that she was loved in return. When she came back to London on the arm of her husband, glowing with happiness, Papa would have no option but to acknowledge that Cordelia, and not her father, knew what was best for her. A month, perhaps three, if they made their marriage trip to the Continent. Rome. Venice. And Paris of course, for she would need new gowns, having been forced to leave most of her coming-out wardrobe at home.

‘Six months at most,' she said dreamily, ‘and then I shall return, the Prodigal Daughter, and Papa shall be forced to kill the fatted calf.' On that most satisfying image, Cordelia closed her mind to the troubles she was leaving behind her, and turned instead to the night of passion which lay ahead.

BOOK: Harlequin Historical May 2014 - Bundle 2 of 2: Unwed and Unrepentant\Return of the Prodigal Gilvry\A Traitor's Touch
6.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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