Authors: Darcy Burke
Praise for Her Wicked Ways
“A bad girl heroine steals both the show and a highwayman's heart in Darcy Burke's deliciously wicked debut.”
New York Times
"Captivating and romantic. Miranda is my favorite kind of heroine--witty, resourceful, and a little bit wicked--and I loved Fox for loving her as I much as I did."
–Jackie Barbosa, Award-Winning Author
“…a delightful romance mixed with humor, tenderness and love.”
–Rogues Under the Covers
Also by Darcy Burke
His Wicked Heart (June 2012)
To Seduce a Scoundrel (July 2012)
HER WICKED WAYS
By Darcy Burke
Copyright © 2012 Darcy Burke
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Book design © Darcy Burke.
Cover design © Hot Damn Designs.
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.
For my sweet Quinn and awesome Zane.
You make every day such a joy.
And for Steve. My partner in…everything.
I can’t convey the tremendous gratitude and love I have for my dear friends and critique partners Erica Ridley, Lacey Kaye, and Janice Goodfellow. I would not be the writer—or the person—I am today without your unflinching support and assistance. The ways in which you’ve helped are too great to count and the effect immeasurable. So many people have encouraged and guided me and none more than Jackie Barbosa, Courtney Milan, Kristina McMorris, Rachel Grant, Elisabeth Naughton, Leigh LaValle, Elyssa Papa, and Inara Scott. I am indebted and can only hope to give you a fraction of what you’ve given me. Thank you also to Sara Ramsey, who has been a wealth of information. And thank you to my spectacular beta reader, Kayla MacAfee, who shares my deep love of historical romance novels by Judith McNaught. Knowing I have you to read my draft makes me write that much faster. I also want to thank the Pixies. I’ve learned so much from your wealth of knowledge and experience, and you’re all so incredibly generous.
Mom, thank you for being my number one fan—not just in this but in everything. I love you so much.
Finally, I want to thank my agent, the wonderful Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Your optimism in this crazy, ever-changing publishing industry and unwavering faith in me has made all the difference. Thank you.
Her Wicked Ways
June 1816, Wiltshire
“STAND and deliver!” Montgomery Foxcroft demanded a second time as he and the other four members of his band stepped out from the trees lining the rutted and muddy road. They’d scouted the two coaches for the last quarter mile. Each had a coachman at the reins and a footman on the back. The footman on the rear coach crouched low as both vehicles rumbled to a halt.
“You there, stand away!” Fox stalked toward the second coach, training his pistol on the man’s chest. The servant stared, wide-eyed in the milky light offered by the half moon. Sweat trickled down Fox’s back as he waited for the footman to obey. An eternity seemed to pass before the man jumped from the back of the dark blue lacquered coach, his arms spread. Fox let out his pent up breath.
They hadn’t prepared for two coaches, but Fox’s steward, Robert Knott, had come up with a plan to direct the four retainers to a single location. Rob came abreast of him and shouted, “Move between the coaches, and keep yer hands where I can see them!”
Fox resisted the urge to tug his mask further down his face. The rough, black fabric covered everything but his mouth. Surely that wouldn’t be enough to spark recognition.
Hugh Carmody, landowner and retired MP, opened the door of the lead coach and thrust out his nearly bald head. “What is the meaning of this?”
Rob pointed his pistol at the man’s face and was answered with a decidedly unmasculine shriek, followed by a thud.
“Wife!” Carmody retreated.
Rob murmured the question that had been plaguing Fox since they’d sighted their quarry. “Why two coaches?”
Carmody owned just one, and it wasn’t the fancy, lacquered coach in the rear. He also didn’t employ that many footmen. Someone had to be traveling with them. Someone wealthy.