Adrienne Basso's TO TEMPT A ROGUE
Adrienne Basso's TO TEMPT A ROGUE
From the drawing rooms of Regency London to the wilds of Scotland, Adrienne Basso spins a tempestuous tale of secrets, surprises, and breathtaking passion. . .
TO TEMPT A ROGUE
Publisher: Zebra Books
Publication Date: July 1, 2004 (ebook)
Publication Date: July 1, 2004 (mass market paperback)
She Ran From A Broken Heart...
A pillar of decorum and decency, Harriet Sainthill suddenly finds herself the object of scandal when her cad of a fiancé jilts her. Ever practical, she accepts a position as a governess to a wealthy Scottish merchant, determined to escape London and the gossip of the ton. Her hopes for a quiet new life are dashed when she arrives at the dark, desolate castle in the wilds of Scotland and meets her mysterious new employer--a darkly handsome man Harriet finds both intimidating and intriguing...
...Straight Into The Arms Of Love
Powerful, implacable and infuriatingly secretive, "Mr. Wainwright" is no Scottish merchant, but rather a runaway English lord. Once a rake who savored the indolent life of a reckless nobleman, Nathaniel Bennett must now protect three orphaned children and his own legacy from a conniving relative. And while the distraction of a sharp-tongued governess is the last thing he needs, he can think of little else but sweeping her into his arms. . .and off to his bed.
As danger and deceit ally them in a perilous adventure, Harriet will soon uncover Nathaniel's deepest secrets—and her own deepest desires.
Anticipating the warm comfort of his bath, Lord Avery removed his jacket, watching the progress the huge kettle of hot water hanging in the hearth with great interest. As it started to bubble and boil he carefully ladled out several pails and poured them into the copper tub that was placed in a corner of the room, presumably away from any drafts.
A sudden noise drew his attention. The castle watchdog, a fierce, almost other-worldly looking beast of undeterminable breed, lifted his large head in curiosity. He cocked it to one side and waited, but after a few moments remained silent.
Taking his cue from the animal, Nathaniel continued with his task and emptied another bucket of steaming water into the tub. Suddenly, the beast leapt to his feet and raced towards the bedchamber door. Nathaniel was nearly knocked to the ground, only managing to keep his balance by dropping the empty pail and clutching the wooden bedpost.
The dog's nails tapped a staccato rhythm on the stone floor as he built up a good head of steam, then struck the door with such velocity and force that it flung open. What had begun growl rose to series of sharp barks the moment the dog was free. Ears flapping, tongue lolling, the animal galloped down the hall.
"Bloody hell!" Nathaniel swore loudly, threw on his favorite red silk dressing gown, and followed after the beast. The stone hallway was dark and shadowed. Weeks of bumping into things and bruising his lower extremities forced Nathaniel to grab the first source of light he came upon.
It was a large, wooden handled torch, better suited for lighting a bonfire. Lord Avery felt ridiculous carrying such an oversized, crude light, certain he resembled a demented medieval warrior. Yet if he wished to reach the front door quickly, there was no time to find something more appropriate.
The dog was pacing impatiently when Nathaniel arrived, stopping every few seconds to scratch at the solid wood door, whimper, then lower his head to sniff suspiciously. Fortunately, one sharp look had the hound quiet and cowering respectfully behind him in the shadows.
The door creaked and groaned as Nathaniel struggled to open it. He fully expected to find a relative of one of the servants waiting on the other side, for it seemed the staff employed at the castle possessed enough family members to inhabit a small country.
Instead, Nathaniel two rain-soaked women, shivering and speechless. Their faces were pale and drawn and they looked frightened, as though they had run a good part of their journey pursed by a pack of wolves. He could tell by the cut and quality of their garments that they were not locals. So who were they?
Mutes, perhaps, for they didn't speak. They merely stared. The older woman was dressed as a servant and in her manner deferred to the younger, taller woman. Nathaniel's gaze honed in on the features of the younger woman and he felt a smile bubble beneath of his surface of his surprise. The little minx was staring rather pointedly at his chest. His naked chest.
There was no time to ponder that interesting observation, because Brutus chose that moment to lunge forward. Nathaniel expected screams of horror, cries of outrages, tears of terror, but still the women kept silent.
Most likely they were speechless with fright. Quick reflexes enabled Nathaniel to grab the dog by the scruff of the neck just before he landed on one of the hapless women. Using every ounce of his upper body strength, he struggled to keep the beast at bay while this mysterious duo stared at him like a pair of witless fools.
Shrugging off his irritation, Nathaniel spoke, "Get inside. Quickly. If he gets out there is no telling when he'll return or where he will run."
"We can't go in there!" the older woman cried.
"We must," the younger woman insisted.
Nathaniel the ensuing battle of wills with a jaundice eye, for some reason having little doubt the younger woman would prevail. Suddenly, the servant mumbled a few words too low for him to hear, crossed herself piously and shivered. Her eyes rolled up, her lashes fluttered wildly and she crumpled to the ground. Instinctively, Nathaniel reached out, wanted to catch the poor woman, but he held the torch in one hand and the growling dog in the other. Miraculously, the younger woman somehow managed to capture the servant in her arms and prevented her from hitting the stone floor and cracking her skull.
"What did she mutter?" Lord Avery asked.
The younger woman's eyes narrowed, then blazed at him with fury. "How can that possibly matter? For pity's sake, sir, I need your help or else I'm going to drop her on this hard, filthy floor."
"In case you failed to notice, I only possess two arms."
"And very little common sense. What is the dog's name?"
Nathaniel nearly burst out laughing. They were in the midst of a crisis and this daft woman wanted to know his dog's name. "Pardon?"
"The dog's name. What is it?"
"Brutus. Yet I hardly see how that can have any-"
The dog's ears perked at the sound of his name. "Brutus, sit."
Nathaniel watched with no small measure of disgust as the traitorous dog sat obediently back on his haunches.
"Hurry, before your dog decides to bolt."
With one arm free, Nathaniel was able to relieve the woman of her limp burden. "She's not as light as she looks," he grunted.
Demonstrating a particular nature he hardly expected, the younger woman reached out and pulled the torch from his hand. Nathaniel adjusted his grip, thankful he wouldn't disgrace himself by dropping the unconscious woman in his arms. Deciding this bitter, icy rain should serve some useful purpose, he shifted the older woman's inert body, exposing her face to it. Within minutes, she was stirring and sputtering.
When the women were finally inside the castle, Nathaniel burst into motion. He stalked past the suits of dull armor standing sentry in the old hall and summoned the housekeeper who also served as the castle's cook. "Mrs. Mullins! Mrs. Mullins! Get down here at once."
The activity roused the sitting dog. He stood up and began to growl.
"Brutus, stay." Nathaniel warned.
The dog obeyed, keeping a respectable distance from the women, but something must have drawn his attention, for the older woman let out an earth shattering scream.
"Brutus, go." Nathaniel ordered impatiently.
"I realize the animal can be a frightening presence, but your shrieks only increase his interest in you."
"He's terrifying," the older woman squeaked.
"He is a watchdog and therefore protective of the members of the household. Brutus regards any stranger as a threat."
"We hardly pose a threat, sir," the younger woman insisted.
Nathaniel turned his full attention toward her. Though the light in the foyer was not overly bright, it did succeed in illuminating her face. Her wet bonnet sagged noticeably to one side, but her features were not obscured. She had lovely fair skin, high cheekbones, a pert nose with an upturn at the end and shrewd, intelligent eyes a pretty shade of hazel.
He stared at her for several moments, a nagging memory stabbing at his brain, then a choked gasp escaped his throat as Nathaniel felt a shock of recognition. He knew this woman.
She had been at the center of the scandal of the Season last spring. The jilted bride of a disreputable fiancé, who was somehow mixed up with the madman who stalked and murdered innocent women. The rumors that had circulated among the ton were too impossible to fathom, yet even if only half of what was repeated was true, it was a shocking tale.
What in God's name could have brought her to this remote corner of Scotland at this precise moment in time? Suspicion and questions crowded his mind, but he waited, balling into such a tight fist his fingers tingled.
"I am Miss Harriet Sainthill. I've come to Hillsdale Castle to assume my position as governess to Mr. Wainwright's children. Would you kindly inform him that I have arrived?"