A Daring Passion [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Rosemary Rogers
eBook Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
eBook Description: Legacy of danger.... Headstrong but sheltered, Raine Wimbourne longs for adventure--and when her ailing father reveals a closely guarded secret, she seizes her chance. Disguised as England's most notorious highwayman, Raine vows to uphold her father's legacy as champion of the poor. Then a midnight encounter with the powerful Philippe Gautier shows her the price of protecting her family's honor... A hostage heart.... Philippe Gautier has a mission of his own--and the beautiful impostor he's delivering to justice may hold the key to saving his brother's life. He will stop at nothing to keep Raine close. But as they travel from the town houses of London to the streets of France, can he convince his untamed captive to risk it all on the promise of passion?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/HQN, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2007
6 Reader Ratings:
THE NIGHT WAS FRANKLY miserable. Although the rain that had drenched the Kent countryside over the past two days had at last drizzled to a halt, the air was still thick with moisture and a blanket of fog lay over the slumbering villages and estates.
A miserable night to be certain. At least for decent folk.
It was a perfect night for thieves, scoundrels and dastards.
Too perfect, Josiah Wimbourne was forced to concede as he entered his small cottage and painfully tossed aside his brilliant crimson cape and hat. He should have known the magistrate would be on the alert. The muddy roads and heavy fog would slow even the finest carriage. Such easy pickings were far too great a temptation for any highwayman.
Especially for the notorious Knave of Knightsbridge.
With a grimace Josiah crossed the small kitchen to settle in a chair near the smoldering fire. Only then did he glance toward his shoulder, which was still seeping blood. Damn his stupidity. He was nearing forty years of age. Old enough to know that it was a dead man who underestimated his enemy.
The previous magistrate might have been a blundering fool who was quite willing to turn a blind eye if the price was right, but this new man, Tom Harper, was cut from an entirely different cloth.
In less than a month he had proved to be impervious to bribes, intimidation and even outright threats. Nothing could sway his sense of duty or determination to uphold the king's law.
Even worse, the blighter possessed an uncanny knack for thinking precisely like a criminal.
Any other magistrate would look at the dismal weather and presume that any brigands would be cozily drinking ale at the local inn, or warming themselves in the arms of a willing whore. But not Harper. He had taken stock of the rutted roads and thick fog and known instinctively that the Knave would be out hunting.
Blast his interfering soul.
Unwittingly a small smile flickered over Josiah's weathered features. Despite the burning pain in his shoulder, and the undeniable realization he was in a precarious position, he could not deny a measure of admiration for the tenacious magistrate.
Since leaving his life in the navy, it was rare to discover an opponent worthy of his skills. Certainly not the Runners, whom his victims occasionally hired to track him down. Or even the militia, which had been called in by the local aristocrats who had wearied of having their elegant guests robbed traveling through Knightsbridge. How could he not respect the damnable cur?
His ridiculous thoughts were cut short as a slight, dour-faced servant entered the kitchen to regard him with a startled frown.
Foster had once been a trained manservant who had worked at some of the finest homes in London. A position he might still be holding today if he had not been caught forging his employer's signature to obtain a number of bank drafts. It didn't matter that he had used the money to assist a floundering orphanage rather than lining his own pocket. He had been found guilty and ordered to the penal colonies.
He had tossed himself from the convict ship and was near death when Josiah had fished him from the waters.
That had been nearly twenty years ago and Josiah had never had cause to regret his impulsive gesture. Foster had proved to possess unwavering loyalty and the skill to teach Josiah the proper manners necessary to pass for a true gentleman.
The fact that Josiah remained a scoundrel beneath his elegant image was entirely his own fault.
Noticing the blood staining his master's shirt, Foster hurried forward. "Good Lord, sir, you've been injured."
"So it would seem, Foster."
"Well, I've given you warning enough, the Lord knows." The servant gave a click of his tongue. "A man of your age should be seated by the fire, not tearing across the countryside as if you were still a strapping lad. Bound to come a cropper in the end. I suppose that demon-spawn beast you claim as a horse gave you a tumble?"
"No, I did not take a tumble, damn your impudence. I am neither a man in his dotage nor a greenhorn unable to control his mount, demon-spawn or not."
"Then what…?" Bending forward to have a closer look at the injury, Foster abruptly caught his breath. "Bloody hell. You've been shot."
"Yes, I did suspect as much." Josiah gave a muttered curse as he pulled his ruined shirt over his head and tossed it to the nearby fire. "Damn Liverpool and his wretched Tories. They take delight in taxing their citizens into abject poverty and then pretend horror when those citizens are forced to live a life of crime to survive."
"Liverpool shot you?"
Josiah gave a short, humorless laugh. "No, you muck-worm. It was the magistrate."
"Oh…aye." Moving to the cabinet, Foster wet a cloth and returned to Josiah's side. "Well, let us have a look."
Josiah sucked in a sharp breath as the servant pressed the cloth to his wound. "Have a care, Foster. It hurts like the very devil."
Foster continued rubbing at his shoulder, indifferent to Josiah's muttered oaths.
"Only a crease, thank the good Lord, but a deep one." He stepped back to regard Josiah with an expression that managed to be even more dour than usual. "You'll be needing stitches."
"I feared as much." Josiah gave a shake of his head. It wasn't his first wound and doubtless wouldn't be his last, but it was damn well inconvenient. "Don't stand there gawking, Foster. Fetch the needle and thread. Oh, and the brandy. If I'm to endure your ham-fisted surgery then I have a feeling I shall want my wits dulled to the point of insensibility."
Copyright © 2007 by Rosemary Rogers.