A Devil's Bargain [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Emma Wildes
eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
eBook Description: Lady Isabelle is a pawn in a game where she doesn't even know the rules. When she finds herself in the hands of her father's worst enemy, she might just lose her very soul to a man who offers her a devil's bargain. With limited choices, she accepts Lord Devon's proposition. As captor and seducer, he steals everything from her, maybe even her heart. He's jaded, lost, and bitter. Devon Austin knows his faults, just as much as he knows his innocence. When he exacts revenge on the daughter of an old adversary, he expects to feel freed of his burdens. Instead he finds himself captive, chained by her beauty and sensuality, caught in his own web of retaliation. When Isabelle insists he accompany her back to England to try and clear his name, he yields to the insanity, knowing if he loses her, he might be doomed to hell... [Erotic Historical Romance: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./Siren Classic, Published: 2008, 2008
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2009
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62 Reader Ratings:
"Gold Star Award--Orgasmic: Lady Isabelle and Lord Devon touched my heart and thrilled my senses. I was engrossed in the characters I quickly came to love, entertained by every nuance of the plot, and stimulated intellectually and sexually by the extraordinary bond between Isabelle and Devon...I loved A Devil's Bargain so much that I reread the story as soon as I'd finished and would still enjoy reading it again and again. I loved this sensual love story, as it perfectly meshed within an exciting adventure of pirates, exiled nobility, murder, treachery, danger, sensual awakening and triumphant love. A Devil's Bargain brought me into the action and allowed me to experience the excitement as well. That is why I feel certain this book is worthy of a Gold Star Award."--Karen Haas, Just Erotic Romance Reviews
"5 Angels: A Devil's Bargain is every erotic pirate fantasy come to life. The auction scene is a provocative yet tasteful blend of light bondage and voyeurism, starting the story off with a bang. Devon is dark and tortured and delicious. Isabelle is a woman determined to make the best of things. And things do get very, very good. The romance story is solid, the sex scenes sizzle and the characters intrigue. A Devil's Bargain is a perfect tropical getaway."--Kimber, Fallen Angel Reviews
"4.5 Cherries: Ms. Wildes writes a steamy novella, packed with action and intrigue. If you want a steamy historical, with a tall, dark, and handsome hero and a cunning heroine, the grab a copy of A Devil's Bargain."--Tiger Lily, Whipped Cream Reviews
The Caribbean, 1810
Her head high, Lady Isabelle Edwards gazed at the crowd from the small wooden platform. The light ocean breeze gently tugged at the short hem of her chemise, which was her only item of clothing, and brushed her bare aching arms. Since her wrists were bound together behind her back and had been for hours, the muscles in her shoulders had started to protest. Although she had done her best to ignore it, the strain was beginning to take its toll.
Almost as if from a great distance, she could hear the auctioneer begin the bidding.
No, that wasn't correct, she thought in bitter despair. For her body.
It would have been better, in retrospect, to have jumped overboard when the ship she was sailing on to America had been stopped by pirates. In her ignorance, she had thought they would just rob her, like they had most of the other passengers. Instead, they had taken her captive, brought her to this barbaric island, and now she was being sold like a side of beef.
God help me...
"Look at this," the small man next to her on the platform crooned. He lifted a fistful of her long loose hair and held it up in the glaring sunlight. "'Tis like the finest gold and soft as silk."
The crowd made a universal appreciative noise and several more bids rang out. Isabelle instinctively jerked away, the movement causing several chuckles and catcalls. The auctioneer simply grinned, showing crooked, stained teeth through his scraggly beard.
"A spirited lass, to be sure, and a fine English lady to boot!" He called out, "Look at her. Have you ever seen such smooth skin? Her eyes are as blue as the deep sea, and this is as fine a pair of tits as I've ever seen, lads! What say you?"
With a flourish and a theatrical swagger, the odious little man pulled free the ribbon at her bodice, letting it gape open.
Humiliation streaked through her entire body as the gaze of every male in the crowd, which consisted of a hundred at least, fastened on her bared breasts. It was as if she could feel their fingers groping at her flesh and she fought a surge of both dizziness and nausea.
The highest bid so far was from a tall woman of African descent that stood right in front of the platform, her dark skin glistening in the bright sunlight. Almost immediately other offers were made, the price inching higher. Most of the interested throng was male, but here and there were a few women, most of them dressed in dubiously low-cut gowns.
"Five hundred in gold."
The words weren't said loudly, but there was a certain authority in the voice that spoke that made it heard even above the murmurs and jeers.
"Five hundred," the auctioneer crowed. "I've got an offer of five hundred from Mr. Austin."
"I'll give six." Toward the back of the crowd someone countered.
"A thousand then for the fine English lady." The man who spoke was tall, and Isabelle had no trouble picking him out because he towered over everyone else. Tanned and dark-haired, he had an almost bored look on his face, which made his generous offer a bit surprising.
That sum seemed to momentarily silence the crowd, and though there were a few mutters, no one else said anything. The auctioneer seemed satisfied and nodded. "Sold to Austin then, for one thousand in gold. Bring out the next girl."
It couldn't be real, Isabelle thought, her heart pounding, her eyelids pricking with tears. Someone hadn't just purchased her like one would obtain a horse or a piece of furniture. But sure enough, the tall man shouldered his way through the milling collection of people, and when he reached the makeshift platform, he reached up and grasped her waist, lifting her down and setting her on her bare feet on the ground. She stared into a pair of eyes the color of a winter sky.
"Come," he said curtly and began to walk away off down the busy street.
Isabelle stared at his broad back in consternation, but truthfully, there didn't seem anything to do but obey. With her hands tied, and stuck on an island God knew where, trying to escape seemed a ludicrous notion.
The little harbor town looked both squalid and prosperous at the same time, white-washed buildings and winding streets both quaint and charming, but there was refuse everywhere and rats freely roamed among the garbage. Hard pressed to keep up with the long strides of her escort, her bodice still gaping open, Isabelle followed as best she could but still lagged behind. People looked her as she hurried along, particularly the men, but it was a testament to the fact she was not in a place where regular law and order reigned. A half-dressed, half-bound woman walking down the street was interesting, but it apparently was not remarkable enough for anyone to offer help.
After a few moments, she called out in breathless irritation, "You are going too fast, sir."
He paused in the dirty street and turned around. Sunlight gleamed off his raven hair, worn loose and to his shoulders. In a white shirt casually open at the throat, black breeches, and worn boots, he rather looked like a buccaneer right down to the formidable knife strapped to his lean waist. Even his features, though a bit hard, were actually very handsome: a straight nose, dark downy brows, and a well-shaped mouth that was currently a tight, flat line of either annoyance or impatience. Not that she cared about that in the least. Right now her arms positively screamed in protest and her feet were covered in filth.
She was alone, frightened, miserable, and apparently the property of this grim stranger. "Please untie my hands and if you would walk a little slower, I would appreciate it."
At the unmistakable wobble in her voice, his brow lifted up in a sardonic arch. "A thousand pardons for my inconsideration, my lady. Turn around." With almost frightening speed and precision, he drew the knife and slashed the ropes.
The first she thing she did was refasten her bodice, acutely aware he watched her fumbling effort to tie the ribbon. "Thank you."
The only acknowledgment she received was the slight narrowing of those icy gray eyes. "Stay close to me," he said abruptly. "In case you haven't noticed, this is not Mayfair, Lady Isabelle, and you are a particularly tasty morsel."
"You know who I am?" she asked.
In answer, he rudely turned and began to walk away again.
Devon Austin lifted the girl onto his horse and swung up behind her with an inward sense of triumph. Her fair hair glimmered in the bright, tropical sunlight, a thousand shades of gold from amber to pale platinum, and as he settled his arms around her and took up the reins, he could feel the soft, tempting curve of her bottom against his thighs.
Finally, the devil's own luck turned in his favor.
It was about time.
When he'd heard the rumor of the beautiful daughter of an English earl being taken captive and offered for sale, it had stirred some ridiculous remnant of an honor he thought long since destroyed. When he heard her actual identity, that honor slipped back into the dark hole that was his soul and something else entirely drew him to the auction at the wharf.
Anyone who sailed the seas believed in fate, and certainly he was no exception. That Lord Buckland's daughter should end up in his admittedly nefarious clutches was one of those bizarre twists of life that cannot be explained.
He guided his mount out of town and felt relieved the moment they left the smells and bustle behind. It was a pleasant afternoon, not as hot and humid as the past week, and he urged his horse to canter along the beach road, enjoying the breeze on his face. His passenger clutched his arm with small, imploring hands for balance as they rode, her barely clothed body light against him. Lady Isabelle was slender, but the little toad of an auctioneer was right about one thing, Devon thought as his gaze strayed to where her full breasts swayed under the thin material of her chemise. She had very nice tits.
All of her, in fact, seemed to be more than delightful.
Good. That should make ruining her a very pleasant proposition indeed.
"May I ask where we are going, sir?"
The question was asked with impressive dignity for someone so obviously out of their depth and undoubtedly apprehensive over their future. Devon could feel her slim body quiver in a slight shiver.
"I have a house not far from here," he told her with as little inflection in his voice as possible. "This island is as pretty a place to live as any I have seen, once--of course--you are away from town."
"Perhaps." Her features were delicate, and the blue of her long-lashed eyes rivaled the sparkling waters of the turquoise sea. She gave a small muffled laugh that had obviously nothing to do with mirth. "Normally I suppose I would find this place lovely, but as things are..."
He slowed his mount as they skirted several stand of palm trees. He spoke slowly and deliberately. "But under the circumstances you merely wish to know why I bought you and what I intend to do with you."
"Do you blame me?"
At that soft, half-whispered question, he glanced down at the woman in front of him. Half-turned so she sat sideways on the saddle in her current state of undress, disheveled, with dirty feet and a smudge on one porcelain cheek, she nonetheless managed to have an aura of dignity despite the fact he felt her tremble again.
"No," he agreed coolly, "I don't blame you. But I think the very first thing you need to resign yourself to, Lady Isabelle, is that all the rules you are used to are suspended here. Forget civilization, forget drawing room manners and gentlemen on their knees with flowers in hand. I am not a gentleman--don't make the mistake of expecting anything from me of that sort. If that is clear between us from the start, we will deal better with each other."
They passed a bank of pink blooms that hung in a mass over a half-decayed wall of some hapless plantation home that was probably destroyed by a hurricane years ago. She didn't even seem to notice the brilliant color or sweet fragrance but stared up at him. "Deal with each other in what way?"
"What would be your guess?" Devon lifted his brows a fraction.
She might be young and have led a sheltered life, but the color that swept into her face told him she wasn't completely naïve. She stammered, "One of the other young ladies that was captured thought most of the men there wanted to purchase a ... mistress. But there were women bidding also, so I thought maybe you might need a maid, or a cook..."
"The women bidding were brothel owners wanting to obtain new whores for their profitable establishments, my lady. You would have been a most popular attraction, I'm sure."
"Brothels?" The color drained abruptly from her face. "Dear God. What kind of horrible place is this?"
"I do not frequent them myself, but I'm told many of the girls service close to twenty men a day. And do not fool yourself. White slavery is not endemic to this small part of the world. London has its share of houses of ill-repute. You've just been sheltered from knowing they exist."
The horror in her lovely eyes made him feel a twinge of guilt, though what he said was perfectly true. He added neutrally, "Quite frankly, I have a hard time imagining you on your hands and knees scrubbing a floor. I would be equally surprised if a pampered aristocratic lady could whip up a culinary delight, so in direct answer to your question, no, I do not need a maid or a cook."
"Why would you need to purchase a woman for that?" she asked with what seemed to be flattering but panicked sincerity. "You are young and handsome enough that surely--"
"I'm partial to blondes," he interrupted smoothly, "and this will be convenient. I like the idea of you being available to me at all times. Like any man, I have needs that I think you can satisfy very well."
The very beautiful Lady Isabelle seemed to be struck speechless by that bland declaration.
The house came into view, set back from the sea by a long roll of beach, the park around it dotted with palms and other tropical plants that gave the grounds a lush, wild feel. Stately and large, the structure was made of brick and timber, with long wide verandas on both the first and second story and wide sets of French doors open to the ocean breeze. Devon guided his horse up the long drive and a young boy came back from the stables at his whistle. Dismounting, he lifted his reluctant guest from the saddle and led her inside with his fingers firmly clasped around her cold ones.
His housekeeper, Renata, a mulatto with beautiful coffee colored skin and big dark eyes, glided across the foyer. She bowed as she always did even though he'd told her to dispense with that formality years ago.
"This is Lady Isabelle," Devon told her succinctly. "She needs a bath and I would guess something decent to eat."
Renata gave him a glimmering look of consternation, and it was no wonder, for he guarded his privacy, and certainly never had he brought home a stray aristocratic English lady in a state of almost complete undress.
Yes, the situation was unique in every way and he had all intentions of taking advantage of it.
"Put her in my room," he said with a dark smile. "That is where she'll be sleeping."
That's where he'd fuck her.