Hidden Heart

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When her eccentric naturalist father dies on the upper reaches of the Amazon, young Lady Tess Collier sets out to follow his last wishes: return to England and marry well. But Tess, who had accompanied her father on his expeditions since childhood, is as unconventional as she is beautiful.

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The Hidden Heart

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When her eccentric naturalist father dies on the upper reaches of the Amazon, young Lady Tess Collier sets out to follow his last wishes: return to England and marry well. But Tess, who had accompanied her father on his expeditions since childhood, is as unconventional as she is beautiful.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When her eccentric naturalist father dies on the upper reaches of the Amazon, young Lady Tess Collier sets out to follow his last wishes: return to England and marry well. But Tess, who had accompanied her father on his expeditions since childhood, is as unconventional as she is beautiful. She falls in love with Gryphon Meridon, a sometime privateer and blockade runner who is afflicted with a serious lack of selfworth that stems from a childhood tragedy. Although he and Tess share one rapturous kiss, he believes himself unworthy of her. Tess then turns to Stephen Eliot, who has more than enough skeletons rattling around the closets of his estate. Gryphon eventually returns to save Tess from Stephen. And once Gryphon sheds his neurosesalong with his clothesthis book proves most satisfying. (April)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380750085
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Series: Avon Romance Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 805,277
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Kinsale is a winner and multiple nominee for the Best Book of the Year award given by the Romance Writers of America. She became a romance writer after six years as a geologist — a career which consisted of getting out of bed in the middle of the night and driving hundreds of miles alone across west Texas to sit at drilling rigs, wear a hard hat, and attempt to boss around oil-covered males considerably larger than herself. This, she decided, was pushing her luck. So she gave all that up to sit in a chair and stare into space for long periods of time, attempting to figure out What-Happens-Next. She and her husband David currently divide their time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Texas.

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First Chapter

The Hidden Heart

Chatper One

In the warm December downpour, Gryphon Meridon rubbed rain off his aristocratic nose with a gesture that spoke less of aristocracy than of common disgust. If he neglected to slam the flimsy door of the Santa María de Belém do Gran Pará customhouse behind him, it was more from a fear that the rotting barrier would fall off its hinges in his hand than from any gentler sensibilities. He doffed a shapeless and dripping hat and shook his head, flinging sparkling droplets from a wild cut of curls that were tarnished to a wet bronze and plastered to his forehead.

With the aid of a liberal dose of Mexican silver, he'd just finished registering his ship in port -- the Arcanum, out of Liverpool, owned and commanded by Captain G. Frost. No matter that each of those facts was a bald-faced lie, as long as they agreed with the papers. Captain Frost he was to the world at the moment, and the name passed off his tongue as if it were completely his own.

He avoided a yawning puddle at the foot of the steps, straddling it in one easy stride that took him into the waterlogged, unpaved street. His ship was not even visible through the misting rain, though she was docked at the end of the wharf just in front of him. He swore morosely, hoping his chief mate was coping with the new crew. Grady would be doing his tyrannical best to keep the unfamiliar men working, but they were a damned sorry lot.

"Normal" was not a term Gryf or anyone else would have applied to Arcanum's typical operations; but the ship's current situation was certainly far from her standard. Well above it, most would say, but Gryf wasn't so sure of that. True, they were running with a full crew of twenty-three this time, instead of the usual ten that included Gryf himself and Grady, but the jailbait that made up the difference had turned out to be worse than nothing.

It was all, of course, for Her Delicate Highness, Lady Terese Collier. In the space of two months, Gryf had found his clipper transformed from a hired blockade-runner into a vessel that resembled nothing so much as an elegant floating nursery.

Up until this quixotic mission, he had been reasonably happy working for the eccentric Earl of Morrow. The earl's charter had been a lucky break for Gryf. Instead of the Arcanum, Morrow could have hired one of the needle-fast steamers that were being specially built to run the Yankee gauntlet; he probably would have, except what the earl had in mind amounted to mercy calls. He wasn't interested in quadrupled profits. He simply wanted to give the cargo away, to make sure his Rebel friends didn't starve behind the line. There weren't many takers for a deal like that, when there was real money to be made at the same degree of risk.

But that particular enterprise was over now. Gryf had made his appointed port in Nassau, looking for further instructions, hungry for more work even though the blockade was beginning to tighten dangerously. In the back of his mind had been the hope that the earl might even keep him on after the war. It would have been the answer to half a lifetime of prayer, to find a permanent charter. A miracle, to know where their next mouthful would come from. At twenty-five, Gryf had forgotten what that kind of security felt like -- could not even imagine it anymore, so that he was not really disappointed, he told himself, that it hadn't worked out.

The earl's Nassau agent had offered Gryf one last job. No, that was perhaps too gentle a term. He had insisted. A letter had arrived from Brazil -- the earl was dead; the earl's daughter wanted to go home. The agent had looked over the Arcanum and pronounced her a perfectly satisfactory conveyance, with a few improvements. Gryf had been willing, until he heard the going rate, and who was getting the bill for the "improvements."

So they'd simply blackmailed him. It was easy enough: a known blockade-runner, a discreet word to the Yanks, and he was nothing but floating cinders. Lord Morrow had paid fair and not threatened. He had been a gentleman. His solicitors and agents were another matter.

As was his daughter.

Gryf hunched deeper into his oilskins. He was uneasy, out of his depth in this new scenario, with a crew that seemed ludicrously huge and useless and a ship he hardly recognized himself, with all the new decoration. They would put Lady Collier in the captain's cabin, a thought which made Gryf ache inside, with an old and barely perceptible pain. It was stupid, that pain, and pointless. The Arcanum had been fast and new and sailed under her true name once, years ago, before pirates had lured her into ambush and left her a floating hulk mainly filled with dead. On that fatal voyage the captain's cabin had been given up to Gryf's mother and father, and his two pretty sisters. In Gryf's mind it would always be theirs. Just as the Arcanum or Aurora or Antiope would always be the Arcturus to him. He slept forward with Grady, away from those ghosts, and kept his charts on the mess table.

Stupid, too, how that name still could pull at his heart, make it swell a little in foolish pride. Arcturus. He kicked at a puddle in self-disgust. Sentimental tripe. His weakness, his damnable softness, was that he needed something to love and all he had left were Grady and the ship. What he would be now, without his old friend and the Arcturus, Gryf could not imagine. And he never intended to find out.

He quickened his pace, thinking of wet baggage and reduced profits and what they might look for next, after this delivery was complete ...

The Hidden Heart. Copyright © by Laura Kinsale. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Laura Kinsale never disappoints me.

    In her usual style, Laura Kinsale keeps you guessing as to how the two lovers will ever finally see through each other's defenses and realize there's really nothing to stop them from just loving each other. She is an expert in keeping her readers frustrated, and Tess and Gryphon don't disappoint. Her characters wheedle their way into your heart, then you want to yell at them to stop being so stubborn and putting obstacles up between them. Of course you know she will give you the perfect ending. Her characters are never simple, her plot is never trivial, and her writing is superb! I can't wait for her next book. I have every one I've been able to find, and I've loved every one! I devour them as fast as I can, but at the same time, never want them to end.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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