Hour of the Rose

Hour of the Rose

5.0 4
by Christina Skye
     
 

Secrets gather in the shadows of Britain's Draycott Abbey-intrigues of evil, unscrupulous men...and the astonishing mysteries of a star-crossed romance from centuries past.Dashing ex-Royal Marine Michael Burke has come to Draycott to unmask a treacherous conspiracy. Kelly Hamilton, a beautiful archeologist gifted with second sight, is searching for a priceless

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Overview

Secrets gather in the shadows of Britain's Draycott Abbey-intrigues of evil, unscrupulous men...and the astonishing mysteries of a star-crossed romance from centuries past.Dashing ex-Royal Marine Michael Burke has come to Draycott to unmask a treacherous conspiracy. Kelly Hamilton, a beautiful archeologist gifted with second sight, is searching for a priceless historical relic. But soon both are caught up in the magic of the moon-drenched abbey-unexpectedly united in desire and sensuous need...as they are drawn deeper and deeper into a dangerous web of deceit and betrayal. For only Michael and Kelly hold the key to the future and the past. And only their bold new passion can lay the abbey's ghosts to rest...by fulfilling the ancient promise of a rapturous love reborn.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380773855
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/28/2004
Series:
Draycott Abbey Series
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUEThe great feline sat motionless on the parapet, his body a slash of shadow against the rising moon. Below him the granite walls of Draycott Abbey stood silent, impassive. Coldly vigilant.Waiting.Just as the great cat waited.A cloud danced before the moon. Somewhere in the deep woods a small animal cried out and made a reckless dash for safety.But the night held no safety, as the creature's tormented cry revealed, drifting on the cool, still air.The cat's ears pricked forward. Slitted amber eyes probed the darkness.There was no whisper beyond the breeze ruffling the heavy centifolia roses at the abbey's ancient base. No noise but the gurgle of the moat's silver waters, ever restless, ever changing, like the fortunes of the warriors who had fought to hold these lands for twenty generations and more.Far out on the rolling downs, past the black reeds of the Witch's Pool, past the sharp face of the cliff known as Lyon's Leap, a sound rent the air, bell-like, unforgettable, the fine clang of purest gold.The cat eased forward and began to purr.He raised his head and sent a low, plaintive cry to the moon.To the night. To the shadow that called to him from inside the abbey.The centuries made no difference. Gideon had obeyed before and would obey again. Some laws had no rules, no limits, no bounds, nor anything that mortals knew as months, days, or years.And so it was for the love between cat and master, ghost and friend.The leaves tossed. Deep in the night a church bell rang twelve clear strokes-and then one more, faint and haunting. Ineffably sad.And on that sound, a shadow stepped from a portrait in the Long Gallery. Empty space shuddered and gave way to broad shoulders and achiselled jaw. To black velvet and white lace cuffs that danced in an unseen wind.To the brooding features of the eighth Viscount Draycott, the abbey's ghostly guardian, who now materialized on the abbey's parapets, his dark eyes burning.He was a man who had died two hundred years before.His face was hard, too strong for common beauty. Like the abbey's weathered granite, it was marked by years of war and callous betrayal. The hands were powerful-yet exquisite in their care as they eased over Gideon's sleek gray fur.Guardians, these two had been. Together for decades. Nay, for centuries. And guardians they would be, through dangers yet unseen.The cat's black-slitted eyes gleamed in the moonlight. His cocked head held a question for the figure standing before him."You felt it too, did you, old friend?" The Draycott ghost stared out over the parapets, studying the abbey's hills and fields, a patchwork of black and silver in the moonlight. "Something not as it should be. Something out there." The proud, sensual lips frowned. "Whether man or beast or dark intent, I cannot say. And that strange, haunting sound. . ."Again it came, the feeling that something was wrong.The cat eased up onto black-tipped paws. He crooned a question deep in his throat."Nicholas? Draycott's twelfth viscount is well, never fear. At this moment he lies sound in his bed." The ghost laughed dryly. "Though not asleep."The cat's gray tail twitched."His wife? Beside him, I should imagine." The full lips curved. "Like her devoted husband, not sleeping either." He turned away, his face cast into hard profile. Half was bathed with cool silver light; the other brooded featureless, trapped in a darkness and a distance that no human mind could comprehend.The ghost of Draycott Abbey cast out his spectral, sentient net. Past tree and stone he searched, over rich green earth and fragrant roses he knew bud by brilliant bud.He felt it instantly.Danger.It mocked him, an affront to every solemn vow that kept him locked in this ancient place.Phantom lace fluttered in a phantom breeze. Gideon meowed as the long-dead eighth viscount turned and began to pace the cold stones. "Pull well have I loved this abbey, Gideon. Through war and strife, through the sway of kings and traitors have I guarded these weathered walls." He frowned. Deep lines scored his brow and cheeks. "But this danger is different, stranger than any we have known before." He peered out into the midnight black of hill and tree.And saw a woman whose hair streamed red gold in a cloud, her eyes wide with fear. Behind her were lights, ten times ten, and a hatred that coiled through the ancient air like smoke.Her hand stretched out to him. Her eyes held a wild plea for help.Frowning, Adrian moved into the glowing vision, fighting to reach her.But not of this time she was, perhaps not even of this world.And then she vanished as quickly as she had come, leaving behind only the dry scrape of dead leaves on cord stone."I've lost her, Gideon." The black-clad figure cursed harshly.The great cat meowed, brushing against his master's booted feet.High overhead a shooting star flamed over the dark hills, a pinpoint of silver against the velvet sky.Then the light went out.And in its passing something cold and face less, an evil long centuries old, crept forward in silence toward the sleeping abbey. Copyright ) 1994 by Roberta Helmer

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What People are saying about this

Virginia Henley
A tour-de-force.
Brenda Joyce
One of the best books of the year...impossible to put down.

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