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Just One Touch

( 6 )

Overview

From the wonderfully romantic and creative pen of Debra Mullins, here is an exciting and sensuous tale about two people who overcome a dark past to find an everlasting love.

The Groom: Rogan Hunt has no need for a wife. After a stint in prison, he is only concerned with rebuilding the coffers of his estates. But then the Duke of Belvingham makes him an offer only a fool would refuse .

The Bride: Lady Caroline Ware is horrified when her father ...

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Just One Touch

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Overview

From the wonderfully romantic and creative pen of Debra Mullins, here is an exciting and sensuous tale about two people who overcome a dark past to find an everlasting love.

The Groom: Rogan Hunt has no need for a wife. After a stint in prison, he is only concerned with rebuilding the coffers of his estates. But then the Duke of Belvingham makes him an offer only a fool would refuse .

The Bride: Lady Caroline Ware is horrified when her father arranges her marriage with a man said to have a wild temper and an even wilder reputation. But the Duke is dying, and Caroline has no choice but to agree.

The Marriage: Caroline could not have imagined that her husband would be so tender, so warm, so . sensual. Rogan was expecting a meek and timid wife, but instead Caroline is vibrant, charming and . passionate. Will this marriage turn into something they have secretly hoped it would be? Or will the real reason behind it finally come to light, destroying them both?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060561673
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Series: Avon Romantic Treasures Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Debra Mullins is the author of several historical romances for Avon Books. Her work has been nominated for the Golden Heart and RITA® Awards from Romance Writers of America and the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers. In 2003, she won the Golden Leaf Award from NJ Romance Writers for her book A Necessary Bride. A native of the east coast, she now lives in California.

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First Chapter

Just One Touch

Chapter One

Rage tore at him like a biting wind. He leaned over the horse's neck, the pounding of his mount's galloping hooves keeping rhythm with his thundering heart. Beneath the thin skin of civility, fury and frustration bubbled in a dangerous elixir that drowned out reason.

He would rebuild what had been stolen from him.

Moonlight lit the way as man and horse skimmed the boundaries of his neighbor's vast estate. Inside the elegant manor house, the duke slept peacefully, unaware that he held the key to a man's dreams -- his very existence -- in his hands.

The duke had no agenda; refusing Rogan's offer had been merely a matter of practicality, not a personal victory, and Rogan would not blame him for it. But the beast inside him howled for justice.

Leashing the beast was never easy. Deliberately, Rogan opened his senses to the land around him, sucking the fresh, cool air into his lungs, letting it serve as a calming balm to his boiling temper. The shadows of the bushes and trees surrounded him like old friends, and the darkness enfolded him like a warm cloak. In the sky, the moon shone like a candle left burning, and the stars glittered.

The beast slunk back into the dark recesses of his mind, snarling and reluctant, but obedient.

And beneath him, the stallion stretched its legs, eager to chase away the whispering of Rogan Hunt's demons.


Lady Caroline Ware tucked her cloak more closely about her and watched through the coach's window as the moonlit countryside rushed past. The urgent heyah of Denton the coachman and the crack of his whip told her he was doing his best to honor her request that they arrive home with all possible speed.

She glanced around the dark, empty coach and suppressed a shiver, wishing she hadn't sent the footman and her abigail and the guards home. But Mrs. Trenton's childbirth had taken hours longer than expected, and she hadn't wanted the servants to be away from their families for so long. All had gone home to their children while Caroline stayed at the Trenton home and kept her promise to widowed Mrs. Trenton that she would watch over the woman's other offspring during the birth.

She had expected to be home by dinner.

But Mrs. Trenton's ninth childbirth had developed complications, and so Caroline had stayed until nearly midnight to help Dr. Raines deliver the healthy baby girl.

The coach jolted, and she groaned as her sore back muscles protested. She huddled deeper into her cloak, hating the night, but hating far worse the fear that made her distrust every shadow. It had been five years, and still she could not shake the legacy her tormenters had left her.

Tired and achy from assisting with the birth, she sniffed back the tears that threatened, swallowed despair that she would never be able to have a normal life.

A husband.

Children.

A life of contentment where she would never have to be afraid again.

She wanted that, wanted it so much she was willing to climb mountains and swim the seas to have it. But the fear always stopped her. That craven, crippling dread of being touched. The panic that choked her and turned her into a whimpering, frantic animal.

How could she ever have children if she couldn't bear the simplest touch of a man?

The coach jerked to a stop. Unprepared, she slid to the floor in a tangle of skirts and cloak.

"Stand and deliver!"

Her blood froze. Highwaymen? Impossible!

Someone shouted. Denton's voice.

The crack of a pistol echoed around her, vibrated through the coach. A soft thud sounded from outside.

Caroline cried out and scurried back into her seat, squeezing herself into the farthest corner of the coach. Her hair began to slip its anchorings, and she impatiently plucked out the hairpins, clutching them with white-knuckled fingers.

Footsteps. She huddled in her cloak, tried to make herself as small as possible. Then the door jerked open, and a brigand grinned at her, his uneven teeth a dull white in the moonlight. "Well, well. Good evenin', milady."

He reached for her and grabbed a piece of her skirt, dragging her toward him. Laughing.

He was laughing at her, amused by her helplessness.

Rage exploded out of nowhere.

She jabbed his hand with her hairpins. He howled as blood spurted, and he dropped her skirt. She scurried across the seat to the other door. He grabbed for her ankle, but she kicked him as hard as she could in the chest. He fell backward with a yell of surprise.

She managed to open the door, still clutching some of the pins in her hand. She slid from the coach, hesitated when she realized her only option for escape was the dark woods at the side of the road. A scuffling sound from the other side of the coach decided her, and she sprinted toward the woods.

An arm hooked around her waist.

"Just a moment now." The highwayman yanked her back against him, his breath ripe with ale and poor dental habits. "You're to come with us, milady."

Terror stopped her breath at the words. Please God, not again!

The brigand hauled her toward the coach like a sack of meal, her feet dragging on the ground.

Not again. Fury rose behind the words. Never again.

She jabbed upward. A yowl of pain rewarded her as the hairpins found a target in the villain's eye. He dropped her and clutched at his wound, blood seeping from between his fingers. She scrambled away from him on her hands and knees, then stumbled to her feet and raced for the woods.

Just One Touch. Copyright © by Debra Mullins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2005

    Wonderfully written

    I loved this book and would recomend it to all romance readers. While it was immensely sad it was great at the same time. I couldn't put it down. I finished it so much faster than some of the other books I've read it was just that good.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    wonderful Regency romance

    The Duke knows he is dying and has one worry the welfare of his adult daughter Caroline. Years ago she was abducted and though rescued fears the touch of a man. When the Duke meets Rogan Hunt he feels he has found an honorable man who will see to the welfare of his beloved Caroline after he dies. He learns Rogan is obsessed with restoring the honor and reputation to his family name, which starts with money to pay off debts. The Duke offers a marriage of convenience in which Rogan takes care of Caroline and in return will have the funds needed to achieve his objective. Rogan agrees and so does Caroline when her dad makes it a death wish vow.--- To her surprise, her spouse proves gentle, caring and patient with her. Rogan slowly gets her used to his tender touch and soon this couple falls in love. However, an unknown villain does not want this pair to make it as he has plans for the estates; this person has killed and will do so again to accomplish what he desires.--- Though the machinations of the villain add suspense, this takes away from a wonderful Regency romance starring two delightful protagonists. Rogan is a gentle person except when it comes to anyone harming his beloved; then he turns into a wild avenger. Caroline is a fabulous lead character whose fear of men makes her atypical of the females who star in sub-genre novels. Debra Mullins provides a wonderful historical romantic suspense that is at its best when a tender Rogan slowly wins over the heart and body of his scarred spouse.--- Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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