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A Lady at Last (De Warenne Dynasty Series)
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A Lady at Last (De Warenne Dynasty Series)

4.2 66
by Brenda Joyce

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Raised as a pirate's daughter, Amanda Carre has not been tutored in the finer social graces. Alone in the world, she has never depended on anyone, until fate intervenes when Cliff de Warenne rescues her from a mob at her father's hanging. Now she must set sail for England to find the mother she never knew, and her chaperone is an infamous ladies' man….



Raised as a pirate's daughter, Amanda Carre has not been tutored in the finer social graces. Alone in the world, she has never depended on anyone, until fate intervenes when Cliff de Warenne rescues her from a mob at her father's hanging. Now she must set sail for England to find the mother she never knew, and her chaperone is an infamous ladies' man….

The greatest gentleman privateer of his era, Cliff knows honor demands that he see this beautiful wild child to London and into her socialite mother's arms. He's aware that Amanda is utterly unprepared for a debut in London's ton, so his only recourse is to become her guardian and champion her transformation into a lady—and find her a suitable match. But with every passing moment it becomes harder to deny his jealousy and ire—until Amanda makes her stunning debut, a lady at last. And when his passion is finally released, their love can no longer be denied.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The latest from Joyce offers readers a passionate, swashbuckling voyage in her newest addition to the De Warenne dynasty series. This installment showcases Cliff De Warenne, third son to the earl of Adare, gentleman, privateer, notorious lady's man and, most recently, rescuer of damsels in distress. One such damsel, free spirit Amanda Carre, is left alone in Jamaica to face an angry mob after her father is hanged for piracy. The strong-willed beauty turns to De Warenne to sail her to London for a reunion with a mother she cannot remember and a rigid society she feels certain will scorn her. On the course of their stormy voyage, Cliff instructs Amanda in the art of becoming a lady, determined that she make a successful debut and land a good husband. Along the way, Amanda recognizes that her feelings toward her captain go beyond mere gratitude, and Cliff wonders if his fierce loyalty to the young woman runs deeper than he dares to acknowledge. Romance veteran Joyce brings her keen sense of humor and storytelling prowess to bear on her witty, fully formed characters. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
De Warenne Dynasty Series
Product dimensions:
4.21(w) x 6.62(h) x 1.02(d)

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Read an Excerpt

King's House; June 20, 1820

HEWAS renowned as the greatest gentleman privateer of his era, an accolade that amused him no end. Gentleman and privateer were two words that should never be uttered in the same sentence, even if he was an exception to that rule. Cliff de Warenne, third and youngest son of the earl of Adare, stared at the newly constructed hanging block, unsmiling. While it was true that he had yet to lose a battle or his quarry, he did not take death lightly. He estimated that he had already used up at least six lives, and hoped he had at least three left.

A hanging always brought out the biggest crowd. Every rogue and planter, every lady and whore, were flocking into the city to watch the pirate hang. Tomorrow they would be breathless with anticipation and excitement. There would be applause when the pirate's neck was broken with a loud, jarring snap. There would be cheers.

A tall, towering man with tawny, too-long, sun-streaked hair and a bronze complexion, Cliff had the brilliant blue eyes the de Warenne men were famous for. He was clad casually in high boots, pale white doeskin breeches and a fine linen shirt, but he was heavily armed. Even in polite society he kept a dagger in his belt, a stiletto in his boot, for he had gained his fortune the hard way, and he had made his share of enemies. Besides, in the islands, he had no time for fashion.

Cliff realized that he was late for his appointment with the colonial governor. But several fashionably dressed ladies were just entering the square, one a gorgeous beauty. They glanced his way, whispering excitedly. He saw that they were on their way to the scaffolding to inspect the site oftomorrow's hanging. Under usual circumstances, he would mark one for his bed, but he could scent their bloodlust and he was frankly disgusted by it.

The imposing entrance of King's House was directly behind him as he watched the three women stroll to the hanging block. The incessant fascination of the elegant ladies of the ton and island society was convenient; like all the de Warenne men, he was very virile. He recognized the blond, the wife of a gentleman planter he knew well, but the dark beauty was undoubtedly new to the island. She smiled at him, clearly aware of who and what he was, and as clearly offering him her services, should he wish to accept them.

He did not. He nodded politely at her and she held his gaze before turning away. He was a nobleman and a legitimate merchantman, when he was not accepting letters of marque, but, the whispers of "rogue" and "rover" wafted after him anyway. He had even been called a pirate by one particularly passionate lover. The truth was, even having been raised a gentleman, he was more at home in Spanishtown than Dublin, in Kingston than London, and he made no secret of it. When he was on the deck of his ship in the midst of the hunt, no man could possibly be a gentleman. Gentility meant death.

But he had never cared about the whispers. He had made his life into exactly what he wished, without his father's helping hand, and he had earned his reputation as one of the greatest masters of the sea. Although he always yearned for Ireland, the loveliest place in the world, it was on the main that he was free. Even at the earl's estate, surrounded by the family he cherished, he was aware that he was not at all like his two brothers—the heir and the spare. Compared to his land-and-duty-bound brothers, he was very much a buccaneer. Society accused him of being different, an eccentric and an outsider, and they were right.

Just before Cliff turned to enter King's House, two more ladies met with the trio, the crowd in the square growing. A gentleman whom he recognized as a successful Kingston merchant had joined the ladies, as had a few sailors.

"Hope he's enjoyin'his last meal," one of the sailors laughed.

"Is it true he slit the throat of an English naval officer?" one of the women gasped. "And painted his cabin with the blood?"

"It's an old pirate tradition," the sailor replied, grinning. Cliff rolled his eyes at the absurd accusation.

"Do they hang many pirates here?" the beauty asked breathlessly.

Cliff turned away. The hanging was going to be a circus, he thought grimly.

And the irony of it all was that Rodney Carre was one of the least menacing and most unsuccessful rovers at sea; he would hang because Governor Woods was determined to set an example any way that he could. Carre's crimes were pitiful in comparison to those of the ruthless Cuban rovers now raging in the Caribbean, but Carre was the one inept enough to have been caught.

He knew the man, but not well. Carre was frequently in Kingston Harbor to careen his ship or unload his goods, and Cliff's island home, Windsong, was on the northwest end of Harbor Street. They'd exchanged only a few dozen words in the past dozen years, and usually merely nodded at one another in passing. He had no real reason to be dismayed over Carre's fate.

"And the pirate's daughter?" one of the women asked excitedly. "Will they hang her, too?"

"La Sauvage?" The gentleman spoke. "She hasn't been captured. And beside, I don't think anyone on this island would accuse her of a crime."

Cliff realized why he was so disturbed. Carre was leaving behind a daughter. She was too young to be charged with piracy, even if she had sailed with her father.

It was not really his affair, he thought grimly as he turned back to King's House. Yet he recalled her vividly now, for he had glimpsed her from time to time, riding the waves like a porpoise in nothing but a chemise or standing boldly in the bow of her canoe, recklessly defying the wind and the sea. They had never met, but like everyone else on the island, he knew her instantly upon a single glimpse. She seemed to run wild about the island beaches and on the city streets and was impossible to miss with her long, tangled moon-colored hair. She was wild and free and he had admired her from a distance for years.

Uneasy, he shifted his thoughts. He would not even be in Spanishtown tomorrow when Carre was hanged. Instead, he wondered at Woods's summons. They were friends—they had frequently worked together on island policy and even on legislation, and in Woods's term of office, Cliff had accepted two commissions from him, successfully capturing the foreign brigands. Woods was a resolute politician and governor and Cliff respected him. On one or two occasions, they had caroused together, as well—Woods was fond of the ladies, too, when his wife was not in residence.

Two British soldiers sprang forward as he strode past the six Ionic columns that supported a pediment displaying the British coat of arms to the huge doors of the governor's residence, the gold and ruby spurs he wore jangling. "Captain de Warenne, sir," one said, relaxing. "Governor Woods said you are to go in immediately."

Cliff nodded at him and entered a vast foyer with a crystal chandelier. Standing on the waxed parquet floors of the circular entry, he could glimpse a formal salon done up in red velvets and brocades.

Thomas Woods rose from behind a desk, smiling as he saw him. "Cliff! Come in, my good man, come in!"

Cliff strode into the salon, shaking Woods's hand. The governor was a lean, handsome man in his thirties, with a dark moustache. "Good day, Thomas. I see the hanging will happen as scheduled." The words slipped out, unbidden.

Woods nodded, pleased. "You have been gone for almost three months—you have no idea what this means."

"Of course I do," Cliff said, that odd tension filling him again as he wondered at the pirate's daughter's future. It crossed his mind that maybe he would visit Carre at the garrison in Port Royal. "Does Carre remain at Fort Charles?"

"He has been moved to the courthouse jail," Woods responded. The newly constructed courthouse, completed the previous year, was directly across the square from King's House. Woods went to the bar built into the huge Dutch sideboard on one wall and poured two glasses of wine. He handed Cliff a glass. "To the morrow's hanging, Cliff."

Cliff did not join him in the toast. "Maybe you should attempt to capture the pirates flying the flag of José Artigas," he said, referring to the gaucho general who was at war with both Portugal and Spain. "Rodney Carre has nothing in common with those murdering villains, my friend."

Woods smiled firmly. "Ah, I was hoping you could tackle Artigas's men."

Cliff was interested, as the hunt was in his blood. Woods was offering him a dangerous commission, one he would not usually think twice about accepting. However, he remained on another tack. "Carre has never been foolish enough to attack British interests," he commented, taking a sip of claret.

Woods started. "So he is a decent pirate? A good pirate? And what is the point of your defense? He has been tried and found guilty, he hangs tomorrow at noon."

An image came to mind, one he could not chase away. Her hair as pale as a bright star, her shirt and breeches soaking wet, La Sauvage lifted her slim arms overhead and dived off the bow of her father's sloop into the sea below. He had been coming home last year and standing on the quarterdeck of his favorite frigate, the Fair Lady, when he had spotted her through his spyglass. He had paused to watch her surface, laughing, and had almost wished he could dive into the calm turquoise sea with her.

"What about the child?" he heard himself say. He had no idea of her age, but she was small and slender and he guessed she was somewhere between twelve and fourteen.

Woods seemed startled. "Carre's daughter—La Sauvage?"

"I heard their farm was forfeit to the Crown. What will become of her?"

"Good God, Cliff, I do not know. Rumor has it she has family in England. Maybe she will go there. Or I suppose she could go to the Sisters of St. Anne's in Seville—they have an asylum for the orphaned."

Cliff was shocked. He just could not imagine a spirit like that imprisoned in such a manner. And this was the first he had heard of the child having family in Britain. But then, Carre had once been a British naval officer, so it was certainly possible.

Woods stared. "You are behaving oddly, my friend. I asked you to come here today because I was hoping you would accept a commission from me."

Cliff shoved his thoughts of Carre's daughter aside. He felt himself smile. "May I hope that you seek El Toreador?" he asked, referring to the most vicious of the rovers plaguing the area.

Woods grinned. "You may."

"I am more than pleased to accept the commission," Cliff said, meaning it. The hunt would surely erase his irascible mood and the restlessness gnawing at him. He had been at Windsong for precisely three weeks—usually he stayed a month or two— and his only regret would be leaving his children. He had both a son and a daughter at his island home, and when he was at sea or abroad, he missed them terribly. "Shall we go in to dine? I have asked my chef to make your favorite dishes," Woods said happily, clasping Cliff's arm. "We can discuss the details of the commission. I am also eager to ask for your opinions on the new venture in the East Indies. Surely you have heard of the Phelps company?"

Cliff was about to affirm that he had, when he heard the soldiers at the governor's front door shouting in alarm. Instantly he drew his saber. "Get back," he ordered Woods.

The governor paled, a small pistol appearing in his hand, but he obeyed, hurrying to the far end of the salon while Cliff strode into the foyer. He heard a soldier gasping in pain, and another fellow shout, "You cannot go inside!"

The front door burst open and a small, slender woman with a mass of pale hair ran through it, waving a pistol.

"Where is the governor?" she demanded wildly, pointing the gun at him.

The most vivid green eyes he had ever beheld locked with his and he forgot that a pistol was pointed at his forehead. He stared, shocked. La Sauvage was not a child: she was a young woman and a very beautiful young woman, at that. Her face was triangular, her cheekbones high, her nose small and straight, her mouth lush and full. But it was her eyes that stunned him—he had never seen such intriguing eyes, as exotic as a jungle cat's.

His gaze swept down her figure. Her moon-colored hair was exactly as he had thought—a wild curly mane that reached her waist. She wore a huge man's shirt, hanging to midthigh, but there was no mistaking the suggestion of a bosom beneath it. Her legs were encased in breeches and a lad's boots, and were unmistakably long and feminine.

How could he have assumed, even from a distance, that she was a child, he wondered inanely.

"Are you a dimwit?" she shouted at him. "Where is Woods?" He drew a breath and somehow smiled, his composure returned. "Miss Carre, please do not point the pistol at me. Is it loaded?" he asked very calmly.

She paled as if just recognizing him. "De Warenne." She swallowed. The pistol wavered. "Woods. I must see Woods."

So she knew him, somewhat. Then she knew he was not to be toyed with. Did she know that anyone else would die for brandishing a weapon at him in such a manner? Was she that brave, or that foolish—and desperate? His smile intensified, but he was not feeling amused. He had to swiftly end the crisis, before she was hurt or arrested. "Give me the pistol, Miss Carre."

She shook her head. "Where is he?"

He sighed—and moved. Before she knew it, he had her wrist in his hand, and an instant later, he had her pistol.

Tears filled her eyes and he knew they were tears of rage. "Damn you!" She struck at him with both fists, pummeling his chest.

He handed the pistol to one of the wary soldiers and caught her wrists again, more gently, not wanting to hurt her. He was surprised by her strength; she was so slender she appeared frail, but she was not. However, she had no power compared to him. "Please, cease. You will hurt yourself," he said softly.

She was writhing in his grasp like a wildcat, hissing and spitting like one, too, and even attempting to claw at his face.

"Stop," he ordered, becoming annoyed. "You cannot triumph over me."

Suddenly her eyes met his and she stilled, panting heavily. And as their gaze held, he felt a stirring of compassion for her. Even if she was eighteen, he sensed she was a child in many ways, due to her unorthodox upbringing. And now he recognized more than desperation in her eyes; he saw her fear.

Tomorrow, her father would hang. Today, she thought to accost the governor. "Surely you do not think to murder my friend Woods?"

"I would if I could," she spat at him. "But no, I will delay his murder for another day!" She began to struggle uselessly again. "I have come to beg him for mercy for my father."

His heart seemed to break. "If I release you, will you be still? I can arrange an audience with the governor."

Hope flared in her eyes. She nodded, wetting her lips. "Yes."

Meet the Author

Brenda Joyce is the bestselling author of over thirty novels and four novellas. She wrote her first novella when she was sixteen years old, her first novel when she was twenty-five, and was published shortly thereafter.

She has won many awards, and her very first novel, Innocent Fire, won a Best Western Romance award. She has also won the highly coveted Best Historical Romance award for Splendor and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews. There are over twelve million copies of her novels in print and she is published in over a dozen foreign countries.

She is the author of the critically acclaimed Deadly series, which is set in turn-of-the-century New York and features amateur sleuth Francesca Cahill. Currently Brenda is focused on the de Warenne Dynasty series about one sprawling family set in historic England and Ireland, and the Masters of Time, a paranormal series set in the medieval Highlands about supernatural warriors saving mankind.

A native New Yorker, she now lives in southern Arizona with her husband, son, dogs, cat and numerous Arabian and half-Arabian reining horses. Brenda divides her time between her twin passions--writing powerful love stories and competing with her horses at regional and national levels. For more information about Brenda and her upcoming novels, please visit her Web sites: www.brendajoyce.com, www. Thedewarennedynasty.com and www.mastersoftimebooks.com.

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Lady at Last (De Warenne Dynasty Series) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cliff and Amanda are both stubborn and passionate, a perfect combination when both of them try to avoid eachother, and then Amanda gives up, Cliff remaining stubborn. The characters, the plot and the setting are all written amazingly 'as to be expected by Brenda Joyce' and I reccommend this book to any historical fiction or romance reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I totally loved Cliff & Amanda. It was a wonderful read & I would recommend it to anyone. I cried, I laughed, & I wanted more. I would love for the Jelousy to be played, so that maybe the would bring Cliff more to life. I would love to have seen more of Amanda's spirit to be retained when she meet her mother & let her priate ways take over.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After her father is tried and convicted of piracy, Amanda Carre is desperate to save him. When she barges into Governor Woods house brandishing a pistol demanding an audience she is disarmed by Cliff de Warenne who is there on business. He promises he can get her into speak with Woods, but she has to behave and act like a lady. She promises and soon shocks Cliff and Woods with her daring proposal, her body for her father's freedom. Having been raised by pirates, Amanda knows how to charm a man with her feminine wiles, wield swords and sail ships. She loves her father and cannot see her life without him in it. The plan almost works, if it wasn't for the interference of the chivalrous but yet dangerously handsome Cliff de Warenne. Known as the greatest gentleman privateer, Cliff de Warenne is a charming and dashing rogue who can have his pick of any women. The third son to the Earl of Adare, he left his home when he was fourteen and sailed his way into success where he is respected and feared by his enemies and friends alike. He is taken aback when he hears that Rodney Carre is about to hang he instantly wonders about the child that will be left behind and what is to become of her future. After witnessing her bold actions and behaviours he discovers that she is not a child but a young woman ten years his junior, with a mother in England. Agreeing to become her chaperone, Cliff brings his two children Ariel and Alexi for the six-week voyage and demands that Amanda learn lessons in deportment and how to be a lady. Once they land in England, Cliff takes his responsibilities very seriously and provides a suitable dowry in hopes of making a successful marriage for her. He stuns his family at his protective nature in regards to her. He thinks he is just being a proper guardian to Amanda, but his family knows better. Finally after all these years Cliff de Warenne has fallen in love, and he does not know it. As the latest instalment in the de Warenne Dynasty, A Lady At Last is a delightful and charming story. It's a story that will leave readers in breathless satisfaction as these two characters discover the passion and undying love between them. Amanda was taken right out of her element going from a pirate's daughter to respectable lady. She intrigued Cliff from the start he silently applauded her courageous spirit and really fought a hard battle with himself as he struggled with his attraction to her. A Lady At Last showed a side of Brenda not seen in many of her other novels her sense of humour. Cliff and Amanda provide many humorous interactions between them resulting on many laugh out loud moments, all the while the passion is present between them. Family members are also quick to tease Cliff, something that every family does from time to time and was very refreshing to read as we are kept abreast of characters previously written about. A Lady At Last will not disappoint readers who have been following this series, it romantic, sexy and sweet. It's a classic Cinderella story and I could not think of a better story for these two characters.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1820 Kingston, privateer Cliff de Warenne, son of an English earl, understands the need to hang pirates. However Governor Thomas Woods using the pathetic Rodney Carre as an example will do nothing to stop the activity of his bolder ruthless Cuban rovers especially the notorious El Toreador. Cliff detests the circus that Woods has caused with the spectacle and wonders about Carre¿s daughter La Sauvage, who would do anything to free her father.----------------- After the hanging of her beloved dad, Amanda has no place to go so Cliff agrees to take her to her mother in England. On their trek across the Atlantic, Cliff begins teaching Amanda how a lady behaves in polite society where she will find a husband. However, she realizes loves Cliff and he loves her, but neither will take that critical first step and reveal what they hide from their beloved.--------------------- The delightful tale of the youngest de Warenne son meeting his beloved is a warm Regency romance that effortlessly flows from Pirate of the Caribbean to the balls rooms of the Ton. The story line will remind readers of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady as Cliff falls in love with his creation, who returns his feelings, but doubts he could care for her inner wild soul. Fans of the series will immensely enjoy what may be the best of a strong series while newcomers will seek the backlist (see MASQUERADE and THE PRIZE, etc.).----------------- Harriet Klausner
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A must read
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