Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter

Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter

4.0 2
by Mary Ellen Dennis

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"This wonderful retelling of Alfred Noyes's The Highwayman, is quite simply, remarkable."
-Booklist starred review

And the highwayman came riding, riding, riding...

Elizabeth Wyndham is a rarity-a young lady who writes novels-bestsellers in fact. But with her sharp tongue and quick temper, she's nothing like her vapid, charming heroines.

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"This wonderful retelling of Alfred Noyes's The Highwayman, is quite simply, remarkable."
-Booklist starred review

And the highwayman came riding, riding, riding...

Elizabeth Wyndham is a rarity-a young lady who writes novels-bestsellers in fact. But with her sharp tongue and quick temper, she's nothing like her vapid, charming heroines.

Rand Remington is an ex-soldier disillusioned with England's less-than-honorable nobility. By day a gentleman, by night he robs the rich to try to make life better for the poor.

Rand and Elizabeth are drawn inexorably together, until the fateful night when the men trying to capture Rand use Elizabeth as living bait...Based on the beloved poem about two timeless lovers who would die for each other...

"A swift and bawdy tale...and manages a happy ending as well."
-Mary Jo Putney, New York Times bestselling author of Never Less Than a Lady

"A fast pace, fluid writing, and an exceptionally well-crafted plot..."
-Library Journal

"An exhilarating romp throughout 18th century England, with adventure at every turn and spine-tingling suspense."
-Midwest Book Review

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This imaginative but bumpy historical romance debut, set in Georgian England, features highwayman Rand and authoress Elizabeth, who are struck by déjà vu from the moment they meet in London. Although Rand cannot offer Elizabeth a safe or easy life, he senses their destinies are entwined and that their connection goes back to a 13th-century past life. Free-thinking spinster Elizabeth, meanwhile, is haunted by the hero of her latest novel, a combination of Rand and a historical knight killed in a bloody battle five hundred years earlier. As Rand goes about the bandit business, Elizabeth tries to write and wards off the advances of Lord Walter Stafford. But when Rand and Elizabeth finally get together, a humiliated Stafford makes it his mission to hunt down Rand and see him hanged. The couple lands in Newgate prison, where it takes all their wits to avoid the hangman's noose. Historical romance purists may have a hard time swallowing Elizabeth's character (she refers to her "career" and "writer's block"), and the bumper crop of action scenes begin to feel like filler. The past-lives angle is interesting, but it may not be enough to hold readers' attention over 400 pages. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Take one highly successful Gothic romance writer who just happens to be an innkeeper's daughter; add one disillusioned, devil-may-care highwayman who robs only the rich on principle; set them down in the turbulent, hypocritical times of late 18th-century England; season with a dash of humor, a splash of the paranormal, and a dollop of danger; and let the adventures begin. Loosely based on Alfred Noyes's poem "The Highwayman," with Robin Hood elements and a hint of Romeo and Juliettossed in for good measure, this tale, for all its lively romance and adventure, takes on some serious social issues of the times, specifically the privilege of wealth and the inherent injustices it causes. A fast pace, fluid writing, and an exceptionally well-crafted plot make this an enjoyable read. Despite the too-convenient twist that allows for the happy ending, readers are sure to appreciate this fresh, new romantic voice.

—Kristin Ramsdell
From the Publisher
"[Dennis] incorporates a bit of the paranormal to heighten the suspense and the passion. The fast-paced and clean, clear writing style suit the adventure/ romance. 4 Stars" - RT Book Reviews

"Mary Ellen Dennis pens one of those romances that may have happened centuries ago but in so many ways it's easy to relate to the couple as their love is tested." - The Romance Studio

"Lots of action, plenty of dialog and a few twists and turns to keep a readers interest." - Night Owl Reviews

"This story has a dramatic flare and the characters have dreams that tie them to the past, that give their romance that do-or-die feeling. " - Dark Diva Reviews

"A riveting, fast-paced story ... Rich in historical detail, The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter sweeps you along on waves of atmosphere and passion" - Linda Banche Romance Author

"The writing is excellent and the storytelling is spot on." - Books Like Breathing

"A plot with plenty of action and suspense, and a romance to balance it out..." - Drey's Library

"I loved this historical romance with its flair for the upheaval reincarnation may have on your karmic soul." - Aisle B

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Product Details

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"I wonder why Fleet Street calls us Knights of the Road," John Randolph Remington said to his partner. "I'll wager no knight ever spent his days hiding in a copse."

Zak Turnbull swatted his hat at a circling fly. "They call us knights, Rand, 'cause 'tis a snappy title and no one can deny we be a fine pair o' prancers."

Rand gazed north, where the straight highway took an abrupt turn. For the past three hours nothing had passed their way except for a handful of dilapidated coaches and shabbily-dressed travelers. While Zak wasn't particular about whom he robbed, Rand agreed with Robin Hood: proper criminals should take from the rich.

"How much bloody longer is it gonna be?" Zak pulled at his wig. "I'm sweatin' like a bloody barrister 'neath this poll, and I've got so many fleas tormentin' me, ye'd think I was a heap o' dung."

"Patience," said Rand, shifting in his saddle and trying to ease the stiffness in his right leg. "The reason you've spent the last twenty years breaking out of every prison in England is because you grow careless. And then you're caught."

"'Tis a fine observation, comin' from someone who's been in the business a mere two years. Ye know as well as I that a gagger, though he be rich as King George himself, will dress poor just t' trick us." Zak wiped his sweat-streaked face with his vizard. "And I'm warnin' ye. If a proper gagger don't come along soon, I'll be millin' meself a flat."

Rand mentally translated Zak's cant into something resembling the King's English. Basically, Zak meant you could seldom tell a man's wealth from his attire and he planned to rob the next traveler, no matter what the size of his purse.

"And as far as ever bein' habbled again, it ain't gonna happen," Zak continued. "Ye've brought me good luck, cousin."

"London's poor law enforcement has provided all the luck we need," Rand said with a droll grin.

In truth, London's press had proven to be a far more formidable opponent than the city's decrepit watchmen and underpaid constables. After every robbery, editors of the Gazeteer and the Monitor and the other daily papers howled for the apprehension of the "Gentleman Giant and his Quiet Companion." But the resultant publicity hadn't brought Zak and Rand any closer to capture. On the contrary, it had turned them into local heroes.

"If I'm gonna have t' wait, I'm gonna spend me time in a more enjoyable fashion." Zak dismounted and stretched his six-foot-five frame upon the grass. He covered his face with his wide-brimmed hat, then clasped his hands across his prodigious belly. "Rouse me if ye see a ratter what meets yer specifications."

Almost immediately Zak's rhythmic snores blended with the buzzing flies and the distant bleats of sheep. Rand tried to ignore his now throbbing leg and his own wig, which was bloody uncomfortable. Generally he wore his thick black hair long and natural, for that was the way the ladies liked it. But disguise was a necessary part of his profession. Today he was dressed as a gentleman. Doeskin riding breeches hugged his thighs and his feet were clad in knee-high, glossy brown boots. His loose-fitting shirt couldn't completely hide his rugged chest, which tapered to a narrow waist, lean hips and a flat belly. In an age where gentlemen prided themselves on their girth, Rand figured his slenderness was the only part of his disguise some observant magistrate might question.

So why did he feel so apprehensive?

He had experienced the same uneasiness before the Battle of Guilford Court House. The night preceding that colonial battle, he had dreamed of war. But the war in his dream belonged to another age, an age of broadsword and chain mail and mace, of armored men clashing on the summit of an emerald green hill. This dream, which had troubled him since childhood, always ended the same way, with the delicate mournful face of a flaxen-haired woman. Over the years he had sought possible interpretations. Eventually, he had stopped probing. It was better to accept the fact that the dream forecast change. Violent change.

The thud of hooves and the squeak of coach springs interrupted Rand's thoughts. He straightened in his saddle. While he couldn't see anything above the distant hedges, a prospective wayfarer was obviously headed their way.

"Zak," he whispered.

A gleaming black carriage, pulled by four high-stepping greys, came into view.

Zak's snoring continued, undisturbed. Rand maneuvered Prancer, his black stallion, closer. "Cousin, wake up! This is it. Time to earn your keep."

"I'm ready, I'm ready." Rising, Zak secured his hat atop his wig, stumbled toward his horse, and swung up into the saddle. "Who've ye decided we're t' be this time?" he asked, concealing the lower half of his face with his vizard.

"Irishmen," Rand replied. It was necessary to disguise one's voice along with one's appearance.

"And here's me shillelagh, boy-o," Zak quipped, raising his pistol.

Rand lifted his own vizard into place. As the coach rumbled toward them, his muscles tensed. This was the best part of his profession: the anticipation of the chase, never knowing what danger would come within the next few minutes or what surprises waited behind the curtained windows. He scrutinized every inch of the approaching carriage, from the gilded coat of arms on the door to the red plumes topping the heads of the greys, and the brightly polished gold buttons on the liveries of the coachman and footman.

"Now," he breathed.

Bolting from behind the stand of trees, he rushed forward, grabbed the bridle of the nearest grey, brought the carriage to a halt, then trained his pistol on the coachman's chest.

"Stand and deliver!" Zak barked, yanking open the door.

A nervous young whip hastily exited. "My auntie's still inside," he said, his voice cracking. "May I pull down the steps? She suffers from an inflammation of the joints and-"

"Ye need not be deliverin' a sermon, ye chicken-hammed chatterbox. Do it and be quick about it."

The whip scrambled to obey. When his aunt climbed down, she turned out to be a formidable-looking dowager with a jutting jaw and a ramrod straight posture. Smoothing her satin skirt, she eyed Zak. "I'm Lady Avery," she said, "and I was robbed by a footpad only last month. Perhaps you've heard and will think to spare me."

"Prancers, I mean highwaymen, don't rub shoulders with footpads, m'lady, especially Irish prancers like we be." Ever mindful of his reputation with the press, Zak kept his voice respectful. "Now, if ye'd be so good as to give me yer bit... uh, yer purse... and yer rings. And ye, sir..." He gestured with his pistol at the whip's feet. "I'll have yer watch, and them be a handsome pair o' shoe buckles."

Lady Avery tapped her first finger against the bridge of her nose. "I know who you are. You're the Gentleman Giant."

Zak dipped from the waist in a half bow. "Aye, 'tis the gospel truth, m'lady."

"I don't recall the Morning Chronicle mentioning that you were Irish." Her watery brown eyes turned toward Rand, who still had his pistol trained on the coachman and footman. "Well, no matter what your nationality, you're both impressive specimens." She swiveled her head toward her nephew. "Are they not, Roger?"

"We're being robbed, Aunt Maude." Roger fumbled with the watch and gold fob-seal in his waistcoat pocket. "I'll reserve my opinion for a more propitious time."

Zak pointed to a circle of diamonds nestled in a crevice of Lady Avery's towering coiffure. "I'll have that, m'lady."

"I should never have removed my bonnet, nor my gloves," she murmured, unclasping the circle. But her wedding ring proved a more difficult matter. "It's this damnable arthritis," she said. "I cannot get anything over my joints." In a tone that brooked no argument, she added, "Never grow old, young man. Though in your profession that can't be much of a worry."

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Meet the Author

Former singer/actress and perennial rule-breaker Mary Ellen Dennis is the author of several award-winning historical romance novels and culinary mysteries and is growing her audience for both. She is married to a fellow author, whom she met online through a writers' loop; they live on Vancouver Island.

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