Master of Temptation

Master of Temptation

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by Nicole Jordan
     
 

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In her dazzling new novel, Nicole Jordan tempts readers with a tale of breathless splendor and soul-searing passion.

Lovers in paradise . . .

He is a brilliant military commander . . . and every woman’s temptation. When Max Leighton unexpectedly comes to her golden Mediterranean island, Caro Evers longs to heal his emotional battleSee more details below

Overview

In her dazzling new novel, Nicole Jordan tempts readers with a tale of breathless splendor and soul-searing passion.

Lovers in paradise . . .

He is a brilliant military commander . . . and every woman’s temptation. When Max Leighton unexpectedly comes to her golden Mediterranean island, Caro Evers longs to heal his emotional battle scars. But during one glorious night in his arms, she discovers a sensual master whose mere touch drives her to wild abandon.

She is the bewitching angel he can’t forget. Jaded by the glittering ballrooms of Regency London, Max returns to Cyrene to find the temptress who haunts his dreams . . . only to learn that Caro leads a dangerous double life. She’s a warrior as well as a healer—a member of a secret society of protectors, sworn to fight evil and tyranny across Europe.

Afraid to lose her heart to Max again, Caro vows to conquer her fierce tenderness for him and thwart his campaign to win her. Then a perilous mission of adventure takes them far from Cyrene’s sun-splashed shores, entwining their destinies and challenging their deepest desires.


From the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jordan's newest Regency-era romance (after Ecstasy) is appropriately set on the fictional Mediterranean island of Cyrene, which is headquarters to the clandestine Guardians of the Sword. Formed in the Dark Ages by legendary British warriors exiled to the island, the "secret society of protectors" now operates with input from Britain's Foreign Office. The first time war hero Max Leighton visits the island, he shares an intimate night with the enigmatic healer Caro Evers. Neither forgets that night, and when their paths cross again a year later after Max agrees to help the Guardians rescue a kidnapped noblewoman they pick up where they left off. Although Max is determined to win Caro's heart, she believes he wouldn't want her if he knew her secret: she's not only a healer but a well-trained Guardian. As the author illustrates time and again, however, Caro isn't immune to Max's charms, and the two fill the pages with love scenes to the point of redundancy. More compelling is their emotional relationship, which plays upon Caro's insecurities and Max's nightmares of war. Although the kidnapping subplot is merely a device to bring Max and Caro together, readers who prefer their romances more sexy than suspenseful and more fantastical than historically accurate will savor this sensual feast. Agent, Karen Solem of Spencerhill. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“A feast for the senses. Master of Temptation is an erotic and emotional experience, boldly seizing you by the heart and never letting go. . . . Ms. Jordan has created a novel to keep and to cherish.”
—LISA KLEYPAS, New York Times bestselling author of Again the Magic

“A feast for the senses. Master of Temptation is an erotic and emotional experience, boldly seizing you by the heart and never letting go. . . . Ms. Jordan has created a novel to keep and to cherish.”
—LISA KLEYPAS, New York Times bestselling author of Again the Magic

“Ms. Jordan proves herself a marvelous storyteller.”
Rendezvous

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345494054
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/30/2006
Series:
Paradise , #1
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
122,433
File size:
0 MB

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

The Isle of Cyrene, August 1813

The ruins seemed enchanted in the moonlight. Silver pools rippled luminously in the night shadows, fed by a hot spring that cascaded gently down terraced stairs of granite, the last vestiges of a Roman bath. Yet the spellbinding sight failed to soothe Caro Evers as usual. Her restless tension only heightened as she rode closer.

Halting at the foot of the terrace, Caro slid from the aging mare’s back. Beyond the cliff’s eastern edge stretched the shimmering Mediterranean, calm and serene beneath the brilliant disk of the moon. This was a spectacular place, even on an island known for its uncanny beauty, but tonight the serenity seemed a stark contrast to her disquietude.

She felt as nervous as a girl meeting her secret lover.

Which was absurd. The major wasn’t her lover, no matter what foolish fantasies her mind insisted on conjuring. She wasn’t even certain he would come.

In agitation Caro bent to pluck a delicate white orchid, then left her horse to graze on the wild grass and ferns that grew among the crevices as she made her way toward the baths. A fresh salt breeze ruffled her muslin skirts, scented by honeysuckle that twined among the ancient stones and with pine from Cyrene’s wooded mountain slopes. Although night had long fallen, the rock beneath her bare feet still held warmth from the summer sun as she climbed the carved steps that had been trod for more than a millennium.

When she passed beneath an arched portal, her heart leapt. A man stood at the parapet wall above her, gazing out at the vast, moonlit sea.

Major Maxwell Leighton.

She recognized him at once, even though they had met only three days ago. Few of the islanders possessed such a tall form, such powerfully set shoulders, such authoritative bearing. And no one else could make her pulse quicken with a mere glance from his compelling blue eyes, as he could.

Since the major’s arrival on a mission of mercy, she’d spent nearly the entire time with him, locked in a desperate battle, fighting for a dying man’s life.

You came tonight, Caro reflected with relief. He obviously intended to bathe. He had already removed his boots and the short blue jacket of his Hussars uniform, and wore merely breeches and a white shirt.

When he glanced over his shoulder at her, she suddenly became conscious of her own disheveled appearance: the skirts of her oldest gown swirling around her bare feet, her curling brown hair unpinned, spilling in even wilder disarray than usual. She tried to control her self-conscious flush.

He spoke in a low voice. “Are you certain you want me invading your haven?”

No, I’m not certain. She came frequently to the Roman ruins to bathe in the pools, usually when she was physically spent and aching after a hard bout of fencing practice. Rarely did she allow anyone to intrude on her solitude here. But after the strain of the past few days, the major needed the peace and beauty of the ruins to allay his exhaustion. Needed the soothing effects of the silken waters. They both did.

“I don’t consider your presence an invasion,” she replied honestly. “I asked you to come.”

Climbing, Caro moved to stand beside him at the crumbling stone wall, her heart beating faster simply at his nearness.

It was startling how her body responded to him. She had never felt such a primal reaction to any man. The island of Cyrene was said to have a mythical ability to seduce the senses, but until now she’d always thought herself immune to the spell. True, Maxwell Leighton was one of the most strikingly handsome men she had ever met, with his deep blue eyes, lean features, and raven hair. But she had known stunning men before. Quite a number of them, in fact, for Cyrene had more than its fair share.

She rarely had felt such powerful feminine feelings, though. For three days now she had tried to repress her fierce attraction to Major Leighton, as well as the missish emotions that were so uncharacteristic of her.

Most disturbing was the heat and intensity in those eyes; when he looked at her, he aroused a wild yearning in her blood, making her feel as if she couldn’t take a deep breath.

Willing herself to calm, Caro focused on the glimmering vista of the sea. She could hear the soft whisper of the waves below as they swelled in a gentle, timeless rhythm.

“Is Yates still sleeping quietly?” she asked, breaking the hush.

“Yes, thank God,” the major responded. “For the first time in weeks he has found a semblance of peace.”

Lieutenant John Yates had lost a leg in Spain during the most recent grueling battle against Napoleon’s forces, and the wound had refused to heal. When he’d grown weaker and more feverish by the day, he had begged his commanding officer to take him home to his island, but the raw wound had turned septic during the voyage.

Unwilling to abandon the dying man, Major Leighton had remained on Cyrene, waiting for the end that had never come. Miraculously the young lieutenant’s condition had turned around early this morning; his fever had broken, and he was expected to survive.

“I am immeasurably grateful to you,” the major murmured. “You saved Yates’s life.”

“It was not just I,” Caro demurred. “Dr. Allenby has the true medical skill. I merely helped.”

“No, you were the one who stayed by his side hour after hour.”

True, she had nursed the lieutenant constantly because the island doctor had other patients to tend. But Major Leighton had played a vital role as well—keeping vigil between his agitated pacing, obediently performing whatever tasks were needed without complaint, holding the delirious lieutenant down while she poulticed the terrible injury and poured noxious-tasting medicines down his throat and applied cold compresses to his burning body.

“Yates is alive,” Leighton insisted, “because you refused to let him die. I think it was your sheer willpower that saved him.”

Caro felt absurdly warmed by his praise. “Well, I am known for my stubbornness.”

That drew a fleeting smile from him. She had never seen him smile, and the charm of it made her breath falter. Still, it had been Leighton’s concern for his wounded subordinate, rather than his potent masculine appeal, that had drawn her to him from the first.

They had grown closer during the long, dark hours of their ordeal. They were no longer mere strangers, not after sharing such a turmoil of emotions: fear, despair, hope, and finally, profound elation. In winning their victory, they had formed a bond that was almost tangible.

She found herself fiercely regretting that he would be leaving on the morrow.

“I think you give me too much credit,” Caro said. “According to John, you were the one who saved his life by warding off a saber attack.”

“Yet he would never have been wounded in the first place if he hadn’t leapt directly in the path of a cavalry charge in order to shield me. I am greatly indebted to him. As I am to you.”

At the fervency of his tone, Caro turned her head and saw the major gazing down at her in intense contemplation. When she met his dark-lashed eyes, an unexpected heat washed over her, starkly primitive and unmistakably sexual.

Caro looked away. It was foolish to feel such yearnings. She doubted she held much sexual appeal for this beautiful man. Her looks were comely enough, but she suspected he found her femininity wanting after observing her for the past few days.

She couldn’t blame him. Ladies of genteel station did not deal with blood and gore and dying men by choice, assisting the island doctor with patient surgeries and the injuries of unrelated men.

Nor did they engage in dangerous missions across much of Europe, wielding weapons in defense of a valiant cause—to root out evil and tyranny.

She was not like most other women. Her natural gift for healing set her apart from her peers, but her clandestine vocation separated her even further. She was a Guardian, a member of a secret society of protectors sworn to uphold the ancient ideals once championed by a legendary leader.

But her unconventional career was not a subject she could discuss with an outsider. Certainly not Major Leighton, who would leave Cyrene tomorrow, likely never to return.

The thought of his leaving sent a pang of distress welling within Caro. One thing was certain: She would never forget him. Although she fervently wished she could.

Maxwell Leighton made her long for things she’d convinced herself she didn’t want or need. At the ripe age of twenty-four, she had forgone the things most women considered important—marriage, children, husband . . . even lovers.

Lovers. Caro felt an ache constrict her chest.

From the Paperback edition.

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