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A Matter of Temptation
     

A Matter of Temptation

4.1 31
by Lorraine Heath
 

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The handsome duke whom Victoria married is more deliciously exciting than the cold-hearted rogue she was engaged to . . .

How could he possibly be the same man?

Overview

The handsome duke whom Victoria married is more deliciously exciting than the cold-hearted rogue she was engaged to . . .

How could he possibly be the same man?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061747472
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Series:
Lost Lords of Pembroke Series , #2
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
61,347
File size:
501 KB

Read an Excerpt

A Matter of Temptation

Chapter One

London
1852

Robert Hawthorne stared at a face he'd not seen in eight long years.

A face he hardly recognized. When last he'd looked at it, he'd seen nothing except the unmarred countenance of a life untried—features that revealed an absence of lines, character, and depth. A face that had yet to be written upon. Unfortunately, it now told an incredible tale of unbelievable cruelty.

The deep creases spreading out from the corners of the eyes and mouth had been shaped by agony, agony brought on not necessarily by physical discomfort, but rather by emotional upheaval—which could carve just as deeply, and in many instances, more so, leaving the mark of its visitation visible to any who dared to look. Yes, the physical and emotional torment suffered was as clearly evident as the passage of time.

Black whiskers that had been as fine as the downy hair on a newborn's head were now thick, coarse, and scraggly. The skin was pale to the point of almost appearing sickly, but then how could he expect it to look any differently when it had not known the direct touch of the sun in years?

That unhealthy pallor might cause a bit of a problem.

But in studying the visage before him, Robert decided it was the eyes that shocked him the most. Not the color, a blue that matched the hue of a deepening sky just before sunset gave way to night. No, the color remained exactly as he remembered, but the pathway the eyes offered to the soul had changed considerably.

They reflected a journey of devastating betrayal. And that, too, might cause a bit of a problem,because a man could seldom hide the truth of his character revealed by his eyes. Well, not a good man anyway.

Robert shifted his gaze away from the reflection in the mirror he held to the man he'd secured to the bed with silk sashes he'd taken from several dressing gowns hanging in the wardrobe. The man's eyes were the same brilliant blue, but they burned with fury mingling with hatred. He wondered why he'd never recognized the emotions before when he'd looked into those eyes.

And he had looked into them—for the first eighteen years of his life. Surely during one of those glances, he should have seen the monster who dwelled within.

"Why, John?" he asked, his voice scratchy from lack of use after years of not being allowed to speak. "Why did you have me locked away? What did I do to deserve such abuse?"

The monogrammed handkerchief that Robert had stuffed into John's mouth prevented him from doing anything more than growling, and perhaps that was a bit unfair, but Robert didn't want to risk his brother calling out and rousing the servants. He doubted John would provide a truthful answer anyway.

Yet the questions had haunted Robert for more than three thousand days: while he'd paced his cell, while he'd lain in his hammock, while he'd listened to the screams of men as they'd succumbed to insanity's tantalizing promise of freedom.

It was frightening how often he'd been tempted to give in to the siren's call of madness himself. But he'd managed to escape, and there he was, at long last, facing a nemesis he'd never known he possessed until it was too late, now with only a vague idea of what he would do to regain what had been stolen from him.

He couldn't deny that John had always been a bit of a scamp, laughing gaily at his own delightful wickedness, his transgressions tolerated as harmless pranks. The man—in his youth—had fooled them all. But Robert drew no comfort from the fact that he hadn't been alone in misjudging John.

He tried to find satisfaction in his captive's attempt to escape the bonds that held his wrists and ankles secured to the four posts of the magnificent bed in which he'd been born, but all Robert felt was deep and resounding disappointment. As though he gazed upon his own soul and found it withered and empty, void of any worth.

"I thought we were more than brothers. I considered us friends. We shared confidences. I would have trusted you with my life. More than that, I would have willingly sacrificed . . ." Inhaling sharply through clenched teeth, he turned away, the pain almost too great to bear. He'd loved his brother—remarkably, he still did in that strange way that affected those bound by blood—and that unconditional love was the very reason that the betrayal sliced so deeply into his heart and flayed it raw.

If he couldn't trust John, then whom could he trust?

He knew a moment of gratitude because his parents were no longer living, would never know the truth about everything that had transpired, but his gratefulness was fleeting, like life, and he wished only that he could return to the wondrous days of his youth when his worries had consisted of nothing more than meeting his father's lofty expectations—something he'd achieved with amazing regularity.

If he thought too long on his present circumstance, he began to feel adrift, losing his sense of purpose. Regaining what was his by right was crucial, not only on a personal level, but on an ancestral one as well. He couldn't turn his back on what duty, honor, and those who'd come before him demanded was not only his due but his obligation to set right. He owed the past as well as the future to stay on course.

Drawing on a reserve of strength he'd not known he possessed until everything had been stolen from him, he concentrated on the immediate task facing him, knowing it was imperative that he complete it as quickly as possible.

"Stop thrashing about, John. You'll only hurt yourself, and trust me when I offer you this bit of advice born of experience: you don't want to be in a weakened state when you receive your just reward. Rest assured that I plan to grant you a bit more mercy than you showed me, but I must take steps to protect myself, my inheritance, and my heirs."

A Matter of Temptation. Copyright © by Lorraine Heath. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Lorraine Heath always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals, press releases, articles, and computer code, but something was always missing. When she read a romance novel, she not only became hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She's been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA's prestigious RITA®. Her novels have appeared on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.

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Matter of Temptation 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert escapes Pentonville Prison to replace his brother, John, that imrisoned him and took Robert's place. He has a full day of gluttony planned only to find out he has his wedding instead. He marries her thinking that she must only want to marry the Duke, not the man, only to find out that she cared for his brother John. He vows to stay far away from her until he can prove that he, not John is Robert, Duke of Killington, and void the marriage and return her to the one she loves. Only he can't resist her, and she ends up loving her husband, not the man that proposed to her. This is such a beautiful love story that dives deep into the struggles that each character are going through. Heath has a way of writing that makes you feel you know the characters and can't wait to see what happens next.
AnnBKeller More than 1 year ago
What began as a lark and an initiation into manhood took a terrible turn when young Robert Hawthorne, the Duke of Killingsworth, was unjustly imprisoned by his twin brother, John. For many years, Robert lived in almost complete isolation, cut off from his fellow man in every way possible. Madness beckoned and Robert fought against the beast inside him. The opportunity to escape finally presented itself and Robert fled. Robert confronts his evil brother, neatly turning the tables on him and imprisoning John instead. Robert has so much catching up to do. The simplest experiences now delight him. What pleasure there is in simply resting his body in his own bed and traveling in a carriage. Breathing the fresh air is pure ambrosia and every morsel of food seems like a banquet. However, no sooner does Robert arrive home than he suddenly discovers he is to be wed! The lovely Victoria Lambert is beautiful and gracious, the stuff of dreams - apparently, John’s dreams. How can Robert marry her when she’d already apparently fallen in love with his brother, John? Perhaps, Victoria is simply wedding the title. Assuming that must be the case, Robert goes through with the ceremony and they begin their lives together under false pretenses. Little by little, day by day, Robert falls madly in love with his beautiful wife, but does Tori return his affections? If Robert reveals who he really is, will he lose her? Yet, how long can he continue to live a lie? Ultimately, the decision is taken away from Robert when John suddenly returns, to claim the dukedom to which he is not legally entitled and his lovely bride, as well. In this contest of wills and love, which man shall arise victorious?
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1852 London, Robert Hawthorne escapes from Pentonville Prison where his younger twin John sent him for eight years. When Warder Matthews arrives to inform the lord of his sibling¿s escape Robert hands over the real John to be imprisoned until he can figure out what to do with him................. Robert¿s plan to ease back into society collapse immediately when he learns he will marry Victoria ¿Torie¿ Lambert in the morning. As he tries to bluff what and whom he has known for the last eight years, he falls in love with Torie, but believes she cherishes the charmed John who impersonated him. As much as he wants her, he must not touch her because she belongs to someone else even if that person stole almost a decade of his life................. Victorian romantic suspense fans will be reminded of The Man in the Iron Mask though Lorraine Heath spends more time on Robert¿s struggles to hide that he replaced his twin who previously replaced him. The story line is character driven as Robert tries to recover from what he lost and falls in love with his wife. Torie realizes that the man she married is so different than the lord who courted her, but cannot fathom why. It is interesting how both twins when they drive pass Pentonville must stop and gaze in horror of what they and readers know of who is there and the shocking prison conditions. Lorraine Heath provides a fabulous rendition of the Dumas¿ classic............. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent.heath has a way of story telling that makes u want to cry . This book was greatly written about love, compassion n second chances at life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book!!
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:-) :-) :-) :-)
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