Once Tempted

( 13 )

Overview

Innocence Lost

A notorious rake, the Marquis of Bradstone stole young Olivia Sutton's heart...and then ruined her life. For seven years she has been forced to hide her past behind a false identity. And now the dashing scoundrel has returned a different man: more handsome, more serious, more desirable...and far more dangerous thanthe cad who brought scandal and shame into Olivia's world.

Rapture Found

Major...

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Once Tempted

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Overview

Innocence Lost

A notorious rake, the Marquis of Bradstone stole young Olivia Sutton's heart...and then ruined her life. For seven years she has been forced to hide her past behind a false identity. And now the dashing scoundrel has returned a different man: more handsome, more serious, more desirable...and far more dangerous thanthe cad who brought scandal and shame into Olivia's world.

Rapture Found

Major Robert Danvers is living a lie—but for a noble cause. Masquerading as his cousin, the late marquis, Robert's secret mission for the crown has led him straight to the beautiful, scheming seductress he believes was responsible for his brother's death. But there is a gentle innocence about this Olivia that belies her murderous reputation—and a passionate sensuality that makes him yearn to hold her forever in his arms. His loyalty to his mission tells him that surrender would be the worst sort of betrayal—yet once tempted, how can a man resist, when his heart tells him here is his one true love?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380815357
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/2001
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 436,508
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Boyle has always loved romance and now lives it each and every day by writing adventurous and passionate stories that readers from all around the world have described as "page-turners." Since first being published in 1996, she's seen her books become New York Times and USA Today bestsellers and won the RWA RITA® Award and a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award. She resides in Seattle with her husband and two sons, or "heroes in training" as she likes to call them.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

London,1812

How was your trip to the solicitor, my lady?" Carlyle asked as he helped his mistress, the Marchioness of Bradstone, down from her carriage.

"Wretched!" she complained. "The incompetent man says there is nothing we can do. Nothing in the least. He is certain that next month the House of Lords will pronounce Robert dead and allow the title to revert to the Crown."

Carlyle shook his head. "I feared as much, madame."

Her ladyship fluttered her handkerchief. "A month, Carlyle! A month!" she wailed. "Where will I live? Where will I go? Everything that matters is entailed with the estate."

Where will we all go? Carlyle would have liked to add to her lament. The Bradstone staff had just as much at stake as their mistress in the Parnell family keeping the title -- their livelihoods depended upon it as well.

Lady Bradstone drew her handkerchief to her nose and sniffed. "If only my dearest boy would come home and prevent all this. Surely he must know the fits and tremblings his continued absence causes me, let alone this newest injustice."

"If his lordship were aware, my lady, I am sure he would hasten home without further delay," Carlyle said very diplomatically. He had tried on any number of occasions to explain to her that it was highly unlikely her son would ever come home.

For seven long years she'd denied that her son had fled the scandalous scene and sought passage on the doomed Bon Venture. Seven years of refusing to believe her son had been on that ship,when it was attacked and sunk by the French off the coast of Portugal. The papers had been filled with the sad tale of how all hands and passengers had been lost.

Including the Marquis of Bradstone.

In the ensuing years, the marquis's estate had been cast in turmoil -- first from a lack of heirs and now because of the Prince Regent's maneuvering to see the title revert back to the Crown.

Apparently Prinny wanted to reward one of his favorites with the prestigious title and the accompanying rich estates.

But the greatest impediment to disposing of the Bradstone legacy turned out to be the marquis's mother. Lady Bradstone refused to believe her son had perished. Not even the eyewitness account provided by the captain of a nearby packet ship swayed her from her unshakeable belief that her son had escaped death's watery trap.

A mother would know, she often told her pragmatic butler. If Robert were dead, I would know.

"This is all that Sutton creature's fault," her ladyship was saying, causing any number of her staff to look away, some of the cheekier footmen to roll their gaze heavenward.

Carlyle sent one and all his most severe stare. If their mistress wanted to blame the infamous debutante for the marquis's hasty and fatal departure from London, who were they to question her?

"If that horrible jade hadn't led my poor, sensitive boy astray, he wouldn't have had to flee town in such a confused state." The marchioness paused for a moment, her lips pursed, her jaw set with long held rage. "I shudder to think of him all those years ago, lost and undone over that wretched affair, prey to who knows what sort of fiends and villainy. I told Mr. Hawthorne-Waite this very morning that I am convinced Robert was most likely kidnapped and taken aboard some other villainous ship against his will. For he would never have gone off voluntarily on that awful Bon Venture." She paused again.

Carlyle waited for her final refrain. It hadn't changed a word in seven years.

And after the requisite pause, she finished her vehement rail. "Lisbon, indeed! My Robert would never have gone to such a heathen place by choice."

"Yes, indeed, ma'am," Carlyle replied.

Her ladyship sighed. "And so I told Mr. Hawthorne-Waite. Though I am starting to doubt that man's qualifications as a solicitor." She turned her watery blue eyes on the butler. "He is of the opinion that kidnapping is not reason enough to keep one's son from being declared dead."

"A terrible injustice, ma'am."

She smiled bravely and began to take the steps again up to the front door. "And he also refused to find and bring that jade to justice. She murdered that poor Spaniard. Who's to say she didn't harm my Robert as well? And can you imagine my shock, Carlyle, when that odious little solicitor had the audacity to intimate that she more than likely died with my Robert! Can you fathom such a thing? My Robert taking a murderess with him to Lisbon? I think not."

"Yes, my lady," Carlyle said, while silently agreeing with the solicitor's tactless assessment of the situation. Why shouldn't he?

Witnesses had seen Miss Sutton crouched over the body of the dead Spanish agent, a smoking pistol in her hand. Lord Bradstone had told several of the gathered crowd that Miss Sutton had committed the crime. Then in the hubbub and panic, Lord Bradstone had disappeared. Slipped away and fled London in the dark of night aboard the Bon Venture. And to make the entire scandal even more lurid, the next morning Miss Sutton was also gone.

After a brief investigation, letters found in Miss Sutton's room linked her and the. marquis romantically. Several of them had been reprinted in the press, telling the sordid tale of their secret affair.

Yet through it all, Lady Bradstone refused to believe anything that tainted her son's reputation. With each year, her remembrances of the man had grown and risen to such proportions it was hard to believe that such a paragon had ever existed.

Once Tempted. Copyright © by Elizabeth Boyle. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    exciting Regency romantic suspense

    In 1805 London, Lord Robert Bradstone seduces Olivia Sutton through words of love and kisses. However, it is not her body he wants; it is her brain. He coaxes her into deciphering a coded missive that claims a King¿s Ransom in a tomb in Madrid. However, a Spanish ¿spy¿ tries to intercede, but Robert shoots him and blames a shocked Olivia for the murder. The dying Spaniard gives Olivia a gold band and tells her to flee with the deciphered note. <P>Seven years later, Robert returns from the seemingly dead of a sunken ship. Meanwhile Olivia needs him to clear her name and to accompany her to Wellington so she can deliver information he needs. Robert apparently wants to atone for his travesty and offers to escort Olivia. However, she has deep doubts about trusting the scoundrel who destroyed her life even if he appears to behave honorable now. She also wonders if he would betray his country. To her chagrin, her thirst for vengeance wars with her love for the rat. <P> ONCE TEMPTED is an exciting Regency romantic suspense novel that stars a brilliant, intrepid heroine, whose naiveté is destroyed by the dashing aristocratic cad. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action, and loaded with shockers. Elizabeth Boyles¿ boiling tale will provide much enjoyment to sub-genre fans as the ingenious Olivia, though once burned, struggles to avoid that same flame. <P>Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2001

    Fascinating regency

    In a departure from the usual regency heroine, Elizabeth Boyle has given us an extremely intelligent and resourceful heroine who is involved in a plot to retrieve ancient treasure. <br><br> Olivia Sutton has been in hiding for seven long years, disguised as a widow and companion to Lady Finch. Prior to her exile in the country, Olivia secretly met her beloved, the Marquis of Bradstone,in the library while attending a ball at the home of Lord Chambley. She was on the verge of revealing coded information to the Marquis, thereby disclosing the location of the King¿s Ransom, a long-ago buried treasure. But the injured man on the floor of the library was not Napolean¿s agent, as Bradstone professed. And when Bradstone attempted to take Olivia¿s life, he was thwarted by the injured Spaniard who lost his life in the process. The dying man handed his ring to Olivia along with the message to give it to Hobbe. Unfortunately for Olivia, Bradstone placed the pistol in her hand and fled. <br><br> Over the years, Olivia has come to believe that Hobbe is her knight in shining armor and secretly hopes to someday meet him. But when the Marquis of Bradstone miraculously turns up alive and in London, Olivia travels there to meet him and exact her revenge. Olivia soon discovers that Bradstone has changed,and she realizes that he is not the same person. <br><br> He is actually the cousin of the former Marquis of Bradstone, and he is on a mission. Robert Danvers wishes to find the woman responsible for his brother¿s death. In finding Olivia, he discovers a woman like no other, and the attraction is mutual. Will theirs be a love that can survive the deceptions and intrigue inherent to war and human greed? <br><br> Elizabeth Boyle has written a thoroughly enjoyable regency with enough intrigue and suspense to keep the reader hooked. Ms. Boyle gives a thumbnail sketch of the trials and tribulations of those fighting in the Napoleanic Wars. <br><br> The love scenes are both intense and poignant, a combination that is difficult to achieve. For a regency with depth and substance, ONCE TEMPTED can¿t be beat.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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