A Perfect Heroby Samantha James
Can a perfect scoundrel be the perfect hero?
Since she was cruelly left at the altar at the age of twenty-two, Lady Julianna Sterling has resolved to have nothing to do with men. So she is shocked to discover she has unwelcome feelings for the very worst of the breed a dangerous, unbearably handsome highwayman who has set upon her coach in the/b>… See more details below
Can a perfect scoundrel be the perfect hero?
Since she was cruelly left at the altar at the age of twenty-two, Lady Julianna Sterling has resolved to have nothing to do with men. So she is shocked to discover she has unwelcome feelings for the very worst of the breed a dangerous, unbearably handsome highwayman who has set upon her coach in the countryside and taken her captive. Worse still, her righteous ire turns quickly to disappointment when the irresistible outlaw sets her free.
Viscount Dane Granville knows he should not have revealed his face to the enchanting Lady Julianna for he has compromised the secret mission he has undertaken for the Crown in the guise of the notorious Magpie. Now their paths are crossing once more, and Dane aches to taste again the sweetness of her kiss. But he must resist what his heart demands, for their passion can only lead to perils beyond imagining ...
- HarperCollins Publishers
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- 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)
Meet the Author
It was Samantha James's love of reading as a child that steered her toward a writing career. Among her favorites in those days were the Trixie Belden and Cherry Ames series of books. She still loves a blend of mystery and romance, and, of course, a happily-ever-after ending. The award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many romances and one novella, her books have ranged from medieval to Regency.
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A Perfect Hero
By Samantha James
Chapter OneSpring 1818
It was a perfect night for thievery.
From beneath the crowning shelter of an aged oak tree, the figure on horseback surveyed the roadway. The hour was late, and with a sliver of moon slumbering behind a wisp of a cloud, the night was as dark and depthless as the yawning pits of hell. The faint rush of the wind sighed through the tree limbs to sing a plaintive, lonesome melody.
All the better to conceal his presence. All the better to aid his endeavor. All the better to await his opportunity.
Dressed wholly in black, from his hat to the soles of his boots, a dark mask obscured all but the glint of his eyes. He sat his mount-Percival-like a man accustomed to long hours on horseback, his posture straight as an arrow, betraying no hint of weariness ... and with the silent stealth of a man who knew well and true that his presence must be concealed at all costs, until such time as he deemed the right time to strike.
Lest his very life be forfeit.
And the man known as the Magpie had no desire to meet his Maker.
Percival's ears pricked forward. Black-gloved fingers tightened on the reins. Squeezing his knees, he stilled the massive horse's movement. A fingertip pressed gently over his neck. "Wait," he cautioned.
The powerful animal quieted beneath his touch, but he could feel his muscles bunched and knotted, ready to spring into action.
With narrowed eyes, the man squinted into the encroaching darkness, directly to the east. This was not his first night masquerading as the Magpie. Nor would it be his last. Not until his purpose was accomplished to his satisfaction.
Beneath the black silk mask, a faint smile appeared. A familiar rush of excitement raced along his veins, an excitement he could not deny that he relished. His heartbeat quickened, for the pounding of hoofbeats had reached his ears as well as Percival's. The light from a dim yellow lantern had appeared as well, bobbing in the distance. Quarry approached.
He waited until it was within sight, for he was not a man to make mistakes. As if on cue- damn, but he had the devil's own luck!-the moon slid out from behind the cloud. The Magpie lifted his reins, broke free of the waist-high grasses beside the road, and stationed himself directly in the path of the lumbering coach.
When the coachman saw him, he stood on the box and hauled on the reins. With a jingle of the harness and a shout from the coachman, the vehicle rolled to a halt.
Coolly, the Magpie raised a pair of pistols dead center at the man.
"Stand and deliver!" came his cool demand.
Hours earlier, Julianna seized her skirt and ran across the courtyard at the inn, zigzagging to avoid the puddles left by yesterday's rain. "Wait!" she cried.
The driver clearly was not particularly disposed to patience. He glared at her. "Ye'd better hurry, mum," he grunted. "We're late already."
Late. Yes, that was certainly the word of the day. There was a thump as her trunk was loaded. And by Jove, she was determined to reach Bath, if not by tonight, then tomorrow.
Nothing about this journey had gone according to plan. Traveling by public coach had not been on the agenda. Unfortunately, she'd missed the speedy mail coach.
Breathless, Julianna hurtled herself inside. She'd barely seated herself when the door closed and the contraption lurched forward.
There were three passengers besides her: an elderly woman; another woman with a huge, drooping bonnet; and a man next to her who Julianna guessed was her husband.
Julianna found herself next to the old woman. "Good day to all of you," she greeted pleasantly.
"Good day to ye," nodded the old woman.
The other woman eyed her gray-striped traveling gown curiously. "Are ye traveling alone then, madam?"
Madam? Mercy, but at twenty-seven, had she begun to age so dreadfully then?
"I am," Julianna returned evenly. "My maid and I were en route to Bath-I recently bought a house there, you see-when she became ill early in the afternoon. We stopped and spent the night at the inn.
I'd hoped she would be quite recovered by today, but sadly that was not the case. By this afternoon, it was clear poor Peggy was in no condition to travel the remainder of the way to Bath, so I sent her back to London in my carriage." The fact that Julianna was unaccompanied didn't bother her in the least.
"That was most kind of ye, mum," said the other woman. "But we aren't traveling as far as Bath. And the roads aren't safe after dark."
Her husband sent her a censuring glance. "Leticia! 'Tis hardly your affair."
"Don't look at me like that, Charles. You know it's true! There's that terrible highwayman, the Magpie. What will come next, I ask! Why, the wretched man may very well murder us in our beds, every one of us!" She cast an imploring glance at the elderly woman next to Julianna. "Mother, tell him!"
The old lady folded her hands and bobbed her head. "It's quite true, Charles," she said, her eyes round. "Oh, he's quite a horrid fellow, this Magpie."
"You see?" Leticia transferred her gaze to Julianna.
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