The River Devil [NOOK Book]

Overview

Their passion was beyond control. . .

Hal Lindsay is a decorated Union Navy hero and a riverboat captain who has built an empire around his Missouri River steamboats. Yet deep inside him lurks the pain of a dark, vicious past--one that has him determined to live alone, finding carnal comfort in the arms of women who will do anything as long as the price is right--like the sensual innocent currently masquerading as an experienced gambler aboard...
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The River Devil

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Overview

Their passion was beyond control. . .

Hal Lindsay is a decorated Union Navy hero and a riverboat captain who has built an empire around his Missouri River steamboats. Yet deep inside him lurks the pain of a dark, vicious past--one that has him determined to live alone, finding carnal comfort in the arms of women who will do anything as long as the price is right--like the sensual innocent currently masquerading as an experienced gambler aboard his boat. For once, Hal finds himself wanting more--much more. . .and that is a very dangerous thing. . .

Rosalind Schuyler is appalled to be unmasked by Hal--and frightened as well. The prominent New York railroad heiress is on the run to escape marriage to a man who would kill to gain her fortune. Now it seems she's in danger of a different kind. For Hal Lindsay is like no man she's met before. One minute, he's kind as a brother, hiding her from those searching night and day for her. The next, he's a pure masculine animal, taking her to his bed and beyond what she thought were the limits of her desire. Everything he does, she wants more of, but what she wants most, she knows he can never give. . .

Praise For The Novels Of Diane Whiteside

"Very hot. . .Once you start you won't want to stop reading." --Romantic Times

"So steamy that it fogs one's reading glasses. . ." --Booklist on The Irish Devil
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758237446
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 301,664
  • File size: 794 KB

Meet the Author

Diane Whiteside is the author of The Irish Devil and other erotic romances.

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Read an Excerpt

THE RIVER DEVIL


By DIANE WHITESIDE

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2005 Diane Whiteside
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7582-0794-8


Chapter One

Kansas City, April 1872

Hal Lindsay steered the Cherokee Belle with all the ease of long familiarity. One hand on the wheel and a straw between his teeth, he glanced out the window to his left, casually checking the landmarks. His Navy Colt shifted in his shoulder holster at the movement, but his Arkansas toothpick, with its eighteen-inch narrow steel blade, rested quietly against his back.

After weeks spent traveling upriver from St. Louis, he was almost home. Tonight he'd show off his beloved Kansas City to his little sister, Viola, and her new husband before they sailed with him tomorrow to Montana on the Belle.

Only a few clouds darkened his horizon, now that he was reconciled with his dearest friend from childhood. If the railroads would disappear, he'd be a happy man.

He scanned the railroad bridge upstream for signs of trouble. Impossible to guess what those piles of stone concealed-driftwood, debris, or an unexpected eddy, since railroads notoriously built their bridges to ruin the water patterns for riverboats.

Hal double-checked the current's speed, looking for unexpected bursts or eddies before the levee. Here, the Missouri was twice as fast as the Mississippi at New Orleans, almost double the speed of Sherman's march through Georgia-and entirely too similar to a waterfall's headlong rush toward oblivion. It was damned late in the spring rise for it to be running so fast.

He scanned the Hannibal Bridge one last time, found no signs of danger, and turned the Cherokee Belle for the levee.

A tree hurtled out from behind the bridge. Hal came to full alert with a vicious curse. He quickly rang down for three-quarters speed ahead and slammed the Belle's wheel hard over.

The boat-killing missile raced east, heading directly for the Belle, its bare branches reaching for the big white riverboat. A brush from those sharp-edged lances would shred the Belle's planking and send her straight to the bottom.

Hal's only chance was to tuck the Belle behind the wharf boat before the tree tore her apart, then rapidly back her away from the levee before she rammed it. But this April's unusually high water and faster currents made those maneuvers sound like a drunkard's dreams of glory.

The Belle answered the helm immediately and leaned into the turn like the racehorse she was, racing for the levee and safety. Norton set the bell dancing with the engine room's response as a cloud of smoke abruptly roared from the tall stacks.

Passengers shouted as they staggered on the slanting deck. Chickens screeched angrily from their coop aft of the pilothouse and the two milk cows bellowed their protests from the main deck. O'Brien, the mate, boomed a flurry of profanity, as he demanded poles and boat hooks to defend the Belle.

The raging brown waters caught the tree and bounced it, sending the waves into a froth of brown and white. The root-ball dropped from sight, as if the tree wanted to plant itself in the river bottom then and there.

Hal held his breath and watched.

The tree spun like a top in the fast current and pitched itself at the Belle yet again.

One of its brothers had sunk Morris's Pretty Lady that morning, according to gossip at the last woodyard. God willing, the Cherokee Belle wouldn't die the same way. Not today.

Hal cursed and rang for full-speed ahead. Norton's response from the engine room was even faster this time. Black smoke gushed from the stacks, tendrils brushing the pilothouse before they raced away. Hal would rather face the Missouri's vagaries with Black Jack Norton than with any other engineer west of the Mississippi.

He sharpened the turn, praying the Belle wouldn't come in so fast she crumpled her bow against the levee. He had to bring her safely past that tree.

The drowned tree raced past the wharf boat, still heading straight for the Belle, its branches as menacing as any bayonet charge.

Thundering feet along the main deck announced O'Brien's roustabouts arriving on the starboard. Curious passengers rushed to the same side, like sheep too stupid to flee from danger.

The first barren branch lunged toward the Belle, but a boat hook pushed it away. Another wicked limb reached toward her prey, and another. Boat hooks and poles defeated every attack.

The root-ball passed within a yard of the Belle's paddlewheel. Passengers applauded. Then a woman screamed from the bow.

Hal immediately spun the wheel, turning the Belle back toward the river, as he rang for all back full. Norton's answer set the bell jangling before Hal could remove his hand. The old devil must have been desperate for that order.

The Belle's paddlewheel churned the water into a frenzy. Her bow bumped against the muddy bottom, sending a long shudder through the boat as she escaped into deeper water.

The deckhands raised a cheer. O'Brien cursed them, albeit with less heat than before, and sent them off once again to prepare to tie up at the wharf boat.

Hal straightened the wheel and rang for quarter-speed ahead. Norton's answer seemed a tad leisurely this time.

Five minutes later, the Cherokee Belle decorously docked beside the wharf boat. The gangplank dropped into position and passengers jostled to go ashore first. On the main deck, Hezekiah led the other Negro roustabouts in a rhythmic plantation melody as they began to unload cargo, the men clearly intent on earning their bonuses for singing-and advertising the Belle.

Aloysius Hatcher's brag boat, the Spartan, was docked just forward of the Belle. Her chimney stacks were higher this season, probably to gain a hotter fire in her boilers, making them just another one of Hatcher's efforts to keep the speed record he'd stolen from the Belle. Hal reminded himself to talk to Bellecourt about keeping a wary eye out for double tricks on the trip upriver; no telling what Hatcher would try on this voyage.

Wagons ambled down Front Street, and pedestrians bustled between the scattered buildings. Just outside a saloon, the local Pinkerton detective, Jonah Longbottom, earnestly questioned two men.

Hal idly wondered what they discussed; undoubtedly railroad business, but today was Monday, so Longbottom couldn't be hunting that missing heiress. The man was honest, diligent, and utterly predictable: Every Tuesday, he sought Miss Schuyler at every hotel and boardinghouse in Kansas City, as he'd been paid to do. No matter that it was a useless search, since any railroad man would have told him that she'd stay close to land and far away from water. Any riverman would have laughed in his face. No riverman would betray the one person who'd made the arrogant railroads look like fools.

Railroads had the nasty habit of lowering fares until they stole all traffic, both passenger and freight, from the riverboats. After they'd killed every honest, independent riverboat, they'd raise rates to sky-high levels and take the profits home to New York.

So far, the only person who'd successfully mocked the railroads' omnipotence was that missing heiress. Second-largest stockholder in New York Central, Rosalind Schuyler had a fortune that could make Commodore Vanderbilt jealous. But she'd disappeared from her guardian's fancy Manhattan town house, setting off a frenzy of speculation in the press as the law and Pinkerton detectives hunted her.

Some folks said she was dead, like the big charities who stood to gain her money. They'd even filed suit to get their hands on it. But nobody paid much attention to them except their lawyers.

The railroads looked the hardest, of course. They'd scoured mile after mile of track without finding so much as a whiff of her French perfume. The orphaned little lady was winning the race, while every riverman cheered her on and laughed at the railroads.

Hal had met her once in New York, at his sister's house during a ball. She'd caught his eye immediately: It was rare to see a tall woman hold her head high, rather than slouch to appear shorter. Her enormous gray eyes, mobile mouth, and masses of honey brown curls had made his cock tighten with a hot-blooded man's need to stake an immediate claim. He'd wanted to drag her upstairs and bed her until all she could say was his name, then wake up in the morning to enjoy her again. She was the most dangerous woman he'd ever met because she'd made him want to stay.

Jerking his thoughts back to his original question, Hal gave a mental shrug at Longbottom's stubbornness and went to work on his logbook entry. He was tempted to compare railroads to works of Satan, especially when he considered how few first-class packets still docked at Westport Landing. He shrugged off the idea, in favor of a fast departure for home, where he could freshen up before welcoming Viola and William. After years of writing his sister, he needed to be a good advertisement for the delights of Kansas City.

"Felicitations, Lindsay. You brought the Belle in very neatly." Antoine Bellecourt, the Belle's other pilot, stepped into the pilothouse.

Hal smiled at his old mentor and shrugged off the praise. "Easy enough when the currents were the same direction as during last year's rise. A bit faster though-six miles an hour, I'd guess."

"Vraiment? Was that how you did it?" Bellecourt cocked his head to consider that news, as eager as any pilot to hear gossip about the river. Then he shifted easily to another topic, clearly having absorbed the implications of Hal's observation. "Ready to go ashore, mon ami? The Widow Cameron's loitering by the gangplank, watching for you."

Hal raised an eyebrow in disbelief and finished scribbling. "Why would I care what she's doing?"

"Given how you two flirted on the trip up from St. Louis ..." the old matchmaker hinted.

"Are you sure about that, Bellecourt?" Hal tucked his logbook away into his suit pocket and gathered his blackthorn walking stick.

Bellecourt snorted. "A man would have to be blind not to see how she was looking you over, mon ami."

"I'm having dinner tonight with my sister and her husband, Bellecourt, not a woman hell-bent on marriage and children."

He resettled his Stetson on his head, bought in Tucson while he hunted for Viola a year ago. Given its completely different style from the uniform hats worn by the Belle's officers, it also served to mark him as the boat's owner.

"Your objection to marriage, Lindsay, is really quite remarkable," Bellecourt probed gently, his black eyes quizzical. "You're more than comfortable with women."

Hal's mouth tightened for a moment. But Bellecourt had been his friend since he'd arrived on this river almost twenty years ago as a scruffy boy. In fact, he was the one who'd taught him how to read the river and be a pilot. If he'd waited this long to ask, then Hal could give him some of the truth.

He shifted the walking stick in his hand before speaking. "The widow is sister to Mrs. Bennett and Mrs. Turner. Would you want to marry into either of those families?"

"Where the fathers beat their sons as regular as spring thunderstorms? Then the boys grow up and do the same with their own get? Merde," Bellecourt spat, his face alive with disgust. "I've lived in Kansas City for almost forty years and I've seen five generations of Bennetts and Turners shed their children's blood. And when the mothers stood idly by while their babies are whipped ..."

Hal flinched at the all-too-accurate description of how a family repeated its mistakes, generation after generation.

His friend brooded for a moment, his black eyes as dangerous as an obsidian knife. "I wouldn't ally myself with those families if the Missouri was coming over the levee and they had the only boat in town, mon ami."

Bellecourt glanced at him and smoothly switched gears. "Les petites demoiselles are a different matter-so pretty and sweet and charming, they are easy to guard and protect. Is your beautiful sister still married to Ross?"

Hal was glad to follow his old master's conversational lead. "That drunken jackass? He's been dead more than a year. But Viola caught a good man this time around, William Donovan of Donovan & Sons."

Bellecourt whistled. "C'est vrai? She did very well for herself."

Nodding agreement, Hal briefly considered the contrast between Viola's two husbands. He'd never understood why she'd married Ross, and she'd never offered an explanation. Heaven knows he'd found enough reasons to quarrel with their father. But that ill-advised marriage had caused his sister's first fight with the old devil.

Turning from the old puzzle, he brought the conversation back to its original course. "Why don't you flirt with the widow? All you have to do is tell her my rules."

"No wife and no children?" Bellecourt laughed softly and followed Hal out of the pilothouse and down to the hurricane deck. "Or perhaps I'll simply attend Taylor's poker party, mon ami, rather than dance attendance on a lady."

Driven by habit, Hal reached up and tested one of the two hog chains' tension, making sure his boat was still stable. The Cherokee Belle, like all western riverboats, prized a shallow draft enough to dispense with a keel, such as oceangoing ships used. Instead, they used hog chains, which ran from stem to stern beside the texas, strong and taut to counterbalance the Belle's heavy load in the hold below.

Just then, one of the Negro roustabouts trotted up to Hal with an envelope. "Telegram, boss. It's been waiting at the office for you."

"Thanks." Hal waved a dismissal and ripped open the envelope to read the message within. "Damn. Viola and Donovan were delayed leaving Washington. They won't reach Kansas City until dawn."

"Then they're still joining us tomorrow?"

Hal's head came up at a sharp bark, then he shrugged off the disturbance. It certainly hadn't come from his boat.

"Oh yes," he answered his friend. "But until then, maybe I'll go to Taylor's tonight." He brooded for a moment. He could visit Annie Chambers's bawdy house instead. He knew every parlor house and brothel on the Missouri-and most of those on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers as well. He could amuse himself with one of her women for an hour, or two. If she had anyone both interesting and clean, that is. Annie had teased him more than once about being too persnickety for his own good.

No, better to play poker; it would hold his attention far longer than any woman ever had.

"You could still chase the widow," Bellecourt offered, as they reached the boiler deck.

Another frantic bark, then another, sounded above the river's churning rush.

Continues...


Excerpted from THE RIVER DEVIL by DIANE WHITESIDE Copyright © 2005 by Diane Whiteside. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2005

    This book is certainly not a romance

    Witten in a very modern (not historical) vernacular. If you're looking for a book with romance, this is not it. If you're looking for a book with hard-core unemotional sex, this is IT.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A terrific historical romance

    In December 1871 in New York Nicholas Lennox will do anything including kill to insure he controls the wealth of Rosalind Schuyler though he plans to marry her first. A stipulation in her inheritance insists that if she marries in the next fifteen months she loses control of her money. To avoid that fate especially with the dangerous Nicholas, Rosalind flees west hoping to hide until she can claim her wealth without any proviso................ To hide in plain sight, Rosalind dresses like a man, but Nicholas seems to be closing in on her. At a poker game, she meets Mississippi-Missouri riverboat captain Hal Lindsey. She is attracted to him but fears revealing her gender; he knows that ¿he¿ is a she and he needs to learn why because he wants her too............... Diane Whiteside¿s latest devilish tale, THE RIVER DEVIL, is a terrific historical romance that stars two likable lead protagonists, a vile villain, and the rivers with their riverboats. The story line cleverly meanders like the rivers that flow throughout the descriptive plot. However, the cast makes this a fine novel as readers will root for Nicholas and Rosalind (perfect name for a woman disguised as a man) and appreciate the return of the stars of THE IRISH DEVIL in a secondary role........... Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2012

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  • Posted May 3, 2012

    Ok Read

    I read this one after reading The Irish Devil. It was an ok story a lot of chasing and running but rather predictable. I enjoyed the continuation of prior characters. The series itself is rather entertaining.

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  • Posted June 4, 2011

    Highly Recommended - a must read.

    The charachters a great, the story exciting and the passion explosive. One of my favorites.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2005

    The River Devil Delivers

    The River Devil by Diane Whiteside takes you to life and times on the mighty rivers after the Civil War. **** Hal Lindsey is his own man, his love of the river shines through via his boat the Cherokee Belle. Hal has vowed to never marry or to have children after the way he and his sisters were raised. Hal had met Rosalind Schuler before she disappeared but now she is at a high stack poker game dresses as a man. This woman intrigues him greatly. ***** Rosalind is running for her life. After the death of her father, she is trying to outrun an unscrupulous man who wants her inheritance. If she can stay hidden just a few more months the money is hers. She takes to the gambling cities off the river disguised as a man. Only Hal figures out her disguise and takes her in as a cub trainee on his boat to protect her. But he also wants to continue their affair. ***** As they travel the byways and rivers across the country their affair deepens. The danger continues to follow them and even targets his family. ***** The River Devil is a mesmerizing book. The glory of river travel sparkles and draws you in to days gone by. Hal and Rosalind have one of the most tantalizing and compelling relationships, which is deeply sensual as it is intellectual. It was great to revisit Viola (Hal¿s sister) and William Donovan from The Irish Devil. I really hope Morgan Evans gets his own tale soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2005

    Courtesy Laurie/Romance Junkies

    Successful riverboat captain Hal Lindsay is quite surprised to look across the poker table and into the eyes of railroad heiress Rosalind Schuyler, especially since she is disguised as a man. Rosalind is running from a marriage to a truly evil man whose plan to marry her will be immediately followed by a plan to kill her to get his hands on a significant inheritance. She is terrified when Hal discovers her true identity for fear that he will let the truth slip. Hal has no intention of exposing Rosalind. He finds her fascinating and would rather keep her under his protection, in masculine disguise in pubic, with the pretense of her being in his employ as his cub. She will be with him every hour of every day, even bunking in his stateroom without any questions. As the two of them spend time together, passions explode and Rosalind finds herself falling in love with Hal. Hal likes to have a good time with a woman, any woman, but compared to the feminine warmth that he has found with Rosalind, those interludes are cold and meaningless. He does not care for the feelings that Rosalind arouses in him when they are alone together. Hal had a dark, violent childhood and fears that he may have inherited his father¿s taste for violence; he has vowed to never marry and father children. Rosalind, on the other hand, dreams of a loving husband and children. Hal and Rosalind are the sort of characters that historical romance readers long for. They are well suited, despite the refusal of either to act upon their dreams of more than a brief, erotic, sexual affair. The secondary characters of Hal¿s adorable sister and her loving husband are a bonus; their very presence a virtual bright spot and a wonderful compliment to Hal and Rosalind. Hal is one of the most sensual heroes ever written. He is smooth and polished, always hiding the physical and emotional scars of his vicious childhood. Rosalind is a sophisticated woman, tall, beautiful and full-bodied. Evil characters are ruthlessly so, with Ms. Whiteside deciding in the end who amongst them is redeemable and who is not. This book is a must-read for lovers of well-written historical romance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009

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    Posted November 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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