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Strangers at Dawn
     

Strangers at Dawn

4.0 6
by Elizabeth Thornton
 

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Elizabeth Thornton, author of the nationally bestselling Whisper His Name and You Only Love Twice, combines ravishing romance with spellbinding suspense in her most dazzling love story yet....

Throughout Sara Carstairs' trial for the murder of her sister's husband, Max Worthe had studied her cool demeanor in the dock, fascinated by her even as he

Overview

Elizabeth Thornton, author of the nationally bestselling Whisper His Name and You Only Love Twice, combines ravishing romance with spellbinding suspense in her most dazzling love story yet....

Throughout Sara Carstairs' trial for the murder of her sister's husband, Max Worthe had studied her cool demeanor in the dock, fascinated by her even as he was convinced she was guilty as charged. For three years after the ravishing heiress was acquitted, he used the power of his newspaper to pursue the truth--hoping to find the still-undiscovered body of the murder victim and at last prove Sara's guilt. But not only had the body disappeared without a trace, so had Sara Carstairs....

When Max finally catches up with Sara by sheer chance, he doesn't even know it's her...at first. By the time he does, it's too late--they've already spent a night together that both of them know they will never forget and can never repeat. Has he fallen in love with the woman of his dreams or with a cold-blooded murderess? And has she put herself in the hands of a knight in shining armor--or a ruthless scoundrel bent on destroying her?


From the Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Thornton's (Dangerous to Hold; Whisper His Name) Regency matches passion with intrigue when heiress Sara Carstairs is acquitted in the murder of her brother-in-law, William Neville. However, Lord Maxwell Worthe, owner and special correspondent of the Courier in Winchester, England, taunts her with reminders of the crime. Even more upsetting, someone is sending her threatening letters. Sara's plans to marry, break her father's trust, distribute the family funds and go to America are postponed after a chance midnight meeting with Max. At first Max doesn't recognize the woman he's been writing about, but once he realizes her identity, he can't decide whether she's a cold-blooded murderer or a fragile victim. Unfortunately, after Max makes his decision, Thornton's passionate story digresses into a traditional and tired romance, as evidenced by themes of mistrust and miscommunication. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Joan Hammond
With her talent as a superb storyteller Elizabeth Thornton skillfully blends suspense, murder and a powerful love story into a jewel of a book.
Romantic Times
From the Publisher
"One of my personal favorites."
—Linda Howard

"A writer of uncommon brilliance."
—Romantic Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307429667
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/23/2009
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
565,943
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt


Peter Fallon smiled to himself as he watched Max in conversation with Sir Ivor. Sir Prig, as the reporters had named Sir Ivor, had allowed his stiff upper lip to soften into something like a smile. He'd aroused a good deal of sympathy at first. Not only had his son disappeared, but his only other child, a young daughter, had died of lung fever some years before. He'd seemed like a tragic figure, but his air of superiority, his pride and arrogance, had soon dispelled that impression. He was more of an avenging angel than a grieving father.

"Prince Charming does have a way with him, does he not?"

Fallon recognized the drawl and grinned at the gentleman who had joined him. Jameson of the Times, fortyish, portly, sweating and crumpled, had a caustic wit that Fallon rather enjoyed.

"Prince Charming?" said Fallon.

"Lord Maxwell. He has Sir Prig tamed to his hand."

"Well, you know how it is with the aristocracy. They talk the same language."

"Oh, yes. I know how it is. Bluebloods must stick together."

Fallon laughed. "You sound envious."

"You're mistaken, Fallon. I'm not envious. I just wish Prince Charming would do what he's supposed to do."

"Which is?"

"Marry a princess, carry her off to his castle, and live happily ever after. Then we lesser mortals might get the recognition we deserve."

Fallon laughed, but he was well aware that Jameson's remarks were prompted by pique. Though Lord Maxwell was too likable, too genuine a character to arouse real envy, it did seem unjust that a young man of thirty, a man who had everything to start with, should also possess more than his share of good luck.

Max Worthewas heir to his father, the Marquess of Lyndhurst. There really was a castle, only fifteen miles from Winchester. A castle, a house in town, a life of wealth and privilege--what more could a man want?

The fates had also blessed him with good looks. His fair hair was cropped short; his square jaw added a manly touch to a face that might have been considered too handsome. He was tall, an inch or so under six feet, and every trim inch was as solid as granite. It was no secret that Lord Maxwell's favorite pastime was boxing, and it showed.

Six months ago, he'd bought the Courier when it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Everyone thought it was a joke, the whim of a bored aristocrat, and predicted the Courier's demise within a matter of months. Fallon, himself, at four-and-twenty, and the youngest reporter on staff, was sure that his days on the Courier were numbered, and he began looking around for another position. He'd listened to those who should know. Lord Maxwell was a novice, they said. He didn't know the first thing about producing a newspaper. It was true that he published a periodical, the London Review, but that came out once a month and was devoted to literary works or essays by well-known wits. A newspaper was a different matter entirely. The competition was fierce. The Times was firmly established as London's leading paper, and most of its competitors had gone to the wall.

Lord Maxwell, however, had not taken the Times as his model. The first thing he did was take the parliamentary report off the front page and replace it with stories with a more popular appeal. Murders, tragedies, natural disasters, scandals--that's what sold papers. What the Courier had lost in prestige, it had made up in a dramatic increase in circulation.

Peter Fallon was not one of those who begrudged Lord Maxwell his success. As the Courier's fortunes had risen, so had his. He admired Lord Maxwell; he studied his manners, his habits, his preferences, and tried, as far as was in his power, to emulate his mentor.

Jameson said consideringly, "I suppose he eats like a bird?"

"Actually, he eats like a horse."

Jameson sucked in his stomach. "You know, Fallon, if I really put my mind to it, I think I could muster a thorough dislike of your Prince Charming. But let's not quibble. Tell me your impressions of Miss Carstairs."



Half an hour later, the jury room bell sounded, and there was a flurry of movement as spectators reclaimed their seats. Max could not ignore how tense he felt. His mouth was dry; his heart was pounding. He'd expected the jury to take longer to reach their verdict, and he didn't know whether their early return was a good or bad omen.

When the court had reassembled, Max turned to look at the dock. A moment later, Sara Carstairs emerged from the trapdoor and took her place. Nothing in her demeanor betrayed the least nervousness, yet, thought Max, she must know that if the verdict went against her, she would go to the gallows. If she didn't feel the gravity of her situation, he did.

Her gaze, once again, was fixed on one of the junior attorneys who assisted her leading counsel. A look passed between them, but it did not linger. The jurymen were filing in.

The next few minutes passed as though they were hours. The clerk of the court slowly called each juryman by name. When the foreman was asked to give the verdict, an expectant hush gripped the spectators.

"Not guilty."

An instantaneous burst of applause erupted throughout the courtroom. Sara Carstairs looked frozen, as though this was the last thing she expected. The prison matron took one of her hands and openly wept.

What in the name of Hades is the matter with the woman? thought Max irritably. The prison matron was weeping; spectators were cheering; he was shaking; and Sara Carstairs sat there like a cold, unfeeling block of marble.

The applause subsided only when the irate chief justice ordered two wildly enthusiastic young men to be taken into custody. When the court was adjourned, the reporters in the crush elbowed their way toward the exits. They would be chasing Miss Carstairs down, soliciting a comment for the next edition of their respective newspapers. Max was in no hurry. Peter Fallon had been one of the first out the door, and if Miss Carstairs was willing to give a statement, which Max doubted, Fallon would take care of it.

The verdict left him feeling less than satisfied. He'd wanted her to be acquitted for only one reason: He believed that capital punishment was a barbarous practice, and he could not condone it under any circumstances. Now that she'd been acquitted, however, and could not be tried again for the murder of William Neville, he intended to use the considerable means at his disposal to get at the truth, no matter how many witnesses had to be interviewed or how long it took.

But only Sara Carstairs could lead him to William Neville's final resting place. That's what he wanted, of course. To be ahead of the pack. To be the first to print the whole story. He was a newspaperman now, and made no apology for it.

It had taken him by surprise, this fascination with the Courier. He'd taken it on because he liked a challenge, and people said it couldn't be done. In proving them wrong, he'd become caught up in the excitement of the thing. The newspapers of the day were deadly dull and were mostly read by an educated minority of men. His mother had pointed him in the right direction. She never picked up a newspaper, she said, because there was nothing in it to interest her. What she wanted were stories about real people, and that was only to be found in the tawdry broadsheets that his father would not permit in the house.

So, without sacrificing integrity, he'd changed the Courier's direction to appeal to his mother, and in so doing, he'd turned the Courier around.

Now he had his eye on his next challenge, the Manchester Post.

When he came outside, he found that the crowds who had been waiting patiently to hear the verdict had gone wild with excitement. People were shouting, dancing, throwing their hats in the air. Only a week ago, they'd wanted to see Sara Carstairs hang. Her youth and beauty, thought Max cynically, had served her well.

Peter Fallon pushed his way through to Max. He was short of breath. "No one knows where she is," he said. "They stopped her carriage, but the woman who was
wearing her clothes was not Miss Carstairs. She could be anywhere."

Max chuckled. "I bet that junior attorney set things up for her. It's what I would do in his place. No need to look so glum, Peter. She'll turn up, and when she does, I have it in my mind to make the acquaintance of Miss Sara Carstairs. Now let's go back to the hotel and get that article in shape. We may not have a quote from Miss Carstairs, but Sir Ivor gave me an earful. That ought to keep our readers happy--'The grieving father'--you know what I mean."



In the next edition, the Courier doubled Sir Ivor's reward, but no one came forward to claim it. Max had no luck with Sara Carstairs either. She had gone into hiding and, as he soon discovered, all the means at his disposal failed to find a trace of her.

What People are Saying About This

Linda Howard
One of my personal favorites.
Mary Balogh
I consider Elizabeth Thornton a major find.

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Strangers at Dawn 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
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Silverrain i Skystar am speaking for Fallenleaf that u meet him at "alone at dawn" result 3