Surrender to a Strangerby Karyn Monk
She trusted him with her life....
Sentenced to death, Jacqueline never expected to be rescued from her filthy cell by an unlikely visitor--a man whose disguise hid a devastatingly handsome/b>/b>
From Karyn Monk, author of The Witch and the Warrior and Once a Warrior, comes an enthralling love story that is as passionate as it is suspenseful....
She trusted him with her life....
Sentenced to death, Jacqueline never expected to be rescued from her filthy cell by an unlikely visitor--a man whose disguise hid a devastatingly handsome British agent. Now the two were on the run--and for as long as he was there to protect her, she felt strangely safe....
But could she trust him with her heart?
They called him the Black Prince, and to save the unjustly condemned he took hair-raising risks, slipping in and out of courtrooms and prisons, brazenly defying the threat of capture and death. The reckless spy tried to tell himself that Jacqueline was just another prisoner to be spirited away to safety. Yet there was something about her fierce dignity, her unrelenting sense of honor, her unbreakable spirit that made him never want to let her go....
HE RISKED HIS LIFE TO SAVE HERS....
She thought she was about to die when her family's farm came under attack. Instead, a handsome stranger rode to her rescue and took a bullet to save her. But when the bloodshed and terror were over,Josephine Armstrong discovered that the man she owed her life to was a British soldier. She could not betray Lt. Col. Damien Powell -- not after what he'd done for her. But she would pay dearly for harboring the enemy, forced to prove her patriotism by becoming the rebels' most beautiful spy....
BUT WOULD SHE GIVE HIM HER HEART IN RETURN?
When he saw the lovely young woman struggling with her captor, Damien didn't care which side of the bloody war she was on. He only knew that he had never seen such an incredible mixture of extraordinary beauty and raw courage in his life. Yet Damien couldn't know that one day this innocent farm girl was destined to betray him. She would become Charles Town's most irresistible spy, dazzling officers with her charms even as she stripped them of strategic secrets. But when a twist of fate brings Josephine back into his life again, Damien will gamble everything on the chance that he can make this exquisite rebel surrender...if only in his arms. -->
From the Paperback edition.
"Newcomer Karyn Monk, stand up and take a bow. This talented author has gifted readers with a first-rate historical romance that will not soon be forgotten. Surrender to a Stranger is one of those rare gems that will have'addicted' readers gong back time and time again for yet another heady dose of fantaastic reading."
"Such a fascinating tale, it kept me mesemerized from beginning to end. A wonderful reading experience."
"You will relish this historical romance."
Affaire de Coeur
Don't miss Karyn Monk's other spellbinding romances:
The Witch and the Warrior:
"Monk spins a fascinating, readable story of passion and magic that will charm readers who like their historicals laced with humor and appealing characters."
"An enchanting and delightful read."
Rocky Mountain News
Once a Warrior:
"Monk grips the reader with her powerful images of Scotland and of war, witty dialogue, strong characters and Arthurian undertones."
The Rebel and the Redcoat:
"Karyn Monk...lives up to her promise as a strong, vibrant, versatile voice in romance. The Rebel and the Redcoat is not only a fascinating portrait of the Revolution, but a marvelous love story and a pulse-pounding adventure that will win readers' hearts."
And look for The Rose and the Warrior in spring 2000
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Read an Excerpt
"I will return in one hour to finish what we started," Nicolas ground out to Jacqueline. "I trust you will be waiting for me?" he drawled sarcastically. He turned abruptly and left the cell.
"Excitable fellow, that one," commented the old man as he looked up from his paper. He fixed his gaze on Jacqueline. "He seems unusually fond of you." He stared at her meaningfully.
"Call me when you want out," said Gagnon as he closed and locked the door.
"Now then, Citizeness, what can I do for you today?" asked Citizen Julien brightly as he set a clean sheet of paper before him and dabbed his quill in the pot of ink.
"If you cheat me, I promise you will regret it," stated Jacqueline in a warning tone. She had heard stories of dishonest agents who made a comfortable living by simply keeping the valuables they collected from their condemned clients. It was bad enough they were living off the misery of others, but then to charge prisoners for services they had no intention of rendering, and to sell or discard the last precious items bequeathed to their loved ones, was utterly despicable.
"Citizeness, er . . ." The old man paused to squint at his note, "Doucette, you need have no fear of my integrity. You may mount the steps to the guillotine with complete peace of mind, confident that your last wishes will be carried out to the letter," he told her with pride.
"Very well," conceded Jacqueline. She stood in the middle of the cell and thought for a moment.
The old man sat poised at the table waiting for her instructions. The boy Dénis, who like Gagnon was covered with years of grime, made himself more or less comfortable by sitting on thefloor and leaning against the wall. His loose, dark trousers, short, coarse jacket, and red cap was the typical outfit of the new sansculottes, revolutionaries who scorned the tight, knee-length breeches and long jackets aristocratic gentlemen had favored for most of the century. He folded his arms and closed his eyes, evidently undisturbed by the filth around him.
"Since our honorable Republic has, in its infallible wisdom, decided to confiscate all of my father's investments, including my home and everything in it, my bequests are somewhat limited," Jacqueline stated sarcastically. "I wish to send a letter to my maid, Henriette Mandrou, and with it I shall include my hair. She will know what to do with it."
"Henriette," repeated the old man as he began to write. With a shaking hand he slowly scratched the letters onto the paper, using long, embellished strokes. When he had finished he paused and stared at the name, as if trying to remember why he had written it. After a moment he smiled and looked up. "I knew an Henriette once," he told her conversationally. "A dairymaid. Wanted me to marry her. Only difference between her and her cow was the cow smelled better." He chuckled and looked back at his work.
"I would also like you to cut my hair, if you think you can hold your scissors steady enough to do it without slashing my throat," continued Jacqueline, irritated by his cheerful attitude. She pulled the pins from her hair and shook it loose, running her fingers through the blond cape to feel its silky texture one last time before it was removed.
Citizen Julien stared at her as she did this, holding his quill in midair, the smile on his face quite gone. It appeared to Jacqueline that the sight of her hair had startled him, and his reaction made the impending loss even more painful.
"It is only hair," she told him bitterly. "Tomorrow it will be my head."
His response to that statement was to burst into another terrible fit of coughing, so deep and choking he dropped his pen and began to gasp for air. Concerned, Jacqueline rushed over and began to pat him lightly on the back. The boy leapt to his feet, pushed Jacqueline aside, and proceeded to give his employer a solid thumping.
"He's having one of his fits," Dénis explained.
"Medicine--" wheezed the old man in between wallops. "Need--medicine."
"Where is it?" demanded Jacqueline.
"It's in his bag, downstairs," Dénis told her. "We carry a lot of people's stuff with us, and the wardens don't usually let us take it up to the cells. Afraid we'll smuggle in poison, or a gun maybe," he explained.
"Gagnon!" shouted Jacqueline through the grille on the door. The old man's coughing and wheezing was becoming more severe. "Citizen Gagnon!"
"What is it?" snapped the jailer as he unlocked the door and stepped inside. He looked at Citizen Julien, who was huddled over gasping for air while the boy continued to bang on his back. "Here now, what's his problem?"
"He needs his medicine, which is in a bag downstairs," explained Jacqueline urgently. "The boy must go and fetch it."
"Go on then," said the jailer, motioning to Dénis. "And be quick about it."
The boy raced out of the cell, leaving the old man to the care of Jacqueline.
"A drink--" he managed weakly before heaving into another fit of choking.
"Perhaps you should fetch some water, or wine maybe," she suggested to Gagnon as she helplessly watched the old man hacking and spewing phlegm into his handkerchief.
"No wine!" wheezed Citizen Julien in between coughs.
"Water then," said Jacqueline with a nod to the jailer.
"Do I look like your servant, Citizeness?" he demanded.
The old man let out a horrible, agonizing moan and clutched his chest, gasping for air.
"Please!" begged Jacqueline. "It won't look very good if an agent of the court dies in your wing while you are on duty," she added desperately.
Gagnon scowled. "I'll be back in a minute. I'll leave the door open for the boy, but don't you be thinking about wandering off anywhere, Citizeness," he warned. "If I have to go searching for you, I will demand payment for my trouble, and I might not be satisfied with just your hair. Maybe I'll try some of what Inspector Bourdon came for." He grinned at her, exposing his jagged, rotting teeth before leaving the cell.
He went to his table at the far end of the hall and was irritated to find that the bucket of water he kept there was empty. The old man's dreadful hacking continued to echo through the vaulted corridor. Gagnon decided he had better do what he could to keep the poor bugger from croaking, so he grabbed the battered cup from the bucket and went off toward the east wing, hoping the jailer of that ward had some water handy. He was not concerned in the least that Jacqueline would escape. The Conciergerie was crawling with guards who would take great pleasure in stopping a woman prisoner and punishing her for wandering from her cell.
He returned after a few minutes with the battered cup full of murky water. Citizen Julien's coughing had subsided considerably, and when Gagnon entered the cell he could see the boy had returned with the medicine. The old man, apparently somewhat recovered from his attack, was wheezing as he bent over Jacqueline, who was now lying huddled on her bed.
"There, there now, my dear, it is nothing to be concerned about, a little faintness and chills on the eve of one's execution is perfectly normal," he soothed in a raspy voice. He adjusted the blanket around her shoulders and sighed.
"What's the matter with her?" demanded Gagnon. The Republic did not approve of its prisoners dying in prison. To do so was to cheat the guillotine of another victim.
"Citizeness Doucette is in need of a little rest," explained the old man. "I fear the excitement of the day has been too much for her."
Gagnon snorted loudly. "Tomorrow she'll be getting all the rest she'll ever need," he joked.
"Quite so," agreed Citizen Julien. "In the meantime, the lad and I will give her a few moments to collect herself before we resume our business." He turned his attention back to his papers and began to read one of them by the dim light of the candle. The youth Dénis, who had been standing in the darkness staring at the woman lying on the bed, sank to the floor, bent his head into his chest, and prepared to take a nap.
"Call me when you want out," said Gagnon with a shrug. He pulled the door shut and locked it.
After a time he could hear the sound of Jacqueline's voice as she dictated a letter to the old man, evidently recovered from her spell. Citizen Julien read the letter back to her, and she pointed out several missing words. Then followed a very loud argument over the price of the old man's services, which nearly sent him into another fit of coughing. The issue was finally resolved, at which point Gagnon could hear Jacqueline begin to sob. Evidently a compassionate man, Citizen Julien fussed over her again as he told her to lie down. A few minutes later the old man called for Gagnon to let him out.
"She is resting again, and should not be disturbed by anyone," said Citizen Julien in a low, grave voice. "Especially that rather volatile young man who was here earlier. Clearly his presence is not welcome," he stated with a raised white eyebrow.
Gagnon shrugged. "Citizen Bourdon is an inspector for the Committee of Public Safety and can see whoever he wants. What he does in this cell is none of my business."
The old man looked at him in disgust. "Citizeness Doucette is sentenced to die tomorrow. Until then she is under your care, and if I hear of any impropriety when I return tomorrow to cut her hair, you can be sure I will report it to Citizen Fouquier-Tinville. Our public prosecutor is a man of the law, and he does not approve of the mistreatment of prisoners who are in the custody of the new Republic."
"You did not cut her hair?" demanded Gagnon with interest. He squinted through the darkness and could see Jacqueline's hair spilling out from underneath the black shawl wrapped around her head and shoulders.
"She was too upset," explained Citizen Julien with a sigh. "I offered to come back and cut it tomorrow so she would not have to suffer the loss of it tonight."
"That was kind of you," murmured Gagnon thoughtfully. Perhaps he would own that golden mane after all.
"Kindness is an act which is too little seen in these difficult times," commented Citizen Julien as he collected his papers and put them into his leather case.
"Careful, Citizen," warned Gagnon. "Lest your words come back to haunt you."
"If they do, I will know who felt they were worthy of repeating, won't I?" said the old man. "Come, Dénis," he called, motioning to the boy. "We have four more clients to see before the night is out."
Dénis handed Citizen Julien his cane, accepted his leather case, and then stood close beside him so he could lean heavily on his shoulder. "I fear I am getting too old for this," Citizen Julien muttered irritably as they slowly shuffled out of the cell.
Gagnon looked at the candle on the table, which had burned down to almost nothing. Citizeness Doucette was sleeping and therefore unaware that the light of her precious candle was being wasted. Gagnon decided to wait until it had burned itself out before coming back to waken her. Then they could make a trade, he thought with satisfaction.
It was not to be. Barely ten minutes later Inspector Bourdon returned and demanded to be let into Citizeness Doucette's cell.
"She had a fainting spell and took to her bed," Gagnon told him as he unlocked the door.
Nicolas peered through the darkness at the sleeping form of Jacqueline, whose glorious hair was down and flowing like a river of honey across her back. He had never seen her with her hair down. The sight of her sleeping peacefully, unsuspecting and vulnerable, made him hard with desire. The candle on the table sputtered and went out.
"Shall I bring you another candle?" offered Gagnon.
"No," replied Nicolas abruptly. "Get out."
The cell was plunged into total darkness as the door eclipsed the faint light of the torch Gagnon held.
Nicolas held his breath as he removed his hat, gloves, overcoat, and jacket. He slowly unfastened his waistcoat and loosened his trousers, savoring the anticipation of finally having what had been denied to him for so long.
"Jacqueline," he called softly as he moved toward the bed. He stood towering over her, clenching and unclenching his hands. "I have returned to finish what we began," he whispered, bracing himself for the pleasure of the struggle that was about to begin. He reached out and touched the silky hair that adorned the thin, coarse blanket covering her. She did not stir. "I am glad you did not cut your hair," he told her as he held her hair in his fist. "It would have marred your beauty, and when I remember you begging me to stop, I want you to be just as perfect as always."
He yanked down hard on her hair, intending to waken her with pain.
He stared in confusion at the golden skein dangling lifelessly in his hand, tied at one end with a length of ribbon.
"What in the name of God--"
He tore away the blanket and wrenched her up from the bed. A terrible roar of rage echoed through the halls as Nicolas realized he held nothing but a tattered silk gown, stuffed with fetid straw and a shapely puff of fine linen petticoats.
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I loved the face of the man on the cover, so I picked this book up with some interest. The back cover blurb was intriguing, and the first seventy or so pages of the book were compelling. Then everything went wrong. Ms. Monk chokes her writing with long strings of adjectives and adverbs that make her writing style extremely dense. It's a perfect example of too much of a good thing. Ms. Monk has skills - she created a great setting, excellent historical facts and she has a flair for fine details. I like lots of detail, particularly in a historical romance, but she gives so much detail that she leaves nothing for the reader's imagination. This story, which is set against the backdrop of the political and social upheaval of 1793 France and perfectly staid and boring England, has the feel of a lavish history textbook rather than a straightforward historical romance. Whoever edited - or rather, DIDN'T edit - this book needs to be beaten soundly with a hardback edition of Elements of Style. The lead female character, Jacqueline de Lambert, is completely unlikeable and boring in her single-mindedness. Her selfish, condescending nature is not softened by her 'honorable' intentions toward her betrothed, a Marquis. Though she actually cares nothing for him, she agrees to give herself to Armand St. James, as payment for Armand attempting to rescue the Marquis. The whole set-up is just a weak and clumsy excuse to get Jacqueline and Armand in the sack. Armand, aka The Black Prince who rescues imprisoned French noblesse from a date with the guillotine, is interesting, but not enough to save this book. Ms. Monk also falls into the habit I see in many romance novels - constantly repeating the internal and external motivations of her leads characters. Those motivations are glaringly obvious early in the book, but Monk mentions them again and again, practically with each mention of the characters' names. Jacqueline wants revenge ... I got it! Armand needs redemption ... I got it! Enough already! The story is also filled with annoying contradictions. Armand wants Jacqueline, but he doesn't. Jacqueline wants Armand, but she doesn't. He's not titled and therefore beneath her, and she's a snotty former noble who serves little more than a decorative purpose ... they're a creepy couple. Their love scenes are beautifully written, but evoke no emotion from this reader because neither character is at all savory. I finished this book because I paid good money for it, but it certainly doesn't compel me to search out any more of Ms. Monk's work. I love the cover art, though I feel hoodwinked by it.
SURRENDER TO A STRANGER is a terrific historical romance set in France--the country of romance. However, the French Revolution is not a very romantic time. Rather it is one of upheaval, murder & distrust. Heroine Jacqueline is an aristocrat locked in a filthy prison, awaiting her decapitation by Mme. Guillotine the following day. She is visited by an elderly lawyer on the eve of her death. He will help her write her will. However, it turns out that he is the Black Prince--a master of disguise who helps spirit French aristocrats out of the country & into England. He & Jacqueline are on the road, and constantly on the move, and the tension they live under provides the pressure cooker that leads them to love. Karyn Monk dresses her characters with disguise after disguise, and the sense of surprise for the reader never lets up. Bantam Books released this a few years ago & it's terrific to see it again so a new audience can find this captivating romantic read.