Taken and Seduced

Taken and Seduced

4.5 10
by Julia Latham

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He was seeking justice for those he loved . . .

Adam Hilliard, secret Earl of Keswick, lives for one thing: To kill the man who slew his parents. Raised in secrecy by the League of the Blade, he would do anything to restore his family's honor.

She was desperate to escape propriety . . .

Lady Florence Becket is the key to his revenge. But when


He was seeking justice for those he loved . . .

Adam Hilliard, secret Earl of Keswick, lives for one thing: To kill the man who slew his parents. Raised in secrecy by the League of the Blade, he would do anything to restore his family's honor.

She was desperate to escape propriety . . .

Lady Florence Becket is the key to his revenge. But when he kidnaps her, Florrie is neither frightened nor furious, as most other young ladies would be. The bold and powerful stranger who spirited her from her father's castle could give her the freedom and adventure she craves.

They would find far more than they ever desired . . .

She is moved by his quest. He is captivated by her courage. They have no defense against the passion ignited by a single kiss. Adam has taken her from all she's ever known—but now Florrie will delight in her scandalous seduction.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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League of the Blade , #4
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Taken and Seduced

Chapter One

Westmorland, 1486

Lady Florence Becket stood in the lady's garden of her father's castle, enjoying the oasis of privacy in the middle of the bustling center of the marquess of Martindale's small empire. She hugged herself and rubbed her arms, staring out at the mountains beyond the walls, wondering if she'd ever again be permitted to ride those paths. On a horse she became one with the animal, flying on the wind, as if she weren't deformed, as if she could walk without a limp like other people.

Her future home was out there, too. Was the convent nestled near woods and streams? Would she be able to walk as she communed with God, or would they keep her locked up, as if praying required four stone walls?

Florrie had watched as her three older sisters married, had known for many long years that there would be no husband for her. Her father had been brutally honest when he'd told her there would be dowry money for her sisters, but only a little saved for her entrance into the convent—when her sisters no longer needed her.

She took a deep breath, and her usual optimism prevailed. There was education to be had for nuns. She would serve a purpose—and not just as her sisters' servant. Perhaps someday if she worked hard, she could even become the prioress.

Her view of the mountains was suddenly disturbed; a horse-drawn cart was riding beside the half wall of the lady's garden. Straw had been mounded high in the back. As the cart pulled to a stop, blocking the garden from the rest of the ward, she frowned up at the driver. He was hunched within a cloak and didn't glance her way.

She only managed to call "I think—" when suddenly two large men emerged from the side of the cart, barely disturbing the straw. They vaulted over the wall, and before she could even take a step backward, they were upon her, stifling her scream with a gag. Terror stunned her, melting her bones, washing through her with a sick feeling of futility. Though she struggled, they tied her hands with ease, and when she tried to kick, one lifted her off the ground while the other bound her ankles. As she wriggled futilely, she saw that they didn't hide their faces from her, and that frightened her more than anything else. They were two grim men, both black-haired and tall, and they maneuvered her as if she weighed nothing at all.

To her horror, they suddenly dropped her feet-first into a sack and pulled it up over her head. Her world narrowed to shadows that smelled of grain and must, and she felt as if she soon wouldn't be able to breathe. They lifted her again, and her lungs emptied in a rush as she was flung across a broad shoulder. Everything around her jostled and upended as they shoved her onto the cart. The man holding her didn't ease his grip, so she was unable to roll away. Instead she was shockingly aware that he wrapped himself around her to hold her still. His muscular arms were as strong as the ropes that bound her hands and feet. The light dimmed even further as another gradual weight pressed her down, and she realized that the other men were covering them both with straw.

God above, they were going to succeed with this audacious plan!

She used every bit of her strength to squirm and push, even butting her head, but the man held her too firmly.

"Be still, my lady," he said at last in a low, gravelly voice. "Cease struggling and 'twill be easier to breathe."

He was right—her panicked struggles were only making her more and more aware that she couldn't take enough air into her lungs. She moaned, but went still just the same.

He said nothing more, and the cart began to move, jostling her in an uneven rhythm. She kept waiting for someone to notice the strange man driving the cart and stop him, but no one did. She heard the blacksmith's hammer meeting his anvil and the call of a goose girl herding her flock. The crash of metal and the grunts of men practicing their weaponry in the tiltyard strengthened as they drove into the outer ward, then faded as they reached the main gatehouse.

No one was going to stop a man hauling straw, she thought with despair, and her prediction came true as they left behind the sounds of the soldiers in the gatehouse. At last she sagged in her captor's arms. She would have to see what fate had in store for her, or perhaps even rescue herself—unless these foolish men planned to demand a ransom for her return. She almost gave a tired laugh. As if her father would part with a large sum of money on her behalf. But she could never let her captors know that, of course. She would have to stall until . . . until what? Did she think she would somehow escape their notice and limp away through the unfamiliar countryside alone? If they only wanted a woman for base needs, surely for a penny or two they could have had someone willing.

Nay, the kidnapping had happened because she was the daughter of the marquess of Martindale, the only one unmarried, the easiest target.

In that terrible moment, tears of futility and fear stung her eyes, but didn't fall, because Florrie was not a woman who let circumstances dictate her emotions.

"Not long now, my lady," murmured the man's voice.

He did not sound angry or triumphant; she did not understand what he was feeling. The only way to discover the weaknesses of her captors was to study them, look at their faces, and judge them by their actions.

Taken and Seduced. Copyright (c) by Julia Latham . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Julia Latham has an abiding love for the Middle Ages, when knights were knights and ladies had to tame them. After several varied jobs, the last in computer programming, she realized her life's dream of being published with Avon Books. She lives in Central New York with her three children; her dog, Apollo; and her husband, Jim.

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Taken and Seduced 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
spitzlady More than 1 year ago
Lady Florence Beckett was walking in the flower garden of her fathers home, when she is kidnapped. Adam Hillard took Florence to get to her father, who had killed his parents years before. But Florence sees her kidnapping as an opportunity to see the world. Yes Adam wants to kill her father, and her father wants to send her to a convent, but does that mean she can't change Adams mind? Through their travels Adam and Florence soon find themselves developing feelings for eachother. At the start of this book, I wasn't to sure about it. But I ended up loving it. I especially loved Florence, who found good in everything. I also loved how she changed Adam for the better. I hope there is a book for Adam's brother Robert.
Romance_Junkie10 More than 1 year ago
Great story, with unexpected twists and good characters. Love actaully takes time to form instead of just appearing like in some stories. Definitely a good read. Good even without having read the other three first, stands alone well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a BIG Julia Latham a.k.a Gayle Callen fan. Excellent historical romance read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first book by this author & I really enjoyed it.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Adam Hillard lives for one thing vengeance against the lord who murdered his parents and left him as a youth with nothing. He was fortunate that the League of the Blade took him in, raised and trained him. In 1486 he feels he has the instrument to strike back at vicious Lord Becket when he kidnaps his enemy's youngest daughter Lady Florence as she heads for life at a convent. However, she shocks him with her courage rather than showing fear. As they fall in love, Florrie encourages him to go after his heritage as the Earl of Keswick in spite of the odds and the fact achieving his birthright means killing the villainous father of his beloved though he vowed to himself after meeting her not to harm her. The latest League of the Blade fifteenth century romance (see SECRETS OF THE NIGHT, THRILL OF THE KNIGHT and ONE KNIGHT ONLY) is an enjoyable tale starring two fascinating lead characters. Adam is a super protagonist who quickly admires the woman he abducted. Florrie brings freshness as the disregarded offspring partly due to her limp. Fans will appreciate this gender bending Blades entry. Harriet Klausner