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The Seduction of an Unknown Lady

The Seduction of an Unknown Lady

4.0 17
by Samantha James

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Seduction is something Fionna Hawkes knows nothing about. So when she encounters a sexy stranger on a moonlit street, her first instinct is to defend herself against her darkly handsome suitor. But letting go of suspicion and allowing herself to fall for Lord Aidan McBride brings even greater danger. In his eyes, she glimpses a powerful passion she longs to fulfill


Seduction is something Fionna Hawkes knows nothing about. So when she encounters a sexy stranger on a moonlit street, her first instinct is to defend herself against her darkly handsome suitor. But letting go of suspicion and allowing herself to fall for Lord Aidan McBride brings even greater danger. In his eyes, she glimpses a powerful passion she longs to fulfill. In his arms, she aches with the secret she longs to unburden. A secret that could cost her her livelihood—and her life.

Aidan could never resist a mystery, especially one as mesmerizing as the lovely Miss Hawkes! Drawing her into the shelter of his embrace, he won't rest until he convinces her to reveal everything. Braving the danger that stalks Fionna at every turn, Aidan is determined to defend her—and just as determined to claim her as his own.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

F.J. Sparrow's latest riveting Gothic tale, Demon of Dartmoor, has all of London waiting for the next installment-and wondering who the author could be! All, that is, except respectable bookseller Fiona Josephine Hawkes, who spends part of her nights walking the streets and plotting her chilling pseudonymous adventures. Fiona's night rambles have not gone unnoticed, and when she accosts Lord Aidan McBride with her umbrella, they begin a funny, fiery, antagonistic relationship that can only end one way-with love. But Aidan is not Fiona's only night watcher; a single-minded stalker is out to make her life become more like the stories she pens. Steamy sensuality and sassy repartee sizzle across the pages of James's latest page-turner, which takes a plucky heroine and a marvelously wounded hero, tosses in a few dark secrets along with a hefty dash of danger, and lets the adventure begin. The story links to James's The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell.

—Kristin Ramsdell

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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The Seduction of an Unknown Lady

Chapter One

He was back.

I saw him once when I was very young, a creature who was not of this world. Even now I recall the way the hairs on the back of my neck had prickled—as they did even now.

Now, I stood on the balcony outside my room at Raven's Gate and gazed into the light of the moon.

For I could feel it.

I could feel him.

It is not a feeling one soon forgets.

Demon of Dartmoor, F.J. Sparrow

London, January 1852

"Your Grace," intoned Carlton, the impeccably attired white-gloved butler. "Your brother, Lord Aidan."

Aidan McBride strode into his brother's drawing room and without further ado, lowered his long body onto the soft, rich cushions of the armchair that sat before the roaring fire. He leaned forward, rubbing his hands together to warm them.

Ensconced in the adjacent chair, periodical in hand, Alec McBride hiked one dark brow.

"Brandy?" queried Alec without looking up from his reading. "Or whisky?"

Aidan certainly wouldn't refuse either. His brother Alec had a fine selection of both, including an enviable—and extensive—wine cellar. Ah, yes, his brother had both exquisite—and expensive—taste when it came to spirits. And being half-Scots, as a matter of course there was always whisky. Gleneden, in fact, even boasted its own distillery. Alec McBride, Duke of Gleneden, could well afford his pleasures.

"Brandy," said Aidan, "sounds just the thing."

Carlton returned in short order with a generously filleddecanter and two finely etched tumblers centered on a gleaming silver tray. The butler poured a perfectly matched measure into each, then retired with a bow. Aidan leaned forward and retrieved the nearest glass. His posture was perfectly erect, courtesy of his rigorous military training and his days as a colonel in the Royal Highland Regiment.

But those days were no more. Now he was once again a private citizen, on his way to making his own fortune in shipping tobacco and cotton from America, rum from the Caribbean, anywhere west of England. He wouldn't consider the tea trade. God knew he wanted no more to do with India.

His brother's pale blue eyes had finally settled on him. Aidan watched as Alec closed the periodical and laid it on the table—rather reluctantly, Aidan decided. "Well, well," he said lightly, "it appears I've interrupted you at a rather inopportune moment. Would you prefer that I leave?"

"No need. You're already here, aren't you?"

"Well, you appeared quite engrossed in your reading material—what is it? Ah, The Monthly Chronicle. But what article were you reading that holds you in such fascination?" Curious, Aidan picked up the periodical his brother had laid on the table but failed to close, as if to mark his place—as if loath to forget it.

His brows shot high. "What the devil! Demon of Dartmoor," he quoted. He couldn't withhold a laugh. "Who has taken the place of my brother? Perhaps the devil himself! Or—dare I say it?—a demon? I confess, Alec, you astound me. I rather thought you should be reading the classics."

"The devil indeed. Or just as you say, perchance a demon. And it's not an article, Aidan, but a novel. Rather, a serialization of a novel."

Aidan glanced at it once more. "F.J. Sparrow? I've never heard of him."

"Yes, well, is it any wonder?" Alec asked dryly. "You were in the Punjab so long it's a miracle any of us recognized you."

The Punjab.

Touched by echoes from the past, Aidan managed to maintain his smile. He held himself very still. He didn't try to stop the painful tightening of his gut. He'd long since discovered that to try merely made it worse.

No, there was no turning back the past. No escaping it.

Lord knew he'd already tried.

He also knew that Alec meant no harm by the offhand comment.

Like Alec, his complexion was almost swarthy. But the Indian sun had darkened Aidan's still more, so that his skin was a dark, burnished hue that made him appear almost a foreigner—particularly when combined with the beard he'd grown, the patch he'd still worn over one eye upon his return home. Aidan recalled with a faint amusement how their poor mother had appeared severely distressed at the notion that perhaps her second son had not returned on this particular ship after all. She'd passed by him on the dock fully half a dozen times over, fretting aloud, before Aidan finally took pity on her, picking up her dainty form and whirling her around. He knew, from the hint of mirth that tugged at Alec's mouth, that Alec was thinking of that moment, too. And of course Mama had also been delighted when he shaved his beard off the following day.

It was Alec who'd told him how disappointed she had been when she'd learned of Aidan's decision not to return home immediately upon resigning his commission. In fact, nearly a year had passed before he'd come home.

It wasn't, as he'd cited to his mother in his letter not long after he'd resigned his commission, a continuing need for wanderlust that delayed his reunion with his family.

It was shame. Shame and guilt and—

Unfinished business.

And once that was done, well . . . he still hadn't been able to return.

He couldn't. Precisely why, he couldn't say. Perhaps he'd been running. Hiding. Trying to heal.

It took a moment before he realized Alec was still talking about that damned author. What was his name? Wren?

"At any rate," Alec continued, "since the publication of Satan's Path, F.J. Sparrow has enjoyed enormous success."

F.J. Sparrow. That was it.

"Spectres of the Dark followed, I believe, then The Devil's Way. Howls at Midnight was the last." Alec pointed to a cabinet in the corner. "Alas, I've the entire collection thus far except The Devil's Way. I read it, then lent it to someone and it was never returned. And now it's almost impossible to come by."

The Seduction of an Unknown Lady. Copyright © by Samantha James. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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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The Seduction of an Unknown Lady 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After the first book in the MacBride Family Trilogy, ¿The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell,¿ the MacBride family is back in England after the tumultuous ending in India, with two wounded and brooding brothers Alec, the Duke of Glendon and his brother Aidan, but also a happy ending with Annabel MacBride and Simon Blackwell¿s marriage. ¿The Seduction of An Unknown Lady¿ highlights Aidan, who is continuing to struggle with his physical and emotional injuries that took place in that final battle. Home in England as a hero, he feels anything but a hero, and spends many a long night brooding, until one night on a dark street he meets and rescues an Unknown Lady. Immediately something draws the handsome Aidan to the lonely and beautiful, Fionna Hawkes. Aidan has his physical and emotional struggles to deal with after the family¿s return, being partially blind in one eye, but also feeling deep guilt over the loss of numerous comrades in a battle in which he blames himself for. Fionna is a local bookseller and writer who secretly uses the pen name, F. J. Sparrow so she can assist her ill mother and provide the best of care for her. Friendship soon develops into passion and a growing love as Aidan spends more and more time with Fionna. Fionna is frightened by Aidan¿s seduction and the intense passion she feels for him, while at the same time she understands the inner struggles he deals with and feels the need to help him, but at the same time does not trust enough to share her own burdens of her mother¿s illness and secret writing with Aidan. When Aidan discovers Fionna needs his protection from an unknown follower, he realizes that the beauty he has been seducing and is falling in love with has many unknown secrets. Aidan feels he must do whatever he can to help this beauty and what haunts her deep inside. Mysteries are revealed as love and passion bloom and soon Aidan learns that by revealing the unknown Fionna and the demons that haunt her dark world, she has helped him overcome his demons. Eventually their friendship and love deepens into more than a simple seduction of an unknown lady. Every book Samantha James writes is a delight. Her writing style is captivating with characters that have depth and struggles to overcome. Her sensual scenes between the love interests are well-written while at the same time discovering true love and happiness are what really matter. It will be interesting to read Alec¿s story next, as the MacBride Family is one that is endearing and one which the reader can become absorbed in and enjoy. Ms. James has written another sensual romance with mystery and suspense that are again, like this story, difficult to put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Two lonely people tread the streets in the blackest depths of the midnight hour ¿ One walks deliberately¿to let free the demons of her imagination ¿ One walks determinedly¿to banish the demons that torment his soul ¿. Neither realizes something evil is lurking in the dark¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿. In her latest novel, THE SEDUCTION OF AN UNKNOWN LADY, Samantha James creates a mesmeric and thoroughly intriguing romantic tale that successfully captures the style, flavor and essence of the classic gothic romance. And the author gives us a heart stirring narration of her heroine, Miss Fionna Hawkes and hero, Lord Aidan McBride¿s intensely passionate love story¿set in the cold winter of 1852 London, during the Victorian Era¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿.. This is kind of a ¿dark¿ story¿with several extremely poignant and heartrending elements¿but I never felt it was too dark. I felt Ms. James completely gains the reader¿s attention with her clever¿and knowledgeable¿use of the shadowy, eerie gothic writing style to create a wonderfully dark, mystifying, and sometimes ominously sinister atmosphere in the story. I know I was totally captivated. Ms. James deftly sets up many delightful¿or perhaps, a better choice of words would be frightful, mysterious, and occasionally disturbing¿twists and turns in her skillfully constructed and multi-layered storyline¿ all strategically designed to keep her readers a bit unsettled, continuously guessing, and anxiously turning the pages¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿. And I thought she did a really superb job with the story¿s mood and tone, effectively using setting and language that was frighteningly suggestive¿of fear, terror, gloom, menace, danger, secrecy, and a hint of the supernatural/paranormal¿to appeal to all our emotions and senses. This spooky visual imagery worked so well that there were definitely moments that I felt a little prickling, spine-tingling chill on the back of my neck, and had a disquieting sense of unease right along with Fionna. At times I was so deeply immersed in the story that had anyone tapped me on the shoulder, I would surely have jumped out of my chair¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿.. Also, I really appreciated Ms. James use of the ¿story within the story¿ literary technique¿ which included pieces of the fictional author F J Sparrow¿s scary tale, The Demon of Dartmore at the beginning of every chapter¿ and ran parallel to Fionna and Aidan¿s story. It was an ideal combination of titillating horror and romance that enhanced the main story, and set the mood of each chapter perfectly¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿.. I loved how Ms. James wrote both Fionna and Aidan. I thought they were interesting, genuinely likable, and very relatable, believable characters. Fionna¿s an unconventional heroine a strong, intelligent and fiercely independent woman who wants to be in charge of her own destiny¿and for a woman of her time she is, to a degree¿but when Aidan enters the picture she becomes deeply conflicted by her need for independence and her desire for love. I thought Fionna was truly a character any woman could relate to¿ and I sooo wanted her to be happy! Aidan is a rather tragic war hero who carries some physical and mental scars from his time in India. He¿s a proud, honorable and caring man¿ he tries so hard to understand Fionna, to provide the emotional support he knows she needs and to protect her. Even though she rebuffs him, he remains steadfast. I just loved him! I was so caught up in watching how their passion and desire for each other grew as the tensions between them¿and in the story¿escalated. And I loved how Aidan breaks down all of Fionna¿s defenses¿W0W!!!¿their love scenes were sizzling HOT and VERY sensual¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿ The Seduction of an Unknown Lady is a marvelous book that will appeal to historical romance readers who appreciate a well written love story with a potent combination of sensual seduction and fiery passion¿intertwined with a dark gothic styled drama, a
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zeeba More than 1 year ago
I did not like the female character.
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Colbe Moe More than 1 year ago
But the characters got a little too melodramatic for my taste near the end. Otherwise an enjoyable read.
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MonaCA More than 1 year ago
I loved and could not put the book down.
duchessbyday More than 1 year ago
This was the first Samantha James book I ever read. I read it in one day! I was truly amazed. Her characters were captivating. Great story line...a must read! :]
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1852 Lord Aidan McBride is stunned to see a single female walking the streets of London by herself. He offers to escort her, but she almost skewers him with the deadly weapon she carries, her parasol. Bookshop owner Fionna Hawkes distrusts the aristocratic hunk who swears he wanted to insure she was safe.--------------- Aidan comes to Fionna¿s bookstore seeking the latest horrors tales by F.J. Sparrow. He does not know why, but she seems so much friendlier once he mentions the novels he desires. They argue over the tales such as the demon of Dartmoor and other things and soon walk the city together. However, though she is falling in love, her plate is full between caring for her hospitalized mentally ill mom, running her bookstore, and writing F.J. Sparrow novels. He falls in love too, but he knows she keeps a secret from him that makes him doubt she trusts him. Additionally, neither is aware that an unknown adversary is watching, stalking and waiting for the right moment to catch Fionna alone.-------------- THE SEDUCTION OF AN UNKNOWN LADY is an excellent Victorian romance with some suspense that is slowly simmered throughout the plot. Fionna is terrific as she has no time for romance, but never met anyone like Aidan before who refuses to leave her alone as he fell in love over their Sparrow discussions. Samantha James is a sure shot when it comes to historical romances as affirmed by this strong tale.------------ Harriet Klausner