Wicked One

Wicked One

4.4 21
by Danelle Harmon
     
 

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The bluest of blood; the boldest of hearts; the de Monteforte brothers will take your breath away

Meet Lord Lucien

The head of his noble family, the dark and dangerous Duke of Blackheath spends his time manipulating other lives without giving a thought to finding a wife of his own. Yet Lucien must admit he finds exquisite Eva de la Mouriere most

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Overview

The bluest of blood; the boldest of hearts; the de Monteforte brothers will take your breath away

Meet Lord Lucien

The head of his noble family, the dark and dangerous Duke of Blackheath spends his time manipulating other lives without giving a thought to finding a wife of his own. Yet Lucien must admit he finds exquisite Eva de la Mouriere most intriguing. What adventurous, red-blooded male would not be intrigued by a flame-haired beauty who appears in his chambers demanding that he make love to her? Certainly this hot-tempered minx would make a delightful bedmate — though surely not a bride.

Eva knows Lucien is the cause of all her current misfortunes, Yet he refuses to be humiliated. But the worst betrayer is her own heart. No match for Lucien's seductive mastery, Eva craves the blackguard as she's never craved another, She must resist this rogue, but how long can she deny her own passion — or Lucien's blossoming genuine love — in the face of his scheming family's successful attempts to force a wedding?

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Editorial Reviews

Harriet Klausner
FIVE STARS! "Wickedly delightful as the Duke meets his match in the fiery independent Eva!"
Jean Mason
FOUR STARS! "A real page turner!"
Kathe Robin
FOUR STARS! "The grand manipulator gets his comeuppance when he meets tempting, independent American patriot Eva Noring de Mouriere. . . Meddling has its price, as Lucien discovers, and fans of the series will be more than satisfied to see him get just what he deserves! Danelle Harmon's delightful sense of humor, her marvelous characters and her true understanding of the ties that bind a family turn THE WICKED ONE into the perfect, well-crafted conclusion to her series!"
Lisa Kleypas
"Provocative and passionate!"
Mary Novak
DESERT ISLE KEEPER! "Eva is Lucien's equal . . . Most romance couples have complementary strengths and weaknesses; I adore the rarer couples who match each other exactly. Eva is every bit as smart, dangerous, and difficult as Lucien; it's Machiavelli meets Lucrezia Borgia, and the sparks they do fly!"

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380809097
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/01/2001
Series:
Voyage of the Basset Series
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
4.17(w) x 6.73(h) x 1.05(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Blackheath Castle
Berkshire, England
Winter 1777

He was coming.

The darkened bedchamber was still. Eerily so. Outside, faint through the ancient walls, she could hear the night wind howling around the castle turrets. The solitary candle flame twisted and writhed against the winter drafts that managed to creep, unseen, through the leaded casement windows. But somehow, with some deep, primal part of herself, she sensed his presence. Knew that he had finally arrived ... was now approaching. Then, faintly discernible over the wind, the rising tattoo of her heart, she heard them.

Footsteps.

His footsteps.

Coming, now, up the spiraling stone stairs of this ancient tower.

Her senses heightened. Her heartbeat quickened. Sitting cross-legged on the huge medieval bed in the near darkness, her heavy skirts fanning about her hips, she became keenly aware of every sensation: the icy air against her skin...the way his fine linen sheets felt against her calves, her feet, naked beneath her petticoats ... the way the lone bedside candle seemed to shrink back in nervous anticipation. She caressed the butt of the pistol, savoring the comforting weight of it in her hand. Her breath, hanging thick as fog in her lungs, stirred in small, silent exhalations. She tensed like a cat poised to strike down her prey.

Any moment now...

And yes, there it was, the sound of his tread coming up those last few stairs as he made his way, unsuspecting, to his apartments, the footfalls louder now than the wind outside that had been her companion since she'd scaled, by way of a rope and her own wits, the parapets, thewindow ledge, the very walls that had been able to hold at bay cannonballs during the civil war, besiegers from the Middle Ages-but had been unable to keep her, one furious, determined woman, out.

But she was driven by purpose. She had come for one thing, and she would not leave without it. He had fooled her once, this man, his diabolical machinations nearly costing her her position at the French court and jeopardizing her standing among the American contingent in Paris-all of whom were working to secure France's aid in the fight for American independence.

She had worked hard to gain respect and prominence in a political arena dominated by men, but he had threatened that-and now she would threaten him.

Her adversary was a worthy one, a dangerous one, a man purported to be one of the deadliest duelists, in England. He had a reputation for cunning. He had secured a formidable backing among his peers at a young age, had steered older men to attain his goals when his own youth should have hampered him, had been a subtle, sinister presence who was quite likely behind or at least involved with the British spy ring in France—a spy ring that had always been one step ahead of the Americans' own cleverly laid plans. No sane person would make an enemy of the Duke of Blackheath. Especially now that he was in the true height of his power...

She squeezed the pistol lovingly. He would not emerge victorious this time. Oh, no. She had the element of surprise.

And she—a slow, feline smile curved her lips—had the cunning superiority of her gender.

Now he stopped just outside the closed door. Her eyes narrowed. She steadied the small weapon. The door latch was lifting. She passed her tongue once, twice over her lips, her blood beginning to hum, her smile becoming one of anticipation. She fixedly watched that slim piece of metal rising. Never taking her eyes off it, she reached out with her free hand and gripped the bottle she had stolen. Then she brought the gun up, sighted down her arm, and trained the weapon right where his heart would be when he came through the door.

It opened on a well-oiled sigh, spilling faint light into the cold, gloomy chamber; outside, the moan and whistle of the wind was suddenly louder. A sense of danger pervaded her bones. Screamed through every nerve. And there he was, a taper in his hand, his tall form backlit by a torch set into the stone wall behind him.

Her finger froze on the trigger, and her breath stuck in her lungs at the sheer magnificence of him.

There was that same unsmiling face, glowing like Satan's in the candle's flickering light, its orange flame picking out the lofty cheekbones, the chiseled mouth with those hard, sculpted lips, the compelling profile with its noble brow and razor-straight nose. His hair was as one with the darkness around him, no powder, no pomade, just thick black waves -swept-back off his brow and caught at the nape with a bit of velvet.

He was watching her.

Watching her with eyes as still and deadly as a cobra preparing to strike.

The candle in his hand flickered. In vain, the meager flame tried to find softness in a face that was as severe and unforgiving as the stone walls she had scaled, the little tongue of fire finally giving up and shrinking down in cringing terror, the wax running like a tear down the long taper.

Her smile became malevolent.

"Ah, Your Grace. I have been waiting for you. You see"—she held up the aphrodisiac, her voice pretematurally calm—"I found a little bottle in your safe there, and since I cannot afford another error, you-like it or not-are going to sample it prior to my departure."

For a long moment, he remained perfectly still, his expression betraying nothing of what was going on behind that inscrutable black stare. And then his lips curved in the faintest of smiles as, putting down the candle, he began to move toward the bed.

Toward her.

Of its own accord, the door swung slowly shut behind him. She steadied the pistol and pulled the hammer back to full cock. Even the ominous click failed to check his approach...

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Meet the Author

Multi-award winning and critically acclaimed author Danelle Harmon is the author of ten books, previously published in print and distributed in many languages throughout the world. Though a Massachusetts native, she has lived in Great Britain and is married to an Englishman; she and her husband make their home in New England with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including four dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and numerous pet chickens. Danelle welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at or through her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DanelleHarmon

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