Georgette Heyer's bestselling historical romance featuring a dashing and wild young nobleman and the gently bred young lady, both chasing happiness on a collision course with destiny.
A rogue on a rampage...
The Marquis of Vidal is a notorious rake, impossible to tame. Any night of the week you can find him wenching, gambling, or fighting, much to the dismay of his parents the Duke and Duchess of Avon. Forced to leave England after nearly killing his man in a duel, he decides to take a beautiful girl with him. In his rush, however, he runs off with the wrong woman.
This lady is not a doormat...
Determined to save her sister from the scandalous Marquis, Miss Mary Challoner throws herself into his path, hoping he'll release her when they get to Paris. But Vidal is intrigued by the unexpected young lady, who's not particularly impressed with him. The devilish rake has apparently met his match. And as Mary finds herself more and more entangled with the fascinating rogue, her reputation and her future are on the line.
Take a deep breath and don't trip over your petticoats: This best-selling historical Regency romance features mistaken identities, a dashing rake, and a very smart young lady on a collision course with a marriage made in scandal.
About the Author
Georgette Heyer's novels have charmed and delighted millions of readers for decades. English Heritage has awarded Georgette Heyer one of their prestigious Blue Plaques, designating her Wimbledon home as the residence of an important figure in British history. She was born in Wimbledon in August 1902. She wrote her first novel, The Black Moth, at the age of seventeen to amuse her convalescent brother; it was published in 1921 and became an instant success.
Heyer published 56 books over the next 53 years, until her death from lung cancer in 1974. Her last book, My Lord John, was published posthumously in 1975. A very private woman, she rarely reached out to the public to discuss her works or personal life. Her work included Regency romances, mysteries and historical fiction. Known as the Queen of Regency romance, Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy and her extraordinary plots and characterizations. She was married to George Ronald Rougier, a barrister, and they had one son, Richard.
Read an Excerpt
By Georgette Heyer
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThere was only one occupant of the coach, a gentleman who sprawled very much at his ease, with his legs stretched out before him, and his hands dug deep in the capacious pockets of his greatcoat. While the coach rattled over the cobbled streets of the town, the light from an occasional lantern or flambeau momentarily lit the interior of the vehicle and made a diamond pin or a pair of very large shoe-buckles flash, but since the gentleman lounging in the coach wore his gold-edged hat tilted low over his eyes, his face remained in shadow.
The coach was travelling fast, too fast for safety in a London street, and it soon drew out of the town, past the turnpike, on to Hounslow Heath. A faint moonlight showed the road to the coachman on the box, but so dimly that the groom beside him, who had been restive since the carriage drew out of St. James's, gasped presently, as though he could no longer keep back the words: "Lord! You'll overturn us! It's a wicked pace!"
The only answer vouchsafed was a shrug, and a somewhat derisive laugh. The coach swayed precariously over a rough stretch of ground, and the groom, clutching the seat with both hands, said angrily: "You're mad! D'you think the devil's on your heels, man? Doesn't he care? Or is he drunk?" The backward jerk of his head seemed to indicate that he was speaking of the man inside the coach.
"When you've been in his service a week you won't call this a wicked pace," replied the coachman. "When Vidal travels, he travels swift, d'ye see?"
"He's drunk - three parts asleep!" the groom said.
Yet the man inside the coach might well have been asleep for all the sign of life he gave. His long body swayed easily with the lurch of the coach, his chin was sunk in the folds of his cravat, and not even the worst bumps in the road had the effect of making him so much as grasp the strap that swung beside him. His hands remained buried in his pockets, remained so even when a shot rang out and the vehicle came to a plunging standstill. But apparently he was awake, for he raised his head, yawning, and leaning it back against the cushions turned it slightly towards the off-window.
There was a good deal of commotion outside; a rough voice was raised; the coachman was cursing the groom for his tardiness in firing the heavy blunderbuss in his charge; and the horses were kicking and rearing.
Someone rode up to the door of the coach and thrust in the muzzle of a big pistol. The moonlight cast a head in silhouette, and a voice said: "Hand over the pretties, my hearty!"
It did not seem as though the man inside the coach moved, but a gun spoke sharply, and a stabbing point of flame flashed in the darkness. The head and shoulders at the window vanished; there was the sound of a fall, of trampling hooves, of a startled shout, and the belated explosion of the blunderbuss.
The man in the coach drew his right hand out of his pocket at last. There was an elegant silvermounted pistol in it, still smoking. The gentleman threw it on to the seat beside him, and crushed the charred and smouldering portion of his greatcoat between very long white fingers.
The door of the coach was pulled open, and the coachman jumped up on to the hastily letdown step. The lantern he held lit up the interior, and shone full into the face of the lounging man. It was a surprisingly young face, dark and extremely handsome, the curious vividness overlaid by an expression of restless boredom.
"Well?" said the gentleman coldly.
"Highwaymen, my lord. The new man being unused, so to say, to such doings, was late with the blunderbuss. There was three of them. They've made off - two of them, that is."
"Well?" said the gentleman again.
The coachman seemed rather discomposed.
"You've killed the other, my lord."
"Certainly," said the gentleman. "But I presume you have not opened the door to inform me of that?"
"Well, my lord - shan't we - do I - his brains are lying in the road, my lord. Do we leave him - like that?"
"My good fellow, are you suggesting that I should carry a footpad's corpse to my Lady Montacute's drum?"
"No, my lord," the coachman said hesitatingly.
"Then - then - shall I drive on?"
"Of course drive on," said the gentleman, faintly surprised.
"Very good, my lord," the coachman said, and shut the door.
The groom on the box was still clasping the blunderbuss, and staring fascinated at the tumbled figure in the road. When the coachman climbed up on to the box again, and gathered the reins in his hands, he said: "Gawd, ain't you going to do anything?"
"There isn't anything you can do for him," replied the other grimly.
"His head's almost shot off!" shuddered the groom.
The equipage began to move forward. "Hold your tongue, can't you? He's dead, and that's all there is to it."
The groom licked his dry lips. "But don't his lordship know?"
"Of course he knows. He don't make mistakes, not with the pistols."
The groom drew a deep breath, thinking still of the dead man left to wallow in his blood. "How old is he?" he blurted out presently.
"Twenty-four all but a month or two."
"Twenty-four! And shoots his man and leaves the corpse as cool as you please! My Gawd!"
He did not speak again until the coach had arrived at its destination, and then he seemed to be so lost in meditation that the coachman had to nudge him sharply. He roused himself then and jumped off the box to open the coach door. As his master stepped languidly down, he looked covertly at him, trying to see some sign of agitation in his face. There was none. His lordship sauntered up the steps to the stone porch, and passed into the lighted hall.
"My Gawd!" said the groom again.
Excerpted from Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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