Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter

Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter

by Mary Ellen Dennis

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402246319
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 08/01/2011
Pages: 512
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Former singer/actress and perennial rule-breaker Mary Ellen Dennis is the author of several award-winning historical romance novels and culinary mysteries and is growing her audience for both. She is married to a fellow author, whom she met online through a writers' loop; they live on Vancouver Island.

Read an Excerpt

"I wonder why Fleet Street calls us Knights of the Road," John Randolph Remington said to his partner. "I'll wager no knight ever spent his days hiding in a copse."

Zak Turnbull swatted his hat at a circling fly. "They call us knights, Rand, 'cause 'tis a snappy title and no one can deny we be a fine pair o' prancers."

Rand gazed north, where the straight highway took an abrupt turn. For the past three hours nothing had passed their way except for a handful of dilapidated coaches and shabbily-dressed travelers. While Zak wasn't particular about whom he robbed, Rand agreed with Robin Hood: proper criminals should take from the rich.

"How much bloody longer is it gonna be?" Zak pulled at his wig. "I'm sweatin' like a bloody barrister 'neath this poll, and I've got so many fleas tormentin' me, ye'd think I was a heap o' dung."

"Patience," said Rand, shifting in his saddle and trying to ease the stiffness in his right leg. "The reason you've spent the last twenty years breaking out of every prison in England is because you grow careless. And then you're caught."

"'Tis a fine observation, comin' from someone who's been in the business a mere two years. Ye know as well as I that a gagger, though he be rich as King George himself, will dress poor just t' trick us." Zak wiped his sweat-streaked face with his vizard. "And I'm warnin' ye. If a proper gagger don't come along soon, I'll be millin' meself a flat."

Rand mentally translated Zak's cant into something resembling the King's English. Basically, Zak meant you could seldom tell a man's wealth from his attire and he planned to rob the next traveler, no matter what the size of his purse.

"And as far as ever bein' habbled again, it ain't gonna happen," Zak continued. "Ye've brought me good luck, cousin."

"London's poor law enforcement has provided all the luck we need," Rand said with a droll grin.

In truth, London's press had proven to be a far more formidable opponent than the city's decrepit watchmen and underpaid constables. After every robbery, editors of the Gazeteer and the Monitor and the other daily papers howled for the apprehension of the "Gentleman Giant and his Quiet Companion." But the resultant publicity hadn't brought Zak and Rand any closer to capture. On the contrary, it had turned them into local heroes.

"If I'm gonna have t' wait, I'm gonna spend me time in a more enjoyable fashion." Zak dismounted and stretched his six-foot-five frame upon the grass. He covered his face with his wide-brimmed hat, then clasped his hands across his prodigious belly. "Rouse me if ye see a ratter what meets yer specifications."

Almost immediately Zak's rhythmic snores blended with the buzzing flies and the distant bleats of sheep. Rand tried to ignore his now throbbing leg and his own wig, which was bloody uncomfortable. Generally he wore his thick black hair long and natural, for that was the way the ladies liked it. But disguise was a necessary part of his profession. Today he was dressed as a gentleman. Doeskin riding breeches hugged his thighs and his feet were clad in knee-high, glossy brown boots. His loose-fitting shirt couldn't completely hide his rugged chest, which tapered to a narrow waist, lean hips and a flat belly. In an age where gentlemen prided themselves on their girth, Rand figured his slenderness was the only part of his disguise some observant magistrate might question.

So why did he feel so apprehensive?

He had experienced the same uneasiness before the Battle of Guilford Court House. The night preceding that colonial battle, he had dreamed of war. But the war in his dream belonged to another age, an age of broadsword and chain mail and mace, of armored men clashing on the summit of an emerald green hill. This dream, which had troubled him since childhood, always ended the same way, with the delicate mournful face of a flaxen-haired woman. Over the years he had sought possible interpretations. Eventually, he had stopped probing. It was better to accept the fact that the dream forecast change. Violent change.

The thud of hooves and the squeak of coach springs interrupted Rand's thoughts. He straightened in his saddle. While he couldn't see anything above the distant hedges, a prospective wayfarer was obviously headed their way.

"Zak," he whispered.

A gleaming black carriage, pulled by four high-stepping greys, came into view.

Zak's snoring continued, undisturbed. Rand maneuvered Prancer, his black stallion, closer. "Cousin, wake up! This is it. Time to earn your keep."

"I'm ready, I'm ready." Rising, Zak secured his hat atop his wig, stumbled toward his horse, and swung up into the saddle. "Who've ye decided we're t' be this time?" he asked, concealing the lower half of his face with his vizard.

"Irishmen," Rand replied. It was necessary to disguise one's voice along with one's appearance.

"And here's me shillelagh, boy-o," Zak quipped, raising his pistol.

Rand lifted his own vizard into place. As the coach rumbled toward them, his muscles tensed. This was the best part of his profession: the anticipation of the chase, never knowing what danger would come within the next few minutes or what surprises waited behind the curtained windows. He scrutinized every inch of the approaching carriage, from the gilded coat of arms on the door to the red plumes topping the heads of the greys, and the brightly polished gold buttons on the liveries of the coachman and footman.

"Now," he breathed.

Bolting from behind the stand of trees, he rushed forward, grabbed the bridle of the nearest grey, brought the carriage to a halt, then trained his pistol on the coachman's chest.

"Stand and deliver!" Zak barked, yanking open the door.

A nervous young whip hastily exited. "My auntie's still inside," he said, his voice cracking. "May I pull down the steps? She suffers from an inflammation of the joints and-"

"Ye need not be deliverin' a sermon, ye chicken-hammed chatterbox. Do it and be quick about it."

The whip scrambled to obey. When his aunt climbed down, she turned out to be a formidable-looking dowager with a jutting jaw and a ramrod straight posture. Smoothing her satin skirt, she eyed Zak. "I'm Lady Avery," she said, "and I was robbed by a footpad only last month. Perhaps you've heard and will think to spare me."

"Prancers, I mean highwaymen, don't rub shoulders with footpads, m'lady, especially Irish prancers like we be." Ever mindful of his reputation with the press, Zak kept his voice respectful. "Now, if ye'd be so good as to give me yer bit... uh, yer purse... and yer rings. And ye, sir..." He gestured with his pistol at the whip's feet. "I'll have yer watch, and them be a handsome pair o' shoe buckles."

Lady Avery tapped her first finger against the bridge of her nose. "I know who you are. You're the Gentleman Giant."

Zak dipped from the waist in a half bow. "Aye, 'tis the gospel truth, m'lady."

"I don't recall the Morning Chronicle mentioning that you were Irish." Her watery brown eyes turned toward Rand, who still had his pistol trained on the coachman and footman. "Well, no matter what your nationality, you're both impressive specimens." She swiveled her head toward her nephew. "Are they not, Roger?"

"We're being robbed, Aunt Maude." Roger fumbled with the watch and gold fob-seal in his waistcoat pocket. "I'll reserve my opinion for a more propitious time."

Zak pointed to a circle of diamonds nestled in a crevice of Lady Avery's towering coiffure. "I'll have that, m'lady."

"I should never have removed my bonnet, nor my gloves," she murmured, unclasping the circle. But her wedding ring proved a more difficult matter. "It's this damnable arthritis," she said. "I cannot get anything over my joints." In a tone that brooked no argument, she added, "Never grow old, young man. Though in your profession that can't be much of a worry."

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Landlord's Black-eyed Daughter 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
cataylor on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A loose interpretation of the famous poem "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes with a strong female character, a sexy highwayman, and a dispicable villan. If you enjoy the campiness of Xena: Warrior Princess, you can appreciate this "historical" romance.
AAR More than 1 year ago
HE LANDLORD'S BLACK-EYED DAUGHTER by Mary Ellen Dennis is an exciting fast paced historicTal romance with a touch of paranormal set in 1787-1788 London. It was orginally published in 2007 by Five Star Expressions.This is a roller coaster wild of emotions.It is full of adventure,betrayal,five hundred year old spirits,romance,love,some suspense,family and coming to terms with your destiny. Highwayman Rand meets authoress,Elizabeth(Bess). When the two of them first meet Rand and his cousin robs them,but Rand and Bess feels a connection. This connection has to do with long agoconnection ,(five hundred years to be exact) between a handsome,fiercesome knight and his lovely Lady.While his Lady loved him,he was oft gone,loved fighting in the war,loved other women,his Lady was barren in the end she betrayed him.Rand and Bess feels their connection to these two wayward souls,and fight to find change the ending in their own lives.In the meantime,Rand continues to be a highwayman who robs from the rich to give to the poor.He is the Robin Hood of this time.Bess,being an author of gothic novels has dreams of being independent,but is pursued by a ruthless magistrate in her small village.This magistrate in the end will use Bess to capture Rand..She also has to deal with a father who gambles to excess and a step mother who will do anything to become rich including selling Bess out.As Rand and Bess's love grows danger grows also.This is a fast paced,action packed,full of adventure and suspense for at the ending we learn what really happened to Bess's mother.I would recommend this book to all historical romance who enjoy some paranormal mixed into the story.This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher and details can be found at Sourcebooks Casablanca,an imprint of Sourcebooks,Inc. and My Book Addiction and More Reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1787 ¿Knights of the Road¿ highwayman John Randolph ¿Rand¿ Remington and gothic romance writer Elizabeth Wyndham meet in London for what both believes is the first time, but each swears they met before, but not know where or when. Rand wonders if somehow they are fated for another, but fears he offers Elizabeth nothing but heartache even as he begins to think the when is in a previous lifetime back in the thirteenth century. --- Elizabeth realizes that before she met Rand, the hero of her latest romance is a morphed version of him who was a genuine thirteenth century knight who died in combat. She has problems understanding how either came to her let alone how they consolidated.. Meanwhile, Lord Walter Stafford demands Elizabeth accept his suit instead she picks Rand. Outraged by the affront an abashed Stafford insures the pair end up in Newgate awaiting the hanging of Rand to the humiliation of Elizabeth. --- This entertaining Georgian romance stars a post American Revolution Robin Hood with an author who seems as if she time traveled from the twenty-first century, which she did not. Still the story line is fast-paced and filled with an interesting seemingly reincarnation twist that freshens up the tale. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this delightful tale as history appears ready to repeat itself for this star-crossed couple unless she writes the most passionate pleading words of her life to persuade King George to pardon her Rand. --- Harriet Klausner