The Night Drifter

The Night Drifter

by Susan Carroll


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The eldest son and heir to Castle Leger, Lance St. Leger is plagued by an infernal restlessness that cannot be appeased, perhaps because the family legacy of strange powers is most pronounced in Lance's own dubious gift. He calls it night drifting--his ability to spirit into the night while his body remains behind. And it is on one wild night that he finds Rosalind, a young, sheltered widow who mistakes Lance's "drifting" soul for the ghost of Sir Lancelot. Lance teases and tempts her, fills her with a yearning her chivalrous phantom knight cannot satisfy. But in this place imbued with both true love and otherworldly magic, a new dire portent vows to come full circle. As a murderous enemy challenges the St. Leger power, Rosalind must tempt magic herself to save her beloved from the cold depths of eternal damnation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449005859
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/2000
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.84(h) x 1.17(d)

About the Author

Susan Carroll is an award-winning author whose books include The Bride Finder, The Painted Veil, and Winterbourne. She lives in Rock Island, Illinois.

Read an Excerpt

It was the kind of night when anything could happen.

Magic. Moonlight. The sea roaring like a dragon, breathing a soft mist that was slowly enveloping the land. The stalwart figure who drifted along the rocky shoreline materialized like an apparition in his glinting chain mail and dark tunic. A ghostly knight from King Arthur's court who had wandered into the nineteenth century by mistake and couldn't quite find his way back to Camelot.

But Lance St. Leger was merely a man attired in the costume he had worn to the Midsummer's Eve fest and had not yet troubled to remove. He had far weightier matters on his mind.

He scanned the dark and silent beach ahead of him, his face anxious and tense. He was possessed of strong handsome features: a square jaw, a hawklike nose, and a deeply tanned complexion framed beneath a sweep of raven-black hair. But a certain cynicism already marred the velvet darkness of his eyes, despite the fact that he was a relatively young man, only twenty-seven. The disillusionment that tugged at the full curve of his lips made him seem older, giving his mouth a hard cast except when he smiled.

He wasn't smiling now as he studied the overturned hull of an abandoned fishing boat, the sea raking cold fingers of foam across the sand, obliterating all traces of any footsteps. But Lance was certain this was the place where he had been attacked only an hour before, surprised by some hooded brigand and rendered unconscious.

When Lance had awoken, he had found his watch and signet ring missing. But that had not been the worst of it. The thief had also taken his sword, the one that had been in his family for generations, a weapon as steeped in mystery and magic as the St. Leger name itself.

When the sword had first been handed down to Lance on his eighteenth birthday, he had sensed the power in it. Merely touching the hilt had somehow made him feel stronger, better, more noble.

He had earnestly recited the pledge that all St. Leger heirs were required to give:

I vow that I will only employ this blade in just cause. That I will never use it to shed the blood of another St. Leger. And on the day that I marry, I will offer this sword up to my bride as a symbol of my undying love along with my heart and soul forever.

But that had been a long time ago. Back when Lance still believed in such things as just causes, magic, and true love. Back when he still believed in himself . . .

Lance desperately circled the area around the boat, but he didn't know why he had bothered to come back here, what he was hoping to find.

That the thief had experienced a change of heart? That he would suddenly reappear to return the stolen treasure to Lance, scraping and bowing while he babbled, "Oh, here you are, Master Lance, here's your ancestral sword. Please forgive the impertinence."

Lance's lip curled in contempt at his own folly. He swore beneath his breath, cursing both the unknown brigand and himself. He had certainly made mistakes in the past, brought enough disgrace to his family's name, but allowing that sword to be stolen was by far the worst thing he'd ever done.

Not true, a sad voice whispered in his ear. The worst thing was what you did to your brother, Val.

But Lance refused to think about Val. He was already racked with enough guilt over the disappearance of that infernal sword.

Despairing of finding any clue to his attacker on the beach, Lance turned and headed up the path toward the village instead. Despite the fact that he had recently cashiered out of the service, Lance still moved with the military bearing of a man who spent nearly nine years as an officer in Wellington's army.

Slipping quietly alongside the forge next to the blacksmith's shop, he peered toward the line of whitewashed cottages. Earlier Torrecombe had been a riot of noise and laughter, alive with all the excitement of the Midsummer's Eve festival. But the village slumbered now, not a soul stirring across the green in the center of town.

Lance thought briefly of conducting a house-to-house search, only to discard the notion. He doubted that anyone from the village would have dared to attack him. The local folk were too much in awe of the St. Legers and their legends. Legends of a family descended from a notorious sorcerer. The mighty Lord Prospero might have come to a disastrous end, burned at the stake, but he had passed on a legacy of strange talents and powers to his descendants, of which Lance had inherited his share.

No. Lance was convinced. No one from the village would have trifled with a St. Leger. The thief had to have been an outsider, a stranger, and there had been plenty of those wandering through Torrecombe tonight because of the fair. Many of them were stopping over at the inn, and that seemed the most likely place for Lance to begin his search.

He stole across the village square until the Dragon's Fire Inn loomed over him. A quaint building, it still bore traces of its original Tudor construction, with mullioned windows and overhanging eaves.

An ostler bustled about the stable yard, attending to the horse of some late arrival. Lance watched, keeping to the shadows. Long ago, he had promised his father that he would never reveal the secret of his own peculiar and frightening power to anyone outside of the family. And one did not lightly break promises given to Anatole St. Leger, the dread lord of the Castle Leger.

Lance was deeply grateful that at this moment his father was far from Cornwall, traveling abroad on an extensive holiday with Lance's mother and three younger sisters. He'd already proved enough of a disappointment to Anatole St. Leger, Lance reflected grimly. With any luck at all he would be able to recover the sword before word of this latest escapade reached his father's ears. He had to.

Huddling behind a tree, Lance wished that he was merely a clairvoyant like his second cousin Maeve. It would certainly make his search for the sword easier . . . and safer. The ostler was taking a damned long time about disappearing into the stables. The blasted fool was doing more stroking and talking to that horse than he was attending to it.

Lance cast an uneasy glance toward the sky, trying to calculate how much time he had left until dawn. It would not do for him to be caught abroad exercising his strange gift when the sun came up. That could prove dangerous. In fact, deadly.

He was filled with relief when the ostler moved on at last, leading the horse into the stables. Stealing from his hiding place, Lance drifted toward the inn. After a moment more of hesitation, he braced himself.

And shimmered straight through the wall.

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Night Drifter 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lance St Leger is the eldest son and heir to Castle Leger and he's restless. He can allow his spirit/soul/consciousness/whatever to drift around in the night while his body remains behind (he/the author refer to it as "Night Drifting", most others call it Astral Travel). When he loses the family sword he decides to go hunting in this way, seeing as he had been at a fancy dress party as Lancelot the Knight this is what he appears to be when he's travelling and how he appears to the young widow Rosalind when he drifts into the inn she's staying in.Rosalind falls for Lancelot and he falls for her, but she's in love with Lancelot the ghost rather than Lance the person, will he win her over?It's a fun historical romance, technically the second in the sequence but the first in the next generation, the first book being about the parents. There are some very funny moments where Lance is trying to put himself forward as being a nice guy really but Rosalind is clinging to some very romantic notions about love and also trying not to be forced into another loveless marriage. There were moments that seemed a little forced but overall enjoyable.
rainrunner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the St. Leger series. I didn¿t like this one as much as I liked The Bride Finder. This is the story of Lance St. Leger, son of Anatole and Madeline, who were the main characters in The Bride Finder. As with all St. Leger¿s, Lance has a special magical kind of ability. He can ¿night drift¿ out of his body to wherever he wants to be. Lance, the eldest twin son and heir has returned from battle while his parents are away. The story begins with Lance losing the St. Leger Sword, a priceless family heirloom. He decides to drift to the area of where he thinks it may be and runs into Rosalind, a naïve young widow who believes him to be the ghost of Sir Lancelot. While visiting Effie Fitzleger, granddaughter of the original Bride Finder, Rosalind is told she is meant to be Lance¿s bride. Well, Rosalind is not too happy about that. She does not recognize Lance as her ¿Lancelot¿ and wants no part of him. In order to woo her, Lance has to continue as Sir Lancelot at night in order to convince her to give Lance St. Leger a chance to redeem himself during the day. Underneath all that rake-ish-ness, Lance was a good guy, and I especially enjoyed his relationships with his brother, Valentine, and his friend, Rafe. What I didn't like about this book was Rosalind's character. She irritated me with her absolute devotion to loving a ghost. It seemed a little too much. I wanted her to get over it, like, soon. Anyway, it is definitely a book worth reading and I would recommend it.
ancestorsearch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I could not wait to read the 2nd book of The Bride Finder series this book begins with the two of the children from our main characters in book one, Lancelot the eldest twin son and heir has returned from the war and his parents are away and he is left in charge. Lance would rather not have these responsibilities, but oldest son it is his responsibility. The story begins with the loss of the St. Leger Bride Sword - a priceless family heirloom that gets passed on to the brides found for St. Leger men by the Bride Finder.Lance, like most St Leger family he also has a power which is to separate his soul from his mortal body and night drift. Thinking this a great way to search for the stolen sword he happens upon a young widow Rosalind, who believes him to be Sir Lancelot de Luc of King Arthur's Round Table. Rather than let her know the truth he plays along with her and tells her he is looking for a missing sword, which is part truth.Rosalind visits Effie Fitzleger, granddaughter of the original Bride Finder Lance shows up with his brother Val to seek her assistance in finding a bride for Val. Effie is hit with a feeling for a bride not for Val, but for Lance, who happens to be Rosalind. She does not recognize Lance as her nightly apparition and wants no part of this reputed St. Leger rakehell. Lance decides to continue as Sir Lancelot at night in order to convince her to give Lance St. Leger a chance to redeem himself during the day.Susan Carroll develops another mystery, and explores into the ghost Prospero, I believe his the remainder of his story will come out in the last book. Carroll has given us a new plot with interesting characterizations, but the book was enjoyable and I liked the characters, but somewhat slower then the first book. Eager to story book three.
scarpettajunkie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Night Drifter is the delicious book two out of three in this series of books about the St. Leger Sword and having to use a Bride Finder to locate brides. In this book Anatole and Madeline have left for London to give their son Lance a taste of running castle Leger in the hopes that he will be home to stay. Of course right away Lance accidentally finds his bride and then spends too much time hiding his gift of night drifting from her. It takes the crusty ghost of Prospero, who is much more prominent in this book, to alert him to the fact that he can get away with more by being honest to his lady of the lake than he ever could by lying or hiding the truth.I feel the scenes with Prospero steal the book and it is worth reading just to see how this ancient ghost reacts to the tragedies that ensue. There is still a quarrel with the Mortmains as Rafe has grown up to post a threat, but one is tossed back and forth as to how real that threat is. At first I thought the idea of Rosalind believing she is talking to the ghost of Sir Lancelot was farfetched. On further reading you see how sheltered and schooled she was in the Arthurian legends makes it all seem possible. A great middle to the series, it had me captured all the way through. If you loved book one, book two will certainly provide enough meat to chew on regardless of Rosalind.
lina_em on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
this is funnier than the other two but slightly sad. the idea of lancelot brings me chills but highly romantic and chivalrous.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading The Bride Finder, I just had to get my hands on The Night Drifter. This second book was just as well-written as the first one in the St. Leger series. Lance's character was awesome! I thought it was very clever of Susan Carroll to use 'Sir Lancelot' as an alternate persona of our main character. Rosalind disappointed me... It took her a long time to realize who Lance really was, and I felt that dragged the story out a bit.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wish every man was like Lance. He did anything to make her happy even though it cost him so much. Very romantic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Val's overall is my favorite, but this was a close second. Lance's power made it so romantic! Definetly read this, you won't be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved this book, but it wasn't as good as Val's story. I loved Val's story soooo much, it was so well written and the characters were amazing. I felt the same with this one but I felt like the story at some points kinda fell flat!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book of Ms. Carroll's Family line of the St. Leger's I have read. I was so engulfed in the lives of Lance and Val that I had to find and read The Bride Finder. Now I am caught up in the magic of this family. I was unable to stop reading this love story and can not wait until I am able to read the story of Valentine's life story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that I've only read one other Susan Carroll, but she hasn't yet stopped amazing me. The stories are so dynamic that I wonder how she even keeps up. She probably rereads every book before she writes her next one. This one made me cry so badly that I almost stopped reading it. It was so hard seeing the pages. Suffice it to say I cried for like 60 pages nonstop and finished reading it at 3:45 in the morning. I cannot wait for her next book, which I saw is not to come out until Winter. I guess I'll just have to sit back and wait.*sigh*
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everytime I pick up this book I can't put it down until the last page. The characters are intense, the story is gripping and I can't wait for the next book in the series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've never read a romance novel before, and I didn't even know who Carroll was. I read the book and was just captivated. It was so good! I could not put that book down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
One can always count on Ms. Carroll to provide an intriguing and heartwarming plot from beginning to end. She has a flare for the supernatural that makes her stories different from the average writer in this genre. 'The Night Drifter' is a continuation of the St. Leger story begun in 'The Bride Finder' but you need not read the books in sequence. Incorporating the ultimate, lovers fairy tale (the legend of King Arthur and Camelot) Ms. Carroll has written a wonderful love tale depicting familial and romantic relationships surronding the unusually gifted St. Leger's. A bit of wit and a surprise at the end makes this book a must read by anyone who enjoys a good imaginative piece and a bit of the unusual to go with true romantic love. I look forward to reading the next story in the St. Leger legend. I'm glad I didn't read the excerpt at the back before finishing the book. It would've ruined the ending. An unwise choice by the publisher to include it. I highly recommend you don't read it either.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I anxiously awaited this story and was very pleased. Ms. Carroll delivers again!! I can't wait for Valentine's story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is intriguing and has many twists at the end that keep you guessing. The romance between Lance and Rosalind is touching. Lance is a character we can all relate to as he is noble in all eyes but his own. I cried, I laughed and was amazed by this book. Susan Carroll gets two thumbs up!