Not even love could stop her
Despite her privileged life in the sultry paradise of Martinique, the beautiful and daring Sapphire Fabergine will never be satisfied until she claims the honor and legitimacy that has been denied her. Sapphire sails to London to confront the aristocratic family who had disowned her before she was even bornonly to find that her father is dead and that his title has passed to Blake Thixton, an attractive yet loathsome distant American cousin.
Convinced Sapphire is determined to bring about his ruin, Blake kidnaps her and sails back to America, where he presents her with a choice: become his mistress or serve him as a maid in his waterfront mansion. Without means in this unfamiliar land, Sapphire is trapped. But she will not compromise her quest for honor so easilynot even for the man she has come to desire.
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About the Author
Often dubbed the "Princess of Passion," author Rosemary Rogers is considered to be one of the founders of the modern historical romance novel. She has written more than 20 novels and sold more than 60 million copies of her books, including Dark Fires, Sweet Savage Love, and Bride for a Night.
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By Rosemary Rogers
MIRACopyright © 2005 Rosemary Rogers
All right reserved.
Martinique French West Indies April 1831
"One kiss, ma Sapphire douce, one kiss, else I will perish," the handsome, dark-haired Frenchman declared, bringing both hands to his heart where he stood chest-deep in the pool of crystal blue-green water beneath the waterfall.
Maurice wore nothing but a pair of buff doeskin breeches, soaked through and clinging to his body like a second skin, and the sight of his bare, muscular chest and dripping hair slicked back over his head made Sapphire's pulse quicken and her knees go weak. "You'll have to catch me first, Maurice." She laughed and splashed him, swaying her hips provocatively beneath the transparent shift she wore for her late-afternoon swim.
Maurice lunged forward, his hand striking out, but she turned and dove headlong into the pool, touching the sandy bottom with outstretched fingertips before she came back up, lungs straining for air.
"Got you!" He caught her ankle and began to drag her toward him, running his hands up her bare calf.
"No!" Sapphire squealed, kicking her free leg and laughing. "Release me, kind sir."
"Not until I have my kiss, fair damsel." Stepping back, Maurice found his footing on the sandy bottom again and pulled her into his arms.
Surrendering at last, Sapphire looped her arms around his neck and tipped her head back, allowing her wet, waist-length auburn tresses to fall over her shoulders and dip into the water. Closing her eyes, pressing her hips to his, she reveled in the feel of Maurice's body against hers.
Maurice had caught her eye at a ball last autumn when he and his brother Jacques had returned from school in France to join his father on a neighboring plantation. She'd felt the magic from the first night they met. A few innocent kisses, followed by heated glances across crowded rooms and several furtive meetings, and she'd fallen madly and hopelessly in love with Maurice, and he with her. Visions of a magnificent wedding in the garden at Orchid Manor danced in her head. Her only quandary was convincing dear, sweet Papa that Maurice was the right man for her — the only man for her.
"Sapphire, we should return to the house," Angel-ique called from where she and Jacques were floating on their backs by the cliff that enclosed their favorite swimming pool. "If we're gone too long, Papa will come looking. Remember, we're supposed to be listening to the baroness's harpsichord recital."
Only a year older than Sapphire, Angelique was not only the sister of her heart, but her best friend. The two had been inseparable since Sapphire's parents adopted Angelique. Though ebony-haired and native born to the island, the daughter of a slave, Angelique's skin tone merely appeared sun-kissed year round and did not give evidence of her true heritage. "I don't want to go to dinner and listen to Papa's boring English guests." Sapphire pouted, turning to brush her lips against Maurice's. "I'd much prefer to stay here."
"Perhaps you should return, ma petite," Maurice whispered softly in her ear. "I would not want to anger Monsieur Fabergine, my future father-in-law."
He teased her earlobe with the tip of his tongue, sending little shivers through her body. Despite the warmth of the afternoon, the water was cold and she trembled as unfamiliar and exciting sensations coiled in the pit of her belly, making her nipples grow hard and ache with anticipation.
"Meet me later tonight after your dinner, in our special place, oui?" Maurice suggested huskily in her ear.
She grasped his strong forearms and looked into his eyes. "Yes, and then we shall go riding. I adore riding in the dark, through the jungle and along the beach with only the moon to guide me. It would be a hundred times better if we were together."
"Or, we could pursue...other diversions." Maurice covered her mouth with his and she melted into his arms, sighing. Sapphire was not as generous with her affection as Angelique was, and, unlike the beautiful free-spirited native, she had guarded her virginity carefully. But her resolve was beginning to wane. She was fully a woman and eager to experience all there was to being one. What reason was there to wait? she wondered, light-headed as she finally tore her mouth from his, gasping for breath.
"Come sit on the bank and dry a little before you dress," Maurice murmured, wrapping his arm around her and guiding her toward the shore. He picked up a blanket and led Sapphire just off the path to a clearing among giant ferns, palm trees swaying overhead. He spread the blanket and took her hand again, easing her down onto the soft carpet of the jungle floor.
"I can only sit a minute." She smiled, inhaling deeply and savoring the scents of the jungle paradise. "Angel-ique is right. We should go before Papa finds us."
"Ah, papas," Maurice sighed, nuzzling her neck. "They are overprotective of their beautiful daughters, oui?"
She lifted her chin to gaze into his eyes and rested her palm on his broad shoulder. "Oui, at least this father is." Sapphire brushed her lips against Maurice's and he closed his arms around her, easing her back to the ground, deepening the kiss. When he again molded his lean body to hers, she felt the evidence of his desire, and heat rose in her cheeks.
Maurice drew his hand lightly over Sapphire's rib cage, up under her breast, and she sighed. Then he moved his hand slowly over her breast and squeezed gently, bringing a moan from deep in her throat. How could anything so forbidden feel so wonderful?
"Sapphire! Mon dieu! You, sir, remove yourself from my daughter at once!"
"Papa!" Sapphire had not heard the riders until they were upon the clearing beside the pond. She gave Maurice a push as she sat up and crossed her arms over her breasts.
"Bon après-midi, Monsieur Fabergine. How are you this fine afternoon?" Maurice had asked politely, as if nothing had happened.
"How am I?" Armand Fabergine sputtered, dismounting from his fine bay gelding, waving his white leather crop. He was dressed in a riding suit of white knee-length breeches, a white silk shirt, a pale blue coat and expensive boots. Behind him, several male guests on horseback strained their necks to get a look at Sapphire and her lover. "In truth, Mr. Dupree, I am not good," Armand said in lightly accented English as he pointed to his daughter. "Fille, get up. Get up at once!" His lips were pale, his eyes narrowed in anger.
As Sapphire stood, her father grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders.
"And where is Angelique?"
Her father didn't often become truly angry with her, but he was right now — so angry, sparks seemed to fly from his gray eyes.
"Coming, Papa!" Angelique sang.
"And you," Armand snapped, looking Maurice up and down with contempt, "are fortunate that I am a civilized man. My father would have shot you down like a dog had you dared to lay a hand on one of my sisters. You had better go from here now, because I cannot promise not to lose my self-control and thrash you."
"No, Papa!" Sapphire cried.
"You shame me, daughter. Cover yourself!" He glanced over his shoulder. "Please, gentlemen, could you give me a moment?"
The three Englishmen reluctantly backed up their mounts and disappeared behind a giant elephant ear plant.
"Angelique!" Armand called.
Out of the corner of her eye, Sapphire saw Jacques duck and disappear under a clump of ferns near the shore. She turned back to look at her father. It was Angelique's way, even since childhood. She never disobeyed or argued with their parents or Aunt Lucia. She would nod, smile prettily and do what she damn well pleased.
"Papa, you don't understand," Sapphire pleaded.
"What is there to understand?" Armand bellowed.
"This...this young man, who is no gentleman, has obviously attempted to take advantage of you."
"No!" Sapphire released one corner of the blanket and stepped back to loop her arm through Maurice's.
"Maurice and I are in love, Papa. He has done no wrong — he would never take advantage of me."
"Love? What do you know of love?" Armand scoffed, taking a step closer. He had grown thin in the past year and his dark hair had turned almost entirely white, but he still had a voice of authority that made men nervous.
"I should go, mon amour," Maurice said as he stepped back.
"I think that is wise, Monsieur Dupree, before I forget that I am a gentleman and deliver the painful lesson that you deserve."
"I will see you later," Maurice whispered in Sapphire's ear, and then he turned and hurried back toward the shore to gather his clothing.
Angelique came up the bank already dressed, carrying her slippers. "Papa," she said sweetly, "we were just going up to the house to prepare for your dinner. I simply cannot wait to wear the new gown you brought for me all the way from London."
Sapphire took a step toward her father, defiance in her eyes. "You cannot do this to Maurice or to me, Papa. I won't have it! We're in love...we're in love and we intend to marry!"
Armand looked down at her, his jaw firm. "You will not marry Maurice Dupree," he said coldly. "He is not fit to clean your riding boots." He turned and strode toward his horse.
"Papa! You can't just walk away from me. I am not a child any longer and I will not stand to be treated like one!"
Armand put his boot into the stirrup and swung onto his horse. "I am still your father and the lord over this plantation and all who live here," he told her quietly, staring straight ahead. "You are all my responsibility, which means I will do as I see fit, with my slaves and my daughter. I could lock you in your room or return you to the care of the Good Sisters of the Sacred Heart if I must."
"You wouldn't dare send me back to school!" Sapphire shouted after him as he rode away.
"I will not be swayed," Sapphire insisted as she followed Angelique out of her bedchamber and into the wide, lamp-lit passageway. Orchid Manor had been built by her grandfather in the style of the great French châteaux of the Loire Valley, but he had created an airy West Indies ambience with wide doors and windows that opened from almost every room onto stone patios and lush gardens.
"I won't do it, Angel." Sapphire tossed her head as she fastened a pearl earring to her lobe. "When Mama died, he told me I was an adult now and that I would be treated as such." She lifted the hemline of her new plum-colored silk dress with its fashionable bell-like skirt and low-cut décolleté and ran to catch up. "And now, when I have found a man to love, he speaks of sending me back to the convent school. Never!"
"You mustn't run or you will ruin your hair." Angel-ique reached up and fussed with an auburn pin curl above Sapphire's ear. "Do not bring up Maurice at dinner this evening. Do not bring him up at all."
"Not bring him up at all?" Sapphire said sharply. "I want to marry him. We want to be married at once."
Angelique smoothed the skirt of her pale pink gown. "You should not be so free with your heart. You are young — you've much to learn about love. There will be many Maurices who —"
"Not you, too!" Sapphire flared.
"I am on your side, the same as Papa." She turned toward the music wafting from the garden where the musicians played for her father's English guests, all business associates. "Come, we don't want to be late and anger Papa any further. We will talk about this later."
Excerpted from Sapphire by Rosemary Rogers Copyright © 2005 by Rosemary Rogers. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My all time favorite book. I read it over and over. I love it! Great story line, great characters, and great romance. Couldn't put it down!!
Absolutely worth reading! I love it and will keep it and read it over and over. It was awesome and made you feel as if you were one of the characters.
In 1831 Martinique, Sapphire Fabergive at a party hosted by her father, overhears the guests claim her deceased mother was a whore. Later Armand tells her the truth that she is not his offspring. He met and fell in love with her mother in a New Orleans bordello though she was obviously pregnant. Apparently she had married an earl, but the lad¿s father Lord Wessex objected to the marriage and had her abducted and dumped on the streets of New Orleans. Armand sends his beloved daughter to England to meet her matriarchal side................. In London brusque American shipping mogul Blake Thixton has inherited Wessex, which he thinks stinks as all he has is two properties, debts, and hysterical females. However, he has plans to use his title to further his company¿s customer base in England. That is until Sapphire arrives with her claims. Knowing she might hurt his cause, he kidnaps her, taking her back to America where he demands she become his mistress, but soon finds himself captivated and in love with his prisoner. She feels the same way, but does not trust her ¿jailer¿ nor does she want to end up in a brothel like being in love did to her mom......................... SAPPHIRE is an absorbing historical romance starring a spoiled coming of age young woman whose recovery from the shock of learning about her family tree seems quick, but reasonable. Blake is the more interesting character as he is the early nineteenth century ¿Ugly American¿ not interested in anything except the bottom line of his shipping business until Sapphire. Though the key secondary players like her ¿Aunt¿ and ¿sister¿ abruptly appear on and off the stage, fans will appreciate Rosemary Rogers¿ fine look at international relationships................. Harriet Klausner
A wonderful book
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