Silk and Steel (Litchfield Series #2)

Silk and Steel (Litchfield Series #2)

by Kat Martin

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Overview

She could take his name,

Lady Kathryn Grayson is a gently bred noblewoman with a privileged future ahead of her..until her greedy uncle decides to steal her fortune by committing her to an insane asylum. Her only escape is to stow away in the carriage of Lucien Montaine, Marquess of Litchfield, who hears her story with disbelief and suspicion. Yet Kathryn's instincts tell her Lord Litchfield is a man of honor-and her only salvation. Desperate to save herself, she attempts to seduce him and forces him into marriage.

But she couldn't take his heart.

The moment Lucien encounters the ragged, hungry waif with the dignity of a queen, he fights against wanting her. Though captivated by her intellect, strong will, and beauty, he will never love the woman who has deceived him.

Or so he thought...

Though their battle of wills grows stronger every day, desire threatens to overpower his fury. Can this maddening woman who is now his bride melt his heart of steel? Or will her silken touch only strengthen his vow never to fall prey to the dangers of love?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312998868
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 01/05/2004
Series: Litchfield Series , #2
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 4.28(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kat Martin’s bestselling novels include Nothing But Velvet, Innocence Undone and the Raines of Wind Canyon Series—Against the Wind, Against the Fire, and Against the Law. Silk and Steel was nominated for a RITA Award. She is a graduate of the University of California, where she majored in Anthropology and History, a background that helped to develop her interest in the past. "I love anything old," she says. "I especially love to visit the settings for my books. My husband and I often stay in out-of-the-way inns and houses built in times past. It's fun and it gives a wonderful sense of a bygone era." Before becoming a writer, Martin was a real estate broker. She lives with her husband, author Larry Jay Martin, in Missoula, Montana.

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One


Lady Kathryn Grayson slipped silently into the shadowsbehind the door of the old stone stable. She shivered, hertattered, dirty night rail little protection against the chill,the straw on the cold dirt floor scratchy beneath the solesof her bare feet. At the front of the stable, she could seea skinny, freckle-faced groom and the gleaming black ofan expensive traveling carriage.

    Creeping closer to the door, she saw that the conveyancewas ready to depart and that it bore the gilded crestof a nobleman—the head of a wolf above a silver sword.Two footmen stood in conversation with the driver a littleoff to the left and as she listened to their conversation,her heart began to pound. The carriage wasn't travelingto London, but preparing for a return to the country. DearGod, it was headed away from the city! If she could finda place to hide in it, she would be safe!

    Her excitement increased, her breath coming faster, afrosty mist in the cold morning air. She had to get awayand the sooner the better. The carriage was the perfectsolution.

    She watched a moment more, surveying the sleek,finely polished lines of the expensive coach, feeling a wildsurge of hope. The luggage boot at the rear would work—ifthere was room for her inside. She prayed there was,took a deep, steadying breath to calm the tremors runningthrough her, and prepared to move quickly, before thefootmen returned to their places aboard. When she heardthe men laughing, saw that their attention was focused ona pair of barking dogs, she sprinted for the back of thecarriage, her bare feet flying over themuddy earth, herdark hair swirling around her, a mane of tangles thatbrushed against her shoulders as she raced along.

    Jerking up the leather cover, she climbed inside, settledherself between the trunks and satchels, tried to calm herfuriously beating heart, and said a fervent prayer that nomore luggage would be added before the coach departed.

    Seconds passed. Her pulse rang in her ears. Thoughthe morning was chill, sweat dampened the hair at hertemples and trickled down her sides. She heard the menapproaching, taking their places on top of the carriage.She felt it dip and sway with their weight, then the fourmatched blacks strained against their traces and the carriagerolled off toward the front of the inn.

    It paused only briefly, long enough for its single passengerto climb aboard and settle himself against theleather squabs. Then the driver whipped up the team andthey were off.

    Hidden safely in the luggage boot, Kathryn breathed asigh of relief and allowed her weary body to slump againstthe black laquered wood. She was tired. So terribly, incrediblytired. The night had been exhausting. Running,then walking for miles in nothing but her dirty nightgown,her legs aching, her feet cut and bleeding, terrifed all thewhile that they would find her. When she stumbled upona road and the ivy-covered inn, she'd said a prayer ofthanks and carefully made her way to the stable at therear.

    Several hours later, asleep in a pile of straw, she'dawakened to the jangle of harness and the luffing of horsesas they were led into their traces. Kathryn had known inan instant that this was her chance to get safely away.

    Now, as the cool fall day began to warm, heating thespace in the back of the carriage, her fired muscles relaxedand she began to doze. She slept off and on, awakenedonce when the carriage paused at a roadside tavern latein the afternoon and its occupant departed, probably for abite to eat. Kathryn ignored the rumble in her stomachthat notion brought and relaxed once more as the coachresumed its journey, too tired to even notice when thewheels jarred into the ruts in the road.

    The hours dragged past. Her legs were cramped in thetight confines of the luggage boot. Her back and shouldersached, and a dull pain nagged at the back of her neck. Asthe coach rolled along, she was almost grateful she hadn'thad anything to eat or drink, since there was no possibleway she could stop to relieve herself.

    The rhythm of the carriage heightened her need forsleep. Her head slumped forward onto her chest, her slumberdeepened, and Kathryn started to dream.

    She was back at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, huddledon the cold stone floor of her dingy, airless cell. Fearsurrounded her like a heavy morning mist, making herthroat feel tight, and she eased farther into the corner,pressing her back against the rough gray walls, wishingshe could disappear inside them. Along the row of cells,she could hear the other inmates and her hands crept up,covering her ears to block the screams, pretending shecouldn't hear them.

    Her heart beat raggedly, pounding into the silence shecreated inside her head. Dear God, she was living in hellitself, or at least man's version of it. What demon hadfashioned such a place? How much longer could she endureit? The sound of footfalls traveled toward her, therattle of chains as the guards approached, leading somepoor unfortunate back to his cell.

    Or perhaps they were coming for her.

    Kathryn sank down, curling into herself, wishing shecould disappear. She had eluded them for a time, beensilent and docile enough they had left her alone. Butsooner or later they would come for her as they had theothers.

    The footsteps grew louder. Her heart beat with fear.Sweet God, don't let it be me. Someone else. Anyone else.Not me! Not me! She saw them then, one tall and heavythrough the shoulders, with thick lips and dirty blond hairqueued back from his face with a thin piece of leather,The other was short and fleshy, his stomach protrudingover course brown breeches stained with grease.

    Kathryn fought back a sob as they paused at the doorto her cell, a pair of heavy iron shackles draped over thefat man's arm.

    Through the bars in the door, he flashed her a lecherousgrin. "Evenin' missy. Time for us to take a little stroll."

    "Nooo!" She began to back away, desperate now, hereyes darting around for any means of escape. She knewwhat they wanted, what they'd done to some of the otherwomen. She'd escaped them until now, though she wasn'tquite sure why. "Leave me alone! Get away from me! I'mwarning you—go away and leave me be!"

    The taller man merely grinned, but the fat man laughedout loud, a harsh, cruel, bitter sound that sent chills downKathryn's spine—and jerked her from her dream.

    Her heart was pounding, her nightgown damp with perspirationand clinging to her body. She tilted her headback against the wall of the luggage boot and remindedherself the dream wasn't real—not anymore. By Somemiracle of fate—or perhaps divine intervention—she hadtricked the two vicious guards, escaped the end they hadin store for her, and managed to flee St. Bart's.

    Kathryn forced herself not to think of it, to bury it deepinside and dwell instead on keeping her hard-won freedom.She was free of the hospital, free of the madhouseshe had been locked up in for nearly a year.

    For the moment it was all she wanted, all she couldthink of. The future loomed ahead, but there would betime to plan, to decide what to do. If only she could keepfrom getting caught.

    She slept again. She had no idea how many hours hadpassed when she was awakened with a fierce jerk on herarm that tumbled her forward Out of the carriage. Shewould have landed in the mud if a second footman hadn'tcaught her other arm, hauling her upright with a roughjerk that snapped her head back.

    "Let me go!" Kathryn struggled against him, trying tobreak his solid hold. "Get your hands off me!"

    "It's a bleedin' stowaway!" one of the men called out,wrapping an arm around her waist and forcing her backagainst his chest. "More than likely, the chit's a thief." Atthe word, Kathryn kicked him hard in the shins and hejerked backward, knocking his silver wig askew. Heswore and cuffed the back of her head. "Bloody beggar—dothat again and ye'll be sorry."

    Kathryn straightened, "Hit me again and I promise you,sir, it is you who will be sorry."

    "All right, that's enough." The deep voice cut throughthe melee and both men instantly went still. For the firsttime Kathryn noticed the tall, imposing man who stoodin the shadows, the owner of the carriage, she presumed.He was dressed in tight black breeches, a long black tailcoatand matching waistcoat with a fine silver thread. Thefrill on his snowy cambric shirt showed through the front,and a bit of white lace hung from each sleeve. His skinwas dark, his hair even darker and slightly wavy, queuedback with a broad black ribbon tied in a spreading bow.

    "Let the girl go, Cedric. She seems quite able to talk.Give her a chance to speak."

    They did so with some regret, releasing her arms andtaking a single Step backward.

    "What's your name?" the tall man asked. "And whatthe devil are you doing in the back of my carriage?"

    Kathryn squared her shoulders, trying not to think whata miserable picture she made in her filthy, dirt-stainednightgown, her hair a dark mass of tangles around herface. She summoned the lie she had concocted for justsuch a moment, the words tumbling past her lips withsurprising ease.

    "My name is Kathryn Gray and I tell you this, sir, Iam not a beggar—nor am I a thief. I'm a gently rearedlady who has encountered an unfortunate bit of trouble.If you are indeed the gentleman you appear, I pray thatyou will help me."

    His black brows drew together over eyes that wereequally black. In the last rays of late afternoon sunlight,they seemed to glint with silver. He surveyed her fromtop to bottom, taking in every inch of her seedy appearance,his gaze so intense her arms unconsciously came upto cross over her breasts.

    "Come into the house. We can speak in my study."

    She was surprised at his acquiescence. She was filthyfrom the top of her greasy, unwashed hair to the soles ofher cold bare feet. God knew she must carry the foulstench of the madhouse in every pore. Steering herself,ignoring the disbelieving looks of the footmen, she followedhim into the house, which was actually a hugestone castle that had been added onto over the years. Shestopped just inside the entry.

    "I appreciate your courtesy, my lord, but there is afavor I would beg."

    "You have yet to explain yourself and already you aska boon? Whoever you are, you are not one to mincewords. What is it you wish?"

    "A bath, my lord. I can hardly discuss my circumstances,filthy as I am and indecently dressed. If youwould allow me to bathe and borrow a change of clothing,I am certain we would both be more comfortable."

    He studied her for long moments, weighing her words,contrasting her educated speech against her ragged appearance.Kathryn studied him in return, noting the well-definedangles of his face, his broad-shouldered, narrow-hippedbuild. He was a handsome man, she saw, but therewas a hardness about him, an appearance of iron-hard willthat warned her to beware.

    "All right, Miss Gray, you shall have your bath." Heturned to the long-nosed butler who stood just a few feetaway. "Summon Mrs. Pendergass, Reeves. Have her seeto the lady's needs then return her downstairs."

    He turned back to Kathryn. "I shall await your presencein my study." His dark eyes sharpened. "And I warnyou, Miss Gray, should your tale be anything but the truth,you will find yourself tossed out like so much rubbish.Do I make myself clear?"

    A slight chill slid through her. "Yes, my lord. Perfectlyclear." He nodded and turned to leave. "My lord?"

    An exasperated sigh whispered out. "Yes, Miss Gray?"

    "I'm afraid I don't know your name."

    His brow hiked up. He made an extravagant bow. "LucienRaphael Montaine, fifth Marquess of Litchfield, atyour service." A mocking half-smile curved his lips."Welcome to Castle Running."

    He turned and walked away and this time she did notstop him. The housekeeper, Mrs. Pendergass, appeared afew moments later, and she was ushered to an elegantbedchamber upstairs. Ignoring the buxom woman's disapprovingglare, she made her way behind the screen andrelieved herself with a sigh.

    Feeling better, she walked over to the window to awaither bath. From there she could see down into the courtyard.The castle was magnificent, centuries old, with crenellatedtowers and a goodly portion of the outer wall stillintact around what must have once been the bailey.

    The house itself was immaculately well cared for, thebedchamber she occupied done in royal-blue and ivoryaccented with elegant oriental pieces. She couldn't faultthe marquess's taste.

    The housekeeper's voice broke into her thoughts."Your bath has arrived. I don't know who you are or howyou managed to foist yourself off on his lordship, but Iwould advise you not to try to take advantage. His charitystems from kindness not weakness. You would do well toremember that."

    She would remember, all right. One look in those harddark eyes and she knew he was far from weak.

    "I shouldn't tarry, if I were you," the woman said. "Hislordship would not be pleased." And you do not wish tosee him angry, were the words she left unspoken.

    Kathryn silently heeded the warning, stripping awayher soiled night rail, grateful it was one of her own embroideredgowns and not one the hospital issued with theneck trimmed in a wide band of red. Crossing naked tothe bath with only a trace of embarrassment, she climbedinto the steaming copper tub, and sank down with quietbliss, letting the heat soak into her aching muscles, thestench and dirt melt away beneath the scent of roses. Shesmiled as she settled against the metal rim, relishing thesimple joy that was nothing at all like the monthly scrubbingsshe had endured at St. Bart's.

    Mrs. Pendergass left as she washed her hair with thefragrant rose-scented soap that had been brought for heruse, rinsed, then settled back once more. In a moment shewould dress in whatever borrowed clothing the housekeepermanaged to scavenge and face the black-hairedlord. Before she went down she would rehearse the liethat she had prepared. For now she would allow herselfthe pure pleasure of simply sitting there in the warm sudsywater, a pleasure she'd not had for nearly a year.


Seated behind the wide mahogany desk in his study, LucienMontaine, Marquess of Litchfield, leaned back in histufted leather chair. He steepled his fingers, his mind onthe woman upstairs, in truth, little more than a girl, certainlyno more than twenty. Dirty and unkempt as shewas, there was something about her ... something hefound intriguing. Perhaps it was the way she carded herself—morelike royalty than the beggar she appeared.

    She was taller than the average woman, thinner thanshe should have been, with dark chestnut hair, and firmlittle upthrusting breasts her ragged nightgown did littleto hide. Her speech was certainly that of a lady. He wonderedwho the devil she was.

    A knock at the door distracted him. At his command,the butler, Preston Reeves, ushered the girl into his study.Lucien found himself coming to his feet, barely able tobelieve the woman who stood in front of him was thesame bedraggled creature who'd been hiding in the backof his carriage.

    Even dressed in the simple white blouse and browncotton skirt of a servant, there was no doubt she was alady. The set of her shoulders, the look in her tool greeneyes, said more than words ever could.

    And she was lovely, he saw, her dark brows softlywinged, her features fine, her nose straight, her lips fulland perfectly curved. What he hadn't seen beneath thedirt on her face was more than apparent now, skin thecolor of honey mixed with cream, soft spots of rose tintingher cheeks.

    "Perhaps you were right, Miss Gray. Your appearanceis certainly improved. Why don't you sit down and tellme what this is about?"

    She did as he commanded, seating herself in the chairacross from him, her back ramrod straight, her handsfolded neatly in front of her. He noticed they looked roughand slightly reddened, in contrast to the soft femininity ofthe rest of her. He wondered at the implication but let itpass, giving her his full attention.

    "As I told you, my name is Kathryn Gray. I live in avillage near Ripon, not far from York. My father is thevicar of the local parish church. He was away visitingfriends when I was abducted."

    "Abducted?" Lucien leaned forward in his chair. "Youare saying someone broke into your home and carted youaway?"

    She nodded. "Exactly so, my lord. That is the reasonI was dressed in my nightclothes. Who they were, wherethey came from, or why they chose me I couldn't say. Ido know they had nefarious plans for me."

    "Indeed. And just what plans were those?"

    The girl cleared her throat but continued to face himSquarely. "I overheard one of them say they were takingme to a ... a house of ill repute. Of course, I didn't knowat first what the man meant ... being the daughter of avicar and all. But after a while I began to understand whatthey were talking about. My father had preached sermonsagainst such places, so I was able to discern their intentions."

    "I see." Something about her story gave him pause, buthe was fascinated at the cool control with which she toldit, and under it there was an unmistakable hint of desperation.Considering her circumstances, assuming she wastelling the truth, it was amazing she could hide it as wellas she did. "Go on, Miss Gray."

    "The men intended to sell me. I suppose that is thereason they left my ... my person alone. Apparently thereis a market for such things."

    His mouth curved faintly. "So I've heard." And shewould certainly have brought a fetching price. For an instantthe annoying thought arose that he wouldn't haveminded being a patron at such a house. He would indeedhave enjoyed a night in the arms of the intriguing MissGray.

    "Fortunately, I escaped," she continued in that cool,controlled way that made him wonder what emotion itwas that seethed just below the her surface calm. Herbreeding was evident in every movement, every gesture.If she hadn't told him otherwise, he would have beencertain she was a member of the nobility.

    "I ran as far and as fast as I could," she was saying."I was hiding in the stable when—"

    "How?" Lucien broke in. "How did you escape?"

    "How?" she squeaked, for the first time unnerved.

    "That is what I asked. How did you escape the menwho abducted you? You are a lady and obviously nomatch for them. How did you manage to get away?"

    Her hands trembled for a moment where she clutchedthem in her lap. She took a deep breath and straightened,once more in control. "We'd been traveling for days, stayingin one foul place after another. The night before wereached London, we stopped at an inn. One of the men—afat man with foul breath—dragged me into a room behindthe kitchen. He and his friend—a tall, thick-shoulderedman with dirty blond hair—must have decided that theywould ... that they would ..."

    She moistened her lips, her control slipping a bit. "Thefat man took me into this room while the tall man waitedoutside. He started swearing, unable to unfasten the buttonson his breeches. While he was distracted, I hit himover the head with a chamber pot and escaped out of thewindow."

    Lucien leaned back in his chair. "Very clever."

    She nodded. "I was desperate. I had to escape. I walkedthrough the night and finally ran across the stable in backof the inn. I was exhausted. I hid in the straw and for awhile I fell asleep. When I woke up, I saw your-carriageand ... well, you know the rest."

    "Yes, I suppose I do." Lucien stood up from his chairand rounded the desk, stopping right in front of her. "I'mgoing to presume, Miss Gray, that you are telling me thetruth. You are, aren't you?" He looked at her hard andcould have sworn he saw a slight hesitation.

    Then she stood up as well. "I'm telling you the truth,my lord. And I am asking you, as the gentlemen youobviously are, to help me."

    Lucien pondered that. He had decided to help her themoment she had walked through the door of his study,perhaps even before that. "All right, Miss Gray. In themorning I'll arrange for a carriage to take you home toyour father. I'll have one of the housemaids accompanyyou and—"

    He felt her hand on his arm. "Please, my lord. Myfather is not at home and I ... I would be afraid to returnwhile he is away. Perhaps you could send word to him,and in the meantime, I could wait here for him to comeand get me. I realize it is asking a lot but—"

    "Is there no one else you can go to for help?"

    She shook her head. "Not really. My father will beback in a few more days. If you would send word, hewould he happy to come for me."

    Lucien watched her closely. He wasn't really sure howmuch of her story he believed. There was something incongruousabout the woman in the cartilage, the one in hisstudy, and the one she had just described. No, he wasn'tconvinced she was telling the truth, though parts, at least,were certainly delivered convincingly. Still, as a gentleman,he was obliged to help a lady in distress—and therewas no doubt this one was. And the mystery she posedcontinued to intrigue him.

    "Staying here isn't a problem. My aunt will be homein the morning. She can serve as chaperone. In the meanwhile,I'll send word to Ripon to your father." He gaveher a mocking half-smile. "Will that suffice, Miss Gray?"

    "Yes, my lord, it will more than suffice. I shall beforever in your debt."

(Continues...)


Excerpted from Silk and Steel by Kat Martin. Copyright © 2000 by Kat Martin. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Silk and Steel (Litchfield Series #2) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
MY GOD, this is the best book ever!!! i already LOVED kat martin and since i read this book i loved her even more!!! i cried ALOT, i dont see how anyone can't.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I brought this book because i thought it would be good like her other books...However, when i read it...I was very disappointed. I like her other books better...
Guest More than 1 year ago
First read by KM. Very good. Highly suspenseful. Second of her's I read the first of this sequel, Velvet. Not as good as Silk and Steel. Third I read (just finished) is Innocence Undone. Fantastic book. KM has it all, intrique, romance, etc. I'm hooked.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once again Kat Martin has wrote another fasinating book that has alot of feelings that, like usual, succeed in making you feel quite diverse in different parts of the story. The story of Kathryn and Lucien have become a favorite of mine and when ever I'm bored it's always one of those books that I pick up to pass the time away. This was the first Kat Martin book I read and since then I have been picking them up in Public Libraries.... this author is absolutely amazing in her ability to write!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Martin did not do such a good job with this book. The hero lacked strong characteristics. The plots were too simple. Not one of her best
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kat Martin has done it again! She captured me in this one. I just couldn't put it down. I tell all of my friends and family to read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Silk and Steel is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I just recently started reading romance books. I think Kat Martin captures your heart in this book. I felt I was right there in the story. It had suspence along with the romance and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I found it hard to put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Silk and Steel brought out a full range of emotions. Anger at Lucien, Hate for the evil Uncle, empathy for Lady Kathryn. Only someone with deeply suppressed emotions could read this book without shedding a tear. And laughter is also present as Kathryn outwits her adversarys. This is the first book I have read by Kat Martin, but I will now read the rest. I highly recommend it!
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Earl of Dunstan, Douglas Roth, will do anything to control the fortune owned by his niece Lady Kathryn Grayson. Taking advantage of Kathryn¿s interest in medicine, Douglas claims she tried to poison his daughter. He succeeds in locking up his niece at St. Bartholomew Hospital for the Insane.

Kathryn manages to escape the asylum. She persuades Lucien Montaine, the Marquis of Litchfield, into protecting her, but hides the truth from him. Lucien soon learns that he harbors a lunatic, but cannot quite match that description with the beautiful woman he now loves. Kathryn reciprocates his feelings, but fear of her uncle forces her to take action rather than allowing their relationship to develop. She tricks Lucien into marrying her, but that turns him into her enemy. When she can no longer take his scorn, she flees into the night once again, leaving Lucien to ponder what he really wants out of life.

SILK AND STEEL is a fast-paced story line that centers on the Regency era ease of an aristocratic male can locking up a female under his protection. Kathryn is a warm, intrepid, but desperate character. The smug Lucien is a typical sub-genre protagonist filled with male superiority and aristocratic haughtiness while believing he is always right until he loses his beloved Kathryn. Douglas seems more like the antagonist in the Perils of Pauline. In spite of the cartoon-like villain, Kat Martin¿s Regency romance remains worth reading as she guts the insides of her audience with the same fears that sends Kathryn running into the night, heart palpitating.

Harriet Klausner