SHE COULD TAKE HIS NAME.
In Kat Martin's Silk and Steel, 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 Lucien is a man of honorand her only salvation. Desperate to save herself, she attempts to seduce him and force him into marriage.
BUT WOULD SHE 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. 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?
About the Author
Currently living in Missoula, Montana, Kat Martin is the bestselling author of over sixty historical and romantic suspense novels. More than fifteen million of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries, including Japan, France, Greece, Argentina, China, and Spain. Before she started writing, Kat was a real estate broker. During that time, she met her husband, L. J. Martin, also an author. Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in anthropology and also studied history. "I love anything old," Kat says. "I love to travel and especially like to visit the places where my books are set. 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 by-gone era."
Read an Excerpt
Silk and Steel
By Kat Martin
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2000 Kat Martin
All rights reserved.
Lady Kathryn Grayson slipped silently into the shadows behind the door of the old stone stable. She shivered, her tattered, dirty night rail little protection against the chill, the straw on the cold dirt floor scratchy beneath the soles of her bare feet. At the front of the stable, she could see a skinny, freckle-faced groom and the gleaming black of an expensive traveling carriage.
Creeping closer to the door, she saw that the conveyance was ready to depart and that it bore the gilded crest of a nobleman—the head of a wolf above a silver sword. Two footmen stood in conversation with the driver a little off to the left and as she listened to their conversation, her heart began to pound. The carriage wasn't traveling to London, but preparing for a return to the country. Dear God, it was headed away from the city! If she could find a place to hide in it, she would be safe!
Her excitement increased, her breath coming faster, a frosty mist in the cold morning air. She had to get away and the sooner the better. The carriage was the perfect solution.
She watched a moment more, surveying the sleek, finely polished lines of the expensive coach, feeling a wild surge of hope. The luggage boot at the rear would work—if there was room for her inside. She prayed there was, took a deep, steadying breath to calm the tremors running through her, and prepared to move quickly, before the footmen returned to their places aboard. When she heard the men laughing, saw that their attention was focused on a pair of barking dogs, she sprinted for the back of the carriage, her bare feet flying over the muddy earth, her dark hair swirling around her, a mane of tangles that brushed against her shoulders as she raced along.
Jerking up the leather cover, she climbed inside, settled herself between the trunks and satchels, tried to calm her furiously beating heart, and said a fervent prayer that no more luggage would be added before the coach departed.
Seconds passed. Her pulse rang in her ears. Though the morning was chill, sweat dampened the hair at her temples and trickled down her sides. She heard the men approaching, taking their places on top of the carriage. She felt it dip and sway with their weight, then the four matched blacks strained against their traces and the carriage rolled off toward the front of the inn.
It paused only briefly, long enough for its single passenger to climb aboard and settle himself against the leather squabs. Then the driver whipped up the team and they were off.
Hidden safely in the luggage boot, Kathryn breathed a sigh of relief and allowed her weary body to slump against the black laquered wood. She was tired. So terribly, incredibly tired. 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 the while that they would find her. When she stumbled upon a road and the ivy-covered inn, she'd said a prayer of thanks and carefully made her way to the stable at the rear.
Several hours later, asleep in a pile of straw, she'd awakened to the jangle of harness and the luffing of horses as they were led into their traces. Kathryn had known in an instant that this was her chance to get safely away.
Now, as the cool fall day began to warm, heating the space in the back of the carriage, her tired muscles relaxed and she began to doze. She slept off and on, awakened once when the carriage paused at a roadside tavern late in the afternoon and its occupant departed, probably for a bite to eat. Kathryn ignored the rumble in her stomach that motion brought and relaxed once more as the coach resumed its journey, too tired to even notice when the wheels jarred into the ruts in the road.
The hours dragged past. Her legs were cramped in the tight confines of the luggage boot. Her back and shoulders ached, and a dull pain nagged at the back of her neck. As the coach rolled along, she was almost grateful she hadn't had anything to eat or drink, since there was no possible way she could stop to relieve herself.
The rhythm of the carriage heightened her need for sleep. Her head slumped forward onto her chest, her slumber deepened, and Kathryn started to dream.
She was back at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, huddled on the cold stone floor of her dingy, airless cell. Fear surrounded her like a heavy morning mist, making her throat feel tight, and she eased farther into the corner, pressing her back against the rough gray walls, wishing she 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 she couldn't hear them.
Her heart beat raggedly, pounding into the silence she created inside her head. Dear God, she was living in hell itself, or at least man's version of it. What demon had fashioned such a place? How much longer could she endure it? The sound of footfalls traveled toward her, the rattle of chains as the guards approached, leading some poor unfortunate back to his cell.
Or perhaps they were coming for her.
Kathryn sank down, curling into herself, wishing she could disappear. She had eluded them for a time, been silent and docile enough they had left her alone. But sooner or later they would come for her as they had the others.
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 heavy through the shoulders, with thick lips and dirty blond hair queued back from his face with a thin piece of leather. The other was short and fleshy, his stomach protruding over coarse brown breeches stained with grease.
Kathryn fought back a sob as they paused at the door to her cell, a pair of heavy iron shackles draped over the fat man's arm.
Through the bars in the door, he flashed her a lecherous grin. "Evenin' missy. Time for us to take a little stroll."
"Nooo!" She began to back away, desperate now, her eyes darting around for any means of escape. She knew what they wanted, what they'd done to some of the other women. She'd escaped them until now, though she wasn't quite sure why. "Leave me alone! Get away from me! I'm warning you—go away and leave me be!"
The taller man merely grinned, but the fat man laughed out loud, a harsh, cruel, bitter sound that sent chills down Kathryn's spine—and jerked her from her dream.
Her heart was pounding, her nightgown damp with perspiration and clinging to her body. She tilted her head back against the wall of the luggage boot and reminded herself the dream wasn't real—not anymore. By some miracle of fate—or perhaps divine intervention—she had tricked the two vicious guards, escaped the end they had in store for her, and managed to flee St. Bart's.
Kathryn forced herself not to think of it, to bury it deep inside and dwell instead on keeping her hard-won freedom. She was free of the hospital, free of the madhouse she had been locked up in for nearly a year.
For the moment it was all she wanted, all she could think of. The future loomed ahead, but there would be time to plan, to decide what to do. If only she could keep from getting caught.
She slept again. She had no idea how many hours had passed when she was awakened with a fierce jerk on her arm that tumbled her forward out of the carriage. She would have landed in the mud if a second footman hadn't caught her other arm, hauling her upright with a rough jerk that snapped her head back.
"Let me go!" Kathryn struggled against him, trying to break 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 back against his chest. "More than likely, the chit's a thief." At the word, Kathryn kicked him hard in the shins and he jerked backward, knocking his silver wig askew. He swore and cuffed the back of her head. "Bloody beggar—do that 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 through the melee and both men instantly went still. For the first time Kathryn noticed the tall, imposing man who stood in the shadows, the owner of the carriage, she presumed. He was dressed in tight black breeches, a long black tailcoat and matching waistcoat with a fine silver thread. The frill on his snowy cambric shirt showed through the front, and a bit of white lace hung from each sleeve. His skin was dark, his hair even darker and slightly wavy, queued back 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 and taking a single step backward.
"What's your name?" the tall man asked. "And what the devil are you doing in the back of my carriage?"
Kathryn squared her shoulders, trying not to think what a miserable picture she made in her filthy, dirt-stained nightgown, her hair a dark mass of tangles around her face. She summoned the lie she had concocted for just such a moment, the words tumbling past her lips with surprising ease.
"My name is Kathryn Gray and I tell you this, sir, I am not a beggar—nor am I a thief. I'm a gently reared lady who has encountered an unfortunate bit of trouble. If you are indeed the gentleman you appear, I pray that you will help me."
His black brows drew together over eyes that were equally black. In the last rays of late afternoon sunlight, they seemed to glint with silver. He surveyed her from top to bottom, taking in every inch of her seedy appearance, his gaze so intense her arms unconsciously came up to cross over her breasts.
"Come into the house. We can speak in my study."
She was surprised at his acquiescence. She was filthy from the top of her greasy, unwashed hair to the soles of her cold bare feet. God knew she must carry the foul stench of the madhouse in every pore. Steeling herself, ignoring the disbelieving looks of the footmen, she followed him into the house, which was actually a huge stone castle that had been added onto over the years. She stopped just inside the entry.
"I appreciate your courtesy, my lord, but there is a favor I would beg."
"You have yet to explain yourself and already you ask a boon? Whoever you are, you are not one to mince words. What is it you wish?"
"A bath, my lord. I can hardly discuss my circumstances, filthy as I am and indecently dressed. If you would 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-defined angles of his face, his broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped build. He was a handsome man, she saw, but there was a hardness about him, an appearance of iron-hard will that warned her to beware.
"All right, Miss Gray, you shall have your bath." He turned to the long-nosed butler who stood just a few feet away. "Summon Mrs. Pendergass, Reeves. Have her see to the lady's needs then return her downstairs."
He turned back to Kathryn. "I shall await your presence in my study." His dark eyes sharpened. "And I warn you, 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. Perfectly clear." 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. "Lucien Raphael Montaine, fifth Marquess of Litchfield, at your service." A mocking half-smile curved his lips. "Welcome to Castle Running."
He turned and walked away and this time she did not stop him. The housekeeper, Mrs. Pendergass, appeared a few moments later, and she was ushered to an elegant bedchamber upstairs. Ignoring the buxom woman's disapproving glare, she made her way behind the screen and relieved herself with a sigh.
Feeling better, she walked over to the window to await her bath. From there she could see down into the courtyard. The castle was magnificent, centuries old, with crenellated towers and a goodly portion of the outer wall still intact around what must have once been the bailey.
The house itself was immaculately well cared for, the bedchamber she occupied done in royal-blue and ivory accented with elegant oriental pieces. She couldn't fault the marquess's taste.
The housekeeper's voice broke into her thoughts. "Your bath has arrived. I don't know who you are or how you managed to foist yourself off on his lordship, but I would advise you not to try to take advantage. His charity stems from kindness not weakness. You would do well to remember that."
She would remember, all right. One look in those hard dark eyes and she knew he was far from weak.
"I shouldn't tarry, if I were you," the woman said. "His lordship would not be pleased." And you do not wish to see him angry, were the words she left unspoken.
Kathryn silently heeded the warning, stripping away her soiled night rail, grateful it was one of her own embroidered gowns and not one the hospital issued with the neck trimmed in a wide band of red. Crossing naked to the bath with only a trace of embarrassment, she climbed into the steaming copper tub, and sank down with quiet bliss, letting the heat soak into her aching muscles, the stench and dirt melt away beneath the scent of roses. She smiled as she settled against the metal rim, relishing the simple joy that was nothing at all like the monthly scrubbings she had endured at St. Bart's.
Mrs. Pendergass left as she washed her hair with the fragrant rose-scented soap that had been brought for her use, rinsed, then settled back once more. In a moment she would dress in whatever borrowed clothing the housekeeper managed to scavenge and face the black-haired lord. Before she went down she would rehearse the lie that she had prepared. For now she would allow herself the pure pleasure of simply sitting there in the warm sudsy water, a pleasure she'd not had for nearly a year.
* * *
Seated behind the wide mahogany desk in his study, Lucien Montaine, Marquess of Litchfield, leaned back in his tufted leather chair. He steepled his fingers, his mind on the woman upstairs, in truth, little more than a girl, certainly no more than twenty. Dirty and unkempt as she was, there was something about her ... something he found intriguing. Perhaps it was the way she carried herself—more like royalty than the beggar she appeared.
She was taller than the average woman, thinner than she should have been, with dark chestnut hair, and firm little upthrusting breasts her ragged nightgown did little to hide. Her speech was certainly that of a lady. He wondered who 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 to believe the woman who stood in front of him was the same bedraggled creature who'd been hiding in the back of his carriage.
Even dressed in the simple white blouse and brown cotton skirt of a servant, there was no doubt she was a lady. The set of her shoulders, the look in her cool green eyes, said more than words ever could.
And she was lovely, he saw, her dark brows softly winged, her features fine, her nose straight, her lips full and perfectly curved. What he hadn't seen beneath the dirt on her face was more than apparent now, skin the color of honey mixed with cream, soft spots of rose tinting her cheeks.
"Perhaps you were right, Miss Gray. Your appearance is certainly improved. Why don't you sit down and tell me what this is about?"
She did as he commanded, seating herself in the chair across from him, her back ramrod straight, her hands folded neatly in front of her. He noticed they looked rough and slightly reddened, in contrast to the soft femininity of the rest of her. He wondered at the implication but let it pass, giving her his full attention.
"As I told you, my name is Kathryn Gray. I live in a village near Ripon, not far from York. My father is the vicar of the local parish church. He was away visiting friends when I was abducted."
"Abducted?" Lucien leaned forward in his chair. "You are saying someone broke into your home and carted you away?"
She nodded. "Exactly so, my lord. That is the reason I was dressed in my nightclothes. Who they were, where they came from, or why they chose me I couldn't say. I do know they had nefarious plans for me."
"Indeed. And just what plans were those?"
The girl cleared her throat but continued to face him squarely. "I overheard one of them say they were taking me to a ... a house of ill repute. Of course, I didn't know at first what the man meant ... being the daughter of a vicar and all. But after a while I began to understand what they were talking about. My father had preached sermons against such places, so I was able to discern their intentions."
Excerpted from Silk and Steel by Kat Martin. Copyright © 2000 Kat Martin. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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
a page turner, could not put it down!
I enjoyed the story. Lady Katherine Grayson sure suffered physically and mentally most of her young her life at the hands of her miserable uncle. IMHO I don't know how she stayed so strong. Thankfully, the Marquess of Litchfield was her savior.
Ok. Only disappointing because authir has written better
Silk and steel is another fantastic historical romance by Kat Martin. Lady Kathryn is the victim of her greedy uncle who decides to steal her fortune by committing her to an insane asylum so when she escapes and ends up in the carriage of Lucien Montaine, Marquess of Litchfeild, she begs him to help her and saves her from her greedy guardian. This is an amazing historical romance with lots of twists and turns, passions, dangers and emotions. Thank you Kat Martin
This was every bad situation you imagine in a romance novel
I am a fan of kat's historical romance.. this one was good. But nothing special. Ooh well. Maybe her next one.