Untie My Heart

Untie My Heart

by Judith Ivory

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Stuart Aysgarth, the new Viscount Mount Villiars, doesn't know he's playing with fire when he inadvertently runs afoul of Emma Hotchkiss. True, the exquisite Yorkshire lady is a mere sheep farmer, but she also guards a most colorful past that makes her only more appealing to the handsome, haunted lord. Emma has come to him seeking justice — and Stuart is determined that she will not leave until she has shared her secrets ... and his bed. Her clever revenge scheme must fail in the face of his soft words and tender caress — and then he turns the tables on his bewitching adversary, seducing her into a daring deception of his own ...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380812974
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/05/2002
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Judith Ivory's work has won many honors, including the Romance Writers of America's RITA and Top Ten Favorite Books of the Year awards and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award.

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Chapter One

Rams are the most difficult to shear. There is nothing like trying to move around three hundred pounds of indignation and hard-homed obstinance.

-- Emma Darlington Hotchkiss
Yorkshire Ways and Recipes

The events that would drop Emma Hotchkiss -- verily sink, she might have said -- into a quagmire of sin and crime began on the first sunny day she'd seen in a week as she galumphed gracelessly across a green Yorkshire field in the vicar's unbuckled muck boots. His boots, with her in them, clopped along, as big as buckets on her feet, making a nice rhythm: a hollow plock on the lumpy ground, then a clap as her foot knocked forward, her ankle catching at the gum rubber instep. She held her skirts high as she made good progress, collecting nary a mishap. That is to say, out of habit and despite the protective boots, she stayed clear of sheep droppings while making a fairly direct path for the far road, which she had to cross to get to her neighbors', the Tuckers', farm. She was headed there to collect their mending, which was how she brought in the extra shilling or two.

Emma was about fifty yards from the road, when she heard the unusual noise: a rising clatter that halted her, making her twist at the waist to look sideways down the road.

There, on the other side of the hedgerow, from around the far bend, a huge coach appeared, one of the largest she had ever seen. The driver atop it, hunched forward, heeyahed the horses as he energetically cast and recast his whip, calling to his team of eight. The whole thing, vehicle, team, and driver, shook and rolled hell for leather up the lanetoward Emma, an unbelievable sight.

And not just because of the size and noise and lightning haste of the vehicle. The horse team comprised, shoulder to shoulder, eight of the shiniest black coaching stallions she'd ever laid eyes on -- like black glass -- with glimpses above the hedgerow of galloping white socks to their knees and hocks. Any more perfectly matched horses could not have existed, nor galloped better in time. Their braided manes jarred along in perfect synchronicity to a jangle of tack and the clatter of wheels, the brass fittings sparkling in glints from the sun. The coach itself shone: As it came closer, its black and green and gold filigree paint all but leaped into relief, bright, crisp, and clean in the way of new things.

It was a new brougham, in its seat a coachman in new livery, while, peering over the back, two footmen held on for all they were worth -- each with one arm through a metal rail, the other gloved hand clamped to the crown of his top hat. Such rolling magnificence did not often frequent the country roads this far north of London. There was only one reason such an event should happen today, and, as the vehicle sped by, the family crest on the side of the carriage confirmed her suspicion: The new Viscount Mount Villiars was taking up residence. At jolly high speed.

Not that he would like what he saw when he got there. If he took the time to see it -- the old place, Castle Dunord, had fallen into disrepair. Though what did it matter? He wouldn't stay long. The Viscounts Mount Villiars never did.

She shook her head, thinking how dangerous it was for a carriage to race through narrow, crooked roads bordered by hedgerow and stone boundaries as old as the Roman invasion. The new viscount was going to kill himself (which was, come to think of it, what the last viscount did).

But, no, in the next moment, her silent rebuke heralded a different disaster, one more her own: For, up the road, from within a huge cloud of dust, the careening coach barely visible within it, came an exclamation, the coach driver yelling something. This quickly blurred into the scrape of carriage wheels, the creak of springs, a din of metal and stone. After which Emma distinctly heard a small thud and a tiny outcry.

Not human. Animal. Thank God, she thought at first, though her heart sank. For she knew the cry instantly -- as it came again -- to be the loud, plaintive bleat of a sheep.

The bleating pierced the air with distress, louder, clearer as the clatter of the carriage dimmed -- the vehicle swerved in the lane, then trundled off again with nary more than a pause. While the bleating continued, high-pitched, desperate, hurt. No, not a sheep. A lamb. A baby. The sound was thin-voiced, forlorn: The wee animal bayed.

Emma was running. She wasn't sure when she'd begun, only that she moved her legs as fast as they would go, her skirts hiked in her fists, her heart thudding loud in her chest. The air she breathed felt hot in her lungs as her feet beat against the ground up into her shins. Or clomp-hopped -- somewhere, she'd lost a boot in the bargain, so her gallop had become lopsided. As she came up on the hedgerow, she saw the carriage disappear completely in a puff of dust at the next bend, its rumble fading to a distant drone. Gone. She clambered up and over the thick bushes, her clothes and hair tangling in them. The hedgerow held her for a minute, with Emma struggling, shoving at it, branches snapping, scratching. Then it released her, and she was out onto the road.

Silence, all but for the rasp of her own breathing and the thump-thump of her heart that echoed in her ears. On the road though, no sound. Quiet reigned as she spotted the lamb. It was only a few yards up, midway in the short straightaway. She hurried over, then squatted beside it, a pathetic thing at the edge of the roadbed. The animal lay on its side at an awkward angle, a tangle of thin black legs, the rear ones bright with blood. Its hips and abdomen oozed, the red spreading into the woolly white coat ...

Untie My Heart. Copyright © by Judith Ivory. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Untie My Heart 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Judith Ivory, is by far one of my best discoveries of 2002. My first book purchase of 2003 was "Untie My Heart" and as per usual Ms. Ivory weaves the type of unusual romantic tale that is both humorous and passionate, sweet and enthrallingly erotic. Once again, her skill at creating unique characters (that are entirely different from those in her previous books) who are intriguingly flawed and still completely likeable make her books a joy to read. "Untie My Heart" is a great deal of fun from beginning to end where the accidental killing of a sheep sets off a string of events that kept me grinning from ear to ear. Likewise, the somewhat nefarious history of the female lead, Emma, adds a twist that I'm sure many readers will greatly enjoy. My review would not be complete if I failed to mention that Ms. Ivory has once again created a male character to make one's heart beat double time. Dashing, uninhibited, powerful and simultenously vulnerable at the same time, Stuart has you imagining all the fun and pleasures of nudity! Ms. Ivory writes the prose of romance between these two, quirky yet charming characters, in a fashion that convinces you that you're watching her prose play out on the big screen. Her execution of romantic love scenes will leave one absolutely breathless, and her talent for writing a character's thoughts puts the scene directly in the reader's mind. With such exceptional talent at her disposal, Ms. Ivory had me riding the same emotional wave that swept up the characters. She does this with such ease it's impossible not to notice the quality of her writing is not that which is typically found in the Romance section of your local book store. I enthusiastically look forward to her next- sure to be fantastic- novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1892, English expatriate Stuart Aysgarth is living in Russia when he belatedly received the telegram informing him that his father died and he was now a viscount with a wealthy estate. The next telegram stated that his Uncle Leonard insisted Stuart was dead, claiming the estates as his, and raided them. Stuart worries mostly about a statue. When he arrives his fears prove real, as all he sees is the empty niche in the wall. Stuart driving his coach at breakneck speed runs over a lamb belonging to Emma Hitchhikes. She demands remittance, but he refuses so she moves his money from his account to hers, but he catches her. Stuart blackmails Emma into helping him regain some of the items, especially that statue that his uncle stole. As they work a sting together, Stuart and Emma fall in love, but though quite avaricious, Leonard is not going to go away quietly. The key to the strong Victorian romance, UNTIE MY HEART, is the ability of Judith Ivory to persuade readers of a relationship between the aristocratic Stuart and the sheep farmer Emma at a time where social classes still ran in different circles. The story line is amusing, sensual, but filled with suspense on two levels. Will Stuart and Emma untie each other's heart and will the sting succeed. Though Leonard is too greedy to take seriously, fans will take pleasure from this astonishingly good late nineteenth century historical. Harriet Klausner
dianaleez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Judith Ivory's UNTIE MY HEART is a historical romance set in the late Victorian period.Emma Hotchkiss, the delightful heroine, is a former con artist. She is also the widow of the local vicar [who was also on the game] and a sheep farmer. Emma is described as 'short and rounded,' 'pudgy' in a certain light; she is smart, sassy, and unconventional. And she is determined to force the local lord to repay her for the sheep his coach and eight accidentallly dispatched.Stuart Aysgarth, the new Viscount Mount Villiars, has financial trouble since his uncle has stolen most of his assets, and he brushes Emma's claims for her sheep aside. This is a mistake, since Emma is then forced to resort to a con to get her compensation, and the chase is on.Emma and Stuart have a delightful chemistry; at times kinky and at times thoughtful, they are forced to deal with immediate physical attraction and a more slowly developing love. Neither is a conventional stock romantic lead: Emma is a woman with a past and Stuart deals daily with a stutter. Ivory very ably catches the nuances of an adult stutter who copes successfully with his problem, hiding it in shifts in rhythm and phrasing. Neither character completely trusts the other nor wants to open themselves to love.Watchting Emma and Stuart together is just plain fun. And I will never view chairs in quite the same light.This book not only makes my keeper shelf [used bookstore eat your heart out], I have made it my #1 book in my Top 10 Romance List. What more can I say?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CheapAndLazy More than 1 year ago
Unique. Interesting plot and characters. Incredibly romantic. Humor and philosophy with a touch of unlabeled D/s. Beautifully written if a bit over-descriptive in places (for my taste). 
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms Ivory did it again! Bravo for a very different plot, a hero who stutter and his love who is plump!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I hope a daughter of mine never reads nonsense romances like this. The plot was written like a pre-teen love magazine. The hero & heroine were dispicable. The scene where the handsome Stuart has sex with the pretty sheep farmer while she's tied to a chair was just digusting. This author's characters need to mature. I thought reading the book was a waste of time. I've read so many romances that have been great, but this is not one of them.