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The Improper Ladies 1
Almost lost in a storm-tossed sea, Jenna Hayward is grateful to
defy death. Finding herself alone on a deserted island except
for three of her other lucky shipmates, she discovers that
having so many attractive men around can be both
Jonathan Richmond is used to a life of privilege and wealth. The
one thing he isn't used to is having to share.
Fighting off deadly serpents, vicious jungle cats, and the
occasional engulfing storm, three men and a lovely woman
struggle to find a peace and to let their desires run wild without
disturbing the delicate equilibrium of their unusual little society.
All goes well, until by a twist of fate they are rescued, and
suddenly the strictures of proper English protocol intrude on
is a re-edited version of a
previously released story by the same name.
Historical / Multiple Partners
Novel (32,000 words)
The Improper Ladies 1
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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Copyright © 2007 by Emma Wildes
First E-book Publication: May 2007
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2007 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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Siren Publishing, Inc.
The Improper Ladies 1
Copyright © 2007
The storm sounded like a roaring beast, bellowing in fury.
Unable to walk, to even breathe, Jenna Hayward struggled to
gain the deck, stumbling and bouncing off the doorway as she
realized what was happening. A huge wave rose up before her
horrified gaze, sweeping across the deck. Everywhere, people
screamed; their agonized cries rose above even the awful howling
of the wind.
The main mast cracked like thunder under the onslaught,
coming down in a crashing fall of splintered wood and mangled
She was going to die. Even the thought seemed to be muted by
the roaring of the storm overhead, lashing around them.
The water towered over her for one long suspended second
before it descended in a tidal wave, slamming her backwards.
Stunned, unable to breathe, she flailed helplessly in that relentless
tide, swirling upwards, caught up in a raging torrent of seawater
and foam. Flung like a doll, it took her as it rolled backwards, and
she fought to grab the rail, a wail of despair escaping her lips as
she was carried over and dropped into the roiling water.
Lights flashed before her eyes as thunder crashed and waves
slapped her face, filling her mouth with water every time she tried
to gasp for breath. She struggled, her long skirts dragging at her
limbs, pulling her into the depths. A strong swimmer but losing the
battle with an inner panic, she fought the sea in a haze of
movement and noise. She was barely even aware when strong
hands seized her, and an arm came around her neck.
“God help us,” a male voice muttered in her ear. “She’s going
It was true. Even as she desperately tried to tread water, Jenna
heard the ship groan like a dying man. The vessel shuddered
visibly before her streaming eyes. A scream locked somewhere
deep inside her, unreleased but potent with her paralyzing fear.
The order came in disembodied harshness above the slashing
rain. “Let me swim and don’t struggle. If it comes down to your
life or mine, I’ll leave you, my lady.”
It didn’t matter, Jenna thought, going limp with terror as the
ship listed and began to sink. Her life was over. She might as well
* * * *
The bit of flotsam was little more than five or six planks still
lashed together, but it kept them afloat. His body was so exhausted
from battling the stormy waves that it was all Jonathan Richmond
could do to hang on, one arm around the limp and possibly lifeless
body of the girl, the other looped over the debris. It was still
raining but not nearly as windy. The sea was calming after the
snarling rage of the night, turning into a simmering pout, bobbing
them up and down but no longer beating them half to death.
he thought, that was a cheerful notion.
“The sun is coming up.”
The words were faint, and Jon squinted at the young man a few
feet away from him, half-prone on the impromptu raft, his legs
trailing in the water, his shirt almost completely torn from his lean
body. He was bloody. A gash showed at his temple and trickled red
down his cheek, but his teeth shone white in a sudden smile. “I
think we might make it, my lord.”
His valet tended to be cheerful, which he usually liked, but
right now it was irritating. Jon said shortly, “Devil take it, Charles,
must you always be so optimistic? We’re out in the ocean, hell
knows where, and what we will make it to, I haven’t a clue. Our
blasted ship just sank. For all we know we’re the only people to
survive.” It took effort to speak and Jon could barely growl out the
words, trying to breathe normally despite his weakened condition.
“He’s right. We can go only a day or two without fresh water.”
The other passenger on the debris was a man named Anthony
Reeves, a highly decorated officer in the Peninsular War.
Apparently having learned the lesson of survival, Jonathan had
actually seen the major leap from the ship seconds before it
relinquished itself to the briny depths. Hanging on to the bobbing
planks, Reeves said gravely, “How’s the girl? Is she alive?”
Shifting his grip, Jon let her head trail back in the water,
observing the slow beat of her pulse in her slender throat. “Barely
at a guess, but yes. For now.”
“It is a miracle she survived that wave. I saw it take her.”
“She’s heavy as Hades with all these clothes,” Jon muttered. “I
have half a notion to take off her bloody dress, if I could find the
energy. To hell with her modesty. I am not certain it will matter
anyway. She has been in a swoon for several hours, who knows if
she will recover.”
“Damnation, I think that’s Hayward’s daughter,” Reeves said,
shaking his head against the sprinkle of rain and staring, his face
streaked with droplets. “Now that the dawn lightens the sky, I can
see her a little better.” Then he added, “It would be a damned
shame if she died. She’s a beautiful young woman.”
“Hayward?” Jonathan asked, staring at the girl hanging so lax
against him, her lashes sticky against her alabaster cheeks. “The
famous general? I’ve met him once or twice. Some say he might be
our next Prime Minister.”
“It would not surprise me. As a soldier, I can tell you he is a
“An unlucky man,” Jonathan corrected cynically, shifting her a
little to ease the ache in his arm. “His daughter was just lost at
sea.” Her loose hair moved like seaweed, long and pale in the
shifting water, and her face was ashen, the delicate features washed
like bone. “Charles, now that the sea isn’t so rough, can you help
me disrobe her? I don’t want to lose her because my arm goes
numb. I have been hanging on to her for hours now.”
“I’ll take her,” Reeves offered.
“No need,” Jonathan said gruffly, not sure why he didn’t want
to give up his unwanted burden. “If we remove her clothes, I’ll be
Obligingly inching closer, Charles lay on his stomach and
grasped her under the arms, allowing Jonathan to unfasten her
evening gown. It was heavy velvet and it slipped away easily under
the sheer weight of her skirts. She wore no corset, so naturally
slender it was unnecessary, and her head lolled to his shoulder
when he pulled her back into his arms. “Better,” he announced.
“She weighs more than I do with all that confining cloth around
her. Now there’s nothing to her.”
“Her beauty,” Major Reeves said over the prick of the falling
rain, “is such that her father forbade her to visit him in Spain again.
In fact, she caused such a distraction among our Spanish allies that
he sent her home at once. I believe her mother died when she was a
child. The poor man, he dotes on her. When he learns of the ship
lost, he will be devastated.”
“Her beauty,” Jonathan said in a low, dry voice, “will cause no
riots here. I wonder where the hell we are?”
hell.” Reeves lifted his face and looked up at the
opaque sky, which had begun to lighten but was still sullen and
moody. “For if I can imagine anything worse than dying of thirst in
the middle of a huge body of water, I don’t know what it might
“Sharks could be worse,” Charles said, his cheerful gaze
darkening. “I don’t much fancy the notion of sharks. Nasty, vicious
creatures, I’m told.”
Tightening his hold on the young woman floating next to him,
Jonathan said sarcastically, “Thanks for that particular vision, you
young idiot. I was worried enough about dying of thirst because of