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Authors: Kate Moore

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Blackstone's Bride

BOOK: Blackstone's Bride
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PRAISE FOR

To Seduce an Angel

“Moore has hit her stride with this marvelously rewarding conclusion to her Sons of Sin trilogy. Fans will hope for more of Moore’s sinful delights to come.”


Library Journal

To Save the Devil

“In addition to a fast-paced, exciting plot, Moore infuses the story with snappy banter and a large dollop of speculation and lore about the real Helen of Troy, and she skillfully whets readers’ appetites for the final tale.”

—Booklist

“I enjoyed reading this story and look forward to reading more of Ms. Moore’s work.”

—Night Owl Reviews

To Tempt a Saint


To Tempt a Saint
has everything—intrigue, passion, delicious characters you will fall in love with, and an evocative portrayal of Regency London. Kate Moore is a writer to treasure.”

—Sabrina Jeffries,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Moore gives readers a grim glimpse of some of the realities of the period often ignored by the genre. Focusing on the three sons of a legendary London courtesan, Sons of Sin, with its ongoing mystery, promises to be a stunning trilogy.”


Library Journal

“Powerful emotions, taut mysteries, dark secrets, and deep sensuality draw readers into Moore’s unforgettable story. Like Lorraine Heath, Moore draws on the Dickensian aspects of London to enhance a story already filled with realistic characters and pulse-pounding adventure. Moore is a talent to remember.”

—RT Book Reviews

“This is a terrific first Sons of Sin historical romance because of its dark look at the underbelly of London . . . The story line is fast-paced and vivid . . . Kate Moore provides a powerful opening act in a three-part drama.”

—Midwest Book Review

Berkley Sensation titles by Kate Moore

TO TEMPT A SAINT

TO SAVE THE DEVIL

TO SEDUCE AN ANGEL

 

BLACKSTONE’S BRIDE

Blackstone

s Bride

KATE MOORE

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

BLACKSTONE’S BRIDE

A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / August 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Kate Moore.

Excerpt from
To Seduce an Angel
by Kate Moore copyright © 2011 by Kate Moore.

Cover art by Judy York. Hand lettering by Ron Zinn.

Cover design by George Long.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or
electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of
copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-58122-3

BERKLEY SENSATION
®

Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

BERKLEY SENSATION
®
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

For Loren, Kevin, and Allison, as ever

Were the same fair prospect to arise at present as had flattered them a year ago, every thing . . . would be hastening to the same vexatious conclusion.

—Jane Austen,
Pride and Prejudice

Prologue

The English Channel. February 1825

Lyle Massing, Baron Blackstone, was losing at cards, a situation he could only attribute to the rise and fall of the ship under him. The HMS
Redemption
, a naval vessel of questionable seaworthiness, had been pressed into service to bring Blackstone and a few other survivors of the Greek misadventure home.

He tried to concentrate on the cards in his hand and not think about home. At the moment he didn’t have one. Blackstone Court, the ancestral seat he’d inherited from his father, had been mortgaged to pay his ransom to the Greek warlord Vasiladi. The house was now leased to a wealthy maker of crockery. Blackstone’s widowed mother and sisters had removed to a modest townhouse in Bath. His mother made no complaint, but in her letter about the move, his sister Elena had double underlined the words “thirty feet,” the distance between their two drawing rooms in Bath. When he thought of his mother in such narrow circumstances after the vastness of Blackstone Court, he grew a little reckless with his cards, and already a pile of his vowels littered the table.

Beating its way across the channel to Dover, the
Redemption
lurched and shuddered, making the yellow light waver in the smoky compartment. Blackstone blinked at the unforgiving cards in his hand. His opponent, Samuel Goldsworthy, a large mound of a man with thick red hair and beard and a green silk waistcoat that glowed in the swaying light, grinned at him. The fellow seemed incapable of ill humor or of losing. It was he who had proposed a little harmless game of cards. Hours earlier, the endless card game and the rolling seas had defeated the other two passengers. Only Goldsworthy and Blackstone remained at the table.

The big man could not conceal his satisfaction with the situation. “Son, those cards you’re holding are worthless. Let me offer you a way out.”

Blackstone felt an unsettling prickle of wariness as if the man could see his hand. He made a joke. “Is this the moment when you suggest that I marry your quiz of a daughter?” If Goldsworthy had such a daughter, Blackstone might do it. He had few options to recover his estate.

Goldsworthy gave a head-splittingly hearty laugh. Blackstone had suggested a marriage in jest, but as if in protest at the idea of his marrying, his careless memory threw up a flash of laughing black eyes and soft creamy breasts. He shook it off. That opportunity had long since passed. No doubt Violet Hammersley had married while Blackstone was in the hands of the bandits.

“Nothing so clichéd, lad. All I ask is that you enter my employ for a year and a day.”

Blackstone noted the fairy-tale phrase. A year and a day was also the amount of time he had been a captive, a year and a day, in which Byron had died, and the Greek freedom fighters who had sought to throw off the Turks had fallen into rival factions, apt to cut each other’s throats.

He peered again at Goldsworthy. The man looked ordinary enough in spite of his oaklike size and the absurd invitation to employment. He was taller than Blackstone by four inches or more, and wider than any of the berths offered on the ship. Blackstone put his age at somewhere between forty and fifty. He looked like a great leafy tree with his russet coat, walnut trousers, and the green waistcoat. For all the stirring of Blackstone’s instincts at the man’s odd turn of phrase, the fellow was most likely not an enchanter out of a fairy tale, but an ordinary London merchant. He probably had a warehouse on the Thames stuffed with bolts of muslin or sacks of coffee beans.

But Blackstone’s year with the bandits had taught him to be wary of appearances. He could not help a suspicion that Goldsworthy was not what he appeared to be. The timing of the arrival of Goldsworthy and the
Redemption
in Koron harbor at the singularly delicate moment in Blackstone’s negotiations with the bandit, when the money was about to change hands, was more than fortuitous. It was miraculous. At that moment, Blackstone had realized there was no reason for Vasiladi to follow through with the release of his hostages. He had mortgaged his estate to buy freedom for his younger half-brother and a score of young girls and boys who had been pressed into slavish roles by the warlord’s army. Blackstone’s whole mission to Greece had hung in the balance.

He tried again to determine Goldsworthy’s true nature. “I suppose you’re a cesspool cleaner or a shambles operator.”

“Nothing so fragrant, or so common I assure you, lad. Something rather more suited to your talents.”

“We didn’t meet in London, did we?”

“Not at all.”

“Why offer to hire me? You can’t have a high estimate of my talents based on our little game.”

“You are a charming fellow—”

Blackstone shot Goldsworthy a skeptical glance. “I’ve hardly charmed you.”

“Still among your own, among the ton, you move with grace and ease, wear a well-cut coat, show a pretty leg on the dance floor, and perhaps off of it, drive and ride to an inch.”

“You’ve heard of me then. What you’ve heard can hardly recommend me for anyone’s employ.”

“Except mine. You’ll be invited everywhere, and I want you to attend as many of the season’s events as you can.”

Maybe there was an ugly daughter after all, a very ugly daughter. Maybe she was so plain and so awkward that Goldsworthy needed to prevail on a man of Blackstone’s scandalous reputation to escort her to balls and routs. “And for submitting to the endless social whirl?”

“I will pay off all your debts, including the mortgage on Blackstone Court.”

In captivity, Blackstone had learned not to betray the least sign of discomposure, but he felt a rush of mortifying heat. The pile of scraps on which Blackstone and his luckless fellow travelers had pledged their funds to Goldsworthy lay on the table. Blackstone glanced from them to the dismal cards in his hand. Luck had been against him all night, and now the stranger who had managed to fleece them all was offering him what he most needed.

“I beg your pardon.” Blackstone stared hard at the man who seemed to know more of his business than anyone, outside of his solicitor.

“Come with me to my club, and I’ll explain.”

“Your club?” The blunt fellow did not strike Blackstone as a clubman. Goldsworthy might be English to the core, but he was no gentleman.

“The Pantheon Club in Albemarle Street. I’ve a post chaise meeting the ship. It will take us directly there.”

Not to Bath and his mother’s reproaches, but to London and a chance to repair his fortune. Goldsworthy certainly knew how to dangle temptation, but Blackstone needed to know what was behind the man’s apparent generosity.

“Who are you?”

Goldsworthy frowned. “You can’t have forgotten already.”

“Not your name. Who are you? What’s this mysterious position you’re offering?”

“Quite right to ask. Service to king and country, that’s what it is.” Goldsworthy’s good-humored expression remained unimpaired. “It’s spying actually.”

“Spying? On whom would I be spying in the drawing rooms of London?”

For once, Goldsworthy’s expression turned grim. He shook his great, lionlike head. “It’s a black world we live in these days, lad. England’s enemies pass themselves off as friends every day and move among us, high and low. And secrets have a way of falling into their hands. It’s our job to prevent those secrets from going astray.”

Blackstone blinked at the man, as if his eyes were not working properly in the dim, smoke-filled cabin. He was being asked to become a spy for England. His prospects shifted with the creaking roll of the
Redemption.
He could return to his mother and sisters and endure their helpless hand-wringing, or he could act to recover his lost fortune.

The ship paused on a peak. Then the treacherous ocean shifted, and they fell into a stomach-seizing nothingness as if the world had vanished. Goldsworthy calmly clamped a hand around his ale pot. Blackstone caught the lamp. Everything else hit the low ceiling. In that moment of free fall, nothing to grab, nothing to lose that wasn’t lost already, he saw again the flash of laughing black eyes and wanted against all reason to see them once more, which was madness.

The long fall ended as the
Redemption
slammed into another wave, shuddered mightily, and decided not to splinter into driftwood.

“I’ll do it.”

“That’s the good lad. A year and a day, then you’ll be free and clear.”

BOOK: Blackstone's Bride
2.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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