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Authors: Louise Allen

Ravished by the Rake

BOOK: Ravished by the Rake
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Introducing Louise Allen’s
most scandalous trilogy yet!

DANGER & DESIRE

Leaving the sultry shores of India behind them, the passengers of the
Bengal Queen
face a new life ahead in England—until a shipwreck throws their plans into disarray …

Can Alistair and Perdita’s illicit onboard flirtation survive the glittering social whirl of London?

Washed up on an island populated by ruffians, virginal Averil must rely on rebel captain Luc for protection …

And honourable Callum finds himself falling for his
brother’s
fiancée!

Look for

RAVISHED BY THE RAKE August 2011

SEDUCED BY THE SCOUNDREL September 2011

MARRIED TO A STRANGER October 2011

from Mills & Boon
®
Historical

Alistair caught her as she stumbled back. ‘The door must have been unlocked,’ he said as she stared about her, confused. ‘It’s an empty cabin.’ There was just enough light to see. Alistair reached outside, lifted a lamp from the wall and came in, closing the door behind him. She heard the click of the key as he stood there.

‘Alistair—’

‘Yes?’ he said, putting down the lantern and coming to pull her into his arms. ‘What do you want, Dita?’

‘I don’t know.’ She tugged at his waistcoat buttons. ‘You.’

‘I want you, too,’ he said as she undid the last of them and began to pull his shirt from his waistband. ‘I only meant to kiss you: I should have known it wouldn’t stop there. Trust me a little more, Dita? Trust me to pleasure you?’

‘Yes,’ she said, not quite understanding what he was asking, what it meant. ‘I need to touch you …’

About the Author

LOUISE ALLEN
has been immersing herself in history, real and fictional, for as long as she can remember, and finds landscapes and places evoke powerful images of the past. Louise lives in Bedfordshire, and works as a property manager, but spends as much time as possible with her husband at the cottage they are renovating on the north Norfolk coast, or travelling abroad. Venice, Burgundy and the Greek islands are favourite atmospheric destinations. Please visit Louise’s website—www.louiseallenregency.co.uk—for the latest news!

Novels by the same author:

VIRGIN SLAVE, BARBARIAN KING

THE DANGEROUS MR RYDER
*

THE OUTRAGEOUS LADY FELSHAM
*

THE SHOCKING LORD STANDON
*

THE DISGRACEFUL MR RAVENHURST
*

THE NOTORIOUS MR HURST
*

THE PIRATICAL MISS RAVENHURST
*

PRACTICAL WIDOW TO PASSIONATE MISTRESS

VICAR’S DAUGHTER TO VISCOUNT’S LADY

INNOCENT COURTESAN TO ADVENTURER’S BRIDE

and in Mills & Boon® Historical
Undone!
eBooks:
DISROBED AND DISHONOURED

*
Those Scandalous Ravenhursts


The Transformation of the Shelley Sisters

Ravished
by the Rake

Louise Allen

www.millsandboon.co.uk

Dedication

For the Regency Silk & Scandal ‘continuistas’

Author Note

Flying to India on holiday last year, I grew weary of the long flight, but I cheered up when I thought of how many months the passengers on the East India Company’s ships plying to and from the Far East must have been at sea together. Intrigued, I read more—especially the memoirs of the rake William Hickey, who spent much of his legal career in India and who described in vivid detail life on-board ship.

The voyage had its dangers, as well as its discomforts, and shipwrecks were not uncommon. I began to wonder what would happen to the passengers who survived such a disaster: would the bonds forged during months together withstand such a trauma? How would the wreck affect friends and lovers ashore?

This book is the first in a trio of novels that explores that question. Shocking Lady Perdita Brooke and rakish adventurer Alistair Lyndon strike sparks off each other from the moment they meet—but what will happen when the
Bengal Queen
is wrecked on the treacherous rocks of the Isles of Scilly?

I hope you enjoy finding out as much as I did, and will follow their fellow passengers in the next two books as three love stories emerge from the shipwreck.

Chapter One

7th December 1808—Calcutta, India

I
t was blissfully cool, Dita assured herself, plying her fan in an effort to make it so. This was the
cool
season, so at eight o’clock in the evening it was only as hot as an English August day. Nor was it raining, thank heavens. How long did one have to live in India to become used to the heat? A trickle of sweat ran down her spine as she reminded herself of what it had been like from March to September.

But there was something to be said for the temperature: it made one feel so delightfully loose and relaxed. In fact, it was impossible to be anything
but
relaxed, to shed as many clothes as decency permitted and wear exquisitely fine muslins and lawns and floating silks.

She was going to miss that cat-like, sensual, indolence when she returned to England, now her year of exile was over. And the heat had another benefit, she thought, watching the group of young ladies in the reception
room off the great Marble Hall of Government House: it made the beautiful peaches-and-cream blondes turn red and blotchy whereas she, the gypsy, as they snidely remarked, showed little outward sign of it.

It had not taken long to adapt, to rise before dawn to ride in the cool, to sleep and lounge through the long, hot afternoons, saving the evenings for parties and dances. If it had not been for the grubby trail of rumour and gossip following her, she could have reinvented herself, perhaps, here in India. As it was, it had just added a sharper edge to her tongue.

But she wanted so much now to be in England. She wanted the green and the soft rain and the mists and a gentler sun. Her sentence was almost done: she could go home and hope to find herself forgiven by Papa, hope that her reappearance in society would not stir up the wagging tongues all over again.

And if it does?
she thought, strolling into the room from the terrace, her face schooled to smiling confidence.
Then to hell with them, the catty ones with their whispers and the rakes who think I am theirs for the asking. I made a mistake and trusted a man, that is all. I will not do that again.
Regrets were a waste of time. Dita slammed the door on her thoughts and scanned the room with its towering ceiling and double rows of marble columns.

The
Bengal Queen
was due to sail for England at the end of the week and almost all her passengers were here at the Governor’s House reception. She was going to get to know them very well indeed over the next few months. There were some important men in the East India Company travelling as supercargo; a handful of
army officers; several merchants, some with wives and daughters, and a number of the well-bred young men who worked for the Company, setting their feet on the ladder of wealth and power.

Dita smiled and flirted her fan at two of them, the Chatterton twins on the far side of the room. Lazy, charming Daniel and driven, intense Callum—Mama would not be
too
displeased if she returned home engaged to Callum, the unattached one. Not a brilliant match, but they were younger brothers of the Earl of Flamborough, after all. Both were amusing company, but neither stirred more than a flutter in her heart. Perhaps no one would ever again, now she had learned to distrust what it told her.

Shy Averil Heydon waved from beside a group of chaperons. Dita smiled back a trifle wryly. Dear Averil: so well behaved, such a perfect young lady—and so pretty. How was it that Miss Heydon was one of the few eligible misses in Calcutta society whom she could tolerate? Possibly because she was such an heiress that she was above feeling delight at an earl’s daughter being packed off the India in disgrace, unlike those who saw Lady Perdita Brooke as nothing but competition to be shot down. The smile hardened; they could certainly try. None of them had succeeded yet, possibly because they made the mistake of thinking that she cared for their approval or their friendship.

And Averil would be on the
Bengal Queen,
too, which was something to be grateful for—three months was a long time to be cooped up with the same restricted company. On the way out she’d had her anger—mostly directed at herself—and a trunk full of books to sustain
her; now she intended to enjoy herself, and the experience of the voyage.

‘Lady Perdita!’

‘Lady Grimshaw?’ Dita produced an attentive expression. The old gorgon was going to be a passenger, too, and Dita had learned to pick her battles.

‘That is hardly a suitable colour for an unmarried girl. And such flimsy fabric, too.’

‘It is a sari I had remade, Lady Grimshaw. I find pastels and white make me appear sallow.’ Dita was well aware of her few good features and how to enhance them to perfection: the deep green brought out the colour of her eyes and the dark gold highlights in her brown hair. The delicate silk floated over the fine lawn undergarments as though she was wearing clouds.

‘Humph. And what’s this I hear about riding on the
maidan
at dawn? Galloping!’

‘It is too hot to gallop at any other time of day, ma’am. And I did have my
syce
with me.’

‘A groom is neither here nor there, my girl. It is fast behaviour. Very fast.’

‘Surely speed is the purpose of the gallop?’ Dita said sweetly, and drifted away before the matron could think of a suitably crushing retort. She gestured to a servant for a glass of punch, another fast thing for a young lady to be doing. She sipped it as she walked, wrinkling her nose at the amount of arrack it contained, then stopped as a slight stir around the doorway heralded a new arrival.

‘Who is that?’ Averil appeared at her side and gestured towards the door. ‘My goodness, what a very good-looking man.’ She fanned herself as she stared.

He was certainly that. Tall, lean, very tanned, the
thick black silk of his hair cut ruthlessly short. Dita stopped breathing, then sucked down air. No, of course not, it could not be Alistair—she was imagining things. Her treacherous body registered alarm and an instant flutter of arousal.

The man entered limping, impatient, as though the handicap infuriated him, but he was going to ignore it. Once in, he surveyed the room with unhurried assurance. The scrutiny paused at Dita, flickered over her face, dropped to study the low-cut neckline of her gown, then moved on to Averil for a further cool assessment.

For all the world like a pasha inspecting a new intake for the seraglio, Dita thought. But despite the unfamiliar arrogance, she knew. Her body recognised him with every quivering nerve.
It
is
him. It
is
Alistair.
After eight years. Dita fought a battle with the urge to run.

‘Insufferable,’ Averil murmured. She had blushed a painful red.

‘Insufferable, no doubt. Arrogant, certainly,’ Dita replied, not troubling to lower her voice as he came closer.
Attack,
her instincts told her.
Strike before you weaken and he can hurt you again.
‘And he obviously fancies himself quite the romantic hero, my dear. You note the limp? Positively Gothic—straight out of a sensation novel.’

Alistair stopped and turned. He made no pretence of not having heard her. ‘A young lady who addles her brain with trashy fiction, I gather.’ The intervening years had not darkened the curious amber eyes that as a child she had always believed belonged to a tiger. Memories surfaced, some bittersweet, some simply bitter, some so shamefully arousing that she felt quite dizzy. She felt her
chin go up as she returned the stare in frigid silence, but he had not recognised her. He turned a little more and bowed to Averil. ‘My pardon, ma’am, if I put you to the blush. One does not often see such beauty.’

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