Rebelling against her overprotective brothers, a headstrong American heiress travels to London in search of the adventure of a lifetime and an everlasting love, never imagining that she’s walking into the middle of a deadly political plot. Caine Wakefield, the future Duke of Somerset, rescues the exquisitely beautiful Jordan Montgomery from her would-be abductors and reluctantly assumes the role of protector. Despite her immediate attraction to her newfound hero, Jordan balks at being under yet another man’s control, just as she bristles at being Caine’s unwanted responsibility. As Caine works to unravel the mystery of Jordan’s missing British relatives and her connection to a plot against England’s Prince Regent, he fights an overwhelming attraction to the feisty blonde minx that leaves him wondering how he will protect his own heart.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I fell in love with the historical romance genre when I was a teenager, and my love of reading was only surpassed by my love of writing. The Regency period is my favorite time period for historical romances, so it was a natural decision to choose this period for a series of books. Dashing rakes and rebellious ladies hold a lot of appeal for me.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My favorite characters in historical romances are bold, independent women and dangerously charming rogues. I love female characters who refuse to back down from a challenge, especially an extremely handsome challenge. I know the reality was vastly different for women in most historical time periods, but readers won’t find any weak women or men in my books.
Caine had barely climbed into the coach and gently settled his burden on his lap when the coach pulled out and headed down the street at the fastest possible speed. The girl moaned softly at all the jostling, but she didn’t open her eyes.
Caine studied her thoughtfully. What in the world had happened back there? She was obviously in some kind of trouble, and her presence at the Caxton’s probably linked it to Edward’s disappearance. Why was she alone? With her beauty, she should have snared a husband long ago and have him by her side. Giving himself another hard mental shake, he quickly decided to get her off his hands as soon as possible. He could sense the upheaval she would cause in his life, and he didn’t like the reaction she had already triggered in him.
When the coach came to an abrupt stop in front of his townhouse, he quickly stepped out and rushed up the steps carrying his burden. His butler, Harrison, stepped out of the way, his mouth hanging open in shock. Caine ignored him as he headed toward the stairs.
“Send for a doctor!” he called over his shoulder.
“I’ll go.” James immediately turned and headed back for the coach.
Upstairs, Caine gently placed her on the bed in one of his guest rooms. Removing her cloak, he was treated to his first clear view of the curves he had felt when he held her in his arms. She was perfect. Though quite petite in overall stature, she was generously proportioned in all the right places. The bodice of her blue velvet gown had fallen dangerously low during the struggle, tempting his eyes to linger there before finally moving down to where the material tapered in sharply at her waist. He could easily span that waist with his hands.
He abruptly moved away from her, irritated and confused by this dangerous line of thought. She would probably wake up and ask if she missed any good gossip while she was unconscious. That would certainly cure his ridiculous infatuation. When she moaned softly from the bed, he moved instantly back to her side. He softly brushed her hair aside to examine the swelling at her temple. It didn’t appear to be too severe, but he had very little experience with head injuries. He wondered what color her eyes were.
A knock at the door again halted his wandering imagination. Relieved, he left her side to hurry to the door. “Damn, Harrison,” he muttered in irritation. “I thought you were the doctor.” He ran his hands nervously through his thick, black hair as he glanced back to the bed. Had she moved?
“James went for him, Milord. I just wanted to see if I could be of any assistance.”
“I don’t know. She’s had a blow to the head.” Neither man noticed the green eyes watching them from the bed.
“I’ll be right back with some ice,” Harrison said briskly.
Caine nodded gratefully and moved back to stand beside the bed. Studying her closely, he was relieved to see natural color returning to her face. Where in the hell was the doctor? He only lived two blocks away, for Christ’s sake. Irritated, he moved to the window to watch for his arrival.
Jordan cautiously peeked under her lashes when she heard the man move away. Voices had awakened her a few moments ago, and she had covertly studied the man while he spoke to his servant. He certainly didn’t fit her image of a criminal, but she had a nice lump on her temple to attest to the fact that looks could be deceiving. What could he want with her? Surely, no one in England could have discovered so quickly who she was and that she had money. Besides, this room alone contained a fortune in art and furnishings. It had to be something far worse than ransom. She shivered at the thought.
The man suddenly turned away from the window and stalked to the door. Fortunately, he never glanced her way, because she was too stunned to close her eyes. He was absolutely magnificent, with thick, black hair and blue eyes so vivid she could easily see them from across the room. Well, that was just her luck. She grimaced as he closed the door behind him. Just when she had begun to think that men who looked like her brothers simply didn’t exist, she encountered one who looked even better, and he was a common criminal. Life was so unfair.
In her chagrin, she sat up a little too quickly and almost blacked out again. After a few seconds, she regained her equilibrium and gingerly probed the lump at her temple. Cautiously, she stood and walked slowly to the door, but before she could try the latch, footsteps sounded in the hall. Grabbing a large vase from a nearby table, she waited for the door to open.
When it did, she brought the vase down hard on the dark head that entered. Ice went flying as the man sank to the floor at her feet with a groan. Not even pausing for breath, Jordan quickly stepped around him and raced through the door. She hit the immovable chest of the man blocking the hall with enough force to down a normal man, but this man was not normal. She merely bounced off this particular chest and landed on her backside with a thud.
“What the hell have you done?” Caine ignored the downed Jordan and bent to help Harrison. Ignoring his question, she seized her opportunity to run. She had only gone about five feet when he caught her around the waist and lifted her free of the floor.
“Put me down, you animal!” she screamed.
“Not until you calm down and explain yourself. Ouch! That hurts, dammit!” He swiftly imprisoned her kicking legs with his free arm. Her nails raked across his arm in her next bid for freedom. “You little hellcat! I should put you across my knee.” It was then that another man carrying a black bag appeared at the top of the stairs.
“Help!” she screamed. “Get this maniac off me!”
“Caine!” The man looked appropriately outraged. “Unhand that young woman,” Dr. Jones ordered.
“With pleasure.” Caine smiled devilishly as he dumped her unceremoniously on the floor.
“Oh, you…you…” She couldn’t even think of a fitting insult.
“Yes?” He smiled sweetly down at her.
“Oh!” She jumped up in a huff and ran to stand behind the doctor.
“What’s going on here?” Dr. Jones demanded.
“Maybe we should ask her since she’s the one who tried to bash in my butler’s skull.” Once again, he turned to assist the man who was still sitting on the floor. The doctor turned to look at her in shock.
“He abducted me!” She pointed her finger accusingly at Caine.
“Abducted you?” Caine was outraged. “I saved your pretty little neck.”
“What?” she said with a gasp. Right from the beginning, she hadn’t thought he looked like a criminal. Reality hit her full force as she gripped the wall for support. Good Lord, what had she done? Guilt overwhelmed her as she hurried to the butler’s side. “Oh, I’m so sorry, sir. I had no idea. I mean…I thought…” she stammered helplessly. “You see, the last thing I remember is being attacked and someone striking me, and—please forgive me,” she whispered, on the verge of tears.
Immediately captivated, Harrison tried to put her at ease. “That’s quite understandable. I had no idea you had experienced such a trial. Of course, you only meant to defend yourself. I’m perfectly fine.” He patted her hand reassuringly.
“Really?” She looked at his head uncertainly.
“Honest,” he said with a smile.
“Thank goodness.” At that point, she bestowed on him what had to be the most enchanting smile the man had ever seen.
Even Caine, despite all his irritation, was temporarily captivated by it. When she threw her arms around the stout, middle-aged butler and hugged him exuberantly, Caine rolled his eyes heavenward. Good old, stuffy Harrison was blushing like a schoolboy and soaking up the attention like a sponge. He vowed she would not find him so easy to manipulate.
“Maybe Dr. Jones could be allowed to examine your head now,” Caine said sourly.
Jordan immediately stopped hugging the butler and turned guiltily to face the man who had quite possibly saved her life. The same man she had kicked and clawed viciously only moments before. He looked furious.
“Mister, uh, I’m afraid I don’t know your name,” she stammered.
“Caine,” he supplied curtly.
“Mr. Caine,” she said.
“Just Caine—Caine Wakefield.” He was going to make this difficult. She supposed she deserved it.
“I haven’t thanked you properly for assisting me.” She smiled timidly at him.
“No, you definitely haven’t,” he said sarcastically.
She had to bite back her own sarcasm. “I’m sorry. I was unconscious, and I had no idea anyone had come to my aid. I naturally assumed the attempt to abduct me had been successful. I’m very grateful to discover otherwise.” Once again, her smile was devastating.
Caine stubbornly refused to succumb to the overwhelming power of it. He wasn’t about to melt at her feet like his sappy butler.
“Forget about it,” he said brusquely. “Why don’t you lie down in here and let the doctor have a look at you.” He motioned to the bedroom. “Afterwards, maybe he can take a look at Harrison, as well,” he said dryly.
She assumed Harrison was the poor man she had hit. At least he had forgiven her, and he was really the only one who counted. She refused to feel guilty and keep apologizing to this obstinate man. It was an honest mistake. When she moved to brush by him, his hand came out to stop her.
“You haven’t told me your name,” he reminded her.
“Jordan…Montgomery.” She hesitated slightly on the last name, uncertain if she wanted this man to know exactly who she was. Nodding slightly, he released her, the name too common to set off any warning bells in his head, although he was surprised she wasn’t Edward’s daughter as he had first assumed.
Crossing to the bed, Jordan focused on ignoring the growing sensation of joy spreading through her body. The man certainly wasn’t very good-natured or forgiving, and she would probably be wise to stay far away from him in the future—but he wasn’t a criminal.
At the same time, Caine was standing in the hallway smiling. Green—her eyes were green.
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