Soon to be released by California Times Publishing
One wild, winter's night two worlds collide.
Known for his ruthless efficiency, Captain George Huntley is sent to stamp out smuggling on the south coast of England. On a night raid, the Captain captures a smuggler, but finds his troubles are just beginning when the lad turns out to be a lass, Hope Tyler.
With Hope as bait, the Captain sets a trap to catch the rest of the gang. But in a battle of wills, with his reputation at stake, George Huntley starts to respect feisty, independent Hope. Challenged by her sea-green eyes and stubborn loyalty Huntley now faces a new threat - his growing attraction to a sworn enemy. But a love where either Hope betrays her own kind, or Captain Huntley is court-marshaled, is not an easy destiny to follow.
Excerpt: Where Captain Huntley makes a startling discovery about his prisoner.
Alone with his prisoner the Captain set to work, his face all harsh angles in the lamplight. First to stem the bleeding. Working with deft hands, he pulled the bloodstained scarf from the felon's head. Surprise registered, as he noted the delicate ears and elegant neck. The boy’s hair gleamed like polished-coal in the lamplight; tied back in a pony tail, black-as-the-devil’s heart.
Huntley reached for a rag to wipe blood from the boy's eyes and cheek. Soft skin emerged from beneath the clotted mess. The boy was young…a round face with pointed chin, a tipped nose …and lips, softly parted and provocatively plump….just ripe for kissing. A flush of heat warmed Huntley's cheeks. What was he thinking?
Wiping his sleeve across his eyes he forced himself to continue. He bathed the laceration, cleaning away sand and blood. Something about this lad had stirred deep emotions and the captain didn’t like it one little bit. He glanced toward the door, not wanting to be alone with the smuggler and these strange feelings he stirred.
“What the devil's taking that wench so long?”
The fire was crackling nicely now, steam rising from the lad's clothes. But it wasn’t warm enough; cold could kill every bit as much as blood loss.
”Hell's teeth, do I have to do everything myself?”
With rising irritation, Huntley set to stripping the lad of his wet clothes.
He peeled back the patched jacket, twice its weight with water, and dropped it to the floor. A patched and frayed shirt, sticky with blood, clung to the lad’s lean frame. Huntley tugged the shirt-tail free of the lad’s sodden breeches and off over his head, with the result that the Captain's pulse raced alarmingly.
“Get a grip, man.” Huntley muttered.
The lad had unexpectedly slim shoulders, a silver stiletto strapped to his thin upper arm.
Unsheathing the knife he held the elegant blade toward the firelight; a finely crafted weapon of silver filigree over an ivory handle— a lady’s weapon, and obviously expensive.
“Who did you steal this from, then?”
Placing the stiletto safely out of reach, he turned back to the table. Stripped of his shirt, it seemed the lad had broken ribs, for his chest was strapped. The bindings were soaked and must come off. Shifting the unconscious lad into a sitting position, balancing him against his shoulder, Huntley unwound the bandages.
As he lay the lad back down on the table, Huntley was suddenly struck by the peculiar shadows playing across the boy’s chest. A flush of blood heated his cheeks. That explained a lot! Huntley’s mouth dropped open; he threw back his head and laughed aloud with relief.
“Tis not a lad….but a lass!"
Alone in the scullery with a half-naked girl…no, not a girl, for she had the soft curves of a woman. Huntley took a step back. The sense of relief was overwhelming, that it was a woman who had excited his body so. He looked around for someone to share his astonishment, but the maid had not yet returned.
In his experience women were tiresome, wearisome creatures that sapped the spirit and drained the mind, but he studied this one with interest. Dark lashes lay brushed against her cheek, an almost catlike tilt to her closed eyes. Her skin was clear, fresh, and unblemished. Her face was wide, round even, but with a pointed chin and a nose turned up at the end. In all he decided, she was beautiful with the stubbornness of a mule and fragility of a china doll. She had been a worthy advisory on the dunes; agile, brave and resourceful and it thrilled him to the core. Lost in thought, Huntley shrugged off his outer coat and covered her over, then removed himself to a respectable distance.
Nothing had changed, he told himself. She was a felon and would pay the penalty demanded by law. And if Huntley felt uneasy at the prospect he suppressed the emotion, it was just that he had to get used to the notion of interrogating a woman.