The Hellions of High Street: Book #2
by Cara Elliott
Forever Mass Market
After an eventful Season, Anna Sloane longs for some peace and quiet to pursue her writing. Though her plots might be full of harrowing adventure and heated passion, she'd much prefer to leave such exploits on the page rather than experience them in real life. Or so she thinks until she encounters the darkly dissolute-and gorgeously charming-Marquess of Davenport.
Davenport has a reputation as a notorious rake whose only forte is wanton seduction. However the real reason he's a guest at the same remote Scottish castle has nothing to do with Anna . . . until a series of mysterious threats leave him no choice but to turn to her for help in stopping a dangerous conspiracy. As desire erupts between them, Davenport soon learns he's not the only one using a carefully crafted image to hide his true talents. And he's more than ready to show Anna that sometimes reality can be even better than her wildest imaginings . . .
A high note of the aria died on his lips as a frown strangled all further sound.
He stared for a long moment at the front of Manton’s shop, trying to quell the erratic quickening of his pulse as he suddenly recognized the figure standing there. Shaking off the physical response to the person in question, Devlin made himself concentrate on the practical question her presence raised. What was she doing there? Ladies did not usually linger in front of a gunsmith’s display window.
Lightening his footsteps, Devlin approached in silence. “Planning on murdering someone,
Anna started, nearly dropping the small notebook in her hands, and then whirled around.
“Some men,” she snapped, “deserve to be shot.”
“More than a few,” he agreed, angling his head to try to catch a glimpse of what she had been
The covers quickly snapped shut.
“If you like,” he went on, “I could draw up a list of the most offensive characters.”
Chuffing a rude sound, Anna darted one more look at the pistols on display before shoving her pencil and notebook into her reticule. “Come along, Nettie,” she called to the young maid hovering near the corner of the storefront. “Let us be on our way.”
Devlin shifted his stance just enough to block her path. “It’s unusual for a lady to have an interest in firearms. I confess, I am curious as to why.”
“There is an old adage about curiosity killing the cat,” she shot back.
He smiled, which appeared to annoy her even more.
“Then it is lucky that I am an imp of Satan.”
“Why is it that I have a feeling Luck has nothing to do with your choice of habits?”
Because your wit and your tongue are lethally sharp.
Keeping such thoughts to himself, he merely said, “An interesting question. But you haven’t yet answered mine, and I asked first.”
A glare, which he countered by stretching his smile into a grin.
Her nostrils flared as she drew in a sharp breath. “Not that it is any of your business, but I—I am looking to find a special gift for Wrexham.”
A reasonable reply. So why did he have the feeling that she was lying? “Manton’s pistols are frightfully expensive,” responded Devlin, carefully watching her face. “Dare I assume that the poor-as-churchmice Sloane family is now no longer under the hatches, thanks to the generosity of your older sister’s new husband?”
A light breeze ruffled the ribbons of her bonnet, and for the space of a heartbeat a flutter of a shadow seemed to hang on her gold-tipped lashes.
“Indeed, knowing the earl’s noble nature, I would imagine that you and Miss Caro are now in possession of a very generous dowry.”
Her cheeks darkened to an angry shade of red. “You are not only impertinent, you are offensive, Lord Davenport. Kindly step aside.”
“But of course.” He slowly shifted, deliberately dragging his boots over the paving stones to make a loud rasping sound. It was ungentlemanly to goad her into a temper, but the fire in her eyes was mesmerizing to watch. Heat blazed in a burnt-gold swirl of sparks, turning their deep green hue into a pool of molten jade.
“Allow me to make amends for my churlish manners by offering a recommendation on which of Manton’s models the earl might like.”
“On second thought, I have decided to look elsewhere for a gift,” replied Anna tightly.
“A simple but elegant watch fob, perhaps? A bejeweled cravat stickpin would not be at all in keeping with the earl’s sense of style.”
“I can’t help but wonder something, sir,” she said in reply.
“Why you take such fiendish delight in tormenting me.”
“Perhaps because you react with such delightfully explosive ire.” Devlin waggled a brow.
“Most young ladies are afraid to stand up for themselves. But not you.”
She brushed past him without comment.
Devlin watched her stalk away. Miss Anna Sloane was known for her effortless grace, and yet there was no other word than “stalk” for her stiff-legged gait. Which in itself spoke volumes about her state of inner agitation.
Again, he wondered why.
Turning, he moved to where she had been standing and made a careful study of the display window.
He frowned. It was conceivably the sort of firearm a lady might tuck in her reticule . . .
Assuming she had reason to fear for her safety.
Anna Sloane in danger? For an instant, his hands fisted, but he quickly dismissed the idea as Absurd.
“I have been reading too many adventure novels.”
About the author:
Cara Elliott started writing Western novels at the age of five. Later she changed her genre to Regency romance after reading Pride and Prejudice. She graduated from Yale University, and she now lives and works in New York City.
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