Author: Diane Merrill Wigginton
Series: Jeweled Dagger Series (Book 2) (The Benjamin Franklin Award Winning Series)
Genre: Historical Romance/Suspense
Publisher: Jeweled Dagger Publishing
Release Date: April 4 2017
Edition/Format: 2nd Edition/Formats ~ eBook & Print
In this follow-up, to Wigginton’s (Angelina’s Secret), the focus is on Isabella Deveraux, the daughter of Lady Angelina Marguerite Amelia Deveraux, the heroine of the first book.As the story begins, Isabella experiences a disturbing dream about her twin brother, Charlie, on the eve of her 19th birthday. We quickly learn that Isabella has a sixth sense, just like her mother’s, and when she dreams about Charlie’s abduction in London, it’s more than a simple nightmare. She sets off immediately to London, setting into motion events that require her to reunite with her grandparents and eventually her parents, from whom she has been estranged from for years. Complicating matters further, Isabella’s grandfather hires an Irish mercenary to help her locate and rescue her brother and his two school mates. Forced to prove her worth to the mercenary Captain, she is placed in a compromising position and in doing so must open herself up to other emotions that she is not be yet ready for. The Captain is a handsome but brooding man, with a brutish disposition, who is willing to save the lives of three privileged young men, for the right price. Aiden Townsend decides that the best way to avoid suspicion as they travel the Irish country side in search of the abducted men is to pretend to be lovers. Despite Isabella’s grave concern for her reputation, she grudgingly gives her consent to the arrangement and romantic chaos ensues. The romantic tension between Isabella and Aiden intensifies as the search for Charlie also ramps up. During this fast-paced, action-packed tale, readers are treated to many rich historical details about political unrest in Ireland, lending credence to the story’s setting. It is a fun, action packed read with just the right amount of sexual tension to keep even the most seasoned romance reader engaged.
I was physically tired and backed up, trying to step out of his reach, but he was relentless. Stepping back several more feet, I soon realized my mistake when I came up against the masthead once again. Quickly dropping his blade to block me, I found myself trapped as I quickly shifted, attempting to turn to my left.
Raising my arm high above my head to strike back at the captain’s trap, he gave my blade a mighty blow, knocking it easily from my tired hand. Moving quickly, he pinned my right arm above my head, with his left hand, trapping my body between himself and the masthead. I found it difficult to breathe as he pressed his hips against mine in a show of superiority.
The crude shouts of encouragement from his crew made my cheeks turn crimson. He leaned his face down close to mine as if we were merely lovers exchanging lurid thoughts of what we might do to one another later.
He smiled seductively and I could see he felt self-assured of his manly prowess. “Do you concede now?” he purred in my ear. His mouth was now so close to mine, I thought he meant to kiss me.
“Are you truly so sure that you have the upper hand?” I said, tilting my face up just a touch more toward his, just to show that I was not intimidated by him.
“If this had been a real fight, my lady, you would be walking through those pearly gates to greet Saint Peter, by now,” he retorted with a smirk and a small chuckle to top it off.
“Oh,” I said, feigning surprise and shock. “Then this must be when I shout out loud and clear so everyone can hear me say that I concede,” I continued, attempting to play coy, as I cast my eyes downward.
“That would be the customary thing to do,” he retorted, as his continued smugness radiated from every pore.
Looking down to where his hips connected with mine, I made a slow but assessing trail back up to the captain’s eyes. Giving him a shy smile I sweetly asked, “I was wondering if you could point that thing in a different direction. I hear they can be dangerous.”
“Only when placed in the hands of amateurs,” the captain purred seductively again.
“And what if I said I had a little surprise of my own, just for you?” I sweetly responded, pressing my chest into his as I seductively smiled up at him.
He chuckled again, and moved his face to my ear as he inhaled deeply of my scent. “Mmm... What a delicious and unexpected occurrence. Perhaps we could discuss the matter over dinner tonight in my private quarters,” Aiden purred again.
Locking eyes with the rakishly handsome captain, I raised my eyebrows. Then giving the captain a seductive smile, I chuckled in response. “Oh Captain Townsend, I find men as a whole an easy lot to manipulate,” I replied. “And if this had been a real fight, you too would be walking through those pearly gates to greet Saint Peter himself, having been unmanned by a woman,” I said, pressing the tip of my dagger into the delicate fleshy parts of his crotch, for emphasis.
“Ouch!” he growled, squeezing my pinned wrist tighter, as he backed his hips up a couple of inches to avoid another nasty poke from my dagger. “You don’t fight fair,” his angry tone told me he was not pleased by my unorthodox tactics.
“And neither will the enemy. I believe those were your words, were they not, Captain?” I said smugly. “So I have only one question for you, Aiden, are you ready to concede?” I asked, giving him a wicked smile.
Bringing his sword blade close to my throat he growled in response.
“Ah, you men are all the same. Stubborn as mules till the end, and certain in your convictions that you belong on top,” I quipped, lifting my chin higher to avoid the sharp edge of his blade.
“Not necessarily, I have been known to concede the top position from time to time,” he added with a devilish smile, and a lift of his eyebrows.
“You don’t say,” I volleyed back. “But more to the point,” I added with a swift poke to his groin again, “We seem to have a bit of a standoff.”
“Aye,” he responded, with a sound that came from someplace deep in his throat. “And how do you suggest we end this said standoff, short of you unmanning me or me slitting your pretty little throat?” Aiden asked, trying to maintain a pleasant tone.
“Ah, you think my throat pretty,” I sarcastically taunted. “Might I suggest a draw? I will be allowed to accompany you in the search for my brother and you can keep your precious manhood,” I said happily, knowing that I was about to get my way.
“Where did you learn to fight like that?” he inquired, sounding grudgingly impressed.
“My honorary uncle is a Musketeer for the French Government,” I bragged, feeling just a bit prideful. “By the way, would you mind lowering your sword just a smidge? I don’t believe I will be able to continue standing on my tiptoes much longer?” growing tired of his sword under my chin.
Looking down at my feet, then smiling back at me, he replied, “I was wondering how you happened to grow an inch taller all of a sudden,” he teased while relaxing his arm and lowering his sword slightly.
“Could I trouble you to turn loose of my wrist as well? I think I’ve lost all the feeling in my fingers,” I pleaded, felling self-consciously as our bodies continued to press intimately together.
Raising that damnable eyebrow again, he realized where my actual discomfort lay. “As you wish,” he gallantly responded. “Might I suggest, you put your little sticky thing away, and then I will lower my sword,” he suggested, almost comically.
My eyes shot up looking at him suspiciously. I was trying to gauge his sincerity. I studied him for a long moment before speaking, “You drop the sword first then I will put my little sticky thing away,” I countered, mocking him somewhat sarcastically.
“Why?” he questioned innocently.
“Why do you think?” I countered facetiously.
“Oh, you don’t trust me,” Aiden said, feigning shock and hurt on his face.
“Perhaps it would be advantageous to both parties involved if we had an impartial third party intervene,” I stated dispassionately, causing him to throw his head back and laugh.
“Did they teach you proper negotiation skills in finishing school?” he mocked looking back down at me, but instead of looking into my eyes he was staring at my lips.
The lack of food, my inability to breathe, the extremely tight quarters, added with the gaping gash in my arm, caused me to feel light headed. Suddenly my knees buckled. The captain caught me under my arm and propped me back up.
“Perhaps my giving you space wasn’t such a good idea,” he teased.
“As much as I am enjoying our duel of words, I would appreciate it if you would get on with it,” I suggested somberly, praying that I could stay on my feet long enough to reach my cabin.
Turning his head to the side Aiden hollered, “Mr. Daughtery, your assistance, if you please.”
Daughtery cleared his throat first then leaned over and spoke in a hushed tone. “Please, don’t mind me.”
“Would you mind being of some assistance to the young lady and myself. We seem to be at an impasse,” Aiden said holding my gaze with his piercing stare. “It seems neither one of us is willing to put down our weapon first, due to a lack of trust. Therefore, Lady Isabella suggested that we have an impartial third party intervene on our behalf. That is the way you put it, is it not?” he finished, cognizant that I had been staring at his mouth the entire time.
I had picked a point of reference to stare at while he droned on, to keep myself from falling over. The fog in my head grew thicker, just before I began to see stars. I tried one last time to clear my head by taking another deep breath.
“Did you hear what I just said?” Aiden repeated.
Absently, I bobbed my head in agreement.
“Is she alright, Aiden?” Caleb asked, sounding concerned when he looked at my pale face.
Dropping his sword to the deck with a loud clank, Aiden removed the dagger from my hand. Impatiently, he shoved it into Caleb’s hand. “Here, just take the damn dagger,” he uttered.
“Ouch, that hurts!” I screamed, while trying to push against the captain’s solid chest. “I never conceded to you,” my words slurred together, just before I fainted.
Instantly, Aiden’s desire for playful banter was all but gone. “Isabella,” Aiden shouted, shaking me like a rag doll.
“What the hell did you do to her, Aiden?” Caleb growled, in a tone not only accusatory but angry. “Aiden, her arm!” He shouted, pointing to the pool of blood on the deck, where I had been standing.
“Stupid girl,” Aiden cursed. “Why didn’t she tell me she was hurt?” Cradling me in his arms, Aiden shoved his way through the crowd of men gathered around trying to get a better look.
“Out of the way, you bunch of lazy vagrants,” Aiden shouted, irritation edged his tone as he impatiently pushed his way past them. “Move back, there’s nothing to see here! Somebody fix those sails before they are shredded by a sudden up kick of wind. You all know what to do, run the damn ship and clean up that mess on my deck,” he yelled over his shoulder at no one in particular.
“I’ll get the doctor,” Caleb called out to Aiden, before he ran off.
“Her grandmother is going to kill me for letting something happen to her,” Maria exclaimed, following right on the captain’s heels.
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