Lady Meredith Cluett hides a dark secret.
Blamed for her own mother’s murder, she has lived her life in misery and isolation. When she’s forced to attend a social event, accusing whispers follow her wherever she goes. Fleeing in panic, she comes across her passionate demise; the same Duke that has haunted her dreams for years.
Heath Fillion, the Duke of Catlemore, hates nobles with a passion. So much so that he steals and terrorizes them in hopes of erasing his childhood pain. Until a fateful night leads him straight in the path of the one lady he can’t help but wish to protect. And make her his.
Brought together by a thirst for revenge, the red string of fate binds them together in secrets and in love. Forced to shoulder the punishment for sins they never committed, they race to escape the shadow hunting them: a wolf in sheep’s clothing that holds the key to their past. And their deaths.
There is a gang of bandits tormenting the upper class, robbing them in places where they normally feel safe. One of these men is very different than the rest. Heath Fillion, the Duke of Catlemore is one of this crew, his reasons are many, but mostly he enjoys it. He mostly partners with Phillip Gale whom he considers a dear friend, in spite of their class differences.
Lady Meredith, is the daughter of Lord William Cluett, the Earl of Pebblebrook. Her father wishes her to attend a ball, to perhaps maybe find a husband. She doesn’t want to, the whispers of the Ton can be cruel and she prefers the life of a recluse. It’s her maid who convinces her to go, forcing her to acknowledge that many years have passed so perhaps it has been forgotten. Unfortunately that is not the case and Meredith flees the ball.
She is discovered by the gang that includes Heath. When he sees her he can’t figure out why she would be in that warehouse, dressed for a ball. He also knows he must protect her, they had been very close once. Not knowing what else to do he brings her to his home. What ensues whether or not he realizes it, is courtship.
Meredith also begins to heal from her anxiety as he causes her temper to rise as it once did. She remembers the boy he once was and sometimes she even got a glimpse of that personality. She is still haunted by nightmares from her mother’s death though and that is why she tends to seek cold rather than warm.
When Heath leaves one evening before dinner she waits up for him but falls asleep in front of an open window. Heath finds her there and puts her to bed. The following morning at breakfast was quite surprising to her.
This is a favorite scene.
“Rather, she was sent to make you feel comfortable. It would not do to give you more reason to run away from this place.”
Meredith frowned. As they continued down the hallways, the sunlight bathed the left side of his face and casted the other side in its shadow. She saw a hint of his neck, and the lump bobbing in his throat. “You seem to be in a very pleasant mood today.”
“That I am. Would you like to know why, Doe Eyes?”
The name made her flush. “I am almost afraid to ask,” she confessed.
“But I will tell you, nonetheless. I wish to go for a walk through the gardens. Once we have had our fill of breakfast, we shall do so.”
Meredith came to a stop, her jaw hanging open. Heath turned to look at her. “We shall?” she echoed.
“Is that not what you wanted to do?” he asked her with a slightly confused frown.
“I did, but you were very adamant that you would not. What brought on this change? Did something happen?”
Heath only shook his head, waving her off. “Do not worry. Nothing happened. I have only decided to grant your simple request since you are a guest in my home.”
“Am I so much a guest as a prisoner?” she asked.
Heath looked down at her, but his steps didn’t slow, even as they began to descend the staircase. “Do not forget you were as willing to come here as I was to bring you, Doe Eyes.”
She nodded. Excitement was already thrumming through her and it was a struggle to keep it contained. She didn’t want to risk him taking back his words.
Just as they were about to turn in the direction of the drawing room, Meredith stopped him with a hand on his arm. He looked down at her hand and she jerked away, as if his skin had burned her. Suddenly, she was stumbling over her next words. “I would like to have my breakfast outside, please.”
Heath cocked his head to the side. She loved when he did that, she was beginning to realize. “My, you are a filled with requests lately, aren’t you?”
“Will you still have it with me?”
“I am a man of my word. And it will certainly make things easier.” It took short work for Heath to call for Francis, who set about ordering the maids to have the food be carried to the gardens.
Meredith chewed on her bottom lip as she made her way to the gardens, Heath by her side. She remembered playing with him in this garden as much as she remembered doing so in her own. She glanced up at him, wondering if he was remembering the same thing.
They made their way to the gazebo where their breakfast had been laid out. Meredith instantly felt a bit calmer. Now, there was a bit more distance between them and she could breathe in the brisk breeze.
Then, bracing herself, she asked, “Where did you go last night?”
Heath looked at her, pausing in the process of lifting his teacup to his lips. “How is that any of your business?” he asked.
She tampered down the urge to back off, forcing herself to say, “It is not. I am merely curious and I hope you comfortable enough with me to tell me.”
Heath narrowed his eyes slightly, then sighed. “You believe I was out stealing, don’t you? You need not worry. I merely had a meeting with a long-time business partner which ran later than I thought it would.”
Relief flooded her at his words. “Oh.”
“Were you waiting up for me?” he asked.
Meredith’s heart thudded at the question. She stared at him, watched as he casually plucked up a slice of toast and proceeded to spread jam on top. How did he know?
She contemplated lying, to save herself the embarrassment. But for some reason, that didn’t sit very well with her. So, she nodded, avoiding his eyes. “I was worried. It took you so long to return that I wondered if something might have happened. Or if you might have gotten up to something that you shouldn’t have.”
“Is that so?” She couldn’t ascertain what he was thinking. “So, that is the reason why you were sleeping in the drawing room.”
Meredith snapped her head up. “You spotted me?”
“I brought you to your bedchamber,” he announced with no remorse. He didn’t smile, but his eyes shone. “Do you not remember the things you said, Meredith?”
Meredith suddenly wished she could simply melt into the earth. “The things I said,” she whispered, even though there was no one close by. “What could I have possibly said?”
“My, you truly do not remember?” He shook his head sadly. “How indecent of you, Doe Eyes.”
“Oh, heavens, Heath, please do not beat around the bush and tell me what it is I said to you!”
Heath lifted his brows at her outburst. Meredith raised her hand to her lips. That was the second time now. The second time in years since she’d shown such strong emotions.
Then Heath grinned and she no longer felt so odd. “I am only jesting, Meredith. You said nothing of concern. You were simply mumbling that you were cold.”
Meredith sighed. That was fine. That, to him, meant nothing.
She finally found the strength to eat, and so she mimicked him, spreading preservatives on the tip of her toast. “I suppose it is a waste of my time to say this to you, Heath, but you cannot pick up a sleeping lady and carry her to her bedchamber in such an uncouth manner.”
“Yes, I should have left you be to fall ill,” he said idly.
Meredith flushed. “Thank you,” she murmured.
“You need not thank me. You were kind enough to stay there waiting for my return, so it is only right that I return your kindness.”
She felt a smile tug at her lips. “Then, there is something I would like to ask of you.”
“The answer is no,” he said so easily that she gasped.
“You have not even heard it.”
“I am certain I will say no to it, whatever it is.”
She folded her lips back, trying to think of the best way she could ask this. It was an unusual request coming from anyone, and would sound even odder from her. After a while, she decided it was best to simply say it. “I would like to accompany you when next you leave the manor.”
Heath looked genuinely taken aback by her words. “I am certain my answer to that will remain but I cannot help but wonder what would possess you to ask such a thing.”
“I do not plan to return to my father,” Meredith assured him. “There are still a few things I would like to do before then. I also do not intend to run away and reveal what I overheard at that abandoned building.”
“I simply wish to be amongst others.”
His frown deepened. “You have quite a knack for confusing me, it seems.”
“I… cannot explain it.” Or, at least, she couldn’t explain it well. “But now that I have met you again, I feel… different. I would like to see if that difference will appear amongst other people.”
Meredith pleaded with her eyes, praying he would take pity on her. To be able to talk to him like this, without being riddled with crippling anxiety, was enough to give her hope. She clung to that hope, wanted it to lift her above the dark cloud constantly hanging over her head. Heath was the only person who would be able to let that happen.
Scarlett Osborne. Captive to the Kiss of a Wicked Duke: A Steamy Regency Romance (Kindle Locations 1361-1424). Scarlett Osborne.
Heath refuses to take her with him, especially since he’s going with Phillip to do a job. Unfortunately she follows him. This becomes a turning point in this tale.
Plenty of suspense and intrigue as they discover each other’s inner secrets. Yet at some point she will have to return to her father.
This is a very interesting twist on a sort of kidnapping. I thoroughly enjoyed the growth of this relationship to the passionate one it becomes.
5 Contented Purrs for Scarlett!
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Born in the Sunshine State of Florida, but of both British and Nordic descent, Scarlett Osborne grew up reading historical romances from the land of her ancestors. Fascinated with the British society of the 1800s and armed with a wild imagination, she obtained a degree in Creative Writing and immediately started her career as a Regency romance author.
A daydreamer extraordinaire, Scarlett likes to jump in the shoes of her heroines, immersing herself in her own stories, living the adventures that she wished she had experienced as a child. An avid reader and fan of the outdoors, Scarlett spends her free time either reading or going on long horseback rides along with her two sons.
Get lost in a land of enchantment, where adventure and love await around every corner…Scarlett hopes that through her heroes, you too will get to live a whirlwind romance in the Regency era, when fairytales were real and all dreams possible!