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Constance Danbury is desperate to escape an arranged marriage to a man nearly twice her age. Her only hope is to board a merchantman bound for Spain to enlist her aunt's help. Her plans go awry when she’s captured by pirates. Even more alarming, her traitorous body longs for the man who’s returning her to England! Pushed into a marriage of convenience, she’s caught between two men—one owns her heart, the other is bent on stealing it.
Percival Avery is a member of Nelson's Tea, an elite group assigned to protect England's shores at any cost. On a mission to avenge his sister’s death, Percy infiltrates the gang of cutthroats responsible. When his vessel attacks a merchantman, Percy must choose between vengeance and saving the life of his commander's niece. His only choice is to mutiny, but mutiny obliterates his well-laid plans. Forced on a new course that leads straight back to Constance Danbury, Percy has to make a decision—chase revenge or allow himself to love again.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
“Don’t come any closer.”
His eye narrowed. Unfazed, he took another step closer. “I stand corrected,” he said, placing surprisingly warm fingers underneath her chin, tilting her head left, then right, as if searching her features for something — familiar. “You, my little blossom, are anything but common.”
A frown creased his brow. He pulled away, breaking contact, and her skin burned strangely where his fingers had been. Shock infiltrated her senses. What had just happened? Had he recognized her? The very idea was absurd. He was a pirate! They didn’t frequent the same social circles. And yet something had registered between them. She’d felt it in his gaze, his touch.
He turned away to address the other brigands in the room. “Search the room. Report whatever you find to me, then the captain.”
Men pilfered through her belongings, scattering petticoats and stockings about the room as if they were rags. Temporarily forgotten, Constance focused on planning her escape. A captain was mentioned. How many others were in charge? And what greater misery waited above deck?
Fabric ripped. Constance rushed at the thieves who’d torn the hem of her green lined riding habit and were only seconds away from discovering her hidden money pouch. The garment held the last valuable farthing she’d saved to procure transportation to Aunt Lydia’s home. Without those funds, she and Mrs. Mortimer would be destitute.
“Stay back,” the one-eyed brigand warned, intercepting her, his voice dagger sharp.
Constance was forced to watch her future fade before her eyes as the rogues ripped into the wool cloth. Grinning, one rotten-mouthed man produced the pouch and threw it into the one-eyed pirate’s hand. The cur tossed the purse, weighed it, nodded, and ordered his lackey to take the money topside.
With nothing left to distract them, her captors turned away from her to plunder another one of her trunks. Constance stood by helplessly as one by one, men filtered in and out of the room, passing along information to their leader about the melee above. Clothed in black, wearing tall Hessian boots, the overseeing pirate loomed larger than life, his dark, wavy hair draping away from his beard at the slightest tilt of his head. His leather eye patch, held in place by a blood-red scarf, gave him a sinful air that made Constance quiver. His facial features, concealed as they were beneath a mustache and beard, kept her from judging the man’s character. From head to toe, the blaggard was a frightening specimen. She knew it would do no good to beg and plead for clemency. She feared she was but moments away from resorting to those tactics.
The only option she had was to escape. But how? The room was too small to rush by him without getting snagged by an arm. Men shuffled about in the hatchway, preventing her passage. She’d be a fool to think she could outmaneuver men trained to scuttle a ship and wreak havoc on human life. Was escape even possible?
“Plotting a getaway?” he asked, while studying the state of his fingernail. Had she been that obvious? “Don’t try anything foolish. That could get you killed.”
She wasn’t a fool. Did he expect her to follow him blindly to the side of the ship and obey his command to jump, or worse, succumb to a pirate’s lust? No. If she was going to die, she would rather die fighting to survive. She shivered at the thought of death as the brigand caught her eye and gave his head a negative shake as if reading her thoughts — again. His suggestive gaze brought an unwelcome flush to her cheeks. She flinched as he moved forward, and instinctively backed away.
He tossed her a wrap. “No harm will come to you as long as you do as I say.”