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He lost everything... but his duty to her brought him back to life.

Oriana Thorpe is a smuggler’s daughter hardened by a dangerous life lived on the edge. An innkeeper and tavern owner, she’s risked everything, including her safety, to protect an endangered lady and her maid from Oriana’s evil brother’s ambition. Determined to make things right, she decides to distribute the blood money her brother left behind to the widows and orphans nearby. When threatening letters arrive promising retribution, Oriana suspects one or more of her customers may be her despicable brother’s spy. But one haunted man promises to protect her, making her risk the greatest danger of all . . . falling in love.

Captain Pierce Walsingham should have died when his ship was destroyed by a vengeful smuggler, but he was pulled from the water by the Black Regent. In gratitude, Pierce takes the Regent’s place, allowing his name to be added to the list of the dead and vowing to protect the woman who saved his sister’s life. Though she survived, the smuggler has promised to return and finish what he started. There is no cause dearer to Pierce’s heart than stopping him, but the task won’t be easy. Strategic allegiances have replenished his enemy’s power at sea and Pierce must fight his desire for the resilient woman who fiercely defends her roost.

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

COMING SOON~ Until then, enjoy this excerpt from the Book 2, The Pirate's Debt:

Markwick stiffened. Blackmoor’s reasons for enlisting Markwick’s help were triggered by love for his wife. Markwick’s sense of responsibility went deeper, to a place he’d never allowed himself to go out of respect for Walsingham. While it was true that Chloe had exceeded many levels of Markwick’s patience when she was younger, since his engagement to Prudence, she’d shown herself to be intelligent, talented, loyal, and a most beloved sister and friend. She was also enamored by the Black Regent, which put his identity at even greater risk.

What could he do? How far was he willing to go to bring Chloe home safe and sound?

“For the duchess’s sake,” he began, “I will do my best to find Chloe. You have my word.”

“Remember, her willful head is in the clouds. That, dear friend, makes her dangerous. If she spies her brother, she will most likely flee to avoid facing his ire. But if you find her . . . well, that is a trap well laid.”

“Surely you place too much—”

“I’ve promised my wife that you will find her before Walsingham does.”

Markwick bowed. “I shall strive to earn your confidence.”

He gazed at the missive in Blackmoor’s hand once more, suspecting something else was responsible for the duke’s persistence that Markwick should be the one to locate Chloe. “What’s in the letter?”

Blackmoor handed him the missive, then strode to the door. “Have a care for your soul, Markwick. While the Fury demands forte, females rein a tempest of emotions sure to drown better men.”

Markwick straightened. “Aye, sir,” he said, gazing down at the note.

The screen door slammed. When he looked up again, Blackmoor was gone.

Markwick opened the note, then leaned back on the desk. His jaw slackened at the words on the page.
 
My dearest friend,
 
I ask you one question: is a body unhappy about another unless she is in love? I fear we both know the answer to that now, and a gentle violence thrills my soul as I share with you that I intend to sail with the tide. I cannot face the snares and wiles of this world without love to recommend me. Therefore, I beseech you to keep my secret, for you are the only one I trust.
 
Markwick has disappeared. As you are no longer betrothed, I am finally at liberty to confess to you that I love him. I have always loved him, and I cannot bear for him to suffer alone. Sources close to my brother inform me that a man fitting Markwick’s description has been seen in Torquay. Therefore, I’ve attained passage for myself and my maid aboard the Valerian.
 
Do not be alarmed for my person or harden your heart against me. Dry your earnest tears. My virtuous intentions steer me toward a higher destiny.
 
Resourcefully yours,
Chloe Walsingham

 
Markwick shut his gaping mouth, then crumpled the letter in his hand.

It couldn’t be true. Blackmoor was right? Chloe loved him? How was that possible? Why? Until now, he had always perceived her attention as infatuation because he’d been the only man her brother allowed around her.

He dropped the foolscap and swiped his fingers through his hair. If he failed to rescue Chloe from another one of her outlandish adventures, Prudence would blame him. Which meant Blackmoor would blame him. Not to mention Chloe’s brother. If Walsingham found out Markwick had known where Chloe was bound and hadn’t alerted him, the bond between friends would be severed for good, making his stint as the Black Regent even more perilous. If anything happened to her, Walsingham would not rest until Markwick was hunted down. That endangered the Regent’s whole design. And a dead Regent could not help the people of Cornwall and Devon.

Markwick hopped forward and yanked open the cabin’s screen door.

Pye stood there, just outside the door, waiting. “What be your orders, Cap’n?”

Had Blackmoor ordered the one-legged pirate to stand there? “Notify the crew that we have a target in our sights. We make way with the tide.”

“Aye, sir.” The salty pirate grinned. “As soon as I’d seen the ol’ cap’n, I knew we’d have us an adventure ahead.”

“Spare me your excitement,” Markwick grumbled. “This adventure may very well lead to my bloody end.”

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