ЛитМир - Электронная Библиотека

Felicity turned and stared as Nathan strode into the room.

The candlelight, which she had thought so beneficial moments ago, now seemed far too glaring. There were no concealing shadows that she could step into.

‘So. It is you.’

Fear tingled down her spine as she saw the glitter in Nathan’s eyes.

‘Nathan, listen to me, please. When I left Corunna I had no thought of ever seeing you again.’

‘Until I became an earl!’ he bit out. ‘You had no wish to be the wife of a poor army officer, but a countess—no doubt you find the title irresistible.’

‘That is not true!’ She stepped away, trying to ignore the sheer animal power that emanated from him.

‘It is time to consider what you owe me.’ He held out his hand to her. ‘Come.’

Felicity eyed him warily. ‘I do not understand you.’

He took her wrist. ‘I am taking you back to Rosthorne House with me.’

‘No! It is far too late at night.’ She tugged against his iron grip.

He pulled her towards him and lifted her easily into his arms. Felicity gasped, then began to kick and struggle, but it was useless. His hold tightened, pinning her against his chest.

‘Be still, woman. You did not fight me thus last night.’

Author Note

The Retreat to Corunna is one of the less well-known episodes of the Napoleonic Wars. The Spanish allied armies had been overwhelmed, and Sir John Moore found himself and his British troops alone in northern Spain, facing Emperor Napoleon’s victorious French army. Moore retreated to the port of Corunna and managed to keep his exhausted men together as they struggled across the mountains during the depths of winter. He fought off the French at Corunna long enough to allow the British transport ships to come into the harbour and carry the remains of the army safely back to England. Travelling that same route in January 2009, I realised just how awful that journey across the mountains must have been. Many soldiers perished from cold and hunger, stragglers were cut down by the French, and the ragged, starving wretches marching back into Corunna aroused the sympathy of their Spanish hosts.

The story of THE EARL’S RUNAWAY BRIDE begins amongst the mayhem and confusion of that winter in Corunna. Felicity Bourne is alone and penniless in the city, and when she is rescued by a dashing British soldier she thinks him the hero of her dreams.

Unfortunately, those dreams turn into a nightmare, and she is separated from Nathan Carraway for five long years, until the premature Peace Celebrations of 1814 bring them together again in London. Nathan and Felicity are both scarred by their wartime experiences. They must learn to forgive the past and work together for their future happiness.

I do hope you enjoy THE EARL’S RUNAWAY BRIDE. As an author I set scenes and drop my hapless characters into predicaments that I would certainly not wish to experience, but they battle through, survive and succeed, often in ways that surprise even me!

The Earl’s Runaway Bride

Sarah Mallory

The Earl's Runaway Bride - fb3_img_img_c161a866-6cd9-5d74-bfa9-6a61729daf0d.jpg

www.millsandboon.co.uk

SARAH MALLORY was born in Bristol, and now lives in an old farmhouse on the edge of the Pennines with her husband and family. She left grammar school at sixteen, to work in companies as varied as stockbrokers, marine engineers, insurance brokers, biscuit manufacturers and even a quarrying company. Her first book was published shortly after the birth of her daughter. She has published more than a dozen books under the pen-name of Melinda Hammond, winning the Reviewers’ Choice Award in 2005 from Singletitles.com for Dance for a Diamond and the Historical Novel Society’s Editors’ Choice in November 2006 for Gentlemen in Question.

Recent novels by the same author:

WICKED CAPTAIN, WAYWARD WIFE

MORE THAN A GOVERNESS

(part of On Mothering Sunday)

THE WICKED BARON

For my editor, Lucy, with thanks for all your help and support.

Praise for Sarah Mallory

‘Sarah Mallory’s name is set to become a favourite with readers of historical romantic fiction the world over!’

Cataromance

‘MORE THAN A GOVERNESS is a richly woven tale of passion, intrigue and suspense that deserves a place on your keeper shelf!’

Cataromance

Chapter One

Felicity was angry, blazingly angry. All her terror and anxiety at being alone and penniless in a strange country was forgotten, superseded by rage that the portmanteau packed with her last remaining possessions had been snatched away from her. Without a second thought she gave chase, following the ragged Spaniard in his leather waistcoat away from the Plaza and into a maze of narrow alleys that crowded about the harbour at Corunna. She did not stop; even when a sudden gust of wind caught her bonnet and tore it off her head she ran on, determined to regain her property. Only when they neared the harbour and she found herself in an unfamiliar square bounded by warehouses did she realise the danger.

She saw her bag handed to a young boy who ran off with it while the thief turned to face her, an evil grin splitting his face. Felicity stopped. A quick glance over her shoulder revealed two more menacing figures blocking her escape. Felicity summoned up every ounce of authority to say haughtily, ‘That is my bag. Give it back to me now and we shall say no more about this.’

The response was a rough hand on her back, pushing her forward. She stumbled and fell to her knees. Quickly she scrambled up, twisting away as one of the men reached out to grab her. There was only the one man in front of her, if she could get past him—with a guttural laugh he caught her by her hair and yanked her back, throwing her into the arms of his two accomplices. Felicity fought wildly, but it was impossible to shake off their iron grip. They held her fast as the little man with his yellow teeth and stinking breath came close, leering at her as he ripped open her pelisse.

She closed her eyes, trying to blot out their cruel laughter and ugly jests. Then she heard another voice—slow, deep and distinctly British.

‘Move away from the lady, my good fellows.’

Felicity’s eyes flew open. Beyond the thief stood a tall British officer, resplendent in his scarlet tunic. He looked completely at his ease, regarding the scene with a slightly detached air, but when her tormentor pulled a wicked-looking knife from his belt the officer grinned.

‘I asked you politely,’ he said, drawing his sword. ‘But now I really must insist.’

With a roar the two men holding Felicity released her and rushed forward to join their comrade. She backed against the wall and watched the red-coated officer swiftly despatch her attackers. He moved with surprising speed and agility. A flick of his sword cut across the first man’s wrist and the knife fell from his useless fingers. A second man screamed as that wicked blade slashed his arm and when the officer turned his attention to the third, the man took to his heels and fled, swiftly followed by his companions.

The officer wiped his blade and put it away. Sunlight sliced through a narrow gap between the houses and caught the soldier in a sudden shaft of light. His hair gleamed like polished mahogany in the sunshine and he was grinning down at her, amusement shining in his deep brown eyes as if the last few minutes had been some entertaining sport rather than a desperate fight. He was, she realised in a flash, the embodiment of the hero she had always dreamed of.

1
{"b":"640343","o":1}