Anne Gracie - [The Devil Riders 02]

BOOK: Anne Gracie - [The Devil Riders 02]
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Table of Contents
“I never miss an Anne Gracie book.”
—Julia Quinn
Praise for Anne Gracie
“If you haven’t already discovered the romances of Anne Gracie, search for them. You’ll be so glad you did. She’s a treasure.”—
Fresh Fiction
“A powerfully emotional, steal-your-heart story . . . This magical romance not only warms your heart, it raises your temperature, too. Brava!”

Romantic Times
(top pick, 4

“Have you ever found an author who makes you happy? Puts a smile on your face as soon as you enter her story world? Anne Gracie has done that for me ever since I read
Gallant Waif
and through every book thereafter.”

Romance Reviews Today
“One of the best romances I have read in a long time . . .
The Perfect Waltz
is the book to share with a friend who has never read a romance novel—consider adding it to your conversion kit.”—
All About Romance
“It’s rare to find a novel that’s so moving and entertaining at the same time. I’d give a ten to the whole series if that were possible.”—
Romance Reviews Today
“One of those books that needs to be read from beginning to end in one sitting. Honestly, I couldn’t put it down!”

Romance Reader at Heart
“Romance at its best . . . I was captivated by this story . . . Rush out and pick up this book—you won’t be disappointed.”

Romance Junkies
Berkley Sensation Titles by Anne Gracie
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author
Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / September 2008
Copyright © 2008 by Anne Gracie.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form
without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in
violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-0-425-22324-6
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Writing is in some ways a lonely occupation but for me it has brought a whole new world of friends.
Thank you to Barbara Schenck and Linda Brumley for unfailing encouragement and critical support, and to the Maytoners—a very special bunch of brilliant women who bring new meaning to the word friendship.
Finally thank you to all my readers: you make it all possible.
Hampshire, England November 1817
he looked like a drowning madonna. Harry Morant couldn’t help but stare. Her face was turned up to the sky, drenched, her skin accepting the misty drizzle the way a flower accepts the rain. Dark hair clung in soaking tendrils around her face, hung in damp ropes down her back, mingling with the dark oilskin draped around her shoulders. Her complexion, pure and creamy, glowed like a pearl in the wet forest gloom. It was shimmering, pale, almost unnaturally so.
Harry slowed his horse, Sabre, and rode closer to the heavy dray grinding its slow way through the New Forest. He kept Sabre to the edge of the road, avoiding the churned-up mud made by carts and carriages.
His companion, Ethan Delaney, gave him a surprised look and slowed his horse also. Harry took no notice. He only had eyes for the woman.
Her face was fine-boned and narrow, with high cheekbones. Her nose was long and straight but her mouth was lush, soft, and vulnerable. Harry stared at her mouth and swallowed.
She sat on the back of the cart, wedged between barrels and packing crates, squashed in like a last-minute piece of baggage. Her feet dangled above the road. Her shoes and the hem of her skirts were covered in mud. Beside her was a small carpetbag.
A slight movement caught his eye. Half hidden by the canvas, pressed up against her skirts, lay a mud-covered spaniel. It watched Harry warily but made no sound.
The woman showed little awareness of the road unfolding beneath her as the four great cart horses churned doggedly through the mud, straining against the load. Her body adjusted without thought to the lurching of the vehicle. She didn’t appear to hear the constant stream of obscenities that flowed from the driver’s mouth. Occasionally she flinched at the sound of the whip he used so freely.
She didn’t take her eyes off the sky. Not once.
A milkmaid, perhaps, on her way to a hiring fair, or some young servant woman traveling to take up a new position. Maybe the carter’s daughter. No, he decided, not that—she was not well enough cared for for that. Unless the carter was a brute.
She looked exhausted. Her eyes were huge, dark-ringed, and weary against the pallor of her skin. Her bare, ringless hands clutched the edges of the oilskin, holding them together, keeping the worst of the rain off.
Harry slowed Sabre until he and the woman on the cart were traveling at the same speed. Beside him Ethan made a resigned sound, then urged his horse ahead.
Sabre stepped delicately through the rutted mud of the track, bringing Harry almost within touching distance of the girl. Not a girl, he realized. A woman. Five-and-twenty, perhaps?
Their faces were almost on a level when her gaze dropped and their eyes met.
Harry couldn’t drag his eyes away. Her eyes were a deep sherry color. Steady and clear, like gazing into a deep forest pool, pure, but dark with the tannin of fallen leaves.
His gaze devoured her face, her skin, moon pale and glistening with mist. Pale, soft lips, cold from the rain, parted slightly as she looked back at him. Now he was close enough to see each individual droplet of mist clinging to her long dark lashes. He had a mad urge to taste one. He was close enough to touch her. What would she do if he simply reached out and gathered the moisture from her lashes with his fingers, but even as the thought occurred to him, she blinked and the possibility was lost.
Just as well. It was a crazy notion.
The rain had darkened her hair. He wondered what color it would be, what it would look like in the sun. Damp tendrils framed the thin face, clinging to her forehead, her temples, her cheekbones.
Harry’s fingers itched to reach out and rearrange a curl that hung almost in her eyes, in danger of tangling itself in her long lashes. Would it curl around his finger if he did? Like a living thing?
Lord, but she was wet! Her gaze hadn’t shifted, and suddenly Harry felt a wave of heat surge through him. To cover his sudden confusion he lifted his hat, as if in greeting. Instead he found himself reaching out and placing it gently over her sodden curls.
It sat low on her forehead hiding most of her face. She didn’t say a word, just tipped back her head and, from under the brim of his hat, gave him a long, thoughtful look.
“You should climb under cover.” He nodded toward the heavy canvas that had been tied over the cart’s contents. It would be close and dark in the small space between the boxes and she wouldn’t be able to see out, but surely it would be better to be dry in a dark enclosure than to sit open to the sky, exposed to the rain.
She followed his glance, then gently shook her head. He couldn’t see her eyes properly anymore, but her mouth moved, and his eyes fastened on the soft curve of her lips. Another wave of heat passed through him.
Sabre sidestepped restlessly under the involuntary clenching of Harry’s buttocks and thighs and for a moment he was blessedly occupied with controlling his mount, seizing the distraction to try to get his own body under control.
He should move on. Ethan was no doubt waiting impatiently ahead and Harry was expected in Bath for dinner.
Besides, this woman was some kind of milkmaid or servant girl. Nothing could come of it. And Aunt Maude was already making arrangements.
But somehow . . . His gaze devoured her.
He hadn’t felt like this in . . . years.
The forest thinned. Harry glanced ahead. They were coming to a fork in the road. One continued on toward Shaftesbury, and thence to Bath, while the narrower road branched away to the right. He would let fate decide whether he pursued an acquaintance with this woman or not.
BOOK: Anne Gracie - [The Devil Riders 02]
4.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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