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Authors: Johanna Lindsey

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Gentle Rogue

BOOK: Gentle Rogue
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Johanna Lindsey

Gentle Rogue

A Malory Novel

Dedication

For my sister-in-law, Lawree,
and her newest joy,
Natasha Kealanoheaakealoha Howard

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

Chapter One

Georgina Anderson held her spoon up backward, placed one of…

Chapter Two

Across the river, in the elite West End of town,…

Chapter Three

Ian MacDonell was a second-generation American, but his Scottish ancestry…

Chapter Four

Georgina sat shivering at the bottom of a stairway that…

Chapter Five

Hendon was a rural village, seven miles northwest of London…

Chapter Six

No goodbye. No good wishes. Not even a go-to-hell. Georgina…

Chapter Seven

A skyscape of sailless masts didn’t guarantee there would be…

Chapter Eight

Sir Anthony Malory signaled to the waiter for another bottle…

Chapter Nine

The whole family had turned out to see James off—Jason…

Chapter Ten

The galley was not exactly the most brilliant place to…

Chapter Eleven

Georgina’s heart plummeted. The food she was carrying almost did…

Chapter Twelve

“Needed?” Georgina croaked as she sat up in the big…

Chapter Thirteen

The flare-up of Georgina’s queasiness might have passed for the…

Chapter Fourteen

“Blathering about brick walls again, are ye? Did that mon…

Chapter Fifteen

“Georgie!”

Chapter Sixteen

Georgina’s hands were trembling a bit as she piled the…

Chapter Seventeen

James was on his second glass of brandy by the…

Chapter Eighteen

Georgina had had the worst time getting to sleep that…

Chapter Nineteen

“Are ye ailing, Georgie lad?”

Chapter Twenty

Georgina’s anger dissolved in the warm water the very moment…

Chapter Twenty-One

“Are you asleep yet, George?”

Chapter Twenty-Two

“I understand now why people do this sort of thing.”

Chapter Twenty-Three

James stood next to the hammock a long while the…

Chapter Twenty-Four

“Brandy, George?”

Chapter Twenty-Five

It was difficult to keep up the pretense of being…

Chapter Twenty-Six

“Your carriage just arrived, James,” Connie announced from the open…

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Georgina had been feeling somewhat better, certainly much more optimistic…

Chapter Twenty-Eight

James stood impatiently at the rail, waiting for the small…

Chapter Twenty-Nine

“Where the hell have you been, Clinton?” Drew demanded belligerently…

Chapter Thirty

“Thomas!” Georgina exclaimed when she lifted the corner of the…

Chapter Thirty-One

“Blast it, Georgie! Don’t you know better than to do…

Chapter Thirty-Two

“What is it, Georgie?” Boyd asked in alarm. “You don’t…

Chapter Thirty-Three

James managed to keep the groan from escaping his swollen…

Chapter Thirty-Four

“Well now, it’s plain to see that you two are…

Chapter Thirty-Five

“You don’t really think that will work again, do you,…

Chapter Thirty-Six

Forty minutes later, the three youngest Andersons found the small…

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Standing in the puddle of water pooling at her feet,…

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Georgina sat slumped in the chair she’d pulled up in…

Chapter Thirty-Nine

“Marriage used to be for gain, don’t you know, or…

Chapter Forty

“Show a leg, George. Your new in-laws will be returning…

Chapter Forty-One

“Good God!” Anthony said when James and Georgina entered the…

Chapter Forty-Two

“Men do get married, you know,” Georgina said reasonably, if…

Chapter Forty-Three

Despite the fact that this was to be no more…

Chapter Forty-Four

“Devil take it, you can’t be serious!” Georgina said furiously.

Chapter Forty-Five

By the time Derek’s carriage stopped in front of the…

Chapter Forty-Six

Georgina couldn’t believe it. He’d locked her in. And no…

Chapter Forty-Seven

Thomas and Drew had managed to convince Georgina, somehow, to…

Chapter Forty-Eight

“James, shouldn’t we go down? The carriages have been arriving…

Have you met the Malorys?

About the Author

Praise

Other Books by Johanna Lindsey

Copyright

About the Publisher

Chapter One

1818, London

G
eorgina Anderson held her spoon up backward, placed one of the pared-down radishes from her plate in the bowl of the spoon, pulled the tip back, and shot the radish across the room. She didn’t hit the fat cockroach she was aiming for, but she was close enough. The radish splattered on the wall only inches from her target, sending said target scampering for the nearest crack in the wall. Goal accomplished. As long as she couldn’t see the little beasts, she could pretend she wasn’t sharing accommodations with them.

She turned back to her half-eaten dinner, stared at the boiled food for a moment, then pushed the plate away with a grimace. What she wouldn’t give for one of Hannah’s rich, seven-course meals right about now. After twelve years as the Andersons’ cook, Hannah knew just what pleased each member of the family, and Georgina had been dreaming about her cooking for weeks, not surprising after a month of shipboard fare. She’d gotten only one good meal since she’d arrived in England five days ago, and that was the very night they docked, when Mac had taken her out to a fine restaurant just after they had checked into
the Albany Hotel. They’d had to leave the Albany the very next day for much, much cheaper accommodations. But there was nothing else they could do after they returned to the hotel to find all their money missing from their trunks.

Georgie, as she was affectionately known to friends and family, couldn’t even in good conscience hold the hotel accountable, not when she and Mac had both been robbed, but from different rooms, even different floors. It was most likely accomplished while the trunks were together on that long ride from the docks on the East End to Piccadilly on the West End, where the prestigious Albany was located, when the trunks were strapped on top of the hack they had rented, with the driver and his helper up top with them, while she and Mac blithely ogled their first sight of London Town.

Talk about your lousy luck, and it hadn’t even started there. No, it started when they reached England last week and found out their ship couldn’t dock, that it might take anywhere up to three months before it was given quay space to unload its cargo. Passengers were more fortunate in that they could be rowed ashore. But they’d still had to wait several days before this was accomplished.

She shouldn’t have been surprised, however. She had known about the congestion problem on the Thames, a very big problem because ships came in seasonally, all being subject to the same unpredictable winds and weather. Her ship had been one of a dozen from America arriving at the same time. There were hundreds of others from all over the world. The appalling congestion problem was one of the reasons
her family’s merchant line had kept London off its trade routes even before the war. Actually, a Skylark Line ship hadn’t been to London since 1807 when England began her blockade of half of Europe in her war with France. The Far Eastern and West Indies trade was just as profitable and far less troublesome for Skylark.

Even after her country had settled its differences with England with the signing of a treaty at the tail end of 1814, the Skylark Line stayed clear of the English trade, because the availability of warehousing was still a serious problem. More times than not, perishable cargoes had to be left on quayside, at the mercy of the elements and the thieves who stole a half million pounds of goods a year. And if the elements didn’t ruin perishable goods, then the coal dust that enveloped the whole port would.

It simply wasn’t worth the aggravation and loss of profits, not when other trade routes were just as lucrative. Which was why Georgina hadn’t come to London on a Skylark ship, and why she wouldn’t find free passage home on one, either. Which was going to be an eventual problem, what with Mac and she reduced to a grand total of twenty-five American dollars between them, all that they had been carrying on them at the time of the robbery, and they didn’t know how long that would have to last—a good reason why Georgina was presently ensconced in a rented room above a tavern in the Borough of Southwark.

A tavern! If her brothers ever found out…but then they were going to kill her when she got home anyway for sailing without their knowing, while each was off in some other part of the world on his own
ship, but more to the point, she’d left without their permission. At the least, she could expect to have her allowance suspended for a decade, to be locked in her room for several years, to be whipped by each one of them…

Actually, they would probably only do a great deal of shouting at her. But having five angry brothers, all older and much bigger than she, raising their voices in unison and accord, and directing that anger at her when she knew she deserved every bit of it, wasn’t at all pleasant to contemplate, and could, in fact, be anticipated with total dread. But, unfortunately, that hadn’t stopped Georgina from sailing off to England with only Ian MacDonell as her escort and protector, and he no relation at all to her. Sometimes she had to wonder if the common sense allotted her family hadn’t run out by the time she was born.

The knock came at the door just as Georgina pushed away from the little table the room offered for solitary meals. She had to bite back the natural tendency to simply say “Come in,” which came from a lifetime of knowing that anyone who knocked on her door would be either servant or family, and welcome. But then, in the whole of her twenty-two years, she had never slept anywhere but in her own bed, in her own room, in her home in Bridgeport, Connecticut; or in a hammock on a Skylark ship, at least until last month. Of course, no one could just come in with the door locked, whether she invited them to or not. And Mac was diligent in reminding her that she had to do such things as keep her door locked at all times, even if the strange, shabby room wasn’t a potent enough reminder that she was far away from home and
shouldn’t be trusting anyone in this inhospitable, crime-infested town.

But her visitor was known to her, the Scottish brogue calling out to her from the other side of the door well recognized as belonging to Ian MacDonell. She let him in, then stepped out of the way as he sauntered through the doorway, his tall frame filling the small room.

“Any luck?”

He snorted before he sat down in the chair she had just vacated. “Depends on how ye look at it, lass.”

“Not another detour?”

“Aye, but better than a dead end, I’m thinking.”

“I suppose,” she replied, but not with much enthusiasm.

She shouldn’t really be expecting more, not when they had so little to go on. All Mr. Kimball, one of the sailors on her brother Thomas’s ship, the
Portunus
, had been able to tell her was that he was “certain sure” he had seen her long-lost fiancé, Malcolm Cameron, up in the rigging on the British merchantman
Pogrom
when the ships crossed paths during the
Portunus
’s return to Connecticut. Her brother Thomas couldn’t even verify it, since Mr. Kimball hadn’t bothered to mention it to him until the
Pogrom
was well out of their sights. But the
Pogrom
’s direction had been toward Europe, more than likely to its home port in England, even if it wasn’t going directly there.

Regardless, this was the first piece of news she had heard of Malcolm in the six years since he had been impressed with two others right off her brother Warren’s ship, the
Nereus
, a month before war had been declared in June of 1812.

Impressment of American sailors by the English navy had been one of the reasons for the war. It was the worst piece of luck that Malcolm had been taken on his very first voyage—and simply because he still had a touch of the Cornishman’s accent, having spent the first half of his life in Cornwall, England. But he was an American now, his parents, who were now deceased, having settled in Bridgeport in 1806, with no intention of ever returning to England. But the officer of the HMS
Devastation
wouldn’t believe any of that, and Warren had a small scar on his cheek to prove how determined they were to impress every man they could.

BOOK: Gentle Rogue
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