Authors: Sharon Cullen
The Notorious Lady Anne
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
A Loveswept eBook Original
Copyright © 2013 by Sharon Cullen
The Infamous Lord Blythe
by Sharon Cullen copyright © 2013 by Sharon Cullen
The Reluctant Countess
by Wendy Vella copyright © 2013 by Wendy Vella
The Escape Diaries
by Juliet Rosetti copyright © 2013 by Patricia Kilday
by Donna Kauffman copyright © 1995 by Donna Kauffman
All Rights Reserved.
Published in the United States by Loveswept, an imprint of The Random House Publishing
Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
LOVESWEPT and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Cover design: Lynn Andreozzi
Cover illustration: Aleta Rafton
In May 2011, while I was in the middle of writing
The Notorious Lady Anne
, near tragedy struck my family when my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury during a bicycle accident. My writing came to a halt so I could dedicate myself to my husband’s recovery.
Five months after his accident, while sitting in the waiting room of outpatient therapy, I opened up my laptop and started writing again. Most of this book was written while I sat in what I laughingly called “my office” at the rehabilitation hospital.
This book is dedicated to all of my husband’s doctors, nurses and therapists. Without them, I wouldn’t have my husband back again.
And, of course, to John. There is no one I admire more. Your strength, your perseverance, your determination and your willpower astound and humble me. I love you.
A huge thank-you to my wonderful critique partner, Sonja Goedde, who patiently read and commented on every page. And who emailed me one day to say, “I talked to this wonderful editor and you need to send her
NOW.” That editor turned out to be Sue Grimshaw of Random House’s newly revised Loveswept line, who fell in love with Emmaline and Nicholas.
My acknowledgments wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to my agent, Jessica Alvarez of BookEnds Literary Agency, who patiently guided me through the process and offered wonderful advice.
Nicholas Addison tossed back a mouthful of flat champagne and watched the swirling mass of people on the dance floor with a jaded eye. If he didn’t have an important meeting in a few moments he would have left already. Hell, he wouldn’t have attended in the first place.
“We’ve only just arrived. You can’t leave yet.”
Nicholas switched his gaze from the dizzying dancers to his brother, Sebastian, Earl of Claybrook.
Sebastian grinned but the amusement didn’t reach his tired eyes. “So what did Kenmar have to say?” he asked, referring to Nicholas’s earlier appointment with the marquess.
Nicholas shrugged and looked around one more time. You never knew who could be lurking in the shadows. Listening. And he wasn’t taking chances. Not tonight.
He took another swig of champagne and frowned when the alcohol hit his stomach like a round from a twenty-two-pounder. “He’s offering me a captain’s position on one of Hamilton’s ships. I haven’t given him an answer yet.”
“So will you do it?” Sebastian asked quietly, looking around as well. If someone was lurking, Sebastian and Nicholas’s strange behavior would surely tip him off.
Nicholas swirled another swallow of champagne around in his mouth but it didn’t wash away the indecision. The anxiety. “I’m to give him my answer in a few minutes.” He looked around for the marquess but the crush of people made it impossible to see even a few feet beyond him.
“Don’t leave a chap in suspense, Nicholas. What will you tell him?”
“I haven’t made my decision yet.”
When the summons arrived to report to the marquess’s residence, Nicholas’s curiosity
had been piqued. Bored, he accepted the somewhat terse invitation even though he knew he couldn’t
accept it. What Kenmar had proposed was the last thing Nicholas had expected and the one thing he wanted most—to command his own ship, to be out on the ocean where he belonged.
But, as with anything in life that seemed too good to be true, it came with provisions. The shipping company had recently been under attack. Some suspected pirates. But not Kenmar. Kenmar suspected the owner of the company, a man named Daniel Blackwell, was purposely sabotaging the ships to gain the insurance money.
Nicholas had inwardly winced when he read the insurance papers. The names scrawled at the bottom were some of the most highly placed noblemen in the country. A few even had the advantage of the king’s ear. If Blackwell was fleecing them of their money, the man was an imbecile.
Nicholas leaned against the wall, desperate to escape the cloying perfume of the ladies, the boisterous boasts of the gentlemen, and the swirling couples on the dance floor. He’d never been a decent dancer, not even an adequate dancer, and with his barely healed leg, adequacy wasn’t a possibility. Not that he wanted to dance. No, what he wanted was to climb those stairs and exit the stifling house. But first he had to speak to Kenmar.
he had to make a decision.
Sebastian slapped Nicholas on the back. “I’m certain you’ll make the right decision, brother.” He made to move away, hailing a friend across the room.
His brother turned and raised a brow in inquiry. Nicholas was taken aback by the fatigue on Sebastian’s face. Small lines etched the corners of his eyes and deep grooves creased the sides of his mouth. A mouth that smiled little lately.
“Thank you,” Nicholas said quietly.
Sebastian smiled, erasing the serious expression that seemed to be a constant lately. “That’s what families are for, Nick.” His gaze flickered behind Nicholas. “Kenmar’s approaching.” Then he disappeared into the crowd, giving Nicholas only a few moments to prepare himself.
“Addison.” Kenmar stopped beside him. An older gentleman who clung to the tradition of wearing a white wig in public, the man was well respected and a close acquaintance of the king.
Nicholas nodded. “Kenmar.”
“Have you given my proposal any thought?”
Kenmar took a sip from his glass. “Before you give me your answer, I’ll have you know I received more information after you left this afternoon. Inside sources tell me Blackwell is launching a shipment of gold that’s to leave the colonies in a month or so. If you choose to accept this mission, I’ll need you to discover more about the gold. Where it’s headed and what it’s being used for.”
“You don’t believe Lady Anne is behind the attacks?” According to Blackwell, the notorious female pirate, Lady Anne, was behind them.
“I don’t believe Lady Anne exists.” Kenmar swirled the wine in his glass.
The London papers were full of the lady pirate’s exploits. Young girls wanted to be like her. Men claimed to have bedded her. The elite whispered about her in their ballrooms and she was the major source of entertainment in what would otherwise have been an ordinary season of soirees and balls.
Nicholas didn’t know anyone who’d actually seen Lady Anne, let alone met her. Whether she existed or not had been little concern to him. Until now.
The prospect of the gold fascinated him. Hell, who was he kidding? The entire proposal intrigued him. He’d been away from the sea for two long years. It was time he regained his sea legs and this was the perfect opportunity.
“I will do it,” he said. And the weight that had settled on his shoulders after his injury shifted.
Kenmar nodded, his expression unchanging, as if he’d expected no other answer. “Be
ready to sail in five days.” He put his glass on the tray of a passing waiter. “Now I’m off to the club. Have a good evening, Addison.” And he disappeared into the crowd, leaving Nicholas alone with his newfound trepidation and anxiety. But also with anticipation.
“Do you find these things as boring as I?”
His gaze collided with eyes the color of the sea on a clear day, a combination of blue and green. They smiled at him, those eyes. Crinkling at the corners and dancing with merriment.
Slowly his startled gaze swept over her, taking in shiny black hair piled high. One curled, ebony lock rested seductively on the top of a firm, golden breast encased in an off-white gown.
With all that dark hair and glowing skin, she reminded him of a Gypsy.
But what fascinated him the most, what caught his attention more than the curve of her breasts and the bewitching color of her eyes, were the dimples peeking out at him when she smiled.
The stunning vision held out her hand. “Emmaline Sutherland. And you are?”
He hesitated. He might disdain society, preferring the open ocean to a stuffy ballroom, but he knew the rules, and one of the biggest was that a lady did not introduce herself to a gentleman. Intrigued, he smiled, bowed over her hand and kissed it.
“Captain Nicholas Addison.”
“Well, Captain Addison, why don’t you ask me to dance? Maybe a sarabande will alleviate our boredom.”
If women didn’t introduce themselves to men, they certainly didn’t ask men to dance.
Who was this woman?
The fear of making a fool of himself kept his feet rooted to the gleaming wood floor. Would his leg withstand the complicated dance moves? If it didn’t, did he deserve the captain’s position just offered to him?
He held out his arm for her to take. “Would you prefer a stroll instead?”
She tilted her head, studying him while his elbow remained crooked for her hand.
Finally she took his arm. “I’d be delighted.”
As he guided her through the crush of people, he recalled his brother mentioning something
about this ball being held for an Emmaline Sutherland. “So, Miss Sutherland, to what do we owe the honor of this route?”
She grimaced, her gaze glancing over the dancers. “No honor. Aunt Dorothy will take any excuse to give a ball. I happened to be in town at the moment.”
“You are not from London?”
Her hand felt nearly weightless on his arm, yet he was well aware of its warmth beneath her glove.
“Originally, yes. But I live abroad now and return infrequently. And you, sir? Are you from London?”
“Yes, but like you, I am rarely here. I’m a sea captain and will set sail in a few days for Boston.” Not completely the truth. He was rarely in town because he preferred the family’s country home, where he didn’t have to encounter pitiful stares and whispers behind his back. If not for Kenmar’s summons, and Sebastian’s plea to attend this ball, Nicholas wouldn’t be here now.