From its opening scene to its breath-catching climax, Liz Carlyle's newest novel is a vividly etched portrait of passion and intrigue. When a woman consumed by sinister secrets opens the door to a strikingly handsome stranger, a powerful desire rushes in -- and a love she could not have imagined.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and Jonet Rowland is surely that. But she is also lovely, rich, and -- it is rumored -- an unrepentant adulteress. When her philandering husband, the marquis of Mercer, is murdered in his own bed, it's whispered that Jonet is a femme fatale in more ways than one. Shunned by society, the daring widow steels herself to fight for what truly matters -- her children.
When his scheming uncle begs him to investigate the death of his brother, Lord Mercer, Captain Cole Amherst refuses. But it is soon apparent that treachery stalks two innocent boys, and Cole plunges into the viper's pit that is Jonet Rowland's life. Nothing could have prepared Cole for the lust Jonet inspires. But as danger swirls about them, he is tortured by doubt. Can an honorable soldier open his shuttered heart and let a wicked widow teach him how to truly love?
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April 30, 2000
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Excerpt from A Woman Scorned by Liz Carlyle
A brave Officer is tactically Deployed
London's spring weather was at its most seasonable, which merely meant it was both wet and chilly, when Captain Cole Amherst rolled up the collar on his heavy greatcoat and stepped out of his modest bachelor establishment in Red Lion Street. Mindful of having lived through worse, Amherst glanced up and down the busy lane, then stepped boldly down to join the rumbling wheels and spewing water as carts and carriages sped past. The air was thick with street smells; damp soot, warm horse manure, and the pervasive odor of too many people.
A few feet along, the footpath narrowed, and a man in a long drab coat pushed past Cole, his head bent to the rain, his hat sodden. Skillfully, Cole stepped over the ditch, which gurgled with filthy water, and was almost caught in the spray of a passing hackney coach. Jumping back onto the path, Cole briefly considered hailing the vehicle, then stubbornly reconsidered. Instead, he pulled his hat brim low, then set a brisk, westerly pace along the cobbled footpath, ignoring the blaze of pain in the newly knit bone of his left thigh.
The long walk to Mayfair, he resolved, would do him nothing but good. The rain did not let up, but it was less than two miles to Mount Street, and just a few short yards beyond lay the towering brick townhouse to which he had been so regally summoned. It often seemed to Amherst that he had been summoned just so -- without regard to his preference or schedule -- on a hundred other such occasions over the last twenty-odd years. But one thing had changed. He now came only out of familial duty, not faint-hearted dread.
"Good evening, Captain," said the young footman who greeted him at the door. "A fit night for neither man nor beast, is it, sir?"
"Evening, Findley." Cole grinned, tossed the young man his sodden hat, then slid out of his coat. "Speaking of beasts, kindly tell my uncle that I await his pleasure."
The desk inside Lord James Rowland's study was as wide as ever, its glossy surface stretching from his vast belly and rolling forward, seemingly into infinity. This effect was particularly disconcerting when one was a child and compelled to look at a great many things in life from a different angle.
Cole remembered it well, for he had spent a goodly portion of his youth staring across that desk while awaiting some moralizing lecture, or the assignment of some petty task his uncle wished to have done. It had been difficult to refuse James, when Cole knew that his uncle had been under no obligation to foster his wife's orphaned nephew, and had done so only to allay her tears.
But Cole was no longer a child, and had long ago put away his childish things, along with most of his hopes and his dreams. The ingenuous boy who had passed the first eleven years of his life in a quiet Cambridgeshire vicarage was no more. Even the callow youth his aunt and uncle had helped raise was long dead. And now, Cole could barely remember the gentleman and scholar that the youth had eventually become. There were few memories, Cole had found, which were worth clinging to.