Prepare yourself for the heart-stopping romance of newcomer Liz Carlyle. My False Heart is the luminescent love story of a chance meeting between two strangers one dark, rain-swept night in the English countryside. From that moment on, their destinies are forever changed.
When Elliot Armstrong, the dissolute marquis of Rannoch, pursues a spiteful mistress into the wilds of Essex to sever their relationship, he is surprised to find himself hopelessly lost -- in more ways than one. Inexplicably drawn to a warmly fit house along an isolated country lane, he is mistaken for an overdue guest -- but he dares not reveal his identity for fear of being tossed back out into the torrential rain, a fate he admittedly deserves. The loving family that innocently welcomes Rannoch into their midst soon challenges his cynical convictions, and ultimately, resurrects his shattered dreams.
The beautiful Evangeline van Artevalde is an artist of exceptional talent and extraordinary secrets. Isolated from society by choice, the half-Flemish refugee has fled her homeland in search of a secure haven for the children in her family. But even the Essex countryside, she finds, is not without danger. As the clutches of her aristocratic English relatives tighten, Evangeline holds them at bay by sheer force of will, unleashing her emotions only within the walls of her studio. The furthest thing from her heart is desire -- until a drenched, strikingly handsome man shows up at her doorstep late one night. Soon, Evangeline finds she can no longer confine her passions to oil paint and canvas.
Drawn by desire, Elliot and Evangeline discover a powerful love neither thought possible. But malevolent forces surround them, and soon their secrets will be exposed and their hearts tested to unthinkable limits. Only if they can forgive the past will they have a future....
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October 29, 1999
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Excerpt from My False Heart by Liz Carlyle
Give due light to the misled and lonely traveler.
London, May 1819
The splatter of ice-cold champagne hit the marquis of Rannoch full in the face like a blast of well-chilled reality. From his lap, a buxom brunette leapt to her feet with an annoying scream, brushing ineffectually at the rivulets of wine that now marred her pink silk evening dress.
In a dimly lit back room of the Theatre Royal, Antoinette Fontaine stood before the fashionable apr?s-theatre crowd, weaving unsteadily as she raised her empty glass in mock salute to the dark, surly man sprawled with casual arrogance before her. Already, the actress's flaming red hair was tumbling from its elaborate coiffure, while kohl-tinged tears trailed hopelessly down her face.
"Reas -- reason and love keep lit -- little comp'ny together now'days," she quoted, hopelessly slurring the words as she staggered toward him. In the background, several people tittered discreetly. Heads craned, and quizzing glasses came up to survey the commotion.
"You spiteful bitch!" wailed the brunette, still dabbing at her ruined dress. "Look what you've done to my best gown!"
"Shut up, Lily," growled Rannoch, unfolding his huge body from the chair and rising smoothly to his feet. "I can easily buy you a dozen." He crooked his finger at the weaving woman who now stood, her lips a sulky pout, in the center of the room. "To your dressing room, Antoinette. Go! Now."
"Better, my lord, that I sh-should burn in hell," spat the drunken woman through her choking sobs. "I'm done wi'ch you, Elliot, you m-mean-spirited bash -- bashtard." As if to make a point, she hurled the wine glass at his skull. Clearly, the alcohol had not greatly impaired the actress's aim. A spray of crystal bounced off the wall just above Rannoch's head.
The ruined dress now quickly forgotten, the brunette screamed again, bolting for cover in a streak of pink silk. Rannoch paid the fleeing woman no heed at all. Easy come, easy go; that was his motto. Another whore -- or another mistress, for that matter -- was a simple enough thing to find. Elliot Robert Armstrong, fifth marquis of Rannoch, seemed literally to trip over them everywhere he went. Sometimes it was almost tiresome.