Sensual. Seductive. Emotional. No one stirs the heart and imagination like Mary Balogh. In this classic novel, the New York Times bestselling author weaves a spellbinding tale of two people haunted by desire, unable to resist the love that has become their most passionate obsession....
When James Purnell walks into the London drawing room and sees Lady Madeline Raine, time stops. Once she had been his for the taking. Now she is an aloof, beautiful stranger, determined to keep the devilishly handsome nobleman from seducing her again. But after four years apart, desire reignites--swift, hot, irresistible--culminating in a night of reckless lovemaking. Suddenly Madeline is faced with an unbearable choice: marry with no hope of love or risk certain ruin. Her decision will have consequences she never imagined, as she makes a shocking discovery about the man she secretly loves. What she doesn't know is how far James will go to right the wrongs of the past--and how much he's willing to risk for the woman who already owns him...body, heart, and soul.
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December 25, 2007
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Excerpt from The Devil's Web by Mary Balogh
The cliffs of the south coast of England were visible to larboard, the morning mists having lifted, though the clouds still hung low and heavy and the sea was slate gray and heaving. The Adeona, one of the ships belonging to the North West Company of Canada, was bringing furs to the auction markets of London.
The cliffs of England. Of home.
A clerk of the company, one of those whose task it was to accompany the furs across the Atlantic and to transact the company's business in London, stood at the rail of the ship, one arm propping him against it, the other hand clinging to a taut rope attached to the rigging, his feet planted firmly apart for better balance, and tested the thought in his mind.
Soon he would set his feet again on his native soil, the very soil he had shaken from them four years before without a moment's hesitation. As he had once said to someone in England, though he did not care to remember whom, he had liked the sight of the sea because it represented his escape from England. And he had escaped.
But she had said that perhaps it was from himself he wished to escape and that it could not be done. For wherever he went, however far he ran, he must inevitably take himself along too.
She had been right. He had taken himself to Canada-to Lower Canada to be precise, to Montreal. And since that had not by any means been far enough, then he had become a clerk with the North West Company, a group of merchants and traders in furs, and had taken himself off with a canoe brigade beyond Lower Canada, even beyond the limits of Upper Canada, beyond the limits of civilization.
Three thousand miles beyond Montreal he had journeyed. He had spent three years there, in the Athabasca country, with only a handful of other fur-trading men and the native inhabitants of the country for company.
He could have gone no farther without falling entirely off the end of the world, it had seemed, though some men had crossed the barrier of the mountains and reached the Pacific Ocean. And of course, it was true that he had taken himself every inch of the way. The only difference was that he had come to like himself a little better while that far away from home. While that far away from his memories.
But of course he could not escape memories as effectively as he had escaped from an island. They kept intruding. They were only as far away as his mind. And so he was coming back home for a few months. He might have stayed in the interior for years-most clerks of the company did, earning partnership by slow degrees and hard work. But he had requested, and been granted, a position in Montreal for a year. And because even there he could not be free of his past, he had requested, and been granted, the task of bringing the furs to auction.
And now he was almost back where he had started. Sometimes the mist and the water met so that he could no longer see the cliffs of southern England, but he knew they were there. And the Adeona was taking him very surely to London.
He did not want to be there. Or in any other part of England. Least of all in Yorkshire, where he had lived most of his life. But he would not go there. He would be working in London. There would be no time to make the ultimate journey home. And there was no point. There was nothing to be gained by going back there.
That particular episode in his life was long in the past. Long ago in his youth, when one could be expected to make mistakes. He had made one-more than one, perhaps-and he had tried to put it right. Tried until he had thought he was going mad. And failed. There was nothing he could do about it now.
It would be better to stay away from there. He was coming back to England. Surely that was enough. There was no need to worry the wound until it was quite raw again.