BOOK & AUTHOR INFO:
THE DEVIL’S GIFT by best-selling author Laura Landon is one of twenty-five titles—all historical romance—that all carry the Union Jack Heart. Featured authors also include Christina McKnight, Ava Stone, Deb Marlowe, Meara Platt, Julie Johnstone, and more! Romance, deception, murder…happily ever afters you won’t want to miss. Look for titles that carry the Union Jack Heart.
Publication date: June 25th, 2017
Genre: Victorian Romance
ABOUT THE DEVIL’S GIFT:
Jackson Rafferty, second son of the eleventh Earl of Devlin, held his dying brother in his arms and swore he’d avenge his murder. That pact made in blood led him to the back halls of Kingston Manor and the woman who would stand between him and pursuing the man Jack knew had killed his brother. That man was her father. Miss Jenevieve Kingston has a secret. Keeping it is the only thing keeping her father alive. When a rogue by the name of Jack Dawson comes dangerously close to spoiling everything, Jenna forces him from her home. But not before he has worked his way into her heart. Now he’s back, proving he is not who she thought he was. But how can she trust him after weeks of deception?
THE DEVIL’S GIFT EXCERPTS & TEASERS:
“It’s rather funny, don’t you think?” the Earl of Devlin said as he continued to make his way down the street. “Father thought if you were gone, I would step in to take your place. He thought your absence would make me assume some responsibility in running Devlin Downs. Instead…”
“Instead, what?” Jack asked, feeling more uncomfortable by the second.
When Sheridan stopped on the sidewalk and turned, Jack felt a cold chill race down his spine. The color left his brother’s bronzed face and a haunted look filled his eyes.
“Refusing to marry Kingston’s daughter is probably the first selfless act I’ve ever committed.”
“How can you say that?”
Shad paused and Jack knew his brother was weighing how much he should reveal.
“How much do you know about Kingston?”
“Very little. I only know about the agreement he made with Father for you to marry his daughter.”
“A pact made in blood,” Shad said barely loud enough to be heard. “Marrying into that family would have condemned us all. Or worse.”
“What are you talking about? If there’s something we should go to the authorities with—“
Shad dropped his head back and laughed. “The authorities. Oh, that’s rich, Jack. You’ve been in government service too long. The authorities are the last ones you can trust.”
“That’s not true, Shad. I have connections that have nothing to do with the local authorities. Tell me what you know and I’ll figure out what to do.”
The Earl of Devlin smiled sadly at his brother. “You always could fix everything. I should have known to come to you right away.”
“Yes, you should have. Now, what do you know?”
Sheridan hesitated as if knowing what he was about to do was the same as stepping off a ledge. Once you took the first step, there was no going back.
“Promise you’ll be careful, Jack. I don’t know all the details. In fact, I’m confused on some of them, but somehow the Kingston name is behind it.”
A nondescript carriage clattered noisily by on the far side of the street. A few yards further on a drunken trio assaulted a familiar tune. Shad’s words halted abruptly. At the same moment Jack saw the surprised look on Shad’s face he heard a muffled pop and knew instantly what was happening. In horror he saw Shad’s features sag as he crumpled to the ground in front of him.
Jack threw his body over Shad but no second shot came. Jack cautiously lifted his head and looked around. In the faint light he focused on the area from which he felt the shot had come. All was quiet. The street was empty.
Jack knew that even if he left his brother to race after the assassin, he wouldn’t find anyone. Whoever had shot Shad was long gone.
“Shad, how badly are you hit?” Jack asked, kneeling beside his brother. “Can you—”
Jack stopped. He was going to ask if he was able to stand, or if Jack should send for a doctor. But he knew the answer. Shad couldn’t stand. And it was already too late to send for a doctor.
Shad was dying.
“Hold on, Shad. I’ll take care of you.”
Shad lifted his trembling hand and pulled Jack down to whisper.
Shad coughed through the rattle in his throat.
“How old were you when your father remarried?”
“He married so soon after your mother died?”
Her expression changed—and the look on her face turned to marble. Whatever was to be read in the look on her face was significant.
“Are you always so inquisitive?” she finally said, her voice tinged with an icy clip.
“I am when I’m with someone about whom I’m curious.”
Jack wanted to take the words back the second he spoke them. What was wrong with him? He was behaving as if he were in a London ballroom and he’d just met a debutante he was interested in getting to know.
The look on her face told him he couldn’t have made a bigger blunder if he’d tried. The sharpness in her words told him the same.
“It would behoove you to learn your place, Mr. Hawkins. A servant—especially one who intends to achieve the exalted and trustworthy station of butler—is still nothing more than a servant. No servant, you will quickly discover, has the right to make inquiries of his master.”
“You are right, of course,” he said with a subservient nod of respect. “I overstepped my bounds.”
“Yes, you did.”
She walked away from him and made her way to the other side of the table. When she reached a place directly across from him, she stopped and motioned to the array of beautiful china and silver set out for his lessons. “You’d best learn the skills you’ll need to serve dinner before you’re expected to use them. You will find Benton a demanding overseer.”
Jack motioned to her from the other side of the table and listened with half an ear while she explained which fork was used for what. What he concentrated on more than anything though, was the husky tone of every word. Even though she remained very stern and proper, the timbre of her voice wrapped around him like the warm blanket he’d often wished for in countless battlefield trenches.
What impressed him even more was her strength and determination. In the beginning he may have mistakenly thought her to be naïve, and perhaps that would be the case in certain matters, but she sure as hell wasn’t weak. She was one of the strongest, most determined young ladies he’d chanced to meet.
And the battle he was most desperate to win, yet knew he was already losing, was his determination not to allow her to affect him.
In truth, she moved him in ways he’d not experienced before. If she thought his questions indicated he didn’t know his place, she’d be shocked at the place his thoughts were taking him.
She started to rush through the narrow crack as he held the door slightly ajar, but Jack stopped her and peeked through the opening to make sure the hallway was clear. It wasn’t.
A yawning footman slowly made his way toward them, his eyes not yet open wide.
Jack pushed Jenna back into the room and silently closed the door. To keep her from alerting the footman to their presence, Jack placed his finger over her lips and pulled her against him.
She stiffened as if afraid, then quieted when he whispered a warning in her ear. The second she realized their danger, she relaxed in his arms and let him hold her.
Jack waited for the footman to make his way past the door, wishing the lad would hurry so he could release her and end the torture, and at the same time praying the listless footman would take forever so the ecstasy of having her in his arms would never end.
They waited. At last the soft scuffing sounds of a sleepy servant faded as he walked away from them.
They were safe. It was a near call, but they hadn’t been discovered.
Jack looked down to whisper how fortunate they were that the footman hadn’t been completely awake or he might have noticed the faint light from the candle beneath the door, but any word he might have said escaped him the second he saw her face.
She looked up at him in wondered awe, as if she realized the same as he that something monumental had happened between them.
Perhaps she heard the thundering of his heart inside his chest. Perhaps she felt the desperation with which he held her. Whatever the reason, he knew she was equally as confused by their attraction to each other as was he.
She looked at him with a pleading in her eyes and opened her mouth as if intending to speak.
Jack didn’t want to talk. They’d talked enough already tonight.
Before any sound she made could break the charged atmosphere in the candlelit room, Jack lowered his head and kissed her.
Their kiss didn’t last long. In fact, it was a very short kiss in comparison to some of the others he’d shared with women he’d been known to favor. But he’d never experienced such an explosive kiss. He’d never experienced a kiss that had shaken him to his very core as this kiss did.
Bloody hell! What was happening to him?
Jack pulled away from Miss Kingston and warned himself not to look at her. He knew better than to look into her eyes, to see the expression on her face. But he did it anyway.
He absorbed her confused expression, studied the dazed look in her eyes. Was struck by an emotion that contained the power of a lightning bolt when he considered the ramifications of what he’d done.
The last thing he intended was to care for Jenna Kingston to the point that his feelings for her overshadowed his desire for justice. Jack knew he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he allowed Shad’s killer to go unpunished because he’d come to care for the killer’s daughter.
A cloud skittered over the moon, casting the place where he’d been hiding in eerie shadows. Though he still had a few minutes, it was the perfect time to go. With the moon hidden behind the cloud cover, he would be hard to spot as he made his way across the open meadow.
Jack stood, then took his first step away from Kingston Manor. His worn boots hadn’t touched down to take his second step when a muffled scream stopped him short.
The sound came from inside the house, and Jack knew he never would have heard it had he not been concentrating on every sound around him.
He spun around and listened. Another indistinct sound followed the first.
As he raced back to the manor, he was aware of only one fact.
The pain-filled cry was Jenna’s.
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ABOUT LAURA LANDON:
Laura Landon is a Prairie Muse Platinum, Kindle Press, and Amazon Montlake bestselling author. Laura enjoyed ten years as a high school teacher and nine years making sundaes and malts in her very own ice cream shop, but once she penned her first novel, she closed up shop to spend every free minute writing. Now she enjoys creating her very own heroes and heroines, and making sure they find their happily ever after. A vital member of her rural community, Laura directed the town’s Quasquicentennial, organized funding for an exercise center for the town, and serves on the hospital board.
Laura lives in the Midwest, surrounded by her family and friends. She has written nearly two dozen Victorian historicals, thirteen of which have been published by Prairie Muse Publishing and are selling worldwide in English, one in Japanese, and several in German. Two are Scottish historicals. In October 2012, Laura experienced an amazing day when Amazon’s Montlake Romance published not one but three of her newest novels. Two of these have been optioned for publication in Russia and Turkey. Several are also available in German. To date Montlake had published seven of Laura’s Victorian historicals and Kindle Press three. Always beautifully set and with a mysterious twist or bit of suspense, Laura’s books average over a million and a half pages a month read by her loyal readers.
CONNECT WITH LAURA:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Laura-Landon/e/B004GANR1O