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Beau Crusoe by Carla Kelly - Romance>Contemporary
Stranded alone on a desert island, he had lived to tell the tale. A triumphant return to the ton saw James Trevenen hailed as Beau Crusoe--a gentleman of spirit, verve and action. But only he knew the true cost of his survival! Scandalous!
Susannah Park had been shunned by Society. She lived content with her calm existence--until Beau Crusoe determinedly cut up her peace! The beautiful widow wanted to help him heal the wounds of the past--but what secrets was this glorious man hiding?
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Sensuality Rating: Not rated
The Orion might have sunk six years ago, but James Trevenen felt the hairs rise on his neck when the innkeep's wife snapped open a tablecloth on the table in a private parlor by the public room, the sound remarkably similar to the ripping hiss of coral on a ship's underbelly.
He looked around, hoping no one had noticed his sudden in-take of breath. He wondered how long the ordinary noises of life in England would startle him. The inn was crowded, and ev-eryone was too busy to bother with one average-looking fellow.
He had no problem waiting; Lord knows, he was patient. Ac-cording to the coachman, the district had suffered from heavy rains recently, which had loosened the bridge footings between Lovell and the next village. The result was an unexpected stop at an inn not used to such heavy trade.
No matter. He had listened to the complaints of others ahead of him in line, demanding this room or that convenience, serene in the knowledge that no matter how uncomfortable he was likely to be for the night, it would never be as bad as five years marooned, alone and hungry on a tropical island.
He had felt some pity for the governess with the two children who had sat across from him for hours on the mail coach. Her dickering with the innkeep sounded particularly desperate. She kept peering into her reticule, as though hoping the few coins might have reproduced since her last inspection. He suspected this sudden stop had forced the governess to rely on her own means, which were shabby, indeed, if her threadbare cloak was any indication. Her employer must be a stingy bastard, James de-cided. He wanted to pull out his own stuffed wallet and help, but he knew better.
He had signed for his own room--after arguing the keep out of a private parlor for dinner because, of all things, he hated to be alone--when a fop strolled into the inn and demanded lodging.
The much-tried keep had assured the man there was nothing left, that Mr. Trevenen had the last room.
The fop turned to James. "I will relieve you of it."
You're a cheeky fellow, James thought, amused. He didn't care one way or the other but, for argument's sake, had to ask. "Suppose I say no?"
The fop had buggy eyes, which popped out even more at his quiet response. Unruffled, James watched his complexion turn an unhealthy mottled hue. Not used to an argument, eh? he thought.
When the skinny fellow attempted to draw himself up, it oc-curred to James that this was probably the worst setback he had ever encountered. Will he try to bully me, or play the sympathy card? James asked himself.
It was the sympathy card. Maybe something firm in James's expression had sparked a change in tactics.
The fop whisked out a scented handkerchief and delicately touched his eyes. "You cannot imagine what this day was like," he said.
"I'm sure I cannot," James agreed, trying not to smile when an Englishman smelling of lavender chronicled his misery. You can't imagine misery, James thought.
Still, the man looked put-upon, with drooping collar points and limp lace awash over wrists as delicate as a female's. James tried not to stare at the odd lumps in the fop's pantaloons. What-ever padding he had applied to his calves to make them shapely must have broken loose from their moorings and drifted.
This is not a man who travels well, James decided, as he turned to the innkeeper.
"I have no problem relinquishing my room," he said.
"It's the last room," the keep reminded him. "I have nothing else for you, sir."
James shrugged and glanced into the public room. "I can sleep on that settle, if you can spare a blanket and...
Beau CrusoeBy: Carla Kelly