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They call him the Devil Earlâa scoundrel and accused murderer who grew up on the violent London streets. A proper young lady risks more than her reputation when consorting with the roguishly handsome Lucian Langdon, but Lady Catherine Mabry believes she has no choice. To protect those she loves, she would do anythingâeven strike a bargain with the devil himself.
Lucian desires respectability and a wife above all else, but the woman of his choosing lacks the social graces to be accepted by the aristocracy. Catherine can help Lucian gain everything he wants. But what she asks for in exchange will put their very lives in jeopardy. When danger closes in, Catherine discovers a man of immense passion and he discovers a woman of immeasurable courage. As secrets from his dark past are revealed, Lucian begins to question everything he knows to be true, including the yearnings of his own heart.
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From the Journal of Lucian Langdon
They say my parents were murdered in the London streets by a gang of ruffians. I have no memory of it, yet it has always seemed to me that I should.
After all, I was supposedly there, but only if I truly am who the world recognizes me to be.
The Earl of Claybourne.
It is not a pleasant thing to always doubt one's identity. I often study the portrait of my father hanging above the massive fireplace in the grand library of my London residence and catalogue the similarities in our appearance.
The hairâblack as the soot that lined the inside of a chimney.
The eyesâthe shade of pewter that brought a fair price from fences.
The noseâa slender knife-like shape, a fine-honed blade, aristocratic.
Although that similarity might be merely wishful thinking on my part. It's difficult to tell if our noses are truly the same, as mine was severely broken at an early age, the result of an encounter that left me nearly dead. I have always attributed my escape from death's clutches to Jack Dodger, who offered himself up as a target for the abuse being delivered to me. Things went much worse for him. Not that we ever speak of it.
When you grow up on the streets of London you learn about a great many things of which people never speak.
It's my eyes that convinced the old gent who called himself my grandfather that I was indeed his grandson.
"You've got the Claybourne eyes," he'd said with conviction.
And I readily admit that looking into his was very much like looking into a mirror at my own, but still it seemed a rather trite thing upon which to base so grand a decision.
I was fourteen at the time. Awaiting trial for committing murder. I must confess it was a rather fortuitous moment to be declared a future lord of the realm, as the judicial system was not opposed to hanging young lads who were considered troublesome. I'd developed quite a reputation in that regard. Considering the circumstances of my arrest, I have no doubt I was traveling a swift path straight to Newgate and then the gallows. Having a fondness for breathing, I was determined to do whatever was necessary to escape the hangman's noose.
Because I was brought up under the tutelage of Feagan, the kidsman who managed our rather notorious den of child thieves, I was adept at deceiving people, at pretending to remember things of which I truly had no memory. During a rather intensive inquisition, observed by inspectors of Scotland Yard, I was quite the showman, and the old gent not only declared me to be his grandson, but appealed to the Crown to take the unfortunate circumstances of my life into consideration and to show extreme leniency. After all, I'd witnessed my parents' murder, been stolen and sold into near slavery. Certainly it was understandable that I'd engage in a bit of misbehavior. If returned to his keeping, he vowed to set me back on the righteous path to being a proper gentleman. His request was granted.
And I found myself traveling a far differentâand more difficultâroad than I'd expected, always looking for the familiar, the evidence that I truly belonged where I now resided. By the time I grew to manhood, by all appearances, I was an aristocrat.
But beneath the surface...I remained a scoundrel at heart...
In Bed With the DevilBy: Lorraine Heath