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By: Karen Robards | Other books by Karen Robards
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Published: Oct 15, 2002
ISBN # 9780743410601
Word Count: Not Available
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Irresistible by Karen Robards - Romance>Historical Other

Claire Banning fulfilled every debutante's dream when she married a rich nobleman. Soon, however, the celebrated beauty realizes she wed a dissolute wastrel. Bitterly hurt and desperately lonely, Claire vows nonetheless to take her expected place in society. Then on a journey home to her husband's estate on the coast of Sussex, she is abducted, and her life -- and her heart -- are changed forever.

Hugh Battancourt -- a dark and dangerous nobleman who long ago turned his back on the ton and now leads a life secretly dedicated to his country's service -- is determined not to be swayed by his prisoner's beauty as they share a cabin on a ship bound for France. Lives depend on his retrieving from her a letter full of secrets she intends to turn over to the enemy. But even as Claire and Hugh engage in a battle of wits and wills, captor and captive find themselves drawn irresistibly to each other. Is it possible, Claire wonders, that she could discover the true meaning of love that has eluded her with this handsome stranger? One who will lay his life on the line in order to protect her from someone who is intent on placing Claire in the path of danger?

With this sensual and entrancing tale, bestselling author Karen Robards continues her wonderful trilogy of three sisters taking their rightful place as the belles of Regency England's ton.

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Chapter One

January 1813

If they caught her, she would die.

"Damn ye, where are ye?"

The disembodied voice sounded eerily close. That it reached her ears at all over the roaring of the surf terrified her. They were near. The knowledge goaded her to greater speed despite the treacherous nature of the path underfoot. She had to keep moving....

" 'Twill be the worse for ye, ye little besom, once I get me hands on ye again."

The voice came from almost directly overhead. Daring a quick glance upward, Claire saw that the chilly white saucer of a moon had risen just high enough in the sky to be visible over the lip of the cliff. By its wintry light, she could barely make out the speaker's dark shape through the thick gray fog that had rolled in from the sea sometime in the long hours after sunset. Her heart pounding, she shivered and fought to keep her breathing from degenerating into terrified, and possibly audible, panting. Dangerous as the trail she crept along was, it was her only possible escape route. The spit of land her pursuers searched was narrow, and it ended in a straight drop of more than ninety feet to the tumultuous Atlantic just a few hundred yards past where she clung to the cliff. Had she still been on that marshy outcropping and been forced by its geography to turn back, she would have run straight into the arms of those who meant to kill her.

"Ye'll rue the day you tried to make a fool of me, missy, I promise ye that."

He knew, or at least suspected, that she was near, Claire realized with a clutch of horror. Otherwise, such threats would be meaningless. Forcing herself to forgo the dubious comfort of another glance up for fear that he might see the pale flash of her face against the blackness of the rock, she fought to keep panic at bay as she crept onward. Without warning, her foot slipped. Barely suppressing a cry, she grabbed at the wall for support. Her outflung hand scrabbled desperately over the rock and closed around a jagged jut of stone that saved her. For a moment after she regained her balance she stood perfectly still, her heaving chest pressed tightly against the unforgiving granite, heart pounding, eyes closed, as she willed her breathing to return to something approximating normal.

If she fell, she thought seconds later with a flash of bleak humor, glancing down at the whitecaps pounding the rocky beach as she negotiated the tricky spot, at least she wouldn't have to worry about being killed by her pursuers. She would have done the job quite thoroughly herself.

The thought of falling, of her body hurtling helplessly down to be broken on the sharp rocks below, was almost enough to cause her to freeze in place. But then she had a hideous mental vision of the fate her pursuers intended for her. Tied to a filthy bedstead in a room off the kitchen of the farmhouse where her captors had taken her, she had overheard their plans: In the small hours of the morning, when all honest folk were asleep and all of the other sort knew to look the other way, they meant to take her out to sea and drop her, bound hand and foot, into the frigid depths. Drown 'er like a mewling kitten, was how their leader had put it, his voice spine-chilling in its careless joviality. Claire shivered again, violently, as the callous words replayed in her head.

This band of brutal strangers meant to kill her. But why? Why? She had racked her brain but found no answer that made sense. Ever since she had tricked the man above her into releasing her from her bonds by claiming she had to make urgent use of the chamber pot, then clouted him over the head with said chamber pot when he grudgingly handed it to her and turned his...

By: Karen Robards
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