The Pirate’s Duty Links:
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Tagline: He lost everything . . . but his duty to her brought him back to life.
Innkeeper Oriana Thorpe is a smuggler’s daughter who has been hardened by a legacy she cannot escape. She has risked everything, including her safety, in her attempts to break free, going so far as to challenge her evil pirate brother, Charles, in order to save a lady and her maid from his wrath. Determined to atone for his villainy, Oriana distributes the blood money he left behind to widows and orphans living nearby. But when threatening letters promising retribution begin to arrive from Charles, she suspects one or more of her customers may be her despicable brother’s spies. Yet one haunted man promises to protect her, and she finds herself taking the greatest risk of all—falling in love.
Captain Pierce Walsingham should have died when his ship was destroyed by the notorious smuggler Captain Carnage. Instead, Pierce was pulled from the water by the Robin Hood of Cornwall, a pirate known only as the Black Regent. In gratitude, Pierce accepts the Regent’s offer to take over the man’s role, allowing his name to be added to the list of the dead and vowing to protect the beautiful innkeeper who saved his sister Chloe’s life. Unfortunately, Oriana is also Carnage’s next of kin, and the smuggler has sworn vengeance against her and Chloe.
While there is no cause dearer to Pierce’s heart than stopping Carnage, the task won’t be easy. Strategic allegiances have replenished his enemy’s power at sea, and he’s moving ever closer to enacting his revenge. Now Pierce must find a way to defeat Carnage, all while fighting his desire for the resilient woman who fiercely defends her roost.
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National bestselling historical romance author Katherine Bone has been passionate about history since she had the opportunity to travel to various Army bases, castles, battlegrounds, and cathedrals as an Army brat turned officer’s wife. Who knew an Army wife’s passion for romance novels would lead to pirates? Certainly not her rogue, whose Alma Mater’s adage is “Go Army. Beat Navy!” Now enjoying the best of both worlds, Katherine lives in the south where she writes about rogues, rebels, and rakes—aka pirates, lords, captains, duty, honor, and country—and the happily-ever-afters that every alpha male and damsel deserve.
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He threaded his fingers through her unbound hair, then grabbed a handful, gently hauling her forward and slowly molding her to him so their lips would soon touch. Her breath hitched and she shivered slightly, but still he extended the wait. Prolonging the meeting of their flesh was sheer agony, but he didn’t want her to flit away like a frightened butterfly. He wanted her to trust him, to soothe her doubts and fears, to show her at least one man promised safety in his arms.
“I will never harm you,” he said. She was a whispered breath away now, so temptingly close that he knew kissing her would damn him for eternity. “You have my word.”
She placed a finger over his lips, focusing on them before meeting his eyes. “Don’t speak. I’ve already borne a lifetime of lies.”
Guilt stabbed him afresh, robbing his breath.
She smiled brazenly, pulling him toward her waiting mouth, offering a temptation he couldn’t resist. Drugged by her nearness, Walsingham drank her in, relishing the feel of her in his arms, the taste of her on his mouth.
But she was innocent. Not in the ways of her family’s smuggling business, or where her brother was concerned, but in matters of the flesh certainly. It was evident in her shy exploration of his mouth.
A low growl escaped him as he broke away from her in frustration. It was his duty to honor this woman, protect her at all costs, even if it meant descending the cliff this very night and taking a dip in the cold, crashing surf below. Even if it meant sacrificing every lie, every shameful deception he’d enlisted so that she would be free of her brother.
“Forgive me. I can’t do this.” He took her by the hand and led her across the kitchen.
“Where are ye takin’ me?” she asked, stumbling to catch up with his lengthy strides.
“Upstairs. To your room.”
She stopped cold. “No. I want . . . I need to . . .”
“Not in the middle of the kitchen where anyone could walk in on us.” He yanked on her arm, but she wouldn’t budge. Undeterred, he grabbed her and threw her over his shoulder.
“Put me down,” she snapped.
“Shh. Unless you want to wake everyone.” He made his way up the stairs, calmed by the fact that she’d stopped arguing with him. At the top of the staircase, he carried her to her bedchamber, opened the door, and stepped inside. He narrowed the space between them, and she splayed her hand over his heart. “Don’t come any closer,” she said softly.
“I won’t. Unless you ask me to.” He laid his left hand over hers, pressing ever so slightly to ensure she knew his heart beat as rapidly as hers did.
She glanced down at his hand before raising her gaze to his. “You’re as solid as stone.”
Pleased with her praise, he chuckled. “I’m not made of granite, Miss. I’m flesh and blood, a man with needs and desires. Do not doubt it.”
She focused on his chin, avoiding his gaze.
He stroked her cheek and then lowered his finger to her chin, tilting her head back, forcing her to look into his eyes. “And you’re a beautiful, desirable woman. Why aren’t you married?”
Her green eyes sparked, boring into him. “I am well aware of what men desire and I do not need a man to survive.”
“But what do you desire?”
“I . . .” Her breath hitched. “I’m not in the habit of touching men who come to my inn.” She tried to remove her hand from his chest, but he held it steady.
“Don’t,” he said.
She bit her lip, drawing his attention to her mouth. “This isn’t proper.”
“That depends on who you ask.” She wanted him, he could tell, but she was too proud to admit it. By all that was holy, he would never pressure a woman to do anything she didn’t want to do, no matter from what echelon of society she hailed. He wasn’t that sort of man. “May I speak freely?”
“Of course,” she said. “It appears I’m your captive audience.”
“I’ve been drawn to you from the moment I walked into your inn.”
Her throat bobbed gently as she swallowed. “And I ye.”
Her green eyes radiated unequaled strength, a steely reserve that drove her to betray her own flesh and blood to save a stranger—his sister. Was that what motivated him? A need to show her his gratitude? Or was it something more, something deeper, instantaneous, the type of attraction that gripped a man by the heart and never let go?
Who could blame him? She’d worked tirelessly to operate an inn where men continued to exploit her femininity. She was a true Cornish woman who had joined forces with the church and the Seatons to support those without resources, those who could not care for themselves, extolling praises for the Regent . . . Or in essence, for him!
“I’ve dreamed of kissing you,” he admitted.
A growl escaped his throat as he bent to taste her lips. But just before their mouths made contact, the latch on the door shifted loudly. Dredging up strength he didn’t know he possessed, he dropped Miss Thorpe’s hand and stepped over to one of the tables. Once there, he made quick work of appearing as if he had been rearranging the chairs.
Miss Thorpe, in all her decadent allure, bent to rearrange lavender several tables away, the quick ruse perfection as Jarvis walked in, followed by Girard and O’Malley.
“All is well in the barn, Miss,” Girard said, stopping cold and causing O’Malley to walk into him. “Miss, are ye unwell? Your face is as red as a brandy bottle.”