When Drew Foster is released from prison, he doesn’t much care about salvaging his soiled reputation. Though he’s working undercover, everyone in Victorian London believes him guilty of the Jack the Ripper murders and that his brother paid for his “innocence.”
Despite her genteel upbringing, Anna Jacobs is intent on finishing medical school and becoming a physician. Society’s ridicule has never bothered her, but when her brother, the Yard’s best detective, is scorned for letting Drew go, she confronts the one man who can set the record straight at a ball. She certainly doesn’t count on the rogue being dashing and handsome, nor on him stealing a passionate kiss.
Anna’s brazen contempt for his dangerous reputation captivates Drew, but he is harboring secrets that make him unfit to court any proper woman. As he finds himself an outsider among his colleagues at Scotland Yard, the feisty beauty offers up her medical knowledge to assist him on the case. But when the real killer returns to London to continue his reign of terror, can Anna find safety in Drew’s arms?
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Anna helped pull the bleeding man to his feet, then together they hauled him up the stairs of Simon’s front stoop. Two footmen came to their assistance. Simon barked out instructions, then turned and ran back to the alleyway. The servants helped her bring the injured man into Simon’s study and laid him gently onto the settee. Anna gave them a list of items she’d need to care for the wounds; once they were off gathering the materials, she turned her attention to the man.
His eyes were closed, but his brow furrowed and the muscle in his jaw ticked as he clenched his teeth. He was, quite obviously, in a lot of pain. Her nerves hitched in her throat, but she swallowed hard against them. She was to be a physician. She could manage this man’s injuries.
“Sir, can you hear me?” she said.
He grunted in response.
“Excellent. Can you tell me your name?”
Just then the footmen returned with her supplies and then looked to her for further instructions. “I shall need you to remove his shirt so that I can access the damage done to his torso.”
The men went about doing as she instructed. She removed her brother’s brandy decanter and set it on his desk, then used the tray to organize the items she’d requested.
“Drew Foster,” the man rasped.
Anna stopped cold. “Did you say Drew Foster, as in the younger brother of the Duke of Carrington? The one recently imprisoned for the Jack the Ripper murders?” she asked.
“One and the same,” he said, then released a hoarse cough.
“My lady, he’s bleeding pretty steadily here,” one of the footmen said.
“Hold his shirt to the wound to staunch the bleeding.” She wrestled open one of the windows and poured brandy on her hands to clean them before carrying the tray back over to him. Drew Foster. She knew him by reputation only. Knew that he was a drunk and a lecher, and kept wretched company if he was in the same place as Jack the Ripper on more than one occasion. While many still believed him guilty of the crimes, her brother believed Drew innocent. She didn’t have to approve of Drew Foster, but she would agree with her brother’s assessment of his guilt.
Carrying the tray back to where her patient lay, she set it down on the occasional table nearby and assessed the damage. His face had taken a pounding, one eye was swollen shut and abrasions marked up his cheeks and forehead. Bruises were already forming on his torso, but she couldn’t help noticing [CE3] [RD4] the tight muscles of his abdomen, muscles that were artfully carved. He was too thin, no doubt from his stint in prison, but he still cut a fine figure. Good heavens, what was the matter with her? She was not to assess his physique, but rather tend his wounds. She took the shirt from the footman and lifted it off the wound. “This will need to be stitched up.”
“Find my valet, girl,” Foster said through his teeth. “I’ll not have a woman such as yourself treat my injuries.”
“I hardly think you are in a position to make such demands,” she retorted, then she poured a liberal amount of the brandy on his wound.
He flinched and swore, making no concessions for her feminine ears.
She returned in kind by being none too gentle as she inserted the needle into the flesh of his upper side. “I suppose along with your other charming qualities, you’re one of those numskulls[CE5] who believes the only stitching a woman should do is at her needlepoint table.”
“I didn’t precisely say that. Ow!”
He didn’t have to. She was used to people’s attitudes about her attending medical school. “Who were those men who attacked you?” she asked, ignoring his yelp of pain.
“How the devil should I know?” His green eyes pinned her. “What kind of woman are you, walking about the streets after dark[RD6] ?”[CE7]
“I’ll have you know I am perfectly respectable—”
“Not if you’re attending that school for women doctors. Ow!”
She tied off the stitch and put a salve on his wound. “You have a decidedly backward attitude, Mr. Foster,” Anna retorted. “Society needs as many qualified doctors as—”
He held up a hand. “Spare me the lecture, Miss Jacobs. I’ve endured about as much as I can stand for one evening.”
Anna knew it was pointless to try to enlighten anyone so small-minded. If only there were more men in the world like her brother, society would have fewer ills.
“You are badly bruised, Mr. Foster,” she said, examining the rest of his injuries. “Lie still another moment. This will most assuredly be a blackened eye.” She ran a finger along the sensitive skin already bruising beneath his eyebrow. He winced.
Just because he was churlish did not mean she wouldn’t treat him to the best of her ability. She took a bottle of liniment from her bag and poured a dollop onto the palm of her hand, then began to rub it gently across his abdomen, where the worst of the bruising appeared to be.
“I hardly think that is necessary,” he grumbled.
“I can stop, but you will hurt worse in the morning without it.” She paused, her hands merely resting on his taut stomach. She was already having to concentrate doubly on his injuries so that she wouldn’t focus on the play of his muscles beneath her palms.
“Do what you must,” he said.
[CE1]ED/AU: OK, as meant, because it’s Simon’s house, not Drew’s?
[CE3]ED/AU: Tweak OK, to avoid close rep of “but”?
[RD6]He’s just being an ass
[CE7]ED/AU: This is fine if her brother is escorting her, though, isn’t it?
National Bestselling author, Robyn DeHart’s novels have appeared in the top bestselling romance and historical romance lists. Her books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Her historical romantic adventure series, The Legend Hunters, were not only bestsellers, but also award-winners, snagging a Reader’s Crown and a Reviewer’s Choice award. She had three releases in 2013 and 2014 will see four more, all set in the popular historical romance Regency and Victorian eras.
Known for her “strong dialogue and characters that leap off the page” (RT Bookclub) and her “sizzling romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been featured in USA Today and the Chicago Tribune. A popular writing instructor, she has given speeches at writing conferences in Los Angeles, DC, New York, Dallas, Nashville and Toronto, among many others.
When not writing, you can find Robyn hanging out with her family, husband (The Professor) a university professor of Political Science and their two ridiculously beautiful and smart daughters, Busybee and Babybee as well as two spoiled-rotten cats. They live in the hill country of Texas where its hot eight months of the year, but those big blue skies make it worth it.
Places to find Robyn:
Jaunty Quills: http://jauntyquills.com/
Peanut Butter on the Keyboard: http://peanutbutteronthekeyboard.wordpress.com/
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