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Love can take some time to break in…

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Avon True Romance
August 2002
Featuring: Catherine Markham; Derrick St. John
256 pages
ISBN: 0064473465
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Romance Historical, Young Adult

Also by Karen Hawkins:

What Happens Under the Mistletoe, November 2015
The Prince Who Loved Me, October 2014
An Encounter at Hyde Park, August 2014
How To Entice An Enchantress, September 2013
How To Pursue A Princess, May 2013
Princess In Disguise, February 2013
How To Capture A Countess, September 2012
The Taming Of A Scottish Princess, June 2012
A Most Dangerous Profession, October 2011
Scandal In Scotland, June 2011
Sleepless in Scotland, May 2011
Mass Market Paperback
The Laird Who Loved Me, May 2011
Mass Market Paperback
One Night in Scotland, December 2010
Mass Market Paperback
Much Ado About Marriage, September 2010
Mass Market Paperback
Lois Lane Tells All, April 2010
Mass Market Paperback
The Laird Who Loved Me, September 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Sleepless In Scotland, August 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Confessions of a Scoundrel, March 2009
e-Book (reprint)
Talk of the Town, November 2008
Mass Market Paperback
To Catch a Highlander, February 2008
Mass Market Paperback
To Scotland, With Love, August 2007
How to Abduct a Highland Lord, February 2007
Her Officer and Gentleman, May 2006
Her Master and Commander, February 2006
Lady in Red, March 2005
And the Bride Wore Plaid, May 2004
Lady Whistledown Strikes Back, April 2004
How to Treat a Lady, November 2003
Confessions of a Scoundrel, March 2003
The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown, February 2003
Catherine and the Pirate, August 2002
An Affair toRemember, July 2002
The Seduction of Sara, November 2001
A Belated Bride, January 2001
The Abduction of Julia, March 2000

Excerpt of Catherine and the Pirate by Karen Hawkins

Chapter One

High Hall, Massachusetts


Catherine Markham gripped the stiff scrap of paper. "I knew it," she whispered, her fingers trembling. "Royce is alive."

Happiness flooded through her and she slid to the floor beside the desk, a single tear slipping down her cheek. Since the day a few weeks earlier when Uncle Elliot had told Catherine that her brother had drowned, his heavily loaded frigate sunk off the rocky Carolina coast after a ruthless attack by the British, her life had become a painful blur.

Why did Royce have to go on that blasted trip? Catherine asked herself for the hundredth time. He usually stayed home, but he’d been anxious to show support for the Continental Army as they struggled to throw off British oppression, and he’d decided to see to the shipment of leather and iron himself. The shipment was destined for New York, where a convoy of carts would convey it to General Washington's army.

Catherine sighed. Royce had always been drawn to the sea. Four years ago, he had been the captain of one of Father’s most profitable ships. Only thirteen at the time, Catherine had idolized her brother, who was a full twelve years older than she, waiting excitedly for him to return from his voyages. He always brought her something -- silk from China, an engraved ivory tusk from India, a silver chain from England. And she, in return, wrote him long, long letters of life at High Hill Manor.

After Catherine's parents were killed in a carriage accident four years ago, Royce had come home, and together he and Catherine had struggled to heal what was left of their family. It had taken a number of sad months, but eventuallylife had fallen back into a comfortable pattern. Catherine had come to discover that, all in all, it was an ideal arrangement. Royce trusted Catherine's judgment and listened to her thoughts and suggestions, and in return, she respected his opinions and listened to his advice. In a way, he was not only her brother but also her best friend.

And she had not been able to believe he was gone forever.

She blinked away tears as she read the note once again. Torn and dirty, the ink had smeared in places and the spelling was far from perfect. But the message was clear: The author claimed to have rescued Royce from the sea and to have him in his care. But it was the last sentence that sent chills through Catherine -- if the Markhams wanted to see Royce again, they would have to bring fifty gold pieces to the Red Rooster Inn in Savannah by the first of June.

"The first of June," Catherine whispered. "That's in less than two weeks."

Her heart thudded hard against her chest. Surely Uncle Elliot had already paid the ransom. Catherine’s uncle had come to stay at High Hall as soon as he'd heard the news of the attack on Royce's ship. Catherine wasn’t overly fond of her uncle; he seemed very cold and unemotional to her.

Still, as much as Catherine disliked Uncle Elliot’s overbearing presence, she had to admit that he had been helpful since Royce’s disappearance, taking over the daily duties of running the Markham shipping business and fending off the many people who came to call and offer their condolences.

For Catherine, that had hurt the worst -- how quickly people believed that Royce would never return. Every visitor who arrived at High Hall in the days after Royce’s ship sank seemed to add more credence to the one thing Catherine would not believe: that her brother was dead. And now . . . her fingers tightened on the note and a small smile began to curve her lips. She’d been right; her brother was alive.

She wondered why Uncle Elliot hadn't told her about the note. She knew he wouldn’t leave Royce helpless in the clutches of a group of madmen. Perhaps her uncle had already paid the ransom and Royce was even now on his way home and it was going to be a huge and wonderful surprise when --

"Catherine?" Uncle Elliot stood in the open doorway, the light from the hallway outlining his broad shoulders. He was built like all the Markham men -- tall, strong, and muscular. "What are you doing in here?"

She got to her feet, feeling somehow guilty even though she had every right to be there, at Royce’s desk. “I came to get some paper to write a thank-you note to the governor for the kind letter he sent. I -- I found this on the desk.” She held out the note.

Uncle Elliot strode forward and took the note, his brows lowering in a quick frown. The late afternoon light briefly touched the lines on his face and Catherine noted that he looked more and more like Father as the years passed. The main difference between the two men was that while Father had always laughed and had a tendency to see the good in everything around him, Uncle Elliot was more somber, less playful. He rarely smiled, and even then it was more a polite gesture than anything else.

"I'm sorry, Catherine." Uncle Elliot turned away briefly, placing the note back on the desk. "I should have told you about this, but I didn’t want you to worry and -- "

"You paid the ransom." Catherine took a step closer, smoothing her dress in a nervous gesture. "Royce is coming home soon, isn’t he? Did you send a ship for him? Or will he -- "

"No." Uncle Elliot faced her now, his expression troubled.

Her heart thudded harder. "What do you mean?"

"The letter came only two days after the attack. It is obviously a sad attempt by a very desperate group of persons to profit from our grief." Uncle Elliot shook his head gravely. "I can’t allow that."

"You . . . you believe the note is a fake?"

Excerpt from Catherine and the Pirate by Karen Hawkins
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