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December 2023
On Sale: November 28, 2023
Featuring: Bran Tremayne
368 pages
ISBN: 1496746635
EAN: 9781496746634
Kindle: B0BZB9TZQS
Trade Paperback / e-Book / audiobook
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From the renowned bestselling author comes a thrilling new historical romance series set in the remote English county of Cornwall, featuring a rugged hero and heroine who share a unique legacy, a powerful passion—and a common enemy. Perfect for fans of Bridgerton.

Together they faced the past . . .
A sense of duty sends Bran Tremayne to Cornwall to confront his heritage of British nobility. Abandoned at an early age, Bran wants nothing to do with the embittered remains of his family. But as a special agent for the Home Office, he senses trouble brewing along the coast. And he can’t turn away from the vulnerable woman he encounters in the Cornish countryside. Merryn’s amnesia makes her past a mystery to them both, but with her life in danger, the only thing Bran knows for sure is that the beautiful stranger needs his protection . . .
But would they share a future?
Leaning into Bran is difficult enough, but can Merryn trust the strong bond—and the powerful passion—she feels for her rugged rescuer? She has no choice once Bran uncovers that she is at the center of a plot between French agents and Cornish smugglers. From misty woodlands to stormy shores, the two join forces with a band of loyal Cornishmen to bring down a common enemy. Yet will their growing love survive the coming peril?


Chapter 1

London, 1780


            The play had been good, but an icy wind bit to the bone as Rhys and Gwyn Tremayne emerged from the Theatre Royal.  "Our carriage should be down to the left," Rhys said. "And the sooner we get into it and head for home, the better!  Shall we end the evening by sipping brandy in front of a roaring fire?"

            "That sounds most appealing," Gwyn said as she took his arm.  Then she halted, feeling a powerful intuition. "But not yet.  Let's take a bit of a walk first."

            "You sense something that needs to be found, Lady Tremayne?" Rhys asked mildly.  Since his wife was one of the best finders in Britain, he knew better than to argue. He merely raised an arm and gestured for their coach to follow them.

            "Something, or someone."  Gwyn drew her cloak more closely around her as she purposefully started threading her way through the mass of waiting carriages and playgoers who were happily discussing the show they'd just seen.

            Two turns took them from Covent Garden into a narrow lane.  Halfway down, Gwyn paused, then turned left into a dark alley barely lit by capricious moonlight.  It dead ended at a wall where a pile of rubble had accumulated against the dingy brick. Heedless of her expensive cloak, she knelt on the frozen ground by the rubble and said softly, "You can come out now, my lad.  You're safe."

            There was a rustling sound but no one appeared. "How does warm food and a fire and a bath sound?" she said in her most persuasive voice. 

            A child's voice snarled, "Don't want no bath!"

            "Then we'll start with the food and the fire," she said peaceably.  "Will you show yourself?  We won't hurt you."

            Rhys stood silently behind her, knowing a frightened child would fear a rather large grown man more than a soft-voiced woman.  The rubble shifted and a small, filthy face became visible. A boy child perhaps five or six years old.          

            Gwyn brushed back a lock of fair hair, then peeled the kidskin glove from her right hand and offered it to the little boy.  He hesitantly took it.  As she clasped his freezing fingers with her warm hand, his eyes widened and he sighed with relief.

            "You can tell I'm safe, can't you?" Gwyn said.

            The boy frowned up at Rhys. "You may be, but not sure about him!"         

            "I'm safe, too," Rhys said in his most reassuring voice.  "I'm very good at protecting others."

            Unconvinced, the boy narrowed his eyes warily.  As Rhys stood very still, Gwyn said soothingly, "I'm Gwyn Tremayne.  What's your name?"

            The boy hesitated, as if his name was too precious to share.  After a long moment, he said, "Caden."

            "Caden.  That's a good Cornish or Welsh name.  My husband and I come from Cornish families."  Knowing there was more to find, her gaze moved back to the rubble pile.  "Your friend can come out, too."

            Caden gasped and jerked away from her.  For a moment she feared he'd try to bolt, but a thin, childish voice emerged from the rubble.  "It's all right, Cade.  These are the people we came to find." 

            An even smaller boy emerged from the rubble, his ragged garments almost indistinguishable from the trash around him.  His gaze on Gwyn, he said, "I'm Bran."

            "For Branok?" Again Gwyn offered her hand and Bran took it without hesitation.  His small fingers felt as if they were carved from ice.  In the darkness it was hard to see the boys clearly.  Though both were dark haired, there was little other resemblance.  Bran's eyes were light, Caden's were dark, but the color wasn't visible in shadows. "Are you brothers?"

            The boys exchanged a glance.  "We are now!" Caden said fiercely, challenging anyone who might deny that.

            They both had soft West Country accents, and she wondered what their story was. How had they made their way to London?  Bran seemed to have the ability to read people's nature and to decide what must be done.  Caden surely was gifted as well, perhaps in other ways.

            Learning more about them could wait.  What mattered now was getting the boys out of this vicious cold. "Come with us now and we'll take you to our home where you'll be warm and well fed." 

            Bran stood shakily and almost fell over from weakness and cold.  Her heart hurting at the sight, Gwyn said, "I'll start warming you now."  She leaned forward and scooped Bran into her arms, then rose to her feet.  The child weighed almost nothing, and his torn shirt revealed something on his right shoulder blade. If she had to guess, Gwyn would have said it looked like a tattoo of a dragon. 

            It was a question for another day,  She pulled him inside her cloak, covering everything but his head.  His thin body was cold against her.  "Is that better?"

            He peered out of the folds of her cloak with a smile of great sweetness.  "Much better, ma'am."

            "No!  You won't take him away!" Caden exclaimed as he lurched to his feet. 

            "Don't worry, Caden, we won't separate you," Rhys said as he lifted the larger boy in his arms and tucked his own cloak around him as Gwyn had done with Bran.  Caden struggled some, but the warmth seemed to soften him. 

            They carried the children back to the wider street where the carriage waited. Their driver, Jones, gave them an expressive glance but didn't speak.  This was not the first time he'd seen them rescue children. 

            Rhys opened the carriage door.  Knowing Caden wasn't comfortable being carried, he set the boy in the vehicle.  "There are carriage robes on the seats to warm you."  The child scrambled inside and there was a rustle of fabric as he pulled a robe around him. 

            Rhys then helped Gwyn into the carriage.  She continued holding Bran as she settled on the forward facing seat.  Before climbing in and closing the door, Rhys called up to the driver, "Home now, Jones."

            As the carriage rattled westward over the cobblestones, Gwyn asked, "How did you boys come to be here in London?" 

            The silence stretched so long that she wondered if either of them would answer. Then Caden said warily, "What's it mean to be gifted?  My Da called me that before he threw me out of the house."

            Gwyn's heart constricted at the thought of such a young boy being treated in such a beastly manner, but his question confirmed what she already knew.  "Gifted people are just better at some things than most others are.  Better at sensing emotions, perhaps.  Better at persuasion, or maybe better at finding lost objects. Perhaps good at telling if someone is lying or telling the truth.  Small gifts, but often useful."

            Bran asked, his small voice hard, "Why do people hate the gifted?"

            As Gwyn wondered how to explain bigotry, Rhys said in his deep, calming voice, "Sometimes it's from fear.  Sometimes from envy.  Some people just need to hate anyone who is different." 

            It was a good explanation.  Gwyn said softly as she cuddled Bran against her, "Some people hate, but there are also those who love you exactly as you are."


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