Virtue’s Lady by Jessica Cale
From toiling for pennies to bare-knuckle boxing, a lady is prepared for every eventuality.
Lady Jane Ramsey is young, beautiful, and ruined.
After being rescued from her kidnapping by a handsome highwayman, she returns home only to find her marriage prospects drastically reduced. Her father expects her to marry the repulsive Lord Lewes, but Jane has other plans. All she can think about is her highwayman, and she is determined to find him again.
Mark Virtue is trying to go straight. After years of robbing coaches and surviving on his wits, he knows it’s time to hang up his pistol and become the carpenter he was trained to be. He busies himself with finding work for his neighbors and improving his corner of Southwark as he tries to forget the girl who haunts his dreams. As a carpenter struggling to stay in work in the aftermath of The Fire, he knows Jane is unfathomably far beyond his reach, and there’s no use wishing for the impossible.
When Jane turns up in Southwark, Mark is furious. She has no way of understanding just how much danger she has put them in by running away. In spite of his growing feelings for her, he knows that Southwark is no place for a lady. Jane must set aside her lessons to learn a new set of rules if she is to make a life for herself in the crime-ridden slum. She will fight for her freedom and her life if that’s what it takes to prove to Mark—and to herself—that there’s more to her than meets the eye.
Every nerve in his body wanted to go after her. He wanted to take her in his arms and give her a proper welcome. She had kissed him, and for a moment, it hadn’t mattered that she was a lady and he was nothing at all. It hadn’t mattered that she was probably playing with him and would inevitably smash his heart like she’d smashed that door. Everything else faded behind her kiss and the breathless relief he had in knowing that she hadn’t forgotten him after all.
He wondered if she had dreamt of him, too.
Mark shook his head, trying to rid himself of the thought. It changed nothing. Still, she had bothered to come all the way out here to find him, and he’d turned her away like a cad.
He told himself it was for the best. He hadn’t lied to her; it was an impossible dream. Much as he wanted to throw caution to the wind and shut her in his bedroom for his own greedy consumption, he had spent every day they’d been apart imagining the things her father could do to hurt him in graphic detail to deter himself from trying to see her. It was a terrible idea, the worst idea, and yet he couldn’t think of a single thing he wanted more than to go after her and kiss her senseless.
Other Books in This Series
Tyburn (The Southwark Saga, Book 1): Notorious harlot Sally Green fights for survival in Restoration London. When a brutal attack throws them together, Sally is torn between the tutor who saves her and the highwayman who keeps her up at night; between new love and an old need for revenge. Finalist for the Southern Magic Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence 2015.
Jessica Cale is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at www.authorjessicacale.com.
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