Suddenly Charity felt very breathless, gazing up into the masked face and seeing the glint of the candlelight in his eyes.
There was only the length of the pin between them. She did not resist when he took her wrist and deflected the sharp point away from his body.
What was she doing? Alarmed, she dropped the brooch and put her free hand against his chest, but even as she opened her mouth to scream he captured her mouth, kissing her so ruthlessly that her bones melted under the onslaught. It was over in an instant. She was still gathering herself to resist him when he released her.
‘Yes,’ he said, his breathing a little ragged. ‘I was not wrong.’
‘You kiss like an angel.’
In one swift, fluid movement he turned away from her, threw up the sash and slipped out into the darkness.
Charity ran to the window, but there was no sign of anyone and only the soft drumming of hoofbeats fading into the night.
I first ‘met’ Charity Weston when I was writing an earlier book, LADY BENEATH THE VEIL. Then she was a successful London actress, calling herself Agnes Bennet and not behaving at all well. However, seeing the true happiness Gideon and Dominique achieved was a turning point for her, and she decided it was time to make a new start.
I knew then that I wanted to write Charity's story—to show her facing up to her past and using her real name, despite the fact that it might bring her back into the sphere of her abusive father.
Actresses in the Regency period could be fabulously successful, but they lived on the fringes of polite society. Some married, and one or two married very well. Others acquired a rich protector and some, like Charity, earned enough to secure their independence and were loath to relinquish all their worldly goods to a husband.
At the beginning of this book Charity is still an actress, but she is aware that she wants something more from her life—in modern parlance we might say she is aware of her biological clock ticking away! Then she meets the mysterious highwayman, ‘The Dark Rider’, who is so fickle that sometimes all he takes from his female victims is one sizzling kiss. After that encounter Charity's life will never be the same again.
I do hope you enjoy Charity's story. She is a strong lady, determined to fight injustice, and when she meets her hero she proves herself to be a worthy partner for him!
SARAH MALLORY was born in Bristol, and now lives in an old farmhouse on the edge of the Pennines with her husband and family. She left grammar school at sixteen to work in companies as varied as stockbrokers, marine engineers, insurance brokers, biscuit manufacturers and even a quarrying company. Her first book was published shortly after the birth of her daughter. She has published more than a dozen books under the pen-name of Melinda Hammond, winning the Reviewers’ Choice Award from singletitles.com for Dance for a Diamond and the Historical Novel Society's Editors’ Choice for Gentlemen in Question. As Sarah Mallory she is the winner of the Romantic Novelists’ Association's RONA Rose® Award for 2012 and 2013 for The Dangerous Lord Darrington and Beneath the Major's Scars.
AT THE HIGHWAYMAN'S PLEASURE
features characters you will have already met in LADY BENEATH THE VEIL
And in Mills & Boon® Undone! eBooks: THE TANTALISING MISS COALE*
And in M&B: THE ILLEGITIMATE MONTAGUE (part of Castonbury Park Regency mini-series)
Did you know that some of these novels are also available as eBooks? Visit www.millsandboon.co.uk
To Willow, my beautiful dog.
Taking him for his daily walks over the moors has helped me to write this story.
Charity closed her eyes and raised her face to the sun. It was blazing down from the cloudless blue sky while a skylark high above trilled joyously and a soft breeze stirred her hair, hanging loose and damp about her shoulders.
This is heaven, she thought, but when she opened her eyes she saw only the familiar fields around her, and in the distance, just beyond the river but before the rugged hills to the east, was the village of Saltby, no more than a little cluster of houses dominated by the stark square tower of the church.
How she wished she didn’t have to go back there.
Charity tossed her head defiantly and felt the heavy weight of her hair rippling down her back. She would have to bundle it under her bonnet before they reached the village, but it was so good to have it loose, so deliciously free.
She heard a giggle.
‘Lord, Charity, ’tis so thick it will never be dry before we reach Saltby.’ Her friend Jenny lifted some of the blonde locks from her neck and let them fall again.