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The Jewels of Orchard Hill

A fiery beauty clashes with an arrogant devil

Amethyst Lansdowne doesn’t want or need another tall, dark and dangerous man. She's desperate to reach the home of her rich and powerful great-aunts. Only there will her abused niece Peridot be safe from pursuit. Country-dweller and wealthy orchard owner Carne Durban feels suspicious of the two women from the beginning. Accompanied only by a coachman and a manservant, they carry very little baggage.

The women inform him they're both widows, claiming they've taken a wrong turn--and so they have if they intend to tangle with him. He’s suffered several unpleasant episodes with scheming females planning to entrap him in matrimony. Finding them after a sudden summer thunderstorm lands their ancient coach in the ditch, he's compelled to transport the injured women and their attendants to his manor house, but suspects they're schemers. Perhaps they've heard of the heritage his uncle left, and plan to steal the jewels.

But Carne believes Amethyst is intending to entrap him--and she's attractive enough to do it. The best defense being a good offense, he resolves to seduce Amethyst—and succeeds. After their passionate all night tryst he accuses her of faking virginity and trying to catch him in the parson's trap. She’s not about to tell him who she really is after that. Let him stew in his own—applesauce!

Arrogant, gorgeous and grim, the man then has the colossal nerve to invite her to become his mistress. And he proceeds to misconstrue her every act, seeing deceit in her every statement. Desiring her desperately, he lies about the blocked road to prevent her departure. Finding her in possession of one of his treasures, he threatens to turn her over to the law. She's merely repairing the object, and angrily reveals her relation to Garnet Mitchell, doyenne of the neighborhood.

Despite abject apologies and a marriage proposal ("I’d rather marry a pig!"), she leaves when her aunt arrives to collect her and her companion. Carne discovers more about the ladies past when Peri's brother-in-law arrives with a Runner in tow and accuses the women of theft and murder. Peri's forced to reveal a tale of mistreatment, and display her naked body, bearing dreadful scars from her late husband's abuse. The brother departs, still uttering threats.

But her aunt and Peri conspire to reunite Ammi with Carne, and after a night of fiery passion, Ammi yields to his wooing. He arranges for a special license, and combines his trip to the city to collect it with a farewell visit to his mistress. Having visited a dressmaker nearby, Amethyst witnesses him kissing the woman and entering her house. Infuriated, she rushes home, packs up and leaves. He searches for her in vain. But when he extends the quest to London, he encounters the brother-in-law, and the enraged fellow shoots him.

While recuperating, a cousin of Amethyst's calls on him and reveals her whereabouts. But when Carne locates her, she appears hugely pregnant. He decides she's much more than four months along--with another man's get. Totally incensed, she refuses to confess she's carrying twins! But Carne's determined to marry her. She throws a tantrum when her cousins arrive and discover her in bed with him as her maid tends his wound. Since he still carries the special license with him, they try to insist. More tantrums!

Only when he apologizes, pretending to believe her, does she relent. As months pass and Ammi expands, he becomes frantic. Rushing off to London on business, he consults an accoucheur; small comfort there. He returns, finding Ammi unnaturally calm and serene. Time flows on, until one April night. Several hours later the doctor and the midwife deliver a tiny girl. He's entranced until a loud squall distracts him. A baby boy! Angrily, Carne accuses Ammi of lying, and a shouting match ensues. As the story closes, he carries her to their bed, still slinging epithets at each other and laughing so hard they can barely utter.

How to Buy

E-Book can be purchased from Amazon (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Apple iBookstore (iPad/iPhone), Kobo, and Smashwords.