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       Lord of the Privateers (The Adventurers Quartet), p.1

           Stephanie Laurens
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Lord of the Privateers (The Adventurers Quartet)


  INTERIOR ARTWORK

  IS LOCATED

  BETWEEN CHAPTER 3 AND CHAPTER 4

  and also can be accessed via the TABLE OF CONTENTS

  STEPHANIE

  LAURENS

  Lord of the Privateers

  The Adventurers Quartet: Volume 4

  ISBN-13: 9781460396339

  Lord of the Privateers

  Copyright © 2016 by Savdek Management Proprietary Limited

  Cover design by Savdek Management Pty. Ltd.

  Cover and inside front couple photography © 2016 Period Images

  The name Stephanie Laurens is a registered trademark of Savdek Management Proprietary Ltd.

  All rights reserved. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, M3B 3K9 Canada.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. This edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

  ® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher. Trademarks indicated with ® are registered are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and in other countries.

  www.Harlequin.com

  Can true love die? Or, neglected, does it lie dormant until the object of true desire is again within reach? Denied, does passion smolder, like embers waiting for the right conditions to flare into an all-consuming conflagration?

  #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens delivers the thrilling conclusion to her acclaimed series THE ADVENTURERS QUARTET, a passionate Regency-era drama played out on the high seas and in the sweltering heat of tropical jungles, ultimately reaching a scintillating climax in the glittering ballrooms of Mayfair.

  The eldest of the Frobisher brothers and widely known as the lord of the privateers, Royd Frobisher expects to execute the final leg of the rescue mission his brothers have been pursuing. What he does not expect is to be pressured into taking his emotional nemesis, childhood sweetheart, ex-handfasted bride, and current business partner, Isobel Carmichael, with him. But is it Isobel doing the pressuring, or his own restless unfulfilled psyche?

  Resolute, determined, and an all but unstoppable force of nature, Isobel has a mission of her own—find her cousin Katherine and bring her safely home. And if, along the way, she can rid herself of the lingering dreams of a life with Royd that still haunt her, well and good.

  Neither expects the shock that awaits them as they set sail aboard Royd’s ship, much less the new horizons that open before them as they call into London, then, armed with the necessary orders and all arrangements in place, embark on a full-scale rescue-assault on the mining compound buried in the jungle.

  Yet even with the support of his brothers and their ladies and, once rescued, all the ex-captives, Royd and Isobel discover that freeing the captives is only half the battle. In order to identify and convict the backers behind the illicit enterprise—and protect the government from catastrophic destabilization—they must return to the ballrooms of the haut ton and, with the help of a small army of supporters, hunt the villains on their home ground.

  But having found each other again, having glimpsed the heaven that could be theirs again, how much are they willing to risk in the name of duty?

  Learn the answer and revel in the action, drama, intrigue, and passion as the Frobishers—with help from Wolverstone, the Cynsters, and many familiar others—steer the adventure to a glorious end.

  Praise for the works of Stephanie Laurens

  “Stephanie Laurens’ heroines are marvelous tributes to Georgette Heyer: feisty and strong.” Cathy Kelly

  “Stephanie Laurens never fails to entertain and charm her readers with vibrant plots, snappy dialogue, and unforgettable characters.” Historical Romance Reviews

  “Stephanie Laurens plays into readers’ fantasies like a master and claims their hearts time and again.” Romantic Times Magazine

  LORD OF THE PRIVATEERS

  by Stephanie Laurens

  CAST OF CHARACTERS

  Principal Characters:

  Frobisher, Captain Royd – Hero, oldest Frobisher brother and captain of The Corsair

  Carmichael, Isobel Carmody – Heroine, only child of James Carmichael and Anne Carmody, and heiress of the Carmichael Shipyards, Aberdeen

  In Aberdeen:

  Frobisher, Captain Fergus – Royd’s father

  Frobisher, Mrs. Elaine – Royd’s mother

  Carmody, Mrs. Iona – Isobel’s maternal grandmother and matriarch of the Carmody clan

  Carmichael, Mr. James – Isobel’s father and owner of Carmichael Shipyards

  Carmichael, Mrs. Anne Carmody – Isobel’s mother

  Carmichael, Mrs. Elise – James’s mother, Isobel’s paternal grandmother

  Featherstone, Miss Gladys – Royd’s secretary at the Frobisher Shipping Company office

  Jeb – head groom at Carmody Place

  On board The Corsair:

  Stewart, Lieutenant Liam – first mate

  Kelly, Mr. William – master

  Williams – quartermaster

  Jolley – bosun

  Bellamy, Mr. – steward

  Various other sailors

  In London:

  Family:

  Frobisher, Captain Declan – Royd’s brother and captain of The Cormorant

  Frobisher, Lady Edwina – Declan’s wife, Royd’s sister-in-law

  Frobisher, Captain Robert – Royd’s brother and captain of The Trident

  Hopkins, Miss Aileen – Robert’s intended and sister of Lieutenant William Hopkins, West Africa Squadron

  Staff in Declan & Edwina’s town house:

  Humphrey – butler

  Government:

  Wolverstone, Duke of, Royce aka Dalziel – ex-commander of British secret operatives outside England

  Melville, Lord – First Lord of the Admiralty

  Society:

  Wolverstone, Duchess of, Minerva – Royce’s wife, society grande dame, major ton hostess

  St. Ives, Duke of, Devil (Sylvester)

  St. Ives, Duchess of, Honoria – Devil’s wife, society grande dame, major ton hostess

  Cynster, Mr. Harry – Devil’s cousin

  Cynster, Mr. Rupert (Gabriel) – Devil’s cousin

  Dearne, Marquess of, Christian – ex-member of the Bastion Club, ex-operative of Dalziel’s

  Dearne, Marchioness of, Letitia – Christian’s wife

  Warnefleet, Jack, Lord – ex-member of the Bastion Club, ex-operative of Dalziel’s

  Warnefleet, Lady Clarice – Jack, Lord Warnefleet’s wife

  Trentham, Earl of – ex-member of the Bastion Club, ex-operative of Dalziel’s

  Hendon, Jack, Lord – owner of Hendon Shipping, ex-operative, ex-army

&
nbsp; Hendon, Kit (Katherine), Lady – Jack, Lord Hendon’s wife

  Carstairs, Major Rafe – army officer, covert liaison, involved in Black Cobra incident

  Delborough, Colonel – ex-army officer, involved in Black Cobra incident

  Clunes-Forsythe, Mr. – power broker, wealthy member of the haut ton

  Deveny, Lord Hugh – indolent member of the haut ton

  Risdale, Marquis of – wealthy member of the haut ton

  Cummins, Sir Reginald – wealthy member of the haut ton

  Rundell, Mr. Phillip – jeweler, part owner of Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell

  Bridge, Mr. – jeweler, part owner of Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell

  In Southampton:

  Higginson – head clerk, Frobisher Shipping Company office

  At Sea:

  Frobisher, Captain Lachlan – captain of Sea Dragon

  Frobisher, Captain Catrina (Kit) – captain of Consort

  In Freetown:

  Holbrook, Governor – Governor-in-Chief of British West Africa

  Satterly, Mr. Arnold – governor’s principal aide

  Eldridge, Major – Commander, Fort Thornton

  Decker, Vice-Admiral Ralph – Commander, West Africa Squadron

  Winton, Major – Commissar of Fort Thornton

  Babington, Mr. Charles – partner, Macauley & Babington Trading Company

  Macauley, Mr. – senior partner, Macauley & Babington Trading Company

  Ross-Courtney, Lord Peter – wealthy and influential visitor

  Neill, Mr. Frederick – well-born and wealthy associate of Ross-Courtney’s

  Undoto, Obo – local priest

  Muldoon, Mr. Silas – the Naval Attaché

  Winton, Mr. William – Assistant Commissar at Fort Thornton

  Hardwicke, Reverend – minister of Church of England

  Hardwicke, Mrs. – minister’s wife

  Sherbrook, Mrs. – lady-employer of Katherine Fortescue

  Dave – Cockney coachman

  In the Mining Compound:

  Mercenaries:

  Dubois – leader of the mercenaries, presumed French

  Arsene – Dubois’s lieutenant, second-in-command, presumed French

  Cripps – Dubois’s second lieutenant, English

  Plus twenty-eight other mercenaries – of various ages and extractions

  Captives:

  Frobisher, Captain Caleb – youngest Frobisher brother and captain of The Prince

  Fortescue, Miss Kate (Katherine) – ex-governess of the Sherbrooks and Caleb’s intended

  Quilley – quartermaster of The Prince

  Foster, Martin, Ellis, Quick, Mallard, Collins, Biggs, Norton, and Olsen – experienced seamen from The Prince

  Lascelle, Captain Phillipe – longtime friend of Caleb’s, privateer captain of The Raven

  Ducasse – quartermaster of The Raven

  Fullard, Collmer, Gerard, and Vineron – experienced seamen from The Raven

  Dixon, Captain John – army engineer

  Hopkins, Lieutenant William – navy, West Africa Squadron

  Fanshawe, Lieutenant – navy, West Africa Squadron

  Hillsythe, Mr. – ex-Wolverstone agent, governor’s aide

  Frazier, Miss Harriet – gently bred young woman, Dixon’s sweetheart

  Wilson, Miss Mary – shop owner/assistant, Babington’s sweetheart

  McKenzie, Miss Ellen – young woman recently arrived in the settlement

  Halliday, Miss Gemma – young woman from the slums

  Mellows, Miss Annie – young woman from the slums

  Mathers, Jed – carpenter

  Watson, Wattie – navvy

  Plus eighteen other men – all British of various backgrounds and trades

  Diccon – young boy, eight years old

  Amy – young girl, six years old

  Gerry – boy, eleven years old

  Tilly – girl, fourteen years old

  Simon Finn – boy, twelve years old

  Plus sixteen other children – all British, ranging from six to ten years old

  Plus three other boys – all British, ranging from eleven to fourteen years old

  On board The Trident:

  Latimer, Mr. Jordan – first mate

  Hurley, Mr. – master

  Wilcox – bosun

  Miller – quartermaster

  Foxby, Mr. – steward

  Various other sailors

  On board The Cormorant:

  Caldwell, Mr. Joshua – first mate

  Johnson, Mr. – master

  Grimsby – bosun

  Elliot – quartermaster

  Henry, Mr. – steward

  Various other sailors

  On board The Prince:

  Fitzpatrick, Lieutenant Frederick – first mate

  Wallace, Mr. – master

  Carter – bosun

  Hornby, Mr. – steward, carries information to London and returns on The Corsair

  Various other sailors

  On board The Raven:

  Reynaud – bosun, on ship, but returns to the jungle compound

  Plus four other seamen – on ship, but return to the jungle compound

  Various other sailors

  PROLOGUE

  Aberdeen

  August 9, 1824

  Royd Frobisher stood behind the desk in his office overlooking Aberdeen harbor and reread the summons he’d just received.

  Was it his imagination, or was Wolverstone anxious?

  Royd had received many such summonses over the years Wolverstone had served as England’s spymaster; the wording of today’s missive revealed an underlying uneasiness on the part of the normally imperturbable ex-spymaster.

  Either uneasiness or impatience, and the latter was not one of Wolverstone’s failings.

  Although a decade Wolverstone’s junior, Royd and the man previously known as Dalziel had understood each other from their first meeting, much as kindred spirits. After Dalziel retired and succeeded to the title of the Duke of Wolverstone, he and Royd had remained in touch. Royd suspected he was one of Wolverstone’s principal contacts in keeping abreast of those intrigues most people in the realm knew nothing about.

  Royd studied the brief lines suggesting that he sail his ship, The Corsair, currently bobbing on the waters beyond his window, to Southampton, to be provisioned and to hold ready to depart once news arrived from Freetown.

  The implication was obvious. Wolverstone expected the news from Freetown—when it arrived courtesy of Royd’s youngest brother, Caleb—to be such as to require an urgent response. Namely, for Royd to depart for West Africa as soon as possible and, once there, to take whatever steps proved necessary to preserve king and country.

  A commitment to preserving king and country being one of the traits Royd and Wolverstone shared.

  Another was the instinctive ability to evaluate situations accurately. If Wolverstone was anxious—

  “I need to see him.”

  The voice, more than the words, had Royd raising his head.

  “I’ll inquire—”

  “And I need to see him now. Stand aside, Miss Featherstone.”

  “But—”

  “No buts. Excuse me.”

  Royd heard the approaching tap of high heels striking the wooden floor. Given the tempo and the force behind each tap, he could readily envision his middle-aged secretary standing by the reception desk, wringing her hands.

  Still, Gladys Featherstone was a local. She should know that Isobel Carmichael on a tear was a force of nature few could deflect.

  Not even him.

&nb
sp; He’d had the partition separating his inner sanctum from the outer office rebuilt so the glazed section ran from six feet above the floor—his eye level—to the ceiling; when seated at his desk, he preferred to be out of sight of all those who stopped by, thinking to waste the time of the operational head of the Frobisher Shipping Company. If callers couldn’t see him, they had to ask Gladys to check if he was in.

  But he’d been standing, and Isobel was only a few inches shorter than he. Just as the glazed section allowed him a view of the peacock feather in her hat jerkily dipping with every purposeful step she took, from the other side of the outer office, she would have been able to see the top of his head.

  Idly, he wondered what had so fired her temper. Idly, because he was perfectly certain he was about to find out.

  In typical fashion, she flung open the door, then paused dramatically on the threshold, her dark gaze pinning him where he stood.

  Just that one glance, that instinctive locking of their gazes, the intensity of the contact, was enough to make his gut clench and his cock stir.

  Perhaps unsurprising, given their past. But now...

  Nearly six feet tall, lithe and supple, with a wealth of blue-black hair—if freed, the silken locks would tumble in an unruly riot of large curls about her face, shoulders, and down her back, but today the mass was severely restrained in a knot on the top of her head—she stared at him through eyes the color of bittersweet chocolate set under finely arched black brows. Her face was a pale oval, her complexion flawless. Her lips were blush pink, lush and full, but were presently set in an uncompromising line. Unlike most well-bred ladies, she did not glide; her movements were purposeful, if not forceful, with the regal demeanor of an Amazon queen.

  He dipped his head fractionally. “Isobel.” When she simply stared at him, he quirked a brow. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

  Isobel Carmichael stared at the man she’d told herself she could manage. She’d told herself she could handle being close to him again without the protective barrier of any professional façade between them, too—that the urgency of her mission would override her continuing reaction to him, the reaction she fought tooth and nail to keep hidden.

  Instead, just the sight of him had seized her senses in an iron grip. Just the sound of his deep, rumbling voice—so deep it resonated with something inside her—had sent her wits careening.

 

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