Lord of the privateers, p.1
Lord of the Privateers, p.1Stephanie Laurens
BETWEEN CHAPTER 3 AND CHAPTER 4
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Lord of the Privateers
The Adventurers Quartet: Volume 4
Lord of the Privateers
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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
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
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
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
Wolverstone, Duke of, Royce aka Dalziel – ex-commander of British secret operatives outside England
Melville, Lord – First Lord of the Admiralty
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
Hendon, Kit (Katherine), Lady – Jack, Lord Hendon’s wife
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
Higginson – head clerk, Frobisher Shipping Company office
Frobisher, Captain Lachlan – captain of Sea Dragon
Frobisher, Captain Catrina (Kit) – captain of Consort
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:
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
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
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.
“And I need to see him now. Stand aside, Miss Featherstone.”
“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.
He’d had the partition separating his inner sanctum from the outer office rebuilt so the glazed secti
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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