~~Fighting evil has been a hobby, but fending off marriage-minded women—a chore.
Lord Charles Percy fends off a highwayman robbing a carriage in broad daylight. Noting that he’s rescued a debutante, he lies about his title claiming to be a mere mister. But the Honorable Henrietta Allendale is suspicious that something is false in spite of his act of heroism on her behalf. She didn’t need a man to fight her battles. So why can’t she stop thinking about him?
Meeting again in London, Lord Percy begins to enjoy the verbal sparring with the intrepid young woman and his heart is soon captivated as well. But he’s playing a deep game and her presence in his life puts hers at risk. When a successful rescue results in possible scandal, the baron’s biggest challenge will be to convince the marriage-adverse young woman that his love is true.
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~~The sun blinded him, yet a flash in the distance caught his attention. Sure enough, another robbery of a coach by some land pirate. Not again. Disgusted, Lord Charles Percy urged his mount into a gallop as he drew his pistol and cocked it. He aimed and shot the gun out of the ruffian’s hand. The thief’s horse tossed the rider to the ground before racing away.
His own mount pulled up alongside the carriage, almost stepping on the bounder with his sharp hooves. He aimed the pistol.
“I didn’t mean to hurt no one. Don’t kill me,” the man groveled.
“Either I shoot you now or you hang tomorrow.”
The man scrambled to his feet and started to run but Charles was a crack shot and brought him down. Dismounting, he strode to where the fellow moaned on the ground and pushed him on to his back with one of Hoby’s finest boots. The filthy villain stared up at him, eyes wide with fear.
“Get up. I must march you to the magistrate since your horse has abandoned you.”
The man rose, clutching his bleeding arm. Grabbing him by the collar, Charles shoved him toward the road and wrapped the man’s wrists behind his back with rope from his saddle. He pushed the would-be thief to the ground. “Don’t move or I’ll shoot the other arm as well.”
How many of these blackguards had he caught recently? Five if his count was correct. It was as if God gave him a divine mandate to erase the countryside of the vermin. It wasn’t a role he cherished or sought.
He dismounted and strode to the carriage to discover the occupants now standing outside, watching. A beautiful debutante stood there, tapping her foot, obviously not impressed with his deeds of daring in rescuing her. He doffed his hat and bowed. “My ladies, Mr. Percy at your service.” Standing upright, his eyes met the sparkling coffee-colored gaze of a dazzling woman with golden silk hair and azure dress with darker blue pelisse. She extended her gloved hand to him. He accepted it and bowed over to place a kiss an inch above its surface.
“Your servant.” He took in the woman beside her, dressed in a shocking shade of puce but with regal bearing. He took her hand and did the same.
“We are indebted to you, Mr. Percy.” The older woman’s narrowed gaze made him wonder if he’d erred.
“You are unharmed?”
A broad smile overtook the young woman’s face. “Thanks to you we are now safe.” A hint of sarcasm laced her words.
The older woman shook her head at the ingénue. “I am Lady Grey and this is my niece, the Honorable Henrietta Allendale. My charge was ready to dispatch the criminal with her pistol when you arrived, saving her from that distasteful act.”
“He saved the thief’s life. If I’d shot him, he’d be lying dead.” Miss Allendale’s chin rose a notch. The challenge in her tone was clear. She could have done better than him. Intriguing.
“Most distasteful and shocking display of vulgarity, my dear,” the older woman chided.
Charles’s eyebrow rose a fraction as he took in the younger woman and fought a grin. It wouldn’t do to encourage the girl. If memory served, this was Lord Remington’s sister. He was doubly glad he’d assumed his less prestigious moniker. While she intrigued him, most women her age had only one thing in mind—capturing a wealthy, titled gentleman.
And this gentleman was not willing to be caught.
“I’m sorry I failed you by keeping him alive, my lady. I often opt to let the law or God decide in matters of life and death and do not seek to play that role myself lest I tarnish my soul.”