Coming 26th October--a sexy, fun, intriguing Regency romance. Taking you from Cornwall to London, immerse yourself in the world of the Rogues of Redmere--four determined men who are about to meet the biggest challenge of their lives.
Red never shies away from a challenge.
But when Miss Hannah St. John strides into his life demanding—yes, demanding—he help her, he’s certain she’s more challenge than even he can handle.
Hannah is determined to transport an artifact from France—one that will change everything—even if it means working with a lawless man like Red. Nothing is more important than preserving history.
Not even the touch of a smuggler who inconceivably makes her stomach twist.
When it becomes clear the irritating bluestocking will do anything for this blasted artefact and needs saving from herself, the earl turned smuggler steps in.
Carting a cursed stone across the country with a know-it-all woman is not Red’s idea of fun, particularly when their journey runs far from smoothly…so why does he find himself enjoying her company just a little too much?
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Red spat out another mouthful of salty water. The sea spray struck him across the face, bitter and unpleasant. Waves rolled in, sloshing over the edge of his boots and filling them. He grimaced. The seas were particularly rough tonight. They’d be lucky to haul in all the goods before sunrise. His muscles burned as he dragged what had to be the tenth keg of the night to shore.
Cold wind slapped his face and ruffled his shirt. He cursed the unpredictable English weather through his teeth.
Though truth be told, they’d dealt with worse. However, considering the mood he was in tonight, he did not much fancy dealing with anything other than a shot of whiskey. Some days he wondered what possessed him to drag his arse out in the middle of the night and fight the weather, and sometimes the local excise men, all in the name of a profit.
Beside him, two other men worked hard to fight the waves and ensure their cargo was not lost. Frosty ribbons of moonlight glinted off the white tips of the waves farther out. The rowboats that had been used to bring in the goods were long since stowed away and the ship would be headed to the docks.
As another strong wave nearly toppled him, he muttered what could perhaps have been conceived as sarcastic thanks. At least they had avoided the worst of it when rowing in, but could that damned wind have not waited until after they’d brought in their haul?
Red glanced over at Knight, who worked a darned sight faster than he or Nate. Of course, the muscle-bound man had quite the advantage over them and seemed to cut through the waves like a frigate.
“Nearly done,” Knight declared over the wind, hefting a trunk onto the cart.
Red pushed his sodden hair from his face with one hand and dragged the cask out of the sea by the fishing net. He paused to squint into the sea. Once upon a time they had been able to unload their cargo in broad daylight while the weather was calm, but the customs men had increased their patrols of late. Red and his crew had been forced to become sneakier.
Nate brought in what looked to be the last keg and paused to take a breath. “At least it isn’t raining,” he said with a grin.
“That’s all of them?” Red asked.
They all paused to study the surf as it churned and bubbled. Their haul had been left in fishermen’s nets just past where the waves broke. The nets could be spotted easily enough in the light but the knotted floats were not so easy to spy in the inky ocean at night. However, their new method of bringing smuggled goods in from France was worth it. It gave them time to bring in the cargo—and time, they had discovered, could be vitally important when it came to the excise men.
“Let’s get this stowed away before we get any wetter. I have a hankering for a whiskey.”
Nate chuckled. “When do you not?”
Red grunted at this. “Don’t be jealous of my finer tastes. You’ll enjoy the finer things in life one day—once your balls have dropped.”
Nate, only two years his junior and his brother, laughed again. Knight clapped him hard on the shoulder, and Red saw Nate wince. Sometimes the giant of a man seemed to forget he was twice the size of them all.
“We had better get moving. Louisa said the excise men had already been in tonight.”
Red nodded. “Hopefully that means they have been and gone but—”
“They’re sneaky bastards,” finished Nate.
“Yes,” he agreed. He let a grin break across his face. “But we are sneakier.”
They all chuckled. After he and Nate clambered onto the cart, he took the reins and urged the horses forward. With the help of a push from the behemoth that was Knight, they eased the vehicle off the stony shore and onto the grass. Knight walked behind them until they hit the dirt tracks and then he climbed onto the cart. He understood well enough that they could do without his extra weight until they were on the roads.
Red directed the wagon along the narrow track until the hedgerows grew close. The road itself could hardly be considered a road and was impassable when it rained. On days like those they were forced to bring in the haul on foot, stowing it in a cave not far from their landing spot until the path dried out.
He shuddered, aware of water still sloshing about in his boots. As much as the cursed wind made life difficult, Nate had been right. The rain would have made their job twenty times harder and their last lot of cargo had been a bother to bring in. Christ, he longed for the days when they could bring in their goods with as much ease as a merchant man.
Once they reached barn, he paused to drag on his greatcoat.
“Cold?” Nate asked.
“Damned right I am.”
“It’s that noble blood of yours,” he said with a smirk.
“Yours is the same,” Red muttered.
“I’m plenty warm,” Knight remarked.
They both glanced at him. Red shook his head. Knight could not fail to be warm with the bulk of him. He suspected the man could stand out in the snow for two weeks and be perfectly content. He’d never met a man so hardy, and in their business, it was quite the asset.
They opened the back of the cart, and Red unlocked the barn door. “Put the wine near the door,” he ordered. “It will not be there long.”
Knight nodded and began unloading with a swift ease that made Red feel like a crippled old man, in spite of Knight being potentially older than him. At least they thought so. No one really knew, not even Knight.
Red stilled. He motioned to the men to do the same. Breath held, he listened.
“Horses,” Nate whispered.
He nodded. “Open both the doors, we’ll put the cart inside.”
Knight and Nate pulled them open and he urged the horses into the dark confines of the barn. Thankfully they had little left of their last loot or else it would never fit in along with the horses. He clambered off quickly and locked the barn door behind him.
All three of them were well-rehearsed in dodging the customs men or any potentially nosy strangers. The rugged Cornish countryside provided plenty of hiding spots, and they tucked themselves behind a crumbling stone wall.
The sound of horse hooves neared. Collectively they held their breaths. Should the revenue men come upon them, they would be nothing more than three drunken men, lost on their way home from the inn. But it would be enough to arouse suspicion and potentially search the barn. None of them wanted that.
Red twisted his head enough to view the horses and their riders as they belted past. Three of them, well-dressed. Excise men to be sure. He cursed inwardly. They were becoming more determined.
They waited until the patrol was long gone before moving from their spot. A curse from Nate drew Red's attention.
“What is—” Red laughed as a he spotted the sheep currently determinedly butting into Nate’s leg. “Looks like you’ve made a friend.”
“Or an enemy,” Nate grumbled when the animal retreated and came at him again. Nate held up his hands to try to stop the animal from coming near but the white, grubby-looking sheep was determined to butt into his leg. In spite of Nate clapping his hands and stomping his feet, the animal continued forward before coming to a stop and giving him a gentler nudge.
“She likes you,” Knight said.
“Come, let us finish our work here and leave Nate’s friend in peace. Then I can have a damned whiskey.”
“It is not my friend,” Nate protested as they opened the barn to continue unloading.
The damned sheep followed them into the barn.
Red shook his head. Nothing about tonight had gone smoothly.