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Authors: Lisa Jackson

Temptress

BOOK: Temptress
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Table of Contents
 
 
Praise for the medieval romances of Lisa Jackson
Impostress
“Strong, vivid characters and bold writing style . . . adventurous and sensually passionate.”

Booklist
 
“Entertaining . . . a comedy of errors. Fans will relish this engaging medieval romance.”

Midwest Book Review
 
Wild and Wicked
“Charming and delightful, absolutely entertaining. Don’t miss it!”
—Heather Graham
 
“An exciting medieval romance filled with drama and several delightful twists and turns. . . . Lisa Jackson writes a jewel of a novel that makes the thirteenth century seem so darkly real.”
—Midwest Book Review
. . . and for the
Dark Jewels Trilogy
 
Dark Sapphire
“Impressive.... Lisa Jackson shines once again in her new romantic adventure.”
—Reader to Reader
 
“Another entertaining medieval romance. . . . Lisa Jackson paces the story well and fills the pages with intrigue and passion.”
—Romantic Times
 
Dark Emerald
“A complex medieval romance . . . moves forward on several levels that ultimately tie together in an exciting finish. The lead characters are a passionate duo while the secondary players strengthen the entire novel. Ms. Jackson has struck a gemstone mine.”
—Painted Rock Reviews
 
“Snares the reader in an intricate plot and holds them until the very end.”

Romantic Times
 
Dark Ruby
“A true gem—a medieval masterpiece. Wonderfully compelling, filled with adventure and intrigue, sizzling sexual tension and a to-die-for hero, this one has it all.”
—Samantha James
 
“Rich, mysterious, passionate. It’s a winner.”
—Alexis Harrington
 
“Fast-paced and fun from the start . . . a high-action adventure that will keep you turning the pages.”
—Kat Martin
 
“A rich, unforgettable tale.”
—Stella Cameron
ONYX
Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
First published by Onyx, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
First Printing, October
 
Copyright © Susan Lisa Jackson, 2005
All rights reserved
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
eISBN : 978-1-101-11782-8
 
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
 
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are 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.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
 
 
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

http://us.penguingroup.com

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I would like to thank everyone who helped in the creation of this novel. First and foremost, my sister, Nancy Bush, also an author, who helped me with the editing and proofing of the pages, all the while plying me with Hot Tamales (yes, the candy) and diet Pepsi and assuring me that “we can do it.” Second, Claire Zion, my editor, for her patience with this project, and third, my agent, Robin Rue, for being a calm voice of reason.
There were tons of others who gave me time and support and provided laughter when I needed it. To all my friends and family, thanks!
PROLOGUE
Wybren Castle, North Wales
December 24, 1287
 

T
is time.
The voice was soft but insistent, like a flaxseed lodged in his collar, a tiny irritation relentlessly pricking the back of the neck, ever nagging. Reverberating through his head, it urged him onward as he slipped through the gloom of the keep.
You know you cannot wait any longer. Redemption is at hand. For you. For
them.
He flicked an anxious tongue to his lips, tasted the salt of his sweat though it was freezing within the castle walls, his own breath fogging and mixing with the smoke from the smoldering rushlights. His muscles ached with tension and fear; his ears strained to hear the quietest footfall lest he be discovered. Still he hesitated.
You must do it. Now. All is in place. The guards are asleep from all the revelry, their minds sluggish from too much ale. The guests, too, with their full bellies and wine-sotted minds, sleep as if dead. And the lord’s family, all of them, are near dead already, their cups having been washed with the potion. Their rutting has ceased. Hear them snore through the doors to their chambers.
From the depths of his cowl, he looked over his shoulder, checking the hallway one last time and then, knowing God was speaking to him, lifted his unlit torch to the embers of the hallway sconces. With a crackle and hiss, the oil-soaked tip caught fire, casting the dark corridor in flickering, deadly shadows. Swiftly he bent down and touched his torch to the bit of braided oil-doused cloth that he’d tucked under the doors moments earlier and then watched in fascination as the quick little flames sped beneath the door to the dried rushes spread thickly upon the chamber floor.
First the baron, he thought, and then the rest.
He worked with speed, praying softly, lighting each wick in succession along the corridor. His heart hammered wildly, sweat and fear sliding down his spine. Should he be caught, he would be imprisoned, quickly judged a traitor, and then hung until he was twitching, near death. Before he took his last breath, he would be removed from the gallows, his body drawn and quartered, his entrails spilling out while he was yet alive, and then, upon his death, his head would be skewered upon a pike and placed on display high above the wide wall walk, an example to all who might consider this kind of treason.
Do not fear. Your cause is just. You are the Redeemer
.
Smoke began to fill the hallway, seeping stealthily beneath the doors.
He calmed his fears. ’Twas done. The rest was in God’s hands, or those of the devil. He knew not which, nor did he care. For the voice that urged him on came from within, the nagging insistence arising from a deep part of his own desire, the words only amplifying what he wanted so desperately. And yet he heard them as surely as if someone had whispered them against his ear. He told himself they came because God wanted vengeance. He was but the servant . . . unless it wasn’t God who spoke so intimately to him.
Unless it was a demon or even Satan himself.
He glanced around the arched ceiling of the hallway, breathing shallowly as if expecting an angel of darkness to swoop down before him as the smoke rose in thin, evil wisps.
BOOK: Temptress
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