Title: Pirate’s Prey
Author: Colleen O’Connell
Genre: Historical Romance
Shane Christian scorns danger as the notorious pirate, Falcon. Feared and respected for his realm over the sea, his exploits are only surpassed by his devilish charm. No battle waged or venture dared is as great as the ploy he devises to protect Maura Brent - a spirited beauty whose willful nature captures his heart. His strategy to thwart the law risks exposure and potential introduction to the hangman’s noose. If he succeeds in safeguarding their love, will he live long enough to treasure the victory?
Maura Brent agrees to a contrived marriage with a manipulative English land baron in exchange for sparing her father imprisonment. A chance encounter with Shane Christian sets the course for a voyage of discovery awakening her passion, broadening her knowledge and strengthening her resolve to guard Shane’s identity from his nemesis. Determined to dissolve her marriage to remain with Shane, has her decision ensured his demise?
Shane roused himself from outright staring at the girl, repeating his question. “May I guess as to why you might be sitting alone?”
“Does there need to be a reason?”
Shane smiled at the girl’s pluck. She attempted to see who had interrupted her. He leaned casually against a tree’s trunk. “There does at a ball such as this.” Shane stepped from the shadows, standing before the girl. “Either you’re hoping someone in particular will follow you or someone has upset you. By the expression on your face a moment ago, I’d say it was the latter.”
Disconcerted by his close proximity, she attempted to put him off. “I’m afraid the moonlight has played your eyesight false. I was merely thinking.” She lifted her chin. You see I’m to be married.” She assumed her announcement would send him away. Her assumption was flawed.
Shane was thoroughly enjoying the exchange and had no intention of rushing its conclusion. “So, this gathering is in your honor. It still doesn’t explain the sadness on your face when I chanced upon you.”
“As I said, Mr....”
“Christian,” Shane provided. “Shane Christian.”
“As I said, Mr. Christian, you were mistaken.” She stood abruptly. “In any event, my feelings are of no concern to a stranger such as you.”
He looked at her for a long moment as her action had placed them intimately close. Shane conceded her point. “Perhaps so.”
“I should be getting back.”
Shane smiled. She was flustered, but as close as they stood to each other, he could see that her breath was consistent with an increased heartbeat. The spark in her eyes did not reflect fear which meant she felt something quite different. He slid his arm around her waist, pulling her gently against him. “What’s your name?”
Her eyes widened in stunned surprise by the unexpected liberties he took, which likely accounted for her answering his question. “Maura Brent. Why?”
“Something tells me we won’t be strangers for long. I also prefer to know the name of a woman I’m about to kiss.” He slanted his mouth over hers.
Maura Brent leaned against him, her initial struggle to pull away becoming half-hearted as he explored her mouth with his tongue. When he pulled away, a grin spread across his face. She raised her hand to slap it off his face, but he caught her wrist.
“The kiss was mutually enjoyed so there is no need for feigned outrage.”
“Your assumption that I enjoyed that kiss is wrong. I did not. You have the manners of.... of a pirate.”
“Thank you.” He brushed his fingers lightly down her cheek. “If you’re going to act the indignant lass, I suggest you not blush so beautifully after I’ve kissed you.”
“There you are.” Alex called over to Shane. “What in the hell did you say to stir up those men? Given enough encouragement, I wouldn’t doubt they’d call you out. Then while I’m looking for you, I was stopped by that snake, Mansbry, who’s preening about like a rooster boasting of the catch he’s made.” Alex sidled up behind them, a jovial grin on his face. “I would never have looked for you out here, but Finola mentioned that she’d seen you headed this way. I hope I wasn’t interrupting anything?” He gave Maura a quizzical glance, then one to Shane.
“Not at all Alex. This is the rooster’s catch. Miss Maura Brent, Alex Steele.”
Miss Brent politely acknowledged Alex’s presence with a stiff nod of her head. Shane ignored the burning glare she threw in his direction.
Alex was his affable self. “My apologies, Miss Brent. I wasn’t aware of your identity.”
“Well, if you’ll excuse me, I was about to....”
“.... dance with me,” Shane finished for her. He took her by the arm leading her toward the ballroom. “If you will excuse us, Alex.”
A low chuckle escaped Alex. “By all means.”
Her eyes flashed fire as Shane continued to the ballroom. “Let go of my arm.” She pulled free of his grasp, her gaze darting about, no doubt fearful of creating a scene. “I refuse to dance with you.”
Shane grinned wickedly. “But you will dance with me regardless.” Before she could reply, they had arrived on the dance floor as another waltz began. Shane pulled her into his arms. He held her far closer than propriety deemed appropriate. His firm grip around her waist prevented any actions she made to separate them. Once again, she attempted to put the proper distance between them, but with an amused smile at her attempts, Shane pulled her all the closer. Their bodies were pressed to one another as he guided her across the dance floor in time to the music.
Shocked gasps and whispers filtered around them as he whirled her past the open-mouthed onlookers until the last notes of the waltz ended. He escorted her off the dance floor.
Alex joined the two once again. “Pardon me, Miss Brent, but would you mind if I had a private word with my friend?”
“Not in the least, Mr. Steele. Mr. Christian and I are quite through.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure of that,” Shane said in parting.
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Colleen O’Connell is dedicated to giving her readers fast-paced, page turning journeys into the historical world of romance. Writing romance was inevitable with a Theatre Arts major in college and an affinity for reading with a desire to rewrite the storyline as her mind’s eye visualized.
Born and raised in the Chicagoland are, she currently lives in Northern Kentucky with a background in Human Resources Management. When not crafting her next historical adventure, she spends her time with family and friends, enjoying other writers’ work, and watching classic ‘Old Hollywood’ movies
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