Promise of Gold by Kristen Kyle - Romance>Historical OtherAn Irresistible Prize...
With three aging godfathers to care for, Rosa Constanza Wright had no choice but to turn her unique talents to stealing. Yet when the beautiful and brazen flamenco dancer commits the most daring burglary of her career, she discovers a 270-year-old journal that may hold the key to a wealth of sunken Spanish treasure. But Rosa has competition.
Derek Carlisle, Viscount Graystone, has traveled all the way to Cuba seeking the priceless document, and when he learns that it has fallen into Rosa's lovely hands, the relentlessly determined and devastatingly handsome archaeologist vows to find her....
An Undeniable Passion
But Graystone is in for the surprise of his life, for Rosa is unlike any woman he's ever met. Saucy and stubborn, resourceful and clever, she demands an equal partnership in his quest. Soon the two are embarking on a bold adventure on the high seas, where their search for the Spanish galleon will lead them into infinite peril--and where they will discover a passion far more tempting, and far more precious, than a fortune in gold.
From the Paperback edition.
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Early June 1898
The juggler tossed the burning torches into the air in an outstanding display of skill, catching the unlit end of each before sending it up again in a circle of yellow flame. Suddenly, he stopped all four and plunged them dramatically into a waiting bucket of water. The dying torches hissed in protest. With a flourish, the juggler bowed.
The eighty dinner guests burst into enthusiastic applause.
Derek Christopher Carlisle, Viscount Graystone, concealed his sigh of impatience. He clapped along with his fellow guests, honoring his upbringing as a gentleman and the lessons of diplomacy that his father had taught him were so essential to achieving one's goals in a foreign country.
Derek sat back against the red brocade of the richly upholstered chair, his fingers gripping the carved armrests. Beneath the floor-length white linen covering the long table his leg jiggled with the anticipation and irritation he dared not show. He would play his host's game, though it qualified as a bloody nuisance.
He recognized the unceasing string of entertainers for what they truly were.
Don Geraldo de Vargas was toying with his guest of honor, building the suspense and trying to seize a position of power in the upcoming negotiations. The Spanish sugar baron hadn't expanded on his inherited wealth, nor maintained his position in Cuban society, by being dull-witted. Surely he had guessed that the heirloom documents in his private collection must be worth a great deal if Derek had sailed all the way from England in search of them.
Whatever the price, Derek was willing to pay it.
He possessed the monetary resources. What he didn't have was the one essential item he'd been tracking down for a year.
He prayed that Don Geraldo didn't understand the true worth of his ancestor's journal.
Derek picked up his cut-crystal glass and swirled its contents. The wine clung to the inside of the glass before sliding smoothly back down. The rich, fruity aroma teased his nostrils. The respite in the entertainment allowed conversation to rise among the guests, droning like a swarm of bees. All these people were strangers to Derek, except for the two highest-ranking members of his crew relegated to the far end of the huge U-shaped table.
Slanting his blue-eyed gaze to the left, Derek covertly studied his host's classic Spanish profile. A thick mustache and neatly trimmed goatee accented a bold nose and rigid jaw. Don Geraldo's walnut-brown coat matched the hair brushed straight back from his broad forehead. Silver hair streaked down the center of his goatee, and similar flecks dusted throughout his collar-length hair. An ivory satin waistcoat stretched across his slender torso. The right questions around Havana had revealed that the don was a cruel taskmaster, demanding maximum work in the sugarcane fields while paying as little as possible . . . just the type of Old World inequality the Cubans were rebelling against.
Cold distaste slid through Derek. In his world travels he'd crossed paths with more than one self-proclaimed tyrant, making it natural for him to sympathize with the Cuban revolutionaries . . . or anyone fighting for equal opportunities and the right to govern their own lives. The only way to gain an advantage with a man like de Vargas was to approach negotiations from a position of strength.
"Very impressive, Don Geraldo," Derek commented. "This food is excellent, the wine superb. My compliments."
The don waved a hand with token modesty. "Gracias, Lord Graystone. I am pleased that you are pleased."
Expectancy tingled beneath Derek's skin....