eBook Details


The Cornish Heiress

Series: Heiress , Book 2.0
By: Roberta Gellis | Other books by Roberta Gellis
Published By: Ellora's Cave Publishing Inc.
Published: Mar 26, 2009
ISBN # 9781419921001
Word Count: 153,675
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Categories: Romance>Pirates Romance>Historical Other


The Cornish Heiress (Heiress) by Roberta Gellis - Romance>Historical Other eBook

Blush: This is a sensual romance (may have explicit love scenes, but not erotic level).
Book 2 in the Heiress series.
Megaera’s father sold her in marriage at fifteen to Edward Devoran. Edward’s extravagance mortgaged her estates and induced him to join a band of smugglers. Meg paid the interest by selling her jewels and when they were gone—Edward was gone too, murdered by his partner Black Bart. Meg became the smuggler Red Meg, took Edward’s place and Edward’s profits and kept paying her mortgages.
Philip St. Eyre wanted to fight Napoleon. Raised as a Frenchman and able to pass as French, he was the perfect spy and had a way to reach France through his father’s old friend, the smuggler Pierre. Thus Philip met Red Meg and fell in love.
Meg thought Philip was Pierre’s by-blow, Philip thought Meg was a common smuggler. To both gently born lovers the match was impossible. Until Black Bart tried to murder Meg, and Philip had to take her to France where her handiness with a pistol saved his life and his mission and exposed all their secrets.
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Copyright © ROBERTA GELLIS, 1981, 2009

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

“Have you given Philip money to pay his debts again, Leonie?” Roger St. Eyre asked his wife. Leonie raised her golden eyes to her husband’s bright blue ones. “Sacre bleu,” she sighed, “please do not be angry with him, Roger. It does not mean anything to me—you know that. It was not that he feared to go to you. It is only—I cannot bear to see him so unhappy. He did not ask me. He does not even know—”

“I know that,” Roger said, kissing her fondly and sitting down beside her. “How do you think I found out? Philip came to thank me, and to tell me—very stiff and proper—that it was not necessary. He had his own plan for settling, he said. I just told him that I hadn’t known he was in debt again.”

“Stiff and proper?” Leonie repeated anxiously. “Is he still angry because you would not buy him a commission, Roger?”

“No. He may be a fool, but not that much of a one. He did as I suggested and looked into the matter more carefully. Besides, I didn’t say I wouldn’t buy him a commission. I said I didn’t think the life would suit him and pointed out that he was just as likely to be sent to the Indies or ordered to guard one of the damn palaces as to be involved in the war with France. He went out to prove me wrong—and found out I was right.”

“Do you think he will wish to enter the navy now?” Leonie asked fearfully.

“No.” Roger smiled. “The navy is not a service a person can enter as an adult. Besides, Philip knows that life is even more rigid and restricted than the army.” Roger paused and his mouth hardened. “God in heaven, I will never forgive myself. I should have strangled Solange a week after she gave birth to him. Dead thirteen years, her curse still lingers.”

Leonie did not answer that. She never uttered any criticism of her husband’s first wife, although she often felt she would have killed Solange with her bare hands had she not been dead already. Roger was right. The scars Solange had inflicted on her husband and her son, though healed, still deformed them. Solange had ignored Philip as an infant, and later had tried to use him to manipulate Roger. The only reason Philip was not totally ruined was that Roger had given him the warmth and tenderness, the unvarying affection that made him a whole person.

To save his own sanity, Roger had yielded to Solange in her insistence on surrounding Philip completely with French servants. It did not seem important to him that the child spoke French far better than English. He was bilingual himself and assumed Philip would drop the French for English when he started school. He was more concerned with his son’s character, and he talked to him a great deal about the need to reason out what was right rather than blindly do what a feared—or even a loved--authority ordered.

Roger was thinking of Solange when he was so insistent that Philip reason rather than, obey. However, the habit of independent thinking, encouraged by Roger himself always listening to his son and explaining why a thing must be done, was carried beyond his mother’s influence. Innocently, Roger had taught Philip to resist the urge to “be like everyone else,” because that was the excuse Solange used most often to explain her gambling and extravagance. He never meant, of course, that Philip should resist when what “everyone else” was doing, was good and sensible, and, in general, Philip did understand that. However, the habit of sticking by his guns unless there was a good reason not to had wider repercussions than Roger ever dreamed.

These began quite early. When Philip went to school and the boys called him ‘‘Frenchy,” he blacked their eyes to prove he was a good Englishman rather than change his patterns of speech. In fact, the pressure of his peers and his teachers made him cling passionately to his accent and to speaking French by preference. The problem eventually grew so acute that the headmaster referred it to Philip’s father.

After, soothing the headmaster, who was greatly incensed by the flouting of his authority and not at all in sympathy with Roger’s notion that he should have given Philip a reason for speaking English rather than simply ordering him to do so and beating him when he refused, Roger interviewed his son.

“It does no harm,” Philip said stubbornly. “It is my way of speaking.”

Roger could not help chuckling. “It certainly did no good to Lord Erne’s eye or to Lord Kevern’s nose, not to speak of the Honorable Elliot’s loose teeth.”

Philip had cast a flickering glance at his father. What he saw made him grin cheerfully. “Perce and Harry did not mind, and they were not Elliot’s front teeth, sir. They were the side ones that had to come out anyway. Really, sir, I do not see why the headmaster made such a fuss. The other fellows only wanted to be sure I was not a sissy. We are all friends now.”

“Well, there are less destructive ways of proving your manhood,” Roger felt obliged to say, but the reprimand was rather spoiled by the twinkle in his eyes and the golden guinea he pressed into his son’s hand. Then he grew more serious. “But I do not like rudeness, Philip, and it is very rude to chatter in a language others around you don’t understand or have difficulty understanding. Certainly I don’t insist that you speak English exactly as the others do, but I hope you will be sufficiently a gentleman in the future to match your manner and speech to your company.”

The arrested look on the boy’s face—cruel rudeness was one of the devices his mother had used both on him and, in front of his face, on his father—showed Roger he had made his point, and he said no more. A good reason was usually enough to set Philip on the right path. He was a remarkably intelligent child. To a degree Roger was right. There was no more trouble about language. Although Philip never lost his accent and French continued to be the language he spoke by preference, he soon switched back and forth between English and French without thought, responding automatically to the tongue in which he was addressed.

However, Roger had long ago stopped worrying about Philip’s speech. He was an extremely, a compulsively, just person. “It is not fair to blame Solange completely,” he said. “I had more influence on Philip. My lectures on reason sank in a little too far, I suppose.”

Leonie could not restrain a little giggle at that understatement. She suppressed it as quickly as she could, but her eyes danced. “Eh bien, but once Philippe got to Oxford he was much better,” she comforted as gravely as she could. “He saw the reasons for the rules and was quite—ah, ma foi—most of the time he stayed out of troub1e.” Then the laughter died out of her face and her big golden eyes looked haunted. “But his hatred for the French—that is my fault. I—”

Roger put his arms around his wife and kissed her. “You have done him only good, my love. You always knew just how to deal with him.”

“But I never corrected him,” she murmured. “I let him get into all kinds of mischief. I even joined him. You were often angry—”

“Never angry Leonie” Roger smiled at her. “Sometimes exasperated, but never angry. Anyway, he added briskly, you were right. You could stop him from doing anything really dangerous or bad just with that ‘Mais, Philippe, non!’ where all my lectures—and reasons—would have been useless.”

“Yes, in little things, but in this…Oh, Roger, you can make me talk of something different, but it is my hatred of the French that Philippe has absorbed, I tried not to—but…

“Don’t be silly, Leonie. You don’t hate the French, you’re half French yourself. I don’t think he hates them either. He’s just young. He wants to be a hero.”

“Bien sur, but it is more than that. When the war was declared in 1793, Philippe did not care. Your stepmother told me. He was worried about you, but once you were back he showed no interest in the war. I know that because all he talked of was his school—the games and sports. It was only after he started to ask me what had happened to my family that he began to talk of the ‘iniquities’ of the French.”

Roger shrugged. “Then it is my fault. I told him more than you ever did. All you said was that it was dull and uncomfortable to be in prison.”

“But he is very sensitive, that Philippe, and very clever. He read inside me…He saw…

She shuddered and Roger held her closer. Neither of them talked of the real horrors of Leonie’s imprisonment, of how she had been brutally raped by several men, of her mother and brother dying in the filthy cellar where they had been confined, of her father being shot and killed during their escape. Roger feared that she was right, that despite her light, smiling refusal to discuss those dreadful months, Philip had drawn his own conclusions. Philip adored Leonie. He would very likely wish to revenge her hurts. However, that was something Roger would never admit. He would not, if he could prevent it, permit Leonie to blame herself for what could not be helped.

The Cornish Heiress

By: Roberta Gellis