The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long - Romance>Historical Other
A rescued rogue...
Scandal has rocked the city of London. Colin Eversea, a handsome, reckless unapologetic rogue is sentenced to hang for murder and, inconveniently for him, the only witness to the crime disappears. Then again, throughout history, the Everseas have always managed to cheat fate in style: Colin is snatched from the gallows by a beautiful, clever mercenary.
A captivating captor..../i>
Cool-headed, daring Madeleine Greenway is immune to Colin's vaunted charm. Her mission is not to rescue Colin but to kidnap him, and to be paid handsomely for it. But when it becomes clear that whoever wants Colin alive wants Madeline dead, the two become uneasy allies in a deadly race for truth. Together, they'll face great danger—and a passion neither can resist.
Of all the myriad ways Colin Eversea could have met his demiseâdrowning in the Ouse at the age of six, for instance, or plummeting from the trellis leading up to Lady Malmsey's bedroom window some twenty years laterâsomehow he'd failed to consider the possibility that he might hang. In fact, when all was said and done (admittedly, there was an awful lot to say and do), Colin had always thought he'd breathe his last breath lying next to the beautiful Louisa Porter of Pennyroyal Green after having been married to her for three or four decades.
Never, never did he imagine he might spend the last few hours of his life in a damp Newgate cell with a flatulent thief called Bad Jack.
And now Colin and Bad Jack sat in the pews of the Newgate chapel while the prison's ordinary railed vividly about the tortures of eternal hellfire awaiting the two of them once their souls had been choked from their bodies. Next their shackles would be struck, their arms bound, and they would be strung up from the scaffold erected outside.
Bad Jack seemed bored as a schoolboy trapped inside on a sunny day at school. He picked his fingernails. He belched, and thumped his sternum with his fist to help the belch out. He even leaned back and yawned grandly, treating the ordinary to a view of his dark and mostly toothless maw. All in all, it was a bravura performance, but it was lost on the audience who had paid for the privilege of watching the condemned tortured by the pregallows sermon.
For it was Colin they had come to see.
They peered over the railings up above the chapel, eager to compare the actual man with images on the broadsheets rustling in their hands. Mere ink did not do justice to the reality of Colin Eversea, to his height, his loose-limbed grace and vivid eyes and strong elegant features, but myriad lurid images had abounded for weeks in the broadsheets. The English loved nothing more than a criminal with dash, and if he was gorgeous, so much the better.
Colin's brother Ian had brought one of the most popular broadsheets to him: on it he was depicted with Satanic horns and a pointed tail and wielding a ridiculous knifeâmore a scimitar, reallyâdripping blood into a pool.
In a rare note of authenticity, the artist had seen fit to sketch him in a Weston-cut coat.
"Looks just like you," Ian had told him. Because that's what brothers were for.
"What bloody nonsense." Colin handed the broadsheet back to Ian. "My horns are considerably more majestic."
Ian began to smile, but it congealed halfway up. Colin knew why: "majestic horns" reminded both them of the first time Colin had pulled down a buckâin Lord Atwater's Wood.
But neither of them said anything aloud. There were too many memories; every one of them, the smallest to largest, was painful as a stab now. Airing just one seemed to somehow give it more importance than the others. They never reminisced.
They exchanged inanities about broadsheets instead.
Colin handed the broadsheet back to his brother. "Will you have this framed? Something in gilt would suit."
He'd said this more for the benefit of the warden, who hovered near him as often as possible to make note of his comments to sell to the broadsheets. Those broadsheets had become both cherished mementos and valuable investments. For Colin Eversea was not only a legend nowâhe was an industry.
There was even a popular flash ballad, sung in pubs, on street corners, on theater stages, and in amateur musicales:
Oh, if you thought ye'd never seeJaunty tune...
The death of Colin Eversea
Come along with me, lads, come along with me
For on a summer day he'll swing
The pretty lad was mighty bad
So everybody sing!