Donna Hatch, author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” is a hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, the force that drove her to write and publish seventeen historical romance titles, to date. She is a multi-award winner, a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions as well as her six children. Also a music lover, she sings and plays the harp, and she loves to ballroom dance. She and her family recently transplanted from her native Arizona to the Pacific Northwest where she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.
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When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel.
The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harm—not to mention preserve her reputation—is to get married. But her father refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. He demands that Elizabeth marry Tristan’s older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston.
Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry Richard, a man who loves another, a man she’ll never love.
“Get your hands off my sister!” a voice snarled.
Tristan snapped his head back and stepped away. Alone, Elizabeth wobbled on her feet. Her brother, Martindale, stalked into view, bristling like an angry dog.
With his hands held out, Tristan faced Martindale. “My lord, we were merely—”
“None of your lies, Barrett.”
Other voices made exclamations of delighted horror. Elizabeth faced a nightmare; most of the houseguests stared at her, including one of London’s worst gossip, Lady Einsburgh. Naturally they would assume the worst. Heat crawled up Elizabeth’s neck and burned her cheeks. She’d never live down the humiliation. Closing her eyes, she clamped her mouth shut to avoid screaming at the injustice of it all. She’d only desired a few moments alone with the man she loved. Instead, she’d been caught in an intimate embrace in a dark garden. Gossipers would spread an exaggeratedly sordid tale all over England. She’d be utterly ruined.
Immersed in his role of haughty marquis, Martindale snarled, “Consider your second, Barrett. Tomorrow you shall receive my challenge.”
Elizabeth’s heart stalled. A duel? “No, Martindale. You can’t do this.” Elizabeth’s protest died on her lips as her brother rounded on her.
“Silence! You’ve behaved like a common whore.”
Elizabeth recoiled as if he’d slapped her.
Tristan stiffened. “Hear now, that’s no way to speak to the lady. I give you my word, it was merely a kiss.”
Martindale let out a scoff. “And I should trust the word of a known rake?” He turned to Elizabeth, his eyes boring into hers. “You’ve brought disgrace upon the family.”
Tears burned Elizabeth’s eyes. Martindale was right. Only Tristan could save her from shame. She turned to him, silently pleading for rescue.
Tristan glanced at her, his expression unreadable, before returning his attention to Martindale. He lowered his voice. “Let us go inside and discuss this in private.”
“There’s nothing to discuss. You’ve compromised my sister. Choose your weapon.”
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