Adobe PDF eBook Rights: Copying not allowed. Printing not allowed. Lending not allowed. Reading aloud not allowed. Never expires. On a calm moonlit night, as the scent of jasmine and pine embraced the island of Ascension, the pirate prince Lazar di Fiori returns with lethal grace to avenge what was stolen from him: his kingdom, his birthright, his soul. . . .
Allegra Monteverdi, the daughter of Lazar's sworn enemy, proves an uncommonly powerful adversary. She throws herself on his mercy, her courage and beauty touching his cold, unforgiving heart. He agrees to spare the lives of her family--but only if Allegra sails away with him as his captive. For his quest for vengeance still burns fiercely, and he will settle for nothing less than Allegra's body and soul.
Alone at sea with this dark, intriguing man, moving between seduction and fear, Allegra gazes into eyes as deep and mysterious as the night and sees who this pirate really is. Lazar--the prince of her childhood dreams. Though he was rumored to be murdered years ago, she always believed someday he would return. But it will take more than her love for this pirate prince to bring peace to her beloved home. For Lazar must face the demons of his shattered past--if he is to forge the destiny that is theirs to claim. . . .
From the Paperback edition.
Excerpts: Chapter One He took a faceful of sea brine, flung the stinging salt water out of his eyes with a furious blink, and hauled back on the oars again and again with all his strength. All around him, the swirling, bucking surf smashed itself in silver plumes of foam, drenching him as it sought to dash his longboat against the shark-tooth rocks guarding the cave. Arms and shoulders burning with the strain, he held the boat steady by sheer bloody-mindedness until at last, with a barbaric cry of exertion, he fought his way past the towering, jagged boulders. Passing under the low arch of rock, he ducked his head as his longboat glided into the cavern's mouth.
Meanwhile, leagues behind him on the moonlit bay, seven ships waited at anchor.
Once under the pitch-black granite dome, he wiped the sweat off his brow with his forearm, slowly catching his breath. He lit a torch, for there was no one to note his invasion now but the legions of bats hanging and screeching and fluttering overhead. Finally, he maneuvered the longboat to the landing and jumped off onto solid ground.
It had been fifteen years since Prince Lazar di Fiore last set foot on Ascencion.
Almost half his life, he mused, or this underworld existence that was no life at all.
He stared at the soft, sparkling sand beneath his scuffed black boots, then crouched down on one knee, scooping a fistful of it into one sun-browned, rope-callused hand. With a bitter, faraway expression, he loosened his grasp and watched the sand slip through his fingers as easily as everything else had.
And, with the dawn, his soul.
The sand whispered to the ground until all that was left in his hand was a hard, black little rock. This, too, he let fall.
He wanted none of it.
He stood, shrugging the shoulder strap of his sword back into place. The wet leather had been chafing his chest for an hour now, vexing the tender strip of skin where his black vest fell open. He took another swallow of rum from the silver flask hanging on a thin kid strap inside his vest, wincing as it fired his belly, then he put it away again.
Lifting his torch, he looked around the cavern until he spotted the entrance to the secret underground tunnels. They had been hewn from the mountain centuries before exclusively for his family. Strange to think he was the last one alive who would ever know that they truly existed, he mused, and were not just another legend of the great House of the Fiori.
When he reached the rough-cut entrance to the tunnels, he thrust his torch in ahead of him warily, peering into the shadowy gulf. It was damned claustrophobic in there for a man accustomed to the open seas.
"Ach, get on with it, quake-buttocks," he muttered aloud just to break the ponderous silence.
He forced himself in.
The black walls of the secret passageway glistened with trickling water and slime by torchlight. Shadows cast by the flame made fantastical shapes that writhed across the sharp-knuckled fists of rock. Beyond the sphere of his torch's glow, all was black, but somewhere far above him, he...
Awards: Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award Winner - Best Book(Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine) Romantic Times Career Achievement Award Nominee(Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine)
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