Signed Books Linda Lael Miller Pirates

ISBN 13: 9780671527327

Pirates

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9780671527327: Pirates

Struggling to escape painful memories of her divorce, Phoebe Turlow travels to a Caribbean island, once the home of notorious pirate Duncan Rourke, only to find herself journeying back in time and coming face to face with the dashing and tormented marauder. 75,000 first printing. Tour.

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About the Author:

The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is the author of more than a hundred historical and contemporary novels. Now living in Spokane, Washington, the “First Lady of the West” hit a career high when all three of her 2011 Creed Cowboy books debuted at #1 on the New York Times list. In 2007, the Romance Writers of America presented her their Lifetime Achievement Award. Visit her at LindaLaelMiller.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

When the dog deserted her and moved in with Jeffrey and his new bride, it was, for Phoebe Turlow, the proverbial last straw.

She had weathered the divorce well enough, considering how many of her dreams had come crashing down in the process. She'd even been philosophical about losing her job as a research assistant to Professor Benning, at a time when finding a comparable position was virtually impossible, given recent government budget cuts. After all, the professor had been writing and lecturing on the subject of American History at Seattle College for forty-five fruitful and illustrious years; he was ready, by his own admission, to spend his days reading, fishing, and playing chess.

Phoebe had held herself together, through it all. And now even Murphy, whom she'd rescued from the pound as a mangy, slat-fibbed mongrel and carefully nursed back to health, had turned on her.

She lowered the telephone receiver slowly back into its cradle, gazing at the dismal Seattle rain sheeting the window of her rented house. The glass reflected a hazy, pixielike image of a woman with short chestnut hair, large blue eyes, high cheekbones, and fair skin.

But Phoebe was looking through herself, mentally reliving the phone call she'd just received. Heather, Wife Number Two and widely proclaimed light of Jeffrey's life, hadn't been able -- she probably hadn't even tried -- to suppress the smug note in her voice when she called to relay the news that the hound of hell was "safe and sound" in their kitchen. To hear Heather tell it, that furry ingrate had crossed a continent, fording icy rivers and surmounting insurmountable obstacles, enduring desperate privations of all sorts -- Phoebe could almost hear the theme music of a new movie, rated G, of course. Murphy, Come Home.

Muttering to herself, Phoebe crossed the worn linoleum floor, picked up the dog's red plastic bowl, and dumped it into the trash, kibbles and all. She emptied the water dish and tossed that away as well. Then, running her hands down the worn legs of her blue jeans and feeling more alone than ever before, Phoebe wandered into her small, uncarpeted living room and stared despondently out the front window.

Mel, the postman, was just pulling up to her mailbox in his blue and white jeep. He tooted the horn and waved, and Phoebe waved back with a dispirited smile. Her unemployment check was due, but the prospect didn't cheer her up. If it hadn't been for her savings and the small amount of insurance money she'd received when her mother and stepfather were killed in a car accident years ago, Phoebe figured she would have been sitting on a rain-slicked sidewalk down by the Pike Place Market, with a cigar box in front of her to catch coins.

Okay, she thought, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. She could last for about six months, if she didn't get a new job soon, and then she would join the ranks of Seattle's panhandlers. An inspiring prospect, for somebody who was all of twenty-six years old.

Snatching her blue hooded rain slicker from the peg beside the door and tossing it over her shoulders, Phoebe dashed out into the chilly drizzle to fetch her mail. She'd sent out over fifty résumés since losing her job with Professor Benning -- maybe there would be a positive response, or one of the rare, brightly colored cards her half brother, Eliott, sometimes sent from Europe or South America or Africa, or wherever he happened to be. Or a letter from a friend...

Except that all their friends were really Jeffrey's, not hers.

And that Eliott didn't give a damn about her, and never had. To him, she was a trifle, an unfortunate postscript to their mother's life. She wished she could stop caring what he thought.

Phoebe brought herself up short; she was feeling sorry for herself, and that was against her personal code. Resolutely, she wrenched open the door of her rural mailbox, which was affixed to a rusted metal post by the front gate, and reached inside. There was nothing but a sales circular, and she would have crumpled it up and tossed it into the nearest mud puddle, but she couldn't bring herself to litter.

She walked slowly back up the cracked walk to her sagging porch and the open door beyond it. The bright yellow envelope, now sodden and limp from the rain, was addressed to "Occupant," and the street numbers were off by two blocks. Damn, she thought, with a wry grimace. Even her junk mail belonged to somebody else.

The letter was about to join Murphy's kibbles and tooth-marked bowls when an impulse -- maybe it was desperation, maybe it was some kind of weird premonition -- made Phoebe stop. She carried it to her kitchen table, sat down -- wondering all the while why she hadn't just chucked the thing -- opened it, and smoothed the single page inside with as much care as if it were an ancient scroll, unearthed only moments before.

SUNSHINE! screamed the cheaply printed block letters at the top of the paper, which had been designed to resemble a telegram. SPARKLING, CRYSTAL BLUE SEAS! VISIT PARADISE ISLAND ABSOLUTELY FREE! WALK IN THE FABLED FOOTSTEPS OF DUNCAN ROURKE, THE PIRATE PATRIOT!

Phoebe was an intelligent adult. She'd gone through college with zero emotional support from her family and had worked at a responsible job from the day she graduated until two months ago, when the academic roof had fallen in. She had voted in every election, and she was by no means naive -- even if she had married Jeffrey Brewster with her eyes wide open. She knew a tacky advertising scheme when she saw one.

All the same, the prospects of "sunshine" and "crystal blue seas" prodded at something slumbering deep in her heart, behind a bruise and a stack of dusty, broken hopes.

She frowned. And there was that name, too -- Duncan Rourke. She'd seen it before -- probably while doing research for Professor Benning.

Phoebe rose from the table, leaving the sales flyer spread out on the shiny surface, and took herself to the stove to make a cup of herbal tea. Knowing that the promise of a free trip to Paradise Island -- wherever that might be -- was a scam of some kind did nothing to quell the odd, excited sense of impending adventure tingling in the pit of her stomach.

The kettle gave a shrill whistle, and Phoebe poured boiling water over a tea bag and carried her cup back to the table. She read the flyer again, this time very slowly and carefully, one eyebrow raised in skepticism, the fingers of her right hand buried in her short, tousled hair.

To take advantage of the "vacation all her friends would envy," Phoebe had only to inspect a "glamorous beachfront condominium guaranteed to increase in value" and listen to a sales pitch. In return, her generous benefactors would fly her to the small Caribbean island "justly named Paradise," put her up in the "distinctive Eden Hotel for two fun-filled days and nights," and provide one "gala affair, followed by a truly festive dinner."

The whole thing was one big rip-off, Phoebe insisted to herself, and yet she was intrigued, and perhaps just a little frantic. So what if she had to look at a condo made of ticky-tacky, watch a few promotional slides, and listen to a spiel from a schmaltzy, fast-talking salesman or two? She needed to get away, if only for a weekend, and here was her chance to soak up some tropical sunshine without doing damage to her rapidly dwindling bank account.

Phoebe's conscience, always overactive, pricked a little. Okay, suppose she did call the toll-free number and book herself on the next flight to Paradise. She'd be making the trip under false pretenses, since she had no intention of buying a condominium. Her credit was fine, but she was divorced, female, and unemployed, and there was no way she'd ever qualify for a mortgage.

Still, there was nothing in the flyer specifying that buyers had to be preapproved for a loan. It was an invitation, pure and simple.

Phoebe closed her eyes and imagined the warmth of the sun on her face, in her hair, settling deep into her muscles and veins and organs, nourishing her very spirit. The yearning she felt was almost mystical, and wholly irresistible.

She told herself that she who hesitates is lost, and that it couldn't hurt to call, and then she walked over to the phone and punched in the number.

Four hectic days later, Phoebe found herself on board a small chartered airplane, aimed in the general direction of the Caribbean, with her one bag tucked neatly under the seat. The man across the aisle wore plaid polyester pants and a sweater emblazoned with tiny golf clubs, and the woman sitting behind her sported white pedal pushers, copious varicose veins, a T-shirt showing two silhouettes engaged in either mortal combat or coitus, and a baseball cap adorned with tiny flashing Christmas tree lights. The seven other passengers were equally eccentric.

Phoebe settled against the back of her seat with a sigh and closed her eyes, feeling like a freak in her brown loafers, jeans, and blue cashmere turtleneck, all purchased at Nordstrom with a credit card and a great deal of optimism. She might have been on a cut-rate night flight to Reno, she thought with rueful humor, judging by the costumes of her fellow travelers.

The plane lifted off at seven o'clock in the morning, rising into the foggy skies over Seattle, and presently a flight attendant appeared. Since the aisle was too narrow for a cart, the slender young man carried a yellow plastic basket in one hand, dispensing peanuts and cola and other refreshments as he moved through the cabin.

The woman in the battery-powered hat ordered a Bloody Mary and received a censuring stare and a generic beer for her trouble.

Phoebe, who had planned to ask for mineral water, merely shook her head and smiled. She was making the trip under false pretenses, after all, and the less she accepted from these people in the way of amenities, the less guilt she would feel afterward.

She tried to sleep and failed, even though she'd lain awake all night worrying, then pulled an ancient thin volume, purloined from Professor Benning's extensive personal book collection, from her bag. The book, published years and years ago, was entitled Duncan Rourke, Pirate or Patriot?

Phoebe opened it to the first page, frowning a little, and began to read.

Mr. Rourke, according to the biographer, had been born in Charles Town, in the colony of Carolina, to gentle and aristocratic people. His education was impeccable -- he spoke French, Italian, and Spanish fluently and had a penchant for the work of poets, those of his own time, and those of antiquity. He was also known to be proficient with the harpsichord and the mandolin, as well as the sword and musket, and, the writer hinted, he'd been no slouch in the boudoir, either.

Phoebe yawned. Duncan Rourke, it seemed, had qualified as a Renaissance man. She read on.

Until the very day of his death, no one had known for certain whether Rourke had been a cutthroat or a hero. Speculation abounded, of course.

For her part, Phoebe wondered why he couldn't have been both rascal and paragon? No one, after all, was entirely good or bad -- a human being, particularly a complex one, as Rourke must have been, could hardly be reduced to one dimension.

Presently, Phoebe closed her eyes -- and the musty pages of the old book -- and a faint smile trembled on her lips. Pondering Mr. Rourke's morality, or lack of same, she slept at long last.

1780

Paradise Island, the Caribbean


Duncan Rourke sat at the table in his study, full of consternation, affection, and a vast, roiling uneasiness.

The precious letter, penned by Duncan's sister, Phillippa, and dispatched to him months before by devious and complex means, lay before him, slightly crumpled.

"Come home..." the diabolical angel had written, in her ornate and flowing script.

Please, Duncan, I implore you to act for our sakes, Mama's and Papa's and Lucas's and mine, if not for your own. You must return to the bosom of your family. Surely nothing more would be required to prove your loyalty to His Majesty than this. Papa might then cease his endless pacing -- he traverses the length of his study, over and over again, night after night, from moonrise until the sun's awakening -- if only he knew you could be counted among the King's men, like himself and our esteemed elder brother, Lucas...Papa fears, dear Duncan, as we all do, that your escapades in those southerly seas you so love will be misunderstood, that you will be arrested or even hanged...

Duncan sighed and reached for the glass of port a serving girl had set within reach only moments before.

"Troublesome news?" inquired his friend and first mate, Alex Maxwell, from his post before the terrace doors. A cool, faintly salty breeze ruffled the gauzy curtains and eased the otherwise relentless heat of a summer afternoon in the Caribbean.

"Only the usual rhetoric and prattle," Duncan replied, after taking a sip of his wine, swallowing a good many contradictory feelings along with it. "My sister pleads with me to return to the fold and take up my place among His Majesty's devoted adherents. She implies that, should I fail to heed this warning, our sorrowing and much-tormented sire shall wear out either the soles of his boots or my mother's rugs, in his eternal and evidently ambulatory ruminations."

Alex grimaced. "Good God, man," he said with some impatience, turning at last from his vigil at the window overlooking the sultry blue and gold waters of a sun-splashed, temperamental sea. "Can't you speak in simple English for once in your bloody life?"

Duncan arched one dark eyebrow. Language was, to him, a toy as well as a tool. He loved to explore its every nuance and corner, to exercise various words and combinations of words, to savor them upon his tongue, as he would a fine brandy or an exquisite wine. Although he liked and admired Maxwell -- indeed, Duncan had entrusted Alex with his very life on more than one occasion -- he would not have forsworn linguistic indulgence even for him. "Tell me, my friend -- are you liverish today, or simply obstreperous in the extreme?"

Alex shoved the fingers of both hands into his butternut hair in a dramatic show of frustration. Like Duncan, Alex had lived one score and ten years; they had been tutored together from the time they could toddle out of their separate nurseries. Both loved fast horses, witty women with sinful inclinations, and good rum, and their political views were, in the opinion of the Crown at least, equally subversive. Physically and emotionally, however, the two men were quite different -- Alex being small and slightly built, with the ingenuous brown eyes of a fawn and, when vexed, all the subtlety of a bear batting at a swarm of wasps with both paws. Duncan's temperament was cool and somewhat detached, and he stood tall enough, as his father said, to be hanged from a high branch without a scaffold. He prided himself on his self-control, whereas his enemies, no less than his friends, credited him with the tenacity and cunning of a winter-starved wolf. His hair was dark as jet, tied back at the nape of his neck with a narrow ribbon, and his eyes a deep and, so he'd been told by grand ladies and whores alike, patently disturbing blue. His features, aristocratic from birth, had been hardened by the injustices he had both witnessed and suffered.

These, given the troubled nature of the times, were many.

"I'm sorry," Alex said with a weariness that disturbed Duncan greatly, turning at last to face his friend. "I don't deny that I've been foul-tempered i...

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Miller, Linda Lael
Published by Pocket Books Inc., New York, NY, U.S.A. (1995)
ISBN 10: 0671527320 ISBN 13: 9780671527327
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Book Description Pocket Books Inc., New York, NY, U.S.A., 1995. Hard Cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. A Pocket Books hardback with dust jacket. Book condition is new, no wear, writing or stamps, Dust Jacket is new with light shelf wear.*We have other titles in this genre in stock and give discounts in shipping on additional books sent in the same package, please contact us for more info.**.WRAPPED IN A PLASTIC BAG TO PROTECT CONDITION OF BOOK.Summary - .When Phoebe Turlow decides to answer a tacky advertising circular--the kind that announces "You have won a weekend in the Caribbean!"--she knows it's a ploy to get her to listen to a real estate offer. But she needs to get out of Seattle and forgets about her newly ex-husband, her dwindling finances, and the lonely nights that seem to stretch ahead of her into infinity. She can't forsee what really awaits her on Paradise Island. And it definitely isn't a deal on a new condo. . . . Bookseller Inventory # 113007203

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