In the days after the Napoleonic War old scores were being settled. Beware the Angel of Death warned England's War Department, for one insidious touch from the assassin left even the noblest and most reclusive man gasping his last breath. Lady Sera Montgomerie knew she had to brave the dangers of a midnight ride to protect the secrets of her dearest friend. But in daring to leave the protection of her brothers, she chanced an unforgettable encounter with the notorious local black sheep. The Blackguard of Blackstone returned from a decade abroad seeking only one thing--revenge. Gabriel St. Clair knew from his dying fathers missive that the Angel had come to call. His only clue to the notorious angel's identity is the supposedly innocent girl he meets on the road at midnight. When these two meet, they are drawn into a whirlwind of conspiracy, seduction and deception. Can Sera and Gabriel's love and understanding see beyond the passion of hate and fear?
A Hard Shell Word Factory Release
Jennifer Kokoski was born and raised in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland some thirty years ago the youngest of a happy, boisterous brood. After battling arthritis in childhood and perhaps because of it, she learned the magic that can only be found in a good book. As an adult, she pursued a degree in psychology in hopes of understanding people but found her true vocation lay in writing good stories of her own. Whether for publication or as a web designer, she uses her artistic skills to teach, inform and entertain. She continues to make her home in Maryland amidst her ever-growing family including two nieces, three nephews and two godsons - the next generation of Kokoskis.
"From the very first word, Jennifer Kokoski draws us into the story, where we become participants rather than spectators. The plot is well thought out and executed. She keeps us on the edge of our seats, waiting to find out exactly what secrets Sera holds, and how Gabriel is involved. Kokoski gives us a little bit at a time, enough to satisfy some curiosity, but not enough to give the game away. The characters are so real they seem to step from the pages into our imagination; the relationships between them well defined. The flow is never interrupted, each chapter leading smoothly into another. The love scenes are intense while remaining tasteful. Kokoski is a master at weaving suspense and drama throughout. I recommend this book to fans of any genre. I loved it!"Lynette Marie -- eBook Reviews Weekly
"Most historical romances would end at this point with the couple discovering they are in love and will live happily ever after. Not so here. Gabriel and Sera still have mysteries to solve and the love between them admitted. To say nothing of the animosity of Sara's family towards Gabriel that must be dealt with. All in all this is a very exciting and by turns tender tale of love and intrigue that should appeal to most any reader of the genre. I highly recommend it."Marge Robbins -- simegen.com
"Here is a Regency with more than just romance although there is plenty of that in this exciting book as well. Sinister spies, wartime intrigue and secret treasures as well as a race to unmask the villainous Triad leaders make this a book to dive into and not come up for air until it is finished! This is the ideal book for anybody who enjoys a romance but wants more from their book than just love. It is not a short book twice as long as many Regencies but Kokoski manages to fill the pages and the pace doesn't flag which is quite an achievement in itself. I would say that this is probably the best Regency I've read yet this year so I hope Ms Kokoski has more in the pipeline."Rachel A Hyde -- MyShelf.com
East Chatham, Southern England
"STAND AND deliver!"
The thieves growled like hungry human wolves. Lady Seraphina Montgomerie hid beneath her brother's cloak in hopes the highwaymen didn't recognize their prey was a woman. Midnight shadows on a barren country road were the only protection Sera had.
In retrospect, setting off on her own that night proved foolhardy, but she had no choice. Her dearest friend was depending on her. Like her patriotic brothers, Sera simply could not betray a noble trust. Even if it meant facing bloodthirsty highwaymen at midnight.
She only wished she hadn't gone on this reckless mission alone.
Gripping the reins of her gray-speckled mare, Sera bit back her fear of wolves and stared firmly ahead.
"Aye, ye be smart about it, guv!" hissed the thief behind her. "No tricks and we'll do our business in peace."
Sera said nothing. In dawning horror, she realized she was trapped. A large man with a bulbous nose pointed a pistol at her heart. His partner, a thin man with a young raspy voice, cut off the path back to her home. Both highwaymen looked and smelled fouler than their horses. Sera buried her nose within her cloak to avoid the stench.
"I'm sorry, but I have nothing to give you, gentlemen." She tried to deepen her voice, but it echoed with a distinctive high pitch. She winced at the thought she sounded like her nephew with a cold.
"Gennelmen, is it?" mocked the man with the pistol. "We got us a right cove 'ere, don't we Charles? I bet 'e always remembers to say please and thank you even to 'is whores."
"Enough of the chit chat, Georgie!" snapped the second thief. He warily eyed the dark road for intruders. "Just get 'is money and let's be off afore trouble starts."
"Nothing ever 'appens in East Chatham, brother." Charles gleamed with wicked humor. "We got all night afore any of the locals emerge from their cozy beds. Only ones about at this 'our are up to no good. Where ye 'eaded, boy? Into port for a bit o' muslin?"
Sera's hands trembled beneath her brother's cloak as a chill night wind whipped through her. It seemed even Nature taunted her, making her feel alone and unprotected. "Don't go pale on us now, boy!" barked the big-nosed thief. "Right bred coves are easy to fright, ain't they Charles?"
"Just give us yer purse and we'll be on our way!" growled the other in Sera's ear.
"No," she defied in a small, determined voice. "I told you gentlemen, I have nothing to interest you."
"I'll be the judge of that." Charles ripped the cloak from Sera. In the brief struggle, her long golden-brown hair tumbled out of its bindings.
Her assailants stared at each other in stunned recognition. "She's a bloody chit!" the younger balked.
Stomping down her terror, Sera shot a repressive glare at the highwayman. "I would thank you not to use such language in front of me, Mr. Charles. Now please return my cloak. It is a cold night and I want to go home to bed. I suggest the two of you do the same before someone gets hurt."
"Aye, she's a chit with a mouth on her," crooned the elder brother. "Listen to the way she lectures us like a prim and proper lady."
"I am a lady!" Sera demanded stiffly. "The Earl of Thornbridge's sister to be precise. Harm me and you'll have him to deal with."
"So you're Thornbridge's bit o' muslin, eh?"
"I am his sister," Sera corrected in clipped tones. She twisted her mare's reins; Persephone fidgeted beneath her.
"Thornbridge is an old blue blood like all his clan," retorted young Charles. "His sister wouldn't be caught dead running around in britches."
Sera thought dead an inappropriate word to use at that moment, but kept her opinion to herself. Aptly, she sensed if these two thieves realized how terrified they were making her, they'd become even more appalling and dangerous. And she needed to get hold of her rampant fear to plot an escape so she could get home to hear her brother lecture her again on the arrogance of headstrong, foolish females.
"What are ye doin' out on the road at midnight, luv'ly?" Georgie prodded. "Did ye tire of old Thorny already? Lookin' for a little adventure?"
The way the man was looking at her made Sera want to go straight home and take a bath. Instead, she stared rigidly ahead preparing herself for action. There was no time to be afraid, no time to bemoan her reckless adventure. She got herself into this mess and now she had to get herself out of it.
"Obviously, you are as stupid as you are ugly," Sera retorted in a tone she hoped was haughty. "It would be pointless for me to answer your questions."
"Ugly am I?" he taunted. "Aye, I guess ye pretty pieces are used to the perfumed gents ye indulge. But a whore's still a whore no matter which bed she lies in. Get between her knees and she 'owls whether ye're a duke or a devil."
Sera blushed at the thief's words, though she wasn't exactly positive what they meant. Part of her wanted to run and hide, part of her wanted to strangle him and another part of her wanted to be sick. The closer he leaned to her bestowing noxious whiffs of his unwashed self, the more her stomach reeled.
To his delighted chuckle, Sera slapped Georgie's hand away from her leg.
"Feisty piece, ain't ye?" He chortled. "Tell me, does Thornbridge like ye to wear britches or is that yer preference? I never 'ad a woman in britches afore. It'd be an excitin' adventure."
"Georgie, let's just git 'er money and go," Charles griped.
"You can't have my money," Sera decreed like a school matron.
"Keep it, luv," cooed Georgie. "We'll take a samplin' of yer wares instead."
"My what?" Sera blinked in confusion.
"Now ye be nice and quiet while we find ye a spot in the woods o'er there. Not as soft as yer protector's bed, but I expect ye'll be forgettin' that soon enough."
When Georgie snaked a lecherous arm around Sera's waist, instinct overwhelmed her senses. Howling in outrage, she jabbed a sharp elbow into his chin. The attack knocked her groping attacker completely off-guard. His pistol fell, exploding as it hit the ground. Panic gripped the horses. Sera's mare bolted down the lane giving her only seconds to hold on.
The world spun in terrifying madness. Her attackers shouted a litany of curses after her. Thunderous hooves roared behind Sera as the thieves chased her down the empty road. Her heart pounded fast. Cold air rushed by her at a dizzying pace. She thought she was going to faint and held onto Persephone praying her mare knew where they were going.
Sera trembled low against her horse's neck as they rounded the blind bend in the road. Trees loomed out of the darkness casting menacing shadows that always frightened her. This was the haunted stretch of road where ghosts waited for a chance to terrify the living. Fleetingly, Sera wondered if the specter of an angry warrior would spring up just in time to scare off the thieves who refused to give up their pursuit.
It was on that thought Sera looked up. She saw him the same moment her wide-eyed mare drew to a halt.
At the crest of the hill, atop a monstrous steed shrouded in an eerie moonlit fog, the dark figure glared at his intruders like a medieval knight waiting to enter a battle. Bewitched by the ghastly sight, Sera failed to register Persephone's reaction until the mare reared in surprise and unceremoniously dumped her mistress on the ground.
Splitting pain shot up Sera's weakened leg, but she staunchly ignored the old injury. Hastily, she righted herself to her knees. Then she felt the earth rumble beneath her. It was the unmistakable sound of approaching horses. Charles and his lecherous brother were closing in.
Sera looked toward the eerie phantom as the ground began to tremble louder. The mysterious rider was bearing down on her. Horrified, she realized she was caught between the thieves behind her and the dark knight before her.