The Elusive Earl
Saints and Scoundrels #2
By Maddison Michaels
Releasing August 27th, 2018
Brianna Penderley has a knack for getting into precarious situations, especially when it comes to her love for archaeology. In the heart of Naples, her terrible Italian has her accidentally becoming engaged to two men at the same time. Of course, Daniel Wolcott—the Earl of Thornton and the only man ever able to vex her—shows up to rescue her.
Daniel has spent the majority of his life exercising rigid control over his emotions, determined never to become the rake his father was. But when he goes to aid his mentor’s danger-prone niece once again, he finds himself struggling to control his attraction to a woman who is his complete opposite.
When their situation goes from bad to worse, Daniel and Brianna find themselves swept up into a perilous adventure, and they must work together to set things right. Now, if they can just avoid killing each other in the process.
In The Elusive Earl (Saints and Scoundrels #2) by Maddison Michaels, Brianna Penderley always manages to get herself into situations that she needs someone to help her get out of. However, this time, she's managed to get herself into a situation she might not be able to get out of when she becomes engaged to two men. Luckily, her fix-it man Daniel Wolcott is a man that knows what it takes to get a job done. Then again, he's always been her knight in shining armor. It's just too bad they don't like each other, otherwise they'd be perfect together. But with trouble brewing; trouble that leads back to the death of her parents, will Daniel be able to keep Brianna safe or will they lose their chance at happy ever after?
Having absolutely loved the first book of this series, I couldn't wait to read more by this wonderful author and this second book of Ms. Michaels Saints and Scoundrels series is a highly entertaining, fast-paced, captivating read that takes readers on quite the journey delving deep into the greed of evil people, discovering the whereabouts of a treasure that many want and learning what got the heroine's parents killed and who was responsible. Will Brianna and Daniel be able to solve the mystery? Will Daniel be able to protect Brianna from the danger they face?
The way this story started was absolutely brilliant because the heroine does manage to get herself into some tricky situations and it's understandable why she needs someone to help her get out of them. However, it was from the moment the hero and heroine come face-to-face for the first time where this story really takes off and made this story an absolute page turner, as the two rub each other the wrong way. Will they ever be able to get along long enough to have a shot at a future together?
As for the dialogue, it was intense due to the main characters back stories and everything these two go through on their journey to happy ever after including the danger they face and the shocks the heroine gets when it comes to her heritage. Moreover, both the main characters were utterly compelling and had me reading quickly, determined to discover whether they'd come out on top against the bad guys.
With the heroine, she's strong; brave; stubborn; feisty; persistent in her pursuit to find someone she loves before something bad happens to them; and I liked that she didn't give up on getting to the bottom of the mystery and do all she can for someone she loves. Really, she's an absolute challenge for the hero and I could understand why Daniel finds her so exasperating at times. While Daniel, he was a wonderful hero in the way he's confident in his skills in getting the heroine out of trouble; smart; driven; and I liked how he would do anything for the heroine's family because he considers them family. Really, they've been so good to him over the years. However, I couldn't help but sympathize with the hero when it comes to his reasons for not wanting a relationship because he doesn't want to hurt a woman the way his father hurt his mother. Will he realize that he's not his father before he loses Brianna for good?
Overall, Ms. Michaels has delivered a marvellous read in this book where the chemistry between this couple was powerful; the romance was engrossing and had me liking these two together; and the ending had me worried for the main characters because of the danger they face, but had me liking what the hero does to win back the heroine after their relationship goes awry. Certainly, he knows how to woo a woman, even if his skills with an instrument aren't all that impressive according to the heroine's aunt. However, it was the epilogue that wrapped this story up nicely, as the hero and heroine certainly get a good surprise. I would recommend The Elusive Earl by Maddison Michaels, if you enjoy Historical Romance, the enemy to lovers trope or books by authors Stacy Reid, Jess Michaels, Pamela Mingle and Callie Hutton.
Mendicino, Calabria, Italy—1833
“It was the most glorious treasure the world had ever seen. Gold, silver, rubies, diamonds bigger than a man’s fist, priceless statues and urns, all carried on the backs of the loyal army of the great Visigoth king: plunders and spoils from King Aleric’s successful sacking of Rome.”
Isabella Maria Penderley stopped short with a start, hovering just outside the slightly ajar door of her baby daughter’s bedroom. A calm and melodic voice was recounting the tale of the fabled lost treasure. It was the voice of a man she had dreaded ever hearing again.
Slowly, she pushed open the door until the entirety of the room came into view. She exhaled a sharp breath and her chest constricted at the sight that greeted her.
Her husband Edward was lying deathly still in a pool of blood in the middle of the floor, the crimson of it trickling from a jagged gash across his throat.
A broken sob wrenched from her lips, but she couldn’t move; all she could do was drag her gaze up from his still form to the man sitting beside her daughter’s cot.
“Principessa Isabella, it is good to see you again, my dear.” His words were at odds with the steel in his eyes. “I am just regaling your daughter with the ancient tale of King Aleric and the great treasure he was buried with. The treasure you and your husband tried to cheat me of.”
“Calogero, please, I beg you,” Isabella said. “We did no—”
“Enough.” His voice was calm and even, though there was no mistaking the authority in his tone. “I believe I warned you what would happen if you and your husband double-crossed me, did I not?”
“Please, you must not do this,” she implored, stepping into the room.
“You’ve given me no choice.” He lifted his right hand. Clenched in his grip was a dagger, its blade dripping with blood. “Stay there, my dear. I don’t wish to use this on you, but I shall if I must.”
Isabella felt her heart lurch, but she kept her attention steadily fixed on Calogero. She could not let herself look back down again at Edward, or she would be lost.
Calogero glanced at the toddler, who, sitting in her cot, regarded him with innocent eyes. He turned back to Isabella and smiled, the smile that had always repulsed her with its merciless intent. “Clearly, she was destined to be a beauty like her mamma. A shame she will not grow old enough to do so. But do not fret. You shall have even more beautiful children with me.”
“No, please, Calogero. I beg you, leave her alone. She has nothing to do with this.”
“She has everything to do with this, Isabella.” His sharp gaze pierced into her own. “What is the little bastarda’sname?”
Isabella squared her shoulders and raised her chin. “She is no bastarda. She is Brianna Elizabeta Maria Penderley, born within the sanctity of marriage. And though her surname may be Penderley, she is still my daughter and therefore of the house of Bartelli, heir to the kingdom of Cosenza.”
The man gently laughed and casually stood. “Your father all but disowned you when you broke off your betrothal and ran off with this Englishman.” He took a step toward Edward’s still form and then kicked him in the ribs.
Edward did not move. Isabella’s body clenched, but she had to block out the pain. Her daughter’s life depended on it. “My father is quick to anger but will recognize his grand-daughter.”
The man shrugged. “I doubt it. But it won’t matter after you tell me the location of the final resting place of King Aleric and his riches. Then I will have no need of your father and his wealth.”
“I do not know,” she implored. “You must believe me. Edward and I were close to finding the location, but we were not successful.”
The man sighed and walked over to the crib. “It pains me to hear you lie straight to my face. I know you found the chamber, my dear. One of my spies heard you and that English husband of yours talking about it.”
Isabella slowly began moving toward them, but he held up his knife in warning.
“I will not warn you again, Principessa.”
She stopped and could only watch as he leaned into the crib and ran his free hand lightly through her daughter’s short, chestnut curls. If she’d had her pistol on her, she would have killed the fiend then and there.
“Your mamma interrupted my story, did she not, little one?” he cooed to the baby. “Now, where were we…? Ah yes, after King Aleric had sacked Rome and plundered its treasure, he led his army for miles, deep into the heart of Italy and through Naples. He was determined to continue to conquer each city his army swept through, but alas, when he stopped in the province of what is now known as Cosenza, he become ill with a fever and perished. His army, loyal to the very last, had workers in the region dig a burial chamber, and in it, they buried their king and all of the stolen treasures of Rome with him.”
He glanced up at Isabella. “That is the legend, yes?”
She nodded reluctantly.
“And what happens next?” he asked. “You must tell your daughter.”
Isabella fisted her hands by her side, an unholy rage beginning to consume her. If only she could get him away from the crib, she might be able to wrestle his knife away. “His army killed the workers who had built the burial chamber, so they would not be able to reveal the King’s secret resting place. Then, all but one of the soldiers, loyal to their much-beloved ruler to the very last, fell upon their own swords within their King’s tomb, determined to guard him in the afterlife. The last soldier, though, took a sacred oath to seal and protect the tomb, to ensure the King and his army would never be disturbed. Since then, the location has been forever lost, yet it is believed to be eternally protected by the ghosts of the King’s soldiers.”
His eyes glittered with greed before turning back to assess the baby. “Until your mamma and papà found it, that is.”
“We did not find it!”
“Stop lying,” he growled, his normally smooth veneer slipping for an instant. “You will tell me the location, or you will watch as your daughter dies.”
“I cannot tell you what I do not know,” Isabella tried to placate him.
He looked past her shoulder. “Take the child and drown it. We shall come and watch.”
Isabella spun around and saw one of Calogero’s burly henchman standing in the doorway behind her. “No, you cannot! Please, I beg you. She is only a baby!”
The big man slowly lumbered past her toward the crib.
“NO!” Isabella’s scream tore through the night as she lunged at Calogero.
The look of surprise on his face was suddenly replaced with frustration as she launched herself upon him. She clawed at his eyes and jerked her knee toward his midsection.
He roared in displeasure, then pushed her away. A hot, sharp pain lanced through her as something plunged deep into her stomach.
She stumbled back a step and looked down to see his dagger lodged in her abdomen. Suddenly, her legs wobbled, and her head felt light.
“No. No. No,” he cried, rushing toward her and catching her from falling to the floor. “Dannazione!” he swore in Italian. “This is not what I planned. You were not meant to die. Why did you do such a stupid thing?” He shook her. “You must tell me where the treasure is! Where is it? Where?” He shook her more vigorously. “You cannot let the find of the century be lost forever.”
Her eyelids fluttered, and she looked across to the crib, where Brianna was gripping the railing with her chubby fingers, a keen wail coming from the baby’s lungs. A tear slid down her cheek as she slowly lifted her hand toward her daughter. “I am sorry, my darling girl,” she whispered. “Mamma is so sorry.”
“Tell me where the treasure is!” Calogero shouted.
She felt a moment of satisfaction, seeing him lose control for the first time in all the years she’d known him. With all the strength she had left, she motioned him closer to her.
He leaned his ear in toward her mouth. “Where is it?”
“I would rather go to Hell than tell you anything.”
He slapped her hard. “You little bitch.”
She managed to smile weakly at him. “It is you, though, Calogero, who will be going to Hell for all you have done,” she took pleasure in telling him. “Il Diavolo will be coming for you. You cannot hide your true nature from God as you do everyone else.”
She felt her strength start to leave her, but then she looked up to the ceiling and saw the most beautiful golden light beckoning to her. And there in the distance was her beloved Edward, smiling and holding out his hand to her. She reached for it and was at peace.
To celebrate the release of THE ELUSIVE EARL by Maddison Michaels, we’re giving away for a $25 Amazon gift card!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open internationally. One winner will be chosen to receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 9/9/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Entangled Publishing will send one winning prize, Pure Textuality PR will deliver the other. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
Indoctrinated into a world of dashing rogues and feisty heroines when she was 14 years old, MADDISON MICHAELS is a prolific reader and writer of romantic suspense and historical fiction. She gets her daily dose of suspense from prosecuting real life villains in the Courts.
A member of the RWA and RWA Australia, Maddison is as passionate about her writing as she is about her other two loves; her family and her cups of tea. Luckily she gets a healthy dash of romance married to her wonderful husband and her exercise regime is kept on track by her six-year-old daughter, who ensures Maddison is kept very busy chasing her around.
Maddison’s historical novels are her way of time traveling back to Victorian London to experience a cornucopia of intrigue, romance and debauchery all from the comfort of her living room! Her next novel ‘The Elusive Earl’ is the second book in her ‘Saints and Scoundrels’ series, and is set in the same world as her first book ‘The Devilish Duke’.
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