Title: Angelina’s Secret
Author: Diane Merrill Wigginton
Series: Jeweled Dagger Series (Book 1) (The Benjamin Franklin Award Winning Series)
Genre: Historical Romance/Suspense
Publisher: Jeweled Dagger Publishing
Release Date: Feb 14 2017
Edition/Format: 2nd Edition/Formats ~ eBook & Print
Angelina Stewart is a beautiful, bold, independent woman hiding a terrible secret. After returning home from a sea voyage, she is touted as a hero for saving her family’s ship and crew from a band of ruthless pirates, but Angelina feels like such a fraud. At the same time, her psychic abilities are becoming more pronounced as she attempts to unravel the mystery of London’s gruesome murders before she becomes the killer’s next victim.
Captain Jude Deveraux is leading a double life as well. He and his band of French privateers steal, rob, and plunder unsuspecting ships that have the misfortune of wandering into their domain. Awarded a title by the King of France for bravery during battle, The Duke of Bayonne, A.K.A. Pirate Captain, Jude Deveraux, takes what he wants from the world as he and best friend, Honore live each day as if it were their last. That is until the day Jude discovers that the only thing he truly wants is to capture the untamed heart of fiery tempered, Angelina for his own.
I turned on my heels and headed in the opposite direction passing our table. I just kept going. I needed some air, which was funny because the enormous dance floor was outdoors.
The gardens were alight with thousands of lanterns, and I needed distance. I headed toward the topiaries at the other end of the royal gardens and as far away from Jude as I could get. Anger mingled with humiliation fueled my escape. I could hear Jude behind me, but I didn’t slow down. Breathing hard at this point because I was nearly running and my tight corset restricted my ability to breathe deeply, I didn’t even know exactly what it was that I was running from. I just knew I needed space.
When he grabbed my arm, I came to a sudden stop as I gasped for air. Jude grasped my shoulders, shaking me like a rag doll. My wig toppled to the ground and pins flew as copper strands tumbled down, spilling over my shoulders.
“Why didn’t you stop? Didn’t you hear me calling after you? What is wrong?” Jude’s anger was mixed with frustration as he tried to make sense of his own feelings.
“Help me, please. I cannot breathe,” My words came out in short gasps for air before I went limp. Spinning me around while holding me against his left arm, he proceeded to unlace the top portion of my gown. Reaching into the pocket of my gown, he retrieved the dagger and cut the top laces of my corset. The air flooded into my lungs in one giant gasp as my knees gave out. Placing the dagger between his teeth, he picked me up in his arms, like one would a hurt child, and carried me toward a bench void of light. It was probably extinguished by the bench’s previous occupants.
Shadows playing across his face made him look ruthless and savage. I had to blink twice for I thought my eyes deceived me. Gently placing me on the bench he kneeled down. Retrieving the sheath from my pocket, he placed it on the end of the dagger and put it back into my pocket.
“You can really never tell when these things will come in handy.” He patted the dagger that lay in my pocket against my leg. “Good thing you took your brother’s advice.”
“How did you know I had it on me?” Astonishment showing on my face.
“I felt it when we were dancing,” he answered offhandedly.
“Is it often you hold a woman so closely while dancing that you know exactly what she carries in her dress pocket?” I asked slightly scandalized by his admission.
“You can lose the disapproving tone, if you please. It isn’t often that I have the need to hold a woman so closely. They usually press in on me,” he added, feeling rather full of himself.
“Hah . . . you have rather a high opinion of yourself.” I found his attitude grating on my nerves. Abruptly standing to leave, I took three steps before remembering my dress was undone
“I heard no protests from you while we were dancing.”
Whirling around, I fixed him with an angry scowl. “I couldn’t protest since your arm was cutting off my circulation, you pompous toad.” I turned around presenting my back to him and indicating my need by pointing to my dress where it gaped open. “Assistance, please.”
“Toads don’t have thumbs.” Playing the fool, he held his hands up as if all his digits were stuck together.
I turned on him with hands on my hips. “You have some nerve, Jude Deveraux, or would Judas be a more appropriate name for you?” I angrily said through clenched teeth so mad that I would swear steam escaped from my ears.
“You have so many moods it is difficult to pick just which one is my favorite.” His arm snaked out ensnaring me tightly against his taut form. Tipping my head back with his free hand under my chin his kiss was tender and passionate at the same time. He tasted of red wine and sensuality and something so familiar.
Then it hit me. Those gloriously full lips had kissed me before. Opening my eyes and pulling back as my hands furiously worked to untie his cravat and open his shirt.
“Slow down, my pet, I enjoy enthusiasm but there are limits to even my self-control,” Jude said in his thick French accent which I discovered came out when he was amorous.
Reaching my hands beneath the collar of his crisp white linen shirt, I worked one hand over his chest as my other hand sought out his left shoulder. Every scar just as I had remembered them, but the left shoulder would be the tell.
“Ah hah! It was you all along, I knew it! And you tried to tell me I was mistaken.” I pushed hard against his chest to free myself from our entanglement. I paced back and forth in front of him, as I proceeded to berate his good name and parentage in the process. I turned to face him squarely now with hands on hips and eyes shooting daggers at him.
“You lied to me. You tried to make me think that I had lost my mind because I said that the pirate captain and Jude Deveraux, the Duke of Bayonne, was one in the same. And yet here you are, and much to my surprise you are the very same! Care to explain yourself, Monsieur Deveraux?” My breathing labored heavily, so filled with anger I struggled to catch my breath.
“Ma belle Ange, you truly are an angel,” Jude purred the words. “You now know my secret and the question that lies between us is what will you do with that knowledge?” He stood silently in front of me for a moment, then dropped to one knee. “My life is now in your hands, ma amour.”
My anger suddenly dissipating like water on a roof of a hot summer day. The very thought of never being with him or touching him again weighed heavy on my heart. My breathing came in short bursts now for a different reason.
“No! Don’t you start with your French and your sincere eyes. How could you?” A small scream mixed with a growl of frustration omitted from my throat as I clenched and unclenched my hands by my side, trying desperately to think.
Walking over to him, I placed my hands on his face, tilting it up to mine. “I have not breathed deeply since the day you left me on the deck of that ship, and sailed away.” Tears springing to my eyes as one single tear escaped making a trail down my cheek. “I believed I would never see you again and my heart broke that day,” I confessed, while tears spilled from my eyes as I spoke what was truly in my heart. “Then like a dream you came strolling up one day, unconstrained, giving me a shock only to deny the truth. My imprisoned heart cannot take any more lies. I implore you take my heart or lock it away forever, never to be used again.” And with that, Jude wrapped one arm around my waist as he gently caressed my face.
“You truly are a remarkable woman.”
Our lips touched gently at first, as I reached up, releasing his hair from its tie and threading my fingers through it pulling him even closer still. My desire was igniting deep inside of me as a moan escaped from Jude’s throat. Lifting me in his arms, he began to look around as I rained kisses on his neck and face.
I could tell we were moving but in what direction I did not care.
Born in Riverside, California in 1963, my family and I moved to San Diego when I was nearly 8. I had a very rich life growing up, with my brother, David and best friend Gigi, for company. I was married to my current husband, David in 1998 and we moved to Herald, California in 2001. We have a blended family of 6 kids and enjoy the rural life on our 5 1/2 acre ranch, 45 minutes south of Sacramento. I love writing and creating stories that are different and intriguing. I like to give my readers a little something unexpected. I have always wanted to be a published author, but the timing never seemed right. Raising a family and working full time always took precedence. Shortly after I turned 50 I decided that it would never be the right time, and determined that I needed to live my truth and follow my dreams. So I began writing on a whim, and loved everything about it. My first book is out, and the second one is at the publishers, scheduled to be released, April 4, 2017. I am currently working on book 3 of my series, slated to release the first week in August, 2017. I am very excited about the future, and thrilled to be writing. I count my blessings every day because I know how truly lucky I am. Life is good.
Facebook Page/Book Page Angelina’s Secret
Website/Publisher Jeweled Dagger Publishing