Read Online Books/Novels:
The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple
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“How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?”
Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel.
Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.
No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one.
When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.
Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.
But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.
Themes: highwayman, abduction, ransom, forbidden love, self-discovery, danger, crime,
Length: ~140,000 words (standalone novel)
WARNING: Adult content. Contains violence, distressing scenes, abuse, offensive language, and morally ambiguous protagonists.
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The cacophony of sounds filling Julian’s head was unbearable. Had the tavern turned into a concert hall for drunken cats attempting to perform an opera, or was the floor about to crumble beneath his feet and send him all the way down to the depths of hell? He squeezed his eyes shut and hid his face in his sleeve when the door burst open, letting in the morning cold, and—worse yet—light to assault his senses.
And just when the noise turned into a dull yet pleasant silence that made Julian hope for a bit more time with his head comfortably resting atop the sticky wooden table, a tubal voice drilled its way into his ears.
“I knew I’d find you here, you wastrel,” hissed Julian’s father, and as the heavy click of his heels approached, Julian wished that hell had taken mercy on him after all. He’d take eternal flames over what was to come.
A sudden tug on the back of his coat pulled him up, and for a moment Julian had no idea where the floor was anymore. The world spun around him as if he had become a spoke in the wheel of Satan’s carriage. Nausea rose in his throat, and he hummed his displeasure, pressing his eyelids tightly shut. Why today? Why did Father seek him out so early? His skull was an empty shell, rattling only with echoing noise.
“Let’s make haste, Father. We wasted enough time trying to find the damned drunk.” So Horace, Julian’s oldest brother, was here too? What in God’s name could have possessed them to interfere with Julian’s morning routine?
But he didn’t have any time left for pondering as two pairs of strong arms hauled him up from the bench, causing upset to his stomach and mind yet again.
“Damnation! What is it that the two of you want from me?” he uttered, scowling at how hoarse he sounded.
“I see wine washed away all your memories of last night’s conversation. Or was it gin that you drank with those mongrels you idle about with?” Horace said in a biting tone. Every word came out of his mouth accompanied by a squelch of his permanently moist lips, thundering through Julian’s poor head like bugle calls. Julian already knew all the beats in Horace’s repertoire.
Julian wanted to parry the blow, he really did, but with his mind still muddled by yesterday’s gin, all he could think of was clean, lovely water to soothe his raw throat. “Yesterday?” he rasped.
“We spoke of your prospective engagement to Miss White. You promised me not to leave the house before the journey, and yet you fled like a rat. I cannot comprehend how you accomplished that with the footman guarding the doors,” yelled Father into Julian’s ears as he and Horace hauled Julian’s poor body over the threshold and into the bright light of day.
Julian twisted in disgust and shook his head, feeling his feet drag through the expanse of mud outside. “Window.”
“Ha. You damned clown,” growled Horace, his damp lips slapping together so close to Julian’s face, the tiny droplets of saliva misted his cheek. “About to marry into a title, and he’s running as if you demanded he kisses a pig’s arse.”
“You must understand, Father. All I saw of this girl you intend for me is a damn miniature portrait, and you won’t even let me say good-bye to my bachelorhood in the company of old friends?” Julian asked, forcing words through the thick leathery sole that was his tongue. When he managed to open his eyelids enough to see what was coming, the sight of a loaded carriage with Hunt, their driver, already waiting in the box seat, made him instinctively dig his heels into the mud, balking against this rape on his personal freedom. Hunt instantly looked away, as if Julian was to be ignored. He would not be ignored. He had a bright future ahead of him, one that his father and family intended to thwart, extinguish before Julian’s talent could truly bear fruit.
“What do you see in that puddle, Hunt? Are the mud nymphs calling out to you?”
Hunt’s jaw tightened, and he kept his eyes carefully turned away from Julian in such a blatant display of disrespect it burned the last threads of Julian’s self-control.
Horace opened the door, and the dim insides of the carriage started already sucking Julian in like the whirlpool that had taken Julian’s cousin to the bottom of the river nine summers past. That was it, the marriage would not put him into a cold grave just yet, but it would be the death of Julian’s ambitions and dreams, and those he needed to defend at all costs.
He put his hands on both sides of the door and recoiled, determined not to let himself be manhandled like a common thief, or worse yet—a silly girl who didn’t know better—but with his powers so weakened, Horace and Father pushed him past the door after an embarrassingly short struggle.