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Heart of Fire

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Heart of Fire

As a viscount's daughter, vivacious Coralee Whitmore is perfectly placed to write about London's elite in the outspoken ladies' gazette, Heart to Heart. But beneath her fashionable exterior beats the...
As a viscount's daughter, vivacious Coralee Whitmore is perfectly placed to write about London's elite in the outspoken ladies' gazette, Heart to Heart. But beneath her fashionable exterior beats the...
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Description-
  • As a viscount's daughter, vivacious Coralee Whitmore is perfectly placed to write about London's elite in the outspoken ladies' gazette, Heart to Heart. But beneath her fashionable exterior beats the heart of a serious journalist.

    So when her sister's death is dismissed as suicide, Corrie vows to uncover the truth, suspecting the notorious Earl of Tremaine was Laurel's lover and the father of her illegitimate child. Corrie infiltrates Castle Tremaine posing as a wide-eyed country relation whose charming figure--and reduced circumstances--make her irresistible to the confirmed scoundrel. But Corrie finds the earl is not all he seems...nor is she immune to his charms, however much she despises his caddish ways.

    Far from a society column, Corrie's life soon reads more like one of Mr. Dickens's serials. But the danger of her ruse is hardly fictional: someone is bent on ensuring Corrie's questions go unanswered--and unasked.

 
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    London, England January, 1844

    An icy drizzle hung over the churchyard. The gravestones stood dark and unreadable in the shadows of the high rock walls of St. Michael's Church.

    Gowned in layers of heavy black crepe, her face hidden beneath the veil of a wide-brimmed black bonnet, Coralee Whitmore stood next to her father and mother, the Viscount and Viscountess of Selkirk, listening to the drone of the bishop's words but not really hearing them.

    In the casket beside a mound of damp earth, her sister's body lay cold and pale, retrieved only days ago from the chilly waters of the Avon River, the victim of a suicide, the authorities claimed. Laurel, they said, had jumped into the river to hide her shame.

    "You're shivering." A stiff wind ruffled the viscount's copper hair, the same fiery shade as Coralee's. He was a man of average height and build whose imposing presence made him seem much larger. "The bishop has finished. It is time we went home."

    Corrie stared at the casket, then down at the long-stemmed white rose she carried in a black-gloved hand. Tears blurred her vision as she moved forward, her legs stiff and numb beneath her heavy black skirt, the veil on her hat fluttering in the cold February breeze. She laid the rose on top of the rosewood casket.

    "I don't believe it," she whispered to the sister she would never see again. "Not for a single moment." Corrie swallowed against the painful, choking knot in her throat.

    "Farewell, sweet sister. I shall miss you ever so much." Turning, she walked toward her parents, the father both sisters shared and the mother who was Corrie's alone.

    Laurel's mother had died in childbirth. The viscount had remarried, and Corrie had been born soon after. The girls were half sisters, raised together, always close, at least until the past few years. Then Corrie's job as society editor for Heart to Heart, a London ladies' gazette, had begun to absorb more and more of her time.

    Laurel, who had always preferred the quiet life of the country, had moved in with her aunt Agnes at Selkirk Hall, the family estate in Wiltshire. The girls kept in touch through letters, but in the last year even those had grown sparse.

    If only I could turn back time, Corrie thought, the lump in her throat swelling, becoming even more painful. If only I could have been there when you needed me.

    But she had been too busy with her own life, too busy attending the balls and soirées she wrote about in her column. She'd been too self-absorbed to realize Laurel was in trouble.

    And now her sister was dead.



  • "Are you all right, Coralee?"

    Standing in the Blue Salon of the Whitmores' Grosvenor Square mansion, Corrie turned at the sound of her best friend's voice. Krista Hart Draugr walked toward her across the drawing room, where the pale blue damask curtains had been draped with black crepe, as had the brocade sofa and Hepplewhite chairs.

    Corrie reached beneath her heavy black veil to brush a tear from her cheek. "I'll be all right. But I miss her already and I feel so...responsible."

    Most of the mourners, few in number because of the circumstances of Laurel's death, were in the Cinnamon Room, a lavish salon done in gold and umber, with huge, sienna marble fireplaces at each end. An extravagant buffet had been set out for the guests, but Corrie had no heart for food.

    "It wasn't your fault, Coralee. You had no idea your sister was in trouble." Krista was blond, fair and tall; taller, in fact, than most men, except for her husband, Leif, a blond giant of a man who towered over his wife and actually made her...
About the Author-
  • Kat Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of more than fifty historical and contemporary romance novels. To date she has over 13 million copies of her books in print in seventeen countries, including Sweden, France, Russia, Spain, Japan, Argentina, Poland, and Greece. Kat and her husband, author Larry Jay Martin, live on their ranch outside Missoula, Montana, and spend winters at their beach house in California. Kat invites you to visit her website at www.KatMartin.com.

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