Pursued by the Rogue
Book one in the Fairytales of New York series
A no-strings affair between two dedicated professionals? It should have been the perfect solution.
Ugly duckling Dawn Turner doesn’t do relationships. She has her reasons and they’re good ones. But she can’t resist the magic in Finbar Sullivan’s touch, so she negotiates the next best thing with him. Scorchingly perfect, utterly casual sex.
World-class musician Finbar Sullivan always pushes the limits to get what he wants, and he wants Dawn. All of her. Love, commitment and a future together. So he reneges on the deal and composes a new one.
So what’s stopping her? And will Finn’s latest offer be enough to change Dawn’s mind?
Desert Isle Keeper! I think we can all agree that Romlandia abounds with rogues. Indeed, they appear nearly as plentiful as dukes. Sometimes “rogue” is code for what seems to be the Regency version of a frat boy, but in other cases, the word “rogue” seems to be code for, “The hero is a really nice guy but I have to use a descriptive word that will make you buy the book and I know ‘sweetheart’ just won’t do it.” The hero in Kelly Hunter’s Pursued by the Rogue is definitely one of the latter. With some authors I might mind this, but in Hunter’s case, I enjoyed the story and the writing so much that I just kept on reading… There’s a particular scene at the pub with a particular performance by Finn that just gave me chills. Good stuff.
Lynne Spencer, All About Romance
A very good read. Kelly has a talent with characterization and effortlessly draws the reader into the complex world of relationships. I enjoy her writing style and the fact that she lights up the paper with the chemistry between her hero/heroine. Dawn and Finbar shouldn’t work together, they’re both very different and each have their own set of issues. But from the moment Finn admits his feelings to Dawn and wants more from their relationship, I was hooked.
Ten years ago, St. John the Apostle Academy, Upstate New York.
Dawn Turner wasn’t a pretty girl—she only had to look in a mirror to know that.
And now she was ugly on the inside as well.
She crossed the moonlit room and sank onto the pile of pillows and blankets on the floor. She didn’t care that her stripy grandfather pajamas stood out in stark contrast to the pretty nightwear of the other three girls nestled amongst the bedding. She just wanted their company on this dark, blood-soaked night. She wanted to talk about little things not big ones. She wanted their laughter and their acceptance of her, regardless of her flaws. Dawn, the scholarship girl, the charity case, the biggest misfit of them all.
It was still a mystery as to why the three other girls in her dormitory tolerated her at all.
Her parents hadn’t wanted her. They’d stayed in Australia to study remote outback communities, and when carting Dawn around with them had gotten old and her schooling had become too much of a burden they’d shipped her off to an aunt and uncle in Upstate New York.
They’d called it seeing to her welfare but it had felt a lot like abandonment to Dawn.
Her aunt and uncle—childless and happy about it—hadn’t known what to do with her either, so when the scholarship to St. John’s had come up Dawn had made her way to boarding school with barely a backward glance. It hadn’t taken her long to discover that the good sisters at St. John the Apostle Academy treated her with even more chilling indifference.
They’d made it very clear that as long Dawn’s grades made the school look good, her presence would be tolerated.
Big of them, she thought, and then with her next breath cursed herself for her lack of gratitude. She could get a good education here, one she was determined to put to good use. She had a roof over her head and food in her stomach. She’d made friends here.
There was a lot to be grateful for.
The three girls who’d waited with varying degrees of impatience for her to join their midnight party—Faith, Mercy and Zel—they liked her.
They were the first real friends she’d ever had.
“Is there any particular reason we’re drinking stolen altar wine at midnight?” she asked. Not a regular activity—even for them.
“We’re celebrating.” Faith handed her a tumbler of wine.
“Us. Our friendship. Sláinte.”
Dawn’s smile wobbled at the salute she’d heard for the first time six weeks ago at a twenty-first birthday party in an old Irish pub in Brooklyn. Faith came from an American-Irish family; four beautiful older brothers, one grieving father and a dead mother who had lost her fight with cancer two years ago. One of those brothers—the most handsome of them all—had looked at Dawn and smiled. And thought her beautiful.
Don’t think about him, Dawn. Don’t go there.
Not so smart at all, the scholarship girl.
Dawn looked at the wine; in the darkness it looked like blood. And there was Faith, waiting for a toast.
“Sláinte,” she offered faintly and Mercy echoed her.
Mercy, with her thick Spanish accent courtesy of her Argentinian heritage. Mercy, who’d bonded with Dawn four years ago for reasons unknown. Misfits both. Maybe that was the reason.
Dawn the abandoned, Faith the motherless, Mercy with her elsewhere heritage, and then there was Zel, the final addition to their little group of four lost souls.
Zelda Madison had arrived at the convent school only last year, orphaned and in possession of an uncaring older brother who couldn’t wait to see the back of her. Zel had been abandoned too, and the Sisters in their wisdom had thought Faith, Mercy and Dawn would be a good influence on her.
Zel could corrupt anyone.
“My glass is empty. Why is my glass always empty?” Zel wanted to know. “Where’s the wine?”
The wine, yes. Wine, not blood. Good call. Maybe Dawn could drown her sins in it. She set the tumbler to her mouth and swallowed down hard on the thin, sweet liquid.
Don’t think. Don’t stop. And whatever else, don’t confide to anyone that six weeks ago she’d lost her mind, not to mention her virginity, to Faith’s youngest brother, Finn.
She’d felt so loved.
So very, very beautiful in Finbar Sullivan’s arms.
It was a feeling that had ended all too soon.
There was a special Hell reserved for willful, wayward, ugly girls who might just possibly be having a miscarriage or might just possibly be having a really late period.
And Dawn was in it.
Sex without marriage, sin and punishment.
“Where did this wine even come from?” she asked.
“Kitchen storeroom,” said all three of the girls.
“So it’s not consecrated? Good to know.” Dawn swallowed what was left in her glass and held it out to Zel for a refill. “Am I pretty?” No. That was a no-brainer. “Wait, let me rephrase. I’m not pretty and I know it, but is there anything I can do to make me look more normal?”
“Conformity’s overrated,” said Zel. “Embrace the uniqueness that is you. And get some clothes that aren’t three sizes too big for you.”
“I’m going to grow into these clothes. My aunt said so.”
“Not any time soon,” muttered Zel. “Your aunt needs to rethink that prediction.”
“You’d start with your eyes,” Mercy interceded firmly. “Gray eyes are unusual.”
“Since when?” said Dawn.
“In Argentina they are. I could shape your brows just so.” Mercy traced a path over her own shapely brows. “Like a frame. Make people look to your eyes first.”
“And away from everything else? Will that work? What about my ears? And my mouth? People are always looking at my mouth.” It was overly wide, overly plush. She had a crooked eye tooth, but her parents thought braces unnecessary.
“Probably wondering what you can fit in it,” said Zel with a smirk.
“More wine for starters,” muttered Dawn. She knew what Zel meant. Finn had liked Dawn’s lips on him well enough. They’d made him groan, deep and rough. They’d made him curse.
He’d made her feel wanted.
“Mercy’s right,” said Zel from the comfort of her classically beautiful features. “Emphasize the eyes. And no more borrowing other people’s lipstick. You need your own colors. Corals. Nudes. Pale, not bold. I’ll go shopping for you next time I’m allowed out of my cell.”
“You will not! I’m not a charity case.”
Zel smiled, her halo of blonde hair cementing the angelic look. “Let me rephrase. I am about to go on a lipstick buying binge. Later, when I decide that some of the colors don’t suit me, I’m going to see if anyone here wants them before I throw them out. Charity it’s not. That’s recycling.”
Dawn shifted restlessly and wore a stabbing pain low in her belly. She’d been having sharp pain there all night. Maybe it was her appendix. Maybe that would account for the screaming terror.
Please, Lord, make everything be okay. I’ll be so, so good.
“Finn wants us to come to a gig he’s playing next month at a jazz club in Manhattan,” said Faith. “He says he can get us all in to watch.”
“Some of us need permission to get out of here first,” muttered Zel.
“You’ll be out of detention by then. Consider it incentive to not push Sister Ignatius’s buttons,” Faith said. “Be good and you too can come along.”
“Would we stay at your place afterwards?” Mercy asked. Faith’s house being a small apartment above the pub Faith’s family owned. “Will there be room for us all?”
“We could stay at my place. There’s room for a circus there,” offered Zel with a dangerous smile. “My brother starts another six-month tour in the Legion next week. We could stay there under the careful supervision of no one at all.”
“Dawn, do you want to go?” asked Faith. “Because, if you want my opinion, you’re the one Finn wants there.”
Did Faith know?
Had Finn told her?
“What instrument will he be playing?”
“Does it matter?”
“No, I—he seems to play everything, that’s all.” Violin, piano, the bodhran drum. Music spilled out of him no matter what instrument he picked up. “Is this gig a big deal for him?”
Faith nodded and her dark corkscrew curls nodded right along with her, although not all at once and not all in the same direction. “It’s his first paid gig. He’s so proud. No one pays Finn to play at home. And—” Faith’s eyes sparkled, “don’t tell him I told you, but he auditioned for Juilliard this afternoon. I’m so proud!”
“We should support Finn.” Zel gestured expansively. “And then he’ll become famous and the Sullivan pub will become the Brooklyn pub for great music, and the drinks will flow, and all will be well in Sully world. Count us in.”
Dawn shifted again and let out a gasp.
Faith eyed her sharply. “Are you all right?”
“It’s just that time of the month.”
“I thought you cycled the same time as me?”
“Not anymore.” Dawn set her wine down on the floor and away from the blankets carefully, then toppled over onto her side and drew her knees to her chest. “I can’t go to the jazz club next month. Count me out.”
“Ask her again next week,” Zel said. “Show her another picture of your brother and his violin for incentive.”
“It won’t work.” Dawn rested her head on a particularly nuggety pillow lump. “I’m the ugliest duckling in the world, and he’s going to become a megastar musician with a supermodel girlfriend. Possibly you.”
“I so need to meet these brothers. They sound so delicious,” Zel declared, and laughed at Faith’s scandalized expression. “What?”
“My brothers are emotionally stunted, self-absorbed and allergic to cleanliness. I hereby declare them off limits to all of you.”
“I could teach them how to bathe.” Zel had a familiar gleam in her eye. “All of them. All at once. Soap suds everywhere.”
“No bathing with my brothers! Gimme that wine. I need to get rid of that thought.”
“Amen,” said Dawn, as she tentatively eased back into a sitting position, never mind that it was a hunched one with her arms crossed protectively over her stomach. “I’m going to go into medical research and invent targeted pain medication that works.”
“You’re too late.” Zel reached for the wine bottle. “It’s called alcohol.”
“Something that doesn’t give you a hangover the next morning,” Dawn continued. “Chocolate will be the preferred delivery system. Chocolate coated pain relief.”
Mercy nodded enthusiastically. “Can you invent zero calorie chocolate while you’re there?”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“For me.” Curvaceous Mercy gave Dawn the full benefit of her liquid brown eyes. “You’d do it for me.”
“I will. But only for you. You’re my best friends. I want you to know that. I’d do anything for you.” Except tell them the truth and have Faith hate her for what had happened with Finn, and Finn hate her for turning what they’d shared into a potentially life changing event. “And next week I’m going to be a new me, with shapely eyebrows and a beige mouth and nothing to worry about at all. I’m going to work hard for good grades.”
“You always work hard,” offered Faith.
“I’m going to work harder. I’m going to make good.”
If she could just get through this evening, and then the next few days, everything would return to normal and no one need ever know just how close she’d come to—
Just how close she’d come.
She couldn’t even think about what might have been without tears pricking at her eyes. “I need the bathroom again.”
She tried to stand up, stumbled, and sat back down with the help of Mercy’s steadying hand.
So dumb. Maybe all she needed was more wine.
“No,” said Mercy gently when she reached for it. “No more for you.”
And then the carved wooden door with its shapely pointed arch groaned open and a shrouded shape stood in the doorway, lit by nothing more than moonlight and steeped in disapproval.
“Sister Ignatius,” stuttered Faith, and tried to hide the wine, but it was too late.
Sister Ignatius had eyes like a hawk.
Mercy groaned. Zel smiled brightly up at the nun, nothing but reckless challenge there. And Dawn …
Sister Ignatius wasn’t the worst thing that had happened to Dawn tonight. There’d been the cramps and the blood. The blood and the tears.
Tears for no reason at all.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
And I think I lost.
And sorrow had drilled deep down into her soul at the shame of it all, but some small part of her insisted that it was for the best and no one need ever know. She would make amends, she would, and one day she would no longer be ugly.
Inside and out.
Sister Ignatius and the altar wine?
That was just the sideshow.
We had a lot of fun writing this series. It was a project that had been on the backburner for years—waiting until the time was right and our writing schedules aligned. Over 17,000 emails between me and Amy in Aus, Lucy in Spain and Heidi in London. We created a Pub, Sully’s, in New York and I so wanted that place to be real. We created a facebook page for the series, wine labels, boarding school uniforms, timelines and many, many brothers. We went overboard (I blame the others, and possibly the wine).
My ever loving gratitude to the other authors in the series—Heidi, Lucy and Amy—for making this one sing.
The books in the series are:
Book 1: Pursued By The Rogue by Kelly Hunter
Book 2: Tempting The Knight by Heidi Rice
Book 3: Taming The Beast by Lucy King
Book 4; Seduced By The Baron by Amy Andrews