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Mischance -- Carla Smith



"The Hall, the estate ... will all have to be sold."

After her fortune is squandered by her drunken gambler of a father, Catherine Davenport must accept the charity of a cousin she has never met. But the household of Phillip Davenport is anything but welcoming. Catherine barely survives a brutal attack that shatters her body and severs her memory. A harrowing rescue on the London docks takes her into the home of two brothers: Rian and Liam Connor.

"Trust him ... he will not hurt you." 

Mystery and scandal surround Rian, recently returned from the Americas. As Catherine struggles to reclaim her identity, she must fight her overwhelming desire for the man who saved her life. But Rian, she learns, has come home for a wedding, and Catherine fears her enigmatic rescuer is already spoken for.
How can a woman with no memory, no family, no home, hope to win the heart of London's most intriguing rogue? 

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He continued his approach, making no effort to disguise his footsteps, but the girl gave no indication she heard him. Whatever problem she wrestled with, it was weighty enough to render her oblivious to everything around her. Seeing how close she was to the edge of the wharf, Rian prayed he did not startle her. A sudden loss of balance would send her tumbling into the murky water, where she could easily be carried away by the river's strong undercurrent. 

The unfathomable sense that had tugged at him before now increased in intensity. Rian could almost smell the scent of despair clinging to the girl, and the thick, cloying perfume filled his own nostrils. Intuition told him a handful of coins, no matter how generous or well-intentioned, would not aid the girl's misfortune. And that did not sit well with him.

He was behind her now, and yet she still seemed completely unaware of his presence, her attention firmly fixed on something in the water. She cried out, her words mumbled and incoherent, but Rian had no difficulty in recognizing the anguish behind them. It was the most pitiful sound he had ever heard, and it set his course. Carefully he reached out a hand and grasped her shoulder. Keeping his hold firm and true in case she might still stumble, Rian slowly turned her toward him.   

Very few things in life took Rian by surprise, but this was one of them, and he found himself uncharacteristically struck dumb. With one sweeping glance he took in the white blonde hair that tumbled about her face, the swollen, bruised mouth and the discolorations along either side of her jaw. But what troubled him most, set him back on his heels, was the fear, distrust and pain that were so clearly reflected in the one eye that gazed steadily at him. An orb of deep, infinite blue, it held him fast, refusing to look away despite the horror Rian could see there. But then she blinked, thick lashes sweeping downward, and this time when she looked at him, Rian saw something else.

Beyond the terror he saw a need that called to him. A want that awakened an unexpected impulse, inflaming a need of his own. This one more basic, more primal, shocking Rian with the sudden protective impulse he felt. Whoever she was, she was no dockside whore, but as he opened his mouth to reassure her, that disturbing blue eye rolled back in her head, and she slumped against him.


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