The Dashing Thief of Her Dreams (Preview)

Chapter One

The rain was absolutely pounding on the windows of the sitting room at Highcourt House. The roar of the water outside was so deafening that the ladies seated on the couches, chaises and settees inside the room could barely make out what the author. who was seated near the fireplace. was saying.

“I do apologise for interrupting,” Lady Deborah Stanhope called from her position near the back of the room. The author, a man named George Silas, looked up from his parchment and adjusted his spectacles.

“Do you have a compliment you would like to pay me, young madam?” Mr. Silas asked. Deborah looked to her sister, Lady Bridget Stanhope, with wide eyes and a disgusted look on her face. Bridget tried to control her laughter but a small titter escaped her cherry lips. Deborah turned back to the author.

“I would love to,” Deborah began, reaching out and grasping her sister’s hand tightly to stop her from laughing, “but right now I can hardly hear a word of your, ahem, enlightened writing. Could you please speak up?” The gentleman looked taken aback until Lady Deborah and Lady Bridget’s aunt, Lady Eliza, gave him a look that told him they were correct. Mr. Silas cleared his throat and projected much louder this time, saying,

“THE EARLY AFTERNOON SUN DANCED ACROSS THE FLOORBOARDS IN THE EAST ROOM, MUCH LIKE MY HEART DANCED FOR LADY EDNA WHEN I FIRST GAZED UPON HER.” Lady Deborah was the one who had to contain her laughter this time, but Lady Bridget was not much help on the matter. Lady Eliza shot the young women a look that made them cease their silliness immediately, but they were both relieved to have silently agreed that Mr. Silas was a truly terrible author.

While the room was filled almost to bursting with fine young ladies, Ladies Bridget and Deborah Stanhope were undeniably the two finest in the room. They were the daughters of Lord Alymer Stanhope, a viscount, and lived on a luxurious estate on the edge of Surrey. Lady Deborah, who was twenty two, was wearing a dress that was light green in colour, and had a dark green shawl wrapped around her shoulders. She was the kind of woman who was never truly too cold or too warm, but who always had a complaint about the temperature. She had auburn hair that was done today in a chignon and had pretty little curls that coiled pleasantly and hung happily about her face. She was blessed with naturally curly hair that did not require much encouragement from the iron to cooperate with whatever hairstyle she wished her hair to be in. She was quite tall; taller, in fact, than many of the men who wished to be her suitors. She had a pleasantly round face and hazel eyes that always seemed to catch details that others missed.

Lady Bridget, on the other hand, had long, thick, straight blonde hair that required a great deal of encouragement to behave itself in hairstyles. She was a year younger than her sister and a few inches shorter: a physical detail that Lady Deborah was very jealous of. She was slight and elegant, with a broad face, a thin mouth, and hooded green eyes that resembled emeralds in the sunlight. She was a classic beauty who wasn’t aware of it, as she spent much of her time cursing the minute details of her appearance that she felt were not perfect. There were throngs of men in town who would have given their entire estates to be matched with either of the Stanhope sisters, but they were each waiting for their own versions of a perfect husband.

Today, Lady Bridget wore a white gown that had a reddish hue to it with a delicate sparrow pattern running down it. She, unlike her sister, was always cold, and so wore a deep red spencer to go with her gown. She was beginning to become restless as Mr. Silas continued on with his story, and hoped that she might be rescued from her boredom by the next author very soon. There was little else in this world that Lady Bridget hated more than boredom, and right now, she was horribly bored.

“AND SO,” Mr. Silas continued, “I MUST MAKE LIKE THE SPRING RABBIT AND TAKE TO MY BURROW TO TEND TO MY LITTLE ONES, FOR UNTIL LADY EDNA RETURNS, MY LIFE SHALL BE MEANINGLESS OTHERWISE.” Mr. Silas closed his book, and Lady Bridget’s heart leapt so much at him being finished that she broke into wild applause. All of the other ladies in the room looked to her as though she had lost her sense of civility, and so she stopped. When she did, all of the rest of the ladies politely clapped their hands, and Lady Eliza rose from her seat to address the room. While all the rest of the group was distracted by her aunt, Bridget seized the opportunity to quietly get up from her spot and take a few more cucumber sandwiches. She heard her sister clear her throat behind her and she looked back, expecting to see Deborah glaring at her. Instead, Deborah motioned to the sweets that lay on the same plate as the sandwiches and seemed to be asking Lady Bridget to bring her a couple of them back. Bridget picked two of them off the plate and showed them to her sister, who returned the offer with a look that said, ‘do you really think that will sustain me?’ Bridget picked a third one off the plate, placed everything in her napkin and hurried back to her seat. When she sat down, she laid the napkin across both of their laps and the two began eating immediately. In hushed tones, Deborah whispered to Bridget, “Thank you, sister. But if you ever threaten to bring me such a small assortment of Aunt Eliza’s famous miniatures again, I shall have to make you sleep out in the garden!” Lady Bridget began giggling again, but quickly silenced herself in fear that her aunt would glare at her again.

“Thank you for that stirring rendition of your work, ‘Lady Edna’s Reticule’, Mr. Silas. We appreciate your company on this rather dismal day.” Another round of polite applause rippled through the crowd and Mr. Silas bowed to the ladies and left the room. “For our next reading, Lady Jane Albion will read the first chapter from her book, ‘A Pirate’s Romance.’ Please join me in welcoming Lady Jane to the front!” At the mention of the title of the book, Bridget’s interest was piqued. A lady writer who had written a book about a romance between a pirate and a lady? This was Bridget’s dream come true!

The reason for Bridget’s excitement was as follows: when Bridget was a little girl, her mother had encouraged her daughters to read. Every night before bed, Lady Olivia would read the girls a story from her favourite books. They heard tales of dashing princes, damsels in distress, rough pirates who became the objects of a lady’s affection, and much more. Before long, Bridget was dreaming of being swept off her feet by a highwayman or a dashing pirate, much to their mother’s delight and their father’s chagrin. Bridget’s father even went as far as to say that Lady Olivia indulged them far too much. He immediately regretted his words after she had passed away far too young, but could do nothing to take them back now. Instead, he tried to be patient as Bridget would talk to him about ideas for her stories she wanted to write, and adventures she wanted to go on.

A gorgeous older woman came to the front of the room with some parchment in her hand. She said nothing to the audience, but gave them all a warm smile as she was seated. She organised a few of the pages, took a deep breath, and was just about to begin when a loud clap of thunder interrupted her. The ladies in the room, Bridget and Deborah included, all gasped, but once they realised what the sound was a relieved laugh rippled through the crowd. Lady Jane shook her head and smiled.

“That is certainly one way to begin my reading,” she said. “Our tale begins on the night of October 13 in the Year of Our Lord 1701. I had taken to my room for the second night in a row, for my father was terribly vexed about a shipment of alcohol that had just been delivered by some able seamen…” As Lady Jane spoke, Bridget was transported to another realm. Here, she was not Lady Bridget Stanhope of Surrey; she was Scarlett George, bar wench and unfortunate lover of the dread pirate Tomlinson. She loved to imagine herself as a lower class working girl who was whisked away to a life of adventure by a dashing but dangerous young man. He promised her all the riches of the world, if only she would abandon her way of life and take to the seas with him for eternity.

Bridget hadn’t realised that she had been so completely and utterly taken with the story until she felt her sister’s hand on her shoulder a few minutes later. “Bridget?” Deborah asked her. “Are you quite alright?” Bridget snapped out of her daze, and looked to her sister to see what the matter was. Deborah was looking at Bridget’s lap very strangely, and when Bridget looked down, she saw why. In her haze, she had picked apart the bread that held her cucumber sandwich together and now had only three buttery cucumbers sitting on the napkin in front of her. She smiled at her sister.

“Sorry. I got a little carried away listening to the story.” Bridget ate the few cucumbers and crumpled the remnants of the sandwich into her napkin. Deborah continued to look at her with an expression that seemed to say she didn’t understand her.

“The story that finished five minutes ago?” Bridget felt the blood rushing to her cheeks.

“Has it really been that long?” Bridget looked around the room and saw the rest of the ladies standing and talking to one another as servants came to bring them their outdoor clothes.

“Yes. I’ve been waiting patiently for you to finish daydreaming but I thought perhaps you might need some assistance this time.” Deborah smiled kindly at her sister, and Bridget immediately felt less embarrassed about having ‘dazed out’ as she had. She knew her sister understood where her love for fanciful stories had come from, and so didn’t need to take offense at any jests that she made about it.

“Thank you,” Bridget said simply but appreciatively. “Shall we go to the phaeton? I do wish that we had brought the carriage with the complete roof: I fear we shall get rather wet on the ride home.” Deborah looked out of the window in disappointment.

“The sky was crystal clear when we set out this afternoon,” she reminded her sister. “It truly is our fault, though: how dare we take the fine weather carriage on a fine weather day? What did we expect was going to happen?” Both ladies laughed, and as they did, Lady Eliza walked over to them.

“Did I hear correctly that you brought the phaeton this afternoon?” She asked her nieces. They both nodded, and Lady Eliza tut-tutted. “It is never a good idea to tempt the weather with such a bold decision,” she said in jest. “Why don’t you take my carriage home? I’ll send Mr. Reynolds in the phaeton tomorrow to come fetch it.” Bridget sighed with relief.

“Thank you ever so much, Aunt Eliza,” she said gratefully. “I’m not sure that my white gown would retain its opaque qualities if it were to meet with too much rain.” Lady Eliza gently swatted her niece with the fan she had in her hand, but leaned in to her and said, “But perhaps if that were the case, you’d be more likely to entice a man like Pirate Tomlinson as in the story…” Lady Eliza smiled daringly at Bridget, who looked back at her aunt with an open mouth.

“Aunt Eliza!” Deborah cried on her sister’s shocked behalf. “I never thought you’d make as improper as that!” But before any of them could continue to pretend to be offended, all three ladies dissolved into laughter. When they finally managed to catch their breath, Aunt Eliza became very serious.

“If you ever mention that jest to anyone whose company we are in tonight, I shall deny it outright. Return home safely, girls, and give my best to your father.” With that, Aunt Eliza turned away from the young women and was immediately drawn into another conversation with another lady. Bridget turned to her sister and smiled.

“Well. To the carriage, then?” Deborah gave her a relieved smile.

“To the carriage!”

Chapter Two

The rain continued to come down in sheets and made rivers along the windows of the carriage. The sky had given a few more rumbles as the women had dashed from their aunt’s estate, but thankfully there were no bright and terrifying flashes of lightning. Deborah despised storms: she thought them to be a rude interruption in her otherwise pleasant life. Bridget, on the other hand, should have liked to dance outdoors the moment any storm arrived: she found them utterly exciting. This was, of course, because any time great and thrilling events took place in a novel, they always came in the middle of a storm of some variety. Bridget seemed to be waiting for the storm that she was certain would bring her to the great exhilarating incident of her life.

As the carriage bounced along the bumpy path back to their estate, the sisters discussed what they had heard at that afternoon’s salon of writers. “If I never have to hear another one of George Silas’ passages, it will still be too soon!” Deborah said. Bridget was delighted that her sister felt the same way about the man’s writing that she did.

“I agree; he was the least talented writer of the afternoon,” Bridget smoothed out the skirt on her gown. Seeing how sheer the individual layers of fabric were upon closer inspection, she was very grateful to her aunt for lending them her carriage.

“And I suppose you were fond of the lady writer’s tale of swashbuckling romance?” Deborah looked at her sister, unimpressed. Bridget nodded emphatically.

“Most certainly. You know how I adore fanciful stories of that nature,” Bridget was proud of herself for controlling her enthusiasm for the book. Had she been talking to her dearest friend, Lady Heather Edgewood, she could have gone on for hours about how remarkable the writing was, the way the author had written the story so engagingly, the incredible passion that was ignited between Scarlett and Pirate Tomlinson… but her sister didn’t share her adoration for such stories.

“I do,” Deborah said. “I know that mother passed on her great imagination to you and largely forgot to give any to me,” she joked, “but I do not understand what it is you see in these stories. You’ve told me time and time again that it is-”

“That I wished I could live a life that was as dangerous, daring and exciting as that book!” Bridget smiled widely as she let herself get carried away by her passions momentarily. Deborah, however, rolled her eyes.

“Yes, but why?” Deborah pressed her. She saw how her sister, in spite of the warm spencer she still had on, was rubbing her arms to try to stay warm in the damp day. Deborah took off her green shawl and wrapped it tightly around Bridget, who nodded to her in thanks. Bridget was consistently astounded by her sister’s ability to maintain an appropriate temperature, no matter the weather. “It is dreadfully cold today. As I was saying, the events that take place in these stories are so far beyond the realm of possibilities that they’re simply absurd. Scarlett would never abandon her father and his inn to go and live on a boat with a pirate! She’d likely die of scurvy or sea weariness, and her father would have to go into the poorhouse because he had no one to help him run the inn.” Deborah crossed her arms in front of her, as though her point was the final one to be made in the discussion and there would be no further discussion. Bridget sighed.

“Running away to spend the rest of your life with the man you love, is that really so far beyond the realm of possibilities? ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio-” Bridget intended to continue her quote from Shakespeare, but her sister waved her off.

“Don’t start making yourself into a Hamlet, dear sister, or I’ll pull this carriage over and you can go join Ophelia in the stream.” The sisters chuckled at the thought of Bridget having to traverse the muddy roads to go anywhere today.

“I suppose I see your point,” Bridget relented. “But I believe that if I were given a chance to have the magical kind of life that Scarlett had, I would seize it in a moment. I intend to get the most out of life that I can, and the best way to do that is to seek adventure!” Bridget looked to her sister excitedly, but Deborah sighed and looked out of the window on her side of the carriage.

“If you were given the chance to life the kind of life that Scarlett did,” Deborah began, “you’d recoil in horror at the conditions on the boat, scream in fear at the kind of men you’d have to share your living space with, and be ill at the thought of having to rob someone of their riches, as pirates do.” Bridget did her best not to let what Deborah was saying bother her, but it was becoming difficult not to.

“No I wouldn’t,” Bridget protested. “I’d be the most feared female pirate… pirate-ess that the West Indies has ever seen!” Bridget mimed holding a sword in her hand and slashed it through the air in front of her sister. Deborah didn’t see her at first, but when she felt the carriage rocking even more than usual, she turned to Bridget, took hold of her arm and stopped her.

“Now you’re speaking of going to the West Indies, are you?” Deborah looked very unimpressed. “And how would you, someone who faints when it becomes too warm here in Surrey in the summer, deal with the extreme, exhausting heat of the West Indies?” Bridget opened her mouth to protest, but couldn’t think of anything to say in response. She did think that she wouldn’t enjoy the heat that many of her adventures would take her on. Suddenly, she thought of something.

“I would become accustomed to it in no time,” Bridget said proudly. “I only feel faint at the beginning of summer; by midsummer, I thrive in the warm conditions. See?” Deborah continued to look as though she did not believe what her sister was saying.

“Well then, dear sister, you can consider me quite convinced,” Deborah said, putting up her hands in surrender. “You may run off with the next pirate who comes into town seeking a well-to-do wife. In fact, I believe I heard a rumor there’s a pirate ship docking in Southampton tomorrow!” Bridget knew that her sister was only teasing her, but it truthfully did hurt that hardly anyone she knew shared her love for dreaming of adventures. At first, she hadn’t wanted to admit the true reason why she loved these stories so, but she knew that if she didn’t, Deborah would continue to think she was a child.

“I give in, Deborah,” Bridget began. Her sister turned to her and looked interested for the first time during the whole carriage ride. “I will reveal to you the real reason why these stories are so near and dear to my heart, beyond the fact that they’re similar to what mother used to read to us. It is because when I marry, I wish to find a man who enjoys adventures and all of the exciting things that life has to offer. Too many men in town are contented with the day to day here in Surrey. I want a man who isn’t afraid to… seek out new lands in the hopes of seeing something he never imagined possible. I want a man of adventure to sweep me off my feet!” There was silence in the carriage for a few moments as Deborah looked blankly at her sister. Then, finally…Deborah laughed.

“Do you think you’re going to find a man like that anywhere near home?” Deborah asked between chuckles. “Or rather, anywhere in England? Our men don’t want adventure or to seek excitement in life; they want to find a respectable wife, settle down and have many children. Anything beyond that is merely…” Deborah was about to finish her sentence when she looked at her sister’s eyes. They were beginning to fill with tears. Deborah desperately wanted to finish expressing her sentiment, but she knew that if she continued, she would only upset Bridget more. “I did not mean to upset you, dear sister. I was merely trying to keep your head here on earth with us instead of up in the clouds as it usually is.” Bridget nodded and brushed away her sister’s attempt at an apology with her hand.

“I well understand what you were attempting to do,” Bridget explained, “and I am sorry that I allowed my emotions to overcome me. The problem is… the thought of ‘settling down’ with a man who is as boring as you describe him to be… is pure torture.” Deborah very nearly scoffed at her sister’s tendency towards the dramatic, but she instead chose to be understanding. Bridget may have been her younger sister, and she may have been a thorn in her side many a time, but she was also her closest friend and confidante. She didn’t want to make her feel any worse than she already had.

“My darling, I know that you shall find a man who is the perfect combination of stable and adventurous,” Deborah said, putting her arm around Bridget and pulling her in close. Bridget leaned her head on her sister’s shoulder and dried her tears with the handkerchief she had kept tucked up her sleeve. “He shall be handsome, daring, courageous, and adventurous in all of the right ways. But, I am also certain that he shall provide you with the style of life that you have become accustomed to living so that you do not have to suffer any of the less enjoyable aspects of an ‘adventurous’ life.” Deborah kissed the top of her sister’s head. “And should he not be or do any of those things, he will have me to answer to – understood?” This brought a laugh out of Bridget, and Deborah was relieved to hear it.

“I suppose you’re right,” Bridget relented. “I shall find a man who is a wonderful combination of all of those characteristics. But until that time…” Bridget pulled a few pieces of parchment from her reticule and held them up for her sister to see. Deborah seemed confused by the paper, so Bridget finished, “I shall enchant you with the tales of the great Georgina and her handsome highwayman, Walter!” Deborah looked unimpressed initially, but then she smiled at her sister.

“Fine, fine. We have only a short distance more to go to the estate, so I will allow you to read me a passage of your fanciful story.” Bridget looked delighted and launched into her reading of chapter one of a story she had written the day before.

Chapter Three

That night Bridget lay awake in her luxurious bed, unable to rest. She wasn’t sure what was keeping her mind so entertained: the day had not brought such excitement that it should have warranted such a restless night. Regardless, she found herself staring at the fabric roof of her four poster bed; her mind unwilling to allow rest to come.

After a time, Bridget decided she should give up and get up from her bed. When she pulled back the covers, however, she was hit with the chill of the room. She took an extra blanket from the wooden chest at the end of her bad and wrapped it around herself; there was no need to suffer through a sleepless night that was plagued by the cold. She slipped her feet into the dainty slippers that lay on the floor at the side of her bed and walked to look out of her large window.

When she gazed out at the lawn that stretched out before her, she felt herself flooded with calm. There was something about the way the moon was glowing tonight, combined with the rain that now fell softly upon the grass, which made Bridget feel very reassured. Watching the storm come to a close felt like discovering a fever had broken and relief was on the way. She put one of her hands up to the glass, held it there for a moment, then pulled it away. Her handprint remained on the misty glass, and she imagined her lover’s hand suddenly appearing on the glass as well. She chuckled to herself at that thought, however: she would be very surprised if anyone were to touch the outside of her window, for her bedroom was on the second floor of their estate.

Now feeling far calmer, Bridget walked back towards her bed. She was certain now that the moment she laid her head on the pillow, she would drift off into a pleasant sleep. However, as she stood on the rug that lay right beside her bed, Bridget thought she heard something hit the floor in the hallway. She looked towards her bedroom door, more curious than frightened. She was unsure of the time, but knew that there wouldn’t be many servants walking the halls this late at night. When she heard no more coming from the hallway she shook her head, believing the noise to have been something she had made up.

As soon as she got under the covers again, however, Bridget heard heavy footsteps hurrying past her door. By now, her curiosity was piqued, and she knew that she wouldn’t be getting back to sleep any time soon.

Bridget pulled back the covers and rose from the bed. She stood on the rug, frozen, for quite some time. She was listening to hear if the footsteps continued or ceased entirely. She thought perhaps they could have belonged to her father. He was a large enough man that his footfalls would have made that sound, but he wasn’t one for getting out of bed at this late hour. Lord Alymer was a heavy sleeper and once he was resting, it was nearly impossible to rouse him from his slumber. Could it have been Lady Deborah? Again, Bridget doubted that because her sister was not as heavy-footed as the person who had just walked past her door. Lady Deborah was also not one to come out of her room in the night, for she was rather afraid of the dark. What stuck in Bridget’s mind was that something had to be amiss, and she was the only one in the house who could deal with it. If she wanted a life of adventure and daring then she had to be brave herself, didn’t she?

Bridget took her candle from her bedside, lit it, and grabbed her night coat. She tiptoed towards her door very quietly, still trying to hear if there were any other noises that followed the footsteps. When she heard nothing, she grasped the handle of the door and very gently pulled on it. Immediately, the door squeaked as it always did, and Bridget froze. She knew she needed to get the door past a certain point and then it would be silent. But there was no way she would be able to get to that point without her door continuing to creak. It was a calculated risk, but Bridget decided to take it. She figured that whoever or whatever was in the house would think the creak was just a sound the house made. As slowly and as gently as she could, Bridget eased the door open and cringed as it continued to make its loud squeak. Finally, the door was silent, and Bridget felt her heartrate returning to normal.

When she’d made it out into the hallway, Bridget saw that all of their objects were in their usual positions. Her father’s bookcase was undisturbed, the flowers Bridget had brought indoors the previous afternoon still sat in their vase, and Deborah’s cherished statue of a cherub that Bridget thought was positively terrifying still stood by the end of the hallway. Bridget was unsure which direction the footsteps had gone in, and so was unsure of which direction to head down the hall. She decided to go away from the terrifying cherub, and make her way down the stairs to the kitchen. Thankfully, the kitchen stairs were unlike her bedroom door, and when she stepped on them they did not creak. She cautiously peered around the corner into the room as she rounded the last corner, but saw that the kitchen was in the exact state it had been left in after the staff had finished the dinner clean up. There were, however, noises coming from the dining room.

Bridget’s pulse began to quicken, and she could feel the hand that held the candle beginning to shake. She put the candle in the other hand in the hopes that it would steady her, but it did not. She was so frightened by what might be in the dining room and that she was here, in the dark, all alone, in her nightdress. She thought about running back up the stairs and alerting her father (somehow, although it would take a great deal of noise and bother to wake him up) to the noise. She thought about ignoring the whole situation and taking to her bed to pretend that she knew nothing of what was happening. But then Bridget was suddenly struck by a thought: what would Scarlett George do? Bridget thought back to the heroine of the pirate romance novel that she had heard that afternoon. If she were in this situation, she wouldn’t do any of the cowardly things that Bridget had considered doing. Instead she would take her candle, walk straight into the dining room, and confront whoever or whatever was in there. And so, inspired by her fanciful novels once again, Bridget summoned her courage and walked across the kitchen. She paused just before the doorway to the dining room, her fear getting the better of her momentarily. She assured herself that there was probably a perfectly logical explanation for the noises she was hearing, and the moment she looked into the dining room, she would be greatly relieved and could return to bed. And so, Bridget took in a deep breath, held it, and took a step forwards.

Unfortunately, Bridget was not at all relieved at what she saw. A dark figure was shoving items from their dining room into a bag in the corner of the room. The intruder didn’t hear Bridget until she let out a small gasp, at which point they whirled around and stared at her. Bridget could do nothing but stand there, frozen in the darkness with her candle in front of her. She could not believe what her eyes were telling her.

The figure was most certainly a man, but beyond that Bridget couldn’t tell much about him. He was dressed all in black, and wore a black mask that obscured the majority of his face. The only thing that Bridget could tell about the intruder was that he had the most brilliant turquoise eyes that Bridget had ever seen. She couldn’t truly admire them, however, because she was so frightened. However, instead of expressing fear or shock at being discovered, the figure simply laughed. His mouth broke into a wide grin and with one arm, he hitched the bag he was holding onto one of his shoulders and he put his other hand on his waist. The shadowy figure was now posing exactly like many of the daring heroes in Bridget’s stories. The figure’s resemblance to the men in Bridget’s stories was so uncanny that she convinced herself she had to be dreaming. As soon as the figure left her alone, she thought, she would pinch herself and wake up.

“I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone tonight, let alone… you,” the figure said in a sultry voice. In spite of the curious situation that she was currently in, Bridget found herself mildly attracted to the man who was standing before her. She knew it was utterly preposterous, but she couldn’t help it. “But for now, I must take my leave of you. Rest well, madam.” The figure gave Bridget an elaborate bow and pushed himself easily through an open window in the dining room. Bridget waited a few moments to ensure that he was truly gone. When he was, Bridget nearly collapsed.

She placed a hand to her chest and put the candle down on the table. She hadn’t realised how shallow her breathing had become when she had been in the presence of the stranger, but her lungs were suddenly very grateful for the air she was taking in. Her heard was positively racing, and her hands shook with a force she had never felt before. At the same time, however, Bridget noted another sensation in her body. At first, she couldn’t believe it, and then she refused to believe it. Finally, however, Bridget could no longer ignore it, and allowed it to overwhelm her. Bridget was feeling utterly thrilled by the encounter she had just had.

In her mind, she had just experienced what she knew many writers referred to as the ‘inciting incident’ in many of the novels that she loved. A handsome burglar had broken into her house and she, standing in nothing more than her nightgown with her long, blonde hair cascading down her back, had confronted him. He’d been confident and daring, and when he noticed her he’d said something that denoted he wasn’t afraid of partaking in a risk-taking scenario like this one. She couldn’t see much of him, but she didn’t need to: she knew that under all that black attire was a strapping, handsome young man. And his eyes… his eyes! What a wonder they had been to behold.

Bridget knew that she could not continue on down this line of thinking; it would do her no good. She shook her head to break the spell the man had cast over her, for she remembered that this was real life, not a story. Or was it? She suddenly remembered that she had believed all of this to be nothing more than a dream, and so she took her arm and gave it a good hard pinch. When nothing happened, Bridget nodded to herself. This was real life; that man was a thief, not a hero, and he’d just stolen something from their familial home. At long last Bridget came to her senses and began screaming for her father, her sister and the servants. She had been brave in the moment, and could now be rescued by those who loved and cared for her.

“The Dashing Thief of Her Dreams” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Bridget Stanhope doesn’t dream of meeting her fairytale prince like every other girl of her age. The perfect suitor for her is a more daring and brave gentleman rather than a polite and socially acceptable one. When one night she stumbles across a masked man who breaks into her house, Bridget immediately falls under the spell of his eyes and makes it her goal to meet him again. But her plans go askew when a charming lord steals her mind, and the young lady finds herself thrown into a great dilemma. Will Bridget find a way to unfold her complicated feelings? In the end, will she choose the charming nobleman or the daredevil thief?

Lord Geoffrey Nott wants to spend his life traipsing around the globe, while the idea of marriage has always repelled him. But the moment he lays eyes on Bridget, his life takes an unexpected turn. After spending more time with her, Geoffrey reconsiders the idea of marriage, as he realizes that he is hopelessly falling in love with her. However, no matter how happy he feels next to her, Geoffrey has a profound secret, and he is awfully scared that when Bridget discovers the truth, she will detest him once and for all. Will he convince Bridget that sometimes things are not always what they seem? Will he find happiness with the only woman he has ever fallen in love?

It seems like Bridget and Geoffrey are made for each other. But everything crashes down when Geoffrey’s malicious brother sets his mind on stealing everything that Geoffrey has, including his beautiful bride. Will the couple find a true soul mate in one another, despite all odds? Will they escape from an envious man, or will their only chance at happiness fall through?

“The Dashing Thief of Her Dreams” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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