Seduced by a Pirate - By Eloisa James


May 30, 1816

45 Berkeley Square

The London residence of the Duke of Ashbrook

As a boy, Sir Griffin Barry, sole heir to Viscount Moncrieff, had no interest in the history of civilized England. He had dreamed of Britain’s past, when men were warriors and Vikings ruled the shores, fancying himself at the helm of a longboat, ferociously tattooed like an ancient Scottish warrior.

At eighteen he was a pirate, and at twenty-two he captained his own ship, the Flying Poppy. By a few years later, just a glimpse of a black flag emblazoned with a blood-red flower would make a hardened seaman quiver with fear.

No one knew that Griffin’s ship was named for his wife, whose name was Poppy. He had even tattooed a small blue poppy high on one cheekbone in her honor, although he had known her for only one day—and never consummated the marriage.

Yet he always felt a certain satisfaction in that small sign of respect. Over the years, Griffin had forged his own code of honor. He never shot a man in the back, never walked anyone down the plank, and never offered violence to a woman. What’s more, he sacked any of his crew who thought that the Flying Poppy’s fearsome reputation gave them the liberty to indulge their worst inclinations.

Though to be sure, the royal pardon recently issued for himself and his cousin James, the Duke of Ashbrook, described them as privateers, not pirates.

Griffin knew the distinction was slight. It was true that in the last seven years he and James had limited themselves to attacking only pirate and slave ships, never legitimate merchant vessels.

But it was equally true that he was, and had been, a pirate. And now that he was back in England he wasn’t going to pretend that he’d been fiddling around the globe in a powdered wig, dancing reels in foreign ballrooms.

On the other hand, he was damn sure that the wife he scarcely remembered wouldn’t be happy to find out that she was married to a pirate. Or even to a privateer.

However you looked at it, he was a sorry excuse for a gentleman, with a limp and a tattoo and fourteen hard years at sea under his belt. Not exactly the respectable baronet to whom her father had betrothed her.

He didn’t relish the idea of strolling into a house somewhere around Bath—he wasn’t even sure where—and announcing that he was Lady Barry’s long-lost husband. An involuntary stream of curses came from his lips at the very thought. He even felt something akin to fear, an emotion he managed to avoid in the fiercest of sea battles.

Of course, he and James had entered those battles together, shoulder to shoulder. That was undoubtedly why he blurted out an unconscionably ungentlemanly offer, one that would horrify his father.

“Want a bet on which of us gets his wife to bed faster?”

James didn’t look particularly shocked, but he pointed out the obvious: “Not the action of gentlemen.”

Griffin’s response was, perhaps, a little sharp for that very reason. “It’s too late to claim that particular status,” he said to James. “You can play the duke all you like, but a gentleman? No. You’re no gentleman.”

From the grin playing around James’s mouth, it seemed likely he was going to accept the bet. It was hard to say which of them faced the biggest battle. Griffin couldn’t remember his wife’s face, but at least he’d supported her financially in his absence. James’s wife had been on the verge of declaring him seven years missing, and therefore dead.

“If I accept your bet, you’ll have to take yourself off to Bath and actually talk to your wife,” James observed.

Talk to her? Griffin didn’t have much interest in talking to Poppy.

He had left a lovely young woman behind. Due to various circumstances beyond his control—which he didn’t like thinking about to this day—he had left her a virgin. Unsatisfied.


No, he didn’t want to talk to his wife.

It was time to go home, obviously. It would be easier if he hadn’t taken a knife wound to the leg. But to come home a cripple . . .

After James left, Griffin walked around the bedchamber once more, trying to stretch his leg, then paused at a window looking over the small garden behind James’s town house. The alley was full of gawking men, journalists who had caught wind of the news that the returned duke was a pirate. They’d probably be out there for the next week, baying like hounds at a glimpse of James