Master of Her Virtue - By Miranda Lee Page 0,1

this past year a couple of times, but she’d always said no.

In her defence, neither of the two men who’d invited her out had possessed any of the qualities which she secretly desired in a man: they hadn’t been wickedly handsome, sinfully sexy or even remotely charming. One caught the same bus as she did every day and was as dull as ditch-water. The other worked in the supermarket where she shopped. Despite not being totally unattractive, he was not the kind of chap who was ever likely to make manager of the store.

Neither man had been anything like the irresistible heroes who strutted their arrogant selves through the pages of the romance novels she’d once devoured during the long, lonely hours she’d spent in her pink prison.

Her gaze flicked to the book case which still contained a large number of those romances, all of them historical, favourites that she couldn’t bear to part with. She hadn’t read any of them for ages, however, her reading habits having changed over the years.

At uni she’d been obliged to read Shakespeare and the classics as well as lots of modern literary works—she’d majored in English literature—leaving little time for reading romances. Any spare reading time she had had been spent reading the unpublished novels emailed to her by Henry, a literary agent whom she’d worked for as a paid reader. Most of those books had been thrillers.

Now that she was Henry’s full-time assistant, Violet was also obliged to read a lot of the best sellers published around the world so that she was always up-to-date with the current market. And, whilst some of these books did have romantic elements, none were anything like the raunchy historical romances she’d once been addicted to.

Suddenly, she had the urge to see if they still held the same fascination for her that they once had; if they could still make her heart race. Dropping the handle of her case, she crossed the room to the book case where she began searching for one particular favourite, about a pirate who’d kidnapped an English noble woman then fallen in love with her, and vice versa. It was all total fantasy, of course. But Violet had loved it.

‘Violet, for Pete’s sake, come on,’ her father said impatiently when she bent down to check the bottom shelf.

‘Won’t be a sec,’ she replied, her gaze quickly scanning the row of books.

And there it was, dog-eared and with the pages yellowing, but the cover still as shocking as ever, with the heroine’s clothes in disarray and the handsome pirate hero looming over her with lecherous intent. Wicked devil, she thought, but with a jolt of remembered pleasure.

‘Just wanted something to read on the plane,’ she said as she quickly shoved the book into her carry-all.

Saying goodbye to her mother was the only difficult part in leaving. Her mother always cried.

‘Don’t wait till next Christmas to come home, love,’ her mother said, sniffling into a wadful of tissues.

‘All right, Mum,’ Violet said, biting her own bottom lip.

‘Promise me you’ll come home for Easter.’

Violet searched her mind for any excuse. But couldn’t find one.

‘I’ll try, Mum. I promise.’

Her father didn’t talk during the drive to the airport. He wasn’t much of a talker. A plumber by trade, he was a good but simple man who loved his wife and his family, though it was clear to both Vanessa and Violet that Gavin was the apple of his eye. Admittedly, they were like two peas in a pod, with Gavin having become a plumber as well. Vanessa was closest to her mother, both in looks and personality, whilst Violet... Well, Violet had always been the odd one out in the family in every way.

Aside from being the only one to be plagued by acne in her teenage years, she’d looked totally different as well. Where both Vanessa and her mother were blue-eyed blondes with small bones and were less than average height, Violet was taller and curvier, with dark brown hair and eyes. Admittedly, her father and brother had dark-brown hair and eyes, but they weren’t big men, both a good few inches less than six feet with lean, wiry frames.

She’d been told, when she’d once questioned her genes, that she looked like her great-aunt Mirabella, the one who’d died and left her the ten grand. Not that she’d ever met the woman. Apparently, she’d died a spinster. It suddenly occurred to Violet that maybe no man would marry her because she’d had a face