Twice orphaned, Catherine Barrett arrives in Virginia a stranger to her closest kin and secretly engaged to the one man her family would disapprove of—her seafaring grandfather’s apprentice. Add to her troubles, the rich and intriguing older brother of her secret betrothed, Dawson Randolph, a plantation owner who is as heartless as he is handsome. Heartbroken when her intended sets sail for his maiden voyage, Catherine finds it difficult to adjust to her new life, hoping to befriend the one man who is, undoubtedly, the match her grandparents wish for her. Dawson’s distaste for her secret engagement to his brother makes it clear he has no designs for marriage to anyone. Especially her.
Ten years since the tragic loss of his young wife and infant son, Dawson Randolph is convinced love and marriage is a fool’s game and resents being pardon to his brother’s hidden engagement. Damned by his instant attraction and his own growing desire, Dawson vows to befriend her against his better judgment. Determined to bring her happiness in a time of fear and uncertainty, Dawson puts aside his animosity to become her confidant, only to realize Catherine holds the key to his heart. When tragedy strikes at sea, Catherine’s guilt pushes Dawson to the fringes of her life as madness consumes her.
Can his love save her before she drowns in her own grief? Or is he doomed to love her from a distance, always in the shadow of her love for his dead brother?
Once within the entryway of the house, out of her grandparents’ vision, she dashed up the stairs and into her room. She slowed down long enough to shut the door without rattling its hinges then threw herself across the bed. Pent up tears streamed out of her eyes and scalded her cheeks.
How could it be Nathaniel was so kind, good, and sweet and his brother the opposite?
She never met a man so dead set against marriage or more dead set against her in all her life.
He doesn’t know me!
How could Dawson think he knew what was best for her or Nathaniel?
How could he pass such harsh judgment before they spoke more than a few words to one another?
It only made sense that if word came from Nathaniel while away, it would reach Dawson first, and Catherine hoped he would be kind enough to keep her apprised of Nathaniel’s journey. To make friends with the Randolph family had been a goal she planned with good intention, for it would make life much easier when Nathaniel returned and announced their engagement. She would already feel like part of their family.
What a cruel twist of fate. Dawson was arrogant, impersonal and so very opinionated. Worse yet, Catherine thought him the most beautiful creature she ever laid eyes on.
He was handsome and she hated him for it. Even more so, she hated to admit him even more attractive than Nathaniel was.
Curses, what makes me think such horrid thoughts? Catherine’s heart stuck in her throat.
Her silent admission of attraction left her awestruck.He is not my intended. He is the brother of my intended.