The Black Unicorn
by Heather E.F. Carter
Publication date: June 1st 2021
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance
The Year is 1792. The French Revolution rages in Paris, the French monarchy abolished, and William Pitt is about to declare war on the Revolutionary government. But all London Society can talk about is the enigmatic highwayman known as the Black Unicorn.
Newly widowed Elina has no time for highwaymen or politics. Freed from her brutal seven-year-marriage, she is fiercely protective of two things: her new freedom, and her two sisters. But when Elina’s family is mistakenly stopped by the Black Unicorn on their way up to the North Yorkshire Moors, and her sister is savagely attacked by one of his men, revenge consumes Elina. For the sake of her sister, she will destroy the Black Unicorn.
And the shooting party at Scarcliffe Towers seems the perfect place to ensnare the mysterious figure.
Another guest at the party, Ashby Harcourt, is known to London Society as the beautiful Portuguese libertine. Elina knows him simply as the whoring companion of her late husband. But this dark Northumberland lord is a man with secrets: a secret love for Elina Brinkley, the daughter of the lofty Marquess of Hertford, and a secret life as the Black Unicorn. But as Elina unravels the mystery surrounding the man behind the mask, she discovers that the Black Unicorn is so much more than just a highwayman.
Having reached the opposite wall, the dancers executed a quarter turn to face each other and proceeded through a short advance and then a lengthier, intricately choreographed retreat. Then they moved through another quarter turn to face the Presence, and my breath caught in my throat as I caught my first glimpse of his face.
He was not English, at least not entirely. His dark coloring did not harken back to the raiders from Normandy, but rather to blood whispering of heat-scorched mornings, afternoon siestas, and the lazy currents of warm bluish-green waters. His eyes, though I knew from long experience to be blue, appeared now as dark as his hair, and were fringed with sooty lashes so impossibly thick and long they cast permanent shadows beneath them, lending him a thoroughly debauched air.
In fact, his beauty was staggering; the sort a Michelangelo or a Raphael might have found in some Mediterranean brothel; an incubus to be immortalized by lending a face to divinity.
He advanced towards us, the light shimmering around him like the gentle waves of the flautist’s vibrato as he moved through the intricate series of steps.
“Who is he?” Charlotte queried from my other side. “I do not think I have ever seen him before.”
“That is Ashby Harcourt,” I said. “Earl of Ashenhurst up in Northumberland and whoring companion to my late husband.”
Heather E. F. Carter writes historical fiction, historical romance, and erotic short stories. Though a lifetime Southern Californian, the settings of her novels are not foreign to her, having spent time each year in her parents’ hometown in Northern England. An accomplished academic, she combines her areas of expertise with her passion as she weaves historically authentic and timelessly relevant tales of love and intrigue. Having earned a B.A. in European history from UCLA, an M.A. in Medieval Women’s History from CSUF, and an M.A. in Early Modern History from UCLA, she left her studies midway through a doctorate in eighteenth-century English history when she discovered her passion and propensity for writing novels. While on a year’s leave of absence in her sixth year at UCLA, she put her doctoral research to good use writing THE BLACK UNICORN, a historical romance set in eighteenth-century North Yorkshire. Fascinated with Baroness Orczy” Scarlet Pimpernel stories, she was inspired to explore her first love, Sir Percy Blakeney, and wondered what he might have looked like if he were a little less heroic. That idea, combined with her love for vampire stories and the classic Gothic hero, led to the creation of Ashby Harcourt, also known as the highwayman behind the sobriquet The Back Unicorn. Her family’s history on the gothic North Yorkshire Moors, which grew in her annual visits with her beloved grandmother, was a natural choice for the setting. Heather’s passion for the research and writing of THE BLACK UNICORN comes alive on the pages through the vivid scenes and seductive dialogue. As you surely will, she fell in love with her story, so much so that she eventually chose to leave academia to pursue writing fiction full time. When she is not setting the pages on fire with her steamy romance, she is spending time at home in Sand Diego with her musician husband, Terry Carter, their adorable and precocious twins, and pet snake, Zanzibar. Music runs in the family, and Heather also plays the flute and supports her husband’s burgeoning ukulele empire. Currently she is researching Revolutionary Paris for the sequel to THE BLACK UNICORN.
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