Madness, p.1

Madness, page 1

 part  #16 of  Rakehell Regency Series



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  Book 16 of The Rakehell Regency Romance Series

  Sorcha MacMurrough

  Freedom, and love, or death…

  Gabrielle Howell enters the hellish asylum of Bedlam in London when her sister Lucinda is committed as insane by her husband the Earl of Oxnard.

  During a riot at the asylum, Gabrielle is rescued by a handsome inmate known only as Simon, who seems to make an awful lot of sense for someone supposedly deranged.

  Drugged and suffering from a mysterious malady, Simon cannot remember his past. All his records seem to indicate he is a deadly killer incarcerated by his prominent family.

  But the more Gabrielle gets to know the fiercely intelligent and gentle man, the more she has her doubts that this could ever be true. Simon is principled, kind, and certainly no murderer, and tranforms from loyal ally to the most magnificent lover. The passion that sparks between them is like nothing she has ever known, heady, and addictive.

  Simon isn't sure if the gorgeous woman he has held in his arms is real, or a figment of his opium-addled brain. All he knows is, it's true love, a gift from the gods he will never give up, except in death.

  Simon refuses to be kept a prisoner any longer by the puppetmasters who have been pulling his strings ever since the war with Napoleon started.

  Trusting in his new-found love Gabrielle, Simon is willing to risk everything to defeat his captors, and the opium addiction they have caused by drugging him to keep him cooperative. Simon dares all to escape from Bedlam and come out of the shadows to live a normal life again once more.

  Gabrielle begins to believe the impossible: that she can save Simon before it's too late, so they can have a blissful future together. In a bold and daring move, she risks everything to heal Simon and rescue him from the living death he has been consigned to.

  Even as their love deepens, the danger swarms in all around them. Society condemns anyone who appears different from themselves, and the agents who imprisoned him in the asylum return all too soon to use him again as a pawn in their deadly political games….

  Will allowing themselves to love one other prove to be Gabrielle and Simon's salvation, or sheer madness?

  Simon began to tease Gabrielle, rippling his fingers over her peaks and valleys with a surety of touch which set her hips thrusting against his hand so desperately, he had all to do not to take her there and then.

  He whispered in her ear, “If we were alone, do you know what I would do?”

  She shook her head.

  “Do you want me to tell you?” he asked, nuzzling her ear and nibbling the lobe.

  “Mmm,” she sighed through parted lips.

  “I would lick you all over, running my tongue inside and out. Explore you fully with it, and my fingers, and finally my straining manhood. Penetrate you with all three until you melted against me and called out my name. I would wander over every part of your body, so that you would know my touch everywhere. I’d possess you utterly, so that you could never think of anything but my caresses, my passion. Oh God, Gabrielle, j’ai besoin de toi.”

  “I need you too, Simon,” she panted, before feasting on his mouth with her own.


  This endlessly creative and talented author has done it again, producing a chilling and clever Regency Noir with strong Gothic elements and a couple who go through hell on earth in order to win each other’s love.

  Bedlam asylum is not the most likely place for a genteel young woman to find her lover, but Gabrielle knows there is more to Simon than meets the eye. Though warned off him by her cousin Antony, she is soon caught up in a whirlwind of espionage and murder as she seeks to save him from the hell on earth he has been forced to endure for the sake of his country during the war.

  All of the Rakehell heroes are wonderful, but I have to admit that Simon has a special place in my heart. He is the perfect lover and a most remarkable man. With Gabrielle’s love he is able to reintegrate back into the world after the torture he has endured.

  Gabrielle is the ultimate MacMurrough heroine, more than a match for Simon and his enemies, brave, intelligent, fiercely loyal. This is truly a wondrous romance that blazes with passionate intensity. Evelyn Trimborn

  The incredible talent of Ms. MacMurrough is to be marvelled at once more as we trace the very rocky road to true love for Simon and Gabrielle, a wonderful couple trapped in the living hell of the Bedlam insane asylum together.

  Gabrielle knows she is rapidly falling in love with the handsome stranger, but must risk everything to save him from the demon opium and his imprisonment.

  This loving man, a paragon of intelligence and sexiness, cannot possibly be the murderer the authorities claim him to be. Gabrielle is determined to seek the truth about his real identity, which proves more stunning than anything she could have ever dreamed of.

  Full of suspense, sensuality and the Gothic elements which never fail to keep us guessing, this is another eagerly awaited volume in this fantastic series. Jacinta Carey

  Simon is simply the most magnificent Rakehell hero to date. Gabrielle is his perfect foil, the lush bed which sets off the jewels of his personality to perfection—his intelligence, sensuality, and above all, his capacity to love and be loved, even when he has had to endure the most dreadful punishments at the hands of his enemies.

  Gabrielle moves heaven and earth to rescue him from the insane asylum they have imprisoned him in. But even more dangers lurk outside in the world than within Bedlam. Their love lights the pages of this endlessly fascinating book. Carolyn Stone

  I loved this stunning romance. It has everything we have come to love about a MacMurrough novel: the strong but not bitchy heroine, the hero who can be all male without being violent or abusive, the nasty enemies in the background, the cloak and dagger suspense. Above all, the simmering sensuality and brilliant love scenes guaranteed to make your heart melt.

  Simon is one sexy man. From the moment they meet their chemistry is incredible. This is an exuberant novel of love and danger amid Regency power politics, and a worthy continuation to this fantastic series, one you will not want to miss. Anabelle Stevens

  Also by the author

  The Rakehell Regency Romance Series

  The Mad Mistress

  The Missed Match

  The Miss Matched

  The Matchless Miss

  The Scarred Heart

  Guardian of the Heart

  The Mistaken Miss

  The Model Master

  The Model Mistress


  Innocence Afire


  The Model Husband





  Beguiled Anew

  Other Historical Romances

  The Sea of Love

  The Faithful Heart

  The Hart and The Harp

  Contemporary Romances

  Heart's Desire

  Star Attraction

  Ghost From the Past


  Book 16 of The Rakehell Regency Series

  Sorcha MacMurrough

  Copyright 2006, 2009 by the author

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information and storage retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

  Under the 1988 UK copyright laws, the author asserts the right to be identified as the creator of this work.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
r />   ISBN: 978-1-58345-828-0

  Published by HerStory Books

  Rakehell Cast List


  Gabrielle Howell, an orphan, trying to support herself by working with her cousin Antony at his medical clinic

  Lucinda Howell, her sister, committed to Bedlam Mental Hospital by her husband The Earl of Oxnard; she is his 4th young wife in as many years.

  The Earl of Oxnard, Lucinda’s husband

  Chauncey Howell, Gabrielle and Lucinda's brother, now deceased; Randall and Isolde's worst enemy.

  Antony Herriot, Gabrielle and Lucinda's cousin, runs a clinic for the poor and fallen women in London's West End

  Oliver, Antony's medical colleague at the clinic

  Clarissa, their assistant

  Angela, Clarissa's friend, a prostitute at Bedlam

  Simon, a resident of Bedlam

  Spence, his guard in the asylum

  Randall Avenel, the Earl of Hazlemere, Gabrielle and Lucinda's cousin

  Isolde Avenel, his wife

  (For their story, see Innocence, and Innocence Afire)

  Michael Avenel, Randall’s elder brother

  Bryony, his wife

  (For their story, see The Model Master)

  Lawrence Howard, a Rakehell and tea trader recently back from India

  Juliet, his wife, a wine merchant and historian

  Miranda, her sister, an actress, admired by the Earl of Oxnard; he wants to make her his 5th young wife.

  George Davenant, Miranda's special friend, a theatre owner and brothel keeper in London, said to be a criminal mastermind

  Sebastian, a Good Samaritan, and George's friend

  Alistair Grant, a Rakehell and barrister in London

  Viola, his wife, Sebastian's sister

  (for their story, see Ruthless)

  Sarah Deveril Davenport, Jonathan’s youngest sister

  Alexander Deveril, also known as Jason Alexander Davenport, her husband, an English spy against the French, a Rakehell

  (for their story, see The Matchless Miss)

  Dr. Blake Sanderson, a Rakehell, a doctor in London and Somerset

  Arabella Neville Sanderson, his wife

  (for their story, see Guardian of the Heart)

  Philip Marshall, a Rakehell, works with Alistair Grant, barrister

  Jasmine Marshall, his wife, friends with Isolde

  (for their story, see The Mistaken Miss)

  Martin Jerome, Blake's cousin, an honorary Rakehell

  Eswara Paignton Jerome, his wife, a healer from India who works with Blake

  (for their story, see The Model Mistress)

  Ash Paignton, Eswara's son

  Ellen Paignton, his wife

  (for their story, see The Model Husband)

  Clifford Stone, a Rakehell, owner of Stone Court

  Vanessa Stone, nee Hawkesworth, his wife, a great scholar

  (for their story, see The Mad Mistress)

  The Duke of Ellesmere, Thomas Eltham, a Rakehell, lives at Eltham Castle

  The Duchess of Ellesmere, Charlotte Eltham, nee Castlemaine, his wife

  (for their story, see The Missed Match)

  Jonathan Deveril, a Rakehell, vicar of Brimley and Eltham

  Pamela Deveril, nee Ashton, his wife

  (for their story, see The Miss Matched)

  Much madness is divinest sense

  To a discerning eye;

  Much sense the starkest madness.

  Emily Dickinson, ‘Much madness is divinest sense’ (l. 1-3)

  Madness is the jail we could all end up in. And we know it. And watch our step. For a lifetime. We behave. A fantastic and entire system of social control, by the threat of example as effective over the general population as detention centers in dictatorships, the image of the madhouse floats through every mind for the course of its lifetime.

  Kate Millett, The Loony-Bin Trip, Conclusion.


  “Let her go! Damn it! Let her go!” Gabrielle thumped impotently on the huge man’s shoulders as he writhed between her battered sister’s legs, hauling at her skirts.

  A dreadful choking sound came from the back of Lucinda’s throat as Gabrielle feebly tried to haul the degenerate away. Loud though it was, the gagging was scarcely audible amid the cacophony of cackles, shrieks and howls throughout the common ward.

  Well, hadn’t the name Bedlam become synonymous with uproar and confusion? Gabrielle could understand why as she tried to drown out the noise thrumming in her ears to concentrate on rescuing her poor sister from the violent fiend who had suddenly attacked her without warning or provocation.

  “Help me! For God’s sake, someone! Nurse! Warder! Please! Help me!”

  Gabrielle grabbed the man around his throat with one slender forearm as he continued to try to mount her sister. Her other hand shot between his thighs. She found his most fleshy orbs, and squeezed hard, then yanked and twisted desperately.

  The man roared his fury, lashing out at her with his left arm.

  Gabrielle sailed across the room like a paper kite. Pain daggered her left side, tearing the breath from her. She was almost sure one of her shoulders dislocated as she crashed into the wall and slid down it in an ignominious heap.

  She clutched her aching side convulsively as she tried to heave in a single blessed breath. Her heart hammered in her breast, and the pounding of the blood in her veins nearly deafened her.

  At last Gabrielle gasped and filled her lungs. But if she had hoped her most immediate problem was over, the sight of the stocky man with wildly rolling eyes looming above her now was enough to have her praying to the Almighty anew.

  “No, oh God, no!”

  He yanked her up by her hair with his left hand. The fingers of his right insinuated themselves into the high-necked collar of her demure hunter green gown. With one huge rent he shredded the frock from her body, baring her to the waist as he shook her like a puppet, her feet suspended several inches off the floor as she struggled against the scorching pain of her scalp.

  One meaty paw clamped down upon a bare breast fiercely, wrenching the breath from her once more. Gabrielle tried to kick his groin or elbow him in the throat. Her scalp was searing agony as she continued to struggle, her movements rending even more hair from her head.

  The man flung her up against the wall, and caught her around the throat before she fell. His other hand was already hauling up her skirts.

  “No, oh God, no. Help me! Please! Someone! Help me! Help us!”

  Her air was choked off by a meaty fist. After a few moments floundering for air under the heavy weight of the man’s body, she could feel herself relinquishing the unequal struggle. Falling. The swirling black void of oblivion rushed up to meet her.

  Then the weight was lifted, and Gabrielle could breathe again at last. A warm hand reached out to take hers gently. A deep voice came through the darkness, warm, soft, as loving as a caress.

  “I’ve got you. I’ve got you, love. You’ll be safe with me.”

  Chapter One

  “I’m not mad. I’m not mad. I know all my sums, I know the days of the week, if only someone could give me a calendar. I’m not mad. It was Brumaire when they brought me here. But no. The revolution is over and even the Emperor is no more. Gone to St. Helena. Thank God. Thought he was Julius Caesar, revising the months of the year on the calendar. But he failed. Just like Caesar was assassinated, his own generals turned upon him in the end.

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