Message From The Author
I once found myself lost in the Epping Forest, just a few miles from London. It was a typical spring evening, deep in the valley of the River Lea, which meant that a haze of rain had threatened for much of the day. Night was rapidly falling, and the gnarled and shadowy hornbeams which threatened to spill down into the twisting roadway had become eerie, to say the least. I was many miles from home, with nary a house in sight, and no clue as to where I might end up.
But unlike the poor, benighted marquis of Rannoch, who finds himself in just such a predicament in MY FALSE HEART, I was not alone. I had a cell phone, an Avis rental, and my beloved spouse, handsome 6'2" brute that he is. Suddenly, in the distance, a lone horseman crashed through the trees and down the steep bridle path into the narrow lane. Taking great umbrage at our trusty green Saab, the big bay horse reared ever so elegantly in the middle of the roadway, and then vanished into the mist, like a romantic apparition from another time and place.
History lover that I am, I began to wonder--what would it would have been like to be lost in this hauntingly beautiful place some two centuries earlier? For despite its proximity to England's urban core, this part of Essex, with its scarcity of road signs and villages, can still be dark and uncertain. And so the adventure of Elliot Armstrong, the wicked marquis of Rannoch, was born.
But Rannoch is lost in more ways than one. His darkness is a darkness of the soul, and his uncertainty is a tangle of regret, rumor, and--whether he wishes to admit it or not--a deep and abiding loneliness. He is the tall, dark, and handsome embodiment of the Bard's old warning that "use doth breed habit in a man," and Rannoch's habits have become harsh, ugly and deeply ingrained, with a thirst for revenge foremost among them.
Too many years have passed since Rannoch was a naive Scottish lad, whose provincial ways left him vulnerable to the cruelties of the beau monde. And so, when his flame-haired paramour tosses champagne in his face, then publicly belittles his skill between the sheets, Rannoch angrily pursues her into the wilds of Essex, only to become hopelessly lost, until he stumbles upon the isolated home of a young emigrée whose honesty and innocence challenge his cynical convictions and resurrect his shattered dreams.
Sheltered from the torrential rain, Rannoch quickly tumbles head over heels in lust (if not something far worse) with Evangeline van Artevalde, the outwardly serene, yet explosively passionate Flemish artist who, along with her extended family, lives in a rambling old country house called Chatham Lodge.
Evangeline is first intrigued, and soon inspired, by her reticent guest, whom her housekeeper has unwittingly confused with a customer who was expected for a portrait sitting. In this twisted tale of mistaken identity, neither Rannoch nor Evangeline is completely honest...yet the passion between them is undeniable.
As Rannoch falls deeper in love with his beautiful hostess and immerses himself in a newfound sense of family, his old emotions of guilt and honor are resurrected, and soon he finds himself dancing on the edge of a lie he never meant to perpetuate. Can the emotionally crippled marquis keep his nasty secrets hidden long enough to convince Evangeline of his suddenly honorable intentions? Or is his character beyond redemption? And while the wicked marquis plays innocent parlor games with the children of Chatham, who brutally murders his mistress by strangling her with Rannoch's last Christmas gift, an ornate ruby necklace? Through all of Rannoch's soul-searching, only one thing is clear: his life must change. But how? And who will believe in him?
Read Book Review ›