Diana Fletcher means business. The beautiful, innocent, reverend’s daughter has traveled all the way to a tropical island off Madagascar on a mission: To find her brother—and to punish the man who drove him to a life of piracy. But when she comes face to face with the enemy in question, the handsome, powerfully seductive man is not at all what Diana expected…
Tristan Kent never intended to harm Diana’s brother. A man of humble origins, Tristan claims he tried to save him from another ruthless captain. Diana is desperate to believe he is telling the truth…and that the intoxicating desire that escalates between them is true as well. But can she trust him? Or is Tristan’s story—and his heart—nothing more than fool’s gold? Amid the haze of sensual delights and soaring ecstasy Tristan has in store for her, all will be revealed…
“The story is brimming with risqué retorts and searing sex scenes.” - Publishers Weekly on Passionate Pursuit
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First Comes Desire
By Tina Donahue
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Tina Donahue
All rights reserved.
Madagascar — 1717
Harsh breathing pulled Tristan Kent from sleep.
Snores rose from his crew, his men having collapsed earlier from rumfustian, a potent mixture of sherry, gin, and beer. If their past imbibing served as evidence, they'd remain unconscious until dawn, sprawled on the isolated beach.
He inhaled deeply and relaxed.
Whispers intruded. Heated murmurs followed, drifted close, and stopped abruptly.
"On your feet, Kent. Do it now, coward." A young woman had spoken, her British accent refined, tone decidedly heated.
His pulse jumped. Eyes closed, he lay motionless against his bed of felled mangroves. At any other time, he would have murdered the person who dared insult him. Not now. What he'd heard made no sense. He hadn't been in an Englishwoman's company in more than four years. Those females had never used cultured speech or their mouths for anything other than delivering the most wanton pleasure.
Pretending sleep, he stretched his legs lazily over the sand and hit an obstacle.
The thing kicked back. "Do as I've ordered or die where you are."
Sweat prickled his neck. He inched his hand from beneath his book to the brace of pistols across his chest. Like other pirates, he was never without his weapons. Unlike most, he never overindulged in drink, as his occupation hardly ensured a long and pleasant rest or life. Even so, he never believed an educated Englishwoman would challenge him.
He couldn't fathom who she might be, what she wanted, or how she'd come to this particular spot. The hidden beach offered protection against attack or capture while his crew careened the Quest, the sloop he commanded. Brimstone and tallow antifouling reeked on the balmy night breeze.
She kicked his foot harder.
He touched his pistol and opened his eyes. Firelight danced in the muggy breeze casting the exposed hull and mast in a hellish orange glow.
Her rapier point nearly rested on his throat. "If you're incapable of moving, my blade shall."
It already had. Any closer and she'd shed his blood. Before he died or they both did, Tristan looked up.
She was young, surely no more than twenty or so, skin fair and flawless, eyes lushly lashed, though he couldn't determine the color. They seemed too dark to be blue, too fair to be brown. Her features were elegant, lips full and rich, overall surprisingly exquisite.
His mouth went dry.
Only her clothing disappointed. A cap covered her hair, though a few dark tresses had escaped. She'd hidden her womanly form in canvas trousers, a patterned shirt, and short blue jacket. The mild breeze ruffled her clothes, pressing them into the alluring swell of her unbound breasts.
Despite his disquiet and confusion, he smiled.
Bewilderment swept her face, and then she frowned. "On your feet now or I'll run you through where you lie."
He settled his fingers carefully against the flat part of her blade. Only his thumb rested directly on the cutting edge. He pressed. Steel sliced into him. Blood ran down.
She made a face.
"Go on, run me through." He pressed harder. "I'll assist you in keeping your blade steady."
She remained perfectly still, not even breathing.
He guessed she wasn't prepared to murder him after all, though what she would do remained a mystery. He eased the point from his throat, held the flat part, and reeled her in. Her wrist was tantalizingly close. A quick move, along with a firm grip and he'd have her beneath him.
Panic swept her features. She tugged.
He put on a show and gasped loudly.
Mewling like a wounded kitten, she looked at his hand.
His fingers were intact, rather than severed. He'd released the blade in plenty of time, proving she was an innocent at this and foolhardy for having challenged him.
Three men hurried from behind and raised their blades to his chest. A fourth man strode into view. He removed Tristan's pistols, cutlass, and dagger.
The men said nothing and made no move on their own, appearing to serve rather than using her as a decoy. Each looked to be in his late twenties, dressed like mariners or pirates. In the Indian Ocean, there was little distinction.
To Tristan's knowledge, there had never been a genteel Englishwoman on the account and surely not one functioning as ship's captain. However, he'd been absent from his homeland since seventeen-twelve. Perhaps in the last five years, beautiful young women had taken to bolder goals than being a pleasure source to men. "Pity."
"Pity?" She looked down her nose at him. "Because you've yet to lose your fingers to my blade?"
He closed his book. His men weren't in a position to help him. None ordered to keep watch. He'd left the task to his friend and quartermaster, James Sullivan. Most likely, James was still alive, since the young woman wasn't brutal. However, he wasn't here nor had he sent out an alert as to these intruders.
Tristan lifted his face to her men. "Who is she?"
Before they could answer, she directed her blade to his throat. "I said, on your feet."
"State your purpose and I may consider your sweet request."
The man next to her snickered.
She gave him a withering look. "Quiet."
He fell silent but didn't lose his smile.
Poor girl handled this badly. A man would have killed the fool to warn the others. In this part of the world, it often took violence to secure obedience and respect.
She withdrew her blade. Her glare, however, didn't soften. She wanted Tristan quite dead, even if she wasn't the one who would spill his blood. Odd.
"My ship has no valuable cargo." He gestured to the vessel. "It's not yet fit for sea, so what could you possibly want other than to have me on my feet?"
"I'll see you back in England and hanged."
"You want to send me to the gallows?" He couldn't hide his shock. "Why?"
"Tell me what you've done with Peter."
Ah, she searched for a man. Her long throat and satiny flesh showed no signs of Peter's mark in the recent past. Despite her loose clothing, Peter's seed wasn't growing inside her, unless she had yet to swell with the man's child.
Her eyes filled. "Where is he?"
Her distress surprised Tristan. There were six men named Peter in his crew, none worthy of her. She was young, lovely, and apparently educated. Too good for those beasts.
"Montgomery." She gestured to the man who'd previously snickered.
He was her largest crewmember, his weight in jiggling fat.
She stepped aside. "Make him talk or you'll answer to your master."
"Yes, miss." Montgomery clamped Tristan's shoulder.
Miss? Master? This was odd. Once Montgomery felt comfortable in his superior role, Tristan offered a swift punch to the man's jaw.
He staggered back on the sand.
The other men pressed close.
Before they ran Tristan through, he spoke to her. "If you want to know what happened to Peter, order your men to back off. Do it now."
She gestured for them to withdraw.
"What's Peter's last name?"
Another surprise. "Peter Fletcher, my cabin boy?" The lad was fourteen and innocent when it came to women. "How do you know him?"
Tristan bristled, but tempered his anger. Youth and inexperience had caused her careless words. When he'd been her age, he'd also despised pirates. Going on the account hadn't been his choice or James's, but a man did what he had to in order to survive. "There's no need to fear for the lad's safety. He's quite well."
"Where is he? What have you sent my brother to do?"
Everything fell into place, her outrage and sorrow making sense. Peter had spoken of a mother who'd died from the pox when he was quite young and a clergyman father who'd succumbed to the fever three years ago. The boy might have also mentioned a sister.
She must have come to take Peter back to England after finding him here, of all places. The ship and crew she used certainly weren't hers. Presumably, the vessel belonged to the man she referred to as master.
Tristan longed to ask for particulars but guessed she wouldn't answer a pirate she wanted hanged. With her, he wanted to comfort. A woman's distress was never a small matter. "No need to worry. Peter's task won't put him at risk."
"To whose way of thinking, yours or those in the civilized world?"
"Everyone's. I'm fully aware he's not yet a man and requires protection."
She opened her mouth and closed it, cheeks flushing.
Good. He'd won their first battle. Threats moved men. Women needed civilized behavior and a kind word to bring them to a man's side. He wanted her at his, so he could teach her what pleased him. There would be much she'd learn and enjoy.
Heat pooled in his groin.
She stepped back and gestured to the man who stood next to the still-moaning Montgomery. "Reeves, restrain the captain."
Tristan stood. Her men lifted their blades to his chest. "What's the meaning of this? I've done you no harm. Stay where you are." He pointed at Reeves, who'd edged closer, then turned back to her. "Hear this, Miss Fletcher. No matter what transpires, I'll never do you harm."
Firelight danced over her milky complexion. Her eyes reflected the flames.
Enticed further, he held up his hands. "Call off your men. You're safe here. So is Peter. No one's hurt him."
She stiffened. "No one? Not even you, especially you? How can you say such a thing? You abducted him."
She advanced a step. "You'll hang. I'll see you hang."
Not likely. He had other plans for them and kept his peace.
* * *
Tristan's composure rattled Diana, his demeanor at odds with what she'd heard about him being a ruthless pirate. For nearly a year, she'd pursued him. Upon capture, she'd expected him to curse her and struggle fruitlessly against her men while she watched with great satisfaction. Instead, he'd smiled. He also seemed to care about Peter.
Impossible. No matter Tristan's dignified manner or him claiming innocence, he was still a pirate, Welsh in the bargain, and strangely enough, liked to read. His book lay forgotten on the sand, its title embossed in gold on the cover. Homer's Iliad, a classic far above what common folks would enjoy.
Her confusion grew. He was more than he should be, as tall and athletic as a young noble, clean too, hair and face washed, his crimson waistcoat, dark breeches, and white shirt well cared for. Moist wind separated the linen to bare his muscular chest. Perspiration glistened within those crisp curls. They begged for a woman's touch, and later him pleasuring and protecting her in his strong embrace.
Something stirred within Diana. She pushed her foolish reaction away and met him eye-to-eye, wanting to see the devil.
He waited patiently for her next move, searching her gaze, puzzling her further.
He was an undeniably handsome man. Blond hair fell in thick waves over his forehead, and curled around his ears and on his neck. Firelight turned his bronze skin a deeper gold. Only his eyebrows were dark, same as the stubble on his upper lip, chin, and cheeks.
He smiled softly.
Her belly clenched. She needed him to be afraid, not playful or aroused, to know the suffering he'd caused. When he'd taken the merchant ship Peter served on, he'd nearly ruined her brother's life and surely destroyed hers. It was heartache enough to have Peter foolishly run away to sea as if it were a game. Tristan's actions had forced Peter into piracy and put the child at even greater risk. Boys younger than him had gone to the gallows for crimes that were serious or not.
Helpless with outrage, she lifted her hand to strike Tristan.
He didn't curse or try to defend himself from her coming blow.
Unsettled, she lowered her hand. "Go on. I know you want to strike me, so why haven't you? Are you afraid what my men will do?"
"As they're armed and I'm not, taking caution merely shows good sense. But might I also remind you, Miss Fletcher, I wasn't the one with the raised hand."
Her cheeks burned. "A necessary defense against the likes of you."
He sighed loudly. "Yes, the likes of me. I'm nothing in your eyes. You've made yourself quite clear. However, before you take to insulting other men in this part of the world, ones who are far less understanding than I, and those who wouldn't hesitate to treat you quite brutally, it's best you remember words have power. They should be used with great care."
She opened her mouth but found no acceptable retort, the same as when her father had been alive. To him, she'd always been wrong and expected to apologize, beg his forgiveness. There wasn't a chance in hell she'd do so with Tristan. She hardly forgot what he'd done to Peter and who waited for her at her journey's end.
Benedict Bishop made her physically ill. He was twice her age, her father's friend. In return for Bishop's ship and crew, she'd pledged her flesh to him. Once she arrived in Mozambique, she'd share his bed without marriage or the decency any woman deserved. A living hell she'd endure when they arrived in England. One made possible by Tristan.
Her outrage flared. "What's the real problem, Captain? Not man enough to stand the truth?"
He bowed his head slightly. "Your truth is flawed, which compels me to prefer your hand. Go on. Do your worst."
Her skin stung, but she wouldn't back down. "Very well." She brought her hand to his cheek to strike him, but couldn't, and delivered a gentle caress instead.
Her men mumbled to each other.
Tristan looked at her questioningly.
He above all should have known seduction was a woman's greatest weapon, forcing men to their knees, even one as alluring and confident as him. His skin was warmer than she'd expected, his stubble oddly exciting in how it bit her palm. She enjoyed touching him, until she recalled he was no more than a murderous pirate.
Tristan parted his lips.
Before he could speak and surely lie, she stroked his bottom lip, heated and achingly soft, the same as how he treated her. For now. And only because her men offered protection. If she and Tristan had been alone, Diana sensed he would have demanded her mouth and used her as he pleased. Just as he'd abducted Peter without giving the boy a voice in the matter. No more.
She raked Tristan's cheek, wanting him to feel the pain he'd caused her, relishing his coming shout and oaths.
He kept his tongue.
Furious, she dug deeper.
He didn't even blink.
"Damn you." She ached to pummel him, to make him bellow. "I want you to hurt."
"As you do." Blood trickled down his cheek.
She lowered her face, frustrated tears welling in her eyes. "I hate you."
"You've yet to know me."
"I've no desire to know you."
"In time you will." Longing radiated from him, rather than insolence.
She should have backed away. His presence held Diana, baffling and intriguing her.
"I did not abduct Peter." He glanced past. "If you refuse to believe me, ask him."
She turned so quickly her cap slipped off, releasing her braid. The fire silhouetted a man. "Peter?"
He stepped into the light. The boy she recalled was no more, a stranger facing her.
Sun had lightened Peter's dark hair and baked his once pale skin as bronze as Tristan's. He was nearly as tall too.
Her chest cramped at changes she hadn't expected. The last time she'd seen Peter he was twelve years old, smaller than she, and far too thin.
Even with his new height, he was still more boy than man, all arms and legs, no fat. Only marks from work he'd done or beatings he'd endured.
She winced at the cruel bruises, the horrible cuts on her brother's bare chest and arms. "Turn around."
Peter looked at Tristan.
He nodded. "Go on. Show her your back."
She pressed her hand to her throat. Scar after scar crisscrossed Peter's skin. She whirled on Tristan. "Liar. You claimed no one had harmed him. You did that."
"I never touched the boy."
Then his foul crew had, and he hadn't stopped the assault. "You'll pay for this." She sheathed her rapier and spoke to her men. "Restrain Kent and his crew."
Peter gaped. "What?"
Diana struggled over the sand to reach him, ready to hug.
He sidestepped her and marched toward Tristan.
Her other men arrived to help their mates fetter the prisoners.
Peter stopped and growled. "What do you think you're doing?"
He shoved Reeves away from a pirate. To the man, they were drunk and swearing at having their slumber interrupted, but offered little fight.
"Stop it." Peter grabbed another man, who easily pushed him aside.
"Peter." She gripped his wrist to keep him from drawing his pistol, snatched it instead, and flung it into the sea.
Excerpted from First Comes Desire by Tina Donahue. Copyright © 2016 Tina Donahue. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Diana Fletcher is on a mission to find her missing brother. She’s determined to find him and punish those responsible. This wasn’t a bad story. It was pretty predictable and not too much vested in the emotions, but it told a complete story for being short and had plenty of hawt parts to it. I’ll probably read more from this author. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
Tristan Kent is no gentleman. Born into deep poverty, he went to sea an illiterate boy, just looking for some way to survive. Now, years later, he captains the pirate ship Lady Lark, cruising the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and relieving the merchant vessels he encounters of their wealth. If Tristan were to return to his native England, he’d hang. Still, he’s no villain either. Unlike his crew, he’s never gets drunk. A natural leader, he’s firm but fair with the often desperate and unsavory men he commands, avoiding bloodshed unless there’s no alternative. He’s unfailingly loyal to his friends. Over the years, he has educated himself far better than many of his more fortunate countrymen. He speaks half a dozen languages and reads The Iliad for entertainment. He’s also stunningly handsome, breathtakingly virile, and has a wicked sense of humor. Diana Fletcher might be a woman, but she hardly qualifies as the weaker sex. Motherless, brow-beaten by her cold-hearted minister father, Diana has learned to take care of herself, as well as her younger brother Peter. She’s smart, stubborn, outspoken and far more independent-minded than is considered appropriate for females in eighteenth century England. After her father dies, Peter falls into the clutches of a band of pirates. Diana’s ready to do anything to save him. That includes selling her body to her father’s unscrupulous friend Deacon Bishop in return for a ship and men to help her search for her hapless sibling. Of course, the black-haired, violet-eyed virgin is incredibly beautiful, even when she’s wearing the rough canvas and homespun of a mariner. First Comes Desire is labeled as historical erotic romance. I’d consider fantasy erotic romance to be a more appropriate description. The action unfolds on an idyllic tropical island inhabited by a tight-knit community of friendly natives who normally run around half-naked. Her sensuality awakened by Tristan’s expert love-making, Diana soon sheds her modesty. Aside from Tristan’s possessive chauvinism, the attitudes of the characters all seem very modern. There’s little historical detail—in fact, I’m just guessing at the time period, based on Wikipedia’s article about the history of Madagascar. Still, book is great fun, with its lusty hero and contrary heroine, not to mention several incredibly evil villains. The sex scenes throw off so many sparks they threatened to short out my e-reader, although Ms. Donahue’s choice of terminology struck me as a bit coy at times. I found many aspects of the plot implausible, including the initial premise. In particular, I couldn’t really imagine how a man with Tristan’s experience and intelligence would not have understood the threat posed by his discarded mistress. He also seemed blithely unconcerned about being followed to his island paradise by his murderous crew. I suppose he might have been blinded by love. If you enjoy erotic romance featuring a gorgeous, noble he-man and his devoted woman, willing to give up their lives for one another—while taking frequent breaks for carnal activities—you’ll love First Comes Desire. Just don’t expect much in the way of history!
Can we just take a moment to pause and appreciate the book cover? That’s Tristan the pirate. He will invade your heart, and make demands of it, before the unconventional courtship even begins. *sighs* Diana, a proper English woman, sets off to rescue her young brother who was kidnapped by Tristan and his band of unruly heathens. Or so she thinks. First impressions are unflattering, but dubious, until you unearth its heart. The layers of Tina Donohue‘s book undoubtedly declare: First Comes Desire is the path to love. In no uncertain terms, Tristan makes his intentions known and Diana is not immune to his charms. I found him brazen and off putting initially, but there was never any artifice behind Tristan: He would plunder. Once the story unfolded, however, Tristan merely wanted Diana to look beyond skin deep; to discover what he wanted to give so freely. Oh, there was plenty of desire. Tristan awakened Diana’s sensual self and her lust was as healthy as his. The matter of love, a far more perplexing emotion than desire, shook Tristan to the core. I’m not comparing Tristan to Christian Grey, but there are parallels of the swoon-worthy variety and I was quickly on Team Pirate! I got so wrapped up in the development of the relationship, Tristan’s approach while possessive was undeniably appealing, I must inform you of a rancorous former lover hell-bent on vindication, a shipload of disgruntled pirates on Tristan and Diana’s tail, a young brother trying to spread his wings, and a heartwarming, unforgettable path to love. It all goes back to love, doesn’t it? If you’re lucky. “Women were not meant to yield. Women could yield. They might even enjoy doing so, but only with the right man. One they desired. First came desire. Respect and love followed.” Ms. Donahue marries erotica with character evolution quite deftly. Compelling even. It’s pretty easy to love Tristan and forgive his domineering nature, but when trust and devotion are cherished, there is joy in surrender. First Comes Desire, the first book in the Pirate’s Prize series was unforgettable. I look forward to more.
This was a steamy entertaining read. Diana Fletcher wants to rescue her brother from pirates and will do anything to find him. Diana believes Tristan Kent is the reason her brother was in harm’s way but isn’t sure what to believe. The chemistry between Diana and Tristan is steamy, can she believe the words of a pirate? Fast paced read with a good story and great characters. Looking forward to the next in the series.
Diana Fletcher was sick with worry over her younger brother’s welfare. He ran away, boarded a ship and was now in the hands of pirates. Benedict Bishop offered Diana a ship, with several armed guards to bring the kidnapping pirates, back to England for justice, and return her brother to safety; if she became his mistress. Although the thought of being intimate with a man her father’s age, made Diana nauseous, she agreed. Diana was relieved to find her brother. She was also glad to see that her guards had tied up the pirate’s captain, Tristan Kent, and his crew. Tristan had no intention of dying at the end of a rope or returning to England. He did, however, intend to keep the beautiful Miss Fletcher near him. He was intrigued by the attractive courageous woman and decided that she was to be his wife. Diana’s life was never the same after meeting the cunning pirate, Tristan Kent. She wasn’t supposed to like him, but she did. He confused her. Tristan was intelligent, educated and kind, yet he was a pirate. Her quiet, unassuming life was about to take a dangerous turn. First Comes Desire is a well-written, compelling and enjoyable romance. Thank you, Kensington Books, and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy.
First Comes Desire Is a love story with a little action. A heartbroken Diana goes out in search of her missing younger brother, only to find him, and so much more. Tina Donahue brought pirates, islanders, and English together in one story in quite a unique way. This is a quick read and a cute story. The characters were well developed with quite the personalities. The love-hate relationships, included jealously, and respect; in addition to the friendships with the loyalty of brothers. Together, they create a surprisingly safe community. It was a nice read and overall 3 Boundless Stars.