Cover image for Heartless
Martin, Kat.
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Publication Information:
New York, NY : St. Martin's Paperbacks, 2001.
Physical Description:
325 pages ; 18 cm
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A Shameless Bargain
To escape her life of poverty as a tenant farmer's daughter, Ariel Summers made a bargain with the devil-she would become the Earl of Greville's mistress in exchange for the schooling and refinements of a lady. But she couldn't foresee the arl's untimely death, or her own disturbing attraction to his bastard son and heir, Justin Ross.
A Cold-blooded Demand
Justin never meant to demand payment from the tempting young woman his father had so callously planned to ruin. But her innocent allure provoked his ruthless nature and he vowed he would have her in his bed.
An Unexpected Passion
Seduction was his plan but the Earl of Greville never suspected Ariel's innocent passion would awaken emotions he had long believed dead. When mistrust and betrayal threatens the fragile happiness the two of them have found, Justin must convince Ariel he isn't the heartless man she believes...

"Kat Martin dishes up sizzling passion and true love, then she serves it with savoir faire."- Los Angeles Daily News

Author Notes

Kathleen Kelly Martin was born July 14, 1947 in the Central Valley of California. She obtained a degree in Anthropology and History from the University of California in Santa Barbara.She is an American writer of romance novels under the pen names of Kat Martin, Kathy Lawrence and Kasey Marx. Martin is a member of the Romance Writers of America. To date, she has been published in England, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Russia, South Africa, China, and Korea. She has written several series which include Southern Series, Garrick Family Series, Kingsland Series and Litchfield Series. Her novel titles include Magnificent Passage, The Secret, and Secret Ways. She made The New York Times Best Seller List with her title Into the Firestorm.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Early nineteenth-century England doesn't offer many opportunities for a woman to change her station in life, but this doesn't deter young Ariel Summers. Living with her abusive father in a cottage as tenants of the Earl of Greville, she dreams of one day being a fine lady. She makes an unusual bargain with the Earl and he accepts, but, unbeknownst to Ariel, he dies, making their bargain the responsibility of his bastard son and heir, Justin Ross. What follows when Justin and Ariel meet is a tale full of misunderstandings and unspoken needs and desires. Both, of course, have mistaken impressions of the other. Justin longs for Ariel but fights the attraction. Ariel, especially, cannot get a clear picture of Justin because his brooding personality hides his true nature. She continually wavers between wanting and hating him, making the reader wish she or he could take Ariel by the shoulders and shake her into making up her mind and giving Justin a break. --Maria Hatton

Publisher's Weekly Review

Martin's (The Secret; Perfect Sin) strongly drawn portrait of two vulnerable people picking their way through the tangles of love is certain to please her fans. Upon the Earl of Greville's death in 1802, his newly legitimized bastard son, Justin Ross, inherits the Greville estates as well as Ariel Summers, a plucky girl who had pledged to become his father's mistress in exchange for schooling on how to be a lady. Though he has little interest in making Ariel consummate the bargain, when she finally graduates and comes to live with him, Justin finds his intentions skewed by his attraction to her bright spirit and his dislike of her friendship with his worst enemy. And despite Ariel's own determination to repay her debt without becoming Justin's mistress, she soon discovers her heart has different ideas. But Justin's mistrust of Ariel's loyalty and her fear that he is incapable of love threaten to pull the pair apart. Martin's villains aren't much more than cardboard, but Ariel and Justin push beyond the stereotypes of the fresh, innocent girl and the emotionally distant rake, fleshing out into nicely rounded characters. The narrative also displays an unusual sensitivity as it explores beyond a couple's hormonal compatibility and tackles the more complex wonder of enduring love. (May) Forecast: Sales in the contemporary romance/suspense field have exploded in recent years, and like many popular romance authors, Martin sagely alternates her offerings between historicals and contemporaries. But Martin's dedicated audience comes from her historicals, and this title will fare quite well. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Surrey, England, 1800 Oh, if I could only be like you . Crouched behind the hedgerows along the lane that led to magnificent Greville Hall, Ariel Summers watched the ornate black carriage roll past, the top down, the earl's gilded crest gleaming on the door. Seated on red velvet squabs, his daughter, Lady Barbara Ross, and her companions laughed as if they hadn't a care in the world.     Ariel stared at them with longing, imagining what it might be like to dress in such beautiful clothes, gowns fashioned of the finest silk, in shades of pink, lavender, and an almost iridescent green--each with a small matching parasol.     Someday , she thought wistfully.     If she closed her eyes, she could imagine herself in a gown of shimmering gold, her pale blond hair swept up in dazzling curls, her slender feet encased in matching kid slippers. Someday I'll have a carriage of my own , she vowed, and a different gown for every single day of the week .     But it wouldn't happen today, she knew, giving up a dispirited sigh, nor anytime in the foreseeable future.     Turning away from the disappearing carriage, she lifted her coarse brown skirts above her sturdy shoes and raced back toward the cottage. She should have been home an hour ago. Her father would be furious if he found out what she had been doing. She prayed he was out in the fields.     Instead, when she lifted the leather curtain that served as the door of the cottage, Whitby Summers was waiting. Ariel gasped as her father painfully gripped her arm and slammed her against the rough-textured wattle-and-daub wall. Forcing herself to look into his puffy, florid face, she flinched as his big hand cracked across her cheek.     "I told ye not to dawdle. I said for ye to deliver that mendin' and get hack here as quick as ye could. What were ye doin'? Gawking at the ladies in their fancy carriage? Ye was daydreamin' like ye always do--wasn't ye? Wishin' for somethin' yet never gonna have. It's time ye faced the truth, gel. Yet nothin' but a cottager's daughter and that's all ye ever will be. Now get yerself out in those fields."     Ariel didn't argue, just ducked away from the fury she read in her father's flushed face. Outside the cottage, she dragged in a shaky breath and shoved her pale blond braid back over her shoulder. Her cheek still burned from her father's painful slap, but it had been worth it.     As she hurried across the dusty earth toward the vegetable garden, her apron flying up in the wind, Ariel stubbornly set her chin. No matter what her father said, someday she would be a lady. Whit Summers wasn't one of those fortune-tellers she had seen last year at the fair. He couldn't see into the future--especially not her future. She would make a better life for herself, escape the dreary existence she now lived. Her destiny was her own, and somewhere beyond her father's dismal patch of ground she would find it.     For now, with her mother long dead, Ariel worked from dusk till dawn. She swept the earthen floor of their two-room cottage and cooked the meager fare that was all the small rented plot of ground could provide, gathered potatoes, pulled turnips, worked at hoeing and weeding the vegetable garden, and helped her father in the wheat fields.     It was a dreary, backbreaking, endlessly dull existence that she intended to escape. Ariel vowed it with every ounce of her being.     And she had a plan. As he did once each month, Edmund Ross, Fourth Earl of Greville, spent the day inspecting his fields and checking on his tenants. It was hotter than usual today, the sun a scorching white orb burning down across the earth and baking the rotted roads to the consistency of granite. He usually preferred riding one of his blooded stallions, but today, with the weather so warm, he took his light phaeton instead, hoping the top would provide a bit of shade.     He leaned back against the tufted leather seat, grateful for the slight breeze blowing in from the north. At forty-five, with his olive skin and silver-tinged wavy black hair, he was still an attractive man, especially popular with the ladies. In his youth, he'd had more than his share--as heir to an earldom he could pick and choose. But as he'd grown older, his tastes had subtly changed. Now, instead of the skills of a practiced lover, he preferred the tenderness and exuberance of youth.     Edmund thought of his current mistress, Delilah Cheek. the young woman he kept in London. Delilah was the daughter of an actress he'd once known in the biblical sense. He had been sleeping with Delilah for over a year, and her young, tender body still excited him. Just thinking of her small, firm breasts and long coppery hair made him hard. At sixteen, when he had first taken her, the girl had been a virgin. Since then, he had taught her well how to please him.     Still, she was reaching her maturity, her body ripening past the slender, almost boyish curves that enticed him, and soon he would grow tired of her. He would yearn for the youth and beauty of an innocent, the way he always did.     God's breath, it was a troublesome predilection.     His mind slipped backward to the days of his youth, and a foul word hovered on his breath. He'd been wed at nineteen, an arranged marriage that had produced only bitter memories of a cowering, frigid wife, long dead now, and a beautiful but worthless daughter, not the son and heir he needed.     Of course there was his bastard son, Justin, that spawn of the devil he had sired with Isobel Bedford, the daughter of a local squire. Isobel had been wild and beautiful, as reckless and hedonistic as he. He might not have believed the boy was his, but the physical resemblance--and the enmity between them--was irrefutable proof of the deed.     As the phaeton turned down the dirt lane that led to his tenant, Whitby Summers's, cottage, Edmund's thoughts swung briefly to Delilah and how he would use her young body when he returned to the city. But at the sight of Whit's fair-haired daughter, just turned fourteen, his interest focused in a different direction. Ariel was tall for her age, her body reed slender, not yet budding into womanhood. Still the signs were all there. With her long flaxen curls, big china blue eyes, soft, how-shaped mouth, and heart-shaped face, the girl was destined to be a beauty.     When he came to visit, he was unfailingly kind to her. She wasn't ripe enough to suit him yet, but Edmund always liked to keep the doors to opportunity open. Ariel watched the earl's sleek black phaeton roll up in front of the house. She had known he was coming. The earl always came to visit on the same day of the month.     Checking her appearance, she smoothed her plain blue skirt and clean white blouse, freshly washed last night for the occasion. Unconsciously she rubbed the welt on her thigh where her father had taken a switch to her. She'd been flirting with Jack Dobbs, the cooper's youngest son, he had said. It wasn't the auth. Jack Dobbs was over-the-top for Betsy Sills, the butcher's daughter, Ariel's best friend, but when Whit Summers had been drinking, as he was last night, the truth didn't matter.     And in a strange way, Ariel was glad it had happened. It was the final nudge she needed to set her long-thought-out plan into motion.     The carriage robed up in a swarm of dust. The earl set the brake and jumped down. He was handsome, she supposed, with the silver in his thick black hair and those odd gray eyes, at least for a man of his aging years.     "Mornin', milord," she said, making him a deep, respectful curtsy. She had been practicing for days and was pleased as she executed the difficult maneuver that she didn't lose her balance.     "Indeed it is a fine morning, Miss Summers." His eyes ran over her in that admiring way he had. It made her feel like a woman instead of just a girl. "Where is your father this fine day?"     "He had an errand to run in the village. He musta forgot you was comin'." And Ariel hadn't bothered to remind him. She had wanted him gone so she could talk to the earl alone.     "I'm sorry I missed him, but I suppose it doesn't matter." He glanced out across the fields, his expression warm with approval. "I can see the crop is faring well. If the weather stays good, you ought to bring in a very good harvest this year."     "I'm sure we will." The earl turned away from her, started back toward his carriage, but Ariel caught his arm. "Excuse me, milord, but there's somethin' I been wantin' to talk to you about."     He smiled as he turned to face her. "Of course, my dear. What is it?"     "Do you ... do you think I'm pretty?" She thought that he did, since he always seemed to stare at her in that strange, assessing way, but still she held her breath. Her plan was doomed to fail if the answer was no.     A slow, appreciative smile curved his lips. He studied the shape of her mouth and the line of her jaw, let his eyes drift down to her breasts. She wished they were round and full like Betsy's.     "You're very pretty, Ariel."     "Do ... do you think a man ... someone like yerself ... do you think--in a few years, I mean--that a man like you might be interested in a girl like me?"     Lord Greville frowned. "There are different kinds of interest, Ariel. You and I are not from the same social circles, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't find you attractive. I believe--in a few years' time--you'll grow into a beautiful young woman."     Her heart kicked up with hope. "If that is so, I was wonderin' ... I've heard stones, milord ... about the ladies you keep in London."     The frown reappeared, mixed with a look she couldn't quite read. "Exactly what sort of stories have you heard, my dear?"     "Oh, nothin' bad, milord," she hastened to assure him. "Just about the girls ... that you treat 'em real good and buy 'em pretty dresses and all."     He didn't ask where she'd heard the tales. It was common knowledge in the village that over the years the earl had kept a number of young women as his mistresses.     "What exactly are you asking me, Ariel?"     "I was hopin' maybe you and me could make some sorta bargain."     "What sort of bargain?"     It all rushed out in a single long breath, as if a dam had suddenly broken. "I wanna be a lady, milord--more than anything in the world. I want to learn to read and write. I wanna learn to speak right and wear pretty clothes--and put up me hair." She swept the long mass up on her head to demonstrate her words. When she released it, it tumbled back down past her waist. "If you would send me to school so's I could learn all those firings ... if I could go to one of those fancy finishin' schools where they teach you to be a lady, then I'd be willin' to be one of yer girls."     She watched the surprise in his eyes turn to speculation, rather an unholy gleam; she thought, and felt the first faint stirrings of trepidation.     "You want me to pay for your education--is that what you're saying?"     "Aye, milord."     "And in return, you would be willing to become my mistress."     She swallowed. "Aye."     "Do you understand what that word means?"     A beet red flush stole into her cheeks, as she knew it meant sleeping in the same bed with the man. What else it might entail she wasn't completely sure, but it didn't really matter. She was willing to pay whatever price it took to escape her father and her wretched life on the farm. "Mostly, milord."     He studied her again, his pale eyes raking her from head to foot. She felt as if he were stripping away her clothes piece by piece, felt the ridiculous urge to fling her arms up to cover herself. Instead, she endured his scrutiny and stoically lifted her chin.     "That's a very interesting proposal," he said. "There is your father to consider, of course, but knowing him as I do, perhaps something might be arranged that he would find satisfactory." He reached down and caught her chin, turned her face from side to side, studying the hollows beneath her cheekbones, the slight indentation in her chin. He traced a finger over the curve of her lips, then nodded as if in approval.     "Yes ... an interesting proposal indeed. You shall hear from me soon, my dear Ariel. Until then, I suggest you keep this conversation between the two of us."     "Aye, milord. That I will." She watched him climb into his carriage, watched him slap the reins against the backs of his glossy black horses. Her heart was beating fiercely, her palms slightly damp.     Excitement pumped through her, the knowledge that her plan might actually succeed. Uncertainty followed close on its heels. Ariel couldn't help fearing that in return for the chance at a better life she might have just traded her soul. Copyright © 2001 Kat Martin. All rights reserved.