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All Rogues Lead to Ruin Audiobook

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She's a curvy country girl yearning for more...but will a criminal rogue be too much?

A bookish dreamer...

Hazel Taylor longs to leave behind the painful memories of her country home. When an opportunity arises to work in Victorian Manchester as a librarian while providing a chance to finish writing her children's book, she takes the leap of faith and goes — much to the dismay of her sisters. But can she ever travel far enough to outrun the traumatic past that haunts her?

Read more...

A determined rogue...

Jonathan Travers hates his job. As a debt collector for a notorious gang leader, he's ready to leave that life behind. But his plan of transforming an old building into a safe haven for the poor people of Devil's Haven is taking longer than expected. And he's starting to wonder if he'll ever be able to break free — until a little blonde librarian shows up in the rookery.

Will her faith in him be the catalyst he needs to believe in himself or will her own demons destroy them both?

Content Note: This book contains high steam and cursing.

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From All Rogues Lead to Ruin

PROLOGUE

September 1870, Manchester

“I’m leaving Hampshire.”

Three pairs of eyes looked up in shock at their youngest sister, Hazel’s, pronouncement — the cozy Sunday evening, previously filled with reading and embroidery, taking an unexpected turn.

“What do you mean you’re leaving? Where exactly are you going?” The practical one of the bunch as the eldest, Caraway asked the foremost question on their minds.

Setting aside the letter she’d received earlier, Hazel stood before her sisters, prepared to defend her decision. Sweat tracked down her back, but she was determined in her course. “A while back, I wrote Papa’s old friend, Mr. Kilney, about a position at his library in Manchester. He said he’d keep me in mind for any possible openings, though my mourning period would prevent him from hiring me prior to its end.”

A fire crackled in the hearth, casting shadows over the perplexed faces of her sisters while Hazel waited for them to digest the information and understand the significance of their meaning.

“And our mourning officially ended last week…” Lily mused, arms crossed over her chest while trouser-clad legs mimicked the position. As the second youngest, she was the most spirited and preferred running around in trousers compared to skirts — a fact that the local villagers had long ago learned to accept from one of the eccentric Taylor girls, if not approve.

“Precisely. I sent him a missive last Wednesday to inquire about the status of available positions, and there’s his reply.” She pointed to the folded paper. Worn despite the letter’s recent arrival, it bore the signs of constant fiddling as Hazel contemplated how to inform Caraway, Lily, and Iris of her upcoming departure from their childhood home. “He’s looking for an extra hand around the library and is willing to hire me. Even going so far as to allow me to stay with him and his wife as part of my wages. I start the fifteenth.”

“But that’s less than a week away! And you can’t move alone to a new city without a chaperone,” Caraway said, beginning to pace around the small room, skirts swishing back and forth in agitation. The distress in her voice gave Hazel a moment of remorse for causing her family to worry yet again, but she couldn’t stay in Hampshire any longer. Memories bombarded her everywhere.

The small desk for writing, the one that used to be her father’s. The lush garden surrounding their cottage, a testament to her mother’s favorite pastime. And worst of all, the now-repaired bridge that had broken a year ago as the carriage carrying Hazel and their parents crossed it, sending them tumbling into the dry, rocky creek below. The reminder she’d survived while their parents had not.

Hampshire had become a stifling mortuary to her past, and the need to escape itched beneath her skin.

“At three and twenty, I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Besides, I’ll be a guest of Mr. Kilney and his wife; if I’m ever in need of anything, they’ll be available.”

“But what about marriage?” Iris asked. Though technically their cousin, she’d been raised since a baby with the Taylors, so they were sisters in all but blood.

Hazel laughed and pointed out the window towards the village down the road. “Do you see any suitors clamoring for my attention? I’ll have a better chance of securing a match in Manchester than here.”

Though it’s not on my agenda for the future.

Procuring a husband should be the height of her ambition—her life’s only duty. But she wasn’t ready for marriage and children, to be settled so securely before exploring the world. All her life had been spent in the country, and while idyllic, her family’s humble cottage along with the neighboring village provided little interest for her adventurous spirit.

“Not if you’re busy working all the time.” Lily’s sarcastic tone chafed, but Hazel ignored the barbed comment. For months, Lily had been acting strangely. Always the fiery tempest in their family, lately her angry outbursts had escalated. They’d all learned to leave her alone to deal with whatever was roiling around inside her or else get a verbal laceration.

“I’m not concerned with finding a husband anyway; I need to publish my book first. And working in a library will be the perfect writing setting.” Full of ideas and enamored with creating new worlds, she’d decided to finally make her dream a reality. After all, if a carriage accident could nearly end her life, then she didn’t have time to waste.

With so many stories floating around in her head, it had taken some willpower to sit down and sift through the pages of notes written over the years to find the one story that held the most merit. Finally, she’d found it: the journey of a fairy searching for a stolen family heirloom with the help of her woodland friends.

Writing provided an escape unmatched by any other pastime. Learning the usual skills expected of a lady had never been Hazel’s strong suit, and she’d been fortunate to be raised by parents who encouraged such unique pursuits, echoing their own peculiar interests. With their loss never far from her mind, the desire to become a published author solidified into a fervent need — their deaths must not be in vain because she’d failed to accomplish anything notable with her second chance at life.

“You can’t truly believe someone will want to publish a children’s fantasy from a single woman with no connections or drop of blue blood,” Lily scoffed, a brow of skepticism scrunching her forehead.

“Yes, I do, and they will after reading it. Just because you’ve never endeavored to want anything beyond Hampshire doesn’t mean I’m willing to molder away in the country.” Hazel glared at Lily in rebuttal. Fingers itching to wring sense into her sisters, she stuffed them in her skirts. She would not be discouraged. If these spoken doubts caused her to fold, what hope did Manchester hold where professional publishing houses resided?

“Why, you…” Lily jumped to her feet and took a step toward Hazel, but Caraway pushed between them — a normal occurrence when it came to her two siblings. Youth bred wild tempers and outspoken personalities in the youngest Taylor girls whereas Caraway and Iris held the reserve on calm, cool, and collected.

“Now, now…We’re getting off course. Hazel, I admire your courage to take on such a venture, but the fact remains that I can’t allow you to live alone in a city we’ve never even visited. That’s an industrial town much different than what you’re used to here. It wouldn’t be safe or proper even with the Kilneys nearby.”

“As difficult as it may be for you to hear this, Cara, I don’t need your permission, and the matter is settled. I have my portion of what Papa left us, and I’ll be taking the train next Monday bound for Manchester.” Hazel straightened to her full height, mere inches above Caraway’s short stature, her mouth set in a firm line as her blue gaze never wavered. “I’m sorry this comes as a shock, but it’s happening despite what any of you say.”

Stern declaration resounding in the stunned silence, she swept out of the cottage to the gardens since an ambush in their shared bedroom above the main floor didn’t appeal.

I’ll show them. I’ll prove them wrong.

Moonlight scattered on the petals of her mother’s roses as a light chill brushed over her exposed arms; she should have grabbed a shawl in the midst of her exit. Soon the frost would arrive as fall melted into winter, and the majority of the garden would lay dormant until spring. But she planned on blooming earlier — to be one of those new seedlings, sprouting, spreading their tendrils towards the sun despite the season.

This time next week, the life she’d dreamed of would begin. The days would be filled with organizing and shelving books in the library, exploring the different realms opened to her while at night, she’d write and draw the illustrations for her children’s book.

But most importantly, Hazel would avoid any signs of her past life — tokens cementing the niggling thought that their parents should still be alive — not her.

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