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Диксон Хелен

Caught in Scandal's Storm

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«Caught in Scandal's Storm» - Хелен Диксон

A SHAMEFUL PASTAlice Frobisher has fled Paris to escape a scandalous secret. But when she’s trapped with dark and dangerous Ewen Tremain on his snow-bound estate Alice finds herself the subject of rumours once again… Ewen is immediately drawn to this dark-haired beauty, and would do anything – even marry her – to save her from ruin.But can Alice truly shake off her past and accept the happiness Ewen promises? Or will she be caught in scandal’s tempestuous storm for ever?
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A shameful past

Alice Frobisher fled Paris to escape a scandalous secret. But when she’s trapped with dark and dangerous Ewen Tremain on his snowbound estate, Alice finds herself the subject of rumors once again…

Ewen is immediately drawn to this dark-haired beauty, and would do anything—even marry her—to save her from ruin.

But can Alice truly shake off her past and accept the happiness Ewen promises, or will she be forever caught in scandal’s tempestuous storm?

“A fun, entertaining read.” —RT Book Reviews on Beauty in Breeches

Placing his finger beneath her chin, Ewen tipped her face up to his.

‘Would you care to tell me what the Countess was referring to when she said you were already skating on thin ice? You told me you were betrothed and that when you walked away it caused a scandal. Is there anything else you want to tell me?’

Shrugging his finger away, she shook her head. ‘No.’

‘There must have been something in your past to warrant her remark.’

‘There’s nothing, I tell you—except that suddenly and painfully I learned that when one breaks with convention one can never crawl back to its comforting shell again. I became cut off from the past and all its connections. At the time the realisation was both chilling and daunting, but I will not—cannot—go back.’


CAUGHT IN SCANDAL’S STORM is the sequel to A TRAITOR’S TOUCH. Characters that appeared in A TRAITOR’S TOUCH are mentioned, and appear in the final pages of CAUGHT IN SCANDAL’S STORM, which can be read as a stand-alone book.

Ewen Tremain is the younger brother of Simon Tremain, the hero of A TRAITOR’S TOUCH, who, as a fugitive, was forced to flee Scotland following the Battle of Culloden. CAUGHT IN SCANDAL’S STORM picks up twenty years after the battle.

After eight years as a slave in North Africa, Ewen Tremain returns to civilisation to forge a new life for himself—but he is haunted by the betrayal of a beautiful woman and the terrible sufferings he endured at the hands of his captors. Only when he meets Alice Frobisher does he begin to feel that happiness is within his reach. But Alice, who is trying to come to terms with a disastrous betrothal which forced her to leave Paris to avoid further scandal, has issues of her own to deal with.

Both Ewen and Alice are beset with emotional conflicts that must be resolved before they can emerge victorious in the battle for their love.

Caught in Scandal’s Storm

Helen Dickson

HELEN DICKSON was born and lives in South Yorkshire, with her retired farm manager husband. Having moved out of the busy farmhouse where she raised their two sons, she has more time to indulge in her favourite pastimes. She enjoys being outdoors, travelling, reading and music. An incurable romantic, she writes for pleasure. It was a love of history that drove her to writing historical fiction.


Back Cover Text


Author Note

Title Page

About the Author


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten



1746—after the Battle of Culloden

Prince Charles Edward Stuart had come to Scotland to reclaim his father’s throne and restore the Stuart monarchy. This handsome young man’s head was full of great revolutionary ideas, ideas that had driven him to associate with those who would turn a revolution into a bloodbath on Culloden Field.

He had defeated the Government army at Prestonpans, but the Jacobite troops were cut to pieces on Culloden Moor. Prince Charles had become a fugitive fleeing for his life, leaving those who had supported him to face the brutal retribution of his enemies.

Government repression was brutal. Homes were raided in the search for Jacobites. Some were driven into the hills and those captured were swiftly put either to the bayonet, the hangman’s rope, or burnt alive in their homes. Women, children and the old were no exception. No quarter was given.

At Rosslea, the ancestral home of Iain Frobisher in the borderlands, the servants, fearing for their families and their lives, fled. Mary Frobisher was left alone with her twelve-year-old son, William, and her month-old baby daughter, Alice. Two of her sons had been killed on Culloden Field; her husband, Iain Frobisher, was a prisoner of the English.

The house stood high upon a promontory overlooking the village below.

When dusk came there was a stirring in the valley. Scarlet-coated men moved among the cottages. They came with their torches to burn and to kill. Mary heard musket fire, then screams. They would soon set their sights on Rosslea.

Mary was prepared. Gathering what was left of her family and the few possessions she could carry, her money and jewels sewn into the seams of her cloak and gown, she was quickly away to the cover of the trees.

When darkness shrouded the land, the glow of fire from Rosslea lit up the sky. It was a blazing inferno, feeding greedily on the precious treasures it housed, the flames penetrating high into the night sky. Biting back her tears, Mary turned away. Now was not the time to show weakness.

Numb with shock and driven by fear, carrying Alice wrapped in a plaid and urging William on, familiar with the terrain having lived in these parts all of her life, she followed the drovers’ roads over the border. She managed to reach the west coast and cross to Ireland. From there she took ship for France, joining others who had fled persecution after Culloden.

It was in Paris where she learned of the death of her husband. Mourning three members of her beloved family, Mary managed to make a life for those who were left.

Ten years later—

somewhere off the coast of North Africa

Lieutenant Ewen Tremain could not be sure whether it was the scratching of a rat—a faint, irregular rasping, made audible only by the intense, muffled silence of the night, coming from somewhere between the oak bulwark that divided the cabins and narrow passageways of his Majesty’s ship the Defiance—or another soft, furtive sound that had awakened him.

It was scarcely more than a gentle lapping of water against the hull—or could it be the splash of oars? Surely not. It must have been the rat that had awakened him, he thought, relaxing with a small sigh. It was absurd that such a small thing should have dragged him out of sleep and into such tense and absolute wakefulness. His nerves must be getting the better of him. Or perhaps it was the ship, becalmed for four days, that had something to do with it.

He tossed and turned restlessly, but he was unable to go back to sleep—that faint rasping sound frayed at his nerves. Slowly, very slowly, a peculiar sense of unease stole into the small cabin—a feeling of urgency and disquiet that was almost a tangible thing. It seemed to creep nearer and to stand at the side of him, whispering, prompting, prodding his tired brain into wakefulness.

Rolling off his bunk, he shrugged himself into his clothes and went up on to the deck, deserted except for the man keeping lookout for any corsair vessels. Standing by the rail, he gazed into the darkness. A sea mist hung low in the air, veiling the ship in a damp, diaphanous shroud. The night and the brooding silence seemed to take a stealthy step closer and breathe a lurking menace about the isolated ship. There was something out there that clamoured with a wordless persistence for attention. Ewen’s tired brain shrugged off its lethargy and was all at once alert and clear.

Suddenly, for the first time in days, there was a breeze, a faint uneasy breath of wind that sighed and whispered among the rigging and ruffled the canvas.

A bleary-eyed Captain Milton appeared beside him, rubbing his stubbled chin. ‘The wind’s getting up, Mr Tremain. Come dawn we’ll be underway.’

Ewen remained silent, straining his ears. The splash of oars became more distinct. Suddenly, out of the mist a dark, sinister shape emerged, closely followed by another two ships, the oars manned by galley slaves. When the flag on the mainmasts became clear—a human skull on a dark background—it became apparent that the mysterious ships had not come in friendship. Ewen stared, held in the grip of a sudden, sickening premonition of disaster as he considered the evil fate which, in the shape of two great white-winged ships, had come out of the mist to menace them.

Unless some unexpected turn of events occurred, their chance of escaping seemed slender. To be captured by Islamic Barbary corsairs, who treated their captives with ruthless savagery, or to die in circumstances too horrible to contemplate, was a terrifying thing indeed.

Returning to Britain from West Africa, it was the summer of 1756, when Ewen Tremain, along with Captain Milton and the crew of the Defiance, was captured by Barbary corsairs and taken in chains to the great slave market in Sale in Morocco. Poked and prodded and put through his paces, he was sold at auction to the highest bidder, a tyrannical brother of the Sultan.

Resourceful, resilient and quick-thinking, Ewen was soon selected for special treatment. As a personal slave of his master, while dreaming of his home, his family and freedom, he witnessed at first hand the barbaric splendour of the Moroccan Court, as well as experiencing daily terror.

When his master was absent from the palace for six weeks, his circumstances changed for the worse when his eyes lighted on a Moorish girl named Etta. Cruel, savage, passionate and beautiful, with tigerish green-and-gold eyes, decked in gold and pearls, she was his master’s favourite concubine. It was whispered that more than one handsome, well-muscled slave had entered her apartment by night through a secret door to satisfy her sexual appetite, their corpses later found washed up on the shore.

Handsome, haughty and virile, and unable to see any way out of his prison, except for the grave, Ewen was unable to resist Etta.

Twining her slender arms about his neck and using all her witchery to captivate him, she made him her pliant, willing slave. Their clandestine meetings were made with great risk and their lovemaking did not lack passion. She was a bright and beautiful beacon in Ewen’s dark and miserable world. He found a kind of happiness when he was in the arms of this infidel concubine who seemed to have cast a spell on him and in whose body he found the forgetfulness he craved.

A chivalrous and honest man, who would later deplore the fact that he had kept such a large streak of naiveté in his make-up, Ewen found it hard to grasp the guile behind the soft smiles, or fond words, especially when they came from the mouth of this exotic concubine.

He believed Etta loved him, but how purring and persuasive and soothing that voice of hers could be. He could not have guessed for a moment what weight of treachery it concealed. When his master returned to the palace and summoned Etta, she went to him willingly, happy that her position as number one concubine would resume. Since Ewen did not appeal to her heart or her feelings, she felt strong. The smile and caressing voice she bestowed on him when passing could not cancel out the hard, calculating expression of her eyes, or her betrayal when she denounced him to her master, accusing him of lusting after her even after she had spurned him.

Ewen saw what she did, heard her denounce him. He hung there, his eyes blinded by a scalding rush of tears. When he straightened at last, the tears were gone. What had come to take their place was rage at his own weakness.

And so she condemned him.

He was to be given one hundred lashes, and, if he survived, he would be consigned to the galleys and chained to an oar for the remainder of his life.

Ewen had thought himself indestructible. But what man of flesh and blood could hope to prevail against these barbarians? At first he had hoped against all hope and reason that he would emerge from his servitude miraculously safe and sound. But now he realised that there would be no miracle—until the galley was sunk by a British man-of-war off the coast of Spain.

Ewen could not believe his good fortune when the oar he had been chained to for two miserable years snapped and he was eventually washed ashore. There was one other survivor—the youth Amir who had worked on the same oar every day for the past year. He lay close by on the sand. His body was hunched, the knees drawn up to his chin, arms bent, in the position babies are supposed to have within a mother’s womb. He looked small, vulnerable, helpless. A feeling of pity for the sad, lonely youth overwhelmed Ewen. His heart went out to him as it had many times. He wanted to hold him as he had never held a child. It was a totally new feeling for him.

Lying there with the wet sand beneath him, Ewen closed his eyes and prayed to God with all the fervour of his being that they would both survive. Slowly, strength began to flow into him. It surged within him, bringing the peace of determination. Picking himself up, he went to Amir. The youth stirred, and, supporting each other, they made their way inland.

After many days, as they toiled over the steep, difficult terrain, Ewen’s thoughts were not on his present discomfort. He kept imagining that he saw the face of Etta stepping out of the mist, with her treacherous smile and cat-like eyes, which held nothing but betrayal. His throat became tight with pain and anger and he had to close his eyes against the wetness. Dragged down with weariness, for a moment he suffered so cruelly that he was tempted to lay himself down and wait for death. Only Amir and the instinct of self-preservation—a force greater than his pain and suffering—urged him to keep going.

His hope of seeing his family again was powerful enough to have carried him through so many trials. The journey from Morocco to the towering peaks of the Spanish hills and the refuge of the monastery a traveller had directed them to was a Calvary for Ewen.

When Amir stumbled and fell, Ewen raised him to his feet and held him. ‘Come, Amir. Be strong,’ he urged while his own strength was failing. ‘The monastery can’t be far now.’

Just then, as if to lend weight to his words, the faint sound of a single bell reached him through the air and he gave a sigh of relief.

‘The bell for lost travellers! We are on the right path!’

At last they came in sight of the monastery, where the man had told them men of all faiths and creeds were given sanctuary. The moon shone clear of cloud and its cold light streamed down on the low-roofed buildings with thick walls huddled at the foot of a narrow pass. A square tower stood over them and the road passed under a stone archway into the ancient monastery.

From somewhere within those walls came the faint sound of religious chanting. It was so unexpected and so unfamiliar that Ewen stopped to listen. A faint hope awakened in him. He found himself believing that the old chant must be God’s answer to his fervent prayer. He had reached the limit of his strength. Incapable of taking another step, he collapsed on to his knees. He saw the dim glow of lanterns passing to and fro, carried by human hands. To the weary man, these lights signified life and warmth and hope.


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