The Prize (de Warenne Dynasty Series)

The Prize (de Warenne Dynasty Series)

by Brenda Joyce

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An infamous sea captain of the British Royal Navy, Devlin O'Neill is consumed with the need to destroy the man who brutally murdered his father. Having nearly ruined the Earl of Eastleigh financially, he is waiting to strike the final blow. And his opportunity comes in the form of a spirited young American woman, the earl's niece, who is about to set his cold, calculating world on fire.…

Born and raised on a tobacco plantation, orphan Virginia Hughes is determined to rebuild her beloved Sweet Briar. Daringly, she sails to England alone, hoping to convince her uncle to lend her the funds. Instead, she finds herself ruthlessly kidnapped by the notorious Devlin O'Neill, and will soon find her best-laid plans thwarted by a passion that could seal their fates forever.…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373773633
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 12/30/2008
Series: The DeWarenne Dynasty , #1
Edition description: Original
Pages: 592
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Brenda Joyce is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels and novellas, including the popular and critically acclaimed de Warenne Dynasty Saga, a series of novels set in Regency and Victorian England. She lives on a ranch in Arizona with her dogs, broodmares and the year’s current crop of foals. If she isn’t on the back of a reining horse, she can be found madly at work in her office, penning her latest romance novel.

Read an Excerpt

The Prize

By Brenda Joyce

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7783-2089-8

Chapter One

July 5, 1798 The south of Ireland near Askeaton Castle

Gerald O'Neill rushed into the manor house, his once-white shirt crimson, his tan britches and navy coat equally stained. Blood marred his cheek, matted his whiskers. An open gash on his head was bleeding and so were the cuts on his knuckles. His heart beat with alarming force and even now the sounds of battle, the cries of imminent death, rang in his eardrums. "Mary! Mary! Get into the cellar now!" he roared.

Devlin O'Neill could not move, stunned. His father had been gone for more than a month - since the middle of May. He had sent word, though, every few weeks, and while Devlin was only ten years old, he was acutely aware of the war at hand. Farmer and priest, shepherd and squire, peasant and gentry alike had risen up to fight the English devils once and for all, to take back all that was truly theirs - the rich Irish land that had been stolen from them a century ago. There was so much hope - and there was so much fear.

Now his heart seemed to simply stop and he stared at his father, relieved to finally see him again and terribly afraid. He was afraid that Gerald was hurt - and he was afraid of far worse. He started forward with a small cry, but Gerald did not stop moving, going to the bottom of the stairs and bellowing for his wife again. His hand never left the scabbard that sheathed his cutlass, and he carried a musket as well.

Devlin had never seen his eyes so wild. Dear God.

"Is Father hurt?" a tiny voice whispered beside him, a small hand plucking at his torn linen sleeve.

Devlin didn't even look at his dark-haired younger brother. He could not take his eyes from his father, his mind spinning, racing. The rebels had taken Wexford town early in the rebellion and the entire county had rejoiced. Well, the papist part of it, at least. Other victories had followed - but so had other defeats. Now redcoats were everywhere; Devlin had spied thousands from a ridge just that morning, the most ominous sight he'd ever seen. He'd heard that Wexford had fallen, and a maid had said thousands had died at New Ross. He'd refused to believe it - until now. Now he thought that maybe the whispers of defeat and death were true. Because he saw fear in his father's eyes for the first time in his young life.

"Is Father hurt?" Sean asked again, a tremor in his tone.

Instantly Devlin turned to him. "I don't think so," he said, knowing he had to be brave, at least for Sean. But fear gripped him in a clawlike vise. And then his mother came rushing down the stairs, her infant daughter in her arms.

"Gerald! Thank God, I've been so worried about you," she cried, as pale as any ghost.

He seized her arm, releasing the scabbard of his sword to do so. "Take the boys and go down to the cellar," Gerald said harshly. "Now, Mary."

She cried out, her blue eyes filled with fear, riveted on his face. "Are you hurt?"

"Just do as I say," he cried, pulling her across the hall.

The baby, Meg, began to wail.

"And keep her quiet, for God's sake," he said as harshly. But now he was looking over his shoulder at the open doorway, as if expecting to see the British soldiers in pursuit.

Devlin followed his gaze. Smoke could be seen in the clear blue sky and suddenly the sounds of muskets firing could be heard.

Mary pushed the babe against her breast as she opened her blouse, never breaking stride. "What will happen to us, Gerald?" And then, lower, "What will happen to you?"

He opened the door to the cellar, the opening hidden by a centuries-old tapestry. "Everything will be fine," he said harshly. "You and the boys, the babe, all will be fine."

She stared up at him, her eyes filling with tears.

"I'm not hurt," he added thickly, and he kissed her briefly on the lips. "Now go downstairs and do not come out until I say so."

Mary nodded and went down. Devlin rushed forward as a cannon boomed, terribly close to the manor. "Father! Let me come with you - I can help. I can shoot -"

Gerald whirled, striking Devlin across the head, and he flew across the stone floor, landing on his rump. "Do as I say," he roared, and as he ran back through the hall, he added, "And take care of your mother, Devlin."

The front door slammed.

Devlin blinked back tears of despair and humiliation and found himself looking at Sean. There was a question in his younger brother's pale gray eyes, which remained wide with fear. Devlin got to his feet, shaking like a puny child. There was no question of what he had to do. He had never disobeyed his father before but he wasn't going to let his father face the redcoats he'd seen earlier alone.

If Father was going to die, then he'd die with him.

Fear made him feel faint. He faced his little brother, breathing hard, willing himself to be a man. "Go down with Mother and Meg. Go now," he ordered quietly. Without waiting to see if he was being obeyed, Devlin rushed through the hall and into his father's library.

"You're going to fight, aren't you?" Sean cried, following him.

Devlin didn't answer. A purpose filled him now. He ran to the gun rack behind his father's massive desk and froze in dismay. It was empty. He stared in disbelief.

And then he heard the soldiers.

He heard men shouting and horses whinnying. He heard swords ringing. The cannon boomed again, somewhere close by. Shots from pistols punctuated the musket fire. He slowly turned to Sean and their gazes locked. Sean's face was pinched with fear - the same fear that was making Devlin's heart race so quickly that he could barely breathe.

Sean wet his lips. "They're close, Dev."

He could barely make his mouth form the words, "Go to the cellar." He had to help his father. He couldn't let Father die alone.

"I'm not leaving you alone."

"You need to take care of Mother and Meg," Devlin said, racing to the bench beneath the gun rack. He tore the pillows from the seat and hefted the lid open. He was disbelieving - Father always kept a spare pistol there, but there was nothing but a dagger. A single, stupid, useless prick of a dagger.

"I'm coming with you," Sean said, his voice broken with tears.

Devlin took the dagger, then reached into the drawer of his father's desk and took a sharp letter opener as well. He handed it to Sean. His brother smiled grimly at him - Devlin couldn't smile back.

And then he saw the rusty antique display of a knight in his armor in the corner of the room. It was said that an infamous ancestor, once favored by an English queen, had worn it. Devlin ran to the statue, Sean on his heels as if attached by a short string. There, he shimmied the sword free from the knight's gauntlet, knocking over the tarnished armor.

Devlin's spirits lifted. The sword was old and rusted, but it was a weapon, by God. He withdrew it from the hilt, touched the blade and gasped as blood spurted from his fingertip. Then he looked at Sean.

The brothers shared a grin.

The cannon boomed and this time the house shook, glass shattering in the hall outside. The boys blinked at each other, wide-eyed, their fear renewed.

Devlin wet his lips. "Sean. You have to stay with Mother and Meg."


He felt like whacking his brother on the head the way Gerald had struck him. But he was also secretly relieved not to have to face the red hordes alone. "Then let's go," Devlin said.


Excerpted from The Prize by Brenda Joyce Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Prize (de Warenne Dynasty Series) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 76 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am usually not into romance novels, but a friend of mine suggested that I read this one and I enjoyed it very much. I actually went out and bought the book for my library. And just for the record, it would be better if you allowed people to read the book for themselves instead of summarizing the entire book. It takes away the mystery and the desire to read the book for yourself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As some of the other reviewers said, I literally finished this book in a day. But in the end I came away with such mixed feelings. Yes, I kept reading because I definitely wanted to see what happened next but at the same time I felt as though it was like watching a train wreck, it's-awful but-you-just-can't-look-away sort of thing. Through the whole thing I couldn't decide if I liked Devlin at all. Especially when he started using Virginia the way he did and yet the idiot still loved him? Yes, there were times I felt like he was a heroic, tortured soul but it took soooo long for Virginia to crack through that shell that by the end of the book, I found myself skimming paragraphs so I could just find out how it ended. I wouldn't say I hated this book but I don't know if I would ever re-read it. Which to me is the sign of an excellent book, that every few months or so you break it out and read it again because you fell so in love with the characters. I guess I just had a hard time understanding the chemistry. I do give it three stars though because it did have alot of depth in the plot and in the end it was hard to put down because after all that time invested in reading the first 500 pages, I just had to find out how it ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book Brenda Joyce has written! I feel in love with the characters and could not put this down. Since owning it I have read it a few times now and have recommended it to others to read. I highly recommend this book!
Avid_ReaderLL More than 1 year ago
I'm glad I've read other books by Brenda Joyce before reading this one because I know she can write better stories than this! Devlin is a harsh, cruel man and I'm not sure the author gave him enough time to really redeem himself. It's hard to believe in this love story and if this is your first Brenda Joyce novel, please go read The Masquerade, The Perfect Bride, or Impossible Attraction as they are so much better! Overall, I'm very disappointed in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with one of the other reviewers....this would be a great movie. I would love to see Devlin taking a sword to that mans neck when he tries to accost Virginia.
fairfield More than 1 year ago
What can you say, A stong beautiful headstrong woman who has never know passion and a strong, drop dead gorgeous, masculine, very virle man who abducts her for revenge against her uncle. Well, you put those two together and you know fire works will go off and boy does it! Brenda Joyce writes so good that you know but can't wait until the two main characters realize that love will conquer all...even revenge!! Loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVED this book and would love to see it as a movie some day. Devlin and Virginia are both made for each other characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was very hard to put this book down for even a second. I stayed up until the crack of dawn reading this book. The Prize comes alive. I felt as if I was actually there. Brenda developed very strong characters. So much passion and great love scenes. I read a part from a love scene to my husband and he was blown away. This is a great read. It just felt so real. An Emoitonal Rollercoaster!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been reading historical romances for over 20 years (since high school). I stopped reading a few years ago as many books started to sound the same and I just couldn't find good new authors. I started reading again this year and followed up with Brenda Joyce. Some of her earliest works are ok (Captive, The Game, The Rose, The Conqueror, Dark Fires & Darkest Heart). You can tell she develops well as an author as her middle works are just the best - Captive, Secrets, After Innocence, Splendor, Beyond Scandal and Finer Things. These last books were all great - you will enjoy them if you want solid characters, interesting plot lines and vivid hero & heroine passion. After Innocence was the best - I still think about the characters in that one - Sophie and Edward - their love was that intense. Brenda Joyce has a real knack for making her characters come alive and you will miss the stories when they come to an end. Ms. Joyce notes in this book she deviated from historical romances for a few years and came back again with The Prize. She missed writing this type of book and developing this type of plot line. I for one am glad she returned - she does it very, very well. The Prize was the first book I had picked up again in about 5 years. I was very glad to see she hadn't lost her touch. This story jumped off the pages. Virginia and Devlin were meant to be from the first time they spotted one another. The story keeps going and doesn't loose steam as the novel goes on. It is witty, charming and passionate. I like when an author gives you a strong female lead - one that doesn't buckle and become wimpy (you'll love when Virginia shoots at Devlin the first time they meet and challenges him at every turn - take that you wicked pirate!). In turn, I like when the leading man is a bit naughty and wrong at times (taking her captive and refusing to let her go out of revenge even though he knows it's wrong) but, has the conscience to reform once he finds the right love of his life. Some of the side characters are also developed well and quite likeable (such as Devlin's brother Sean, his parents and some other characters). Alot of authors can't develop anyone else or the book looses steam - Ms. Joyce is able to do this well so, everything works in her plot lines. You won't want to miss adding this one to your library. Buy it, read it and you'll agree. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
First time I read one of Brenda Joyce's books and I am totally hooked! I can't wait to read another one - - - can't imagine it could be better than 'The Prize'. Loved the history behind the storyline.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book! If you are into historical romances like I am, you will love it. I couldn't put the book down. I read it in one week. This is a really good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book captured my attention and kept it throughout the book! I read it three times just because it wouldn't leave my mind alone. It was soo good! The plot was fantastic! My new favorite stories are now historical. I love it when a pirate or naval officer captures and girl and takes her with them to another country aganist their will!
mbosvyle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yuk! It starts out promising enough, though the heroine seems a little inconsistent, but then disaster! He hurts her and emotionally abuses her, repeatedly, yet she stupidly swears she still loves him. The worst kind of heroine, and a hero with few redeeming qualities, in a "romance" with the worst kind of plot twists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with all the positive reviews. Well written and interesting to the end. Will read again one day! LORRAINE
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was mesmerizing. I read it all in one sitting
avidreader78WA More than 1 year ago
Full of anachronisms and angst. Jury still out as to whether or not I finish this hot mess.
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