Authors: Patricia; Potter
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PRAISE FOR THE WRITING OF PATRICIA POTTER
“Patricia Potter is a master storyteller, a powerful weaver of romantic tales.” âMary Jo Putney,
New York Times
“One of the romance genre's finest talents.” â
“Patricia Potter will thrill lovers of the suspense genre as well as those who enjoy a good romance.” â
“Potter proves herself a gifted writer as artisan, creating a rich fabric of strong characters whose wit and intellect will enthrall even as their adventures entertain.” â
“When a historical romance [gets] the Potter treatment, the story line is pure action and excitement, and the characters are wonderful.” â
“Potter has an expert ability to invest in fully realized characters and a strong sense of place without losing momentum in the details, making this novel a pure pleasure.” â
, starred review of
“[Potter] proves that she's adept at penning both enthralling historicals and captivating contemporary novels.” â
, starred review of
Dancing with a Rogue
Although the seed of
was suggested by an actual event during World War IIâthe capture of two Nazi treasure trainsâthe characters and events in the book are completely fictional, the result of the author's “What if?” mechanism.
Sam Flaherty sickened as he finished his walk through the first boxcar and entered the second.
He barely heard the sound of crackling gunfire outside as he looked around at the contents of the car. Silver gleamed despite the dim light: silver candlesticks, silver serving dishes, silver tableware.
“Look here, General,” a sergeant said.
Sam stopped just inside the entrance of the next car. Trunks lined its interior. Sergeant Major Hawkins Jordan had opened one. Thousands of rings with myriad stones sparkled up at him. Wedding rings, engagement rings, dinner rings. Silent testimonies to love and hope and life.
He leaned against the edge of the door for a moment, the sickness in his stomach worsening. God knew he'd seen enough death these last four years, but there was something especially obscene about the trunk.
“I want an accounting of every item,” he said. “And I want it quick. I don't want us delayed here longer than necessary.”
“Send someone for General Mallory. He'll be responsible for finding a place to store these things and try to get them back to their owners.”
Jordan looked skeptical. “They're probably all dead, sir.”
Sam's eyes roamed the contents of the boxcar again. Other cars held paintings, ornate silver pieces, clocks, jewelry, furs, carpets, and even trunks full of gold dust. All probably looted from Jewish families in Hungary and bound for Nazi officials in Berlin. Sam's regiment had received word of the train from headquarters, and it had been tracked by U.S. planes. His men had blocked the tracks with tanks.
The SS put up little fight. Many were being held prisoner down the tracks. The few who did fight, were dead.
The train contained a treasure but, to him, it was a nuisance. Sam's regiment had been pulled back from the front lines for a short rest. He wanted to be back in the midst of the fighting as the British and U.S. forces headed toward the heart of Germany but then they had been ordered to take the train. His superiors had witnessed the devastation of the occupied countries and wanted to deprive the German hierarchy of as much of their ill-gotten treasures as possible. Thus his regiment had been diverted into a relatively quiet sector of Austria while others were racing across Germany.
He would secure these â¦ goods, then get back in the fight.
He finished his walk through the train. His chief of staff, Colonel Edward Eachan, would work with Mallory to inventory the goods and safeguard them. Then perhaps he could get on with the real work of war.
Still, he paused at the back of the last car. One particular painting caught his eye. A portrait of a young girl with a wistful expression. It was a stunning painting, the colors so vibrant and real she could almost step out of the frame. But what really captured his attention was her likeness to the daughter he and his wife had lost years ago.
He hesitated. It would do no harm to borrow the painting for his quarters. He would be here no longer than a week or two, and then he would return it.
“Sergeant,” he said to the man still trailing him. “Send that painting to my quarters, but make sure it is included in the inventory.”
. Anything else, sir?”
Sam swallowed. It was the damned trunks. The wedding rings. How could anyone look at them and not despair for humanity? “No,” he said after a too-long pause.
Sam's gaze took one last journey around the boxcar.
So many hopes
, he thought again.
So many broken dreams
Irish Flaherty nearly knocked his coffee cup over as he scanned the morning headlines.
His hands stilled, and his heart beat louder. He read the article swiftly, then closed his eyes against the words.
COMMISSION INVESTIGATES POSSIBLE U
THEFT OF NAZI WAR LOOT
The headline had captured his attention, but it was the body of the story that made his blood run cold. His grandfather's name.
General Sam Flaherty
. The general had been more than his grandfather. He had been Irish's salvation. His mentor.
Honor. Duty. Country
. Those three words had been drilled into him since he'd been a tyke. They'd meant everything to his grandfather, to his father, and to Irish. They had dominated all three men's lives. His father, in fact, had given his life for them.
He himself had spent the last twenty-two years in the army, including four years at West Point, and had just made lieutenant colonel. He'd completed a long and ugly tour in Bosnia and then Kosovo, where he supervised the collection and destruction of illegal weapons, and his promotion put him in line for battalion commander, something he didn't particularly want. He preferred field command of intricate investigations rather than desk duties.
Still, he was glad to be out of Kosovo. He was sick of the hatred and violence that continued to sweep that tragic, torn country, and upon returning to the States, he'd taken accumulated leave. He'd headed for the Colorado ranch left to him by the General.
He came here this time to think. He had his twenty years. He could retire, and rebuild the ranch, which was now merely maintained by a friend. But the army had been his life for so long, he knew he'd be lost without it.
And now his grandfather's name was being besmirched, his reputation destroyed.
Irish tried to control his anger. His fingers thrummed on the table. Why now? It was fifty-seven years since the end of World War II, fifty since his grandfather went into retirement and started Flaherty's Folly, a ranch that reflected his wry humor.
Irish saw his grandfather in his mind's eye. A man bigger than life, Sam Flaherty's bulk had been much like John Wayne's. And his weathered face had reflected that same kind of rough integrity.
Irish read a paragraph again.
A Presidential Advisory Commission looking into Holocaust assets in the United States had determined that items from a Nazi gold train captured by U.S. forces toward the end of World War II had vanished. Members of the American armed forces at the highest levels had been implicated in their disappearance. Among them were three generals, including Samuel Flaherty
For the first time, Irish was glad his grandfather was dead. Otherwise, the storyâand its implicationsâmight well have killed him.
The one thing Irish did know was that the General had nothing to do with a theft, particularly of items looted by the Nazis.
And if it were the last thing he did, Irish would prove it.
Amy Mallory barely caught the story on page three of the newspaper. She probably would have left it until later if she didn't teach advanced American history at Braemore, a prestigious private liberal arts college. Her students were bright and eager, and she knew some of them would have read the story and might well have questions.
The one thing she did not want was to appear unaware. Her tenure hearing was imminent, and she wanted no complaints from students. Once she had tenure, she could relax. Her future would be assured.
Three more weeks.
“Damn,” she muttered to herself as she went back to the newspaper to read the entire story.
S CALLED LOOTERS OF JEWISH RICHES
Bojangles, her mongrel dog, whom everyone else called the ugliest dog in the world, huddled next to her legs, knowing her departure was looming. He was a ridiculously needy dog who made her feel guilty every time she left the house.
She leaned down and petted him while her eyes scanned the article. They stopped at the name of General David Mallory. Her hand left the dog and she clutched the paper. David Mallory. Her grandfather.
He and two other generals were named in the article as possibly being involved, at the very least negligent, in the loss of treasures from a captured train. Missing were two trunks of gold dust, paintings, and other goods.