Seized by Love by Susan JohnsonSeized by Love by Susan Johnson

Seized by Love

bySusan Johnson

Mass Market Paperback | April 1, 1994

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Sweeping from the fabulous country estates and hunting lodges to the opulent ballrooms and salons of the Russian nobility, here is a novel of savage passions and dangerous pleasures by the incomparable Susan Johnson, mistress of the sensual historical and author of the bestselling Outlaw.

He was a renegade prince skilled in the arts of sensual persuasion. . . .

She knew him by reputation; a man unmindful of convention, it was said he offered sensual delight beyond a woman’s wildest dreams. Yet even forewarned of his wild and reckless past, Alisa Forseus found herself responding to the dark smoldering gaze and the quick warmth of Prince Nikolai Kuzan’s stolen caresses. She knew too well that love between them was impossible—forbidden—but she could not resist the rapturous pleasure of one moment in his arms. . . . 

She was the exquisite bounty in a scandalous wager of love. . . . 

She was to be his prize, his ultimate conquest, but when Nikki found himself alone with the lovely and chaste Alisa, he was shocked to discover that it was more than her body he desire to possess. He had three days to win the heart of this proud and passionate beauty, three days—and nights—to steal her from the man she called husband in name only. For what began as a simple challenge had become a dangerous passion for a woman he’d surrender anything and everything to love—even his renegade heart.
Susan Johnson, award-winning author of nationally bestselling novels, lives in the country near North Branch, Minnesota. A former art historian, she considers the life of a writer the best of all possible worlds. Researching her novels takes her to past and distant places, and bringing characters to life allows her imagination full rei...
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Title:Seized by LoveFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 6.86 × 4.19 × 0.62 inPublished:April 1, 1994Publisher:Random House Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553563270

ISBN - 13:9780553563276

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Chapter One THE WAGER       Karelia Province Grand Duchy of Finland April 1874   The last goblet had, long before, been flung aside in toast and joined the brilliant display of broken crystal gracing the stone hearth. There, the litter of crystalline shards reflected and transformed the firelight into a dazzling, fluttering phosphorescence. A few surviving candles guttered low in their branches while the shattered stumps of others bore mute evidence of Prince Nikolai’s capricious fancy for a contest of marksmanship several hours earlier.   Now, on a low stage at one end of the large room, a weary group of musicians continued playing wild, haunting Gypsy music, while nervously watching the brooding face of their master, the young prince. They hoped to successfully anticipate or assuage Prince Kuzan’s mercurial moods and thus avoid, at least this night, any more dangerous whims.   At times like these, when the tedium of the world was too much with him, the Prince retired to his hunting lodge to brood upon the melancholy inequities.   Nikki’s hunting lodge was a timber and stone villa constructed by local artisans in the early years of the seventeenth century. A Swedish noble had this retreat built for himself, situating it prettily on a rocky rise in a pine forest. The terraced gardens, in the Italian manner, were added by a later heir after a tour of Italy. With the advent of the romantic English garden, yet another descendant landscaped acres and acres of forest, transforming the wilderness with an extravagant hand and the toil of hundreds of laborers over ten years into charming green alleys, wide vistas of rolling terrain, crowning the elaborate scheme dramatically with a Greek temple perched on a distant grassy knoll. The local stonemasons had erected a reasonable facsimile in rough-hewn granite, a rustic but altogether lovely interpretation symptomatic of the then-fashionable rage devoted to whimsical follies.   Although the high Renaissance had already come and gone when the main structure had been built, none of the lighter attributes characteristic of Renaissance architecture had filtered up north. The villa itself retained an overwhelming medieval character; stone turrets crowned with peaked tile roofs punctuated the walls, bottle mullioned windows caught and reflected the northern sun, enormous stonework on the ground floor supported the heavy timber walls of the second story. In a lavish display of his wealth, the Swedish aristocrat had the walls pierced wherever possible with windows, lighting the interior with dazzling color through the multicolored panes.   Tonight Prince Nikolai Mikhailovich Kuzan had been entertaining a small party of fellow officers from his Guards Regiment. After participating in the April sixth fête-day of the Chevaliers Gardes with its day-long riding exhibition and religious celebrations, they had felt the need for a holiday and Nikki had invited them to his lodge for a fortnight of hunting. However, in the eight days elapsed, the quarry had been confined exclusively to the two-legged female variety, since Nikolai had thoughtfully imported a bevy of Gypsy wenches to provide diversion.   Now, as morning approached, men and women lay entwined in each other’s arms about the room, some on pillows scattered on the Tabriz carpet, others on the colorful divans. One couple, in what to a less dissipated audience would be a tasteless lack of decorum, was busy on top of the dining table; all were in diverse states of drunken abandon and dishabille.   Tanya, a beautiful young Gypsy girl, was swaying in a provocative, sensual dance before Nikki’s sprawled form. One of his hands lightly held a small flask of brandy on his powerful chest. The other hand, lying carelessly on the chair arm, would occasionally move listlessly to the nearby table and turn over another card in the game of solitaire he was indifferently and infrequently pursuing while regarding Tanya, who skillfully undulated to the wild, frenzied tempo. Through narrowed tawny eyes, Nikki watched her tantalize him. Her graceful young body, half revealed in a scanty blouse and silken skirt, twirled close, then retreated, displaying a wanton invitation from brilliant dark eyes. The firelight caught the coruscation of golden highlights from the heavy hoops in her ears and from the multitude of sparkling necklaces twined round her slender neck and swaying against her trembling half-naked breasts.   Behind the curtain leading to the kitchen corridor, the youngest footman whispered to an old retainer familiar with the idiosyncrasies of his new employer. “Is the Prince always so surly and moody?”   Igor admitted that the Prince was not in the best of spirits. “The Kuzans have a devilish temperament, sometimes little better than savages,” the old servant explained without malice, having happily served the household for decades. “They like fast horses, bad women, and good wine. Between father and son, they have developed one of the finest studs in the Empire, crossing English mares with bloodstock from the Orlov-Rostopchin and the Provalsky stud. They also breed Stryelet stock, which are even more rare. Their horses are world-renowned. The young Prince doesn’t do so badly in the breeding department either.” The old man chuckled. “Like father, like son, they say,” he added softly, remembering the reckless pace the old Prince Mikhail had set in his youth before marriage to a young Gypsy girl had tamed his ways.   “More brandy!” The roar from the hall beyond echoed as Prince Kuzan impatiently banged on the table. The old man lifted his eyebrows and shrugged in cheerful resignation. Both servants hurried to obey the command.   Tanya’s hips still moved to the hypnotic tempo. Her dance was intended to arouse, to primitively and seductively provoke the animal mating instinct.   It did and he was.   With a casual wave of his lace-covered hand, Nikolai abruptly dismissed the musicians and picked up his fresh bottle of brandy. Then he lunged to his feet and, as the music slowed to a stop, lifted her and disappeared into a curtained alcove.   The musicians discreetly stepped over the drunken bodies, avoiding, when possible, the broken glassware and china littering the floor. As they edged cautiously through the elaborately carved double doors, never certain of their safe departure from the eccentric young Prince and his raucous group of intimates until well out of sight and sound, their exit was hastened by a wine bottle thrown violently against the doorjamb, crashing into a thousand fragments and narrowly missing the last violinist. Some drunken music-lover, no doubt, annoyed at the termination of the pleasant background accompaniment to his lovemaking.   Scurrying through the narrow, dimly lit hallway and foyer out into the relative security and peace of the deep porch of the hunting lodge, the musicians exhaled a collective sigh of relief.   Heaven help the servants in the morning who have to attend young Prince Kuzan. There’s going to be hell to pay for his pounding head and thick tongue. Praise God, we won’t see him again until evening, when the worst of his headache is gone.” The leader of the musicians sighed.   “Maybe the pain of a throbbing head might make him more docile or at least more silent. I’ve never seen Nikolai so sullen as tonight. He must be tiring of his newest Gypsy bed warmer,” the second violinist said wearily.   “Well, thank sweet Jesus, we’ll be out of his range at least until tonight. Maybe Tanya will be able to soothe the dark mood he’s in. Let’s go to sleep, although the night is practically over,” the youngest member of the troupe suggested.   In the alcove, Nikki casually dumped the girl onto the couch, thus freeing his hand to tip the brandy bottle to his mouth. The liquor flowed warmly down his throat. Thank God for brandy, he thought. It made life more bearable as it blurred the morbid edges of reality.   Sinking down heavily next to the recumbent girl, Nikki set the brandy bottle carefully on the floor and began to pull off his hunting boots. Tanya softly crept up into one corner of the large pillow-strewn couch and leaned back against the tapestry-hung wall, watching him with her dark eyes.   “I’m not in the mood,” she said, pouting.   Nikki barely glanced at the sultry woman nestled against the wall, and continued without a pause to divest himself of his garments.   “You’d better get in the mood,” he growled.   A thrill coursed through the black-haired beauty and passion blazed into her dark eyes. Tanya, although only seventeen, had long ago learned to accommodate men’s varying tastes in bed, but she preferred violence with passion; hostility intoxicated her.   “I won’t. I’m tired,” her petulant tone persisted as she swung her long, shapely legs over the edge of the bed and began to rise.   The Prince’s bare, powerfully muscled arm shot out and grabbed a handful of her satiny black curls, yanking her back onto the bed, pulling her down until she looked up into his golden eyes snapping with irritation.   “Bitch!” he whispered, well aware of Tanya’s sexual preferences by now. But, having watched her enticing dances all evening, he wasn’t in a temper to be toyed with.   “You’re always playing games, aren’t you? However, tonight, my sweet little whore, you find me in a suitably black humor to accommodate your preferences. If it’s violence you want, I can be obliging.”   Tanya’s hand lashed out, long nails poised to rake Nikki’s face. He caught her hand in midair, his reflexes still relatively sure despite the large amount of alcohol consumed. He crushed her wrist in a savage grip and she winced in pain—or was it pleasure? He couldn’t tell.   As he held her, Tanya’s little pink tongue appeared and ran provocatively over her full red lower lip, her dark eyes began to moisten, her breathing became ragged.   “Ah, my dear, you do like pain. I should introduce you to Prince Gorcheviv. He has a penchant for whips.”   The Gypsy girl’s half-closed lids lifted and she moaned sensuously.   “Damn!” He surveyed her through half-narrowed eyes. “How can I force a woman as aroused as you?”   Roughly he pushed her down into the pillows, spreading her legs with his knees, pulling her nipples up and away from her necklaces into hard points of desire. Her body writhed beneath his coercion and her teeth bit into her full lower lip to keep from crying out in joy. She held her arms out wide, reaching for something to cling to as he pushed her skirt above her waist. Then, forcing her wider, he fiercely drove into her melting body, each violent thrust releasing a part of his frustration, each powerful surge a mindless hope for temporary oblivion. She began whimpering as he moved faster into her, his unbridled penetration and withdrawal savage, brutal. He didn’t notice his back was running with blood where Tanya had run her sharp nails over the hard muscles that now moved rhythmically above her.  

From Our Editors

A reckless and handsome prince risks his title and his heart to win the hand of an innocent enchantress. From the bestselling author of Outlaw comes a dark saga of erotic historical romance, sweeping from fabulous country estates and hunting lodges to the opulent ballrooms and salons of Russian nobility