Seduction and Sacrifice

By: Miranda Lee

Book 1 - Hearts of Fire

Dark secrets, forbidden desires, scandalous discoveries...

Welcome to a glittering new six-part saga set in Australia. This, and every novel to come, features a gripping romance that stands by itself, as the passions, scandals and hopes that exist between two fabulously rich families are revealed. But you'll also find yourself hooked throughout the series as Gemma Smith searches for the secret of her true identity and fights for ruthless seducer Nathan Whitmore's love....

Everyone warned Gemma about Nathan, but she believed he wasn't heartless--just heartbroken. Clearly he was still in love with his ex-wife, Lenore, so Gemma tried to hide her attraction to him.... However, Lenore knew loving a woman wasn't one of Nathan's talents. Not like Zachary Marsden--loyal, handsome, protective, he was the perfect husband, and Lenore had secretly loved him for years. Only, she also knew that her ideal man would never leave his wife....

Dear Reader

Welcome to a new and totally compelling family saga, set in the glamorous, cut-throat world of opal-dealing in Australia.

Laden with dark secrets, forbidden loves and happy endings, HEARTS OF FIRE unfolds over a series of six books, as beautiful, innocent Gemma Smith goes in search of a new life, and fate introduces her to Nathan Whitmore, the ruthless, talented and utterly controlled playwright and acting head of Whitmore Opals.

Throughout the series, Gemma will discover the truth about Nathan, seduction, her real mother and the priceless black opal, the Heart of Fire. But at the same time, in each novel you'll find a separate, fully developed romance revealing the passion, scandal and hope that has existed between two fabulously rich clans over fifty tempestuous years.

HEARTS OF FIRE has been especially written by one of romantic fiction's rising stars for you to enjoy. We're sure you will.

The Editor


SHE didn't cry. Neither did anyone else attending her father's funeral.

Not that there were many mourners standing round the grave-side that hot February morning at the Lightning Ridge Cemetery. Only the minister, Mr Gunther, Ma, and Gemma herself. The undertaker had left as soon as he'd dropped off the deceased. If you stretched a point, the grave-digger made five.

Admittedly, it was forty degrees in the shade, not the sort of day one would want to stand out in the sun for more than a few minutes unless compelled to do so out of duty. Gemma watched the coffin being lowered into the ground, but still she couldn't cry.

The minister didn't take long to scuttle off, she noticed bleakly, nor did Mr Gunther, leaving her to listen to that awful sound as the clods of dirt struck the lid of the coffin.

Why can't I cry? she asked herself once more.

She jumped when Ma touched her on the shoulder. 'Come on, love. Time to go home.'

Home. . .

Gemma dragged in then expelled a shuddering sigh. Had she ever thought of that ghastly dugout with its primitive dunny and dirt floors as home? Yet it had been. for as long as she could remember.

'Do you want me to drive?' Ma asked as they approached the rusted-out utility truck that had belonged to Jon Smith and which was now the property of his one and only child.

Gemma smiled at Ma, who was about the worst driver she had ever encountered. Her- real name was Mrs Madge Walton, but she was known as Ma to the locals. She and her husband had come to try their luck in the opal fields at Lightning Ridge more than thirty years ago. When Bill Walton died,

Ma had stayed on. living in a caravan and supplementing her widow's pension by fossicking for opals and selling her finds to tourists.

She was Gemma's neighbour and had often given Gemma sanctuary when her father had been in one of his foul moods. She was the closest thing to a mother Gemma had had, her own mother having died at her birth.

'No, Ma,' she said. 'I'll drive.'

They climbed into the cabin, which was stifling despite the windows being down. Bushflies crawled all over the windscreen.

'What are you going to do now, love?' Ma asked once they were under way. 'I dare say you won't stay in Lightning Ridge. You always fancied livin' in the city, didn't you?'

There was no use lying to Ma. She knew Gemma better than anybody. 'I might to go Sydney,' she said.

'I came from Sydney, originally. Nasty place.'

'In what way?'

'Too big and too noisy.'

'I could take a bit of noise after living out here,' Gemma muttered.

'What will you do with Blue?'

Blue was Gemma's pet cattle-dog. Her father had bought him a few years back, fully grown, because he was a fierce guard-dog. He'd chained him up outside the entrance to the dugout and God help anybody who went near him. Gemma had rather enjoyed the challenge of making friends with the dog and had astounded both her father and Ma by eventually winning the animal's total loyalty and devotion. The dog adored Gemma and she adored him. She didn't have to think long over her answer to Ma's question.