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K.J. Jackson

The Ultimate Historical Collection #2: Exile & Guardians of the Bones (8 EBOOKs)

The Ultimate Historical Collection #2: Exile & Guardians of the Bones (8 EBOOKs)

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4,100+ 5-Star Reviews on Amazon & Goodreads

Buy the bundle of 8 books and SAVE!

All the steamy feels of the Exile and Guardians of the Bones series! Remarkable women. Undeniable men. Nonstop adventure. Time to fall in love.

Exiled by those they loved the most. When everything is on the line, can love save them?
Three ladies in dire straits...One a desperate woman looking for escape. One a fallen lady with an over-zealous stalker. One a damaged lady that needs a safe haven. None of them are looking for love until fate throws some irresistible men into their lives and sparks fly in the Exile series of scorching historical romances. 

Leads to a crew of irresistible Guardians...
Guardians are sworn to protect, sworn to remain a secret. But when love comes into play, all bets are off. Five stories of men and women willing to do whatever it takes to keep the people they love safe in the Guardians of the Bones series.

EBOOK BUNDLE. The entire 8 EBOOKs of the intertwined Exile and Guardians of the Bones series, each a steamy, heart-stopping historical romance adventure from USA Today Bestselling author, K.J. Jackson. 

This epic collection starts with Exiled Duke...

A desperate woman trades everything for a chance of escape.
Penelope Willington is an innocent—innocent to a fault—and she never should have stepped foot into the rookeries, much less sought out the man that had once been her whole world—when she was ten. But that was a long time ago. Desperate times call for extraordinary actions, and Pen can’t afford to miss her one and only chance to find a future free of the vile man determined to force her under his thumb and into his bed.

Her survival depended on his cruelty.
After his parents died, Strider Hoppler was forced to exile the one other person in the world he loved—Penelope Willington. He did it to save Pen, did it cruelly, and he never once looked back. Not until sixteen years later, when she strolled into his lair in the heart of the East End of London.

A cold ruler of the underworld.
She entered a world she had no right to be in—his world—a world she should never know for its monstrosities of humanity. No matter that she needed his help. Try as he might to get rid of her, she’s stubborn and before he knows it, Strider is helping her untangle the web of her past.

The more time they spend together, the more Strider finds it impossible to resist the inexplicable draw between the two of them. But is it even possible for this hardened rogue to find the one thing he destroyed long ago—his heart?

This Ebook bundle of steamy historical Regency romances contains 8 stand-alone stories: 
1. Exiled Duke
2. Wicked Exile
3. Dangerous Exile
4. Discreet Destruction
5. Shadows of Scandal
6. A Savage Deception
7. Wicked Reckoning
8. Ruthless Scandal



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{ Chapter 1 }

August 1826, London

Penelope Willington scooted across the busy street, barely dodging a wild phaeton driven by a reckless fop singing—no, screaming—lines from a ballad over and over—“the wise are fools, with all their rules”—as he set his horse to trample anything in his path.

Pen caught her breath as she teetered on the edge of the street, then scampered into the deep shadow of a brick building, this one four stories high and leaning precariously to the side.

It couldn’t collapse right now, could it? Not in the middle of the night with her under it? People had to be living in it—she could hear them above. It couldn’t fall with people in it, could it?

She wasn’t about to stand still and find out.

Next street. Make it to the next street.

She had been repeating those words for the last hour as she made it across London, creeping through the darkest shadows of the night.

Just one more street. One more.

Her hand clutching the rough black fabric of her dress at her neck, she moved her feet forward, sliding under the shadows of buildings, stepping over drunks and the legs of people sleeping.

She’d seen despair. Poverty. She’d lived it. But this was beyond her. The stench, the filth, the deafening noise of horses and carriages and men and prostitutes and drunks filled her head and crammed every naïve thought of what she’d find here out of her mind.

One more street.

Pen squinted her eyes, searching amongst the bright splotches of lantern lights down the street. This had to be it. She had been counting. Counting like the fishmonger had told her.

Her fingers clutched onto the rough corner of the building she’d stopped next to and she squinted harder. There. On the opposite side of the street. A sign.

Den of Diablo. Horns atop a grotesque goat face curved up around the words.

No mistaking it.

Her heart skipped a beat, speeding it into mayhem for a moment before the thud of it fell back in line.

That building at least looked upright. Solid enough. Simple exterior. Painted black. None of the messes of balconies and laundry hanging from the windows as there were on seemingly every building in this part of town.

Just the black facade with nothing marring the expanse of it. Even the sashes of the windows were painted black, with black curtains blocking the light from the inside.

A black vortex, sucking in all who neared it.

What the blazes was she walking into?

But there was nothing to do now but keep forward. She needed this. Needed to find him.

That she’d even overheard that flower girl at the market mention his name had been a miracle. A miracle verified over and over—almost every seller she’d asked knew of him.

And this was where the fishmonger had said he was. So she had to chance this. She’d risked everything just to make it this far and turning back now wasn’t an option.

Her heart pounding, her steps hurried as she spotted a sliver of roadway between horses and carriages where she could cross the street and not get crushed. Jutting to her right, then her left, her feet slipped across the muck of fresh manure and she almost lost her balance and slammed into the side of a wagon. She managed to spin, twirling enough to land behind the wagon and she bolted forward, leaping onto the opposite walkway just as an enclosed black carriage skimmed her backside.

With a gasp of thanks that she hadn’t just been squashed, she rushed forward, bumping into a drunk that staggered toward her. “Sixpence, for ye, little puritan.”

Pen didn’t look at him, only sent her feet faster. That was the eighth proposal she’d had that night—no matter how careful she was, she drew attention. She should have drawn a black scarf fully over her head—as much as she’d secured her hair back and tucked most of it under her cap, her blond strands still reflected far too much light, even in the darkness.

There, the front door. Black like everything else.

A golden handle. How peculiar. It sat starkly against the blackness like a beacon.

She jumped to it, yanking open the door and stepping inside.

Her breath held, the door closed behind her and she blinked once. Twice. So much light inside for how black this building was outside.

And the noise.

Filling her head. Overwhelming. Yells and shrieking laughter. Sharp stabs across her already throbbing head.

Her eyes adjusted to the light.

Tables. Lots of tables. Lots of people. Mounds of coins and valuables and cards and dice on the tables. Gambling in every corner. Women in bodice-popping corsets leaning over the men as they played. Several barmaids shuffling about with full drinks in their hands. And men. So many men. Some in sailors’ rags. Some in the finery she’d seen the gentlemen wear in Hyde Park. Most in the middling ground in-between the extremes.

Silence crept into the air about her, bit by bit, so slowly she didn’t even know it was happening until the room was suddenly still. Quiet. She looked about at the many men at the tables. Most, if not all, the eyes in the room were trained on her. Red-rimmed, drunken eyes. How late into the night was it?

“Well, well, what have we here?” An enormous man, tall and wide, came at her from the left, throwing his arm about her shoulders. Reeking in a slightly different way than the rest of the surroundings that sent her nose to twitch. “The new girls come in the back, little mouse, but this is a nice show for the chaps that be interested in yer goods.”

The man started forward, the clamp he had about her shoulders not giving her the option to resist moving with him as he maneuvered her through the many tables.

“We’ll just need to get ye upstairs and into proper clothin’ fer one of our girls. Madame Juliet will fix ye up right straight. Get some color on yer cheeks.”

It took Pen three full seconds to realize what he had just said. What he thought she was. And they were already three-quarters of the way across the room and headed straight toward the stairwell she could see at the back of the room.

She reached up and grabbed his hand clamped onto her upper arm, trying to peel away his meaty fingers from her body. “Sir, you don’t understand. I’m not here for—”

“What was that?” He leaned his ear down to her. The cacophony had refilled the room about them, and the many stares were firmly back on the tables.

She twisted harder on his fingers, sinking her shoulder down, trying to escape him.

He kept her captive—far too easily.

She looked up at him, raising her voice. “I’m not here for that. I’m here for Mr. Hoppler.”

“What? Hoppler?” He threw his head back and he laughed. “Sure, mouse, sure. All the ladies are, but ye have to work yer way up to him.”

He pushed her ahead of him into the stairwell, somehow managing to not break the hold he had on her. Up three steps and she couldn’t halt his pushing.

Her head flew back and forth as she tried to turn back to him. “No, you don’t understand.”

He kept moving her upward.

Desperate measures. She dropped, her knees landing hard on the stairs.

It stopped all progress.

For one second.

He slid his hands under her arms and lifted her as though she were a two-year-old child, and moved her up the rest of the stairs, turning the corner and tackling the next flight in short order.

Gasping for a breath against the panic fully taking a hold of her, she twisted in his grip, trying to find his face. “I’m here for Mr. Hoppler, good sir. Nothing more. I’m not a prostitute.”

“Nothing more? Not a prostitute? How are ye gonna see him, then?”

She tried to wedge her fingers onto his hands under her arms to no avail. “I need to see him.”

“Ye’ll see him after yer properly dressed.”

Dropping all reason and calm, her voice found the scream deep within. “No—I’m his sister. His sister and I need to see him.”

The brute stopped.

His fingers splayed wide as he gently set her onto the steps and he pulled away his hands from under her arms slowly, like he might crack her open if his fingers strayed too close to her body.

His voice dropped down a notch as his head bowed to her. “Apologies, miss. I didn’t know. I’ll bring ye to him right off.”

Air filled her lungs, not that she trusted the breath to stay with her long. “Thank you.”

“Follow me.”

Shuffling in as much of an arc around her as he could manage in the stairwell, the brute moved past her and up the stairs.

Pen smoothed the front of her black dress, pulling the wrinkles out of it, trying to conjure all the haughtiness that she imagined would come with being Mr. Hoppler’s sister.

She pulled her shoulders back, straightening her spine.

Whatever it took. Forward.

Everything depended on talking to Mr. Hoppler.


She needed to do this. Do this for her future or she would be forced under Mr. Flagton’s control forever.

Bile burned up her throat at the thought. She swallowed quickly, not letting her mind go there. She was good at that. Swallowing the bile. Pretending that what was coming wasn’t coming.

Her last chance—her only chance—was at hand, and she couldn’t waste it.

Her chin high, she followed the man up the stairs and into the depths of the devil’s den.

{ Chapter 2 }

“She said she was yer sister, boss.”

Strider’s left eyebrow lifted as he looked up at Jasper from the sheet of numbers in his hand. That was a new one. “I don’t have a sister.”

Jasper shrugged, taking another step into Strider’s office. The man was smart, the reason why Strider kept him close as one of his main men and paid him so well, but Jasper had a gullible streak about him Strider could never quite place. Gullible meant weakness and that was the one thing Strider despised. Weakness.

Good thing Jasper’s Scottish brogue tended to make their patrons quiver. As long as they were sober enough, most English dandies didn’t want to mess with the Scot.

“The words were enough to stop Egbert from dragging her up into the whores’ dressing room,” Jasper said. “He didn’t want to run afoul of ye and I don’t blame him.”

Strider shifted in his seat and looked back down at the column of numbers on the sheet. Dammit. Now he’d have to re-add them. “I don’t have a sister.”

No movement.

He looked up again. Jasper still stood across the desk from him. “Why are you still here?”

“Well, it’s just that we dinnae ken what to do with the lass.”

Strider’s forehead wrinkled. “You don’t know what to do with her? Send her up to Madame Juliet. Kick her onto the street. I don’t care.”

Jasper didn’t move. “She’s not our kind, Hoppler.”

“Who cares what kind she is?”

“It’s just…”

He slammed the paper onto his desk. “Just what, Jasper?”

“Just…could ye please come look at her and ye’ll ken what I mean.”

Strider leaned back in his chair, a sigh deep in his chest. All he wanted that night was one hour of peace to look at the accounting and he’d only been sitting down for five minutes. “Where is she?”

“The drawing room.”

His eyebrow cocked again. “You set her in the drawing room? Any of the entertaining rooms would have done. Madame Juliet is going to slice you through for setting a strange woman in there.”

“We thought she was yer sister.” His hand flipped over, waving about in a circle. “And the mirrors and the…uh…implements in the entertaining rooms…well, we didn’t think the lass should see that.”

“Sink me. One hour. One hour was all I needed.” Strider stood from behind his desk, his knuckles crunching hard onto the edge of the wood. “Fine, I need a drink anyway. I’ll look at her and then will you get rid of her?”

Jasper nodded, following him out into the hallway and down two doors to the smoking room Strider kept here at the Den. Like a library in any other fine house, he kept the room just for him and those he needed to impress—or intimidate. Aside from the windows, door and fireplace, every inch of wall space was filled with bookshelves and stuffed with tomes. It kept the room quiet and he mostly used the chamber to gain a sliver of silence in the madness that was always around him. Madness that was always vying for his attention.

He went to the sideboard and poured a full tumbler of Courvoisier cognac. After taking a long sip, he refilled his glass and then poured a tumbler for Jasper.

Strider walked across the room to where Jasper stood next to the bookcase on the wall that adjoined the drawing room. He handed Jasper the extra glass and then removed three fat books with worn leather covers, the gold lettering long since rubbed off, and set them on the waist-high ledge of the bookshelf. Leaning down slightly, he peered into the open space on the shelf, then reached in and silently slid the small metal flap on the Judas hole to the right.

A perfectly concealed view into the adjacent drawing room.

There in the middle of the room. A rigid woman in a black dress sitting on the one hard chair in the space. Her hands clamped together in her lap, unmoving.

His gaze travelled upward to her face.

Shock jolted through his body, tensing every muscle and making his heart stop for a full second.

He reeled away from the bookcase, his head suddenly light.

Three steps backward before he’d convinced himself he hadn’t just seen what he thought he did.

His feet cautious as he stepped forward, he took a full gulp of the cognac, then placed his glass down on the ledge. He set his eye to the peephole, his stare crazy as he focused on the figure in the middle of the room.

The bloody ass of Hades. It couldn’t be.


Penelope Willington.


His Pen.

She sat there, an aberration from another time, another place. Her big green eyes, lined with the darkest lashes, stared at the door to the room, waiting. Patient. Still.

Pen had never been patient. Never.

But there she sat. A stone.

The slight rise of her chest with every breath the only indication she was alive.

His gut sank, his chest tightening until he couldn’t force a breath into his lungs.


She was pure—as pure—innocent as the last day he’d seen her.

How in the hell had that happened?

How in the hell had his own life veered so far into darkness that the purity of her struck him as odd—something he almost didn’t recognize?

But there she sat.

Dressed in black, the fabric that looked to itch her skin raw was starched high under her chin, choking her. The shapeless dress hid her body. Her light blond hair pulled into a low bun that sat just below the simple black cap on the top of her head. The strands below the cap circled her head like a golden crown in the dim light of the room. She teetered on the edge of the hard chair, her spine so rigid he could run a ruler down it.

Next to him, Jasper took a sip of his cognac. “Ye see? She’s not our kind. She’s no whore and, well, she’s a delicate one—ye can see why I felt bad about kicking the lass back out onto the street at this time of night. I dinnae ken how she made it here in one piece. Ye know as well as I how the drunks would tear her apart if we sent her out there again.”

Strider could see perfectly well.

His jaw hardened, shifting to the side. Pen always had that air about her. The kind that made others want to take care of her. Coddle her. Protect her from the slightest threat of harm.

No. She wasn’t their kind at all.

What the hell was she doing in the rookeries? In London?

“How did she get here?”

“Egbert said she just appeared at the front door. He tried to get her up to Madame Juliet, but she fought him and then demanded to see ye.”

Strider nodded, his look not veering from Pen sitting in the room.

Jasper finished his brandy. “Oh, and the gents downstairs are already asking for a turn with the lass.”

Strider’s teeth clamped down so hard and fast he bit the corner of his tongue. Of course they were. She was bloody well gorgeous. She always had been and the drabbest dress in the world wouldn’t change that. Innocence and beauty made every blasted man want to touch it.

The metallic tinge of blood spread across his taste buds and he yanked his stare away from her, snapping the flap on the peep-hole closed. He looked at Jasper. “Spread the word that she’s already gone from the building.”

“Yes, sir.” Jasper nodded but didn’t move away from the bookcase.


Jasper’s head cocked toward the drawing room. “What should we do with her?”

“Nothing.” Strider moved past him, his long legs stalking toward the door. “I’ll take care of her.”

“She’s not really yer sister, is she?” Jasper asked him as he exited the room.

Strider didn’t turn back to him. “I don’t have a sister.”

In the next moment he was charging into the drawing room, not bothering to pause and compose himself.

He slammed the door closed, advancing on her. “What the hell are you doing here, Pen?”

She jumped in her seat at the crack of the door and her look whipped up at him, her neck craning at his height.

For a moment, confusion in her eyes.

She didn’t recognize him.

And why should she? She hadn’t seen him since they were fifteen. He’d grown another foot, doubled in mass, his hair had darkened, and he’d been hardened by the worst in humanity in those ensuing years.

The confusion disappeared the instant her eyes met his. She found him. Found the boy she remembered.

She sprang up onto her feet. “Strider, it is you. I hoped, but I was afraid it wouldn’t be you and then I got here and—”

“What the bloody deuce are you doing here in London, Pen? In a damnable gaming hell?”
She blinked hard. “This is where you are so I came to see you.”

“Why would you ever think coming into the rookeries in the middle of the night was a good idea?” Damn, but she was too bloody innocent. Even now. He needed to get her out of there, out of the rookeries. Far away from him. The faster the better.

“I didn’t think it was a good idea, but I didn’t know it would be this bad.” Her lips pursed. “I didn’t know what this area was. We just arrived in London and—”

“Who is we?” His gut twisted, vicious. She had a damn husband. Why else would she be in London?

Her head gave a slight shake. “What?”

The air choking in his throat, he leaned over her, a grimace lining his lips. “Who is we?”

“We? Mrs. Flagton and her son. Mr. Flagton died several months ago and they needed to travel to London to take care of his affairs.”

He straightened, his forehead creasing. “You’re still with that family?”

“I have never been out of Belize Town, save for the one trip to the Port of Veracruz.”

“You never left them?”


“So you’re still with the Flagtons?”

She nodded. “Mrs. Flagton has insisted I remain as her companion.”

That explained the dress. If he had to guess, it was the same one he’d seen on her twelve years ago. His head cocked to the side. “So what are you doing here?”

Her hands were still clasped in front of her and they lifted in unison. “I need your help, Strider. And you’re the only one that can help me.”

“You find me, after twelve years, and then demand my help? You do recall what happened the last time I saw you?”

Her green eyes darkened for a long second, her voice dipping into a whisper. “I remember.”

“Then why do you think I would help you with anything?” Harsh, but she needed to know who she was dealing with.

Her lips parted and she visibly inhaled. A forced smile quickly appeared on her face. “I had hopes. Please. My family. I hoped you would help me find them.”

“Your family?”

“Yes. My real family. My mother’s family.”

He shook his head, taking a step backward. “You don’t want my help.”

Her strained smile went wider and she took a step forward. “I do, because you’re the only one that can help me, that can remember enough about what we were told of my mother to find them.”

His lips twisted into a near snarl. “No.”

Confusion flooded her eyes again. “You don’t have connections? I asked the collier, the baker, the fishmonger. Everyone knows of you, Strider—all of them. All of them looked like the devil crossed their path, but they all knew of you. And their voices would drop, almost to a whisper if I could even get them to speak of you at all. You’re a man everyone knows. And a man like that can find my family. You can help me.”



“But what, Pen? Why do you even want to find them?”

The smile slid from her face, but her stare didn’t slip off his eyes. “There’s got to be more for me. More for me in life. This is the first time that I’ve even had a chance at that thought, and this could be the way. If I can find them—if you can help me find them—it could be the way. The way out for me.”

“Why do you need to get out?”

“I just do.” Her exhaled words were tinged with desperation.

He shook his head, setting his jaw hard. He wasn’t about to let their lives intertwine again, no matter how desperate she was. “I can’t help you.”

“Why not?”

“There’s nothing in it for me.”

Her eyes went wide. “You are that cold?”

“I’m that practical.”

He waited for her to turn away. For her shoulders to slump, defeated. Then he could leave.

Instead, her eyes closed with a slight cringe. “I didn’t want to do this.”

“Do what?”

“You help me and you can have me.”

A chortle blasted from his lips. “I can have you? As in sex?”

Her eyes flew open. “Yes…I…”

“That is what you bring me?”

Her cheeks started to flush. “I thought…I thought…”

He laughed again. “Why would I want you? Have you ever even touched a man, set your tongue to his lips, to his cock?”

Her entire torso snapped ramrod straight, her jaw dropping with a gasp.

“Exactly.” He took a step to the side, slowly walking around her, appraising her from all angles. “Why would I want that innocence? Why choose that when I have a stable of women ready and willing and knowing exactly what to do with their tongues?”

By the time he rounded to the other side of her, the flush on her cheeks had deepened, crimson creeping into every corner of her flawless skin.

With a wicked exhale, she spun to him, her eyes ablaze. “You don’t have to humiliate me.”

“Frankly, I don’t know what to do with you.”

“Fine. I’m not attractive. I understand. So then do this for your mother, for what she wanted for us—she wanted us to have a future where we were bound by nothing except what we wanted in our hearts. Help me for what she wanted for us. For what she was to us.”

“My mother is dead.”

Cold. Harsh. The truth.

Her eyes shifted back and forth. Panic. This wasn’t going how she imagined it would. When they were nine she used to get anything she wanted from him. But that was a different time, a different place.

He started toward the door. “You’ll excuse me, Pen. This was grand, seeing you again, but I have a business to run. I’ll have my man escort you out of the rookeries and back to the Flagton home.” His hand reached out toward the door.

Footsteps thudded across the floor and she dove in front of him, her hand on his chest to stop him. “Wait. I have something. Something that you may want.”

“You’ve got nothing I’m interested in.”

“I’m quickly finding that out.”

His left eyebrow cocked.

“It’s from the past. From Belize.”

“Everything burned, Pen. Everything.” His hand reached up to remove her palm from his chest.

She held tight against his grip on her wrist, her fingers curling onto the top cut of his waistcoat. “No—I have something of your father’s.”

He stilled. “What? You have something of my father’s?”

“I do. I never told you.”

“How is that even possible?” His hand left her wrist and clamped onto the side of her neck, his thumb pressing into her throat, his voice rising. “What the hell do you have?”

She shook her head. He could smell the obstinate defiance in her.

“No, Strider. You help me first and then I will tell you. Show you.”

His fingers squeezed into the flesh along the back of her neck. What the hell kind of game did she think to play with him? Him. She had no clue who he was now. The pain he could inflict without remorse.

He leaned down, his face only a breath away from hers as his fingers tightened along her neck. “I don’t make deals with ignorant, innocent chits who dare to wander into my den.”

Her green eyes met his, fire flashing. “Then it’s a good thing I didn’t wander in here. I came here for you. For your help, Strider. And I intend to have it. Are you going to help me or not?”

Her glare set on him, slicing him through. The uncanny color of her eyes, the depths of them had always done that—seared through to the deep within. Unearthly, how she could see the souls of men.

He seethed for long breaths, his fingers twitching, thinking to squeeze out of her whatever she was pretending to have.

She had nothing. He knew it.

He saw their home burn to ash just the same as she had. They had even gone back, sifting through the charred remnants of their life, only to be run off by a neighbor.

There was nothing.

Her green eyes didn’t blink. She didn’t back down. She never had. She’d never known when to give something up—never known what was good for her. For she was staring at the worst of the worst right now.


He was definitely not good for her. Not since the fire. He never had been. Never would be.

But if she wasn’t lying…if she had something—anything—from his father, it could be the difference. It could give him the one thing he’d been working toward for all these years.

For that, he just may have to chance it.

His fingers loosened on her neck. “I’ll help you, Pen. But it will be on my terms and you will do exactly what I tell you.”

She nodded.

Fool girl.

She had no idea she’d just crawled into the devil’s bed.

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