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Tag: regency spies

In Regards to Rats and Bon-Bons

10 September 1824

To my most esteemed employer Lady Nicholas Asquith:

Although you assured me that you would return from your most surprising Parisian shopping excursion before any letter would reach you, as its headmistress, I consider it my most solemn duty to keep you apprised of the goings-on at The Progressive School for Young Ladies and the Education of Their Minds.

As you employ me for my directness, I’ll come straight to the multiple points of this letter.

First, we have rats. I’ve contacted the rat catcher, and he, along with his one terrier and three ferrets, will have the run of the school premises for the next week. Parents have been told that the building is to receive a fresh coat of paint and are advised to take a holiday for the duration.

To make this a partial telling of the truth, I’ve taken the liberty of hiring painters for when the rat catcher and his animals vacate the building. After careful deliberation of a variety of samples, I’ve chosen Invisible Green to be the color of our school forthwith. I have it on good authority that it is a most felicitous shade for the erudition of the mind as it invites Nature inside our walls. Only time will tell.

Second, I must relate to you the gossip flying about the school. Namely, rumor has it that you have journeyed to Paris to secure a French cook and a French French teacher. As I know you rely on my good judgement for a variety of matters, I shan’t do you the disservice of withholding it here.

In regards to the first rumor, you must consider the probable moral consequences of the introduction of French fare inside our virtuous English walls, our Invisible Green English walls, a color devised by none other than an Englishman. To my point, English foods sustain not only our corporeal forms, but our very Englishness. It is plain and solid and right. Who knows how all those French creams and butters might lead an influenceable girl down the path of licentiousness and ultimately ruin? What price the bon-bon? We mustn’t venture down that path, not even a step.

Now, about the French French teacher . . . Given my preceding point, need I say more? Need I elucidate the particulars of the path such a personage might set a naïve girl upon? We shall never speak of it.

I wish you a safe and swift journey back to London, at which time we shall discuss your niece Lucy and her penchant for most scandalous reading materials. (I shudder to think what she learned from Francis Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue before its confiscation.)

Your trusted headmistress in the righteous bringing up of young ladies,

Mrs. Calpurnia Bloomquist

Excerpt from Three Lessons in Seduction

“Are you going to skulk behind me all night?”

They were the first words she ever spoke to him. His heart kicked up a notch, and his tongue became a sodden blanket in his mouth as a series of facts occurred to him:

He’d followed her. He was alone with her. And he wanted nothing more than to touch her and know the scent of her. His stride increased in length to catch her.

“Do we need a formal introduction before you will speak to me?” she teased, presenting him her flawless profile. The moon above limned her features in a contradictory soft, yet crisp, glow. “Or are you simply shy?”

“You must know who I am,” he called out to her back.

“He speaks.” An enchanting giggle floated over her shoulder. “I know you are one of many young men who venture out to my uncle’s estate to discuss England’s politics. But who you are specifically, I can’t say.”

They reached the ha-ha, and he watched her clear its low wall with ease before turning toward the edge of the woods, him following at her heels like a lap dog hungry for the tiniest crumb of her attention.

He found himself close behind her, close enough to catch her scent of jasmine and neroli. It struck him that this wasn’t the one-note scent of a debutante. On the surface, the floral jasmine indicated the shallow innocence of her peers, but the deep bitter-orange neroli complicated that assessment and made for a more interesting conclusion. She was different.

“Why did you leave the house?” he asked.

“I was hot.”

Three simpler words didn’t exist in the English language. Yet that one simple word—hot—sent a spike of longing straight through him. “I suppose the air was a bit stale,” he rasped.

“I wasn’t hot from stale air.” She faced him, her amber eyes, clear and unflinching, gauging his reaction. “It was you. I was hot because of you.”

No longer could he keep his emotions under a tight rein. She’d negated that control with a few careless words that struck his core with the precision of a well-aimed arrow.

“Did no one ever teach you not to say such things to strange men?”

“They tried,” she said with the assuredness of a woman with far too much experience, or maybe it was far too little. “There is nothing strange about you.”

“You should try those words on a different man,” he said, straining for a tone of paternal guidance. If she believed it, he might, too. “One who would marry you.”

“Oh, I care naught for that,” she said on a laugh.

Instinctively, protectively, he reached out and pulled her close, her upturned lips a hairsbreadth away from his, her playful eyes inviting him to bridge the distance. “Society doesn’t tolerate ladies who entertain loose morals.”

With feelings of longing, desire, and bewilderment warring inside him, he lowered his head and touched his mouth to hers, unprepared for the responding punch of electricity.

Kisses had the power to reveal truths about two people that extended far beyond trivialities like compatibility and incompatibility. This kiss revealed a single unshakeable truth: she was the only woman for him.

It was a truth that shook him clear through to his bones.

His eyes flew open, and he broke the kiss, eliciting a tiny gasp of protest from her. He watched with a mixture of self-loathing and thwarted passion as she opened desire-glazed eyes and closed kiss-crushed lips.

“A girl like you is a girl one could marry,” he murmured. They were heedless and dangerous words that fell from his lips, and he couldn’t understand why he spoke them.

“A girl like me?”

“You.”

One could marry?”

“I.”

“Careful,” she whispered into the space between their lips. It was the only space that mattered in the universe. “I might hold you to such words.”

“I might hope you do.”

Again, words fell from his mouth of their own accord, and he’d proposed to her. There had been no biting it back.

And he hadn’t wanted to.

At least, not for another five seconds.

He’d proposed to Lady Mariana Montfort, a girl he didn’t know.

That wasn’t precisely true.

In the ways that mattered, he knew her.

About Three Lessons in Seduction

Paris, September 1824

Lord Nicholas Asquith needs his wife. Too bad he broke her heart ten years ago.

Can he resist a second chance at the love he lost?

When Mariana catches the eye of the man at the center of an assassination plot, Nick puts aside their painful past and enlists her to obtain information by any means necessary, even if it means seducing the enemy agent.

Even if the thought makes his blood boil.

Only by keeping his distance from Mariana these last ten years was he able to pretend indifference to her. With every moment spent with her, he feels his tightly held control slipping . . .

Can she trust the spy who broke her heart?

Mariana spent the last decade forgetting Nick. Now she has the chance to best him at his own game, an opportunity she can’t resist, even as her view of him begins to shift. Increasingly, she wants nothing more than to seduce her own husband . . .

Soon, mad passion ignites, a passion never convincingly extinguished. A passion that insists on surrendering to the yearning of the flesh and, quite possibly, of the heart.

Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Three-Lessons-Seduction-Sofie-Darling-ebook/dp/B074WGWGMK/

Meet Sofie Darling

Sofie spent much of her twenties raising two boys and reading every book she could get her hands on. Once she realized that she was no longer satisfied with simply reading the books she loved, that she must write them, too, she decided to finish her degree and embark on a writing career. Mr. Darling and the boys gave her their wholehearted blessing.

When she’s not writing heroes who make her swoon, she runs a marathon in a different state every year, visits crumbling medieval castles whenever she gets a chance, and enjoys a slightly codependent relationship with her beagle, Bosco.

Website: www.sofiedarling.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sofiedarlingauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sofie_darling

A base born son; a hasty marriage

Dear Readers,

A most unusual story came to our attention a mere day ago.

As we reported last week, we were shocked and saddened to hear of the death of a renowned personage, the Earl of S, at his country estate a fortnight ago. We have it on good authority that Lord S had served Crown and country with great distinction, playing a quiet, yet significant role in defeating the murderous French and the Corsican.

But lo! Another report has just been received by this writer that Lord S was seen but days ago in London in the company of a flaming-haired man of younger years, rumored to be his son, and not the child of his wife, the late Lady S.

No, dear readers, this younger man is said to be the issue of Lord S’s time serving the Crown in Ireland, and is himself employed as the Steward of a certain Lord and Lady H, of whom we have written in earlier editions. It is said that Lord S intended to fully acknowledge this offspring and welcome him and his Spanish wife (who he married most hastily at Gretna Green) into the bosom of the family. In fact, our correspondent reports that Lord S has bequeathed the young couple an estate worth five thousand a year.

But there is more! Lord S and his son have reunited just as another Lord—no less than a marquess!—has seemingly vanished, and rumor has it that the two events are related.

Have no fear, but we shall keep you informed of the latest developments in this most interesting matter!

The Bastard’s Iberian Bride

Daughter of spies

For a chance at true freedom, Paulette Heardwyn needs the fortune left her by her inscrutable father. But she doesn’t know what it is, where it is, or how to find it, and the only man with answers, the Earl of Shaldon, takes his secrets to the grave. Worse, the dead earl tries to force her marriage to his bastard son—and leaves her prey to a traitor seeking the same treasure she’s after.

Soldier, Steward, Bastard

Bink Gibson is ready to throw off his quiet life as steward to his old commander and head for India and the chance of prosperity. But before he can leave he’s summoned to the deathbed of the Earl of Shaldon, a meddling spymaster, a complete stranger…and his father.

And the Earl has set a trap Bink will never be able to resist.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071D52388

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-bastard-s-iberian-bride

iTunes: https://itun.es/i6759FF

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bastards-iberian-bride-alina-k-field/1126282774?ean=2940157193805

Google Play

Bakeley reached for the bottle again, and her lips turned down in a frown. “I should like to hear what you have to say, Bakeley, before you have many more glasses of that.”

Bakeley set down his glass, walked to the cold fireplace, and rested a hand on the mantel.

It was such a fine piece of drama, even Miss Heardwyn noticed. She sent Bink an eye-roll.

“Well it must be bad,” Bink muttered.

Bakeley turned. His mouth worked as if his lips were struggling with some great piece of gristle. His hands slipped behind his back, a soldier at parade rest.

“Yes, well. You are each to receive a small sum as an inheritance. Not much. Not enough for any real independence. However, if you meet certain conditions, you are to receive a great deal of cash, and the title to the house and acreage acquired for you, worth four thousand a year, with the potential for more if you manage well.”

Bakeley’s gaze skittered from Bink to Miss Heardwyn, as he tugged at his neck cloth.

The lady gave Bink a pointed look. She tilted her head and he saw the pulse at her neck, a curl bouncing against it. Her lips parted and then pressed closed. She lifted her eyebrows.

She was begging him to ask.

Talking about money was vulgar. Let the bastard do it.

Well, why not? “I’ve no need for his lordship’s money,” Bink said. “Give my small sum to Miss Heardwyn, and you’d best end the suspense and tell her the conditions she must meet to receive that property and income.”

Her eyes flared. “Shaldon wouldn’t give me a property. I’m sure it’s meant for you, Mr. Gibson.”

“No,” Bakeley said.

She went very still, yet Bink could feel the tension rolling from her. Could it be she was poorer than she looked? Her dress was finer than Lady Hackwell’s had been when she was merely a wealthy spinster, yet he knew Lady Hackwell had been an odd one. More ladies overspent on dresses to keep up appearances than dressed down.

“Bakeley, tell her what she needs to do to receive her property.”

Bakeley’s jaw moved and he took a deep breath. “It’s not meant to be her property. It’s meant to be yours, as in both of yours, upon meeting his condition.”

Bink’s blood pounded through his ears on the way to his feet. The Earl’s gleaming gaze when Miss Heardwyn appeared, Bakeley’s nerves, the Earl’s swoon—undoubtedly faked, like a cutpurse’s accomplice distracting a mark. Something here was amiss.

Bakeley’s aristocratic brow glistened with beads of sweat, and in spite of his tension, humor glimmered in his eyes. He cleared his throat and said, “His lordship wishes for the two of you to marry.”

Author Bio and links:

Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but her true passion is the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.

She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. She is hard at work on her next series of Regency romances, but loves to hear from readers!

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