A plea from Matthew Blakely, brother to Charlotte Blakely:
Do you know how it feels to be a third wheel? Well I do, quite thoroughly. I’ve been sent to Rome by my older brother, the new viscount, for one reason only: to keep an eye on Charlotte and act as her damned chaperone. I am not a companion, especially since she’s got this ridiculous idea in her head to go haring off in the hopes of finding the Veil of Veronica.
Yes, my sister’s got it into her head that she’s a bona fide treasure hunter instead of staying in London like a proper ton lady should. Even worse, she’s brought along a man who’s sweet on her but hasn’t committed. Truly, their displays of affection are sickening, and it’s quite scandalous. To say nothing of the mysterious visitors to the ambassador’s residence… Makes me uncomfortable.
About as uncomfortable as when she forces me to sneak into dusty passageways beneath churches and into tombs. And do you know how difficult it is to translate Latin? I’m afraid I wasn’t one to pay attention to that at school, and she thinks I have hero potential. Me. I’m not sure about that.
However, the whole idea of what she’s trying to accomplish is quite amazing. As time goes on and we move deeper into the puzzle, I’m gobsmacked. And I’m coming to understand my sister better. I had no idea how fearless she is, or how determined, and quite frankly, if the ambassador doesn’t come up to scratch and offer for her, I might need to force him into it… purely to halt the gossip’s tongues and the scandal that will follow.
Oh, and by the way, if you see me about Rome, send help, and not the Carabinieri. They’re quite certain my sister is wanted for murdering a monk…
About Ladies Prefer Adventure
Fulfilling a lifetime mission is much more fun when romance is woven into the adventure.
Mr. Everett Desmond spends far too much time behind a desk and entertaining dignitaries. He thought that was what he wanted from life… until an intriguing lady gave him a taste of adventure. But treasure-hunting comes at a price and, thanks to a failed engagement, he’s leery of romance.
The Honorable Charlotte Blakely is closing in on the actual location of the Veil of Veronica, carrying on her beloved late grandfather’s quest. Satisfying his last wish is all she’s ever wanted from life… until the possibility of a courtship with the handsome English ambassador to Rome made itself known. But does love mean giving up her hard-won independence?
Balancing each leg of the quest with the heat and passion simmering between them keeps Charlotte and Everett on the razor’s edge. When danger and death collide with the joy of adventure, truths they’ve denied themselves come into sharp focus. But with a bit of faith, they may discover a treasure far more priceless than a religious relic in their hands.
Across the table, Matthew sipped his tea while watching passersby.
“I agree, and it came about so suddenly. After attending finishing school with her and keeping in touch, I never thought Callie would ever wed. She’d seemed content with her office job, and she is rather… unique.”
“Any woman worth her salt is,” he murmured softly.
Her cheeks heated again. She scanned the rest of the page. “Oh, bother.”
“Trouble?” Beneath the table, Everett laid a hand on her knee and slowly slid it upward, leaving tingles in his wake.
Concentration became difficult as she remembered the night she’d spent in his arms, but she prevailed. “You are mentioned here.”
“How so?” A frown marred the handsome perfection of his face.
“’Ambassador Desmond has once more left London for Rome. Rumor says he is accompanied by the late Viscount Hadleigh’s daughter, who studies in the same city. Is there a romance in the making?’”
A red flush crept over his collar. “I did not authorize that.”
He seemed so discomfited that Charlotte laughed, which brought Matthew’s attention back to her. “No one ever does in the gossip pages.” But she wondered too if there was a romance between them. It had been an age since they’d been able to talk about a future together. She continued to read and finished with a groan. “’We fear the ambassador wastes his time on an insane quest of Miss Blakely’s making, but perhaps he’ll come to his senses soon.’” She tossed the paper across the table at her brother. “Bah. What do they know?”
No one had ever believed in her apart from Everett, so why should the writer of the society piece be any different?
“You ought to listen to them, Char,” Matthew said as he took yet another sandwich. “It is rather ridiculous to traipse about the world. Not natural at all.”
She blew out a breath. “Not the world, brother, just Rome.”
Matthew snorted. “Be that as it may, this business with the ambassador needs settled and soon. It’s this side of scandalous.”
As if the scandalous sort of things men indulged in was merely men being men. Well, she’d never liked those unspoken rules, and she’d lived her life accordingly, for she’d been rather shocking herself while in Rome. No one needed to know, and it had helped grow her independence and sense of worth more than wasting time in England’s drawing rooms.
“Then it suits me fine, don’t you think?”
The men of the world and the catty gossips that made up the backbone of the ton didn’t have the right to deem her behavior overly scandalous or sexual. Only she had that power. She lived her life as she saw fit, and until men began seeing women as equals instead of objects, she’d keep doing as she pleased. Respect was earned, not blindly given due to status or whether one had certain pieces of anatomy between his thighs.
He glanced at Everett. “You truly mean to go haring after a rag with her?”
“I do.” The ambassador squeezed his hand on her knee.
Charlotte squirmed from the delicious sensations that lodged between her thighs. “It’s not a rag, Matthew. It’s a relic.”
“Semantics.” Her brother shrugged. “I cannot believe you would let your woman lead you in a chase like that, Ambassador. Fine kettle you’ll find yourself in should the two of you marry.”
“I should think so.” Everett’s chuckle danced over her skin and heightened her awareness of him. “And, I don’t let her do anything. I encourage her and follow. Quite frankly, I cannot wait to start.” He looked at her with a certain heat in his eyes. “On many things.”
“Oh.” A blush warmed her cheeks. That was the man she remembered. How she wished to kiss him, but Matthew’s presence put a damper upon that. Instead, she addressed her brother. Time to deliver a proper dressing down and put herself back in control. “First of all, I might be with the ambassador, but he doesn’t own me. I am neither a head of cattle nor am I a bookshelf to be moved about or tossed aside. Secondly, the world is growing. Women are contributing amazing things just as the men are. In fact, one of my friends is a doctor, and she fought for that honor. She plans on traveling to Africa of all places. We’ve all fought for what we want. Third, I know my own mind and will do as I please. Your approval is not needed.”
Matthew’s lower jaw gaped open before he remembered himself. “You will do this with Mr. Desmond regardless of his plans?”
“If he chooses to support me.” She smiled at Everett and ran the risk of tumbling headlong into the deep dark pools of his eyes. “In all honesty, he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t believe in me or my quest. His plans will, of course, be taken into consideration.” Then her smile faltered. Had their romance stalled before it had had a chance to proof? Was it more than never having a moment alone? Did he value his position as ambassador more?
“Indeed.” Everett’s fingers danced along her thigh in erotic reassurance. “I’ll remain here until you have no more need of me.” He dared to edge his fingers to the vee of her thighs, but the copious layers of her skirts dulled the caress even as the heat of it rolled over her.
For the moment, she savored the shivers going down her spine. “I look forward to the adventure, wherever it takes us.”
About the Author
Sandra Sookoo is a USA Today bestselling author who firmly believes every person deserves acceptance and a happy ending. Most days you can find her creating scandal and mischief in the Regency-era, serendipity and happenstance in Victorian America or snarky, sweet humor in the contemporary world. Most recently she’s moved into infusing her books with mystery and intrigue. Reading is a lot like eating fine chocolates—you can’t just have one. Good thing books don’t have calories!
When she’s not wearing out computer keyboards, Sandra spends time with her real-life Prince Charming in central Indiana where she’s been known to goof off and make moments count because the key to life is laughter. A Disney fan since the age of ten, when her soul gets bogged down and her imagination flags, a trip to Walt Disney World is in order. Nothing fuels her dreams more than the land of eternal happy endings, hope and love stories.
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