This is the third book in Maggie Andersen’s entertaining The Spies of Mayfair series.
ABOUT THE BOOK
(The Spies of Mayfair #3)
Genre :Historical Romance
King George sends his private investigator, an Irishman, Kieran Flynn, Lord Montsimon, on a mission, the reason for which is unclear. Is it a plot against the Crown? Or something entirely unrelated? Flynn’s inquiries lead him to the widow, Lady Althea Brookwood. Known amongst the ton as a rake, Flynn is rarely turned down by a lady, and when Althea refuses not just him but many other men, he becomes intrigued.
After her neighbor, Sir Harold Crowthorne informs Althea that he means to take her country property, Owltree Cottage, by fair means or foul, she must search for help. The first man she turns to is promptly murdered and the second lies to her. That leaves Flynn, Lord Montsimon, a man she has been studiously avoiding. But Montsimon is decidedly unhelpful, and more than a little mysterious. Her only option is to seduce him. Althea has little confidence that she will succeed, especially as before her husband was killed in a duel, he often told her she was quite hopeless at intimacy.
When a spy is murdered, Flynn wonders just what Althea knows and what her involvement might be with the man the king wants Flynn to investigate.
With a swish of her ice-blue net gown worn over white satin, Althea hurried away, leaving Mrs. Pinkerton peering after her through her lorgnette. It was an appalling lack of decorum, and Althea was sure her ears were burning. A moment later, she had forgotten the ladies entirely, for Montsimon, a determined expression in his grey eyes, made his way steadily through the guests in her direction. She could not talk to him now. Heart thudding, she searched around her for anyone free to engage in conversation, but those close by were so deep in discussion it would be rude to interrupt.
“Lady Brookwood.” Montsimon bowed before her.
There was nothing for it. “Lord Montsimon.” She curtsied. It was extraordinary. Simply because she’d considered a possible affair with him, it had become difficult to meet his eyes, made bluer tonight by the coat he wore.
“I didn’t expect to find you in London,” he said in his pleasant tenor voice. “I believe your intention was to remain in the country until spring.”
“That was my aim,” she said, “but important matters have brought me back to town.”
A waiter approached. Montsimon took two glasses of wine from his tray and offered her one. Althea accepted it with a nod of thanks. She sipped the cold fruity wine, glad to find it lubricated her tight throat.
“Dreadfully crowded,” Montsimon said, bending his head closer to hers.
“The Gossards’ affairs are always a great success. Does your dog wait for you at home tonight?”
“No, he’s guarding my carriage,” Montsimon said with a glint of humor.
“Is he a good guard dog?” Her gaze swept the room again, searching for Lord Churton without success.
“Spot is very thorough. Even my friends are barred from the vehicle.” Montsimon frowned. “But something disturbs you this evening, Lady Brookwood. May I help?”
“You must pardon me, my lord.” She took a step away. “There’s someone I must speak to, but I can’t seem to locate them in this crowd.”
He followed, bringing them close again. “Who might that be?”
“It’s Lord Churton. Have you seen him?”
The expression in Montsimon’s eyes sharpened. Without explanation, he removed her wine glass, which was still half-full from her nerveless fingers. Conscious of those around them, she murmured a surprised protest. He placed her glass with his on a console table against the wall.
“Shall we take a stroll on the terrace?” He slipped her arm through his.
“I beg your pardon?” Althea shook free, but he firmly tucked her gloved fingers back into the crook of his arm and moved forward, propelling her along, while apologizing right and left. One man had the effrontery to wink at him! She gasped. He was manhandling her right before the gaze of the ton.
“I must speak to you where I can make myself heard without getting a crick in my neck,” he said in a low voice.
Hardly a satisfactory explanation! Astonished, Althea huffed out a breath while helplessly caught up in the momentum caused by his long stride. “I must say I’m surprised, my lord,” she muttered, afraid of creating a scene. “You can’t just drag me off….” A footman opened the French doors, and Montsimon swept her through them.
At a click of the door behind them, silence fell. The brazier’s glow did nothing to warm the frigid air. The terrace was deserted, for no other guest braved the outdoors at night in winter. Not without many layers of warm clothing, which she lacked. Goose pimples sprung up along her arms, and she shivered violently. Montsimon drew her farther away into the shadows as the cold breeze slapped like a hand across her face and décolleté. She mourned the absence of her fur-lined cloak. Her teeth chattered. “This had better be important, my lord,” she stuttered through cold lips.
With a muffled curse, Montsimon shrugged out of his tight coat, not without difficulty she was pleased to see. He placed it around her shoulders and did up the buttons. She almost sighed, the heat of his body made it wonderfully warm. As his fingers swept outrageously across her bosom, Althea averted her gaze and ignored his proximity the best she could. She did not intend to ask him to remove it again. Needs must. Her instinct was to stalk indignantly inside again, but her curiosity was roused. And at least her trembling had eased.
“You have only a few minutes to explain before I—”
“What is your business with Lord Churton?” His voice sounded strangely steely, his normally mellow Irish accent gone.
Maggi Andersen fell in love with the Georgian and Regency worlds after reading the books of Georgette Heyer. Victoria Holt’s Gothic Victorian novels were also great favorites. She has raised three children and gained a BA and an MA in Creative Writing. After husband David retired from the law, they moved to the beautiful Southern Highlands of Australia.
Maggi’s free time is spent enjoying her garden and the local wildlife, reading, movies and the theatre. She keeps fit swimming and visiting the gym.
Maggi is a multi-published author, and writes mysteries and young adult novels as well as her Georgian, Regency and Victorian romances.
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