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Bound by Your Touch

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Overview


From the exciting new historical author Meredith Duran comes two back-to-back dark and sexy Regency historical novels that follow her thrilling debut The Duke of Shadows.

Lydia Boyce, heroine of Bound by Your Touch, is a spinster with sophisticated interests, for she knows that an unblemished reputation is the only protection in a judgmental world. But when a mysterious forgery threatens to sully her family ...

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Bound by Your Touch

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Overview


From the exciting new historical author Meredith Duran comes two back-to-back dark and sexy Regency historical novels that follow her thrilling debut The Duke of Shadows.

Lydia Boyce, heroine of Bound by Your Touch, is a spinster with sophisticated interests, for she knows that an unblemished reputation is the only protection in a judgmental world. But when a mysterious forgery threatens to sully her family and her father’s legacy, she finds her only hope for salvation in a man who has no use for the rules of good society—or those who follow them. The Viscount Sanburne is a society darling, but a dark past has left him aimless and uninterested in anything but self-destructive amusement. He has no interest in a bluestocking bent on justice—until she flashes a dimple, and he realizes that corrupting her might prove as pleasurable as scandalizing her does.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Romance at its finest." — New York Times bestselling author Liz Carlyle
Publishers Weekly

Duran (The Duke of Shadows) delivers a competently assembled and entertaining Regency romance. The daughter of Egyptologist Henry Boyce, Lydia Boyce is herself a learned scholar. When she discovers that some of the antiquities that her father has been shipping back from Egypt to sell are counterfeits, she investigates, determined to defend her father's reputation and chastise James Durham, Viscount Sanburne, an arrogant dilettante. Their mutual dislike predictably leads to romance, and soon Lydia and James are uneasy allies in the quest for the fabled Tears of Idihet and the counterfeiter. Though the period details seem intended less to enhance the setting than to convince the reader that the author knows her stuff, historical romance fans will enjoy the adventure and look forward to Written on Your Skin, due in August. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416592631
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Meredith Duran is the author of eight previous novels, including The Duke of Shadows (winner of the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Writing Competition); Wicked Becomes You (included on the Woman’s World List of Best Beach Reads for Summer 2010), and the USA TODAY bestseller Fool Me Twice. She blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history, and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn’t come with a happily-ever-after. She enjoys collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth-century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women. Visit her at MeredithDuran.com, or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Read an Excerpt

One

Four years later.

In this new electric light, the white marble blinded. James Durham propped his elbows on the balcony, laced his hands together, and stared down into his foyer. It had been a bit dramatic, he supposed, a bit too Grecian, paving the foyer with flagstones. At the time, he'd considered it the epitome of pure aesthetics. Now it nauseated him. Too much white: a funeral shroud of a foyer. Silent but for the buzzing of the lights, like vultures in the distance. He felt dizzy. His mouth was dry. It would be so easy to trip over this rail. One careless movement, a sweet swan's dive downward, and the floor would not be so white anymore.

His breath left him in a shudder. He stepped back, and his head seemed to soar from his shoulders. Good God. He was never trying another of Phin's little concoctions.

Hmm. That resolution felt...familiar. As if he'd made it before. Several times, in fact. How hopeless he was. He laughed softly. Yes, how predictably, tediously hopeless.

"Sanburne!"

The word came spearing through his consciousness, scattering the fog. With a start, he realized it had never been silent. Music, laughter, high-pitched squeals were spilling down the stairs. Yes — that was right! He had twenty-odd guests above; there'd been a party afoot since last evening, and he was the host. "Bloody hell," he said, and the astonishment in his voice sounded so queer and overdone that he had to laugh again.

"Sanburne!" It sounded very close now, this shrill cry, which might or might not belong to Elizabeth; he could never be sure without looking, not in this state. Then look up, you idiot. Yes, excellentidea. In one moment, he would.

"Sanburne, have you gone deaf?"

With an effort he raised his head. It was indeed Lizzie; she appeared to be floating down the staircase. Magic? But no; if there were any magic in the world, it would not reside in Elizabeth, no matter how she might need it. Poor, luckless darling. He walked toward her with sympathetic intentions, intending to take her hands, for she looked distraught, her once-rakish coiffure now slipping over a tear-filled eye.

But walking proved beyond him. He tripped over the first stair and sat down. The impact astonished him. What had he been thinking, not to carpet the place?

He shook his head and reached for the banister. Before he could pull himself up, Lizzie was at his side, her skirts — stained by something; wine, smelled like — bunching around her calves. "Sanburne, he — he's got a w-w-woman — " She sobbed a breath that brought her décolletage into his nose. A bit of caviar had gotten lodged in her neckline. He brushed it away. Most mysterious. What the hell were they doing up there?

"He's got a woman on his lap! One of your maids! Fondling her right in front of me!" Elizabeth's fingers fastened onto his upper arm, digging for attention. "Do you hear me? Are you awake?"

He was curious about that, too. "Are my eyes open?"

She made a noise of exasperation, then took his chin in her grip, yanking it up so their eyes met. "They are open," she said. "Behold: it is I."

"It is you," he agreed. "Your eyes are particularly lovely when you've been crying, my dear. So green. So much lovelier than white."

The corners of her mouth began to tremble. "Nello's got one of the maids," she said.

Something...insistent there. He did not like her look, suddenly, but he could not break from it. It made the world around him take on weight. Stairs, his house, a party. For one last second, the giddiness remained. And then his mind clicked, gears grinding. "One of the maids, did you say?" He pulled himself up by way of a baluster. The first step was the hardest. Damn Nello for a tosser; he always made a scene.

"Wait!" Elizabeth came scrambling up behind him. "James, you won't...hurt him, will you? He's just a bit drunk, is all. Or whatever it is that Ashmore gave him. I didn't mean to start a fight!"

"Of course you bloody did." He said it without rancor as he mounted the staircase. The drug was still coursing within him; he felt incapable of dividing his attention. Nello! Chap knew the rules. One couldn't break host's rules. Deuced poor taste!

He crested the stairs to discover the party had spilled out of the salon. Elise Strathern was weaving her way down the corridor, Christian Tilney nipping at her heels. Colin Muir, scoundrel Scot, was trying to feed liquor to the stone bust of one of James's forebears, while his audience — the Cholomondley twins, who else? — giggled appreciatively.

Inside the yellow room, things were no more civilized. Glass crunched beneath his feet and the air held a stinking miasma of opium and cigar smoke. Someone had broken the palm fronds that screened the musicians from the gathering, and damn if the violinist did not have a cummerbund tied around his head as he manfully sawed out the latest music hall ditty. The flutist had given up, and was watching with avid amazement as Mrs. Sawyer turned a jig atop the banquet table — beneath which the cellist, and his instrument, were sleeping in a pool of punch.

And there was Nello, arguing in the far corner with Dalton. Elizabeth was right (but she was always attentive to detail in this one regard: namely, the idiotic regard she felt for Nello). He'd lodged one of the parlormaids beneath his arm, and she was thin-lipped, squirming. James picked his way through the debris and came up just as Nello lifted his fist for the first punch.

James caught him by the wrist. "Now, now, children."

"Damn his eyes, Sanburne! I'll have at him! A cheating swot, am I?"

"Just about," said Dalton, grinning drunkenly. "Why, you swived that Egyptian wench so hard that Sanburne just about puked to death from the boat rocking."

"You little — "

James wrapped his forearm around Nello's neck and hauled backward. The parlormaid shrieked and fell to her bum, from which position, James ascertained with a glance, she crawled toward safer quarters. "As for that," he said into Nello's ear, "you are a cheat, and if you don't believe me, Lizzie will set you straight."

Nello abruptly ceased struggling. "Lizzie...?"

"Indeed," Elizabeth said, coming round to confront him. "You pig!"

James loosened his hold. "Just full of snap, ain't she?"

Indeed, her face was pinched with rage. She stepped forward, her hands raised over her head — and in them, James spotted something he'd been meant to deliver this morning. His Egyptian funerary stela!

"Lizzie, no!"

The rock slab smashed down on Nello's shoulder. The awful cracking sound caused even the violinist to falter. With a cry of agony, Nello dropped to his knees. "My shoulder!"

"Broken it," Dalton predicted, and slid down the wall to nap.

"Dear God!" James pried the stela from Elizabeth's fingers. He turned it over, searching anxiously for damage. He'd been coddling the thing for days, toasting it with evening brandy, gloating over the bitter envy his father was sure to feel at the sight of it. And Lizzie used it to bludgeon someone!

"Have I broken it?" she asked. She was looking down at Nello, a curiously blank expression on her face.

"No," he decided, on a long breath of relief. "It looks intact."

"His shoulder, you buffoon, not your precious rock."

"My precious — ? Priorities, Elizabeth!"

She snorted. "Oh, stuff. My priorities do not include your foolish antics with your father."

James grinned. His father, indeed. Moreland would be at the lecture by now, blissfully ignorant of what was in store for him. There was no way he'd be able to resist this piece. "Lizzie, love, your priorities have nothing to do with me. Now look here," he said more briskly, "be a dear and send round for the doctor. Also, tell Gudge he may set up Nello in the blue bedroom." Nello moaned again, and James bent to eye him. "Perhaps with a very large bucket," he added. Old boy was looking rather green.

"Don't go," Nello managed. "I need...help."

Lizzie was more shrill. "You're leaving me? With Nello nearly dead?"

With a reassuring pat to the stela, James rose. "Never. Friendship is eternal, etcetera. But I have an appointment at the Archaeological Institute, you might recall." A month in Egypt, spent suffering seasickness off the edge of a houseboat that — Dalton was correct — rocked like a pendulum. Countless letters to and from Port Said. A fortune spent on various, ultimately second-rate antiques. Thousands of pounds to finally secure the right one. Six months of work leading to this moment, and he'd almost forgotten! Phineas certainly had a way with the toxins.

"Oh, of course," Lizzie said, "the Archaeological Institute. If Nello were dead, I doubt you should miss your appointment!"

For Nello? "You might be right." He gave Lizzie a quick kiss on the cheek, then picked his way out of the salon, eager to depart before she started crying again.

Lydia had managed to keep her voice from shaking. Nor had anyone yet stood to decry her as a lunatic. Sophie was falling asleep — her hat tipped, abruptly righted when Antonia poked her, then began tipping again — but that was not unusual. Most importantly, Lord Ayresbury, in the front row, was listening with every sign of interest. All in all, she thought cautiously, it was going very...well.

The hope she'd been repressing for days swelled and burst free. It washed through her at such dizzying speed that she actually stuttered from the impact. "If — ah, if my father's findings are correct, then this strongly suggests..."

A door slammed open at the back of the hall, admitting a much-rumpled gentleman. The sight startled her into a pause. It was coming on noon, and he was wearing evening attire, black tailcoat and bow tie.

Some of the audience turned to mark his advance. He was trailed by a footman in garish crimson livery, who cradled a greatcoat in one arm, and some sort of slab in the other.

An eccentric latecomer, no doubt. No need to feel uneasy. Lydia adjusted her spectacles and focused again on the text. "This strongly suggests that Tel-el-Maskhuta was not the location of the first stop in the Exodus."

A snort issued from the fat, ginger-haired man seated next to Lord Ayresbury. Lydia did not look up; it would only rattle her. For the last hour, he had been making these contemptuous noises. The part of her mind not occupied with her lecture had already prepared the condolences she would offer for his poor health. They would be introduced later, she assumed. Papa had written a long letter about what to expect: "Hospitality, tempered with suspicion and random pockets of hostility, to which the director will steer you directly at the conclusion of your speech. Mold your spine in steel, and give them what-for!"

Sweat beaded her nape as she fumbled for the last page. She had wrestled with this conclusion for days, determined to phrase Papa's findings in the most diplomatic manner possible. His data was sound, but it required them to take a very strong line against scholars who claimed to have located Pithom and Succoth. Some of those men were in the audience today, and if they decided to jeer, it would not help Papa's bid for funding.

Steel, she reminded herself. Lord Ayresbury was tremendously influential with the Egypt Exploration Fund, and rumor held him to be a man who appreciatedinnovation. With his endorsement, they would certainly secure EEF funding. Papa needed only two more seasons to prove beyond all doubt that he had located the true site of the first stop on the Exodus. And then, why, all his worries would be over. There'd be no need for him to continue in the antiquities trade. So many funds would pour in for his projects, they'd have to turn down offers of support.

The thought bolstered her. He had wanted this for so long, now. And she would be the one to achieve it for him. She licked her dry lips. "Now, if I may — "

"Aha! There you are!"

The recent arrival had drawn up halfway down the aisle. He was addressing someone seated in one of the rows. A murmur ran through the theater.

"Stand up, then," the interloper said. "No use skulking."

Lydia's stomach sank. It had all been going too well, hadn't it? She should have known not to count her chickens beforehand.

Of course, her wise father had foreseen this. "And if, my dear, some ill-bred ruffian should take the room from you — why then, you must simply take it back."

She drew a breath and flattened her hands on the lectern to brace herself. "If I may," she called.

He glanced up, looking startled. As though he could possibly have missed that there was a meeting in session! He stared at her as if trying to place her. Her heart drumming (for she had no practice in "taking back" a room; as an activity, it sounded alarmingly martial), she returned his regard. He was an extraordinarily tawny creature, with a firm jaw and a long nose. No doubt he was considered very handsome by those who liked exhaustion: the shadows beneath his eyes suggested sleepless nights. "Not right now," he said to her, starting to turn away. Then, looking back, he ran an eye down her and added thoughtfully, "But later, by all means."

Strangely, his impertinence calmed her. An Adonis might be rare and baffling, but she knew how to handle the commonplace blackguard. "Perhaps, sir, you might allow me to finish my lecture first!"

But she was addressing the backs of heads now; his attention had moved on, and he had taken her audience with him. Papa's audience!

She watched in disbelief as he said, "All right, then," to an elderly gentleman sitting at the edge of the row. "The mountain will come to Mohammed." He beckoned to the footman, who stepped forward, holding out a slab that had been tucked beneath his arm.

Several members of the society stood to have a look, Lord Ayresbury among them.

The elderly man rose to his feet. "What is the meaning of this, you devil?"

"That, sir, you will have to tell me." The interloper's nod prompted the footman to deposit the rock at the older man's feet. "My stela. Not to be confused with Stella, whom you have permanently sequestered from view. Anyway, I have no idea what it is, but I'm assured it's quite valuable. And very rare."

There was a moment of rapt silence from the onlookers as the footman arranged the piece to his master's satisfaction. Her lecture had turned into a carnival show. Lydia found herself looking through a curious, filmy haze, which she realized with horror must be tears. Dear God, to cry like a babe, in public! Suddenly grateful for the crowd's distraction, she dashed a wrist across her eyes. This was too silly of her; she must behave with dignity.

Oh, but hope died far less pleasantly than it was born. It loosed a terrible death rattle, just above one's heart.

"I say," cried a man in the far corner. He pushed his way into the aisle, occasioning a chorus of grunts and protests from those seated in his row. "Is that Nefertiti?"

The interloper considered the slab. "Might be," he said. Didn't he even know? These pretty men were always the worst sort of dilettante. "You mean the one snuggling up to the chap in the...?" He sketched some mysterious shape in the air above his head.

Ah. A conical hat of the pharaonic type. Lydia braced herself.

Indeed: direct chaos. Chairs toppled, programs went skidding, and exclamations and speculation rent the air as three quarters of her erstwhile listeners swarmed forth to view the object.

A couple of those who remained in their seats spared her a sympathetic look. She managed a polite smile in return. The redheaded gentleman smirked, and she turned her face away, giving him a cut that even his beady eyes would remark. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him whisper something to his female companion, an immaculately turned-out blond about Lydia's age. In reply, her thin, patrician lips curved slightly.

Lydia fought the urge to roll her eyes. She was very familiar with the meaning of such looks. At twelve years old, it signified that your bookishness was boring and your short skirts outmoded. At seventeen, that your interest in heathen civilizations made you mannish. At twenty-two, that you'd said something odd and no wonder your brother-in-law had jilted you for your sister. And at twenty-six...? At twenty-six, Lydia was too mature to care for its significance. She toed the line of acceptable behavior, and that was all she owed to polite society. Certainly she asked nothing of it in return.

Silently she began to stack the pages of her speech. Her fingers were trembling. Pathetic. Orientalists! She had seen it all her life: one mention of Pharaohs, and men reverted to the schoolroom. Even Papa, the most doting husband in history, had broken vigil at Mama's sickbed when news came of some block statue arriving from Cairo. Lydia had sat in the darkened bedroom — one hand on her mother's forehead, the other switching between Sophie's shoulder and Antonia's small, trembling fingers — and listened to the rumble of his carriage, receding down the drive. She'd only been sixteen, and certainly no one had realized that Mama's fever would be fatal. Nevertheless, the future had suddenly seemed obvious. Papa might support her studies, but she could not count on his undivided attention. Not unless she, too, courted his mistress, Lady Egypt.

Well, at least Papa's passion was grounded in science. As far as she could tell, most other Egyptologists used archaeology as a ruse to disguise an unmanly fascination with shiny baubles. She eyed the interloper again. He had stepped out of the crowd and was watching, with a pleased smile only partially concealed by the finger tapping at his upper lip, the skirmish he'd caused. She could see how gewgaws might appeal to this one. His fingers were layered in a surplus of jeweled rings. Pinned at his lapel was a gaudy turquoise and silver watch. And surely he'd had to sit for hours before his valet managed to coax that wave of sun-striped hair to fall just so over his brow. A peacock. A washed-out peacock had ruined her lecture! Worse than that — had ruined, in one fell swoop, the basis of every plan she and Papa had hatched!

The redheaded man was now gloating. She caught the rhythm, if not the precise words, that he cackled into Ayresbury's ear. Mockery. There went any chance at the funding, then. When word of this fiasco reached Cairo, Papa would feel terribly disappointed. He had counted on Ayresbury's endorsement. For that matter, she had counted on securing it. She owed him this.

With sudden fury, she gathered her skirts and marched forward. The ginger critic harrumphed as she passed, but she paid him no heed. Elbowing through the melee, ignoring all manner of complaint, she drew up at the stela, so her skirts almost brushed the edge of the slab.

One glance decided her. "It's fake," she said.

No one appeared to hear.

"It's fake!"

Her vehemence startled even her. In the brief, ensuing silence, as her temper began to cool, she wondered what she had done. She opened her mouth to soften her condemnation, to qualify it, but someone beat her.

"Never," exclaimed a gentleman who, disregarding all propriety, had fallen to his hands and knees for a closer look. "On the contrary, it has every mark of authenticity!"

That was a bit much, she thought.

"Such a rarity," another man cooed. "Why, Lord Sanburne has unearthed a miracle! Just look at — "

"Enough of you," snapped the older gentleman to whom the stela had been presented. His watery blue eyes focused on Lydia. As he stepped forward, the crowd of people around them stepped back. "Have you some knowledge of this artifact, Miss Boyce?"

"Naturally she does." This from Antonia, who came up in a cloud of perfume — Sophie's special blend from Paris; a sniff confirmed it — to slip her arm through Lydia's. Lydia had told her time and again that debutantes did not wear such heavy scents, but Sophie would encourage her. "Indeed," Ana continued in merry tones, "how could she not? Why, she was reading cuneiforms while still on Papa's knee. And she spends every afternoon studying Arabic at the British Library!"

The old man looked more than gratified by this exaggeration. "Of course. I am a great admirer of Mr. Boyce's work." He held out his hand to Antonia. "Forgive the informality. I am Moreland, Earl of Moreland."

Antonia took his hand and sank into as best a curtsy as she could manage, given her trailing skirts and the onlookers not a foot away. "How fortunate that you are not the Earl of Lessland; I fear that would be most distressing to your well-wishers."

The earl laughed, and Lydia forced a polite smile. She was distracted by a glimpse of the interloper, Sanburne. He was working his way toward them, and proximity revealed the full extent of his disarray. His cuffs were flapping open. A wine-colored stain covered his periwinkle waistcoat.

The smile he sent her suggested imminent bloodshed.

"I am sure you have never heard that one before," Ana was saying. A saucy little smile rode her lips.

"True wit bears endless repetition," the earl said gallantly. He turned to Lydia, who, jolted from premonition, made a curtsy. He gestured to the stone at their feet. "Truly, is it a forgery?"

Oh, she was in it now. "Without a doubt," she said. She did not glance down. She felt it unwise to remove her eyes from Sanburne, who had now joined them in the inner circle.

"Well?" Sanburne said. His eyes were horribly bloodshot.

"Not well at all," she said. "Quite poor, in fact."

"Explain yourself."

She drew a breath. He really did have the most formidable glare. "I — "

"You will have to pardon my son his manners," the earl interrupted. He cast a fierce look at the man, who arched a brow, as unrepentant as Lucifer.

Digesting this unexpected news of their relationship, Lydia felt a sharper prickle of unease. The Durham family was notorious: the sister a murderess, stashed in some insane asylum in the country; and the son, she recalled now, a wild socialite who entertained the beau monde by outwitting his father in various public locales.

Dear heavens. It seemed she had stepped into some nasty familial tangle. Her every word would only implicate her further. "Perhaps you should consult one of the other gentlemen." Her spine wasn't really made of steel, after all. That was a silly saying, made up by someone who had never felt what it meant to be broken. "This is not my area of specialty. And in a room with so many distinguished scholars — "

"Precisely," said the earl's son.

"Nonsense," said the earl. "As far as I reckon, you're the only one with the good sense to take a second look before bursting into this — this chorus of hallelujahs. Out with it, girl; whence your verdict?"

Antonia laughed softly, squeezing her arm. "Oh, do tell them, Lydia." To Lydia's unease, her gaze rested on the thunderous face of the prodigal son.

Well, it seemed that the quickest way out of this was to bumble her way through it. She laid her hand atop Ana's, taking comfort from her sister's touch. "Numerous reasons lead me to suspect the authenticity of this item," she said slowly. Now she did give it a longer look, and to her relief, her intuition seemed well-founded. "Yes. It attempts to approximate a funerary stela of the Intermediate Period, but in such a tableau, one would expect to see jars of beer. Instead we have what look to be pots of ointment. And that is not..." Her gaze flicked to Sanburne's, then quickly away. The scar dividing one of his brows was flushed crimson with the force of his irritation. "That is not Nefertiti, and she is not snuggling. She is kneeling, which is all wrong. One only kneels to divinity. I suspect, if you examine the chisel marks on the back, you will also discover that this was not fashioned with an adze. In all ways, it simply doesn't...look right."

Lord Sanburne snorted. "Perhaps someone with better vision should have a look, then."

She tightened her grip on Antonia. "I see perfectly well. That is the purpose of spectacles, after all."

"By the deuces," someone behind her called. "She's right."

The earl smiled. "My dear! Such a keen eye. We're fortunate that you've chosen to follow in your father's footsteps."

That was not her intention, but now did not seem to be the time to announce it. "Thank you, sir." She gathered herself to look once more at the earl's son. This time, she did not let his glare deter her. "I believe the field requires fresh perspectives. So often I find Egyptology to serve as an excuse, allowing men of a certain disposition to collect pretty trinkets in the name of science." Her gaze flicked down to the rings on the man's fingers, then back up.

Whatever reaction she had expected — an angry flush, a protest, perhaps even a violent assault (she did not think him beyond it) — she was not prepared for him to smile at her. And such a smile! Slow at first, as if considering whether or not to widen; and then, suddenly, shifting into laughter. It transformed his face. He was, all at once, breathtaking.

But then something went wrong. His laugh started out softly, but he did not seem able to stop it. As his mirth rose in volume, it assumed a lunatic quality. Lydia dimly sensed people scattering back to their seats, but she could not look away from the young lord's face. It was more than morbid curiosity that arrested her. She'd never seen someone lose his mind before, but Sanburne managed it beautifully. The sight tightened her throat, and only this prevented her impulse to —

To do what? Great ghosts, what could she possibly think to say to such a creature? His beauty was meaningless, as random and unmerited as the pattern on butterflies' wings. She should know better than to let it affect her.

For the earl's part, he seemed more irritated than concerned. "Snap out of it, boy! By God, what have you been smoking?"

The earl's son choked to a stop. "Got me," he said to Lydia. Then, on another burble of laughter, he snapped his fingers toward the footman, who promptly produced a coat. As he flung it on, he addressed the earl. "Maybe you should hire her to vet your collection. After all, you do seem to share a certain, ah, rapport."

Lydia stiffened. He'd made the word sound sordid.

"My collection? I am not such a fool to invest my money in untested frauds!"

"Perhaps you should hire her," Ana said to Sanburne. "Evidently you require greater powers of discernment than are at your disposal."

"Indeed," Sanburne said, eyeing her.

The speculative quality of his look alarmed Lydia. "I am sure the blame lies elsewhere. Whomever you deal with in purchasing these antiquities — "

"Yes, yes," he said impatiently. "So much for him. Father, a word with you."

He started off, then paused and turned back when the earl did not immediately accompany him.

"Don't you want your rock?" Lord Moreland inquired sweetly.

"Indeed," Sanburne said. "I shall save it to use for your tombstone. Wouldn't that be fitting?"

This uncanny remark made Lydia's head feel light. "Let's go find Sophie," she murmured to Ana. "There's nothing more to be done here."

She was turning away when the earl called her name. "Look for a note," he said. "I am most grateful for your advice today."

"Oh, indeed, and a note from me," Sanburne said smoothly. "We can share you, can we not? I have many antiquities you might like to devalue."

She paused, counting to ten. But there was no way to answer him without further straining the bounds of propriety. With a mute curtsy to the earl, she turned her back on them both, and dragged her sister to safety.Copyright © 2009 by Meredith McGuire

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is an entertaining nineteenth century romantic romp

    Lydia Boyce is a chip off the old block as a scholar; her dad is noted Egyptologist Henry Boyce. However, some of the artifacts her dad sends from Egypt are fakes. She investigates expecting her father to be exonerated and to affirm her theory that rakish Lord James Durham is the villain.

    On first contact, each loathes the other as she assumes he is a shallow womanizer and he believes she is a phony intellectual snob. Still they realize they need each other to uncover the real con artist. As Lydia and James team up in a distrusting alliance, they search for the legendary Tears of Idihet and the forger.

    This is an entertaining nineteenth century romantic romp starring two likable seemingly opposites. The story line is fast-paced as the intelligent obstinate Lydia sets out to prove her father's innocence when she confronts Durham. He initially comes across as a typical rake, but also typical of the sib-genre demonstrates to her he is much more than just a drunken womanizer. Fans will enjoy their escapades though there is too much description of the era that at times detracts from an otherwise fun historical Romancing the Stone like adventure.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2014

    Ok

    I have read a few of this authors books now. A couple of them have been very good, amd a couple of them have been ok. I thought this one was ok. The lead characters were sometimes likable, sometimes annoying. Not much chemistry. Intriguing storyline but a bit contrived. I thought about quitting on this book a couple of times but stuck with it. Not a bad book but not a good book either.

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