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Dangerous Seduction: A Nemesis Unlimited Novel
     

Dangerous Seduction: A Nemesis Unlimited Novel

3.6 3
by Zoë Archer
 

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In Zoë Archer's Dangerous Seduction, Alyce Carr has no time for the strange man in her little Cornwall village, no matter how breathtakingly handsome he is. Life in Trewyn doesn't allow for much fun—the managers of the copper mine barely provide the miners and their families with enough food. Outsiders are suspect and flirts are unimaginable, but

Overview

In Zoë Archer's Dangerous Seduction, Alyce Carr has no time for the strange man in her little Cornwall village, no matter how breathtakingly handsome he is. Life in Trewyn doesn't allow for much fun—the managers of the copper mine barely provide the miners and their families with enough food. Outsiders are suspect and flirts are unimaginable, but Simon Sharpe is as keen as his name…and Alyce can't ignore him for long.


As the founder of Nemesis, Unlimited, Simon Addison-Shawe is well accustomed to disguise and deceit. Yet he's not prepared for Alyce's dogged defense of her people and the injustices the copper mine has dealt them. With Alyce's help he can change the fate of an entire town, and convincing her to join him is only part of the thrill. Together, they ignite a desire in each other much too powerful to deny. But at what cost?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/07/2013
Archer’s second Nemesis, Unlimited romance (after Sweet Revenge) is an innovative tale set in a downtrodden 1886 Cornish village. When Nemesis’s gentleman founder, Simon Addison-Shawe, goes undercover to investigate the brutal working conditions of a Cornish mine, the last thing he expects is to find himself attracted to a female mine worker. Alyce Carr is one of the few willing to speak out against the atrocious treatment of workers at the site, and when handsome newcomer Simon seeks her out, she’s both thrilled and wary. Simon reveals his true identity in order to enlist Alyce’s assistance against the corrupt mining company; Alyce feels betrayed, but she agrees to pose as Simon’s wife to further his scheme for justice. Soon they embark on what she knows must be a temporary affair, even as her heart demands more from the mission-focused Simon. Though Alyce’s life circumstances are harsh, she’s no victim. Memorable characters, unusual settings, and new twists on old plot tropes make this novel irresistible. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Sweet Revenge

 

“Unforgettable…This bold mix of an unlikely romance, a gritty setting, and a page-turning thriller will leave readers craving more.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

“Revenge can be sweet, smart, sexy and make for a fast-paced, non-stop read when Archer’s the storyteller. Creating heroes to die for and empowered women and bringing them together in powerful action/adventures with depth of emotion and sensuality is her forte. To readers’ pleasure, she brings an amazing cast of characters, a strong plot and romance to the first in her Nemesis, Unlimited series.”—Romantic Times BOOKreviews

Sweet Revenge is an intense, fast-paced read. A strong plot, memorable characters, genuine emotions—not to mention plenty of heat. What more can a reader want?”
—Sherry Thomas, author of Tempting the Bride

 “Sweet Revenge is a sexy, action-packed romance with a to-die for hero and a true love that will make you swoon.”—New York Times bestselling author Courtney Milan

“A dark, riveting tale from beginning to end.  Zoë Archer’s books are not to be missed!”—USA Today bestselling author Alexandra Hawkins

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466805446
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
11/26/2013
Series:
Nemesis Unlimited , #2
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
596,634
File size:
923 KB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Dangerous Seduction


By Zoë Archer

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2013 Zoë Archer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-0544-6


CHAPTER 1

Trewyn, Cornwall
Wheal Prosperity Copper Mine
1886


The granite room shook. Hissing and grinding filled the chamber. The huge machine crouching within it might crush a man into a paste of flesh and a powder of bone if it spun out of control.

Three men stared across the large pump engine at Simon Addison-Shawe, their arms folded across their chests. The men's eyes were hard, mouths fixed in thin, severe lines.

These buggers probably think they look intimidating, Simon mused. He fought to keep from smiling. Years ago, echoing across dusty grassland, he'd heard the rhythmic pounding of Zulu warriors beating on their shields in preparation for an attack. In a dank Whitechapel alley, he'd faced down a dozen underworld toughs with nothing more than a rusty pipe for defense.

Three copper-mine managers were as threatening to Simon as three old, toothless dogs.

But they were dangerous men. Men who couldn't be crossed without consequences, not just for himself, but hundreds of others. Being deferential didn't come naturally to Simon, yet the success of his mission relied on it. He had a role to play. The long game, Marco called it. Almost nothing could be transformed with immediate action. It took days, weeks, sometimes months to get the job done — impatience or unwanted emotion could spell disaster for an operation.

"If you want this job, Sharpe," one of the managers said, "show us what you can do. This pump engine hasn't been working right for the past two days. Fix it."

"Yes, sir," Simon answered, tugging on his cap. He roughened his accent from its usual genteel tones, just as he'd donned the coarse but clean garments of a working man. Under the judging eyes of this tribunal, he kept his gaze directed toward the floor in a semblance of humility, though the wealth of Simon's estate in Norfolk could buy and sell the entire village of Trewyn ten times over. The Addison-Shawes didn't have a title, but their family name and holdings dated back to the time of the Restoration. From the moment of his birth, he'd been instilled with the knowledge that he was a gentleman.

And yet to the three managers of the Wheal Prosperity copper mine, he had to pretend to be Simon Sharpe, itinerant machinist, who could fix a water pump but knew nothing about the etiquette of a Society ball.

He immediately got to work repairing the pump. The bag of tools at his feet was his own, purchased from a dockyard machinist in London. Shiny new tools would only dispel the illusion that Simon was a laboring man. The wrench he grasped now wore a proud patina of use. As he adjusted valves and tightened fittings, he recalled the instruction about water pumps he'd received back in London prior to setting out on this mission. He'd interviewed men and read volumes of books — all to ensure that he could confidently maintain the pumps that kept the Wheal Prosperity mine from flooding. Floods were among the worst dangers a copper mine could face.

Cracks webbed across the engine's pressure gauges, and rust crusted its bolts. Most of the machinery at the mine needed replacement, not repair.

He and the managers stood inside the wooden engine house near the mine's shaft. Aside from the chugging of the other machinery, silence hung over the hills outside. It was working hours, which meant that most everyone was currently belowground, clawing copper from the earth. Through the small window in the engine house, Simon spotted outbuildings and chimneys dotting the landscape.

The managers — Gorley, Murton, and Ware — looked on impassively as he worked. It was imperative that Simon did this job correctly. He didn't need the money, but he needed this job. The workers of Wheal Prosperity had never met him, not a one would recognize him or know his real name, but they needed him to get the job, too.

Several weeks earlier, a typewritten letter had found its way to the Nemesis, Unlimited, headquarters in London.


Dear sirs,

I have been informed through sundry sources that when proper justice cannot be obtained, your organization can provide it. Should this letter reach you, I urge you to investigate the Wheal Prosperity mine in Cornwall. Horrible abuses occur here, rendering the miners all but slaves. Any attempts by the miners themselves to remedy the situation have been met with the harshest of retribution. I, myself, am powerless, but perhaps Nemesis Unlimited can achieve success where others have failed. The situation here is quite desperate. I hope for all our sakes that this missive reaches you, and that you will heed this plea for help, and soon.


The letter was unsigned. They weren't uncommon, anonymous letters like this. At least three a month arrived at headquarters. Some were just outraged ramblings about imaginary or minor offenses. But others, like the one about the mine, demanded attention.

Now it was Simon's task to figure out what, exactly, these alleged abuses were, and, if they indeed existed, how he could stop them. Anger clouded his eyes at the thought that anyone in England, this so-called bastion of civilization and integrity, could exist in a state of near slavery. Yet he knew it happened every day, in nearly every city, town, and village.

Nemesis might not be able to create perfect equality, but its operatives fought damned hard for it.

As Simon worked, he said, "If I may ask, sirs, what happened to the man who had this job before?"

Murton — or was it Gorley? Simon couldn't tell these mustachioed, self-satisfied men apart — answered caustically, "Never you mind that, Sharpe. All that matters is that we have ourselves a vacancy. So if you want the situation, stop talking and keep working."

Simon ducked his head deferentially, but he caught the shared wary glances between the managers. Hello, boys. That'll need some looking into. If they gave him the job.

Half the lights inside the engine house weren't working, so Simon labored by the illumination coming through the window and open door. A shadow suddenly darkened the section of the pump engine on which he worked, and he glanced up to see who stood in the doorway.

The light behind the figure blocked any physical details, but the voice that came from it was assuredly female.

"How are we to eat our bread," the woman said, "or make our pies if we haven't any butter? I ask you, gentlemen" — she almost sneered that last word — "how?"

"What now, Miss Carr?" Gorley asked wearily.

Simon straightened as the woman stormed into the engine house. As she did, he finally caught a decent glimpse of her.

Strictly speaking, Miss Carr wasn't beautiful. Her face was too angular, with a pointed chin and a thin nose. Her eyebrows were straight and dark. In the indistinct light of the engine house, he couldn't determine the color of her eyes, but they seemed bright and full of fire, ringed with thick black lashes. A wide mouth offset the sharpness of her features. She'd pinned back her dark hair, but a few stray tendrils drifted across her cheeks.

She wore the sturdy dress and thick apron of a bal-maiden — one of the women who broke up the copper ore into small pieces — an ensemble far from fashionable, but it revealed her to have a slim figure with a narrow waist and gently rounded bosom. There was little that was soft about her appearance. This young woman worked, and worked hard, to earn her living. She even carried a heavy bucking iron — a flat hammer used for smashing ore into a sortable and transportable size. She gripped it tightly, not like a tool but a weapon.

Miss Carr's shoulders were set straight and her chin tilted upright. Simon had learned, over the course of his thirty-five years, how to read people in an instant. Miss Carr was a woman to be reckoned with. She certainly had more energy and dynamism than any of the machines in the engine house.

Her gaze flicked over to Simon, back to the managers, and then to him again, lingering for the barest moment. Though her expression barely changed, a tiny furrow appeared between her brows, as if trying to puzzle out a mystery.

She cleared her throat.

Simon had honed the ability to make himself invisible — not an easy task for a man over six feet tall and burdened with a face many women had called "pretty as a new-minted coin" — but sometimes it was necessary to become as inconspicuous as possible. Valuable information could be gathered when one appeared to vanish.

He did so now, making himself proverbially disappear, moving around to another side of the engine.

It had the desired effect. Miss Carr turned away from him to face the managers.

"The butter at the company store," she said, her voice accented with the hard rs and dropped ts of Cornwall. "It's on the verge of going rancid."

"But it hasn't yet spoiled, has it?" Ware asked, condescension seeping from his words.

"In a few days, it won't be fit to eat by man or beast," she fired back. "It needs to be replaced. The store needs to stock fresh butter."

"And as soon as the current supply is bought up by the villagers, it will be," Gorley answered.

"By which point it will have made everyone sick."

Gorley continued pedantically, "It's simply not economical for the company store to replace almost a hundred pounds of butter just on your say-so, Miss Carr."

"But —"

Murton sighed. "This matter is closed to discussion. We have important business to deal with here, and you're taking up our valuable time." He pulled a brass-cased pocket watch from his waistcoat. "The mine closes for the night in fifteen minutes. Go home early." He produced an indulgent smile.

"We haven't —"

"Go on, now." Ware made a shooing motion with his hands.

Throwing them all a scowl, Miss Carr turned on her heel and stalked from the room. But not before sending Simon one last, speculative glance. His own curiosity stirred. He watched her as, once outside, she threw her bucking iron aside and marched with wide strides away from the mine.

Silence followed her departure.

"Termagant," Gorley muttered.

"Virago," added Ware.

"Pain in the arse, more like," said Murton, and the three managers laughed.

"Begging your pardons, sirs," Simon interjected as humbly as he could manage. "She's got some years on her, but a fair hand can make her run smooth."

"Are you talking about the pump engine or Alyce Carr?" Gorley chuckled at his own wit.

"Alyce Carr, sir?"

"The delightful young woman that just shrieked at us," Ware said. "Imagine, a damned bal-maiden who thinks she can run a mine better than the professionals." He shook his head, as though to dislodge the patently impossible idea.

Gorley fixed Simon with a piercing look. "Avoid Alyce, Sharpe. She'll only lead you into trouble."

"That's assuming I get the job, sirs," Simon noted.

All three of the managers' brows rose at his quick response. But Simon wouldn't obtain the position if he pretended to be a dullard. Machinists needed to be clever in order to stay on top of maintaining the equipment, or if there were ever an emergency.

Whatever the mission needed him to be, he'd play the right role. Marco, the wily, government-trained bastard, had the gift of complete transformation. No one could fault Simon for his own disguises. He'd convincingly acted as a stevedore, a wealthy French banker, an East End housebreaker, and half a dozen other personae.

His grades at Harrow had been abysmal — he saw more of the nearby village and the local girls than he did the inside of a classroom. Yet he'd shone when acting in school theatrical productions. Nobody played a better Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Seemed that he was already familiar with the idea of wanting to be someone other than an Addison-Shawe. A skill that served him, and Nemesis, well.

Simon turned the engine over and started it. The pump chugged to life with more strength than it had demonstrated before he'd worked on it. "So, am I in?"

There was a quick, muttered consultation before the managers turned back to him. "You're in," Gorley said.

Grinning, Simon stuck out his hand, and it was reluctantly shaken by the three men. "Thank you, sirs."

"Payment packets are handed out every Friday," Ware said. "You're paid in scrip, which you can spend at the company store. It's got everything you'll need."

Including nearly rancid butter. "I've got an ill father in Sheffield, and usually send him some of my wages. Can't do that with scrip."

"That's how Wheal Prosperity is run, Sharpe," Murton answered, not an ounce of sympathy in his voice. "Either take the offer as it stands, or apply for work somewhere else."

Scratching his head beneath his cap, Simon pretended to debate the idea. If he truly needed a job that paid, he'd have told the managers to take the express train straight up their arses, but it was more important for him to thoroughly fathom the corruption at Wheal Prosperity — and how to end it.

"Hasn't been a lot of work available lately," he muttered. "No one's hiring." He shrugged. "My sister does piecework in Buxton, and she sends our da money, too. Guess it's better that I should have food in my belly than for both me and my father to have nothing." The words tasted sour as he spoke them.

"That's the spirit, man." Ware slapped Simon on his shoulder.

He hadn't been in the managers' presence above half an hour, but already he fantasized about plowing his fist into each of their faces.

They took a few moments to sign some paperwork, Simon careful to disguise his Harrow-trained penmanship.

Once that was finished, Ware said, "Head dead east from the mine, two miles, and you'll reach the village. Once you get there, someone will point you toward the single men's housing. Here." He fished a small brass coin from his pocket and handed it to Simon. "That'll pay for your meals for the week, until the next payday."

Simon studied the coin. It had a triangular piece cut out from the center, and stamped on it were the words "Wheal Prosperity Mining Company, Five Shillings, Payable in Merchandise, Non Transferable."

"Thank you, sirs." He nearly gagged on the words. These men didn't know it, but they'd just opened their doors to the agent of their destruction — offering a job and roof to dynamite.

"Work starts at seven in the morning," Murton said. "Every minute you're late, you're docked, so best to be on time."

"Yes, sirs." He grabbed his bag of tools, tipped his hat to the men one final time, and left the engine house. A satchel containing his few belongings waited for him outside the door, and he grabbed this, too. His father would have turned purple with mortification if he'd seen his son travel with anything less than three steamer trunks full of Savile Row's finest, but Simon had grown well used to his father's many shades of mortification on his behalf.

He pushed thoughts of Horace Addison-Shawe from his mind, as he'd done so often, and concentrated on what needed to happen next.

First part of the job's taken care of. Now the real work starts.

His years in the army and with Nemesis had shown him the value of gathering intelligence. He needed to know who had written that letter, for one thing. Then there was untangling the complicated web of corruption ensnaring Wheal Prosperity. And if there was any person who knew the lay of the land at this copper mine, that person was Alyce Carr.

He told himself that was the only reason he hurried to catch up with her.

* * *

Alyce strode back to the village on a path she knew as well as her own heartbeat. Generations of miners in their heavy boots had worn a track into the green hillsides. They left their legacy both beneath the earth and upon it. Just as she did. But her steps were fast, and she kicked up dust with each angry footfall. If all of the miners had walked with the same amount of fury that she felt, the path would be a trench, six feet deep.

As she walked, the conversation — or rather, lack of conversation — with the managers dug into her mind, like shards of metal.

It's simply not economical for the company store to replace almost a hundred pounds of butter just on your say-so, Miss Carr.

"Economical, my arse," she muttered to herself. They always had some excuse, some barely thought-out rationale. Would it make any difference to them if she was a man instead of a woman? Would they listen to her, take her grievances more seriously?


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Dangerous Seduction by Zoë Archer. Copyright © 2013 Zoë Archer. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there's nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master's degrees in literature and fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed Blades of the Rose series and the historical paranormal series The Hellraisers. Zoë and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, live in Los Angeles.


Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there's nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she now applies her master's degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed BLADES OF THE ROSE series and the paranormal historical romance series, THE HELLRAISERS. She has also written steampunk romances, SKIES OF FIRE and SKIES OF STEEL. Zoë and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, live in Los Angeles.

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Dangerous Seduction (Nemesis Unlimited Series #2) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
LITERALADDICTION_MLO More than 1 year ago
Our Review, by LITERAL ADDICTION's Pack Alpha - Chelle: *Copy gifted in exchange for an honest review I actually missed reading book #1 of the NEMESIS UNLIMITED series, but Dangerous Seduction stands well on its own and was an utterly engaging read. I've been a fan of Zoe Archer's for some time. She has a knack for pulling out uniqueness in a genre that blew up in no time flat and left little room for new ideas. Her world building is always solid and captivating and her characters are strong, engaging, and relatable. From her spunky, independent, strong heroines to her handsome alpha males with their soft sides, and the big bads you love to hate, she has something for everyone. :) Dangerous Seduction's plot was rife with historical and political intrigue and sucked me in from the very first page. Battling against the injustices being perpetrated by the upper crust against the workers of the Cornwall copper mine, Simon - one of the founding members of Nemesis, Unlimited) goes undercover to right the wrong. While he's there, he meets the strong, capable, and spirited Alyce Carr, a bal-maiden who, despite her sex and station, is not afraid to speak out against the injustice either. Joining forces to uncover the truth, Simon and Alyce bridge the gap between their classes and learn everything they can about the other while discovering an undeniable attraction between them and fighting to overcome what seems to be some insurmountable hurdles along the way. Their interactions were dynamic and full of life and utterly enjoyable to read.  Dangerous Seduction was a delightfully unique, beautifully written, and utterly exciting tale and I can't wait to read more in the NEMESIS, UNLIMITED world. Most definitely recommended for historical fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance lovers.
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, more so due to the political and corporate intrigue than the romance though. Due to the chasteness of the period, there wasn’t too much excitement for a long bit of the book in the romance area. However, there was more than enough excitement in dealing with the injustices of the mining company, and the covert techniques that Simon and Alyce contrive together in the town and later, with the assistance of his colleagues. Simon is a strong character that has an undeniable attractiveness for the mere fact that he cares for those he knows have been done wrong. There is a level of danger about his persona because he actively pursues being a vigilante in the face of potentially losing his entire fortune and social standing. Alyce is a strong female protagonist that actively bucks the social norm of being the meek and mild, “do whatever you say” female. I love that about her. She knows what the owners and supervisors are doing is wrong, and she’s constantly trying to make life better for the workers and townspeople. It is obvious she is destined for grander things once this situation is worked out. This duo is a force to be reckoned with and I would love to continue this series to see where it takes them and the other members of Nemesis, Unlimited. Rating: 4 HEAT Rating: Mild Reviewed By: Daysie W. Review Courtesy of: My Book Addictions and More
Mseer More than 1 year ago
Not as good as the first, found myself skimming, too much non-info before getting to the story. Good read, but not enough to hurry and see if the third book is out yet. That said, I loved the first book.