The Anonymous Miss Addamsby Kasey Michaels
He was London's most eligibleand outrageousbachelor. But though Pierre Standish didn't give a whit for polite society, he could not deny his father's latest request. To prove himself a true gentleman, Pierre had to perform a random good deed. The task proved unimaginatively easy when, en route to London, Pierre came upon a damsel lying in the road. Her
He was London's most eligibleand outrageousbachelor. But though Pierre Standish didn't give a whit for polite society, he could not deny his father's latest request. To prove himself a true gentleman, Pierre had to perform a random good deed. The task proved unimaginatively easy when, en route to London, Pierre came upon a damsel lying in the road. Her clothes bespoke her an urchin, but although his anonymous Miss Addams had lost her memory, Pierre was certain she was a well-bred lady. A lady whose innocence and plight might just ensnare the ton's most unattainable rogue.
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"And I say she has to die! Damn it, can't you see? Haven't you been forever telling me that she has to go? It's the only way out, for both of us!"
"Not necessarily. You could always marry her," a female voice suggested. "You'd make a wonderfully handsome groom. And, please, my dearest, don't swear."
"Marry her? Marry her! Are you daft? Have you been sipping before noon again? How many times must I tell you? I'd druther shackle m'self to an oxit would be easier to haul a dumb animal to the altar. Besides, the chit don't like me, not even above half."
"Can't hold that against the girl. You never were so popular as I'd like."
"That's nothing to the point! We're talking about her now. The only answer is to do away with her."
"All right, be bloodthirsty if you must. Boys will be boys. That leaves only the questionwho and how do we handle disposing of the wretched girl?"
"That's two questions. I don't know how to do it, but I do know who. I've thought this out most carefully. We both do the deed. That way neither of us is apt to cry rope on the other."
There was a short silence while his co-conspirator weighed his latest suggestion. "You really believe that I'd be so mean-spirited as to lay information against my ownoh, all right. Don't pout, it makes nasty lines around your mouth. We both do it. Nowhow do we do it?"
"An accident. It should look like an accident. The best murders are always made to look like accidents."
"That does leave out poison,firearms, and a rope, doesn't it? Pity. I do so favor poison. It's so neat and reliable. A fall, perhaps? From the top of the tower? No, on second thought, that would be too messy. Think of the time we'd have cleaning the cobblestones. I suppose we must find another way."
"A riding accident, perhaps."
"That's brilliant! You were always so creative. A riding accident is perfect! She's always out and about somewhere on that terrible brute she rides. I'm more than surprised she hasn't snapped her neck a dozen times already, more's the pity that she hasn't. All right, a riding accident it is. Now, when do we do the deed?"
"She reaches her majority the 10th of October. The ninth ought to do it."
"That's cutting it a slice too fine, even for such a brilliant mind as yours. Something could go amiss and we wouldn't have time for a second chance. I would rather do it the first of the month. That way we won't have to waste any of her lovely money on birthday presents."
"Yes, why should we throw good money away onI say! What was that?"
"Over there, behind the shrubbery. I saw something move. Blast it all, someone's been listening! Look! She's running away. Let me pass. I've got to catch her before she ruins everything!"
"Be careful of your breeches!" his companion cried after him. "This is only the second time you've worn them."
* * *
It was a room into which sunlight drifted, lightfootedly skimming across the elegant furnishings, its brightness filtered by the gossamer-thin ivory silk curtains that floated at the tall windows.
The ceiling was also ivory, its stuccoed perimeter artfully molded into wreaths of flowers caught up by ram's heads, with dainty arabesques and marching lines of husks terminating in ribbon knots, while the walls had been painted by Cipriani himself and boasted tastefully romping nymphs, liquid-eyed goddesses, and a few doting amorini.
The furniture boasted the straight, clean lines of the brothers AdamsRobert and Jamesthe dark, gilded mahogany vying with painted Wedgwood colors and the elegant blue and white satin striping of the upholstery.
To the awestruck observer, the entire room was a soul-soothing showplace, an exemplary example of the degree of refined elegance possible in an extraordinarily beautiful English country estate.
To Pierre Claghorn Standish, just then pacing the length of the Aubusson carpet, it was home.
"Oh, do sit down, Pierre," a man's voice requested wearily. "It's most fatiguing watching you prowl about the place like some petulant caged panther. I say panther because they are black, you know. Must you always wear that funereal color? It's really depressing. You remind me of an ink blot, marring the pristine perfection of my lovely blue and white copybook. It's jarring; upon my soul, it is. Look at me, for instance. This new green coat of mine is subdued, yet it whispers of life, of hope, of the glorious promise of spring. You look like the dead of wintera very long, depressingly hard winter."
Pierre ceased pacing to look at his father, who was sitting at his ease, his elbows propped on the arms of his chair, his long fingers spread wide apart and steepled as he gazed up at his son. "Ah," André Standish said, his handsome face lighting as he smiled. "I do believe I have succeeded in gaining your attention. How wonderful. I shall have to find some small way in which to reward myself. Perhaps a new pony for my stables? But to get back to the point. You have been here for three days, my son, visiting your poor, widowed father in his lonelinessa full two days longer than any of your infrequent visits to me in the past five years, seven months, and six days. I think we can safely assume the formalities have been dutifully observed. Do you not believe it is time for you to get to the point?"
Pierre looked at his father and saw himself as he would appear in 30 years. The man had once been as dark as he, although now his hair was nearly all silver, but his black eyes still flashed brightly in his lean, deeply tanned face. His body was still firmly muscled, thanks to an active, sporting life, and he had not given one inch to his advancing years. Pierre smiled, for he could do a lot worse than follow in his father's footsteps.
"What makes you think there is anything to discuss?" Pierre asked, lowering himself into the chair facing his father. "Perhaps you are entering into your dotage and are only imagining things. Have you entertained that possibility, Father?"
André regarded him levelly. "I would rather instead reflect on the grave injustice I have done you by not beating you more often during your youth," he answered cheerfully. "You may be the scourge of London society, Pierre, if the papers and my correspondence are to be believed, but you are naught but a babe in arms when it comes to trying to fence with me, your sire and one time mentor. Now, if you have been unable to discover a way onto the subject, may I suggest that you begin by telling me all about the funeral of that dastardly fellow, Quennel Quinton? After all, he's been below ground feeding the worms for more than three months."
Only by the slight lifting of one finely sculpted eyebrow did Pierre Standish acknowledge that his father had surprised him by landing a flush hit. "Very good, Father," he complimented smoothly. "My congratulations to your network of spies. Perhaps you'd like to elaborate and tell me what I'm about to say next?"
André sighed and allowed his fingers to intertwine, lightly laying his chin on his clasped hands. "Must I, Pierre? It's all so mundane. Oh, very well. We could start with the box, I suppose."
Now Pierre couldn't contain his surprise. His eyes widened, and he leaned forward in his chair, gripping the armrests. "You know?" he questioned dumbly, as nothing more profound came to his lips.
Excerpted from The Anonymous Miss Addams by Kasey Michaels. Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Meet the Author
The hallmarks of New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Kasey Michaels' writing are humor, romance and happy endings. The importance of upbeat, entertaining fiction was brought home to Kasey when her eldest son became very ill. During the long months while he was in the hospital after his kidneys failed, she noticed that the nurses who cared for the sick children and the mothers who spent long hours at their bedsides often had a romance novel in their back pockets. She began carrying her own romances to the hospital in a small suitcase, reading and then sharing and trading them with the other moms.
"We were living in a world too real in that hospital," Kasey says today. "We all functioned at the highest levelthere was no choice but to function, to persevereand we all occasionally escaped that world into the hope and happy endings of romance novels."
Kasey had actually written her first book just before her son's illness. She penned her second book during those long months in the hospital, and it became The Tenacious Miss Tamerlane.
Since then, Kasey has gone on to write about 100 more books, and to receive a trio of coveted Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly. The third was for her first HQN title, The Butler Did It, which was also a 2005 nominee for the Romance Writers of America's (RWA) highest award, the RITA Award and Publishers Weekly's Quills Award. She is already a recipient of the RITA Award, a Waldenbooks and BookRak Bestseller Award, and many awards from Romantic Times magazine, including a Career Achievement Award for her Regency-era historical romances.
Kasey has also appeared on the Today Show, and was the subject of the Lifetime Cable-TV show A Better Way, in conjunction with Good Housekeeping magazine, a program devoted to women and how they have achieved career success in the midst of motherhood (short version: "with great difficulty").
Kasey has written Regency romances, Regency historicals, category books including novellas and continuities and a few series "launch" books, and single-title contemporaries. Hers is also the twisted mind behind her ongoing Maggie Kelly mystery series that stars a former romance writer turned historical mystery writer. She is also the author of the highly praised nonfiction book, written as Kathryn Seidick, Or You Can Let Him Go, which details the story of Kasey and her family during the time of her eldest son's first kidney transplant.
Kasey and her husband of more than 40 years live in Pennsylvania with their two neurotic Persians, Princess and Peaches. They are proud parents of four and grandparents of two. Each summer the entire family volunteers to help out with the golf tournament her grown son founded to benefit the Gift of Life Donor Program of Philadelphia. Monies raised contribute to the costs of transporting the youngest members of Team Philadelphia to the annual Transplant Olympics.
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Filed in my Classics, aka read and reread. But I would'nt recommend to the dull witted or sarcasm haters because what did not fly over their heads would sour their disposition! However a lover of 'WSI', I could not put it down. I had to know how all the characters lives, and I mean characters, flushed out. As a extensive reader, the word Yummy comes to mind.
Lousy book. Bad plot. Characters are annoying especially Miss Adams. Too much battle of the wits between the main characters. Boring book.