Desperate to escape her abusive past, Sarah Cooper disguises herself as a governess in the employ of Christian Trent, Earl of Markham, the man who, long ago, she fantasized about marrying. Despite the battle scars that mar his face, Sarah finds being near Christian rekindles her infatuation. A governess, however, has no business in the arms of an earl, and as she accompanies Christian on his voyage home, Sarah must resist her intense desires—or risk revealing her dangerous secrets.
One of the renowned Libertine Scholars, Christian Trent once enjoyed the company of any woman he chose. But that was before the horrors of Waterloo, his wrongful conviction of a hideous crime, and his forcible removal from England. Far from home and the resources he once had, Christian believes the life he knew—and any chance of happiness—is over . . . until his ward’s governess sparks his heart back to life, and makes him remember the man he used to be. Now Christian is determined to return to England, regain his honor, and win the heart of the woman he has come to love.
Look for the enchanting Disgraced Lords series from Bronwen Evans:
A KISS OF LIES | A PROMISE OF MORE | A TOUCH OF PASSION | A WHISPER OF DESIRE | A TASTE OF SEDUCTION | A NIGHT OF FOREVER
And don’t miss her novels in the Imperfect Lords series:
ADDICTED TO THE DUKE | DRAWN TO THE MARQUESS | ATTRACTED TO THE EARL
Praise for Bronwen Evans and A Kiss of Lies
“This tale is poignant, heartwarming and readers may be reaching for the Kleenex once or twice before the breathtaking ending.”—RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars)
“Bronwen’s historical romances always make the top of my reading list!”—New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jen McLaughlin
“The passion between [Christian and Sarah] sizzles off the pages.”—Eye on Romance
“The flow of the story is magnificent, as are the characters, who have admirable depths of complexity.”—Buried Under Romance
“Gut-wrenching and so well written, A Kiss of Lies is one of my favorite reads.”—Book Obsessed Chicks
“An absolutely brilliant historical romance, full of secrets and dark pasts, A Kiss of Lies was a fantastic read.”—Imagine a World
“A Kiss of Lies is one of those books that made me laugh and cry. In its sensual and tender moments, it brought tears to my eyes, and the witty banter between characters made me smile again and again. No one writes wounded characters who are healed by the power of love like Bronwen Evans. This is a book sure to touch your heart.”—Bestselling author Shana Galen
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from other Loveswept titles.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
London, England, November 1815
If not for the fact that the rage-filled voice bellowing in his ear was speaking English, Christian Trent, the Earl of Markham, might have thought he was back in France.
Certainly the press of cold steel at his throat flooded his brain with memories of the war: nightmarish memories, pain-filled memories. Memories he fervently tried, but hopelessly failed, to forget.
Experience had taught him that when one was in such a precarious position, with a sword at one’s windpipe, with the identity and reasoning of the attacker unknown, one was wise to act cautiously.
Without moving a muscle he pried an eye open and tried to focus on the person who was holding the deadly weapon at his neck. The slight movement of his eyeball sent pain stabbing through his head. His mouth tasted like sawdust. Christ, he must have drunk more than he thought last night.
“I repeat, get up!”
To emphasize his request, the attacker’s sword point pierced Christian’s skin. A small trail of warmth trickled down his neck.
In a ghostlike voice, so as not to disturb the pounding in his head, Christian answered, “How can I get up with that sword at my neck? I might still be half foxed, but I have enough wits about me not to push myself upon your weapon,” and with his hand he batted away the blade.
The sword immediately swung back into place.
As lethal as the sword itself, the voice uttered, “That would save me the bother of killing you.”
For a split second Christian welcomed the idea of death before he doused it with an exhaled breath.
He ignored the cannonballs rioting in his head as he twisted and turned, desperate to untangle his limbs from the satin sheets wrapped around his naked body. He did his best to ignore the dizzying weakness his movements evoked. The headache had him willing the contents of his stomach to stay down.
Where was he? The brothel? He recalled he’d paid for a woman. He knew she’d shared his bed. He could smell her lingering scent.
He drew a deep breath and calmed his mind. He had always prided himself on his ability to use his brain more effectively than any weapon to get himself out of predicaments.
“You’re a perverted reprobate,” his attacker sneered.
He tried once more to rise. There was no doubt he’d rather collapse back into a drunken slumber, but through the degrading sickness, his body prickled with stark unease. It was like a second sense, and it had saved his life many a time before.
A movement in the shadows alerted him to a second man’s presence. This silent enemy moved across the floor to throw the curtains wide. Sunlight bounced off mirrors positioned strategically around the room, stabbing at Christian’s eyes like a sharp hunting knife. Christian put his hand up to ward off the sun’s blows.
The presence of the men in his room indicated he didn’t have the luxury of being able to lie down and resume his sleep. So much for drink-inspired oblivion. He’d not endured two years on the battlefields of France to die in a brothel in his own country. Clutching the sheet to his body, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and attempted to lever himself up, gritting his teeth against the hammering in his brain.
He clamped down on his rising panic. Panic did not serve anyone. Fear was the enemy. He’d learned that many times on the battlefield.
“You’ll pay for what you have done.” The second man’s voice indicated he liked to smoke—it was thick and gravelly. Like smoke, his anger was barely contained.
Christian’s throat constricted, as if the proverbial noose were tightening around his neck. He didn’t need a sword under his chin to understand that these men were serious.
His mind quickly evaluated the likely avenues of escape. The windows were the closest options. Although the room was on the second story, if he jumped, he could land safely on the hedgerow beneath. Alternatively, the bedchamber door was wide open, so if he could slip past both men, he could make it down the servants’ stairs.
He was still at the brothel. The Honey Pot was high-class, and even though he’d been a frequent customer there since his return from the war, he had never, ever slept here.
He rubbed the back of his neck. What had happened last night?
Anger cleared the fog clinging to his brain, but only for a second. He ruthlessly clamped down on his temper. Anger was a weakness. When consumed by anger, men lost control. As a child he’d watched his father repeatedly lose control. His father’s rages turned him into a man Christian did not recognize, and as a boy he’d suffered from the consequences. Besides, it led men to make impulsive decisions, and he was anything but impulsive. “Other than taking a little pleasure in this miserable world, what exactly do you—” He paused. “—gentlemen think I have done?”
“Pleasure? Pleasure?” The sword finally swung away as the man’s anger overcame him, and he gestured wildly. “Pleasure? You brought a young, innocent girl here—here!—and defiled her,” he bellowed.
Christian’s fists clenched the sheets. His voice held steady, his tone even. “I beg your pardon. Brought a girl here . . . ? I did no such thing. I’ll call out any man who utters such scandalous allegations.” But because he was not stupid, Christian felt his world slipping out from underneath him.
He’d changed at Waterloo, and not just physically. The puckered, reddened flesh of his neck, upper right arm, and torso was a constant reminder to him, and everyone else, that he was no longer the man he once was. The ugly burns on the right side of his face twisted his mouth and eye, making him a monster. But it was his inner soul that had changed the most. He’d grown sick of the pain, the pity, and the nightmares. At first, the laudanum he took was a necessity due to the agony of his burns. Now he used the drug not only to dull the lingering pain of his wounds but also to soothe his inner torment. The memories of the flames peeling his skin haunted him still. . . .
He’d been weaning himself off the opiate gradually—had he overindulged last night? He swore under his breath.
Why couldn’t he remember?