Eloquence and Espionage by Regina Scott
Sometimes life really is romantic. Bluestocking Ariadne Courdebas never thought she'd play the heroine in her own romantic novel until a chance encounter with handsome intelligence agent Jason Sinclair pulled her into the world of espionage. Now with the help of her sister Daphne and friends Priscilla Tate and Lady Emily Southwell, she's chasing French spies across 1815 London and uncovering treasonous plots that could the shape the outcome of the war with Napoleon, all while pretending to be engaged to Sinclair. It would be perfectly thrilling if she could just manage to secure vouchers for that exclusive club Almack's like all the other debutantes! As secrets and scandals collide, she finds herself wishing for more than just pretend. Can Ariadne use her considerable eloquence to convince Sinclair to play her hero, forever? This clean romantic mystery set in the Regency period features kisses only.
"I really enjoyed this story. Humor, adventure, and romance in one." Just Judy's Jumbles, top reviewer
He was here. She could feel it. Perhaps it was the whisper of a warm male voice carried on the breeze. Perhaps it was the sight of a top hat on black hair over broad shoulders, disappearing into the trees. Regardless, she wasn't about to let him get away this time. She'd told Daphne she needed a moment to herself for inspiration, something her sister accepted without question having been privy to her flights of fancy since the day Ariadne had been born.
Emily, however, had raised a brow as if she doubted this sudden need for serenity.
"I shall count to two hundred," Emily had told her. "Then Daphne and I will follow you. Be careful."
Very likely wise advice. But Ariadne didn't feel careful and cautious. She felt bold and brave and true. This time, she would catch him.
As if he knew she was after him, he walked faster, and she had to scurry to keep pace, her skirts flapping about her legs. The shadows of the overhanging branches crossed her face like a lace veil, making her blink after the sunlight. She stopped amidst a copse of trees, bushes blocking her view in all directions. She turned in a circle, put her hands on her hips in consternation. He'd disappeared!
"You aren't a ghost," she challenged aloud. "I will find you."
"Why?" a voice demanded behind her. "You must have something better to do with your time than chase after me."
She whirled, but still she did not spy him. "Perhaps I enjoy a little mystery," she said, head cocked to hear his reply, eyes narrowed for the least movement.
"There is appreciating a mystery, and then there is being foolhardy," he retorted.
The sound came from her left, where the bushes were thickest. She purposely turned to her right and strolled closer to the edge of the clearing.
"Is it foolhardy to seek a gentleman's attentions?" she said, keeping her voice calm and curious. "I was under the impression that was the entire purpose of the Season."
"You do not wish my attentions," he said.
She wove a crooked path across the clearing as if detouring around tree roots and leaves left over from the winter. The mossy ground betrayed no sound of her footsteps. "Why not? Are you such a loathsome creature behind that black leather mask?"
His chuckle warmed her more than her quilted blue pelisse. Oh, but she should have worn a cloak when she'd ventured out this morning; it was so much more romantic for a clandestine meeting!
"I have been told I have a pleasing façade," he admitted.
And was rather amused by the fact. Or perhaps he simply knew his worth, like Priscilla. "Then perhaps those broad shoulders are the result of a clever tailor and copious amounts of padding," she said, edging nearer as if to smell a blossom on one of the bushes.
"Possibly," he said. "Or long hours of practice at fencing and boxing."
A shiver ran through her as she made out a shape through the branches. "And of course you have such problems expressing yourself with eloquence."
She was certain she saw his sigh sway the leaves. "Only with you, my dear."
She stopped in front of the bush, convinced he was only on the other side. "You can come out, you know. I shan't bite."
The bush rustled as if he were about to push through it, and despite herself she stepped back. "I'm not afraid."
Still he did not show himself. "You should be. You are messing about with things beyond your ken."
She raised her chin. "Espionage is not a mystical pursuit, sir. It is a matter of two people or two countries attempting to outsmart the other. Just as I have outsmarted you." She reached for the limbs, ready to yank them apart and see his face at last.