His at Night

His at Night

by Sherry Thomas

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553592443
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 501,881
Product dimensions: 4.30(w) x 6.96(h) x 1.18(d)

About the Author

Sherry Thomas, one of the most acclaimed historical romance authors writing today, has appeared on innumerable "Best of the Year" lists, including those of Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and All About Romance. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA Award. Sherry lives in Austin, Texas. Visit her at sherrythomas.com.

Kate Reading, a freelance narrator for over twenty years, is an Audie Award and AudioFile Earphones Award winner and has been named Narrator of the Year by AudioFile magazine. Her work onstage has been recognized by the Helen Hayes Awards Society, the Washington Theatre Lobby Awards, and the Carbonell Awards.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Marquess of Vere was a man of few words. This fact, however, would astonish all but a select few of his numerous friends and acquaintances. The general consensus was that Lord Vere talked. And talked. And talked. There was no subject under the sun, however remote or abstruse, upon which he did not eagerly venture an opinion or ten. Indeed, there were times when one could not stop him from pontificating on that newly discovered class of chemical substance known as the Pre-Raphaelites, or the curious culinary habits of the Pygmy tribes of central Sweden.

Lord Vere was also a man who held his secrets close.

But anyone so deluded as to voice such a pronouncement would find himself surrounded by ladies and gentlemen on the floor, screaming in laughter. For Lord Vere, according to public opinion, could not distinguish a secret from a hedgehog. Not only was he garrulous, he volunteered the most intimate, most inappropriate personal knowledge at the drop of a hat—or even without a stitch of haberdashery anywhere in sight.

He gladly related his difficulties with the courting of young ladies: He was rejected early and rejected often, despite his stature as a peer of the realm. He gave up without hesitation the state of his finances—though it had been discovered that he was quite without a notion as to how much funds were at his disposal, current and future, thereby rendering his conjectures largely moot. He even ventured—not in mixed company, of course—to comment on the size and girth of his masculine endowment: enviable on both counts, the measurements verified by the experiences of the merry widows who looked to him for an occasional tumble in the sheets.

Lord Vere was, in other words, an idiot. Not a raving one, for his sanity was rarely questioned. And not so moronic that he could not see to his daily needs. Rather, he was an amusing idiot, as ignorant and puffed up as a pillow, silly to the extreme, but sweet, harmless, and very well liked among the Upper Ten Thousand for the diversion he provided—and for his inability to remember anything told him that did not affect his meals, his nightly beauty rest, or the pride and joy that resided in his underlinens.

He could not shoot straight; his bullets never met a grouse except by accident. He rarely failed to turn knobs and levers in the wrong direction. And as his gift for wandering into the wrong place at the wrong time was legendary, hardly anyone batted an eyelash to learn that he was an eyewitness to a crime—without having any idea what he’d seen, most assuredly.

Such an extraordinary idiot had he been in the thirteen years since his unfortunate riding accident that no one not privy to his more clandestine activities had ever remarked on his proximity to some of the most sensational criminal cases of the upper crust, shortly before those cases were solved and the culprits brought to justice.

It was an interesting life, to say the least. Sometimes the tiny handful of other agents of the Crown who knew his true role wondered how he felt about playing the idiot for most of his waking hours. They never found out, for he was a man of few words and held his secrets close.

Of course, no secret remains a secret forever. . . .the beginning of the end of Lord Vere’s secret came, quite literally, in an ambush by a young lady of questionable ancestry and equally questionable methods.

A young woman who, in a strange twist of fate, would soon become the Marchioness of Vere, his lady wife.

9 The rats were Vere’s idea. His idea of a joke, to be more precise.

London was emptying at the tail end of the Season. Vere had seen his brother off at the train station earlier in the day; tomorrow he himself was headed for Gloucestershire. There was no time like the beginning of August to appear innocently at a country house to which he might not have been invited—and claim that he had: After all, what was one more guest when there were already thirty of them running about?

But tonight’s meeting was about Edmund Doug- las, the reclusive diamond mine owner suspected of extorting from the diamond dealers of London and Antwerp.

“We need a better way to get into his house,” said Lord Holbrook, Vere’s liaison.

Holbrook was a few years older than Vere. When Oscar Wilde had been the country’s leading literary celebrity, Holbrook had worn his dark hair long and cultivated an air of intellectual ennui. Now that Wilde had gone off to a disgraced exile, Holbrook’s languor was accompanied by shorter hair and a more straightforward display of nihilism.

Vere helped himself to a piece of Savoy cake. The cake was airy and spongy, and just sturdy enough for a spoonful of apricot jam. Holbrook had a way of keeping his hidey-holes—a smattering of properties across metropolitan London—well supplied, so that whenever his agents had to make use of one, there was always good liquor and the makings of a proper tea.

Across the gaudy drawing room—this particular house behind Fitzroy Square had once housed a succession of kept women—Lady Kingsley dabbed a napkin at the corner of her lips. She was a fine-looking brunette about the same age as Holbrook, the daughter of a baronet, and the widow of a knight.

As covert agents, women had the advantage. Vere and Holbrook must assume personas not their own in order not to be taken seriously—an absolute necessity when one went about inquiring after sensitive matters on behalf of the Crown. But a woman, even one as sharp and capable as Lady Kingsley, often managed to be dismissed on nothing more than the fact of her sex. “I told you already, Holbrook,” she said. “We must make use of Douglas’s niece.”

Holbrook, sprawled on a red velvet chaise trimmed in gold fringe, filliped the most recent case report lying on his chest. “I thought the niece hadn’t left the house in years.”

“Precisely. Imagine you are a girl of twenty-four years, well past the age when a young lady ought to be married, and isolated from all the gaiety and amusement of proper society. What is the one thing that would tempt you the most?”

“Opium,” Holbrook said.

Vere smiled and said nothing.

“No.” Lady Kingsley rolled her eyes. “You would wish to meet eligible young men, as many of them as can squeeze under one roof.”

“Where do you plan to collect a houseful of desirable bachelors, madam?” asked Holbrook.

Lady Kingsley waved her hand in dismissal. “That is the easy part, the mustering of manly lures. The problem is that I cannot simply drive up to Highgate Court and present the gentlemen—it’s been three months since I leased the next-nearest house and I still haven’t met her.”

“May I?” Vere pointed at the report on Holbrook’s chest. Holbrook tossed the report his way. Vere caught it and skimmed the pages.

Edmund Douglas’s estate, in which he’d maintained residence since 1877, was a manor constructed to his specification. There were hundreds of such new country houses all over the land, built by those with a fortune to spare, thanks to the prosperity of the Age of Steam.

A fairly common sort of estate, yet one that had proved difficult to penetrate. Plain burglary had not succeeded. An attempt to infiltrate the staff had also failed. And due to Mrs. Douglas’s ill health, the family rarely mingled with local society, rendering useless the more socially acceptable routes into the manse.

“Have a domestic disaster on your part,” said Vere, to Lady Kingsley. “Then you will have an excuse to approach her.”

“I know. But I’m hesitant to damage the roof—or the plumbing—of a leased house.”

“Can’t your servants come down with something disgusting but not infectious?” Holbrook inquired. “A case of communal runs?”

“Behave yourself, Holbrook. I am no chemist and I will not poison my own staff.”

“How about an infestation of rats?” Vere suggested, more to amuse himself than anything else.

Lady Kingsley shuddered. “What do you mean, an infestation of rats?”

Vere shrugged. “Put a dozen or two rats to run about the house. Your guests will scream to evacuate. And the rats won’t do permanent damage to the house, provided you have a ratcatcher set to work soon enough.”

Holbrook sat up straight. “Splendid idea, my dear fellow. I happen to know a man who breeds mice and rats to supply scientific laboratories.”

That did not surprise Vere. Holbrook had at his fingertips a large assortment of bizarre and bizarrely useful contacts.

“No. It’s a terrible idea,” Lady Kingsley protested.

“Au contraire, I think it is pure genius,” declared Holbrook. “Douglas travels to London to meet with his solicitor in two weeks, am I correct?”

“Correct,” said Vere.

“That should be enough time.” Holbrook reclined back onto his red velvet chaise. “Consider it done.”

Lady Kingsley grimaced. “I hate rats.”

For Queen and country, madam,” said Vere, rising. “For Queen and country.”

Holbrook tapped a finger against his lips. “Funny you should mention Queen and country, my lord: I have just received word of the blackmailing of a certain royal and—”

Vere, however, had already shown himself out.

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His at Night 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Lindscb More than 1 year ago
I gave this book 5 stars for the category of romances. It isn't great literature by any means, but way above par for romances. His at Night is a great read full of enjoyable characters that are actually developed to some degree. You know who the characters are and why they act the way they do. The writing is engaging and witty. I actually laughed out loud a few times. This book is pretty light on swearing and isn't as steamy as a lot of other romances, but still much better than the vast majority of romances out there. If you are tired of hearing people described as "scrumptious" or emotions "tearing, scorching, ripping, or slamming through" people, this is a book the check out.
BeeMac More than 1 year ago
This is my first Sherry Thomas book, but I will be looking for more. Orphaned Elissande lives with her aunt and uncle, and the uncle is a real terror. When an unexpected group of guests descend on her (during her uncle's absence) due to an infestation of rats at a neighboring house, Elissande sees her chance of escape. If she can convince one of the gentleman to marry her, she will be free and will also free her invalid aunt of her uncle's menacing ways. However, the plot thickens rapidly. Everyone is not what they seem.
Joykins More than 1 year ago
The Marquess of Vere is a secret agent of sorts. In public, he plays a bumbling idiot. In private he is a helps police and detectives solve cases. He's been doing this for years and years and not even his family and closest friends know that he is living a lie. When he meets Miss Elissande Douglas--the niece of a suspect in a case--he immediately recognizes that she is acting a role, but underestimates her desire to escape her uncle's household and protect her invalid aunt, which leaves him vulnerable when she traps him into an undesired marriage. And it doesn't take her long to see the truth under her husband's mask. Thomas's strength lies in portraying these complex--and not always completely likeable-- characters in complex relationships and emotionally intense situations without making you lose faith in their eventual happiness.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Her Uncle Edmund Douglas keeps Elissande Edgerton locked away at his home so she can care for his wife, her aunt who is a pale pathetic laudanum addict. Elissande's goal is to never be her aunt, but if she remains under Uncle Edmund's tyrannical care she will be her aunt. She knows her only safe escape is marriage though that can be a risky proposition. However, she cannot even take a chance on that option as her uncle entertains no one and never allows her to go to the galas. When the neighbor's home is infested by a large rat population, her uncle is forced to host the guests of a house party. One of the attendees is inane big mouth Lord Vere who is apparently an expert on nothing except releasing rodents; even his brother cannot understand what happened to him that turned him into the fool. However, no one understands he performs as the fool as an undercover means to catch vicious criminals. He feels the real fool when Elissande, selecting an idiot, brazenly enters his bedroom causing a scandal that leads to marriage. However, she quickly realizes her husband is brilliant as love and his inquiry lead to danger for both of them. His at Night is a superb historical romance starring a masquerading fool and the woman who sees past his façade. Fast-paced, readers will relish this entertaining tale as love rips away the masquerade of the hero, but also places his beloved in terrible danger. Sherry Thomas' tale is a winner for sub-genre fans, Harriet Klausner
saltypepper on LibraryThing 8 months ago
If you can suspend your disbelief that the hero fools nearly everyone, including his closest friends and family, for 13 YEARS about his true mental capabilities, then you may enjoy a really fun and steamy historical romance.I found that if I imagined this book as a screwball comedy then it worked and was extremely enjoyable. If I tried to analyze it and think about whether it was realistic, it fell apart. The hero and heroine are a great fit, Sherry Thomas has a great knack for depicting a couple's chemistry (or lack thereof) on the page. This isn't my favorite of her books (that would be Delicious) but I read it over a weekend and wasn't disappointed. People who are sensitive to reading about abusive relationships should be aware that there are a couple of scenes they may find triggering. Lastly, I loved the quick reference to Leo Marsden, the hero of Not Quite A Husband, towards the end.
FrostKitty on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I absolutely love Sherry Thomas. Her characters are intelligent and a far cry from the stereotypical watered down Damsels and Hairy Chested Dudeds.
gwendolenau on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Highly enjoyable. There's a satisfying plot but what really makes this story is the depth and complexity of the main characters, whose emotional arcs are truly and emotionally satisfying. The novel is only a little let down by occasional slips in tone from the author, whose characters sometimes sound rather more like modern Americans than the 19thC upper class English characters they are meant to be.
Jaitai16 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
An agent for the crown spends most of his life prentending to be an idiot in order to work undiscovered. While on an investigation he meets a woman desperate to escape her uncle's harsh rule.Sherry Thomas has a unique writng style for a historical romance authot. Her characters have hidden depths that are unexpected and propels the reader to want to get to the ending to make sure everything turns out for the best. This book however was forgettable. The hero Vere's idoicy is annoying at times.It is hard to believe that he could keep up the role for so long and show no hints of his true personality to those who are closest to him.Elissande is motivated by fear to trap Vere in to marriage which he resents deeply even though he thought she was the woman of his dreams when he first saw her. They didn't have enough chemistry. All through out the book there was a feeling that something was missing. That being said the book was a decent read but its not memorable. I do enjoy Sherry's work and will continue to read her books.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Generally, in historical romances, the heroine has to hide her intelligence from society in order to attract a man. Here, the hero has developed the persona of an idiot to do the Crown's work. Unfortunately for him, while working up a case, he meets the love of his life. Luckily for him, the heroine is desperate enough to marry a man she considers stupid in order to get her and her aunt out of a violent situation. Unfortunate for her, the hero is disgusted that she's willing to lower herself in such a way. And so begins their unlikely love story. It was a cute, quick read. Not always a fan for Sherry Thomas and so this one was one that pleasantly surprised me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great title-
1VAReader More than 1 year ago
This book has an unusual twist. It is not often that the hero plays an idiot. Good dialogue and hot romance. Would not rate it higher than three stars.
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