Revenge has never been so seductive.
When her husband is killed at Waterloo, Lilias Fairchild takes up his cavalry sword and boldly storms the front, earning herself the nickname Angel of Vengeance. But there is another angel on the battlefield who is just as single-minded, and just as ruthless…
Alastair Whitmore, the Marquess of Angelstone, is a British spy. Code name: Angel. Still haunted by a first love felled by assassins, his mission draws him to Waterloo, where he is captivated by a beautiful and mysterious woman fighting amongst the men—a woman who becomes his most intoxicating memory of war.
Passion has never been so dangerous.
Two years later, Lilias and Angelstone lock eyes in a crowded ballroom and the memory returns in an exhilarating rush. The history they share, and hide from the world, is as impossible to ignore as the heat of their attraction. But it’s that very connection that spells doom for their scandalous affair. When someone from the shadows of their past proves a dire threat to their lives, passion might not be enough to save them.
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June 18, 1815
THE WOMAN SHOULDN’T have been in the thick of battle. But she rose out of the acrid smoke, perched high atop a chestnut horse and wearing the blue coat of a light cavalry officer.
The Marquess of Angelstone staggered through rows of trampled corn, shock rippling through him as the woman’s sabre flashed. A shrill whistle sounded overhead. Instinctively, Angel ducked as cannon artillery pounded into the ranks, blasting into the earth and showering him with dirt and black powder.
The woman on horseback didn’t flinch.
He staggered forward, coughing, ears ringing, as soldiers around him fell or scattered. Pressing a hand to his jacket pocket, Angel fingered the square shape of the letter he carried there. He hadn’t known he’d have to fight his way to Wellington to deliver it.
The horse turned a tight circle, one of the woman’s hands gripping the reins while the other brandished a cavalry sabre. Her grip on the blade was untrained, her movements awkward. But fury and hate blazed from her eyes and fueled her sabre as it sliced across the chest of a French soldier. The man collapsed, shrieking and clutching at welling blood.
The woman turned away, already arcing her sabre toward another enemy soldier, and Angel lost sight of her.
Reflex sent Angel’s bayonet plunging as a Frenchman reared up in front of him, face contorted by fear. When the man screamed, regret shot through Angel before he forced it away. It was kill or be killed. There was no time for regret.
He surged forward with the ranks of foot soldiers, compelled to look for the woman. The muddied ground sucked at his feet, threatening to pull him beneath thundering hooves and panicked soldiers. Broken cornstalks slashed at his face. The sulfur smell of black powder burned his nose, mixing with the scent of men’s fear.
He fought past a charging enemy soldier, spun away from another and saw her again.
Soot streaked her grim face. She grinned at the enemy standing before her—and the smile was terrible. The man paled, but aimed his rifle at her. He was not fast enough to beat her sword.
When that soldier, too, fell under her sabre, she looked up. Over the dead soldier and through the swirling gray smoke, Angel met her eyes. They were a chilling, pale blue and held only one thing.
She pulled on the reins and her horse reared up, hooves pawing at the air. Angel planted his feet and braced for impact. But the hooves never struck. The woman kept her seat, her jaw clenched, and continued to hold his gaze.
The battle faded away, booming cannons falling on his deaf ears. The gray, writhing smoke veiled every dying soldier, every hand-to-hand battle being waged around him.
He only saw her merciless eyes. Blood roared in his ears and the beat of his pulse became as loud as the cannons. A high, powerful note sang through him.
The woman’s horse whinnied as its hooves struck the earth again. Standing in the stirrups, she thrust her sword aloft and howled. The battle cry echoed over the field and carried with it the sting of rage and unfathomable grief. She wheeled the horse, spurred his sides and charged through battling soldiers, her blond hair streaming behind her.
And she was gone, obscured by clouds of dark smoke and the chaos of battle.
ALASTAIR WHITMORE, MARQUESS of Angelstone—code name Angel—coughed into his gloved hand in the hope of discreetly hiding his laugh. A man shouldn’t laugh when a fellow spy was being hunted by a woman.
“Oh, my lord,” the brunette tittered. “Truly, you are a remarkable figure of a man.”
The Earl of Langford—poor hunted bastard—lifted his annoyed gaze over the short matron and met Angel’s eyes. The woman leaned forward, her powdered cleavage pressing against Langford’s arm.
Angel quirked his lips. The brunette’s fawning was highly amusing—since it wasn’t directed at himself.
“If you will excuse me,” Langford said, “I must speak with Lord Angelstone about an urgent matter.”
“Indeed?” Angel didn’t bother to conceal his merriment. “I wasn’t aware we needed to discuss an urgent matter.”
“It has just come to my attention,” Langford ground out. He extricated his sleeve from the woman’s grasping fingers and eased away from her.
“Must you go?” The brunette pouted rouged lips. Feathers trembled on her turbaned head as she sent a coy look toward Langford. “I truly feel we should further our acquaintance, my lord. You have been in the country for months.”
“With my wife.”
The brunette’s mouth fell open. “But, you are in London. She is not here this evening. I thought—”
“My dear lady,” Angel said smoothly, sliding between the pair. He might as well stage a rescue mission. “As I’m sure you are aware, his lordship has many demands on his time. Not the least being his wife and new daughters.”
“I see.” Without even a single remorseful glance, she turned her back on Langford. Sharp eyes flicked over Angel. Subtle as a stalking elephant. “Well. You are unmarried, Lord Angelstone.”
“Indeed. But alas, I am otherwise engaged for the evening.” Angel raised the woman’s chubby fingers until they were just a breath away from his lips. “A pity, for you would have been a most enchanting diversion.” He wondered if his tongue would turn black after such lies.
“Perhaps another day, Lord Angelstone.” She preened, patting her bosom as though to calm her racing heart. The cloying scent of eau de cologne drifted up, and Angel fought the urge to sneeze.
“Perhaps.” Angel let her fingers slide out of his. He bowed. “Good evening, ma’am.”
As the brunette waddled away, Langford sighed gustily beside him. “A female predator, that one.” He brushed at his coat sleeve. “She was getting powder everywhere.”
Angel smothered a grin. “You’ve been married and ensconced in the country too long, my friend, if you’ve forgotten how our society ladies once adored you.”
“Not as much as they currently adore you.”
“True. A title does that. Now, did you truly have something to discuss?”
“No.” Langford palmed his pocket watch and flipped the lid. He frowned at the small glass face. “But I do intend to make my escape. I’ve had enough weak punch, innuendos and pleasantries for one evening. And Grace is waiting at home.”
“How is your countess?” With a wife such as Langford’s, he could understand the desire to hide in the countryside.
The frown cleared and Langford grinned at Angel. “She is still tired from the birthing, but she shooed me out for an evening when she learned of my assignment.” The watch disappeared into a waistcoat pocket.
“Ah. I wondered if you were here for business or pleasure.”
“A little of each.” Langford’s shoulder jerked up in a half-hearted shrug. His eyes roved the room. “You?”
“The same.” In truth, it was always business. A spy never did anything simply for pleasure.
Angel studied the ballroom. It was an impossible crush. Guests bumped up against one another as they laughed and flirted. Diamonds winked and painted fans fluttered as women entertained suitors and friends. Footmen threaded through the crowd carrying trays of gold champagne and rose-colored punch. Surrounding it all were the subtle notes of a string quartet and the scent of candle wax.
Such was the glittering and dazzling world of the ton. But underneath the gleaming polish of society were passions and intrigue and secrets. It was his mission to seek them out. And beyond his government assignments, beyond the political intrigues, was the enemy who had assassinated a woman four years ago.
Cold anger turned him from the scene. “I believe I may follow your lead and make my escape as well.” He wanted his own hearth, a brandy and his violin. The constant din of voices grated, the endlessly changing pattern of dancers was visually dizzying. He scanned the room once more. A wave of people ebbed and flowed, came together and parted.
And he saw her. No cavalry coat. No sabre. Only a gown of silver netting over white muslin and a painted fan fluttering languidly near her face. No howling battle cry now, only the sensual curving of her lips as she bent her head toward a military officer.
Something clutched inside him as the battleground superimposed itself over the ballroom. Twirling women became French soldiers, stringed instruments became the whistle of a blade. The scent of gunpowder stung his nostrils and the pounding of artillery rang in the air. The scene swirled around the woman, though she was no longer on horseback.
Two years since Waterloo. Two years since he’d seen a bright halo of hair and pitiless eyes full of retribution. He shook his head to will away those memories.
But the woman remained. A bevy of men were gathered around her, jostling for position. Striped waistcoats of the dandies clashed with the brilliant red and dark blue of soldiers’ uniforms. Then, like an echo of his memories, the Duke of Wellington himself approached the woman. She smiled warmly as he bowed over her hand.
The bevy of suitors stepped back in deference to Wellington, leaving him as alone with the woman as two people could be in a crowded ballroom.
“Who is that lady?” Angel spoke softly, nodding toward the woman. “The one talking to Wellington?”
“Lilias Fairchild. Major Jeremy Fairchild’s widow. He was killed at Waterloo.” Langford raised a brow. “Did you know the major?”
“No.” Angel watched Mrs. Fairchild’s fan tap lightly against Wellington’s arm. A sign of affection rather than flirtation. “What do you know of her?”
“Both Grace and I found her pleasant enough, though one can sense a spine of steel beneath the attractive exterior. She’s known for being private, which has only increased the gossips’ chatter.” Langford lowered his voice. “She followed her husband on the march. They say when the major’s body was brought off the field, she was wild with grief. She took her husband’s horse and sabre and joined the battle.”
The gossips were correct. There had been a wildness in her that day. Across the room, her hair caught the light of the candles and turned a bright yellow-gold. “I’m surprised she’s allowed into this ballroom.” A woman on the march with soldiers, one so unladylike as to fight and kill, should be ostracized by society.
“There are some doors closed to her. But with Wellington himself championing her, society as a whole has accepted her.”
“She should have died.” He’d assumed she had. Her face was the clearest recollection he had of that day, and he could not think of the battle without thinking of her. He had never considered she would live, and was vaguely sad to think such a vibrant creature had been struck down. Seeing her alive and whole seemed to defy fate.
“If you ask the troop she marched with, death was her intention,” Langford said softly. “The French called her L’Ange de Vengeance.”
Vengeance. It seemed he and the Widow Fairchild were two of a kind.
“I know her just well enough to introduce you.” Langford’s glance turned sly.
She wouldn’t remember him from Waterloo. One soldier meeting another on the field of battle was nothing. Not that it mattered. It had been only a moment. A fleeting breath of time that would barely be remembered. Never mind he’d seen her wild, vengeful eyes in his dreams as often as he’d seen Gemma’s dying eyes.
As Wellington bent to speak to Mrs. Fairchild, the woman angled her head and let her gaze wander the room. She should not have seen him. Guests danced and flirted and laughed between them, blocking her view. But like an arrow piercing fog, she trained blue eyes unerringly on Angel.
There was no vengeance there this time, but still they seemed to blaze. The color of them, the shape of them, ignited a visceral beat low in his belly. As did the lush curves even the most flowing gown couldn’t conceal.
Recognition flared in the widow’s eyes. Her lips lifted on one side before she flicked her gaze back to Wellington. The duke bowed his farewell and retreated into the crush.
“You’re asking for trouble with that one, my friend.” Langford laughed. “Which means it would be my pleasure to introduce you.”
Langford pushed through the crowd. Angel followed, brushing past silks and satins and elaborate cravats. Mrs. Fairchild’s eyes tracked his movements across the floor. Odd to be studied with such interest, even as he studied her. Flanked by soldiers and gentlemen festooned in evening wear and vying for the position closest to her, she seemed to be an island of calm.
He narrowed his eyes. No, not calm. Confidence. There were no affectations, no feminine vapors. A woman who killed a French soldier in the thick of battle had no time for vapors.
“Lord Langford,” she said as they approached. Her eyes flashed briefly in Angel’s direction, then back to Langford. “It is good to see you again. How are your wife and daughters?”
“Quite well, thank you. The twins are a handful already.” Langford grinned. It wasn’t clear whether the grin was for his daughters or Angel, as he slid an amused glance in Angel’s direction. “Mrs. Fairchild, may I present the Marquess of Angelstone?”
“Lord Angelstone.” Her voice moved over him like velvet, smooth and rich. “But we’ve met before.”
“We have indeed, Mrs. Fairchild.” He bowed over her hand. “Though the circumstances were quite different.”
Langford’s brow rose. The message was clear enough.
“We met in battle.” Mrs. Fairchild tilted her head. Candlelight shadowed dramatic cheekbones and full, ripe lips. “I’m afraid names were not exchanged.”
“My condolences on the loss of your husband,” Angel said.
“Thank you.” Her face softened. “He was a good man.”
“And a good soldier, I’ve heard,” Langford added. “Will you be in London long, Mrs. Fairchild?”
“Through the Season, I think.” She smiled, a subtle, feline turning up of her lips. “Will you dance with me one night, Lord Langford? So I can pretend I’m not too old for all this nonsense?”
“For you, Mrs. Fairchild, I’ll brave the dance floor—but not tonight. I must return to my wife.”
“A flattering escape.”
“Indeed. Now, I see your punch glass is empty. I’d offer to get you another”—Langford looked toward the table holding the punch bowl—“but I have no desire to fight this insufferable crowd.”
Mrs. Fairchild laughed, low and throaty. The sound sent desire spiraling through Angel.
“Go then,” she said, shooing Langford with her closed fan. “I can obtain my own punch.”
“Allow me.” Angel stepped in, offering his arm. Langford, the cur, grinned. Angel ignored him. “I would be honored, Mrs. Fairchild.”
Behind them, the bevy of gentlemen suitors bristled, almost as one. A pack of wolves defending their queen. Or a gaggle of geese flapping uselessly at a predator.
“Thank you, my lord.” She cocked her head to look up at him. A smile flirted with the corners of her lips. “I would be most grateful.”
The gaggle hissed in disappointment.
She set her white-gloved hand on his arm. The touch of her fingers was delicate on his sleeve. As they crossed the room, she splayed open her painted fan and waved it languorously. A lazy ripple of painted wildflowers in the wind. The scent of her skin rose into the air. Clean. Bright. And when she smiled at him once more, his body tripped straight into attraction.
SHE HOPED HE wasn’t an idiot.
So many men were. It was one of the facts she’d learned since returning from the Continent and entering society. Though perhaps it was simply the bored, titled gentlemen. The seasoned soldiers she knew were infinitely smarter.
Lilias angled her head and looked up at Lord Angelstone. He didn’t appear to be an idiot. He looked like a golden angel—a fallen one judging by the roguish gleam in his eyes. Luckily, his face was saved the burden of perfection. He had a crooked nose. She wondered how he’d broken it.
His hair was also longer than was fashionable and tied in a queue at the base of his neck. How unusual. And how interesting. Something about that queue gave the impression Lord Angelstone was barely tamed—and just on the edge of dangerous.
She hadn’t particularly remembered him from Waterloo until she’d seen him. She’d met hundreds of men on the field. Most she would never remember. But this one—oh yes. He could not be forgotten. He’d fought with brutal elegance, his body dancing over the battlefield, his sword efficient and decisive.
“This evening’s venue is rather different than the fields of Waterloo,” she said as they wove through the crowd.
“Not as different as you might think.” He nodded toward a corner of the ballroom. “Do you see the debutantes?”
“The two girls giggling behind the potted palm?”
He lowered his voice. “The enemy still lies in wait.” The baritone timbre shivered through her. “They’re ready to ambush the unsuspecting soldier.”
“And their spies—” she countered in a whisper, “are everywhere.”
“Is that so?”
“A pair of match-making mamas are watching you even now,” she said, waving her hand at two beady-eyed matrons. “It’s quite frightening.”
“Rescue me from their clutches, Mrs. Fairchild. Walk with me on the terrace.” He leaned down, leaned in, and she saw that his eyes were tawny gold. They gleamed as his lips curved. The movement brought something alive in her—something she’d forgotten how to feel.
The keen edge of desire.
“A wise retreat from the battle of the marriage mart,” she murmured.
“I learned strategy at Wellington’s knee.”
“Then I shall take advantage of your strategic experience and retreat as well.” The group of her hopeful suitors had grown tedious, poor souls.
Within moments they’d escaped to the flagstone terrace. Another couple stood at one end, talking in low voices. Angelstone led her to the opposite side.
She leaned against the balustrade and contemplated the night sky. It was nearing midnight. Stars twinkled merrily against the blanket of darkness. It had grown cold outside. She tugged her shawl around her shoulders.
“Have you ever noticed that the stars are the same, no matter what part of the world you are in?” she asked, studying the play of light from the windows over Angelstone’s handsome face. “Whether you’re standing outside a London ballroom, on the march in the bitter days of winter or watching death take your husband on the field, Orion is still Orion.”
His attentive silence made her feel foolish.
“Listen to me!” Laughing lightly, she looked again into the night. “I’m becoming maudlin on this lovely summer evening.”
“The loss of your husband is still painful.” Angelstone’s words were quiet. Over them she heard the click of his boots on flagstone as he stepped closer.
“Yes. And no.” She sighed, letting the clean night air fill her lungs. It was difficult to explain the horrible grip of grief, the slow acceptance and the ultimate need to survive. “It’s been two years. Two interminable, never-ending years. Yet it seems to have gone in the blink of an eye.”
“Grieving takes time.” Knowledge resonated in the low tones of his voice.
“Have you lost someone close to you?” Curious, she turned to lean on the balustrade so that she faced him.
He paused. “My brothers.”
There was more. She’d heard it in the empty silence before he answered, but didn’t pursue it. “I’m sorry.”
“I had two older brothers, both with wives and one with a daughter. In fact, I wasn’t supposed to inherit the title. It was assumed that between my brothers and their future progeny, the title would be secure.”
“So you were free to go off to war.”
“Precisely.” Self-deprecating amusement sent his lips twitching. “I thought to make a name for myself in India, fighting in the jungle and bringing back trunks of gold.”
“Ah.” She understood the hard shock of reality. “Youth.”
“Youth, indeed.” He laughed, and the sound rumbled through her.
“War is not the adventure it seems, is it?”
“No.” The word was quiet and full of meaning. His eyes met hers. “But you know that, don’t you, Mrs. Fairchild? You followed the drum. You marched with Wellington.”
“Yes.” No more needed to be said.
She searched Lord Angelstone’s shadowed face. Something there held her breathless. Her skin prickled, a small current of energy running from her head to her toes.
“Life must still be lived,” she said softly. “Despite the memories.”
“Are you ready to live again?” His voice threaded through darkness and surrounded her, warmed her.
“Yes.” It was a truthful answer, and one she doubted she could have given in the light of day. But the dark felt oddly safe. “Are you?”
For a moment, no words were spoken. Candlelight from the windows played over the dangerously sharp edge of his jaw, over expressive lips. The murmur of voices and beat of music seemed to quicken, rising and swelling as pleasure grew.
Or perhaps the quickening was her pulse beating a touch faster.
“A valid question, Mrs. Fairchild.” He leaned over the balustrade, resting his forearms on the stone. They stood side by side now, and when he turned his head his gaze fell to her lips.
She couldn’t quite seem to draw a breath.
She straightened, trying to breathe in the night air. Her reticule slid from weak fingers, hitting the flagstone terrace with a dull thunk to break the spell. For a moment, she could only stare at the shadows at her feet. The frivolous little accoutrement had fallen open, its contents partially exposed. She looked up. If that twitch of his lips wasn’t amusement, she was Boney’s spy.
“Allow me,” he said, bending to retrieve the reticule.
“Thank you, but—” With a huff she took it from him and crouched on the terrace. Her gown pooled around her, a froth of cream and silver that matched the beaded reticule. She pushed the skirts aside and her fingers brushed against an embroidered handkerchief, a small comb. Both returned to the pretty bag. Pulling the drawstring tight, Lilias stood again.
She felt ridiculously silly. She was no better than one of the debutantes.
The notes of a waltz filled the air. Another set was beginning. She couldn’t see inside the ballroom, yet she could imagine the couples swirling around the dance floor—gowns brilliant in the candlelight, jewels sparkling, surrounded by the long notes of the violins.
At the other end of the terrace, the other couple laughed aloud and moved inside, leaving Lilias and Angelstone alone with moonlight and violins.
Notes floated through the night, smooth and long. The rich tones mingled with the sweet, clear sound of a flute. The music wrapped around and between them, a warm and velvety embrace.
“A lovely sound, isn’t it?” The tone of it, the bright joy of it, seeped into her. Lilias closed her eyes and drew in a breath, wishing she could bring the music into her. “I’ve always thought the violin to be a beautifully full and powerful instrument.”
“Do you play?” His deep voice melded and mixed with the song.
She fluttered open her lashes to find him watching her intently. “No. To my everlasting regret, I have no talent.”
“But you clearly love music,” Angelstone murmured, leaning once more on the balustrade. He was so close she could feel his breath, the heat of his body. His scent rose, sending her already heightened senses jittering. “Would you care to dance?”
“I haven’t danced since my husband died.”
“Two years?” His smile was a challenge. “That’s a long time to go without dancing.”
“Is that so very long?”
“You are well out of the traditional full mourning period, Mrs. Fairchild. Society wouldn’t bat an eye if you danced again.” He turned slightly, leaning on one arm. “I promise, you won’t have forgotten the steps.” His voice lowered so that it slid through the night as smoothly as the violins. “Or the rhythm.”
She arched a brow. “And if I have forgotten?”
“You would have your choice of partners to remind you of the movements.”
“No doubt.” Oh, he was wicked. She knew well he wasn’t speaking of dancing. “Would you be one of that number, my lord?”
He grinned, teeth flashing white in the darkness. “That remains to be seen, doesn’t it?”
She turned her face away and looked out into the July night. Once, it would have seemed impossible to make love with a man who was not Jeremy. There had only ever been her husband. His arms around her. His body against hers. But Jeremy was gone. She missed him, and would always feel the loss of that bright, shining love they’d shared.
“Two years is a long time,” she whispered into the dark.
“I wonder, then, when will you dance again?”
Angelstone was close beside her. Only a step away. How amazing it was to feel him next to her in the dark. She knew where his arm was, where his shoulder was. She didn’t hear his breath. She felt it. Her body reacted with a ripple of awareness.
“I don’t know when I will dance again.” It was the truth, though she wasn’t sure whether she meant on the dance floor, or with a man. Straightening, she backed away from the balustrade. Angelstone did the same. Light from the windows slashed across his face.
He didn’t quite look as he had on the battlefield—nothing could compare with the look of a man fighting for his life. But the tawny eyes held the same purpose, the same focus. The same heat.
Something in her answered that heat. It had been a very long time since she’d felt such a stirring. She missed that slow burning and the awareness that accompanied it. For the first time since Jeremy’s death, someone interested her.
For the first time, she was tempted.
Angelstone reached for her hand. Glove met glove, silk slid against leather. Her reticule bumped softly against his wrist. Stepping forward, he brought her gloved hand to his lips.
“Save your first dance for me,” he whispered against her fingers.
Lilias angled her head. She knew what he was intimating and should be offended. But she wasn’t scandalized.
She was tantalized.
Heat rushed through her, filling her belly with a thousand butterflies. She stepped forward so that their faces were only inches apart, their lips a breath away from a kiss.
“I’ll consider your request, my lord.”
Challenge leapt into his eyes. She felt the tension coil in him, saw his lips part. The need to feel alive, to be loved—however superficially—nearly drove her straight into his arms.
But logic stayed her. Not here, not now. Not without careful thought.
She turned toward the ballroom and the light and music spilling from the terrace door. Sending him a come-hither look over her shoulder, she smiled.
“I’ll consider your request,” she repeated. “But I make no promises.”
FASCINATING. ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING. Angel studied Mrs. Fairchild’s retreating back, covered by an elegant silver shawl. The avenging goddess of the battlefield was well hidden, even as that wildly curling hair was subdued in a tidy coiffure.
But he had seen her eyes flash. He’d heard her battle cry.
What had Langford said? Steel. Yes, he could see it. Steel wrapped in lush curves and sensuality. He had the most intense desire to unwrap those curves and explore the center of her.
He stepped toward the French doors leading into the townhouse, thinking to find the card room and cool his ardor. The toe of his boot kicked something and sent it skidding across the terrace. A circular metal object, only an inch in diameter, lay on the patterned stone floor. Mrs. Fairchild must have dropped a coin.
He bent, reached for it—and his blood ran cold.
Candlelight glinted on a small medallion, coloring the silver a burnished gold. In the center, an inlaid onyx symbol shone dull black. His breath wanted to hitch, so he clenched his teeth and drew air between them. It wasn’t rage that gripped him, but an icy calm.
He folded the medallion into his palm, squeezed. The round shape bit into his hand. Flesh held memory. He’d held a similar medallion once before—only that time, he’d stood over a woman as her life was just beginning to seep from her body.
The medallion was the sign of the Death Adder. An assassin that struck quickly and silently, before slithering away into the dark and leaving only the medallion behind as evidence of his kill.
Flipping the disc over, he studied the reverse side. There it was, glinting in gold light from the windows. The twisting “A” stamped into smooth silver. He turned it again to view the onyx symbol and ran a thumb over it. No two assassins used the same symbol on the front of their medallions. He’d always thought it a mark of pride as much as a calling card. This one he recognized easily enough. He had spent months meticulously researching that single French gypsy symbol.
Here we have to take revenge.
It had been revenge against him that caused Gemma’s death. Now, here in his hand, was the same sign, which indicated it was from the same assassin.
His fist clenched around the silver circle. Mrs. Fairchild carried the same assassin’s sign as Gemma’s killer. If he hadn’t seen a man running away that day, he would suspect it was Lilias Fairchild who had stolen that vibrant life.
He looked through the terrace door. The Widow Fairchild laughed with some poor sod who was dancing attendance on her. Damn if that smile didn’t look genuine. But he had seen her wield a sabre, had heard her war cry rise above the battle.
Ah yes. She could be an assassin.
And she had the medallion.
IT WAS RIDICULOUS.
She was thinking of having an affair with Angelstone. Her cheeks warmed at the thought and she lifted one hand to her face. The exhilaration that had whipped through her at Lord Angelstone’s words still hummed along her skin two hours later. She very much wanted to see him again.
The Fairchild carriage rocked on its springs as it turned a corner. Lilias shifted in her seat and pulled her shawl closer.
“Are you chilled, my dear?”
“No, Grant. I’m comfortable.” She smiled at the man ranged on the seat across from her. Her husband’s cousin. She’d known him for as long as she’d known Jeremy and his face was nearly as dear to her. “I’m quite warm, in fact.”
“Good. It’s cold this evening.” The carriage lamps gilded Lord Grant Fairchild’s burnished hair and threw his broad shoulders into relief. “I don’t want you to catch a chill.”
“Oh, she’s fine, Grant.” Catherine Fairchild nodded her head knowingly, sending the black feathers anchored in her hair quaking. “You insist on coddling her, but all of society knows she’s quite resilient.”
Lilias shared a laughing look with Grant before responding to the third occupant of the carriage. “Thank you, Catherine.” Her mother-in-law knew her well, even if Grant thought her a delicate English flower.
A feather drooped over Catherine’s ear. She shoved uselessly at it. “You wouldn’t have followed my Jeremy all the way to hell and back if you weren’t resilient, dear.”
“Catherine!” Lilias coughed into her glove, trying to hold back the laugh threatening to spill out.
“Nonsense.” Catherine waved her hand dismissively as the carriage rumbled to a halt. “As I always say, men do tend to forget the good Lord created women for childbirth. Thus, we can do anything. Now, Grant, help me down. I’m old.”
“You are anything but old, Aunt Catherine,” Grant said, stepping down to the walkway. He turned and offered his hand, then grinned at Catherine as she set her hand in his. “You’re slim as a fairy and delicate as a rose.”
“I may be slim and delicate, but I’m still twice your age,” Catherine snorted as they ascended the steps of the townhouse.
Lilias followed the pair up the steps toward the bright light spilling out of Fairchild House. As she stepped through the front door and into the soaring foyer, she thought for the hundredth time how blessed she was that Jeremy’s family had accepted her without a qualm after his death. She’d had nowhere else to go and little money. And she’d desperately needed a place to heal.
“Good night, my darlings,” Catherine called out as she tottered up the carved staircase toward the next floor and her bedroom. With decorative feathers bouncing in her white hair, she looked like an ancient sparrow flitting around the townhouse.
Lilias laughed quietly at her own fancy and let her shawl slip from her shoulders. Gathering the embroidered Kashmir in one hand, she pulled up her skirts with the other to follow Catherine upstairs.
Looking over her shoulder to say good night, she found Grant watching her steadily from the door of his study, an arrested expression on his face. He filled the opening, his wide shoulders elegant in black evening clothes.
Foot poised on the lowest step, she paused and raised her brows. “Grant?”
“May I have a word?” he asked.
Skirts rustling, she changed course and followed Grant into the study. He stood before the fireplace, his back to her.
Curiosity drew her forward. He seemed to be contemplating the three sets of binoculars displayed on the mantelpiece with great seriousness. When she stepped beside him and looked up into his handsome face, he met her expression with sober eyes.
“I don’t think I’ve said it yet, but I’m glad to see you’re out of mourning, my dear.” His eyes flicked over her cream and silver gown, down to her cream gloves, then up again to her face. A smile tugged at one corner of his mouth. “Though black did suit your fair coloring.”
“Thank you.” Though it was an awkward compliment.She draped her shawl over the arm of a nearby chaise. Peeling off her gloves, she laid them over the shawl.
“What finally persuaded you to leave mourning behind?”
“It’s time.” Lilias breathed deep, so deep the thin fabric of her bodice strained at the seams. The comforting scents of wood smoke, beeswax and lemon mingled on the air. “I finally feel whole, Grant. I’m ready to live life again.”
The words were an echo of her conversation with Lord Angelstone. She felt a tingle in her veins as she pictured that strong face, the tawny eyes. Her stomach did a long, slow roll that left her breathless.
“I’m happy to hear it, Lilias.” Grant’s quiet words drew her attention again. “As is Catherine, I’m sure. You were so lost after Waterloo.”
“Only my heart had been lost.” It had seeped into the ground of the Netherlands, along with Jeremy’s blood. “But that was two years ago.”
“Jeremy would not want you to mourn for so long.”
“No.” But she would never forget. The long, hard marches they’d endured together and the interminable wait when she was left behind. The deaths from disease and exhaustion and hunger. And the laughter and camaraderie that still prevailed in the end. Life always triumphed over death. “Truly, I’m ready to live again.”
She skimmed a fingertip over the bird feather lying on his desk. It was both soft and prickly against her skin. She had not the slightest idea what bird it came from, though it was a bright yellow color. Grant would know. He knew birds and feathers and bone structure and species. But for all his knowledge, there was a space between them. He would never understand the horror of bathing blood from one’s arms and hands.
“Where did you go, Lilias?” Grant asked softly.
Fingers jerked against the feather. “Forgive me.”
Grant’s quiet words drew her attention again, as did the gloved hand that skimmed down her arm to her fingers. He raised her hand, set it against his lips. A faint alarm rang in her head and she considered tugging her hand free. But his touch was soft, and when his gray eyes met hers she saw genuine affection there.
“Lilias. You are free to marry again. A suitable amount of time has passed—more than suitable, in fact.” His eyes darkened. “We are free to marry.”
“Please, listen.” He looked so serious, so determined, that she understood why he was an effective politician. And as he had so kindly invited her and Catherine to live with him after Jeremy’s death, she owed him much more than a few minutes of her time.
He dropped her hand in favor of curling his fingers around her shoulders. Gloved thumbs brushing lightly across her skin.
“I need a wife, Lilias. One who can act as a hostess and understands politics. One who will withstand the rigors of foreign travel and comprehend the nuances of foreign ballrooms. I need a partner by day—” He cupped her cheeks, his fingers warm even through his gloves, and brought his lips within a breath of hers. “And a companion at night.”
His lips touched hers. Gently, although she could feel the tension in his fingers and sensed the controlled passion beneath the gentleness. She dug deep inside herself and tried to find some tingle inside her. But she felt nothing. No tingle in her blood, no frantic beating of her pulse. No passion. No love.
Grant’s lips left hers, but his hands still cupped her cheeks. Firelight flickered over his face—a face most women would think devastatingly handsome. To her, he was simply Grant. Her husband’s cousin. Kind eyes, broad shoulders she could depend on and a smile that charmed other women senseless.
“No.” Reaching up, she placed her hands lightly over his and drew them away from her cheeks. “No, Grant. I cannot.”
Understanding flickered and his face blanked. “Don’t refuse yet. Think about my offer. Give yourself a few more weeks, even months, to decide.” He stepped back, and her hands fell helplessly to her sides.
“I don’t need time to—”
“Just wait a little longer.” He strode to the door. His hand gripped the doorframe when he stopped at the threshold. He didn’t turn, but he spoke. “I would make you a good husband, Lilias.” Then he was gone, and all she could hear was his slow, heavy footfalls as he made his way to the upper floors.
“I know,” she whispered, her heart aching for him.
Picking up her shawl and gloves, Lilias followed more slowly, her steps light in the quiet house. When she reached her room, she lit a single candle and set it on the nightstand. Her shawl, gloves and reticule dropped to the floor. She lowered herself to the bed and gripped the edge of the mattress. Leaning forward, she stared into the dancing candle flame and tried to envision marriage to Grant.
Debutantes considered him a catch. Wealthy, titled, handsome. Young enough to be thought in his prime. She would be the perfect hostess for him and was accustomed to the travel. She understood war and politics in a way some women did not. Marrying Grant would be the most sensible course of action. She could not be a poor widow forever and depend on his generosity.
But having felt desire again—even briefly—she knew she couldn’t marry Grant. Not ever. Her first marriage had been for love, and with that came a passion that had never waned. Not even in a tent worn thin by the elements after marching for miles in the bitter winter cold.
A discreet knock sounded on the door and a young maid stepped in.
“D’you need help, missus?”
“Just the buttons and stays, please,” Lilias answered vaguely, standing and turning her back toward the maid. The girl made quick work of the buttons and laces before slipping from the room, leaving Lilias alone to change into her nightclothes. Lilias let the gown fall to the floor, a whisper of sound in the silent room. Her stays followed before she slipped out of her chemise and let that slide to the floor as well.
Reaching up, she pulled the pins from her elaborate coiffure and laid them on her dressing table, one by one. Ropes of hair fell down her back, thick and heavy and full. She fingered a strand, pulling the length between her fingers. She hadn’t cut it in six years, not since shortly after her marriage.
She looked into the mirror, studying the curling blond locks and the way they tumbled over her bared breasts and swirled around her naked hips. The long strands shifted over her body, shimmering and glowing in the candlelight.
The Marquess of Angelstone flashed into her mind. He was rough and virile and—masculine. She thought of him now. Of those eyes gleaming when he looked at her. How would her hair look spread across his pillow? Across his body? Would it look the same against his skin as it did against hers?
It had been a very long time since she’d thought of her body as anything but a shell that needed food and sleep. Now, she saw those round breasts as something to offer to a man.
Sucking in a breath, Lilias pulled her hair back in quick, rapid strokes. She braided it in a familiar rhythm, right, left, right, left, until every lock was tucked away, then slid her nightgown over her head.
Pulling a small wooden box forward on the dressing table, she lifted the lid. A miniature lay inside. It was a simple painting of Jeremy’s plain, familiar face. His boyish grin flashed and his smiling eyes beamed up at her. She ran a finger down the painted face. They’d been so young when they’d married. Nothing seemed to matter but being together. And yet they had learned that life was hard. Tough. Loved ones died. The world turned on its axis.
And then life went on.
She turned her gaze away from the miniature. Beside the portrait lay an empty bed of black velvet, waiting for Jeremy’s last gift to her to be nestled in the soft fabric.
Lilias looked up and stared blindly into the mirror, seeing not herself, but Jeremy as he had been in those last moments of life. Gray skin, blue lips, bloodied chest. She had never told another soul that Jeremy was alive when they brought him off the field. She’d never told anyone—not even Catherine—that she’d held him in her arms as he breathed his final breath. Or about the small medallion he’d given her as his final gift and that she carried everywhere with her.
She searched the room for her reticule, found it on her dresser where the maid had set it. Lilias opened the pretty beaded bag and dug inside for the silver and onyx medallion. When her fingers didn’t find the item she was searching for, she pulled the drawstring open wide and turned the bag inside out. A comb dropped onto the dresser, as did coins, a handkerchief and a vial of smelling salts she never used but always carried.
Nausea rose in her, filling her throat with bile.
The medallion wasn’t there.
HE HEARD THEM before he saw them. Voices. Laughing. Female. The bright sound spilled from the yellow salon, like cheerful butterflies fluttering and tumbling into the hall.
Pausing in the door, Angel studied the women inside. Four of them. Two young widows, an orphan and a mother who had lost her husband and two of her sons. Yet there they were, laughing as though they hadn’t a care in the world.
Once, he had imagined Gemma among them.
The youngest of the females sat on the floor, tongue trapped between her teeth as she carefully arranged tin soldiers in formation. Her fingers were precise in their movements. A six-year-old general commanding her troops.
“Watch out, Boney! Uncle Angel’s going to get you!” She swiped a hand across the field of battle, scattering the troops. Leaping to her feet, she hooted and danced around the fallen soldiers. Braids flew in all directions. “I told you, I told you! Uncle Angel will get you all!”
Laughter again from the women. He smiled and joined the conversation.
“Well, Maggie, aren’t you a blood-thirsty chit?” he said.
Four pairs of female eyes turned in his direction. He grinned when Maggie raced toward him, her rounded cheeks pink with pleasure.
“Uncle, you won the war again.” Spindly arms wrapped around his waist, hugging tight.
“So I see,” he said. A small face tipped up, lips pursed. He obliged and presented his cheek for a kiss. She smelled of childhood and sweets. “Mmm. Peppermint drops.”
Maggie giggled, squeezed once more and then danced off in favor of the soldiers. “Mama said I could have only one peppermint drop because we’ll be having luncheon soon. But I told her I need two. I’m starving!”
“You’re always starving.” Maggie’s mother, Lisbeth, smiled fondly. “You’re growing. We’ve had to order all new dresses—again!” Though most of the light in Lisbeth’s eyes had died with her husband, it returned when she looked upon her daughter.
“Just like your father. He outgrew everything as soon as he put it on.” The Dowager Marchioness of Angelstone laughed as she pulled a needle through stiff white fabric. Her thin countenance and spare body lent her an air of severity that showed nothing of the generosity and joy beneath.
Maggie beamed delightedly. “I love being like Papa.”
Ah, the simplicity of childhood. Maggie wanted to look like Hugh, talk like Hugh, play with his boyhood toys. Hence the battered tin soldiers.
“Can I play, Maggie?” Elise, the widow of Angel’s oldest brother, tossed aside her needlepoint.
“A wise decision, Elise,” he said. “I think your needlepoint is on fire.” Even from across the room, the garish combination of orange and pink embroidered flowers struck Angel blind.
Elise laughed and waved the unsightly design away. “I know. It’s perfectly ugly. I love it.” Then she was down on the floor, bringing the dead soldiers back to life and grouping them into formation. Maggie settled beside her.
Angel studied Elise’s bent head as he worked off his constricting leather gloves. She should have had children. She and John should have had a dozen children and spent their lives as the Marquess and Marchioness of Angelstone. Now she, too, was a widow, her husband carried off by putrid fever and with no child to comfort her.
He stuffed his gloves into his pocket and flexed his fingers. Better. He turned toward the ladies still sitting by the window. Sunlight spilled over them. The sight of them sent a pang through his heart.
“How was the ball last night, Angel?” Lisbeth asked. The sun turned her ordinary brown hair to shining mahogany.
“Did you meet anyone interesting?” The dowager marchioness looked down her long nose at her son.
“What you are asking, Mother, is did I offer marriage to anyone last night.”
“I hope you would tell me if you were planning to offer marriage to someone.” She sniffed, then sent him a sly look. “But, yes. That’s what I’m asking.”
“No. I did not offer marriage to anyone last night.” Instead, he’d found an assassin.
“It’s time, Angel, dear. As you well know.” The needlepoint fell unheeded into her lap. “You’re the last of the Whitmores. If you don’t produce an heir, some distant relation in America”—her bony shoulders shuddered—“will inherit the title.”
“Mother.” He kissed the dowager’s soft cheek, marveling at how few lines there were on her face considering the difficulties of the last few years. “I am aware that the demise of my freedom is at hand.”
“Demise.” From the floor, Elise snorted. Her striped ice blue gown looked decidedly unpleasant with its Pomona green trim. How an earl’s daughter could have such an abysmal sense of style had baffled all the Whitmores. “Marriage isn’t all bad, Angel. There are occasional benefits to marriage, you know.”
“Regular relations, for one thing.”
“Elise!” Lisbeth sputtered, followed by shocked laughter. “Maggie is present.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake—”
“It’s fine, Mama,” Maggie said matter-of-factly. “I know what relations are. Lord Pemby in Number 4 next door has relations with Mrs. Bider in Number 9. Grandmamma says they are quite indiscreet.”
“Heavens, I said no such thing!” The dowager tried to look innocent. It didn’t work.
“Oh dear.” Lisbeth buried her face in her hands, even as laughter shook her shoulders.
“Relations aside,” Angel said, trying to keep a straight face, “what other benefits are there to marriage?”
“Ah. Well—” the dowager began. “Um.” She fingered her needlepoint contemplatively.
“There’s always . . . hm.” Lisbeth stared out the window.
“A wife can warm your bed,” Maggie piped up. “Your bed must be very cold, because Grandmamma says that half of the women in London have tried to warm your bed.”
“Grandmamma!” Lisbeth slid down in her chair while Elise snickered from the floor.
“I suppose a warm bed would be nice.” Amused, Angel watched his mother’s face flush with embarrassment as she busied herself with the needle and thread.
“And then of course, there’s love, isn’t there?” Maggie finished. Every eye in the room fastened on her. “Grandmamma says she married for love, and she was happy her sons did as well. She says no one should ever marry for anything but love.”
“Your Grandmamma is a very wise woman,” Angel said softly, eyes on that solemn pixie face. “I hope you listen carefully to her.”
“Angel.” The dowager’s needlepoint lay forgotten. “Isn’t there anyone . . . ?” But she stopped. She always did. She had never met Gemma, but she’d known there was someone. He supposed mothers usually did. Then it had all ended, and there had been no one important since.
“Excuse me, Mother. Ladies.” He bowed to the collective female company. The only woman not watching him with some pity was Maggie, who was busy with her soldiers. “I was informed I had a missive waiting for me when I arrived. I must attend to it.”
THEIR VOICES ECHOED down the hall and into his study long after he had left them. He kept the study door open. He wanted to hear that bright, feminine sound.
He broke the seal on the message, smoothed out the folds in the paper. He sifted through multiple sheets, thumbs skimming across the smooth surface. What had the lovely Widow Fairchild been doing in the last few years? And where had she come from?
If the reports were to be believed—and they should, as he’d asked his best informants—she was the daughter of a country squire. She’d married the only son of a neighboring family, who went to war against his father’s wishes, but with the support of his mother. And her own family? What of them? The report did not say.
The quill on the edge of his desk was light in his fingers as he made a note to pursue information on her family. Then he turned to the next portion of the report. Lilias Fairchild had followed Major Fairchild on nearly every campaign, usually traveling with the troops, though she did occasionally travel separately with other families.
He had a good idea of her experiences on the march. She might sleep anywhere from a local inn with clean sheets to a tent in an open field. Perhaps even a makeshift hut, if necessary. Disease, low rations. Cold. God, he remembered the cold himself. It didn’t just seep into the bones. It pierced with such bitterness a man could barely sleep or eat. Worse was the danger of retreating armies after a battle and the plundering that occurred.
Not a pretty tale. But she had lived it, according to the official military records. The question was, what part of her life was not in the official records?
He could find nothing untoward in her history, so he turned to Major Fairchild’s military record. It was exemplary. He had earned his promotions, was well respected by his men. Angel studied a list of campaigns the regiment had been on. He ran a finger down the rows of letters. They had not been in Pamplona when Gemma had been killed, but the regiment had been at the siege of San Sebastián. Only fifty miles. Less, perhaps. It had been a two-month siege. Plenty of time to travel to Pamplona.
Excerpted from "In Bed with a Spy"
Copyright © 2014 Alyssa Alexander.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for In Bed with a Spy: A Spy in the Ton Novel
"Nonstop suspense keeps the reader guessing, and Alexander draws truly memorable characters who will live on in the reader's heart."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Another powerhouse read from a talented newcomer who crafts an incredibly paced spy thriller. The characters, passionate romance and adventure will captivate, enthrall, and take readers' breaths away."—RT Book Reviews, Top Pick
"Lilias is a worthy heroine—beautiful and sweet but with plenty of sharp edges and innate abilities . . . [a] delightful novel."—Kirkus Reviews
"Readers cheer Lilias and Angel on to victory in both the game of espionage and the game of love."—Booklist
Praise for The Smuggler Wore Silk: A Spy in the Ton Novel
“Alyssa Alexander captivates with a potently drawn Regency suspense that will keep you turning pages far into the night. With perfectly paired protagonists…Alexander delivers a lively, twisting romance with an undercurrent of gritty realism. With wicked dialogue and well-researched historical facts, Alexander is clearly an author we ought to watch and read.”—Jennifer McQuiston, author of Moonlight on My Mind
“Hot, suspenseful, and wildly romantic. A lushly told romance that takes you back to the fascinating Regency world of small village drama and international politics—all converging on the white-hot attraction between a sexy spy and a daredevil smuggler destined to trump fate.”—Kiernan Kramer, author of Sweet Talk Me
“Romantic suspense at its very best. Alyssa Alexander weaves a tantalizing tale of moral dilemma, political intrigue, and enough heart-thumping romance to keep you turning the pages.”—Tracy Brogan, author of The Best Medicine
“Well-drawn characters, superb dialogue, and a decent plot will keep pages turning.”—Publishers Weekly
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In Bed with a Spy by Alyssa Alexander is the 2nd book in her Spy in the Ton series. This is my first book by Alyssa Alexander, and after finishing In Bed With a Spy, it will not be my last. I do enjoy some Historical/Regency Romance, but it is not my go to, as I usually prefer Contemporary Romance. When I started this book, it caught my interest immediately when the soldier in the midst of a war battle was mesmerized by the beautiful lady on horseback wielding a sword to fight off the enemy…it is here we meet the Angel of Vengeance. Two years later, after the battle at Waterloo is over, Alistair Whitmore (Angel), the Marquess of Angelford, who is our hero, attends a ball. Angel is known as a rake and a womanizer, but what most people do not know, he is a British Spy. At the ball, he spots a beautiful blond haired young lady, who had all men surrounding her. When she turns around, he recognizes her as the woman of his dreams for the last two years, the one known as the Angel of Vengeance. Lilias Fairchild is our heroine, who is a widow, with all the available men fawning over her. The moment she too spots Angelford, she recognizes the soldier who stared at her during the battle. Immediately, they both feel the attraction, with the chemistry between them igniting. There were two major parts of this wonderful story, which I finished in one day. The slow build romance between Alaistair (Angel) and Lilias was so beautifully done, with each having relationships from the past that holds them back from totally trusting each other. But as they become involved in a suspense intrigue, their chemistry is off the wall, as they act on their feelings, thinking it’s just a fling. They were so passionate & great together, as well as being fun spies. The second part was the ongoing suspenseful investigation to find the killers behind the assassinations by the group called the Adders. This was such a great mystery, with a lot of excitement and danger. Lilias, much to Angel’s dismay becomes involved in the investigation, since she finds out her dead husband was involved. They did make a great team, and there was so much action, we held our breaths at times if they would survive. I could not put the book down, since I was impatient to find out so many questions that I needed answers to: Who was the mastermind of the Adders? Would Lilias allow herself to fall in love with Angel? Will Angel get past his horrifying memory of a past love, and open himself to Lilias? Will they survive their investigation? The last 1/3 of the book was so exciting and heart-stopping. There were a number of twists, and betrayals that added to the suspense. Alyssa Alexander has given us a wonderful intimate and suspenseful story, with a fabulous couple. Bravo! I totally recommend you read this book.
Wonderful story!!! Angel and Lilias are perfect H/H. The story is filled with suspense yet balanced with the development of the romance between Angel & Lilias. Don’t miss reading this book. My only STRONG suggestion to the author- better endings. This is my second book of yours I have read and you completely drop the ending. Find another chapter or include an epilogue.
Ms Alexander, please keep writing these wonderful romantic mysteries.
I didn't really care for this book, it was 2/3 rds sexual and the rest a spy story. I was so excited to read this book because the authors first book, "The Spy Wore Silk" was such a wonderful book, I just could not put it down! She also used Christ carelessly in, "In Bed With a Spy". She did not do that in her first book. Perhaps the author should reread her first book so she knows how an exceptional book should written! I will no longer read her books if she going to go the way of all the other authors who are writing sex throughout the books without a story! Blah, blah
Alastair Whitmore, the Marquess of Angelstone, is a spy. Known as Angel, he’s a third son who unexpectedly inherited the title upon the deaths of his older brothers. He generously provides for both his brothers’ widows and his young niece, Maggie, as well as his mother, without complaint. This family dynamic is nicely portrayed; Angel is a dangerous spy who also deeply loves his family and protects them as an honorable and kind gentleman ought to. Angel’s current assignment also involves seeking revenge for the murder of his first love, Gemma, a fellow spy who was killed by a group of assassins known as the Death Adder. With Sir Charles, his older no-nonsense commander as well as the indefatigueable Jones, Angel’s butler cum assistant, they are closing in on the killer(s). When Angel finds a medallion after his first meeting with Lilias—the exact same medallion found near Gemma’s body and every other victim of the Death Adder—he immediately suspects Lilias. When he learns it was Jeremy’s final gift to her, he intimates that Jeremy may have been part of the Death Adder network, an accusation she angrily denies. Lilias Fairchild is the beautiful widow of Major Jeremy Fairchild, a soldier killed at Waterloo. A brave and fierce woman who fought on the battlefield, grief-stricken with rage, upon his death, she is no shrinking violet. She is confident, brave, and knows what she wants. And when she meets Angel, they immediately make clear their mutual attraction and intention for an affair. But when she realizes that Angel’s suspicions of her husband’s questionable and hidden past just might be true, she feels a new rage at her own foolishness and at not seeing her husband for his true self; she feels betrayed. Angel and Lilias’ love story is a very mature and adult romance. They are discreet but they have no qualms about denying their attraction, having an affair, and giving each other pleasure. Of course, it turns into love. I like how, despite the fact that Angel wants to keep Lilias safe, she defies him when she thinks she should, her gender be damned. But she is not foolhardy and Angel comes to respect her intelligence and judgment, even if he disagrees because he desperately wishes to protect her. Their relationship is based on trust and respect, a foundation for a lasting relationship. As a woman in Regency England Lilias, as well as Jeremy’s kindly mother, Catherine, are dependent on Jeremy’s handsome, titled, and successful cousin, Grant Fairchild, an esteemed member of the ton and also the House of Lords. The way that Alexander presents Grant is a tribute to her talent as a writer. He comes across as compassionate and kind. I very much like Catherine, Lilias’ mother-in-law, a smart and attractive, older woman. The friendship and candor between the two women is refreshing to read and emphasizes their closeness and respect for one another. And the way Angel’s sisters-in-law tease him is charming and sweet. I loved Alexander’s debut, The Smuggler Wore Silk and, while I preferred that story, this sophomore novel is just as engaging, thrilling, and exciting. Julian, there hero of the first novel, is Angel’s fellow spy. But I am disappointed by the villain. I didn’t have any inkling of his identity until near the end but I won’t say more as it will spoil the story. It’s also very nice to see a fellow Michigander become a successful historical romance author. Congratulations!
I was very disappointed with this book. With such great reviews i expect a five star book. This is not one. The book is ok. I easily knew who the bad guy was, but kept hoping to be surprised. I wasnt. There were a few laughs but not enough to enrich the book.
Amazing Romantic Suspense! In Bed With A Spy is the second book in this amazing series (Spy in the ton). Alistair Whitmore, the Marquess of Angelford is a British spy and rake who is captivated by the beautiful woman he saw in battlefield two years ago. When he sees her in the crowded ballroom, he can't stop his attraction to her. Lilias Fairchild nickname Angel of Vengeance is a young widow out of mourning after 2 years. This is a fantastic romantic suspense, Alyssa Alexander's writing captivates the reader from the first page. I love how the hero and heroine learn to trust each other and share their secrets. This is a fabulous story of love, secrets, lies, betrayal and romance.I really enjoyed Lilias and Angel's story. The secondary characters were charming and fun too. I can't wait to read her next book. Thank you Alyssa Alexander.
Breathtaking romantic suspense! 6 stars Fiction historical lovers will love Alistair and Lilias's story! If you love a romantic Regency suspense, then you will adore IN BED WITH A SPY, that got me pulled into the story, so much, that I could not put it down, I read it in two days! Written by Alyssa Alexander, it's the passionate love story of two tortured souls! I really enjoyed this book, the second in her series SPY IN THE TON. I loved her two main characters Alistair, AKA Angel and Lilias, two lovable personages; Ms. Alexander's secondary characters added a touch of mystery Grant, Jason and the charming Catherine. Alistair Whitmore, the Marquess of Angelford, is a British spy and Lilias Fairchild, a young widow, known as the Angel of Vengeance. They have a glimpse of each other, during a bloody battle, where Lilias is among the men battling as an cavalry officer. Alistair suddenly, becomes mesmerized by this mysterious lady! Two year after, at a ball, they meet again! The attraction, soon, ignites as their eyes met. The handsome Alistair is a spy and a rake, what woman could not resist him! Even if they are attracted to each other, they loved the play the seduction game. As soon as, I started chapter three, I really got captivated by the intrigue, to find out who was the assassin with the mysterious medallion! Both have lost love ones and trust is not part of their lives, so, they must learn to share their deepest secrets and trust each other, to be able to work as a team. Will they find this murderer, but at what cost? Will their lives be threaten? Will she fall in love with this devilish rake? Will they become the assassin's next victim. Ms. Alexander really wrote a breathtaking suspense! I strongly recommend this Regency suspense filled with lies, secrets, betrayal and romance! I'm looking forward to read her next book! Excellent writing!
I just about fell in love with Angel in The Smuggler Wore Silk, Ms. Alexander’s first book in this series, and I must say I am overjoyed with the results: IN BED WITH A SPY is simply perfect! The romantic and mysterious Angel, besides fighting assassins, traitors and conspirators has found a sensuous and enigmatic widow to brighten up his life. IN BED WITH A SPY is even more beautifully written than the first book, the romance is as exciting as the spying. It’s brilliant! Definitely no sophomore jinx for Alyssa Alexander!