Simon Marcheford wants nothing more than to settle down on the land bestowed upon him by the English crown. Queen Elizabeth, however, is not about to let her best spy retire so easily. Simon will have his reward, she decrees, after he completes one last mission in Scotland. But no sooner has he sussed out a diabolical plot up North than Queen Mary weds him to her cousin—an exquisite beauty with troubled, soulful eyes—and orders Simon to watch her every move.
Aimee de Verris is no spy. But her life may depend on becoming one. Banished from the French court by Catherine de Medici, Aimee finds herself tasked with reporting on Queen Mary’s activities in Scotland, where she’s unnerved by the frigid weather and brutish customs. Worst of all, Aimee’s been married off to a most uncouth lout. But when murder strikes, she learns to appreciate Simon’s talent for shielding her with every inch of his muscular frame. If Aimee desires her husband, perhaps she could trust him—or even love him.
Look for all of Sharon Cullen’s delightful historical romances:
The All the Queen’s Spies series: WED TO A SPY | BOUND TO A SPY
The Secrets & Seduction series: THE NOTORIOUS LADY ANNE | LOVING THE EARL | PLEASING THE PIRATE | HIS SAVING GRACE | SEBASTIAN’S LADY SPY | THE RELUCTANT DUCHESS
The Highland Pride series: SUTHERLAND’S SECRET | MACLEAN’S PASSION | CAMPBELL’S REDEMPTION
Praise for Wed to a Spy
“The characters in this book were interesting and intriguing. The story was well written and sucked me in from the first page.”—Book Binge
“A captivating launch to the series.”—Publishers Weekly
“The character development was skillfully done, and the slow and sensual attraction between Simon and Aimee was slowly built and cleverly worked to perfection as Aimee discovered the difference between infatuation and true love.”—Color Me Read
Includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
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Holyrood Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
My dearest Pierre,
Scotland is a dreadful place, cold and damp and inhospitable. I do not know how these people live in such deplorable conditions or how they thrive without the warm sun that so often shines on my beloved France.
My sorrow and misery is doubled—nay, tripled—without your presence beside me. I lay my head on my pillow every night and dream of you.
I miss you so, Pierre. I had never believed such nonsense as a broken heart, but I believe it now. Mine is shattered into a thousand tiny shards and will not be whole again until we are reunited.
I live for that day, dream of it at every moment. I will stay chaste for you, as I promised. I will not even look upon another man, for you are the only man for me.
Scotland is as you described it. The people are welcoming and kind. I have formed a special bond with Queen Mary, as you had hoped, and we get along well. She is a good queen to her people—
Aimee de Verris threw her quill down, unable to continue with the lies she was attempting to tell her aunt Catherine de Medici. Oh, how she hated her aunt. Aimee looked longingly at her letter to Pierre and stroked the parchment, remembering the feel of his hands in hers, of his cheek pressed against her own. The parchment was a pale second to her Pierre.
With a frustrated growl, she stood and paced restlessly to the window to look out onto the cold landscape of Scotland. She was absolutely certain she would never be warm again. It was a cold that seeped into one’s bones and took up residence there. No matter how high her maid built the fire, Aimee was never warm. She snatched a thick shawl from the chair next to her and wrapped herself up in it, fighting tears of frustration and longing.
What was Pierre doing at this very moment? No doubt he was warm, but did he miss her as much as she missed him? Did he look at the moon as she did and wonder what she was doing at that very moment?
Her hatred for Catherine de Medici burned bright, but it was a cold hatred.
Aimee was Catherine’s spy, through no choice of her own. Just thinking of the night that had changed her entire world made Aimee want to shudder in fear. Catherine had stumbled across Aimee and Pierre in an intimate embrace. Catherine’s wrath was legendary. It was rumored that she beat her own children, and Aimee had been terrified that Catherine would unfurl that wrath on her and Pierre. Pierre had bravely stepped in front of Aimee and shielded her with his body. It was something Aimee would always remember. She’d felt so safe and protected and loved by Pierre.
But Pierre could not protect Aimee forever, and soon enough Catherine had exacted her revenge. She told Aimee that she was being sent to Mary’s court in Scotland. Aimee’s pleas fell on deaf ears. Her promises that Pierre loved her and wanted to marry her were scoffed at. Catherine had looked at her in disdain when, distraught, Aimee had fallen to her knees at Catherine’s feet and begged her not to send her away.
“If you think I will allow you to wed one such as him, you are touched in the head. He is not the one for you.”
Aimee had been stunned. Pierre came from an impeccable lineage. It was a coup for Aimee to have landed him, but none of that mattered to her. Pierre loved her. He’d told her so. And she loved him, and that was all that mattered.
Catherine had openly laughed at the proclamation of love. “You are a bigger fool than I thought. My sister should have sent you to me long ago. I fear it is too late to reform your harlot ways. Scotland will be good for you.” And then she’d outlined exactly what Aimee was to do in Scotland.
“I am being sent to the wilds of a barbaric country for something that I am not ashamed of,” Aimee had said to Catherine, her love for Pierre making her foolish and impetuous. “You are convinced that Pierre and I are not fit for each other and will never marry, so why should I do this thing for you?”
Catherine’s thunderous expression almost had Aimee backing down, but she’d thought of Pierre bravely standing in front of her and known that she could do no less for him.
To her surprise, Catherine’s expression had slowly lessened to thoughtfulness. “You are right, of course. You have no incentive to do as I say while you are ‘banished,’ as you call it. Send me reports on the Scottish queen, detailed reports that tell me what she is up to, and I will allow you to return to the French court. If Pierre is still waiting, you may have him.”
Shivering from the deep cold that seeped through the dark stone of Holyrood Palace, drawn away from her reveries, Aimee swiped at a lone tear and headed back to the escritoire, where she put her finished letter to Pierre and her unfinished letter to Catherine in a drawer beneath her prayer book.
Catherine was expecting a report from Aimee on Mary’s activities, but Aimee had nothing to report. Mary had been kind to her, and they had exchanged stories of growing up in France, but that was the extent of their conversations. If Catherine thought Queen Mary would divulge all her secrets to Aimee, then she was sorely mistaken.
A scratch at the door preceded her maid entering. “What gown will you be wearing tonight, my lady?”
Aimee closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. “Whatever you think is best, Hannah.”
Hannah went about the room, picking up this and that, presumably putting together Aimee’s clothing for the evening. Another evening spent with Mary and her entourage, pretending that she was happy and that she actually wanted to be here, when her heart was really in France with Pierre.