Everyone knows the Byron brothers are “mad, bad and dangerous.” But the devilishly desirable fourth son, Drake, is too scholarly to misbehave…or is he?
Lord Drake Byron has no time in his busy life to worry about taking a wife. He is more interested in the unbreakable code he has developed to defeat Napoleon’s forces. Little does he know that the irresistibly lovely new housekeeper he’s hired is really a French secret agent.
Sebastianne Dumont is not at all who she seems to be. Forced to spy to save her family, she embarks on a mission that takes an even more dangerous turn when she falls in love with the surprisingly tempting man she must ultimately betray. And if she succeeds in her mission, will she also break Lord Drake’s heart, while leaving her own behind?Read an Excerpt
5 Stars TOP PICK––“A fast-paced, delicious romp [that] captivated my attention and wouldn't let go until I reached the last page.” ––Ashia, The Romance Reviews
“Warren's latest will satisfy fans of suspenseful historical romance with plenty of red-hot lust and chilling danger.”––Publisher’s Weekly
“With every book in the Byron family series my thought is always ‘can the next book top this one? Well the answer is YES and yes and yes again.”––Mary Gramlich, The Reading Reviewer
“Delectable!”––Kathy Robin, Romantic Times BookReviews
Reaching out, Lord Drake Byron straightened the notes scattered across the scarred and stained oak surface of his desk, then returned the crystal stopper to its bottle of ink. He left a variety of pens, pencils and nubs of chalk where they lay, not far from a dish full of bolts, a coil of thin copper wire, an open pen knife and a hammer.
Turning on his heel, he departed the room.
Located as it was on the ground floor in the rear of the townhouse, his workshop was closer to the servant’s back staircase than to the main stairs. Often he found it far more convenient to use the servant’s stairs to make a quick jog up to his suite of rooms on the third floor than going around to the front.
He was just rounding the landing leading up the final flight of steps when a swish of dark skirts and a pair of small, leather-clad shoes appeared directly above him.
“Oh!” cried a woman, her silky voice skimming over him with the delicacy of a lark trilling out a morning call.
He stopped just in time to avoid colliding with her, the two of them crowded bare inches from each other on the narrow staircase. “Mrs. Greenway, is that you?”
Her gaze met his, her golden eyes bright as a pair of copper pennies. “M-my pardon, your lordship for not seeing you there.”
He brushed her apology aside. “No, no. Entirely my fault for taking the servants’ stairs.” He paused, tipping his head back for a better view.
And what a view it was, he decided, finding Anne Greenway even more attractive than he remembered, with her graceful figure, winsome mouth and creamy complexion. A faint dusting of color spread across her cheeks, a pale pink that reminded him of the delicate inside of a seashell.
“So, you’ve arrived?” he said, the remark sounding foolish even to his own ears.
“Yes,” she agreed, her hands clasped at her trim waist. “Only this hour past.”
He crossed his arms, then lowered them again when he noticed that it only brought him closer to her. “Are you finding everything to your liking so far? Your room? Is it acceptable?”
A tiny V appeared between her eyebrows, her expression clearly indicating her surprise at the inquiry. Completely valid, he supposed, considering that most employers wouldn’t have bothered to ask at all.
“Yes,” she said. “More than acceptable. Thank you, your lordship.”
He rocked back on one heel. “And the house? Have you had a chance to look around?”
The frown and the look of surprise made a second appearance. “No, not yet. I was just making my way belowstairs in order to meet the staff and acquaint myself with the premises. I am most eager to begin my duties.”
A pleasing enough statement for a housekeeper, he judged, one any employer should be glad to hear. So why did he have the impression she wasn’t nearly as eager as she said, but rather nervous instead? Then again why shouldn’t she be nervous? After all, this was her first day of employment in a new city, in a new house with a new master and a houseful of servants who were strangers to her. Under those circumstances, he would likely be nervous too.
“You’ll do fine,” he said, surprising them both this time. “First days are always difficult.”
She paused, an arrested expression in her eyes. “They are indeed. Thank you for your confidence in me, your lordship.”
Her lashes lowered in a graceful sweep before she bent her head forward. As she did, a brilliant shaft of sunlight rained down from the window above, shining onto her neatly pinned hair. She wore no bonnet this time, her richly-hued tresses creating a glorious riot of autumnal color––lush browns, gleaming reds and golds that ranged from pale ash to the deepest topaz. And entwined among them like rare strands of silver were those few gray hairs that ought to have once again reassured him of the appropriate advancement of her age.
Then he studied her face, finding her profile lovely and young.
Why did I hire her again? he wondered.
Because you’re an idiot, that’s why, came the answer.
Shifting his stance, he became uncomfortably aware of blood rushing to parts of his anatomy that he’d rather not think about at the moment.
“Well, I suppose I ought let you be on your way,” he said, taking a step back so that she might move past him. “Should you have any questions or concerns, pray address them to me without hesitation.”
She nodded, then started forward. A second later, she stopped. “Actually, I do have a question.”
He pressed himself back against the wall of the stairwell, fighting the impulse to step forward instead so he could press her against the wall and kiss her. His pulse sped faster, imagining the taste and sensation of her lips moving under his own. Instinctively, he knew she would taste delicious.
“Yes?” he murmured, half-hoping she was going to make his fantasy come true and ask him to do exactly that.
“Do you wish to be consulted regarding the dinner menus?” she inquired with quiet interest.
He gave her a blank stare, managing only by force of will not to betray his disappointment––or his desire.
Take charge of yourself, man, he thought, giving himself a firm mental slap. She’s the new housekeeper, and for her good and your own, you’d best remember that fact.
“Ordinarily I would discuss such matters with the lady of the house,” she continued, clearly unaware of his inner turmoil, “but since this is a bachelor’s establishment, I thought perhaps you would like to be personally consulted about the menus instead.”
He drew a slow, steadying breath. “There’s no need. So long as you don’t have Cook feed me fried liver or quail’s eggs, you have my leave to arrange the menus however you like.”
“No liver or quail’s eggs,” she repeated, a tiny smile curving over her mouth. “I believe I can remember that.”
He glanced away, her mouth far too tempting. “You’ll find that Mrs. Tremble has a deft hand at arranging such matters. You may put your trust in her judgment.”
“And so I shall. Thank you again, your lordship.”
Moving back another inch, he let her slip past him, her low-heeled shoes clicking softly against the wooden treads of the stairs. Only when she’d gone, did he heave out an exasperated sigh.
He’d been working too long and too hard, he decided, and had been neglecting his physical needs. Had he been less preoccupied with work of late, he surely wouldn’t have found himself so instantly and powerfully attracted to Anne Greenway.
It isn’t her per se, he assured himself. I’m just in need of a woman, that’s all. Maybe he would pay a call on Vanessa this evening. A lusty night spent in the arms of his mistress could only do him good. Besides he hadn’t seen Vanessa in nearly a fortnight and he always enjoyed her company, both in bed and out.
Feeling reassured by the idea, he turned and went up the last flight of stairs. But as he strode down the hallway to his bedchamber, it wasn’t Vanessa who was on still on his mind.
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