Book 1: Courting Danger
Ellen Montgomery wants nothing more than to live her life on her terms. However when her Father catches her riding his favorite stallion astride and in her brothers breeches no less, he decides to send Ellen to Paris for some much needed polish before the London Season. Ellen is soon fascinated with the Lords she meets, but only one makes her blood burn in more ways than one!
Christopher Fairfax, the new Earl of Durham has sworn off women, they are nothing but trouble. But he soon finds himself intrigued by his best friend’s younger sister, a wild little hellion who won’t listen to reason and won’t stay out of his head.
Ellen and Christopher both find themselves courting danger when they find a common enemy in Lord Darby, a ruthless man wanted by the crown for murder. A man determined to gain Ellen’s hand and therefore her fortune in marriage by any means necessary. Ellen and Christopher must work together to stop him before it’s too late.
Ellen joined her aunt in the front hall and they walked out to their waiting carriage together.
“Will Mr. Fairfax and Jonathon be joining us this evening?”
“I fear not my dear. He and your brother have both deserted us for the gaming clubs I believe.”
Ellen was disappointed to find that he would not be joining them in their box at the Opera that evening. Ever since she had realized her true feelings for him earlier that morning, she had hoped to run into him and start repairing their relationship. “Oh. I see.”
“I am sure that we shall have a fine time without them my dear. Countess Olivia and Lord Sinclair are sure to join us.”
Ellen glanced down the street as she climbed aboard the carriage. She noticed an unfamiliar equipage parked down the block, but in the streetlight, she could not make out the crest. Something about it disturbed her, however she was unsure what. “Aunt Kate, do you know whose carriage that is?”
Kate glanced in the direction Ellen had indicated and studied the crest upon the door. “Why, if I am not mistaken, I believe that those are the Duke of Avebury’s colors, though I cannot be sure, my dear.”
Feeling worried, Ellen frowned, for the Duke lived on the opposite side of Paris. “What could he possibly be doing over here?”
“I would not worry about it, love, for if it is he, he shan’t bother us.”
They rode to the south of the city where the opera house was located. Jean opened the carriage door and helped them to descend. They entered the exquisitely decorated building and made their way through the throng of patrons to their box on the second floor. Ellen sat down in one of the front seats so that she might take everything in, and looked around in excitement. The stage, hidden by gold brocade curtains, would be easy to see from their seats. She glanced up with delight at the gorgeous tapestries hanging upon the walls. Everything looked so inviting.
Picking up her opera glasses, Ellen gazed about the room, waiting for the Opera to start. Her eyes caught on the box directly across from her and she gasped.
Christopher sat across from the Well’s box with a stunning raven-haired courtesan. At least that is what Ellen suspected her to be. The woman wore a dangerously low cut gown of ruby red silk. She had a positively gaudy diamond necklace around her throat and the seductive way she leaned into Christopher made Ellen sick with jealousy.
She felt as if she had been slapped. “How dare he!” Positive that her cheeks were as red as the Cyprian’s gown, Ellen covered them, willing herself to be calm. She turned at once to Lord Sinclair, who had just entered the box. “Lord Sinclair, how lovely it is to see you. Will you be joining us for the entire performance, Milord?”
Sinclair smiled. “If you wish, my dear Miss Montgomery, it would be my pleasure. I had hoped to be invited to sit with you for a while.” He took the seat next to her.
Ellen turned her fiery gaze back to Christopher. If he thinks I am going to behave the proper lady with him sitting with a harlot, then he has another think coming. She leaned in closer to Lord Sinclair with determination and her most charming smile. “Have you seen this opera, Milord?”
“I am afraid not, however I am told that it is quite delightful,” he answered, a roguish grin lighting his face. “You do look very lovely this evening Miss Montgomery.”
“La Sir! You will put me to the blush!” she exclaimed as she tapped him playfully with her fan, her eyes twinkling with naughtiness.
“So what has put you into such high spirits this evening?” he asked.
“Why, it is your company, of course, my Lord,” she answered with an amused smile.
“I could not possibly take all of the credit for your mood. Perhaps it is the…atmosphere.” Sinclair arched an eyebrow and cast a look across the room with a smile.
“A lady would never admit to that, Milord.” Ellen brushed her fan against her left cheek and felt her cheeks heat at his look.
Book 2: Artifice
David Alexander Cole, the Earl of Whitborne is tired of his life as an agent, but when he meets an enchanting young miss with an unusual request he finds he cannot help but be intrigued. Miss Joanna Deville enters his life like a whirlwind and he finds himself hard pressed not to help her in her quest for love, but soon finds himself entangled in a love triangle. The game is one of deception, make a certain gentleman jealous, and catch a jewel thief in the process, but it goes awry when he finds himself falling in love with Joanna’s devastatingly beautiful best friend, Miss Arianna Channing. What’s a spy to do when confronted with such Artifice…
Arianna Channing has always been the belle of the ball. Her entourage includes all of the most eligible gentlemen, and she enjoys the power her beauty has over them, but there is one… One delectable rake with the power to make her feel something more, something real and true, but he’s embroiled in a charade of love with her best friend. How can she ever convince the rakishly handsome Lord Whitborne to quit his deception and join her in a true romance…
“Very well, my dear, you have yourself a bargain. As soon as we reach London, I shall become your Flirt. Though, I may ask for a favor in return later,” Alex replied, with a wicked grin.
Alex opened the terrace door and re-entered the room, picking up a glass of lemonade as he did so. He studied the room and noticed that Lady Colby had indeed returned and without her diamond necklace. “Damn it.” Alex swore under his breath as he searched the room for Lord Trevers, but he was nowhere to be found.
“Alex, the second waltz is about to begin,” Joanna said as she reached his side, still curious about why he had rushed away as he had. “You had better find Arianna if you still want to dance with her.”
“You are right my sweet.” Alex smiled at her. “Thank you,” he replied as he went in search of Arianna. Someday he would have to explain himself to her, he knew that she would start asking questions soon.
“My dear Miss Channings, it is our dance I believe,” Alex said as he approached her, a twinkle in his smoky blue-gray eyes.
“I thought you had forgotten me Milord. I was just about to accept Lord Crenshaw’s offer of a lemonade.” Arianna smiled at her current swain. “I am sorry Lord Crenshaw, perhaps later.”
“I will be waiting right here with a lemonade when you return Miss Channings,” Crenshaw said with devotion.
“Thank you, Milord.” Arianna gave him a devastating smile as she walked gracefully to the dance floor with Alex.
“You have him trained well Miss Channings,” Alex said sardonically.
“I have done nothing of the sort,” Arianna replied huffily. “Lord Crenshaw is totally devoted to making sure that I am comfortable, I never asked it of him. He volunteered.”
“And they call me a Rake,” Alex whispered in her ear as he pulled her closer, demanding her full attention.
Arianna looked up at him breathless. He really was a most exciting man, she thought to herself. She would never tell him she thought so though. “If you do not loosen your hold on me Milord, I shall have to do something drastic,” Arianna said instead.
“Such as my dear?” Alex asked with a grin as he pulled her even closer.
Arianna narrowed her eyes, and instead of answering, kicked him in the shin with her slippered foot.
Alex laughed and loosened his hold, but not too much. “Is that more to your liking my dear?” He grinned down at her. She looked extremely tempting in her sapphire blue silk gown that was so low-cut he could practically see down the inside of it. She made his head spin with thoughts of her in his bed. He shook his head to clear the images from his mind.
“No, but it shall have to do,” Arianna replied, thinking that she had actually preferred being held as close to him as she could get.
“Would you care to go for a walk upon the terrace Arianna?” Alex asked, hoping that she would say yes and he could steal a kiss.
“I think not Milord,” Arianna said, knowing that he had something else in mind and she was not ready to put herself in that position with him. “For I do believe that could quite ruin my reputation,” she said, but continued as she saw his eyes narrow, knowing he thought she was referring to his rumored reputation. “For I never leave the ballroom with just one gentleman, all of the others would get quite jealous.” Arianna smiled wickedly.
Alex laughed and acknowledged the truth of her statement. “Ah but it would be worth it dissuade all of your swains, my little temptress.”
“And what would I do without them Milord? For I should be quite lonely with not one gentleman to dance with,” Arianna said teasingly.
“Oh but my dear girl, you would have me to dance with.” Alex’s eyes turned even greyer with desire and Arianna caught her breath at his duel meaning.
“I fear that would truly ruin my reputation Milord, dancing with only you. For I should never be invited to another ball again.” Arianna gave him a devastating smile.
“Hmmm, then I suppose I shall just have to lead you back to your entourage.” Alex grinned as he escorted her off the dance floor.
Arianna gave him another devastating smile and his heart flipped in his chest. “Until next time Milord.”
“Enjoy your evening Miss Channings.” Alex grinned and bowed over her hand. He regretfully left her in the hands of her court who were immediately fawning over her. He caught her eye and winked before going in search of Joanna.
Book 3: Charade
Jessica Farrington fell in love with Lord Ashley Sinclair the moment they were reacquainted. She only wishes that he actually felt the same desire for her, as she does for him. Jessica soon finds that she must leave London when a letter arrives informing her of her father’s assassination attempt in Vienna. Her best friends join her on her journey and she realizes that Ashley will be along as well. She is secretly thrilled, for it will afford her more time in his company.
Enter Lord Knight, a handsome and romantic masked Romeo, who takes Jessica’s breath away. His late night visits to her balcony, and his stolen kisses have Jessica’s heart soaring. His dancing grey eyes and wicked smile remind her so much of her love, but are her suspicions of her amorous Romeo correct?
Join Jessica and her friends as they travel to Vienna to unmask an assassin and find her heart’s desire.
Jessica smiled curiously up at the knight that she was dancing with. She still had not gotten his name. “Sir, how is it you know my name, but I do not know yours?”
“As I said, Miss Farrington, I have admired you from afar for quite some time now. I have only now gotten up the courage to speak to you because we are disguised.”
“Then what shall I call you?” Jessica smiled incredulously.
“Call me…the servant of your heart, for whatever you desire; it is my only wish to give it to you.” He held her close and whispered in her ear.
His softly spoken words took her breath away. “Milord, I cannot….”
“Then what do you wish to call me?” he asked. “For that is who I shall be,” he said intensely.
Jessica took a deep breath to clear her head. “I suppose that I shall call you my Lord Knight.”
“Then that is who I shall be.” He smiled softly down at her, wishing that he could kiss her.
“Now my Lord Knight, how will I know it is you when next we meet?” Jessica looked up at him breathlessly.
“You shall know me my dear Aphrodite, have no fear about that.” As he smiled down at her, it struck her that it was familiar, as was the way he held her in his arms.
“Then I shall look forward to when next we meet.” Jessica’s eyes sparkled like china blue jewels in a mask.
“Until then, my darling Aphrodite.” He bowed over her hand and kissed it softly before disappearing into the crowd.
“Who was that you were just dancing with Jessica.”
“I am not at all sure Mother; he would not tell me his true name. Though there is something about him that reminds me of…” Jessica paused, a puzzled look upon her face. “But it is not at all possible.”
“Reminds you of who my dear?” Lady Farrington asked, slightly distracted as she looked around the ballroom for her husband.
“It is nothing Mother, just a feeling that I know that man quite well, and yet…” Jessica frowned.
“Well, if you do not know his name, then how can you know him well?”
“I do not know, Mother. But let us not worry about it anymore, for I am not going to think about it in the least,” Jessica lied to herself and her Mother.
“All right, my dear,” Lady Farrington replied still distracted, but upon seeing her husband she smiled. “Ah, look there is your Father, dancing with Lady Whitborne. My goodness, she is dressed as Cleopatra!”
“Ah so that explains Lord Whitborne’s costume. He must be Anthony.” Jessica grinned. “You do have to admit, if anyone can carry off Cleopatra, it is Arianna. It must have taken Sally hours to braid her hair like that.”
“Who are you looking at Jess?” Joanna asked when she returned with Lord Mayberry.
“Arianna,” Jess replied. “Look she even has a gold bracelet on her upper arm, and is it… my goodness it is shaped like a snake!”
“And who is this mysterious Arianna you are both talking about my little shepherdess?” Thomas asked with curiosity.
“Arianna is Lady Whitborne, Alex’s wife and one of our best friends,” Joanna replied with a smile. “She is dancing with Lord Farrington, right over there, by the orchestra.”
“Ah, Cleopatra, so that would make Alex… Anthony?” Thomas grinned.
“So it seems.” Jessica smiled. “So Thomas, are you not even going to say hello?”
“My lord Jess, I did not even recognize you!” Thomas replied with a grin. “You have grown up since I saw you last.”
Jessica grinned. “Well it has been several years.”
“So it has.” Thomas took her hand and brought it to his lips. “You look even more charming now than you did when you were ten.”
Jess blushed. “Oh do be quiet, you know that you thought me quite dreadful at ten.” She laughed.
“Never.” Thomas teased her.
“Do not listen to him Joanna, he truly did think me dreadful at ten. I used to tag along after him whenever he went anywhere.” Jessica grinned up at him.
“Well it was only because I was sixteen at the time and well…” Thomas grinned. “I suppose that I had sixteen year old things on my mind.”
“Do say that you will come by sometime soon so that we can catch up with each other.” Jessica smiled.
“I will.” Thomas smiled. “Now, my dear little shepherdess, I shall bid you good night.” Thomas took her hand as he bowed.
“Good night Lord Mayberry.” Joanna smiled as he walked away.
About the Author
Elizabeth A. Lance lives with her husband, Brandon, their two teens, lovingly nicknamed Princess and The Boy, and a menagerie of crazy animals. She is the author of several short stories, the Young Adult series, Soul Mates as well as the Agents for the Crown, Regency series with Crushing Hearts & Black Butterfly Publishing. She loves to hear from her fans and can be reached at http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethAnneLance/.
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