A Christmas Code
by Jacki Delecki
Series: The Code Breakers #2
Genre: Historical Romance, Suspense, Novella
Release Date: November 10th 2014
Format: eBook, 166 pages
Lady Gwyneth Beaumont has long awaited the opportunity to show Viscount James Ashworth that she is no longer the impetuous child who dogged his footsteps. Now a much sought-after debutante, she is determined to prove to the hard-headed rake that she is a grown woman and a worthy participant in both the spy game and the game of love.
Ash, recently returned from three years undercover in France in His Majesty’s service, wants nothing more than to complete his final mission and retire to his bucolic country estate. However, what seemed a simple assignment to protect the Prince Regent at a Christmas party turns into a maze of intrigue, desire, and treachery.
Adding to the perilous secret operation is one problem Ash never anticipated: The appearance of the reckless, enticing Gwyneth, who has blossomed into a gorgeous woman and self-appointed spy. When a snooping Gwyneth uncovers a shocking secret, she puts herself in mortal danger.
Can Ash protect Gwyneth and the Prince from French assailants and, at the same time, win the passionate lady’s heart?
Can Ash and Gwyneth both triumph as winners in the game of spies and love?
Linnet sat on a padded bench that ringed the inside of the small structure, on the section directly overlooking the water. She’d pulled off her large-brimmed, straw hat and drawn her feet up onto the seat. Already lost in her book, her expression was dreamy and contented. Without the burden of her usual cares, she appeared a young, innocent girl, barely past the age of coming out. Anthony’s chest tightened with an unexpected and surprisingly strong emotion.
He stopped, pondering the curious sensation. It was something new, a sense of possessiveness he’d never felt before. Linnet was a capable young woman with a great deal of sense, but when she thought no one was looking—and rarely did anyone try to look past the façade she’d erected around herself—she displayed a sweet, almost wistful vulnerability that always brought Anthony’s protective instincts charging to the surface.
Because he always protected his own. It had been expected of him from an early age, and was an indelible part of who he was. But never had he wanted to protect and cherish anyone as much as he did Linnet. Anthony wanted to give her everything, and he would see to it that she got it—whether she thought she wanted it or not.
When he took a deep breath, dragging the heavily scented air into his lungs, the fragrance of roses almost made him dizzy. Or perhaps that effect was from Linnet, and the fact that she was almost within his grasp.
He let the gravel crunch underneath his booted feet as he stepped onto the path. Linnet jerked, and her gaze shot up from the book. Her lips parted on a short intake of breath, and her creamy complexion, already delicately flushed from the heat, took on a rosier hue. For long seconds, they stared at each other, and then her full mouth curved into a tremulous smile.
“Sir Anthony, you startled me. I didn’t expect to see anyone down by the lake. Not in this heat.” Then her eyes widened as she realized what she’d just given away.
He gave her an easy smile as he mounted the steps, ignoring the amusing little betrayal.
She marked her place in the book with careful precision and set it aside. Only then did she notice how she sat—like a schoolgirl, with her feet tucked under her skirts. Anthony had to bite back another smile when he saw she’d slipped out of her shoes, discarding them under the bench.
He stood over her, reading the struggle on her face as she tried to decide what to do. Remain seated with her feet hidden under her floral-printed skirts? Sit up straight, like a proper young lady? That would expose her stocking-clad feet to his gaze. But to lounge so casually on the bench in the presence of a man . . . she would surely find that unacceptable as well.
Anthony took the decision out of her hands, crouching down to retrieve her pale, low-heeled slippers. She stared at him, clearly too shocked to move. But when he reached under the edges of her skirts to find her feet, she practically fell off the bench.