London Heiress kidnapped by the Marquess of Ashlund, read the headlines. Yet no one tried to save her.
Phoebe Wallington was seven years old when a mass assassination attempt rocked Regency England. Her father was the only accused traitor to elude capture. Now as a grown woman and a British spy, she is no closer to learning what really happened that day.
Phoebe's quest for the truth takes a sudden turn when she's kidnapped by suspected traitor Kiernan MacGregor, the Marquess of Ashlund. However, Kiernan may not live long enough to stand trial. Someone wants him dead…and Phoebe stands in the killer's way. The only way to save her reputation and protect Kiernan is to marry him.
Read an excerpt:
Phoebe shifted against the bed pillows and glanced at the mantle clock. Ten minutes before six. Her gaze fell to the low burning embers in the hearth. Morning was upon them and the commotion of the earlier hours had long since died. Yet, as Kiernan MacGregor promised, Mather stood outside her door. Mather had shown the good sense to untie her before positioning himself as guard. Her first thought had been that Kiernan regretted his rash outburst of temper, but Mather’s, “You ought not to have ignored his commands, Miss,” did away with any notion that his master had enough sense to comprehend his sin.
A perfunctory knock sounded on the door, then it opened and the object of her anger filled the doorway. Phoebe straightened.
“My one burning question, Heddy,” he said, closing the door as he stepped inside—she noted Mather no longer stood outside the door—“is why you were following Alan Hay?”
“That offense didn't warrant you tying me up as if I was the criminal,” she retorted.
Kiernan snorted. “I would have done far worse if you were a criminal.” He strode to the chair to the right of her bed and sat down. “Answer the question.”
“If I answer incorrectly, will you tie me up again?”
Phoebe forced herself to relax against the pillows and raised a brow. “A simple case of ennui.”
He blinked, and Phoebe feared she had earned another trussing up, then his expression grew speculative. The look abruptly disappeared and he settled into a corner of his chair.
He draped an arm over the chair’s back and drawled, “Ennui, you say?”
Despite his lazy expression, Phoebe was startled by the decided lack of interest in his voice. “Yes,” she replied.
He gave a single nod. “Your quest for adventure nearly got you killed, my dear.”
“It was an exciting adventure,” she rejoined in a bright voice. “Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Indeed,” she emphasized.
“I am pleased,” Kiernan said.
Phoebe frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“This fine bit of coquettish flirting.”
She stiffened. He was right, which made the analysis all the worse. “This isn't an evening ball,” she snapped.
“And I am not an earl.”“You could be a merchant—or a farmer—for all I care." Phoebe narrowed her eyes. "Who are you? You keep company with Lord Stoneleigh, which means you're not lowborn, and the villagers here look to you for leadership. You are no merchant—or a farmer, for that matter."
He laughed. "If I was a merchant, would my money be enough for you, or is a title required?"
She forced her temper back. "Sir, I understand you believe I am Hester—”
He coughed as if to clear his throat.
Phoebe crossed her arms beneath her breasts. “I understand you believe I am Hester and that you're doing your friend a service.”
“Heddy.” He leaned forward and reached for the hand she had stuffed beneath her arm.
Phoebe stiffened, but he pried the hand free and lifted it to his lips. His mouth against her hand caused her pulse to jump and warmth spread up her cheeks. His eyes registered curiosity, but he released her hand and reclined in his chair.
“Forgive me for laughing,” he said.
“I can forgive the mistaken identity—as inconvenient as it is—but tying me up goes beyond the pale.”
“I'm pleased to have your forgiveness, regardless of the reason.”
“When this escapade is finished, you will find yourself at a disadvantage.”
“Heddy,” he said with resignation, “I find myself at a disadvantage now.”
She gave him a dry look. “I doubt that. When do you plan on sending word to the authorities of the murder plot against the duchess—or have you already done so?”
“No need to concern yourself with that.”
"But—my God, you don't intend to report them. You will stand idly by while a murder is planned and executed?”
“What is one murder in exchange for fifteen thousand?" he replied. "Or do fifteen thousand Highlanders hold less value to you than a single noblewoman?” He paused. "Perhaps, the gratitude of the duchess' male relatives interests you more?”
Phoebe shot to her feet. “Even Heddy wouldn't lower herself to such debased actions.”
“Lower herself?” Kiernan laughed, although the sound held none of his characteristic humor. “Heddy, I have seen—”
“By heavens," she burst out. "I am not Heddy.”
“No?” he murmured. When she gave a frustrated growl, he rose. “Well then—" He yanked her against him.
His mouth crashed down on hers and she froze. One arm slipped around her waist while the other cupped her neck. She gasped, but he hugged her closer. His tongue invaded her mouth, the taste of him, shocking and intoxicating. His arm tightened, but the kiss, the thrust of his tongue, softened to a feathery touch. He shuddered, and her heart leapt into a furious rhythm.
His mouth moved slowly against her lips. She became aware of the hard bulge pressing against her abdomen and clutched at his shoulders. Heat streaked from the unexpected throb in her breasts to her stomach, then lower. He abruptly tore his mouth from hers and buried his face in her neck. Phoebe swayed. His low laugh washed warm across her ear and she shivered.
“You temptress,” he breathed. “I understand what Regan sees in you.”
“Just because I borrowed Heddy's coach doesn't mean I am her,” she said through a gulp of air.
Kiernan straightened away from her and stared down at her, eyes intense. “I wonder if Regan would believe me if I swore I didn’t know you're his lover." His gaze slid down her body, and she couldn't find the will to turn away as his eyes lifted again to her face. "You make testing the theory tempting. In fact—"
His fingers tightened on her arms and she realized he intended to test the theory that instant.
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Award winning author Tarah Scott cut her teeth on authors such as Georgette Heyer, Zane Grey, and Amanda Quick. Her favorite book is a Tale of Two Cities, with Gone With the Wind as a close second. She writes modern classical romance, and paranormal and romantic suspense. Tarah grew up in Texas and currently resides in Westchester County, New York with her daughter.