BOOK BLURB: While recovering at his uncle’s estate from wounds sustained in the Sudan, Jack Cameron—a loyal Scottish captain in the British army—is haunted by the words of a dying officer: one of Her Majesty’s Black Dragoons is aiding the slavers they were sent to suppress. But how will he find the traitor without sending the culprit to ground? He finds a way while listening to the voices beneath his open window—particularly those of Addie Hoodless, a beautiful widow, and her brother, Ted, a famed artist commissioned to paint portraits of the Black Dragoons’ senior officers.
Posing as an artist, Jack decides to infiltrate the close circle of friends at Ted’s studio to listen in on the unguarded conversations of the officers. But first, he must win Addie’s trust despite the emotional wounds of her past. Will Jack dupe the only woman he has ever loved or stand down from hunting the traitor? If his real identity is exposed, Addie’s life will be in terrible danger.
TEASER: Addie sank back on her heels. Her paint-stained smock pooled around her as she eyed the wall panel before her. With a sound of satisfaction, she once more rose to her knees and dipped an ostrich fern into a tray filled with gilt paint, then pressed it onto the aubergine silk panel.
Slowly, she peeled the long frond back. A perfect impression of the leaf interlocked with the golden silhouette of a fern above it, trailing a graceful latticework from ground to ceiling. There! She’d transformed the second-story boudoir into her own private withdrawing room.
It had been a long time since anything had been well and truly hers. She would never have guessed that this house could ever feel welcoming. And yet, it did. For the first time since her marriage, she was able to please herself.
The thought gave rise to an impulse, one she would have never heeded a year ago. But she could be impulsive now. She could afford to be.
With a feeling of delicious abandonment, she slid her shoes off and peeled back her stockings from her calves, hiking her skirts so that her bare legs and feet lay exposed in the bright square of warm sunlight on the floor. Closing her eyes, she lay on her back, wiggling her toes.
She was rather surprised she was still capable of impetuousness. Indeed, she’d viewed the slow reawakening of her boldness with no little mistrust. After all, had she not been impetuous, she might have heeded the Hoodlesses’ loving warnings and never eloped with Charles.
It is Jack Cameron’s fault, she decided, but could not find a frown for that conclusion.
Each day spent with the handsome, nonsensical, yet oddly vulnerable Scotsman had fanned to life a tiny ember of self-confidence. It was not altogether comfortable. Like finding out that a favorite gown you’d thought lost years before had merely been put in mothballs. You long to try it on, and yet you are afraid if you do it will look ridiculous. Or worse, it will no longer fit.
Oddly enough, Jack’s very vulnerability encouraged her own self-assurance. The manner in which he masked his self-doubt with such a provocative and blatant caricature stirred an inclination to nonconformity in her.
She suspected that she alone refused to accept Jack as the effete, overcontrived fribble he presented to the world. His conversation certainly never hinted at any weaknesses—oh, dear Lord, no! The thought made Addie smile. Jack was all arrogant disdain and witty repartee. Mr. Wilde himself would be hard-pressed to keep up with Jack’s drawled bon mots!
But then, just as she was upbraiding herself for romanticizing him, she would see it: a keen, thoughtful intelligence, a perceptive remark that belied his pose of absolute self-involvement, an unexpected gentleness in dealing with another’s frailties.
And then, too, even more rarely, but just as undeniably, she would surprise on his fallen-angel’s face a fleeting, hunted expression: a mixture of dismay, uncertainty, and awful longing.
She did not understand what authored that haunted look, but more and more often lately, she found herself wondering how she would feel if she was able to be the object of it.
REVIEW: This is one of those romances that will set your heart racing because the author took the time to show us who the hero and heroine are and what they’re all about.
As a matter a fact, that’s why I love reading romance. I’m in seventh-heaven when I meet not just a handsome hero or a beautiful heroine, but it’s what’s in their hearts that matters to me more than their appearance.
Jack and Addie were all that I expected and wanted them to be and their story will touch your heart because it’s a story of heartbreak, passion and hope. I honestly couldn’t put it down and dreaded the end because I just didn’t want to leave these two, that’s how much I loved them.
Melanie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the publisher
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AUTHOR BIO: Connie Brockway is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty historical and contemporary romance novels. An eight-time finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, Brockway has twice been its recipient, for My Dearest Enemy and The Bridal Season.
She is the author of My Seduction, named one of Library Journal’s top romance novels of 2004. Her most recent novel is No Place for a Dame and her most recent collaborative novel is The Lady Most Willing, co-written with Julia Quinn and Eloisa James. She is a Minnesota native, and currently lives there with her husband and two spoiled mutts.