Whether as spies or lovers, the Renegade Royals—illegitimate sons of England’s Royal Princes—are bold, skillful, and a force to be reckoned with…
A war hero returned from Waterloo should be able to indulge in a bit of bad behavior. Instead, Captain William Endicott is summoned by his father, the Duke of York, to investigate an assassination plot. The unlikely suspect: William’s former sweetheart. Will can’t believe that innocent Evie Whitney could be mixed up in anything so nefarious. Then again, almost everything about Evie has changed—except for his body’s instinctive response to hers…
Just as Evie’s life is finally coming together, Will saunters back into it. Should she slap him—or seduce him? Even as she tries to decide, scandal pushes her toward marriage with a man she can neither trust nor resist—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy…
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Will takes Evie for a drive:
“What’s wrong, Evie?” he asked in a quiet voice.
She startled. “Nothing. Why do you ask?”
“I remember that particular sigh. It means you’re not happy about something.”
She sat up straighter, trying to put some distance between them. The blasted man was impossibly large, and the Lord knew she wasn’t exactly a tiny thing. Between the two of them and the excess material of her riding habit, it was a miracle they were even able to fit into the curricle.
“I’m fine.” She flashed him what she hoped was a nonchalant smile. “I hardly think you know me very well, given the passage of time since we were children. I’ve grown up, Will.”
He glanced down at her, his gaze lingering on her face and then moving to her bosom. “You certainly have.”
Her mind blanked, struggling to find an appropriate reply. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be one.
Cautiously, she peered up at him. She hadn’t been sure before, but now it did seem clear that Will was flirting with her. Not that she was adept at flirtation, or even in recognizing the signs. In fact, she was monumentally bad at it. But she surely wasn’t mistaking the heat in Will’s eyes that had made them darken like smoke curling up from a blue flame.
When his lips tilted up in an amused smile, she realized her mouth was hanging open. She snapped it shut and jerked her head forward. “Will, you should keep your eyes on your pair. This road is quite bad after all the rains we’ve had this summer.”
His low laugh did things to her nerves and insides that defied description. It was beginning to dawn on Evie that what she’d felt for Will as a girl—as powerful as that had been—had lacked a full awareness of his potent physical attractions.
“Certainly, Madame Scold, whatever you say,” he teased.
“When have I ever scolded you, William Endicott?” she asked, retreating behind a façade of exasperation. “As I recall, you always led me around by the nose. Really, I’m quite ashamed of my weak-willed behavior back then.”
“If anyone did the leading, it was your sister,” he said dryly. “And if memory serves, you gave me quite a scolding last night.”
That comment gave her nerves another kind of jolt, one not nearly as pleasant.
“Yes, about that . . .” She threw a quick glance over her shoulder. Michael and Gilbride were catching up to the curricle, but were not yet close enough to eavesdrop.
Might as well get it over with.
Will’s calm expression as he managed the traces suggested nothing more than a friendly disinterest in the conversation. But she knew him as well as he knew her. If she didn’t miss her guess, most of his attention was still on her and not on his cattle.
“I owe you an apology, Will,” she said quietly.
He cocked his head, still looking politely disinterested. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
She raised her voice a notch. “I behaved rather wretchedly to you in the drawing room last night, and you didn’t deserve it.” Well, not most of it, anyway.
He looked regretful. “You’ll have to speak up, Evie. I can’t hear you over the noise of the carriage wheels and the horses.”
The beast. He was going to make things difficult for her.
“I said I’m sorry,” she practically yelled. “Which you heard the first time, you brute.”
He laughed. “I am a brute, and for that I apologize. But I couldn’t resist because you looked so guilt-ridden.”
“I am guilt-ridden, and a gentleman would accept my heartfelt apology and be done with it,” she grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest.
His glance flicked absently down to her bosom, and Evie couldn’t help flushing. Then he returned his attention to the horses. “No apology is necessary, my dear girl. I earned that thundering scold. Not only for my behavior last night but for everything else, too.”
About the Author
Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her current series, The Renegade Royals is a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes USA Today bestselling contemporary romance with her husband, under the pen name of VK Sykes.
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