Catch Me If You Can
Plagued by scandalous rumors, Rheda Kerrich will stop at nothing to restore her reputation and make an honest living for herself--and she's determined to do it without a husband. But times are hard, and smuggling is a risky though profitable trade. So when a dashing agent for the English government catches her in the act, she desperately resists his charms and conceals her illicit profession. Until she realizes he may be the key to her ultimate freedom--and unbridled passion...
Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore, has never had trouble beguiling the ladies of Kent. When his search for "Dark Shadow," a cunningly elusive smuggler, leads him to alluring and headstrong Rhe, her objections to his amorous advances merely incite a tantalizing game of cat and mouse. Soon, they'll find the very secrets driving them apart could ensnare them in a love they can't escape...
"Passion, adventure, secrets and danger will keep you turning the pages." --Anna Campbell
"A darkly sensual tale of intrigue, romance, and unexpected twists." --Lorraine Heath
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April 24, 2012
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Excerpt from Invitation to Scandal by Bronwen Evans
Deal, Kent, England, June 1809
The things I'm prepared to do for my country, Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore, thought wryly. Thank God his plan was working. He'd laid his trap and the weasels were taking the bait.
He'd been aware of the two men the instant they'd entered his room, even though his head was buried between the serving wench's slender thighs. Normally he preferred to take his pleasure without an audience, but tonight he welcomed the intrusion--had planned on the intrusion . . .
"Rufus--please ...Lord Strathmore, yes, oh, God, yes . . ."
If Lucy's moans were anything to go by, he was performing more than adequately for the inebriated gentleman he was portraying.
Perhaps too well.
Thankfully the thieves were overly bold.
The open window in the tavern's bedchamber allowed no ventilation on this humid, still night. The scent of sex and cheap perfume clung to the air, adding to his body's thrumming tension. With grim determination he suppressed his burgeoning arousal at the woman's near orgasmic cries. He was grateful that her breathy entreaties were not loud enough to blanket the soft thud of clumsy tiptoeing feet. He knew the exact location of the men searching his room.
Pushing desire aside, Rufus concentrated on his performance while keeping an eye on the rummaging thieves. He knew he'd have to act soon. He hated to leave a woman unsatisfied, but he looked forward to a lengthy, all night apology afterward.
He'd picked this inn, not just because of Lucy's obvious charms, there was only so much he'd do for his country; the lass at least had to be pretty. He'd picked the tavern because it was located next to the Deal docks. The Bosun's Inn was full of undesirables--cutthroats, ruffians, and drunkards. Just the sort of men Rufus sought.
One of the men moved closer to the bed. The taste of woman and the edge of danger fed his tension. Patience. Don't act too soon.
One of these brigands, currently rifling through Rufus's belongings, was going to provide him with the intelligence he sought. In his line of work it paid to find leverage. A thief would often squeal when faced with a choice between freedom and transportation to the colonies.
He'd set up this intimate scene to perfection.
As with most of his adult life it was all an act.
Tonight's role was not about a man sating his lust between a pair of willing thighs. Enjoyable as that would be, and indeed, it was something he intended to do with lovely Lucy before the night was over, it was about gaining much needed information. One of these thieves was going to provide it.
He lunged for the nearest man, whom he noted with heart sinking was the largest. Luckily, the man's hand was deep within the pocket of Rufus's discarded trousers. Rufus's punch landed squarely under the man's jaw, snapping his head back. Before the man could even shake his hand free, he went down like a shot grizzly bear.
Heedless of his nakedness, Rufus turned toward the second man. He wasn't quick enough. Two muscle-bound arms wrapped around his bare torso from behind.
A kick of adrenaline gave him the strength he needed. He still held the advantage. His nakedness meant the robber had nothing to hold on to, whereas Rufus was able to wrench free of his assailant's hold, grab the man's shirt, and fling him over his shoulder. He watched with satisfaction as the thief slammed to the floor, flat on his back, winded.
Before he could move, Rufus placed a bare foot firmly on the robber's neck. He ruthlessly repressed his excitement. The capture of an informant was only the beginning . . .
"Lucy, my dear. Would you be a love and bring me my right boot?"
The buxom redhead eased from the bed. Conscious of her own beauty, she swayed provocatively toward his Hessians, and both Rufus and the man on the floor followed the beauty with their eyes.
As she handed him his boot, he gave her a wicked smile and patted her bottom. "Thank you, sweetheart. If you'd like to wait on the bed for me I won't be but a minute."
Ensuring his weight was still on his captive's neck, Rufus slipped his hand inside his perfectly polished Hessian and withdrew his dagger. At the sight, the man at his feet began to whimper.
He applied more pressure, until the man's eyes began to pop from their sockets and his hands clawed at Rufus's bare feet.
Rufus calmly stated, all hint of drunkenness vanishing from his posture, "You and I are going to have a pleasant little chat. A chat about the smuggler known as Dark Shadow."
The man's eyes widened in alarm. He knew the name. Every villager in Deal knew the name. The minute "Dark Shadow" was mentioned, the townspeople clammed up as if the grim reaper would strike them down.
Rufus waved the knife even closer and applied more pressure for good measure, his eyes gleaming with threat. The man started to shake.
The vermin beneath his foot should be afraid. Rufus had sacrificed most of his life in the pursuit of only one thing: to reclaim his family's honor