draws readers into the breathtaking love story of a dashing Scotsman who is duty bound to protect the one woman who incites in him a wild passion. How exactly can he save her from himself?
By day, celebrated beauty Helena Nash works as a proper companion to one of London's most disagreeable ladies. By night she acts as an illicit messenger between two separated lovers. Masked and disguised, she falls into the path of a shadowy stalker. Fearing for her safety but unwilling to halt her nocturnal forays, Helena seeks out Ramsey Munro -- one of three men who pledged years earlier to serve her family in times of need. Handsome and elusive, the notorious Scotsman is London's most accomplished swordsman and represents everything Helena wants but can't have -- freedom, adventure, and passion. Now she demands that he teach her his formidable skills, a commission that may prove cool, collected Helena's undoing. For Ramsey has seen through her disguise...and soon vows to teach her both the way of the sword and the deliciously wicked pleasures of the flesh.
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September 30, 2004
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Excerpt from My Pleasure by Connie Brockway
a customary acknowledgement of one's opponent
Vauxhall Garden, London
"Somewhere in heaven, Maestro Angelo weeps."
"Who said that " Young Lord "Figgy" Figburt, demonstrating a parry for his teenage companions, wheeled about. He peered down Vauxhall Garden's dimly lit Lovers Walk to see who'd invoked the name of the last century's greatest swordsmaster.
"I did." A tall, graceful figure detached itself from the surrounding shadows, like darkness coalescing into form and substance, and glided toward them. "I tried to refrain from interfering; I meant to pass mutely by," the stranger purred in elegant Scottish accents. Teeth flashed white in the Scot's shadowed face. "But, as there is life in me, I cannot let a sport I hold dear be so blasphemed."
"What d'ya mean, 'Angelo weeps' " Hulking Thom Bascomb, dressed for the evening's masquerade as a rather hirsute shepherdess, demanded tipsily. "Whadda ya implyin' 'bout Figgy's swordplay "
"I imply nothing. I say his remiss is an abomination. Still...it's not beyond redemption."
The man glided nearer, and the muted light from the gas lanterns strung through the trees revealed one of the most extraordinarily handsome men Figgy had ever seen: a tall, whipcord-lean and athletic-looking fellow who'd eschewed the costumes worn by the other attendees of this night's revels. Instead, he wore dark trousers, a black frockcoat with a blue waistcoat beneath, and a simple white stock about his neck, pinned by the only ornamentation on his person, a small gold stickpin in the shape of a rose.
Everything about him made Figgy feel gauche and, therefore, rather surly. "This is a costume ball, sir! It means you have to be in costume," he pronounced irritably. "See Thom there He ain't really a gel, and I ain't a rajah."
"You don't say."
Thom wobbled forward and glared at the Scot. "Just what is it you're rigged out as, mister "
The Scotsman, nearly as tall as Thom but at least three stone lighter, let his gaze slide down the young man's thick, corseted trunk to the layers of pink flounced skirts below. "A gentleman " he suggested mildly.
Guffaws erupted from the other lads as Thom's face turned brilliant red, but Thom did not demand satisfaction for the insult. Something about the Scot pierced the alcoholic haze clouding what little good sense he owned. Here was something dangerous. Something outside his experience. Something...lethal.
"Who're you " he demanded.
"Ramsey Munro." The man inclined his head slightly. "I am the owner of L' ' cole de la Fleur. A small salle in White Friars. At your service, young sirs."
"You're a swordsman " Thom sneered, handing Figgy the flask he'd produced from beneath his skirts.
"I am," Munro replied. "I chanced to be walking by when I overheard you young gentlemen discussing the forthcoming International Dueling Tournament. You are considering entering "
"And what if we were " Figgy asked. "What's it to you "
"Nothing. But as an instructor of the art of swordplay, I was interested. I paused and saw you execute a remiss a child could counter."
"I s'pose you could do better "
The man's shoulders lifted in an elegant gesture. "More to the point, I could teach you to do better."
Figgy, seeing a bit of sport to be had, grinned. He was by far the best swordsman of the lot of them. "Could you teach Thom to counter my remiss "