The men of the Bastion Club are powerful, loyal, and not averse to overcoming danger if they must. Now, after years of loyal service to the Crown, they each -- one by one -- must face that greatest danger of all ...love.The last of his line, Jack, Baron Warnefleet, has fled London after nearly being compromised into marrying a dreadful female. Turning his back on the entire notion of marriage, he rides home to the estate he has not seen for years, determined to set in motion an alternative course of action.But then in the lane before his gate, Jack rescues a startlingly beautiful lady from a menacing, unmanageable horse. However, while he begins by taking command, the lady continues by taking it back. Lady Clarice Altwood is no meek and mild miss. She is the very antithesis of thewoolly-headed young ladies Jack has rejected as not for him. Clarice is delectably attractive, beyond eligible, undeniably capable, and completely unforgettable. Why on earth is she rusticating in the country?That enigma is compounded by mystery, and it's quickly clear thatClarice is in danger. Jack must use every ounce of his cunning and wit to protect this highly independent and richly passionate woman ... who has so quickly stolen his heart.
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August 31, 2005
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Excerpt from A Fine Passion by Stephanie Laurens
Avening village, Gloucestershire
Apple blossoms in springtime.
Julius--Jack--Warnefleet, Baron Warnefleet of Minchinbury, reined in on the rise above Avening valley and looked down on the pink-and-white clouds surrounding Avening Manor. His first sight of his home in seven years could, he felt, have been more apt.
Apple blossom always reminded him of brides.
Regarding the blossoms with a jaundiced eye, he twitched the reins and set his gray gelding, Challenger, ambling down the long hill. Everything, it seemed, was conspiring to remind him of his failure, of the fact he hadn't found a bride.
Avening Manor had been without a lady for most of his life. His mother had died when he was six years old; his father had never remarried.
Jack had spent the last thirteen years fighting for king and country, almost entirely behind enemy lines in France. His father's death seven years before had brought him briefly home, but only for two days, just long enough for the funeral and to formally place the running of Avening into the hands of old Griggs, his father's steward, before he'd had to slip back over the Channel, back to the varied roles he'd played in disrupting French shipping and commercial links, draining the lifeblood from the French state, weakening it.
Not the sort of battles most people imagined a major in the Guards engaged in.
Along with an elite group of fellow officers, he'd been seconded to work under a secretive individual known as Dalziel, who'd been responsible for all covert English operations on foreign soil. Neither Jack nor any of the six colleagues he'd met knew how many operatives Dalziel had commanded, or how wide the arena of their activities had been. They did know those activities had directly contributed, indeed been crucial, to the final ultimate defeat of Napoleon.