The Season has yet to begin, and the second member of the Bastion Club, tall, handsome Anthony Blake, Viscount Torrington, is already a target for every matchmaking mama in London. None of their flighty daughters can fix his interest, but a certain lady does...Alicia is living a deception. Desperation has caused the determined but penniless lady to boldly launch her ravishing younger sister into the ton and have her make a spectacular match. By masquerading as the widowed "Mrs. Carrington" Alicia can act as the perfect chaperone…but fashionable ladies are not accused of murder...When Tony Blake discovers Alicia standing over a dead body in his godmother's garden, every instinct tells him she is innocent. His connections allow him to take control of the investigation, his social prominence provides her public support, but it is more than honor that compels him to protect her and to do everything in his seductive power to make her his.
In this steamy Regency, the second in Laurens's new Bastion Club series (following The Lady Chosen), Lord Anthony Blake, a former spy for England, finds himself at loose ends after the fall of Napoleon. Genteel widow Alicia Carrington, who's in London to chaperone her younger sister, puts an end to Anthony's ennui when she stumbles upon a dead body at a soir e and he stumbles upon her at the same time. A mysterious villain seems determined to frame Alicia for the murder, but the real danger lies in the secret she's hiding from everyone-including Anthony, who quickly insinuates himself into her life. As in all of Laurens's romances, the love scenes are passionate, and chemistry hums between the pair. Alicia is a classic Laurens heroine: plucky and determined. Anthony is high-handed at times but not offensively so. Although the romantic tension relies heavily on a few unspoken words, it's entertaining to watch the baffled couple finally admit to their feelings. Unfortunately, the mystery subplot is less compelling, depending as it does on following a paper trail that offers up little drama. Still, Laurens's fans should be more than satisfied with this heady tale. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 30, 2003
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Excerpt from A Gentleman's Honor by Stephanie Laurens
The Bastion Club
Montrose Place, London
March 15, 1816
"We've a month before the Season begins, and already the harpies are hunting in packs." Charles St. Austell sank into one of the eight straight-backed chairs around the mahogany table in the Bastion Club's meeting room.
"As we predicted." Anthony Blake, sixth Viscount Torrington, took the chair opposite. "The action in the marriage mart seems close to frenetic."
"Have you seen much of it, then?" Deverell sat beside Charles. "I have to admit I'm biding my time, lying low until the Season begins."
Tony grimaced. "My mother might be resident in Devon, but she has a worthy lieutenant in my godmother, Lady Amery. If I don't appear at her entertainments at least, I can be assured of receiving a sharp note the next morning, inquiring why."
There were laughs-resigned, cynical, and commiserating-from the others as they took their seats. Christian Allardyce, Gervase Tregarth, and Jack Warnefleet all sat, then, in concert, all eyes went to the empty chair beside Charles.
"Trentham sends his regrets." At the head of the table, Christian didn't bother keeping a straight face. "He didn't sound all that sincere. He wrote that he had more pressing engagements, but wished us joy in our endeavors. He expects to be back in town in a week, however, and looks forward to supporting the six of us through our upcoming travails."
"Kind of him," Gervase quipped, but they were all grinning.
Trentham-Tristan Wemyss-had been the first of their number to successfully achieve his goal, the same goal they all were intent on attaining. They all needed to marry; that common aim had spawned this, their club, their last bastion against the matchmakers of the ton.
Of the six of them as yet unwed, gathered this evening to share the latest news, Tony felt sure he was the most desperate, although why he felt so restless, so frustrated, as if poised for action yet with no enemy in sight, he couldn't fathom. He hadn't felt so moody in years. Then again, he hadn't been a civilian, an ordinary gentleman, for years, either.
"I vote we meet every fortnight," Jack Warnefleet said. "We need to keep abreast of events, so to speak."
"I agree." Gervase nodded across the table. "And if any of us has anything urgent to report, we call a meeting as needed. Given the pace at which matters move in the ton, two weeks is the limit-by then, the ground has shifted."
"I've heard the patronesses of Almack's are thinking of opening their season early, such is the interest."
"Is it true one still has to wear knee breeches?"