…He’ll Ask for a Pine Nut, or so I have found, which is why I really tried to avoid doing the Jaunty interview for my new book If You Give a Rake a Ruby. Here’s the pretty cover!
But Jaunty is threatening to interview me anyway. If I can’t get out of it, you’ll have to check back on Saturday to see that…ahem, “interview.”
In the meantime, before he catches on to what I’m up to, I wanted to tell you a little about the book. It’s the second in my Jewels of the Ton series about three glamorous Regency courtesans. This one is about the Marchioness of Mystery, Fallon, and how she gets mixed up with (that’s a nice way of saying blackmailed by) Warrick Fitzhugh, a spy for the Crown, who is targeted for assassination.
One of my favorite things about writing romance novels is writing the hero’s point of view. Here’s a scene featuring Warrick and the Duke of Pelham, the hero of my last book, When You Give a Duke a Diamond.
Impatient now, Warrick pulled out his pocket watch. Pelham was never late, but he was also a newly married man. He had been less than enthusiastic about leaving his bride to meet Warrick. But Warrick had insisted, most persuasively.
And he could be very persuasive when necessary…as evidenced by the sight of Pelham striding into the dining room. His clothing was perfectly in order, his blue eyes clear and hard, his mouth set in a firm slash. But something was different about the man. Warrick narrowed his eyes. Pelham’s hair, perhaps? It appeared a bit…tousled.
He rose when his friend spotted him and didn’t hide his grin.
“What are you looking so cheerful about?” the duke asked, taking a seat without being invited.
“Do I look cheerful?” Warrick sat, signaling to the waiter to bring the port he had already requested. It was a vintage Warrick knew Pelham liked. “Have you done something different?”
Pelham glanced at him sharply and shifted. Oh, now Warrick was going to enjoy this. Making Pelham uncomfortable was one of the few joys he had in life. “Your coat cut differently?” He pretended to study Pelham’s conservative coat. “Your cravat tied in a new sort of knot?” He reached out and touched the perfectly tied neck cloth—perfectly tied in the same fashion Pelham had always worn it. “No, that isn’t it.”
“Stubble it, Fitzhugh. There’s nothing different.”
“Oh, I think there is.” He looked pointedly at Pelham’s hair and could all but see the duke leaning back in his chair, away from Warrick’s scrutiny. “It’s your hair. Why, Pelham. It’s positively fashionable.”
“My hair is exactly the same. Now why the devil did you call me here?”
“I don’t believe so.”
The waiter set the port in front of Pelham and Fitzhugh waved the man away.
“It looks a bit tousled. That’s how the dandies are wearing it these days.”
Pelham slapped the table with his palm. “I’m no bloody dandy. Stop looking at my hair.”
“Can I assume this is the new Duchess of Pelham’s doing?” Fitzhugh asked with a satisfied smile.
“I don’t wish to discuss my hair. If that’s the only topic you want to converse about—” He stood, and Warrick yanked him back down.
“What the devil are you about?” Pelham adjusted his sleeve. “Have you gone quite mad?”
“No. I have a serious matter to discuss with you.”
Pelham narrowed his eyes. “It had better not be the state of my cravat.”
“No. I fear we must suspend our fashion discussions for the moment. I need to ask you about one of your wife’s friends, one of The Three Diamonds.”
Pelham drank his previously untouched port, swallowed, then said, “Why?”
“I’m not at liberty to discuss that. I can say it’s a matter of state.”
“I thought you’d retired from the Foreign Office.”
“On occasion I am still called upon to exercise my skills.”
“What do you know about the Marchioness of Mystery? She calls herself Fallon, I believe.”
Pelham shrugged. “Not much. She’s not as friendly as Lily.”
“She’s secretive,” Warrick remarked.
Pelham sipped his port. “I don’t know that I’d say that, but I don’t believe all that rot about her being foreign royalty or a gypsy queen.”
“No, that’s rubbish,” Warrick murmured.
“How do you know? I don’t think Juliette even knows where Fallon came from. And what does a courtesan have to do with a matter of state?”
“I’d love to discuss that with you, old chap…”
“But you can’t. Well I will tell you this. I don’t know who you’re looking for, but if it’s a spy or a traitor, looking at Fallon is looking in the wrong direction.”
Warrick leaned forward. “Go on.”
“She’s fiercely loyal—to her friends and to the Countess of Sinclair. The last time I saw her, she told Juliette she was relieved this business with Lucifer was over and done. She said he was…” Pelham rubbed his fingers together, obviously searching his memory for the exact words. Warrick appreciated his friend’s effort to be precise, but then again, he expected nothing less from the orderly Duke of Pelham. “Ah! She said Lucifer was a thorn in the side of the city and had been for years. Struck me as rather patriotic.”
A tingle ran up Warrick’s spine all the way to the base of his skull and then down his arms. So this Fallon knew of Lucifer. That was interesting because the very existence of the man was not common knowledge among anyone who did not frequent London’s gambling hells. And those were certainly not the usual haunts of glittering courtesans like The Three Diamonds.
Pelham didn’t know it, but by trying to defend his wife’s friend, he’d just confirmed everything Warrick had learned, thereby dooming her.
Want to win a copy of When You Give a Duke a Diamond? Just leave a comment about what you love about romance novel heroes. The winner will be randomly chosen, and I’ll notify her by email. As per usual, all blog winners are posted on Sundays.
If You Give a Rake a Ruby by Shana Galen—in stores today!
HER MYSTERIOUS PAST IS THE BEST REVENGE . . .
Fallon, the Marchioness of Mystery, is a celebrated courtesan with her finger on the pulse of high society. She’s adored by men, hated by their wives. No one knows anything about her past, and she plans to keep it that way.
ONLY HE CAN OFFER HER A DAZZLING FUTURE . . .
Warrick Fitzhugh will do anything to protect his compatriots in the Foreign Office, including seduce Fallon, who he thinks can lead him to the deadliest crime lord in London. He knows he’s putting his life on the line . . .
To Warrick’s shock, Fallon is not who he thinks she is, and the secrets she’s keeping are exactly what make her his heart’s desire . . .