March 1, 2009
Book one in the two-book
Too Hot for a Spy
Worlds collide when the bold leader of England's male–only spy school faces off against a spoiled debutante determined to become the country's first lady spy…
1816— Lady Olivia Fairchild, the beautiful eldest daughter of the Duke of Heatham, wants to become England’s first female spy. She worms her way into England’s prestigious spy school only to face opposition from Spymaster Sebastian Brooks, who believes women have no place in the dangerous world of espionage. He’s determined to be rid of her, yet the daily sight of her beauty gradually drives him wild with lust. Or is it love?
Olivia is just as determined to succeed, thus preventing the spymaster from expelling her, even as her longing for the dashing Sebastian heats up. The challenges of spy school are nothing compared to the challenge of falling in love…
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“As delicious as Jane Austen at her very best!”
—Rosemary Rogers, New York Times bestselling author
"Readers who enjoy Celeste Bradley have a treat in store with Wolf s daring debut. ."
—RT Book Reviews
“Too Hot For A Spy is a powerful debut novel and Ms. Wolf is definitely an author you want to keep an eye on. Olivia is a very unusual heroine, strong and far ahead of her time. Once she got the idea of working for the home office into her mind nothing and no will stop her in achieving her goal. It’s funny how she clashes wills with Sebastian, because he is a person who follows rules, whereas she follows her heart. Once I started with Too Hot For A Spy is I couldn’t put down the book, because I was absolutely glued to the page."
— Love Romances & More
“Pearl Wolf writes the most romantic of stories with characters that jump from the page and rain down with such heat you feel your fingers burning as you turn to the next chapter. Ms. Wolf fills her stories with conflict and some humor but you know the two people featured in this book belong together and watching all this unfold is beyond genius the way it is written. Wonderful book but start with Too Hot For A Spy to get a feel for the first book in this series.”
— Mary Gramlich, The Reading Reviewer
Saturday, the Twenty-second of June
His Grace, the Sixth Duke of Heatham, and his family were trapped in the crush of carriages that lined the road in Berkley Square. Shouts of drivers and ostlers, snorts of horses, the clatter of hooves and the oohs and aahs springing from the mouths of curious onlookers, greeted their ears with a bizarre street symphony. The duke, however, paid it no mind, for he was engaged in a battle of wits with his eldest daughter, Lady Olivia.
“I’m, merely asking you to give young Smythe-Jones serious thought. Why won’t you at least consider his marriage offer, Livy? He has all the qualities I deem appropriate to make you a fine husband.”
“Then you marry him, Father!”
“You aren’t getting any younger, you know.”
“Thank you for that reminder, Father,” she said with asperity. “I hadn’t been aware that my four and twenty-years make me such an ancient crone.”
The duke prepared to retaliate with an equally tart retort, but the duchess put a restraining hand on his arm which caused him to swallow his reply. The ongoing war of words between father and daughter had begun almost as soon as the crested brougham had started out for the Hobbleton Ball, one of the last entertainments of the London season.
The battle with her father ran a crease across Lady Olivia’s brow, marring an otherwise lovely face. Emerald green eyes, hair the colour of wheat, a pointed chin and seductive lips were an irresistible magnet for many a young man. Tonight she had a special reason for looking her very best. She had chosen a shimmering green gown of silk moiré and Belgian lace cut low to enhance her well-shaped figure. Green ribbons the color of her eyes entwined her long curls, artfully arranged by her clever French Abigail Nancy. Matching green slippers sparkled with tiny crystals as they peeked out from under her gown.
When the duke and his family were presented to Lord and Lady Hobbleton, Lady Helena, the more diplomatic of the two Fairchild sisters, turned to her parents and said, “Would you mind if Livy and I take ourselves off to the withdrawing room to freshen up?” With an approving nod from her mother, Helena took Olivia’s hand and spirited her away.
The two sisters were close confidantes, yet they were not at all alike in appearance. Where Olivia was a fair-skinned beauty, Helena, six years her junior was a dark exotic whose olive skin, slightly slanted brown eyes and high cheekbones held a hint of the Orient. Her hair was brown, lightly bronzed with streaks from the sun. She wore a gown of ivory silk that suited her. She was taller than her sister, yet had an equally well-formed figure.
When they entered the withdrawing room, it was already crowded with young ladies gossiping, fixing stray strands of hair, or simply envying one another’s attire. Helena dragged her sister into a quiet corner. “Sit,” she ordered. “It’s clear you need some time to compose yourself. You’ve allowed Father to crawl under your skin once again, you foolish girl. When will you learn? He likes nothing more than to draw you into battle, thinking to wear you down until you bend to his will.”
“A hopeless cause, for I won’t bend, I promise you that. You know as well as I do that he tries to control all of us, though it’s worse for me because I’m the oldest.” A wicked grin crept across her face. “If he only knew my real purpose, he’d have a fit.”
Her sister laughed. “I agree. If you succeed, Father won’t be able to stand the shock, not to mention the humiliation.”
“Humiliation? No, I don’t think it would come to that. Not if I were successful. You know perfectly well he can’t stand for any of his children to fail. Good thing for me he doesn’t know what it is I actually do in the home office. It’s menial clerical work to be sure, but it’s merely a first step to what I really want. Tonight’s the night for me, Helena. I’m determined to confront the home secretary and persuade him to give me the opportunity to move up the ladder, so to speak. See if I don’t.”
Helena smiled at her determination. “You’ll do it, too, if I know you. No one is more tenacious than you dearest. If the home secretary survives your planned onslaught, I’ve no doubt you will prevail. But what will you do when you succeed and Father discovers your plan? He will surely forbid it, especially if it involves leaving home without benefit of marriage.”
“He can try to forbid me, but I’m of age and I fully intend to follow my own course.”
“What if he threatens to disown you?”
“He knows better. I have my own competence, thanks to dear departed Aunt Gwen, bless her soul.”
“I wish I had your courage, Livy. I’m not capable of standing up to father, for I’ve no spine. I’m not even determined enough to convince Chris to elope with me to Gretna Green. He agrees with Father. Why do they both think I’m too young for marriage?”
Olivia hugged her sister in sympathy. “I know how much you love Chris Darlington, but bide your time, dearest.” She paused in thought. “Why not consider a new tack? Agree with Father that you’re too young. Then confess that you’re willing to wait to marry Chris, if only he will consent to a betrothal. That, at least would be a first step for you.”
Helena brightened. “Do you think such a tactic will answer?”
“It won’t hurt to try, will it?”
The two left the withdrawing room in much better spirits only to face a daunting ballroom crush.
“How shall I ever find Chris in this throng?”
She laughed. “I wouldn’t worry, if I were you, love. Try to stand in place and allow him to find you.” For her sister’s sake, she tried to sound full of cheer, but her own quest to locate the home secretary appeared to be just as difficult as finding Helena’s beau. A tap on her shoulder caused her to turn to her head.
“Oh it’s you Percy. I must thank you for the flowers, but you needn’t send a new bouquet every day.” Though the young man was tall and handsome, in her mind Olivia dismissed him as too bland looking. Besides, he was a dead bore. She had no intention of encouraging his suit for her hand, yet she didn’t object to flirting. The sport was second nature to her.
“They are meant to be a daily reminder of my suit for your hand, Lady Olivia. It is but a poor tribute, for no flower is as exquisite as you, my dear. May I have the honor of this dance?” Sir Percival Smythe-Jones offered his arm.
“I’m sorry Percy. Go ahead and dance with him, Livy. I’d rather not leave my sister in the lurch.”
“Go ahead with him, Livy. I’ll be fine.”
Sir Sebastian Brooks suffered more than a twinge of regret. A stray lock of dark hair fell over his thick eyebrows. His gray-blue eyes stood sentinel above sculpted cheekbones and a square chin. At thirty years of age, the chief spymaster was a large man whose good looks never failed to please eligible ladies. He had no wish to marry, however, and learned to be adept at avoiding any such attachment, both from the young ladies and their marriage-minded mothers. No easy task during the London season.
“I envy you, Darlington. You’re a lucky dog to be posted to the Continent on such an exciting mission,” he said to his good friend and colleague. The two lounged near the open terrace doors to catch a breath of air, for the night was hot and humid.
Chris squinted at him. He reached into his waistcoat pocket and fiddled with his spectacles, an unconscious habit, yet vanity prevented him from wearing them in public. The twenty-five-year-old aide to the home secretary was tall and slim with flaxen-hair, eyes of pale blue and an aristocratic nose.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were filled with envy, Sebastian. You needn’t be, you know. You’ve already accomplished extraordinary work at Wilson Academy. It’s all the talk at the home office, I’ll have you know. Everyone who has seen them thinks your renovations to the building and grounds are excellent for the purpose. I think the plans are so good, you might well have taken up architecture instead of spying when you sold out.” Chris paused, his eyes searching his friend’s face.
“What’s eating you, Sebastian?”
“You’re very perceptive, my friend. All right. I’ll tell you what’s eating me. I thought Wilson Academy was just the challenge I needed after the devastation I witnessed at Waterloo. I was sick of the stink of death and the awful sight of the mindless destruction of war. I believed that this assignment was a challenge, so I jumped at the chance when it was offered to me.”
“It is a challenge. It’s about time our country develops an organized spy system. What’s keeping you from enjoying your new position? What changed your mind? Why are you so troubled? It’s clear from the look on your face.”
As if Chris had wrung the words from him, Sebastian blurted out, “Chief spymaster is nothing more than a glorified clerk’s position! Day in and day out all I do is shuffle papers and sign them. It’s a dead bore, Chris. Maybe I should take up architecture after all. Designing Wilson Academy was the only part of this project that gave me any joy.” Sebastian paused, breathing hard. When he was calmer, he said, “Perhaps when I begin to train the next generation of spies, the post will take on a more stimulating aspect, but for now, I miss the challenge and the fellowship of army life.”
Chris sighed. “It is I who envy you, Sebastian. I wish I had been in the war. My brother even offered to buy me a commission, but the army rejected me as unfit because of my poor eyesight.”
“That you are standing here still alive tells me the army was right to reject you. You would not have survived Napoleon. Sorry if it troubles you, but they made the correct decision.”
Chris acknowledged this truth with a nod. “Why waste your time pining for the past? Has it occurred to you that, if you hadn’t sold out, you might have been just as bored in peacetime?”
Before Sebastian could answer, they were interrupted by a voice familiar to Chris.
“Here you are, my dear. I’m glad I found you. Poor Helena has been looking all over for her beau. I left her pining away near the main stairwell.” Olivia pecked him on the cheek.
“Hallo, Livy.” He turned to his companion. “Allow me to introduce Lady Olivia Fairchild to you, Sebastian. I’ve lived next door to the Fairchilds all my life. I don’t mind admitting to you that I’m dangling after her lovely sister Helena. Livy, this is my good friend Sir Sebastian Brooks.”
“Pleasure,” said Olivia with the slightest of curtseys, yet her eyes held indifference.
“Will you both excuse me?” asked Chris. “I must go and find my lovely lady.” Without bothering to wait for a response, he hurried away with the eagerness of a man in love.
Sebastian was irritated as he watched Olivia’s eyes wander all over the ballroom. He was stirred by her extraordinary beauty. At the same time, he was annoyed by her indifference to him. It was not a response he was accustomed to from a lady of marriageable age. He wondered why she was not paying her attentions to him.
“It appears we’ve been abandoned, ma’am,” he said. “Will you join me in the next waltz?”
She looked up at him in surprise, as if noticing him for the first time. “My pleasure sir.” She took the arm he offered and allowed him to lead her onto the floor. When the music began he placed his hand on her waist, she placed hers on his shoulder, and he guided her around the perimeter of the dance floor. She entered into the spirit of the waltz enjoying its rhythm of movement, for she loved to dance. Yet her eyes wandered as she continued to search.
Bloody hell, I’ve chosen a dimwit for a partner even though she dances well. Why does her head keep twisting every which way? Why the devil is the chit so distracted?
“Are you feeling well ma’am?” he asked in exasperation.
Olivia looked startled. “What a silly question. Of course I’m feeling well. Why do you ask?”“If that is the case, ma’am, I can only conclude you must think me a dead bore, since your full attention seems well out of my reach. It’s clear to me you are not enjoying our dance. Would you prefer to take a stroll on the terrace?”
“Oh, but I am enj—“ she paused, much in favor of his suggestion, for it would afford her another place to search for the home secretary. “Yes. A stroll on the terrace would be lovely.” She allowed him to lead her out of the terrace doors where her eyes resumed their wanderings.
Sebastian’s irritation was rapidly turning into anger. He wasn’t accustomed to receiving such a blatant rebuff. He determined to direct the lady’s attention his way, at which point he would turn the tables and snub her. It was only what she deserved. He brightened, intrigued by the challenge. He never lost a battle in his life. With this in mind, he began to plan his campaign. Does this lady seek her pleasure elsewhere? When I get through with her, she’ll rue the day she ignored me.
“Lovely evening for a stroll, is it not?”
Olivia took little notice of the edge in his voice. Her head continued to turn, her eyes searching this way and that. “What? Oh yes. Lovely. Lovely indeed.”
He led her down a less-crowded path until he spied a small secluded bench. “Sit here and rest, ma’am, until you feel better.”
“Feel better? Why do you persist in thinking I am ill?”
His lips quirked. “Well, ma’am” he drawled, “Your pretty head must be quite sore by now, it seems to me. You’ve been turning it every which way at such an alarmingly swift pace, I began to fear it was in danger of falling off your shoulders.”
Olivia stared at him, uncomprehending for a moment. Then she laughed. “You’re teasing me sir.”
Sebastian smiled at her, a most agreeable smile. His eyes turned seductive. “Perhaps I am.” Without warning, he drew her to him and kissed her. She was stiff with resistance at first, but he persisted, one hand holding her chin so he could invade her luscious mouth, the other holding her firm until she ceased struggling. It didn’t take too long. To his astonishment, she pressed closer and returned his kiss with a passion of her own. Satisfied, he removed his lips and nibbled on her ear.
“You smell like roses, ma’am. I like it.”
She forced herself to pull away, adopting anger as a weapon. “How dare you kiss me, sir! Why, we’ve only just met.”
“How else was I to engage your attention, ma’am? Can you not locate your lover? Is that who you have been searching for? Won’t I do in his stead? You gave me cause, you know, to believe that you enjoyed our kiss as much as I did.” His eyes held wicked amusement. “At the very least, my lady I had the satisfaction of at last gaining your full attention. You’re far too lovely for me to resist, you know, in spite of those wandering eyes of yours.”
There was a sharp edge in his voice which maddened her enough to issue a tart rebuke. “I most certainly did not enjoy being mauled by you, sir!”
“Yes, you did.”
“No, I didn’t, Mr...What did you say your name was?”
“Sebastian,” he said in a husky sex-filled voice. “Call me Sebastian, dearest Livy.”
“I’ve not given you leave to address me thus, have I?”
“No, Livy.” He planted a kiss on her neck.
“You, sir are impertinent.” But she didn’t stop him when his fingers traced the edge of her gown, causing goose bumps to raise her flesh.
In one swift motion, he pulled her to her feet and kissed her hard, his tongue bruising the inside of her mouth.
Shivers and thrills slithered through her body when he held her close enough to feel his erection. In a mindless haze, she ground into him, pressing closer, wanting more. One of his thumbs rubbed her breast through her gown and she moaned. He edged her bodice down and freed one nipple, teasing the nub between two fingers.
“Good God! What do you think you are doing, sir?” She gasped when he bent to take the rigid nub into his mouth.
He backed her into a nearby tree, out of sight of curious onlookers. His lips returned to her nipple while one hand gathered her gown all the way up to her waist so his hand could gain access to the searing heat between her thighs.
“Don’t! Stop!” she breathed in an anguished moan.
He removed his mouth and looked into her glazed eyes, but his hand had already found what he was looking for. His fingers began to work their magic, an easy task, for she did not struggle. Amused, he said, “Which do you mean, my lady? Do you mean me to stop? Or do you mean don’t stop?”
But he already knew the answer, for she was wet with desire. His mouth crushed hers to muffle her screams when she climaxed. He waited for her spasms to end before he smoothed down the skirt of her gown and tucked her nipple back into her bodice. All the while, his lips rained little kisses on her ear, on her neck, on her eyes.
“Thank you for a lovely diversion, my lady. I can’t wait for our next encounter. What did you say your name was?”
Her voice shook with rage. “Who gave you leave to assault me thus? You’re an unspeakable cad! It may interest you to know that I don’t know your name either, Mr.—whatever your name is!” Without waiting for his answer, she wheeled away and stalked off.
She missed the sight of his lips curling with satisfaction. Bloody hell. She’s a temptress. The chit enjoyed our little tryst as much as I did. Hope she doesn’t have a designing mother waiting in the wings.
In a whisper, he said, “My name is Sir Sebastian Brooks, milady. You won’t forget me.” He watched her disappear in the direction of the ballroom, content in the knowledge that he had won the match. He hadn’t lost his touch after all. She’d paid attention to him in the end, hadn’t she?