Authors: Bronwyn Scott
Tags: #ROMANCE - HISTORICAL
Former cavalry officer Captain Grahame Westmore is restless for change, but escorting a diplomat’s spoiled daughter to Vienna isn’t what he had in mind—though for once he hasn’t been hired for his skills in pleasuring women! Independent, fiery and strong willed, Elowyn Bagshaw is not the simpering lady he expected. Used to getting her own way and giving the orders, Elowyn will not be controlled so easily. Grahame soon realizes that he’s got a fight on his hands—and it’s one they’re both going to enjoy!
Rakes Who Make Husbands Jealous
Only London’s best lovers need apply!
Rakes Who Make Husbands Jealous
Only London’s best lovers need apply!
The League of Discreet Gentlemen has only one
priority—providing the women of London with
unimaginable pleasure. The secrecy demanded is
expensive, but satisfaction is definitely guaranteed!
The League members pride themselves on knowing
about desire. But they’re about to discover that while seduction is easy, falling in love can be very hard indeed...!
Don’t miss this incredible quartet by dazzling
Harlequin® Historical author
SECRETS OF A GENTLEMAN ESCORT
AN OFFICER BUT NO GENTLEMAN
(Harlequin Historical Undone!)
A MOST INDECENT GENTLEMAN
(Harlequin Historical Undone!)
LONDON’S MOST WANTED RAKE
Meet our next gentleman escort, Captain Grahame Westmore—or
perhaps you remember him from before? Grahame made an appearance in Nick’s
Secrets of A Gentleman Escort
, at the house
party. Now he’s back in a story of his own.
He’s off to Vienna to take up a position at the Spanish
Riding School, but on the way he has to escort a diplomat’s daughter to her
father’s latest posting. He thinks he knows all there is to know about
diplomats’ daughters, but nothing has prepared him for Elowyn. She’s strong,
determined and passionate. She’s a woman who takes what she wants, and she wants
him! Grahame has met his match when he least expected it.
The story is a sexy road-trip romp but, underneath it all, a
reminder that love can find you when you least expect it, and sometimes making
the choice to love is the toughest decision of all.
I’ll see you on my blog at
For my friends Leslie and Jim. Just because.
Some men thrived in peacetime. Captain Grahame Westmore definitely wasn’t one of them. His army, the Queen’s army, didn’t need him anymore and four years of London life had left him restless for a change. That restlessness caused him to eye the file on Channing Deveril’s desk with a mixture of suspicion and anticipation as he paced the league’s office. Would the next assignment be the adventure he was looking for? He doubted it. His work for the league was starting to pale, not that he’d ever tell Channing. He probably didn’t have to. Channing likely already knew.
“Go ahead, open it.” Channing grinned and sat back in his chair, hands steepled in supreme confidence. Someone who didn’t know Channing well would take that grin as a sign of complete unawareness to the restlessness plaguing him. But Grahame knew better. Channing was not given to obliviousness. It would be a mistake to assume otherwise. As the founder of the League of Discreet Gentlemen, an underground organization dedicated to the pursuit of women’s pleasure, Channing prided himself on perfectly matching his men to their missions. As a result, Grahame’s senses were on high alert. What was he about to be matched with? Or more appropriate, to whom?
Grahame picked up the folder with healthy skepticism. Something was definitely afoot. Channing was far too smug this morning. He opened the folder and scanned the brief for pertinent information. Details could come later. He saw all he needed to make his decision. He slid the folder back across the desk and gave Channing his one-word answer. “No.”
“No?” Channing arched a blond eyebrow. “Care to have a seat and tell me why? You’ll wear me out with all that pacing.”
Grahame took the chair. He could humor Channing in that respect, at least. He was
taking this assignment. “I’m a cavalry officer not a nursemaid.”
“Ex-cavalry officer,” Channing corrected. “And I think your skills in that regard make you the ideal candidate. I admit it’s not our usual. We’re escorts, not bodyguards, but when this opportunity came up in conversation I immediately thought of you.”
Grahame sat up a little straighter, instantly wary. Now they were getting somewhere. “You didn’t already commit me without my approval?” It was one of the rules of the league that no one be forced into an assignment. In their line of work, where assignments ranged anywhere from providing an innocuous escort to an opera or ball to more physically intimate engagements, consent was essential.
Channing gave an easy shrug. “I simply told the people in question I might have a man for them.”
“Then you can tell them you were mistaken. I am qualified to lead men in battle, not play governess to a diplomat’s spoiled daughter,” Grahame replied firmly. Squiring a diplomat’s daughter to her father’s new post was not his idea of anything remotely positive. He knew the sort. He’d seen how diplomats traveled during his time in the military. He wouldn’t just be moving a daughter. He’d be shepherding a household. She’d come with wagons of luggage, carriages of servants and an attitude to match. These daughters were the children of second and third sons, often raised with an eye toward privilege as granddaughters of earls and viscounts. As such, Grahame found them to be usually unsuited for the difficulties of travel.
“I must respectfully disagree with your assessment.” Channing remained unfazed by his firm response. “You are not giving yourself enough credit. If you can organize a troop of men on horseback in the melee of battle, I would think moving one woman and her luggage would be easily done. Additionally, you’re competent with a variety of arms and could defend her little cavalcade if necessary.”
pricked. “Competent? I am more than competent with pistols and saber.” It was a point of pride that he was known in high military circles for his skill with weapons on horseback. He’d worked hard for that reputation, learning early on that without a title, perfection was his only route to respect.
Channing just smiled. “Exactly. As I said, you’re perfect. Don’t you even want to know where she’s going?”
“It won’t make a difference.” There was only one place Grahame wanted to go, only one place that had any need for his unique skills, but it was a continent away and it would mean leaving Channing, something he was reluctant to do. It would leave Channing shorthanded at the agency. Channing had always been loyal to him. Now he had a chance to return the favor by staying.
“I think it will,” Channing said quietly. Grahame tried not to shift in his seat. Channing’s incessant smiling was making him nervous. He liked Channing Deveril immensely but Channing had an unnerving talent to literally read people like books, which was a good thing, Grahame reasoned, because Channing didn’t read. It wasn’t that he couldn’t read, the man was certainly literate, he simply didn’t. But that talent was deuced awkward when it was turned on him. It meant Channing knew something he did not and that made Grahame uneasy, indeed.
“All right then, tell me.” The room had suddenly become fraught with an invisible air of anticipation. Grahame far preferred the foe he could see.
Channing pulled out another file from his desk. He pushed it toward him and spoke one word into the tense silence. “Vienna.”
Of all the words Channing could have spoken, this was the one he couldn’t resist. Vienna, home of the Spanish riding school, the very place that had written two weeks ago and asked him to come for an interview on the eighteenth of the month. They thought perhaps they could use an instructor of his caliber on horseback and with his distinct specialty in sabrage, a gentleman’s art to be sure.
Vienna represented everything he’d been chasing since he’d known what it was he hungered for—the chance to belong, the type of belonging that came with a sense of permanence and respect, not because of birth but because of skill.
Grahame blew out a breath and gave in to the urge to shift in his seat. He crossed and recrossed his legs. He wasn’t like the others here: not like Channing, an earl’s second son, or Jocelyn Eisley, heir to an earldom, or even the recently married and retired Nicholas D’Arcy who was at least the son of gentry. He, Grahame Westmore, was nothing. He’d earned his commission, not bought it. He’d fought for his leg up in the world every step of the way. To have been an English officer and to now be invited to the Spanish riding school in Vienna, was the best he could hope for, a dream, really, for a boy of his humbling beginnings.
“You know very well what that means to me,” Grahame said slowly. “I would escort the devil himself in order to get to Vienna.”
Channing nodded. “Then I’ll take that as a yes. But you’re cutting it pretty fine. They’ll expect you to arrive on time if you’re serious.”
Grahame gave a tight grimace. He knew what it meant to escort the devil. There’d be hell to pay.
What the devil was going on down there? The sound of barked orders and the hurried march of booted feet on hardwood floors brought Elowyn Bagshaw to the balustrade overlooking the townhouse foyer. Below her, footmen carried boxes and trunks out the door, maids scurried to and fro with last-minute packing supplies. Everyone was organized and purposeful in their tasks, the chaos of moving minimized with efficiency and it was
, every last bit of it, starting with the fact that they weren’t moving.
At least not today. She should know. She’d been moving her father’s household since she was fifteen. Boxes and trunks weren’t scheduled to be loaded until Thursday and by all accounts, today was Tuesday. She knew exactly where to place the blame—Captain Grahame Westmore, a man she’d met only by letter. More like by note. The two lines he’d sent over yesterday hardly qualified as a letter.
The culprit stood with his back—his very wide, broad-shouldered back—to her, directing it all, looking for all intents as a man on a mission. There was a bridled urgency to the way he ordered the staff, as if it mattered how quickly this task could be done.
It had not been hard to pick him out. Her eyes had found him with little effort. Elowyn suspected he would be easy to spot in any room. His physical presence reeked of command. Captain Westmore was taller than most men, his hair longer, his shoulders broader and his stance wider. Attributes which were all emphasized by the absence of his coat. There were other attributes emphasized, too, like the firm, muscled contours of his buttocks encased in snug riding breeches. She’d always had a weakness for horsemen. There was nothing sexier than a well-made man in tight breeches.
Still, a delicious derriere and the fact the hall was emptying at an impressive pace didn’t excuse his arrogance. It would have been nice if he’d seen fit to consult her before he started carting up her mother’s china without so much as a by your leave.
was in charge here. He took orders, he didn’t give them.
Elowyn started down the staircase, ready to do battle. It was not her first choice of introduction but he’d left her no option with his unorthodox barging in. It would be a long trip to Vienna if she didn’t put him in his place. One should always begin as one meant to go on; it was
essential rule of establishing control in any relationship. If Westmore thought he could just walk into her home and start moving her things without permission, who knew what other presumptions he’d make?
A bit of naughty excitement trilled through her. There were presumptions and then there were
He looked like a man who didn’t let the difference stop him
Dear Lord, she hadn’t even officially met him and her imagination was already running away with her. Now was not the time. There was business to take care of. When he’d written to say he’d call in the morning, she’d never equated that two-line statement with
Elowyn raised her voice to be heard over the noise. “
do you think you’re doing, Captain?” The foyer fell silent, all activity freezing in motion at the sound of her challenge. Captain Westmore pivoted toward her and advanced, hands on lean hips, drawing her eyes to the core of his swagger—hips, pelvis and the place in between.
What had been impressive physicality at a distance was imposing masculinity up close. Elowyn took an involuntary step up the staircase to establish an equality of heights and tried to focus her gaze on the rugged features of his face instead of that one place a well-bred lady never looked on a man. It would have certainly helped if he’d been wearing a coat. Then again, the man fairly exuded raw sexuality. It was likely to find its way out regardless of how many coats he put on. Well, this was just fabulous. Her father had managed to hire the most dashing guard in London.
“What does it look like I’m doing, princess?” Westmore planted a booted foot on the bottom stair and gave her a gray-eyed perusal that suggested the answer to his question was less about moving boxes and more about something else altogether, something that sent a slow trail of heat straight to her stomach.
Elowyn met his gaze evenly. “It’s hard to say, since what it appears you’re doing isn’t scheduled for another two days.”
“There’s been a change of plan.”
That was it?
There was no attempt at an apology, no effort to be conciliatory. Not even an explanation. This was not the attitude of a model employee.
Elowyn crossed her arms and stood her ground. Leave it to her father to also hire the most arrogant escort available. She was beginning to wonder if her father had even met Westmore. He wasn’t really her father’s type. “Since when do you make the plans, Captain?”
“Since the weather changed.” Again, the unrepentant stare. “My sources on the Channel coast say there’s a storm moving in. Unless you want to be holed up in an inn with your wagons stuck in a stable yard for a few days, we leave now and hope we can beat the weather.”
She hated being cornered. The captain had to know very well she wouldn’t want the wagons exposed to the elements and possible theft any more than they had to be.
Captain Westmore gestured to the room behind him, now empty of boxes. “I believe we’re packed. We’re just waiting on you, miss.”
She wanted to wipe that self-satisfied smile off his face. There was winning and then there was gloating.
He was gloating.
He thought he had the upper hand. The captain was about to get his comeuppance. “I believe you are mistaken. There are still the trunks in my room. I always have them loaded last so they’ll be first off.”
He raised a dark eyebrow. “Is that so?”
“I’m afraid it is.” Elowyn gave him a sweet smile and moved past him, unable to resist a parting shot. “You would have known if you’d asked first.” Round one to her. Elowyn stopped in the foyer to claim her victor’s prize. She got to watch that derriere of his go up the stairs
times. She couldn’t recall the last time she’d enjoyed moving quite so much.