Something in her manner had attracted Julian from the start. He had seen her staring at him, but when their eyes met, she cast her gaze downward and scurried away. Her departure had left him confused, and now, minutes later, the sight across the room clarified why.
A deep and vibrant shade of red draped the arm of a dais in the game room, and the only thing keeping Julian in his spot in the hall between the ballroom and the front door was the fact that Lord Albert Inglis loomed over her. His thick hand slid over her creamy white shoulder, as if already staking his claim.
Although Kingsley could not understand why any sensible woman would feel any attraction to an overweight, sotted coxcomb. How can anyone want his beefy hands on them, knowing he is still going home to his wife? The morals of society appalled him, and Julian could not be more thankful for the lack of aristocratic blood running through his veins.
His thoughts were interrupted the moment the woman giggled. She moved her hand to muffle the sound, completely unaware he watched her intently. Lord Inglis pressed closer to her back, and with every millimeter, Julian cringed. Do not move another inch, you cur!
He should not be so distracted, but the damned woman gave him pause. She was dangerous. He could feel it in his bones. Even his lower extremities burned with fervor, showing ill regard for how bad of decision he was about to make.
You are here for the spy. Thief. Midnight rogue, dammit!
Despite his self-scolding, Julian pressed forth and did not stop until he fell into step next to the grotesque man named Lord Inglis. “I daresay, Albert, I am quite intrigued by this delightful creature who you are opting not to share with the rest of us gents. May I, at least, have her hand for one dance? I was thinking the quadrille.”
Lord Inglis hiccupped, tapping his divine company on her shoulder. “My dear, allow me to introduce you to Mr. Julian Kingsley. He is a former intelligence agent, rogue, and all around nuisance. Julian, this is Miss Mariah Harris. If you would like to accompany Mr. Kingsley here to the ballroom, I hear he is quite esteemed for his dancing, amongst other delights,” the man growled, while his expression resembled a grin.
The woman rose from her seat, and for once in his disgraced life, Julian was at a loss for words. Exquisite did not even begin to describe the beauty before him. Large, round, and expressive blue eyes peered back at him, while her raven black, curled hair framed her round face. Her lips curved into a soft smile, and when she offered her tiny, gloved hand, he accepted the gift gently, bringing it to his lips. She curtsied, and he bowed.
“Allow me. Julian Kingsley at your service, my lady.”
Ruined and jilted, Mariah Harris, with her cousin, plots against the rogue who dared to insult her and her family. What she doesn’t expect is for their plan to lead them astray…on the wrong side of the law.
Julian Kingsley is ready to give up working for the crown, only he’s given one last mission. He agrees, but gets more than he bargains for. When a dalliance with a mysterious woman suddenly reveals her connections to his case, he’s honor bound to turn her in, but his heart can’t seem to give her up.
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Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Layna discovered her love of reading at an early age. When she isn’t devouring salacious romance novels or writing, she enjoys losing herself in researching ancient history and mythology, weaponry, and hiking. She lives in Northern Ontario, with her husband and two daughters.
Layna is a member of the Romance Writers of America, creator of the Romance Author at Large blog, and is a monthly contributor at 69 Shades of Smut. For updates on her upcoming releases, or to leave her a comment, you can find at:
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