Genre: Regency Historical Romance
Date of Publication: May 12, 2015
ISBN: 13: 978-1511983536
Number of pages: 270
Word Count: 73,000
Cover Artist: Kim Killion
Book Trailer: No
She gave up her future for justice...
Emma Willoughby had an idyllic life until her parents were murdered and her world, as she knew it, came undone. She sacrificed everything and even accepted a marriage proposal from a man she thinks knows the identity of the killer.
Unfortunately, he is murdered before she’s able to discover the truth. Now the Crown claims a mission to Tibet will bring the answers she seeks. The trouble is, the man who has been assigned to protect her, a man she'd once deceived, is an arrogant spy who wants nothing to do with her.
He lived a lie to protect his family...
Michael Whitfield left home nearly a decade ago, but when his childhood friend is murdered and accused of high treason, he is determined to clear his name and his killer be brought to justice no matter the cost, even if it meant accompanying the woman who turned out to be nothing more than a heartless viper. But as their mission takes twisted turns and reveals a sinister plot that threatens both their lives and the lives of the innocent, his admiration for her grows and sparks between them once again ignite. But can he trust his heart to a woman whose history holds nothing but lies?
Available at Amazon
Finding the strength, Emma pulled away from the door, walked up the stairs, and stepped into her room, biting back the hot emotions igniting again with new purpose. She had no room for tears, no room for—
A cold blade drew up to her neck and her breath snagged in her throat. Her hands gripped the culprit’s solid arm and her chin tilted up as the cold knife pressed on her neck.
“Afraid?” A chilling yet familiar voice taunted.
His musky male scent propelled peculiar tingles up and down her spine. He lowered his free hand and slid into her bodice. She gasped when his fingers touched the tip of her breasts, heart racing with anticipation. With one flick of his hand, he pulled out a pen knife she'd hidden between the mounds of her bosoms before departing home. Before she could react he released her with a gentle shove, leaving several feet between them.
Their eyes met and her gaze swept the very tall length of him. She had forgotten how delicious he smelled. His stark blue eyes darkened and, for one single moment, she thought she caught a glimpse of lust brewing there.
Lust? Wrong. He despises you.
“Danger, Miss Willoughby, lurks everywhere.” Michael slid his knife back into the sheath tucked into his boot.
“Apparently so,” she whispered.
“I thought you were trained?” He tossed her knife on the settee.
“I am.” Her eyes swept his broad frame, the loose cravat about his neck.
“Really?” He walked around the room and tipped his head to look out the window, then back at her. “If that were the case, you would have had your knife about my neck. How many missions, exactly?”
She unlocked her gaze from his and turned to the window. She felt him approach, closer. Closer still. Her heart quickened. She dared not move.
One. But she was not about to give him the satisfaction. “I do not need to use physical force to accomplish my task.”
“Ah yes, the good old game of seduction. A skill you've quite mastered, I think. I know this first hand."
If only he knew the truth, he wouldn't be so cruel. She felt him approach her from behind, his hand caressing the curve of her neck. Slowly snaking around, he pulled her to him, her back now against his firm chest. Heat flared inside her, wishing for the impossible.
"That may work well with a target, especially when the poor soul is already in love with the spy charged to take him out, don’t you think?” he said.
She pulled away from him. "I did what I had to."
“Listen well. You are an amateur at best and you will only end up rotting in the gutter if you persist.” He took several strides towards her, leaving barely a foot between them.
“So you have come here to teach me a lesson? Is that it? I can assure you that there is nothing you can say or do to deter me from my goal.”
“No, I am not here to teach anyone a lesson. But I do need to know the extent of your capacity."
“Now you know, so kindly get the bloody hell out of my house,” she warned. Walking over to the settee, she retrieved her knife and held it firmly in her hand.
He didn’t bat an eye at her blasphemy. She refused to let this man intimidate her under his scrutiny. She tipped her chin up and looked squarely at him.
“Tell Lord Tomkin you want out and I'll give you my word to deliver the message and find the killer.”
Typical male, thinking he would be her knight to save the day. No, it was her responsibility to find justice for her family and to keep him on task. “I will do no such thing. I will have my satisfaction of looking him in the eye when he is caught.”
His jaws twitched. “Then I suggest you prepare yourself because we will be entering a hostile territory in the middle of a bloody war. Gurkhas will not hesitate to slit your throat once they discover you.”
“Gurkhas?” She tried to sound impassive, but her tone gave it away.
“Nepalese mercenaries,” he said. “Quite unforgiving where the English are concerned. Lord Hastings is fighting a bloody war that no English cares a damn about.” He paused for her reaction. “And the Chinese military, well….that’s another matter altogether.”
She'd deal with them once she was there. "Thank you for the cautionary advice. I am well prepared for miscreants that cross my path."
"I don't think you are," he said carefully. "And that can be very dangerous for us both."
She glared at him. “Since you seem to have everything figured out, what is your plan?”
“My plan,” he said with a mocking tone, “is to stay alive.”
“Is that supposed to frighten—”
“This isn't a game.”
His gaze fixed on her lips and lingered, sending waves of heat through her body. She cursed herself for allowing this man to affect her. “I’m quite aware this isn't a game, Mr.Whitfield.” Her tone belied her show of confidence. No doubt he could see her quaking skin and shivering nerves.
He looked deep into her eyes. "Emma," he said, his voice taking on a softer tone. "I need you to back away from this. I give you my word I'll find the killer."
Their gazes locked and she saw he meant what he said. "I can't," she said softly, shaking her head. "I won't."
He backed away from her, his features hardening once more. “Then I only have one thing to say to you."
"And what would that be?" she said, curtly.
"Be prepared," he said, "for the hell you are about to enter."
Character Name: Lady Emma Willoughby
Character Bio: Born to the late Home Secretary of England and a French mother, Emma spent much of her childhood in the English countryside with her mother. Being an only child, she spent much of her time in the library reading. She enjoys walking the countryside at dusk in the summer, and God forbid, without her slippers, and indulging too many apple pies in the kitchen with her cook by her side. Until her parents were murdered, she had an idyllic life, one that was shattered in a blink of an eye.
Describe yourself what is your worst and best quality?
Let me think on this... Oh, yes, I would have to say, my worse quality, according to my mother, is my lack of interest in marriage. The thought of being presented like some prize dessert to the patronizing crowd isn't my kind of fun. I rather enjoy the intimate conversation with a few good friends, don't you?
My best quality, in my opinion, is my craving for knowledge. That is why I read as much as I do. You see, it helps me to understand the world. Of course, it isn't the most sought after quality in potential mate, but there are far greater things to take up my time, then to sit quietly in the parlor while my life is planned out right before my eyes.
But, I guess, none of that matters now. After my parents murder, I gave up on marriage, my future. What is important is that I find the killer and make sure he pays for his crimes.
What is your biggest secret something no one knows about?
That I am utterly and hopelessly in love with Michael. If Lord Tomkin discovers this, it would not bode well. No, I keep the secret deep in my heart and no one shall know the truth as long as I live.
What are you most afraid of?
I fear that I will never find my parents' killer; that my effort has been for naught.
What do you want more than anything?
Simple. I want to find my parents' killer; to put this to rest, and finally grieve for my parents. But if I were to allow myself to be brutally honest, I want to feel again. I haven't been able to speak with anyone for fear of being discovered of what I have been doing for the last two years. I'm living a lie, so must I stay away from my friends and especially Michael. Perhaps it's selfish of me to say this, but I can't help but feel so very alone in this world right now.
What is your relationship status?
I don't have the luxury of courtship or prospect of marriage right now. I let that part of me go. While I still am in love with Michael, I hurt him deeply and I don't think he will ever trust me again. I can't afford to make the mistake of letting someone into my life again. It's simply too dangerous for us both.
How much of a rebel are you?
I would say I have defied Society rules in all aspects. Not only have I accepted a marriage proposal to discover the identity of the killer, I am living a lie. I don't know if that makes me a rebel, but certainly I am no role model for societal women.
What do you considered to be your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is that I faced my worst fears with my head held high. I won't allow anyone to dictate my life and prevent me from what I must do for my parents.
What is your idea of happiness?
Don't judge me, but my idea of happiness, right now in my life, is spending time with Michael. We use to take walks through the lush countryside and converse. It felt so right being with him and I wish I could steal that for a moment again.
What is your current state of mind?
I would have to confess that I feel quite unnerved. I am so close to finding the identity of the killer any day now. It's quite difficult to allow myself to be at peace at this point. I just hope this will all end sooner than later.
What is your most treasured possession?
My most prized possession, I will say, is the white daisy Michael had picked for me last year. It sits between the pages in a book my father bought for me while he was visiting the Continent on business.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
I certainly want a gentleman to be honorable, but most importantly, I'm attracted to a man who is genuine, strong, and who isn't afraid to stand up for his ideals; someone who is open to new possibilities in life. I can't fathom loving a man who is unable to evolve as a human being.
Who is your favorite hero in fiction?
I don't know if I have a favorite hero in fiction. Humm, let me think.... If I had to choose, I would have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Robinson Crusoe and Arabian nights in my father's collection in the library. It has elements that seemed to connect us on a fundamental level, I think.
Which living person do you most admire?
Jane Austin. I find her life simply fascinating. She does not follow customs and social moors and I admire her strength. I love her stores. Her characters are rich and layered so well, that I can image conversing with as if they were my friends.
What is your motto?
Today is all we have. Find the courage to live fully and authentically.
About the Author:
Kristi Jun resides in Southern California with an infinitely patient husband and a beautiful quirky son. If she isn't conjuring up another Happily Ever After, she can be found searching the web for all things English, watching reruns of Star Trek (new and old), Dr. Who, and Downton Abbey. She LOVES to hear from her readers!