A snow storm, a Russian spy and a puzzle loving widow await you in The Lady and the Spy by Ruth A. Casie. This is the second standalone regency romance in the Ladies of Summer by the Sea. I am excited to share its release and two fun giveaways.
With each encounter her heartbeat quickened. With each encounter his need for her grew stronger.
Lady Patrice Montgomery Edgemont always did what was expected of her and look where that got her, married off by her father into a loveless relationship. She solved the puzzle that was prospective husband number two, another of her father’s choices and quickly made him a distant memory. Lady Patrice is not playing games. She is through with men.
Nikolai Baranov is the son of a Russian grand duke and spy for Tzar Alexander I. When his father and associates are killed, Nikolai doesn’t play games. The only thing worth winning is revenge for his family.
When a blizzard blankets Sommer-by-the-Sea, Lady Patrice is the only one who can help the mysterious wounded Russian she finds in her hunting lodge.
It will take Nikolai’s skill as a spy and Lady Patrice’s expertise at solving puzzles to play through and win the game, a happily ever after.
Patrice knelt next to him and studied his face. His dark, full beard was streaked with silver and glistened from the melted ice. His features, from what she could make out between his beard, cuts, and bruises, were pleasant. He didn’t have a tortured grimace but looked rather at peace.
He pushed the fur away. The coat and shirt gaped open and gave her a better look at his wound.
“The bleeding has almost stopped,” she said softly, as if he could hear her. “It needs to be cleansed and dressed.” He didn’t move. “I’ll be just a moment.”
She hurried out of the room already thinking what needed to be gathered. Her steps slowed as she reached the kitchen. His name taunted her from the edges of her mind, teased her, frustrated her.
Leave. Now. The small voice kept at her. What are you doing? Go now. What was she doing, speaking to the man as if he heard her? Anyone seeing her would think she was…mad. Her mother would—
Cold water on her face couldn’t have awakened her more. Her mother would have had him removed without a fare-the-well. Put out on the street, or in this case out into the snow.
That would have been madness.
She rolled her eyes. What was done, was done. A quick turn in the kitchen, then the scullery, and she had what she needed.
Tanya’s gentleman was still unconscious when she returned. She let out a breath. Well, Lady Edgemont, you wanted your independence, your adventure. Now what?
His quick intake of breath and groan sent her into action.
All she had to do was cleanse his wound and bandage it then she could send him on his way. Steam rose from the water as she poured it from the kettle into the bowl.
She took the clean rags and tore them into strips, put several of them into the hot water, and set the honey next to it. How many times had she watched Mr. Carter attend to her brother? The last time it was a bullet wound in his head, the result of an argument over cards. Even Mr. Carter couldn’t fix that. She pushed her brother out of her mind. After a deep breath, she plucked the linen from the bowl and gingerly squeezed out the water, then unfurled the cloth to let it cool a bit.
Now she was ready to take care of her guest. He was quiet, breathing evenly and thankfully, on his back. She touched his forehead. No fever. Careful not to disturb him, she opened his coat and shirt a little further. She picked up the cloth, but before she could apply it, a strong hand grabbed her wrist.
Startled, she stared at the hand grasping hers, then at the man’s dazed face.
She had to bend close to hear what he said. It was a jumble of Russian.
“I’m here to help you. You wandered into my lodge.”
He tightened his grip. Although she was concerned she wouldn’t be able to hold the cloth much longer, she was more concerned about his building anger.
Think! Something. Anything to quell the fight in his eyes.
“Moy lev. I’m here to help you.” My lion. It was the only Russian term of endearment that came to mind.
He closed his eyes and released her arm but remained awake.
“Your wound doesn’t look deep, but you have lost a lot of blood. I’m going to cleanse and dress it. Are you hungry?”
He gave a nod.
Relieved he understood her, she let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding.
“I noticed you at the tearoom, speaking with Tanya.” With care, she placed the warm cloth on his wound and applied a little pressure.
He flinched but said nothing.
“Sorry.” She didn’t stop. “I’ll be as quick as I can. It usually doesn’t snow like this here. A few flakes, maybe a dusting on the ground. I can’t remember the last time we had a snowstorm.” She rinsed the cloth and reapplied it.
He remained quiet. This was going to be a one-way conversation, but that didn’t stop her. The conversation was more for her than for him.
“I remember the snow in St. Petersburg. It was a lovely evening.” She soaked a clean cloth and applied it.
This time when she removed the cloth she examined the wound more closely. It was a clean cut. The edges of the wound hadn’t discolored. He remained still. She didn’t think it was made by a wild boar. No. Definitely not made by a wild boar.
“I think that’s all for the soaking. Your wound is clean and not deep. Thankfully, I don’t think it needs to be stitched up.” She glanced at him. His eyes were barely open. “You wouldn’t want me to do that anyway. I’m not particularly good with a needle and thread.”
The corners of his lips went up a bit and her heart raced.
“What are you good at?” His voice was low, mellow, and familiar.
“You are awake. And here I thought I was talking to myself all this time. You are most fortunate. I am very good at slathering honey on my morning toast.” She held up the honey pot.
“You paint a very interesting picture, slathering honey.”
Patrice felt the heat of her cheeks. His words teased, but it was his sensuous smile that had her lightheaded.
“A rake of the first order. I will have you know that your charms are wasted here, sir.” She used her best scolding voice but couldn’t stop from smiling.
“You are not concerned, here alone with someone you don’t know?”
“You’re a friend of Tanya’s.” She shrugged her shoulders, her lips pursed. “Knowing her, you should be more afraid of what she will do to you if you overstep the boundary.”
“You are correct. Tatiana is not someone I want to cross.” Again, that smile. “I saw you in the tearoom. With your friends.”
She needed to control the conversation.
He gave her a questioning stare.
“You asked about the slathering. The honey is the only thing at hand for your wound. It will keep it clean until you can see a doctor.”
She drizzled the honey onto his wound and covered it with a piece of clean dry linen. He sat up and let her wrap a strip of linen around him to keep the dressing in place.
“I’ll make us some tea. Would you like to sit here, or do you prefer sitting at the table?” She watched him carefully, not wanting his wound to open.
“I’ll sit at the table.” The color drained from his face as he stood up. A bit wobbly, he put his arm around her, and they made their way the few yards to the table.
Patrice poured tea and set out the scones along with the jar of honey.
He looked at her quizzically.
“It’s either honey or nothing. The cupboard in the lodge is bare.” She took a seat across from him and tried to watch him without being intrusive. She was relieved his color returned quickly.
They drank their tea and ate their scones and honey in silence.
“Did you see anyone in the forest?” He’d been in the forest for some time, and perhaps he caught a glimpse of Henry.
He put the cup down. With his elbows on the table, he tented his arms and clasped his hands.
“Why do you ask?” His glare was steady. The playfulness in his voice gone.
“I came to the lodge looking for a lost boy and found an unconscious man sprawled on my sofa with a knife wound.” She put her cup down and returned his serious stare. “The only reason I’m still here is because of your association with Tanya.”
He said nothing.
“The boy is Henry Percy, Lord Lieutenant Hugh Percy’s son. He’s gone missing and I’d like to know if you have seen him.”
“You put a lot of trust in Tanya. You have no idea who I am.”
“And I would like to keep it that way. People with stab wounds are not my usual callers and I think the least I know the better.” She got up and began to clear the table but turned as she reached the doorway.
“You’re not even curious?” He got up and followed her to the kitchen door.
“Not at all.” She lied. She was sure she knew him, but from where?
“I am curious if you’ve seen anyone in the forest.” She held his stare.
“No. I have not.”
She went to pass him, but he didn’t move. They stood facing each other.
“May I call you Lady Edgemont?”
Her gaze never wavered. “How do you know I’m Lady Edgemont?”
He bent close to her and whispered in her ear. “I asked Tatiana.”
Her eyelids slid closed as his warm breath bathed her ear and neck. She became instantly aware of who he was.
He didn’t have to ask Tatiana. He knew her as well as she knew him. St. Petersburg. Two years ago.
What was Prince Nikolai Baranov doing dressed as a vagabond and in Sommer-by-the-Sea pretending to be someone else?
Enter the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win an eCopy of The Lady and Her Quill, along with a $10 US Amazon gift card. Open through March 3, 2022.
If you read The Lady and the Spy, you will find the key. You need to solve the puzzle and win a $50.00 Amazon gift card. You’ll also get the chance for a bonus entry when you answer a question about our heroine. Contest open until March 17, 2022. Best of luck!