Twist legend into truth. Camelot Castle is in the heart of Regency London.
Ann Tracy Marr - Romance Writer
The round table and Merlin’s magic are not myth, but history. In 1814 England, where knights are more plentiful than peers and younger sons of lords hold the honorary title Squire, the Regency pattern of life remains. Young ladies are introduced to society; house parties are conducted.
Martha Dunsmore, the descendant of a puka, has an impish streak and a propensity for trouble. Trouble she finds. Taken hostage, Martha is saved by an ‘angel.’ Clandestine magician, espionage expert, heir to a duke, Lord Brinston is the perennial hero – and Martha's angel.
If only Brinston will notice her and perhaps talk to her. But he has no time for flirtation – there is a traitor to trap. Convincing an ardent lady that espionage should be left to the male strains Brinston’s patience – if not his magic – to its limits. Will heartfelt words of love convince the feisty heroine that his magic can be hers?
Martha turned to the right, entering the wing housing her chamber.
As she passed the first door, it opened and an arm shot out and grasped her about the elbow. She teetered and stumbled through the doorway. The door closed with a snap.
"Very clever, Martha." Brinston trapped her against the closed door, his hands under her armpits, keeping her upright. "Adroit maneuvering; you choose your distraction well. Not quite well enough, though. Would you care to explain what you were doing in Colby's quarters?"
Martha quivered at the closeness of that large, masculine body, feeling hunted. Her mind quivered and found a simile. Poor rabbits; they got chased all over by dogs and men with guns, trying to cower in holes, their little fluffy tails quivering. Was this how they felt? Hunted. Trapped. A fricassee would never taste the same. In the meantime, why not try denying it all?
"In Sir George's room?" Martha sputtered. "How dare you accuse me of something so improper. No lady would enter a gentleman's bedchamber." His body leaned against hers.
On second thought, perhaps attack would work better. "I could scream, my lord. How would you explain bringing me here?" An arm waved around his side at the bedchamber, although Martha's eyes couldn't see around the solid body crowding her against the wood molding of the door. The body leaned harder. Martha felt squashed and strange feelings skittered around her stomach. For Avalon's sake, enough. She wanted Brinston to kiss her, not scold.
The final resort always must be honesty. "I didn't find anything, if that is what you want to know," she muttered. It worked. The body stopped leaning and stepped back.
Lord Brinston surveyed the girl he had coerced into honesty. Martha leaned against the door as if she needed a prop. A young miss's white muslin dress clung to her lithe figure, deepest black hair curled around her ears and forehead, slipping from the confinement of pins. Her face was pale and her eyes glinted mute distress.
Oh, by the idiocy of Accolon, he had scared her too much. He kept forgetting how young she was. Thus, he spoke in a moderate tone. "It would be better for you to cease your attempts to find Mr. Jackson's document, my lady. Leave the business to me. I am trained for this, you are not, nor do you have the experience that allows you to anticipate the villain."
Unwisely, the Owl turned his back, thus missing the pleasure of the sight of an eruption brewing as he continued. "This is not a pursuit suitable for tender feminine sensibilities. Endeavors such as this are best left to men. I have it in hand." Brinston's voice droned on in the classic, dominant male litany. "I am sure Sir Hurst would agree that you would be better occupied with maidenly subjects. I have noticed a lamentable lack of effort on your part in those activities acceptable for your sex."
The volcano gathered strength as a hot wind blew through Martha's head. Brinston continued. "It is all a piece with your deplorable tendency to pull pranks on people. But the person who took the report is too dangerous for pranks, my dear. If you had any sense, you would realize you are playing with nettles." The marquess looked out the window. "For the sake of your safety and decorum, you must cease your search. What if you were caught? People would think you a thief, if not worse. Your reputation would be in tatters."
Lava flowed through Martha's veins on hearing 'deplorable tendency'. It picked up speed, racing through her arteries at the twin concepts of 'safety and decorum'. The pompous voice strengthened as the marquess explored his theme. "Perhaps you left the schoolroom too early. A proper education would have turned your thoughts to a more decorous demeanor. Music and stitchery would be more appropriate occupations for you than skullduggery, my lady. I have noticed that your performance at the pianoforte wants polishing."
Criticism of her activities was bad enough, but the dreadful man cast a slur on her musicianship. A wholly feminine rage melted her 'decorum' and erupted from Martha, spewing forth as a volcano, uncontrolled and lava hot. 'Safety' was forgotten as another of her 'deplorable' tendencies erupted.
"Oooh, I will show you--music and stitchery!" She slammed the door on her exit and stalked down the hall, plotting death.
Brinston grinned lopsidedly and slapped his thigh in glee. That paid her back for snooping in Michael's room. If he couldn't stop her spying, he could devil her. Gads, it was fun. Teasing that little spitfire was more fun than pulling the wool over Banshees.
It was what she deserved; his scrying abilities were overworked, keeping track of the pixie.