The Case of the Black Diamond
Knives out at The Soho Club: meet Claire Ryan, the clever woman with a blade as sharp as her tongue, and the handsome Lord Lindsey, handsome bastard and King’s spy.
Being an Irish Catholic in Regency England is challenging enough without handling covert assignments for the Crown Princess, and running an exclusive parfumerie in Mayfair. It’s no wonder Claire Ryan has little time for love. She leaves that sort of caper to her actress sister.
Nicknamed ‘the lonely lord’, Alexander Lindsey has spent a decade spying for the King. He believes himself immune to surprises – until he meets Claire Ryan. Her wit and intellect impress him as much as her beauty and before long he’s investigating more than his assignment.
Claire Ryan doesn’t swoon, and doesn’t blush – but when the Regent’s jewel is stolen, Irish Catholics are suspected. Then Claire’s informant turns up dead and reeking of scent, and the handsome Lord Lindsey turns up at The Soho Club. Investigating this case together seems an excellent way to keep an eye on him.
Soon, Claire and Alexander are keeping eyes on each other, as their joint assignment develops along with their attraction.
Your Steamy Taster...
Claire sipped her coffee, watching Xander Lindsey, watching her. His gaze seemed focused rather closely on the rim of her cup, specifically where the fine china met her lips.
She sipped her brew again. “If you’re intent on seduction, you should know I am not my sister.”
His gaze lifted to her face, steady, focused, powerfully intent. “I have never seduced your sister. I am no rake, Claire.” His voice remained sure, strong, and deeply tempting.
“So it’s a ruse?” She guessed.
He inclined his head, his “mmmm,” resonating low in his throat, like a throb. “We can’t all mask our clandestine activities with scent.” His tone turned husky, intensity sharpening like a honed blade.
“I am not in the habit of short term liaisons,” Claire spoke carefully. “I am not in the habit of being seduced, either.”
“There’s a remedy for that,” he said quietly, suggestively. Did his voice deepen further? How deep does he—stop it.
As though he’d heard her, Xander set down his cup. He walked slowly towards her, the way one might approach a rare and dangerous object.
“Tell me, Claire Ryan, are you armed?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Because I should like to kiss you. If I halt here, you may blade my heart open instead,” he stopped halfway across the chequered floor, arms by his sides like a supplicant. A supplicant with warm brown eyes, and a devastating dimple.
Claire affected a study of the distance between them, lifted her head, locking her gaze to his.
“Three steps back gives you a sporting chance, Xander Lindsey.”
“Indeed?” The resonance from his baritone rippled through her. Nevertheless, he held his ground and Claire lifted a brow, gaze travelling brazenly over his planed face. He stared right back, smiling, offering that dimple where she lingered before studying the cleft in his chin, his corded neck muscles, those powerful shoulders of defined shape. Her gaze dropped lower, taking in his broad torso, narrow waist, and the shapely front of his trousers.
She smiled then, wide and joyous, walking slowly towards him, slower than ever, as though she may never reach him, never touch him. Time stretched out, thinning, heating, bringing her closer to the heft of breath beneath flesh, her pulse beating faster with each step until her skin throbbed with the thought of his lips beneath hers, his surrender within her body.
“Something to savour,” she murmured, watching his answering smile. His tongue darted out, licking his lips and she let out a small laugh, not blinking at all. Not missing a moment of Xander Lindsey standing before her, arms at his sides, gaze locked on hers with an impulse she felt in every nerve and muscle.
Claire touched his cheek, stroking him gently before leaning forward, lips positioned inches from his. Reaching up, she slipped her other hand beneath his jacket, sliding her palm over his shirt, feeling his breath shorten, his weight shift…until she located his hidden jacket seam.
Keeping her gaze on his, she extracted his pistol as smoothly as possible, stroking the barrel along firm muscle as she withdrew. She kept his barrel there, smoothing it lightly back and forth against his shirt, teasing him with danger, with steel, with her unbroken gaze.
“Is it cocked, my lord?”