Sweet Christmas Secrets:
A Regency Holiday Anthology
At eighteen, Ada Ryan’s an accomplished actress and acknowledged as one of the loveliest women in London. She’s also used to secrets. Her sister's covert work for the absent Queen ensures she hears 'I cannot tell you' at least once a day - and she’s had quite enough of that.
With a poisoner still on the loose after five long weeks, Crown operative Mr Felix is assigned to protect her - but does this mean he must follow her about? It’s most annoying. He's attractive, certainly, but our pretty young actress aspires to better security than a mere valet. She's just beginning to gain admirers, and everyone has an idea of what might suit her best.
Charged with protecting his favourite actress, Mr Felix soon realises that it takes a trained deceiver to see past Ada Ryan's facade. A woman so skilled at being what she isn't, requires patience and an unwavering trust in love. When it turns out the woman he loves is also the key to solving the case that has Westminster's operatives stymied, Felix must juggle her safety, his own, and that of Lord Liverpool's administration. His duty is made more challenging by his relations with the Prime Minister. Mr Felix, it seems, has secrets of his own.
This is the second part to The Case of the Black Diamond, featured in Secrets of the Soho Club novella collection.
In this sequel to The Case of the Black Diamond, actress Ada Ryan holds the key to solving the mystery that's stymied the palace operatives over the past five weeks.
This story was an intriguing, sexy mystery. I loved the plot; it was engaging and fun. Both Xander and Claire were well-developed characters. Their backgrounds and occupations were fascinating.
Jenna Lee on Amazon
There was a unique ending, leaving room for a second story, which I will read. The background characters were vivid and helped support the ingenious plot. This story stood out, being a different, refreshing take on a spy romance.
Your Holiday Taster...
Ada considered the last time she’d ridden in a carriage alone with a man. A man she’d thought was the Prime Minister’s brother, Lord Lindsey. A man she’d kissed in her dressing rooms, in his carriage, in a poste house – and who hadn’t been Lord Lindsey at all, but his lookalike valet.
His handsome, kissable, valet, Mr Felix. Ada shook her head. It didn’t make sense for hard up actresses to kiss valets, even if they did taste sweeter than an earl’s champagne. It didn’t make sense for an actress to blush off-cue either.
A man’s voice came from the shadows. “You’re late, Miss Ryan.” A familiar shape stepped out of the parfumerie doorway.
“Mr Felix, you startled me!”
“Accustom yourself to this fact, Miss Ryan: I’m charged with your safety, and your sister’s.” Mr Felix’s thick hair peeked out from beneath the brim of his cap. The dimple he’d sported while watching her on stage was absent.
She swallowed as though she could draw heat from her cheeks to her gut. Pragmatism demanded the truth: her security lay with Hertfordshire, not this man. Ada met his gaze at last, feeling like a chastised thief, though she’d stolen nothing and broken no agreement.
“How many times must I request you not loiter outside my apartments, Mr Felix?”
“It has long ceased to amuse me as well, Miss Ryan, and I do not loiter.” Mr Felix pointed out. “Lord Lindsey requires I escort you home each evening. Your revue ended hours ago.”
Oh that’s scolding.
Anger sparked – if Mr Felix knew the earl pursued Ada as his next mistress, then he must know she’d not agreed. Ada sniffed, tossing her head.
“The earl’s carriage is new and most luxurious. He offered me a seat tonight.”
“Lord Lindsey’s carriage is a safer transport.” Felix replied evenly.
“A carriage ride is no more contract than a kiss,” she retorted coolly, taking proper consolation in his loud ‘Ha!’
Ada faced this man, glaring as best she could in the dim light. “A man who impersonates his employer to gain my kiss is scarcely trustworthy, Mr Felix.”
“Miss Ryan—.” Her companion stepped forward into the beam of streetlight. Ada saw his attire properly, taking in his workman’s breeches and worn jacket.
“I see you’re in costume again. It’s poorly done if you’re to pass as anything at all.” Ada shrugged as though she didn’t care. “Who are you this evening, then?”
He flinched, and she wished his jaw less angled, his waist less trim. “I’m not at liberty to discuss this, Miss Ryan.” He sounded truly regretful, but Ada had had her fill of pretense this night. She turned toward her door.
“Then you have your secret business, Mr Felix, and I have mine.”
“And all of London knows it, when you accept closed carriage rides from such as Hertfordshire.” He responded fiercely.
How dare he? Ada forced her stare into a glare so he knew his offense. She must be offended – why else her racing heartbeat? This is maddening.