Seduced by a Spy

By: Andrea Pickens


“What do you expect, given our profession?”

“Next time, I shall be on guard against any trick.”

“Or any thrust?” He smiled, a sinful, sensual curling of his mouth.

Shannon’s cheeks, already flushed from the physical exertion, took on a deeper burn. Damn the man. And her own wicked body for yielding a sign of weakness.

She knew she ought to slap him…

As if anticipating her thoughts, Alexandr tightened his fingers around her wrist. “In chess, I would call this a checkmate.”

“But we are playing a different game.” Shannon twisted out of his grasp and in a whirl of spins and steps threw him over her shoulder.

“Ms. Pickens is a talented writer. Her characters are real and the setting is beautifully drawn, while the dialogue is snappy and period-appropriate. For readers of romance, who enjoy tales of fighting women and the men who love them, this book is worth adding to your reading list.”

—Historical Novels Review on The Spy Wore Silk

“Saucy … audacious … a fun thriller … Regency espionage romantic suspense starring a courageous heroine and a strong support cast.”

—Midwest Book Review on The Spy Wore Silk

Chapter One

The wind whipped against her cheeks, a hard, biting cold that cut down to the bone. Ignoring the pain, Shannon ducked low in the saddle and spurred her lathered stallion toward the high stone fence.

“Fly, Ajax, fly,” she whispered, feeling her own muscles tense at the sight of the rocks standing in sharp silhouette against the scudding mists. “NOW!”

Soaring high into the air, the big animal hung for a heartbeat above the jagged teeth before thundering back down to earth in a blur of heaving flanks and flailing legs. The ground was slick with rain and the stallion stumbled, but Shannon gathered the reins, steadied its head, and angled for the narrow path between the grove of oak trees.

Faster. Faster. A mere fraction of a second could make the difference between life and death.

Despite the chill, her face was sheened in sweat. The pistol. Surely it was just up ahead, where the trees thinned to a small clearing. Straining, she caught sight of the telltale glimmer of steel among the fallen leaves.

Shannon leaned forward. Gripping the leather pommel with one hand, she kicked a leg free of its stirrup and swung low. Thorns scraped her fingers, but she managed to snag the weapon. A hard twist, a turn of her hips, and she was back upright.

Steady. Steady. No mistakes—not now. Not with all that was riding on her ability. Her pulse was racing nearly as fast as her stallion’s gallop. Her heart thudded against her ribs, its rapidfire beat echoing the cacophony of pounding hooves and snapping twigs. Drawing a deep breath, she willed herself to see only the leering face up ahead—the coal-dark eyes, the menacing snarl, the broad bulk of shoulders cloaked in black…

Without hesitation, Shannon took aim and squeezed off a shot.

A hoarse cry rang out as the bullet exploded, tearing a gaping hole in the figure’s chest. She slowed to a trot and circled back, the acrid smoke of the gunpowder still heavy in the air. From the corner of her eye, she caught a ripple of movement in the trees. A young man stepped out from the sheltering branches.

“Is he dead?” she demanded as he crouched down over the jumble of cloth.

“Dead as a doornail.” Giovanni Marco Musto—Marco to all his friends—grinned as he poked at the singed straw. A tall, well-muscled Milanese mercenary, he served as the assistant riding and fencing instructor at Mrs. Merlin’s Academy for Select Young Ladies. “Bravissimo. You hit him square in the heart.”

“No real harm done.” She repressed a twitch of her lips. “Jem will fashion him a new one by morning.”

“Sí, but God help any flesh-and-blood enemy who stands in your path.” He consulted his pocket chronometer and the pearly flash of teeth stretched wider. “A magnifico time, Signorina Shannon.” He gave a jaunty salute as he snapped the gold case shut. “You’ve shaved another second off the Academy record. None of the other students come close to matching your equestrian skills.” Standing in profile accentuated the artful tumble of his dark hair. It curled in Renaissance ringlets around his open collar, looking soft as silk in contrast to the sculpted muscles of his broad shoulders. The very picture of masculine beauty.