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How does an innocent lady find herself forced to wed a royal spy who seduced her—by mistake? For Lady Rebecca Marshall, a whirlwind of passion and excitement begins when, to her mother’s great delight, she becomes a maid of honor at the court of Queen Victoria. Rebecca’s mother sees this appointment as a golden opportunity for Rebecca to make a good match.
At court, Rebecca innocently steps into the rivalry between the queen’s spymaster and the noblewoman in charge of the maids of honor who is using the maids to spy on powerful courtiers. Soon Rebecca is entangled in a web of deceit with the charming marquis Rupert St. John. The devastatingly handsome n’er-do-well is the cousin of Raphael Locke, with whom Rebecca was once infatuated. What she doesn’t know is that Rupert is a secret agent of the crown who leads a double life.
When Rupert obtains proof that Rebecca is spying on him, he seduces her. He hardly suspects her guileless nature. Forced to the altar, Rupert believes that Rebecca has set a trap of the worst sort in order to marry into his powerful family. Although he vows never to be faithful to his beautiful wife, as Rupert comes to know Rebecca’s wit, adventurous spirit, and generous nature, his vow of revenge turns into a desire to share many passionate nights only with his wife for the rest of his life.
Warm, witty, and filled with the “deliciously sexy” (Booklist) flirtation that makes each of her bestsellers an irresistible gem, A Rogue of My Own will have listeners falling in love with Johanna Lindsey all over again!
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Johanna Lindsey is one of the most popular authors of romantic fiction, with over sixty million copies of her novels sold. World renowned for her novels of “first-rate romance” (New York Daily News), Lindsey is the author of forty-three previous bestselling novels, many of which have been #1 New York Times bestsellers. Lindsey lives in Maine with her family.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
BUCKINGHAM PALACE. REBECCA MARSHALL still couldn't believe she was going to be living there. She'd known for a week, but the reality of it simply hadn't sunk in. But now here she was.
Becoming a maid of honor at Queen Victoria's court was the biggest surprise she'd ever had in all of her eighteen years. Her mother, Lilly, had been hoping for this elite position to be bestowed on her daughter, but Lilly hadn't told Rebecca that she'd called in a few favors to obtain it. She hadn't wanted Rebecca to be disappointed if it didn't come to pass.
Rebecca wouldn't have been disappointed. She'd never even considered being a maid of honor at the royal court. But she knew that it was something her mother had aspired to. Lilly often spoke of her lost chance to be a maid of honor, or even a lady of the bedchamber once she'd become a married woman. Her family had been staunch Tories like her husband. And with the Whigs in power, controlling all of the court appointments, Lilly had been unable to achieve her fondest wish and had finally given it up. After all, the Whig political party had retained power for a long time.
But now the Tories, more recently called Conservatives, were finally back in office, with Sir Robert Peel as the new prime minister. Out with the old, in with the new, as it were. With new appointments being made, Lilly had quickly petitioned party officials for an appointment for Rebecca. There was no guarantee that Rebecca would receive one as there weren't many appointments to be had. But the letter had arrived ast week. And like an excitable young girl, Rebecca's mother had actually shouted for joy after reading it, she had been so thrilled. And her excitement had been contagious.
The last week had been a whirlwind. Mother and daughter had only just started planning for Rebecca's come-out in London during the next winter Season, which was still months away. They were still in the early stages of having her new wardrobe designed, with nothing created yet! So many extra seamstresses had to be hired, and decisions had to be made quickly. There were trips back and forth to the nearby town of Norford, sometimes two or three trips a day. And underlying it all was the excitement and Lilly's nonstop chatter about this being the most golden opportunity of Rebecca's life.
It was also going to be the biggest change in Rebecca's life since her father's passing. The Earl of Ryne had died when she was only eight. Lilly had never entertained the idea of remarrying. The earl's title had gone to a male relative of his, but the manor near Norford where Rebecca had grown up wasn't entailed. She'd spent her whole life there, hadn't even gone off for her schooling as had some of her closer friends. Lilly hadn't been willing to part with her, so she had arranged for Rebecca to have the best teachers right there at home.
Rebecca had loved that arrangement. It allowed her and her mother to spend a lot of time together. Both adept horsewomen, they rode nearly every day when the weather was good. Rebecca was going to miss that. With both of them having so many friends in Norford, there was always someone stopping y to visit, or some social gathering to attend. Rebecca was going to miss that, too. But they wouldn't be so far apart. Norford was only a few hours' ride north of London. However, Lilly was determined to give Rebecca some time to get settled in and used to her position, before she visited. She didn't want to appear to be an overprotective mother, even if she was!
Actually, this appointment to the queen's court would be the second golden opportunity for Rebecca that mother and daughter had extensively discussed. The first had arisen five years ago when they were in complete agreement on their first choice for Rebecca's future husband. No need for a Seasonal launch if she could catch his eye, and he was a neighbor, too, Raphael Locke, the Duke of Norford's heir. So convenient! But the esteemed fellow had up and married someone else before Rebecca was old enough to put herself forward, and that had ended that.
Such a shame. She had been looking forward to being a part of that interesting family. Preston Locke, the duke, had five sisters, all married and living elsewhere now, but they often returned to Norford for visits. Lilly had told stories about the days when most of those ladies had still lived at home and how the Lockes had quite dominated the local society, and in fact some of the grander parties Rebecca had attended had been at Norford Hall when she was a child. She had almost got closer to that family when she became friends with the youngest daughter of the house, Amanda Locke. It was too bad they had lost touch with each other after Amanda was sent off to private school.
The duke hadn't entertained much after that because it was only him and his elderly mother in that big house. His wife had died years ago, and while every available lady in the neighborhood had probably tried to catch his eye over the years, he remained a widower. But Ophelia Locke did the entertaining there now, the woman who had captured Raphael's heart before Rebecca could!
Two lost opportunities in that illustrious family, a best friend and a husband. But this new opportunity was upon her. A maid of honor at Queen Victoria's court! Rebecca knew all the benefits. Holding the position was comparable to attending the most elite finishing school in the world. She'd be meeting the most important people in England and royalty from across the Continent. There was no reason to wait for a Season if you were part of a court with a queen who loved to entertain. If Rebecca was lucky, the queen might even have a hand in picking her future husband. Anything was possible.
Miraculously, Rebecca's wardrobe was finished in time for her departure for London and was much grander than it would have been for a mere Season. Lilly had spared no expense. And she accompanied Rebecca and her maid, Flora, to London.
It wasn't the first time Rebecca was seeing London. There had been a few shopping excursions over the years, a horse race Lilly just had to attend since the sire of her mare was racing that day, the wedding of an old friend Lilly had been invited to, and, of course, Rebecca had joined her on all of those trips. But this was the first time she was seeing Buckingham Palace. There had been no reason to visit it before when no monarchs had made it their home until now.
Alighting from the coach with her mother and Flora, Rebeccastood there in awe of the grand structure that she wouldbe living in for months, possibly years. It was so much biggerthan she had imagined! Even the marble arch of the ceremonialentrance was stories high! Palace guards were marching nearbyin their brightly colored uniforms. Other people passed underthe huge arch that Rebecca would be walking through.
Her feet wouldn't move. Nervousness nearly overwhelmedher. She already knew Lilly wasn't going to escort her inside,but she wasn't ready to say good-bye! She'd never had to saygood-bye to her mother before, not like this.
Lilly took her hand and squeezed it. She understood. Inthat simple gesture, she gave Rebecca courage.
"Your father would have been so proud, had he lived to seethis."
Rebecca glanced at her mother. It was a poignant moment.Lilly was so happy for her daughter, and yet she was no doubtrecalling her own missed opportunities. It was in her expression,close to tears yet smiling.
"You two aren't going to cry, are you?" Flora asked in acomplaining tone.
Lilly laughed. Rebecca managed a grin. Flora was good atrelieving tension with her candor.
Unfortunately, Flora wouldn't be living in the palace withRebecca. She would only stay long enough today to get Rebeccasettled in. They both knew that Rebecca wasn't going toget a room to herself. There simply weren't enough rooms forall the members of the court, let alone for their servants. SoLilly had rented a flat for Flora nearby so she could come to thepalace each day to maintain Rebecca's wardrobe and performher usual duties.
Lilly had been entertaining the idea of buying a town housein London for Rebecca's first Season. But now that Rebecca's"Season" had begun under a completely different set of circumstances,Lilly was more hesitant about the idea. While some ofthe ladies at court owned homes in London where they spenttheir nights instead of sharing a room at the crowded palace,Lilly wanted Rebecca to experience every aspect of court, andthe surest way to do that was to live there. If the Marshalls hada town house, Rebecca might be tempted to go home to it eachnight.
Lilly gathered Rebecca into her arms for a long hug. "I'll seeyou in a few weeks, darling. At least I will try to stay away thatlong."
"You don't have to -- "
"Yes, I do," Lilly cut in. "This is your time, not mine. You'regoing to enjoy every minute of it. But you must write me everyday. I want to hear about everything."
"But most of all, Becky, enjoy yourself. Wonderful thingsare going to happen for you. I just know it."
Rebecca really wished she had more of her mother's enthusiasm,but her own excitement had waned now that their separationwas imminent. This was her mother's dream. She wishedLilly could have had it instead of her.
But for Lilly's sake, she put on a bright smile, gave hermother one last hug, and hurried inside the palace.
Copyright © 2009 by Johanna Lindsey
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