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Lady Wynwood's Spies, volume 1: Archer EXCERPT - Prologue 1d

I’m posting an excerpt of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 1: Archer, the first part of my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series!

Part one in a Christian Regency Romantic Adventure epic serial novel with a supernatural twist
Lady Wynwood’s Spies series, volume 1

She met him again by shooting him.

After four seasons and unmarried because she is taller than most of her dance partners, Miss Phoebe Sauber receives the shocking news that she is being callously banished from her father’s estate because he is remarrying. Feeling betrayed by her father and by God, and wanting to escape her family’s presence, she attends an archery tournament with her friends.

But her perfect aim fails her, and her arrow hits a piece of paper held by Mr. Michael Coulton-Jones, whom she hasn’t seen much in society in several years. But strangely, her arrow tears a section of the paper with a partial symbol that looks eerily familiar to her.

He met her again while searching for a killer.

Michael had quit his work as a spy for the Foreign Office when his brother was poisoned. His search for the murderer leads him to Apothecary Jack, a criminal underworld leader with a penchant for poisons, who is gathering a powerful army through an alchemical potion that can give men supernatural strength.

But his path unexpectedly crosses again with Miss Sauber, who saves him from a trap laid by Jack. She and her Aunt Laura, Lady Wynwood, have found a vital connection to Apothecary Jack and the mysterious group he works for.

Now Michael, who had vowed to never again allow civilians to come to harm, must work with a nobleman keeping dangerous secrets, a human lie detector, a chemist, a fellow former spy, and the one woman he’s never allowed himself to get close to.

And it is only this ragtag group that stands against a traitorous organization that could enable Napoleon to conquer the world.

PLEASE NOTE: This is the first book in the Lady Wynwood’s Spies series, an epic serial novel. Each volume has a completed story arc, but this is NOT a stand-alone novel and ends on a cliffhanger.

All the posted parts are listed here.

***


Prologue 1d



There was a knock at the door and one of the knife-throwing siblings, Clara, entered with a tray of tea. Her eye roved over Laura’s stance. “M’lady, you should strengthen your back leg for a more stable stance.”

“Yes, you mentioned that at my last tutorial, didn’t you?” Laura looked down at her legs as she adjusted her stance, then aimed and threw a second knife. This hit Wynwood’s right eye.

Clara nodded as she set the tea tray down on a table in the corner. “Much improved. Shall I pour for you, m’lady?”

“If you would, please.”

As Clara poured a cup of tea for her mistress, Graham appeared in the doorway. He glanced at the two daggers protruding from Lord Wynwood’s eyes at the far end of the room and barely stifled a sigh. He held up a cream envelope. “An invitation arrived for you, m’lady.”

“Please set it next to the tea tray. I shall answer it later.” Laura glanced at his face, which couldn’t hide his disapproval, and her lips twisted into a smile. “Graham, I feel a need to rid myself of excess … hysteria. Now I know why men enjoy their boxing and fencing and shooting so much.” She sent another knife flying, this time at Wynwood’s wide, smooth forehead.

“I would wish m’lady had a more—ahem—retiring method of calming the nerves,” Graham said blandly. “Anyone could walk in upon you and discover your secret hobby.”

“Surely not. The reason I picked Wynwood’s bedroom was because it was one of the least likely places into which a visitor might wander.”

“Shall I remain and tutor you, m’lady?” Clara asked.

“Thank you, but not today.” The image of Sol’s unwontedly stern face made Laura both angry and sad, and she wanted to erase it from her mind.

Clara bobbed a curtsy and followed the butler out of the bedroom, closing the door behind her.

Laura aimed for Wynwood’s neckcloth. Even though she was almost certain that Sol worked for the government, it had genuinely surprised her that her old friend may have been sent to spy on someone at the house party at Wintrell Hall, in the midst of her family. Thwack! The knife found its mark.

No, if she were honest with herself, it shouldn’t have surprised her, not after the events at the birthday party, when Sol’s secret world had so obviously collided with hers. Thwack!

She had accomplished what she wanted—to discover the truth from Sol and warn him about using her again and involving her family. But she had ripped a hole in the fabric of their friendship that could not be easily patched up.

And accompanying her sadness was a simmering annoyance that he hadn’t apologized for his actions, even though logically she completely understood his position, and the goals of his secret employment. Thwack!

The difference, she supposed, was that for her, her family came first.

Laura crossed the room to retrieve her knives. Had he always been this dispassionate, this coldly practical? Had she not seen it in him?

Had she never really known him?

Laura yanked a knife from Wynwood’s left knee and paused, absently tapping the flat of the blade against her chin. The real question was what she would do now that she knew for certain about his clandestine work for the government. Her servants knew as well, but she had warned them not to spread it about and she trusted them completely.

She had helped him in a small way this past weekend. She forced him to allow her to help, if she were being ruthlessly honest with herself.

But now that they were back in town, she only wished for things to return to the normal flow of life, with a predictability she could hold in her hands, even though for her that involved more unconventional side hobbies. And especially now that their friendship had cooled, she wouldn’t expose her servants to danger like the kind they’d seen only a few days ago.

After all, it wasn’t as though she were going to help him again.

***


NOTE: Laura and Sol mention events that happened at Christmas and about a month before the events of this story. The Christmas events are detailed in The Spinster’s Christmas, a stand-alone Christian Regency Romantic Suspense novel, but you do not have to read that book to enjoy Lady Wynwood’s Spies.

However, you can read about the events at the birthday celebration in my novella, The Gentleman Thief, which you can receive for FREE in exchange for signing up for my email newsletter. After a few welcome emails, I send out newsletters about once a month with a sale on one of my books, a freebie, or news about when my latest release is available.

***

Buy Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 1: Archer:
Kindle
Paperback

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