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Lady Wynwood's Spies, volume 1: Archer EXCERPT - Chapter 1a

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.

***


Chapter 1a



London, England, April 3rd, 1811



Miss Phoebe Sauber jolted to a halt in the doorway to the morning room at the sight of her father sitting at the table. She didn’t realize her mouth had opened in surprise until he looked up at her and snapped, “Close your mouth and come inside or go out. You’re letting in a draft.”

She belatedly closed the door behind her.

Mr. Denholm Sauber had spread the newspaper out on the table beside him, so Phoebe took that as an excuse to sit far away from him at the opposite corner. Her normal breakfast fare of muffins and tea had been supplanted by her father’s preference for bacon, eggs, toast, and coffee, and the servants had bowed to his wishes rather than leaving the tea and muffins out for her. She gritted her teeth in irritation and selected toast, then deliberately turned to the hovering maid and said loudly, “Agnes, I would like a pot of tea.”

“You’ll have coffee and be glad of it,” her father growled.

“Tea, Agnes.”

Thankfully, her father didn’t bother to argue further, and the maid bobbed a sulky curtsy before leaving the room.

Several years ago, before her brother had been born and even for a few years after, she would have professed to prefer coffee over tea and would have been thrilled to eat breakfast with her father. Now, she guessed that his unwonted presence here this morning was because she had inadvertently done something to displease him again, and the thought annoyed her rather than arousing any feelings of guilt.

“You are playing archery with your friends again?”

His unexpected question made her choke on her toast. She coughed a few seconds, wishing for the absent tea, before she was able to croak out, “Yes.” He had probably guessed because she wore one of her special gowns, cut with more fullness in the shoulders for her archery practice.

Her father frowned at his eggs. “It is only an acceptable pastime because your archery friends are from influential families.” It was the only reason he approved of her interest in it—he was in the process of angling for a title, and a few of her friends’ families were close to members of the royal family, especially the newly sworn-in Prince Regent.

“I won the last three tournaments I participated in.” As soon as the words left her mouth, she regretted them. Why did she continue to say things like that, as if she still desired his approval?

“At least it’s not costly.” He glanced out the window a moment before turning back to his plate and shoveling bacon into his mouth.

Her toast crumbled in her tightened fingers. It was only through her efforts managing his estate in his stead that he was able to remain in town for much of the year, and that they had the money to pay for the rent on this townhouse. She worked with his steward much more efficiently and smoothly than he did, and her efforts had increased the funds flowing into the family coffers. However, the increased wealth had numbed her father to the fact that it was his daughter who was responsible.

Agnes arrived with a teapot and cup, which distracted Phoebe from her frustrations, only to introduce new ones. “Agnes, you forgot the milk and sugar.”

The maid’s mouth thinned in irritation, and she practically flounced from the room.

Phoebe sighed. Unlike the servants at their country estate, the servants in the London townhouse adopted their master’s dismissive and disrespectful attitude toward her.

“Stop harassing the servants.” Her father glanced out the window again, then reached for his coffee cup. “You should have drunk coffee.”

She ignored him. Despite the servants, she was glad to be in town again for the Season because she was determined that this year, she would find a suitable man to marry. It was her only way to escape her home, which had slowly become intolerable over the past few years. She was nearly on the shelf, but surely if she lowered her standards (and kept her mouth shut), she could find someone.

For the past four Seasons, nearly all her suitors had been the more desperate fortune hunters, although sprinkled in with the mix had been a few aged, pox-ridden roués looking for a young wife to belatedly try to sprout some offspring for them. Her father had rejected all of them—he possessed a manager for his land and house in his daughter, so he would not relinquish her unless her husband benefited him personally somehow, such as connections to aid his bid for a title.

But this Season, surely she could persuade her father. Surely some impoverished fortune hunter possessed an entailed country estate with a greenhouse or the space to build one, so she could continue to grow her precious roses. And meeting a man in town during the Season would indicate he traveled to London at least once a year, so once they were married, she could still attend her botanical association meetings.

Surely this year she could simper more convincingly and smile a bit more brightly.

***

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