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Sunday Snippet: Lost to a Spy by Sharon Cullen

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 About the Book

Lost to a Spy
Author:  Sharon Cullen
Publisher:   Ballantine/Loveswept
Released:  March 13, 2018
Series:   All the Queen’s Spies #3
Genre:  Historical Romance/Suspense
Author contact links:   Website
Purchase links:  Amazon, Barnes N Noble

Snippet:

“Tristan?”

“Emma?” Tristan fell back on his heels and relaxed his grip on his dagger.

She opened the door wider and he finally saw her slim outline. She looked like a ghost, standing there in her white nightgown, her nearly white hair draped over her shoulders.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Are you ill?”

“No. Nothing like that.” She stood with her hands folded in front of her, looking down at her feet.

“Let me stoke the fire. It’s freezing in here.”

“You don’t have to.”

But he did have to. Something wasn’t right, and they were both shivering in the cold so he stoked the fire. Besides, he could see her better with the additional light.

He swept a blanket off his bed and held it out to her. She hesitated before wrapping it around her shoulders.

It was a small bedchamber with nowhere to sit except the bed but he didn’t offer that.

“What’s wrong?” he asked again.

She looked down at her toes then up at him, raising her chin a notch higher than was necessary. “I want us to . . . make love.”

He reached out to grab the mantel and blinked a few times.

“Pardon me?”

Her gaze flitted away but came back to his, more determined. “I want to make love to you.

“Well that’s certainly . . . I’m flattered . . .” He was desperately searching for words, while his body was already anticipating sliding into her. But that was wrong and his brain was trying to control his body’s natural reaction. He was fairly certain that Emma did not want to make love to him. He didn’t know what brought this on but he was sure making love wasn’t the answer.

She approached. “Seeing Lord Darnley’s body today did something to me,” she said. “It was shocking and horrifying and sad all at the same time. Regardless of what he did or didn’t do to the queen, or what kind of life he led, he was a young man in his prime who went to bed one night and didn’t awaken in the morning.”

Ah, now he saw the genesis of her request.

“Emma—”

She held up her hand, silencing him.

“It took a lot of courage for me to walk in here and it’s taking a lot more to not turn away and run back to my room.”

He pressed his lips together and nodded even though he had a thousand things he wanted to say and an overriding need to hug her.

“I know you probably think I’m being silly. Some people might say that Darnley deserved his fate or that we shouldn’t be surprised that an enemy finally got to him and maybe they might be right. I’m learning to rethink a lot of long held beliefs, but that’s not why I’m here making a fool of myself.”

“You’ll never make a fool of yourself.”

She waved a hand in the air while the other hand desperately clutched the blanket to her chest. If she wanted to make love to him then she was holding that blanket like a soldier’s shield in battle.

“The fact is that none of us know when our last day will be on this earth. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. I’ve lived all my adult life in fear of men. Angus was . . . Well, he was not a nice man and he taught me that making love is degrading and painful. I’ve heard that it doesn’t have to be that way and if this were my last night on earth then I’d want to spend it with you learning that lovemaking can actually be beautiful.”

God’s blood. She had no idea what she was saying, what kind of pressure that put on him. More than anything he wanted to make love to her, to teach her that men could be gentle and kind, but he didn’t think he was the man for that.

“Have you thought this through?”

She took a deep breath and held it for a moment before expelling it. “No.”

Now he was deeply confused and deeply aroused. Not a good combination. “This is not something that can be done on the spur of the moment.”

“Yes, it can.”

“Emma—”

“I can’t think about it. If I think then I will cower and I want to do this. Right now.”

“You might change your mind if you’d give it a bit of time—”

“That’s the point. I don’t want to give it time. I’ll lose my courage if I think overlong on this.”

“Courage? Making love is not about courage.”

She took a step toward him. “But it is all about courage. It’s about trusting the other person to be kind and gentle and loving. It’s nothing but courage and I’m feeling courageous right now. If I think about doing this it will open the door for Angus’s memories to step through and I don’t want that.”

“This is feeling rushed.” Her speech on courage had him hesitating. He’d never quite thought about making love to a woman in those terms but, damn, she was right. Now he was thinking too much but one of them had to have a steady mind.

“Please, Tristan.”

“I just think that this is something we lead up to. Maybe kissing some more . . .”

She was shaking her head. “I don’t want to wait. I want to do this now. I want to know that I can . . . be with a man the way other women can be with a man.”

So this had less to do with making love to him and more to do with Emma seeing that she could be with a man. Oddly, he wasn’t hurt by this revelation. Rather he was humbled that she chose him for her experiment.

“How do you know I can be kind and gentle?”

“You picked me up off the street without knowing who I was and you nursed me back to health. You let me return here when I decided not to return home. You never questioned my motives. You just accepted me as I am. You are a good man, Tristan Fitzherbert. I know it in my bones.”

“Maybe you should question my motives,” he said, feeling the weight of his guilt resting on his shoulders. He’d not done any of that out of the kindness of his heart. Well, maybe at first, but once he realized who she was he knew she would be a valuable tool for his work.

“What motives do you have, Tristan?”

“Many.”

Book Blurb:

 

Everything changes when the shocking deception is revealed in this seductive novel from USA Today bestselling author Sharon Cullen

Ladies in waiting can’t help noticing more than they let on. After so many years at the court of Mary, Queen of Scots, Emma Howard sees quite plainly that the royal couple is anything but happy. Reeling from a failed marriage herself, Emma sympathizes with her beloved queen. But the last thing she wants is for the king to be murdered, let alone to witness the shocking act herself. With her whole world turned upside-down, Emma is saved by the quick thinking of a lowly printer . . . who, unbeknownst to her, is one of England’s most daring spies.

At Queen Elizabeth’s behest, Tristan has been stirring discontent against the Scottish nobility. Now that the king is dead, his mission is even more critical. There’s only one complication: the exquisite courtier who’s unexpectedly fallen under Tristan’s protection. Emma rouses his body and his soul. But after she learns that he’s a traitor, the fate of two nations hangs on her response. Tristan’s prepared to risk his life in exchange for hers. Will Emma do the same for the man she’s come to love?

About the Author:

Sharon Cullen is the USA Today bestselling author of the All the Queen’s Spies series and the Highland Pride series (Sutherland’s Secret, MacLean’s Passion, Campbell’s Redemption) as well as many novels of Regency romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. If you’d like to find out more about the author and her books, you can visit her blog or her website. She is addicted to social networking, so you can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Friend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion: books.

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