Some sins are impossible to forgive…
Ruthless and devilishly handsome, former Bow Street Runner Trevelyan Foxton has been hired to find a missing debutante who eloped to Gretna Green. But the woman who holds the key to the girl’s disappearance is the one woman Lyan vowed he would never see again. After all, when a young man proposes marriage and gives his virginity to his beloved, he’s going to be furious when she steals his money and runs away.
Some men are impossible to resist…
Haunted by dark secrets, Estelle des Jardins was forced to desert Lyan ten years ago, take half his money, and disappear. She has built an independent life as a dressmaker and secretly helps young ladies escape from cruel guardians and arranged marriages. When Lyan comes back into her life searching for one of her clients, she must lie to him all over again. But Lyan suspects the truth and embarks on a campaign of seduction to melt her defenses…
Estelle cannot fight Lyan’s erotic spell but is he seducing her for information—or for revenge? Has her one act of betrayal cost her a lifetime of happiness…or can Lyan forgive her sins and love her again?
Note: A version of this story was previously published in the Mammoth Book of Regency Romance. This novella has been expanded with new material and is much hotter.
Read an Excerpt
London, March, 1817
He had caught gangs of murderers in the stews off Whitechapel High Street. Arrested opium dealers in seedy brothels near the Wapping docks. But in all the years he had worked for Bow Street as a Runner, Trevelyan Foxton had never been required to investigate in a more foreign and intimidating place.
Trevelyan stood in a narrow passage between two buildings on Bond Street, ensconced in shadow, and watched the front of the shop across the street. He drew deeply on his cheroot and held the smoke in his lungs. Slowly, he let it out, aware that the gentle rhythm of smoking was doing nothing to ease the tightness around his heart.
Each time the door to the modiste’s business opened, a silver bell tinkled delicately. Ladies flowed in and out continuously. Ladies of every age and every description—slender, giggling girls with bright eyes and bouncing curls, and their mamas, the formidable matrons of the ton, draped in silks and velvets. From within, all he could hear was incessant feminine chatter.
Trevelyan glanced up at the name above the shop, painted in burgundy and ivory on a large sign, glimmering with gilt.
No longer was she plain Sally Thomas. She was now Estelle Desjardins. The last time the door had opened, he’d caught a glimpse of her. A severe black gown clung to her slender figure. Her hair was drawn ruthlessly back into a smooth chignon. She had pins stuck in her mouth, and ordered a bevy of seamstresses about with a wave of her hand. She was surveying a girl who stood on a raised podium—a thin, sallow girl who looked miserable in an ivory dress. At the same time, she was lecturing the mother, a gray-haired, high-in-the-instep matron Trevelyan recognized as the Duchess of St. Ives.
A soft smile tugged at his lips, lifting his cigar. That was the Sally he remembered.
She’d been the toughest, hardest, and fiercest woman he had ever known. All of the lads he had grown up with—the pickpockets, the mudlarks, the thieves—had been afraid of her. Except for him. He knew the one thing that frightened Sally. When he wanted her to shut her mouth, all he had to do was kiss her. Or show her he cared about her.
That had been a long time ago. Back in the days when he never would have dreamed he’d end up on the good side of the law as a Bow Street Runner. Back when he had promised Sally he would protect her forever. When he had pledged his heart to her, and his soul, and had even given up his virginity with her on a tattered mattress in his seedy rooms in the stews—on the night that had been their makeshift wedding night. The night she had also run away, vanishing from his life.
Trevelyan tossed away his cheroot and ground it into the cobblestones of the street. He had trained himself a long time ago to never look back. To only look ahead.
Sally had done well for herself.
It was a shame he was going to have to destroy her.