About the Book
Title: Once Upon A Scandal
Author: Julie LeMense
Genre: Regency Era Romance
Caught up in a scandal of her father’s making, Lady Jane Fitzsimmons is now an outcast in the society that once prized her. So when Lord Benjamin Marworth offers to help redeem her good name, she leaps at the chance.
Too bad his plan requires her very public demise.
Marworth, society’s darling, is actually a spy for crown, and important war communiques have been stolen. If Jane can carry off her disguise as the mysterious Madame Lillianne Fauchon, with close ties to Napoleon, she just might tempt the thief out of hiding.
And tempt Marworth into something he has always studiously avoided … at chance at love.
A Georgetown University graduate with a degree in English Literature, I’ve loved the Regency romance genre since my first deliciously bad Barbara Cartland novel. These days, I prefer the complex characterizations and plotting of Julie Anne Long, Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Courtney Milan, and Sarah MacLean. A member of the Romance Writers Association of America, I am currently working on my next novel, as the ghosts who live in my haunted, gilded-age home try to sneak their way into my stories.
“Suffice it to say that in the wrong hands, the missing dispatches could change the course of the war. But I think you may be uniquely qualified to help find them.”
Jane pondered Lord Marworth’s statement for a long moment, replaying the words, hoping she’d misunderstood. But only one conclusion was logical. A dark one. “You are obviously having a bit of fun at my expense, although I fail to see the humor in it.”
“I’m quite serious, Miss Fitzsimmons.” He was staring at her intently now. “It is absolutely vital they be found.”
“And you are ... what?” she mocked. “Some sort of agent for the crown, I suppose? Sent here to enlist me for service?”
“You could say that.”
A burst of anger, hot and devastating, surged through her. “It is one thing, Lord Marworth, to amuse yourself by imagining international intrigue,” she said, her voice rising. “But it is quite another to involve someone else in your fantasy. I’m afraid I haven’t the time for it. If you will excuse me … ”
She stood, intent on rushing from the room.
“This is no fantasy.”
She spun to face him. “You’ll forgive me, of course, for not believing you. Given your busy schedule of idle amusements and seductions, it’s hard to imagine you’ve the time for anything substantive. Like saving the country from Napoleon. That sort of thing.”
“Appearances are not always what they seem, Miss Fitzsimmons … ”
Benjamin blinked to clear his vision. This was Jane Fitzsimmons, and yet she was not. This woman had swayed into the room like a seductress, every movement hypnotic. Her features were the same, even if her cheekbones were more pronounced, and her eyes seemed larger, the faintest hint of kohl at their corners. Her new hairstyle framed her face beautifully. But that body. He’d never guessed, and he was a connoisseur of the female form.
“You look … very nice,” he said, his famed wit deserting him.
“You, as well, monsieur le Vicomte,” she replied. There was an artful lilt to her speech, hinting at French shores and exquisite schooling. “But of course, the comtesse told me to expect a handsome man, and I have learned during our short acquaintance she is not given to exaggeration.”
He swallowed reflexively. She’d stopped just in front of him, mere inches away. Reaching up, she placed a tentative hand on his shoulder and then leaned in, standing on her toes to place a light kiss first on one cheek and then the other, while he stood utterly still, breathing her in, unable to deny he was lanced with desire.
She pulled back, her hand falling gently to her waist. “That is how I greet my friends in Paris, monsieur, and I’m told we are to be great friends.”
“If that is how the French greet their friends,” he said, fighting to keep his voice light, “I am renouncing my British citizenship.”