Cover & Excerpt
by Tina Christopher
Victoria's Secret Agents Book One
Clara Redbeck has one goal: to prove to the sods at work—and to herself—that the best man for the job can be a woman. To do that, she must prevent a traitor from blowing London to bits. If only the dashing first mate of the dirigible she’d been tasked to plunder didn’t set her aflame.
Garrett Dewhurst has one goal: to execute the coup of a lifetime. His plans do not include a spanking dalliance with the most intriguing woman he has ever met.
With each encounter, the fire between them burns hotter and their need grows stronger. Finally, the cramped cabin aboard the Bismarck becomes their intimate playground, where Garrett introduces Clara to the pleasure of submission and they explore their passion in every way possible.
Clara and Garrett want a future together, but each holds a secret that if revealed could cost them everything. When danger closes in, they have to choose between protecting themselves or the whole of London.
Genre: Victorian Steampunk RomancePurchase link(s): Loose Id Amazon ARe Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Mystery, BDSM, Spies, Historical, Alternative history, Sci Fi
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Loose Id
Excerpt & More
Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the arrival of a stocky, uniformed man. He was just a touch taller than her, had short graying blond hair and pale-brown eyes. Jens immediately came to attention. That alone would have been enough to inform Clara of his position, but the bars on the shoulders of his uniform plus the cloud of command that surrounded him confirmed it.
Captain Derek Nolan had arrived. He strode up to the first group of passengers sitting around a small table and introduced himself.
This was one of the most difficult parts of her role as an undercover agent for His Excellency the Prime Minister. Part of her, a dark and ruthless part she had to keep under tight control, just wanted to kill Nolan for being the traitor that he was. He was about to endanger hundreds if not thousands of innocent people.
But there was no guarantee that his death would be the end of it.
She followed him with her eyes as he worked his way around the room, being all captain-y and in charge.
He was also a smuggler, and this time his cargo included bombs. Bombs small, sophisticated, and powerful—and threatening the empire. As much as she wanted to eliminate Captain Nolan, removing the incendiary devices was her first and foremost goal. Not only was the general threat-level too high, but there was concern it could be a direct hit against the prime minister.
Clara clenched her hand into a tight fist behind her purse, held it and mentally counted to twenty, all the time listening to Oberst Winkler belaboring one point or another. Once she’d reached twenty, she released her hand and with it her need to retrieve the derringer tucked into a disguised holster at the small of her back.
She shoved her anger and disgust into a small corner of her mind and smiled at the Oberst. “I agree completely. You’ve made your point brilliantly.”
He straightened his shoulders and stood even taller, all the while giving his wife a glance that clearly indicated she should agree with Clara. Mrs. Winkler rolled her eyes, but nodded. Before she could speak, Captain Nolan joined their little group.
“Good afternoon. Captain Nolan, at your service.” He gave them a very correct bow.
They introduced themselves and chatted. Clara kept her contributions to a minimum and only made one or two deliberately naive comments, ensuring that Nolan regarded her with condescension.
He did not look like a traitor or a smuggler, but then no one ever did. Beneath his benevolent manner was a cunning that raised the hairs on the back of her neck. Captain Nolan was far savvier than he appeared during his conversations with the passengers. He had to be in order to survive in his business for any length of time.
She continued to observe and downplay her intellect.
Nolan stayed with them for a few more minutes, before moving on to the next group of passengers. Finally, he finished making his rounds and departed.
Clara excused herself from the Winklers and made her way around the room. The mixture of languages echoing through the lounge surprised her. Mostly German, but she caught snippets of Russian and French, as well as English.
Jens pulled his shoulders back, puffing out his chest when she got closer.
She wanted to pat his cheek and tell him that in a couple of years he’d be a wonderful young man and ready to take on the world, but he wasn’t quite there yet.
“Miss Riesenbeck.” He bowed. “Have you settled in well?”
“I have. Thank you very much, Jens.” She set down the empty teacup and then rubbed her hands together, feigning a chill.
He stepped closer, as if his presence alone could provide warmth.
She lifted her right hand and stroked her shoulder, her fingers lingering until she reached the lapels of her jacket and then the edge of her dress. His gaze followed her hand. She picked up the small emerald dangling from her necklace and played with it, directing his gaze to her bosom.
“Well, don’t hesitate— I mean don’t hesitate to come to me if there…if there is anything I can help you with.” He cleared his throat. “It would be my pleasure to please you.”
Clara barely managed to keep her expression inquiring. “That is so very kind.” She bit her lower lip. “Well, there is this one thing…”
“Yes?” Jens leaned forward.
“I’m just not sure if you can help.”
His eyes glowed and his attention focused on her like a beam. “Of course I can.”
She smiled. “I’ve heard so many stories about the size of the Bismarck. I would love to see more of the ship, but I think it would be much, much more informative if I had a guide.”
His eyes widened.
“I’m sure there are many, many hidden nooks and crannies, none of which I would find by myself.” Now she moved closer and lowered her voice. “The balloon is enormous. You must be pumping tons and tons of hydrogen into it to make it so swollen.”
Jens promptly flushed. He swallowed.
“And the pièce de résistance would be the cargo hold. It must be vast. I’d love to see how much stuff you can fit in it.”
“Stuff in what?” a dark voice said from behind her.
Clara cursed. She’d been aware of the newcomer’s entrance. His presence had pinged her senses as soon as he crossed the doorway, but having Jens nearly where she needed him meant she couldn’t turn around.
Now she had no choice.
And it was even worse than she had expected. Where Jens was a puppy, this one was the tiger who ruled the jungle.
Garrett Dewhurst studied the vision before him. She was tall and willowy, her streamlined figure on display in a sleek dress and short jacket that framed her breasts like a present. For a moment her gray eyes flashed with fierce intelligence. Then she schooled them into something more neutral.
His instincts tingled.
Their eyes locked.
He crossed his arms over his chest. “Stuff in what?” he repeated.
“Miss Riesenbeck—” Jens cleared his throat. “Miss Riesenbeck inquired if I could give her a tour of the Bismarck. She wondered about our cargo hold in particular and its impressive s-size.”
Garrett narrowed his gaze and studied Miss Riesenbeck before bowing. “First Mate Garrett Dewhurst, at your service.”
“Miss Clara Riesenbeck.” She curtsied.
She played with her necklace, drawing his gaze to her décolletage. “The Bismarck is the biggest dirigible I’ve ever traveled on. I’d love to explore it in more detail, especially all the places the general public doesn’t see. And I’m curious to see how you store your cargo, what kind of system you use. I’m always seeking ideas to share with my father who works in the import-export business. Your hold must be crammed to the roof.” She batted her eyelashes at Jens. “I’d just wish to know if it is as big as I’ve imagined.”
Garrett remained silent and continued to study her.
It was fascinating to watch her. She’s downplayed her intelligence when talking to Jens, but when she looked at him, her true self came right to the forefront. Jens shuffled his feet, his gaze jumping between Garrett and Miss Riesenbeck, but Garrett didn’t allow himself to get distracted.
Her lips, until now curved in a slight smile, firmed and straightened.
He raised his right eyebrow.
She didn’t respond. Instead she studied him from the tips of his boots to the top of his head and every inch in between. Heat spread through his body, unexpected and not completely welcome.
Then she mirrored his stance right down to the raised eyebrow.
Unable to help himself, he smiled.
It had been a very, very long time since a woman had intrigued him after exchanging just a few sentences. She took his breath away and made him want to laugh. Judging by her frown, this was not the response she’d expected.
Garrett turned to Jens. “I believe you have other passengers to look after. I’ll take care of Miss Riesenbeck and anything she may require.”
Jens nodded. He bowed to both of them and practically ran away.
“I don’t know if I should be insulted at the speed of his departure or pat his cheek.”
Garrett chuckled. “Neither. I just think you are too much woman for him. He wouldn’t know how to handle you.”
She widened her eyes. “And you do?”
He curved his lips and knew his smile carried an edge. “Would you like me to prove it?”
She scrutinized him, leaving him hanging on the lip of the abyss, waiting for her response.
“Give me the tour Jens had promised to escort me on, and I will let you know at the end.”
Challenge curled through him. He bowed lightly but continued to hold her gaze captive. “Please step into my cargo hold.”
Her smile lit up her face. Her beauty was not conventional, but in that moment, it grabbed him by the throat. “Said the spider to the fly.”
“Will you step into my web?”
She turned around and threw a glance over her shoulder. “That has yet to be determined.” She strode to the door, and Garrett fell into step behind her.
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Be on the lookout for Tina Christopher's future release(s): The Spies Who Loved Me coming late 2015/early 2016
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