It Takes a SpyPublication Date: November 1, 2014
SynopsisIn 1851, Cecilia Paring has serious reservations about marrying her fiancé, Devin Montlake. Gone is the boy who could capture her heart with a word or a glance and in his place is a man who has made it clear that to be a proper barrister's wife, the exciting and impulsive Cecilia must change as well.
Although Devin Montlake loves his orderly life as a barrister, he's determined to follow his roadmap to achieve his goal of becoming a judge. His biggest obstacle seems to be convincing his headstrong fiancée to fulfill her social obligations with a modicum of propriety.
But when the jewelry collection belonging to Cecilia's family is stolen the night before it is to be auctioned off and Devin is framed for the crime, he discovers that following his much-loved rules won't solve this particular problem. He'll need the inventiveness of his irrepressible fiancée to catch the thief.
“Have you known Montlake long?” Raven asked.
“Almost since I was born,” Cecilia said. She glanced across the room, trying to find Devin again, but since she and Mr. Raven were waltzing, they had traveled to the far end of the ballroom, and she couldn’t spot Devin. “Our country homes were near one another, and we frequently attended the same social events while we were growing up.” He’d always been the one to come to her rescue and pull her out of her many scrapes. He’d been her hero. Her champion. She tipped her head back to glance up at Raven. “And you? Did you first meet him in London?”
“No, at Oxford.”
“You were a student there?” That startled her. Mr. Raven had never impressed her as being the studious type.
“Yes,” he said with a chuckle. “Don’t sound so surprised. We were both in Balliol College. We had some law classes together. Montlake was brilliant. The best in the class. He’s an amazing barrister, and he’ll make a fair and just judge.”
A flash of pride flared within Cecilia. She admired Devin, she always had, but she couldn’t help feeling pleased that Mr. Raven held a similar opinion. “And you? Are you a barrister as well?”
“No, I’m a solicitor. I prefer working with people to arguing points of law in court.”
“I would feel the same way,” she replied, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. “Although I don’t see that drawing up legal papers would be much of an improvement over debating the law.”
“Ah, yes, but at least I have the opportunity to work with many different people from all walks of life. Poor Montlake only has judges, solicitors, and other barristers to associate with. Take my word for it, they’re a stodgy lot.”
Cecilia laughed. “So I’ve noticed.”
“You’re sure to liven things up once you become Mrs. Montlake. Those humdrums won’t know what to make of you.”
Cecilia’s smile fell. “That’s exactly what worries me. I’m not entirely certain I’m cut out to be a barrister’s wife.” She fixed her gaze on his lapel, not wanting to see the agreement she knew would be on his face.
“Don’t talk that way,” he said, tightening his grip on her hand. “You’re bound to liven up those bores. They need someone like you to keep them from putting each other to sleep.”
She tried to meet his gaze, but couldn’t. “I hope you’re right.”
“I know I am. You’re good for Montlake. I see the change in him when you’re around.” He lifted his gaze as he sought out something across the room. “Did you know he hasn’t taken his eyes off us since we stepped onto the dance floor?”
“Trust you?” She narrowed her eyes in mock suspicion. “I don’t trust anyone who says ‘trust me.’ Aren’t you the boy who put frogs in my teapot when Evangeline and I were having a tea party at Sir Timton’s lawn party?”***
The knot in Devin’s stomach eased at her bantering words. “Your memory is faulty,” he said, using a teasing tone that mimicked hers. “It was his daughter’s birthday party. And if you’ll put your mind to it, you’ll recall that you said you planned to kiss one hundred frogs in order to find your prince. I was simply trying to help you on your quest.”
The childhood fantasy had suited her. She’d always looked like a princess to him, with her pale hair framing her face like a shimmering crown of gold. Even though her hair was darker now, when he looked at her, he could still catch a glimpse of that child.
His princess burst out laughing. “I’d forgotten about that plan. How did you even know about it?”
“It was common knowledge.” He recalled his half-thought-out plan to appear when she’d kissed her one hundredth frog. Well, perhaps it had been more of a daydream. She’d kiss her last frog and then look up to find Devin waiting for her. The daydream ended there. After all, he’d been five years her senior.
Of course, he’d been more whimsical back then. At least, he’d tried to be. Being around Cecilia seemed to have that effect on him. She leached the rigidity from him, making him feel unconstrained and free to be himself.
Even now he was amazed at the way fate had thrown them together. Would he have even met her if she hadn’t lived so close to him? Would he have fallen in love so irrevocably? He knew Miss Cecilia Paring. He knew her deep down to the tips of her toes and the corners of her soul. He’d seen her splashing in the rain puddles after a storm until her dress was soaked all the way through. He’d seen her caring for an abandoned baby bird, allowing it to perch on her shoulder all day, leaving white droppings on her dress. He’d even seen her slamming her hand against the piano keyboard with frustration when she couldn’t move her fingers fast enough to master a new piece.
“Did you ever make it all the way to one hundred frogs?” he asked. He would have missed it, since he’d left not long after that party to attend Oxford.
She didn’t respond for a moment, and he began to think she wouldn’t, until she finally said, “Of course I did. I found my prince, didn’t I?”
“I’m Sergeant Emil Jolicoeur,” he said to the Lord Babbage, his voice stiff. “I’m afraid there has been a theft, and a man’s been seriously injured.”
“Will he recover?” Cecilia asked in hushed tones.
Jolicoeur shrugged. “It’s too soon to tell. He’s of one of the guards here at the hotel.”
“Do you suspect one of the guests?” Devin asked.
“I suspect everyone,” Jolicoeur replied curtly.
“Th-the theft,” Lord Babbage said, his eyes wide. “You want to talk to us about the theft, don’t you?” He paled considerably. “Were the jewels stolen?”
“I’m afraid so,” the sergeant replied.
Lord Babbage swayed on his feet, and Devin reached out and grabbed his elbow to steady him. When it became obvious that the man was too stunned to speak, Devin glanced at Jolicoeur and asked, “How much was taken?”
“Everything. The thief left nothing behind.”
Lord Babbage yanked his arm free of Devin’s grip and staggered back. He dropped heavily onto the chair his wife had just vacated. “Everything?” he asked, his voice shaking.
Sergeant Jolicoeur didn’t reply, but waited silently as Lord Babbage absorbed the news.
The man aged ten years before Devin’s eyes. Lord Babbage reached out a trembling hand to clutch at his wife, and she sat down next to him. They both appeared stunned. Lord Babbage’s eyes had an unfocused look, and Lady Babbage had turned deathly pale.
Cecilia stepped forward, filling the gap left by her father. “Do you know who the thief is?”
The policeman narrowed his eyes. “We don’t reveal that sort of information. Do you know why?”
Cecilia blushed at the rebuke. “If the thief were to learn you suspected him, he could escape.”
“Or,” said Devin, “you don’t have a clue as to whom it might be.”
About Sheridan JeaneSheridan Jeane writes exciting and emotion-packed historical romances set in the Victorian Era that confront issues of trust and conformity.
With the advent of the industrial age, life was changing. Many people tried to hold on to the old ways of life while others embraced the new opportunities open to them.
Join Sheridan as she explores the clash between the old and the new.
Sheridan has always loved books, history, and stories about amazing people who blaze new trails.
Despite naming their daughter Sheridan because they thought it might someday look great on the cover of a book, Sheridan's parents urged her in a more practical direction for college. Sheridan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with a minor in English.