I have waited soooo long for this book. I read THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK in two nights--much to Hubs' dismay since I had to leave my bedside lamp on. But, oh, was it worth it. I was captivated by Alyssa's story and her writing is top notch. At the end of Smuggler was an excerpt for her next book, IN BED WITH A SPY. December 2nd couldn't come soon enough. Now, it's here and I'm reading it! It's even better than I anticipated. And here's Alyssa to tell us about the book.
When Diane asked me to blog about how IN BED WITH A SPY came about, I was so excited to share this story! It was complete happenstance. One thing led to another thing, then another—and suddenly, there it was. An idea I couldn’t wait to put down on paper (or on screen, depending on the day). So here’s how it came about…
My very first completed manuscript is hidden in the deepest, darkest desk drawer I can find—and it will stay there for eternity as long as I have anything to say about it. But one of the characters, Julian Travers, Earl of Langford, was the hero’s best friend and ended up with his own story in my debut novel, THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK.
And, like that first hero, Julian has a best friend, more or less. Spies don’t work alone, after all. They are part of a network and assist each other in the investigation of nefarious (and interesting to write) characters. In walks Angel, or, rather, in climbs Angel, as we first meet him trying to break in Julian’s bedroom on his wedding night. When I first wrote about Angel in THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK, he had no real name, just that code name. But I knew exactly what he looked like and I knew his story. He nearly walked off with a couple of scenes in that book because he was so real to me.
When I finished THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK (titled To Tempt A Smuggler in those days), I immediately started IN BED WITH A SPY. Angel had a story, and I was the one to tell it. But he needed a heroine, of course, and I had to find her, stat.
I started researching British military history one morning around 4:30 am, because I knew I wanted Angel to have a military background. And Lilias fell into my brain from the ether. Fully-formed, in all her sabre-wielding, rebellious, vengeful and passionate glory. I had an image of Lilias on horseback during battle, sabre held high as she let out a battle cry. And I knew my girl. Whenever I felt like I lost her character while writing, I brought that image of her to mind. This was no wilting wallflower. This was a warrior.
And so, without further ado, here is the scene that defines Lilias in my mind:
June 18, 1815
On a bloody field near Waterloo
The woman shouldn’t have been in the thick of battle. But she rose out of the acrid smoke, perched high atop a chestnut horse and wearing the blue coat of a light cavalry officer.
The Marquess of Angelstone staggered through rows of trampled corn, shock rippling through him as the woman’s sabre flashed. A shrill whistle sounded overhead. Instinctively, Angel ducked as cannon artillery pounded into the ranks, blasting into the earth and showering him with dirt and black powder.
The woman on horseback didn’t flinch.
He staggered forward, coughing, ears ringing, as soldiers around him fell or scattered. Pressing a hand to his jacket pocket, Angel fingered the square shape of the letter he carried there. He hadn’t known he’d have to fight his way to Wellington to deliver it.
The horse turned a tight circle, one of the woman’s hands gripping the reins while the other brandished a cavalry sabre. Her grip on the blade was untrained, her movements awkward.
But fury and hate blazed from her eyes and fueled her sabre as it sliced across the chest of a French soldier. The man collapsed, shrieking and clutching at welling blood.
The woman turned away, already arcing her sabre toward another enemy soldier, and Angel lost sight of her.
Reflex sent Angel’s bayonet plunging as a Frenchman reared up in front of him, face contorted by fear. When the man screamed, regret shot through Angel before he forced it away. It was kill or be killed. There was no time for regret.
He surged forward with the ranks of foot soldiers, compelled to look for the woman. The muddied ground sucked at his feet, threatening to pull him beneath thundering hooves and panicked soldiers. Broken cornstalks slashed at his face. The sulfur smell of black powder burned his nose, mixing with the scent of men’s fear.
He fought past a charging enemy soldier, spun away from another and saw her again.
Soot streaked her grim face. She grinned at the enemy standing before her—and the smile was terrible. The man paled, but aimed his rifle at her. He was not fast enough to beat her sword.
When that soldier, too, fell under her sabre, she looked up. Over the dead soldier and through the swirling gray smoke, Angel met her eyes. They were a chilling, pale blue and held only one thing.
She pulled on the reins and her horse reared up, hooves pawing at the air. Angel planted his feet and braced for impact. But the hooves never struck. The woman kept her seat, her jaw clenched, and continued to hold his gaze.
The battle faded away, booming cannons falling on his deaf ears. The gray, writhing smoke veiled every dying soldier, every hand-to-hand battle being waged around him.
He only saw her merciless eyes. Blood roared in his ears and the beat of his pulse became as loud as the cannons. A high, powerful note sang through him.
The woman’s horse whinnied as its hooves struck the earth again. Standing in the stirrups, she thrust her sword aloft and howled. The battle cry echoed over the field and carried with it the sting of rage and unfathomable grief. She wheeled the horse, spurred his sides and charged through battling soldiers, her blond hair streaming behind her.
And she was gone, obscured by clouds of dark smoke and the chaos of battle.
If you like the Prologue to IN BED WITH A SPY, and I hope you do, here is a little bit more about the book:
Revenge has never been so seductive.
When her husband is killed at Waterloo, Lilias Fairchild takes up his cavalry sword and boldly storms the front, earning herself the nickname Angel of Vengeance. But there is another angel on the battlefield who is just as single-minded, and just as ruthless…
Alastair Whitmore, the Marquess of Angelstone, is a British spy. Code name: Angel. Still haunted by a first love felled by assassins, his mission draws him to Waterloo, where he is captivated by a beautiful and mysterious woman fighting amongst the men—a woman who becomes his most intoxicating memory of war.
Passion has never been so dangerous.
Two years later, Lilias and Angelstone lock eyes in a crowded ballroom and the memory returns in an exhilarating rush. The history they share, and hide from the world, is as impossible to ignore as the heat of their attraction. But it’s that very connection that spells doom for their scandalous affair. When someone from the shadows of their past proves a dire threat to their lives, passion might not be enough to save them.
Alyssa Alexander is the author of THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK, which garnered 4.5 Stars and Top Pick from Romantic Times. Her second book, IN BED WITH A SPY, released December 2 and received a Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly and 4.5 Stars and Top Pick from Romantic Times. She is a Google-Fu aficionado, lives with entirely too many cats, and is grateful every day for the wonderful Mr. Alexander and her small boy-child, Biscuit, who often wears a knight-in-shining-armor costume—which is fitting, since his mother writes romance novels.
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