Fellow Bluestocking Belle, Caroline Warfield, visits my parlour today to share an exclusive excerpt of her soon-to-be-released (on the 30th September) Regency romance, Dangerous Weakness.
Welcome and take it away, Caroline…
Lily Thornton, heroine of Dangerous Weakness, overheard something she shouldn’t in Saint Petersburg, something that put her in danger. Now she is on the run and the villain has not given up. This scene does not appear in the novel, but it could have.
Thasos, Ottoman province of Macedonia, 1818
Konstantin Volkov shivered. The blanket wrapped around his head and shoulders chafed his cheek and ears, and the smell of stale seawater wafted up to irritate his nostrils. After a week on the godforsaken island, he had enough of the Mediterranean to last a lifetime. When he returned to Mother Russia in triumph he would forget this place and every rocky horror like it.
More to lay at the feet of Lily Thornton. She will pay when I have her, pay dearly, he thought. She would pay most of all for betraying his agent in Thessaloniki. Now the man’s head hung on a pike and Volkov ran with a price on his head. It would take all his charm and no small amount of deviousness to redeem himself in St. Petersburg.
Hope of redemption and hatred for Lily almost made his temporary discomfort bearable. He paid well to know where she hid herself. Foolish woman. She could not stay in the Seraglio forever. They would discover what she was and put her out. After some time on the streets of Constantinople she might even welcome Volkov’s protection. He would take his pleasure on her as long as he wanted and how. Then— A quick death would not suffice. He entertained himself inventing ever more creative punishments.
Movement caught his eye. He forced his mind onto the light bobbing up the winding path toward his hiding place. Perhaps that worthless tavern keeper brings good news along with his watered wine and disgusting victuals.
Volkov clenched his teeth to stop their chattering. Even in summer the nights were cold. A long impatient wait later lantern light blinded him. “Word has come, Ser, as you wanted,” a disembodied voice said.
“Put that lantern down, you blasted fool, and give me the message.” He grabbed a crumpled piece of foolscap. How many eyes had read this thing? He looked down. All it had was a number. A very large number.
Volkov began to laugh. He laughed until he convulsed with it. Rais Hamidou must think I am Midas. Let him think it.
“Where is he?” he demanded out loud.”
“His anchorage is nearby,’ the tavern keeper said, eyes shifting to one side.
“Yes, yes, secret coves and that nonsense. Tell him I agree. Go quickly.”
The man scurried out. Volkov had sent the last of his money with his offer to the Barbary corsair. Let him think there is more. After he gets me safely inside Constantinople and we take Lily, I will deal with him.
Vue générale de Thessalonique, 1831 by E. Cousinéry
If women were as easily managed as the affairs of state—or the recalcitrant Ottoman Empire—Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, would be a happier man. As it was the creatures—one woman in particular—made hash of his well-laid plans and bedeviled him on all sides.
Lily Thornton came home from Saint Petersburg in pursuit of marriage. She wants a husband and a partner, not an overbearing, managing man. She may be “the least likely candidate to be Marchioness of Glenaire,” but her problems are her own to fix, even if those problems include both a Russian villain and an interfering Ottoman official.
Given enough facts, Richard can fix anything. But protecting that impossible woman is proving to be almost as hard as protecting his heart, especially when Lily’s problems bring her dangerously close to an Ottoman revolution. As Lily’s personal problems entangle with Richard’s professional ones, and she pits her will against his, he chases her across the pirate-infested Mediterranean. Will she discover surrender isn’t defeat? It might even have its own sweet reward.
To connect with Caroline Warfield:
Visit Caroline’s Website and Blog