How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy
Renegade Royals # 3
By: Vanessa Kelly
Releasing January 6th, 2014
Zebra / Kensington
Whether as spies or lovers, the Renegade Royals—illegitimate sons of England’s Royal Princes—are bold, skillful, and a force to be reckoned with…
A war hero returned from Waterloo should be able to indulge in a bit of bad behavior. Instead, Captain William Endicott is summoned by his father, the Duke of York, to investigate an assassination plot. The unlikely suspect: William’s former sweetheart. Will can’t believe that innocent Evie Whitney could be mixed up in anything so nefarious. Then again, almost everything about Evie has changed—except for his body’s instinctive response to hers…
Just as Evie’s life is finally coming together, Will saunters back into it. Should she slap him—or seduce him? Even as she tries to decide, scandal pushes her toward marriage with a man she can neither trust nor resist—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy…
Evie Whitney watched in admiration as her sister’s arrow flew straight and true, landing with a satisfying thud in the center of the target.
“Well done,” she said to her twin. “It still amazes me how accurate you are, even though your eyesight is as bad as mine and you refuse to wear spectacles.”
Eden flashed a satisfied smirk and handed her the bow. “That’s because you think about it too much, Evie, just like you do about everything. All I do is aim for the big red circle and fire away.”
It was more than that, of course, and they both knew it. Eden—or Edie, as she was known to friends and family—excelled at almost every activity she took up, despite the curse of dreadful eyesight. She had learned to compensate for her poor vision with an array of little tricks. It also helped that she was naturally graceful and confident, and adept at smoothing over awkward moments that might arise, say, from failing to recognize a friend from across the room.
Lacking her sister’s talent and grace, Evie couldn’t count the times she’d walked into potted plants or offended an acquaintance when she breezed right past them unawares. Finally, when she turned twenty, she’d stood up to her mother and insisted on acquiring a pair of spectacles. Though they placed her even more firmly in the wallflower category, at least she was no longer in danger of falling down stairs or giving the impression that she was rude.
Evie notched her arrow in the bowstring. Taking a deep breath, she enjoyed the drift of the soft breeze across the back of her neck. It was a gorgeous, late September day, when summer slowly melted into fall and the sky seemed to shimmer with gold around the edges.
She glanced across the lawn to the back of Maywood Manor, her family’s gracious old house. Lady Polk and her daughters, who’d been enjoying the late afternoon sun on the terrace, had gone indoors, no doubt in anticipation of the gong. Other guests, who had been strolling on the lawns or had joined Evie and Eden in the impromptu archery contest, had also drifted away to their rooms to change. Evie and her sister should be going up too, before their mother came out to scold them for being late.
Not that Mamma would dream of scolding Eden. She would just smile and chuck Eden under the chin, calling her a naughty puss before delivering a stern lecture to Evie. It was the natural state of affairs in their family, and had been for as long as Evie could remember.
“Are you going to shoot or just stand there all day like some kind of looby?” her sister said, stripping off her leather gloves. She dropped into one of the wrought iron chairs under the canopy that sheltered the refreshments table. “Mamma will have our heads if we’re late for dinner, so you’d better make this shot your last.”
“You mean she’ll have my head, don’t you? You could set the house on fire and she’d find some way to excuse you.”
Her sister’s face twisted with sympathy. “It’s beastly, isn’t it?”
Evie stretched the bowstring and took aim. “It’s not your fault, pet. It’s just the way she is.” She loosed the arrow and followed its flight.
Eden leaned forward, squinting. “You almost hit the bullseye that time.”
“I’ve been practicing. Maybe one of these days I’ll be as good as you.”
“Dream on, Sister dear,” Eden retorted as she came to her feet, lazily stretching her arms in front of her. “When it comes to—”
“When it comes to what?” Evie asked absently, retrieving her bonnet from where it had blown under the table. Her mother would scold if she saw her bareheaded outdoors, but the day was warm and fine and she liked the feel of the breeze on the back of her neck. Plopping the hat on her head, she turned to see her twin peering toward the house.
And felt as if the earth had just dropped away beneath her feet.
“Someone’s coming,” Eden said, “but I can’t make out who it is, confound it.”
Evie struggled to form the impossible words. “It’s…it’s Will. Endicott.”
Her twin’s mouth dropped open. “Wolf? Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure.” Evie blinked several times, as if that would somehow make Will disappear. “Do you think I could ever forget what he looks like?”
“Here, hand me your spectacles,” Eden said. Before Evie could answer, she snatched them from her nose and held them before her eyes. Then she let out a low whistle. “Well, I’ll be damned. It is Wolf Endicott. But who’s that delicious looking fellow he’s got with him?”
Evie retrieved her spectacles. “I don’t know and I don’t care. What I do want to know is what that…that…”
Words often failed her, but never more so than today.
“Bounder? Poltroon?” Eden helpfully supplied.
Evie could only give her head a despairing shake in response.
At one time, Will Endicott had meant the world to her. She’d told him all the secrets of her soul and had adored him with the fervent passion that only a young girl could feel for her first love. And she’d thought Will felt the same way, equally devoted to her and equally determined that they’d grow up and grow old together.
What a silly little fool she’d been.
Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her current series, The Renegade Royals is a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes USA Today bestselling contemporary romance with her husband, under the pen name of VK Sykes.