Checkmate, My Lord is set in 1804 England and is the second book in my Nexus series. The series is about a group of international spies trying to stop the French from consuming Europe and England. The hero in Checkmate is Sebastian Danvers, Lord Somerton. As the a spymaster and Chief of the Nexus, he has learned to trust no one. But his managing neighbor, Catherine Ashcroft, gives him a glimpse of what his life could have been had he not put his country before all else. If only he could figure out why a respectable mother and widow living in the country would put her reputation on the line for a few nights in his bed…
“I believe you wanted to see these.” Catherine held out a packet of letters, tied together with a black ribbon. The ribbon trembled.
“Thank you.” He studied her face as he accepted the bundle, but her even features gave nothing away. “I know how hard it must be to share your private correspondence.”
“Yes, but worth it if they help you find my husband’s murderer.” She swallowed. “Did you learn anything from the others I gave you?” She turned the full force of those beautiful eyes on him.
“Unfortunately, no.” He held up the new stash. “We need to decipher these in order to fully understand Ashcroft’s message.”
“Tell me, Mrs. Ashcroft.” He stepped closer, his gaze sliding over the delicate contours of her face. “What will you do if it’s decided that your husband’s death was an unfortunate case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?”
Her eyes widened a fraction, but her answer came swift and determined. “I’ll take the letters to someone else.”
Sebastian’s body went hard. Desire like nothing he had ever felt before rushed through his veins. Not for the first time, he wondered what it would be like to have such a fierce champion. “Are you this loyal to everyone you care about?”
“What can you mean, sir?” she asked. “Would you not do the same for a wife?”
“I have never been married, madam. Therefore, I cannot answer your question.” Closer now, he drew in a long, slow breath until her scent drenched his senses. Tantalizing and fresh. Understated, yet feminine. His chest expanded around another deep inhalation. “But I find I like the idea of a wife defending my cause. No matter the obstacles placed in her path.”
“You make me sound heroic.” She folded her hands in front of her. “I assure you, I am not. Merely practical.”
He studied the pulse point on her slender throat, noted its frantic rhythm. Blood streamed into his extremities. “I don’t believe you. My tenants provided several testimonials yesterday that would make you eligible for sainthood.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said in a breathless voice. “Unlike your tenants, I had nothing to lose by holding Mr. Blake accountable for his actions.”
“Yes, Mrs. Ashcroft.” He raised his hand and brushed the backs of his fingers along the curve of her neck. “Unlike you, not everyone would have bothered to right the injustice.”
“M-my, lord, what are you doing?”
He settled a hand on her waist, bringing their bodies closer together. His gaze transfixed on her lush full lips. Lips that would mold to his in an exquisite embrace. His insides curled into a tight knot of anticipation. He shouldn’t want her, his agent’s widow, but he did, with staggering force. Ashcroft’s final request faded behind his fevered desire.
It was then he knew she was in danger. And perhaps so was he.