Title: Viscountess of Vice (Regency Reformers #3)
Author: Jenny Holiday
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publising
Release Date: January 25, 2016
Secrets and lies, scandals and spies.
All Lady Catharine, Viscountess Cranbrook, wants is a little excitement. Bored of playing the role of the ton’s favorite slightly scandalous widow, she jumps at the chance to go undercover as a courtesan to help with an espionage mission. After all, beneath her outrageously low bodice beats the heart of a patriot.
Social reformer James Burnham is conducting a study of vice in England’s capital. Driven by his own secrets, he is methodical, intelligent—and wickedly handsome. Catharine is the last sort of woman the upstanding James should want. But want her he does, though she stands for everything he opposes.
When Catharine and James are forced to band together to advance their causes, they’ll be drawn into a web of secrets and lies that endangers their lives—and their hearts.
Correction: posing as a prostitute was hard work. An honest-to-goodness lady of the evening wouldn’t have to wear this blasted mask. The itching was driving her to distraction, never mind the sweating. It was a good thing she never took off the feathered confection, even when entertaining. The sight of her red, shiny face would have been enough to drive off even the most, ahem, enthusiastic of gentlemen.
Of course, an honest-to-goodness lightskirt would also have to have honest-to-goodness relations with any number of men, so on balance, what was a little itching?
The wig was no better. She glanced around the overheated drawing room, taking a deep breath and fighting the urge to tear the flame-orange, elaborately -coiffed contrivance off her head and hurl it into the fire.
At least the discomfort provided a welcome distraction from her nerves. Here she was, nearly a month in, and she still felt that same fluttering in her stomach before the first gathering. And she wasn’t the nervous type—far from it. She was Catharine Chambers, the Viscountess Cranbrook, for God’s sake. Slightly scandalous widow, woman of action. Not that anyone here knew that, hidden as she was by her disguise. Still, she had not expected to find herself a nervous mouse every time. Didn’t expect it, and more to the point, didn’t like it.
Several young men filed in, talking quietly among themselves, joining the handful already present in the crowded room. Good. Once the gathering began, she could lose herself in her role. It was never as bad as she imagined, once the evening got underway. No, in truth, it was usually very dull—that was the great irony of the whole absurd situation. Sitting straighter, she turned her head, displaying the white length of her neck to best advantage. Suppressing a sigh, she affected a bemused smile.
The ten o’clock crowd was typically young, eager, and always the politest of the evening’s three groups. The men she sought were not likely to possess any of those qualities. Why did she even bother with the first gathering? Because Blackstone insisted? He was rarely here to check up on her and would never know if she slipped away to her room for a nap—just what she needed to fortify herself before the midnight gathering.
A footman entered with a tray of champagne glasses, a sign of Madame Cherie’s imminent arrival. Too late to escape. Resigned, Catharine accepted a glass, willing her hand not to shake. A sense of obligation would have kept her here anyway. Yes, she appeared dutifully at the ten o’clock gathering twice a week because underneath her scandalously low, black-ribbon-trimmed bodice beat the heart of a patriot. A very nervous patriot.
Noble motivations and stage fright aside, this was supposed to have been entertaining. That was the whole point, really. In that sense, it was all very disappointing. Who knew that in addition to being exceedingly itchy, prostitution could manage to be so very dull?
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