Liliane Desailly travels to Napoleonic France after receiving a plea for help from her French cousin. She learns she is the key to fulfilling her grandfather’s legacy, but to do so she must masquerade as a spy and courier secrets on behalf of the British Admiralty.
Sinclair Charlcroft is the British Admiralty’s last hope. Napoleon’s Grande Armée is poised to invade Britain, an English spy is missing and a traitor has infiltrated the Admiralty’s intelligence network.
Pursued by Napoleon’s agents, Liliane and Sinclair cannot reveal their true identities until they unlock the secrets of the legacy—and only then can they unlock the secrets in their hearts.
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France, February 1805
Liliane sat opposite her cousin Solange, gingerly sipping a mug of honey mead. Around them the air was thick with smoke, layered with the pungent smell of onions, hops and sweat. The local village inn was loud with the lunchtime patronage of local farmers and fishermen whose conversations were punctuated with raucous laughter and ribald jokes. One of the men nudged his companion and gestured towards her. She fidgeted self-consciously and tucked her blue woolen shawl more securely across her shoulders. Goodness, they behaved like they’d never seen a woman in here before.
A hush momentarily descended upon the room. Solange leaned towards her and whispered. ‘Be ready, ma petite. He’s here.’
Liliane glanced over her shoulder. As her gaze swept the room she was arrested by the sight of a figure silhouetted in the doorway.
Heavens above. She momentarily closed her eyes, his image imprinting upon her brain. Now this man was definitely no fisherman. Even in the crowded noisy tavern his presence was imposing. Mesmerized, she studied him further. His body was encased in a white linen shirt and buff breeches, while ink black hair fell across his brow, drawing her attention to hooded eyes and a firmly set jaw. He stepped into the room and casually looked around the tavern, running his hand through his hair to push it back from his face. Her fingers tingled, and she lifted her own hand to her hair, twisting the sable strands between her fingers, wondering if his hair would feel as soft and silken.
Liliane froze. Oh Lord, he was watching her. The loose tendrils that tangled about her fingers singed as though she had been caught running her hands through his hair. The air around her seemed to ripple and she felt, rather than saw, the moment he decided to move. Holding her gaze, he moved from the doorway and light flooded back into the room. Her breath caught in her throat. It was incongruous that a man of his height could move with such surety and grace, almost a menacing prowl. Although one thing was certain, there was absolutely nothing dandified about him. As he made his way through the tavern his commanding posture induced the inn’s patrons to step aside in deference.
He drew closer and she jerked back around to face Solange. How mortifying to have been caught staring at him. She flicked a look of uncertainty towards her cousin. Surely he wasn’t the man they were here to meet? This man didn’t accord with the image she’d painted in her mind. She wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting—perhaps someone older, less imposing. Someone safe. Not someone whose very presence drew the attention of every person in the room. And certainly not someone who, with a single glance, could induce her to forget precisely why she was on the wrong side of the Channel, drinking mead and speaking in French, instead of shopping on Bond Street.
My dirty little secret by: Elizabeth Squire
I have a secret to share with you…
You see, I have only recently revealed my dirty little secret to my wider circle of friends. You know, the ‘I’m a romance novelist!’ one.
Yes—shocking, isn’t it? Here we are in 2016, a time when we can openly embrace diversity and accept everyone for who they are, and not what they are. But, and I am sure many of you are nodding your heads in agreement—admitting that you read romance, let alone write it, is still cloaked in taboo. It’s something we reveal to only a select and trusted few.
Of course, many who either love the genre, or love me regardless of what I may have said, cheered my announcement. From others, my announcement elicited a number of themed but predictable responses. Some sought to distance themselves from such a distasteful revelation, proclaiming: “Romance, is something only bored housewives and desperate spinsters read!” Others delighted in the thought that they had uncovered a salacious side to my character that gave them license to snigger and wink luridly before asking: “Am I in it?”
Then, there were those who looked at me with disappointment, I had betrayed them, and I had betrayed feminism. Surely, by writing romance I was advocating that women should be dismissive of their own needs and acquiescent to the demands of others.
But, I argue, romance, is the perfect platform to role model strong women. Women who choose not to be confined by societal expectation, or circumstance, or their own personal insecurities—and who also find love along the way.
In Closer To Sin, my heroine, English debutante Liliane makes the choice to throw convention aside and masquerade as a French agent to fulfill a family legacy. Nothing prepares her for the enigmatic Monsieur St Clair, the man who answers to the name of Sin and tempts her with passion and danger. Having traded passive for a secret identity and a flintlock pistol, Liliane is not prepared to allow Sin to set the rules for their relationship, not even when he uncovers her most guarded secret. But it’s Liliane’s strength and determination to live her life on her terms that induces Sin to embrace her as his equal.
I personally love the heroine’s journey, and I particularly love writing that journey as she travels through acceptance, conflict, despair, courage and victory to emerge worthy in her own eyes, and equal in the eyes of her hero.
And that is why I chose my own journey to be one of a romance writer; regardless of whether the story is set in a historical era, contemporary times, or a futuristic paranormal world, it celebrates personal growth and inner strength. And, of course, it celebrates love and equality.
About the Author
Elizabeth Squire’s love of writing romance couldn’t be further from the life she had carved out for herself. Raised in outback and rural Australia, Elizabeth was determined to live a life vibrant with passion, travel, adventure and discovery—other than the one she had already lived through the pages of the innumerable she read and loved. And so, turning her back on a life in the bush, she invested a lot of years chasing her dreams—she enjoyed a career as a commissioned in the Royal Australian Navy, and counts white-water rafting the Zambezi River, travelling by safari truck through Africa, and back-packing through Eastern Europe with her young family as just a few of her many adventures.
But amongst the adventure, the urge to write intensified as story lines and dialogue continued to materialize from the recesses of her mind. She finally accepted that the voices in her head were really characters enmeshed in the tumultuous Georgian and Regency periods, vying for life on paper.
After a nomadic lifestyle, Elizabeth has now settled into her own home and loves nothing better than bringing her passionate heroines and daring rakes to life. She lives with her own hero and one true love, two beautiful daughters and two delinquent miniature long-haired dachshunds. Closer to Sin is Elizabeth’s debut novel.