A courageous codebreaker, a gentleman with a score to settle, and a past that refuses to stay hidden…
Sarah Brecknell has always had an unusual obsession with numbers. After the unfortunate death of her fiancé, she’s lost her place in society, and her gift has left her alone with a dangerous secret. Sarah must turn to a complete stranger for help—a secret agent in service to the Crown. She has already made one mistake in love. She can’t afford another.
Theodore Markham has plenty of secrets of his own, not least of which his occupation as a spy. Now he is hunting for a traitor. This time is different, though—the rogue was his best friend. The trail goes cold until he meets Sarah, a woman with extraordinary mathematical talents…and an irresistible charm that may be even more dangerous than his adversary.
A Shameless Angel is the third book in the Secrets of the Zodiac, a series that blends romantic suspense with the rich background of the Napoleonic War period.
A Shameless Angel
“Ready to go, sir?”
Theo followed his driver Jem out of the warm house into the cold night, walking through the light dusting of snow which had fallen during dinner.
Jem held the door, then leaped up into the driver’s seat and already had the reins shaken out by the time Theo settled himself. So it happened Jem was already urging the horses forward when Theo first looked across to the other seat. He barely suppressed a curse.
Sarah Brecknell was sitting opposite him, her pale face seeming to float in the air, surrounded by her dark hood and the greater darkness of the carriage.
“Good evening,” she said. “Again.”
Sarah saw the surprise on his face.
“What the hell are you doing?” he hissed. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“I’m aware of that, my lord. But I need to talk to you, and I wished for some degree of anonymity.” She knew as well as he did the scandal she was inviting by riding with him, particularly at this hour.
His eyes narrowed as he surveyed her. “How did you even get in here?”
“Your family crest is painted on the side,” she explained. “So I knew it was the correct vehicle. The footman ordered a carriage for me, but I dismissed the driver when the footman’s back was turned. I told him I had to go back inside. Then I snuck into yours when I passed by the whole clutch of carriages. I was a little worried your driver would check inside, though in the dark he might have missed me even so.”
“What would you have done if I lingered over another drink?” Markham asked.
“My cloak is really rather warm,” she said. “I would have waited.”
Markham sat back. He was either still surprised, or he just didn’t know how to react to her presence. Finally, he said, “Either you misread something I said this evening, or I have mistakenly given you the wrong impression about…”
“My lord,” she cut in. “Despite my unconscionable behavior, I am not here to throw myself at you. At least, not for the reason you seem to think.”
“No?” He raised an eyebrow, looking rather devilish.
“No,” she said, her voice rising. “And besides, I’m not the sort… Never mind. Let me just begin with this. I think it will explain…” She looked nervously at him, then took a deep breath, and spoke a single word: “Pisces.”
Instantly, Sarah wondered if she had made the mistake of a lifetime. As soon as she said that fatal word, Lord Markham’s whole attitude shifted into something very cold. He did not look benevolent at all.
He knocked twice on the ceiling of the coach.
“Sir?” a muffled voice called.
“Jem, if we get too close to home before I knock again, keep driving in circles,” he said.
Sarah asked, “Won’t he wonder at that?”
“My driver’s curiosity is the least of your worries, Miss Brecknell.”
The way he looked at her made Sarah question the wisdom of her move. It was beyond the pale, by any standard. She was alone with a stranger, she had no legitimate reason to be with him, and she had no idea how he might treat her.
“Tell me what made you say that word,” he ordered.
“It…belonged to Charlie. You know what it means, don’t you?”
His confirmation was not reassuring. But Sarah had to know she was on the right track. “You know because you’re part of it too. I didn’t realize it when we first talked, but Charlie once hinted you were like him. Aren’t you?”
“If I was, do you think I’d admit to it?”
“It’s not as if it’s shameful,” Sarah said heatedly. “You should be proud to be part of something so important. Charlie was! He said he was protecting the whole natio—”
Seeing his expression, Sarah choked off the last of the word.
Theo stared at her, assessing. Sarah waited in agony as the silence stretched out. He had to say something.
Finally, he did. “It’s not shameful. But it is secret.”
He offered nothing more. She remembered him as being kind, when he spoke to her at the wake. And his eyes were so familiar. But perhaps she had been too shocked to properly assess the man at the time. His features were sharpened by the odd light in the carriage, and his eyes, which had been green, now looked black. But she couldn’t look away.
Why had she revealed Charlie’s secret to him?
Because she needed his help.