HOSTAGE TO LOVE

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Winner of the GEORGIAN JANE AUSTEN AWARD

Cover by Erin Dameron-Hill

 

 BOOK DESCRIPTION

It is 1792 and Viscount Beaumont has buried himself in the country since his wife died. But now his daughter, Lady Henrietta, has come of age and he must squire her in her London Season.

Verity Garnier is an actress whose father has been thrown in a French dungeon. To free him she must deliver Anthony Beaumont in trade. She travels to London to seduce Beaumont into following her to France. She doesn’t plan on falling in love.

When Beaumont goes on his own to France to save his brother-in-law from the guillotine, Verity follows him, reluctantly taking along his daughter who refuses to be left behind.

After soldiers of the Revolution capture Beaumont and his brother-in-law, Verity, and Henrietta must find a way to save them.

Christian Hartley, a British agent that Henrietta plans to marry, joins their fight.

Will everyone find a safe way home, or will they face the guillotine? RT Book Reviews

REVIEWS:

“This is an adventure not to be missed. The excitement mounts as danger appears around every corner. The devastation of the French Revolution is a backdrop to the well-executed plot. Love is in the air for three couples, but will they survive to realize their dreams?”

“Maggi Andersen does it again with a riveting story of spies and counter spies, villainous men of power, and Jacobins, and all set during the French Revolution (1792).”
Francine Howarth.

Amazon Review: “I was blown away by the depth and scope of Maggi Andersen and her talent! It’s amazing that she is able to weave together an extremely complicated plot involving multiple love stories.
France during the “Reign of Terror” was full of madness and bloodloss. No one was safe no matter their station in life and by no means we’re just the Aristocrats brutally slaughtered.
Maggie takes us from the relative safety of England into the French countryside and into the very heart of Paris.
Her characters must reach into the bottom of their souls and call upon hidden reserves of strength and courage. Your stomach will drop in fear and you may even hold your breath at times wondering how disaster and death will be averted. The romantic in you will be well satisfied by the love and sensuality among her characters. Because even I’n the midst of chaos  you truly follow your heart whatever the danger it is always worth the risk.”

Amazon review: “Engrossed in Hostage to Love I stayed up much too late desperate to find out what happened next as the enthralling plot unfolded.

I really cared about talented novelist, Ms Andersen’s characters and hoped the heroine, Verity, whose father had nurtured her carefully, ensuring she was as well-educated as any of the male students at the Sorbonne where he taught. But since the French Revolution ‘the world had changed. A French woman from a respectable home no longer expected the old courtesies to apply to her.’

When her father is arrested Verity will do anything to save him. To survive, she becomes an actress prey to a man who wants to take her virginity although she knows her father would be heart-broken if she became a courtesan. She escapes from the predator but Danton forces her to go to England to lure Viscount Beaumont to France in exchange for her father’s release.

Set in the same era as Baroness Orczy’s famous novels about the Scarlet Pimpernel which I enjoyed, this tale of adventure, duty, love and sacrifice gave me equal pleasure. The main characters will linger with me for a long time.”

Amazon Reviewer: “A fast paced story full of intrigue and mystery. Spies and villains keep you riveted to your seat in this adventure filled romance.”

Excerpt:

Verity took her final curtsy to applause which equaled that of Mrs. Siddens, and the curtain banged down. It had gone well tonight. She entered her dressing room where her dresser waited.

“I heard the ovation, mademoiselle,” Madame Tornet said, taking Verity’s cape.

“Yes, but I’m not sure Mrs. Siddens was pleased. She would prefer to be playing Ophelia even though Gertrude’s part is much larger.” Verity stepped behind a screen to remove the filmy white gown. She pulled on a silk wrap and sat down in front of the mirror to remove her stage makeup.

A knock sounded at the door, and Madame Tornet went to answer it. Lord Beaumont stood in the doorway, hat in hand, dressed in understated evening clothes, his unpowdered dark brown hair tied at his nape with a thin black velvet ribbon.

Verity’s breathing turned rapid and shallow. “Where is your pretty daughter, Lord Beaumont?”

He bowed over her hand. “Henrietta sends her apologies. She is attending Almack’s tonight. It is her debut.”

“Perhaps you should have accompanied her.”

“She has her aunt, and once the young swains discover her, she won’t notice I’m not there. I enjoyed the play immensely. Although all the cast were excellent, you, mademoiselle, were superb.”

“Praise indeed, considering Sarah Siddens is in the play,” she said dryly. “I thank you, kind sir.” Verity laughed and motioned to a chair. “Would you please wait? I have not yet dressed.” She gazed provocatively into his appreciative brown eyes and fingered the thin silk barely concealing her chemise and stays. “I am thrilled that you came.”

“I am delighted I assure you.” His gaze rested for a moment on her hand where she held it at her bosom. When he met her eyes, his were hot and dark, making her shiver with anticipation.

She stepped behind the painted screen, and with Madame Tornet’s assistance, slipped into a lilac-colored Italian silk gown.

When she emerged, Lord Beaumont had declined to sit and leaned against the wall, one long leg crossed over the other, imposing in his tall black hat and silk evening cape. He straightened. “I shall not keep you above a minute, mademoiselle. I wished only to pay my respects.”

Verity made a moue with her lips. “Oh, but you must accompany me to supper. I insist on it.”

He nodded toward the door. “There are many awaiting that privilege. I can hardly claim that honor for myself.”

“It is I who choose the man to escort me, Lord Beaumont. And I choose you.”

He smiled. “I’m flattered.”

“They all go to the Gun Tavern, so we shall go to the Pulteney Hotel in Piccadilly. Do you agree?” She laughed. “If you will please wait outside, I shan’t be but a moment.”

Verity rushed through her toilet, adding a touch of lip rouge and powder with her haresfoot. She placed a tiny black patch high on her cheekbone and another at the corner of her mouth. Madame Tornet brushed her long hair, left au naturel for the performance, and fashioned it into a high roll with a ringlet resting upon Verity’s shoulder. She tucked fake violets into the creation. Verity added diamonds to her décolleté and ears, paste, but such an excellent imitation. She donned her swan’s down trimmed cape, preparing to play the part of her life, as the seductress.

Mohammed had come to the mountain. The rush of excitement was overwhelmed by the ever-present sense of desperation. She must not fail.

Out in the corridor, Lord Beaumont stood alone. “Your devotees have gone on ahead to the Gun Tavern.”

“Then we have fooled them, have we not?” she said with a light laugh. She met his honeyed gaze. “My apartments are at the Pulteney.” Her luxurious suite at the Pulteney Hotel was the perfect setting for a seduction. Better than Grenier’s Hotel where the rest of the troupe mingled with French émigrés, who wouldn’t give them a moment’s privacy.

His gaze travelled over her hair and then into her eyes. “Your eyes are the same color as those flowers in your hair, mademoiselle.”

“A remarkable coincidence, my lord,” Verity said.

He laughed and offered her his arm.

They dined in the hotel dining room. Soft candlelight played across his features as they talked, his eyes filled with frank admiration.

“Do you miss your home?” he asked.

She frowned. “I no longer have a real home to miss.”

He reached across and took her hand. “Tell me?”

She swallowed. “I’d rather not.” She didn’t want his sympathy; it distracted her from her purpose. And yet, his warm brown eyes invited her to reveal all, and she found it surprisingly difficult to resist.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.” He still held her hand, and when his thumb stroked the sensitive skin at her wrist, her pulse galloped.

Verity smiled and withdrew her hand. “You haven’t. I’m delighted to be here in London, in such charming company.”

With an answering smile, he raised his glass in a silent toast.

She smiled. This was business she reminded herself. But couldn’t business be combined with pleasure?

“Care for an oyster, mademoiselle?”

She screwed up her nose. “I’ve never eaten them, they look unappealing.”

He popped one in his mouth. “They taste of the sea, delicious.” He laughed at her expression. “Go on, be brave, try one.” He squeezed lemon over the shell and held the oyster out to her on a tiny silver spoon.

Verity held his wrist, aware of the strength of him and the dark hair tickling her skin. It did smell of the sea. Soft and smooth, the oyster slipped down her throat. “Odd, but not unpleasant.”

“They are known to be an aphrodisiac.” His brown eyes smiled into hers. “Like silky flesh upon the tongue.”

It was a perfect description. She raised her eyebrows and shifted in her seat as her nether regions warmed. Was it the oyster?

They drank another bottle of champagne as they picked at the light meal. The wine relaxed her, made her bolder. Beaumont talked of his daughter, and his country estate, the needs of his tenant farmers and his fine stable of horses. She thought him a good man, mannered and gentle. He did not attempt to pry into her life, perhaps sensing she didn’t want him to. Strangely, she found liking him made what she must do more difficult. So much easier to manipulate and lie to a scoundrel.

He escorted her to the door of her suite. “Thank you for a delightful evening.”

“The evening need not end here.” She placed a hand on his chest, moving over hard muscle. His heart beat fast, like her own. “Will you come in?” Not waiting for his answer, she opened the door and walked inside, dropping her cape onto a chair.

He followed her in. The room became more intimate and smaller with him standing there, so tall and broad-shouldered. All her senses alert, she breathed in the heady perfume from a vase of roses on the table. Candlelight and the blazing fire, lit in advance of her arrival, painted a seductive glow over the satin and brocade furnishings.

Beaumont shut the door behind him then stood, studying her. She should say or do something accomplished, light-hearted, and playful, but instead she put a hand to her mouth to hide her trembling lips and fought to overcome her reluctance to betray him. She liked this man.

As if sensing her inner turmoil, he came and barely brushed his hands over her shoulders and arms. His touch made her shiver. “Champagne?” She motioned to the table where the chilled bottle and crystal glasses stood ready.

“Haven’t we had enough?” He caught her arm, turning her back to face him. “You are the most beautiful woman I have seen in an age.” His brown eyes glowed with sensual warmth. “I’m sure you’ve heard it said many times.” His hands slid to her waist and drew her closer, his voice husky. “But I wish to tell you, again, and again.”

A jolt of electricity at his touch stunned her into silence. Verity’s experience of men was somewhat limited. Jacques’ brutish attack on her had scared her. Beaumont was a lord of the realm, born and bred to manage his fortune and estates; that was evident in his manner. But he appeared to be a reasonable man. She prayed he was.

He cradled her face in his hands and sought her lips, kissing her gently as their breaths mingled. His mouth moved over hers. He tasted of sweet champagne, and salty seafood. She breathed in his clean male scent and a beguiling hint of Bergamot. He held her loosely within the circle of his arms, making her fears decrease. His kisses teased, then grew more insistent. When his tongue explored her mouth, she tensed. He drew away to gaze deeply into her eyes. “You want this?”

She nodded, now certain that she did. She trusted him. Beaumont was no brute and would not hurt her. Would it be she who hurt him? It would not be easy to carry out her mission. But if she failed, her father would die. She must not forget that for a moment.