His at Night by Sherry Thomas - Romance>Historical Other
Love is hottest in the darkness before dawn.
Elissande Edgerton is a desperate woman, a virtual prisoner in the home of her tyrannical uncle. Only through marriage can she claim the freedom she craves. But how to catch the perfect man?
Lord Vere is used to baiting irresistible traps. As a secret agent for the government, he's tracked down some of the most devious criminals in London, all the while maintaining his cover as one of Society's most harmless--and idiotic--bachelors. But nothing can prepare him for the scandal of being ensnared by Elissande.
Forced into a marriage of convenience, Elissande and Vere are each about to discover that they're not the only one with a hidden agenda. With seduction their only weapon--and a dark secret from the past endangering both their lives--can they learn to trust each other even as they surrender to a passion that won't be denied?
From the Paperback edition.
The Marquess of Vere was a man of few words. This fact, however, would astonish all but a select few of his numerous friends and acquaintances. The general consensus was that Lord Vere talked. And talked. And talked. There was no subject under the sun, however remote or abstruse, upon which he did not eagerly venture an opinion or ten. Indeed, there were times when one could not stop him from pontificating on that newly discovered class of chemical substance known as the Pre-Raphaelites, or the curious culinary habits of the Pygmy tribes of central Sweden.
Lord Vere was also a man who held his secrets close.
But anyone so deluded as to voice such a pronouncement would find himself surrounded by ladies and gentlemen on the floor, screaming in laughter. For Lord Vere, according to public opinion, could not distinguish a secret from a hedgehog. Not only was he garrulous, he volunteered the most intimate, most inappropriate personal knowledge at the drop of a hat--or even without a stitch of haberdashery anywhere in sight.
He gladly related his difficulties with the courting of young ladies: He was rejected early and rejected often, despite his stature as a peer of the realm. He gave up without hesitation the state of his finances--though it had been discovered that he was quite without a notion as to how much funds were at his disposal, current and future, thereby rendering his conjectures largely moot. He even ventured--not in mixed company, of course--to comment on the size and girth of his masculine endowment: enviable on both counts, the measurements verified by the experiences of the merry widows who looked to him for an occasional tumble in the sheets.
Lord Vere was, in other words, an idiot. Not a raving one, for his sanity was rarely questioned. And not so moronic that he could not see to his daily needs. Rather, he was an amusing idiot, as ignorant and puffed up as a pillow, silly to the extreme, but sweet, harmless, and very well liked among the Upper Ten Thousand for the diversion he provided--and for his inability to remember anything told him that did not affect his meals, his nightly beauty rest, or the pride and joy that resided in his underlinens.
He could not shoot straight; his bullets never met a grouse except by accident. He rarely failed to turn knobs and levers in the wrong direction. And as his gift for wandering into the wrong place at the wrong time was legendary, hardly anyone batted an eyelash to learn that he was an eyewitness to a crime--without having any idea what he'd seen, most assuredly.
Such an extraordinary idiot had he been in the thirteen years since his unfortunate riding accident that no one not privy to his more clandestine activities had ever remarked on his proximity to some of the most sensational criminal cases of the upper crust, shortly before those cases were solved and the culprits brought to justice.
It was an interesting life, to say the least. Sometimes the tiny handful of other agents of the Crown who knew his true role wondered how he felt about playing the idiot for most of his waking hours. They never found out, for he was a man of few words and held his secrets close.
Of course, no secret remains a secret forever. . . .the beginning of the end of Lord Vere's secret came, quite literally, in an ambush by a young lady of questionable ancestry and equally questionable methods.
A young woman who, in a strange twist of fate, would soon become the Marchioness of Vere, his lady wife.
9 The rats were Vere's idea. His idea of a joke, to be more precise.
London was emptying at the tail end of the Season. Vere had seen his brother off at the train station...