Alyssa Alexander | A Heroine’s Sharp Edges

Alyssa AlexanderIN BED WITH A SPYSo there I was. Staring at the computer screen around 4:30 am and wondering who would be the heroine of my next book.

I already had a wonderful (hawt!) hero, who was a secondary character in my debut release, THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK.  I knew this hero, this spy named Angel. I also knew his family history, the way he looked, what occurred during his tenure as a spy, and the tortured musician in his soul. I needed a strong heroine…but I knew no woman who could match him.

Until I started reading about women during the Napoleonic wars. Some British women followed the drum, a.k.a. followed their soldier husbands across the English Channel, over mountains and plains on the Continent, through bitterly cold winters and hot summers. The rigors of soldiering cost many men and women their lives—and even their children’s lives. It was a struggle to survive every single day. I admire those women and their hardships, and every step they took on the dusty and snowy roads is something to celebrate.

I read an account of a Spanish lady who, when an artillery sergeant was killed, took the lighted match from his hand and fired a twenty-four pound gun into the French army not ten feet in front of her. I read another account of an English lady who bivouacked in her husband’s tent, and even spent a few nights sleeping in nothing but a blanket, out in the open air during a horrific, two day storm. As I write this in my comfy chair in my comfy office, I can barely imagine it! But I did use those tents and blankets as a backdrop for Lilias’s experiences on the march.

One of my favorite stories—which does not feature in IN BED WITH A SPY, but is nonetheless still interesting—is of a woman marching with her husband’s regiment in January 1809. She literally lay down on the side of the road, unable to go any farther. Her husband rushed to her side, but the general consensus of the marching soldiers was the couple would not survive the frigid winter night. Except they did survive, rejoining the regiment to march alongside them—with a brand new baby boy. Not anything like the clean mother-baby center at my local hospital!

It was this research into the resilient women on the march during the wars that led me to Lilias, the heroine of IN BED WITH A SPY. She’s not timid or shy, or in any way easygoing. This is a woman who marched with soldiers, slept in tents and even fought on the battlefield of Waterloo with the Duke of Wellington and the British army. She’s no wilting wallflower. She’s tough, with sharp edges tempered by grief and vengeance tempered by mercy. She’ll swear at you, and she’s as likely to carry a flashing steel sabre as a pretty, painted fan

I do hope you enjoy Lilias and Angel’s story, as well as their journey together as they overcome grief, lies, and betrayal. There’s only so many times a girl can be lied to, after all, before she seeks revenge.

Excerpt

“You don’t have to seduce me, Angel. I’m in your study, it’s nearly midnight and we have already been lovers once. We both know why I’m here.” One corner of Lilias’s lips tipped up. An enticing invitation, he decided. But then, she’d issued the invitation hours earlier at the concert. He’d accepted. What man would refuse a woman watching him like she wanted to forget the crowded room and swallow him, bite by bite? Not him. Not the peer, not the spy, not the man.

“What if I want to seduce you?” A pleasurable pastime, seduction. From the nervous flutter of her hands, the idea discomposed her. How interesting. He reached for the crystal wine decanter on the sideboard and removed the stopper.

“Would you care for a glass of wine?”

“With our limited time, it seems wasteful to drink wine. If it is daylight before you finish your seduction, every member of Fairchild House will know I’ve been out.”

She had not said no. Ruby red wine flowed from the sparkling decanter into two curved glasses. The scent of spice and berries rose into the air. He breathed deep and brought that lovely scent into him.

“Much like seduction, wine is never a waste.” He threw a glance over his shoulder before picking up the glasses. She half reclined on the chaise longue. Her gown spilled over her legs, a frilled expanse of gold embroidery and fabric the same rich shade as the wine. She was passion and practicality, all packaged in the most delectable body.

He offered her the glass. Gloved fingers closed around the stem. She set it to her lips. He watched the white column of her throat as she swallowed and imagined running his tongue over the soft skin.

Soon. He would, soon. But for all her willingness, he wanted to savor her as he had not had the opportunity before. She’d wanted fast and needy to prove that even if her marriage had been pretense, she was still alive and a woman. But this time, he wanted just a little more from her.

After all, she’d discovered a piece of him. Turnabout was fair play.



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