"Spys, Lies and Love!"
Reviewed by Joanne Bozik
Posted December 23, 2012
Romance Historical | Romance Suspense
Catherine Ashcroft who has a beautiful perky seven year old
daughter, has been left a young widow after her husband has
been found murdered. She feels that there is more to meet
the eye, so she sets off to London in search of Sebastian
Danvers, Earl of Somerton, to find out what really was the
cause of her husbands death. She wants answers and in her
husbands letters Sebastian's name is mentioned many times.
Some of the letters don't make any sense to her. When she
meets with Sebastian, he seems distant, cold and uncaring,
but he tells her he will travel to his country home and he
will read the letters her husband had written to try to
make sense of them.
Catherine is not aware that Sebastian has been exiled to
his country estate. Sebastian has been a spy for his
country for decades, protecting England's shores against a
French invasion. He's known to use cold logic, but is able
to sacrifice anything for his country. Many have tried to
outwit him, and few dare to challenge him, until Catherine
enters his life. Now why would a great spymaster for
England be exiled to his country home and on watch? Well
someone fills Catherine with a pack of lies or truth about
Sebastian, telling her that Sebastian is a spy for the
French. Catherine is not so sure she believes this to be
true, but she's willing to spend a few nights of pleasure
in his bed to find out.
Sebastian cannot understand why Catherine would risk
scandal. He's been in the business of knowing the ways of
others and soon both Catherine and Sebastian find
themselves fighting wicked men. Catherine and her daughter
fall into the hands of these low life monsters. Sebastian
will do anything to protect them both.
But is Sebastian really a spy for the French? When you read
this very active book, you will find out the truth. Love
the characters, lot's of mystery, murderers, spies and
lot's of romance!!!!!!!!
CHECKMATE MY LORD is an edge of your seat exciting read!
THE STAKES ARE HIGH, THE PLAYERS IN POSITION...
Catherine Ashcroft leads a quiet life caring for her
precocious seven–year–old daughter, until a
visitor delivers a startling ultimatum. She will match wits
with the enigmatic Earl of Somerton, and it's not just her
heart that's in danger.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN...
Spymaster Sebastian Danvers, Earl of Somerton, is famous
for his cunning. Few can outwit him and even few dare
challenge him––until now. After returning to
his country estate, his no–nonsense neighbor turns
her seductive wiles on him––but why would a
respectable widow like Catherine risk scandal for a few
passionate nights in his bed?
Bellamere Park, Showbury
"I believe you wanted to see these." Catherine Ashcroft
held out a packet of letters, tied together with a black
ribbon. The ribbon trembled.
"Thank you." Sebastian Danvers studied her face as he
accepted the bundle, but her even features gave nothing
away. "I know how hard it must be to share your private
"Yes, but worth it if they help you find my husband's
murderer." She swallowed. "Did you learn anything from the
others I gave you?" She turned the full force of those
beautiful eyes on him.
"Unfortunately, no." He held up the new stash. "We need
to decipher these in order to fully understand Ashcroft's
"Tell me, Mrs. Ashcroft." He stepped closer, his gaze
sliding over the delicate contours of her face. "What will
you do if it's decided that your husband's death was an
unfortunate case of being in the wrong place at the wrong
Her eyes widened a fraction, but her answer came swift
and determined. "I'll take the letters to someone else."
Sebastian's body went hard. Desire like nothing he had
ever felt before rushed through his veins. Not for the
first time, he wondered what it would be like to have such
a fierce champion. "Are you this loyal to everyone you care
"What can you mean, sir?" she asked. "Would you not do
the same for a wife?"
"I have never been married, madam. Therefore, I cannot
answer your question." Closer now, he drew in a long, slow
breath until her scent drenched his senses. Tantalizing and
fresh. Understated, yet feminine. His chest expanded around
another deep inhalation. "But I find I like the idea of a
wife defending my cause. No matter the obstacles placed in
"You make me sound heroic." She folded her hands in
front of her. "I assure you, I am not. Merely practical."
He studied the pulse point on her slender throat, noted
its frantic rhythm. Blood streamed into his extremities. "I
don't believe you. My tenants provided several testimonials
yesterday that would make you eligible for sainthood."
"Don't be ridiculous," she said in a breathless
voice. "Unlike your tenants, I had nothing to lose by
holding Mr. Blake accountable for his actions."
"Yes, Mrs. Ashcroft." He raised his hand and brushed the
backs of his fingers along the curve of her neck. "Unlike
you, not everyone would have bothered to right the
"M–my, lord, what are you doing?"
He settled a hand on her waist, bringing their bodies
closer together. His gaze transfixed on her lush full lips.
Lips that would mold to his in an exquisite embrace. His
insides curled into a tight knot of anticipation. He
shouldn't want her, his agent's widow, but he did, with
staggering force. Ashcroft's final request faded behind his
It was then he knew she was in danger. And perhaps so
"I'm going to kiss you now."
Soft flesh, luscious warmth, and an inexplicable
rightness assailed his senses the moment he covered her
mouth with his. He deepened the kiss and pulled her
unresisting body into the cradle of his arms. Her delicate
frame was a flawless fit, made for him alone.
The small hands resting on his chest inched their way
around his torso and squeezed with a force that verged on
desperation. He cradled her sweet face with unsteady hands.
His breaths came more rapidly and his body sought a closer
contact. He was losing control, and the realization cut
through the fog of desire clouding his mind. Ending the
kiss, he buried his face in the crook of her neck and
fought to temper his erratic heartbeat.
Think, Somerton! Catherine was under his protection and
in mourning. Two inviolable conditions. Until a year and a
day, her marriage vows still breathed life, a condition he
knew she would honor even though her marriage died years
ago. That she had accepted his kiss was unexpected and more
than a little stirring.
"I believe it best if you release me now, my lord."
Removing his arms and backing away proved surprisingly
difficult. She took a moment to smooth out the creases in
her dress and tuck a few stray hairs back in place.
Sebastian watched it all with a resignation that lay
heavily on his chest. He did not want to lose this. Not
yet. His honor be damned.
He couldn't remember the last time he had gone against
his better judgment, or the last time a woman had compelled
him to lose control. Both situations would normally cause
him to pause, to step away and not look back. Maintaining
control kept those around him safe.
But he couldn't turn away. His attraction to the widow
was tangible and invigorating. Could he do it? Could he
pretend to live a normal life in Showbury? For a few short
He had to try. For a period of time, he wanted to
submerse himself in raw, unadulterated pleasure. Then, and
only then, would he go back to his cold, passionless
existence. If he did not seize this rare opportunity, he
would regret it always. And he was damned tired of regrets.
He would deal with the guilt later.
"Should I apologize?" he asked.
She sent him a sad smile. "No more so than I, my lord."
"Good," he said. "Because I'm not sure I could have
managed any real sincerity."
"You do not mince words, do you?"
"On the contrary," he said. "I have done so on many
occasions, but with you I do not think it necessary. Or was
Her quiet confirmation seared his blood. "I have need of
your services, after all."
"Thanks to Mr. Blake, my tenants have become rather
suspicious of my commitment."
"In time, they will see the truth of the matter."
"I agree," he said. "With your help."
"Rest assured," she said, "I will do what I can to
spread the word of your steward's perfidy. A casual word in
Mrs. Walker's ear should set things into motion."
"If you are willing, I should like more from you than a
whispered word to Showbury's most dedicated gossip."
Pink crept into her cheeks, and her lips thinned. "I'm
not sure what else I can offer, my lord. You were not
interested in my knowledge of the local craftsmen."
He slid the letters into an inner pocket of his coat.
Using the back of his forefinger, he caressed the line of
her jaw. "That was not a lack of interest you witnessed."
The color in her cheeks deepened, and her uneven breaths
peppered his wrist. "What was it, then?"
"Pride." A sin in which he had an overabundance.
He removed his hand. "Yes." The admission was not an
easy one, nor was his motive for revealing his secret. "I
did not think I needed your help. However, my tenants have
shown me the error in my logic."
"What would you have me do?"
"Everyone I spoke to yesterday was rather content to
continue working with you."
She frowned. "You must be mistaken."
"I am not." He canted his head to the side. "I'm
interested in learning why you think so, though."
"It's of no importance." She waved his comment
aside. "You would have me act as your steward?"
"Only until I hire a replacement," he said. "If you are
willing, I could use your help in creating a schedule of
Her eyes brightened at the suggestion, and Sebastian was
struck again by her conventional beauty. Beauty that became
less common every time he spoke to her.
"Of course," she said. "But what of Grayson?"
"He has offered his assistance, should you need it."
"You do not wish him to take on the responsibility?"
"No," he said. "I already gave Grayson the short list of
repairs you provided. He's content to assist rather than
She considered him for a moment. "You appear quite
capable of organizing the tenants' complaints yourself."
"Capable, yes. Willing, no." His callous answer caused
her eyes to narrow. "I have other issues requiring my
attention while in Showbury."
Her gaze dulled, and Sebastian wondered at its source.
"When might you begin preparing a schedule?" he asked.
"I'll start on it tonight."
"Yes, my lord," she said. "The less time I spend on the
schedule, the faster the repairs can commence."
Again, her thoughtfulness had a warming effect on his
starving emotions. Gratitude manifested into a ball of
heat; heat spiraled into desire. Of its own accord, his
voice dropped. "Are you an early riser, Mrs. Ashcroft?"
Her feminine instincts could not miss the latent need
underlining his words. Instead of retreating, she met his
challenge. Her gaze dipped to his lips. "Generally, my
An image of her lithe body, aching for release and
tangled in his sheets, flashed before his eyes, sharp and
clear. His cock hardened, pulsed with near painful
A whoop of girlish laughter outside penetrated the
intimate confines of the library. Familiar reality iced his
heated blood. His spine straightened. "I'll send my
carriage around to collect you at nine, then. You can show
me what you have over breakfast."
Her perceptive gaze flicked to the window, to where her
daughter chased something too small to be seen from this
distance. Sebastian watched the widow's cautious enthusiasm
for her new project leech away. The upturned crinkles
around her eyes fell into joyless slants and her lips
thinned into a line of resignation.
"No need to bother your staff, sir. As I mentioned
before, my horse knows the way, as do my feet."
"Very well." He bowed a farewell. "If you'll excuse me,
Mrs. Ashcroft? I really must be going."
"Yes, of course."
She guided him through the house, out the front door,
and then stopped to await his approaching carriage. A heavy
silence hovered between them as they watched his restless
team of horses advance. The black geldings tossed back
their sleek heads and dug their massive hooves into the
ground until his driver Miggs drew them to a halt a short
Sebastian had an unnerving need to throw back his own
head to release the tension thrumming through his body.
"Thank you again for seeing to my daughter's welfare,"
she said. "Sophie will be retelling the tale of her rescue
to the servants for days. I would not have been as
successful in keeping her secret." She glanced up at him,
revealing a feminine vulnerability few men could ignore.
As it happened, he was one of the few.
He hadn't earned a reputation as a cold bastard for no
reason. The brutal slaying of his mentor over a decade ago
served as a constant reminder of how one's enemies will use
every tool at their disposal to get what they want. Even
murdering a man's wife. And torturing a spymaster's ward.
"Excuse me, my lord?" A footman appeared at his side,
holding out Sebastian's hat and gloves. He welcomed the
distraction and accepted the servant's offering.
He needed to establish a few boundaries for their new
partnership, though. The last thing he wanted was her
daughter skipping around Bellamere Park, getting into God
knew what and reminding him of everything he had set aside
for the welfare of his country.
"Mrs. Ashcroft, it's been a long time since I had a
child in the house. I find that I work best in a less
Her chin lifted a notch. "I hadn't considered bringing
my daughter along, my lord, but I thank you for the
Her chiding retort bit into his conscience. Before he
did something ridiculous like apologize or kiss her again,
he tipped his hat in her direction. "Good day, madam."
She produced an abbreviated curtsy. "My lord."
Sebastian settled against the carriage bench, calling
upon his notorious control not to acknowledge the
intriguing widow as he rumbled by. No matter what occurred
between Catherine and him, he could not allow sentiment to
enter the picture.
Because emotion was a weakness, and weakness killed
What do you think about this review?
1 comment posted.
Re: Spys, Lies and Love!
Thanks for the lovely review! So glad you liked the suspense as well as the
(Tracey Devlyn 7:06pm March 7, 2013)
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