Two morally compromised souls wage a battle of wits—and seduction—against the backdrop of the French Revolution in this thrilling romance from bestselling author Shana Galen.
After her late husband leaves her in debt to some dangerous people, Lady Gabrielle McCullough is forced to become a thief. In the intervening years, her skills have not gone unnoticed. After being recruited by the Scarlet Pimpernel, the mysterious do-gooder spiriting aristocrats out of revolutionary France, Gabrielle crosses the Channel for the most daring mission of her life. Accompanying her is the Earl of Sedgwick, a thief in his own right and an enticingly masculine presence. The man is not to be trusted—nor is Gabrielle’s body when he’s near.
Ramsey Barnes would not say he is an honorable man. His whole life has been based on a lie; why change now? Although it pains him to deceive the tantalizing Gabrielle, he’s working toward an altogether different objective: unmasking the Scarlet Pimpernel. If Ramsey fails, his blackmailer will ruin him. But when Ramsey’s confronted with the carnage of the Reign of Terror, he seeks refuge in Gabrielle’s heated embrace. Now he faces a terrible choice: betray the woman who’s stolen his heart—or risk losing everything.
is a bestselling author of many passionate historical romps. A three-time RITA nominee,
she taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston’s inner city. Now she writes full-time. She’s happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making.
Traitor in Her Arms
Ballantine Group; Loveswept | On Sale: August 22nd, 2017 | ISBN: 9780399179105 | Pages 288 | Price: $4.99
In this scene, Lady Gabrielle McCullough attends a ball with the intention of keeping company with the Earl of Sedgwick. She loses sight of him when she must dance with another man and decides to search for him in the card room. The scene begins when Gabrielle encounters the wife of Sir Percy Blakeney, a well-known fop, at the ball.
“Lady Blakeney, how good to see you.”
“And you. Where is your friend Lady Diana? I do so enjoy her wit.”
“She is at home tonight, my lady. But I will tell her you asked after her.”
Lady Blakeney pressed her hand into Gabrielle’s. “Yes, do.” She looked about the deserted corridor. “Are you looking for someone?”
“The card room, my lady.”
Lady Blakeney smiled. “It’s this door. Go right inside.”
Lady Blakeney opened the door for her, which surprised Gabrielle, but she entered and immediately thought there must be some mistake. This was not the card room. It was dark and quiet. It must be the library. She turned to exit and inform Lady Blakeney of her mistake, but the door closed in her face, and when she tried the handle, it was locked. Something behind her rustled, and Gabrielle stilled. Oh, please, God, don’t let it be a rat! She had nightmares about being trapped in rooms with rats.
“A moment of your time, Lady McCullough,” a voice said from the far side of the room. It was a man’s voice and low as though in disguise. “No, don’t turn around.”
Gabrielle froze and shivered when new fear skittered up her back. “Who are you?”
The man chuckled. She could hear him moving and thought he might be standing near the heavy draperies. She surmised that behind the draperies French doors opened onto a terrace. Since the door before her was locked, the French doors were her only escape. She was trapped. Was he one of George’s creditors? How had he gained entrance to this ball? And how would she get away? If she had a little light, she could pick the library’s lock, but her eyes had yet to adjust to the gloom in the dark room.
“I think the better question,” the man said, “is who are you?”
She frowned. He made no sense. “You know who I am. You said my name.”
“I know quite a bit about you, especially your particular skills.”
Dread pooled in the pit of her stomach, and a bead of perspiration worked its way slowly down the back of her neck. “I don’t know what you mean,” she said slowly.
“I think you do know. I could use a woman with your talent for theft.”
She stiffened. “You must have mistaken me for someone else.” She could almost see the door handle now. The lock would be relatively easy to pick. She needed to reach into her hair and grasp a pin . . .
“You are exactly who I think you are. Only, I don’t want you to merely steal necklaces. I want you to steal people.”
No. Don’t turn around,” he warned. “It’s better if you don’t know my identity, because what I’m asking you to do will endanger your life. If you accept my proposal, you could end up forming an intimate acquaintance with Madame Guillotine. And she is a most unforgiving creature.”
Gabrielle swallowed. “Are you the—”
“Shh,” he whispered. He was closer now. She could feel the heat of him behind her. “Don’t say it. I have a mission for you, Lady McCullough.”
Gabrielle shook her head in disbelief. The Scarlet Pimpernel had a mission for her? Until now, she hadn’t been certain he existed. “But what can I do?”
“Oh, a great deal. There’s a woman, the comtesse de Tonnerre and her infant daughter. I was able to smuggle the comte de Tonnerre out of France, but circumstances prevented the comtesse’s escape. Even now, she and the child are imprisoned in La Force. I have managed to bribe certain officials to put off the day of their execution, but I cannot hold off the mobs forever.”
“But surely the child will not be executed.”
“No, but what chance does she stand in a filthy prison, my lady? The child will surely die if we do not act quickly.”
Gabrielle no longer felt fear or dread for herself. She thought only of the mother and child, awaiting certain death. “I ask again, what can I do?”
“The revolutionary government knows of me and my League.”
Gabrielle’s breath caught. Now there could be no question that the man speaking to her was the Scarlet Pimpernel.
“They are suspicious of any men entering Paris right now. But women are still relatively free of suspicion—as free as anyone can be in that hell of a city. I need you to sneak into Paris and steal a bracelet. This particular bracelet has sentimental value to a certain revolutionary official. The bracelet will buy the life of the comtesse and her daughter.”
Gabrielle felt her heartbeat kick. She was intrigued despite—or perhaps because of—the danger. “What bracelet?”
“Le Saphir Blanc.”
She drew in a breath and shook her head. “Impossible. The White Sapphire is only a myth.”
“It is no myth, my lady.”
Gabrielle allowed this information to sink in. The bracelet was real. What she wouldn’t give to see it, a cuff encrusted with jewels, at the center of which lay a perfect white sapphire. It was commissioned by Louis XIV, the Sun King, and was the stuff of legends. The latest rumors were that it disappeared during that final raid on the royal family at the Tuileries, but others thought it had been taken during the looting of Versailles.
“I know where it is,” the Pimpernel whispered seductively. “But I warn you, it is heavily guarded.”
Gabrielle blinked. What had she been thinking? She couldn’t steal le Saphir Blanc! “Impossible. I’m no good at skirting guards or skulking about in strange cities. Why, I haven’t been to Paris in years. You ask the impossible.”
“I would have thought stealing Lord Grenville’s bust of Caesar impossible, but you managed it.”
Gabrielle started in shock. How did he know about Caesar’s bust?
“You are a clever woman, Lady McCullough. You will find a way.”
“But I don’t think—”
“Shh.” His hand on her shoulder startled her. “Don’t answer now. Think it over. If you decide to join my League, I will send you more detailed instructions tomorrow.”
“But how will you know what I decide?”
“I’ll know. My instructions will be marked with my signature, a humble wayside flower. Scarlet, of course.” He lifted his hand.
“I see. But how will I know . . .” She paused, noting the absence of his presence behind her. “Sir?”
Slowly, she turned. Across the empty room, the draperies rustled in the breeze from the open doors.
Lady Gabrielle McCullough’s has inherited her late husband’s enormous gambling debts. She has resorted to stealing jewelry and objects d’art to keep his creditors at bay. Gabrielle attends a ball to steal an expensive necklace. Gabrielle is surprised by a familiar voice as she opens the jewelry box; her husband’s friend the Earl of Sedgwick is in bedroom! The chemistry between the couple is apparent from this meeting and the passionate kiss they share in the hallway.
Gabrielle is approached by the famous Scarlett Pimpernel who asks her to join his league. This man is aware of her secret activities and asks her to steal a bracelet and assist the Comtesse de Tonnerre and her child out of France. Gabrielle meets with Comte de Tonnerre and decides to accept the dangerous mission. Sedgwick is being blackmailed and has been tasked with uncovering the identity of the Scarlett Pimpernel. I loved these scenes in as they showed Gabrielle’s bravery and compassion and Sedgwick’s desire to keep his family safe.
Gabrielle is accosted by one of her late husband’s creditors as she boards a ship headed for France. Sedgwick appears and he grabs Gabrielle and they board the ship; he lifts the gangplank and sends Mr. Pin into the water. Sedgwick announces to Gabrielle that they are travelling to Paris together. The scenes by the entry gate to the city of Paris were superbly written; each word added to the suspense and drama as Gabrielle and Sedgwick waited in line to enter the city. I could see the crowds, hear the screams and feel the danger. The suspense intensifies in the novel as Sedgwick accompanies Gabrielle to a ball at a cemetery and Gabrielle’s mission begins.
I enjoy Ms. Galen’s novels because of the elements of suspense and intrigue that she weaves into each story. Traitor in Her Arms is the most complex novel she has written. Just when I thought Gabrielle was safe; an expected obstacle was introduced into the storyline. It was challenging to determine who the traitors were in the story as not one character‘s true identity or motives were apparent. Gabrielle and Sedgwick learned to trust each other during this chilling cat and mouse game with the French soldiers. The novel’s ending is superbly written and kept me reading past my bedtime. I couldn’t put the book down!