Please welcome Jacki back to the blog!! She has a boxes set for us today!
Let’s start with the cover!
Now the blurbs.
The Code Breaker Series Box Set
Men and women from the class of privilege and rank risk their lives to defend England against the treacherous designs of Napoleon. They confront disaster, scandal, and passion as they pursue their code of honor and love.
Book One: A CODE OF LOVE
Threatened by French spies, assassins, and calculating suitors, can Lady Henrietta Harcourt trust the infamous rake, Lord Cordelier Rathbourne, with her carefully guarded family secrets?
Book Two: A CHRISTMAS CODE
Lady Gwyneth Beaumont has long awaited the opportunity to show Viscount James Ashworth that she is no longer the impetuous child who dogged his footsteps. Now a much sought-after debutante, she is determined to prove to the hard-headed rake that she is a grown woman and a worthy participant in both the spy game and the game of love.
Book THREE: A CODE OF THE HEART
When Miss Amelia Bonnington unwittingly stumbles upon a smuggling ring in the modiste shop of her good friend, it is up to Lord Derrick Brinsley to save her. Can the disreputable rake and undercover agent prevent the French from stealing the Royal Navy’s deadly weapon and find love with the only woman capable of redeeming him?
And the excerpts!
A Code of Love:
Lord Michael Ormond Harcourt crept along the darkened passageway. He had earned his reputation as a brilliant code breaker, but never before had he ventured into the realm of housebreaker. Henrietta was going to be furious not to be part of tonight’s exciting intrigue.
He strained to listen for the sounds of the house in the wee hours of the morning. He heard nothing but his heartbeat pounding in his ears. Reassured he was the only one about, he allowed himself to release the breath he had been holding since he sneaked into Gaston Le Chiffre’s house. He moved down the narrow corridor to his French colleague’s office.
He had only been in Paris a fortnight when he developed suspicions about Gaston–a series of sensations, hushed silences when he walked into a room, the papers on his desk seeming to have been moved, and the persistent feeling he was being followed.
The final impetus to search Gaston’s office came yesterday with the arrival of an anonymous note: “Something’s afoot.”
He gingerly opened the office door, inspecting the darkened corners before he entered. The dying fire cast shadows on the book-lined walls. A log shifted. The small crash startled him, causing his heart to thump against his chest.
He closed the door and moved to the center of the room, lit a taper, and placed it in the holder on the desk, then shuffled through the neat stacks of papers. He opened drawers, searching the contents.
He ran his hand across the smooth mahogany surface of the desk then passed his fingers along the rough underside. There he found a slightly recessed area in the far corner. His fingers
returned to the uneven surface. Applying pressure, there was a sudden give, followed by a compartment popping open on the top of the desk.
The secret compartment contained a leather book. He scanned the room before he removed the worn volume. He had never seen a code quite like this one: French scrawl preceded by endless rows of numbers. This French puzzle was better than a wrapped Christmas present. He stuffed the incredible find into his waistband. He would crack the code in the safety of his room, then return the book to its hiding place, all before Gaston awoke.
He blew out the taper and left the office. He backtracked through Gaston’s garden. Carefully closing the garden gate, he entered the alley. The mixture of fog and smoke from the city’s coal fires blanketed the city. He could see no more than a few feet ahead. The cloying darkness muffled the distant voices, the clatter of carriage wheels, and horses’ hooves.
Approaching the street, he slowed his pace. Hanging lanterns illuminated the walkway where he emerged from the unlit alley.
He turned and walked toward his house. In the thick fog, the sound of his footsteps resonated, booming with each step.
The hairs on his neck prickled when he heard another set of footsteps shuffling behind him. With only a few yards to reach home, he ran, never pausing to look back.
With his right hand, he reached into his greatcoat for his pistol; with his left, he lunged for the doorknob.
The report of a pistol echoed down the street. An intense heat penetrated his awareness. He stumbled forward.
The door opened from the inside. The lights around Denby, his manservant, gave him an angelic halo.
“Close the door, man.”
“My lord, what is it?”
“I’ve been shot.” The room grew dimmer. “Get this book to Hen.”
A Christmas Code:
Hot and breathless from performing the newly imported French dance steps of the quadrille, Gwyneth paused during the break in the music. She fanned her heated cheeks repeatedly, attempting to cool herself. Lord Henley glanced down at her. His lips were tight, his eyes dark with need. She had seen the same look on the faces of many men, but never on the face of the only man who mattered.
She wanted to see the same burning desire and possessiveness in the eyes of her childhood infatuation as she knew blazed in her eyes when she looked at the impossible but dazzling Viscount Ashworth.
The gentleman, newly arrived, had barely glanced at her despite the new gown made especially to entice the hard-headed rake. Her friend and dress designer, Amelia, obsessed with the simplicity of Greek togas, had crisscrossed sky blue silk across Gwyneth’s ample chest with a dramatic décolletage. The back of the gown was draped in the same manner with a revealing V. It was a simple design, but sensual in the way the fabric clung to her body.
She felt alluring and hopeful that tonight Ash would finally throw off all the restraints. She had felt his eyes on her back, knowing he watched her as she gaily danced the intricate pattern she had recently learned from her French dance master.
Lord Henley offered his arm as the quadrille ended. “May I take you to the refreshment table for a glass of punch? This new French dance is very demanding.”
“Thank you. I’m not thirsty. Can you please take me to my dear friend, Miss Bonnington?”
Lord Henley’s eyes clouded with emotion. Gwyneth couldn’t refuse the dance, but she needed to escape the gentleman before he embarrassed himself. She wanted to spare him the pain of rejection. After five marriage proposals this season, she had become somewhat of an expert in recognizing the signs of imminent declaration.
Lord Henley escorted Gwyneth to Amelia, who had also finished dancing and now stood alone.
“Thank you, sir, for the dance.” Gwyneth did a brief curtsy.
Lord Henley bowed. “It was my pleasure.” He hesitated, then sharply nodded his head. She didn’t want to be unkind, but there was no reason to pretend interest and encourage hope when there was none.
They watched Lord Henley circle to the other side of the room.
Amelia hid her face behind her fan, her bright eyes dancing in merriment. “Another stricken gentleman.”
“I believe he was about to ask if he could call on my brother tomorrow. I think I did an excellent job of extricating myself before Lord Henley declared his feelings.”
“Lord Henley is quite a catch. He’s heir to a vast fortune. His interest can’t be limited only to your dowry.”
“Thank you. I’m glad it isn’t only money that makes me attractive.” Gwyneth liked to believe it was her wit, her sparkling eyes, but she knew her position as sister to an earl and heiress to a hefty inheritance gave her a definite cache with the gentleman. And it was just like Amelia to tease her.
“Your following of swains has nothing to do with your luscious figure, your dramatic looks, or your amiable personality. My unique skill as a designer has brought all these gentleman to swoon at your feet.” Amelia snickered, which made Gwyneth laugh.
Tears were running down Gwyneth’s cheeks. “You do know how to level a woman’s confidence.”
The comment drove both to louder laughter.
Gwyneth noticed that Ash had turned in her direction. He smiled.
Lost in the merriment, she smiled back before she remembered her resolution not to appear as a puppy, waiting at his feet for a pat on the head. She could hide her feelings as well as he did. Forbidden by some unwritten gentleman’s code, Ash considered her off limits. She wasn’t sure if it was the age difference of eight years, his rakish past, or her position as his best friend’s younger sister.
He still kept her at a distance, maintaining that she was a mere youngster and they were simply childhood friends. She had spent the entire season trying to convince him otherwise, but she was tiring of the game.
A Code of the Heart:
Edworth House Party
Christmas Eve, 1802
Amelia Bonnington braced herself as the crowd bumped and pushed, straining to get close to His Highness. The crème of society shoved and elbowed, politely-of-course, since one would never want to be accused of bad manners.
The Prince of Wales stood on a small platform elaborately decorated with heavy boughs of greenery and red velvet, matching the Christmas décor of the massive ballroom. Hundreds of beeswax candles burned. No expense had been spared for the house party celebrating his royal visit.
Amelia had no desire to be part of the prince’s circle; they were a ghastly group who were only interested in themselves and their own pleasure.
She sucked in the little air left in the room and pushed, courteously-of-course, toward the door. The crowd and the heat were unbearable. She wasn’t one to swoon, but with the thick mix of perfume and the hot bodies, she felt tonight might be her first. She, one of the steadiest women, felt unsteady and unsafe. The last days of upheaval must have had a greater effect on her than she had wanted to believe.
Her whole world had been turned upside down and twisted sideways at this house party. In the last two days, her friends had been poisoned and kidnapped, and she had been ensnared in the French villain’s trap. But the deadly crisis had to be kept secret. Nothing must look out of the ordinary. No one outside the intelligence world ever know about the enemy’s threat to the prince’s life. The ball must go on.
Amelia looked over her shoulder for the closest exit, but the throng pushed her forward. She needed to escape from the packed room.
A gentleman used the chaos in the crowded room, to crash into her, to take liberties with her person. After spending the last four years in congested ballrooms, she fully recognized the scoundrel’s ploy. His heavy eyelids didn’t conceal his hungry eyes, focused down her décolletage. As his eyes remained fixated on her breasts, he grabbed her elbow, pretending to help her when in fact he intended to pull her close against his hefty, malodorous body.
His reek of stale alcohol and sour sweat constricted her stomach and burned her throat. She pulled her arm away from his grasp, repulsed by the wetness seeping through his gloves. “Sir, release me this instant.”
She was about to dig her heel into the supposed gentleman’s fat toe when suddenly a space opened around her and a smell of fresh lime soap surrounded her.
The perspiring man stared behind her. His slack mouth and his blood-shot eyes widened in fear.
She recognized Lord Brinsley’s scent without needing to turn; he was an impossibly difficult, yet irresistibly appealing man. His deep, velvety voice flitted down her skin like a caress. “Miss Amelia, may I escort you away from this mob?”
Relief and something much more potent buzzed all her nerve endings. She turned quickly and found herself pressed against the broad chest of the man she had been forced to conspire with to save her friends.
She hastily straightened herself. “I never thought I’d be happy to see you.” She refused to be like all the other women who fawned for his slightest glance.
He lifted an eyebrow and the corner of his mouth in that sardonic way she always found irritating. He was too big, too handsome, and too confident for her to find him irresistible. She’d never let him have the satisfaction of knowing she found him…almost irresistible.
Jacki Delecki is a bestselling romantic suspense writer. Delecki’s Grayce Walters Series, which chronicles the adventures of a Seattle animal acupuncturist, was an editor’s selection by USA Today. Delecki’s Romantic Regency The Code Breaker Series hit number one on Amazon. Both acclaimed series are available for purchase at http://www.JackiDelecki.com.
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