Notorious rogue, Lord Nathaniel Kingsley always tended to leap without thinking. Becoming a smuggler, adopting a sheep, getting engaged to Miss Patience Grey….
Patience has no need for a fiancé, or a husband. For once in her life, she wants to prove she’s just as good as a man and she does not need Nathaniel Kingsley getting in her way. With her brother injured, it is up to her to continue her family’s work…and that means tracking down a French spy and ensuring said spy will turn.
Unfortunately, no one believes she can do it alone. Which is where Nathaniel comes in.
Nate is happy to be of service. Why pass up the opportunity to repay an old friend, especially with a little intrigue along the way? Find the spy, play escort to Patience, return home to continue smuggling. Easy.
Or at least it would be if the stubborn Patience would let him do his job. The breeches-wearing woman is determined to do it all alone and, he has to admit, there’s something quite distracting about a woman in men’s clothes.
Can he keep his attention from her long enough to complete their mission and persuade Patience to let him do his job and protect her? A job he’s beginning to find he’s enjoying a lot more than he thought he would…
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“There would have been many a heartbroken lass had you really been engaged,” Drake said. His grin grew wicked. “I was looking forward to offering my comfort and condolences.”
Nate shook his head and ignored his friend’s jest. Instead he turned his attention to the ale in his hand. It would be his last for a while. He’d need a clear head for what was to come, especially if he was to keep that minx under control. If her own mother could not make her wear a dress, what chance did he have?
Either way, he was looking forward to the challenge. Smuggling was all well and good but they had only gone out once in the past month and all had been quiet. No excitement to be had. He was rather looking forward to the chance to indulge in some espionage and adventure.
Of course, Jacob Grey was aware of their illicit activities. Being a government agent had meant they had helped him before. He was one of the few residents of Penshallow who quite understood who was behind all the smuggling that took place in their small fishing village. Most thought Knight the face of it—the big, brooding, scarred hulk of a man opposite who spoke only when absolutely necessary.
At present, Knight’s attention was on something near the bar. Nate flicked a glance over but could see nothing of interest. Only the usual overly drunk patrons gathered while Louisa, the innkeeper, worked her hardest to keep up with demand.
Other patrons littered the room, gathered around small tables. Some had cards in their hands while all had drinks. The Ship Inn was not the most savory of places but it was out of the way and the food was good. Not to mention Louisa was uncannily good at ensuring the customs men never came near the place. She had saved their skin many times and they repaid her help generously, ensuring she had a good supply of excellent French wine.
“You were a damned fool, signing up for this,” Nate’s brother said, thrusting a finger at him.
“What was I to do? You were off enjoying yourself with Hannah. Far too much it seems.” His brother’s gaze darkened and Nate immediately ceased any idea of talking of Red’s fiancée. Hannah was currently installed in lodgings in the village while they awaited the license for their marriage and to finalize all the details. His brother was, unbelievably, utterly in the love with the woman. It was not such much the woman he had fallen for that surprised Nate but that his brother had the ability to fall so heavily for her. Red had always been too busy to think of love or even marriage.
Drake leaned in. The captain fixed Red with a slight smile on his lips. “Face it, Red. While you were distracted by petticoats, Nate held down the fort. I don’t blame him for offering to help, after all, are we not in this to help the crown?”
“Since when are you so noble?” Red demanded.
“Since I have a pocket full of coin,” Drake said smugly. “Things have been going uncommonly well of late. I don’t see why Nate cannot help Jacob Grey and be back in time for our next outing.”
“Uncommonly well?” Nate’s brother lifted a brow. “After Knight’s illness and the storm that near tore your ship in half, you were complaining of curses. Now you think things are going uncommonly well?”
Knight glowered. The giant of a man sat with his arms folded, a great scowl etched upon his face that in some lights looked as though it could be made of granite. Were it not for being friends with him, Nate would give him a wide berth. The man looked like trouble and, potentially, he was. No one really knew anything about him apart from the fact he was useful muscle and a damned hard worker. Though Nate suspected there was something more under that silent exterior. What that was, however, he was not sure.
“It was not an illness,” Knight protested.
Drake laughed. “You vomited on my boots, Knight. What would you call it?”
Knight fell back into silent mode and glowered some more.