The Sinner Who Seduced Me
Regency Rogues, Book 3
Title is currently out of print.
The third in Stefanie Sloane’s intoxicating series of rogues and romance in which a valiant spy must protect England, and a beautiful woman, from the enemy — and risk his heart in the process. Perfect for fans of Sabrina Jeffries, Stephanie Laurens and Eloisa James.
A dedicated Young Corinthian agent, James Marlowe accepts the riskiest of missions — to go undercover as a traitor and infiltrate a deadly French crime organisation. He is prepared for all matters of intrigue — everything but a surprise encounter with the only woman he has ever loved. Five years ago, the exquisitely stunning Clarissa Collins spurned James’s love and broke his heart. Now the accomplished painter is in peril up to her lovely neck, and only he can protect her.
Lady Clarissa is being blackmailed by malicious men — but that is nothing compared to the torture of being so close to James, the enthralling man who seduced Clarissa, then betrayed her. Despite the hurt and misunderstanding that still simmers between them, their passion ignites anew. With their lives and England’s safety hanging in the balance, they must work together to save everything they hold dear. Can Clarissa and James escape the enemy’s clutches and find their way back to each other’s hearts . . . this time forever?
“Are you comfortable?”
Clarissa swept the dark, dank ship’s cabin with a critical eye, then looked at James. “Not in the least. Did you specifically request the most inhospitable of ships or was it merely my luck?”
James took one step toward the scarred lattice-backed chair where Clarissa sat, the planked floor creaking ominously under his boots. Then he stopped, uttered some sort of oath, and turned abruptly toward the captain’s bed situated along the wall of the low-ceilinged cabin.
This would be the first significant amount of time they would spend in each other’s company since their unexpected reunion. Clarissa had insisted James accompany her on horseback rather than ride in the carriage. And then she’d shut herself up in her room for the entirety of their stop last night. Clarissa couldn’t help but miss the distance that had so conveniently separated them until now.
“There is a blockade in effect, Clarissa. Besides, it is important that we not be seen. Our presence will draw less attention in a ship of this nature rather than a more ‘hospitable’ vessel,” he said tightly.
“By nature, I assume you refer to the fact that it is piloted by common criminals?” Clarissa sat straighter in order to gain some relief from the tightly wound fabric about her chest. Unwanted emotion churned in her stomach. Anger? Fear? Certainly, though there was something else. Something she didn’t want to consider too closely.
“Are you well?” James asked, leaning against the opposite wall and folding his arms across his chest.
Clarissa breathed as deeply as she could, the binding fabric chafing against her skin as she did so. “Why would you ask such a question? No, of course I’m not well. You’ve placed my mother in danger, forced me into service, and torn me from my home.”
She rose from the chair and leaned her head against the wall, the wood rough beneath her forehead as she attempted to draw another, deeper breath. “Really, James, you’ve grown lack-witted in our time apart,” she added caustically, her head beginning to spin. Dimly, she heard the sound of footsteps, then his hands were upon her, ripping the linen shirt from her waistband, before slipping them beneath the soft fabric. “What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded, batting at his hands as she tried to escape his hold.
He spun her around and yanked the bindings loose, quickly unraveling her with deft skill. “When I asked if you were well, I was referring to your physical state. This,” he paused, holding a fistful of the bindings at her eye level before tossing the length of fabric on the floor, “was slowly suffocating you.”
Clarissa stared at the length of soft white fabric on the floor, drawing in welcome draughts of briny sea air while she caught her breath. “I’m sorry,” she said simply, unable to look at him.
“For what, Clarissa?” he asked, gently catching her chin and turning her face up to his.
His touch was just as she remembered. Firm, yet gentle. “It’s been so long, and yet I’ve fallen into our old pattern.”
He cupped her cheek in his hand, his eyes searching hers. “Of quarreling? Yes, it has been quite some time, but I remember that part clearly.”
Clarissa shrank back, pressing against the rough wall behind her. James’s nearness suddenly threatened to overwhelm her senses. “It takes two to quarrel—”
“Clarissa,” he interrupted, laying one finger against her lips. “Please, I’ve no desire to fight with you. What’s in the past is just that—in the past.” He removed his finger and stepped back, gesturing for Clarissa to take the chair while he lay down on the bed.
She instantly missed the feel of his skin on hers—and hated herself for it. She knew he was right. There was no point in wasting time when her mother was in danger. And James was, in all likelihood, her only hope of assuring her mother’s safety. Durand and the rest of his gang were hardly the sort to inspire confidence in their promise to leave Isabelle unharmed if Clarissa completed her assignment. And to succeed, she needed James’s help.
Still, his transformation troubled Clarissa; his ability to remain calm and rational in her presence confused her. Or was it her response to him that frayed her nerves? She watched as he effortlessly folded his arms and cradled his skull in his intertwined fingers.
“And the present?” she queried, suddenly needing to think upon anything else but their shared past.
He appeared to be rocking slowly back and forth, the movement of the waves below providing an easy rhythm. “Once we arrive in Dover, we’ll travel by coach to Bennett’s London home—no more than a two-day ride. You’ll begin the painting no later than—”
“You misunderstand me,” Clarissa interrupted, tucking the tails of the linen shirt into her snug breeches. “What I meant was, how did you find yourself here, in the employ of such men?”
James dropped one booted foot to the floor. “Why do you want to know?” he asked, shifting to look at her.
“Why?” Clarissa parroted in disbelief. “Although you broke my heart, you were, at one time, an honorable man, James.” She struggled to remain calm. “I suppose I’m curious, that’s all. Why would the son of a British peer cast his lot with such a crew?”
James turned his head and stared once again at the low ceiling above him. “I broke your heart? Is that how you remember it?” he asked, his voice a low murmur.
“How else should I remember it? My father ripped apart the fabric of his marriage by taking a mistress and exposing my mother to the worst sort of pain imaginable. And you refused to lend your support to me—and my mother—at what was arguably the most difficult time in our lives—”
“You would not listen to reason,” he interrupted, his tone bitterly savage.
Clarissa gasped and clapped a hand across her mouth.
“And I’ve no doubt you’ll not listen to reason now,” James added, abruptly swinging his legs over the side of the bed and rising. “I’ve already told you, I’ve no desire to quarrel with you. How I came to work for Les Moines is of no consequence to you. Complete the painting so that you may return to Paris and your mother. That is all you need think on.”
He snatched the single lantern that lit the cabin and stalked toward the door.
“Where are you going—and why must you take the only light?” Clarissa asked, her throat thick with emotion.
James turned, fixing her with a stony gaze. “To fetch a pair of scissors, and I assumed you’d rather not alert the blockade ships to our presence with the light.”
“Wait, why would you need a pair of scissors?”
“For your hair.” He closed the lantern’s shutters then stepped over the threshold, slamming the door behind him.
Clarissa picked up the rickety chair and threw it against the door, finding satisfaction in the sound of the ancient wood splintering as it broke apart.
“I was helpless to resist the charms of The Sinner Who Seduced Me . Stefanie Sloane writes utterly delectable and seductive Regency romance!” —Teresa Medeiros, New York Times bestselling author
“An engaging, refreshingly original storyteller.” —Stephanie Laurens, New York Times bestselling author
“Sloane’s novels are captivating and clever and her empowered heroines and stalwart heroes will charm and delight.” —Romantic Times Magazine
“The Sinner Who Seduced Me is sinfully romantic! James and Clarissa’s unexpected reunion will melt your heart. Stefanie Sloane has crafted a dangerous seduction love story that will seduce you from page one. The Sinner Who Seduced Me has the perfect blend of tender romance and heart stopping adventure. Stefanie Sloane knows how to write a regency novel!” —Fresh Fiction
The latest Regency Rogues (see The Angel in My Arms and The Devil In Disguise) romantic suspense is an action-packed second chance at love thriller. A fast exciting read, fans will root for Clarissa and James to save the crown and their respective hearts in Stefanie Sloane’s super story. — Genre Go Round Reviews
“A very solid book with wonderful characters and a heartwarming romance. Stefanie Sloane is one of the brightest debut authors of 2011, one that I am delighted to have found. Regency England is a more vibrant place for her presence there — not to mention a safer place with the Young Corinthians working hard to save the world.” —Romance Novel News
“Ms. Sloane takes her series one step forward when we see two people who have a torrid past come together in a clashing tidal wave of anger, past love, lust, and danger. We agonize along with Clarissa as she tries to figure out how best to help James out of his sticky situations; we laugh at the antics the main characters get into as a result of Iris’ rather interesting adventures; and we feel their pain as Clarissa and James finally realize how much their past destroyed each others’ tender hearts. Whether you are a new fan of Ms. Sloane’s or you have read her before, you will thoroughly enjoy perusing this passionate tale about love a second time around.” —Coffee Time Romance and More
“… a rollicking good adventure… With wonderful lead characters and an exciting, nail-biting conclusion, The Sinner Who Seduced Me is another excellent book in the Regency Rogues series.” —Romance Reviews Today
“The characters are interesting and their plots full of twists and turns . . .” —Night Owl Reviews, 4 3/4 stars
“An exciting, action-packed read, The Sinner Who Seduced Me . . . is filled with blistering hot love scenes, sexual tension, lively repartee, humor, adventure, espionage, romance and a second chance at love. I absolutely loved this story! . . . Talented author Stefanie Sloane brings this exciting Regency romp to life right before your eyes, and I hated to see it end. If you enjoy this story, do not miss the first two stories of this delightful series; The Devil in Disguise and The Angel in My Arms.” —Romance Junkies Reviews
SEALED document. Clearance required. See Carmichael.
Last reviewed: June, 1811
Agent’s Name: John Marlowe
Alias: Lucien Laurent
Affiliation: The Young Corinthians, Les Moines
Familial ties to the agency: No
Immediate Superior: Lord Henry Prescott, the Viscount of Carmichael
Weight: 15 Stone
Hair: Bay brown.
Skills: Strong swimmer. Fluent in French. Trained in a unique hand to hand combat known as martial arts. See Johan Georg Pascha documentation.
Concerns: Position as a second son makes him hungry for the opportunity to prove himself. A failed love affair in his past adds to this, making Marlowe reckless—and, at times, dangerously so.
Description: Recruited from Gentleman John Jackson’s Boxing Club. Lack of a title makes him unpredictable, keen sense of intelligence balances him out. A close relationship with Robert Edwards, the Marquis of Westbridge, and his family was quite stabilizing for a time. Westbridge’s infidelity and eventual estrangement from his family destroyed Marlowe’s connection, striking a severe blow to his well being.
Current case: Currently believed by all within the organization, save a few including Carmichael, to be dead. See Lulworth Cove case documentation. Working as a double agent to infiltrate Les Moines. Unexpectedly moved from Paris to London, protecting Lady Clarissa Collins. No contact is to be made.
What’s not to love about Paris? Gorgeous, sophisticated, romantic—a city for lovers, no? Well, yes, but in The Sinner Who Seduced Me, the third installment in the Regency Rogues series, Paris is only the beginning point for James Marlowe and Lady Clarissa Collins, whose shared history will be dug up, explored, and put to the ultimate test as they rediscover just what it is that they’re living for.
Clarissa shares a comfortable and well appointed home with her mother Isabelle at 123 rue de Fontaine, a fashionable area in Paris.
James Marlowe is a seasoned Young Corinthian agent, but even he is surprised by the level of depravity found at Tout et Plous, a brothel located in the Montmarte district of Paris where he meets with a sinister individual who will feature prominently in his future.
James and Clarissa make the perilous journey to England, where they take up residence in a luxurious mansion located adjacent to the lush and leafy Hampstead Heath.
Though Clarissa would rather do anything else but attend, she’s persuaded to attend the infamous Cyprian’s Ball, along with James and a ridiculously naive Canadian debutante.
James and Clarissa race toward their destiny, which lies back in Paris, where our tale all began. A short stop in Calais provides them with the information they need to continue on—to where their happily ever after awaits. Or does it?