Hello readers. Are you in the mood for a total escape during these challenging times? Then, bring on The Gentleman Spy, the next Regency-era novel in the Serendipity & Secrets series by bestselling historical romance author Erica Vetsch.
Even if you have not read The Lost Lieutenant, the first book in the series, you can jump right into this stand-alone Regency historical filled with intrigue, history, and swoon. I promise—there is great conflict and plenty of twists in the plot to keep you turning pages into the wee hours of the night.
And for those who just can’t get enough of the characters in the Serendipity & Secrets series, next up is a bonus novella in Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection, a trio of novellas by Vetsch and fellow authors Carolyn Miller and Amanda Barratt (available October 13, 2020). Then, the last installment of the series, The Indebted Earl, the story of Marcus Haverly’s younger sister, Sophie, will arrive on shelves in March 2021. That should set you up for some time.
I am happy to share a preview of The Gentleman Spy with a book description from the publisher and an exclusive excerpt selected by the author for Austenprose readers. Please check out the amazing giveaway chance for a prize pack listed at the bottom of the post with a link to enter. Good luck to all!
He only wanted a duchess for a day–but she’s determined to make it a marriage for life
When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she’s meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life–as a secret agent for the Crown.
But his bride has other ideas. She’s determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society–the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she’d remain in the background as he ordered.
Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?
February 1, 1814
“This is your last chance, Charlotte. If you don’t find a husband this Season, you’re finished. Your father won’t impoverish himself further, and I can’t say I blame him. Three Seasons on the Marriage Mart really is the outside limit.”
Lady Charlotte Tiptree looked up, one tendril of hair twined around her index finger. Her concentration broken, she tucked a slip of paper into her book on Roman history to mark her place and forced herself to return to the nineteenth century. “I’m sorry, Mother. Were you speaking to me?”
“You’re the only other person in the drawing-room, are you not? Please put that down and pay attention. Why must I always drag your nose out of some tome or other? If your father catches you reading again, I don’t know what he’ll do.” Mother shook her head, her hands fluttering. Mother’s hands always fluttered, especially when she was agitated. “And sit up like a proper lady. I don’t know what your posture will become if you continue to lounge like a sultan. It’s as if we didn’t go to great expense to see you become a lady. What did they teach you at that finishing school?”
Refraining from rolling her eyes—another gesture that would get her a scolding—Charlotte pulled her legs off the arm of the deep chair and put her feet on the floor. It had taken an age to get into a comfortable reading position, and now all that effort was wasted. She smoothed her plain gray skirt. The dress was serviceable and chaste, covering her from neck to ankles, but nothing about it was pretty. None of her clothes were really pretty, her father feeling such fripperies an unnecessary expense. He could pinch a shilling until the King’s profile cried. And as for the finishing school, it was more of a prison on a barren wasteland in Dartmoor. Run by an impoverished gentlewoman with no sense of humor, the Hitchin’s School for Young Ladies was an academy so obscure, Charlotte had been one of only a handful of students, and none of those with social aspirations or titled family.
It had been less expensive than sending her to Switzerland with other girls of her rank.
Plastering a pleasant, slightly vacant expression on her face—the aspect Mother thought all young ladies should wear—Charlotte put her feet primly together and straightened her shoulders. “What is it you’d like to speak about?” Though she knew. It had been the topic of many a tedious conversation throughout the summer, the fall, and over the interminable holidays.
Mother exhaled, her features relaxing into kinder lines. “I don’t mean to nag, but you must face the truth. If you don’t change your ways, you’re going to wind up a spinster. You’re nearly there now. Your father has spent all the money he intends to in order to see you prepared to take your place in society. What kind of a thank-you will it be if you squander your last opportunity? You’re not getting any younger, and there will be many fresh faces in the ton again this year. If you don’t put yourself out to be agreeable, to be the sort of woman a peer is looking for in a wife . . .” She gripped her fingers in her lap.
Something hovered on her lips, and Charlotte tensed. Mother rarely hesitated when Father wasn’t present, so whatever it was must be momentous.
Mother took a deep breath, as if fortifying herself. “Your father has instructed me to inform you that if you are not engaged to be married before Easter Sunday, he will have no choice but to send you to live at Aunt Philomena’s in Yorkshire.” Tugging her handkerchief from her sleeve, she waved it as she talked, the scent of her lavender sachets filling the air. “Philomena broached the subject herself, and he’s latched on to the idea. I tried to talk him out of it, but he’s adamant. He says your lack of a husband is your own fault and that becoming Aunt Philomena’s companion would be fitting punishment for your behavior over the last two years.”
Charlotte’s mind went blank. This was a new twist. Father had occasionally made vague statements as to her future, but nothing this definite . . . or dire.
Aunt Philomena. She winced.
To be accurate, she was Charlotte’s great-aunt on her father’s side. Having just endured the Christmas holidays with her at the Tiptree estate in Essex, the thought of a life sentence as her companion drained the blood from Charlotte’s head.
Surely this was an idle threat? Her father couldn’t be so unfeeling, could he?
Chapter 1, pages 13-15
- “If you’re a fan of Regency romance, this is definitely a series worth checking out.” —Fiction Aficionado
- “Danger, romance, and secrets!!! Such a good story!!! I cannot wait for the next book in this series!!!” —Bring Up Books
- “I inhaled The Gentleman Spy in 24 hours. It was that good! Beautiful romance and with a wonderful social justice thread.” —bestselling author Cara Putman
Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award-winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.
Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.
A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.
The Gentleman Spy (Serendipity & Secrets Book 2), by Erica Vetsch
Kregel Publications (July 28, 2020)
Trade paperback & eBook (304) pages
Cover image, book description, & excerpt courtesy of Kregel Publications © 2020; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, Austenprose.com