Shana Galen is the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewers' Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Kirkus says of her books, "The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun," and RT Bookreviews calls her books “lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching." 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. Shana loves to hear from readers, so send her an email or see what she's up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.
A Kiss Between Enemies on Christmas Eve with Shana Galen
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the ball
The spies were well hidden throughout the hall.
The pistols were loaded with powder and shot
In hopes that the enemy would fast be caught.
James in his coat, Antoinette in silks fair
Made quite a discovery under the stair.
When what to their wondering eyes should appear?
An agent of the Spanish, whom they both had to fear.
“What the devil are you doing here?” the spy hissed. That British spy. The one she’d almost killed in Prussia.
“This is my spot. Get out,” Antoinette hissed back, pointing her pistol at his chest for good measure.
The scoundrel had the unmitigated gall to point his pistol at her face. “It’s my spot now. You get out.” His speech was clipped, that of the British nobility. She could affect the accent well enough, though she was no noble and certainly not British. She suspected her could imitate any number of French accents well enough. The time they’d met in Austria, he certainly spoke German fluently.
He’d also been trained in the use of knives. She’d almost felt the sting of his in her back.
Antoinette cocked her pistol. “I will count to three. You either leave, or I fire.”
He raised a dark brow. His entire face was illuminated by the candle she’d set on the shelf full of Christmas decorations stored in the space beneath the attic. She had the advantage of having her own face remain in shadow.
“We both know you won’t fire that weapon in here. We’ll be discovered.”
He was correct, but she would die before admitting as much. “From whom are you hiding?”
“The Spanish agent. You?”
“The same.” She gestured with her pistol. “I thought the British and the Spanish were allies.”
He shook his head slightly. “Not this week.”
She stared at him, her pistol leveled at his heart. He stared back, his pistol aimed between her eyes. “Do you always shoot for the head?” she asked.
“Less chance of survival,” he answered. “Do you always aim for the heart?”
“Not as messy.” She was not squeamish, but she preferred to avoid the sight of skull and brain. It would be a shame to shoot a man like the British agent in the head. He might be her enemy, but he was as handsome as sin with wavy black hair, deep blue eyes, and cheekbones that could cut glass. Still, she had to kill him. It was kill or be killed, and she knew he would not hesitate to take the chance to end her life should the opportunity arise.
“Why don’t we be reasonable?” he said, spreading his hands.
“I can be reasonable.”
“We put away our pistols while we’re in this room.”
“How do I know this is not a ploy to disarm me so you might shoot me?”
“We holster our pistols simultaneously. I trust you. You trust me.”
“I’ll never trust you, British swine.”
He raised his hands. “No cause for name calling, ma petite frog.”
She didn’t know which was worse—the nod to her small stature or the reference to the amphibian.
But she’d been called worse, and it wasn’t worth dying over. The Spanish agent and his men were combing the ball for her. She was outnumbered. Her mission had been to steal a packet of letters from the Prince Regent to the Swedish ambassador, who hosted the ball currently in progress. She would have to either wait the Spanish agent out or abort the mission altogether.
“Ready?” the British spy asked.
She nodded. Watching him intently, she raised her skirt, holstering her pistol in the sheath she wore on her thigh as he tucked his under his coat.
His gaze had lingered just a little too long on her legs, though, and that gave her another opportunity. She dropped her skirts.
“Thank you.” She lunged forward, dagger in her hand, aiming for his throat. At the last minute, he skirted to the side and snatched her wrist with his hand. Twisting her, he slammed her against the higher of the chamber’s walls. The shelves nearby rattled and a stream of ribbon floated to the ground.
“Not nice enough, monsieur, as you are still alive.” She brought her knee up, and he stepped back, narrowly avoiding having his balls crushed.
“Not for your lack of”—she twisted her wrist, almost freeing it from his grip—“trying.”
“Let me go!” She heaved forward with all her strength, and he slammed her back against the wall again.
“You British bastard. I will—”
His hand clamped over her mouth. “Shh.”
She stilled immediately and listened. Spanish spoke in hushed tones. You search that way. I will go this way.
Merde! The Spaniards were close.
She held absolutely still, barely breathing, and slowly the British agent’s hand dropped away from her mouth. They stood, his body pushing hers up against the wall, not daring to shift even one foot.
She looked up at him and found his gaze was on hers. “What is your name?” he whispered.
“Why should I tell you?”
“You probably shouldn’t, but then I imagine you do all sorts of things you shouldn’t.”
She smiled, and oh, when she smiled she was beautiful. She was beautiful anyway, James thought. She wouldn’t have made a very effective spy if she hadn’t been. A beautiful woman was ten times more treacherous than any man. But she had green eyes the color of the rarest jade and hair the color of wheat just before harvest. She was petite, but she was strong, her lush body an effective disguise for her strength and determination. She still hadn’t released the dagger, even though her wrist must have ached with the pressure he inflicted.
“If I tell you mine, you must tell me yours,” she murmured. Her voice, with its French lilt, was like honey. He’d never cared much for French. He always felt like some sort of puffed up dandy when he spoke it, but he liked it very much on her tongue.
“Agreed,” he said. There wouldn’t be any harm in telling her his name—not his title of course—but his Christian name. After all, there were thousands of Jameses.
“I am Antoinette.”
“Like the late queen.”
She inclined her head, giving him no indication of which side she’d supported in the revolution, before the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte.
“I am James.”
“James,” she repeated, giving the name a distinctly French sound. “It is a pleasure to meet you James.”
“And you, Antoinette. I will be sorry to kill you.”
“And I you.” She sighed as though his death would be a tragedy. As though she actually had a soul.
“It’s a pity our nations always fight on opposite sides of every conflict. I wouldn’t mind being your ally. Even if the alliance is brief.”
“We are allies against the Spanish,” she pointed out.
“True enough. Moreover, it is Christmas. Peace on earth and all that.”
“Perhaps we should call a truce.”
He nodded. “I like that suggestion. Terms?”
“Our truce ends at midnight on Christmas.”
“Agreed.” He couldn’t resist stroking the skin on the inside of her wrist. She’d removed her gloves, as had he, and her skin was incredibly soft. “No killing, maiming, abducting, or torturing during the period of the truce.”
She sighed. “Agreed,” she said reluctantly. “Neither you nor I ever mention this truce to anyone outside this room.”
“Shall we shake on it?” she asked. He eyed the dagger still in her hand.
“Why not a kiss?”
Her brows winged upward. “A thousand reasons why we should not.”
“And one reason why we should.”
“Because we both want to,” she whispered.
He kept the hand locked around her wrist tight—truce or no, he didn’t trust her with that dagger. He slid his other hand into her thick hair, angled her head, and bent close.
She looked up at him, her jade-green eyes hazy with heat. “Joyeux Noël, James.”
“Happy Christmas, Antoinette.”
She pressed upward, her lips meeting his without the slightest hesitation. Her arm came around his neck, pulling him close, deepening the kiss, until he was lost in the feel of her lips, the taste of her mouth, and the scent of her body. He’d never experienced a kiss like it before, and his one regret was he would have to kill her the next time he saw her.
They parted, and she looked up at him from under thick lashes. “We should be allies more often.”
“Next Christmas in Vienna?”
“Make it Lisbon. And I want more than a kiss.”
“My darling enemy, a kiss is only the beginning.”
When weapons designer Eliza Qwillen (Q) is sent to the English countryside with Pierce Moneypence, clerk to the mysterious M, she’s worried the memory of their steamy encounter will interfere with the task at hand.The operatives are intent upon capturing the highwayman styling himself as the New Sheriff of Nottingham. But with the Sheriff in their sights, secret rendezvous, mistaken identities, and cat-and-mouse games challenge these fledgling agents—and Q and Pierce will learn that rediscovering their passion for each other is the most rewarding mission of all.
Check out what's up for grabs.
- 1 eBook copy of All I Want for Christmas is Blue and The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe
- Please fill out the Rafflecopter for entry.
**Don't forget to enter the grand prize giveaway!
Special thanks to Shana Galen for sponsoring this giveaway.a Rafflecopter giveaway