The paperback of THE LOVEDAY CONSPIRACY as published by Headline on 29th October. It is the tenth in the Loveday Series and my thirtieth published novel. I still get the same thrill today seeing a novel in print as I did the first time. I could not imagine my world without writing in it and feel very priviledged that so many readers are loyal to me. Even before publication date it reached 8 in the Amazon Top 20 Historical chart. My brain was a whirling Dervish of excitement all week.
Here is an extract from THE LOVEDAY CONSPIRACY that I hope you will enjoy. For new readers this is the story background in the earlier books of the series - Japhet Loveday was falsely accused of highway robbery by Sir Pettigrew Osgood, found guilty and transported to th enew penal colony at Sydney Cove. He is now back in England and wants revenge. His cousin Adam also wants revenge on the man he blames for his twin’s death.
Japhet dismounted and flung the reins at a young groom. Gwendolyn came out of the house and waited for him. There was a look on her lovely face that warned him she had seen through his ruse. He should have known that nothing missed his wife’s concerned eye.
‘Another dawn ride, husband. The fifth in three weeks.’
‘I could not sleep. The horses need their exercise.’ He dragged his fingers through his black hair that lapped over his collar; unfashionably long, it added to his roguish features and his hazel eyes could melt a woman’s heart by their smouldering intensity.
‘With a sword strapped to your saddle?’ Her colour was high as she voiced her anger. Her features were striking rather than beautiful, but Japhet had known many beautiful women who had left his heart cold. Gwen had won his love by her courage and faith that the character of a rogue and reprobate he showed to the world but masked more noble sentiments beneath. That faith had saved him in his darkest hours and given him the strength to prove that she was right. Though there were times when he wished his wife did not know him so well. There was resignation in her eyes when she continued. ‘Are these meetings with Adam? I can guess their purpose.’
He shrugged and gave a reassuring grin. ‘Adam and I always practised our swordplay in the old days. It is a sport we both enjoy.’
‘And I doubt either of you are doing this for old times’ sake. You promised me you would not pursue Osgood.’ She was trembling in her distress.
Japhet took his wife into his arms. ‘I would not break my word to you, Gwen.’
She pulled back from him, her eyes accusing, and her skin pale against the rich chestnut of her hair. ‘But this swordplay is not innocent. Adam is capable of calling out Tristan. And you…. You will not let Osgood escape your justice, will you? But we have been home for just a few months.’ Her voice rose in alarm.
‘A gentleman should never neglect his fencing skills.’ Japhet was deliberately flippant.
She struck his chest with her fist. ‘Do not humour me. I know what you plan. If not this week, this month, this year, or the foreseeable future, but you will not let this matter rest. Forget Osgood. He is a cowardly knave.’
‘I am not the only one of our family whom Osgood planned to ruin. Adam said that Osgood’s lecherous eye also singled out my cousin’s half-sister, Tamasine, during a visit she had made to London. When she refused his advances Osgood had tried to abduct her. Fortunately, Tamasine had been rescued by Maximillian Deverell – the man she later married.’
‘But that was years ago when you were still on ship to the penal colony.’ She breathed heavily in her exasperation. ‘Tamasine had been staying in London with cousin Thomas. He called Osgood out. Family honour is satisfied. He even scarred the knave’s face in the duel. Since then little had been heard of the baronet. He retired to his country seat to hide his disfigurement.’
‘And he was there until last year.’ Japhet announced. ‘He has since disappeared – rumoured to have gone abroad. So you see your fears are in vain. He is out of reach.’
Her stare searched his and showed no sign of being reassured. ‘Promise me that you will not seek him out.’
He took her into his arms and his voice was husky and seductive. ‘Have I not promised that I will live quietly and concentrate on establishing a racing stables and stud? That is my intention.’ Hi s hand stroked her cheek and his gaze lingered upon her lips before capturing them with his own. There was the briefest resistance before she surrendered to his kiss and he felt her body melt against him. Then with a sigh she pulled away. ‘I will not be sidetracked by sweet words and caresses, my love. Say you will not go after Osgood?’ When he did not immediately answer, she gripped the front of his greatcoat, her eyes beseeching. ‘Promise me, Japhet.’
He cupped her lovely face gently in his hands. ‘I certainly have no intention of going off on a wild goose chase hunting him down. But I will make you no false promises, Gwen. If Osgood crosses my path then that is a different matter. But he is not likely to search me out. He has proved himself too craven for that.’
He kissed her until he felt her anger melt and the tension leave her body. ‘Do you think that I would risk all that we have for that knave? I am no longer the hothead, the reckless rakehell. You and our sons and this stud farm are what is important.’ His arms held her tight but over the top of her head, his stare was uncompromising.
When the time was right Osgood would face his retribution and pay for his treachery.