Dissolute aristocrat Lord Valiant Oakenhurst hides a sexy, supernatural secret—as a powerful incubus, he is able to influence others through erotic dreams. At an exclusive Christmas house party, his latest mission is compromised by the beautiful but deadly succubus Lucille Beaulieu. Though still drawn to his former lover, Val cannot forget her betrayal….
Hoping to atone for her past, Lucie uses her seductive powers to help couples find happiness. But she is distracted from her task by her own delicious dreams of the dark and dangerous Val.
As the riotous festivities begin, their passion is reinvoked, but can a little Christmas magic restore their lost trust?
Lord Valiant Oakenhurst has just shot himself in the arm as a ruse to get into the home of Lord Westerly, who would refuse him otherwise.
By the time Lord Valiant reached Westerly House, he didn’t have to feign feeling a trifle under the weather. Strange how the lack of any real danger robbed one of the usual grim control.
He urged his horse up the drive to where a gentleman and two ladies hovered outside a coach while footmen unloaded trunks and bandboxes. It seemed an ideal moment for a dramatic arrival until he glimpsed a familiar pair of wide violet eyes. He blinked, so astonished and overwhelmed by memory that he swayed in the saddle.
He stared. It was truly Lucie. What was she doing at Westerly House? Damn and blast the Master of the British Incubi for sending him here. A surge of rage sent him into wartime mode. This wasn’t what it seemed.
Back into the game.
As he slid off the horse, people hurried around the coach. “Highwaymen,” he croaked, grasping his injured arm and stumbling to one knee, sensing without seeing the contempt in Lucie’s gaze. She had seen this ruse before. “Winged me.”
“Heavens, how dreadful!” The other lady rushed forward—an ordinary-looking Englishwoman, not a conniving succubus. “Lord Westerly, send a man for the doctor,” she ordered. “James, Charles, help this poor man into the house.”
“Lord Valiant Oakenhurst?” said Lord Westerly as two footmen set down the trunk they carried and hurried around to help. “What the deuce are you doing in Hampshire?”
“Getting shot,” Valiant mumbled. “It’s only a scratch.” He squeezed his eyes shut as if in agonizing pain—actually, the throbbing in his arm was nothing compared to seeing Lucie again—and reopened them. “I could ask the same of you.”
“I live here,” Lord Westerly said.
“The devil you say.” Val infused surprise tinged with distaste into his voice, slung his good arm across the shoulders of one of the footmen, and made the most of staggering into the house.
What in the name of God and all the saints was Val doing here?
Lucille watched aghast as one footman helped her former lover into the house, while the other ran to the stables to send a groom for the doctor. She’d always wondered about his background, which could have been anything judging by the many roles he had played. Now she knew, and a cold trickle of fear invaded her gut. Oakenhurst was the family name of the Marquis of Staves. Val was not only a spy and assassin, but a man of power and influence in England.
Whereas she was a traitor to both France, the country of her birth, and England, which had given her sanctuary, and Valiant Oakenhurst was the only one who knew. What an unusual name Valiant was, but appropriate. She’d known him by several names, but during their intimacy he’d been simply Val.
But why would a man of high birth use a desperate ploy to gain entrance to Westerly House? The last time he’d shot himself in the arm, he had nearly bled to death. Lucille knew because she had been the one to save his life.
She’d caught that flicker of rage in his eyes. He still hated her, even though the war was over and France had gone down to bitter defeat. He had followed her for months after the betrayal and had had her watched during Napoleon’s first exile. She had lived in daily expectation of violent death. After Waterloo, she’d hoped it was all over. Lately, she had almost begun to believe she was safe.
Evidently not. None of it should matter anymore, but he would never understand, brutal, uncomplicated Englishman that he was. He had surely come here because of her, but how had he known she would be here? And what did he intend to do?
A ghastly question yawned chasm-like before her. Was she prepared to take his life to save her own?
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In Under a Christmas Spell, there is some magical matchmaking going on. Have you ever tried matchmaking? Has it ever been tried on you? Did it succeed?
About the Author
Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. After dabbling in neighborhood musicals and teen melodrama, she published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. Now her kids are adults, and she’s writing historical and paranormal romance and mystery for grownups. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.