Published by Pocket Books on March 27th 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
“Quick pacing, witty dialogue, and charmingly original characters set Jeffries’ books apart” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), and The Secret of Flirting is the next thrilling romance in the bestselling Sinful Suitors series!
The moment spymaster Baron Fulkham meets the stunning Princess Anne of Chanay, he's positive her royal persona is a ruse and that she's actually Monique Servais, the mysterious actress he met three years before in Dieppe. But as he pursues his suspicions, he uncovers a plot of attempted assassination and betrayal that could very well destroy his career, expose his own secrets...and ruin the woman he's rapidly coming to love.
The Secret of Flirting is a sizzling historical romance filled with fast-paced storytelling, an enchanting heroine, and a sexy hero, perfect for fans of Regency romance.
Monique fought panic as Lord Fulkham expertly manoeuvred them through the crowded rooms of St. James Palace toward the garden. Curse the count for throwing her to the wolves! And after he’d said he and Lady Ursula would always be at her side, too!
She should have known not to trust him. Ever since they’d left Calais she’d had the sense that he was hiding something. But she hadn’t expected him to sabotage her masquerade after he’d gone to such trouble to set it up. Could he not see that Lord Fulkham was baiting him? Baiting her?
Probably not. To be fair, he didn’t know of her former association with Lord Fulkham. He must never find out, either. Because she had to secure help for Grandmaman in her final days, and this pretense was the only way to do so.
But why oh why did Lord Fulkham have to be the man at the center of these proceedings? And why must he have recognized her? All his veiled remarks and his intense scrutiny—he remembered her. She was sure of it.
And why hadn’t the count warned her that there was a portrait of Anne in the Lady’s Museum Monthly? She must finagle a chance to see it. She dearly hoped it was indeed of poor quality, and not a likeness that highlighted the few ways in which she and Anne did not resemble each other.
When they reached the garden, her heart sank to see it so deserted. Apparently, she hadn’t been the only one to think dinner might soon be served. Even the band they’d heard playing out here earlier had packed up and moved inside, closer to the banqueting room.
You can handle this, she told herself. You’re an acclaimed actress, for God’s sake. This is what you do—play roles. You’ve even played a princess before. So get to it, and show this pompous gentleman what you’re made of.
She went on the offensive. “Please forgive me if this is rude, Lord Fulkham, but I’m confused by what my uncle said concerning your part in these negotiations. I was unaware that undersecretaries were of such profound importance in English politics. I thought they were little better than clerks.”
If she’d thought to insult him, his laugh showed that she’d failed. “Some of them are. It just so happens that England has two kinds. I’m the political kind. Especially with the foreign secretary laid up in bed.” He cast her a searching glance. “You have a better knowledge of English affairs than I expected.”
She had her half-English grandfather to thank for that. He’d always kept up with politics in his mother’s country. “And you, monsieur, have a better facility for ‘diplomacy’ than I expected. I think my uncle is right. You do have a silver tongue.”
“I hope not. It would make it awfully hard to eat,” he quipped.
A laugh sputtered out of her. Curse him. She didn’t remember him having a humorous side. “You are very droll, monsieur.”
“And you are very . . . different,” he said.
She tensed. “From what?”
“From what I expected. I’d heard that the Princess of Chanay was a rather haughty young lady.”
She had no idea if Anne was haughty. Though it would stand to reason. Weren’t all princesses haughty?
Not the way Monique played them. And it didn’t matter how Anne really was. According to the count, no one had ever met the princess, so Lord Fulkham couldn’t be sure what she was like. He was merely trying to catch the woman he had met in an error.
Which meant she must be as different from Monique Servais as possible, to throw him off guard, make him doubt his eyes. Monique Servais had given him the sharper side of her tongue, so Princess Anne must be engaging, flirtatious.
“A man like you should know better than to listen to rumor,” she told him.
“Actually, rumor is my life’s blood. There’s generally a bit of truth in every piece of gossip. It’s my job to find out which bits are true and which bits are trumped-up lies.” He led her down a path. “For example, I heard that you were partial to theatrical entertainments. Is that the case?”
Curse the fellow, he’d heard no such thing. He was just baiting her again.
She fought the urge to stiffen, keeping her grip of his arm deliberately loose. “I enjoy the occasional play, yes. Doesn’t everyone?”
“It depends. I like plays, but only tragedies.” He shot her a veiled look. “Comedies set my teeth on edge.”
She remembered only too well his ridiculous opinion of comedies. “I prefer operas,” she said lightly. “Doesn’t matter to me what the story is about as long as there’s singing. Do you enjoy the opera, monsieur?”
That seemed to catch him off guard, for he frowned. “Not at all, I’m afraid. In real life, people don’t speak to each other in arias.”
“In real life, people do not dress so lavishly to do their marketing, either, but one can still enjoy seeing such attire in that setting on the stage.”
“Yes, those powdered wigs are quite entertaining,” he drawled. “Especially when the actors and actresses are running in and out of the boudoir.”
She could feel his eyes on her. Clearly, he was referencing Le Mariage de Figaro directly. Silly man. As if that would make her lose control and spill her secrets. “Oh, I do like that kind of opera myself. Otello is so dramatic. And that scene in Desdemona’s boudoir makes me weep every time.”
He halted to eye her closely. “You’ve seen Rossini’s Otello?”
“Of course. In Paris. It was quite moving.”
A triumphant look crossed his face. “I thought you rarely left Chanay.”
Too late she remembered what the count had told her about Anne’s secluded life. She scrambled to cover her error. “That’s true—I rarely do. But Maman took me to Paris to see Otello once when I was a girl. It’s her favorite opera.”
“You said that it ‘makes me weep every time.’ That implies you’ve seen it more than once.”
Her heart thundered in her chest. “I meant ‘every time I think of the scene.’ I misspoke. English is not my native tongue, you know.” She tipped up her chin. “And why do you dissect my words so, monsieur? Is it necessary for the prospective Queen of Belgium to speak your language perfectly?”
“That’s not why I ‘dissect’ your words, as you are well aware.”
Merde, obviously he’d figured her out. She would have to tread carefully or else he would swallow her up, and with her, all her hopes for her and Grandmaman’s future. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“Come now, mademoiselle.” He leaned close enough to show the hardening planes of his face. “It’s time that you relinquish this pretense. You and I both know that you are Monique Servais and not the Princess of Chanay at all.”
Sabrina is giving away a digital copy of your choice of one of the previous books in the Sinful Suitors Series.
For a chance to win just comment with your answer to this question:
Do you believe in love at first sight?
~~Review by Amy~~
What could be better than action, romance, and intrigue! The Secret of Flirting, the newest addition to Sabrina Jeffries’ Sinful Suitors series, has it all. With its clever characters, political manoeuvrings, and titillating romance, readers won’t be able to put this one down.
Mademoiselle Monique Servaise is a talented stage actress. But lately, she’s been unable to devote as much time to her career. Caring for her grandmother who suffers from dementia is requiring more and more of her time. Though Monique loved her grandmother and was happy to care for her, she loved her career as well. When the royal family who had exiled her grandmother from Chanay years ago shows up with a proposition, it may be the answer to Monique’s prayers. The family offers to take Monique’s grandmother in and care for her in the way she deserves if Monique will impersonate the ailing Princess Aurore at the London Conference in her bid to become Belgium’s ruler. No one had seen the reclusive princess except for in pictures. Monique had played many roles but this one would be her most important yet. She must succeed for the sake of her grandmother.
When Gregory Vyse, Baron of Fulkham, met Chanay’s Princess Aurore at a royal banquet, something about her nagged at his memory. As a spymaster with the foreign office, he noticed things about people. And he definitely remembered that voluptuous bosom and prominent chin. She’d captivated him on stage 3 years ago in Dieppe. He’d met her briefly afterwards. She was sensuous but graceful. An elegant siren. She’d seemed to assess him, to weigh his worth. Much like he did with others. The verbal sparring they’d shared had made him lose control. He never lost control. Why was she in London impersonating Princess Aurore? Of course, she denied his accusation. She was good at maintaining her role. She was sly as a courtesan. And twice as tempting. Why the masquerade? Why her? And why did she get under his skin? As undersecretary for the foreign office and overseeing the selection of the new ruler of Belgium, he needed to get to the bottom of this or his career could be ruined. One way or another, Gregory planned to unravel this mystery.
What follows is a delightful cat and mouse romp with Gregory attempting to get Monique to slip up and Monique being equally as clever. Gregory’s attempts to throw Monique off her game only heighten his attraction and desire for her. And for Monique, turning the tables on Gregory only leaves her feeling aroused and dizzy. Control was essential for both these characters and it was such a delight to see that control slip. When an attempt is made on Monique’s life, the two are thrown together even more and their feelings and desire for one another grow rapidly. Gregory soon finds himself in a situation that could destroy his career and ruin Monique as well.
I fell in love with Gregory and Monique. They were such a perfect match, both so canny and quick-witted. It was such fun to see them spar with one another. The sexual tension simmering under each encounter was delicious. Their desire for one another was obvious, but they both stood to lose a great deal if the other succeeded. The added mystery and twists and turns only added to the thrill of this captivating story. This entire series has been a real delight to read. Sabrina Jeffries weaves rich historical detail, beautiful love stories, and a twist of mystery together in a way that seduces its readers page by page.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.