Thursday, July 24, 2008

Author Spotlight: Barbara Metzger

Today's author in the spotlight is Barbara Metzger with her new release, The Scandolous Life of a True Lady, released in June by Signet Eclipse (ISBN: 978-451-2438-5). Readers can go to http://www.barbarametzger.com/, and see pictures of Ms. Metzger's covers, and her wonderful little dog Valentino, and write to her. She'll send bookmarks if readers give an address.



Harry Harmon has already written his own obituary--that is, the obituary for the old spymaster Major Harrison, one of his aliases. After his alter ego's staged death, Harry's next assignment is to spy on enemies at a country house party. To do that, he'll require a courtesan who is learned, truthful, and beautiful.

With no guardian, dowry, or references, sensible, smart Simone Ryland has come to Mrs. Burton's bawdy house in search of work. But when madam notices the virgin's regal, exotic beauty, she packs her off with Harry. Soon Simone, fearful of what she's only heard in whispers, in in for something thrilling--something that looks a lot like love.

This is the second of the TRUE LOVE TRILOGY, after YOURS TRULY, Sept., 2007, to be followed by THE WICKED WAYS OF A TRUE HERO, Feb. 2009. They are all about the amazing Royce family, where the males can tell truth from lies, and the women can recognize true love when they see it.


He needed her.

No, he needed a female like her. Otherwise he could take one of Lyddie’s girls and be done with it. He’d have a pretty bit of fluff on his arm with less effort, less money, and less on his conscience. He’d also make less of an impression as a connoisseur of woman, a man with exquisite taste and deep pockets.

He needed a ladybird who was almost a lady, one who would have everyone talking, to create a stir heard back in London. For once, Harry sought the publicity, the notoriety, with everyone and his uncle knowing precisely where he was and with whom. Then Major Harrison could die.

Miss Ryland was perfect; too perfect, unfortunately. No matter that every head would turn when she walked into a room, he could not turn a well-bred woman into a whore. If he didn’t, though, Lyddie would, so what would his scruples and sacrifice have accomplished? Nothing. Furthermore, Miss Ryland herself seemed determined on the course. She had problems too, and lofty principles could not outweigh bare necessity. She needed money; Harry needed a mistress. Both of them were in a hurry.

Harry watched her as she watched him, wishing he knew what she was thinking, how she wanted him to decide. Then he recalled that he was done making decisions for others. His half-brother had pummeled the truth into him that he was not always correct in what he thought best for everyone else. No matter that he thought himself omniscient, Rex had said while Harry lay bleeding on the canvas at Jackson’s Boxing Parlor, he did not have the right to play god with anyone else’s life. Of course Harry had let the younger man win the match; Rex was lame in one leg, after all.

He could make provision for Miss Ryland and the brother. That was no problem. He could even leave her as chaste as he found her. That might be a problem, for the woman was exquisite. Her reputation would be destroyed, though, and he knew how precious that was to a female.

But damn, she was stunning enough to make headlines in the gossip columns, and smart enough to listen to whispered conversations in whatever language.

Harry wanted to be done with this scheme, with all intrigue, for all times. The war was over, his days as spymaster in the Intelligence Division of the War Office were almost at an end. He wanted to retire, by Zeus, not live in shadows and disguises and under aliases for the rest of his life.

He saw how happy his half-brother Rex was, with his lovely wife Amanda helping him recover from his war wounds, both mental and physical. Why, they had twins already, a boy and a girl, that Rex doted on. Harry was jealous, not just of the infants, but of the peace he felt surrounding the viscount and his wife at the christening.

Harry hadn’t want ed to attend the event at all. What, the bastard brother waving his bar sinister at the church for all to see? His presence would have embarrassed everyone. But Rex had insisted, and their father, the Earl of Royce, had written his hopes of seeing all of his family, sons and grandchildren, together. Even Lady Royce, his father’s wife, had written a polite letter of invitation herself. The countess, Harry knew, felt guilty for keeping the half-brothers apart so long. Some women would have taken their husband’s by-blow into their homes to raise. Not Lady Royce. She’d left the earl and her own son, instead. Now that she and Lord Royce were reconciled, secure in their own marriage at last, she could be forgiving of the boy—a man now, of over thirty years— for coming between them through no fault of his own.

Harry still might have refused the invitation to the family’s ancestral home, where he would never be part of the true family, but Cousin Daniel had insisted they’d all be offended otherwise. Daniel reported that his own mother wanted to meet her new nephew, his sister was excited when she heard he was as handsome as the other Royce males, with the same dark coloring and unique black-rimmed, blue eyes. She wanted to show him off to her girlfriends, which would have been enough to keep Harry in London, except Amanda, Rex’s wife and the sweetest woman he knew, had asked him to stand as godfather to the boy. He could not refuse.

Daniel was godfather to the girl. He started weeping the instant that tiny scrap of lace and love was placed in his arms. Everyone laughed except Harry, feeling the tears well up in his own eyes, to see them reflected in matching blue ones with the dark rim. A baby, born in harmony, wanting for nothing, his future assured. Oh, lucky Rex, and oh, how Harry wanted one that peace, that promise, a son, for himself.

And that was the truth. It was as sweet as honey, as sweet on his tongue as nectar.

Miss Ryland coughed, and he came back from his wool-gathering to wonder what her lips would taste like.

He sighed. Such thoughts were for another tomorrow. Today was for finding out the truth, the way the Royce men always had, always could. Rex saw colors, true-blue for honesty. The earl heard notes of discord for lies. Poor Daniel got rashes at untruths. And he, Harry, the illegitimate son, could taste a lie.

The odd, unheard of gift of truth-knowing made them all invaluable to the country. Lord Royce acted in the legal system; Rex and Daniel had been the Inquisitors on the Peninsula, interrogating prisoners to find the enemy’s secretes, secrets that could keep the generals informed and the soldiers safe. Rex was a huge help to Bow Street’s police force before he left for his wife’s confinement and the infants’ births. He’d do more when he returned to London. They all worked in secr ecy, of course, for the talent was too close to sorcery or witchcraft or magic for the public’s comfort. Or for Daniel’s. He was determined to sow his wild oats in London, then become a gentleman farmer, where only nettles could make him break out in hives. He had no interest in serving the country in time of peace, only in carousing his way through the city’s underworld. Harry could sympathize, but he had plans for Daniel anyway. The gift was too important to waste on barmaids, brawls, or barley crops.

As for himself, Harry was usually tucked away in hidden offices, in wigs and disguises when he went out. He was the Aide, a state secret onto himself. Half myth, half truth, he could sift through all the gathered intelligence and recognize the truth. He had fingers in every aspect of military or political or criminal life , in everything that could threaten his country. Recently he’d dealt with smugglers, embezzlers, and spies, French sympathizers all.

Now Napoleon was gone, and the Aide could be, too. The Harry might make a real life for himself, as himself. The house party was the key. Harry Harmon, Lord Royce’s bastard son, was invited now that he was acknowledged by his powerful father. He’d go, raffish Harry, and Major Harrison would stay behind. An assistant was already fitted for the right clothes, the wig and beard and moustache. The man wouldn’t be in actual danger despite the death threats— Harry would not have let another man take a bullet meant for him— but he’d die anyway. He’d suffer a heart spasm spectacularly, loudly, visibly, right there on the steps of Whitehall for everyone to see. He’d be carried inside, physicians sent for, for naught. Harry had the obituary already written.

Farewell, Major, with all your enemies. Welcome, Harry Harmon, rakehell from the wrong side of the blanket.

To buy The Scandolous Life of a True Lady visit: