The Secrets of a Courtesan

Eve Nightingale has worked hard to make a success of her pawnbroker’s shop in the village of Fortune’s Folly and she believes that she has left behind her past life as a scandalous London courtesan. But when her former lover the Duke of Welburn arrives in the village everything that Eve has sought to achieve is in danger. The passion between the courtesan and her lover has never died but it is not love that the duke has come for, it is revenge…

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Criminal she might be. Beautifully, wantonly seductive she most certainly was. Eve's face still had the vivid animation that Rowarth remembered, her creamy complexion was still dusted with amber freckles, her hair was still a fiery red, and the quick, expressive movements of her body were as ridiculously, dangerously appealing to him as ever. Not even her fearsomely respectable worsted gown and dark blue spencer could hide the lush curves of a figure he had known intimately and already ached to explore again in exquisite detail, unable to subdue the desires of his body even whilst he deplored her and the hold she still had over him.

He had not expected to want her.

He had thought those feelings dead and gone. They should have been – they should have been annihilated, destroyed by her betrayal. He was furious that they were not. Yet he was forced to acknowledge that when he had first seen Eve in the Market Square he had felt all the old emotions of desire and lust and longing as strong as they had ever been and searing in their intensity. He had been told himself then that the memories, the hold she had had over his senses, would never be permitted to cloud his judgement. That resolution had lasted all of five seconds. He had seen her and he had wanted her with a hunger all the more acute for five years denial.

But his business with Eve was precisely that – business. He was here on Hawkesbury's behalf to ascertain her connection to Warren Sampson and to use her, coldly, ruthlessly, to get to Sampson so that the man could finally be arrested. That was his goal, no more, no less.

"I strongly suggest," he said, "that you do as I ask."

For a moment Eve stared at him, those glorious lavender eyes wide and blank and he wondered if she had even heard him. Then an expression of fury came across her face.

"You bastard!" She said, picking up a very fine silver hairbrush from the desk in front of her and throwing it at his head. "How dare you come here and threaten to take away from me everything that I have worked so hard for?"

End of Excerpt

The Secrets of a Courtesan

is available in the following formats:
North American Edition


May 1, 2009 · Harlequin · ISBN 13: 978-1426836572 · ISBN 10: 1426836570

Behind the Book

The Secrets of a CourtesanI am a Yorkshire girl born and bred so I was delighted to be setting the Brides of Fortune series in the county of my birth. For me Yorkshire is a hugely inspiring place, wild, beautiful and rugged.

The main inspiration for the village of Fortune’s Folly was Harrogate, an elegant town in the Yorkshire Dales. I am indebted to Prudence Bebb and her wonderful book Life in Regency Harrogate which gave me a real insight into the town, its occupants, their amusements and entertainments in the years of the Regency.

In Regency times Harrogate was a spa town, “the Bath of the North” and noble families made regular visits. The air was bracing and invalids would take the waters -“the Cure” – at the Sweet Spaw in High Harrogate, which tasted better than the Stinking Spaw in the village of Low Harrogate! But Harrogate was not only a spa. There were also balls and assemblies, visits to the Theatre Royal and trips out to the medieval castle at Knaresborough. It was a lively place, busy with the red coats of young officers on furlough and older officers retired from Army life, lords on the hunt for an heiress bride and ladies looking to dance at the balls and snare themselves a husband. Much of Harrogate’s Regency society forms the background to life in Fortune’s Folly. There are the shops, the theatre, the spa baths and the Pump Room where the ladies take tea and exchange gossip.

Yorkshire Dales
A picture of the Yorkshire Dales
Fortune's Folly market place
The inspiration for the market place in The Secrets of a Courtesan

The village of Fortune’s Folly has elegance and style but early nineteenth century Yorkshire could also be a wild and lawless place and the series contains all the Regency glitter of high society against a backdrop of a rugged and windswept county!