From #1 New York Times
bestselling author Victoria Alexander, a captivating new romance in which a daring young woman must choose between her past and her future…
Evelyn Hadley-Attwater has it all—a genteel Victorian life replete with loving husband, ball gowns and elegant parties. No one, including the man she married, suspects that she was once “Eve,” a spy for England’s most enigmatic intelligence agency. Summoned for one final assignment, the excitement of her former life and memories of her mysterious, flirtatious boss “Sir” prove too tempting…
Adrian Hadley-Attwater is a respectable, dignified gentleman. But even the most proper gentlemen have secrets of their own. Secrets from the rest of the world, from their families, from their wives. Secrets that have a price. Now, as a veil of secrecy frays, a tantalizing game of cat and mouse will test the bounds of unfailing love…
“For love, laughter, and lots of fun, read Victoria Alexander.” —Stephanie Laurens, New York Times bestselling author
Praise for The Perfect Mistress
“Smashing…very close to a perfect read.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“With a delectably dry sense of humor that rivals Oscar Wilde at his best, Alexander fashions the perfect romance, featuring two splendidly matched protagonists engaged in an exceptionally entertaining literary and romantic battle of wills.” —Booklist (starred review)
My Dear Sir,
I am at once eager and filled with regret to write this
missive to you as it shall be my last. No doubt, Sir
Maxwell has informed you of my decision to leave my position.
In truth, I never thought this day would come. I
never imagined leaving this life which has been, in most
ways, quite remarkable and, in all ways, extraordinary.
And yet, I have grown tired of excitement and weary of
I have lived these past five years in service to my queen
and my country. While I admit, it may well be selfish, the
time has now come to live in service to myself, as it were.
I long for nothing more than that which most women want.
A husband, a family, and a place in the world where one
knows one belongs.
I have met a wonderful man and I shall spend the rest
of my days trying to make him happy. Which is not the
least bit daunting as he has pledged to do the same for me. It
sounds dreadfully ordinary, doesn’t it? And yet, I have
never been so eager and, yes, excited.
I have always thought those who say they have no regrets
seek either to deceive others or to deceive themselves.
Yet, as I cast my thoughts back upon these last years, I
find few regrets. If I knew at the beginning what I know
now, I daresay, I would have chosen the same path although
perhaps I would have been more clever. Or possibly
not. Regardless, it has been a grand adventure.
As this is my last communiqué, I feel I can be completely
candid. I have only one true regret, Sir. I wish we
had met, just once, face-to-face. I confess, I have often
thought of that, wondered if I would know you the moment
I saw you. Or recognize the sound of your voice. Silly, of
course, as I have never seen you nor heard you. But
through the years I feel I have come to know you although,
in truth, I know nothing about you at all. I have
imagined, in the late hours of the night, a meeting between
us. The gaze of your eyes, wise and, no doubt, seductive,
meeting mine. The corners of your mouth curving upward
in amusement. The sound of your laughter. I have imagined
the feel of your hand around mine as we danced across a
crowded ballroom floor.
But who knows? You are a man of many secrets. Perhaps
we have danced together. Perhaps you were the short,
balding gentleman I danced with at the French ambassador’s
ball. Or were you the flirtatious Italian count who
compared my eyes to the stars in the heavens? I shall never
know and that is, no doubt, for the best.
I sit here now with a smile upon my face. I fear I
have let my fancy take flight in this final note. Odd, that
finality brings such freedom. But one does wonder about the
road not taken, the quest not pursued, the last chapter of the
book left unread.
You have my gratitude, Sir, for all you have taught me,
for your guidance and friendship.
Travel safe, my dear Sir.
With warm affection love,
He stared at the note for a long moment. The hand
so familiar, the words so final. But then that was the
way of endings and beginnings, at once sad and exciting.
Still, one needed to put the past behind before one
could turn toward the future.
He drew a deep breath and picked up his pen.
My Dearest Eve,
Your note brought a smile to my face but then your
notes often have. I shall miss them. As this last exchange
seems to be one of confessions, I have some of my own.
You have astounded me through these years with your
cleverness and your courage. I look upon you with great
pride. Your decision to leave is a true loss to your country
and yet no one can fault you for your choice. You have
given much and it is time, past time perhaps, for you to resume
the life you should always have lived. You have well
I, too, have wondered at what magic might have been
found in a meeting between us. Without the barrier of position or paper. Was there fire that simmered beneath the
surface of our words, or was that no more than the nature
of the work we have accomplished together? No more than
my own inevitable desire for a woman whose presence has
filled my life even as necessity dictated she be no more than
the faintest hint of perfume wafted from a page lifted to my
face. Ah, Eve, the thoughts I have had.
He paused and stared at the words he had written.
What was the point? There was no real need to respond.
And to tell her of his feelings now might well
do more harm than good. Perhaps there would come a
He sighed and placed his unwritten note on top of
hers, folded them, and slipped them into his waistcoat
pocket. He pushed his chair back from his desk and
stood. There was much to accomplish and little time
Endings and beginnings... such was the stuff of