The Matchmaker’s Rogue
By Regina Scott
Paperback & ebook, 272 Pages
January 8th 2020
Grace-by-the-Sea: Where romance and adventure come home.
Polished Jesslyn Chance has one of the most enviable positions in the little Regency coastal village of Grace-by-the-Sea. She is the hostess of the spa, arranging introductions and entertainments and playing matchmaker to the ladies and gentlemen who come to take the waters, promenade through the shops, and dance at the assembly. But when a rogue returns from her past, Jess finds herself suddenly at sea.
Always an adventurer, Larkin Denby left Grace-by-the-Sea to right the wrongful death of his father. Now he’s back on a mission: to identify the mysterious Lord of the Smugglers who allegedly sails from Grace Cove and takes England’s secrets to France. But Grace-by-the-Sea is the perfect little spa town, run by the still oh-so-perfect Jesslyn Chance. When the village’s future is threatened, Jess must work with Lark to solve the mystery and protect the town’s own. In doing so, the matchmaker of Grace-by-the-Sea may just find that the best match for her is the rogue who stole her heart years ago.
So, Jess was in charge of things now. Lark hadn’t expected that. Just because he hadn’t been ready to marry eight years ago at the tender age of twenty didn’t mean another man wouldn’t have leaped to offer for Jesslyn Chance in the meantime. She was pretty, she was clever, and she had a unique ability to tell people what they didn’t want to hear, in a way that had them thanking her for it. Couple all that with a respectable family, and she would never lack for suitors.
Just not him. He’d been too young to settle down before, and his work was too dangerous now. He would not want to leave a wife behind the way his father had left his mother. Bad enough that she was a widow, but then, so was his oldest sister. The war tended to leave more than soldiers and sailors as casualties. He excused himself from a conversation with a portly former general. While the fellow had admirable experience plotting strategy, his questionable health made it unlikely he was the man Lark sought. He was also far too obvious with his booming voice and portentous manner. The man Lark had been sent to discover would be subtle, used to living in the shadows, a spider awaiting a fly.
Perhaps that was why Lark had protested this assignment.
“Tarry in the spa? What possible good can that do?” he’d asked Commissioner Franklin at Weymouth only two days ago as he’d stood before the man’s desk in an office overlooking the harbor. “I was needed in Kent. There are two thousand ships and nearly one hundred thousand troops massing across the Channel. We cannot afford for smugglers to pass information to them.”
The commissioner had snorted, bushy grey brows bristling. “We’ve been told Napoleon brags about having smugglers in his pay, but it isn’t just Kent that’s in danger from his invasion. Smugglers ply the waters off Dorset as well, bringing out information and bringing in spies along with their duty-free goods.”
“And you think that they sail from Grace Cove?” Lark pressed. “I’ve visited Grace-by-the-Sea some years ago, sir. It did not seem the sort of place to attract a criminal class.”
“The very fact that you are known in the area is why you were chosen for this assignment,” his superior insisted, thick body leaning back in his padded chair. “We’ve tried everything else—revenue cutters off the headland, dragoons along the shore. It’s time for something different, something unexpected, from the Excise Office. You’re one of the best Riding Officers we have, you can pass for a gentleman, and your presence will not be remarked upon.”
He wasn’t so sure about that. His mother had moved him and his two younger sisters to the village just north of the area, Upper Grace, after his father had died. He’d spent his youth riding the Downs, sneaking off to the shore. And one memorable summer, he had accompanied his mother to the spa and met the golden-haired Jesslyn Chance. Some might recall that. Besides, if word got back to his mother and sisters that he was in the area and had failed to stop by, there would certainly be remarks.
“I am your devoted servant, sir,” he told the commissioner. “But surely there are other ways to identify these smugglers than to spend my time sipping the waters.”
“I don’t care if you sip them, dunk yourself in them, or pour them on the ground,” the commissioner had replied, face tight and eyes steely. “Our source says the man we’re after sails from Grace Cove, and we have reason to believe he moves among the gentry, perhaps even the aristocracy. Where else would you expect to find him but at the spa?”
About the author:
Regina Scott started writing novels in the third grade. Thankfully for literature as we know it, she didn’t sell her first novel until she learned a bit more about writing. Since her first book was published, her stories have traveled the globe, with translations in many languages including Dutch, German, Italian, and Portuguese. She now has more than forty-five published works of warm, witty romance.
She loves everything about England, so it was only a matter of time before she started her own village. Where more perfect than the gorgeous Dorset Coast? She can imagine herself sailing along the chalk cliffs, racing her horse across the Downs, dancing at the assembly, and even drinking the spa waters. She drank the waters in Bath, after all!
Regina Scott and her husband of 30 years reside in the Puget Sound area of Washington State on the way to Mt. Rainier. She has dressed as a Regency dandy, learned to fence, driven four-in-hand, and sailed on a tall ship, all in the name of research, of course. Learn more about her at her website.
One winner will receive print copies of all six books in Fortune’s Brides series (Never Doubt a Duke, Never Borrow a Baronet, Never Envy an Earl, Never Vow for a Viscount, Never Kneel to a Knight, and Never Marry a Marquess)
Ends January 29, 2020