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A Fine Passion
Cover of A Fine Passion
A Fine Passion
Bastion Club Series, Book 5

The men of the Bastion Club are powerful, loyal, and not averse to overcoming danger if they must. Now, after years of loyal service to the Crown, they each -- one by one -- must face that greatest danger of all ...love.

The last of his line, Jack, Baron Warnefleet, has fled London after nearly being compromised into marrying a dreadful female. Turning his back on the entire notion of marriage, he rides home to the estate he has not seen for years, determined to set in motion an alternative course of action.

But then in the lane before his gate, Jack rescues a startlingly beautiful lady from a menacing, unmanageable horse. However, while he begins by taking command, the lady continues by taking it back. Lady Clarice Altwood is no meek and mild miss. She is the very antithesis of the woolly-headed young ladies Jack has rejected as not for him. Clarice is delectably attractive, beyond eligible, undeniably capable, and completely unforgettable. Why on earth is she rusticating in the country?

That enigma is compounded by mystery, and it's quickly clear that Clarice is in danger. Jack must use every ounce of his cunning and wit to protect this highly independent and richly passionate woman ... who has so quickly stolen his heart.

The men of the Bastion Club are powerful, loyal, and not averse to overcoming danger if they must. Now, after years of loyal service to the Crown, they each -- one by one -- must face that greatest danger of all ...love.

The last of his line, Jack, Baron Warnefleet, has fled London after nearly being compromised into marrying a dreadful female. Turning his back on the entire notion of marriage, he rides home to the estate he has not seen for years, determined to set in motion an alternative course of action.

But then in the lane before his gate, Jack rescues a startlingly beautiful lady from a menacing, unmanageable horse. However, while he begins by taking command, the lady continues by taking it back. Lady Clarice Altwood is no meek and mild miss. She is the very antithesis of the woolly-headed young ladies Jack has rejected as not for him. Clarice is delectably attractive, beyond eligible, undeniably capable, and completely unforgettable. Why on earth is she rusticating in the country?

That enigma is compounded by mystery, and it's quickly clear that Clarice is in danger. Jack must use every ounce of his cunning and wit to protect this highly independent and richly passionate woman ... who has so quickly stolen his heart.

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  • Chapter One

    Early May
    Avening village, Gloucestershire

    Apple blossoms in springtime.
    Julius—Jack—Warnefleet, Baron Warnefleet of Minchinbury, reined in on the rise above Avening valley and looked down on the pink-and-white clouds surrounding Avening Manor. His first sight of his home in seven years could, he felt, have been more apt.

    Apple blossom always reminded him of brides.

    Regarding the blossoms with a jaundiced eye, he twitched the reins and set his gray gelding, Challenger, ambling down the long hill. Everything, it seemed, was conspiring to remind him of his failure, of the fact he hadn't found a bride. Avening Manor had been without a lady for most of his life. His mother had died when he was six years old; his father had never remarried.

    Jack had spent the last thirteen years fighting for king and country, almost entirely behind enemy lines in France. His father's death seven years before had brought him briefly home, but only for two days, just long enough for the funeral and to formally place the running of Avening into the hands of old Griggs, his father's steward, before he'd had to slip back over the Channel, back to the varied roles he'd played in disrupting French shipping and commercial links, draining the lifeblood from the French state, weakening it.

    Not the sort of battles most people imagined a major in the Guards engaged in.

    Along with an elite group of fellow officers, he'd been seconded to work under a secretive individual known as Dalziel, who'd been responsible for all covert English operations on foreign soil. Neither Jack nor any of the six colleagues he'd met knew how many operatives Dalziel had commanded, or how wide the arena of their activities had been. They did know those activities had directly contributed, indeed been crucial, to the final ultimate defeat of Napoleon.

    But the wars were now over. Along with his colleagues, Jack had retired from the fray and turned his mind to picking up the reins of civilian life. The previous October, he and his six colleagues, all gentlemen blessed with title, wealth, and the consequent responsibilities, and therefore all sorely in need of wives, had banded together to form the Bastion Club—their bulwark against the matchmakers of the ton, their castle from which each would sally forth, do battle with society's dragons, and secure the fair maid he required.

    That, at least, had been their plan. Matters, however, hadn't fallen out quite as they'd supposed.

    Tristan Wemyss had stumbled across his bride while overseeing the refurbishment of the house that was now the Bastion Club. Shortly after, Tony Blake had even more literally stumbled across his bride along with a dead body. Charles St. Austell, fleeing the capital and his too-helpful female relatives, had found his bride haunting his ancestral home. And now Jack was fleeing the capital, too, but not because of female relatives.

    The rattle of carriage wheels reached him. Through the screening drifts, he glimpsed a black carriage bowling along the road from Cherington. The carriage crossed the junction with the Tetbury lane down which Jack was descending, and continued west toward Nailsworth.

    Jack wondered who the carriage belonged to, but he'd been away so long he had no idea who might be visiting whom these days.

    On returning permanently to England, he'd had to decide which of his responsibilities to attend to first. He was an only child; his father's death had set Avening in his lap with no one else to watch over it, but he knew the estate from the ground up—he'd been born and raised there, in this green valley on the northwest slope of the Cotswolds. Avening had been in sound hands; he trusted Griggs as his father had.

About the Author-
  • #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science, a hobby that quickly became a career. Her novels set in Regency England have captivated readers around the globe, making her one of the romance world's most beloved and popular authors.

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Bastion Club Series, Book 5
STEPHANIE LAURENS
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