An Extraordinary Lord
by Anna Harrington
Publication Date: 6/29/2021
A steamy historical romance set in Anna Harrington’s star-studded Regency world.
Soldier turned solicitor Lord Merritt Rivers has dedicated his life to upholding the law. He patrols the streets faithfully, hoping to stop crimes before they can happen. While hunting an escaped convict, he encounters a woman also hunting thieves. She’s a delicious distraction, until he discovers that she is the criminal he’s after. She’s smart, challenging, and everything he finds attractive, but he cannot trust her.
Veronica Chase has hidden her past as a nobleman’s daughter. She confesses to a crime to keep her adopted brother out of prison. She now lives in London’s underworld, trapped between worlds, belonging nowhere.
Forming an uneasy alliance, Veronica and Merritt work together to protect innocent Londoners during the city’s riots. Moving between her world and his, they grow closer to each other and to the mob’s dangerous leaders. But their newfound trust won’t be enough, until each one faces their demons and ask what's worth saving—the lives they’ve chosen to lead or the love that leaves them yearning for more.
Anna Harrington is an award-winning author of Regency romance. She writes spicy historicals with alpha heroes and independent heroines, layers of emotion, and lots of sizzle. A lover of all things chocolate and coffee, when she’s not hard at work writing her next book or planning her next series, Anna loves to travel, go ballroom dancing, or tend her roses. She is a terrible cook who hopes to one day use her oven for something other than shoe storage.
He frowned, not at all happy at the attention she garnered. “You’re beautiful.”
He couldn’t help looking into her green eyes as he said that. But damnation if the little minx didn’t stare boldly back, her eyes gleaming as heat flared once more between them. Desiring her was becoming as routine as breathing.
“Apologies,” she said in a throaty rasp that only cinched tighter the knot she’d already put into his gut. “Next time I’ll blacken an eye and knock out some teeth, shall I?”
Next time. There wouldn’t be a next time. Tonight’s ball was singular, and he wasn’t prepared for the disappointment that panged sharply in his chest at that realization. “Just try to fit in, all right?”
She cast a mischievous glance to the end of the room at the royals and heads of state. “Does this mean you won’t introduce me to the Regent? I’ve always thought Prinny so debonair. Maybe he’ll dance—”
“Let him get his own girl.” He covered a surprising prick of jealousy by adding cheekily, “After all, he has an empire full of them. The pleasure of dancing with you tonight belongs to me.” He took the glass from her hand, tossed back the remainder of champagne, and handed it off to a passing attendant. “Princes be damned.”
Her mouth fell open, for once stunned silent. He opportunistically seized the moment to pull her onto the dance floor and into a waltz.
When she finally found her voice, she warned, “I think that was treasonous.”
“Well, you know us barristers.” He quirked a grin. “Always a seditious lot.”
He twirled her into a circle and kept turning her against all rhythm and reason until she fell laughing against his chest.
Good God, she was lovely, dancing as fluidly as she wielded a sword. Yet every sweeping step was graceful and utterly feminine, made even more so because he’d witnessed first-hand the other side of her. That fierce woman warrior who even now lurked beneath the soft satin of her gown.
He’d never met another woman like her and knew he never would again. She was as singular as this night.
Damn it that his attraction for her wasn’t merely physical, that it was so much more than mere beauty and mystery. It was her sharp mind that had him eagerly anticipating every bantering conversation with her, along with a bravery he’d rarely seen outside the men he’d served with in the wars. He’d seen her interact with the people at the Court of Miracles and knew how she took care of them, and her loyalty to Fernsby went beyond whatever favor he’d done for her; she was caring for an old man who would have otherwise died on the street.
But he’d also read the court report of her trial with his own eyes, knew that she’d pled guilty. According to the evidence, Veronica was a criminal, no matter how much he wished she wasn’t.
Yet none of that kept him from wanting her.
Sensing the unease in him, she asked quietly, “Why do I have the feeling sometimes that you’re not happy with me? Like now.”
“I wanted you to blend into the crowd tonight,” he dodged. “And you certainly do not blend.”
Unable to help himself, he dropped a heated glance down her front, as far as he could while still leading her through the waltz. God only knew what wolfish expression darkened his face, but it was fierce enough that she shivered in his arms.
“That’s not what I meant,” she corrected in a husky voice, evidence that she was just as affected by the dance as he. “You tease me and spar with me, in every way, yet you don’t seem to like me very much.”
Not like her? Sweet Lucifer, he nearly laughed! She had no idea…He lowered his mouth as close to her ear as the waltz allowed. “A woman who insists on having her way with me in dark alleys? A man would have to be dead not to like that.”
She eased away from him, and her green eyes darkened. No amusement was visible anywhere in her at the teasing flirtation that was meant to distract her.
“Even now, after spending so much time together,” she said quietly enough that he could barely hear her over the orchestra, “you still believe that I couldn’t possibly be anyone except a criminal, that I deserve to be scorned.”
He said nothing to defend himself.
“It must be so easy in your world,” she mused somberly, “where everything is black or white, guilty or innocent, with no blurring of the ground in between. But believe me that the world is filled with shades of gray.” She looked away. “Whether we like it or not.”
The waltz ended, the orchestra finishing with a flourish of notes. The dancers all circled to a stop with bows and curtsies.
When Veronica began to move off the dance floor, he stopped her with a touch to her arm. She stiffened but didn’t turn to look at him.
And thank God she didn’t when he lowered his mouth over her shoulder and admitted, “I did feel that way about you, when I first learned who you were and what you’d done.” He didn’t release her even as the other couples around them moved off the floor, even when he saw her bosom rise and fall with wary breaths at his confession. “You were nothing to me then but a criminal who didn’t warrant my concern and certainly not my respect.”
“And now?” she asked breathlessly.
“I don’t know what to think.” He confessed in a low voice, “Except that I can’t stop thinking about you.”