The Code Breakers
Threatened by French spies, assassins, and calculating suitors, can Lady Henrietta Harcourt trust the infamous rake, Lord Cordelier Rathbourne, with her carefully guarded family secrets? In his new, undisclosed position as Director of English Intelligence, Cord faces more peril keeping the brilliant Harcourt family of code breakers safe than he did as undercover spy in Napoleonic France.
Cord’s passionate attraction for the indomitable Henrietta hasn’t diminished in his four years abroad, but neither has Henrietta’s memory of his libertine past. In pursuit of the missing brother, Henrietta and Cord become entangled in a web of international intrigue, danger, and white hot passion.
Lord Michael Ormond Harcourt crept along the darkened passageway. He had earned his reputation as a brilliant code breaker, but never before had he ventured into the realm of housebreaker. Henrietta was going to be furious not to be part of tonight’s exciting intrigue.
He strained to listen for the sounds of the house in the wee hours of the morning. He heard nothing but his heartbeat pounding in his ears. Reassured he was the only one about, he allowed himself to release the breath he had been holding since he sneaked into Gaston Le Chiffre’s house. He moved down the narrow corridor to his French colleague’s office.
He had only been in Paris a fortnight when he developed suspicions about Gaston—a series of sensations, hushed silences when he walked into a room, the papers on his desk seeming to have been moved, and the persistent feeling he was being followed.READ MORE
The final impetus to search Gaston’s office came yesterday with the arrival of an anonymous note: “Something’s afoot.”
He gingerly opened the office door, inspecting the darkened corners before he entered. The dying fire cast shadows on the book-lined walls. A log shifted. The small crash startled him, causing his heart to thump against his chest.
He closed the door and moved to the center of the room, lit a taper, and placed it in the holder on the desk, then shuffled through the neat stacks of papers. He opened drawers, searching the contents.
He ran his hand across the smooth mahogany surface of the desk then passed his fingers along the rough underside. There he found a slightly recessed area in the far corner. His fingers returned to the uneven surface. Applying pressure, there was a sudden give, followed by a compartment popping open on the top of the desk.
The secret compartment contained a leather book. He scanned the room before he removed the worn volume. He had never seen a code quite like this one: French scrawl preceded by endless rows of numbers. This French puzzle was better than a wrapped Christmas present. He stuffed the incredible find into his waistband. He would crack the code in the safety of his room, then return the book to its hiding place, all before Gaston awoke.
He blew out the taper and left the office. He backtracked through Gaston’s garden. Carefully closing the garden gate, he entered the alley. The mixture of fog and smoke from the city’s coal fires blanketed the city. He could see no more than a few feet ahead. The cloying darkness muffled the distant voices, the clatter of carriage wheels, and horses’ hooves.
Approaching the street, he slowed his pace. Hanging lanterns illuminated the walkway where he emerged from the unlit alley.
He turned and walked toward his house. In the thick fog, the sound of his footsteps resonated, booming with each step.
The hairs on his neck prickled when he heard another set of footsteps shuffling behind him. With only a few yards to reach home, he ran, never pausing to look back.
With his right hand, he reached into his greatcoat for his pistol; with his left, he lunged for the doorknob.
The report of a pistol echoed down the street. An intense heat penetrated his awareness. He stumbled forward. The door opened from the inside. The lights around Denby, his manservant, gave him an angelic halo.
“Close the door, man.”
“My lord, what is it?”
“I’ve been shot.” The room grew dimmer. “Get the book to Hen.”COLLAPSE
Mary Chen, Buried Under Romance wrote:
...I love that Henrietta is such a bad-a** heroine. She does not cow against men, gentleman or otherwise. She stands up for what she believes in. And she has a very forward way of thinking with regard to the role and rights of women during her time. Add to these a number of interesting side characters as well as surprisingly layered villains and you’ve got the making of an engaging and well-written book.
Karuna D., Reader wrote:
As this is my first novel by the author, I am looking forward to reading more of her books, especially more of these intelligent code breakers in the series.
Jacki’s books are full of such great characters that I feel like I have many new friends. I cannot wait to hear more about their adventures.