Beauty and the Spy

Warner Books/ Warner Forever March 2006
ISBN 0-446-61686-9


London's belle of the ball, Susannah Makepeace is the last person who should suddenly be penniless, jilted, and stuck in the sleepy village of Barnstable. But then she would never have seen a man swimming naked in a pond. Or been unable to resist the urge to draw every single bit of him in astonishing detail!


Very few people know that Viscount Kit Whitelaw is the best spy in His Majesty's secret service. But his high-flying life of wine and women has finally banished him from London. Not to worry-if Susannah's erotic sketches are any indication of her nature, she'll be a delicious stand-in for the rush and danger of espionage.


When odd accidents follow in Susannah's wake and an ex-fiancé pops up with a most improper proposal, Kit's spy senses start tingling. For what better mystery is there for England's greatest spy than the secrets of the delectable puzzle that is Susannah?

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Below are two excerpts from BATS—the first is the prologue, and the second is a scene from later in the book. Also, on February 10th, be sure to check Dishing with the Divas for a juicy little morsel from BATS that you won't find anywhere else. Enjoy!


Years later, Anna would remember how big the moon had been that night, swollen and slung low like a pregnant woman on the brink of birth. The hard white light of it penetrated the shutters in her bedroom and kept her tossing and turning, and there was too much room in the bed to thrash. For Richard had been to visit, and Richard had left, as he always did, and tonight the bed seemed emptier than ever for it.

She tried soothing herself with thoughts of mundane things: Susannah, just three years old, was getting the last of her teeth, and was fussy and feverish with it. I must tell Richard, Anna thought, so he could exclaim over it and make Susannah giggle, for she loved her papa. She was such a funny little thing, bubbling over with laughter so easily, already exhibiting a taste for luxuries. Yesterday she'd taken one bite from a cake and then handed it back to Anna. "It's broken, Mama," she'd said sadly, as though she couldn't possibly eat something that wasn't whole.

Then there was Sylvie, four years old now, who was proving to have her mother's quick tongue and temper and her father's intelligence. "I'd really rather not," she'd loftily said to Anna just this morning, when she'd been told to pick up her toys. Anna smiled, remembering. Sylvie would be a…challenge. And Sabrina, who leafed through books intently and couldn't keep her jam-sticky fingers away from the pianoforte, who always seemed to know when her mother was feeling sad, and brought her little offerings of flowers and leaves. It unnerved Anna, how much Sabrina noticed. Her daughters were miracles, all beautiful, all made of the best of her and Richard. Her love for them frightened her with its exquisite, terrible totality. Like her love for Richard.

Ah, but thinking of Richard would not bring sleep; instead, her senses surged with a hunger that his absences kept honed. His light eyes with the lines raying from the corners, the way her body fit so perfectly against his—he still took her breath away. An arrangement born of economics and necessity—he'd needed a mistress, she'd needed money—had bloomed into a surprising, abiding love. Together they'd built a semblance of family life here in Gorringe, a town, legend had it, named by a duke who'd gone mad searching for a rhyme for "orange." It appealed to Richard's perhaps overly developed sense of the absurd and to Anna's desire for a quiet country home, and it was a mere few hours coach ride from London, where Richard, a much-beloved member of the House of Commons, spent most of his time.

There had never been talk of marriage; Anna had never expected it, or pressed him for it.

But lately she'd begun to suspect that Richard, having survived battlefields, had grown too accustomed to danger and was no longer capable of living without it. He'd told her over dinner one night while the girls slept that he suspected one of the country's most influential politicians, Thaddeus Morley, had amassed his fortune by selling information to the French. And Richard, a patriot to the bone, intended to prove it.

Anna had seen Morley precisely twice, and she had been struck by his stillness and sheer presence—he held himself like a man carrying a grenade in his pocket. The populace thought highly of him; he had risen from humble origins to a position of prominence. Anna knew a little something about what it took to rise so high from humble beginnings. She suspected he was a very dangerous man.

"If anything ever happens to us, Anna…" Richard had murmured against her mouth the other night, as his fingers had worked busily at the laces on her dress.

"Hush. Nothing will happen to us, except perhaps some marvelous lovemaking tonight."

He laughed a little, applied his lips to her neck. "If anything happens to us," he insisted, "I want the girls to have the miniatures of you. Promise me." He'd commissioned three exquisite miniatures of her, brought them with him during this all too short visit.

"Of me? Why not of their handsome father?"

"Of you, my love. Of their beautiful mother." He'd had her stays undone by then, and then his hands had covered her breasts—

Bam, bam, bam.

Anna shot upright, her heart clogging her throat. Someone was throwing a fist against the door downstairs.

In one motion she swept from her bed and thrust her arms through the sleeves of her robe; her trembling hands tried once, twice, three times before she finally managed to touch a light to a candle. Cupping the tiny flame with her hand, she moved into the hall. Susannah was whimpering, startled awake; Anna heard the whimpers become choking sobs.

The maid, a girl with eyes and a mouth too sultry for her own good, stood at the top of the stairs, dark hair spilling like two shadows down the front of her, hands twisting anxiously in her nightdress. She'd come highly recommended from the agency, and yet she'd proved nearly as hapless as she was handsome.

"Please go see to Susannah." Anna was amazed to hear her voice emerge so gently. The girl jerked as though shaken from a trance, then glided into the nursery; Anna heard murmuring, heard Susannah's sobs taper off into hiccups.

Somehow Anna's bare feet found each stair without stumbling, and then she was at the door. She threw the bolts and opened it.

A man stood heaving before her, hunched with exhaustion, breath bursting from him in harsh white puffs; a thick scarf coiled around his neck and a heavy overcoat protected him from the weather. Behind him Anna saw the dark outline of a coach against the star-spattered night; two spent horses bent their heads in its traces.

When the man straightened, the white glare of the moon showed her the long nose, kind eyes, and small, ironic mouth of James Makepeace, Richard's friend from London. The whole of his message was written on his features.

"It's Richard." She said it before he could, as if doing so would somehow protect her from the blow.

"I'm so sorry, Anna." His voice was still a rasp, but it ached with truth.

Her chin went up. The deepest cuts, she knew, brought a blessed numbness before the agony set in. "How?"

"Murdered." He spat the word out, like the foul thing it was. "And Anna…" he paused, preparing her, it seemed. "They're coming to arrest you for it."

The words sank through her skin, cold as death.

"But…that's…madness." Her own voice came faintly to her, through a burgeoning fear.

"I know, Anna. I know." Impatience and desperation rushed his words. "It's impossible. But witnesses claim to have seen you arguing with him at his town house yesterday; others have sworn they saw you leaving it shortly before he was…found. You can be certain clues will be discovered that point to you, as well. If he's gone this far, I'm sure he'll be thorough."

No word had ever sounded more bitterly ironic than that last one.

"Morley," she breathed. "It was Morley."

James's silence confirmed this. Then he made a strange, wild little sound. Almost a laugh.

Anna jumped at the crunch of approaching hooves and wheels, and the flame of her candle leaped tall, nearly flickering out. In that instant, Anna saw silvery tracks shining below James Makepeace's eyes.

His low, curt voice cut through her numbness. "The hackney you hear approaching is one I hired for you. Anna, please-you need to leave now. They know to look for you here. Take it anywhere but London-I've paid the driver well enough not to ask questions. But don't tell him your name, for God's sake."

"How…how was he…" She stopped, shook her head; she didn't want to know how Richard had been killed. She wanted to picture him in life, not death. "The girls—"

"I'll take them. I'll make sure they're cared for until…until it's safe for you to return, Anna. You've my vow."

"But I can't…they're…they're so small…" Such futile words, and not really what she meant to say. Richard is dead.

James Makepeace seized her cold, cold hand in his gloved fingers and squeezed it hard. She sensed that he wanted to shake her instead. "Anna…listen to me: a woman with three children…you'd be dangerously conspicuous. They'll find you, and who knows then what will become of the girls? You're a brilliant scapegoat; the public will tear you to pieces. I swear to you if there was some other way…" He threw a quick glance over his shoulder, turned back to her, and she could see him struggling for patience.

He'd risked his own life for her.

Would it be better to flee without her girls, if there was the slimmest chance to reunite with them later?

Or for her girls to grow up knowing their mother had hung for their father's murder?

Anna made the only sort of decision one could make in the frantic dark: she gave a quick shallow nod, acquiescing.

James exhaled in relief. "Good. I swear to you, Anna, if I could hide all of you, I would. I just…there wasn't time to make other plans."

"You've risked so much already for us already, James. I would never ask it of you. I cannot thank you enough."

James ducked his head, acknowledging the gratitude he heard in her voice.

"How did you …how did you know this?"

He shook his head roughly. "It's best I not tell you. And forgive me, Anna, but I must ask one more thing: did Richard say anything, anything to you about where he kept some very important—" He chose his next word with care "—documents?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Richard said he'd found the perfect hiding place for them, a place no one would think to look, particularly Morley. He said it had something to do with 'Christian virtues.' Richard was amused by it, actually. Found it ironic." James's mouth actually twitched. A grim little attempt at a smile. "Richard was…Richard was clever."

"Oh, yes. Richard was clever." Anna felt a helpless, selfish rush of anger. When would love become more important to men than glory? How could one woman and three little girls ever compete with the glamour and excitement of capturing a political traitor? The thought itself was probably traitorous. "I'm sorry, he said nothing to me of it."

They stood facing each other. Frozen on the brink of a life without Richard, and hating to move forward into it.

"I loved him, too, Anna," James said hoarsely.

Loved. Past tense.

Anna stepped aside to allow him into the house. And then she became a whirlwind in the pre-dawn darkness.

James Makepeace waited while Anna dressed herself in dark mourning, covered herself in a heavy cloak, twisted up her hair and pulled a shawl around her head. She woke the girls, Susannah and Sylvie and Sabrina, kissed and held their little bodies to her, breathed in their hair, felt the silky skin of their cheeks, murmured quick desperate promises they couldn't possibly understand. She bundled them with clothes and the miniatures.

Anna gazed down at those miniatures briefly and felt hot furious tears pushing at her eyes. Those miniatures meant he had known, damn him. He had known they were in danger. Had known that something might become of Anna, or of him.

She would love him for all time. She wondered if she would ever forgive him.

"For you," she said to James, thrusting a simple but very fine diamond necklace into his hands. "It should help with…well, it should help the girls."

James took it without question. Closed his fist over it, as though sealing a bargain.

"How will I…"

"Send a letter when you can, Anna, but wait a few months for the uproar to die. Leave the continent if you can; I doubt any place in England will be safe when word spreads. Godspeed."

And then Anna looked one last time at the house that only hours earlier had been the source of her greatest happiness, her greatest love, her only love.

She prayed for her girls. For Richard. For justice.

James helped her into the hackney. The driver cracked the ribbons over the backs of the horses, and the hackney jerked forward and took Anna Holt away.

[end of exerpt]

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After an entirely too-eventful journey to Barnstable to take up her new life, Susannah Makepeace drops into a deep, dreamless sleep and wakes just past dawn, startled at first to find herself in her Aunt Frances's tiny cottage. Since no clucking maids are about to object, she decides to sneak outside for a bit of air before her aunt wakes, taking her sketchbook with her. But an intriguing path lures her into exploring just a bit further, and then...well, let's just say Susannah stumbles across something that leads her to believe Barnstable might not be quite as dull as she feared...

Overhead, the birches and oaks and beeches had latticed together, creating a romantic sort of arch. It could hardly be dangerous, could it? She entered into it, hesitantly, and then more boldly, and followed it furtively, promising herself with each step that she'd turn back after just a few more. There was something about paths, however: they drew one forward as surely as a crooked finger, and on she went, over soft dirt and leaves crushed to a fine powder by the passage of other feet over the years.

And she thought, perhaps, if she kept moving, she could outpace the feeling of being dropped outside comfortable confines of society. Of exile.

A hot spark of green, very like light glancing off an emerald, tugged her eyes off the path. She braved a few steps into the trees toward it.

The spark of green expanded into a pond as she approached, luminous as stained glass. Not an emerald, perhaps, but pretty enough, and the dense smell of it, wet dirt and green things, was strangely agreeable. From where she stood, she could see the tip of what appeared to be a faded wood pier; something pale glared stop it. She squinted. It looked like—could it be—

Good heavens, it rather looked like a pair of feet.

She craned her head to the left, and stood on her toes, and—

Clapped a hand over her mouth to stifle a yelp as she ducked back against the nearest tree.

The feet were attached to a man.

More specifically: a rangy, breath-catchingly nude man.

Susannah peeped out from around the tree. Just, she told herself, to prove he wasn't an apparition.

He wasn't. His torso was a perfect V of golden skin and muscle; his slim hips, whiter than the rest of him, tapered to thighs and calves that could have been turned on a lathe, and these were dusted all over fair hair that glinted in the low sunlight. The hair on his head was cropped short and beacon-bright, but the features of his face were nearly indistinct from where she watched. Given the glory of the rest of him, they scarcely seemed to matter. The man's beauty was, in fact, an assault, and a peculiar tangle of shock and delight and yearning began to beat inside her like a secret, second heart.

And then the man stretched his arms upward, arching his back indolently; exposing the dark fluffs under his arms. This, somehow, seemed more erotic than the rest of his naked body combined: Susannah had seen paintings and statues of naked men, for heaven's sake, but none of them had ever sported fluffy hair beneath their arms. In fact, the sheer easiness with which this man wore all his raw beauty frightened her a little. He was like someone too casually wielding a weapon.

She fumbled her sketchbook open.

Quickly, roughly, She sketched him: the upraised arms, the curves of his biceps and legs and the planes of his chest, and when he turned, the darker hair that curled between his legs and narrowed up to a frayed silvery-blond line over his flat stomach. Nested right between his legs were, of course, his…male parts….which looked entirely benign at the moment, really, at least from this distance. She sketched those, too, as she intended to be thorough, hardly thinking of them as anything other than part of her drawing.

A squirrel rippled by and stopped to stare at her, its tiny bright eyes accusatory. It chirped once; Susannah frowned at it and put a finger to her lips.

The man bounced lightly once on his toes and then dove; the smooth water shattered.

He surfaced an instant later, sputtering happily, his arms rising out of the pond in rhythmic long strokes that took him away from the pier, and then he rolled over and did it on his back, his pale toes kicking out of the water, playful as an otter.

Susannah's knees locked; she toppled over with a little grunt.

She fumblingly righted herself again, and to avoid any further toppling, braced a hand against the oak tree, and while he swam the length of the pond she took the opportunity to refine her drawing, quickly roughing in the trees behind him and the pier beneath his feet.

The man finally pulled himself from the water onto the pier again; dazzled, she watched water run in clean rivulets down the muscles of his back and buttocks. He shook himself like a great cheerful animal, diamond droplets flying from him, exhaled a satisfied-sounding, "Ahhhh!" and then strode off the pier and vanished from her sight.

For a moment, Susannah remained very still, staring at the place he'd been, feeling felt light-headed, oddly elated by the sight of him. Perhaps he does this every morning.

The thought filled her with an entirely improper hope.

The magic of the moment finally began to ebb a bit and sense seeped in; she worried about her aunt waking and finding her gone. She pushed herself upright, and found herself eye-level with a pale, heart-shaped scar gouged into the oak. Inside it, the words "Kit and Caro" had been carved; they were now swollen with age. Susannah traced the heart with her finger, half enchanted by it, half sorry for the wound to the tree.

And this was when two hands—smack, smack—landed on either side of her face, flat against the tree's trunk.

Her heart turned over like a great boulder in her chest—thunk—and lay still.

There passed an intolerable moment, during which no one moved or said a thing.

And then: "Do you think it's fair," a masculine voice mused virtually into her scalp, fluttering her hair and causing gooseflesh to sweep up her arms, "that you have seen every inch of me, and I have seen none of you?"

Oh no, oh no, oh no. Her heart had recovered. It was now drilling away inside her chest like a woodpecker.

The warmth of the man's body behind her was as penetrating as a sunbeam, though not one bit of him actually touched her—she pressed herself closer to the oak tree, to make bloody sure of that. But his scent immobilized her as surely as a net: sun-heated skin and the faintest tang of sweat, and something else, something rich and complicated and fundamental that started a primal buzz of recognition up in her blood and made her peculiarly aware of how very female she happened to be.

This wasn't the groomed-for-a-ball brew of starch and soap with which she was familiar. This was stripped-to-the-essence male.

She lost her tenuous grip on the sketchbook; it flopped to her feet.

Susannah slid her eyes sideways. She saw long elegant fingers and a sinewy forearm covered in that silver-gold hair; when his hand shifted a bit, she saw a small birthmark in the shape of a gull in flight on the vulnerable skin below his wrist.

She made the subtlest of attempts to crane her head to try to get a closer look at his face.

"Oh, I wouldn't turn around if I were you." Still amused.

Oh, God.

And when, at last, her throat was able to release words, the ones that emerged appalled her even as she said them: "You were bloody quiet."

There was a shout of surprised laughter; the man's hands fell away.

And not being a fool, Susannah bolted around the tree, crashing through the young bushes for the path. She didn't dare look back.

[end of exerpt]

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Posted here are excerpts from reviews...visit these terrific websites (links provided) and periodicals to read a review in its entirety.

4 1/2 Stars Top Pick from Romantic
Times BOOKClub Magazine!

"There's enough action, romance, passion wit and historical details in Long's latest (the beginning of a new trilogy) to have readers sighing with delight. This top-notch new voice gets better with
each book, so make a place next to Julia Quinn and Stephanie Laurens for Long."
—Kathe Robin, Romantic Times BOOKClub Magazine


A Perfect 10 from Historical Romance Writers!

"Julie Anne Long first came to my attention with her debut novel THE RUNAWAY DUKE which I, and many others, found to be full of wit, passion, and romance. A great start for a budding romance author. Now with BEAUTY AND THE SPY, the first installment of her brand new trilogy; THIS is an effort I predict will catapult her to the top! It is a profoundly passionate and brilliant piece of work that will entice you from the prologue to the very end. It was totally intriguing and unusual as one might expect a rakish spy to be doing his best to bed the virginal miss, but what Long did was give her characters true substance. Extremely well-developed they took their time to really ‘know’ and ‘care’ for one another with intelligence, wit, and compassion. Definitely ‘keeper’ material! I can’t wait for the rest of this saga to unfold!"

—Marilyn Rondeau for Historical Romance Writers (A Romance Designs Community Website)


"I found Kit and Susannah to be engaging, deliciously sensual, funny and thoroughly likeable. Which for me, is unusual. To equally love both the hero and heroine is a joy!...if you are looking for a delightful historical romance, I urge you to read Julie Anne Long's Beauty and the Spy!"
—Annabelle Andrews for Joyfully Reviewed

Ms. Long excels in so many areas of her writing, from her prose, to her dialogue, to her characterizations, that it's hard to single out anything in particular that makes this book such a standout. Everything just comes together perfectly: the dialogue, the plot and the characters all seem to flow into one another. Her characters have depth and personality; even the secondary characters seem sometimes as fascinating and important as the two leads. From the cat loving, sleazy politician villain, to the warmth and charm of Susannah's Elsa Lanchester-like Aunt Frances, all have important parts to play and play them well—Ms. Long has definitely seen to that."
—Nancy Davis, Romance Reader at Heart


An A- and a "Desert Island Keeper" from All About Romance!
"...what made this book so memorable were the characters. Both Kit and Susannah were bursting with charm and intelligence and their slow drawing together is sexual tension at its finest."
—Ellen Micheletti, All About Romance


Four hearts and a plug from Romance Readers Connection:

"Beauty and the Spy, the first book in a new trilogy, is simply superlative-it is a gorgeous and lovely novel, a sumptuous feast for historical romance fans. Beautifully written, Beauty and the Spy nourishes the heart and touches the soul. The pace of the romance between Kit and Susannah feels right and proceeds so perfectly…friends to lovers. Both Kit and Susannah are complex characters and so well-drawn the reader knows them intimately by the end of the story."
—Debora Hosey, Romance Readers Connection


"Her writing is fun, witty, and devastatingly romantic. This is a must read for romance fans."
—Teresa, The Mystic Castle



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This book is part of a trilogy, right? Do I have to read all of the trilogy books together, or can they be read separately?

Beauty and the Spy is the first book in a trilogy about the Holt sisters—Ways to be Wicked (October 2006) is the second, and The Secret to Seduction (May 2007) is the third and last book of the trilogy. And each book stands alone and I believe you can enjoy them separately, but you might want to read the first two before you get to the third...just because the third book wraps up our mystery, and a lot of characters from the other books reappear, too. :)