My first brand new book in several years is now available for the first time in print! It’s been a long time coming, but I hope you all enjoy reading Diplomatic Relations as much as I enjoyed writing it. Dalton and Blaise were a lot of fun to write and, I have to admit, one of my favorite couples to date. There are also plenty of cameos from other Sci-Regency characters. So pick up your copy today!
Dalton Fairfax, Lord Ashbourne, has always flaunted the rules of Regelence high society. Despite being the heir to the Marquess of Ravensburg, and cousin to the Townsend princes, Dalton found his calling in the military, first in the Intergalactic Navy and now the Regelence Special Regiment. Finally home, and in the same city as the parents he seeks to avoid, Dalton jumps at the chance to help his planet by taking on the role of bodyguard to the heir of the Duke of Eversleigh.
Blaise Thompson, Viscount Redding, strives to prove himself worthy of carrying on the Eversleigh legacy as the next Regelence IN council member. Maintaining his stellar reputation isn’t easy for Blaise, especially while keeping his outrageous younger brother in line and foiling his rival’s personal attacks. Ever conscious of living up to his responsibilities, Blaise has no time for romance, not even with a lusty special forces soldier.
But opposites don’t just attract… they sizzle. And when the only way to stop a scandal that threatens them both is to compromise their principles, Blaise and Dalton are forced to confront the risk of losing everything… even each other.
“Good afternoon, Lord Redding.” Hobbs, his father’s secretary, dipped his head in greeting, but did not glance up from whatever he sorted behind the tall mahogany counter that acted as a reception desk. How the man seemed to know who was who without looking at them was one of life’s greatest mysteries, or at least the Councilman’s Committee’s.
“Good afternoon to you too, Hobbs.” Blaise tried to keep his head down as he made his way to his office. Hobbs always had some sort of busywork to be done, and more often than not he enlisted Blaise’s help to do it. Normally, Blaise didn’t mind, but today he just wanted the quiet confines of his dark office with its walls of books. He still had plenty of work to do on his father’s speech for the council meeting.
“My lord, His Grace asked me to give you these.”
Oh blast.He’d been inches from a clean getaway. Blaise gazed longingly at the red patterned carpet in front of him and considered playing deaf. Why was the door open?
Hobbs hefted a stack of journals from his desk and dumped them at Blaise, giving him no choice but to take them.
Blaise dipped under the weight. There must be ten four-inch-thick spiral-bound journals on the stack. How had Hobbs even lifted these with his bony arms? He’d started as secretary when Blaise’s grandfather was councilman and must be close to eighty now. “Hobbs, what is all of this?”
The old man raised his bushy gray brows and looked at him as though the answer should be obvious. “The IN treaties, of course.”
Right.His father had asked him to research the new pacts the IN had signed since the last council meeting. It was a formality, really, to make sure the councilman was up-to-date on the goings on and to ensure no new contracts interfered with the Regelence accord. Normally it was an easy job that didn’t take more than a day to complete. “These are the treaties?” The last council meeting had only been last year.
“Yes, my lord. I also included unsigned treaties.”
“Unsigned?” The top notebook started to slide, and Blaise leaned to the left to center it again.
“Pacts the IN proposed but planets have turned down.” Hobbs nodded, then frowned.
“Ah.” The journals started teetering the other way, but before Blaise could shift his weight, Hobbs righted them.
“Come to think of it, my lord, that is odd. In all my time as a councilman’s secretary, I’ve never known the IN to be the one proposing alliances. Planets usually come to the IN, not the other way around.”
“Rest assured, Hobbs, I will check into it.” He dipped his head at the older man and headed toward his office again, lest the man find more work for him.
Hobbs rushed past him and stopped in front of Blaise’s door. “I forgot to tell you that you have company.” The way he said companysounded more like a question, as if he weren’t sure of the caliber of the person involved. “Your, uh, guard is here.”
His guard? Oh, yes.King-Consort Raleigh had mentioned that new security measures were being implemented for Father and some of the committee. That explained why his office was open, but…. “Hobbs, I’m merely an intern.”
“But you are your father’s son and our future councilman.” The old man beamed at him, and Blaise smiled despite the strain on his arms. Galaxy, he hoped Hobbs was correct. The council member’s job had gone to the Dukes of Eversleigh and their heirs for the last four generations, and Blaise refused to be the one to break that record. Hopefully one day, when Father retired, he’d be appointed councilman, but first he had to be appointed to the committee. Right now there was only one spot open and two interns. Unfortunately, Prissy was popular among some of the committee, and after today….
Hobbs stepped out of the way, and all thoughts of Prissy fled.
Ashbourne sat in Blaise’s chair with his feet propped on the desk, his head tipped back, and his eyes closed. What is he doing here?He had changed out of the IN uniform and now sported a more genteel ensemble of buckskin breeches, brown-topped black riding boots, and a midnight-blue morning coat that simply must have padding in it, because no one that narrow of hip had such masculine, wide shoulders. His windblown blond hair had been tamed, but his lazy slouch kept him from seeming completely civilized. Honestly, it was rather ridiculous how handsome he was, even in repose. He looked like the start to one of those messy dreams that proper gentlemen pretended didn’t happen.
Blaise gave a mental groan at the improper thought, and once again the urge to run away struck him. His stomach did that swirling thing again. Please don’t let me be glowing. Lud!Now Bannon and Louisa had him self-conscious about glowing. He opened his mouth to call out a greeting, but the top book decided to make a break for it again.
The whole pile slipped from Blaise’s fingers and hit the carpet with a muted thud.
Ashbourne blinked his eyelids open and sat up like a cat awakened from basking in the sunshine. He glanced at Blaise and then the pile on the floor, and a slow smile curved his lips as if he realized the effect he had on Blaise.
Ugh!Was he to be forever embarrassing himself in front of this man? Heat rushed to his face, and his rather large office seemed to close in on him.
“I’m so sorry, my lord.” Hobbs bent to pick up the books, but his knees protested rather loudly.
Blaise came to his senses in time to catch the old man under the arm before he made it all the way to the ground. “Nonsense, Hobbs. It was my fault. I’ll pick them up.”
The old man hesitated, but Blaise did not let go of his arm. He might have made a laughingstock of himself, and he certainly wasn’t anticipating being left alone with Ashbourne, but his conscience would not allow him to let an elderly man pick up his mess.
With great reluctance, Hobbs nodded his agreement and went back to his desk. He looked at the door but didn’t even try to close it. Which was a good thing, since Blaise was on the threshold. “No one has thought to send for Larkinson, so I’ll act as chaperone, my lord.”
“Er, thank you, Hobbs.” At least one of them was thinking straight.
Blaise squatted down and began stacking manuals to buy himself some time because he had no idea what to say to Ashbourne. Hellodidn’t seem quite right, but neither did you stole my cravat,and kiss mewas completely out of the question. Sadly, it was not out of his mind. And speaking of minds… he was surely losing his.