Read Recipe for Treason Online
Authors: Andrea Penrose
Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Women Sleuths
Praise for the
Lady Arianna Regency Mysteries
The Cocoa Conspiracy
“This Regency mystery is well plotted and fast-paced. The story is full of intrigue and adventure. . . . The growing romance between Sandro and Arianna is delightful. This is an excellent view into the society, personalities, and governments of the Regency period.”
“[A] compulsively good read . . . with heart-pounding suspense and sword-clashing action played against a plot rife with international intrigue in the Napoleonic era.”
—Reader to Reader Reviews
“[A] fascinating story. . . . Readers will be held spellbound by the events portrayed in
The Cocoa Conspiracy
. The verbal sparring between Sandro, Baz, and Arianna is a delightful backdrop to the danger they find themselves in.”
“The author writes great characters and plots in this Regency mystery and creates a mystery that is rich with the pomp and circumstance of the European royals in that era. . . . The newlyweds are extremely charming and very much in love, and the story is fascinating reading. Andrea Penrose is an expert in combining conspiracy and chocolate.”
—Once Upon a Romance
“[A] terrific tale. . . . The story line is fast-paced from the moment Arianna beats up a foreign thief . . . and never slows down as she works the case of the Cocoa Conspiracy.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“Andrea Penrose bursts into the world of historical mysteries with a book that will delight readers.
is replete with swashbuckling action, taut suspense, and a heroine feisty enough to give the most rakish Regency cad a run for his money. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment!”
—Tasha Alexander, author of the Lady Emily series
“A mouthwatering combination of suspense and chocolate!”
—Lauren Willig, national bestselling author of
The Garden Intrigue
“A mysterious lady, bent on revenge, and a mystery-solving lord will take you on a thrilling ride through Regency England in this smashing debut novel.”
—Victoria Thompson, national bestselling author of
Murder on Fifth Avenue
“Penrose deftly combines a cleverly concocted mystery with a generous dash of romance in this historical mystery.”
“An absolute delight for lovers of mysteries, Regency romances, and chocolate.”
The Historical Novels Review
“Andrea Penrose whips up a scrumptious chocolaty treat for her debut historical mystery. . . . Ms. Penrose layers politics, murder, history, suspense, romance, and recipes to concoct an intoxicating mystery. . . .
spoons out a potent cocktail laced heavily with sordid intrigue and unconventional characters that will have you savoring every last drop.”
“A satisfying surprise inside the perfected shell from the Regency world.”
“Intriguing story lines, intelligent characters, and interesting dialogue.”
—Blue Moon Mystery Saloon
Other Books in the
Lady Arianna Regency Mystery Series
The Cocoa Conspiracy
A LADY ARIANNA REGENCY MYSTERY
Published by New American Library, a division of
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © Andrea DaRif, 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
Other Books in the Lady Arianna Regency Mystery Series
Epigraph by George Gordon Byron
For the British Art Center at Yale University,
whose exhibits and study rooms are a source of constant wonder and inspiration
Adversity is the first path to tr
—George Gordon Byron
From Lady Arianna’s Chocolate No
Whole Wheat Oatmeal–Chocolate Chip Cookies
cups rolled old-fashioned oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
ounces) wheat bran (or germ)
1 teaspoon baking soda
teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup natural cane sugar or light brown sugar
1 cup firmly packed Muscovado or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped and shaved into chunks and splinters
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, placing racks in the middle. Line two baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl combine the oats, flour, wheat bran, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. Either by hand or using an electric mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugars for 3 or more minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times along the way. Incorporate the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl another time or two.
4. Add in the dry mixture, and stir until the ingredients barely come together. Then stir in the chocolate, mixing until it is evenly distributed throughout the dough.
5. Using a small ice cream scoop, spoon, or
cup measuring cup, make uniform dough balls. Arrange the cookies at least 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. For extracrisp cookies, bake until deeply, deeply golden on the bottom, about 15 minutes. Rotate the pans once about two-thirds of the way through baking—back to front, top to bottom. If you like your cookies a little chewier, bake for less time.
6. Cool on a rack.
jolt of the coach bounced the open book in her lap, rousing Arianna, Lady Saybrook, from a fitful half sleep. Wincing, she shifted against the leather squabs and flexed her aching shoulders.
“Hell,” she muttered as the wheels hit another frozen rut.
This was truly the Devil’s own journey.
Though instead of rolling through fire and sulfurous brimstone, they seemed to be entering a bleak realm of ice and frigid vapors. With each passing mile, the landscape looked more and more leached of all color.
Touching her numb fingertips to the page, Arianna couldn’t help but wish that the handwritten recipe for hot Spanish chocolate might transform from ink and paper into a pot of steaming, spice-scented liquid. Despite the fur throw wrapped around her, she was chilled to the bone by the damp cold seeping in through the creaking woodwork.
And the weather looked to be turning worse.
December was not an auspicious time to be traveling from London to Scotland.
Not that there had been any choice,
Arianna reminded herself with an unhappy sigh.
Peering out the windowpane, she saw that large flakes of snow had begun to fall, smudges of dull white against the grim grayness of the windswept moors. A shiver skated down her spine. There was something about the dark, desolate surroundings that stirred a prickling of unease.
Her two companions, however, appeared untouched by worry. Alessandro Henry George De Quincy, the fifth Earl of Saybrook—and her husband of little more than a year—was slumbering quietly on the facing seat, his long legs wedged against her bench to steady himself against the bumps. Basil Henning, his good friend and former military comrade, was not quite so peaceful in repose. His raspy snores were growing louder by the minute.
But then, Henning was always a little rough around the edges—stubbled chin, wrinkled clothing, irascible temper . . .
A clench of guilt squeezed at her chest. He wouldn’t be forced to make this miserable trek if it hadn’t been for his loyalty to her and Saybrook in previous adventures.
“Damn Grentham,” swore Arianna under her breath, tucking the wrap tighter around her middle. The government’s Minister of State Security was renowned as a ruthless, manipulative master of intrigue. Most people feared him and didn’t dare to challenge his authority.
But not me.
“He is not a good man to have as an enemy,” she acknowledged in a wry whisper. A fact that hadn’t stopped her from jabbing a needle into his puffed-up vanity on several occasions.
She had won those skirmishes. But as for the war . . .
Another lurching bump. And then all went very still.
“Why are we stopping?” she asked in a louder voice.
Saybrook came instantly awake. Leaning close to the opposite window, he brushed a hand to the fogged pane and squinted into the swirling shadows. “Perhaps a tree has fallen across the road.”
Henning was slower in opening his eyes. “Auch, or perhaps a bloody rein has snapped, or a spoke has cracked,” he grumbled, rubbing at his unshaven chin. “There are a hundred—nay, a thousand—things that can go wrong on these miserable rutted roads of Yorkshire.”
“Thank you for the cheery note of optimism, Baz,” quipped Saybrook.
“If you want sweetness and light, you should have headed south and caught a ship to the balmy shores of Catalonia,” retorted his friend. The earl was, in fact, half-Spanish, a fact that only added to his reputation for eccentricity among the Polite Society of London. “Heaven knows, we would all be far more comfortable there than in this godforsaken wilderness.”
“I’ll step outside and see what the problem is. If there is an obstacle blocking the way, José may need a hand.” Saybrook buttoned his overcoat and, after a hint of hesitation, eased the carriage pistol from its holster by the door before reaching for the latch.
Arianna frowned. “You expect trouble?”
“It is always wise to be prepared—”
One of the windowpanes suddenly exploded in a shattering of silvery shards.
“Get down!” ordered the earl calmly as he ducked low and shoved the door open with his shoulder. “Arm yourselves. The dueling pistols are in their case under the chess set, and the cavalry weapons are in my valise,” he added. “Baz, you guard the left while I reconnoiter on the right.” And with that, he rolled out into the gloom.
Henning’s sleepy scowl vanished. Like Saybrook, he was a battle-toughened veteran of the Peninsular War. The bullet did not spark panic, merely a short, sarcastic laugh.
“Ah well, we did ask for things to get a bit warmer.” His lips pursed as he pulled out the rosewood box and checked the priming of the sleek pistols. “Here, you had best keep one of these fancy barking irons, Lady S. You’ve already proved you know how to use it.” The matched pair had been a gift from the Russian Tsar, who had professed his undying admiration for her marksmanship during their recent stay in Vienna. Her shot had saved . . .
Be damned with old enemies—there were new ones to face.
Arianna took the pistol and then slipped a sheathed knife from her reticule and pushed it into her pocket. The long, slim blade was deceptively dainty looking. Its steel was lethally sharp.
“There is something to be said for possessing an unladylike expertise with deadly weapons,” she replied.
Henning’s chuckle died away in the sound of splintering wood as another bullet smashed through the casement. “Stay here and keep low.” He crawled over her tangled skirts and unlatched the far door. “I’ll go cover Sandro. Whoever is out there is in for a rude surprise.”
“Rude, indeed,” she echoed before following on his heels.
Cold spiked through her as she hit the ground and slithered into the shelter of the spoked wheel. The light, gray and grainy as gunpowder, was fast fading behind the weathered clefts of granite, leaving the narrow road through the ravine shrouded in shadows.
Squinting, she tried to bring the hazy shapes into focus. Sounds were just as muffled—all she could hear above her pounding heart was the nervous snorts of the horses and the rush of a nearby mountain stream tumbling down through the rocks.
Arianna drew in a deep breath and held herself very still. No sign of movement up ahead, no stirring of . . .
A scuff—and then a step, coming from the rear of the carriage.
Easing back the weapon’s hammer to full cock, she moved forward for a better angle of view.
The faint whisper of wool brushing against leather. A moment later, the dark flutter of a greatcoat, skirling around a pair of well-worn boots.
Not those of her husband or his friend.
Arianna tightened her grip on the butt. Her hands were so cold that she could barely feel any sensation in her fingers.
“Ha.” With a low hiss, the stranger dropped to a crouch by the wheel and raised a rifle. “I see you now, behind that rock,” he muttered under his breath. “One . . . two . . .”
“Drop your weapon before I count to three,” said Arianna, moving the pistol to within a hairsbreadth of his temple. “Or you are a dead man.”
His jaw twitched in shock.
“And in case you are wondering, I’m an excellent shot,” she went on. “Not that any aim is required at this distance to blow your skull to Kingdom Come.”
Snarling a low, savage oath, he tried to swing around, but the rifle barrel knocked against the iron rim and went off with a deafening bang.
At the same instant a sharper shot rang out, and a gurgle of blood spurted from the man’s jugular as the earl’s shot tore open his throat. He pitched forward and fell facedown on the hardscrabble ground, a viscous black pool quickly spreading over the snow-dusted stones.
Wrenching her gaze up from his lifeless form, Arianna spotted Saybrook moving along a ridge of rock.
“Sandro—behind you!” she cried in warning as a second silhouette rose from the murky shadows, too close for her to dare a shot.
The earl whirled and lashed out a kick that caught his assailant’s knee, knocking him to the ground. The man rolled out of reach and sprang to his feet, flinging a rock at Saybrook’s head. It missed by a hair, the echoing ricochet sounding like gunfire in the swirling wind.
“Bloody hell, Jem—what are you waiting for! Shoot the bastard,” cried the assailant to some unseen cohort as he whipped a hand up from his boot and cut a slash at Saybrook’s chest.
“He’s got a knife, Sandro,” called Arianna.
“Yes, yes, don’t worry,” he responded, parrying a thrust with a quick flick of his forearm. “Stay where you are.”
Ignoring the order, she edged along the side of the carriage, alert for any other sign of movement.
Where was Henning?
And what of their coachman?
A low groan from the driver’s perch seemed to indicate that José had survived the first attack.
Questions, questions—but they would have to wait.
A flurry of wild thrusts had forced Saybrook back several steps, giving her a clearer shot at his assailant.
“Tírate al suelo,”
she called to him in Spanish, ordering him to duck down.
“Aim for his knee and not his heart,” called her husband. “I want him alive for questioning.”
“Jem!” cried the assailant, his voice turning shrill.
A shot rang out from somewhere on the other side of the coach, followed by a scream. One of the horses whinnied in fright, spooked by the flash of fire.
“Ye’ll be getting no help from Jem.” Henning’s voice rose above a wispy plume of gun smoke.
“I suggest you throw down your blade,” said Saybrook to his attacker. “The lady is a crack shot.”
“As if any bloody female could hit the broad side of a barn,” jeered the assailant, but he sounded a little shaky.
“Oh, I assure you, my wife is no ordinary female.”
Arianna angled the pistol’s barrel a fraction. “I’ll aim a touch high. If I miss, it will hit his cods rather than his knee. Either way, he won’t be walking very steadily for quite a while.”
seemed to spook the man. Cutting a last halfhearted jab at Saybrook, he suddenly turned and bolted for the tangled wildness of the looming moor.
She was about to pull the trigger and drop him with a shot to the leg when her husband took off after him. Cursing her flapping skirts, she scrabbled up to the top of the ledge and followed as fast as she dared.