Caroline Linden's Lady Spy Tells Her Story

Historical romance author Caroline Linden's latest heroine, Angelique Martand, was born a French heiress so how did she become an English spy? Now, in her own words, Angelique shares her story. And after this special message, don't miss the excerpt from Linden's You Only Love Once.

I never meant to be a spy.

It is, after all, a brutal and disreputable profession for a woman, and it would horrify my parents to know what I have become. They did everything in their power to have me smuggled out of France as an infant, just days before they lost their heads to the guillotine in the dark days of the Terror. I do not remember either of them, but I have never forgotten that they were killed for no reason other than the demands of an angry mob. If they would not be proud of me, I hope nonetheless that they would understand why I chose this path.

It began simply enough. As a young woman I found work as a seamstress. It was not what the daughter of the once-wealthy and powerful Comte d'Orvelon might have expected, but I had lost all that. I did well at it, but more for my ability to listen well, and my talent with languages, than for my skill with a needle. In those days London was still home to many Russian diplomats, even though the alliance between Britain and Russia had begun to shift. A man approached me one day, and asked questions. What did the Russian ladies talk of during their dress fittings, he wanted to know. Were they ever indiscreet about their diplomatic husbands' business? He told me Britain would not be taken unawares by a revolution from within, as France was, and he offered to pay me well for my help.

Yes, I did it for the money...partly.

Over time my involvement grew. I learned to disguise myself as anything: a chimney sweep, a courtesan, a private nurse, a society lady. I learned accents from the whole of England, as well as enough Spanish and Welsh to get along. I could become anyone, then disappear without a trace. I listened to men plot all manner of insurrection and mayhem, the overthrow of all authority and order. I watched them plan the deaths of innocent people and government ministers alike, and then I watched them disappear into prison on my testimony. I slept well knowing I had prevented the kind of lawlessness that murdered my parents.

Assassination came later. I did not leap to it; I was but twenty-two years old. But they told me the man in question was preparing to lead a mob of French sympathizers through London, burning and looting in retribution for Napoleon's imprisonment. He must be stopped, finally and absolutely. I agreed to cut his throat, reluctantly, and have detested it ever since.

To my superiors, unfortunately, my new talent became a terrible tool. Once I had proved myself able and willing, they grew reckless. I did not realize this for some time, and it haunts me still.

But now it is all behind me. My last assignment proved the worst I had ever been given, and yet it offered me salvation. Nate Avery, whom I was ordered to work with and then betray, was not the arrogant amateur I thought him. Not only did he see me as I really was—as I had almost forgotten I longed to be—but he loved me even after he knew the full truth of what I had been and what I had done. He makes me laugh. He melts my heart. I would risk anything, including my own life, for him, and he has done the same for me. There is not another man like him in all the world. And in our life to come, I shall know he is ever beside me, ever trusting and loving me, as I shall be for him. 

- Angelique Martand from Caroline Linden's new novel You Only Love Once

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