Beguiled by Her Betrayer

By: Louise Allen


Falling unconscious in the Egyptian sand at Cleo Valsac’s feet is not part of Lord Quintus Bredon Deverall’s plan. He’s supposed to be whisking this young widow away from her father’s dusty camp and back to England—to her aristocratic grandfather and a respectable husband.

Despite Cleo’s strong-willed nature, she can’t help but feel comforted by Quin’s protective presence. But she has no idea of this wounded stranger’s true identity…or of the passion that will begin to burn between them under the heat of the desert sun!

“Allen reaches into readers’ hearts.” —RT Book Reviews on Married to a Stranger

Cleo wriggled back a little and he opened his arms to release her, half thankful, half regretful.

Then he realized she was simply putting enough space between them so he could kiss her. Who is seducing whom? he wondered. He bent his head and took the proffered lips. Just one kiss.

Her mouth, hot and soft under his, opened without him needing to coax. She was willing, and yet, despite it all, shy. Quin took a firm grip on his willpower and kissed her with more gentleness than passion, his tongue sliding against hers, his palms flat on her back in the loosest of holds. She was trembling slightly, he realized, like a woman fighting emotion.

Quin raised his head. “Cleo?” Her eyes were wide and dark and flooded with unshed tears. “Cleo—”

* * *

Author Note

Several years ago I stood in the temple of Kom Ombo in Upper Egypt, fascinated by the graffiti left by French soldiers around 1800, very high up on the walls. I soon realized that the very tops of the monuments were all that Napoleon’s troops would have been able to see because the sand had covered many remains to within feet of the roof.

Today, knowing so much about ancient Egypt, we still marvel at these monuments, but I began to wonder how they must have seemed to these men, right at the beginning of modern archaeology. The more I read about Napoleon’s savants, the group of scholars he left with his troops in Egypt to explore this mysterious civilization, the more I admired them for their courage and endurance.

The Nile valley is so beautiful, and so romantic, that I knew I had to set a story there, and gradually the characters of Cleo and Quin began to take shape.

I hope you enjoy reading Beguiled by Her Betrayer as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Chapter One

Early April 1801—Upper Egypt

There was shade down there and water jars sweating themselves cool and the start of the green growth that ran from the desert edge into the banks of the Nile. Too soon. Quin lay flat on the hot sand of the dune’s crest and distracted himself from thirst, heat and the throbbing pain in his left arm by concentrating on the tent below.

Tent was perhaps too modest a word. It seemed to consist of several interior rooms surrounded by shaded areas formed by poles and flaps of fabric which, he supposed, would collapse to make outer walls at night.

It was an immaculately neat and well-organised encampment, although there were no servants to be seen. To one side was an animal shelter with hitching rail and trough, on the other a reed roof covered a cooking area. A thin wisp of smoke rose from the banked fire, there was no donkey tied to the rail and the only occupant appeared to be the man in shirtsleeves who sat at a table in the deep shade of an awning, his pen moving steadily across the paper in front of him.

Quin narrowed his eyes against the dusty sunlight. Mid-fifties, burly, salt-and-pepper brown hair: that was certainly his quarry, or one of them at least. Sir Philip Woodward, baronet, antiquarian and scholar, neglectful husband, selfish widower and father and, very possibly, traitor.

A flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye betrayed robes caught in the light breeze. Someone was approaching. Quin shifted his gaze to where the monumental columns of the temple of Koum Ombo rose from the enshrouding sand, dwarfing the mud-walled huts of the little village of fishermen and farmers beyond it. The person leading a donkey must be familiar with the area, for they spared no glance for the great ruins as they passed them by. It was a woman, he saw as she came closer, clad in the enveloping folds of a dark blue tob sebleh, but like most of the country women of Upper Egypt, unveiled. A servant—or the other person he had been sent to find?

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