Spotlight: Taming a Gentleman Spy by Maggi Andersen

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Taming a Gentleman Spy

(The Spies of Mayfair)

By Maggi Andersen

Length: 280 pages


John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn, is on an urgent mission to find the killer of his fellow spy. After visiting the young widow of one of his agents, Strathairn strengthens his resolve. A spy should never marry, and most certainly not to Lady Sibella Winborne, with her romantic ideas of love and marriage. Unable to give Sibella up entirely, he has kept her close as a friend. Then, weak fool that he is, he kissed her. Lady Sibella Winborne has refused several offers of marriage since she first set eyes on the handsome Earl of Strathairn. Sibella’s many siblings always rush to her aid to discourage an ardent suitor, but not this time. Her elder brother, Chaloner, Marquess of Brandreth, has approved Lord Coombe’s suit.  Sibella yearns to set up her own household. She is known to be the sensible member of the family, but she doesn’t feel at all sensible about Lord Strathairn. If only she could forget that kiss.

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Publisher: Knox Robinson Publishing Ltd.

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Author Bio:
Maggi Andersen fell in love with the Georgian and Regency worlds after reading the books of Georgette Heyer. Victoria Holt’s Gothic Victorian novels were also great favorites. 

She has raised three children and gained a BA and an MA in Creative Writing. After husband David retired from the law, they moved to the beautiful Southern Highlands of Australia.

Maggi’s free time is spent enjoying her garden and the local wildlife, reading, movies and the theatre. She keeps fit swimming and visiting the gym. 

Maggi is a multi-published author, and writes mysteries and young adult novels as well as her Georgian, Regency and Victorian romances.

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         Beneath glistening chandeliers, the dancers spun to the strains of a Handel waltz. Strathairn smiled down at his partner, her slim waist beneath his hand as they danced. Lady Sibella Winborne looked like a delicate flower in a gauzy pale gown covered in amber blossom. White ostrich feather plumes adorned her luxuriant dark locks. He enjoyed looking at her. Her serene oval face lifted and she smiled at him, her mouth wide and full. Too wide for beauty some might say, but made for kissing. She had inherited her mother’s famous eyes, a delectable mix of blue and green, but her nature was quieter, lacking the vivacity of her mother in her youth, who was said to have had men falling at her feet. He admired Sibella’s calm beauty, but she was oh, so much more: practical, poised and intelligent. Yet still unmarried, which surprised him.
          “You arrived late tonight. I wasn’t sure you’d come,” she said.
          “I was tied up with business.”
          “Not parliament?”
          She tilted her head. “Your horses, then?”
          He grinned at her blatant curiosity. “No.”
          “You won’t tell me.”
          Sibella laughed with good humor. “Very well. Might I find you riding in Hyde Park tomorrow?”
          “I hope to.”
          Her delicate brows rose. “If business doesn’t keep you.”
          He laughed. “Precisely.”
          The music faded away. Strathairn escorted her back to her chair where her mother, the Dowager Marchioness of Brandreth, sat fanning herself among the other dowagers. He bowed, planning to slip into the rooms set aside for gambling. As much as he might wish to dance with Sibella again, it would place them under scrutiny, and faro was an effective release from the tension he always carried with him.
          “Don’t rush off, Strathairn,” her sharp-eyed mother said. “We have seen little of you of late. You rarely frequent these affairs.” She waved her fan in an arc to encompass the ballroom. “Where have you been hiding?”
          “Not hiding, my lady, merely visiting my estates.”
Lady Brandreth adjusted the silk shawl over her shoulders. “Did you include that pile of yours in Yorkshire? I enjoyed the hunt ball, but it’s cold as charity in winter up in those parts.”
          “Not this time, but I miss it. There’s a wild beauty to the dales in winter, quite unlike southern England.”
          “I daresay.” Her purple turban wobbled as she nodded. “You are a fine figure of a man, Strathairn. What are you now? Six and thirty? You should marry. You should be setting up your nursery.” She gestured toward her daughter sitting beside her. “Sibella will bear you healthy children. The Brandreths come of good stock, and the Wederells even better.”
          “Mama, please!” He caught Sibella’s apologetic gaze and suppressed a wry smile. Her plea would have little effect; the marchioness was known to be one of the most colorful and outspoken members of the ton.
          The dowager batted her daughter’s protest away with her fan. “I am merely speaking the truth, Sibella.”
          “Your daughter is a credit to you, my lady,” he said with a smile. “She has inherited both your beauty and intelligence.”
          “Now you are toad eating.” A roguish smile lit Lady Brandreth’s face. “You always were a charmer. Sibella is intelligent. Walk with her on the terrace to discover it for yourself.”
          “I should be delighted.”

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A Chat with Maggi Andersen author of A Baron in her Bed

baron5Title:  A Baron in her Bed

Author:  Maggi Andersen

Publisher:  Knox Robinson Publishing
Length: 302  pages
Subgenres: Historical, Suspense, Romance


Horatia’s plan to join the London literary set takes a dangerous turn. Now that the war with France has ended, Baron Guy Fortescue arrives in England to claim his inheritance. When Guy is set upon in London, a stranger, Lord Strathairn, rescues and befriends him. But while traveling to his country estate, Guy is again attacked. Guy suspects his relative, Eustace Fennimore, is behind the attacks on his life. Horatia refuses to believe her godfather, Eustace, is responsible. Secure in the knowledge that his daughter will finally wed, Horatia’s father allows her to visit her blue-stocking aunt in London. But Horatia’s time spent in London proves to be anything but a literary feast, for a dangerous foe plots Guy’s demise. She is determined to keep alive her handsome fiancé, who has proven more than willing to play the part of her lover even as he resists her attempts to save him.

Thank you, Maggi, for chatting with me today. I want you perfectly comfortable, so picture your favorite place in the world. Now, can you tell us a little bit about the place you’ve pictured?

I’ve visited a friend in her home in Richmond, England many times. The lovely historic town nestling beside the Thames River is often featured in my books. The ton during Regency times traveled from London to picnic in the park where King Henry VIII used to hunt deer. Deer still roam the park. The view from Richmond Hill takes in the graceful bend of the Thames which has been painted by many famous artists.

That sounds wonderful. I’ve been to London once and would love to back. What was the last book you read that made a lasting impression on you?

Seven Nights in a Rogues Bed by Anna Campbell. I really enjoy her writing and her characters are wonderful.

I’ll have to check that out. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

It took me some years. But I studied the craft and honed my voice, so that time wasn’t wasted.

Most excellent. Craft study is the first thing on my agenda everyday. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

To have my family around me, all happy and in perfect health.

I completely agree with you and I love that you added healthy. We’ve all suffered with colds this last month. We are very ready for spring. What turns you on creatively?

My mother was an artist. I’ve inherited her love of color, interior design, architecture (especially Georgian) art and sculpture. These things often feature in my books. Old black and white movies can sometimes give me ideas for a story.

My mother used to paint and I keep bugger her to pick her brushes back up. She’s quite talented. Old black and whites, interesting, a new source for plot bunnies I’ll need to check out. What quality do you most admire in a man?

Humor and warmth.

What quality do you most admire in a woman?


I read in your bio that you support the RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals) and that animals are often feature in your books. Can you tell us a little more about this?

Cats and dogs frequently appear in my stories. In A Baron in Her Bed, Horatia rides her father’s magnificent black stallion, The General, without his knowledge.

In my Victorian novella, How To Tame a Rake, Wilhelmina adopts a fox cub, annoying her reluctant fiancé Blake, no end. Here’s a bit:

Spying a statue on a plinth in the distance, Willy strode towards it. Before she reached it, she saw something lying stretched out on the grass. At first, she thought it a pile of autumn leaves. On closer inspection, she found a fox cub. As she knelt down to him, he lifted his head, his dark eyes pleading.

“Oh, you poor, poor thing,” she said, stroking the red-gold coat. How beautiful he was. He’d hurt a leg, probably in one of those horrid traps. It was broken, dangling at an odd angle. She knew just what to do about it. She’d splinted one of her dogs back home when he broke his leg jumping from a high wall.

Picking the cub up carefully, she cradled him against her chest. He didn’t struggle. Perhaps he knew that she was a friend, or was too weak to care.

Willy carried him along the path. As she rounded the corner of the house, she came face to face with Blake.

“I’m glad to see you out and about,” he began. He looked surprised. “What on earth do you have there?”

“A fox cub. He’s hurt his leg. I’ll have to splint it.”

“You’ll do what?”

“A splint. You use a straight piece of …”

“I know what a splint is, Willy! But this is fox hunting country. We can’t keep a fox here.”

“Why not? When his leg is healed he will go and join the other foxes.” Her lip trembled. “And then you can hunt him down and kill him.”

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My children, grown up now.

Aw, I love that. My kids are still young and I totally can see where you’re coming from. They’re the most important thing to me. Tell us a bit about the projects you are working on now?

I’ve just completed Taming a Gentleman Spy – Book Two of The Spies of Mayfair Series. The hero is John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn, the heroine, Lady Sibella Winborne, who comes from a very large family. I’ve grown quite fond of them all, including her acerbic mother, and would like to write more books about them.

Here’s a taste (unedited):

Lord Strathairn picked a full creamy bloom and held it out to her. “You look lovely tonight, Lady Sibella.”

“Thank you, my lord.”

“I always enjoy seeing your mother.”

“Do you? Not everyone does. She is very plain spoken.”

“That is what I like about her.”

“Have you been visiting your estates?”

He leant over her to brush away a branch scattering petals. “You’re remarkably inquisitive this evening. Why do you ask?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps because you are a bit of a mystery. You intend it that way, I suspect.”

“We’ve discussed most of my past: my schooling, Eton, then Oxford, and the army.”

“I know only what you wish me to.” She couldn’t explain the feeling she’d always had that his life held more excitement than he revealed. Would he be content concentrating on mundane matters after his years away at war? A keen rider herself, but surely even horses had limited appeal. “It’s just …do you miss the army life?”

“Many men find it hard to settle down. I admit to suffering that for a while.”

“But you’re settled…now?”

“As much as I wish to be.”

She glanced at his profile for a sign of annoyance. She was too inquisitive. He always affected her so.

I am now working on Book three, What a Rakes Wants.

Thank you, Maggi. That was fun.


“This is a dance with which I’m familiar,” the baron said, drawing her close in his arms. “We danced it in Paris long before it came to England.”

She supposed he considered England far behind Paris in most things fashionable. Finding herself pressed up against his hard chest produced the memory of how it looked unclothed. Her breath caught, and she wriggled within his arm. “We do not dance this close in England, my lord.”

He let her go in surprise then took up the pose again, leaving space between them. “Merci. I did not know. You have saved me from making a faux pas.”

She suspected he knew quite well, for the devilry in his eyes betrayed him. “You might learn by observing others, my lord,” she admonished him.

At least now she could breathe. But this was unlike the night they had spent together, when her disguise had protected her. Did he find her attractive?

She had no idea if his charm was merely part of his personality. It shouldn’t matter, for he would choose a bride from the aristocracy, but somehow it did.

His hand at her waist, guiding her, made her recall their time in the hut and his indecent revelations of lovemaking. Her breath quickened at the thought of such an act perpetrated by him on some woman, and even possibly her. His proximity and the strength and pure maleness of him overwhelmed her.

Breathing in the familiar woody Bergamot scent, intermingled with starched linen and soap, she closed her eyes, but that made her dizzy. After examining his masterfully tied cravat adorned with a sapphire pin the color of his eyes, she raised her eyes to his. “I have not seen a cravat tied in that way before. What is it called?”

He smiled down at her. “I believe it is called Trone d’Armour.” The style hailed from France most likely. He was different from the English in other ways too. The French had a disconcerting way of looking at someone. Was he the real Baron Fortescue or an impostor?


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I am an Australian author with a BA in English and an MA in Creative Writing. My lawyer husband and I live in a pretty, historical town in the Southern Highlands with our spoiled Persian cat, plus the assorted wildlife we feed: chickens wander in from next door and give us lovely eggs, ducks swim in our pool, parrots and possums line up for bananas and seed. I write historical romance, contemporary romantic suspense and young adult novels.

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