[BookStrand Historical Romance, time travel, HEA]
There is a traitor in the time travel organization the Lineage, and it’s up to new recruit Victoria Vasquez to discover his identity. After an incident (and stolen kiss) on her first assignment in 1923 Egypt, she suspects she knows who it is. Veteran agent Banderan of Ibile is hiding a secret, one that could endanger everything he holds dear. He will do whatever it takes to ensure his goal, no matter who gets in his way. Victoria has fought hard for her independence, and has no time for arrogant know-it-all men. When both Victoria and Banderan are assigned to 1848 Gold Rush California, they find themselves entangled in a web of deceit and lies. And when they are cut off from the Lineage, it will be up to Victoria to decide if the man she has come to love is a traitor or a hero.
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
5 CUPCAKES: "Oh my goodness! I love this series! I was so excited to read this one. I definitely enjoyed it. I wish I could get a job with the Lineage. Nothing sounds more exciting! That would be a dream job, so just that alone already made me want to completely get absorbed into this world. I thought Victoria was a fantastic heroine. I’ve been having trouble with heroines in a lot of the books I’ve been reading lately, so this one was a breath of fresh air. She was strong and willing to do what she needed to, even when that wasn’t something easy. Banderan took me a little bit longer to warm up to. He seemed a little annoying when I first started reading, but I completely warmed up to him by the end of the novel. There’s lots of action and adventure in this story and it made me want to keep turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next. I would definitely recommend this book to science fiction/time travel/romance fans and actually… just anyone looking for a book that will keep them up wanting to finish it! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I really do love this series. I think the whole idea is very creative and it’s they’re great books to sink into and forget about the rest of the world!" -- Juliette, Paperbacks and Frosting
“Señor Ojeda, you must make the acquaintance of my niece, Ana, and our dear cousin, Victoria,” Aunt Sophia cooed as Aunt Sylvia grabbed poor Ana’s arm, shoving her in the direction of Banderan’s chest. Victoria managed to sidestep the other arm, pretending not to notice the older woman’s glare. She hurriedly wiped her dusty hands on the serape cloth covering the table.
Ana blushed and mumbled something to her shoes. The girl was really very pretty, with curves in all the right places, wide hips, and soft coffee-brown hair that framed a heart-shaped face. Faint freckles danced across her tea-colored skin and broad nose and dimpled near her wide mouth.
Banderan muttered something equally polite, and then his eyes locked on Victoria. Something passed through the black, gold-specked depths, although she’d swear it wasn’t recognition. Rather, it was almost the same look he’d had right before he’d kissed her at the tomb. Victoria tilted her chin up and met his gaze head-on, mindful of Nicolai’s advice. Don’t shy away. Make him notice you. And, she added silently, don’t let him intimidate you.
“I am honored to meet you, Señor Ojeda.” Victoria extended her hand for the obligatory kiss, wishing instead she could slap him with it.
“The pleasure is mine, señora,” he said smoothly, his accent blending with those around him. His hand and kiss were lighter than she expected.
Ana nearly swooned. Poor Roberto, Victoria thought. Forgotten for a smooth charmer with a “seduce me” gaze and voice. If only she knew the truth.
Victoria gestured to the table in front of her. “Can I tempt you with something to eat? I’m sure you must be famished from such a long journey. Perhaps some carne or pollo asada? Or does your taste run to more spicy fare?”
“I tend to prefer things with a little more”—he paused, drawing the word out—“flavor.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Victoria noticed one of the aunts nod approvingly, while the other patted her hair with what could almost be called a coquettish wink.
With perhaps a too-large smile, Victoria reached up and twirled a lock of hair around her fingers and blinked slowly at Banderan, the closest she could come to an eyelash flutter. “I think I can accommodate you. If you’ll give me a moment?”
“Certainly.” He turned to Ana, who had been hanging on his every unspoken word. The pigeons moved in closer, gesturing to the musicians at the far side of the courtyard. His attention and dances were claimed.
Victoria’s smile changed to an evil grin as she reached under the table for the jar of habanero chiles she’d been saving for Lalo, one of the oldest and senior ranch hands. He preferred his food with a little kick, as he boasted it was the only way he could taste it anymore. Banderan wanted spicy. He would get scorching.
The little plate of beef and tortillas looked innocent enough when she’d finished, the entire jar of habaneros finely chopped and mixed in. According to Lalo, just a few of the burn-the-mouth, hair-singeing chiles could test the mettle of a man or send him running back to his mama.
At the tap on his shoulder, Banderan turned. Victoria’s innocent smile was back as she held out the plate to him. “I made this especially for you.”
One eyebrow rose, and a smile teased the corners of his mouth. With a small bow he took the proffered food, his fingers lightly brushing the top of her hand. “Gracias.” The word was drawled.
“De nada.” Her eyes were slightly hooded as she waited. Waited for the first bite.
It started with a tear. A single one, which rolled down his cheek. Then a flush, a faint pink that grew redder as it progressed up his neck to his cheeks. A second and third tear followed as his eyes began to water. He blinked and shook his head, one hand reaching up to tug at his shirt. By now, his face was as red as the sash at his waist. The plate dropped from his hand as he began to cough.
“Madre de Dios!”
Victoria placed a concerned hand on his arm. Even his skin felt hot. “Is something wrong, señor? Is my cooking not to your, ah, taste?”
The table shook as he grabbed the edge to steady himself. He waved his arm at a stunned Ana, whose expression echoed a mouse’s right before the cat pounced. Another fit of coughing stopped whatever he might have said, although Victoria caught several words she’d only heard her father use when he lost at cards.
She finally decided to take pity on the man and handed him the beer jug he’d been gesturing for. He tipped the entire contents down his throat, and not a single drop hit the ground. He stood there for a few moments, his breathing harsh, his chest heaving.
“I deserved that,” he said, his voice a mere rasp.
This was not the response she’d expected. She pursed her lips and then smiled a real smile. “Sí, you did.”
“My apologies. Perhaps you might tell me what was in that…” He glanced at the broken ceramic and the scattered remnants of torture by his feet.
“Habanero chiles. A whole jar.”
“A whole jar? That bad, hmmm?”
Victoria was surprised at the glint in his eyes, which had finally stopped watering. “Well, maybe not that bad, but certainly enough for at least half the jar.”
“I have learned my lesson. You are a most interesting teacher, señora.” He cleared his throat, swallowing heavily.
Victoria raised an eyebrow in perfect imitation of his earlier expression. “Somehow, I suspect you still have a great deal to learn.”
“Indeed. I have also learned never to argue with my host. You must excuse me, though, as I believe the dancing is about to start, and I dare not refuse—”
He was running away!