"Yelena Tried to Kill Me," by Trey Dowell, in Mystery Weekly Magazine, August 2021.
"The first time I saw Yelena Nevsky, she tried to kill me."
Well, that opening line got my attention. Our hero participates in armored duels at a renaissance fair. Yelena, dressed in Russian medieval chain mail, battles him for the championship. I won't tell you who wins, but the result is a romance.
The protagonist's friend isn't buying it. Why would a sexy Russian fall for a nothing like him? And as a Russian cultural attache she must be a spy, right? "And she's, what, stealing all the classified info I keep in my corner coffee shop?"
Maybe not, but something must be going on or this wouldn't be in a mystery magazine. The story has some clever twists.