by Katharine Ashe
Devil’s Duke #2
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Avon, Harper Collins
Synopsis: How does a bookish lady bring an arrogant lord to his knees? Entice him to Scotland, strip him of titles and riches, and make him prove what sort of man he truly is.
Handsome, wealthy, and sublimely confident, Colin Gray, the new Earl of Egremoor, has vowed to unmask the rabble-rousing pamphleteer, Lady Justice, the thorn in England’s paw. And he’ll stop at nothing.
Smart, big-hearted, and passionately dedicated to her work, Lady Justice longs to teach her nemesis a lesson in humility. But her sister is missing, and a perilous journey with her archrival into unknown territory just might turn fierce enemies into lovers.
The moon had ceded the night to the stars when she arrived at the meeting place they had agreed upon via letter: a small ancient cemetery surrounded by a fence and hedges on a street still busy with carriages and horse traffic. A long black cloak and veil aided the dark in disguising her.
Her coachman walked beside her, a hood drawn around his face as well, but he would not accompany her to the meeting. For all his taunting, Peregrine did not frighten her. A man who dedicated his leisure time to rescuing strays was unlikely to harm a lone woman.
The cobbles shimmered with an earlier rain as she gestured for Jonah to remain across the street. Lamps lit this part of London irregularly, and the break in the wall was in shadow. Beside the gate stood an enormous man.
“Ma’am.” The behemoth bowed. “He awaits you within.”
It was immediately clear why he had suggested this place. The thick hedge within the walls created a bower of privacy and the gravestones scattered unevenly throughout made swift escape impossible.
He had staged the situation to his advantage too. He stood among the stones not four yards away, a lamp on the ground behind him casting him in silhouette. He was tall, and the breadth of his shoulders and solid stance suggested a man of fine physical conditioning. The night was mild and he wore no hat or overcoat—nothing to disguise him.
He was entirely willing for her to know his true identity.
The gate creaked closed behind her.
“Good evening, madam,” he said into the darkness. “It is a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance. I have looked forward to this moment for years. But, of course, you already know that.” His voice was smooth and low, far from menacing, rather intimate, and shockingly, unbelievably, horribly familiar.
Only hours earlier this elegant voice had proposed marriage to her.
“I am Gray,” he said. “Now remove that veil and tell me your name.”
DON’T MISS THE ROGUE, BOOK #1 IN THE DEVIL’S DUKE SERIES BY USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR KATHARINE ASHE!
Synopsis: Lady Constance Read is independent, beautiful, and in need of a husband—now. The last man on earth she wants is the rogue who broke her heart six years ago, never mind that his kisses are scorching hot…
Evan Saint-André Sterling is rich, scarred, and finished with women—forever. He’s not about to lose his head over the bewitching beauty who once turned his life upside down.
But Constance needs a warrior, and Saint is the perfect man for the job. Only as a married woman can she penetrate Scotland’s most notorious secret society and bring a diabolical duke to justice. When Constance and Saint become allies—and passionate lovers—he’ll risk everything to protect the only woman he has ever loved.
Of the dozen men in the room, he was the only man she should not be staring at. He was not a lord. Not an heir to a fortune. Not a scion of impressive lineage or a favorite of the prince. He wasn’t even really a gentleman.
Yet she could not look away.
It shouldn’t have mattered; a hidden niche was an excellent place from which a young lady could spy on a risqué party. Until someone else discovered it.
Unless that someone else were the right someone else.
For four nights now no one had noticed her peeking from a door that could barely be called a door in the corner of the ballroom. These passages had been fashioned in an earlier era of rebellion, and everybody had long since forgotten them.
And now him.
A quality of familiarity braided with danger commanded the breadth of his shoulders and the candlelight in his eyes as he watched her. Yet she did not duck back into the dark passage and escape. She had no fear that he would know her. Like the women who had actually been invited to the party, her mask hid the upper half of her face. Anyway, she knew no one in society. Her father had not yet taken her to London, only deposited her here at Fellsbourne, where he imagined her safe in the company of his dear friend’s family. Where she had always in fact been safe. Teased, taunted, treated like an annoying younger sister, and very carelessly acknowledged. But safe.
Not removing his eyes from her, the stranger unfolded himself from the chair with predatorial grace. He moved like a hunter, lean and powerful and aware. Not entirely human. Even at rest he had watched the others, disinterested in the amorous flirtations of the other men and the women here to entertain them, yet keen-eyed. Like an elven prince studying mortal beings, he observed.
For four nights she had wondered, if she were one of those women would he be interested in her? Would he seek her attention? Would he touch her as the other men touched those women—as she longed to be touched—held—told she was special—good—beautiful?
She was wicked to her marrow.
Wicked to want a stranger’s notice. Wicked to relish the thrill in her belly as he walked
Under normal circumstances her tongue was lithe enough. But normal circumstances had never in her wildest misbehaviors included a man with eyes like his—green, clear and shining, moonlight cast upon the waters of a forest spring. Perhaps he was not entirely human. This wasn’t Scotland. But England had its fair share of mystical beings too.
When he stood within no more than two wicked feet of her, her tongue failed.
“You were staring at me,” he said in a voice like fire-heated brandy—rich, deep.
“You were staring at me.” The low timbre of her own words startled her.
“One of us must have begun it.”
“Perhaps it was spontaneously mutual. Or it was coincidence, and both of us imagined the other began it.”
“How mortifying for us both then.” The slightest smile appeared at the corner of his mouth that was beautiful. Beautiful. She had never thought about men’s mouths before. She had never even noticed them. Now she noticed, and it did hot things to her insides.
“Or fortunate,” she ventured. She was grinning, showing her big teeth. But she couldn’t care. A young man was smiling at her, a young man with sun-darkened skin and whiskers cut square and scant about his mouth, like a pirate too busy marauding to shave for a day or two. Not very mystical, true. His hair was the color of ancient gilt, curving about his collar and swept dashingly back from his brow. A military saber hung along his thigh, long and encased in dark leather. Its hilt glittered.
He was staring at her lips, and so she stared at his. Giddy trills climbed up her middle.
His lips made her think of kisses. Want kisses. Kisses on her mouth. Kisses on her neck like those that the loose women got from the other men. Kisses wherever he would give them to her.
Wicked wicked wicked.
“Dance with me,” he said.
She darted a glance into the ballroom. All of the women wore costumes, scanty, sheer, slipping from shoulders beneath gentlemen’s bold fingertips. Jack was throwing a masquerade for his friends and these women. Women she should not envy.
She should not be here. She should be at the dower house a quarter mile distant, where Eliza had drunk whiskey with dinner and now snored comfortably by the parlor fireplace.
“I cannot dance tonight,” she said with more regret than she remembered ever saying anything.
“Cannot? Or will not with me?” His tongue shaped words decadently, as though the syllables were born to kiss his lips and taunt her with what she could not have.
“If I could, I would only with you.”
He seemed to study her face: her too-big eyes, her too-small nose, the mouth that was too wide, brow that was too spotted, and cheeks that were too round. She knew her flaws, and yet he seemed to like studying them.
“What is your name?”
“I haven’t one.” Not that she could tell a stranger with elven eyes and pirate whiskers.
He smiled, and it was such a simple unveiling of pleasure that her heart thumped against a couple of her ribs.
“I will call you Beauty,” he said, then his brow creased. “But you have heard that before.”
“Then I suppose I must call you Beast,” she replied. She liked the tingling tension in her belly that he had deposited there with only his smile.
“For what I’m thinking now, you should . . .”
ABOUT USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR KATHARINE ASHE
Katharine Ashe is the award-winning author of historical romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Editors’ Choice for the 10 Best Books of the Year in Romance, and My Lady, My Lord and How to Marry a Highlander, 2015 and 2014 finalists for the prestigious RITA® Award of the Romance Writers of America. Her books are recommended by Publishers Weekly, Women’s World Magazine, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Barnes & Noble, and many others, and translated into languages across the world.
Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European History, she writes fiction because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too. For more about Katharine’s books, please visit www.KatharineAshe.com or write to her at PO Box 51702, Durham, NC 27717.
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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl