Published by Christi Caldwell Ink on September 9th 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
He's spent years scandalizing society.
Now, this rake must change his ways.
Society's most infamous scoundrel, Daniel Winterbourne, the Earl of Monfort, has been promised a small fortune if he can relinquish his wayward, carousing lifestyle. And behaving means he must also help find a respectable companion for his youngest sister--someone who will guide her and whom she can emulate. However, Daniel knows no such woman. But when he encounters a childhood friend, Daniel believes she may just be the answer to all of his problems.
Having been secretly humiliated by an unscrupulous blackguard years earlier, Miss Daphne Smith dreams of finding work at Ladies of Hope, an institution that provides an education for disabled women. With her sordid past and a disfigured leg, few opportunities arise for a woman such as she. Knowing Daniel's history, she wishes to avoid him, but working for his sister is exactly the stepping stone she needs.
Their attraction intensifies as Daniel and Daphne grow closer, preparing his sister for the London Season. But Daniel must resist his desire for a woman tarnished by scandal while Daphne is reminded of the boy she once knew. Can society's most notorious rake redeem his reputation and become the man Daphne deserves?
“There are certain gowns she’ll require,” Daphne eventually said.
A surge of relief went through him. Of course she would know. She’d always known all. Even as he would have sooner severed off his left hand than admit as much when they’d been children. “You will see to it.”
She looked at him sadly. “I spent the whole of three weeks, a fortnight and three days, in this place.” Well, that was a peculiarly specific number for a girl who’d long despised math. His curiosity piqued. “I am sure you know the most fashionable modiste.” He did. He’d paid many visits to Madame Thoureaux’s, with inventive mistresses and their expensive tastes. “We must begin there.”
“On the morrow.” Daniel flicked an assessing look over her drab dress, drawing forth an image of Daphne draped in a daring ice blue silk gown that clung to her lithe figure. That dress would draw out the rich hues of her hair and the green of her eyes. A wave of desire went through him. For Daphne, the former friend of his past? A woman narrow and remarkably uncurved like the usual ladies he took to his bed. He shoved aside that shock. After all, he was a rake. “You’ll require gowns, as well,” he added.
Daphne dissolved into a paroxysm of coughing, that shook her frame and turned her cheeks the same red as her hair. He leaned over and thumped her hard between the shoulder blades. “You are mad. I do not require gowns.”
He studied her curiously. Any and every female he’d known before her craved baubles and fripperies, trading favors to coax more from him. And she rebuffed that offering? “You very much require them,” he said with wry humor that raised a frown.
“I don’t,” she protested.
His intrigue redoubled at her declination and he peered at her. How singularly different she was than the ladies of the peerage he’d dallied with. “Would you have the ton question the status and suitability of Alice’s companion?” The color drained from her cheeks. Damned if he didn’t feel like the naughty boy who’d kicked a pup.
“One dress,” she conceded.
She remained unyielding. “One.”
By God, if this wasn’t the same discussion he’d had with spoiled mistresses, only with their negotiating roles entirely reversed. He dragged a languid look over her slender frame. “Four and a peignoir.”
If the lady shot her eyebrows any higher, they’d disappear into her hairline. When had she become this serious, easily shocked creature?
“I was jesting, Daphne,” he drawled. “Unless you wish to have a peignoir.” In which case, he’d have Madame Thoureaux drape her in various satin and silk beaded creations and insist on watching.
You can follow The Heart of a Duke series on Goodreads.
Christi is giving away a digital copy of To Redeem a Rake.
She is curious….
What is a challenge you’ve had to overcome?