on October 3rd 2017
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For centuries, the volumes of a priceless Renaissance manuscript, The Duke's Book of Knowledge, have been the subject of legend and rumor. Three members of London's Bibliomania Club have promised a beloved professor they'll find the manuscripts before the professor retires. They are determined to vindicate his faith in the Duke's existence while rescuing a great literary work from obscurity. The problem? The book must be found in ten days. Matters of the heart intrude as each book hunter realizes that locating an ancient manuscript might just lead to happiness ever after.
How to Steal a Duke in Ten Days (Give or Take a Few Days, But Definitely in Less Than a Fortnight) by Shana Galen, a novella in the anthology How to Find a Duke in Ten Days.
After a story title like that I almost think my work here is done! That title is a post in itself. The funny thing is that I always have trouble coming up with book titles. Some of my reader favorites, like Earls Just Want to Have Fun and When You Give a Duke a Diamond, didn’t originate from me at all. Friends of mine suggested those gems, and I don’t know what I’d do without those creative friends.
But the title for my novella in the How to Find a Duke in Ten Days is all mine. The heroine is a thief, which is why I liked the play on the anthology title, replacing find with steal. Coincidentally enough, the hero, Dominick, Duke of Tremayne, needs a thief, so when he meets the heroine, Rosalyn Dashner, he knows he’s found the right person to help him acquire the manuscript he seeks. Here’s a peek at their first meeting:
“What’s this about?” the watch demanded. “What is happening here?”
“He’s a thief!” the clerk said, pointing to her. “He picked the lock on the shop, and if I hadn’t stopped him, he would have robbed Mr. Thomas blind.”
“Is this true?” the watch asked her.
“No,” she said. “He has it all wrong. I’m not a he. I’m a she. And I didn’t pick any lock. Go ahead and check them if you don’t believe me. I don’t know the first thing about picking locks.” That wasn’t precisely true either.
“Then how was it you managed to be crawling out of the shop’s window?” the nobleman asked.
“Now see here,” the watch said, his face growing red with annoyance. “I am asking the questions, Mr.—”
One of the footmen who had been riding on the coach stepped forward. “You will address the duke as Your Grace.”
The watchman’s small eyes widened. “Duke? I’m terribly sorry, Your Grace. Do forgive me.”
Duke. Wonderful. She had somehow managed to not only attract the notice of a clerk and the watch but also a duke. Her mother had always said one day she would be caught. This appeared to be the day.
“As I was saying,” the duke continued, looking at her, “can you explain how you came to be crawling out of the shop’s window?”
“Of course,” she said with a decisive nod. “I fell into it by mistake. I was making my way to the ground floor to ask for assistance when this man”—she looked at the clerk—“began yelling and accusing me of theft. Naturally, I ran.”
She couldn’t tell whether the duke believed her or not. His voice and expression betrayed nothing. The sky was darkening as night came upon the city, and she could barely make out his features.
“Did you hear that?” the clerk spluttered. “How did she fall into a closed window?”
“Are you certain it was closed?” the duke asked, never taking his gaze from her. The longer he looked at her, the warmer she felt.
“Well, no, but it’s always closed.”
“But you can’t be certain,” the duke said.
“I’d like to know how the chit fell.” The watch waddled up to her, hands on his hips. “Do you claim you can fly, girl?”
“I like to walk on the roofs,” she said. “It’s much safer than the streets for a woman like me.”
The three men stared at her, the watch and the clerk clearly incredulous. The duke’s expression was still unreadable. Rosalyn blew out a breath of air. This was the end, then.
“That’s the most ridic—” the clerk began.
“That makes perfect sense to me,” the duke declared.
“It does?” The watchman’s eyes bulged.
Rosalyn’s own eyes felt like bulging as well. It was, as the clerk had no doubt been about to point out, a ridiculous story.
“Clearly, she isn’t a thief,” the duke declared. Rosalyn fumbled to turn out her pockets in illustration. The duke looked at the clerk. “Has anything been taken?”
“I-I don’t know.” The clerk eyed her empty pockets. “I would have to inventory everything.”
“Do that, sir. In the meantime, I will escort this lady home. If you discover something has been stolen, appeal to my solicitor for compensation.” He reached into his coat and handed the clerk a card. “If you will excuse us.”
A footman opened the door to the carriage, and the duke gestured for her to climb inside. Rosalyn looked at the clerk, the watch, and then the duke. Her choice was clear. She could stay and go to prison, or enter the duke’s carriage and… and she knew not what might happen. Prison or a duke’s carriage… She took the footman’s hand and climbed into the carriage.
This night had not ended at all as she’d planned, but one thing was clear. The duke had just rescued her.
How to Find a Duke in Ten Days is on sale now!