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 Find a Duke in Ten Days is a new anthology from the team of Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, and Shana Galen. In this anthology, each novella follows different characters in their search for a missing volume of an ancient manuscript.
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.
Here’s an exclusive look at the prologue to the anthology.
“I find it untenable, insupportable, and entirely unacceptable that we haven’t unearthed a single quire of the Liber Ducis de Scientia.”
Dominick Spencer, Duke of Tremayne, had both the consequence and the physical presence to speak in emphatic polysyllables. He was big, dark, decisive, and could accomplish with a single scowl what others failed to achieve in entire polemics. The wiser members of the Bibliomania Club had given up debating with His Grace years ago.
Seton Avery, Earl of Ramsdale, knew for a fact that Tremayne could be wrong. As Tremayne’s friend since boyhood, and as a man who valued the present arrangement of his own facial features, he kept that news to himself.
“We’ve tried,” Ramsdale said, topping up Tremayne’s brandy. “We’ll keep trying. Between the three of us, we have means, influence, connections, and expertise. If the Duke’s Book of Knowledge still exists, we’ll find it.”
“Don’t forget charm and good looks,” Harry Fordyce added from the depths of the library’s sofa. “Also grace on the dance floor and stamina in the saddle.”
Harry, recently burdened with the Daunt viscountcy, kept a superior intellect well hidden behind humor and stunning good looks. He was tall, brown-haired, and deceptively good-humored—a sleek, self-confident housecat of a viscount, to appearances—while Tremayne prowled and growled around the library’s perimeter.
They were equally formidable men, each in his own way, and Ramsdale regarded part of his role in their trio as that of referee.
“Trying won’t do,” Tremayne retorted. “For two hundred years, the best minds on the Continent have been trying to find that manuscript. A compendium of all the knowledge known to the sharpest intellects of the Renaissance doesn’t just disappear.”
Not only the sharpest intellects of the Renaissance, but those deemed worthy of memorialization by Lorenzo de Medici, often referred as Lorenzo the Magnificent. Under his patronage, the Liber Ducis de Scientia had developed as a perfect blend of the scribe’s art and the scientist’s knowledge.
Harry sat straight. There were rumors about one of the volumes of the lost Duke that involved a fellow bibliophile and friend of his. None of the club members believed Harry’s friend had had anything to do with the incident, but rumors did persist.
“Your Grace’s patience has disappeared,” Harry observed, taking a sip of his brandy and setting the glass on the carpet. “If the Duke has remained well hidden for two centuries, what has you all a-swither now, Tremayne?”
Ramsdale studied his drink, for Harry must be allowed his entertainments. Adjusting to an unwanted title was—appropriately enough—a daunting task.
“I am not all a-swither, your lordship.”
And Tremayne must be allowed his.
“Daunt makes a point,” Ramsdale said. “We’ve searched, we’ve sent out correspondence, we’ve followed up on possibilities. I’m taking another look at my uncle’s will, in fact, and I suspect the two of you are also on the scent of yet more clues. Why the urgency now, Tremayne?”
Though with Tremayne, everything was always urgent—except recreation, relaxation, diversion. Those trivialities had ceased to matter long ago. Ramsdale worried that Tremayne had become so obsessed with acquiring valuable books that he’d forgotten the pleasure of actually reading the damned things.
He’d also forgotten the necessity to acquire a duchess somewhere along the way.
“Peebles has announced his retirement,” Tremayne said. “He’ll step down in less than a fortnight.”
“Ambushed us,” Harry said, rising in one lithe move, drink in hand. “Damn it.”
“If the professor doesn’t want any fuss or bother, then we should respect his wishes,” Ramsdale said, for fuss and bother surely numbered among the deadly sins.
Peebles had tutored each of them at some point in a difficult public school education. The professor’s passion for old books, and his endless reserves of biscuits, patient counsel, and humor had earned him the lasting loyalty of many a lord’s heir. The Bibliomania Club would have faltered in its early years, but for Peebles’s enthusiasm.
The Duke’s Book of Knowledge, was the professor’s greatest passion, also his greatest frustration. Some claimed to have seen the Duke, or portions of the manuscript, others—an increasingly vocal portion of the club’s membership—had begun to claim the Duke was a hoax.
“Peebles retirement will involve a banquet of some sort,” Tremayne said. “Imagine how that evening will be for him, if not a scintilla of evidence is produced proving that his life’s work is a literary fact.”
Harry stood before the fire, an unwitting study in male pulchritude. “Tarkington is saying it outright: The Duke is a hoax, a fable made up by Peebles for his own aggrandizement.”
“Tarkington had best not stay that in my hearing,” Tremayne replied.
Ramsdale rather wished Tarkington would make that error. Mr. Tarkington, an earl’s son, was that most irksome of combinations, stupid and arrogant.
“I might be able to make some progress in the next two weeks,” Ramsdale said. “Even a single quire of the manuscript would vindicate Peebles’s research.”
Tremayne turned a brooding gaze in Ramsdale’s direction. “We need all four quires.”
No, they did not, but Tremayne must carry every task to its perfect completion.
“All four quires would be the best gift we could give Peebles,” Ramsdale said, “and our fellow book lovers.”
“My time is spoken for over the next two days,” Harry said, expertly plying the poker to re-arrange the coals on the hearth. “I’d have ten days to find the Duke. Those are not good odds.”
“Those,” Ramsdale said, “are the odds we have. I’ve already placed a few advertisements, and I promise you gentlemen I will exert myself to utmost over the next ten days to find all or part of the Liber Ducis de Scientia. Are you with me?”
Tremayne touched his glass to Ramsdale’s, then to Daunt’s. “We were Peebles’s favorite students, the best of the lot. How hard can it be to find a Duke in ten days?”
He flashed a rare and frighteningly fierce smile, while Ramsdale sipped his drink. Peebles had told every boy that he was the best of the lot. Now it was time to live up to the professor’s expectations.
“To finding the Duke in ten days,” Ramsdale said, touching his glass to Daunt’s. Ramsdale infused his words with confidence, though what he offered was as much a prayer as a toast. The Duke had remained hidden for two centuries. What hope did even the most determined book lovers have of finding such a treasure in a mere ten days?
How to Find a Duke in Ten Days is on sale tomorrow!