on May 15th 2018
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Who doesn’t love a duke?
Three Regency ladies share a temporary seaside residence in Brighton to escape the London season’s gossip and matchmaking. Even if these women were interested in a light flirtation, they’d still agree that dukes are a perishing lot of bother. Fortunately for the ladies, some gentlemen who are not dukes come along with more than casual flirtation in mind…
Three proper Regency ladies take a holiday by the sea in Brighton, where the last thing they want is to courted, bothered, and flirted with by a perishing lot of dukes. Fortunately for the ladies, three gentlemen who are not dukes come along with much more than flirtation in mind…
Architect of My Dreams by Grace Burrowes
All day, for every moment of this dratted, wonderful, unexpected, unforgettable, grueling day, Adam had been torn between the marvels of a spectacular country house and the marvels of his companion. The Duchess of Tindale was so quiet about her accomplishments, they almost eluded his notice.
She knew her art, knew how to drive a fractious coaching hack so the horse was happy to do her job. She knew how to eat a sandwich without getting a single crumb anywhere, and she knew how to keep silent while Adam was moved beyond words by the woodcarving of a man long dead.
Genie didn’t mock his passion for architecture, didn’t grow bored when he waxed effusive about capitals and astragals, finials and stringcourses.
She also touched him. Casually wound her hand around his elbow, patted his arm, stroked his lapel as if to smooth a wrinkle. Her caresses soothed a restlessness Adam had long been ignoring, and they enflamed a desire as surprising as it was inconvenient.
She was a duchess. He could never move in her circles. His Grace of Seymouth had made that plain. Adam had approached the duke about unpaid bills at the time of Papa’s death and had been escorted from the ducal town house under permanent threat of unending litigation.
“I don’t want to climb back into that chaise.” Genie put the cork in the bottle of lemonade and set it back in the hamper.
“Because the bench isn’t sufficiently padded?”
“Because this has been a lovely day, Adam Morecambe, in lovely company. I don’t want this outing to end.” She leaned over on all fours and kissed him, and the moment became gilded with possibilities.
Rather than sit back on her haunches, she stayed where she was, her palm cradling Adam’s cheek.
An invitation? She probably thought herself very bold. Adam thought her overture wonderfully understated. He kissed her back, smoothed her hair from her brow, and then she was on him, pushing him to the blanket, turning a polite kiss into a plundering of his mouth and wits.
“Your Grace, you needn’t—”
She got him by the hair. “No more your-gracing.”
“Genie, we have—”
He’d meant to say, We have time to discuss this, but the rest of his thought flew from his head as Genie loomed over him.
“I am inebriated too, Adam Morecambe. Drunk with the pleasure of a simple day spent in company I chose for myself. Do you know how long it’s been since I was permitted to drive my own gig?”
Rather than let him answer, she kissed him again: Too long. It has been much, much too long.
She broke off the kiss and remained crouched over him. “Do you know how long it has been since I was permitted—permitted!—to climb in and out of a carriage without some man handling me as if I were a doddering granny?”
She wrestled her skirts—Adam helped—until she was straddling him. “Do you know how long it has been since I could stay home for three days in a row, no callers, no compulsory entertainments, no matchmaking mamas currying my favor, no fortune hunters complimenting my fair gaze?”
Her gaze was furious and determined, much as it had been when she’d scolded Adam into modifying his construction schedule.
“Genie, there is nobody here to tell you what to do. There’s only me. Tell me what you want….”
The Pursuit of Honor by Kelly Bowen
“I think the butler forgot about me in the hall. I got tired of waiting. Hope you don’t mind.”
Diana spun just as Oliver appeared in the door. He was dressed simply, in dusty boots and a well-worn coat and snug breeches that only emphasized the impressive lines of his body. Her heart skipped a beat. He had never looked so touchable. So real.
And so concerned.
He glanced around the empty room. “Who were you talking to?”
“There was a… bird. There was a bird.”
“Well.” He raised a dark brow. “I suppose that’s a step up from talking to ferns.”
Diana shoved the window closed, knowing there wasn’t anything she could say that would make her sound less daft.
“There is an entire conservatory of flowers in the hall,” he continued, his forehead creasing. “The butler tells me you’ve exhausted their supply of vases. It seems you have a lot of suitors.” He didn’t sound pleased.
“Competitors,” she muttered.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Competitors, not suitors.” All vying for her bed or her fortune or both.
“What does that mean?”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s not important.” She should not have mentioned it. “Here,” she said, returning to the desk and picking up the pile of letters to distract him. “These are from your sister. I’ve spent the morning rereading them. I want you to have them now.”
Oliver lunged forward before catching himself and took them carefully from her hand. “You kept them.”
Her face heated. “Of course I did. They were important.” She gestured at her battered mahogany writing box that sat open on the desk. Which was the wrong thing to do, because now he was staring at the box and the bundle of correspondence resting inside, tied with a sky-blue ribbon.
“You kept my letters.”
Diana moved to close the box as casually as she could manage. “Of course,” she said again. But she wouldn’t tell him just how valuable each and every one of his letters was. She wouldn’t tell him how often she read them, imagining him in the far-away world he described. Just imagining… him. “You were gone a long time.”
“Yet, you were with me every step of the way. Your letters, Dee—it was like you were there with me. I should have written you more.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You were busy. And you wrote plenty. It wasn’t as good as having you here, in person, but it was better—”
“I missed you terribly.”
The air in the room seemed to thicken, and breathing became a chore. She should say something light. Something flippant and funny that would diffuse whatever this was that was happening between them.
“I missed you too,” was what she said.
The Double Duchess by Anna Harrington
With the ghosts of the past rising between them, Belinda expected Maxwell to deny her accusation that he was here only for his own gain. To defend himself and claim that he’d not used her all those years ago, only to abandon her once he’d no longer needed her. To strike out and attack—
Instead, his eyes softened as he took a slow step toward her.
Her heart skipped, the foolish thing momentarily forgetting what he’d done to her. But then, hadn’t it always loved him, even when he didn’t deserve it? Didn’t it even now remember the kind and caring man he’d been before he left for India, and how they’d healed each other that summer—her with his physical wounds, him with her heartbreak over her father?
Oh, he’d changed, certainly, both in appearance and in demeanor. But she could still see in him the only man she’d ever loved. Which was why she didn’t slap his hand away when he raised it to caress his knuckles across her cheek.
She gasped at the touch, pained by it.
“And what do you gain from this, Belinda?” His deep voice seeped into her, warming her as thoroughly as his hand against her cheek. “Why fight so hard when you know that the pensioners will be taken care of?”
“Split up and shipped off to other hospitals, you mean?” She’d wanted to sound determined and strong. Instead, her voice emerged as a whisper. “This place is their home, and those men have no other family but the men living with them. To force them apart…”
The knot of emotion in her throat choked her.
He reached for her hand and gave her fingers a soothing squeeze. “Why?”
She trembled, then cursed herself that he might be able to feel it. That he might dare to believe he still possessed even an ounce of influence over her. It certainly wasn’t a yearning for the old days. It was anger and pain… memories of how she’d placed her trust in him, only to have it destroyed. She’d never make that mistake again.
“An act of decency.” Her answer was a blatant challenge. “In your world of war, surely you can appreciate that.”
Then she stepped out of his reach. He didn’t deserve to know the real reason or to lessen his guilt about the past by attempting to console her now. They had a long fight ahead of them over the hospital, and she had no intention of making one second of that any easier on him.
“I won’t give up this fight.” She snatched up his teacup of port and finished it in one swallow.
Something unreadable sparked in his eyes, and he quietly confessed, “I’d be disappointed if you did.”
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