What’s better than a dashing duke? A dozen of them! In this case, a baker’s dozen—thirteen of your favorite historical romance authors have come together to bring you more than a dozen tantalizing novellas, with one per month, for a year’s worth of never-before-released romances.
MUST LOVE DUKE
Lady Emmaline Paulson is destined to land a duke—at least that has been the expectation since she was a cherub faced babe. But she has no wish to live her life in a gilded cage, always on display. Besides, she already has her Duke—an adorable Cavalier King Charles spaniel pup she rescued from the Serpentine with the help of a handsome stranger.
Maxwell Granville, heir to the Duke of Albemarle, wasn’t fishing for love—or fair maidens trying to save drowning puppies—that November afternoon. But that’s precisely what he found, IF he can convince Emmaline that her Duke isn’t the only duke she wants in her life…
I hope you enjoy this excerpt from MUST LOVE DUKE, in which our heroine meets her Duke…er, both her dukes, actually. But she won’t know that for quite some time…
November 1835, London
Sharp honking squawks, followed by the angry flapping of wings, broke through the early morning stillness of Hyde Park.
Lady Emmaline Paulson ignored the blustering geese. The large birds often haunted the banks of the Serpentine, as much a part of the park as the multi-arched bridge that separated the lake from the long water. She was much too caught up in her own pressing worries to pay them mind anyway.
Until a peal of panicked barking joined the cacophony, only to end in an abrupt splash.
Emmaline’s head jerked toward the sound, but from her position on the bridge, all she could see was the shimmer of the water between the stone balusturs on the other side. She rushed to the railing and peered over the edge.
An enormous white goose stood agitatedly soothing her ruffled feathers, as her partner strode along the high bank, posturing in satisfaction at having defended his lady.
Emmaline scanned the surface of the water, searching for the dog she suspected the gander had chased into the lake.
And indeed, a small white and chestnut head bobbed precariously, the pup’s fur plastered to its skin. Its long ears disappeared beneath the blue-brown water as it tried to paddle toward the bank.
“Poor thing,” Emmaline murmured as she watched its progress. Though many common Londoners actually bathed in the Serpentine on hot summer days, this was November. The unfortunate pup was going to be quite cold when it pulled itself from the water.
If it got the chance to pull itself from the water, that was.
For as the dog got close to the bank, the gander kicked up a veritable fuss, extending its wings and snapping its beak in a fit of feathery aggression.
The pup whimpered and changed course, trying to find another spot farther down where it might escape the chilly lake. But the goose gave it no quarter, running the shore line and threatening the poor dog any time it got near.
“There now, you great bully!” Emmaline shouted, hoping her voice carried across the water and startled the gander enough to give the pup a fighting chance. But the goose ignored her.
She pushed away from the stone railing and ran the rest of the way across the bridge. Emmaline’s cloak billowed behind her as her long legs ate up the distance, leaving her shorter, slower maid to follow in her wake.
Making the turn at the end of the bridge, Emmaline picked her way down to the shore. A quick check told her that the geese and the pup were farther down the lake now, moving to an even higher bank where the dog would have no chance of pulling itself out. “Vicious birds,” she grumbled as she hurried faster.
As she drew near, Emmaline waved her arms wildly. “Leave him be!” she commanded the gander in her sharpest tones. She hoped to goodness the damp weather and earliness of the hour had kept everyone else away from the park this morning, or she’d have some explaining to do as to why the Earl of Montgomery’s youngest daughter was charging geese along the Serpentine, all whilst yelling like a fishwife.
Finally, the birds noticed her, honking in alarm and scattering in a flurry of flaps and feathers. Satisfaction flared, but only for a moment because as she tried to stop, her boots skidded on the dewy grass (and something she quite feared was goose dung) and she was sent flailing toward the land’s edge.
“No, no, no, no!” she cried as she neared the drop. A dousing in the lake wouldn’t make this already rotten morning any better. Her hands flew out in front of her, as if they could shove against air to keep her upright, but Emmaline knew it was no use as her momentum tipped her forward. She scrunched up her face against the inevitable shock of frigid water.
And was yanked from behind with a sudden jerk.
“I’ve got you.”
As always, Read, Feel, Fall In Love!
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