Dukes By The Dozen - July Excerpt
April 12th see’s the release of DUKES BY THE DOZEN. 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.
For the next 13 days I shall be sharing excerpts from each of the stories in this fabulous Boxed Set from the following amazing historical authors, Alyssa Alexander, Jennifer Ashley, Grace Burrowes, Gina Conkle, Eileen Dreyer, Elizabeth Essex, Bronwen Evans, Anna Harrington, Madeline Martin, May McGoldrick, Ella Quinn, Heather Snow, Sabrina York.
HOW TO DITCH A DUKE
Lady Taylor Fleming is an heiress with a penniless duke on her tail. Her step-by-step plan to ditch him is simple. But even with the best laid plans, things can go awry…
How to Ditch A Duke
– Step 1 –
Neglect Your Appearance in Important Situations
Angus, the Scottish Highlands
Taylor pushed herself onto all fours. Her hands were deep in the mud, her knees sunk in it, and filthy brown water dripped from her chin.
Shame and embarrassment washed through her, more painful than any physical distress. Here she was, an earl’s daughter. One of the richest women in Scotland. While her mother was alive, Taylor had been doted on, loved, cherished. But those days were gone. Today was proof of it. Here, in the presence of a stranger on a storm-soaked Highland road, she was on her hands and knees, chilled and wet and bedraggled—an object of derision in the eyes of everyone. And to what end? Simply to prove a point to her selfish family about character.
Tall boots, caked in mud, and muscular legs encased in buckskin came into her view. The man crouched and held out his hand. The palm was callused. Another cold wave of humiliation washed through her.
“Thank you. I can do this by myself.”
“I know you can. But please allow me to help. You’d do the same for me.”
Somehow, she couldn’t picture him groveling on all fours in the muck.
He produced a handkerchief from his waistcoat.
She shook her head. “It would be ruined.”
“It’s only a bit of cloth, made for this purpose.”
She reluctantly accepted it and wiped her eyes. A dark blot of mud covered the fine fabric.
“I’m sorry; it’s stained already.” Embarrassment thickened her voice.
“That was clearly its destiny, fulfilled in the hand of the worthiest of women.”
His kindness tugged at her heart. Hearing his subtle accent and gentle words, she envisaged him as a prince on a fine horse in some far-off land, rescuing damsels in distress like herself. Beginning to think she might simply be imagining this man, Taylor tried to claw her way up the low bank, only to slip back down.
“Please, will you deny this fellow traveler the same happy fate as his handkerchief?”
“I’m covered with mud.”
“What’s a smudge here or a smudge there?”
Taylor shook her head, unable to stop a smile from forming on her lips. He was definitely trying to make light of the situation. Still, she wasn’t ready to face him—or face anyone.
“If you had not taken the plunge, then the task would have fallen to me. In every rescue, one person must be sacrificed. And you bravely took on that role yourself. Allow me to show my gratitude.”
He wasn’t giving up. With a resigned sigh, she took his hand, and he began to pull her up.
“I think I can manage from…” Her words were lost as her feet flew out from beneath her and she collapsed against him.
“I’m certain you can.”
One cheek lay on his chest. Dirt smeared his waistcoat. She took the time to inhale his enthralling scent and appreciated the powerful muscles supporting her before slowly trying to push herself away. “That was unexpected.”
“I must confess, such unexpected outcomes are far more enjoyable than the….”
He slipped, and suddenly she was holding him up. His face was pressed against her breasts. His arms wrapped around her hips. She tried to help him to straighten up, but instead, he held on tighter. The ridiculousness of the moment was colossal. She wanted to laugh. And from the little that Taylor could see of his face, he was amused, too.
When he got his feet under him, she let go at the same time that he did.
“I think I’ll be fine now,” she murmured. “If you’d be so kind as to…”
Suddenly, she was on her way down again, one leg heading for Aberdeen and the other toward Edinburgh. Somehow, she’d turned in his arms, and he was holding her up, his hands just beneath her breasts, squeezing her against him.
“Perfectly fine,” she managed to chirp. “Your intention was quite chivalrous.”
For the first time in her life, a man was touching her breasts, her bottom, every inch of her—front and back—but none of it was in the cause of romance.
She finally stood, and he released her. Taylor turned. Both of them now having regained their footing, she hazarded a glance. His shirt and waistcoat and trousers were as filthy as hers.
“I’m so sorry,” she murmured. “That was my fault.”
“Hardly. The pleasure was entirely mine, liebling.”
Wishing you all HAPPY READING!