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.
Discovering the Duke
By Madeline Martin
Reunited at a house party after a lackluster start to their marriage, the Duke of Stedton attempts to win his Duchess’ heart. Will a sizzling wager be enough to melt the frost between them, or will it truly remain the coldest winter in London?
His hands went to the placket of his breeches. “Are you ready?”
She gave a vigorous nod and darted under the covers, bulky robe and all. Her eyes remained averted as he unbuttoned his pants and pushed them off. She did not look at him again, not even after he’d donned his nightshirt.
He put out the candles and slid into the large bed beside her. She stiffened. He settled himself on his back and closed his eyes.
It took only a few moments before Julia began to wriggle about. A slight shifting at first, then turning and tossing about like a fish flopping on the dock.
“William?” she said finally.
“Aren’t you…?” she left the question hanging unsaid.
“Going to sleep?” he finished. “Why, yes, that is precisely what I’m doing. Or rather what I would be doing if you weren’t squirming around.”
“What I mean to say is, aren’t you…going to…have relations with me?” She asked the question in barely a whisper.
And William smiled into the darkness.
Julia’s cheeks were hot with embarrassment. How awful to have had to voice such a question aloud. No wife should be forced to ask if her husband meant to have relations with her.
“No,” William replied.
“Oh.” She lay awkwardly, unable to sleep and trying not to fidget. The bed had been quite a decent size the prior three nights, fluffy and comfortable and wonderfully large. Now, it appeared to be too small, every movement making her fearful she might bump or brush against him.
Well, maybe that was what she needed to do. If she was going to get with child quickly and be free of this whole marital mess, she had to be brazen enough to take action on her own.
She rolled toward him and put her fingertips to his arm. His nightshirt was thin, and the heat of his solid flesh was a welcome reprieve from the chilled night air. “William?”
“You’re very warm,” she ventured.
“You may press against me.” His voice was gravelly, suggesting he had already fallen asleep. A ridiculous notion. No one fell asleep that quickly.
She accepted his invitation and rested the length of her body against him. The simple act of putting herself against him immediately heated her icy fingers and toes. A sigh escaped her lips. He was more than warm; he was hot. And strong.
She recalled him without his shirt, the powerful cut of muscle across his broad chest. Emboldened by her goal, she trailed her fingers over his shoulder, below his neck where his skin was uncovered by the shirt, naked. His heartbeat thundered under her touch.
Still he did not react. And he was very clearly not asleep. Of that she was certain.
“Would you like to undress me?” she asked.
“We should play a game,” he said abruptly.
She froze in the exploration of his body. “A game?”
“Yes.” The rich timbre of his voice rumbled under her fingertips. “Tomorrow is the last day of the house party. For every game you win, you will decide what it is we do together. For every game I win, I will decide.”
“That seems fair,” she replied slowly into the dark. She withdrew her hand but did not turn away from the delicious heat of his large frame.
“Best of luck in the morning.” With that, the infuriating man immediately fell asleep.
Julia, however, did not sleep. Not right away at least. Not with William lying beside her, hot and powerful.
A game, indeed.
She’d always been good at them and seemed to possess a considerable amount of luck. It would be simple. She merely needed to win at least once and claim her prize, which would be intercourse. She would become pregnant, deliver a boy, and be done.
It was the perfect plan.
Or so she thought.
Wishing you all HAPPY READING!