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Dukes By The Dozen - May 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.

Love Letters from a Duke

by Gina Conkle

May

Plagued by a leg injury, the Duke of Richland must dance. With his “bride-choice” ball mere hours away, a drastic healing measure is suggested which involves Mrs. Charlotte Chatham, a rustic widow who stirs him heart and soul.

When the widow’s gaze met his, knowledge reflected in their depths. Tonight marked a separation of the wheat from the chaff. He would dance with three young ladies of style, comportment, and estimable status. His choices for the final selection. After the ball, quiet invitations for a longer stay would be extended to those three women and their families. The rest would return home tomorrow.

But he’d have to dance in the first place.

The dowager turned to her friend. “Charlotte, that remedy you mentioned last week. Would you consider administering it to the duke?”

Mrs. Chatham’s eyes went saucer big. “Me? I rather thought Simms might.”

The dowager huffed, a sign she’d not be thwarted. “His valet would show him all the tender care of a plow horse. It must be you. Who else would know the exact dosage? Or have the right touch?”

A frisson feathered his groin. Mrs. Chatham touching me? No! No! No! “What the devil are you planning?”

His mother gave him the gimlet eye and waved over a footman. “We’re in a desperate state, Richland. I’m willing to try anything.”

Was he?

Alarm bells careened through his head. He should stop this. He was the duke after all, but the dowager was equally determined. It was in the line of her mouth and angle of her chin. His mother was indomitable, well-acquainted with years of directing her sons. One had better luck stemming the tides than stopping her once her mind was set.

Hands clamped behind his back, he’d tolerate this madcap remedy for the moment. The past year, he and the dowager had tactfully juggled their new positions in life’s hierarchy because she understood change was coming. She wanted it. For her happiness and the future of Richland Hall, he’d allow some leeway.

Thomas strode to their circle, a flurry of scarlet and gold livery. There under the sprawling oak tree, the dowager beckoned the trusted servant to bend his bewigged head to hear her softly issued commands.

“Deliver a heated tea kettle, several buckets of water, and our largest, empty butter churn to the duke’s sitting room. When you’re done, have a chambermaid go to Mrs. Chatham’s room and retrieve an amber vial.”

“You will find it on the escritoire by the window,” the widow put in.

“And Thomas…” The dowager’s tone was serious.

“Yes, Your Grace?”

“You understand this requires the utmost discretion. I don’t want the duke and Mrs. Chatham disturbed for the rest of the afternoon.”

The footman didn’t bat an eye. “Very good, Your Grace.”

He was speechless, watching Thomas speed toward the sprawling Dutch-Palladian structure that was Richland Hall. His mother whispered like a conspirator in Mrs. Chatham’s ear, but the widow had eyes for him alone. Lively, seductive, experienced eyes. Her earthy stare sent exciting currents between them. Hair on his arms stood on end. A similar sensation had happened once when he’d stood too close to a demonstration of von Guericke’s frictional electrical machine. Agitation had sparked his skin.

But this? This was a thrilling jolt. A prudent man would quash the madness now, but wisdom wasn’t foremost on his mind. Anticipation was.

“What are they up to?” George asked in low tones.

“I don’t know, but it involves hot water, a butter churn, and an afternoon alone with Mrs. Chatham.”

“Sounds like torture.”

Or a new circle of Heaven.

Wishing you all HAPPY READING! 

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