Seductive Scoundrels Series,
Theirs was an impossible match…
A dour duke…
Jules, the Sixth Duke of Dandridge disdains Society and all its trappings, preferring the country’s solitude and peace. Already jaded and cynical since the woman he loved died years ago, he’s become even more so since unexpectedly inheriting a dukedom’s responsibilities and finding himself the target of every husband-hunting vixen in London.
A wistful wallflower…
Forever in her stunning sister’s shadow, Jemmah Dament has adored Jules from afar for years—since as children they were the best of friends. She daren’t dream she can win a duke’s heart any more than she hopes to escape the life of servitude imposed on her by an uncaring mother. Jemmah knows full well, Jules is too far above her station. Besides, his family has already selected his perfect duchess: a poised, polished, exquisite blueblood.
But one enchanted night…
A chance encounter reunites Jules and Jemmah, resulting in a passionate interlude neither can forget. Jules realizes he wants more—much more—than Jemmah’s sweet kisses or her warming his bed. He must somehow convince her to gamble on a dour duke. But can Jemmah trust a rogue promised to another? One who’s sworn never to love again?
Wending between the numerous pieces of furniture in the moon’s half-light, Jules smacked his shin into the settee. Pain spiraling from calf to knee, he softly cursed and bent to rub the offended limb.
“Dammit. Must Theo constantly rearrange this room? Two hell-fired times since December.”
A startled gasp, swiftly stifled, had him jerking upright, whacking his shoulder this time.
Silence met his inquiry. Had he stumbled upon a lover’s tryst? A thief? A wayward servant or inquisitive guest? He fingered his throbbing shoulder, pressing the pads against the pain.
“Reveal yourself at once.”
Running his fingers along the settee’s back, he located the pedestal sofa table.
Other than shallow breathing, the culprit kept quiet.
Squinting, he made out a light-colored form reclining on the dark blue and silver striped cushions. A woman, and by all the stampeding elephants in Africa, he bet his silver buttons, and the two new bruises he surely sported, he knew who laid there.
Like a slowly uncoiling rope, the tension eased from his taut muscles.
He fumbled a bit until he found the engraved silver tinderbox beside the candelabra and moments later, a wax taper flared to life.
“Hello, Your Grace.”
Miss Jemmah Dament, her rosy lips curved upward in a small closed-mouth smile and her face still sleep-softened, blinked groggily.
Hello, indeed. Adorable, sleepy kitten.
He lifted the candle higher, taking in her svelte figure, her delectable backside pressed to the sofa, one hand still cradling her cheek. Surprise and carnal awareness, pleasant and unexpected, tingled a rippling path from one shoulder to the other.
The plain, awkward little mudlark had transformed into a graceful dove. One who rivaled—no, by far exceeded—her sister’s allure.
“Well, hello to you as well, Miss Jemmah Dament.”
As if it were the most natural thing in the world to be found napping during a ball at her aunt’s house, and then awoken by a man crashing into her makeshift bed, she sat up and brushed a wayward curl off her forehead.
Jules set about lighting the other three tapers. Their glow revealed striking pale blue, wide-set almond-shaped eyes, fringed by dark lashes, and tousled hair somewhere between rich caramel and light toffee.
He hadn’t seen her up close in—
How long had it been?
Cocking his head, he searched his mind’s archives.
At least since last summer.
Yes, that afternoon in August; in Hyde Park, when she’d walked past wearing a travesty of a walking ensemble. A sort of greenish-gray color somewhere between rotten fish and bread mold.
Yawning delicately behind one slender hand, she smoothed her plain ivory gown with the other.
Except for a yellowish-tan sash below her breasts, the garment lacked any adornment. The ribbon didn’t suit her coloring, and although he couldn’t claim to be an expert on feminine apparel, the frock seemed rather lackluster for such a grand affair.
Another of Adelinda’s cast-offs?
As he closed the tinder box, Jules canted his head.
He couldn’t recall ever seeing Jemmah wearing anything new. And yet her sister always appeared perfumed and bejeweled, attired in the first stare of fashion. Such blatant favoritism wasn’t uncommon amongst the elite, nor did it shock him nearly as much as appall.
He, too, was his mother’s least favorite child, but by all the candle nubs in England, if he ever had children—in the very distant future—they’d not know the kind of rejection and pain he and Jemmah had experienced because of their parents’ partiality.
He’d love and treat his offspring equally as any good and decent parent should.
“Ah, Your Grace, you’re surprised to see me, I think.”
Coming Summer 2017!