Award-winning author Olivia Drake begins her new Unlikely
Duchesses series with THE DUKE I ONCE
KNEW (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; December 31, 2018). With compelling
characters and skillful plot twists, Drake’s latest novel will take your breath
First love is always the sweetest…
For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her
parents and her siblings’ children. Now, eager to create a life of her own,
Abby seizes upon a position as a governess on a neighboring estate.
Unfortunately, her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell,
the notorious rake who once broke her youthful heart. But since he hasn’t set
foot on his estate for fifteen years, Abby assumes she’ll never have to lay
eyes on him ever again.
Then, from out of nowhere, Max appears. He is stunned to come
face to face with the girl next door he fell for years ago—before he went away,
and she stopped writing to him … even though Abby swears that he is the one who
left her without a word. Could it be that this spirited, witty spinster has won
Max’s heart all over again—and that they may have a second chance at love?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Olivia Drake is
the author of the Cinderella Sisterhood series (Seducing the Heiress, Never Trust a Rogue, Scandal of the Year, If the
Slipper Fits, Stroke of Midnight, Abducted by the Prince, Bella and the Beast,
His Wicked Wish, and The Scandalous
Flirt). She has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 1981, and
her novels have won the Golden Heart Award, Best Historical Romantic Suspense
and Best Regency Historical from Romantic
Times. She has also won the prestigious RITA award. She currently resides
in Houston, TX.
Author Twitter: @OliviaDrake1
SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance
SMP Romance Website: https://heroesandheartbreakers.com/
EXTRACT FROM 'The Duke I Once Knew.'
sounds of cooing and kissing mortified her.
heavens, would they never stop? Anyone might walk into the library!
They ought to have the decency
to take their amorous activities
upstairs to a bedchamber.
course, Rothwell did not possess a shred of decency. It made her cringe to recall that she herself had once fallen
prey to his allure.
She risked another
look over the
edge of the table.
Her eyes goggled.
The duke was delving beneath the hem of his par- amour’s
gown, sliding his hand up her ankle and out of sight. The ladybird squirmed and squealed
in a frisky at- tempt at evasion.
He leaned down and silenced her playful
protests with a masterful kiss.
Abby sank back down again. Her pulse pounded
and a blush heated her inside and out. She oughtn’t be so scandalized. Rothwell had a reputation
as a notorious
rake. Over the years, she had heard many a tale whispered
among the neighbors of his disgraceful doings. Yet it was one thing to listen to idle gossip and quite another to actually
witness him in the throes of depravity.
And here she was,
trapped. What was she to do? If she made
her presence known, the duke would find out that Miss Abigail Linton was the new governess.
She could not be absolutely certain that he had forgotten her. And if he did remember,
he surely would dismiss her on the
spot, for he wanted nothing to do with herHer spirits fell into a fit of the dismals.
That would mark the end of her little adventure out into the world. Oh, she could apply for a position elsewhere,
but who would hire her if she’d been summarily
discharged from her previous post? She would be forced to return to her brother’s
house and resume her predictable life as the maiden aunt, growing withered
and gray, shuttled
between relatives, with no real say
very thought was suffocating. Nevertheless, she could not continue to crouch here while the two lovers were smooching and whispering. What if their intimate activities escalated? What if they did
the deed right here, right now?
The horrid prospect spurred Abby to action. She must try to sneak out of the library unobserved. It was her only hope. Dropping to
her hands and knees, she crept along the carpet,
weaving a path between the tables.
Her long skirts hampered her progress, forcing her to inch along at a snail’s
pace. Rothwell’s black boots were visible through a forest
of chair legs. At least he was too distracted to notice her, judging by the amorous
sounds emanating from across the room. To be safe, she made a wide berth around the couple.
Feverish plans raced through her head. If only she could reach the door and slip out, then all might be well. Per- haps she could convince
Lady Gwendolyn not to mention
the new governess
to her brother. And what of Lady
Hester? Was there a chance that she could be persuaded to bide her tongue, too? Should Abby confess the truth and enlist her help? Was it possible to stay out of sight until he departed the court? Sweet heaven, how long
intend to stay? In the midst of her meditations, she couldn’t help over- hearing
the syrupy drivel of their tête-à-tête.
“Your Grace, you are
too bold! Such a naughty boy you are.''
“I left boyhood behind long ago. Shall I demonstrate?”
no. You mustn’t . . . ah, yes. Yes!”
Abby grimaced under a tide of acute embarrassment. As she crawled closer to the door, she glared in the direction of the lovers. She could just see Rothwell’s legs pressed
against a froth of cream skirts. Blast him and his debauchery! He was the worst of rogues, the king of scoundrels. A more wicked man had never
been born—! Too caught up in remonstrations to watch where she was going, Abby bumped her hip hard against a mahogany pedestal. A little squeak escaped before she could clap her hand to her
mouth. At the same instant, a faint
clanking noise drew her attention
The globe atop the pedestal
wobbled precariously. As she watched in horror, the sphere toppled from its perch and clunked onto the floor, where it rolled straight past the chairs and
tables to land at Rothwell’s
concealment, Abby watched wide-eyed through
the maze of table legs as his boots shifted
around. A large male hand flashed down to stop the spinning of the globe.
Any faint hope that he might assume it had fallen of
accord vanished in a millisecond.
Rothwell strode forward, his footfalls sharp and decisive. He came straight to her. To her great consternation, she found herself gazing at the polished black leather of his
boots only a few inches away.
“What are you doing in here?”Abby raised her
chin only slightly,
keeping her face averted. It was best that he didn’t gaze fully at her—or hear the normal pitch of her voice lest it trigger his memory.
“I’m just a servant,”
she whispered “tending to my duties.”
“Speak up! Why did you not make your presence known at once?
His dictatorial tone shredded her better judgment. “I was trying to leave discreetly,” she flared.
“It didn’t strike me as wise to interrupt
your tryst.” She paused, then added in a more servile tone, “I do beg your pardon, Your Grace.” She felt his gaze boring down like a physical
force that threatened to smother her. She wanted badly to look up, to glare into his face and tell him in no uncertain terms exactly
what she thought of him. But
that would be highly imprudent.
With lightning swiftness, he
clamped his hands around her upper arms and hauled Abby to her feet. She found herself staring up into a pair of wintry gray eyes set in a face of
unabashed masculinity. Although a dissipated life had hardened his expression and etched faint lines on either side of his mouth, he was more disturbingly hand- some than ever. He also seemed taller and tougher, his chest
broader and his shoulders wider.
She hated that he still
had the power to make the breath
catch in her throat. Worse, she hated that he had the authority to dismiss her with a snap of his arrogant fingers. As she racked her beleaguered brain for a way to convince him not to
do so, something flickered
in those icy eyes.
A lovely second chance romance. You get a real sense of their youthful love for one another and how important they were to each other as teenagers. There is real substance to their story. I couldn't help but root for them to finally have their happily ever after when they found each other again as adults.
I loved the wicked side characters and the dilemmas that were created in attempts to thwart true love.
A good, quick read.