The Once and Future Duchess (Royal Entourage #4)
Author: Sophia Nash
Release Date: 27 May 2014
A duchess in time saves a noble line...
In theory, the Duke of Candover is the most eligible peer in the realm. But in truth, he has a deep aversion to the merest hint of marriage, not to mention two botched engagements which have marked his jaded soul. Now, after a debauched bachelor party that causes public outcry, the Prince Regent is demanding that it's Candover's turn to be brought to heel. And Prinny secretly believes that Isabelle Tremont, the Duchess of March, is precisely the lady up to the challenge.
Isabelle must marry, but a day of reckoning with the man she's loved for years is her greatest fear. If Candover insists she's too young and innocent for a seasoned world-weary man like him, there's no shortage of other candidates. Gentlemen of prestige and position. Gentlemen whose attentions are driving Candover to jealous distraction. Yet one abandoned moment under the stars hints that if they can put aside pride and duty, then a love once denied might just be their destiny.
ExcerptShe glanced sideways under her lashes to examine the rear-admiral’s profile and she wondered what it would be like to spend the rest of her life with him.
He appeared to feel her eyes upon him and turned to her. Their eyes locked and he came to a halt behind a tree in the darkest corner of the garden.
And for a fraction of a second before he dared to steal a kiss, she had the oddest thought. She didn’t want her first kiss to be such a cliché. She didn’t want it to be with a daring stranger behind a tree, during a ball in Mayfair. It sounded common—like something come to life from Lady Caroline Lamb’s violent plume. She wanted . . . she wanted something she would secretly smile and cherish in the privacy of her mind for the rest of her life. But it was too late.
Rear-Admiral Sir Peter Baird’s face tilted to one side as he closed the slight distance between them. His hands lightly touched her waist and his lips met hers. It was not unpleasant. She felt his mouth moving over her own, and she raised her arms to grasp his shoulders with her hands. Her fingers registered padding under the epaulets. Quite a lot of it. An odd thought intruded. Either he had suffered the effects of naught but wormy biscuits as sea rations, or the rear-admiral had performed very little physical labor in his life.
She suddenly remembered to breathe. The pungent scent of seaweed, mildew, and unwashed man registered in her nostrils at the same moment she realized she should not have allowed this to happen.
He moaned slightly and reached for one of her hands on his soft shoulders, moving it to behind his neck.
She wondered how long a kiss usually lasted.
She hoped it would end soon. Very soon.
He finally released her mouth and then playfully dropped a peck on the end of her nose before pulling her more fully into an embrace. She was now in the awkward position of having encouraged someone she did not know and beside whom she would never be able to spend the rest of her life. Once again, she would have to learn from her mistakes.
Always the hard way.
Sophia Nash was born in Switzerland and raised in France and the United States, but says her heart resides in Regency England. Her ancestor, an infamous French admiral who traded epic cannon fire with the British Royal Navy, is surely turning in his grave. Before pursuing her long-held dream of writing, Sophia was an award-winning television producer for a CBS affiliate, a congressional speechwriter, and a nonprofit CEO. She lives in the Washington, D.C., suburbs with her husband and two children. Sophia's novels have won twelve national awards, including the prestigious RITA® Award, and two spots on Booklist's "Top Ten Romances of the Year."
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