Four Nights with the Duke (Desperate Duchesses #8)
By: Eloisa James
Releasing March 31st, 2015
As a young girl, Emilia Gwendolyn Carrington told the annoying future Duke of Pindar that she would marry any man in the world before him-so years later she is horrified to realize that she has nowhere else to turn.
Evander Septimus Brody has his own reasons for agreeing to Mia’s audacious proposal, but there’s one thing he won’t give his inconvenient wife: himself.
Instead, he offers Mia a devil’s bargain… he will spend four nights a year with her. Four nights, and nothing more. And those only when she begs for them.
Which Mia will never do.
Now Vander faces the most crucial challenge of his life: he must seduce his own wife in order to win her heart-and no matter what it takes, this is the one battle he can’t afford to lose.
Before she could think better of it, she took a deep breath, handed her pelisse to the butler, and marched past him into the morning room. Mia had spent a good deal of time in the ducal country estate as a young girl, given the late duchess’ decades-long affaire with her father, and she knew where she was headed.
Even though the principal players in that drama—her father and Vander’s mother—had passed away, it seemed nothing had changed at Rutherford Park. Every horizontal surface was still crowded with animal figurines, evidence of the late duchess’ fascination with small creatures.
She turned to the butler. “Please let His Grace know that my call shall be quite brief.”
“I shall ascertain whether His Grace is receiving,” he said, and left.
Surely Vander would see her? How could he deny her, given their parents’ relationship? Commonsense reminded her that he might well deny her for that precise reason.
She wandered over to look at the glass menagerie that resided on the mantelpiece. The unicorn had lost his horn, but all the animals were still there, silently poised with a paw up or a tail waving—some with little animal families, as though they had paired off and multiplied while the house slept.
But she couldn’t concentrate on the little curl of glass, a tadpole, she picked up. The thought of what lay ahead of her—the marriage proposal—made her feel dizzy, as if her corset was constricting her chest and making it hard to breathe. Years before, when she’d vowed to Vander’s face never to marry him, a gleam of amusement had sprung to his eyes.
What if he burst out laughing now?
She was not exquisitely beautiful, artistic, intelligent…and she didn’t even have a fortune. Who ever heard of a wallflower asking a duke for his hand in marriage?
Mia took another deep breath. She wasn’t precisely asking the duke to marry her. That would be pitiful. She was blackmailing him, which was altogether different.
More swashbuckling. More perilous.
She should pretend this wasn’t happening to her, but to one of her heroines, the way she did with almost everything else. She already had plenty of practice observing her life as if from outside. She regularly chatted with patently bored gentlemen, simultaneously rewriting the conversation in such a way that a fantastically idealized version of herself left them dumbstruck with desire.
Back home she would jot down the scene precisely as she had reimagined it—giving herself violet eyes and a slim waist. Sometimes she stayed up all night describing the adventures of one of her heroines, a girl so well-mannered, biddable, and pure of heart that only the most discerning readers noticed she was quite intelligent under her sweet smiles.
In contrast, men noticed that Mia was intelligent, but seemed to put them off.
If life imitated one of her novels, Vander would stride into the room and after one glance begin wooing her with such passion that the distasteful question of blackmail would never need be mentioned.
His blue eyes would flare with possessive fervor. For the rest of his life, His Grace would regret thirteen years he might have spent with her, but had lost due to his callow and callous blindness as a boy. He would bitterly reproach himself for his cruelty unkind insults.
Frankly, that was more than unlikely, frankly. In her experience, people never regretted clever insults. She hated cabbage to this day. As well as Oakenrott.
|Author Eloisa James|
A New York Times bestselling author, Eloisa James is a professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but who can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. (Her husband is an honest to goodness Italian knight!) Eloisa’s website offers short stories, extra chapters, and even a guide to shopping in Florence. Visit her at www.eloisajames.com.
Print Bundle of the entire backlist of the Desperate Duchesses series, books 1 – 7, Including, Book 1: Desperate Duchesses; Book 2: An Affair Before Christmas; Book 3: Duchess By Night; Book 4: When the Duke Returns; Book 5: This Duchess of Mine; Book 6: A Duke of Her Own; Book 7: Three Weeks With Lady X