His enemies called him the devil.
There were few people in the world the Duke of Rhuddlan could trust, least of all his scheming brother Nicholas. So when a spate of violence is perpetrated against people with a connection to the duke, Rhuddlan knows who is behind it. But how can he end this vicious campaign when Nick is backed by the King’s own son?
Hers call her a temptress.
Olivia Stone wants nothing more than to live quietly in her little cottage, but with a cruel suitor determined to possess her and an income that is steadily diminishing, she’s left with no choice but to appeal to her wealthy cousin–whom she’s never met–for assistance. Will he give it? Or will she be forced to marry a man she fears?
Can they see past the rumors to find true love?
When Rhuddlan knocks on Olivia’s door with a plan to help them both, she’s skeptical but sees no other option. Working together sparks a flame between them neither could have predicted, but when Nick discovers the relationship, he becomes determined to destroy their hope for happiness. Can Rhuddlan finally put an end to his brother’s devastation before someone is killed? Will Olivia still want him when she sees how ruthless he can be?
“You do have one option.”
Olivia straightened, keeping one hand on Artie’s furry head as she faced Mrs. D. “Teverton?”
Mrs. D. didn’t react to the name, but she didn’t have to. It was a discussion they’d had before. Lord Teverton was Olivia’s closest living relative and head of her family, but the only thing she knew about him was that he owned an estate near Liverpool.
“What if he turns me away?”
No one could legally force Olivia to marry Sir George, but if she went to Teverton for help and he refused, her only choice would be between George and slow starvation as the demand for her work continued to decline and her past slowly caught up with her.
“But what if he doesn’t?”
Olivia pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. What if Teverton was an honorable man who promised to protect her? Did she even have paper to write him a letter and ask?
“What about His Grace?” she said suddenly, dropping her hands to her sides. The breeze picked up, carrying with it the scent of the mint growing a few feet away.
Mrs. D. took a step back. “What about him?”
“Well…he’s here. Teverton is all the way in Liverpool. Or at a different estate completely. And the duke ought to be amenable to my situation—if I am hale and hearty, I can continue paying my rent every quarter.”
Mrs. D. shook her head faintly. “You can’t mean to ask him for help.”
“At least I’ve made his acquaintance,” Olivia replied slowly. “Better the devil you know.”
“Devil is right,” Mrs. D. said, her mouth pulling into a pucker as if she’d eaten something sour. “I know we helped him this afternoon, but that was basic decency. You know what they say about the man.”
Olivia did know. She’d borrowed a battered copy of a story called The Vampyre from a friend in the village the previous week, and had read it aloud to Mrs. D. and Mrs. H. after dinner one evening. They two older ladies had exchanged a knowing look, and it had taken some doing to get Mrs. Hatch to elaborate.
“The Duke of Rhuddlan,” she’d said with a shudder. “Some think he’s like that. A vampire.”
She’d refused to speak of it further, and Olivia had let it drop. But she’d made an inquiry or two when she returned the book a few days later, and Mrs. Hatch wasn’t the only person who thought there was something unholy about His Grace.
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A graduate of the University of Michigan with a major in history, Cora is the 2014 winner of the Royal Ascot contest for best unpublished Regency romance. She went on a twelve year expedition through the blackboard jungle as a high school math teacher before publishing Save the Last Dance for Me, the first book in the Maitland Maidens series.
When she’s not walking Rotten Row at the fashionable hour or attending the entertainments of the Season, you might find her participating in Historical Novel Society and Romance Writers of America events, wading through her towering TBR pile, or eagerly awaiting the next Marvel movie release.
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