A Man Who’s Gaining Everything
When the Duke of Devonshire unexpectedly becomes guardian to 18-year-old Louisa Kellynch, his plan is to send her off to boarding school the first chance he gets. But after he meets her, his desire begins warring with his sense of duty.
A Young Woman With Nothing to Lose
Since Louisa is unable to inherit her family’s entailed estate, she comes up with the next best plan: seduce and marry the duke so she can regain what’s rightfully hers. Only she’s soon at risk for falling in over her head…
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was inspired by the idea of forbidden romance: two characters who want to be together, but struggle with that desire because of society or their own sense of honor. And I love historical romances, so it was natural to write in this era!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I wanted to write characters who were different from the ones in my first book. Louisa, the heroine in Tempting the Duke, is really free-spirited. She's also been through some terrible tragedies: losing her parents and her home in the space of a year. It takes Jon a while to realize that because he's so determined to block his heart off from her.
Bartholomew Jonathan Wallbridge, the Duke of Devonshire, was in a terrible mood. He had been riding on horseback for four hours straight and the sun shining in the sky hadn't been deterred by his riding hat, so he had developed a blistering headache. Worst of all, he was nearing his destination. Jon would rather have a hundred headaches than complete the errand he had ridden out to perform. It had all started with the dreadful letter he had received from his attorney in London a few weeks ago.
A rather interesting bit of news has been brought to my attention. I was visited this morning by an attorney from Haverton, who has apparently been looking for me for quite some time. Or rather, he's been looking for you. It seems you are the closest male relation to the recently deceased Walter Kellynch (a most respectable gentleman by all accounts). His affairs were all tied up rather complicatedly, but we've sorted it out, and suffice it to say, you are heir to both his estate and the rest of his considerable fortune. I shall follow up this correspondence with more details, however, I don't believe it will require a great effort on your part to sort out his affairs. Were you to ride out to Haverton, it should only take you a few weeks to sort the whole situation out.
There is one other aspect to this business I must inform you of. Although both Mr. Kellynch and his wife were deceased, they left behind a young daughter. Because his affairs were entailed, all of Kellynch's fortune will pass to you, which leaves the poor girl in an unfortunate situation. She has no other relations on her mother's side. According to every interpretation I can make of the law, you are her guardian. I apologize for the suddenness of this news and I’m eager to discuss the issue more in person the next time you are in London.
Your ever faithful servant,
In other words, Jonathan was inheriting a ward and a fortune all at once. At 28, Jonathan had no desire to become guardian to anyone, much less a young girl who would surely hate him for inheriting the Kellynch estate in her stead. And it wasn’t as though Jon needed the money.
He had resolved it with himself that, as soon as he could settle affairs at the estate, he would send the girl off to finishing school and put the entire business from his mind as best he could. He'd even left his valet behind on this journey, hoping to make his trip as quickly and with as little effort as possible.
Jon’s horse crested a ridge, jolting him from his thoughts, and there, with several miles of green open land between them, lay the village of Haverton.
Louisa Kellynch was furiously mixing cake batter in a bowl while her thoughts jumbled together inside her head. Every once in a while, little bits of chocolate batter spat out from the dish, spattering her blond hair and pert nose, but Louisa was too preoccupied to notice. She had gotten word just this morning that her late father's heir had been discovered at last and would be arriving at the estate within the next week. To take stock of his new property, no doubt.
Louisa would very much rather he had stayed lost. As difficult as life had been the last few months, and as much as she mourned the loss of her parents, Louisa had grown accustomed to independence and she wasn’t eager to give that back. She didn't have to answer to anyone about how she occupied her time. If she wanted to spend half the day out horseback riding alone, she could—and often did. She didn’t have to suffer through social engagements with her insufferable neighbors for the sake of politeness, nor was she forbidden from spending time in the kitchens because that behavior was "unladylike."
But now her father's heir had finally been tracked down. And some stranger, this Duke of Devonshire, would be coming here and rearranging her life. As her guardian, he would have control over every detail, from where she lived to whether she could marry. It was so unjust!
Louisa could not even run away, supposing she'd had a notion to, because she didn't have a penny to her name. All her father's wealth had been tied up in the estate and would, therefore, pass to the duke. And the 5,000 pounds her mother had left her would not be at her disposal until Louisa turned 21 years old—a whole three years away. Until that time, she had no choice but to be the duke's property and hope she didn't displease him or do anything to cause him to mistreat her.
When the batter was mixed to within an inch of its life, Louisa poured the cake into a round metal tin and placed it in the wood oven. The cook, who by this point had grown used to Louisa invading her kitchen whenever the young mistress was in a mood, merely looked on. Louisa removed the messy apron, which had preserved most of her white gown from getting dirty, and placed it on a stool.
"Would you mind taking that out of the oven once it's baked?" she asked the cook. "I feel in need of some fresh air. I think I'll take Peppercorn out before the entire day is gone." Peppercorn was the name of Louisa's gray mare, a gift from her father on her 15th birthday.
"I'd be glad to, madam," the cook said pleasantly. Louisa smiled her thanks and went out to the stables.
Louisa didn't bother to change into her riding habit or use the sidesaddle. Her mother had always despaired of her daughter's improper behavior when she was still alive, but her father would just laugh. "We're far from the prying eyes of the ton. Let her do as she wishes." The memory tugged painfully at her heart.
Louisa chose one of her favorite routes today, hoping the fresh air and quiet greenery of the countryside would soothe her mind. Peppercorn trotted along gamely with little direction needed from her rider; the horse had memorized the path. Louisa allowed her eyes to close, savoring the feel of the breeze across her face and the smell of spring in the air. This could be one of the last times she experienced this freedom.
Eyes still closed, Louisa felt a few wet drops land on her face. Rain. She reopened her eyes. More drops came down until they became a steady sprinkle. With a laugh, Louisa pushed her legs into Peppercorn's sides, urging the horse to go faster.
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