The Devilish Pleasures of a Duke (Boscastle Family Series #6)

( 37 )


Award-winning author Jillian Hunter spins a captivating new tale of sweet mystery, reckless temptation, and scandalous desire.

Adrian Ruxley may be a ruggedly charming rogue, but he’s not a man to stand idly by while a lady is accosted–even at a wedding organized by the lady herself, Emma Boscastle, instructress in the social graces at her London academy for young gentlewomen. Adrian confronts the offender, a scuffle ensues, and now this smooth-talking heir is left to recuperate...

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The Devilish Pleasures of a Duke (Boscastle Family Series #6)

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Award-winning author Jillian Hunter spins a captivating new tale of sweet mystery, reckless temptation, and scandalous desire.

Adrian Ruxley may be a ruggedly charming rogue, but he’s not a man to stand idly by while a lady is accosted–even at a wedding organized by the lady herself, Emma Boscastle, instructress in the social graces at her London academy for young gentlewomen. Adrian confronts the offender, a scuffle ensues, and now this smooth-talking heir is left to recuperate under Emma’s very roof, delighted to see the deep concern in her lovely face. She has a charm no scoundrel can resist.

Emma is scandalized by her own behavior–seduced by a handsome stranger, indeed! How will she be able to hide her indiscretion from the perceptive Boscastle siblings? The divine passion that Adrian has unleashed, and the sensual delights he has shown her, have suddenly turned Emma’s days at the fledgling academy into a display of impropriety and her nights into a velvet abyss of sensual abandon. But as their intimacy reveals Adrian’s turbulent secrets, Emma is inspired to her most ambitious endeavor: redeeming a rake.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345487629
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/31/2007
  • Series: Boscastle Family Series, #6
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 345
  • Sales rank: 219,013
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jillian Hunter is the author of twelve critically acclaimed novels. She has received several awards, including the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Hunter lives in Southern California with her husband and three daughters.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

London 1815

There was a wolf at the wedding.

Emma Boscastle, the widowed Viscountess Lyons, was not sure whether it had been a guest or one of the maidservants who had whispered the unsettling observation in passing during the wedding reception. At first she thought nothing of it. The remark could have referred to one of their host’s large hunting dogs or merely to a ravenous guest.

A lady did not lessen herself by a listening to idle gossip. By profession she was obligated to set an example to others and not to indulge her prurient curiosities. This was, after all, the wedding of one of her former students, held in the Portman Square home of the bride’s in-laws, not a common countryside assembly.

Several minutes into the nuptial breakfast, however, the remark took on a more intriguing design. She’d just decided that the handsome gentleman standing across the room had an appealing air of the disreputable about him. Which would explain why she could not resist staring at him and why she ought to stop. Sadly enough, the fact that he was accompanied by three of her own brothers, Lords Heath, Drake, and Devon Boscastle, only enhanced his dangerous aura. He was probably a person to be avoided. Heaven knows she would have avoided her own family if she were not related and therefore obligated to offer them guidance.

Her suspicions about the attractive stranger were only confirmed after the champagne toast when he turned suddenly and smiled at her over the top of the wedding cake. She returned his roguish smile before she knew what she was doing. His perceptive hazel eyes positively twinkled with mischief.

Did she know him? Surely she’d remember a man with his commanding presence unless he had never been presented to her in polite company. One had to admit he pleased the eye with his dark, wheat-blond hair, chiseled features, and broad-shouldered frame.

She hazarded another thoughtful glance at his angular profile. He exuded the restless energy of a wolf in gentleman’s attire—A shock of realization went down her arms. It couldn’t be. Her brothers had not brought the notorious Adrian Ruxley, Viscount Wolverton, to Miss Marshall’s wedding.

A wolf at the wedding. The scandalmongers referred to him as a professional mercenary. If one believed the worst, he was a soldier of fortune who’d turned his back on his aristocratic upbringing to spite his father and had chosen to fight pirates in foreign lands.

Emma’s younger sister Chloe, admittedly not the most unbiased of witnesses, claimed that Lord Wolverton was misunderstood, a valiant rogue and loyal friend to his select circle of friends. Emma suspected that the truth lay somewhere in the middle of these differing opinions.

Would her brothers have dared to invite such a disputatious person to a wedding?

Of course they would. The dear scoundrels might be settling into their respective marriages, but they were still possessed of the scandalous Boscastle spirit. Honestly, nothing was sacred in this family. Her siblings picked the most controversial of companions, men and women that proper Society scorned. In fact, Emma had been so afraid that one of her brothers would embarrass her that she’d missed half the ceremony keeping an eye on the three of them.

Still, the wedding had gone off like a dream; despite the bride’s repeated avowals of gratitude toward her mentor, Emma had modestly refused to acknowledge the role she had played in making this a memorable event.

She was a woman who cherished tradition. Observance of formality almost enabled one to forget the vulgarities that existed outside the polite world.

More than anything she enjoyed a good wedding. Another breath of hope gently released into stale humanity. The bonhomie. The beautiful gowns. The dignity of ceremony and commitment.

And then, at the conclusion, came the lyrical clink of bone china as one savored a well-prepared breakfast. She gazed in pleasure at the heirloom silver polished and regally placed upon white damask tablecloths. Detail. Lovely detail. It made one believe that life could and should be marked by order and beauty.

“I shall be attending your nuptials next, Emma,” her cousin Charlotte teased, appearing at her side. “The girls are taking bets on when Sir William will offer for you.”

“Taking bets? The students of my academy?” Emma laughed reluctantly. “He and I have not even discussed our future.” Although Sir William Larkin, a gentleman barrister she’d met only a few months ago, had more than hinted at marriage during the few plays and picnics they had attended together.

“Wagering on my wedding,” she murmured in mock disapproval. “I don’t know what our school has become.”

“The best,” Charlotte said with an exuberant voice that made Emma wonder how many glasses of champagne her cousin had imbibed. Charlotte was by nature reserved, but one always sensed a certain rebellion simmering beneath.

Still, Emma appreciated the hard-won praise. As the foundress of a small ladies’ academy that was located in her brother and sister-in-law’s London home, she took a personal responsibility for her pupils. Those ladies who graduated proudly referred to themselves as The Lionesses of London. In other words, they had survived Lady Lyons’s intense guidance to emerge as perfect young gentlewomen.

If only on the outside.

She could not be expected to extend her influence when they left her, unfortunately, and her current pride of cubs was showing quite a wild bent that absorbed all her energy.

“Speaking of the best, where have the girls gone?” she asked. She’d brought her four oldest students to the wedding in the belief one should put etiquette into practice to perfect it.

“The last time I saw them they had just sighted Lord Wolverton and were begging Heath for an introduction.”

Emma blanched. Every conceivable form of social ruin flashed through her mind. “And you allowed this?”

“Well, I didn’t—do stop worrying, Emma. Heath would never permit the girls to come to harm.”

Emma glanced around the room in alarm. “Dear, dear. It isn’t the girls who appear to be in danger. Do you see how they behave the minute they’re unleashed?”

“Unleashed?” Charlotte asked, startled. “Is that the word that you used?”

“Just look for yourself.”

Lord Wolverton stood rather helplessly in the center of the female circle looking . . . like a man desperate to escape. It was an image one could hardly reconcile with his reputation as a professional mercenary.

At the moment, however, it was not Lord Wolverton whose conduct deserved criticism, no matter what his past. It was the three girls encircling him with all the subtlety of milkmaids on the common green. Erupting into raucous giggles. Fluttering their fans and eyeing his lordship as if they had forgotten every subtle precept Emma had hammered into their young heads.

She swept forward, forcing herself not to look at their gentleman victim. “Girls, may I have a word with you at the table?”

Three pairs of ivory fans snapped to attention. Chastened by the voice of she whom her own family called the Dainty Dictator, they dutifully trudged toward the table before which Emma waited.

“I shall say little.” She gazed at their downbent heads. “Until later. For now you should be congratulating the newlywed couple and, one dares to hope, setting your aim on achieving a similar state for yourselves.”

“But he’s a duke’s son—”

“Silence. He is notorious, and—” Emma broke off in consternation.

Girls being girls, she feared she would only whet their female curiosity by adding details of the man’s adventurous history.

It was her opinion that most young women harbored a secret attraction to forbidden gentlemen. Not that Emma had ever been so afflicted in her past. As the sister of five Boscastle brothers, she had observed one too many wicked males at work to harbor any romantic illusions about marrying one.

“There are only three of you,” she said suddenly. “Someone is missing. Where is Miss Butterfield?”

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 37 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The Boscastle we have waited for

    In 1815 the widow Emma Boscastle is the exception to the family¿s tendency to cause mayhem and scandal. However, the ¿Dainty Dictator¿ as her siblings affectionately and with some trepidation call her, feels with each of them married, the family reputation should improve and she will be able to run her girls academy in peace. Heir to a dukedom, Adrian Ruxley has just come home after time as a mercenary. His estrangement with his father is legendary and he plans to keep it that way. That is until he sees Emma for the first time at a wedding where she accosts some aristocrat for accosting a maid only the maid¿s beau punches out Adrian. He has fallen in love at first sight and knows he must change his behavior if he is to successfully court and make her his wife. However, before entering the lioness¿ lair, he must run the gamut of his family who remain embarrassed by his previous vocation and hers, as her siblings are very protective of their Dainty Dictator. Then there is Emma who is attracted to Adrian, but has doubts about taking on another scandalous male. --- Fans of the zany Boscastle brood will appreciate the tale that we have all waited for since book one to learn who is strong enough to match wits while lose pounds of flesh and pint of blood courting Emma. The story line as always is fast-paced and humorous while also returning with the siblings and their spouses from the previous five books, and the hopes of a next generation early Victorian Boscastle saga for a third trilogy. The Boscastle Regency romances are consistently some of the best historicals and this finale enhances that belief. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Adrian and Emma - I LOVED IT!!!

    I cannot say enough about Jillian Hunter and the Boscastle family series of books. By far, I found that I absolutely adored Adrian Ruxley to no end and only could dream of a man as desirable as he (other than my husband of course). Adrian and Emma, although total opposites, made the most spectacular love match. I can't wait for more of Ms. Hunter's books to arrive on the shelves, especially more of the Boscastle family and their seductive male heros. I recommend all of her books with all the passion in my blood!

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

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    I have read nearly all of Jillian Hunter's Boscastle Series and I have to say that this is my favorite. Adrian Ruxley and Emma Boscastle are so perfect for you each other you can't help but hope they get together in the end. Adrian has spent his entire life trying to find someone, anyone, who will see him for what he really is, despite rumors of his wayward life. Emma has spent her life trying to master her wild Boscastle blood. She lives life bound by convention and formality. But perhaps she has finally met the one man who can help her unleash her wild nature and show her that sometimes breaking the rules is the key to unlocking your happiness. I would encourage any and all who have read the previous Boscastle books to pick this one up. Also, if you are new to the Boscastle series, even though this book is not the first in the series, it's not a bad place to start. To the disappointed reviewer, all I can say is that perhaps you did not read this book thoroughly enough. I for one thought that both hero and heroine were incredibly well developed and that all parts of the plot fit together quite nicely for a well-rounded novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2010


    I've only recently discovered Jillian Hunter and her irrascible Boscastle family. I am reading their stories in order, enjoying each and every one! I have to say that Adrian is my favorite male lead thus far. I understand that there needs to be suspense in a story and often a chase of some sort, but it's nice to occasionally have the man be so ironclad certain of his feelings first and to honestly share them with himself and his object of affection. Adrian is drawn to Emma from first sight at the wedding of one of her former students. He can't help himself and recognizes how strongly he is attracted from the beginning, as well as what that means in their society. Despite his horrific past and his resultant reputation, he decides this is too serious a pursuit to be underhanded or sneaky, thus his honest and hopeful presentation to Emma at the same time that he respectfully maneuvers around her interferring, protective brood. He's the best of both worlds, open with his heartfelt admissions yet willing and able to defend his chosen one to the death if necessary.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2007


    I was disappoined in this continuation of the Boscastle saga. The basic story line was ok although somewhat unbelievable. Adrian's character was not as well developed as he should have been. Characters such as her nemesis Alice and her charity case Harriet appeared to be just stuck in the book without real depth. I have read the other two books in this trilogy and they were very entertaining but this one truely was not her best effort.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2007

    Who Would Have Thought...

    After the 5 more rambunctious and scandalous Boscastles had their stories, I was worried that The Dainty Dictator's story would be a bit of a let down. Boy was happily proved wrong. There hasn't been as fun a Boscastle since the first one between Grayson and Jane. With a love story that is sweet, lead characters that are charming, a family that is well integrated better than the previous books, this one has it all. Do not miss.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2007

    The Dainty Dictator Finds Love

    In the third and final book in the second Boscastle trilogy Jillian Hunter has once again written a tale that will entertain and thrill even the pickiest reader. Her writing style is finely detailed and her characters are full of mischief which is definitely a winning combination. I do have to say that I¿ve anxiously awaited this book to be published. THE DEVILISH PLEASURES OF A DUKE focuses on Emma Boscastle, known to her family as the Dainty Dictator. Emma is a widow who deems it her duty to try to keep the unruly Boscastle clan in line. She runs a girls academy teaching manners and the appropriate traits necessary for an English Lady. Her entire life is focused on making sure everyone around her stays out of scandalous situations and is above reproach. With the Boscastles this is a task not many could achieve and Emma has had her hands full. Emma herself is above reproach until Adrian Ruxley enters the picture. He is the son of the Duke of Scarfield and has been running from his own demons. Seems his father and he argued while he was growing up and tired of his father¿s accusations, Adrian left to become a mercenary much to his family¿s embarrassment. Once he sees Emma he¿s determined to have her and vows to change his life to a more suitable one in which Emma can survive happily. This means making amends with his estranged family besides convincing Emma¿s brothers that he is suitable husband material. With Jillian Hunter, nothing is mundane and the initial meeting of these two is hilarious. At a wedding, Emma is accosted by William, the man who has been courting her. Well actually a maid is accosted by William, Emma intervenes, she¿s insulted and Adrian steps in to defend her. The maid¿s boyfriend thinks Adrian was the one who was the villain and hits him over the head with a chair. With Adrian unconscious and in need of nursing, Emma feels it¿s her duty to take care of him while he heals. Yep, it¿s definitely not a normal introduction but that¿s the fun of reading a Jillian Hunter novel ¿ normal isn¿t in her vocabulary! Fun and laughter is definitely on the top of her list though. Character development is excellent as I¿ve come to expect from Hunter. Emma and Adrian were so well described that I felt like I¿d known them for years. Letting us know what the other Boscastles have been up to was like getting reacquainted with old friends, for which I was thrilled. This family is so full of fun that reading about them always brings a smile to my face. Sub-characters were also well developed and I can only guess as to which sub-characters will be the main focus of future books. Each would be equally interesting. Scenes were well described and suspense in some of them built until I read as fast as possible. The one scene in which Adrian escapes from the Boscastle home after a liaison with Emma was priceless¿ I don¿t want to spoil it but suffice it to say I laughed at the outcome and cheered for the women who outwitted the Boscastle men! Pitting the men against the women in her books is always fun and gets the reader chuckling out loud. Overall this book is so much fun that you won¿t want to put it down until you¿ve finished. It¿s a great way to spend a day or two and you¿ll enjoy getting reacquainted with the Boscastle clan and introduced more in-depth to The Dainty Dictator who really isn¿t so different than her siblings she just hid her devious traits a bit better. THE DEVILISH PLEASURES OF A DUKE definitely should be added to your Must Read list.

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