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Duke of Sin
     

Duke of Sin

4.2 16
by Adele Ashworth
 

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Vivian Rael–Lamont lives peacefully in the small town of Penzance, Cornwall, where everybody believes her to be widowed, when in truth she left London unwilling to let her husband's exploits taint her family name. All's well, until someone threatens to reveal her married status and expose her to scandal – unless she can obtain an original signed copy of

Overview

Vivian Rael–Lamont lives peacefully in the small town of Penzance, Cornwall, where everybody believes her to be widowed, when in truth she left London unwilling to let her husband's exploits taint her family name. All's well, until someone threatens to reveal her married status and expose her to scandal – unless she can obtain an original signed copy of a Shakespearian play, owned by none other than the reclusive and mysterious William Raleigh, Duke of Trent. Vivian is unexpectedly drawn to Raleigh and, for the price of passion, he ends up joining her quest to catch the blackmailer, a discovery which only leads them to more danger. And although their bond only grows stronger, they soon realise the fruitlessness of their relationship – a married woman of noble background cannot enter into an illicit affair with the Duke of Sin.or can she?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062003577
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/02/2010
Series:
Duke Trilogy , #1
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
156,096
File size:
356 KB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
Southern Cornwall July 1856

Vivian stared at the handwritten note: His grace desires...

Smiling wryly, she decided she rather wished he did. But then she'd only seen him from a distance and entertaining such a thought was beyond scandalous.

She folded the note without further ridiculous considerations and shoved it into the large pocket of her work smock. The orchids -- her prize among the flowers she maintained -- would be ready for him day after tomorrow, as his butler requested. This would be work for hire, or rather expertise for hire, nothing more than it was each year at this time.

Again, she would fill the standard and formal order for fresh flowers from the reclusive Duke of Trent, displayed to beautify the rooms of his coastal estate that stretched for miles on the western slope overlooking the Lizard Peninsula. And again this year, she would do her best to get a peek of the enigmatic man who'd managed to escape the noose for the murder of his wife.

"Mrs. Rael-Lamont?"

Vivian started at the interruption and turned swiftly toward the doorway between her house and garden, where her housekeeper stood with a totally unreadable look on her aging, sun-weathered face, seemingly not at all concerned that her mistress had been daydreaming instead of potting.

"Yes, Harriet, what is it?" she replied forthrightly.

The older woman hesitated, wiping her hands on her apron. "There's a ... person here to see you. A man. The ... um ... stage actor from the Shakespearean Company that's been playing at Cosgroves for the summer."

Vivian caught herself from gaping. "An actor is here?"

Harriet lowered her voice. "Gilbert Montague, he said his name is. He didn't have a card, and of course I didn't admit him, but he's choosing to wait just the same. Said his business with you is urgent."

Mildly intrigued, Vivian moved toward her housekeeper, stepping into the shade created by vines that wove through the trellis-covered porch, and reached for a hand towel on the garden bench. "Did he say what he wanted?" She couldn't begin to imagine what business an actor might have with her, personally or professionally.

Harriet stepped out onto the cobblestone, her plump figure erect and her expression firmly set in a line of disapproval. "He didn't offer a reason for his visit, no," she replied succinctly. "He only said he wanted a few minutes of your time, and would you oblige him. I told him I'd see if you were at home."

Vivian smiled inwardly. She was obviously at home, but adhering to social protocol, Harriet had to check. And of course one would never allow someone so common into one's private residence.

She smoothed her hair away from her face; the midday heat never failed to add an annoying bounce to loose curls that framed her cheeks and forehead, preventing her from keeping it tidy. She no doubt looked a fright, spending the last two hours working with soil in the sun and humid air, but then it hardly mattered, she decided. Mr. Montague, being a person of the stage, had certainly seen far worse in his line of work or on the street.

"Very well, I'll receive him," she informed her housekeeper, reaching behind her to untie her dirtstained work smock. As Harriet's eyes opened a fraction in surprise, she added, "But don't bring him through the house; inform him that he'll find me 'round back and through the gate."

Harriet nodded once, her disapproving expression giving way to one of solid relief at such wisdom. "Yes, ma'am. I'll send him on momentarily."

Once again standing alone in the afternoon shade in her secluded patio, Vivian tossed her smock on the bench and shook out her brown muslin skirt. As one of her three work gowns, she'd chosen this one in particular this hot morning because of its looseness through the bustline and waist, but it didn't do a thing to flatter her figure. As much as she adored the theater, she'd never in her life greeted an actor -- or anyone of so lowly a station -- in her home, so how she looked to this one probably didn't matter in the slightest.

Stepping back into the sunlight, she poured herself half a glass of lukewarm water from a pitcher on the nearby potting table. As she drank thirstily, she heard the creak of the thick wooden gate as it gave way to intrusion on the westernmost side of the house.

Quickly, she patted her mouth with the bottom of her smock and turned to face the approaching sound of heavy footsteps on the cobblestone walkway. Standing with as much formal bearing as the circumstances allowed, her hands clasped behind her back, she faced the small, tufted palm tree that jutted out from the corner of the property until she saw his legs appear, then his body in full form.

Vivian backed up a step as the man approached her. She'd expected him to be large, as she'd twice seen him perform rather magnificently on stage. Still, she wasn't prepared for the wide-shouldered, long-limbed person of supercilious elegance now standing directly in front of her, between two rare species of prized orchids, blocking the sun with his head as he gazed down at her face.

His appearance, however surprisingly fashionable, couldn't hide the coarseness of his stoic features as he focused on her quite intently, perhaps expecting her to glance away with uncertainty or discomfiture. She couldn't, however, allow herself to cower. Instant uneasiness deep inside quickly alerted her, sharpening her senses, warning her to keep her mind focused and her stance one of indifference, even arrogance. She refused to be intimidated by his sheer size. Surprisingly, though, she wasn't afraid.

"Mrs. Rael-Lamont," he acknowledged with a slight nod, his tone a deep drawl, his diction perfect. She tipped her head toward him once in reply.

"Mr. Montague, I presume. What may I help you with today?"

Copyright © 2004 by Adele Ashworth.

Meet the Author

I've always loved to write, but after my first attempt at a novel (nine chapters of Plastic City, the story of underwater-dwelling orphans in the twenty-third century that I wrotein the sixth grade), I took some time to get my bachelor'sdegree and to try my hand at other careers before I returnedto my first passion: creative writing. After lots and lots of perseverance, hard work, and a bit of very good luck, My Darling Caroline went on to win the Romance Writers of America's RITA® Award for Best First Book of 1998.

I live in Texas with my family, exploring history as Idelve into the hearts of my characters.

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Duke of Sin 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
FIRST READ OF THIS AUTHORS BOOKS.GOOD STEADY STORY WITH A MYSTERY NOT TOO WELL HIDDEN BUT STILL HAS A SLIGHT TWIST AT THE END. ON A SENSUAL SCALE OF 1-10 IT IS A 7. GOOD STRONG LEAD CHARACTERS AND NASTY VILLAINS TO GIVE IT SOME ADDED PIZAZZ. THE ONLY PROBLEM I HAD WAS WILLIAM CONSTANTLY RUNNING HIS FINGERS THROUGH HE HAIR--I WAS SURPRISED HE WASN'T BALD BY THE END OF THE BOOK WHAT WITH VIVIAN TAKING A SHOT AT HIS LOCKS ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION TOO.
Lizzlett More than 1 year ago
I love to see two emotionally scarred people heal as they fall in love with each other. Lots of sexual tension, laughter and tears. My only complaint is that it seemed to wrap up too quickly as if some word quota had been met.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1856, an actor Montague visits Widow Vivian Rael-Lamont in Cornwall. He has evidence proving she is not widow and more damaging information that would destroy Vivian, who hides from the London aristocracy. Montague blackmails Vivian, insisting she visit the Duke of Trent to seduce him out of an original Shakespearean sonnet manuscript.......................... A bit of a recluse in spite of his reputation as the DUKE OF SIN, William Raleigh wonders why Vivian is visiting him as he has no doubt she has some hidden agenda. Besides surprising himself by finding SOMEONE IRRESISTIBLE, William is curious as to why she is here so he allows her to stay so that he can learn the truth. As they fall in love, Vivian wonders how to tell her Sin why she came expecting he will distrust and loathe her; as well as how to cope with that dastardly Montague who will ruin her if she fails to accomplish his task........................... This is an engaging Victorian romance due to the fabulous metamorphosis of the relationship between the delightful lead couple. The story line has a gothic feel to it with William being somewhat of a brooding hero and his home striking fear into Vivian when she first arrives there. This first of the Duke trilogy is a fine mid-nineteenth century tale in which readers will hope that all ends well for this likable pair......................... Harriet Klausner
2_PMVH More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this hot and steamy book. I thought it would be a simple blackmail story but I was so wrong. Vivian is a woman hiding in the country from all sins done to her. She is married to an addict who only cares for her money and himself. Will is a duke who hides in the country after his wife dies and he is put on trail for her death. If his friends, his fellow dukes, had not fought for him during his trail, he made of been convicted of her murder. Vivian goes to Will for his manuscript that her blackmailer wants and Will is charmed by her. He decides to help her anyway he can ever if she does not ask for it. Vivian learns of desire from him. Will learns of true love from her. This story is full of twists, turns, blackmail, steamy scenes and 2 lonely people who don't want to hide anymore. This book also has an evil brother and sister whose hatred planned an elaborate plot to ruin a innocent man. I give this book 4 fingers up and 8 toes!!
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