Only a predictable ending mars this smoky Victorian romance, a follow-up to 2008's Never Trust a Scoundrel. Outspoken, progressive Abigail Shaw has reluctantly decided that society gossip is the only thing that will bring readers back to her father's dying newspaper. A rumor from a friend mentions Christopher Cabot, the duke of Madingley, so Abigail sneaks into his sister's debut. When she finds the duke hiding from two marriage-minded ladies, Abigail brazenly offers to play the role of his lover, keeping his preying suitors at bay while learning more about his secret past. As they play their roles to perfection, their sham relationship grows into something genuine, until a malicious reporter resolves to disgrace the duke and Abby's true identity is revealed. While the story's finale is scripted and cheesy, readers will enjoy the preceding trysts, secrets and passion. (Dec.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Never Dare a Dukeby Gayle Callen
An indecent proposal
Abigail Shaw is a proper young lady, hardly the sort to boldly offer a deal to London's most distinguished and perfect duke. But Abigail, desperate to save her father's newspaper business, is after a good scandal. She'd have the sensational headlines that would keep the ton talking—and the family/em>/blockquote>/p>… See more details below
An indecent proposal
Abigail Shaw is a proper young lady, hardly the sort to boldly offer a deal to London's most distinguished and perfect duke. But Abigail, desperate to save her father's newspaper business, is after a good scandal. She'd have the sensational headlines that would keep the ton talking—and the family business thriving—if only she could uncover the secrets of Christopher Cabot, the Duke of Madingley. What better way than a pretend romance? Yet, with all his seductive glances and stolen caresses, she somehow has to keep from succumbing to temptation.
Christopher finds Abigail—and her proposal—intriguing. A fake romance with the stunning commoner would allow him time to choose a suitable wife from among the would-be duchesses nipping at his heels. It seems like a perfect plan . . . as long as he can keep her from uncovering his one deep, dark secret. But as he falls for the cunning beauty, he will be tempted to reveal all—his secret, his heart, and his soul.
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Never Dare a Duke
"There he is!"
Miss Abigail Shaw craned her neck in the most unladylike fashion. "Where?" she hissed. "Are you certain it's the duke?"
The driver of Lady Gwendolin Warfield's open carriage continued to maneuver down the crowded lane in the middle of Hyde Park. Much to Abigail's frustration, Gwen waved and smiled at the passing carriages, her black hair shining in the sun beneath her neat little hat.
Still holding a smile and speaking between her teeth, Gwen said, "He is riding his horse with no one else in attendance. Do you see him now, coming toward us? The dark-haired man who just tipped his hat to the Fogges."
Abigail saw him now. Christopher Cabot, the duke of Madingley, had the black hair, black eyes, and olive complexion of his mother's Spanish heritage. He rode his horse with the grace of a king, and she knew that all of the ton in attendance this afternoon admired him greatly for all his good and noble works.
But Gwen had said there was more in his background, something covered up with money and the threat of nobility—something scandalous.
Normally, Abigail would not let herself be caught up in gossip, but everything had changed, and she was floundering.
Being the daughter of a newspaper publisher who prided himself on championing justice, Abigail had grown up wanting to make a difference, to be a journalist herself. All people deserved to be treated fairly and to have access to the truth. The world was changing, and the peers were not the only people who mattered anymore.
But as awoman, she faced an even more difficult hill to climb. Even her father didn't know she was a writer for his paper—yet. But he would. Writing anonymously, she had started with small pieces, literary reviews at first, and had next graduated to become the drama critic. But when the managing editor recently told her that he could no longer pay her, she had learned of the Morning Journal's financial problems. Although the implications for her family were grave, she did not let herself panic. She thought she could help.
Abigail had researched all of her father's competition and realized that what lured the readers was gossip. Middle-class people loved to read about the foibles and scandals of the ton. The Journal had to do a better job of giving readers the important news of the day—mixed with a little gossip.
Gwen had told her that the most scandalous family of all were the Cabots. For at least three generations, they'd been a journalist's dream. The most recent cousin, Daniel Throckmorten, had just been married, after having won his wife in a wager. The Morning Journal had only reported the marriage announcement rather than the details of the scandal itself, an opportunity lost, in Abigail's opinion. But, then, everyone had written about the Cabots, and yet the public was still ravenous for more.
The duke was the only member of the Cabot family who portrayed himself as above the many scandals that seemed to follow the rest of his relatives. He had no reputation except that of a sought-after, titled bachelor. But according to Gwen, there were rumors that he was hiding a dreadful secret and that exorbitant money had been given to pay for that secrecy.
Abigail was offended that he could pretend to be so perfect, that people could look up to him when his reputation was founded on lies. She owed it to honest readers everywhere to uncover his secrets. With this new story, she would increase the circulation of her father's paper tenfold, lure wealthy advertisers—and save the Morning Journal from ruin. Her father's reputation would be restored, and he could continue to help people. And she had Gwen to thank for the idea although Abigail had not yet confided in her friend the real reason why she had to write this article.
"What did I tell you?" Gwen said in a low voice, still smiling at her many friends. "Is he not handsome?"
"Yes, he is."
And it was very true. She had been prepared to find the duke sinister and arrogant but had been unprepared for his handsome looks, dark as sin. She noted his tall, correct posture, the cutaway riding coat that emphasized his broad shoulders and lean hips, the trousers that hugged his muscled thighs and disappeared into his perfectly polished riding boots.
"He is almost too perfect," Abigail mused.
Gwen glanced at her with amusement. "For your article, you mean?"
"I guess that's the point," Abigail said. "No one is perfect, and no one should be allowed to deceive others."
But as the duke continued to approach, she felt a little light-headed. It was surely the warmth of the summer sun, not the way his dark, impassive gaze swept over them.
And returned. Something in her tightened when he looked at her. Though it was a brief glance, it was penetrating, and she knew what he saw: a short, plump woman, with plain brown hair and brown eyes. Nothing that would interest a duke. And it was a good thing, too, she reminded herself. If she was to investigate him, he must not notice her.
And then the moment of his intense regard was gone, and he was tipping his hat to them both.
"Good afternoon, Your Grace," Gwen called, waving to him.
"It's a fine day, Lady Gwendolin," the duke said. His gaze touched on Abigail again as he nodded. "Miss."
His deep voice held no trace of an accent, although she had already learned that he spoke fluent Spanish.
To Abigail's shock, he slowed his horse, and the alert coachman did the same. She was fairly new to journalism and felt almost embarrassed facing the man she would soon investigate.
She returned his nod, keeping her smile simple. Let him move on, please.
Gwen leaned forward. "Your Grace, allow me to present my dearest friend, Miss Abigail Shaw. Miss Shaw, the duke of Madingley."Never Dare a Duke. Copyright © by Gayle Callen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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