The Taming of the Duke (Essex Sisters Series #3)

The Taming of the Duke (Essex Sisters Series #3)

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by Eloisa James
     
 

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Imogen, Lady Maitland, has decided to dance on the wild side. After all, she's in the delicious position of being able to take a lover. A discreet male who knows just when to leave in the morning.

But Lady Maitland is still under the watchful eye of her former guardian, the wildly untamed Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook. He believes she is still in need of a

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Overview

Imogen, Lady Maitland, has decided to dance on the wild side. After all, she's in the delicious position of being able to take a lover. A discreet male who knows just when to leave in the morning.

But Lady Maitland is still under the watchful eye of her former guardian, the wildly untamed Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook. He believes she is still in need of a "watchdog." She laughs at the idea that someone so insufferably lazy and devoted to drink can demand that she behave with propriety.

It's Rafe's long-lost brother, a man who looks precisely like the duke but with none of his degenerate edge, who interests Imogen. To Imogen, he's the shadow duke . . . the man who really should hold the title. But when Imogen agrees to accompany Gabe to a masquerade...whose masked eyes watch her with that intense look of desire? Who exactly is she dancing with? The duke or the shadow duke? Rafe . . . or Gabe?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
James's delightful third installment in her successful Four Sisters Regency series (Much Ado About You; Kiss Me, Annabel) revolves around Imogen Maitland, the mischievous sister of Kiss Me, Annabel's titular heroine. Now a widow residing at Holbrook Court in Suffolk, England, Imogen lives under the care of her guardian, Rafe Jourdain, the stubborn, drunken duke of Holbrook charged with the parentless Essex sisters' care. As she clashes with the controlling, brutish Rafe, Imogen believes she is uninterested, but helping Rafe through painful alcohol detox helps spark the attraction between them. When Imogen meets Rafe's illegitimate half-brother, Gabe Spenser, however, she becomes determined to pursue an illicit affair with Gabe; soon, Rafe is impersonating Gabe-complete with a fake mustache-in a scandalous nighttime outing with Imogen that pushes them to the edge of temptation and forces Rafe to seriously consider the delicate proposition of seducing his own ward. Before long, Rafe becomes determined to pursue Imogen-for his wife. James's intelligent, believable dialogue rises above the often trite language found in historical romances, giving the characters depth and substance. James's considerable talents for clever prose and tight, breezy plotting are on full display, promising a perennial delight in each coming adventure of the Essex sisters. (Mar. 28) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061800337
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Series:
Essex Sisters Series , #3
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
27,338
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Taming of the Duke


By Eloisa James

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Eloisa James
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060781580

Chapter One

In Which the Curiosities of Courtship
are Reviewed

August 1817
Ardmore Castle, Scotland

"I wish I were a queen," Miss Josephine Essex said to two of her elder sisters. "I would simply command an appropriate man to marry me by special license."

"What if he refused?" Imogen, sometimes known as Lady Maitland, asked.

"I'd remove his head from his body," Josie said with dignity.

"Given that men make slim use of their heads," Annabel, the Countess of Ardmore said, "you don't have to threaten decapitation; simply allow the fellow to believe that he made up his own mind about marriage." She was tucked in Imogen's bed and appeared little more than a tousle of curls peeking from under the bedcovers.

"That is precisely the kind of advice I need." Josie snapped open a small book and poised her quill. "I am making a study of the skills required to succeed in the marriage market and since you two are both married, you are my primary sources of information."

"I'm a widow," Imogen said. "I know nothing of the marriage market." She was sorting silk stockings and didn't even look up from the dressing table.

"One should be able to dance," Annabel noted. "You really must practice harder, Josie. You were stomping on Mayne'stoes the other night."

"I need better advice than that," Josie said to her. "You are the only one of us to have actually gone on the season, and you married into a title. You do remember that I'm to have a season next year, don't you?"

Annabel opened one eye. "Only because you mention it every other minute. Lord, but I'm sleepy!"

"I've heard that marriage rots the brain," her youngest sister told her cheerfully.

"In that case, I wonder that you're so interested in it."

Josie ignored that unhelpful comment. "There's more to gaining a husband than not tripping over his feet while waltzing. I want to understand the challenges beforehand. I can't rely on beauty, the way the two of you did."

"That's ridiculous. You are lovely," Annabel said.

"I was in London for the better part of April," Imogen said, "and I saw plenty of young ladies in your situation, Josie. It seemed to me that the primary requirement for a debutante is a smirk. An innocent simper," she clarified. "Smirk," Josie noted in her book.

"And listen to everything your suitor says as if God Himself is speaking. Of course, sometimes it's difficult to stay awake."

"Men can be very boring," Annabel agreed. "They have such a penchant for discussing themselves. You have to learn to endure, which is not one of your best qualities, Josie."

"To this point, you have shown no ability to suffer fools gladly," Imogen said. "Yet fools have the deepest pockets. It's a proven fact that lack of brains and a large estate go hand in hand."

Josie had been writing busily in her book but she looked up at this. "So I smirk at the fool as he talks about himself? Essentially, toe-curling boredom buys a spouse?"

"I think Imogen is overstating the importance of a smirk," Annabel put in. "There are moments in courtship that can be rather interesting. In my view, for example, a prospective groom might prefer engaging in a mildly scandalous activity to a mutual smirk."

"Annabel has a point. I suppose you might occasionally engage in an impudent act," Imogen said, "but only if you found yourself in the company of a truly engaging young man."

"That's a bit steep coming from you," Josie said. "You devoted yourself to outrageous efforts from the very moment you saw Draven Maitland. Remember how he kissed you, after you arranged to fall out of a tree at his feet?"

Imogen's hands stilled for a moment. "Of course I do. It was spring and the apple tree was in bloom."

"And then you fell off a horse, and finally you fell into marriage. Your example seems to go against the model of the innocent simper," Josie said. "I intend to be practical about this business, and I have no particular disinclination to creating a scandal, if that is the most efficacious route to marriage."

"My foolishness is nothing to emulate," Imogen said, returning to her task and folding two pale blue stockings together. "You would do better to find a husband by a more conventional means."

Josie made a note in her book. "Employ an innocent look, no matter how imprudent one's private conduct may be. It sounds like that gentleman thief who is always getting described in the Times. One moment he appears as a fine gentleman and then with a twist of a dish clout, he's transformed into a beggar."

"In fact, the reverse of Imogen's style," Annabel pointed out, a hint of mischief in her tone. "Since Imogen specializes in appearing debauched, no matter how innocent her private activities may be. According to Griselda, all of London now believes you are carrying on an illicit amour with Mayne, whereas in truth the man has achieved slightly more intimacy than a footman."

"Every woman should have an occupation," Imogen said. "Mine is to provide interest to the old biddies." She tossed a few stockings over her shoulder. They gently drifted to the bed and fell on Annabel's legs.

"Well, as to that," Josie said thoughtfully, "you seem to be slightly behind the times, Annabel."

"She's more than behind the times. She's utterly out of style," Imogen said. "Last night she was flirting with her husband at supper. That kind of behavior is beyond unfashionable; it's practically indecent. No one is supposed to pay attention to her spouse in public. Or," she added, "in private either." Annabel grinned and said nothing.

"I saw Ardmore kissing you in the breakfast parlor yesterday," Josie remarked. "Your husband has lost his head, which suggests that you should be able to help me. You must have better suggestions than improving my dancing."

Continues...


Excerpted from The Taming of the Duke by Eloisa James Copyright © 2006 by Eloisa James. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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