Devonshire, England, 1820
Determined to avoid the strife-filled marriage of his parents, Marcus, the Duke of Ulvercombe, wants an amenable, biddable wife, and has set his cap for a certain pretty miss. Unfortunately, her vastly opinionated, frustrating, and lamentably beautiful guardian, Lady Clara Tinniswood, keeps distracting him, tempting him to consider a far more tempestuous—and passionate—union.
Recently widowed Lady Clara Tinniswood wants only to organize a quiet new life for herself, beyond the control of any man. But one shockingly unguarded moment while confronted by Marcus’s gloriously naked body catapults her headlong into a forbidden passion and threatens to undermine all her well-laid plans.
Even if Marcus abandons his sweet ideal and surrenders to his growing desire for Clara, there's still one thing that could destroy their hopes forever...
Each book in the Wayward in Wessex series is STANDALONE:
* Distracting the Duke
* Unmasking the Earl
* Vanquishing the Viscount
About the Author
Elizabeth first started writing fiction when she was eight, encouraged to do so by her Head Teacher father, who needed something to keep her quiet during school holidays. Her favorite topics were mermaids, ghosts, Norman knights and quests, and she illustrated and decorated her own books. She emerged from the world of her imagination to read History at the University of London, after which she spent many years working as an archaeologist and artifact illustrator. She then became a primary school teacher, after which she moved to museum education work, and display and collections management.
Elizabeth has been involved in Medieval, Tudor, and English Civil War re-enactment and has enjoyed sword-play and traditional archery, excelling in neither. She lived for seven years on a Knights Templar estate in Essex where she pursued her interest in historical textiles, cookery and medicine. She loves anything to do with the past, and still looks down holes in the ground to see if there's anything archaeological in them. There generally isn't.
She has written fifteen historical romances since moving to the West of England in 1997, the landscape and history of which have inspired the "Wayward in Wessex" series.
Read an Excerpt
Distracting the Duke
Wayward in Wessex
By Elizabeth Keysian, Nina Bruhns
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Elizabeth Keysian
All rights reserved.
Kessington House, Devonshire, England
"So, what you want is a brainless, biddable beauty to bear you children, is that it?"
Lady Clara Tinniswood, just about to enter the summer drawing room in search of a place to hide from the gossips, retreated back into the hallway but remained within earshot. How would the host of the evening's ball here at Kessington House, the dangerously attractive Marcus Albemarle, fourth Duke of Ulvercombe, answer that question?
"Very alliterative, Snetty. But, yes, that just about sums it up."
Clara took an instant dislike to the duke but couldn't tear herself away from the conversation. As a widow, she'd learned what disaster opinions like his could mean for a wife and felt a powerful urge to storm in and put him right. She peeped round the doorjamb to see who else was in the room.
Ah, the duke's best friend, Frederick, Viscount Snettisham. Might he put in a word for the fairer sex?
"But what about when you're in your dotage?" Snettisham inquired.
"What use will a once-beautiful, still-stupid wife be to you then?" Bravo, Lord Snettisham! Clara thought.
Ulvercombe looked much struck. "By Jove, I hadn't thought of that.
Still, I daresay one might have a mistress, if only for the company."
Such insufferable arrogance! Did he think all he need do was crook his little finger for women to come shooting out of the cupboards and from behind the potted palm trees, ready to fall at his feet?
The grim reality was that the duke was probably right. He was extremely eligible, excellently proportioned, perfectly dressed, and had the face of a Greek god. Women would be tripping over themselves to catch him. Curse the man.
"Then intelligent, opinionated females such as, say, your new neighbor, Lady Tinniswood, wouldn't suit? She's very striking."
Clara suppressed a gasp. Why were they dragging her name into their horrid conversation? And how dare people who didn't even know her label her a bluestocking!
Ulvercombe threw back his golden head and laughed. "I should say not, Snetty! The very idea!"
Fury flashed through Clara as she backed away from the door. The nerve of the man! She marched down the corridor, gossips forgotten, intending to lose herself in the crowd that thronged the Duke of Ulvercombe's ballroom and to get as far away from the vile fellow as possible. She barely noticed the dazzling chandeliers, the lively music, or the stunning paintings of the Devonshire landscape. The duke's words had stung, and she felt like hating everything in the stately pile of Kessington House.
Except, of course, the Venus figurine which had once upon a time been taken from her own family by dubious means. She didn't hate that. In fact, she'd very much like to get a look at it.
Taking a steadying breath, she realized someone might be pleased to hear the duke's requirements for a wife. Her brother, Mr. Philip Weston. His — their — ward, Miss Eleanora Soper, sounded perfect for Ulvercombe — pretty, biddable, and sweet. But would Ulvercombe, with his shallow view of women, be perfect for her?
Clara doubted it.
Someone tapped her on the arm with a fan. "Ah, there you are, Aunt Clara," said Eleanora. "Uncle Philip said you'd be hiding from that gossiping Lady Fearnley, but I knew he must be bamming me. Everyone seems delightful."
Clara forced a smile. She doubted that, as well.
They linked arms and strolled back to the ballroom with Philip in their wake, then picked their way around the dance floor. Observing the dancers as they headed back to their seats, she said, "Ellie, you are surely the prettiest girl here."
"I concur," agreed her brother. "Eleanora, you do the Weston family credit."
Pain lanced through Clara at his words. She had brought the Weston family absolutely no credit with her catastrophic marriage to Lord Simon Tinniswood.
The scandalous outcome of that marriage, which her family was desperate to hush up, had forced them to move to deepest Devonshire where they weren't known and had put enormous pressure on their finances.
Their ward, Ellie, was an heiress, though she would not come into her inheritance for a good number of years. But if she made a good match this Season, she could help restore the family finances far sooner. The Duke of Ulvercombe, with his principal residence no more than half an hour's ride away from the Westons' new home at Lawton Court, was the most eligible — and the wealthiest — bachelor in the district.
As if that thought had conjured him up, Clara saw him stride into the ballroom, then stop, staring directly at them. Flushing, she turned away, but not before she'd seen him start beating a path in their direction.
"Ellie, get ready to make your curtsey," she advised.
"Oh no, is he coming over here?" Ellie asked worriedly. "When he greeted us at the door he quite terrified me. What shall I say to him?" Clearly, Clara had more work to do with her timid charge.
"Don't be cowed by his title," she said. "Beneath all the show, he's just a man, and — trust me — they have many weaknesses."
Ellie's hand flew to her mouth. "Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to remind you of Lord Tinniswood."
Fortunately, Ellie knew only that Simon was dead, not the horrible truth of what had happened during the marriage. Summoning up a bright smile, Clara said, "You're forgiven. Now you mustn't let anything spoil your enjoyment of the evening. Good, there's that winsome smile I like to see.
Don't let it fade again."
As they settled into their seats, she wondered if Ellie would be happy with a husband like Ulvercombe. Settling her in such an advantageous marriage would give Clara the freedom she so desperately needed. She could set up her own establishment and be at the beck and call of no man.
Despite loving her brother dearly, it rankled to have to follow his rigid rules of conduct. As if she weren't a grown woman, able to make her own decisions and her own rules.
Cheered by this happy vision of future freedom, she looked up, then chuckled. "Oh, dear, I see the duke has been waylaid by some matchmaking mamas. How miserable he looks! He must be anxious to reach you, Ellie, before your dance card is full."
Because, Lord knew, he wasn't coming to write his name in hers.
As the quartet tuned up, Philip left in search of his wife, Sarah, and Ellie was harvested by an eager young man with a stutter. Clara avoided making eye contact with any available gentlemen, not wanting to dance under the speculative gaze of the matchmakers and the tabbies. How many of them, she wondered, cared to remember that the lofty duke's grandfather had been an inveterate gambler and acknowledged cardsharp? He'd allegedly fought several duels and almost brought the Albemarle family to ruin.
Suddenly, just a few feet away, she spotted the garish satin turban of Lady Fearnley.
Bother! The woman was continually asking Clara questions about the late Lord Tinniswood and about what had happened to Clara's younger sister, Kate, rumored to have run away from home. This came nowhere close to the truth, but Clara wasn't about to discuss that subject.
Not with anyone.
Ducking her head, she pushed through the crowd of revelers and sought the darkest corridor Kessington House had to offer. She tried the nearest door and, finding it unlocked, gratefully slipped into the room.
Tears pricked at her eyes as she pressed her back against the door. It seemed Devonshire was not far enough to escape the rumors.
Would she never be free of the legacy of her sordid past?CHAPTER 2
Marcus Albemarle, fourth Duke of Ulvercombe, dragged his hands down his face. Damn these marriage-mongers and daughter-peddlers! Snetty'd warned him it would be like this, but he'd hoped that, under his own roof, he might be treated with more respect.
The number of matrons who'd forced themselves between him and the luscious young blonde he'd had in his sights was unbelievable! Surely, he'd invited some gentlemen to this ball, as well? Couldn't they keep their families in order and let their host enjoy himself?
It was about time for a little joy in his life. While his father was alive, Marcus had been forced to conduct himself with the utmost detachment, decorum, and dignity. Even after he came of age, he was forbidden to gamble or make madcap wagers about galloping horses down grand staircases, as his friends were constantly doing. He was threatened with disinheritance if he chased after light-skirts or dallied with neglected wives or lustful widows.
It was high time he had a bit of fun. He was determined that wife hunting would be enjoyable, even though he knew better than to waste any time. The death of Princess Charlotte whilst bearing a stillborn child had taught the entire English aristocracy it was advisable to sire more than one heir.
A stiff drink would help him cope with this damnably frustrating evening. There was a decanter of excellent brandy in his study ...
He checked the area. Good. Not a prospective Duchess of Ulvercombe in sight.
He'd barely reached the door when one of the footmen informed him a lady had entered the study just moments before.
"Damn it, Dawlish, that door was to be kept locked!" The brandy was a vintage '78 and worth a fortune. Also worth a fortune was his prized Venus statuette by the renowned sculptor, Augustin Pajou.
The footman bowed. "Would Your Grace like me to eject the lady?"
"No, never mind. I'll deal with it." If his luck was in, it might be the girl with the guinea-gold curls and rosebud mouth who'd come in with the Weston lot.
Marcus stepped into the room, clicking the door shut behind him. Alas! Not a golden head, but a brunette in a matronly turban.
She turned around with a start, then, inexplicably, her eyes hardened.
"Lady ... um, Tinniswood, is it not? I see you're admiring the Pajou."
Admiring it rather too closely. Didn't she know such a priceless piece was not to be handled? Moving closer, he judged the distance between her hand and the floor. "It would please me greatly, however, if you were to set it back upon its pedestal."
She frowned at him. What a sour-faced female! How old was she?
Thirty? Thirty-five, maybe? He realized he knew very little about her — or any of the Weston family to whom she and the blonde belonged. For all he knew they'd started out in trade, then distinguished themselves at Blenheim or some such battle. There was no reason to suppose they had a bloodline as noble as his own.
Even so, this woman knew quality when she saw it, even if she didn't know how to treat it.
He winced as she waved the statuette at him. "I suppose you consider this yours, don't you?" she said.
He most certainly did. He also considered it an appalling lack of manners not to greet him as befitted his rank. Deuce take it! Perhaps not even trade. Peasant stock, mayhap?
"I beg your pardon, madam?"
"You heard me perfectly well, Your Grace. I can't believe your family hasn't had the decency to return this to its rightful owners."
He couldn't quite believe his ears. He knew the story of the Pajou, certainly. His grandfather had won it in a game of cards. Such occurrences were not the least bit uncommon — many was the time a family's fortunes had been either ruined or elevated on the turn of a card. But to be taxed with this subject in his own private study by an invited guest was the outside of enough.
"I find your tone, Lady Tinniswood, unnecessarily brusque."
"And I find yours, sir, insufferably arrogant," came the retort.
His back stiffened and he took a step closer. It was now abundantly clear the priceless Pajou was in enemy hands.
But ... a younger enemy than he'd first believed. Not thirty. Perhaps even late twenties. His new foe had angry eyes that glittered like Whitby jet, and a red, downturned mouth — quite the opposite of the smiling pink lips of the attractive blonde.
"What has given rise to this exceptional outburst?" he asked coldly. "Has the music not been to your taste? Is your dance card empty? If so, I'm very sorry, but it's hardly fitting to vent your spleen on your host."
The air positively crackled around Lady Tinniswood. "My dear sir," she said, with infinite hauteur. "Had I wished to dance, I would have. But I did not. I've had enough of gentlemen, particularly those of your ilk, and came only to support my ward. I'm absolutely certain I shall refuse any future invitation which comes from Kessington House to Lawton Court."
"Then let me assure you, I shall make none." But recalling the blonde was apparently Lady Tinniswood's ward, he added, "However, as I see no reason not to be on good terms with my neighbors, I trust I'm at liberty to offer my hospitality to Mr. and Mrs. Weston and Miss Soper. I shan't take offense if you decline. But before we end this delightful interview, tell me what provoked your outburst about the figurine, and what, exactly, you were hoping to achieve?"
The statuette in question was still being held tightly in those long fingers, and since Lady Tinniswood was quite tall, it was too far above the ground for his liking. Even the best Italian Carrara marble might break if dropped on the polished parquet flooring.
"I seek to shame you, sir. Why must the crimes of the upper aristocracy be hushed up and forgotten, while those of lower status are vilified by everyone for even the smallest error?"
"So, it's a crime that my grandfather was lucky at cards?" The second duke had very likely cheated, but Marcus was too angry to admit that now. "Your logic quite escapes me, madam. I can't help but wonder if you came to this ball just spoiling for a fight, and I'm merely the poor unfortunate who inadvertently supplied the spark to your tinder."
"You can hardly call yourself unfortunate when you have all this." She spread her arms expansively, and his heart froze as he watched the precious Pajou being swung about so carelessly.
The time for talking was over. He stepped closer, until they were almost touching, and she was forced to tilt her chin to meet his eye.
"Your harboring of grudges, Lady Tinniswood, has rendered you bitter and cynical before your time. Most ladies come to balls in a joyous state of mind, not a sour one."
That clearly struck a chord. He watched a flush steal from her neck to her face. Her skin was so pale, it looked like wine being poured into an alabaster bowl. What would she look like without that hideous turban, with her hair styled loosely about her face? Might she be considered striking?
Good Lord. Why was he even thinking about this?
"Step aside," she almost hissed at him. "You go beyond the bounds of propriety. I wish to escape your odious company, and you're standing in my way."
Marcus snapped his head back. Odious? He'd never been called that before, not even by Papa at his angriest.
Enough was enough. He must take charge of the situation.
He held out a hand for the Pajou, only to find to his astonishment that Lady Tinniswood had thrust it behind her back. He reached around the other side of her, and it was held once more out of his reach.
Damn the wretched woman! This was no childish game. The Pajou was a unique and valuable work of art!
He took the only action he could think of on the spur of the moment.
He clamped her firmly against his chest and prized the statuette roughly from her fingers.
Her muffled cry of outrage was eclipsed by a bellow of fury that erupted from the door of the study.
As Marcus turned around, a powerful blow knocked him backward.
And his surroundings were snuffed out by darkness.CHAPTER 3
"Great heaven, Philip, why on earth did you strike the man? You've bloodied Ulvercombe's nose!" Horrified, Clara rushed between the duke and her brother, determined to prevent any further violence.
"Yes, Weston, why?" growled the duke, picking himself up from an awkward sprawl across his desk and holding a handkerchief to his nose. His blue-gray eyes burned with a cold rage, far more powerful and dangerous than the irritation he'd shown earlier with Clara.
She prayed he wasn't the sort to settle questions of honor by dueling. And the word of a duke in the wrong ear could do all kinds of damage to a vulnerable family ... and to Ellie's chances. Clara fought down a rising panic.
Philip rubbed at his knuckles. Unrepentant, he declared, "He was manhandling you!"
"His Grace meant no harm. We were being rather childish, I confess, but you have quite misread the situation, Philip. Please apologize at once."
Turning her back on her brother, she helped Ulvercombe to the padded chair behind his desk, wincing at the bloody stain now spreading across his white shirtfront.
Excerpted from Distracting the Duke by Elizabeth Keysian, Nina Bruhns. Copyright © 2017 Elizabeth Keysian. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Really enjoyed this very sweet story. Great characters and loved the story. Fun read.
I really enjoyed Marcus and Clara's story! Clara has set her sites on having Marcus marry her ward. Having recently been made a widow and having no plans to marry again, she is shocked to find herself attracted to Marcus. She does her best to ignore the feels, but when she learns that Marcus feels the same way there is no denying them. With Clara not wanting to marry and Marcus looking for a different type of wife, what kind of future is in store for them? I'm excited to see what Elizabeth has in store for the rest of the Wayward in Wessex series!
Good story though dragged in a few spots.
Lady Clara Tinniswood and her family have recently moved to a town where nobody knows them. It is her hope that her and her brother’s ward makes a very good match. Marcus, the Duke of Ulvercombe, hated the type of marriage his parents had. Because of that, he wants a beautiful, biddable wife. He thinks he’s found the one that will fit perfectly. The only hitch is his attraction to her guardian. I really didn’t think I was going to like this book and actually put it down for a few weeks after reading the first page. Something made me decide to give it another chance. I’m really glad I did. Once I got past the first few pages, I got caught up pretty quickly in the story. It reminded me loosely of one of my favorites, Pride and Prejudice. I loved everything that happened between Clara and Marcus. They both had scars in their past and they are able to heal each other. I look forward to reading more from this author. I highly recommend. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
I won a copy of Distracting the Duke by Elizabeth Keysian at a FaceBook party. Yay me! I'm always on the hunt for new (to me) historical romance writers and this one goes in the buy her books column. Ms Keysian has delivered a book that is well-written and filled it with phenomenal characters. Marcus and Clara's story is loaded with drama, humor, a bit of suspense and spice. I enjoyed this book from cover to cover and look forward to reading more from Elizabeth Keysian in the future. Distracting the Duke is book 1 in the Wayward in Wessex Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.
Received an ARC for my fair review for netgalley. I enjoyed book, it was about 2 people who are attracted to each other, but both wanted different things out of life. Marcus needs to get married but wants a biddle wife, or a doormat I say, so he chooses Eleanor, who will be a great match for all, since her family needs the comfort this wil bring and her guardian will be free to live her life on her terms, since she had a horrible marriage. Of course things do not go as planned and even though Lady Clara and Marcus try to resist each other, they can't, and they get there HEA and they truly deserve ut, since they come from difficult backgrounds.
I’m adding Elizabeth Keysain to my list of must read authors! Her first release under the Entangled Scandalous imprint is a marvelous journey in love, lust, and invention. Marcus Albemarle has his Dukedom to run and needs the perfect and biddable Duchess, like Miss Eleanora Soper. The problem is his animal natures that arise whenever her guardian, the widowed Lady Clara Tinniswood, is near. Marcus and Clara are all wrong for each other, but for reasons unknown they just fit. Marcus wants order to his life while Clara just wants to setup her own house and be alone. Clara’s late husband burned her love of marriage and she wants nothing to do with the institution. So, how do two such as these find their way to happiness? Through relinquishing fears, devoting their hearts, and breaking down walls to build a life worth living, together. Keysain developed a unique story with vibrant and flawed characters. I loved the bickering between our fated couple as much as I loved their passions. I can’t wait to find out who the next Wayward in Wessex novel will focus on. There are so many choices of fantastic characters to build on! I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I received a free book and voluntarily chose to review it. Loved it even through the tears.You may want to have tissues handy. This book has a little different story line from other books set around the 1820’s. I hoped that Clara would get her happy ending, but with the way the story is written, I wasn’t really sure.
Distracting the Duke by Elizabeth Keysian is Book 1 of the Wayward in Wessex Series. Love.This! Spot-on perfection with this historical romance! Marcus and Clara are the right combination in this riveting romance and it’s so hard not to fall in love with them as their story unveils. As Marcus sets about wooing Clara’s ward, the sparks fly between the twosome and what a ride it is. A new-to-me author, Ms. Keysian is now going on my go-to reading list. Please note that an ARC was generously provided in exchange for an honest review of which this is both honest and completely voluntary.
Distracting the Duke 'Distracting the Duke' by Elizabeth Keysian is book One in the "Wayward in Wessex" series. This is the story of Marcus and Clara. This was my first book by Ms. Keysian and I must say I truly enjoyed it. I will be looking for more of her books!Clara is a widow who had a very bad marriage that left her somewhat traumatized. But she is trying to help her brother and their ward with the season and finding a husband. Marcus is a Duke that is out to find a "brainless, biddable beauty to bear his children". Marcus at first is thinking that Clara's ward might be the wife for him and tries to get to know her better. But Clara is being a distraction to him. Some of his first interaction with her was seeing her with a turban on her head and looking like someone in her thirties. But after a humorist run in he starts to see that she is younger than that and it pretty. But both have their funny bickering and still have certain thoughts about how each ones attitude is. But the more they interact the more they start to see how wrong they are about the other. Both in their past have been abused in one way or another...their attraction to each other just keeps growing. This was one book I could not put down and enjoyed it so much! It does take you through some laughing, crying and hope that they will overcome their their sad past. "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
I loved it! Duke of Ulvercombe and Lady Clara both are amazing characters, and perfect for each other. Marcus is looking for a wife who is agreeable, biddable, and easy to talk to. Clara is a Lady who is very opinionated and have a hard time keeping her opinions to herself. She is straightforward and outspoken. There is no way they can ever like each other. They tend to be an annoyance to one another and their interactions often end in disagreements and arguments. Still for some reason they seem to crave each other's company. Soon they both realize that regardless of their mutual dislike, they are attracted to each other. Unfortunately there is no solution for their dilemma. The Duke must marry and he is not willing to marry someone he doesn't like. And Clara does not want to marry again, she will never trust another man for as long as she lives. Therefore, they have no future together and thus they must let themselves to have their futures separate from one another. But will it be that easy? Can they both find happiness and end up with what they want most? Or should they just let go of their respective pasts and be happy together? It's a very well written novel. I couldn't put it down once I started reading and read the whole thing in one sitting. I quite enjoyed the story, as well as Marcus and Clara's banters. Their constant bickering was quite entertaining. I found it full of hunour, romance, and lots of fun. Definitely a must read for all historical romance readers.
Distracting the duke by Elizabeth Keysian, book 1 in "Wayward in Wessex", which promises to be an amazing series. Regency Romance set in 1820 Devonshire, England. Debut author! Well written with engaging but flawed characters. The storyline was genuine, entertaining and fascinating. Steady paced. The reader will find a wide range of emotions, from tears to laughter, to dread as Lady Clara Tinniswood, a recent widow and Marcus, the Duke of Ulvercombe, who wishes to find a amenable, and biddable wife, faces challenges to finding their HEA. Ah, yes, maybe not! Clara, is opinionated, volatile outspoken and not caring what anyone thinks. Marcus, is complicated, overbearing, and a true alpha male. Apparently, opposites do attract, for Clara and Marcus are as opposite as night and day. Oh, but sparks fly, and they can't seem to stay away from each other. Then, there is Ellie a ward of Clara and her brother Philip's. Ellie is the one Marcus sets his sights on, but fate has something different in mind. I did not like Marcus at first he was a bit overbearing, but you soon feel his painful childhood, which has made him into the man be has become. Clara uses her attitude to hide her vulnerability and her past hurts. Together, these two make a match that neither wanted but found the other holds the key to their heart and happiness. "Distracting the Duke" is a story of the battle of wills, passion, romance and love. I found myself engrossed with Marcus and Clara'a story. Their interactions were definitely a struggle of wills as both these characters are strong-willed, flawed with wounded hearts. This is a story that will capture your heart! Clara and Marcus' flaws is what, in my opinion, made them more realistic, likeable and easy to relate to their worries, desires and apprehension of love. "Distracting the Duke" is an entertaining and captaviating tale of opposites attracting, like vinegar and oil. The secondary characters are usual, but help move the story along. Especially, Philip, I hope he will have a story of his own. As a debut author, Ms. Keysian has presented herself well, proving herself as a exciting new author. She has a way of drawing the reader into the story and holding their interest. Well done! I look forward to the next installment of, "Wayward in Wessex". A great read for fans of Regency Romance, opposites attracting, complicated characters, and great storylines. Strongly recommended. An enjoyable and satisfying Regency Romance. I received a complimentary copy. Rating: 4 Heat rating: Mild Reviewed by: AprilR
in distracting the duke, marcus, the duke of ulvercombe, is, as austen might put it, a single man with good fortune in want of a wife. but he wants a marriage that is free of strife, having grown up in the toxic atmosphere that surrounded his parents' loveless union. he figures that to get that, he needs to find a sweet, innocent woman without strong opinions. and he has a great candidate, miss eleanora soper checks off all the boxes, except he keeps getting distracted by her argumentative guardian, lady clara tinniswood. at every turn she challenges him, about their families' past connections, about the weather, there is nothing this woman won't argue with him about. but unlike the horrible dread and persist awfulness that surrounded his parents' arguments, marcus finds himself enthralled by clara. quite literally, he can't stay away from her. he keeps trying to remember that he's supposed to be courting eleanora, but the reality is that if clara is in the vicinity she holds all his attention. and it's not just that he's attracted to clara sexually, he finds that he enjoys the time he spends with her. it's exhilarating in a way that most society interactions are not. she challenges him and he feels alive. he also recognizes that she has some baggage that causes her to keep him at arm's length. her first marriage was not a happy one, and her husband was emotionally and physically abusive. her sister also betrayed her by sleeping with her now-dead husband and bearing his illegitimate child. so that's a lot to deal with. once he figures out what is holding her back though, once marcus realizes that only clara will do, his previous statements of milquetoast wives bedamned, then he goes after it. he may not win every argument he has with clara, but this is one he can't, he refuses to lose. and this is what is great about the book, marcus might have some doubts about how he feels for clara, and it definitely takes him some time to decide what it is he wants, but once he figures it out, he fully commits. i mean, from the moment he meets clara, all he does are things to please her, to protect her, to make her happy. and when he realizes that his life would be colorless without her, he goes about making things right. he brings back the light to the dark corners of clara's heart, he makes himself so irresistible, he proves to her that he will love her no matter what the future holds. and it's so freaking romantic. **distracting the duke will publish on february 20, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (scandalous) in exchange for my honest review.
The Lady and the Duke are like fire and ice. THEY DON'T MIX. He wants even tempered and sweet. She is volatile and opinionated. She wants to make her own choices and live a life beyond the control of a man. He wants a woman unlike her. Or does he? Distracting the Duke is a tale of passion that merges a battle of wills with a meeting of minds and ultimately the stealing of hearts. Mine included.